Update 12-12: Sunday, March 18, 2012.
"Constitution of The Federated Press League." [As revised Feb. 4, 1922] The labor news service known as the Federated Press was launched in January 1920 as the brainchild of Socialist Party member Edward J. Costello, Managing Editor of Victor L. Berger's Milwaukee Leader. The news service was intended as a mechanism to systematically provide content of interest to the scores of labor and left wing political newspapers functioning around the country. Members of the underground Communist Party of America gradually gained control of the service. This constitution, approved at a convention held Feb. 4, 1922, documents a short-lived effort to transform the Federated Press into a mass organization called the Federated Press League. Membership was to be open to dues-payers 16 years of age or over who were dedicated to defending "the principles of the freedom of the press against all the forces which seek its destruction and to aid in the support and development of the labor press and of The Federated Press." Primary organizations were to be known as "Local Councils," constructed on a geographic basis and containing 10 or more members of the organization. Governance was to be through annual conventions, with an elected Executive Board headed by a President, Executive Secretary, and officers in between conventions. Annual dues were set at $5, with a sliding scale including higher dollar membership types. The Federated Press League was conceived as a membership organization existing in parallel as an auxiliary to the Federated Press itself.
"Constitution of the Young Workers League of America: Tentative Draft: Basis for Organizing Branches of the YWL." [circa March 1, 1922] Closely related to the establishment of a formal "Legal Political Party" called the Workers Party of America by the underground CPA was the establishment of an above-ground youth section of the same known as the Young Workers League of America (YWL). This is the draft constitution written by the CPA in early 1922 around which the new group was to be organized, pending formal ratification at a future founding convention of the organization. The YWL was said to have been established "to organize and educate the young of the working class to understand their true position in capitalist society, to work for the abolition of capitalism" and for the establishment of a workers' republic and classless international society. Membership was to be open to individuals between the ages of 14 and 30 willing to pay dues and abide by the rules of the organization. A recommendation of two members in good standing was required for admission to membership. Primary party unit was to be the Branch, consisting of 5 or more members and meeting at least twice monthly, with branches to be established geographically and on the basis of language. Multiple branches in one locale were to be link through a City Central Committee. Governance was to be through annual conventions, with a 7 member National Executive Committee headed by an Executive Secretary handing day-to-day decision-making in between conventions. Dues were set at 25 cents per month, remitted for stamps which were to be pasted on a card, with exemptions allowed for unemployment, etc.
"Which International?" by Earl Browder [April 1922] "Which labor International should workers support -- Moscow or Amsterdam?" asks Trade Union Educational League magazine editor and future Communist Party chief Earl Browder. Not surprisingly, the case is laid out for support of the Red International of Labor Unions based in Moscow. Browder decries the Amsterdam International for having been organized "under the protection and with the cooperation of the capitalist League of Nations" and accuses them of having repaid this favor by splitting and disrupting the French labor movement. He charges that "Amsterdam, in short, is the last stand of the forces of reaction in the labor movement; it is the organized 'stand-patters,' those who never learn, and whose highest conception of the movement is as a means to get a fat government job." By way of contrast, RILU is said to have "emphatically opposed all attempts to split any national trade union movement," particularly that of France, and to have become the home for all "life-giving elements of the trade union movement."
"Revive Bridgman Communist Cases in Boss Attack: Lovestone, Foster, Bedacht, and Other Outstanding Communists Involved in 8-Year Old Case." (Revolutionary Age) [April 4, 1931] News account about the effort of Michigan authorities to relaunch criminal proceedings against the untried defendants in the August 1922 Bridgman Communist Convention case on charges of criminal syndicalism. This story from the official organ of Jay Lovestone's Communist Party (Majority Group) adds three significant details: (1) That state officials had been holding $80,000 in bail funds for the better part of a decade, and that efforts to recover these funds in order to obtain a dismissal of charges had played a part in the effort to move forward on the matter; (2) That changes in state law allowing for the mass trial of defendants had been passed and that Michigan authorities were proceeding in this way; (3) That the Communist Party-controlled International Labor Defense, ostensibly a non-partisan organization, had deleted the names of CP(MG) activists Lovestone and Alex Bail from fundraising publicity materials, leaving doubt as whether these would be defended by the organization in the event of a trial.
"The Story of the First Anti-War Prisoner: Arrested for Fighting the War!" by J.O. Bentall [April 18, 1931] Jacob O. Bentall, a Socialist Party of American member from 1904, a former State Secretary of the Socialist Party of Illinois and editor of the left wing Duluth, Minnesota weekly Truth, recounts the story of his persecution and prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917. Arrested on his farm in Minnesota in the midst of the August grain harvest, Bentall was held on $10,000 bail, a sum which made it impossible to harvest his crop expeditiously. He was jailed for one year at the state level before being re-tried and convicted in 1922 -- years after conclusion of the war -- and sentenced to two years at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. Bentall launches into an attack on the US government for breaking trust with its returned soldiers, noting plans to loan veterans up to half of a forthcoming soldiers' bonus at 5% interest. At the same time they are said to be shortchanging their veterans, Bentall decries what he sees as preparations for a new European conflict. "The greedy profiteers are now getting ready to make a new call upon the youth of the land to dive into another bloodbath and to give their lives for the enrichment of the parasites that have never done anything but lied and robbed and murdered the innocent and the honest and the unsuspecting working class," he writes for his audience in the weekly press of Jay Lovestone's Communist Party Opposition group.
"The Crisis in the Laisve: From a Declaration of the Lithuanian Opposition Communists." [May 16, 1931] Although the fact is little realized, the Lithuanian Socialist Federation -- and the Lithuanian Communist organization which succeeded it -- was based on "hall socialism" like the Finns. An extensive network of radical social, political, and educational institutions were established by Lithuanian-speaking reds. An, much like the Finns, the semi-autonomous Lithuanian Communist movement was neutered and shattered by the CPUSA in the first years of the 1930s. This article, written by ousted Lithuanian radicals close to the Communist daily Laisve (Freedom) details the takeover of the newspaper and its assets by a faction headed by Anthony Bimba and backed with the force of the CPUSA Central Committee. The authors (B. Jokubonis, J. Kuodis, and E. Butkus) date the start of the assault to the summer of 1930. First demands were made that the Lithuanian daily -- a self-sustaining entity established as a cooperative, with editorial content under party control -- launch and sustain a Spanish language weekly on behalf of the party. When that was dodged for financial reasons, additional demands were made that Laisve handle production of the Yiddish language and Italian party papers. These financial drains were also dodged, and demands for transmission of large cash sums to CPUSA followed. Stymied by Lithuanian resistance, by February 1931 it seems the CC determined to take over Laisve altogether, transferring out press machinery and converting or selling Lithuanian buildings. This article details the various political machinations executed by the Bimba faction in this takeover of Laisve and purge of Lithuanian members -- a process which ended, the authors indicate, with "only about 150 Lithuanian workers...left in the Party" in the spring of 1931.
"The 'New Line' Among the Ukrainians: A Letter," by Frank Kisula [June 27, 1931] An account of the takeover of the Ukrainian Daily News and other Ukrainian Communist assets by a faction loyal to the post-Lovestone CEC, headed by M. Nastas, Dmytryshin, and Knezevitch. Kisula notes the trio of editors, former supporters of the Lovestone faction, switched horses in favor of the new leadership when faced with loss of their jobs. Kisula that intimates a range of financial improprieties have taken place, including refusal to return funds loaned on behalf of the Ukrainian Labor House, potential misappropriation of $6,000 collected for a newspaper for the Western Ukraine, and potential misappropriation of funds generated for East Galician prisoner relief from a benefit concert. A drop in Ukrainian party membership from 1,200 to "only about 300" under the new regime. Ukrainian Communists are urged to join Jay Lovestone's Communist Party (Majority Group) and to continue the fight for a mass Communist Party through this vehicle.
"Lithuanian Opposition Organized." (Revolutionary Age) [July 4, 1931] In 1930 and 1931 the new leadership of the Communist Party launched a campaign to eliminate the last vestiges of autonomous Communist foreign language federations, moving against cooperatives and independently owned publications, asserting firm editorial control, consolidating production, and liquidating assets. This heavy-handed behavior provoked opposition within some of these federations, including the Finnish, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian. This news story from the official organ of the Lovestoneite Communist Party (Majority Group) details a split in the Lithuanian Federation, in which CEC loyalists captured control of the Chicago Lithuanian Communist newspaper, Vilnis [The Surge]. Eastern elements in the Lithuanian Federation established themselves as a Lithuanian Communist Opposition with a convention attended by 42 delegates, probably held sometime in June 1931. A new publication called The Bulletin was launched, the article notes. Lithuanian Federation leader Leonas Pruseika seems to have attempted to negotiate a middle course -- ultimately launching a new publication in Brooklyn which made use of an old name, Naujoji Gadyne [The New Epoch].
"Slovak Labor Society Hits Splitting Policies: Uniontown Local, SWS, Passes Resolution Against National Office and Against Rovnost Ludu." [July 18, 1931] Additional evidence that the 1931 campaign of the Communist Party USA to "amalgamate" various institutions of its language groups into the International Workers Order was met with resistance. This resolution of a branch of the Slovak Workers Society rails against the "dictatorial position" of the officials of the organization's National Office and the editor of the Slovak-language Communist newspaper Rovnost Ludu [Equality of the People] in forcing the liquidation of the organization. It is charged in the resolution that this center "want to destroy politically every member of the SWS who opposes them" and makes particular note of an attack in the party press on Julius Bucko, a longtime member of the Slovak-American Communist movement. The National Office and editor are warned in the resolution that "they must not assume the position of dictators and if anyone at all is to dictate, it will be us workers..."