Update 12-15: Sunday, April 8, 2012.
"Untermyer Rouses Bourbons’ Ire: Pacifist Clergyman Listed as Suspect by Administration Spies." (NY Call) [Aug. 25, 1919] Final installment of the New York Call's serialized expose of the postal censorship list of the Woodrow Wilson Administration. Included here are several non-socialist public figures, including lawyer Samuel Untermyer (who had represented the Rand School of Social Science in its legal defense), anti-conscription Populist newspaper publisher and former Presidential candidate Thomas E. Watson, and mild mannered pacifist Reverend of the Church of the Holy Trinity Howard Mellish. The unnamed author optimistically declares that "the espionage system sounds the death-knell of the Democratic Party, just as the Alien and Sedition law sounded that of the Federalist Party, which fell, never to rise again."
"Federation is Active Agent for Socialism: Presents Party Issues to Jewish-Speaking People Through Own Weekly Publication," by Joshua P. Landon [Aug. 31, 1919] With seven of the foreign language federations of the Socialist Party abandoning the organization in favor of the Left Wing course the role of the these institutions in the SPA moving forward was a question of some debate. This short piece from the New York Call by a supporter of the Yiddish-language Jewish Socialist Federation details political developments in that group for a broader audience. Landon notes that after two days of debate the recently completed 1919 convention of the JSF had voted 74-35 to remain affiliated with the SPA rather than to cast their lot with the Left Wing Section. This decision had prompted a walkout by 29 delegates, led by Alexander Bittelman, who had established their own Left Wing federation. Those remaining retained close ties both to the Socialist Party and the Jewish labor movement, Landon indicates. The JSF maintained a steady stream of speakers in the field, Landon states, as well as publishing its own organ, Naye Welt, edited by J.B. Salutsky.
"Socialist Party Wins Primary Contest in All But Few Districts: Manhattan and Bronx Boroughs Carried Completely by Regular Organization Candidates." (NY Call) [Sept. 2, 1919] Lest there be any doubt about the inevitability of a split of the Socialist Party in the summer of 1919, here are the voting results of the Socialist Party's Sept. 2, 1919 primary election in New York City. In this election the Left Wing Section fielded and promoted a full slate of candidates against the SPA's Regulars (who touted their own slate in the pages of the New York Call). Even as the Socialist Party was in the process of shattering at the Chicago convention, the Regulars were scoring a decisive victory in the primaries -- with the battle between the factions contested with particular vigor in Brooklyn. In duels between prominent figures, journalist William Morris Feigenbaum topped Left Winger Bert Wolfe in the 6th Assembly District, 61-42, while future Assemblyman Charles Solomon beat Harry Waton 516 to 74 in the 33rd Assembly District. In the 59th Aldermanic District of Brooklyn Abraham Shiplacoff decisively defeated Left Winger Morris Zucker also by the exact count of 516 to 74. Other prominent figures of the nascent Communist movement falling in the primary included Ludwig Lore, Edward Lindgren, and Will Weinstone.
"St. Louis, Missouri Local Completely Reorganized." (NY Call) [events of Aug. 13-25, 1919] This short piece from the New York Call documents another example of the cavalier manner in which the dominant Regular faction of the Socialist Party violated party legality during the days leading up to the 1919 Emergency National Convention that formalized a split into rival Socialist and Communist organizations. With the Regulars outvoted 16-15 by the Left Wing at a meeting of the General Committee of Local St. Louis, a general membership meeting desired by the Regulars was moved to the same time and place as a public meeting featuring a prominent Left Wing speaker. The minority appealed the decision to the Regular-dominated State Committee, which declared this decision "in violation of our party constitution and contrary to all precedents in the Socialist Party." The State Committee then -- without notification or hearings -- rushed a decision to summarily dissolve Local St. Louis, appoint a committee to seize its property, and to dispatch National Secretary Adolph Germer to the city to supervise the "reorganization" the Local just ahead of the Aug. 30 National Convention, thus effectively expelling its Left Wing membership. William Brandt, Otto Pauls, and Gus Hoehn were appointed as a troika "to temporarily take possession of all the property of Local St. Louis, in the name of the Socialist Party of Missouri, until the Local was properly organized."
"Notes of A Marxist," by Haim Kantorovitch [circa September 1934] Owing to his premature death from tuberculosis in 1936 at the age of 45, the place of Jewish-American Marxist Haim Kantorovich as an intellectual leader of the Socialist Party of America is little remembered. This piece from the quarterly theoretical journal of the SPA, American Socialist Quarterly, stands as part of Kantorovich's English-language legacy. Kantorovich argues in defense of an evolving and multi-tendency Marxism rather than a dogmatic closed system, declaring that "people who speak about pure Marxism, undiluted Marxism, unrevised Marxism, know very little of the history of Marxism. Marxism has been revised constantly, from the left as well as from the right." Kantorovich charges the Communist movement with elevating Lenin's ideas into some approximation of sacred doctrine. "After Lenin had convinced himself that Marx was wrong on certain points, he had a right to replace them with his own theories which he believed to be true," Kantorovich asserts, "When his disciples however demand that we believe Lenin’s innovations are part of Marxism which one must accept if he is really a Marxist, they are wrong." Kantorovich defends the notion of a fundamental revolutionary continuity in the ideas of Karl Marx. In this he holds himself in opposition to Karl Kautsky, who in the years after World War I began to argue that Marx had discarded the revolutionism of his youth in favor of an evolutionary orientation. In Kantorovich's view: "One cannot remain a dialectical materialist and discard the idea of revolution. Both stand or fall together. Marxism is revolutionary through and through; neither Marx nor Engels ever discarded the idea of social revolution, nor could they have done so without discarding their belief in the dialectical nature of the social process. Nature as well as history, they argued against the evolutionist-gradualists, proceeds by 'jumps,' by sudden cataclysms."
"The United Front," by Haim Kantorovitch [December 1934] Assessment of the tactic of the United Front by an ideological leader of the Socialist Party of America's "Militant" faction, Haim Kantorovich. Kantorovich excuses the Socialist International's decision to neither sanction nor ban united front actions between member Socialist Parties and Communist Parties in those same countries, declaring that a firm decision on either side of this question would have prompted an organizational split. Kantorovich notes that the Communist movement had put an enormous amount of money and effort into circulating united front literature, which had only recently shifted in orientation. "We do not hear so often from Communists now that every non-Communist is a traitor, a lackey of the bourgeoisie, a fighter for capitalism and fascism, or just a plain faker.... The tenor of the newest literature is the falsification of the history of the Socialist as well as of the Communist movement. The aim of this literature is, above all, to place the guilt for the original split in the Socialist and labor movement on the Socialists.... In order 'to prove' these falsifications the literature is filled with misquotations, perversions of truths, and downright lies." Kantorovich notes that since its inception in 1921 the united front had been transparently intended as "a new method of destroying the Socialist movement" through subtle splitting pressure. Kantorovich maintains that the current effort to forge an alliance between the CPUSA and the SPA is not a true united front of the working class in that it excludes other organizations and moreover continues the CPUSA's ongoing goal of wrecking rather than aiding the existing trade union movement. To the question of whether the SP is ready for a united front, Kantorovich answers: "As soon as you liquidate the theory of social fascism, agree to a united front inclusive of all proletarian parties and groups, and give up your harmful and suicidal (for you) trade union tactics, there will be a real united front. The Socialists are ready and waiting. It is up to you to make the united front possible. Will you?"
"Launch Workers Party of US: CLA and AWP in Fusion Convention of US Revolutionaries." (The Militant) [event of Dec. 2, 1934] Official published account of the formation of the Workers Party of the United States, created via a merger of the Trotskyist Communist League of America headed by Jim Cannon and Max Shachtman and the American Workers Party led by A.J. Muste. Muste was to be Secretary of the new organization and Cannon the editor of the official organ, to be called The New Militant. The New York City gathering was addressed by Muste to open the proceedings, while former CLA member Vincent Dunne, a leader of the Minneapolis Teamsters' strike, delivered the keynote speech. A 22 member national executive committee was elected, 11 from each group, from which a Political Bureau of 10 was to be elected. A constitution, agreed upon in the pre-merger negotiations, was passed with minor amendments from the floor.