Update 12-24: Sunday, June 10, 2012."Service Men in Second Raid on People’s House: People Disperse Mob -- Lee Blames Hylan for Trouble -- Scab Herders in Crowd." (NY Call) [NEW EDITION] [event of April 7, 1919] News report from the Socialist New York Call detailing the April 7 raid on the Rand School of Social Science -- an adult educational facility operated in close connection with the SPA. The object of repeated repressive efforts, the Rand School was seen in an exaggerated way as a linchpin of Socialist authority and power by enemies of the radical movement in New York. This raid on the school, the second of the year conducted by organized bands of military personnel, is said to have been headed by a right wing Canadian soldier allegedly in the employ of the Tugboat Owners' Exchange as an agent for the hiring of strikebreakers. The invading soldiers shredded posters on the walls inside the Rand School building, stole office supplies and money and the records of the school, and smashed plate glass windows -- creating an estimated $1,000 worth of damage. The mob was dispersed by the New York police department, although no arrests were made for the vandalism committed. Educational Director of the Rand School and New York Alderman Algernon Lee blamed the city's mayor, John Hylan, for inciting the attack through his publicized rhetoric "referring to foreigners preaching murder and destruction." "These alarmist statements not based on fact are breeding prejudice and mob spirit," Lee declares, adding, "the Mayor does not seem to realize the danger of his utterances."
"To Prevent Disruption of the Party." [Motions by Local Cuyahoga County, Socialist Party, June 1, 1919] Immediately after conclusion of the National Executive Committee's May 24-28, 1919 quarterly meeting in Chicago, at which the 7 Left Wing language federations were suspended and the Socialist Party of Michigan expelled from the Socialist Party, action was taken by the Left Wing to overturn the arbitrary and unconstitutional action. On Sunday, June 1, 1919 a joint meeting of the membership of the numerous branches of Local Cuyahoga County was held in Cleveland, with C.E. Ruthenberg elected chairman of the meeting. This set of resolutions were passed, propositions to be published for seconds of other locals from around the country in accordance with the party constitution's provisions for membership control through referendum voting. Four proposals were made in all: (1) Rescinding the Michigan expulsion; (2) Rescinding the Federation suspensions; (3) Rescinding the decision not to tabulate the 1919 party vote and instructing the NEC to do so; and (4) Rescinding the NEC's effort to place party-owned property irrevocably in the hands of a 9 person board of directors serving staggered 3 year terms (i.e. with no electoral takeover possible for six years). This constitutional check upon usurped executive authority ultimately proved too slow and cumbersome to stop the outgoing NEC's de facto organizational coup.
"A Rebuke from Prison," by Emil Herman [June 14, 1919] Imprisoned member of the Socialist Party's governing National Executive Committee Emil Herman of Washington registers his protest of the "arbitrary and unconstitutional action" of the NEC in suspending 7 of the party's foreign language federations, expelling the Socialist Party of Michigan, and determining not to even count the vote from the 1919 party elections at its quarterly meeting held May 24-28 in Chicago. He notes that the vote had not been properly challenged and that constitutional guidelines for suspensions and expulsions were ignored. He further protests the "undemocratic, unparliamentary, and un-Socialistic procedure" of using his own honorary "presence" owing to federal incarceration for political activism to constitute a quorum where none existed so as to engage in these rogue actions.
"Report of the State Secretary to the 1919 State Convention of the Socialist Party of Ohio," by Alfred Wagenknecht and Hortense Wagenknecht [June 27, 1919] This summary of the activity of the Socialist Party of Ohio demonstrates just how little structural difference existed in practice between such a "Left Wing" state socialist party as this and the "Regular" organizations of other states. Speaker routing, literature sales, campaign organization, operation of the state office, and maintenance of the party press were the main concerns of both. That such an organization would be suspended within days by the outgoing NEC, essentially to prevent participation of a 19 member Left Wing delegation in the forthcoming Emergency National Convention, illustrates the raw power politics which motivated the national leadership of the party. The interesting takeaway here is the size and strength of the Ohio Socialist, the largest party-owned weekly in America with a circulation of 20,000 and running in the black economically. This publication would follow the Socialist Party of Ohio out of the SPA and into the Communist Labor Party, where it would become (successively) The Toiler, The Worker, and The Daily Worker. A complete financial report is included, which shows a comparatively small shift from "regular" dues stamps sold to "foreign branch" dues stamps sold -- indication that at least in this state no tidal shift in membership composition took place.
"Resolution on Party Controversy: Adopted by the State Convention of the Socialist Party of Ohio, Cincinnati, June 28, 1919." The full text of the "Resolution on Party Controversy" adopted by the Socialist Party of Ohio brings home the inevitability of a split of the Socialist Party of America. Unless the Regular faction of Executive Secretary Adolph Germer and the outgoing National Executive Committee was defeated in its attempt to control the forthcoming Emergency National Convention, Ohio delegates were instructed to join the September 1 convention called to form a Communist Party. Moreover, in the event of Ohio's participation being blocked from the convention or the postponement of the convention, the Socialist Party of Ohio was to affiliate with the new organization established September 1. The campaign of suspensions and expulsions conducted by the Regular leadership is called "a desperate effort on the part of the repudiated national officers of the party and their satellites in similar positions in state and local organizations, to maintain their control of the party in spite of the will of the rank and file." The possibility of Ohio's expulsion from the SPA is acknowledged, with the organization to immediately begin buying its dues stamps from the National Council of the Left Wing in this eventuality.
"Ohio Socialist Convention Makes Party History: Endorses Left Wing Program and Instructs Delegates to the National Convention to Work for its Adoption by that Body." (Ohio Socialist) [events of June 27-28, 1919] Summary of the 1919 annual convention of the Socialist Party of Ohio, which endorsed the Left Wing Manifesto of the Left Wing National Conference, prompting the group's unconstitutional expulsion by the outgoing National Executive Committee. Assembling in Cincinnati, the convention broke into committees for work. After hearing the report of State Secretary Alfred Wagenknecht, the Committee on Program and Municipal Platform reported the Left Wing Manifesto, which was debated throughout the entire first evening before being approved by a vote of 47 to 7. "It is not meant, nor for that matter is any left Wing Program so far adopted meant, to constitute a Socialist Party platform. The program is a criticism of past party tactics and a statement of changes which are essential if we are ever to function as the party of the working class," this article in The Ohio Socialist insists. Resolutions condemning the NEC's expulsion of the Socialist Party of Michigan and suspension of 7 Left Wing foreign language federations were also passed, among other matters. Conduct of the State Office of the party was approved and the delegates "adjourned in the greatest enthusiasm."
"Let Party Membership Function Now," by L.E. Katterfeld [July 2, 1919] With the Regular-dominated outgoing National Executive Committee well on the way to stacking the August 1919 Emergency National Convention through mass expulsion of Left Wing members, L.E. Katterfeld makes an appeal to Ohio Socialist locals to second Local Cuyahoga County's motions to reverse controversial NEC actions. Katterfeld bitterly notes the hypocrisy of the NEC, which on the one hand asks the rank and file to "wait for the convention" to make a determination on its actions, while at the same time accelerating its program of suspensions and expulsions. Katterfeld -- himself one of just two Left Wing members of the NEC -- reveals that the NEC is in the process of a referendum by telegraph to summarily expel the Socialist Party of Massachusetts. The New York and Connecticut State Committees were similarly selectively targeting their Left Wing members for expulsion, Katterfeld notes. He indicates that in May the NEC had already discussed postponement of the convention if it could not capture a majority in the run-up to the event. Katterfeld argues that if a protest is to be made about the 1919 party elections, the correct procedure should be first to tally and announce vote totals, then to level protests, then to appoint a disinterested body to investigate the charges. Instead, he declares that the NEC has "usurped powers that are not theirs" and "trampled roughshod over all constitutional limitations." He optimistically asserts that "no matter how many thousands the party officialdom 'discipline' with its paper expulsions, of those that remain the Left Wing will still be the majority," making the Left Wing "unconquerable."
"Proclamation of the Finnish Socialist Federation," by Henry Askeli [July 23, 1919] This lengthy manifesto issued by Henry Askeli of the Finnish Socialist Federation, while not fully endorsing the Left Wing Section and its program, effectively puts the majority Regular faction of the Socialist Party on notice that an adjustment of the party's ideological course to the left is demanded. The Finns express a position very close to that of the Left Wing on the taboo issue of "force and violence," declaring: "Violence and bloodshed do not make any movement revolutionary, and essentially they have noting in common.... But in its attempt to capture political power the working class cannot reject any weapon and the form of its revolution will finally depend upon prevailing conditions, and especially upon the opposition directed against its right of suffrage, other political rights, and against all other activities for gathering the forces of the working class, and against is endeavors for social reform." The leadership of the Finnish Federation -- largest language group in the Socialist Party including perhaps 10% of total party membership -- further provocatively declares: "Be the form whatever it may by which the transfer of power will occur, the rise to power of the organized workers will be followed by an era of proletarian dictatorship." The "absolute parliamentarism" of the Regular faction is "condemned," and the Finnish Federation announces that "mass action of the working class is shown by history to be the principle form to which the struggle will lead." The Finnish Federation declares itself to be of the Left Wing with this document, but the contend that party unity is "the all important matter" and acknowledge that "the organizing of a distinct organization within the party as such is a crime against the spirit of the constitution." Nevertheless the Finns "condemn the expulsions absolutely" and demand restoration of full rights immediately to those suspended or expelled from the party on the basis of "mere contentions, and without any formal investigations and hearings." The NEC had struck a blow "with a few strokes of the pen which disrupts the party completely," the Finns declare.
"Enter: The Labor Party," by Charles Merz [events of Nov. 22-25, 1919] Summary of the November 22-25, 1919 Chicago convention which established the Labor Party of the United States. Merz indicates that the results of the convention surpassed expectations, with local Chicago delegates outnumbered 10 to 1 by delegates from out of town. Moreover, these delegates represented a broad spectrum of AF of L craft unions, including 175 miners, 65 representatives of the railway brotherhoods, and 40 machinists -- just three of the 55 unions in attendance. The new party adopted anti-fusion rules similar to those of the Socialist movement, banning endorsement of the political candidates of other parties and calling for the expulsion of any Labor Party member accepting the endorsement of another party. The governing National Committee was to consist of two delegates from each state -- including, for the first time of any American political organization, a requirement that one of these delegates be a woman. Although the convention call recommended a short platform, the actual document adopted by the convention proved lengthy, with 30 planks including a call for broad nationalization of large scale industry, abolition of the US Senate, reduction of the veto power of the Supreme Court, sharply graduated income and inheritance taxes, a prohibition of child labor, abolition of the Espionage Act, and a reintroduction of the freedoms of speech and assemblage, among other objectives.
"Speech to the CPA National Committee," by Earl Browder [June 18, 1945] This is a very lengthy defense of the wartime policies of his administration by recently cashiered General Secretary Earl Browder. Browder makes his defense by reciting a massive number of quotations from his own wartime speeches and writings as well as two from Lenin -- this endless regurgitation representing well over half of the 9500-word excerpt here. Stripping away his self-congratulatory bluster, Browder's basic argument is that "The basic soundness of American Communists' wartime policy had not been directly challenged in the present discussion until the reports today." He holds that his uncontested policy was sound and rational, made necessary by the need to establish a Second Front in Europe and to support the Roosevelt administration against an alliance of Republican and conservative anti-Administration forces who were empowered in the rightward-tilting Congressional elections of 1942. The lack of Democratic Party dynamism in the aftermath of the 1942 vote demonstrated "the Democratic Party could be the vehicle for a people's victory only when it was supplemented by independent organizations of labor and the people (including dissident Republicans), in a broad coalition," Browder declares. Browder maintains the CPUSA's policy of guiding the labor movement to compliant support of the Roosevelt administration in matters of its personnel or policies was "entirely correct" since a militant policy would have resulted in a Dewey victory in 1944. Browder acknowledges that "We have undoubtedly been suffering from a number of vulgarizations and distortions of our correct political line, which require correction," but argues that their correction can "only upon the foundation of that political line and not upon its abandonment." Browder rejects charges that the policies with he was associated were a manifestation of "revisionism," since "our policy since 1942 has been basically correct, has proved itself so in life, and has brought victories and advances in all fields to the nation and to the working class, including the matter from the change from Party to Association."