Update 12-26: Sunday, June 23, 2012.
"Letter of Resignation to Adolph Germer in Chicago from John Spargo in Old Bennington, Vermont, May 30, 1917." With his pro-war alternative resolution on War and Militarism garnering just 5 votes at the 1917 Emergency National Convention of the Socialist Party and the militantly anti-war majority resolution authored by Morris Hillquit and C.E. Ruthenberg clearly on the way to gaining a massive vote of approval in a membership referendum, NEC member John Spargo decided to make his exit from the organization. In this resignation letter to SPA Executive Secretary Adolph Germer, Spargo proclaims himself to remain "a Socialist, an inter-nationalist, and an anti-militarist." Spargo charges that "from the early days of the war the Socialist Party has, in actual practice, been committed to a program essentially un-neutral, un-American, and pro-German." "We have repeated all the miserable evasions and apologies of German statesmen, and been silent upon those questions on which German interests required silence," Spargo alleges. Spargo calls the St. Louis majority resolution "a betrayal of the basic principles of International Socialism; that it is grossly inaccurate in its statements on matters of fact and record" and indicates that it "includes a program of action likely to destroy the Socialist movement in this country, and to make the very word an offense to the American people." Spargo indicates that he will continue to work for "a reorientation of the social democratic forces of the country upon a sound program of democratic public ownership" through the Intercollegiate Socialist Society and other non-party institutions.
"Socialists Must Clean House or Begin Anew," by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius [May 18, 1918] [NEW EDITION, REATTRIBUTED] With acting editor Louis Kopelin in the Army in Europe, managing editor of the New Appeal Emanuel Haldeman-Julius ratchets up the rhetoric with this editorial in the pro-war Socialist weekly, accusing the Socialist Party's leadership of pro-Germanism: "The Kaiser, Von Hertling, Hindenburg, and Ludendorff could not have devised a more cunning and hypocritical excuse to avert an expression of a majority than Hillquit, Berger, Stedman, and Germer, the bosses of the Socialist Party, have just announced to prevent the rank and file of the American Socialists from repudiating the un-American and anti-internationalist platform adopted by the party convention last year." By rejecting reconsideration of the Socialist Party's war program established by its 1917 St. Louis Emergency National Convention, Haldeman-Julius shrilly asserts that the "wreckers of the Socialist Party and the besmirchers of the name of Socialism" have prevented the party "from taking its rightful place in the worldwide struggle against autocracy and militarism." The St. Louis Resolution is dismissed as a "pro-German...official pronunciamento of an organization claiming to be the Socialist Party of America." Haldeman-Julius demands either a purge of the party's leadership or a split of the organization: "The New Appeal, as the leading organ of the Socialists of America, publicly calls attention to this situation and demands that the party either purge itself of its disloyal platform and leaders or prepare itself for a new political alignment that will serve both our country and the cause and not the disloyalists and Central Powers." Haldeman-Julius appeals both to the "Americanism" and the "internationalism" of his readers in rallying "to the support of our country and the Western European democracies in their life and death struggle against the most ruthless and powerful military despotism in human history.
"Where I Stand," by Meyer London [May 25, 1918] In this published statement New York Socialist Congressman Meyer London leaves no doubt to which strand of the divided international socialist movement he feels allegiance -- coming down solidly on the side of social-patriotism against the anti-imperialist pacifism of the SP Center or the revolutionary defeatism of the Left. Germany is characterized as "a strong and brutal power, organizing for the last 50 years" and said to be "threatening the world" with the "poisoned clutches of Prussian militarism." Against this "infernal lust of the Kaiser" stands the paragon "idealistic peace program" of Woodrow Wilson, London indicates. With the Socialist press self-censored or barred from the mail and hundreds of activists and conscientious objectors jailed, while police spies infiltrating every public meeting, the SPA's poster boy for the tactic of political action provides his constitutents with an object lesson in the chutzpah, proclaiming France, England, and the United States to be "the freest countries in the world." It is worthy of note that Meyer London lost his 1918 bid for re-election but was never expelled from the Socialist Party for this blatant violation of the St. Louis Resolution. He won a return to Congress in 1920.
"What’s Wrong with the Socialist Party?" by Allan L. Benson [June 15, 1918] The Joseph Lieberman of the Socialist Party, former 1916 SPA Presidential nominee turned bitter party critic Allan Benson, breaks a year of silence to unleash his guns on his former political organization in the pages of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius's The New Appeal. Benson recycles the archaic verbiage of the 1880s, characterizing the direct action-oriented Left Wing of the Socialist Party as "anarchists" and blaming all the party's recent ills on the "sabotage" conducted by those whom the SP Right and Center banned in 1912. Benson is sharply critical of the ideas that "workers have no country" and that "workingmen should not be concerned with the outcome of any war except the class war," bolstering his opinion with the example of Karl Marx's staunch support for the cause of the Union in the American Civil War. Benson contends that for the Socialist Party to be respected in a world increasingly turning to socialist ideas, "the party must be respectable." Since the 1917 Emergency National Convention it has been no such thing, in Benson's view -- a situation for which he blames "anarchists, falsely regarded as Socialists" who are "aided and abetted by certain foreigners whose naturalization papers should be cancelled while they themselves are deported to the countries from which they came."
"Open Letter of Resignation from the Socialist Party," by Allan L. Benson [July 6, 1918] Former SPA Presidential candidate Allan L. Benson reprises his June 15, 1918 article in Emanuel Haldeman-Julius's The New Appeal in resigning from the Socialist Party "a year after I ceased to agree with it." Benson states that his former high place as a representative of the party just two years earlier was the cause for this delay: "It seemed to me that having been at the head of the national ticket two years ago it was particularly my duty to be patient and see if the party would not right itself. It has not righted itself," he declares. He therefore submits his resignation "as a protest against the foreign-born leadership that blindly believes a non-American policy can be made to appeal to many Americans." Benson joined immediately the Social Democratic League of America, a new pro-war Socialist organization which included a number of prominent writers and intellectuals, such as John Spargo, William English Walling, Charles Edward Russell, and A.M. Simons.
"Why I Joined the Social Democratic League," by Allan L. Benson [Aug. 3, 1918] Now in the position of staff writer on the de facto official organ of the pro-war Social Democratic League of America, former Socialist Presidential candidate Allen Benson restates the reasons for his change of heart. Citing the German Kaiser's hatred of socialism, Benson asserts"I want this war to end in such a manner that a Socialist government when established can exist." A German victory, in his view, would establish a new global regime that would render socialism an impossibility for 500 or 1,000 years. Moreover the "unutterable hatred of anything and everything in this country at this time that is mild to Germany and harsh to America" makes it imperative to burn bridges to the party of anti-imperialist war opponents Morris Hillquit and Victor Berger. This catering to public opinion was shared by his intellectual peers, Benson notes, declaring "of all the writers who once urged the cause of the Socialist Party and reckoned millions [of readers], not one remains." Benson cites the parallel legacy of Eugene Debs leaving the ranks of the Socialist Labor Party when it was "well adapted to the propagation of Socialism," forgetting that Debs was never a member of the aforementioned organization. Socialist sentiment "covers the land as the sunshine mantles the earth," Benson indicates, and he states that if he and his co-thinkers "have not the wit to organize it, others will do so."
"The First Year: Reflections on the Origins of the New York Call," by Algernon Lee [May 27, 1921] In honor of the paper's 13th anniversary, founding editor of the Socialist daily New York Call, Algernon Lee, offers his brief recollections about the establishment of the publication. The paper began on the top floor of a shabby building on Park Avenue, Lee recalls, a sweltering single room filled with the hot air and lead fumes of the linotype machines. Pioneers of the project remembered by Lee included Harry Smith, George Gordon, Will Mailly, and Billy Feigenbaum. Mailly, a former Executive Secretary of the Socialist Party formerly associated with party radical Hermon Titus, is recalled with particular fondness: "if Will had lived twice as long he would still have died young. I never knew anyone so avid of life -- so eager to know everything, to experience everything, to achieve everything. And how much he did learn and how much achieve, how intensely did he live, in the few short years after his entrance into the Socialist movement opened up to him all the vistas of literature, science, and art, and gave him the opportunity to realize himself in working for something bigger than self!" Working on the early Call was "fun," Lee states, since "the very uncertainty whether The Call could live another week lent to the whole thing an air of adventure and gave us a sense of victory each day when the paper came from the press."
"Yugoslavs, Who Left Party in 1914, Come Back: Secretary of South Slavic Federation Says There Are 32 Branches Now Doing Active Work..." by Frank Petrich [May 28, 1921] Head of the Yugoslav Socialist Federation Frank Petrich offers a brief synopsis of his group's relationship with the Socialist Party of America in this article prepared for the Socialist press. Petrich notes that prior to the 1919 split the South Slavic Federation had included 3200 dues-paying members. The federation had been suspended from the party during the faction fight between Regulars and the organized Left Wing section, however, and by the August 1920 return of the Yugoslav federation to SPA's ranks, only 435 members in 32 branches remained. The Croatians had left the federation for the Communist movement, but the Slovenian and Serbian sections remaining had begun to slowly rebuild, with 12 new branches formed since the August 1920 reentry and the federation's ranks back up to the 750 mark. This was regarded by Petrich as the tip of the iceberg, since 75,000 Slovenes alone were enrolled in national benefit societies. "If they have such a splendid “Red Cross” organization, they surely should have an equally powerful political fighting organization," Petrich declared.
"Why Punish the Socialist Movement?" by Frank Petrich [May 30, 1921] Party loyalist Frank Petrich, head of the Socialist Party's Yugoslav Federation, makes this complaint about proposed changes to the party constitution which will have the effect of forcing federation branches to participate directly in the affairs of their associated English-speaking locals to purchase dues stamps, instead of being able to purchase them directly through the language federation, as previously. Petrich declares that such an amendment aims "at the controlling point of the federations' organization system" and is an attempt "to deprive Language Federations of their autonomy." This would place the federations in the position of supplicants for funding from state and local committees, who would be under no obligation to aggressively carry on propaganda work in the languages in question. Petrich characterizes this change as centralization at any price and argues that it will have a negative effect on the party in general and the language federations in particular. "Who are the forces that are trying to lead the Socialist Party into a blind alley and through it to punish the Socialist movement?" Petrich asks.