Update 13-10: Sunday, July 28, 2013.

"What Socialists Can Do in Office," by John C. Chase [March 26, 1910]  With an election for Chicago City Council around the corner -- a race in which the Socialist Party backed an earnest slate of candidates -- former Socialist Mayor of Haverhill, Massachusetts John C. Chase was called upon to rally the troops against discouragement in the Chicago Daily Socialist. In opposing the notion that "it is no use to vote for Socialist candidates because they cannot be elected, or because they cannot do anything if elected," Chase contends that to the contrary elected Socialists "always succeed in forcing through many ordinances and laws that better the condition of the workers." Chase lists some such achievements in Massachusetts, which included establishment of an 8-hour day for city workers and the forced reduction of natural gas rates in Haverhill, MA, and a right to picket during strikes and to force those soliciting strike replacement workers to make note of the existence of a strike in their ads and solicitations. Chase contend that the election of just two Socialists to the Chicago City Council will have the effect of forcing passage of legislation benefiting the working class for the first time in the city's history.

"Chicago Labor Breaks with Old Parties as J. Fitzpatrick Balks: President of Body Refuses to Carry Out Decision in Resolution." [event of April 17, 1910]  The fiasco of 1923-24 involving the Workers Party of America, Chicago Federation of Labor chief John Fitzpatrick, and the Farmer-Labor Party is well known through the telling of historian Theodore Draper in his seminal Roots of American Communism. What is less well known is the backstory. This 1910 article from The Chicago Daily Socialist marks the first time the powerful CFL went on the record as endorsing "independent political action" (i.e. a Labor Party) in opposition to the accepted idea of the Samuel Gompers-led American Federation of Labor, supporting individual allies and punishing individual foes within the two party system. Instructed to support this new CFL agenda at a forthcoming Farmers Convention to be held in St. Louis, CFL President and convention delegate elect flatly refused the instruction (and by extension the Labor Party idea) rather than potentially cross swords with the Gompers-led AFL officialdom. An attempt to reconsider the endorsement of a Labor Party in the wake of Fitzpatrick's refusal was narrowly turned aside, leaving the CFL on the record for a Labor Party and opposed to the Gompers old parties political strategy, with Fitzpatrick remaining in Gompers' camp.

"New Awakening for Socialism in Cleveland: Future is Bright for Workers’ Party in Big Ohio City," by C.E. Ruthenberg [April 18, 1910]  One of the earliest published writings of future Cleveland Socialist Party and national Communist Party leader C.E. Ruthenberg. The 28-year old Ruthenberg, at the time of this writing a member of the SPA for about 16 months, spins the recent defeat of reform Mayor of Cleveland Tom Johnson as the removal of a severe "handicap" which had confronted the Socialist Party in the city. Ruthenberg paints a rosy picture of the development of the Cleveland party, including its employment of a paid field organizer, its launching of a professional literature agent (to be paid from book sales), its regular monitoring of the meetings of the Cleveland City Council, and its organization of a lecture bureau. Credit is given to Max S. Hayes' labor weekly The Cleveland Citizen for its support of SP organizing efforts in the city. The recent electoral triumph of the Socialist Party in the city of Milwaukee is cited as an inspiration and a model by Ruthenberg, who indicates that the party's victory had "filled our hearts with the knowledge that if we persevere, if we march on, fighting at every step to build up a better, stronger, more virile and aggressive organization of the working class, in the end we will reach our goal."

"'Opportunist' Possibilities vs. 'Impossibilist' Inevitabilities," by G.H. Lockwood [May 2, 1910]   With a national convention looming, Socialist Party of Michigan State Secretary G.H. Lockwood is asked for a short report on party activities in his state for publication by the Chicago Daily Socialist. Instead, Lockwood responds with an intriguing analysis of the latest permutation of the perennial left-right split of the American radical movement. Identifying the two positions by the mildly pejorative terms "Opportunist" and "Impossibilist," Lockwood acknowledges the recent victory of the Milwaukee Socialists in the April 1910 elections as the "opportunity of the opportunists," and advises the left to withhold judgment until the experiment is fully tried, although he indicates the inevitable outcome is a "clean capitalistic administration" amidst the ongoing wage system and the class struggle. Lockwood, a self-described revolutionary Socialist, details the ideology of the "impossibilists" in some detail, declaring that "very little can be gained by Socialists trying to administer the capitalists’ political machinery" and professing a fundamental belief that the capitalist state was unceasingly "evolving the methods of its own destruction." Lockwood expresses a fear that the Socialist victory in Milwaukee will launch a feeding frenzy among self-appointed party "leaders" to win ultimately ineffectual municipal elections. "A more hopeful sign to me than the questionable victory in Milwaukee is the growth of the spirit of solidarity among the working class as manifest by the frequent sympathetic strikes and the tendency towards industrial unionism," Lockwood declares.

"The Party Situation: Editorial in The Oklahoma Leader." [August 9, 1919]  The primary Socialist newspaper in the state of Oklahoma does its best to get its readers ready for a coming split of the party in this short editorial. Noting scornfully that the organized Left Wing faction has a National Secretary and a National Executive Committee, the editor notes that the Left Wing has declared a split at the August 30 convention to be inevitable: the Left Wing states either the Left Wing will control the convention and force Regulars to bolt "by the implacability of our policy" or else the Regulars will control the convention and the Left Wing will bolt to "constitute its own convention and organize a new Communist Party." Quoting The Revolutionary Age, the Leader editor notes the Left Wing has pronounced that "there is no compromise conceivable."


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