Update 13-25: Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.

"A Talk With Mr. Burleson," by George P. West [Oct. 12, 1917]  In October 1917, with radical publications falling like flies at the hands of Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson and Post Office Solicitor William Lamar, a journalist from the liberal newsweekly The Public managed to obtain an interview with the Post Office Department chief to learn his views on wartime censorship. The conservative Texas Democrat expounded at length, condemning Max Eastman as "as no better than a traitor"and the material being printed by him in The Masses as "rank treason." "You needn’t have the slightest fear provided you stay within the limits," Burleson repeatedly informed his interlocutor, "But the instant you print anything calculated to dishearten the boys in the army or to make them think this is not a just and righteous war -- that instant you will be suppressed, and no amount of influence will save you." Some sparring on social issues followed, with Burleson revealing a belief in Divide Providence rendering impoverished workers mentally unable to prosper: "It's the shape of his brain. It's fatality. God Almighty did that, and you can’t change it." His own views notwithstanding, Burleson insists that he would follow no agenda to suppress political magazines with which he disagreed , including socialist publications, so long as they stayed within the limits of the law.

"Convict Fraina and E.R. Cheney: Young Men Charged with Opposing Draft Face Heavy Sentences Next Monday." (NY Call) [event of Oct. 18, 1917]  Short news article announcing the conviction of Louis C. Fraina and Ralph Cheney in New York City on charges of conspiracy to obstruct the draft for their speeches as an anti-conscription meeting held in that city on Sept. 27, 1917. Although attorney Louis B. Boudin managed to have one of two counts against the duo dismissed on the previous day, he was not so fortunate with the second count, with the jury convicting Fraina and Cheney after about two hours of deliberation. Remanded pending sentencing, the two anti-conscription activists potentially faced two years in federal prison and fines of $10,000 each for their convictions.

"The Right of Criticism: Address in Defense of The Call Before Assistant Postmaster General Dockery, Washington, DC -- October 15, 1917," by Morris Hillquit.  During the final days of his campaign for Mayor of New York City, Socialist Party attorney took time to travel to Washington, DC to represent the party's New York daily newspaper before the Post Office Department, which had forced it to appear and show cause why its second class mailing privileges should not be removed. Citing the words of the legislation, Hillquit charges that the Post Office Department headed by Albert S. Burleson was misapplying the espionage law, which had not been drawn up with a view to suppressing dissent, but rather as a mechanism for the punishment of "well defined acts" of treason, "not opinions, not views of any kind." Hillquit furthermore charges that the Post Office had of its own accord changed the law's formal prohibition from the mails of material "intended" to "cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny or refusal of duty in the military or naval forces of the United States" by substituting the word "tends." If this word substitution meant anything more than the law passed by Congress, such revised terms "exceed the authority of the Post Office Department and are a nullity," Hillquit argues. Hillquit also asserts that "there is not the slightest basis in law" for the Post Office to rule that any publication which ever published material held to be in violation of the espionage law ceased to become a newspaper or periodical entitled to second class mailing rights under the law. Hillquit concludes  on the basis of a constitutional right of political dissent: "Where would our country be now, where would our democratic institutions be now, if the founders of this republic denied the full and free exercise of the right to criticize existing political and other institutions by persuasion? ... It will never do to say that such rights of criticism are permitted in ordinary normal times, but will not be permitted in critical times or times of war. The constitution was made for all times -- times of war and times of peace."

"President Asks God to Assist United States" (NY Call) [Oct. 20, 1917]  President of the United States Woodrow Wilson attempts to call out the Really Big Gun in support of the American military crusade in Europe, declaring Sunday, October 28 "a day of supplication and prayer for all the people of the nation" to obtain God’s blessing for triumph in "the high task which is laid upon us." Wilson's missionary zeal is evident in his assertion of the root of  constitutional liberties in "divine teachings" which have led the nation "to turn always to the supreme Master and cast themselves in faith at His feet, praying for His aid and succor in every hour of trial." In this way, Wilson asserts, Americans' "power as a people" may be "set at last upon enduring foundations for the benefit of all the free people of the earth."

"Nationalism -- A Cause of War," by David P. Berenberg [Oct. 21, 1917]  A thought provoking, albeit short, theoretical essay by David Berenberg, a young public school teacher at the time. Berenberg, a committed International Socialist, attempts to integrate the notion of nationalism into Marxist thinking about the root causes of war. Orthodox Socialism, he notes, asserted as axiomatic the notion that economic rivalry was the root cause of war. Berenberg grants the premise, but goes on to explain that only "Kings and capitalists" fight for such reasons, whereas the common citizenry are mobilized in the 20th Century instead by national pride and the defense of national honor. Berenberg asserts that the trend in the 20th Century has been for the emergence of small nations in place of larger multinational states. This has been accompanied by "the recrudescence of forgotten languages, the revival of 'cultures' a long time dead." He enumerates the peoples having gained nationhood (Serbs, Greeks, Romanians, Bulgarians) as well as those aspiring to such (Poles, Czechs, Welsh, Irish, Finns, and Jews). This trend has lent itself to political destabilization and made possible the use of these popular sentiments for ulterior purposes. Thus, in Berenberg's view, the ideologies of "Pan-Slavism" and "Pan-Germanism," while clearly a cause of the current conflict, have simultaneously been "the cloak behind which the economic causes" of war have worked.  Berenberg seeks no alliance of national socialisms for he declares nationalism "an unmitigated curse." He proclaims that nationalism "leads inevitably to chauvinism and to national aggression. It leads to a patriotism for the soil, for the particular bit of the earth's surface on which a particular person has been born. It leads to narrowness and bigotry, to national jealousy and petty pride." However, Berenberg notes that the long-term trend of modern society is not to nationality, but rather to individualism: "Nationalism claims that the culture belonging to one nation is distinct from that belonging to any other. This was so in the past, but the natural evolution of mankind is making it less so. Increased means of communication -- the telegraph, wireless, the railroad, the steamboat, the airplane -- have caused nations to exchange their products until today there is no essential difference between any one of the countries of the world. Even language is tending to become universal. More people understand each other today than ever before. Governments are coming to resemble each other. Codes of ethics are becoming international. It is only by the most artificial kind of propaganda that nationalism is kept alive."

"Letter to the Editor of the New York Call Magazine, from Jack Carney." [Oct. 21, 1917]  Minor contribution to the literary corpus by Irish Marxist and future Communist Labor Party of America founding member Jack Carney. Carney takes exception to the views of an anonymous letter writer from Rochester, New York, who espoused impossibilist views about the Russian revolution and the efficacy of the organized labor movement. Carney defends the decision of the British Trades Union Congress to send activist Tom Mann to South Africa to assist in a mine strike and offers the thought that the American workers movement would be in better shape with Eugene Debs in charge of the American Federation of Labor in place of Samuel Gompers. He expresses faith in the Russian revolutionary government headed at the time by Alexander Kerensky. "Let us not bury our heads too deeply in philosophy," Carney advises those inclined to impossibilist absolutism, otherwise "we may miss sight of the things that are going around us today." "We are getting too darned serious about little things, and failing to notice the lessons of the big things," he opines.

The Proletarian, vol. 2, no. 2 [June 1919]  (Graphic pdf, large file, 2.4 megs.) Full issue of the official magazine of the Socialist Party of Michigan/Proletarian University faction headed by John Keracher. This issue contains: Cover art by Breit [V.M. Breitmayer]; "Spartacan Sparks"; Dennis E. Batt: "All in the Name of Liberty"; John Keracher: "Peacing Out the Pieces"; John Davis: "Don't Be a Wooden Indian!"; Oakley C. Johnson: "'Babushka'"; John Keracher: "International Notes" (Russia, France, USA, Yugoslavia); "Left Wing Socialists Capture Party in Chicago"; "John O'London" [Keracher?]: "Revolutionary Political Action: The Road to Socialism" (Pt. 1); "Art Under the Bolsheviks"; Oakley C. Johnson: "A New Basis for Ethics"; "Long Live Our Celebrated Socialist Unity."

The Proletarian, vol. 2, no. 3 [July 1919]  (Graphic pdf, large file, 2.3 megs.) Full issue of the official magazine of the Socialist Party of Michigan/Proletarian University faction headed by John Keracher. This issue contains: Cover art by Breit [V.M. Breitmayer]; "Spartacan Sparks"; Dennis E. Batt: "The Parting of the Ways"; Breit [V.M. Breitmayer]: "Music Hath Charms to Soothe the Savage Beast"; John Davis: "Kicking According to Plan"; L.B.: "Science A La Clergy"; "The Socialist Forum"; John Keracher: "International Notes" (Russia, Canada, Germany); "John O'London" [Keracher?]: "Revolutionary Political Action: The Road to Socialism" (Pt. 2); "Michigan State Emergency Convention"; Earnest Reen: "Pogroms and Socialism."

The Proletarian, vol. 2, no. 4 [August 1919]  (Graphic pdf, large file, 2.3 megs.) Full issue of the official magazine of the Socialist Party of Michigan/Proletarian University faction headed by John Keracher. This issue contains: Cover art by Breit [V.M. Breitmayer]; "Spartacan Sparks"; Oakley C. Johnson: "Confusionists and Confusionism"; O.C.: "Tightening the Line of the Class Struggle"; Karl Romaine: "Art and Revolution"; "The Socialist Forum"; John Keracher: "International Notes" (Ireland, Russia, England, Mexico); "John O'London" [Keracher?]: "Revolutionary Political Action: The Road to Socialism" (Pt. 3); "Concerning Bad Books"; L.B.: "Capitalist Sociology"; F.A.S.: "Book Review: 'Bolshevism,' by John Spargo"; F.S. Faulkner: "Our Job."

The Proletarian, vol. 2, no. 6 [October 1919]  (Graphic pdf, large file, 2.3 megs.) Full issue of the official magazine of the Socialist Party of Michigan/Proletarian University faction headed by John Keracher. This issue contains: Cover art by Breit [V.M. Breitmayer]; "Spartacan Sparks"; "Communist Party Convention"; Oakley C. Johnson: "'Vaudeville Socialism'"; L.B.: "Morals vs. Profits"; "John O'London": "The WIIU Editor Bumps His Head Against the Proletarian"; Oakley C. Johnson: "Shall Private Property Be Abolished in America?"; John Keracher: "International Notes" (England, Persia, Afghanistan, USA); "As You Like It"; "Correspondence"; "John O'London" [Keracher?]: "Revolutionary Political Action: The Road to Socialism" (Pt. 5);  "Manifesto and Program: Minority Report of the Committee on Manifesto and Program at the Communist Party Convention."

"Delegates Ask US Recognize Soviet Russia: Convention Condemns Boycott Against Workers’ Republic -- New Executive Committee Chosen: Federations Intact," by William M. Feigenbaum [events of June 29, 1921]  Continuing coverage by the New York Call of the 1921 National Convention of the Socialist Party of America reaches the fifth and final day. A new National Executive Committee is elected, consisting of James Oneal, James Maurer, William H. Henry, William M. Brandt, Ed Melms, Lilith Martin, and Julius Gerber. Going into the convention an end was forecast for language federations as part of the structure of the SPA, but following hours of debate on the convention floor the decision was made to retain the federation structure virtually unchanged.  Sensationalistic coverage of the convention in the Detroit press inspired the Disabled World War Veterans’ Association to send a delegation to heatedly warn the Socialists against revolution, with the spokesman for the group stating "We do not advocate force, but it there is any disloyalty we will meet it as we have met other enemies, with machine guns." Chairman for the day Cameron King of California replied that there was "only one organization in the world which attempted to stop the war, which has caused you and millions like you such suffering. That was the international Socialist movement. We are proud of our internationalism. We only regret that we were too weak to stop the war." With these pleasantries exchanged, the war veterans left the hall and the convention moved to other business, chiefly the passage of resolutions and the hearing of reports.


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