In Memoriam Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

Update 13-29: Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013.

"South Slavic Convention Unanimous for CEC and Comintern" (Daily Worker) [events of Oct. 17-20, 1925]   Brief recap of the 1925 convention of the Yugoslav section of the Workers (Communist) Party, attended by 29 delegates in Chicago, said to represent 1,360 members (i.e. about 8% of the party). The delegates heard a keynote report by General Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg and obligingly provided unanimous support for a new restructuring of the party on the basis of shop and street nuclei and the transformation of language federations into "language fractions" which would soon have the effect of cutting party membership in half. A new 14 member bureau to govern the South Slavic section was elected, including 8 residents of Chicago who would constitute and "Executive Council" for daily affairs, with C. Novak as secretary. Also of note a mention of an inner dispute involving a "Comrade Fisher" on the losing end; whether this individual is the "Ed Fisher" of the 1920 factional war remains unclear.

"The Party’s Finnish Section Reorganization Commission Is Planning Big Drive" (Daily Worker) [event of Oct. 19, 1925]   On Oct. 19, 1925, a special four member "Executive Subcommittee" of the Finnish Reorganization Commission held its first meeting to plan for an orderly transformation of the Finnish Federation of the workers party, organized around language branches, to a restructured Finnish section, based upon so-called "shop nuclei." More than 100 of the most important Finnish branches were identified, with these to hold special meetings to hear a representative of the Reorganization Commission and to reorganize themselves. A lengthy list of these speakers were identified, including General Secretary, Jay Lovestone, James P. Cannon, and top Finnish leaders such as Henry Puro, Elis Sulkanen, Fahle Burman, K.A. Suvanto, and others. This article from The Daily Worker is particularly valuable for its list of 121 communities and towns in which the Workers Party of America maintained Finnish-language branches.

"'One Step Forward -- Two Steps Backward' for Mr. Green," by Jay Lovestone  [Oct. 21, 1925]   In the aftermath of the 1925 Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor, Workers (Communist) Party official Jay Lovestone identifies and attempts to interpret a shift in the line of new AF of L President William Green towards the establishment of a labor party in America. Previously opposing establishment of a labor party in principle, as inimical to "American ideals," Green in 1925 acknowledged the reasonableness of the labor party ideal "in principle" -- albeit to be established at some later date, owing to the agrarian essence of America. "There may be a time when we in America can organize a labor party, but we will have to change from an agricultural into a semi-industrial country before we can make a success along that line," Green is quoted as having said. Lovestone lashes out at this rationale for delay, providing census data to illustrate a steady decline in agricultural employment and growth of the wage-earning working class. The AF of L's historic political slogan "reward your friends and punish your enemies" is characterized by Lovestone as a "dastardly policy" of "reward your enemies and hang yourself." Lovestone intimates that the AF of L's non-partisan approach is being overwhelmed by the numerical growth of the working class in the United States.

"New Activity Under New Form," by William F. Kruse [Oct. 23, 1925]   The forthcoming restructuring of the Workers (Communist) Party is given an upbeat spin in this article from The Daily Worker. Kruse makes clear that the elimination of casual members in the language federations was not only expected but welcomed by the American party leadership. The "old territorial form of organization" being abandoned was a legacy of social democracy and its obsession with the bourgeois-democratic electoral process, Kruse notes, whereas the new form of organization was "the fruit of worldwide revolutionary experience." Kruse notes that opposition to the change is concentrated in the Finnish and German federations. He implies that the concern is misplaced, noting that in the Minneapolis district of the Workers Party, out of more than 60 towns in which the WPA had a presence, in over 50 there was only a single Finnish or Yugoslav branch, reducing the difficulty of forming multilingual shop nuclei. The loss of some members would be "undeniable, and also unavoidable," writes Kruse. "Elements, weak, unassimilated and unassimilable, will drop out. But by far the largest part of our proletarian elements will not only remain but will be heartened by the change to increase their strength."  A network of "worker clubs" would fulfill the role formerly played by Finnish socialist halls, Kruse indicates. Those members lost in the change would be individuals "who 'belong' for reasons of social or lingual gregariousness" who were "no material for our revolution, which must come from the workshop."

"Socialist Party Convention: Opportunism and Petty Bourgeois Reform Mark Outstanding Traits of Convention and Standard-Bearers," by “J.W.” [events of May 21-24, 1932]   Brief account of the sometimes stormy 1932 National Convention of the Socialist Party of America, held in Milwaukee, by a member of the Proletarian Party of America who was in attendance as an observer. The Proletarian Party activist notes ironically the way that Morris Hillquit's keynote speech against the timidity, superficiality, and phrasemongering of the liberals was at least as applicable to the Socialist Party itself. The organization's attempt to offer official support for the "Soviet experiment" while at the same time condemning the effects of the dictatorship of the proletariat is loudly criticized, with the dictatorship of the proletariat lauded as "the one thing that makes success possible." The "healthy sign" of emergence of a left wing labor movement within the SPA is noted, although "even this militant section" is said to have "a long way to travel before it will become Marxian in its understanding and revolutionary enough in its political activity to constitute any real danger to the petty bourgeois makeup of the Socialist Party." The SPA is characterized as a reform party during a phase of capitalist development in which reforms are no longer possible, critically and seemingly insurmountably hampered by its petty bourgeois social composition.

Illinois Needs a Farmer Labor Party, by Morris H. Childs  [circa January 1936] (graphic pdf, large file: 2.4 megs)  Complete pamphlet on the 1936 effort to establish a Farmer-Labor Party, authored by Chicago District Organizer Morris Childs -- later to become the highest ranking FBI mole in the leadership of the Communist Party USA (Operation SOLO). Childs first dallies with international matters, hailing party leader Earl Browder and the popular front line of the 7th World Congress of the Comintern and calling for defense of the Soviet Union as a "fortress against Fascism" and the "firmest bulwark against peace." Only after 10 pages does Childs get around to the ostensible subject of the pamphlet, the November 1936 elections. Childs depicts this as a struggle between an emerging "reactionary group with strong Fascist tendencies," including the Liberty League, the Economy League, and William Randolph Hearst. President Franklin Roosevelt is depicted as "fundamentally" seeking "to carry through the same ruling class program as is wanted by his opponents from the right." Nevertheless, Roosevelt has managed to mobilize the working class, farmers, and the middle class in support of his agenda, while his opponents of the "reactionary capitalist groups" have marshaled the very wealthy and large capitalists. Citing Earl Browder, Childs notes the centrality of the task of "winning the masses away from Roosevelt" as well as combating a potential turn of some of these elements to the Republicans. With respect to Illinois, Childs highlights a regressive state sales tax, failure to enact social legislation, and the use of the national guard and state police to break strikes by the Democratic administration. Childs notes growing disaffection with the policies of the New Deal and calls for a new Farmer-Labor Party as a vehicle to harness these turbulent elements and to keep them from falling into the clutches of the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Liberty League. "Every opportunity must be used to rally the oppressed and exploited sections of the population for the building of a Farmer-Labor Party movement," Childs declares. Childs acknowledges that calls for such a movement are limited to certain unions in the city of Chicago and that outside of the Cook County Labor Party, "there is no Farmer-Labor Party movement" in the state. Nevertheless, he expresses optimize that "we will realize our control task set by the Central Committee of 4,000 dues paying members by March 8 [1936], the time of the National Convention of our Party.


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