Update 14-11: Sunday, March 16, 2014.
"The Coming Struggle," by Mary Marcy [Jan. 1, 1919] This article by the co-editor of the recently terminated International Socialist Review gives voice to the revolutionary enthusiasm and illusions that swept the American radical movement in the aftermath of World War I. "To my mind the ultimate triumph of Socialism is as inevitable as the coming of the spring," Marcy declares. "The capitalist financial system is already crumbling. The spirit of revolution is already spreading beyond the boundaries of Russia into Germany, Bulgaria, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and down to Romania and far into Sweden and Finland." In response, capital was becoming internationally organized into a single world entity, with a single world army to defend its interests, Marcy says. In order to be effective in the future, "Socialism must become more and more international," she indicates. Forthcoming conflicts would "rock every nation" and "the greed of the capitalist class, the collapsing financial system upon which it is built, the enforced rebellion of the workers will be our opportunity." In the coming "real class war" Marcy says that equation of Socialism with electoral politics would be rejected by the working class; that instead the "rebellious force" must be organized and educated in "Industrial Socialism," which she defines as "shop-control by the workers."
"Letter to Arthur E. Elmgreen in Chicago from Eugene V. Debs in Terre Haute, Jan. 11, 1919." This Debs document was apparently conceived as an open letter directed to the delegates of the Mooney Labor Congress, convened in Chicago on Jan. 14, 1919. Debs proclaims jailed California labor leader Tom Mooney to be "absolutely innocent" and "the victim of the most infamous conspiracy in American history." He condemns Gov. William Stephens of California as a "tool of the corporations" and the state's courts as "debauched to the last degree" and urges united action of the working class and organized labor movement to win the freedom of Mooney and his associate Warren Billings, culminating if necessary in a general strike. "[I]f all entreaties are in vain and all measures fail, then as a last resort let a general strike be ordered and the industries of the nation paralyzed from end to end by an outraged working class determined upon rebuking crime and securing justice. ...The working class and the common people and all who sympathize with them must take this matter into their own hands and fearlessly meet the issue by stopping the wheels of industry long enough to compel the financial bandits and their mercenaries to realize that the honest workers have some rights they are bound to respect."
"Workers and Soldiers Council Organized in Portland." (Oregon Socialist Party Bulletin) [events of Jan. 9-13, 1919] While the organization of "Soviets" in Winnipeg and Seattle in association with general strikes in these cities are remembered as major historical events, less widely noted is a short-lived effort to establish a Soviet in Portland, Oregon. This article from the monthly publication of the Socialist Party of Oregon reprints a solicitation letter written shortly after the Jan. 9, 1919 formation of the "Portland Council of Workers and Soldiers" over the signatures of the organization's "Temporary President," Harry M. Wicks (later of Proletarian Party and Communist Party fame) as well as its Recording Secretary, Joe Thornton of the Street Railway Men's Union. Although decked out in bright red revolutionary bunting, the modest main purpose of the organization seems to have been to provide a mechanism for the integration of returning soldiers into the labor movement and to thereby avoid the growth of right wing "patriotic" organizations and strikebreaking. The entity itself seems to have generally resembled a city central labor council, with all unions entitled to representation on the basis of 1 delegate for every 100 members in good standing, or major fraction thereof. Only a very few meetings of this stillborn organization were held.
"The Bolshevists: Grave-Diggers of Capitalism," by C.E. Ruthenberg. [Jan. 29, 1919] Reformatted edition. Ruthenberg, Secretary of the large Local Cuyahoga Country, Socialist Party organization, poses the question whether or not the Russian Bolsheviks actually represented "something new." While the capitalist press accused them of "anarchy, ...rioting and bloodshed, wholesale murder and destruction" leading to "the collapse of orderly society," Ruthenberg argues that the Bolsheviks represented instead the consistent application of the established principles of Marxian Socialism. After outlining the basic tenets of Marxism, Ruthenberg declares himself in favor of the latter proposition: "Bolshevism is not something strange and new. It is not a blind, raging force of destruction. If at present its triumph is accompanied by bloodshed and destruction it is because the bankruptcy of capitalism precipitated a cataclysm and the workers are obliged to build the new order amidst the wreckage of the old and with those who profited from their former oppression and exploitation placing every obstacle possible in their path. Bolshevism is Marxian Socialism in action. It is the social revolution underway. It is the workers on the road to victory and a better world." Ruthenberg later served as the first Executive Secretary of the Communist Party of America.
"Minutes of the New York City Committee, Left Wing Section, Socialist Party, Feb. 2, 1919." Minutes of the first meeting of the New York City Committee of the Left Wing Section, Socialist Party, with Edward Lindgren in the chair. Election of committees took place, including a permanent 4 person "International Committee" consisting of Rose Pastor Stokes, Jim Larkin, Nick Hourwich, and Jack Reed; a 3 member Speakers Committee, including Bert Wolfe, Ed Lindgren, and Max Cohen; and a 5 person Press Committee, of Julius Hammer, Jay Lovestone, Fannie Horowitz, Harry Hiltzig, and a Comrade Spanier. The decision was made to print dues cards and to collect dues of 10 cents per month for members of the organized faction. County Organizers were selected for four boroughs as well as the Russian and Yiddish language branches. John Reed was named New York editor of The Revolutionary Age, published in Boston, with a Comrade Lehman made the circulation and business manager, with wages of $25 a week guaranteed. Temporary committees were established to investigate rental of an office and to put out the Left Wing Manifesto in pamphlet form.
"The Left Wing," by Jack Carney [Feb. 21, 1919] Short editorial from the pages of Duluth Truth announcing publication of the Left Wing manifesto in the pages of that paper and promising the Left Wing the support of "the comrades of the Scandinavian and the English locals of Duluth" and the paper editorially. The Irish-born Carney writes: "The Left Wing manifesto and program comes at a time when it is most needed. It will arouse those comrades who have left the party disgusted with the opportunism of its leader. It will inspire those who have remained true to the cause of the International, before the war, during the war, and after the war. It will compel those who have stood still, to reconsider their position anew."
"Killing the Socialist Party: An editorial in The Ohio Socialist, Feb. 26, 1919." In January 1919 dues stamps sales suddenly exploded for the Socialist Party, as this editorial in left wing Ohio Socialist notes. Ohio's sales were up 85% from the figures of the previous month and more than triple those of January the previous year. Interestingly, this does not seem to have been directly related to the party's referendum election of a new National Executive Committee, hotly contested by the left wing, as the "regular" states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania also seem to have posted unusually large January sales, this article intimates. Some 12,616 Socialist Party dues stamps were sold in Ohio in Jan. 1919, making it the third largest state in membership dues collected, following New York and Wisconsin and ahead of Illinois.
"Minutes of the New York City Committee Left Wing Section, Socialist Party, March 2, 1919." Minutes of the second meeting of the City Central Committee of the Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party, Greater New York. A fairly mundane meeting, marked by the resignation of Carl Brodsky as organizer of New York County and a decision to send the Left Wing Manifesto to the printer for publication as a pamphlet the next day. Edward Lindgren is dispatched to Boston to work on the Revolutionary Age there. An office was rented out for the group's headquarters at a cost of $15 per month. Future Communist leaders J. Wilenkin and Rose Wortis make their appearance as delegates. Minutes were compiled by Ella Wolfe as Recording Secretary, wife of Bert.
"Letter to Eugene V. Debs in Terre Haute, IN, from Ludwig Lore in New York City, March 5, 1919." Reformatted edition. Letter from Ludwig Lore, first among equals on the editorial board of The Class Struggle, to his new, albeit nominal, co-editor Gene Debs. After asking for an article on American conditions, Lore raises the matter of the emerging Left Wing movement in the Socialist Party. He is, surprisingly, not an enthusiastic supporter of the organized faction: "Although I am in full agreement, as you know, with the fundamental principles that prompt these organizations, I personally feel that at this time they constitute a grave danger, not only to the party, but tot he very cause for which they are being created. So far as I have been able to discover, the membership of our party is radically inclined and will support the revolutionary position. But the propagation by organizations such as these within the party must inevitably, I feel, bring about a split in the movement. A split that will, moreover, not strengthen, but weaken revolutionary socialism in America by driving the rank and file into the arms of Right Wing leaders as a protest against the methods of the more radical minority." He invites Debs to submit a short statement of his own views on the matter. (The Class Struggle ultimately endorsed the Left Wing in its next issue, dated Feb. 1919, with co-editor Louis C. Fraina writing the editorial.)
"Minutes of the New York City Committee Left Wing Section, Socialist Party, March 9, 1919." Minutes of the third meeting of the City Committee of the Left Wing Section of Greater New York. A move has been made from a monthly to a weekly meeting schedule. Communications have begun to arrive from around the country asking for clarification about the nature of the Left Wing Section and its tactics, with freshly-printed copies of the Manifesto and Program of the Left Wing Section Socialist Party, Local Greater New York being sent out in reply. A decision is made to send someone to visit Eugene V. Debs in person, presumably to explain the situation. Tension is already showing between the Left Wing Section and the New York Call, which rejected an ad for the group, prohibiting its mention as a sponsoring organization in future meeting ads. A three member committee consisting of Jay Lovestone, Bert Wolfe, and Harry Hiltzig is elected to formally appeal this decision before a forthcoming meeting of the Call Association, the membership organization which was the publisher of that newspaper.
"Locals Cooperate to Buy National Headquarters." (Ohio Socialist) [March 19, 1919] One of the pieces of common property fought over most bitterly during the protracted divorce proceedings of the Socialist and Communist organizations was the newly obtained national headquarters building, located at 220 Ashland Blvd. in Chicago. This brief fundraising blurb, apparently originating from the national office, notes that the party sought to raise a $40,000 headquarters fund from its members, with a minimum suggested donation of $1.00 and all donors of that amount or more to receive in exchange an "ownership certificate." During the bitter 1919 National Convention in August this headquarters facility down the street from the convention hall was used as a staging grounds for the Regular faction, marshaled by National Secretary Adolph Germer and NEC chief James Oneal. Includes a published photo of the ponderous Gothic facility.
"Fighting the American Bolsheviki" (Ohio Socialist) [March 26, 1919] On Feb. 1, 1919, Attorney General Thomas Gregory pulled the plug on the American Protective League, an officially recognized private auxiliary to the nation's law enforcement and intelligence apparatus which had emerged during World War I. In response, the Cleveland APL created a successor organization, the Loyal American League. Both the radicals behind the Ohio Socialist and the LAL conservatives were eager to see the American situation through the Russian prism, with the LAL declaring its intent to fight "socialism, anarchy and bolshevism" and to work for the deportation of "traitorous alien and anarchist alien" elements. The "policy of Lenin and Trotsky" to be opposed by the nationalists is defined loosely: "to seize all public utilities, to fully maintain or increase war wages, to reduce working hours, to increase employers’ liabilities, and to force the employment of labor on public works." This, of course, provides fodder for the revolutionary socialists, who call the Loyal American League "un-American" and declare: "The capitalists say that if you demand better wages, shorter hours, and the right to work you are disloyal and a traitor and if you are an alien you ought to be deported. Answer them by organizing your power and sweeping them into oblivion."