MEMBERS OF the Socialist Party throughout the country breathed a sigh of relief when the so-called “peace pact” was negotiated at the New York meeting of the National Executive Committee. They had expectations that some kind of organizational unity could be achieved. However, the Militants of New York, while accepting the pact in the spirit of discipline, were not too sanguine. It must be remembered that the pact was drawn between the N.E.C. and the New York State Committee. The Militants as an interested faction were not consulted. In fact the representatives of the New York State Committee, when confronted with the possibility of conferring with the leadership of the Militants in the presence of the National Executive Committee, stated emphatically that if the Militants were called in they would refuse to continue negotiations with the National Executive Committee, and would stand by their original position.
The Old Guard soon flew its colors. Louis Waldman, New York State Chairman, at a, meeting of the Jewish Verband in New York stated that the peace did not include the Militants. It was merely a contract between the State Committee and the N.E.C. He made it clear that so far as the Old Guard was concerned there could be no peace in the Party until the Militants were driven out.
Despite the above, the New York Militants accepted the “peace pact” in good faith and tried to carry it out, although they were under no illusions as to the intransigent position of the old guard. This can be proven by the position taken by the militants at the first meeting of the Central Committee immediately after the “peace pact” was signed.
At this meeting, a leading militant made a motion to dispense with all the previous minutes. Motion after motion was made by militants proposing activity, as the report of the Central Committee, in the “Socialist Call” and The “New Leader” of August 7th will bear out.
However, it is worth while, in the light of what may happen in the future, to take up specifically all the important questions arising subsequent to the “pact” – questions that are bringing division and bitterness into New York.
The Picnic at Ulmer Park
A week after the Central Committee meeting and two weeks after the “peace pact” Local New York held its annual picnic at Ulmer Park. At this picnic, although the New York State Committee had already stated that it would reinstate the Yipsels, a large sign greeted the people coming into the park, saying: “Join the Young Socialist Alliance,” the organization which the old guard created to take the place of the Yipsels.
Yipsels selling the official YPSL pamphlet “Make Freedom Constitutional” were stopped, in many cases forcibly.
Comrades selling the “Socialist Call” had their “Calls” taken away from them and some of them were beaten by the special police in the park.
The Kruger Case
A.N. Kruger, a member of the City Central Committee, was brought up on charges of advocating communism. The evidence was a, letter sent by Comrade Kruger, who at that time was working for the “New Leader,” to comrades in charge of the “Jamestown Labor News” to which he had been recommended as editor by the “New Leader”. In this letter he stated that he believes in some of the ideas that are commonly known as communism and made a distinction between his beliefs and those of the Communist Party.
Kruger’s defense was simple. He admitted writing the letter and that the letter accurately stated his position. However, as a disciplined party member, he would accept the NEC decision even to the extent of not urging his viewpoint among the membership.
A motion to expel which requires a two-thirds vote was defeated. Julius Gerber then stated that he would appeal this case to the State Committee. It was then carried by a majority vote that Kruger be suspended until the State Committee acts on Gerber’s appeal. This was done despite the fact that only the defendant can appeal to the State Committee on a disciplinary action.
There are quite a number of comrades who, must answer similar charges. The old guard, fortified by the “peace pact”, is continuing its heresy hunt for the purpose of eliminating all opposition.
Queens County Committee
During the period of the intense fight in Local New York the old guard organized new branches by taking out right wingers from militant branches and bestowing charters upon them. According to the constitution branches can be organized only through the County Committee. The Queens County Committee refused to permit the organization of the branches in question on the ground that they were being organized for factional reasons only and that there was no need for additional branches in the particular localities. Despite the objection of the County Committee Local New York chartered these branches and the County Committee refused to seat their delegates. The County Committee had also condemned the Jewish Daily Forward for its anti-socialist conduct.
Local New York has demanded that Queens County Committee rescind these two actions by September 20th or suffer the penalty of reorganization. This will mean the expulsion of leading members of Queens County. At the time of writing we do not know what action Queens County will take but we are sure that they will not fall into the trap set by the right wing.
At the City Central Committee meeting immediately after the “peace pact” motions were made for Party activity. Many of these motions specifically referred to work among the unemployed. The City Central Committee felt that it did not have enough time to take up each item separately and referred them to the Executive Committee. After the Executive Committee labored for two and one-half months activity was born. It discharged Saul Parker as Secretary of the Unemployed Committee, on the ground that “The Unemployed Union is not an official Party organization”. This despite the fact that the Unemployed Union has been organized for more than two years, and Saul Parker has been working in this capacity for more than a year and a half, at the salary of $10 a week.
What this means is that the Unemployed Union is not a tool of the old guard, and as such, they refuse to do anything to support it. If this is not the case, then it is the blindest kind of sectarianism for a Party like ours.
This is another sign of peace – the peace of the grave.
Julius Gerber, who is the cause of a great deal of the trouble in New York because of his emotional instability and lack of initiative resigned during the heat of the fight, although he never relinquished his place in the Party office, and still wrote official letters in his name.
He resigned at that time to take over the duties of Secretary for the Eastern State Conference, which was nothing more nor less than the direction and planning of the expected split. In that capacity he sent out. the most scurrilous literature, even to non-Party members, attacking the National Executive Committee, as well as Party members.
During this period Julius Gerber decided to run as President of the Sheet Metal Workers Union, and when he was defeated was again nominated for Executive Secretary of New York, although: ;those members of the Executive Committee electing him knew full well the resentment this would cause among Party members. But it seems that “peace pact” or no “peace pact”, their factional representative must be in office, and Julius Gerber was elected. The vote on this question, as it is on most questions, was very close. On a roll-call vote, 45 for Julius Gerber, 36 against. This does not represent the true opposition to him, because we feel that in a referendum he would be defeated.
The Teachers’ Union
The merits of the Teachers’ Union case cannot be treated here, except insofar as it touches upon the fight in New York.
About eight or nine months ago Louis Waldman raised the question of the Socialist group in the Teachers’ Union, and he seems to have given lots of guidance, from his own vast experience, to those who have wanted to split the Union. The actions of the administration group in the Teachers’ Union have followed almost in every detail the actions pursued by Louis Waldman and his group after the National Contention of the Socialist Party, with only this difference.
Linville and his group resigned, in the hope that the A. F. of L. Convention will revoke the charter of the A.F. of T. while Louis Waldman could only depend upon the Labor and Socialist International for such an action, and it seemed too slender a reed to lean upon.
The method used by the old guard in this instance is indicative of its general policy. The columns of the “New Leader,” a so-called Socialist organ, were thrown open to Abraham Lefkowitz, a non-Party member, in which he viciously attacked leading members of the Socialist Party, including a member of the National Executive Committee. This article attacking Socialists was advertised by the “New Leader” in the “New York Post” and in the “New York World Telegram”, through paid advertising, thus calling the attention of even non-Socialists to an attack on Socialists, in a so-called Socialist organ. This was done without giving an opportunity to those members of the Party who were attacked to answer in the same issue.
Indicative of old guard ethics, a “red scare” headline was given to the article. It was so vicious that even Lefkowitz publicly repudiated the headline, making it very clear that he was in no way responsible.
Again the old guard steps in and acts with a group that is ready to split a national A. F. of L. organization. We are convinced that the vast majority of Socialist teachers and of Party members feel disgusted with this exhibition.
The Young People’s Socialist League
Immediately following the NEC meeting the Yipsels appeared before the Executive Committee requesting the election of a committee to work out the program, for reinstatement. This was done and the committee laid down conditions for the reinstatement of the Yipsels. Amongst the conditions were the following:
1. That all decisions of the Local are binding and will be obeyed by the YPSL and that the YPSL may not adopt any resolution, declaration or statement on questions of socialist principles policies or tactics.
2. Should there be any disagreement between the Executive Committee of Local New York and the YPSL of New York the decision of Local New York shall stand unless overruled by the State Committee of New York.
3. All activities of the YPSL except that of education shall be under the direct control of the Committee of Youth Activities of Local N. Y. and all committees must operate through the Committee on Youth Activities.
4. The educational work of the YPSL shall be under the direct control of the Committee on Education of Local N. Y. and the Committee on Youth Activities to have a representative on the Committee on Education.
These conditions were completely contrary to the letter and spirit of the NEC meeting and the YPSL was compelled to reject them. The Yipsels would simply be children doing the dirty work of the Party without, the privileges of even a branch of the Party.
Point 2 was so obviously contrary to the NEC decision that the old guard realized that they made a mistake and on August 28, laid down the following new conditions, which were the conditions of the NEC.
“1. That the YPSL conform to the decision of Local New York; 2. that no disciplinary action be taken by the YPSL against members of the Young Socialist Alliance; and (3) that all members and circles be reinstated with all rights and privileges. There is therefore no need for further negotiations and unless the YPSL reinstate itself with Local New York by September 10th, 1935, Local New York will notify the State Committee of New York and the NEC that the YPSL has failed to live up to the decision of the NEC and the agreement between the NEC and the New York State Committee”.
However the old guard refused to renounce or repudiate the conditions they laid down in the first instance, conditions which were contrary to the August 28th resolution. In fact Julius Gerber stated at a meeting of the City Central Committee that these conditions would be applied as soon as the Yipsels would be reinstated. The Yipsels of course have refused to put their heads into the noose of the old guard.
This is only part of the story.
Local New York is laying down specific rules and more discipline of a negative kind than even the Communist party, but it still allows Socialists to fight Socialists in the unions and refuses to lay down a policy for work in outside organizations. All this indicates an unprincipled desire to keep power for the sake of power and a policy that will bring ruin to the Party, not unity.
Last updated on 29 March 2009