Daniel De Leon

Clear the Decks!

Written: March 3, 1908;
First Published: The Daily People, March 3, 1908;
Online Version: Daniel De Leon Internet Archive, 2001;
Transcribed/HTML Markup: John-Paul Catusco for the Socialist Labor Party On-Line Daniel De Leon PDF Collection & David Walters for the Marxists Internet Archive.

On the second instant the National Secretary of the Socialist Labor Party received official notification from the Chicago national headquarters of the Socialist Party that the SLP invitation for a unity conference had been rejected by an overwhelming vote of the members of the National Committee of the SP.

The SLP invitation to a conference stipulated no conditions, except adherence to the principles of the International Congress. Affecting the swagger of a Goliath toward a David, business interests of the most groveling, guild and craft union interests of the most reactionary, “intellectual“ schemes of the most treasonable to the proletariat, trembled behind the mask of socialism, worn by a large majority of the SP National Committeemen trembled at the bare thought of confronting an SLP delegation of conferees;—aye, trembled at the, to them, even more dreadful thought of having to submit their conference deliberations to that rank and file, around whom they seek to build a Chinese Wall, and whom they seek to pluck as their special dupes. The SLP invitation contained the express provision that the findings of the proposed unity conference were to be submitted to a referendum of both memberships. Had the SLP invitation contained no such provision, the invitation might have been accepted by the National Committee of the SP; with that provision, the invitation was unacceptable.

In a matter so important that the International Congress found it necessary to urge—the unification of the socialist forces—and obedient to which the SLP acted, the large majority of the SP National Committeemen slighted the International Congress and insulted its own membership by disfranchising them.

Thus, once more, the truth of the principle has been demonstrated—the loudest shouters of “democracy“ are the worst contemners of the people; the loudest inveighers against “bossism“ are the schemers after “bossdom.“ Accordingly, with the Bergers and the Simonses leading the van, and the New Yorker Volkszeitung Corporation furnishing the music, a decisive majority of the SP National Committee refused even to confer.

The action of the National Committee of the SP clarifies the situation immensely. It does more. It is the strongest justification imaginable of the indomitable persistence shown by the SLP not to allow itself to be swept off its feet by the hurrah chaff of votes, gathered any old way. It is the latest and most convincing proof that the SP is all that the SLP has charged it with, and that the continued existence of the fighting SLP is a continued necessity to the bona fide socialist movement of America.

If, when there might have been a theoretical doubt that the SP is not a member of the socialist family, but a hideous changeling smuggled into the cradle at the hearth of the socialist family, the SLP stood firm to its colors, and upheld these against all assaults, open and covert, now that a decisive majority of the SP National Committee have been compelled to come out for what they are, there can no longer be any doubt as to the duty of the SLP towards the American working class. Not rejoicing at the discovery of the correctness of its old estimate concerning the SP, but regretfully, yet with jaws all the more firmly set and with countenance all the serener, the fighting SLP will pursue, unterrified, its undeterred career—freed now in the eyes of all thinking men of all blame for the continued spectacle of a “divided socialist movement.“

There is a double foe to fight: the capitalist despot, and his political caricature.

Clear the decks!