Hal Draper

Enthusiasm Greets Party
War Referendum Campaign

Branches Voluntarily Raise Their Quotas –
Go Full Steam Ahead on Drive

(15 August 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 59, 15 August 1939, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The workers are responding with enthusiasm to the campaign of the Party for a People’s Vote on War.

The Party branches have risen to their tasks in the campaign, gearing themselves for a far-flung mass agitation drive.

This is the story which is told, with heartening unanimity, by the first week’s reports which have started flowing in from the branches.

The trend previously reported continues: branch after branch has indignantly assigned itself higher quotas than those set for it by the National Office. In many places, where the comrades embarked on the campaign with a certain amount of doubt as to the response of the workers, the very first attempts made to carry through the campaign have reversed this attitude.

But let’s permit the branches to speak for themselves:

Flint Men Eager to Sign Petitions

Flint, Mich., sends in 50 petition signatures, and Organizer Jules Geller writes:

“Our first attempt to get petitions was inspiring. We took only two petition blanks with us or would have had more signed. The occasion was a protest meeting of WPA and unemployed, with a good percentage of men from the shops also present. The petition was handed to a young worker, and he himself took it around to his union brothers, after enthusiastically signing. It was not necessary to agitate. All signers without exception on the first two blanks are members of the UAW-CIO. It is without doubt a popular slogan.”

The success of this first step of the campaign in Flint should be an example for all the sections of the Party.

For here is a city where, one might imagine, the workers are completely taken up with the problem of WPA, of unemployment, of jobs, of trade-union unity and trade-union action. But in the midst of these problems which beset, them, the American workers have not forgotten that while the job problem concerns their livelihood, the war question concerns their very LIFE!

It is only another proof that they are looking eagerly for a means of striking a blow against the oncoming war. And our Party – the anti-war Party – is the ONLY force that can provide such means. We’re out to prove that in this campaign!

Comrade Geller reports further on the steps taken by the Flint branch to mobilize the comrades for the campaign:

“The work has already been begun. The petitions are out and will easily be filled. The sale of Appeals, and of pamphlets, is functioning. We plan door-to-door canvassing for funds in support of the campaign, in conjunction with getting signers on the petitions ...

“We are preparing a special mailing to all contacts, appealing for contributions to the campaign, and at the same time advertising a meeting.

“Every comrade individually has been given a quota to achieve. Each member must get one Appeal sub during the time of the campaign, must get one petition completely filled, and must raise $1 towards our quota. A chart is being kept of branch progress, and also of individual progress.”

And, in addition to the success with the petitions, the Flint Scoreboard shows complete fulfillment of its quota on Appeal bundle increase. Over the top, now, comrades of the Flint branch, with all the other quotas!

Minneapolis Plans Model Campaign

From Minneapolis we get a report of the first branch meeting which laid plans for the campaign. We present it here as a model of bow a branch can go about organizing its work in a Party campaign.

After a political and organizational report on the perspective of the Party in the campaign, given by Comrade Vincent Dunne, the branch adopted the following plan.

“The following program has been adopted by the Minneapolis branch for the War Referendum Campaign. All of these quotas we have set as minimums.

  1. Sale and distribution of 2,000 Let the People Vote on War pamphlets. Sales at picnics, on the street, at union meetings, etc., and to block out working class districts for two or more tag days to involve the whole membership in this work. (Committee of three named to be in charge.)
  2. 3,500 signatures to petition for the War Referendum Amendment, and a collection of funds for the Anti-War Party. (Committee of three.)
  3. Forty new Appeal subscriptions. (Committee of three.)
  4. Increase of Appeal bundle by 75. (In charge: the Appeal Brigade, plus two more comrades named.)
  5. Raising of $550 for the Anti-War Fund. (Committee of four.)
  6. Distribution of 12,000–15,000 of 4-page leaflet. No special machinery needed at this time.
  7. Public meeting on War Referendum. Branch Executive to set date later in campaign.
  8. Street meetings adjacent to the various city parks, using the distribution of leaflets before time. (Committee of three.)
  9. Twin-City picnic for August 20 to be money-raising affair of the campaign. Executive Committee to aid Social Committee for this affair.
  10. Three new organizers by September 15. In the hands of National Committee and depends upon our success in the campaign.
  11. Membership recruitment campaign. 25 members by September 15 to be our quota. (Comrade named to take charge.)
  12. Publicity and letters to newspapers, politicians. (Comrade in charge.)
  13. Compiling of information on war question. Gathering of press clippings, and the preparation of this material for filing locally and for forwarding to the National Office. (Comrade in charge.)
  14. Weekly report blanks to be sent to National Office. (Branch Organizer in charge.)
  15. Publicity on the radio. (Comrade in charge.)
  16. Every party comrade to be urged to give all the spare time possible to party work during the campaign.
  17. Letter to membership on campaign. (Organizer in charge.)
  18. Banner in front of headquarters.

Note that Minneapolis has assigned itself a recruitment quota, although nationally only the total figure of 200 new members has been proposed.

Fitchburg Vies with Big Cities

From the town of Fitchburg in Massachusetts comes a letter that should give the larger sections of the Party food for thought.

There are only a handful of comrades in Fitchburg, but there is a trade union movement and a strong Finnish cooperative movement. And when Comrade Tarmo Hannula transmits the 16-point program adopted by the Fitchburg comrades, we know it’s going to be achieved.

Here are some of the points.

  1. Campaign director elected – Comrade Hannula.
  2. Set quota of 60 pamphlets to be sold, as against quota of 25 assigned by National Office. More than 100% increase.
  3. Raised petition quota to four times assigned amount – from 50 to 200.
  4. Doubled quota on Fund Drive – from $15.00 to $30.00.
  5. Adopted quota of four new Appeal subs outside of renewals – no quota previously assigned.
  6. Increase of five in Appeal bundle – no quota previously assigned.

EVERY SINGLE QUOTA RAISED BY AT LEAST 100 PERCENT! Comrade for comrade, Fitchburg is out to show the big-city slickers where they get off!

We’re not through with Fitchburg by a long shot. Here’s more:

  1. Hold street meeting every Sunday, except Aug. 6 and 20 when there are district-wide affairs.
  2. Letter weekly to newspapers.
  3. Plan indoor rally to climax campaign.

AND the comrades expect an enthusiastic response to the fight for a war referendum from the cooperative organizations and press.

What city is going to challenge Fitchburg to a little Socialist competition?

Akron Starts Off on All Cylinders

“We’ll be in there at the finish for one of the prizes,” writes in B. Donaldson, Akron Campaign Director.

“Rush 200 pamphlets! This is only a starter ... Send more petitions – about 50 at least,” he adds.

This ought to make it unnecessary to announce that the Akron campaign is well under way. Here are the first steps of the Akron branch:

  1. The committee selected 5 working-class neighborhoods.
  2. We divided the branch into 3 squads.
  3. All 3 squads will canvass a neighborhood for one week to get signatures, sell pamphlets, and notify them of a meeting nearby on Friday ...
  4. Squads will be on the streets downtown in the morning, selling the pamphlets, Appeals, and getting signatures.

Special arrangements have also been made for publicity, and a city-wide mass meeting to end the campaign is planned.

Other branches would do well to imitate two methods of work which are to be seen in both the Akron and Minneapolis plans: mobilization of every individual comrade and division of the membership into squads or committees charged with a specific aspect of the campaign; selection of working class neighborhoods for concentration points in the campaign.

Full Steam Ahead Is Drive Keynote

READING, Pa. ... with a quota of 25 pamphlets, orders 50 as a starter, and adds “We hope to send for more soon.” ... Comrade Adams writes:

“We are holding our first street corner meeting on this campaign, Thursday, Aug. 3 ... We discussed this campaign very thoroughly tonight and are sure that we can carry out the quotas assigned to us ... Our further perspectives are street corner meetings every week, putting up a table on Perm St. (the main street in Reading) with our slogans to obtain signatures for the petitions. As we go on into the campaign we intend to make an intensive house-to-house campaign and finish up with a picnic under the slogan of ‘All Funds to the Anti-War Party’ ... We feel that we can get a thousand signatures to the petitions.”

Reading’s petition quota is 50. The city administration of Reading is social-democratic (Stump and his friends) and the Reading comrades intend to stick the war-referendum issue under its nose.

KANSAS ... One comrade in Whitewater orders 25 pamphlets – the whole quota for Kansas – for himself, rings up $1.50 on the Fund Drive, and then increases Appeal bundle order – all in one letter. Which gives him the right to end his letter with “Best wishes for the all-around success of the fund drive and anti-war campaign – and the revolution” ... Kansas came through first in the fund drive for the twice-weekly Appeal a few months, ago, and preliminary advices from Wichita point to the same happy conclusion. Anyway we’re rooting for them; it’s a darn good state in spite of certain unfortunate associations (Browder had to be born somewhere, or didn’t he?).

ALLENTOWN, Pa. ... What with Reading and Allentown, there’s no holding the Pennsylvania Dutch ... Comrade C.H. Hautman mentions in passing that they have already ordered their full quota of pamphlets, and announces completed plans for a mass meeting at: the Hotel Allen on Sept. 6. He requests that we supply him with James Burnham as the speaker; and as our supply of James Burnham is not exhausted, Comrade Burnham will speak ... “Ready to go full steam ahead in this drive,” says Comrade Hautman.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. ... “Here is the first instalment from Local Rochester on our quota,” writes in Comrade J.H. Niemeyer. The quota is the Anti-War Fund, and the instalment is $10.00 ... “Where are the four-page leaflets?” he complains. “We started our out-door, meetings on schedule and need the leaflets for the crowds we are speaking to.” ... Well, now, here’s a tip that goes for everybody: the leaflets Will be speeded up, we promise; if you follow Rochester’s noble example on the matter of ten-dollar bills.

Last updated on 10 March 2016