The Left Wing: 7. An Actual Beginning

S. J. Rutgers

Published: International Socialist Review, vol. 17, no. 6. December 1916. Pages 365-366.
Transcription/Markup: Micah Muer, 2021.

While many of us were "talking it over," a group of comrades in Boston performed a deed, made an actual beginning in trying to organize the Left Wing forces in the Socialist Party of America. Born in the actual fighting of a minority opposition in the State Convention of Massachusetts, the "Socialist Propaganda League" is a legal offspring of the Socialist Party.

Its first manifesto appeals to the members of the Socialist Party asking for revolutionary socialism instead of opportunism; democracy instead of bureaucracy, a firm stand for Industrial Unionism as being superior to Craft Unionism and endorsement of Political Action in its fullest sense instead of Parliamentarism for reforms and offices only.

Furthermore, this manifesto appeals to all Socialists who stand for the uncompromising class struggle on the industrial, as well as on the political field, to unite and emphasize the fact that this unity should be made international in a new international organization "with authority on questions affecting workers in more than one nation," under control of a world referendum.

It goes without saying that a special demand is made that the party members should take a firm stand against all militarism, including compulsory military service, as well as defensive wars.

It was inspiring to meet the Boston comrades who took the initiative for this "Socialist Propaganda League," a bunch of class-conscious workers who, mostly through every-day facts and experiences of life, had come to realize the new forces of imperialism as it develops all over the world and who rightly responded by an act. Organizing means preparing for action, is a part of the action, and once started on a sound basis is bound to proceed. Local in its beginning, the Socialist Propaganda League has now decided to make a nation-wide appeal and to support their action and their organization by a weekly paper, "The Internationalist Weekly of the Left Wing."

Comrades all over the United States

This is an effort to organize the workers of the New World to take their share in the immense world struggle between the capitalist and the working classes, of which the European war is only a most frightful but instructive episode. The Socialist Party in this country confronts a capitalist class unscrupulous in its methods, fully under control of financial monopolistic capital. In no other country of the world has "bourgeois democracy" been so abused to fool the workers, and the results of parliamentary action along the old lines nowhere have been poorer. There is not the least doubt but among the rank and file of the Socialist Party, as well as among thousands of former members and uncounted workers who have not joined it, there exists a hopeless feeling and a disgust with the inefficiency of present methods of fighting. They know that the working class has to fight and has to win, but they do not see how it can be done. Let them look the world over and notice that everywhere, even on the battlefields of Europe, new hope is arising.

Left Wing organizations are an international feature in the Socialist parties of all countries. They mean new life rising from old ruins. Do your share; join the Socialist Propaganda League; read the new weekly, together with THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST REVIEW, the monthly that has kept to the fighting line all the long years of its existence. Don't say that the program in the Manifesto should be a little more this or a little more that. It is a living proposition that will grow and develop with the facts and with you—if you at least join and work for it with heart and soul.

Don't worry about this not being the most formal way to reorganize a Socialist Party. We have already had far too much of formalities. The party members advocate new forms of action, new forms of organization, and the party will have to follow, no matter in what manner this majority expresses itself.

Freedom of speech and of criticism is the very fundamental democracy, and we have the right to form organized groups to criticise and if possible to reorganize the party in every land. To deny the full rights of criticism or to keep to dead formalities in a period of rebirth and readjustment will mean to disrupt the Socialist Party. We want a new adjustment of opinions and a new lining up. This is to the interest of new groups, which can only gain by clearing up the situation. But suppression of free speech has often been the tactics of old elements who fear that criticism will hasten their downfall. If those elements refuse a chance for reorganization, this will only illustrate their lack of vitality.

There now is a beginning of action, however small as yet. Some of you may not like it at this moment, others perhaps would have preferred it in some other form. Don't bother about smaller details. Act; join; participate in discussions, in meetings, in demonstrations; give your backing, give your personality, and this will gradually develop into a strong group, an organized power capable not only to disorganize the government of the capitalist class, but to build up the organized "New World" of the workers. It is worth while to join and to try.

Send $1.00 to P.O. Box 23, Roxbury, Boston, Mass, for a yearly subscription to the new paper, The Internationalist Weekly, and join the League.