MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of People



Amarnath, S. (?–1981)

Joined Bolshevik Leninist Party of India in Madras while a student. Member of the strike committee, Madras Labour Union strike of 1947. Captain, B&C Mills Volunteer Corps, 1947-48. Jailed 1947-48. Worked in union of Non-Gazetted Officials of the Madras Government, 1948. Entered SP with BLPI, 1948. Moved to Bombay. Elected to Central Committee, RWPI-RCPI merger, 1960. Leading member, Socialist Workers Party and Communist League (1960s and 1970s).

Compiled by Charles Wesley Ervin


Amter, Israel (1881-1954)

Marxist politician and founding member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA).

Born on March 26, 1881 in Denver, Colorado to Jewish immigrants. In 1901, he became a member of the Socialist Party of America (SPA) until he moved to Germany in 1903. While in Germany he edited the German Export Review and became a member of theSocial Democratic Party. He also studied music at the Leipzig Conservatory where in 1912 he created a never performed opera called Winona about a romance between a United States Army Officer and a Native American woman known as Winona. (The manuscript score resides in the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.)

Amter returned to the United States when Germany entered the war. In 1917 he rejoined the Socialist Party and was an active member of the Left Wing Section when it emerged in 1919. Amter was a founding member of the Communist Party of America from its founding convention in September 1919. Amter seems to have followed the faction around C.E. Ruthenberg out of the party in April 1920, becoming a member of the United Communist Party (UCP). In November of 1920 he was named to the editorial committee of the UCP. On April 29, 1921, Amter was arrested along with three others in a raid on the UCP’s covert headquarters in New York by New York bomb squad detectives and Department of Justice agents. Amter was charged in the incident and released on bail.

Amter was a member of the governing Central Executive Committee of the unified Communist Party of America from 1922. He was an adherent of the system of underground party organization and was factionally associated with Abram Jakira, L.E. Katterfeld, Alfred Wagenknecht, and Edward Lindgren in this period in a tendency commonly and somewhat derisively known as the “Goose Caucus.” Although this faction nominally won the day at the ill-fated 1922 Bridgman Convention, assuring the preservation of the underground party, in actuality the victory was Pyrrhic—in the competition between the parallel above ground and underground party apparatuses, the legal Workers Party of America (WPA) headed by C.E. Ruthenberg grew steadily, while the underground organization atrophied, to be terminated in 1923. NB: Underground functions continued to be performed by a narrow circle within the Communist organization after the demise of the formal underground CPA organization, although the parallel party apparatus was liquidated at a one day convention held in New York City on April 7, 1923.[3]

Amter was the representative of the WPA to the orgsCommunist International (Comintern) from 1923-24 and served as the ECCI referent [mediator] on questions the English and American parties. He was a delegate to the 3rd Enlarged Plenum of ECCI and was a delegate to the 5th World Congress of the Communist International in 1924. During the factional struggles of the middle 1920s, Amter seems to have cast his lot with the Ruthenberg-Lovestone faction. He was the Cleveland District Organizer of the Communist (Workers) Party in 1927. During the early years of the Great Depression, Amter was active in the Communist Party’s Unemployed Councils movement and was arrested in New York City on March 6, 1930 along with William Z. Foster and Robert Minor in connection with a public demonstrations of that organization. Amter was ultimately sentenced on April 21, 1930 to a term of “6 months to 3 years” in connection with the riot which had ensued. He was released from jail on October 21, 1930.

Amter was a frequent candidate of the Communist Party for various political offices. The first came in 1928 when he ran for Senator of Ohio under an unknown political affiliation. He managed to receive 2,062 votes, about .09% of the popular vote. He also ran for New York Borough President in 1931, for Governor of New York in 1932, 1934, and 1942. He ran again for the New York Board of Aldermen in 1936 and for theUS Senate from New York in 1940.

Amter developed Parkinson’s Disease in the 1940s. He was indicted under the Smith Act prosecutions of the Communist Party’s leadership in 1951, but was severed from the case due to his illness.

Amter died November 24, 1954.

His name is mentioned in the poem “America” by Allen Ginsberg who writes, “I once saw Israel Amter plain.”

[Composed by Tim Davenport]