Peter Kihss


Its Views Parallel Many of Those of Chinese Reds

First Published: New York Times, July 14, 1963
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Progressive Labor Movement, now undergoing both Federal grand jury and Congressional scrutiny, is an aspiring country-wide group that calls for Socialism here. Its views parallel many of those of the Chinese Communists.

However, Milton Rosen, the movement’s chairman, who says that he and Mort Scheer, its vice chairman, were expelled from the Communist party on charges that they “represented the Chinese and Albanian Communist parties,” contends that his group evolved its positions completely independently.

“We are Marxist-Leninists,” says Mr. Rosen, a 37-year-old Brooklynite, “and our thinking is helped and shaped by thinking of other parties.” He asserts that there is no affiliation y and no organizational contact with Chinese or other Communist parties.

The P.L.M., Mr. Rosen says, now has 6,500 readers for its 25-cent monthly Progressive Labor, started in January, 1962. One-third of the readers, he says, are in New York State. The movement has 1,000 members, Mr. Rosen says, with 60 to 70 clubs across the country. Its offices here are at 336 Lenox Avenue, at West 127th Street, and 227 East Third Street.

20 Pct. Negro Membership

Fred Jerome, 24-year-old editor of the monthly, estimates that 90 per cent of the members are under 40 years of age. A number are unemployed. Perhaps 20 per cent are Negroes, Mr. Rosen says.

A number of members have Communist backgrounds, but Mr. Rosen estimates that “65 per cent were never affiliated with the Communist party.”

Bill Epton, the group’s candidate for Manhattan Councilman at large with a reported petition total of more than 5,500 signatures, is a 31-year-old electrical worker and a Negro, who says he quit the Communist Party. Mr. Jerome is also a former Communist.

The Progressive Labor Movement, Mr. Rosen says, was started in September, 1961, in reaction to unemployment, racism and the threat of war. He says the group considered that the Communist party “reflected the class-collaborationist policy of labor leadership,” and believed that “the class struggle has to be sharpened.”

Strategy Is Outlined

Its strategy envisions:

* Establishing “a second federation of labor based on the more advanced sections of the labor movement,” such as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and left-wing unions ousted from the old Congress of Industrial Organizations.
* Starting “an independent political movement in the South around class and race questions” that would “encourage the Negro people to move toward smashing the power of the state and, together with other workers, erecting a genuine workers’ state in its place.” The movement calls for “the right of Negroes to bear arms for self-defense and to organize into a militia so as to be able to cope with the organized racists.”
* Building a “revolutionary Socialist party” that “would demonstrate the international character of the class struggle so that United States workers can see how their interests are affected by United States intervention in the affairs of foreign workers.”