First Published: Challenge, Vol. I, No. 43, April 27, 1965
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Delegates from 12 states and the District of Columbia met from April 15 to 18 in New York to found a new communist party – the Progressive Labor Party.
Representing 1,500 members and a similar number of friends, hundreds of delegates worked together on such questions as the Black Liberation struggle, labor, unemployment and automation; the student movement; discrimination against women; exploitation of Puerto Ricans (and other Latin Americans) in their country and here; U.S. aggressive policies in Vietnam, the Congo and Latin America. As stated in its Constitution:
“With the birth of our new Party, we dedicate ourselves to end those fears and those troubles. We resolve to build a revolutionary movement with the participation and support of millions of working men and women as well as those students, artists and intellectuals who will join with the working class to end the profit system which breeds those tears and those troubles. With such a movement, we will build a socialist U.S.A., with all power in the hands of the working people and their allies.”
Delegates were especially pleased to learn that five recently-imprisoned friends had been released from jail on appeal during the convention. Elected President of the Party was Milton Rosen, 38, former steel worker and Chairman of the Progressive Labor Movement. Rosen told the convention in his keynote speech, “The period we are in now can be summed up this way: Reformism, which was the main political means through which U.S. finance capitalism maintained itself, has just about come to the end of its rope. Altering capitalism to suit the needs of the people has not, does not and cannot work.
“Johnson’s slogans vary little from those of Hitler. U.S. aggression is done in the name of anti-Communism, in the name of ’freeing’ people from themselves; people who are ’uneducated, untrained, stupid’ – in short, who are colored.
“Even more racist is the Government’s attitude towards the Congo. The U.S. was going to save ’stupid’ people who were given their freedom ’too soon’ by Belgium. So they went in with their mercenaries and slaughtered thousands of men, women and children – in the name of ’democracy,’ of course.”
Elected by the convention as Vice-Presidents were Bill Epton, 32, a former shop steward in the International Union of Electrical Workers and former steel worker Mort Sheer, 38, of San Francisco. A 20-member national committee was elected to direct the party until the next convention.