Workers' Council of the U.S.


The Workers’ Council: An Organ for the Third International, by Benjamin Glassberg [April 1, 1921] Unsigned lead editorial announcing the formation of a new publication aiming to “become the expression of revolutionary Socialism” and to carry agitation for the Third International “into working class circles that have never been reached before.” The Workers’ Council was clearly intended as a publication rather than as a political organization, and was closely linked to the Left Wing still inside the Socialist Party. Secretary of the Editorial Board was Benjamin Glassberg, and Secretary of the publishing association which produced the journal was Walter M. Cook—a person depicted as a sort of Party Regular alter-ego of Julius Gerber and Adolph Germer in the pages of Theodore Draper’s history of the early Communist American Communist movement. Mounting frustration with the Socialist Party is clear, the organization being characterized as “vacillating between the Second and the Third International, standing upon a platform of ineffectual reforms and parliamentarism of the kind that have, since the war, been discarded by every European socialist party outside of the Second International” and thus “not today the instrument of revolutionary working class education and action.”

"’Farewell!’ to the Socialist Party: An Appeal to Its Remaining Members: Statement by the Committee for the Third International of the Socialist Party to the Members of the Socialist Party." [Circa July 1921]. The Committee for the Third International was the organized faction for Left Wing realignment of the Socialist Party of America in 1920-21, after the departure of the great bulk of the Left Wing Section for the Communist Party of America, Communist Labor Party of America, and Proletarian Party of America. Headed by Secretary J. Louis Engdahl and including such future Communist leadership cadres as William F. Kruse, Benjamin Glassberg, Alexander Trachtenberg, J.B. Salutsky, and Moissaye Olgin, the Committee for the Third International formally left the SPA with this statement, published as a pamphlet in the aftermath of the June 25-29, 1921 Convention of the party. "A new home for constructive revolutionary Socialism must be built. Another political party of the working class must be established with the passing of the Socialist Party," the farewell statement declared. In the interim, a formal organization called The Workers’ Council was established -- a group which merged with the American Labor Alliance and elements of the majority underground CPA to form the Workers Party of America in December 1921.


“’In Re: Workers Council.’: Report of a Meeting Held in New York, Oct. 8, 1921,” by Department of Justice Undercover Agent “P-134” This is an unusual document, the report of an undercover agent of the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation of an open meeting of the Workers’ Council group in New York City. Agent “P-134” quotes Secretary of the Workers’ Council J. Louis Engdahl as saying that “he is a Communist, and that the Workers Council is organizing for the purpose of establishing Socialist Soviet Republic in the US.” He quotes Engdahl as saying that the primary mission of the group is to “help all the revolutionary classes unite into a true revolutionary Socialist organization.” The meeting was also addressed by Benjamin Glassberg, Rose Weiss, Comrade Ligoria of the Italian movement, Alexander Trachtenberg, I. Cohen of the Independent YPSL, and Ludwig Lore of the Newyorker Volkszeitung. Agent “P-134” quotes Lore as admitting his membership in the Communist Party of America and declaring that “the American working class will not take any orders from a clique, namely, the [CEC] of the Communist Party of America, which is termed illegal and underground.” Lore seems to have taken a similar independent position towards the Executive Committee of the Comintern, saying that regardless of “whether the 3rd International says that Workers Council is proper or not, they will go before the masses openly and preach Communism and the establishment of a Soviet Republic in the United States.” Agent “P-134” states that Lore “also said the Workers Council will organize the class conscious revolutionary forces of this country regardless of what the orders from Moscow may be, and carry on their educational campaign organizing mass open organizations, whether it be legal or not...”

“Socialist Party Declared Dead: Ex-Members Dine, Chant Requiem for Organization in Various Keys.” (NY Call) [event of Oct. 8, 1921] This short news report in the New York Call notes the formation of the Workers Council organization by anti-Socialist Party members of the Jewish Socialist Federation and the newly departed SP Left Wingers of the Committee for the Third International. This article chronicles a dinner held in New York City and addressed by J.L. Engdahl, Benjamin Glassberg, J.B. Salutsky, Rose Weiss, Alexander Trachtenberg, L. DeGregoria, Isadore Cohen, and Ludwig P. Lore. The purge of Communists at the Rand School of Social Science seems to have been a contributing factor to the formation of the Workers Council organization, with both Glassberg and Trachtenberg alluding to the event, the latter of whom said: “I have tried to continue on in the Socialist Party. A few weeks ago I found that it was impossible to stay in. Now is the time to build up a class-conscious, revolutionary party that will stay our in the open.” Keynote speaker was Lore, who told the attendees “We need the Communist Party. We need frank discussion and education for the masses. This is the movement which will give us what we want and need.”