Early American Marxism: Document Download Page by Year: 1911

Early American Marxism

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“Patriotism,” by Ralph Korngold [June 1911] This short essay, really a prose poem, by Socialist Party activist Ralph Korngold was published in the monthly magazine of the Young People's Socialist Federation and Socialist Sunday Schools. “The capitalist class, by making the workers propertyless, has made them fatherlandsless. The workers have no country. This is no more your country than the shop you work in is your shop or the factory you work in is your factory. You are simply employed there, that is all.... I can imagine Morgan being patriotic, or Rockefeller, or Weyerhauser, but why a workingman, no matter to what country he belongs, should be patriotic is more than I can see.... Let Rockefeller and Morgan fight their own battles. The workingmen of the world have but one common enemy—the capitalist class of the world.”



“The Secret of Efficient Expression,” by Eugene V. Debs [July 8, 1911] Asked by the Education Department of the University of Wisconsin to participate in a study of oratorical “fertility and efficiency of expression,” Socialist Party agitator Eugene V. Debs responds with an autobiographical essay on the men who shaped his conception of an orator—Patrick Henry, John Brown, Wendell Phillips, and Robert Ingersoll—and his path of self-education. Debs contends that “There is no inspiration in evil and no power except for its own destruction. He who aspires to master the art of expression must first of all consecrate himself completely to some great cause, and the greatest cause of all is the cause of humanity. He must learn to feel deeply and think clearly to express himself eloquently. He must be absolutely true to the best there is in him, if he has to stand alone.” 


The New Review: A Socialist Weekly, (A Prospectus).” [Sept. 1911] One of the most important American Socialist periodicals of the decade of the 1910s was a small theoretical journal published in New York City called The New Review. First published in 1913, the magazine brought together various stands of international socialist thought, including revolutionary industrial unionism and the general strike and anti-militarism. The journal was an intellectual bridge between the so-called syndicalist movement on the one hand and the anti-imperialist movement on the other, and included contributions by such individuals as Henry Slobodin, W.E.B. DuBois, Louis Boudin, Moses Oppenheimer, and Louis Fraina, among others. This trend would emerge in 1918-19 as the Left Wing Section, Socialist Party, the core anglophonic constituency of the American Communist movement. This prospectus notes the obsessive preoccupation of other Socialist periodicals with converting the unconverted with “so-called popular agitation,” proposing instead to fill a glaring need for “serious discussion of the theoretical and practical problems of the labor movement” in a manner designed “for the education of the Socialists themselves.” Includes a list of 22 sponsoring “members of the Socialist Party.” 

“The Young People's Socialist Federation,"” by Louis Weitz [Sept. 1911] This short article from the monthly Young Socialists' Magazine published by the New Yorker Volkszeitung was written by the director of the Young People's Socialist Federation. It provides a brief outline of that organization's history -- short on specific detail but nevertheless providing important clues about the origins of the youth section of the Socialist Party of America which eventually emerged as the Young People's Socialist League. The Young People's Socialist Federation is said to have begun in New York City in 1907, apparently started in an effort to "erase the false teachings of both our public and private institutions of learning," to develop interrelationships between young socialists and instilling training and discipline among them, and thus preparing these youth for active and productive participation in the socialist movement in the future. Beginning with "high hopes and enthusiasm," this project seems to have become something of a debacle, with falling membership, financial difficulties, and a failure of the Socialist Party to treat the matter with sufficient seriousness. Nevertheless, a small core of activists persevered, and a reorganization was made at a June 1911 gathering of Young Socialist clubs, which adopted a new constitution and elected a new set of organizational officers. Little work had taken place in the slow summer months of 1911, Weitz confessed, but he held high hopes for renewed activity in the coming fall months.