Early American Marxism: Document Download Page by Year: 1920
Early American Marxism
Document Download Page for the Year
“Bureau of Investigation Outline for the Interrogation of Radical Aliens and Instructions for Its Use,” by Frank Burke [circa Jan. 1, 1920] This document was apparently issued in the last days before the Jan. 2/3 coordinated mass arrests of Communists and other radicals, known to history as the Palmer Raids. The form provides a set of queries to be asked of captives by interrogators, focusing upon their citizenship status, party affiliation and activity, and associations. The guidelines state: “Do not follow strictly the wording of this outline as the formality thereof puts the alien on his guard and has a tendency to keep him from talking. Adopt an attitude and form of speech required by the particular examination. The outline is serviceable only to keep the examiner from omitting to cover all points. Use simple language the alien can understand. Keep repeating in different wording until you are sure he does understand. Do not frame the questions in such a way as to suggest untruthful answers. For example, do not say at first ‘Are you a member of the Communist Party?, etc.’ but rather ‘When did you join the Communist Party?’ or ‘What did you do with your membership card?’”
“Military Intelligence Department Undercover Surveillance Report of the Communist Labor Party.” [events of Dec. 30, 1919 to Jan. 3, 1920] Jacob Spolansky’s Sept. 2, 1919 report indicated that the US Military Intelligence Department had a mole (employee or informer not specified) on the floor as a delegate to the founding convention of the Communist Labor Party. This report, written by an MID operative and accompanied by a Jan. 12, 1920 cover letter from Gen. M. Churchill, head of Military Intelligence, makes this fact even more interesting—rather than an obscure figure from the hinterlands, it is clear that MID had its representative in the very highest councils of the CLP. The MID agent arrived in New York City on Dec. 30, 1919 (implying that he was not a New Yorker). He “immediately visited the Communist Labor Party headquarters at 208 E 12th St., top floor,” clearly indicating that he was of sufficient stature within the CLP organization to know such things. He notes that Ruthenberg and Ferguson (of the CPA) were present in at a meeting there, along with Ludwig Katterfeld (#2 man in the CLP), Big Jim Larkin, Ben Gitlow, and others. Wagenknecht was expected in New York, but remained in Cleveland, the former headquarters of the CLP organization. “At the request of those present Katterfeld wired Wagenknecht to the Cleveland headquarters that I was in New York and for him to return at once,” the report notes—again clearly implying the non-New York origins and high status of the cloaked MID agent. “I took most of the leaders to lunch and learned from Ruthenberg that a tip had been sent out by Ludwig Martens from Washington, DC, that raids on radical organizations will be made between Jan. 5th and Jan. 10, 1920, and that no meetings should be held during that time”—indicating that news of J. Edgar Hoover’s forthcoming mass raids against non-citizen members of the CPA and CLP was leaking to the targeted organizations. Wagenknecht wired back that he would be in New York on Jan. 1 and that he had to meet a bill of $250 for a printing press. The MID agent was approached for money (indicating an ongoing financial role with the CLP) and when he declined to “come across with any money” was consequently “treated fairly cool all morning.” Only by kicking in $75 for the CLP and Gitlow-Larkin Defense Fund (a substantial sum) was the MID operative able to succeed in “buying” the confidence of Katterfeld. A meeting of the “Provisional Executive Board” (?) was called for Jan. 1 to discuss the situation; a message was received indicating that a raid was imminent and Katterfeld “secured a suitcase and filled it with mailing and membership lists,” packing the sensitive material to his home, an undisclosed location. At the meeting of the “Provisional Executive Board,” Gitlow asked “why Martens had not sent the usual remittance” (indicating an ongoing financial relationship between the Russian Soviet Government Bureau and the CLP). An order was issued to terminate all party meetings until Jan. 11, 1920—that is, after the anticipated window for the Hoover Raids. On Jan. 3 (the day after the mass raids), the MID operative arrived in Chicago, where he was promptly arrested not once but twice visiting radical bookstores—lying about his identity and preserving his cover.
“First Telegram to Agents in Charge of Offices of the Bureau of Investigation, from J. Edgar Hoover in the name of Frank Burke, Assistant Director and Chief.” [Jan. 2, 1920] First set of final instructions to Special Agents in charge of the 33 offices of the Bureau of Investigation wired by the chief planner of the operation, J. Edgar Hoover. Since Hoover was technically a “special assistant” to Attorney General Mitchell Palmer, all of his key communications to Special Agents in the field appear over the signature of the agents’ superior, Chief of the Bureau of Investigation Frank Burke. Hoover wires: “All instructions previously issued to you for carrying out arrests of Communists should be executed in detail. Several requests have been made for change of date but no change or delay under any condition will be granted. As previously stated the arrests are to take place Friday January 2nd commencing 9 p.m. eastern time.” Hoover reminds the agents that “particular attention is again called to the securing of evidence sufficient to hold subject for deportation.”
“Second Telegram to Agents in Charge of Offices of the Bureau of Investigation, from J. Edgar Hoover in the name of Frank Burke, Assistant Director and Chief.” [Jan. 2, 1920] This cable is apparently the last communication sent by J. Edgar Hoover to the Agents in Charge of offices of the Bureau of Investigation—instructions to the agents on issuing statements to the press. Instead of maintaining silence until the morning after the big operation, now the agents are freed to make statements immediately after arrests were completed on the night of Jan. 2nd—enabling the story to make a splash in the morning editions on Jan. 3rd. “Your statement should cover only local situation and may contain fact that arrests are nationwide in scope and being directed by Attorney General,” Hoover indicates.
“Report of the Red Raid in Buffalo, NY,” by Myron J. Blackmon [night of Jan. 2/3, 1920] This is a fairly brief internal Bureau of Investigation report of the coordinated mass anti-Communist Raid of of January 2, 1920 as it manifested itself in Buffalo, New York. Special Agent in Charge Blackmon notes that the Department of Justice’s Bureau of investigation had been “assisted by the local police and by former members of the American Protective League” in conducting the operation—the latter of which had loaned personal automobiles with which to conduct the house by house raids of suspected Communist Party members. About 25 had been arrested in the initial sweep (with additional arrests over the course of the following week, not mentioned in this report). Difficulty had been had obtaining evidence with which to prove party membership, however, as the Lusk Committee had made an organized raid of its own in Buffalo just a few days previously, on Dec. 29, 1919. Consequently, most of those arrested were immediately released due to lack of evidence proving party membership. Six citizens had been turned over to local authorities for prosecution under the state Criminal Anarchy law, however, Blackmon notes.
“’Break Back of Radicalism’ Was Palmer’s Order: 800 Aliens Arrested in Cossack Raid Held Foodless in ‘Black Hole’ for 20 Hours, Reporter Testifies: 12 Found Deserving of Deportation.” by Laurence Todd [aftermath of Jan. 2/3, 1920 raids] This Federated Press article documents one of the local atrocities committed by the forces of so-called “law and order” during the mass raids of Jan. 2/3, 1920. Following an instruction of Attorney General Mitchell Palmer to “break the back of radicalism in Detroit,” chief representative of the Department of Justice in Detroit Arthur L. Barker is said to have herded some 800 victims “"into the dark, unsanitary, foul-smelling, and overheated upper corridor of the federal building in Detroit.” Each were allowed a space averaging just 2 by 3 feet and a line 50 people deep stood waiting to use the one toilet provided them. No food was provided for 20 hours, when donuts and coffee were finally arranged. Half of these unfortunates were freed after preliminary investigation lasting from 1 to 6 days, according the testimony before the US Senate by a journalist whistleblower, while 128 were crowded into a stone-floored courthouse basement with only one window and kept there for over a week, finally moved only after protest was made to Washington, DC by the mayor, city council, and local health official. After independent review of the case files, only 12 of those arrested in the dragnet were found deportable under the law, with another 15 or 20 “whose belief in the overthrow of government by force and violence was doubtful.”
“William Z. Foster,” by William Hard [Jan. 7, 1920] Mill owners shamelessly red-baited Steel strike leader William Z. Foster as part of their effort to win the battle of public opinion and thus the strike. This article from The New Republic by liberal journalist William Hard comes to the defense of the embattled radical strike leader. Foster is portrayed as a brilliant self-taught worker who had lived a life of varied employment activities and whose thinking had developed an matured over time. He had come to the central idea of a single, united “church” of labor—a position at odds with the theory and practice of the syndicalist, dual unionist IWW. “Mr. Foster urged the IWW to turn their rivulet back into the stream” of labor but the IWW had “remained stiff-necked in their heresy, and they continued to abide in their schismatic organization.” Thereafter Foster is said to have moved wholeheartedly into the AF of L mainstream—“an extreme case of the heretic turned churchman.” Hard declares that “United States Senators may grieve and droop, thinking how Mr. Foster is undermining the Trade Union Movement. I shall worry when I see Mr. Gompers worrying. Mr. Gompers needs no worldly wisdom from anybody on the Hill, and he certainly needs no instruction in the salvation of trade unionism from people who do not know the beginning of the trade union creed. The beginning of the trade union creed may have something to do with unswerving absolute loyalty to The Trade Union Movement as existing, as organized, as officered, as led. Mr. Foster gives that loyalty and is known to give that loyalty.”
“Burleson and The Call: An Editorial in The New Republic, January 7, 1920.” This piece from the liberal weekly news magazine, The New Republic, charges that “Even the conservative press has been unable to stomach the sweeping claim of arbitrary and unreviewable power of censorship” which Postmaster General Albert Burleson had exhibited in response to mandamus proceedings brought by the Socialist daily, The New York Call. The Call had been arbitrarily denied its right to send issues via second class mail by “an autocratic and unscrupulous administrator acting under the barest shadow of legal right” to assert authority to which he had been denied by Congress, the editorial charges. The entire press was coming to realize that “if such a power exists, and is permitted to continue, there is hardly a publication in the country which is safe”—as today’s repression of the Left Wing press by the fiat of a Right Wing government might just as easily find the tables reversed in the future. “If Mr. Burleson had contented himself with excluding particular issues of The Call from the mails, for specific and valid reasons, he would not have laid himself open to serious criticism. Congress had expressly given him this power,” the editorial notes. Burleson had arbitrarily and without foundation in law extended this principle, however. “There is nothing in the postal laws which authorizes him to refuse or revoke the second class privileges of any newspaper because of its editorial opinions, or because it prints ‘seditious’ or ‘radical’ reading matter. If a newspaper violates any law, its editors can be indicted, tried by jury, and fined or sentenced to prison. If any particular issue of the paper contains matter in violation of law, that issue can be held up, and refused passage through the mail, whether first class, second class, or third class. But a publication can be permanently refused second class privileges only on the ground that it is not a ‘newspaper’ as defined in the postal laws.” A Congressional investigation of Burleson’s illegal action is urged.
“Special Report on Radical Activities in the San Francisco District,” by F.W. Kelly [Week Ending Jan. 10, 1920] Weekly Department of Justice intelligence report for the San Francisco district by Bureau of Investigation agent F.W. Kelly. Kelly details the local results of the coordinated nationwide “Palmer Raid” of January 2-3, 1920 to his supervisors. “Of the 28 warrants received by the Immigration authorities for the apprehension of alien members of the COMMUNIST LABOR PARTY, 21 of the persons so covered were arrested and interviewed by this department on the night and morning of January 2nd and 3rd,” he notes. No American citizens were arrested in the operation, Kelly adds, clearly indicating that a targeting of deportable aliens was central to the operation’s strategic plan. Difficulty was being had proving the party membership those arrested, however, as “all records of the COMMUNIST LABOR PARTY relating to membership were either destroyed by members of the American Legion, who raided the State Headquarters at Oakland early in November, or have been kept under cover by the officials of the organization,” Kelly notes. As a result “this department is now conducting an investigation at the places where those aliens denying membership have been employed, and will follow with an investigation in the neighborhood in which they reside, for the purpose of securing evidence of expression of radical convictions or acknowledgment of affiliation with this party.” Agent Kelly additionally notes having paid attention to the issue of dependent families of those arrested, making arrangements with Cooperative Charaties of Oakland “for the care of the single family requiring this attention.”
“Radical Activities—Buffalo Socialists: Report of a Meeting of Jewish Socialists in Buffalo, NY Attended by an Undercover Informant of the US Dept. of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation, Jan. 11, 1920.” This internal Bureau of Investigation surveillance report of an undercover spy working in Buffalo indicates that there was a spontaneous united front emerged to aid the the Communists arrested by the Department of Justice and local authorities during the first week of January 1920. Attending the meeting of a largely Jewish branch of Local Buffalo, Socialist Party, the undercover informant heard a plea and saw a collection for funds to aid the families of those arrested, as well as the unfortunate families of members of the anarchist Union of Russian Workers recently deported. Branch organizer Goldstein is quoted as saying: “It makes [no difference] whether or not you are a Syndicalist, a Communist, a Socialist, or a member of the Workman’s Circle—you should do what you can for the families of these men who have fought for our cause and who have in some cases been deported because of their activities.” Goldstein additionally urged the assembled Socialists that “any of you who knows a member of the Communist Party who is in jail and can not get bail, should help that person out. Do not bail out as many men, however, as your funds will permit. Be careful to save enough so that in case you, yourself, are arrested you will be able to give bail. I just want to tell you that in case any of you are able to help out in the bailing of any of the Communists, if you will call at the Communist headquarters, one of the men...will be there and will be glad to help you in making arrangements.” The local Socialist leader also cautioned, “We never know when our turn is coming, we may all be arrested before tomorrow night on a similar charge.” Particular concern was expressed in private discussion over the case of local Communist Frederick “Fred” Schuman.
“Propaganda of Fear and Hysteria: Speech to the Harvard Liberal Club, Cambridge, MA,” by Judge G.W. Anderson [Jan. 12, 1920] U.S. District Court Judge G.W. Anderson voices criticism of the “prevailing propaganda of fear and hysteria” closely linked to the coordinated mass anti-radical raids of January 2/3 in this public speech, reprinted in the monthly magazine of progressive Republican U.S. Senator Robert LaFollette. Anderson states that “many, perhaps most, of the agitators for the suppression of the so-called ‘Red menace’ are, I observe, the same individuals, or class of individuals, or class of forces, that in the years 1917 and 1918 were frightening the community to death about pro-German plots.” Based upon his professional experience as a US Attorney in New England, Judge Anderson estimates that more than 99 percent of the sensational “pro-German plots” uncovered by hysterical nationalists “never existed.” Judge Anderson told his audience: “I doubt the Red menace having more basis in fact than the pro-German peril. I assert the significant fact that many of the same persons and newspapers that for two years were faking pro-German plots are now promoting ‘The Red Terror.’” Anderson concludes: “Real Americans, men who believe in law, order, liberty, toleration of others’ views on political and religious subjects, are not given to advertising themselves and their patriotism. They have too much respect for Americanism and for patriotism to disgrace these fine words as they are being daily disgraced by those using them for personal or political notoriety, or even in some instances, as weapons in industrial conflicts. The heresy-hunter has throughout history been one of the meanest of men. It is time that we had freedom of speech for the just contempt that every wholesome-minded citizen has and should have for the pretentious, noisy heresy-hunter of these hysterical times.”
“Letter to William J. Flynn and J. Edgar Hoover in Washington, DC, from Frank R. Stone in Newark, NY.” [Jan. 12, 1920] This letter from Bureau Investigation Special Agent Frank Stone to the two top chiefs of the organization in Washington, DC, notes “since the formation of the Communist Party (September 1st, 1919) that many of the members who formerly belonged to the Socialist Party retained their Socialist books [party cards], instead of obtaining Communist books and consequently the spaces in the Socialist books for the dues stamps for the months of September, October, November, and December  have stamps affixed thereon of the Communist Party, instead of the Socialist Party.” Stone notes that “unless you closely examine the inside of these books this fact will escape attention and the card probably not used against the holder.” Stone urges that a memorandum to this effect be sent out to BoI offices around the country so that the documents may be “gone through again with a view of extracting these cards in addition to the Communist cards.”
“Letter from Grigorii Zinoviev on behalf of the ECCI to the Central Executive Committee of the CPA and National Executive Committee of the CLPA, January 12, 1920.”; A seminal document in the history of the American Communist movement, the first official statement of the position of the Communist International on the division of the American Communist movement into two competing organizations. Zinoviev represented the split a “heavy blow to the communist movement in America” which was in the final analysis based upon “certain disagreements on the question of tactics, principally questions of organization” rather than differences of program. Zinoviev stated that the foreign language based and theoretically more advanced Communist Party and anglophonic Communist Labor Party were supplemental to one another and noted that the ECCI “categorically insists” on the immediate unification of the two organizations. A joint unity conference based upon equal representation of the two groups was proposed. Zinoviev brought 9 points to the attention of the American parties: (1) The need for a broad-based party; (2) While a complete break with the old socialist parties was necessary, individual members and groups from those organizations were suitable for communist membership; (3) “It is particularly necessary to remember that the stage of verbal propaganda and agitation has been left behind, the time for decisive battles has arrived” and the broad proletarian masses thus must be attracted to the communist party; (4) The Communists should work to hasten the demise of the AF of L by supporting the revolutionary industrial unions of the IWW, OBU, and WIIU; (5) The party must build workers’ committees in the shops in parallel to the party organizations therein; (6) While the language federations had played and would continue to play an important role in America integrating workers into the English-speaking movement, “the party must not represent a conglomeration of independent or semi-autonomous ‘national federations;’” (7) The use of referendums should be reduced to a minimum with the Central Committee vested with “complete authority” between party conclaves; (8) The establlishment of a daily newspaper was one of the most important immediate practical tasks of the American party; and (9) An underground party organization comprised of trusted comrades was immediately necessary, to conduct revolutionary propaganda and to carry on the party’s work in the event of violent suppression of the party apparatus.
“Deporting a Political Party: An Editorial in The New Republic, January 14, 1920.” This editorial in the liberal weekly The New Republic argues that anti-socialist legislation had been spectacularly unsuccessful in Bismarck’s Germany, that it had failed; that political repression had been practiced in Japan, and that Americans had been shocked at the practice. “Here in the United States, so we had believed, such methods were abhorrent to that ‘fierce spirit of liberty’ which Burke once proclaimed as America’s chief characteristic. In the United States, government rests on the consent of the governed, not on arbitrary power. American institutions are secure because the great majority of the people believe in them, not because a few public officials maintain them by force,” the editorial declares. Yet Attorney General Mitchell Palmer and his associates had allowed themselves to “be frightened into a fantastic attempt to annihilate a radical political minority by imprisonment and deportation.... There is no pretense that the few thousand victims of the roundup had counseled crime or instigated violence.” Far from having “broken the back” of Communism in America, Palmer’s hysterical attempt at mass repression had only been the cause for the platform of the Communist Party of America to be published “in all the leading newspapers of the country.” The editorial continues: “If Mr. Palmer were a student of contemporary social thought he would know that bombastic pronunciamentos of this sort, cast in the jargon of ‘scientific’ socialism, have been circulated in Europe since 1848, and in this country for nearly half a century, without disturbing anyone. If he had any common sense, he would recognize the absurdity of believing that a few thousand uneducated fanatics, armed with the ancient Marxian dogmas, could actually imperil our institutions, or make any appreciable progress toward the ‘establishment of a Soviet form of government, similar to that which now obtains in Russia.’”
“Report of the Executive Secretary to the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America, Jan. 18, 1920,” by C.E. Ruthenberg. This document, a handwritten report by C.E. Ruthenberg in the Comintern Archive, indicates for the first time that the underground structure of the old Communist Party of America based around industrial urban centers was not a matter of external direction or unhinged revolutionary ardor, but was rather a direct result of the January 2, 1920, coordinated raids against the radical movement conducted by the Justice Department and its state and local associates in law enforcement. Ruthenberg here unveils his concept of “Organization Centers,” each headed by a paid secretary under the discipline and instruction of the Central Executive Committee of the party and working with party units within the proximity of that center without regard to state geographic boundaries. Such a structure marked a major departure from the previous structure of “state parties” that had been used by both the CPA and the CLP prior to that date. Ruthenberg also comments on the question of unity with the CLP, the party press, and other organizational matters at this first meeting of the CPA’s CEC held after the Palmer Raids.
“CLP National Executive Committee Minutes: Jan. 3 to 23, 1920.” While this esoteric document regrettably picks up immediately after the Jan. 2 session attended by an undercover informer of the Military Intelligence Division, it does fill in detail about the Communist Labor Party’s unity negotiations with the rival Communist Party of America as well as its reshuffling of officials in the aftermath of the repression of the so-called ” Palmer Raids” directed by J. Edgar Hoover. Lore, Jakira, and Gitlow were named to act as Editorial Board for Voice of Labor and Lore, Jakira, and Wagenknecht as Editorial Board for Communist Labor, both of which publications had a press run of 5,000. (It would be difficult to take seriously any self-cited membership figure for the CLP larger than the press run of the official organ, it might be argued). While a lease was taken out for a National Office, it was determined that the” important business of the office to be conducted elsewhere.” If Wagenknecht and Katterfeld were unable to reach preliminary agreement on a basis for unity with the CPA at a preliminary meeting to be held Jan. 24, a 3 person committee was named to meet in Cleveland with prominent CPA members in an apparent parallel effort to forge unity.
“Ben Hanford—A Song and A Sword,” by William M. Feigenbaum [Jan. 30, 1920] This article by New York Socialist journalist William Feigenbaum commemorates the 10th anniversary of the death of two-time Socialist Party Vice Presidential candidate Ben Hanford—printer and author. In addition, Feigenbaum notes that his colleague on the staff of the New York Call was a “great orator.” “There never was a man, with the exception of Gene Debs, who so captured the imagination of the workers,” Feigenbaum declares. “He was clear, and logical, and burning. His slight figure, his physical frailties would be forgotten as his piercing eyes would bore through you, as his eloquent words would ring out, ‘The working class, may it ever be right, but right or wrong, the working class,’ were the words with which he would close his greatest speeches.” Hanford’s final effort, fundraising to save The Call despite the cancer which would ultimately kill him, is melodramatically recounted, as are his final words, said to have been scrawled on a piece of paper as he drew his final breaths: “I WOULD THAT MY EVERY HEART’S BEAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN FOR THE WORKING CLASS, AND THROUGH THEM FOR ALL HUMANITY.” An example of the quasi-religious aspect of Socialism and a demonstration that hagiography was by no means the exclusive property of any one tendency of American radicalism.
“Maximum Unity Demands of CLP as Decided Upon by the NEC.” [adopted prior to Jan. 24, 1920] This document details the strategy to be pursued by the Communist Labor Party in negotiations for unity with the rival Communist Party of America at the meeting between Wagenknecht and Katterfeld (CLP) and Ruthenberg and Ferguson (CPA) on Jan. 24 in New York. The CLP program and the CPA manifesto were to be used as a basis for unity. The combined organization was not to have autonomous language federations, and membership by language branches in these federations was to be optional. A single CEC was to be established, official organs of the two groups merged, and the controversy with the Russian Soviet Government Bureau (a bone of contention with the CPA) was to be dropped.
“Capitalism -- Your Days Are Numbered.” [CLP leaflet, circa Feb. 25, 1920] This is a defiant leaflet of the Communist Labor Party from the days immediately following the mass government repression of January 1920. The leaflet challenges: ” Capitalism -- we know you for what you are. The acid of persecution which you are now so lavishly rubbing into the hides of the working class will but help make indelible the hundreds of outrages you have committed. Nothing will ever eradicate Ludlow from our minds, from the very bones and blood of the class-conscious workers. Nothing will ever make us forget Everett, nor Cripple Creek, nor Seattle, nor Centralia, nor Lawrence, nor Paterson, nor Bisbee, nor Chicago, nor Wichita, nor Cleveland -- yes, as we name city after city we begin to realize that there is not one spot in this whole United States where you have not proven yourself the beast you are.” The hypocrisy of the capitalist system is emphasized:” You prate about the sanctity of the constitution. You are loudmouthed about preserving representative government. You demand strict adherence to the laws and profess horrors at every sign of force and opposition to you. But how can you preach against force when you so love to use it in your own behalf? How can you uphold representative government when you expel representatives who do not fully harmonize with you? How can you hold the constitution sacred when you wipe your feet with it every day?” While the present is dark for revolutionary Socialism, the future is bright, the leaflet intimates:” It might be midnight in the United States. But dawn in the east tinges the world with crimson. Labor is also looking eastward. Labor is learning how.” It is perhaps notable that there is no explicit call for revolutionary action in this ostensibly underground document.”
“Letter to Alfred Wagenknecht in Brooklyn from Max Bedacht in San Francisco, Jan. 21, 1920.” The Palmer Raids of Jan. 1920 cut the organizational centers of the Communist and other radical organizations off from their affiliates in the field. This letter from member of the Communist Labor Party’s NEC Max Bedacht to CLP Executive Secretary notes the recent receipt of a letter which broke a silence of “some weeks.” Bedacht relates the story of the Wilson regime’s repression in California. While himself under Grand Jury indictment and out on bail, Bedacht calls San Francisco “an oasis in the desert of the United States,” noting only one arrest. Across the bay in Oakland, on the other hand, state political thuggery was in full swing: “There were wholesale arrests there. Local ’authorities’ there are completely under the control of the Chamber of Commerce, which in turn rules through the American Legion. We have all hands full here to help comrades from jail.” Bedacht notes that hosts of foreign-speaking members of the Socialist Party had been swept up in Palmer’s net and held for deportation on the basis of their names appearing on the books of the CLP—due to the fact that CLP organizers brought with them the old books of the Socialist Party! “The SP is doing absolutely nothing for them, so we will have to look out for them also,” Bedacht notes, adding that $90,000 in property is already tied up for bail in the case in which he was himself embroiled alone. Bedacht asks for a report from Wagenknecht on the situation in New York and elsewhere.
“Letter to Max Bedacht in San Francisco from Alfred Wagenknecht in Brooklyn, Jan. 30, 1920.” Reply of National Executive Secretary Wagenknecht to the Jan. 21, 1920 request of NEC member Max Bedacht for a status report of the Communist Labor Party in the wake of the Palmer raids. Repression was especially severe in the Northeast, with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts especially hard hit, Wagenknecht notes. In Illinois the entire local, state, and national CLP apparatus had been arrested and the headquarters of the Communist Party of America was shut down under continuing police occupation. Wagenknecht relates a report he had heard that the CPA would reestablish headquarters shortly in New York City. The CLP had 8 members remaining in custody at Ellis Island, 2 awaiting bail in Illinois, and others held at Deer Island, near Boston. The situation for the CPA and the Union of Russian Workers was more difficult, with a number of their members held at Ellis Island and elsewhere.
“The Case Against the Reds,” by A. Mitchell Palmer. This article, first published in The Forum magazine in Feb. 1920, is a valuable glimpse into the mentality of the US Attorney General during the Wilson Administration. Palmer was the driving force behind the wave of anti-radical surveillance and repression that swept the country beginning in the second half of 1919 and hitting a crescendo with the coordinated mass arrests of January 2, 1920. The timing of this article is of particular interest, it being written in the immediate aftermath of the January repressions.
“Radicalism Under Inquiry: Conclusions Reached After a Year’s Study of Alien Anarchy in America.” by Sen. Clayton R. Lusk [Feb. 1920] An article published in the February 1920 issue of The Review of Reviews in which the chairman of the New York “Joint Legislative Committee to Investigating Seditious Activities” makes his case. Lusk claimed to have gathered “ample and convincing evidence that the movement had its inception some time prior to the beginning of the world war in 1914, and that it was started here and elsewhere by paid agents of the Junker class in Germany as a part of their program of industrial and military world conquest.” After the war this German-sponsored extreme radicalism continued through sheer inertia, in Lusk’s view. The radicals could only succeed by demolishing “our national sense of decency and honesty,” according to Lusk, and consequently were “conducting definite propaganda against the church and all religions, against the institution of the family, and against all present moral ideals.” To combat this menace, the time had come for action, for “drastic laws,” and for men in office “who have sufficient moral, physical, and political courage, and the necessary energy to enforce our laws.”.
“Circular Letter to All Federation Secretaries from C.E. Ruthenberg, Executive Secretary of the Communist Party of America Regarding Revision of District Territories.” [Feb. 2, 1920] This is a missing link of sorts, a message from Executive Secretary Ruthenberg specifying an adjustment of the territories of the newly established underground “districts” of the Communist Party of America—material in the Comintern Archive does not seem to include news of this change. The initial 8 district structure is condensed into 6, with the Detroit district merged into the Cleveland district and the St. Louis-Midwestern district merged into the Chicago district. Of these 6 districts, D6 for the “Pacific Coast” remained without a District Organizer and with only a skeletal CPA organization in existence. Footnotes indicate the further revisions made to the district territories of the old CPA. The entire evolution of the district boundaries of the old CPA (1920-21) is now known.
“Letter to C.E. Ruthenberg in New York from Marion E. Sproule in Boston.”[Feb. 4, 1920] Although exceedingly short, this note from Massachusetts CPA State Secretary Marion Sproule to Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg adds a bit of esoteric detail to our understanding of the structure of the underground CPA—that it was Ruthenberg who not only conceived of the replacement of state-based organization with organization in districts around “industrial centers” (previously known), but that Ruthenberg also was the originator of the 10 member “group”as the primary party organization of the new structure. Sproule also asks Ruthenberg about the infamous $100 “assessment”for Nicholas Hourwich’s trip to Moscow as International Delegate, relayed by John Ballam —an unauthorized end-run around a decision of the CEC that would ultimately prove to be one of the festering issues behind the split of the Ruthenberg group (including Sproule) in April 1920.
“To All Sections of the Russian Communist Federation: A leaflet from the Executive Committee of the Russian Communist Federation of the CPA.” [mailed Feb. 24, 1920] The so-called Palmer Raids of Jan. 2/3, 1920, was intended as a massive kill shot of the Russian Communist organization in America—an attempt to obliterate the various “Russian Federations” just as the anarchist Union of Russian Workers had been annihilated a mere 6 weeks earlier. The Communist movement proved to be rather more resilient, however, emerging from the repression, its members freed on bail, and the actions of the federal government challenged in the courts. This typeset leaflet was mailed to all sections of the Russian Communist Federation by the organization’s Central Executive Committee, urging the members to “stand firmly at your posts, and not break up the divisions of our Communist Federation.” Despite the arrest of the head of the organization, Oscar Tyverovsky, and the crushing of its official organ, Novyi Mir, the arrests had only “temporarily stopped our work.” The leaflet observes that “the idea has been created in some sections that our Federation no longer exists, that there is no Federation, and that the Communist Party is shattered, and has therefore decided to disband.” This was not the case, however, as “the CC of the Russian Federation is now reorganized and has taken up the work anew upon the plan adopted by the National Committee of the Communist Party.” The leaflet concludes: “Dear comrades, we hope you will continue the work begun for the liberation of the working class from the yoke of capital, and that no sort of prison or deportation from America may be capable of terrifying the class-conscious fighters for freedom.”
“The Party Outlook: Unsigned Editorial in Communist Labor, Feb. 25, 1920.” This document appeared in the official organ of the Communist Labor Party, outlining the various members of the CLP arrested during the coordinated raids of January 2, 1920. Thousands were arrested and hundreds held —with 8 deaths of arrestees held at Ellis Island. “Instructions to the raiders were that only alien radicals were to be arrested,” the article notes. The CLP indicates that it took care of its own, freeing the big majority of its members of bail. In addition to the New York arrests, a large effort against the CLP and its national officers was underway in Illinois, it was indicated, with indictments coming down for the Cook Co. Executive Committee, the National Executive Committee of the CLP, and others. “One thing is assured. We shall not be intimidated. The purpose of the raids was to cow the workers. The Red Raids will have the opposite effect,” the editorial defiantly states.
“Two letters to A. Wagenknecht in New York from Charles Dirba in New York, Feb. 9 & 26, 1920.” Two replies on behalf of the Communist Party of America to a proposal for unity put forward by the Communist Labor Party. Dirba states that the CPA would not co-sign a declaration stating that there were no differences in principles between the two organizations, would not accept a merger of the two CECs an joint work on matters of legal defense, organization, and propaganda prior to a unity convention, and implicitly emphasized that CPA’s “fundamental relationship of Language Federations within the Party” represented a primary issue blocking unification. (Under the CPA system, the various Federations were semi-autonomous, collecting dues and transmitting a percentage of these funds to the center— as opposed to the CLP’s system in which the closely-controlled District Organizers of the center transmitted dues to the center, which then rebated a percentage back to the Federations. In the merger of the Ruthenberg CPA-minority group with the CLP to form the United Communist Party which ensued three months later, the CLP conception of the Federations was accepted, in spite of a decisive majority of delegates to the joint unity convention allotted to the Ruthenberg group).
“Rules for Underground Party Work.” (leaflet of the CPA) [circa March 1920] Full text of the often-reprinted “rules for underground party work” issued as a leaflet by the Communist Party of America. The leaflet includes commentary on the following 10 “rules” of conduct for party members: “(1) DON’T betray Party work and Party workers under any circumstances. (2) DON’T carry or keep with you names and addresses, except in good code. (3) DON’T keep in your rooms openly any incriminating documents or literature. (4) DON’T take any unnecessary risks in Party work. (5) DON’T shirk Party work because of the risk connected with it. (6) DON’T boast of what you have to do or have done for the Party. (7) DON’T divulge your membership in the Party without necessity. (8) DON’T let any spies follow you to appointments or meetings. (9) DON’T lose your nerve in danger. (10) DON’T answer any questions if arrested, either at preliminary hearings or in the court.” The leaflet firmly advises those arrested to take advantage of the right to remain silent: “I you are arrested, ...if they have sufficient evidence, or sufficient grounds for suspicion, that you are a Communist, and therefore, as a deathly enemy of the present order, subject to suppression and imprisonment, law or no law—but first to be made use of in getting hold of other Communists, in destroying the whole organization, if possible—first to be questioned and grilled, to be pumped for various information, to be put through the Third Degree—then the only correct thing to do, the best thing in the circumstances, is absolute refusal to answer any questions. (Ask for a lawyer. You have the right for that. And you have the right to refuse to answer questions, whatever that may help you.)”
“Secret US Department of State Memorandum on Louis Fraina, March 5, 1920.” This unsigned secret memorandum of the State Department reviews the 1920 activities of Louis C. Fraina, International Secretary of the Communist Party of America, as he made his way to Europe. The memo indicates that British intelligence had known in advance of Fraina’s ensuing departure from America to attend a Communist International meeting in the Netherlands and that he was expected to thereafter proceed to Moscow. The Americans had learned that Fraina had traveled with “Harry Nosovitsky,” a Russian national who had previously done work for American authorities and who had apparently been recommended to British Intelligence by Raymond Finch, formerly of the Bureau of Investigation and the Lusk Committee. Fraina traveled under the stolen passport of Englishman Ralph Snyder. A “false immigration officer” had been used at the landing in England to expedite Fraina and the British agent in his company, and it is clear from the report that Nosovitsky had kept the British informed of the content of the Amsterdam meetings of the CI. The Dutch police, acting independently, had arrested Nosovitsky, however, and he had been obliged to reveal his identity to police officials. “In the mix-up, Fraina became separated from his chaperone. The latter returned to England and made his report under the impression that Fraina would arrive in a day or so. Unfortunately, Fraina changed his mind and decided to go on to Berlin,” the report states. The British had then contacted German authorities, “the impression existing in England the Noske’s idea of a good revolutionary is a dead revolutionary.” British intelligence suggested to the Americans that Fraina’s eventual return to America might prove “valuable” to authorities both as a factional diversion and because the British believed Fraina to be “venal,” and thus corruptible.
“Application of the Socialist Party of America for Membership in the Communist International. A letter from Otto Branstetter to Grigorii Zinoviev, March 12, 1920.” Even after suspending and expelling a majority of the members fo the Socialist Party for endorsing the program of a formal Left Wing faction within the party, the rump of the organization approved via referendum vote a minority plank on international affiliation calling for the SP to immediately join the Communist International. This is the letter which SP National Executive Secretary Otto Branstetter composed and sent to Moscow in accordance with this decision of the party membership. Branstetter’s official letter, typed up by future National Executive Secretary Bertha Hale White, was pro forma and made no concrete case for inclusion of the Socialist Party in the Comintern. It was dispatched to Russia together with the rejected “Majority plank” and the approved “Minority plank” on international affiliation.
“Draft of a Supplemental Appeal to the Executive Committee of the Communist International from the Socialist Party of America, circa March 12, 1920,” by Otto Branstetter” While the official application for inclusion in the Communist International submitted on behalf of the Socialist Party of America by its National Executive Secretary, Otto Branstetter, was tepid and certain of immediate rejection, there was considered a strong appeal affirming with vigor the SPA’s credentials for membership. This fascinating document is a draft of a supplemental appeal to the ECCI composed by Branstetter. The Socialist Party’s opposition to the European war is characterized as militant, consistent, and nearly unanimous. The SP’s officials are characterized as “no less loyal and devoted and steadfast in maintaining the position of the Party,” as examplified by the draconian legal action taken against them by the “black reaction” of the capitalist state. “There was no split in the American Socialist party on account of or during the war. The split in this country occurred a year after the signing of the armistice” and “was largely composed of comrades who had never been affiliated with the Socialist Party until after the signing of the armistice and of those who, though affiliated, were conspicuously silent and inactive during the war.” The courage and capability of those Left Wing leaders is called into question by Branstetter, who observes “the fact that the most prominent and influential leaders in the recent split have fled to safety in foreign countries, while their deluded and deserted followers are being thrown into jails and penitentiaries by the thousands, is significant of the caliber and character of those leaders.” The leaders of the Socialist Party are held up in contradistinction to the successionists as the authentic representatives of American radicalism, worthy of inclusion in the Communist International in their stead.
“Letter to Frank B. O’Connell, Department Adjutant, The American Legion, in Lincoln, Nebraska, from Harrison Fuller, Commander, Department of Minnesota, American Legion, in St. Paul, Minnesota, March 15, 1920.” This letter from the head of the Minnesota American Legion in Minnesota to his counterpart in Nebraska provides information about the Minneapolis-based World War Veterans, a Left Wing ex-servicemen’s organization formed in opposition to the ultra-nationalist and anti-organized labor American Legion. Fuller notes the great dissimilarity of organizational size between the American Legion’s 60,000 member base and the World War Vets, who “in their most enthusiastic moments have claimed a membership of 3,000.” Fuller says that the WWV’s attempt to form posts around Minnesota has been ineffectual, and that the organizational meetings had by and large been organized by and featured speakers of the Non-Partisan League rather than the World War Vets itself. “Non-Partisan League members in various parts of the state have attempted to cram the WWV organization down the throats of servicemen,” Fuller states. Fuller provides short biographies of three of the leaders of the World War Veterans: Lester P. Barlow (who “as nearly as I can determine, was never in the service” and was an adherent of the NPL and organized labor rather than a true representative of veterans’ issues); Carl O. Parsons (who “belongs to a labor union and is a man of no presence and less education... merely a weak-kneed mouthpiece for Barlow"); and George H. Mallon (a Congressional Medal of Honor winner who was “a really big man in every sense of the word and is the only force which has held the organization together and kept it from running wild or falling to pieces"). “Our policy now is simply to ignore the World War Veterans completely, being polite to their members when we meet them, although it is hard to do this in the case of Barlow,” Fuller notes. “Their organization draws its life blood from the spirit of unrest now permeating the ranks of labor and will last only so long as there is unrest,” Fuller asserts.
“Message from the Amsterdam Sub-Bureau of the Comintern to the American Communist Movement, March 20, 1920.” A sympathetic message to the Communists of America sent by the Executive Committee of the short-lived Amsterdam Sub-Bureau of the Communist International and published in the party press. The letter rather melodramatically likens the persecution being suffered by the American movement to that of the Russian revolutionaries under the Tsarist regime and links it to a forthcoming final battle against world capitalism: “Nothing short of the fall of American Capitalism will mean the end of that gigantic historical drama of which the world war seems to have been the prologue. The ruling classes of America know this, and that is why they try to crush Communism before it has taken hold of the masses; they want to violently tear it out, before it has deeply struck root into the American soil.” According to the letter, it is the task of the American Communists to preserve their party organization and “to carry on, on broader lines, the task that the IWW first took in hand, to lead the masses against capitalism; to become the nucleus, the heart and the brain, of a stronger and more determined working class movement.”.
“Minutes of the Meeting of the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America, March 17-19, 1920” Minutes for the monthly plenum of the Central Executive Committee of the old CPA, the last peaceful gathering before the explosion at the April meeting when Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg and his associates headed for the exits. The March 1920 session dealt extensively with the question of unity with the CLP. After hearing a presentation by a representative of the Comintern calling for unity, the CEC proceeded to reject the latest proposal of the CLP, contained in a March 9, 1920 letter from CLP Executive Secretary Alfred Wagenknecht on behalf of the NEC of his party. The CPA counteroffers its readiness to immediately procede to merger, so long as the CLP accepts: the program of the CPA, the constitution of the CPA, the relationship of the Federations to the National Office employed by the CPA. A unity convention with 35 delegates is called for, with elections based proportionally between the two organizations upon dues stamps sold for Oct.-Dec. 1919 — not accidentally a peak period for the CPA. The CPA is also graciously willing to merge its (larger) CEC with that of the CLP during the transition period. Not surprisingly, this one-sided offer was not accepted by the CLP. The March CEC session also saw the resignation of I.E. Ferguson from the CEC and his role as party editor over a refusal of the CEC to discipline Nicholas Hourwich and “Ries” for misrepresenting the decisions of the CEC in an attempt to raise funds for a Hourwich trip to Soviet Russia. Ferguson remained on as party counsel and was directed to start a Chicago Defense Committee on behalf of the CPA.
“A Yankee Convention,” by Robert Minor. [April 1920] In this article from the pages of The Liberator, Communist Party leader Robert Minor expresses excitement over the growth of the cooperative movement in America, not so much for that trend’s ability to lead to the long-run liberation of the working class, but for its ability to bring together farmers and the urban working class in a common cause. Minor here reports on the Cooperative Congress, a national convention bringing together cooperative operators, farmers’ groups, labor unions, and the Plumb Plan League. Although the gathering formally banned the discussion of politics from its proceedings, Minor emphasizes the potential political importance of the cooperative system, particularly as a provisioner of striking workers. Includes several drawings by Minor of key participants of the gathering.
“Letter to C.E. Ruthenberg in New York from I.E. Ferguson in Chicago.”[April 11, 1920] This letter to Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg from his friend and factional ally, I.E. “Ed”Ferguson, demonstrates that Ruthenberg’s decision to split from the organization was not a hasty action taken in response to a refusal of Federationist elements to unite with the anglophonic Communist Labor Party (as Draper and his followers would have it ), but rather was the result of a whole complex of factors. Ferguson is frustrated at Ruthenberg for continuing to temporize with the “4 ridiculous people” who constituted the majority of the CEC of the CPA, whom he characterizes as individuals “who could never possibly be anything but barriers to Communist organization in this country.”"Have we not, you and I, yielded already far too much to an empty standard of party regularity—when there is neither party nor regularity to take into account?”Ferguson asks. The Chicago organization should defy the CEC and refuse to accept an instruction that 3 of its top leaders should proceed to New York for a scolding. Ferguson declares that “the CP was mostly a fake organization, that is the rock-bottom truth. Very few of its members knew what it was about at all. It was not the outcome of agitation about Socialism, not the outcome of education, not the outcome of class fighting in the US. These things it was only in slight degree. Essentially the CP was a hip-hip-hurrah society for celebration of good news from Russia.”This group is headed by “Russian-Jewish politicians”trumpeting a phoney “4-flush of Bolshevism” in order to maintain their employment, in Ferguson’s view. “I am firmly convinced that you are doing yourself a great injustice without really furthering a Communist movement by sticking to the CEC—the dead ‘leading body’ of a dead organization,” Ferguson insists. “The Federation members have never paid much attention to the CEC of the party, except to shell out money in a vague sort of way. The CEC means nothing to them now. Outside the Federations there is hardly anything left of the CP. Now what is there in this situation for you to save?”Ferguson asks Ruthenberg to “get down to modest realities. There are a few thousand members ready in the US for a Communist Party, perhaps 10,000 in the whole country, though this is likely too big a figure.... I would only count the Federations in so far as they contain individuals who want to belong to a party, not to a social club of their own language—say about 10% of the Federation membership.”The CLP is no better, in Ferguson’s estimation, but in the IWW he sees as a more significant organization. Ferguson calls on Ruthenberg to dispense with the old organization, to call a convention and build a new, Federation-free party around the 2,000 member Chicago organization. “You have become the pivot of this whole situation. You must act, which means a kicking overboard of all this old rubbishy nonsense and irritation; or you do not act, which means simply a postponement of the day of reckoning.”A real party “cannot be achieved through the combination of two dead organizations, both infested with the poison of self-seeking ‘leadership.’”An altogether new organization is needed, Ferguson believes.
“Open Letter to All Russian Branches of the Communist Party of America in Rabochaia Bor’ba.” [April 18, 1920]” This valuable document makes known to historians for the first time the name of the Russian language organ of the Chicago CPA, Rabochaia Bor’ba , although no copies of the publication are known to have survived. The Chicago District Committee, dominated by members of the Russian Federation, was the chief bulwark of the dissident Ruthenberg faction in the party split of April-May 1920—which resulted in the formation of the United Communist Party at a joint unity convention held at Bridgman, Michigan. This document gives first voice to the perspective of the Chicago Russian Federationists. They depict the Russian Federation as an organization in crisis, with government repression removing “the best active and loyal comrades” on the one hand, while on the other “the dirty politics of our leaders from the Central Executive Committee of the Russian Federation” engaged in systematic expulsions of “those who dare to criticize their doings.” In the face of the repression, the leadership of the Russian Federation had lost its nerve, it is argued, disappearing into underground oblivion after looting the till of the organization. “It is time to lead ourselves away from the bunch of politicians, among whom are included common adventurers who have nothing in common with the workers’ movement, but who are utilizing this movement in their personal interests,” the unknown writer in Rabochaia Bor’ba declares. The position of the Chicago District Executive Committee is endorsed anew, urging CPA members to “Refuse any moral and material help to the bunch who call themselves the Central Executive Committee of the Russian Federation and all the business of the region until we decide upon future steps to go over directly under the management of the Communist Party.”
“Letter to George E. Kelleher, Bureau of Investigation Agent in Boston from J. Edgar Hoover in the name of Frank J. Burke in Washington.” [April 21, 1920] J. Edgar Hoover attempts to set the record straight by providing what might anachronistically described as “talking points” to Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office of the Bureau of Investigation, George E. Kelleher. Habeas Corpus proceedings in Boston had given the impression in the press “that agents of the Department of Justice have engaged in provocateur work in the Communist Party and that they have assisted in stimulating the activities of this organization and disseminating some of its literature.” This Hoover stoutly denies: “I...can most emphatically state that no testimony of any nature truthfully given could in any way lead to the conclusion that agents or confidential employees of the Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Justice have ever engaged actively in the activities of the Communist Party of America. One of the long standing rules of the Bureau of Investigation, with which you are no doubt familiar, is to the effect that none of the employees of the Bureau of Investigation who may be engaged upon investigations of organizations charged with radical activities are to in any way participate actively in the councils of such organizations.” Hoover acknowledges having obtained information from undercover informants in the Communist movement, but states that “the persons who were engaged upon these investigations were persons who had been specially trained and who were well conversant with the instructions issued to all employees of the Bureau of Investigation.” He further justifies this action by noting that “it is common knowledge to those who are in any way conversant with radical activities that the same groups of persons who were pro-German during the period of the war are to a large extent pro-Bolshevik at the present time and will continue to participate in any movement which has for its purpose the embarrassment of the Government of the United States and the undermining of its institutions and form.” Hoover goes on to explain the rationale behind the controversial confidential letter of Dec. 27, 1919, in which undercover associates of the BoI were to encourage the holding of meetings on the night of Friday, Jan. 2, 1920—the night of the raids—so that party members might be conveniently concentrated in one place for the arresting officers. “Friday evening was the usual meeting night for communists to assemble” and thus it was no provocation to agitate for the holding of regularly-scheduled meetings, Hoover dubiously claims.
“Search Warrants and Prosecutions: The Activities of the New York “Lusk Committee,” by Archibald E. Stevenson. [April 24, 1920] A section from the introduction to the 1920 report of the “Lusk Committee.” Chief Investigator Stevenson provides a useful list of dates and activities of the Lusk Committee—searches, seizures, arrests, and prosecutions —conducted in connection with the Committee’s legislative mandate to enforce the New York “Criminal Anarchism Act.” This series of events was initiated on June 12, 1919, with a warrant served against the Russian Soviet Government Bureau, headed by Ludwig C.A.K. Martens, and subsequently included raids against offices of the Rand School of Social Science, the Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party, the Russian Socialist Federation, and the Communist Party of America, and others. Includes a long list of individuals indicted in connection with the Lusk Committee’s activities, a group which included Communist leaders Jim Larkin, Ben Gitlow, I.E. Ferguson, C.E. Ruthenberg, Jay Lovestone, Louis Shapiro, and Harry Winitsky.
“Letter to Alfred Wagenknecht in New York from C.E. Ruthenberg in New York, April 22, 1920.” Formal notification to the Executive Secretary of the Communist Labor Party that a split has taken place in the ranks of the CPA. Ruthenberg claims his group has the allegiance of the Polish, South Slavic [Yugoslav], Ukrainian, German, and Estonian Federations of the CPA, as well as four of seven district organizers; that the Jewish Federation of the CPA has withdrawn support to the majority group of the CEC and declared its neutrality; and that “all the evidence goes to show that the larger part of the party will be united in our group.” He invites CLP participation in a unity convention and indicates that “prompt action” is needed.
“Circular Letter on Unity Negotiations to All Groups of the Communist Labor Party from the CLP National Office in New York.” [April 23, 1920] This mimeographed memo updates the membership of the Communist Labor Party on the progress of discussions with the rival Communist Party of America. The first unity discussion took place on Jan. 24, 1920 in New York. According to the memo,” The CLP held that the CP constitution and organizational form was impossible, that we were absolutely opposed to language federation autonomy.” The memo indicates that this issue was paramount since” the CP has always been in the control of a language federation bloc, which in turn was in control of half a dozen careerists, who held it more important to cut our careers for themselves than to build a strong Communist movement.” Fearing an alliance against them between the anglophonic elements in the CPA and the CLP in a united organization, the federationist element of the CPA launched a preemptive strike: ” So they began discharging district officials not in harmony with their control policy. The minority upon the CP Central Executive Committee [Ruthenberg group] objected to such discharges, but as the careerist majority on this committee insisted, the minority split away. From what we can gain at this time, both factions in this split are about evenly divided in regard to membership backing, both claim to be the CP, and both will hold conventions.” It is noted by the CLP National Office that” At this writing, communications seeking unity with the CLP are on hand from both factions of the CP.”
“Down Tools On May First! Workers Awaken! Workers Unite!” [CLP leaflet, late April 1920] This typeset leaflet was produced by the underground Communist Labor Party for May Day 1920. There is no modesty in the 3,000 or so member CLP’s self-image:” The revolutionary advance guard of the Proletariat calls upon the workers everywhere to break the bondage of economic and political slavery and demonstrate on that day for the cause of real freedom.” The leaflet urges:” In years past we demonstrated for the 8-hour day on May First. Today we demonstrate for: ALL POWER TO THE WORKERS * * * Workers! To get free you must answer the war cry of united capitalism against the workers of Russia as well as the workers in other countries with the war cry of united labor against capitalism. The answer to the capitalists of the world in their war against the social revolution in Russia and elsewhere must be the social revolution against capitalism everywhere.”
“Make the Party a ‘Party of Action,’” by C.E. Ruthenberg [published April 25, 1920] **revised edition—identifies “Kasbeck” as Alex Georgian** In the popular imagination, the pivotal issue behind C.E. Ruthenberg and his co-thinkers bolting the old Communist Party of America in April of 1920 was related to division with the Russian Federation over the issue of merger with the Communist Labor Party. As this article by Ruthenberg from the pages of his group’s official organ indicates, this had virtually nothing to do with the matter. Instead, this article illustrates, the cause of the split was a long-running feud in the ranks of the party over the matter of construction of a mass party vs. a theoretically pure party, matters of personality (alliances and antipathies), as well as the tactical maneuvering of inner-party politics in the run-up to the 2nd Convention. Chief burrs under Ruthenberg’s saddle were the failure of the CEC majority to discipline Nicholas Hourwich for violating the instructions of the Executive Council and misrepresenting the situation to illicitly obtain money from the Boston District organization for an unauthorized trip to Europe, the capture of the majority on the Executive Council by removal of his ally Jay Lovestone for missing two meetings and inserting his opponent Hourwich in his place, and the move of the CEC majority to remove Chicago District Organizer Leonid Belsky ostensibly over matters of party discipline. In response, it was Ruthenberg who broke discipline, refusing to accept majority decisions of the Executive Council and Central Executive Committee, organizing a faction, and issuing an ultimatum to the CEC majority not to change District Organizers prior to the convention so that matters might be finally resolved in that venue, and preserving his own control over the party press. Instead, the CEC majority refused to bow to the ultimatum of Ruthenberg and his factional allies (who included CEC member Alex Georgian, the DOs of Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago as well as the heads of the Polish, South Slavic, German, Ukrainian, and Estonian Federations). It was this that prompted the split, not hard-line posturing against unity with the CLP in defiance of Comintern instructions.
“Letter to C.E. Ruthenberg in New York from Leonid Belsky in Chicago, April 30, 1920.” **revised edition—identifies “Kasbeck” as Alex Georgian** Chicago DO Belsky replies to factional leader Ruthenberg’s April 28 letter that, contrary to Ruthenberg’s assessment of the situation, “I believe that the membership is with us. We must go to the rank and file and explain to them the situation. They cannot understand us because they were kept ignorant about the facts in the party. We must be able to overthrow every committee supporting the majority group. Their advantage of legality [vis a vis the minority faction, which broke party discipline] will fail to help them as soon as we are able to expose this group to the membership.” Former CEC member and Russian Federationist Alex Georgian is characterized as “too passive” so Russian Federationist Belsky urges that he be sent on the road to organize for the faction: “I would suggest that you let me go East at once in order to get Russians in New York, Pittsburgh, and Detroit with us. I can speak their language, they know me, and I never participated in their controversies before. If we get the Russians, we will get the party. Loss of Russian support means death to the majority group. There is nobody else who can accomplish it.”
“Letter on Unity to David Karsner in New York City from Eugene V. Debs in Atlanta, April 30, 1920.” In this letter written from Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, Socialist leader Gene Debs clarifies statements about Socialist unity that he had made in person to New York Call journalist David Karsner during a previous visit (published April 15, 1920). Debs states that Karsner’s published report of their meeting was correct “in all essential particulars.” Debs reiterates that “there is no fundamental difference, in my opinion, between the great majority of the rank and file of the three parties; no difference that will not yield to sound appeal in the right spirit.” Debs notes that blunders had been made by members of all three parties, errors which had been “aggravated by the war hysteria,” but by self-critical admission of these mistakes “an understanding is possible that will embrace a vast majority of all the factions that composed the party prior to its separation.” Debs adds that “I personally know most of the members of all these factions, and I know them to be equally loyal and true, and equally eager to serve the cause.” Debs states that due to the banning of the Communist Party of America and the Communist Labor Party in various jurisdiction, “we either have to enter the campaign as the Socialist Party or not at all.” Debs believes that common engagement of all three parties in the campaign under the Socialist Party banner would result in a unitary organization “so welded together, so completely one in solidarity and sympathy and understanding that there will be little inclination to part company and reestablish a divided and discordant household.” Debs declares that “Differences there will always be, especially among Socialists, and fortunately so, but wise men profit by their differences and do not permit themselves to be throttled by them. For myself, I have no stomach for factional quarreling and I refuse to be consumed in it. If it has to be done others will have to do it. I can fight capitalists but not comrades.”
“An Open Letter to Eugene V. Debs: Issued by the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America. [circa May 1919] The May 1920 Convention of the Socialist Party of America nominated Eugene V. Debs as its candidate for President for an unprecedented fifth time. Although imprisoned in the Federal Penitentiary at Atlanta, Debs accepted the nomination. The Communist Party of America was aghast at Debs’ decision and issued this “open letter” to him as a leaflet. “We presume, Comrade Debs, that you are ignorant of the facts and unacquainted with all that transpired within the Socialist movement this last year,” the open letter reads, detailing the opportunistic degeneration of the party in 1919-20, particularly the ultra-patriotic defense made in the context of the hearings over the suspension of the five New York State Assemblymen. “Between the Communist Party and the Socialist Party there can be no compromise. The latter is the most dangerous enemy of the working class and as such, we shall wage a bitter struggle against it. Their attempt to use your name in order to fool the masses will avail them of nothing. Their betrayal of Socialism has been too complete and too cowardly. Not even your name can hide their counterrevolutionary tendency. The class-conscious workers of America are through with the stinking carcass that calls itself the Socialist Party of America,” the open letter rages.
“Hail to the Soviets! May Day Proclamation by the Central Executive Committee Communist Party of America.” [late April 1920] **GRAPHIC VERSION (large file—790 k.)** This a pdf generated from a direct scan of an agitational leaflet distributed by the underground Communist Party of America for May Day 1920—the first such holiday in the history of the organization. Eighteen months had passed since the end of the World War, the leaflet observed, but the purported war of “democracy against autocracy,” which resulted in “the slaughter of millions of workingmen upon the battlefields of Europe” had produced nothing worthy of note for the working class. Indeed, the stage was being set for new conflict: “On two continents, on many battlefields, men are fighting. The threat of war and yet more wars hangs over the people of almost every country of Europe and America. Imperialistic ambition and greed—the desire to secure new economic resources for exploitation, which is the characteristic of every capitalist nation—are creating new jealousies and conflicts and continually threaten to again participate the people of these countries into the abyss of universal slaughter.” There was only one solution that would save the workers from economic collapse and war: “Capitalism has played its part in the history of mankind. It is no longer workable. It must be uprooted and destroyed, and a new system of industry built in its place.... The general political strike is the means of expressing your power and the beginning of the revolutionary struggle which will finally establish the Soviet Government and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.”
“National Executive Committee Meets.” [May 1, 1920] This news article from the official organ of the underground Communist Labor Party is interesting not for what it reveals, but for the fact that it reveals basically nothing—and example of the oblique vacuousness that dominated the press of the underground communist movement. Purporting to relay to the membership the actions of “another three days’ session” of the party’s governing NEC, the report fails to give any information whatsoever that might allow rank-and-file party members to assess the actions of its governing body. The date and location of the gathering are not provided, nor the names or even the pseudonyms of any of the participants. Issues discussed by the body are described only in the vaguest way, and specific issues of the debate are discussed not at all. It was upon blank reports such as these that rank and file party members were ostensibly expected to exercise supervision and control of the party apparatus. Given reports of bland nothingness such as this one, there should be little wonder that the entire history of the underground communist movement was marked by the atrophy of organizational size and vitality.
“Call to the Second Convention of the Communist Party of America.” [Probably issued early in May 1920] A call for a 2nd Convention of the Communist Party of America with details on the election of delegates to the gathering. Local groups were to each elect a delegate to a sub-district meeting, which was to in turn elect delegates to the District Convention, which was in turn to elect delegates to the National Convention, all based on paid membership. No dates are provided for any of these gatherings, the details left to verbal instructions of District Organizers for reasons of secrecy. The 2nd Convention of the CPA was ultimately held in New York City from July 13-18, 1920, and was attended by 24 delegates and 5 members of the CEC.
“Russian Memories,” by Louise Bryant [May 1920] A well crafted poem, sad and beautiful, written by radical journalist Louise Bryant in America pining for friend and lover John Reed, seemingly unreachable in Soviet Russia on the other side the Allied blockade. Fans of the sentimental Warren Beatty movie Reds will be reaching for the tissues when the irony of the last stanza becomes clear.
“Dictatorship and the International,” by Morris Hillquit. [May 1920] Speech by the International Secretary of the Socialist Party of America delivered at the May 8-14, 1920 New York Convention of the party. Hillquit, supportive of the Russian Revolution and the legitimacy of Lenin and Trotsky’s government, calls the Third International “a nucleus, but no more than that, of a new International.” Hillquit objects to any international organization which might impose theoretical interpretations and tactical policies on member parties, noting that “the rule of self-determination in matters of policy and matters of struggle” had been a fundamental principle of both the First and Second Internationals. In particular, Hillquit considers the Third International’s interpretation of the phrase “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” to be historically erroneous (citing the phrase’s origin in Marx’s 1875 “Critique of the Gotha Program”) and tactically disastrous, opening the the Socialist movement to abrogation of democratic norms and victimization by its bourgeois opponents. Hillquit seeks the SPA’s participation in a future International including both the Russian Communist Party as well as the Independent Labour Party of Britain, the Socialist Party of France, and the Independent Socialists of Germany.
“Letter to Leonid Belsky in Chicago from C.E. Ruthenberg in New York, May 1, 1920.” **revised edition—identifies “Kasbeck” as Alex Georgian** This is CP breakaway “minority” factional leader Ruthenberg’s reply to Chicago leader Leonid Belsky’s letter of April 30. Ruthenberg criticizes Belsky’s optimistic decision to send out a call for a unity convention with the CLP, noting that on April 29 the CLP had rejected taking a minority position in a 32-18 delegate apportionment. Instead, the CLP favored holding dual conventions that could be merged into a joint convention if those delegates found sufficient grounds for such a merger, Ruthenberg said, adding that Belsky should consult with other leading members of the faction, including Isaac Ferguson, Joseph Kowalski, and the South Slavic Federationist “Stankovich” to come up with a consensus on the matter. Ruthenberg indicates that no reply had been had from the CPA “Majority” concerning a proposed joint convention of the two factions of the CPA, adding “ I understand that their proposal is several months delay and the exclusion of the CLP, to which, of course, I will not agree.”
“Letter to Leonid Belsky in Chicago from C.E. Ruthenberg in New York, May 3, 1920 - morning.” **revised edition—identifies “Kasbeck” as Alex Georgian** Short note from former Executive Secretary of the CPA Ruthenberg to head of the rebellious Chicago organization Leonid Belsky. Ruthenberg, replying to Belsky’s April 30 missive, announces that he has dispatched Russian Federationist Alex Georgian on an organizing tour to garner support for their dissident faction and suggests that Polish Federation leader Joseph Kowalski and South Slavic Federation leader “Stankovich” head to Detroit to consolidate the branches of their respective language groups for the dissident “Minority” faction. “The Ukrainian Federation is lost to us,” Ruthenberg announces. “They do not support the “majority” but neither are they with us. I think they intend to propose some sort of agreement—the suspension of [Nicholas] Hourwich and Ries [John Ballam] from the committee and cooperation of the Executive Secretary [Ruthenberg] and the “majority” on some such basis, as was considered during the negotiations...” The “Majority” faction would not join with the “Minority” in a convention unless the latter retracted its standing convention call, however—something that Ruthenberg and his associates were unwilling to do, leery of being outmaneuvered.
“Roger Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union: Excerpt of a Report by a Former Special Agent of the Bureau of Investigation, US Dept. of Justice.” by Edgar B. Speer [May 3, 1920] Section of a report by a former Bureau of Investigation agent which was circulated internally by the Department of Justice. Roger Nash Baldwin is characterized as a skilled organizer of “strong pacifist tendencies” who was a particularly dangerous radical. Baldwin had taken over the work organizing a protest in Washington, DC by the American Union Against Militarism early in 1917. This organization had changed its name to the National Civil Liberties Bureau and sponsored the establishment of a New York office which provided legal advice to conscientious objectors to militarism called the Bureau of Legal Advice—figuring prominently in which was Joseph Hillquit, the brother of Socialist Party leader Morris Hillquit. Baldwin had also associated closely with such prominent radicals as Max and Crystal Eastman of The Masses and The Liberator. The report notes that Baldwin was a proud member of both the Waiters’ Union and the IWW and that he had been “largely instrumental in the formation of the Workers’ Defense Union, of which Elizabeth Gurley Flynn is the head with her common law husband, Carl Tresca, both of IWW fame.” Baldwin had gone to Pennsylvania dressed as a workman to assist William Z. Foster as a “confidential informant,” writing a widely-reprinted article on factory conditions, and had also gone to the Midwestern coal fields during the recent coal strike, the report indicates. Fuller also ominously notes that Baldwin “has shown great interest in the Negro situation. He was very active in St. Louis at the time of the East St. Louis riots which resulted in the death of so many Negroes.” This race-mixing and rabble-rousing seems to have run in the family, Speer implies, noting that “his aunt Elizabeth Walton of New York is one of the leaders in that city among the white people who encourage the social development of the Negro.” Speer additionally notes that “While in the Newark County Jail, Negro agitators frequently called on Baldwin. He has been friendly with A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen, editors of the Negro Messenger, which has urged its Negro readers to join the IWW.” Speer regards Baldwin as perhaps the most dangerous radical in New York, declaring that “The weakness of the radical movement up to this time has been their lack of competent leadership. The radicals are human and have human weaknesses and selfishness. This keeps them frequently from getting together but at the same time they are opportunists of the highest order. Any movement offering more than fair prospects of success would cause them to quickly drop their minor differences. In such an event, Baldwin is easily head and shoulders over any other radical in New York City in ability to handle a large situation in a large way.”
“What Kind of Party?” by C.E. Ruthenberg [May 8, 1920]. Published in the official organ of the Ruthenberg faction of the CPA during its brief period of independent existence; unsigned though unquestionably written by editor Ruthenberg. This is a lengthy and detailed critique the majority group of the old Communist Party of America, from which Ruthenberg & Co. recently departed. The document is interesting on a number of levels. As a criticism of the CPA majority group, Ruthenberg sounds like a born again member of the CLP, dismissing the old party structure as nothing more than a “Federation of Federations” directed by a clique in the CEC “more interested in the personal ‘revolutionary fortunes’ of its members than in building up the party.” This group were pseudo-ultrarevolutionary dogmatists, he believed, unable to see anything save through Russian revolutionary metaphors, incapable and philosophically unwilling to engage in the daily struggles of the working class, fearful of expanding the party’s size and influence lest more qualified people come into the organization and take their jobs. On another level, this is interesting as legal party advocate Ruthenberg’s single most explicit statement on the necessity of armed struggle. Ruthenberg writes: “The party must be ready to put into its program the definite statement that mass action culminates in open insurrection and armed conflict with the capitalist state. The party program and the party literature dealing with our program and policies should clearly express our position on this point.” Ruthenberg differed by asserting that there were a range of forms of “mass action,” ever more intense stages of struggle, whereas the majority group saw only a single form of mass action, armed struggle. “We must propagate to the workers the USE OF FORCE as the ONLY MEANS of conquering the power of the state and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat,” Ruthenberg quotes the CPA Majority as asserting. Finally, this is interesting for certain esoteric hints: (1) that the Ruthenberg group was “99% foreign;” (2) a seeming willingness to reunite with the CPA Majority in convention just as readily as the Ruthenberg group chose to unite with the CLP just a couple weeks after this document was written; (3) a belief that “future development of the party organization must be in the direction of shop units” and an understanding that this form of organization was incompatible with the Federation-based dues stamp system; (4) possible first American Communist use of the word “dialectical.”
“Letter to Alex Georgian in New York from C.E. Ruthenberg in Cleveland, May 14, 1920.” **revised edition—identifies “Kasbeck” as Alex Georgian** Reply of CPA Minority faction leader C.E. Ruthenberg to Russian Federationist and touring organizer Alex Georgian. Ruthenberg declines to return to New York after having just left the city a few days earlier, citing business to be settled in Chicago. He offers the following optimistic assessment of the Minority faction’s support in various districts: “Chicago is solidly with us in spite of all the efforts of the opposition; Cleveland is 75 to 90% ours, and in Philadelphia we have at least 60%.” Ruthenberg notes that plans no longer feature a delay in an attempt to forge unity between the CPA Majority and Minority factions. “You must realize that this convention no longer depends upon our arrangements alone, but it is also a unity conference with the CLP. Their delegates and ours will meet together and agree upon principles and program and constitution, and if there is such agreement the two bodies will unite,” Ruthenberg writes. Ruthenberg makes explicit the reasons for his haste: “There is still another reason why we must have this convention quickly. We are at present without any governing committee for our faction. I am acting alone, merely conferring with different persons on important matters. This is a source of weakness. We must have a responsible committee to represent us. It is neither fair to me, nor a proper arrangement to force me to make all the decisions for our group individually. In spite of the view of the “majority,” I don’t want to be the party. The convention will organize our group, with possibly the CLP included.” There will be plenty of time to achieve unity with the Hourwich-led CPA Majority after the unity convention with the CLP, in Ruthenberg’s view: “We can lay down the terms on which they can join the united party at the convention. If we take such action we will be the stronger group—we will stand in relation to them as the CP did toward the CLP during the last seven months.” He adds that “I have given up any hope of arriving at an agreement with the Andrews [Hourwich] and Bernstein [Max Cohen]. We must fight it out to a finish. The convention is our strong hope and we must have it quickly.”
“Statement to All Members of the Communist Party of America from the Chicago DEC.” [May 14, 1920]” This extensive statement was made by the dissident Chicago District Executive Committee to the membership of the Communist Party. A bitter barrage is levied against the governing Central Executive Committee of the national organization, which is characterized as having incompetently presided over “8 months of quietness and inactivity": “Since the time when the Communist Party was organized, not a single paragraph of our program was developed. Not one paragraph of the program was ever used as a basis for action, [nor was it] even discussed by the Central Executive Committee. Not one of the most important tactical questions of the Communist movement in America was solved or discussed. The Communist Party was put in a state of coma because the central organ never showed any initiative or capability to develop party questions and build up an organization. The rank and file did not have the opportunity to learn the party questions and express their opinions.” The CEC majority had dodged every issue of import, the Chicago DEC argues: “This majority has the nerve to state that Communist principles are safe when they are in their hands, but it is evident that their understanding of these principles is an empty play with phrases. Nothing has been done. Even the question that primarily occupied the thoughts of our members, the question of the relation of our party to the IWW, was completely ignored by the Central Executive Committee.” The CPA is characterized in most unflattering terms: “The Communist Party, stating the matter accurately, is only such in name. We were never a party, but rather a free federation of federations... These work independently from the party and from each other. Their printed matter has been mainly nationalistic, bearing a distant relation to the Communist Party.” A newly centralized organization is held as the only possible solution.”
“The Winds of Reaction: News of the Socialist Party Convention.” (Communist Labor Party News) [events of May 8 to 14, 1920] This hostile analysis of the 1920 convention of the Socialist Party by an unnamed Communist Labor Party member seems to have been written from press accounts rather than on the basis of actual attendance, which limits its utility as a primary document of the SP. Nevertheless, the piece does offer an interesting view of CLP doctrine and the group’s political horizons. The SPA Left Wing of Louis Engdahl and Bill Kruse is the recipient of surprisingly harsh criticism, called” Centrist” here. The CLP journalist argues that” staying in” the party, the position advocated by Kruse and Engdahl,” means nothing more than lending financial and moral support to the counterrevolutionist who have firmly decided to keep the SP label no matter how many members it costs them.” There can be no organizational unity between the pro-Third International Left Wing and the dominant Regular Party faction, called the” Hillquit faction” here. Hillquit is called the” oracle” of the Socialist Party and the group is ridiculed for an inability to even half fill the 12,000 seat Madison Square Garden to launch its 1920 Presidential campaign. The writer analyzes the published words of SP leaders Hillquit, Victor Berger, and James Oneal and concludes that” the stand then of the Socialist Party is not to overthrow bourgeois democracy, which in reality is capitalist class dictatorship, and to establish in its place a workers’ dictatorship, but...to cry for the good old times of long ago, to try to reestablish normal times so that bourgeois democracy might again have an opportunity to be honest and fair.” The Socialist Party is dismissed as being” reactionary to the core.”
“The Chicago “Picnic": Bureau of Investigation Report on the Mass Meeting Held at National Grove, Riverside, IL (near Chicago),” by August H. Loula [May 16, 1920]” One missing component from the narrative on the history of the 1920 split of the CPA has been a view of the reaction of the rank and file to the machinations of the two competing leaderships. This excerpt of a report by Bureau of Investigation Special Agent August Loula brings the membership to the fore for the first time. On May 16, 1920, the dissident Chicago organization of the underground CPA held a “picnic” at a park in the Chicago area—actually a general membership meeting attended by some 500 Chicago members of the CPA held to discuss the volatile party situation. The gathering heard presentations by representatives of the CEC Majority and the dissident Ruthenberg-Ferguson-Belsky group, the latter denouncing the “shameful conduct of the Executive Committee since the January raids.” Despite a claim made by the Majority representative that “under the circumstances the members of [the CEC] could not act otherwise because the life of the party was at stake and in order to save it they were obliged to place themselves in hiding,” the gathering issued a resolution supportive of the dissident majority group.”
“The Socialist Party Convention,” by Ammon A. Hennacy. [May 19, 1920] An uncommon document, a critical first-hand account of the 1920 Socialist Party Convention in New York from the perspective of the Left Wing minority. About 140 delegates were in attendance at this convention, split about 2-to-1 between a Center-Right bloc of party regulars (Morris Hillquit, Jacob Panken, James Oneal, Victor Berger, Meyer London, John Work, Lazarus Davidow, etc.) against an organized Left Wing group including J. Louis Engdahl, William Kruse, Benjamin Glassberg, and Walter Cook. A blow-by-blow account of the convention is given, with an emphasis on the inconsistencies of the majority group and the focused efforts of the majority to railroad its platform and terminate debate of unpleasant matters. Hennacy notes that debate critical of the “patriotic” defense of the five Socialist Assemblymen expelled from the New York legislature was terminated through machine methods and the entire record of the debate expunged from the minutes and erased from the published record of the gathering in the party press.
“Greetings to the Communist International.” A Message from the First Convention of the United Communist Party of America, May 31, 1920. Convention greetings to the Executive Committee of the Comintern from the newly established UCP announcing the formation of that organization. “Unfortunately, however, this unity is not complete as to the Communist Party, in which a new separation has lately arisen. But this is a division so entirely artificial in its nature that we are confident it cannot long be sustained,” the message notes, adding that some of the members of the Russian, Ukrainian, Latvian, Polish, and Lithuanians have stayed aloof from the new organization, the “separatist leaders” of which seemed to be motivated by “control not based on any distinction of Communist principles but upon the personal desires of a few Federation leaders for position and influence.”.
“Report to the Communist International on the Joint Convention of May 26-31, 1920,” by the United Communist Party of America. Brief report to the Comintern about the May 26-31, 1920, joint unity convention which formed the United Communist Party. Historically important as it mentions for the first time (appended by hand in the original document) the name of the Comintern Representative to that gathering—“Comrade Agursky.” [Reference is to Samuel Agursky, a name not previously identified as a CI Rep to America in the literature]. The document claims that approximately 60% of the membership of the Communist Party of America were represented in the merger—a very rosy estimate, we now know in hindsight.
“Summary of the Program and Aims of the African Blood Brotherhood (Formulated by 1920 Convention)” [circa June 1920] While there is some doubt as to whether Cyril Briggs’ African Blood Brotherhood ever held a convocation that can be accurately characterized as a “convention” in 1920, there is no doubt that a leaflet was published including a “summary of the program and aims” of the organization said to have been adopted at such a gathering. This leaflet, reprinted here, was apparently issued in May or June of 1920, in anticipation of a forthcoming convention of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, held in August of that same year. A 9 point program is put forward for the African Blood Brotherhood: (1) A Liberated Race; (2) Absolute Race Equality - Political, Economic, Social; (3) The Fostering of Racial Self-Respect; (4) Organized and Uncompromising Opposition to the Ku Klux Klan; (5) A United Negro Front; (6) Industrial Development; (7) Higher Wages for Negro Labor, Shorter Hours, and Better Living Conditions; (8) Education; and (9) Cooperation with the other Darker Peoples and with the Class-Conscious White Workers.
“On the Charge That the Department of Justice Has in its Service Provocateur Agents: Statement by a Top-Level DoJ Official to Congress Answering Specific Charges Leveled against the Department of Justice, circa May 24, 1920.” This fascinating statement was made to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of extensive testimony answering charges leveled against the Department of Justice for alleged excessive and illegal behavior associated with the recent mass raids against American radicals, an operation which reached its zenith during the coordinated “Palmer Raids” of Jan. 2/3, 1920. This material (part of a longer statement to Congress) by a very high-ranking official in the Department of Justice—quite possibly by Assistant to the Attorney General J. Edgar Hoover, although his colleague Warren Grimes, Bureau of Investigation Chief William J. Burns, or even Attorney General Mitchell Palmer himself are also candidates for authorship. The DoJ official declares that an instruction issued to BoI agents immediately prior to the Jan. 2/3 raids, that “you should arrange with your undercover informants to have meetings of the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party held on the night set,” had been misinterpreted—that the raid had been planned on the “regular meeting night in all parts of the country” and that the instruction was meant for informers to attempt to avoid having the meeting dates changed, not to call special sessions for the express purpose of facilitating the coordinated raids. The DoJ official also vehemently denies charges that CPA leader Louis Fraina was a covert agent of the Department: “Fraina is desired by the state authorities of Illinois for prosecution under the State Syndicalism Law and I assume that he would be desired by the Department of Labor, if he ever returned to this country, for deportation, most certainly so if they followed my recommendation. I have asked that the authorities of a foreign government in whose custody he now is to return him to the United States. I challenge anyone to present a scintilla of evidence to show that this individual was at any time in the employ of the Department of Justice or furnished it any information whatsoever.” Extensive detail is provided about the Fraina case.
“’Force and Violence!’ (An Editorial),” by Elmer T. Allison. [June 11, 1920] Allison, the editor of The Ohio Socialist, a legal weekly of the United Communist Party, writes about the irony of legislation being passed against those on the left advocating the use of “force and violence” against the government, when it was the various state and federal governments themselves that practiced “force and violence” against their opponents in the form of illegal arrests, illegal searches, physical violence against detainees. This brutality “neither averted or brought under authority” any such “threatening movement of the masses,” Allison asserted. Allison further states the latest statistics on the death and destruction wrought by the recent World war (9,998,771 dead and 2,991,800 missing—world population decline of approximately 40 million between war deaths, rise in the overall death rate, decline in the birth rate— $186 billion direct cost of the conflict, $151.6 billion indirect cost) to point out the hypocrisy of government claims. “The world is moving swiftly toward the point where we must directly face the overthrow of the rule of capitalism, the profiteering rule of the parasites and substitute that of the masses, the producers,” Allison declares.
“’At Last,” by C.E. Ruthenberg [June 12, 1920]. This article appeared on the cover of the debut issue of the official organ of the new UCP and details the Unity Convention held May 26-31, 1920 at the Wolfskeel Resort, near Bridgman, MI, amidst wooded dunes on the sandy shore of Lake Michigan. The article declares that “the United Communist Party makes no pretense of legality. It has not attempted to express the fundamental Communist principles in a way to make them pass the censorship of its bitter enemy....The program of the party declares that the final struggle between the workers and the capitalists, between exploited and exploiter, will take the form of civil war, and that it is the function of the United Communist Party systematically to familiarize the working class with the necessity of armed insurrection as the only means through which the capitalist system can be overthrown.” There is no indication that such a final battle was immediately forthcoming in America, but rather the communist movement was “nearing its goal of the Workers’ Dictatorship for the transformation of capitalism in Germany, in Italy and the other European countries.” The logic of the situation would force the best elements of the “faction” remaining outside of the UCP to join forces with the party or follow the path of the Socialist Labor Party into oblivion as an ineffectual sect, the article indicated.
“The Convention of Revolutionists,” by I.E. Ferguson. [June 12, 1920] The definitive first-hand account of the 1920 Bridgman Unity Convention between the Communist Labor Party and the Ruthenberg faction of the Communist Party of America—a week-long gathering which resulted in the formation of the United Communist Party of America. Ferguson gives an even-handed account of the debates and tribulations facing the delegates, as they attempted to hammer out eight months of ill will on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. Delegates to the convention included 32 former affiliates of the Ruthenberg faction of the Communist Party of America, 25 members of the former Communist Labor Party, one fraternal delegate, and CI Representative Agursky—whose influence seems to have been very limited. The gathering came to terms on an organizational program and eventually elected a 10 member Central Executive Committee consisting of five members of each former organization. Includes copious explanatory footnotes, a biography and photograph of Comintern rep Samuel Agursky, and a color photo of what may have been one of the caucus meeting sites as it appears today.
“The First CEC Meeting of the United Communist Party,” [published June 12, 1920]. Immediately after the conclusion of the 1920 Bridgman Unity Convention the Central Executive Committee of the United Communist Party held its first meeting. A system of 11 regional districts was decided upon. The group also elected officers for the organization, including Alfred Wagenknecht [“Meyer”] as National Secretary and C.E. Ruthenberg [“Damon”] as Editor of the group’s official organ, The Communist, an 8 x 11 inch newsprint magazine issued biweekly. Dues were raised to 75 cents per month, effective July 1, and wages for UCP officials were set at $50/week for married and $40/week for unmarried party workers. This account of the CEC’s activities was published in the debut issue of The Communist. The report includes footnotes and the identities of pseudonyms in this version.
“Impressions of the Convention,” by ‘R. Newman’” [published June 22 & July 15, 1920]. An alternative account of the May 26-31, 1920, Bridgman Unity Convention that joined the Ruthenberg “minority” wing of the CPA with the CLP to establish the United Communist Party of America. The author, “R. Newman,” was a left wing Jewish Federationist associated with the CPA caucus and he describes the proceedings from the perspective of the 10 member CPA “left” group. The consistency and radicalism of the program was of central concern to this group, which managed to have inserted explicit revolutionary clauses related to “mass action,” “the dictatorship of the proletariat,” and the necessity of armed force in the transition from capitalism. Ruthenberg is portrayed as caring more about jobs than matters of principle and his decision to resign from the CEC as soon as the delegates associated with the former CLP were won 5 of the 9 positions is cast as a blatantly hypocritical act. The CPA “left” group “were disappointed with the leaders of the party, with their conduct. They were indignant about Damon [Ruthenberg], who used his position to force his demands on the convention,” “Newman” states. This document originally appeared in the Yiddish language edition of the UCP’s official organ and was translated in the Sept. 1, 1920, edition of the CPA “majority” group’s official organ as a means of undercutting the interpretations of Ruthenberg and Ferguson of the convention.
“Ruling of Judge George W. Anderson on the Petition for Habeus Corpus of 20 Alien Members of the CPA: Boston, MA,” by William J. West [June 23, 1920]” On June 23, 1920, US District Court Judge George W. Anderson ruled at Boston, MA, an opinion on a petition of habeus corpus filed on behalf of 20 incarcerated members of the Communist Party of America. Anderson found “There is no evidence that the Communist Party is an organization advocating the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force or violence. Hence all the petitioners ordered deported are entitled to be discharged from the custody of the Immigration authorities.” Anderson ordered the defendants released, subject to the government’s appeal to higher authority. This decision proved controversial, and newspapers throughout the region weighed in editorially on the matter—the views of the Boston Post, Traveler, and Transcript being excerpted here.”
“Don’t Be So Sure of Your Job!” (leaflet #2 of the United Communist Party) [circa July 1920] Aside from publishing newspapers and giving speeches to one another at various meetings and conventions, the only “revolutionary” activity conducted by the underground Communist movement of the early 1920s involved the periodic mass distribution of cheaply printed newsprint leaflets. These were printed in runs running into the hundreds of thousands and then stealthily scattered around various industrial cities of the north over the course of one or a few dark nights. This “leaflet no. 2” of the United Communist Party from the summer of 1920 attempts to turn the fear of unemployment into mass strike action: “Force the government to take care of [the unemployed]! Fight for shorter hours with no reduction of pay, so they can get back on the job! Fight for opening up trade with Soviet Russia, so there will be work!” These strikes would be met with opposition, the leaflet noted: “Of course, the courts will issue injunctions against us. The government will send troops against us. Soldiers, police, thugs, legionnaires, and vigilantes will be lined up against us.” There was a solution, however, painted in rosy hues: “The Russian workers showed us what to do. They overthrew their BOSSES’ government and set up a WORKERS’ Government. They took over the industries and ran them ONLY for the workers. They threw out all idlers and bloodsuckers! They put an end to unemployment. They became the OWNERS OF THEIR JOBS!”
“’At Last’ the Centrists Unite! (’A Convention of Revolutionists!’)” by Maximilian Cohen. [July 1, 1920] A long, bitter, and biting critique of the May 26-31 Bridgman Unity Convention that joined the Ruthenberg “minority” faction of the CPA with the Communist Labor Party to form the United Communist Party of America. Cohen takes on, in paragraph-by-paragraph faction, the accounts of the convention rendered by both C.E. Ruthenberg in his article “At Last,” and I.E. Ferguson in his “The Convention of Revolutionists.” Cohen’s ridicule makes clear that the “unity” of the convention was partial at best, with frequent reconsiderations of decided votes made to preserve “unity”—up to and including an overturning of the elections for the 9 member CEC of the group when then CLP garnered 5 of the positions. Ruthenberg is characterized as obsessed with organizational control rather than issues of principle and the new organization is derided by Cohen as “the United Centrist Party of America.”.
“It Will Be Made Worthwhile,” by Isaac E. Ferguson [July 3, 1920] Article from the UCP’s official organ by top Ruthenberg lieutenant I.E. Ferguson, of Chicago. Ferguson explains the recent split in the CPA as the by-product of bloc voting by a 5 or 6 person majority on the CEC, with the minority allowed “no open forums through which to rally the membership against the majority.” By the end of March, Ferguson was frustrated to the point of no longer pretending that there was any sort of unanimity on the CEC, dominated as it was by the group lead by Nicholas Hourwich. Ferguson states that he turned his attention to writing about the history of the Left Wing movement, hoping to obliquely show “that only by the most decisive action could the party be saved from the impotency of a CEC dominated by Andrew [Hourwich] & Co.” Ferguson states that “the Left Wing movement, and thereby the Communist Party, had been artificially diverted into the political plaything of a few Russian-speaking leaders who had stultified the growth of the Left Wing and had paralyzed the Communist Party by taking out of it all realism of an actual functioning organization in the United States.” To his surprise, a factional split erupted, based around the Chicago District Committee (headed by DO Leonid Belsky). By April 20 “a decisive split had become unavoidable” and Ferguson set his historical study aside to instead engage in practical politics in the new factional environment.
“The Party Organization - 1: The Group and its Functions,” by the United Communist Party [July 3, 1920] First of a three part series by the newly organized United Communist Party from its official organ explaining details of organizational structure to the party membership. This article deals with the primary party unit of the UCP— the “group” of approximately 10 members (and not fewer than 5, whenever possible). Groups were primarily organized on a territorial basis, alternatively on the basis of their members speaking the same language, and were to each elect a “group organizer” to serve as the conduit of dues, instructions, and party publications with the next higher level of the organization. Shop organization is regarded as an important task for the future with a view to forming “industrial groups": “When 2 or more party members are employed in the same place or are members of the same union, they should constitute themselves a committee for the conduct of propaganda in that shop or union. As new members are found in the shops or unions, they should be added to the existing committee or constitute a committee together with the original party worker, and as these committees increase to at least 5 members, they will constitute industrial groups of the party.”
“A Farewell to Controversy,” by C.E. Ruthenberg [July 3, 1920] Lengthy analysis of the April 1920 split of the CPA from the perspective of factional leader C.E. Ruthenberg. Ruthenberg traces the origin of the split to a unanimous resolution of the Chicago District Committee in early April 1920 stating that “unless decisions of the Central Executive Committee in regard to organization problems and on charges against members of that body could be satisfactorily explained in a personal conference, the Chicago District Committee would refuse to recognize the authority of the CEC and [issue a call for] a conference of district organizations, and through such a conference call a national convention.” Ruthenberg says that he met with the Chicago District Committee (headed by Leonid Belsky) and convinced them to remain in the organization until the convocation of a forthcoming national convention, but that the CEC majority group (headed by Nicholas Hourwich) had move to take reprisals against the Chicago organization, which effectively “broke the unity of the party.” Ruthenberg characterizes the CPA’s demand for the return of the party funds with which Ruthenberg absconded as “the shallowest kind of hypocrisy,” since to demand compliance by Ruthenberg, “who spoke for a majority of the party and who was supported by a majority of the District Organizers and Federation representatives present at the meeting at which the break took place,” meant an appeal to “that mawkish, sentimental legalism which gives the lie to the pretensions of being simon-pure Bolsheviks, which the Federation group so loudly proclaims itself.” Ruthenberg — the majority of whose own faction was comprised of non-english language groups — repeated refers to the CPA majority group as the “Federation group” and to the party as “the Federation of Federations, 3 or 4 separate parties loosely united by an Executive Committee.” He claims that the UCP includes at least 60 percent of the membership of the former CPA and calls for the “absorption” of the remaining members of the “Federation group” into the new organization.
“Minutes of the Central Executive Committee of the United Communist Party of America, July 1-2, 1920.” Minutes of the July gathering of the CEC of the United Communist Party. Chief in importance is the ongoing allegations against National Organizer Leonid Belsky (”Fisher”); allegations against him were related and the CEC moved into Executive Session (not reported in these minutes) to attempt to resolve the matter. A number of routine organizational matters, including the moving of the UCP’s Russian organ to New York and the dispatch of the yet-unidentified CEC member “Simon” into the field to conduct German and Hungarian organizing activities. The CEC resolves to “press the work of organizing party Finnish groups aggressively” and to name a Finnish “Editor-Organizer”—a position for which the names “Tiala” and “Ranta” are put forward. Alexander Bittelman wrote the CEC on behalf of the former Jewish Federation and was to address this meeting—probably held in Chicago—on July 3 (no record of this event extant).
“‘May It Please the Court’ Trial of Communist Labor Party Commences. State Opens Its Side. Trial Expected to Last 6 Weeks,” by Jack Carney [July 12, 1920] On July 12, 1920, a mass trial of 21 members of the Communist Labor Party was begun in Chicago, charged with violation of the Illinois “Overthrow Statute,” which “makes it unlawful for any person openly to advocate, by word of mouth, or by writing, the reformation or overthrow of the government by violence or any other unlawful means.” This initial news report by defendant Jack Carney includes an extensive excerpt of the opening statement of the prosecution, delivered by Assistant State Attorney Lloyd D. Heth. Heth asserted: “We are going to show that these defendants, besides stating that they stand by the Moscow manifesto [of the Comintern], also expressly state in their platform and program that they stand for the overthrow of the government of the United States and all states, the capture of the power of the state, and vesting it in the dictatorship of the proletariat. They state that in accomplishing this end, the use of the political machinery is only of secondary importance; that not one of the great teachers of socialism has ever said it is possible to achieve the socialist revolution by the ballot. They advocate mass action—in other words, proceeding from the shops and factories to capture and annihilate the apparatus of government. They tell the workers the constitution of the United States can not be amended in their behalf, and therefore it must be destroyed.”
“Acting Secretary’s Report to the Second Convention of the Communist Party of America, July 13, 1920,” by Charles Dirba. An extremely important document which lists in summary form the receipts and expenditures of the old Communist Party of America during the interval between its formation in September 1919 and its Second Convention, which began July 13, 1920. During this period the party showed a total income of about $62,500—of which almost $26,000 came from dues receipts and special assessments, another $6,800 in loans, and nearly $7,000 from the sale of literature—leaving an absolute maximum of about $22,000 that might be attributed to Comintern subsidies. Further, an official membership series for the organization is provided (October 1919 to May 1920) as well as a demographic analysis by federation of the party’s membership before the Palmer Raids, after the Palmer Raids, and after the split of the Ruthenberg/Ferguson group in April 1920. “Positively not over 28%” of the CPA’s membership left with Ruthenberg, according to Dirba’s analysis.
“The Party Organization - 2: The Group Organizer,” by the United Communist Party [July 17, 1920] Second of a three part series by the newly organized United Communist Party from its official organ explaining details of organizational structure to the party membership. This installment deals with the NCOs of the party apparatus— the “group organizers” elected by each primary party unit. Group organizers and their elected alternates were charged with memorizing and keeping track of the names and addresses of members of the underground groups. They were to collect and forward the 75 cent monthly dues to their contacts at the next higher level of party organization ("branch organizers"), from whom they were to receive party communications and publications for distribution to group members. Group organizers were also to transmit comments and criticism about party policies made by rank and file group members up the administrative ladder. Up to 10 group organizers were to combined as a “branch committee,” which was to elect its own “branch organizer” to serve as a conduit with the next higher level of party organization. “Whether the group functions efficiently in carrying on the work of the party is largely dependent upon the group organizer,” the article notes.
“The Negro Question in America: Speech at the 2nd World Congress of the Communist International,” by John Reed [July 25, 1920] Speech by the Communist Labor Party’ s man in Moscow, John Reed, to the 2nd Congress of the Comintern in Moscow on the so-called Negro Question in America. Ten million American blacks, concentrated mostly in the South, had been held in subjugation with no legal rights, Reed asserts— not seriously organized either by the AF of L unions or the Socialist Party and facing segregation and the lawlessness of lynching. It was only after the Spanish-American war, in which black troops had served with equal capacity to white troops, that “aggressive class consciousness” emerged among American blacks, Reed states. It was during this war in which a movement emerged for social and political equality. The enlistment of half a million black Americans in the armed forces during the European war further accelerated this trend, Reed indicates, with a simultaneous mass migration of blacks from the rural South to the industrial North to work in the factories. “The return of the army from the front threw many millions of white workers on to the labor market all at once. The result was unemployment, and the demobilized soldiers’ impatience took such threatening proportions that the employers were forced to tell the soldiers that their jobs had been taken by Negroes in order thus to incite the whites to massacre the Negroes,” Reed declares. Race riots followed in Washington, DC, Chicago, Omaha, and elsewhere. “In all these fights the Negroes showed for the first time in history that they are armed and splendidly organized and are not at all afraid of the whites,” Reed declares. “If we consider the Negroes as an enslaved and oppressed people, then they pose us with two tasks: on the one hand a strong racial movement and on the other a strong proletarian workers’ movement, whose class consciousness is quickly growing. The Negroes do not pose the demand of national independence,” Reed asserts.
“The Party Organization - 3: Other Party Officials and Committees,” by the United Communist Party [July 31, 1920] Third of a three part series by the newly organized United Communist Party from its official organ explaining details of organizational structure to the party membership. The article deals with the branch committees and their elected organizer, which passed collected dues and rank and file comments upward to the Sub-District Organizer (SDO) and transmitted party directives and publications downward to the group organizers. The largest Sub-Districts, containing 750 or 1000 members or more were to have an additional layer of administration called a “section,” combining up to 10 branches. SDOs were to be appointed by the District Committee and to work under the supervision of the Sub-District Committee, composed of the various branch (or section) organizers. Each Sub-District was to hold a semi-annual conference. It was the duty of SDOs to extend the organization into unorganized cities and towns by finding and enlisting sympathetic individuals into the party and establishing group organizations. The top layer of decentralized party leadership was to be the District Organizers (DOs) appointed by the Central Executive Committee to head the 11 districts of the UCP. The DOs were to be important administrators, “equal in importance to that which the National Secretary held in the open organizations,” according to the article, adding that “they must maintain a close contact with every sub-district in their territory, visit these sub-districts from time to time and see that the work of the party is performed properly. In cooperation with the District Committees they must develop organization plans and put them into practice.”
Seeing Red: Civil Liberty and the Law in the Period Following the War, by Walter Nelles [August 1920] Full text of a pamphlet published in the summer of 1920 by the Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union chronicling the gross abuses of American civil rights that were being practiced by the Wilson regime and the governments of the various states.
“The Political Prisoners at Dannemora” by I.E. Ferguson. This is a first hand account of a July 1920 prison visit by the attorney to the first four New York political prisoners ensnared in the state’s new “Criminal Syndicalism” law—Benjamin Gitlow, Gus Alonen, Harry Winitsky, and James Larkin. The four were held in captivity at Dannemora State Prison. Gitlow (CLP), Alonen (IWW), Winitsky (CPA), and Larkin (CLP) were prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced under a draconian state law which made mere membership in radical political and labor organizations a criminal offense.
“Financial Needs of the American Delegation: A Budget Proposal to the Comintern from the UCP, August 1920.” After Edward Lindgren made it to Moscow with news of the May 1920 formation of the United Communist Party, joining the CLP with the Ruthenberg wing of the Communist Party of American, the CLP delegation in Moscow terminated their working agreement with CPA reps Stoklitsky and Hourwich and began to act on their own as the sole legitimate representatives of the American Communist movement. In the first half of August 1920 they submitted the following budget, seeking a $210,000 appropriation for the combined American movement. Notations in the margin lend some evidence that the requested amount was scaled back to $25,000—a number which may well have been matched for the Communist Party of America “majority.” This document includes a supplementary discussion by Tim Davenport entitled “Rubles and Budgets” directly challenging the assertion published by Messrs. Klehr, Haynes, and Firsov that “in this period the Comintern supplied the tiny American Communist movement with the equivalent of several million dollars in valuables...”.
“Challenge of the Mandates of the CPA Delegation to the 2nd Congress of the Communist International, August 5, 1920.” The CPA dispatched two representatives to Moscow to serve as its delegates at the 2nd Congress (Louis C. Fraina and Alexander Stoklitsky) prior to the Bridgman Unity Convention of May 1920. The majority of the members of the old CPA refused to join the United Communist Party of America at this time, resulting in the continued existence of two communist organizations in America. After the conclusion of the Unity Convention, UCP member Edward Lindgren [“Flynn”] was sent to Moscow to serve as a Comintern Congress delegate, joining three other members of the former CLP already there: former CLP International Delegates John Reed and Alexander Bilan, as well as Eadmonn MacAlpine. Lindgren brought news of the Unity Convention and the group decided to press for Comintern ratification of the new party by unseating the CPA delegation. No information on the Unity Convention and continued split had arrived from the old CPA, however, and the Credentials Commission, reluctant to make a ruling on the basis of incomplete information, upheld the mandates of Fraina and Stoklitsky. This decision, ratified by a 19-9 vote on the floor of the Congress, recognized the UCP as the majority party in America and accorded its delegates 6 votes, while the old CPA was regarded as the minority party and allocated 4 votes. This is the stenographic report of the brief debate on this matter, Lindgren speaking for the UCP and Fraina for the old CPA.
“Circular to All Units of the CPA on the “One Day’s Pay” Campaign from Louis Shapiro [“L. Bain”], Executive Secretary, Aug. 8, 1920.” Louis Shapiro is one of the least well known of the approximately 10 individuals who served as Executive Secretary of one of the various parties and factions of the American Communist movement during its first decade, having served briefly as head of the old CPA during the second half of 1920. This circular is a rather desperate plea for funds: the 2nd Convention of the CPA [July 13-18, 1920] had unanimously approved a campaign for the donation of “One Day’s Pay for Organization.” Shapiro declares that “To carry out our purpose of ‘organization of the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat’—requires organizers. Organizes, in order to be able to devote their whole time for organizational purposes must have means.... A paragraph in the summary of our program states that ‘The Communist Party shall systematically and persistently propagate to the workers the idea of the inevitability of a violent revolution and the USE OF FORCE as the only means of overthrowing the capitalist state.’ Systematic and persistent propaganda to the workers must be done, to a large extent, by means of leaflets. But to issue leaflets means are needed.” Shapiro urges immediate action: “You comrades, must get to work NOW.” (This is not the language of an organization purportedly awash in untold millions of dollars of Comintern cash, it should be noted well, nor would shaking down $15,000 or whatever from the membership have been a high priority activity.)
“Two Resolutions of the Executive Committee of the Communist International on America, August 8, 1920.” Two very short ECCI resolutions on American matters. The first sets a 2 month deadline (October 10, 1920) for amalgamation of the two American Communist Parties. This deadline later extended to January 1921 by action of the ECCI taken on September 20, 1920. The second resolution gives clearance to Louis Fraina to “take a responsible position in the American Labor movement”—indicating that Fraina held the confidence of the Executive Committee of the Comintern in the face of allegations that he was a spy.
“UCP Membership Bulletin #1.” [Aug. 14, 1920] In addition to a biweekly official organ, the United Communist Party began issuing a periodic mimeographed membership bulletin, of which this August 14, 1920 issue was the first. The publication was distributed by District Organizers through “party channels” down to the (10 person) group level -- with the bulletin to be read at the meeting by the group captain and then immediately destroyed. The bulletin was to be the vehicle for the transmission of internal party news, it is noted. The bulletin announces the launching of a “$50,000 Organization fund,” with each group given the task of raising “$50, or $5 per member.” This implies a party membership of about 10,000, it should be noted. Over complaints from two districts, party wage levels are defended by unanimous decision of the CEC: “The wage for these full-time Party workers had to be governed somewhat by the cost of living. Last year  both the CP and the CLP paid $45 per week to married men. Since then the cost of living for families has gone up far more than the increase of $5 made by the CEC of the UCP. The standard that we have set is lower than the pay of skilled workers in the trades.” The election of Abram Jakira as organizer (effectively the secretary) of the party’s Russian language federation is ratified by the CEC, but the decision of the recently completed UCP Russian language Conference to establish a “Russian National Propaganda Committee” is sternly condemned and ordered by the CEC to disband or face expulsion (the UCP being based upon a strongly centralized unitary party rather than as a federation of semi-autonomous language groups as was the rival CPA). Changes are made in the District Organizers in the Chicago and Kansas City/St. Louis Districts, and a scheduled frequency for publication in non-English languages is decided. The UCP scheduled publication its OO in English, Russian, Polish, and Hungarian twice a month; German, Finnish , and Croatian; and occasionally in Jewish, Estonian, and Lithuanian.
“To the Manager of the Communist International” from Louis C. Fraina, August 15, 1920.” Louis Fraina, one of two delegates of the Communist Party of America to the 2nd Congress of the Communist International, dispatched this protest letter to “the manager of the Communist International” in response to the United Communist Party’s attempt to receive the exclusive funding of the American Communist movement. “The two delegations, in accordance with the Executive Committee’s decision for unity, had agreed to work as one delegation; but in this (as in other matters) the United Communist Party delegation is acting for itself, and not for the whole American delegation and the whole American movement,” Fraina charged. Fraina suggested that to avert future factional disputes “the American appropriation be made for the whole movement, and that it be given only to the Central Committee of the completely unified Party, on conditions determined by the Executive Committee of the International,” with a small interim appropriation made to cover the costs of immediate work until unity was achieved —a process which Fraina thought would take “a few months to achieve.”.
“August 1920 Budget Request for the Communist Party of America made to the Comintern.” [Aug. 21, 1920] This is a funding request on behalf of the Communist Party of America (the majority group not uniting with the CLP into the United Communist Party) made by one of the CPA’s men in Moscow, Louis C. Fraina. Fraina seeks $60,000 in all, one-third of which was to go for the defense and support of prisoners and their families, $15,000 for agitation among black Americans, $10,000 for agitation among the military (the latter being two tasks not specifically mentioned in the budget of the UCP), and $15,000 to start three legal weekly papers. These type of budget requests were not made weekly or monthly, but rather annually (with periodic supplemental pleading). As such, the magnitude of the request—which is the first “blue sky” bid and does not reflect the actual amount allocated and still less the actual amount ultimately received in America —further belies the fantastic claim of Harvey Klehr, John Haynes, and Fredrikh Firsov that “the equivalent of several million dollars in valuables” was provided to the American Communist movement in its first years.
“The First Month’s Activity of the New Executive Committee: A Brief Report,” by “M.K.” [events of Aug. 7-25, 1920] The 2nd World Congress of the Communist International, held in Soviet Russia from July 19 through Aug. 7, 1920, was in many respects the first regular conclave—the founding convention of 1919 being an ad hoc assemblage of various individuals, mostly without organizational mandates, who happened to be present in the country at a fortuitous moment. The Executive Committee of the Communist International established in the aftermath of the 2nd Congress was in a sense the first fully “regular” example of that body. This report from the official organ of the Comintern by an individual signing only as “M.K.” details the activity of the new ECCI during the meetings held in its first month, August 1920. It was at the 2nd World Congress and in these meetings that the die was cast with regards to the rest of the social democracy—the 21 Conditions for Admission were established by the Congress and staunchly reaffirmed by the ECCI in its sessions, effectively poisoning the well when the revolutionary upsurge across Europe abated and the new tactical orientation of joint action on the left was called for. “M.K.” details in particular the events of the ECCI meeting of Aug. 9 on the German USPD, in which the Comintern came down in favor of forcing a split of that party of the party Left from its Center. CI President Zinoviev is quoted as saying that “We are not bound to be loyal to people who give a moral weapon to the bourgeoisie [such as Kautsky and Hilferding]. We are bound to sow a feeling of hatred against them.” The matter of “weeding out of the opportunists” was taken up again at the Aug. 11 meeting of ECCI, this time in the context of the Italian party. “M.K.” also notes the results of the ECCI session of Aug. 8, at which time the question of the American Communist movement was discussed. A resolution was passed at that meeting stating in no uncertain terms: “Both Communist Parties of America (United Communist Party and Communist Party) are pledged to unite immediately into one Party in compliance with the decisions of the 2nd World Congress of the Communist International. This unification must be accomplished not later than in 2 months, i.e., by the 10th of October. Any group which will not submit to this resolution shall be excluded from the Communist International.”
“B.R.T. Strikers!” Leaflet of the Communist Party of America, Local New York. [Sept. 1920] Full text of a leaflet, revolutionary in content, issued by the old CPA at the time of a Brooklyn streetcar operators’ strike. The operators are urged to “stop begging and striking for crumbs,” to “repudiate” their “false labor leaders,” and to turn their economic strike into a political strike against the capitalist state. “Get ready for armed revolution to overthrow the Capitalist Government and create a Workers Government —as your brothers did in Russia,” the leaflet urges, adding that “the Communist Party of America sounds the call for revolution—we stand for the Workers Soviet Republic. You are slaves today. You can be free only by fighting for freedom.”.
“The Communist Parties of America.” (Pravda, Petrograd) [events of Sept. 20, 1920] This Pravda article, the translation of which was made for the US State Department, notes the attendance of Nicholas Hourwich [Nikolai Gurvich], newly arrived representative of the Communist Party of America, at the Sept. 20, 1919 session of the Executive Committee of the Communist International. Hourwich is said to have reported on the party situation in America and to have requested postponement of the deadline for the unification of the CPA and the UCP until Feb. 1, 1921, and temporarily to admit to the a representative of the Communist Party of America (i.e. Hourwich) to ECCI. The Pravda article states that “After short discussions the following resolution, proposed by Comrade Zinoviev, was accepted: (1) To postpone the deadline for the final unification of the two parties in America until January 1, 1921; (2) The Executive Committee demands the union on the basis of the decisions of the 2nd Congress of the Communist International.”
“The Moscow International,” by Morris Hillquit [Sept. 23, 1920] One of the infrequent high profile public pronouncements of Socialist Party leader Morris Hillquit from the pages of the New York Call. After silently enduring in the name of Left Wing conciliation a barrage of personal attacks dating back more than a year, Hillquit returns fire at the “bombastic ‘manifestos’ of the chairman of the Moscow Executive Committee, G. Zinoviev, which have become so chronic and aggressive that they can no longer be allowed to go unnoticed and unchallenged.” Hillquit notes that “on several other occasions the stern chairman of the Moscow International has nailed me to the cross as an agent of the bourgeoisie” along with Iulii Martov, Victor Chernov, Friedrich Adler, and Ramsay MacDonald. Hillquit states that the “sole specification of offense” against these Social Democratic leaders is that they cannot and do not “lead the struggle for the soviet power of the proletariat.” Hillquit argues that Zinoviev’s “arbitrary and faulty” analysis is a double absurdity, in that it presumes the universality of the soviet model for transformation in the first place, and presumes the immediacy of revolutionary overturn in America and Western Europe in the second place. “American capitalism is not in a condition of collapse, nor are the American workers in a state of revolution. The war and the resultant economic upheavals have weakened the foundations of the capitalist system in the United States, but they have not destroyed them. The capitalist rule is still powerfully entrenched in the whole industrial and political system of the country,” Hillquit declares. “The trouble with the Moscow International is that it is not international, but intensely and narrowly national. It is a purely Russian institution, seeking to impose its rule upon the Socialist movement of the world. Its policy is one of spiritual imperialism. It does not strive to unify all revolutionary working class forces in the general struggle for the abolition of capitalism, leaving them free to choose the methods most suitable in each case, but insists upon working class salvation strictly according to the Koran of the Bolshevik prophets,” Hillquit powerfully asserts.
“The Wall Street Explosion,” by Eugene V. Debs [Sept. 25, 1920] In this short news article, written from his prison cell at Atlanta, Socialist Party Presidential nominee Gene Debs likens the anti-radical hysteria surrounding the Wall Street bombing to the frenzy against radicalism at the time of the assassination of William McKinley in 1901. Debs intimates that the state will delegate a victim to take the fall for the crime: “The Wall Street explosion must be proved the result of a plot and fastened upon some red conspirator. Mr. Palmer, the red expert, and his army of trained spies should have no difficulty in apprehending the culprit and convicting him of his crime. In the meantime, there will be a harvest of fat pickings for a fresh American Legion of sleuths, sneaks, spotters, and spies, as choice a lot as ever infested the land of the Tsar.” The old parties, headed by Cox and Harding, loved nothing more than such a diversion of the attention of the working class from the real crime, exploitation: “With them it is anything to keep the people’s eyes on the jugglers whirling balls while the coal trust, the beef trust, et al., are going through their pockets.” “As long as the industrial machinery that feeds and clothes and shelters the people is the private property of the 2 percent minority of exploiting capitalists, the people will be poor, life will be wretched struggle for existence, the divine in human nature will never be realized, and this world will still be nearer to the jungles than to any real civilization,” Debs declares, noting that only the Socialist Party offered any prospect of changing this bitter reality.
“Resolution of the Executive Committee of the Communist International on the Case of Louis C. Fraina, Sept. 30, 1920.” Full text of a leaflet published in 1920 by the Communist Party of America detailing the absolution of Louis Fraina from charges preferred by Santeri Nuorteva of the Russian Soviet Government Bureau in New York that he was a secret police agent. Two hearings were actually conducted, the first by an investigating committee of three (including CLP member Alexander Bilan) which cleared Fraina of the charge; the second a trial reopening the case at Fraina’s request when Nuorteva showed up in Moscow in August 1920. Fraina was again found not guilty of Nuorteva’s allegation and Nuorteva was instructed to cease making accusations against Fraina or else “THE GRAVEST MEASURES” would be used “TO STOP HIM.” A further resolution was made by ECCI on September 29, 1920, insisting that Nuorteva retract publicly, in the press, all charges made against Fraina.
“Official Decision of the Third International in the Fraina Case” [Sept. 30, 1920] Official version (from a photostatic original of the document) of the Sept. 30, 1920 decision of ECCI declaring Louis C. Fraina to be “innocent” of the charges levied against him by Santeri Nuorteva of being an agent in the employ of the United States Department of Justice. The Investigating Committee of 3, consisting of the Communist Labor Party of America’s Alexander Bilan, Rosmer from France, and Rudniansky from Hungary, decreed: “1) Neither the former nor the new accusations brought by Nuorteva against Fraina give cause for altering the previous decision of the committee. Nuorteva’s evidence consists of his personal opinion only. He offers no real arguments to prove any of his accusations. 2) On the basis of his personal opinion, Nuorteva openly spreads the story (even in the capitalist press) that Fraina is a police spy, that the program of the Communist Party of America was written by a police spy, etc. Such proceedings are absolutely contrary to the attitude of a true socialist.” Nuorteva was ordered to cease an desist in his accusations against Fraina, and further, to issue a retraction of his charges in the press.
“Dynamite and Bombs.” (leaflet of the United Communist Party) [Oct. 1920] This leaflet of the United Communist Party of America dismisses charges made by the “tools” of the capitalists in the press that the Wall Street bombing was the work of the underground Communist movement. “The capitalist system, rotten to the core, can only be upheld by those who profit from it by the use of force. The capitalist class knows that in the final conflict it will be the force of the working class which will overthrow the capitalist state. Knowing this, it seeks to murder the growing revolutionary consciousness of the workers by a ruthless campaign of prosecution and persecution. ‘Made to order’ plots against the government are framed up. Bombs are found. Mysterious explosions take place. And the blame for all this is placed at the door of the advance guard of the awakening working class by the government agents and the lying capitalist press.” The leaflet notes that “The disaster presented a splendid opportunity for the so-called Department of Justice and the capitalist press to attack the revolutionary forces of the working class. The capitalist government needs a pretext for new laws of repression that will put to shame the tsaristic despotism of ancient Russia.”
“Note to Allan J. Carter of the Dept. of State in Washington, DC, from J. Edgar Hoover, Special Assistant to the Attorney General in Washington, DC, Oct. 1, 1920.” Short note from Special Assistant to the Attorney General J. Edgar Hoover to the State Department seeking clarification of an intercepted cable to the American Communist Party, the complete text of which was: “New Executive committee third international on August 10th  decided that the communistic party and the party be single party on basis decided as second congress of third international and that this unification must be effected no later than October 10th next, those not abiding by this decision to be excluded from third international.” The two American Communist Parties did not learn of this ultimatum until someone in the CPA accidentally read the text in an old issue of Izvestiia on October 13—three days after the deadline. From this note historians might reasonably conclude (a) the reason the merger ultimatum cable wasn’t delivered is because the US State Dept. picked it off en route; (b) that the American secret police apparatus new about the merger instructions before either party involved; (c) that J. Edgar Hoover was not capable of interpreting a very basic uncoded Comintern instruction.
“Rand School Begins 15th Year as Workers’ Educational Center,” by Marion Lucas Bird [Oct. 10, 1920] A brief historical summary of the Socialist Party’s popular educational institute, the object of 2 years’ worth of harsh repression by the Right Wing New York state legislature and the militaristic Wilson regime in Washington. Bird notes that the Rand School had been preceded by the American Socialist Society, a socialist lyceum bureau established in 1901. The American Socialist Society had envisioned a formal school from the outset, a dream turned into reality in 1906 through an endowment by Carrie Rand. From modest beginnings, 250 students during its first year, the Rand School had grown to the point where over 5,000 people attended its courses and formal lectures in the 1918-19 academic year. An account is given of the concerted attacks by Right Wing mobs and state and federal authorities, dating back to Nov. 25, 1918. After 4 failed attempts at gutting the Rand School, the Lusk Committee had been created, which by means of “clearly illegal” search warrants in which state officials were assisted by former members of the ultra-nationalist American Protective League had seized books and records of the organization. The Rand School had thus far deflected the attack and was preparing for a new academic year. An impressive list of instructors and lecturers for the 1920-21 academic year is included.
“Letter to the United Communist Party in New York from Charles Dirba, Executive Secretary of the Communist Party of America in New York, circa Oct. 15, 1920.” By the summer of 1920, the Executive Committee of the Communist International had lost patience with the endless factional shenanigans of the two rival American Communist Parties and it set about to end the counterproductive division of the movement by forcing unity under pain of expulsion . A two month deadline—October 10, 1920—was established for the final amalgamation of the Communist Labor Party and the Communist Party of America. Unfortunately for all concerned, this ultimatum was not successfully transmitted to either of the American Parties. This shocked letter from CPA Executive Secretary Charles Dirba to the leadership of the UCP notes having discovered news of the ultimatum in the columns of the September 14 issue of Izvestiia—on October 13, that is, three days AFTER the deadline for final union. Dirba seeks an immediate reply as to whether the UCP had been informed of this deadline. He also upbraids the rival organization for asserting a “downright falsehood” in their bulletin to District Organizers, in which they claimed that the UCP unity committee of two had been rejected out of hand by the CPA. Dirba declares that “we have no knowledge of your committee’s having approached or got in touch with us in any way, and that we have not turned them down.” He seeks a reply by the morning of October 18, 1920 so that the CEC of the CPA may act expeditiously in the unity matter.
“Radicalism in America,” by Morris Hillquit. [October 15, 1920] This article by Socialist Party NEC member Morris Hillquit in the party’s official organ reviews the two new political organizations to emerge in post-war America—the Labor Party (which transformed itself to the Farmer-Labor Party) and the Communist Party. Hillquit states that the Labor Party began from a principled position, seeking fundamental change of capitalist society, but was quick to sacrifice principle for expedience on the campaign trail, destroying its working-class nature through a merger with the “nebulous aggregation of middle-class liberals known as the ‘Committee of 48.’” To this amalgam was added the “purely imaginary forces of the farming community,” resulting in an eclectic mish-mash slated for quick political extinction. As for the Communist Party, Hillquit stated that while it was “desirable” to have “extreme” groups within the Socialist Party as a counterbalance to “any existing tendencies to opportunism,” in the current case the Left Wing’s position was not a “legitimate reaction” since the SPA had taken “the most advanced international socialist position” during and after the war. Instead, it was a “quixotic” attempt to duplicate the Bolshevik Revolution in the United States —and effort which had shattered by “endless internecine strife and successive splits” as soon as the negative program of opposition to the SPA leadership was replaced by the positive task of organization building. As a result, neither of the new political groups had made “any essential contribution” to American radicalism. “The Socialist Party still holds the leadership in radical politics in the United States,” Hillquit notes.
C.E. Ruthenberg’s Testimony at His Oct. 1920 New York “Criminal Anarchism” Trial. (extracts) An extensive excerpt of the testimony of the former Executive Secretary of the old Communist Party of America at his October 1920 New York trial. C.E. Ruthenberg and I.E. Ferguson were both indicted under a 1902 law implemented by the New York Legislature in the aftermath of the William McKinley assassination, charged with “Criminal Anarchy” for having been members of the National Council of the Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party, the 9 member executive board responsible for the publication of the final version of the “Left Wing Manifesto.” Ruthenberg and Ferguson were charged with no overt act, but rather with advocacy of “force and violence” against the government. Of particular interest is the onslaught of prosecutorial questioning by the judge in the case, Bartow S. Weeks, and the rather detailed explanation of the revolutionary process by defendant Ruthenberg —one of the most explicit documents of his world-view left for posterity. Both Ruthenberg and Ferguson were convicted and sentenced to 5-10 years of hard labor, a sentence which was ultimately overturned on appeal after significant time was served.
“Workers Cheer Cause For Which Reed Died: Thousands Gather to Hear of Deeds of Young Revolutionist Who Gave His Life That Labor Might Continue Its Onward March— Throng Suppresses Sobs.” (NY Call) [event of Oct. 25, 1920] News account of one of two memorial services held in New York City in honor of Left Wing journalist and political activist John Reed, dead of typhus in Moscow on Oct. 17, 1920. Main speeches were delivered by Arturo Giovannitti, poet and IWW member, and Max Eastman, editor of The Liberator, for whom Reed wrote extensively. “In the center of the platform was a large crayon drawing of Reed, drawn by Hugo Gellert. In marked contrast to the impressive sadness of a young girl who, draped in black, danced to funereal tones, was Reed’s face, with its flush that indicated only wholesome fun and adventure. The attempts of hundreds of men and women to suppress their sobs, resulting in sudden gasps, was plainly evident through the dance. During it all, Reed’s eyes gleamed,” the news account records.
“Ferguson Opens Defense Case in Anarchy Trial: Charles Ruthenberg, First Witness, Narrates His Life Story Before Judge Weeks...: Prosecutor Rorke Attempts to Label Defendant as Organizer of Communist Left Wing.” (NY Call) [events of Oct. 25, 1920] On October 25, 1920, the defense began to present its case in the trial of C.E. Ruthenberg and I.E. Ferguson for alleged violation of the New York Criminal Anarchy law. This news account from the New York Call indicates that the defense was limited to an extensive exploration of the personal history and views of defendant Ruthenberg on the stand by attorney Ferguson. Ruthenberg noted his previous political career, having run as the Socialist Party’s candidate for Mayor of Cleveland, member of Congress, and Governor of Ohio. The antipathy of the judge to the defendants is clear in one retort made to Ruthenberg’s recollection of having received 27% of the vote for mayor of Cleveland, despite being under indictment for public opposition to conscription: “The fact that 27,000 citizens of Cleveland,” said Judge Weeks, “wanted an ex-convict, who had violated the laws of the United States, to represent them as mayor does not prove anything material to this case.” As for the prosecution, it had objected to Ruthenberg’s testimony that he had a wife and a son in high school of Cleveland as a bid for the jury’s sympathy.
“Letter to the Executive Committee of the Communist International in Moscow from the Central Executive Committee of the United Communist Party in New York, October 27, 1920.” Having received a definite order from the Communist International to unite with the Communist Party of America, the United Communist Party began to make its case for controlling votes in the body which would give birth to the united organization—despite the smaller size the UCP relative to its rival. The UCP’s latest unity gambit to the CPA had been the convocation of the convention with a delegate ratio matching the vote ratio accorded the two organizations at the recently-concluded 2nd Congress of the Comintern; that is, 6 votes for the UCP to 4 votes for the CPA. Alternative possibilities are suggested to the Comintern, including the addition of 5 CPA members to the 10 member CEC of the UCP or the formation of a 13 member CEC, with 7 members hailing from the UCP to 6 from the CPA. This matter was of critical importance due to the question of federation control, the CEC of the UCP argued, characterizing itself as an active and centralized organization and its rival as a “federation of federations” with an amorphous membership. The argument was made that the UCP better represented “American” workers and was more in accord with the theses of the Comintern on the importance of legal work, lending additional credence to the UCP’s demand for disproportionately strong voting strength in the unity convention.
“John Reed is Dead,” by Robert Minor [Oct. 30, 1920] The Oct. 17, 1920 death of Jack Reed, the representative of the Communist Labor Party (and United Communist Party) to the Executive Committee of the Communist International gave the American Communist movement its first martyr to the cause. This article by cartoonist and Liberator editor Robert Minor celebrates the integrity and dedication of the late American writer. Reed turned his back on the pampered Philistinism of American literary circles, Minor indicates, dismissing the bourgeoisie that seeks to surround itself with young writers as drunk, addled, and stupid. “If the young artists are grateful, they become more and more like the people that surround them, and slowly they lose their art. They sink into the position of clowns for the besotted aristocracy, in private life, and they become writers of excited drivel for the magazines and the book market, drivel without real connection with life,” Minor declares. But Reed rejected the ordinary life of the hot young writer, causing the bourgeoisie to erupt. “The propertied classes in America shook with rage at John Reed. In every city is a committee of businessmen called a Grand Jury, which has the function of picking out all persons who endanger the private ownership of the palaces and automobiles and country estates. Two of these Grand Juries—one in New York and one in Chicago—picked out John Reed as a criminal, indicted him, and demanded that his voice be smothered in jail. Reed eluded them and went back to Russia,” Minor notes. “It all goes to show that the artists are ours, the artists belong to the workers, and to be artists at all they must dream—dream of things that frighten Tsars and Grand Juries—dream of workmen in palaces. Art Belongs to the Revolution. John Reed belonged to the workers,” Minor concludes. Includes photo of John Reed distributed in commemoration by the UCP.
“Hillquit Excommunicates the Soviet,” by Max Eastman [Nov. 1920] Lengthy reply to Morris Hillquit’s Sept. 23rd article, “The Moscow International,” from the pages of The Liberator by editor Max Eastman. Eastman adroitly sidesteps HIllquit’s main arguments: (1) that Soviets were not a universal model for socialist transformation but rather were an institution specific to the Russian revolution; (2) that there was no imminent revolutionary upsurge in the offing in America or Western Europe, the proximity of which alone might justify Comintern head Grigorii Zinoviev’s impassioned attack of Hillquit and other Social Democrats as “anti-socialist” for their failure to pretend to lead the workers to the barricades; (3) that the Comintern was in essence a nationalistic Russian construct, an institution which had practiced “spiritual imperialism” by “seeking to impose its rule upon the Socialist movement of the world.” Instead, Eastman allows only that the Comintern had used intemperate language against its Social Democratic opponents (regrettably but understandably in Eastman’s view) and proceeds to argue at considerable length over the question of whether Lenin and the Bolsheviks pushed the slogan “All Power to the Soviets” from the standpoint of principle (Eastman’s view) or crass political expedience (Hillquit’s view).
“Memorandum on British Secret Service Activities in This Country,” by W.W. Hicks [Nov. 2, 1920] This secret memo by Maj. W.W. HIcks of the Military Intelligence Division reviews British spy activity in America during the war and its aftermath. British activity was initially centered in New York in the Office of the Provost Marshal General, located at 44 Whitehall Street. Maj. Norman Thwaites was in charged of the New York office, where he worked in close concert with radicalism specialist Robert Nathan under Lieut. Col. William Wiseman in London. In March 1920, the Provost Marshal’s office was closed and a “British library” established in New York under David Boyle as the new center of British Intelligence in America. The memorandum also mentions Louis Fraina at some length, noting the accusations of Santeri Nuorteva and the Russian Soviet Government Bureau against him as a purported agent of the Department of Justice. “Fraina had never been an agent of the Department of Justice and he was considered to be an out and out Communist,” Hicks unambiguously declares. He recounts that shortly after a party trial over accusations that he was an agent of the Department of Justice in New York, Fraina proceeded to Canada and thereafter went to England on the same ship with Nathan and Thwaites. “It is understood that Dr. Nosovitsky managed this affair. Fraina was arrested in England on account of some irregularity in his passport but was immediately released and he and Nosovitsky proceeded to Amsterdam and attended the meeting of the Third International at that place. This meeting was broken up by the Dutch police and Nosovitsky returned to England while Fraina went into Germany,” Hicks writes. The British Foreign Office subsequently intimated to the Americans that it was within their power to return Fraina to the Americans if they so desired; “at the time he left this country he was under indictment for Criminal Anarchy,” Hicks notes. “The British are maintaining a considerable force of secret service operatives in this country and that they are concentrating their efforts on obtaining information on the radical, labor, and economic situations in the United States,” Hicks concludes, adding that “No record is known of any attempts being made to obtain military information in an unauthorized way.”
“Greetings on the Third Anniversary of the Russian Revolution: Read at the Celebration Meeting of Local Cook Co., SPA, Chicago,” by Eugene V. Debs [Nov. 7, 1920]” This short message of revolutionary greetings on the occasion of the 3rd anniversary of the Russian Revolution was released by Socialist Party leader Gene Debs from behind prison bars at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Debs declares: “The proletarian world and lovers of liberty everywhere are thrilled with joy at the news of the great victory of the Russian people. The triumph of the workers’ cause in Russia is a historic milestone in the progress of the world, and its influence for good has circled the earth, and shall direct the course of the future. The emancipation of Russia and the establishment of the Workers’ Republic is an inspiration to the workers of the world. This people’s government is a bright star in the political heavens, and shall light the way of the world. It is the great hope of the human race, and its example will lead to the emancipation of the workers of the world.”
“The Socialist Party and Moscow: Statement Issued by the NEC in Reply to An Inquiry by the Executive Committee of the Finnish Socialist Federation. [Nov. 1920] A Minority Resolution initiated on the floor of the 1919 Chicago Emergency Convention and ratified by the membership of the Socialist Party via a referendum vote called for the party to affiliate in an international organization along with the Russian Bolsheviki and the German Sparticans. An application was duly sent to Moscow by National Executive Secretary Otto Branstetter on March 4, 1920. By the time of the SPA’s 1920 Convention, no answer had been given from Moscow. Following the close of the 1920 Convention, membership of the SPA again reaffirmed their desire for affiliation with Moscow via referendum, placing more restrictions upon this allegiance. Shortly thereafter, the content of the “21 Conditions” for affiliation to the Communist International became known, throwing a wrench into the works. This report of the National Execuitve Committee of the SPA is intended to explain this political situation and to answer a request made by the Finnish Socialist Federation to “state clearly the attitude of the Party on the question of affiliation with the Communist International.”.
“Another One Caught: Joseph Krieg of St. Louis a Spy.” [Nov. 15, 1920] Documentation of a spy and agent provocateur expelled on Sept. 17, 1920, from Machinists’ Union no. 41 for epying on behalf of the Industrial Service Corporaton. Krieg had joined Local St. Louis, Socialist Party on May 26, 1917 and was said to have been a consistent and vocal supporter of the Left Wing Section during the faction fight of 1919, leaving the SPA at the time of the August 1919 split. This short article was published in the official organ of the Socialist Party of America as part of its ongoing effort to discredit the communist movement, rather than as an indictment of the authorities who wormed the undercover provocateur into the ranks of the radical movement.
“Resolution on the Russian Blockade and Intervention.” [Nov. 21, 1920] Although springing from semi-independent origins, the American Labor Alliance for Trade Relations With Russia came to be one of the first mass organizations sponsored by the Communist Party of America, bringing together representatives of organized labor groups to agitate for political recognition and economic intercourse between the United States and Soviet Russia. The group held a converence in New York City on Sunday, Nov. 21, 1920, at which this resolution on the Russian Blockade was passed. The group protested against the “inhuman blockade” which the US government had given its support and demanded that further American participation in the “various plots against Soviet Russia” be terminated. The group called on the State Department to remove all obstacles with trade, to open up postage and communications with Russia, restore the right of travel, and allow authorized representatives of the Soviet Government to act in its behalf in commercial transactions.
“Why Are We Not Stronger?” by Eugene V. Debs. [Nov. 1920] During his 5th and final campaign for the Presidency in 1920, the government’s information blackout on the imprisoned Eugene V. Debs seems to have been abated and he was in periodic contact with some of his comrades in the Socialist Party. Debs even wrote a few columns on current affairs for the party press, as was the case with this article for the November issue of the SPA’s official organ, The Socialist World. Debs asks the question of why there is no strong socialist movement in America after 42 years of concerted effort and points to factionalism as the culprit: “Socialists, communists, anarchists, syndicalists, and IWWs spend more time and energy fighting each other than they do fighting capitalism. Each faction assumes that it is entirely right and that all others are entirely wrong, a very human way of seeing things, but far better calculated to prevent than to promote the effective organization of the workers.” To avoid a “disasterous if not fatal” blow to the socialist movement from factional bitterness, Debs strongly counsels his readers to show a “more decent, tolerant, and truly revolutionary spirit” towards those with whom they differ. Debs also states in this article that having now seen Zinoviev’s 21 Conditions for admission to the Communist International, unconditional membership in that body is now impossible: “No American party of the workers can subscribe to those conditions and live,” Debs writes.
“Call for a Special Convention of the Communist Party of America. [December 1920] This is the convention call for an extraordinary 3rd Convention of the Communist Party of America (“majority”). The call stated that the convention was necessary to bring the program and tactics of the CPA into “perfect conformity with the decisions adopted and policies determined upon by the Communist International, especially as enunciated in the various theses and the conditions of affiliation.” The delegates were to be elected to this Convention from the bottom up—beginning with elections by each Group to a Branch Electors meeting, which was to elect representatives to the Local Convention. This in turn was to elect representatives to the Sub-District Convention, and these to the District Convention, which would ultimately elect delegates to the party convention. While the first round of elections were held in December 1920, the 3rd Convention of the CPA was not held until February 1921. This 10 day Brooklyn, NY gathering, held in conditions of extreme secrecy, was attended by 30 delegates and 7 fraternal delegates.
“The Meaning of Unemployment.” [circa December 1920] Full text of an unsigned 8 page pamphlet published by the American Labor Alliance for Trade Relations With Russia, harshly critical of the current wage-cutting drive that was part and parcel of the deflation of 1920-21. Starvation, malnutrition, crime, prostitution, and broken homes were said to be in the offing as a result of overproduction and the inability of workers to purchase the full value of their toil. Access to foreign markets was said to be the key to the crisis, but with Europe in economic chaos only one possible open market remained—Soviet Russia. Unfortunately, the State Department still barred trade with the Russian Republic. The pamphlet urges labor solidarity to force the American government to end the communications, travel, and trade blockade that remained in place on the “Russian Workers’ Republic.”.
“Again Mr. Hillquit.” [Published circa Dec. 1, 1920] This is the unsigned lead article from the UCP’s official organ, The Communist (#11), written in response to a piece called “Again the Moscow International” by Socialist Party leader Morris Hillquit which appeared in the New York Call on Nov. 15-16, 1920. Hillquit, called a member of a “triumvirate” of the SP’s current leadership (along with Party founders Victor Berger and Seymour Stedman), is taken to task for expressing the belief in the possibility of the working class being able to make use in the existing American state apparatus for its own purposes—rather than facing the necessity of destroying that apparatus and constructing a new one, as the UCP contended. “It is too much to ask of Mr. Hillquit’s Marxism that it realize or acknowledge that the mission of the proletarian revolution is not the establishment of a working class government similar to the government of the capitalist class, but that its aim is to build an instrument for the fundamental change of society from capitalism to communism,” the unnamed UCP writer asserts. Hillquit is also criticized for his statement that the leaders of the Comintern are intent upon making use of “a new, untried, and fanciful form” of political organization “to supplant the historic organizations of Socialism and labor.” The Social Democratic parties of Germany, Russia, France, Great Britain, and the United States are all dismissed as bulwarks of national chauvinism and collaborators with the war on the Bolshevik revolution. Hillquit is called a “charlatan” for “posing as a revolutionist” while at the same time “betraying the workers’ revolution to the capitalist class.” This article demonstrates the depth of hostility expressed by the American Communist movement towards the Social Democratic movement from its earliest days.
“Call for a Special Convention of the Communist Party of America. ” [December 1920] This is the convention call for an extraordinary 3rd Convention of the Communist Party of America (“majority”). The call stated that the convention was necessary to bring the program and tactics of the CPA into “perfect conformity with the decisions adopted and policies determined upon by the Communist International, especially as enunciated in the various theses and the conditions of affiliation.” The delegates were to be elected to this Convention from the bottom up—beginning with elections by each Group to a Branch Electors meeting, which was to elect representatives to the Local Convention. This in turn was to elect representatives to the Sub-District Convention, and these to the District Convention, which would ultimately elect delegates to the party convention. While the first round of elections were held in December 1920, the 3rd Convention of the CPA was not held until February 1921. This 10 day Brooklyn, NY gathering, held in conditions of extreme secrecy, was attended by 30 delegates and 7 fraternal delegates.
“The Second UCP Convention.” [convention began Dec. 24, 1920; article published early Jan. 1921] This unsigned report appeared in the official organ of the United Communist Party and outlines for the membership of that organization the basic accomplishments of the Extraordinary Second Convention of the UCP. The primary task of the gathering was to approve the Theses and Resolutions of the 2nd World Congress of the Comintern — a non-controversial unanimous decision. Instead, it was the unity question and the seriatim consideration of a new constitution for the underground party that consumed much of the convention's time and energy. A series of messengers were dispatched from the Kingston site of the Second Convention to the CEC of the rival Communist Party of America in New York City attempting to bring about a unity convention on terms other than the proportional representation based on actually paid members (as specified by the instructions of the Comintern). Instead, the UCP convention offered to meet in unity convention with the CPA on the basis of organizational parity — and a slate of 25 delegates for such a future gathering were elected by the 42 assembled delegates at the 2nd UCP Convention. A new Central Executive Committee was also elected, although not a single detail about this change of leading personnel was published in the erstwhile underground official organ, even in pseudonymous form.
“United Communist Party—’Groups’ According to Language: As of December 1920.” This is based upon an internal document of the United Communist Party captured by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation in the April 1921 raid on UCP National Headquarters in New York. The UCP prided itself on having largely eliminated the federation-based form of organization which typified its rival, the Communist Party of America. Groups (Primary Party Units of between 5 and 10 members) were nevertheless based around language as well as geography and statistics tabulated by the organization. This snapshot from the midpoint of the UCP’s one year of existence surprisingly shows more South Slavic (Croatian and Slovenian) language groups than any other (144), followed by the Russian (136), English (121), German (61), Latvian (49), Yiddish (37), Lithuanian (34), and Finnish (31) language groups.
“Further Statement on Unity Proceedings,” by Charles Dirba” [circa Dec. 1, 1920] The second of four typeset leaflets prepared for the rank and file of the Communist Party of America detailing the status of unity negotiations with the rival United Communist Party. Largely a polemic rather than a document collection. Dirba states that membership figures exchanged Nov. 28, 1920 show for the July-Sept. test period an average paid membership of 7,552 for the CPA vs. 4,561 for the UCP, a proportional delegate ratio of 5:3 in favor of the CPA. Dirba attempts to refute a long series of false statements in the UCP’s appeal to the Comintern, making clear the bias of the UCP against language federations and that the UCP’s intent is “arbitrarily to swallow the CP.” Includes full text of: (1) CPA to UCP, Nov. 24 (short statement by CPA unity committee consisting of Dirba, Cohen, and Wilenkin that they are ready to proceed); (2) UCP to CPA, Nov. 24 (frank statement that “the CEC of the UCP still maintains the position...that the interests of the Communist movement in America imperatively demand a major representation, arbitrarily fixed in advance, for the UCP at the Unity Convention, not only on the ground of its greater numerical strength, but also because its centralized form of organization, every group of which is underground...” The offer of 60% UCP/40% CPA delegate representation is repeated); (3) CPA to UCP, Nov. 30 (acceptance of UCP’s declared membership of 4,561 and insistence that the UCP act on its membership statement immediately, since time before the Jan. 1, 1921 unity deadline was short).
“Further Negotiations on Unity,” by Charles Dirba [circa Dec. 5, 1920] Although written slightly after the publication of the 2nd of 4 CPA membership leaflets on the unity question, this material, published unsigned in the pages of the CPA’s official organ, is transitional between the first two leaflets. Includes full text of: (1) CPA to UCP, Nov. 13 (noting 8 day delay in the CPA’s request for a further meeting of Unity Committees and request for an immediate reply); (2) UCP to CPA, Nov. 14 (Indication that delay relates to waiting for the UCP contact to verify the CI’s determined basis for representation at a unity convention); (3) ECCI resolution of Sept. 20 (extending date for unification to Jan. 1, 1921); (4) Excerpts from ECCI Minutes of Aug. 20 (motion of John Reed setting basis for Unity Conference as proportional to the number of dues payers as of Sept. 1, with addendum by Small Bureau of ECCI changing basis to average dues payers for July-Sept. 1920); (5) CPA to UCP, Nov. 24 (Short statement by CPA unity committee consisting of Dirba, Cohen, and Wilenkin that they are ready to proceed); (6) UCP to CPA, Nov. 24 (frank statement that “the CEC of the UCP still maintains the position...that the interests of the Communist movement in America imperatively demand a major representation, arbitrarily fixed in advance, for the UCP at the Unity Convention, not only on the ground of its greater numerical strength, but also because its centralized form of organization, every group of which is underground...” The offer of 60% UCP/40% CPA delegate representation is repeated).
“Circular Letter to the Membership of the United Communist Party from the CEC of the UCP in New York Regarding the Need for Security.” [circa Dec. 10, 1920]” This circular letter from the governing Central Executive Committee of the United Communist Party (obtained by the Bureau of Investigation) reviews party procedure for the maintenance of security of the underground organization. Despite the fact that “spies, stool pigeons, provocateurs, and every form of scum is bound, in some way or other, to get into the organization or learn of its activities,” it is essential for the UCP to remain active, the circular letter indicates. For the protection of the organization, the membership is strongly reminded to observe the constitutionally-mandated 2 month probation period for new members. “Only by unanimous consent can an applicant be accepted into group membership.” Furthermore, gatherings of party members are go be conducted only in the context of groups (primary party units of 10 or less). Propaganda is to be distributed without the taking of needless risks and is to be distributed completely, not stockpiled. In the event of arrest, members are instructed to follow a simple rule of thumb: “ANSWER NOTHING. Give no party information. Give no names. In many instances arrested members have incriminated themselves answering questions asked by detectives. NO ANSWERS. NO NAMES. ABSOLUTELY NONE, no matter what their threats may be.... At all stages ask for a LAWYER, naming the defense attorney engaged by the party. If you are brought before an Immigration Commissioner and are shown a warrant for your deportation, answer only formal questions as to your age, nationality, arrival in the United States, etc., but REFUSE to answer any questions as to your political beliefs.”
“Another Renegade.” [H.F. Kane] by James P. Cannon [Dec. 11, 1920] Jim Cannon, editor of the Communist Party’s legal English weekly, The Toiler, takes aim at the editor of the editor of The Industrial Worker, the Western organ of the Industrial Workers of the World. Cannon charges editor H.F. Kane with being a “renegade” for parroting the line advanced by John Spargo and Charles Edward Russell that Soviet Russia was “propped up by bayonets,” had “sent invading armies into other countries,” and was a country in which workers were not “permitted to freely travel through the interior looking for employment.” Cannon indicates that “We have confidence that the western members of the IWW will deal promptly with this man Kane who has attacked the revolution in their name.” “...You can’t fool them about the Russian Revolution, Mr. Kane!” Cannon declares, adding that “They know, as the workers all over the world know, that the Workers’ Republic of Russia represents their highest hopes and aspirations. They know that the enemies of the Russian Revolution are the enemies of the working class!”
“Third Statement on the Unity Proceedings,” by Charles Dirba [Dec. 16, 1920] The third of four typeset leaflets prepared for the rank and file of the Communist Party of America detailing the status of unity negotiations with the rival United Communist Party. Dirba bitterly declares, “Our predictions about the “investigation on the ground” of our membership by the UCP have come true. It was merely a pretext upon which the UCP intended to defy and now has actually defied the mandates of the Executive Committee of the Comintern for a joint convention of both parties on the basis of proportional representation.” Includes text of: (1) UCP to CPA, Dec. 12 (lengthy document announcing “Our investigation shows that your entire statement of membership bears on its very face the evidence of gross manipulations. We find that in many places your membership is not half of what you claim, and that in others you count as members of the CP many members of social and legal organizations. These are only nominally divided into groups and take no part in underground Communist activity.” The UCP obfuscates by attempting to convert the CPA membership figures — based on dues stamp sales — to UCP-style revenue received numbers, noting serious discrepancies between the two methodologies); (2) CPA to UCP, Dec. 16 (very lengthy response detailing the methodological errors systematically applied by the UCP in an effort to achieve a false result of to its “investigation” of the CPA books. The CPA letter states that “We have submitted a record of the dues paid during the four months designated by the Communist International, which shows as near as possible the correct average dues paying membership in our Party for that period. Your ’analysis’ of these figures is nothing more than deliberate distortion and juggling of figures. Your ’investigation on the ground’ to disprove our membership figures contains no facts or proof, except unsupported allegations purporting to be reports of your organizers who are supposed to be in close touch with our membership.”)
“They Are Making One Front,” by Robert Minor [Dec. 18, 1920] Shortly after the 3rd anniversary of the Russian Revolution, former anarchist Robert Minor unveils his perspective that the world in splitting into two warring camps in this well-crafted essay. “Little groups, little cliques, little sects, are quickly melting into and crystallizing in either one or the other of two giant forms. Every little formation may still scream of its separateness, but the monster iron dividing line—the “front!”—is flung calmly and silently through the multitude and divides all things and men whether they will or not, into two and only two hard-crystallizing divisions.” On one side of the barricades: “Everywhere we hear the cry of the herders—monarchists, republicans, liberal-bourgeois, Catholic, atheist-bourgeois, and Protestant; reformer—pacifist and military reactionist—all together the herders whip men into line of the new loyalty that will make men slaves—loyalty to the one great Capitalist International.” On the other: “Everywhere the working class, too, is stirring, jolted and bruised and rudely wakened from its daylight dreams. The cries of mobilizing men come also from the depths, from the alleys and kennels where workmen live. Men who have been dreaming of this time, have dreamed of its being in a different way. Some are still dreaming.” But Minor refuses to dream any longer about theoretical possibilities, he puts aside his prior convictions in light of the actual situation and chooses sides: “The past few years have settled many questions. One question is Parliamentarism, and it was settled to the extreme dislike of most Socialist lawyers. Another question is the question of a temporary military organization resembling a State, and that was settled to the distaste of many Anarchists. But history has settled it. It has proven that the working class, whether we like it or not, is going to win its fight by means of a temporary dictatorship, and we take our choice between being out of the fight or in the fight in the form which it takes, not in any imaginary form. The one front has been drawn by history, and no man can draw it otherwise. Whether we like it or not, there will be one front. And I think that one front is the Third International.”
“Letter to the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America in New York from the Central Executive Committee of the United Communist Party in New York, December 12, 1920.” Facing a future joint unity convention with delegates apportioned between the UCP and the CPA on the basis of actually paid membership for July-October 1920 and seeing that they were substantially outnumbered by their rivals, the United Communist Party lost little time in ditching its chant for unification and moving straight into advanced level obfuscation. This is the reply of the CEC of the UCP to the set of figures and supplemental documentation provided by the CPA in November to document its membership for unity convention delegate apportionment. Executive Secretary Wagenknecht and the UCP swirl mud into the water, making specious arguments about CPA dues dollar amounts and citing irrelevant membership statistics for the Lithuanian Federation rather than attempting to verify the claimed number for CPA actually paid members for July-Oct. 1920, that being 7,552. After hemming and hawing and hoisting needless numbers, Wagenknecht declares, “The statements from our district and group organizers who are in closest touch with your membership are unanimous to the effect that you have only a fraction of the membership that you claim in the respective localities.” He adds that “We already have on hand sufficient evidence to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that your membership claims are not in accordance with the facts, and that the bona fide underground membership of the United Communist Party far outnumbers that of the CP.” None too honestly he concludes that the UCP has “accepted the mandate of the Executive Committee of the Communist International to enter into a unity convention with representation proportioned upon ’an honest count of bona fide underground membership,’ and stand ready now to act upon that mandate. But your statement provides absolutely no basis for ascertaining the actual membership of the CP organized and functioning in underground groups. Therefore we have unanimously decided that it can not be accepted.”
“;Letter to the Unity Committee of the UCP in New York from Charles Dirba, Executive Secretary of the CPA in New York, Dec. 30, 1920.” In November of 1920, the United Communist Party and the Communist Party of America exchanged their books and membership documents so that each might verify the claims of the other in conjunction with a forthcoming Joint Unity Convention—delegates to which were to be apportioned on the basis of dues actually paid for the months of July, August, September, and October 1920. This is the letter from CPA Executive Secretary Charles Dirba accepting the claims made by the UCP. What is most interesting about the document is the revelation it makes that the UCP did not track its members in terms of dues stamps sold, but rather that it tracked the cash value of dues collected—$12,004.70 for the period in question, which when divided by the monthly dues rate of 75 cents per member yields an average paid membership of 4,001. This number was inflated by the UCP—the inflation accepted by the CPA, albeit declared “a little too high”—by 150 for membership in two districts without paid DOs, the funds of which stayed in the district for organizational purposes; 150 to account for “dual” husband/wife memberships, for which only one stamp was sold; and 260 to compensate for dues collected at a lower rate in the merger month of July 1920. The UCP membership figure accepted for merger was thus 4,561—as compared to the claim of 7,552 made by the CPA. It was now the UCP that was stonewalling in the face of these figures. “It is up to you now to act on our statement,” declared Dirba, “The time for the joint convention is very short. Every day must be counted and used in the preliminary arrangements.... We insist that your committee come to meet with our committee again in the next few days.”
“Down With the Betrayers of the Workers Proclamation to the Striking Railwaymen by the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America.”  Newsprint agitational leaflet issued by the Communist Party of America in New York on behalf of the ongoing wildcat strike of railway employees. Firmly dual unionist in tone, the leaflet encourages the workers to “Sweep aside the traitors to the working class in your organization. Throw them out of your organization, making your organization the militant expressing of the workers. Keep it out of the reactionary American Federation of Labor.” After purging their union of comfort-loving officials intent on aiding the capitalist class by proclaiming the strike “illegal,” the railwaymen are encouraged to fight “AGAINST THE CAPITALISTS AND THE WHOLE CAPITALIST SYSTEM.” The railway workers are urged to transform their organization into “ONE BIG UNION OF RAILWAYMEN FIGHTING FOR THE WORKERS.”