Early American Marxism: Document Download Page by Year: 1926

Early American Marxism

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“A Tribute to Debs,” by Morris Hillquit. [Oct. 23, 1926] A short tribute to the Socialist leader written by his friend and comrade and published on the front page of The New Leader at the time of Debs’ death. According to Hillquit, Debs was “a crusader and a fighter, but there was no hate in him. His most ardent fighting sprang from his deep and warm love for all that bears human countenance. A pure type of early Christian at his best, he was strangely misplaced in our cold age of selfishness and greed.” “Through all the years of his struggles and suffering his frail body was vibrant with flaming vitality. In spite of his advanced age and ill health he was to the last the impersonation of radiant youth in his mental alertness and never-flagging enthusiasm.”.



“At the Bier of Debs,” by Morris Hillquit [delivered Oct. 22; published Nov. 13, 1926] One of the funeral speeches delivered in Eugene Debs’ honor from the porch of the Debs house in Terre Haute, Indiana in the afternoon of Friday, October 22, 1926—later reprinted in the Socialist press. Hillquit noted that while Debs “was one of the most effective orators of America” what really made the man was his personality. “It was first of all the boundless love of everything that bears human countenance which radiated from him. Not an intellectual love, not an abstract love, but a love that flowed naturally, organically, communicating itself electrically to all who came within the magic sphere of his personal contact. He loved everybody—the poor and even the rich, the righteous, the criminal, and the outcast. He loved mankind and his very eloquence sprung from his love. He did not merely appeal and convince, he communicated part of himself, part of his very being to his audience.”.


“ Debs and SP Policies,”; by James Oneal. [Nov. 13, 1926] The Socialist Party Old Guard’s attack dog locks jaw on the “most revolting performance” of the American Communists in their attempt to “claim Eugene Debs as their own.” To this end, two charges were made in a Communist leaflet distributed at a Debs memorial meeting held at Madison Square Garden which stick in Oneal’s craw: (1) that Debs was “always on the left wing of the Socialist Party”; and (2) that only in recent years did the SP “permit” Debs to be a member of the SP’s governing National Executive Committee. Oneal mocks the first assertion, dumping everything from the Social Democracy in America’s colonization wing to Daniel DeLeon’s ST&LA to the eccentric anti-union views of two 1904 SP convention delegates to the 1912 syndicalist movement into a single large bin labelled “left wing.” Since Debs never followed any of this “topsy turvy conduct,” Oneal asserts, the claim of Debs’ fidelity to the “left” is absurd. Oneal depicts Debs’ later pro-unity position as the result of sentimentality and the cause of unintentional misunderstanding and says that the 1905 decision to help form the IWW was a “mistake,” soon corrected. As for the assertion that Debs was only allowed on the NEC in the last years, Oneal convincingly argues that Debs saw his role as a propagandist, not as a party executive, that he was regularly nominated—and declined—all such offices as a matter of preference, so that he might concentrate on his main mission. ” It is precisely because he was committed to the Socialist Party and its policies that he consented to go to the National Executive Committee in recent years. The fact that he took up work that he disliked and which he had avoided for more than twenty years shows that he was so convinced that the Socialist Party represented his views,” Oneal notes.



“ The Workers’ (Communist) Party: What It Is and Why Workers Should Join It,” by C.E. Ruthenberg. Text of a small propaganda pamphlet encouraging wage-workers to join the Workers’ (Communist) Party. According to Ruthenberg, the W(C)PA comprised the political organization necessary to “give leadership” to the workers’ struggle against capitalism and to “direct it along the road that will carry the workers forward to the Workers’ and Farmers’ Government and victory for the new social order.” To advance this task, the W(C)PA would support the daily struggles of the workers and farmers for relief, work to amalgamate craft unions into industrial unions, work to organized the unorganized industrial workers into unions, work for the establishment of and affiliation with a Labor Party, work for Negro organization and the struggle of black Americans for “complete social equality,” and fight against American imperialism abroad.



Inner-Party Questions of the VKP(b): A Report to the 7th Enlarged Plenum of ECCI, Moscow—December 7, 1926, The 7th Enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International [Nov. 22-Dec. 16, 1926] marked the formal removal of Grigorii Zinoviev as head of the Comintern and his replacement by Nikolai Bukharin, close factional ally of Iosef Stalin. At the 18th Session of this plenum, the agenda moved to the USSR and the situation in the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks). Stalin delivered this warmly-received three hour report (republished in 1954 in v. 9 of Stalin's Works as “Once More on the Social-Democratic Deviation in Our Party”) to the delegates detailing the development of the opposition in the Soviet party. Stalin characterized this oppositiion as the by-product of latent bourgeois ideology and a bourgeoisified upper segment of the Soviet working class. Following a path blazed in the years 1911- 1914, Stalin states that Trotsky was once again attempting to cobble together an alliance of distinct “oppositions,” including this time remnants of the Democratic Centralists, the Workers' Opposition, and Zinoviev's “New Opposition” in addition to his own “Trotskyist” faction. Due to the Russian proletariat's intense hostility to “anti-revolutionary and opportunist elements,” the Trotsky-led alliance had “for several years” (i.e. since 1923) been conducting criticism of the Russian Communist Party using “Left” phraseology, according to Stalin. Stalin enumerates a series of points upon which the opposition and the VKP(b) differ, including, first and foremost, whether socialism is possible in the USSR alone. The Opposition is characterized by Stalin as “having no faith in the internal forces of our revolution” and of being “scared by the partial stabilization of capitalism,” which it considered to be “a fact which may seal the doom of our revolution.” The Opposition bloc launched an aggressive attack on the nature of the Soviet regime, which Stalin depicts as objectively counterrevolutionary, earning the plaudits of Mensheviks and Cadets alike. Isolated in the Party and “thrown into the camp of the opponents of Leninism” by the inexorable logic of their position, the Opposition was compelled to “admit defeat and retire” at the recent 15th Conference of the VKP(b) [Oct.-Nov. 1926]. It was now up to the Enlarged ECCI to “recognize the policy of the [Russian] Party in relation to the Opposition a s being correct” and to thus make the defeat of the Opposition international in scope, Stalin declared.