Update 12-10: Sunday, March 4, 2012.
"Membership Bulletin of the United Communist Party, January 27, 1921." Mimeographed bulletin circulated by the governing Central Executive Committee of the United Communist Party to the party's rank and file, informing the membership of the decisions of the recently-completed 2nd National Convention. After long having advocated union with the rival Communist Party of America, the UCP leadership -- facing force merger as a minority based on its lesser actual paid membership -- now spreads anti-unity propaganda. It announces the "interesting news" that had "come to light" that no member of the UCP's CEC would be allowed on the CEC of the united organization, nor was any member of the former UCP "to be given any responsible position in the united party." A new party program and constitution had been adopted for the UCP at its 2nd Convention [Kingston, NY: Dec. 24, 1920-Jan. 2, 1921] and members were instructed "to make a study" of these documents. Activity on behalf of the unemployed was emphasized, and mass meetings of the unemployed were to be called. These were to be allowed o elect governing officers, "but you are also to see to it that members of our party are slated for these positions and elected to them," the document instructs.
"Memorandum on the Present Situation of the Communist Movement of America: Adopted by the Communist Unity Committee for Submission to the Executive Committee of the Third Communist International." [c. Feb. 1, 1921] Lengthy set of theses to the Executive Committee of the Comintern on the unity situation in America representing the official perspective of the Communist Unity Committee, a group headed by Alexander Bittelman and containing members of both the Communist Party of America and the United Communist Party. Both Central Executive Committees are blamed for the failure of the American Communists organizations to unite in accord with Comintern directives. Origins of the split are linked to language, with English-speaking elements seeking postponement of formation of a Communist Party in America until after the 1919 Emergency National Convention of the Socialist Party so as to maximize the number of English-speaking revolutionary socialists brought into the fledgling communist movement. Upon formation of the dual organizations, the CEC of the CPA is said to have "almost unanimously adopted the position that, since the CLP is by its composition, leadership, and program a centrist organization," therefore rendering unity impossible. This feeling had been attenuated by the protracted underground period, which many CEC leaders had felt had largely purged CLP ranks of its former centrist elements. In March and April 1920 pro-unity factions in both organizations had virtually achieved organic unity of the rival groups, only to be sabotaged by the leaderships of both parties. In the aftermath, the anti-unity CPA majority conducted a purge against pro-unity elements following the July 1920 2nd Convention of the organization. Meanwhile, the UCP embraced the theory that "all evils come from the foreign language groups" and came to exert an ever more divisive role on the American movement. The Communist Unity Committee, representing the pro-unity factions within each party, casts itself here as a force for a united party bringing together both English-speaking and Foreign language elements. "The ruling groups of both parties have neither the conception nor the ability to build and lead such a party," the document notes.
"Letter to an Unnamed Comrade in Moscow Regarding the Communist Unity Committee from Alexander Bittelman in New York, February 1, 1921." Letter from recently-expelled CPA leader Alexander Bittelman of the Communist Unity Committee to an unnamed comrade in Moscow offering supplemental information to be presented to the Executive Committee of the Communist International on the current unity situation in the American Communist movement. "It may be said with absolute certainty that the great majority of the members of both parties is in heartfelt sympathy with our criticisms and aims," Bittelman asserts, adding that such sympathy was generally not translated into "joining and actively supporting our activities." Bittelman states that the CECs of the two parties, in an attempt to break the organizational stalemate, were attempting to create splits in the ranks of their rivals, with the UCP attempting to split out English-speaking elements from the CPA and the CPA attempting to cause the departure of foreign language federationists from the UCP. "If the Central Committees of the two parties are allowed to continue in this manner, they may succeed in creating a new split that will definitely break the movement into two hostile parts -- English-speaking and foreign language-speaking -- and that will make unity between them impossible for a very long time to come," Bittelman warns. Bittelman urges his correspondent to press for ECCI recognition of the Communist Unity Committee as the vehicle for merger, stating: "If the Executive Committee of the Third International could see its way to officially endorse the CUC, we would instantly carry with us at least 80% of the membership of both parties, and achieve unity within six (6) weeks."
"The Burning Question of Unity." [Feb. 1, 1921] Lengthy and authoritative statement on organization unity of the American Communist movement by the governing Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America. The CEC admits that it had refused to pursue unity negotiations with the leadership National Executive Committee of the rival Communist Labor Party and its successor, the United Communist Party, owing to the "centrism" of this group and their intent "to combine two incompatible teachings -- Communism and Syndicalism." Defecting CPA leaders C.E. Ruthenberg and I.E. Ferguson had only returned home to the organization which shared their "opportunist and syndicalist ideas," the CPA document asserts. The factional battle had not been resolved in the CPA's favor due to misrepresentation in Moscow by its delegates to the 2nd World Congress of the Comintern, Alexander Stoklitsky and Louis Fraina, it is asserted. Only with the arrival of a newly accredited representative, Nicholas Hourwich, was the principled CPA's position solidified, the article states. The CPA "has no reason whatsoever to prevent unity," the article maintains, intimating that its larger size assured its place in any future united organization. Instead, the blame for failure to achieved unity is placed upon the "anarcho-opportunist" and "centrist" leadership of the UCP. "The leaders of the UCP have the unmitigated insolence to demand that the Communist Party of America, recognized by the Communist International as the most consistent party in its conception of communist principles and tactics and having almost twice as many members as the UCP, should on some mysterious grounds give up its position which it has maintained...simply because a few charlatans and politicians at the head of the UCP demand it." The CPA "stands ready at any time to call its delegates to a JOINT UNITY CONVENTION," the article declares.
"Historical Sketch of The New Age, Founded, June 1912: 10 Years of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Masses," by Robert Wark [July 13 1922] This 10 year anniversary review of the Buffalo, New York Socialist weekly The New Age was written by a former local party organizer and periodic Associate Editor of the publication. Wark recounts the main events of a decade of local Socialist politics, from the establishment of the paper as the Buffalo Socialist on June 6, 1912, to the present day. Chief among these were publicity of speakers of the SPA's national lyceum program (1912), publicity in support of local street car strikes (1913, 1918), exposure of fake civic charity campaigns ostensibly launched on behalf of the working class, successful removal of the corrupt administration of the Central Labor Council of Buffalo (1913), leadership of a free speech fight resulting the jailing of local activists (1913), agitation for woman suffrage, ideological fisticuffs with evangelical leader Billy Sunday (1916-17), fighting against war and conscription (1917) and for preservation of the paper in the repression which followed, leadership of a campaign for unemployed workers (1919), and the struggle for free speech and free press during the great Red Scare (1919-1920). Details of the changing composition of the editorial staff are provided, in addition to the detail that it was the influence of editor Max Sherover that caused the Buffalo Socialist to change its name to The New Age in February 1915.
"Railroad Unions General Strike: Debs Says Concerted Action of Rail Unions Can Bring Victory to All Strikers," by Eugene V. Debs [July 20, 1922] Mundane title notwithstanding, this article by former American Railway Union head Eugene V. Debs written at the time of the launch of the historic 1922 Railway Shopmen's Strike is remarkable for its bitterness and lack of sympathetic support. Rather than cheering the effort, Debs takes multiple digs at the conservative railway unions and their recent lack of fidelity either to the anti-war movement (for which Debs was imprisoned) or to the Socialist cause. The National Guard forces simultaneously being assembled for future use against the strikers are depicted as a just comeuppance for ongoing unprincipled support by conservative craft unions of the American ruling class. Debs informs the rhetorical "Mr. Union Man" whom he addresses with this piece: "Now that the war is over and Kaiserism is dead and democracy and liberty are on top this same crowd to a man, to whom you rallied in such a frenzy of enthusiasm at the command of your leaders, this same gang, to compensate you for your noble patriotism, is now lined up against you in battle array and ready to shoot you down like dogs." Debs declares that while craft union leaders "with scarcely an exception stood with the Wall Street profiteers in howling for war and rushing you, the common herd, into the trenches to be gassed, mutilated, and murdered," nevertheless "that does not excuse you, for you chose these leaders and were responsible for them, and after all, the leaders are about as fit or otherwise as the rank and file who elect them deserve." Frustrated with the false consciousness of the working class and their support for capitalist politicians and the system they represent, Debs insists that political action remains a prerequisite for successful strike action, for only in that way will the workers "get control of the machine guns and the injunctions of the plutocrats and, indeed, of all the state and governmental power now used against you in the strikes all over the country."