Update 14-13: Sunday, March 30, 2014.
"Hands Off Soviet Russia!" by A. Raphailoff [November 1919] First agitational leaflet of the Communist Labor Party of America, published and distributed early in November 1919. With the mere existence of the Soviet Republic nearly certain to inspire emulation, the capitalist nations of the world were engaged in a joint effort to destroy the workers government, Raphailoff asserts, with Woodrow Wilson joining the effort as the "faithful servant of the American plutocracy." Raphailoff notes the refusal of workers in Great Britain, France, and Italy to aid the military action of their governments against Soviet Russia under the slogan "Hands Off Soviet Russia!" and encourages American workers to do likewise. Writes Raphailoff: "You must know that every American soldier sailing for Russia goes there to shed the blood of the Russian workers and peasants who are now engaged in a desperate struggle against the capitalists of the world... You must bear in mind that every rifle, every cannon, every machine gun which is being sent from the United States to Russia means death for the many Russian workers and peasants who are sacrificing themselves in order that the workers the world over may be liberated from the yoke of international capital." Workers were refusing to load supply ships bound for Russia and Soldiers refusing to go to the Russian front. "American workers, you must follow their example!" Raphailoff insists. He proposes the slogan: "Not a soldier for war against Soviet Russia, not a cent, not a rifle to help wage this war."
"85 Heads of Communists Are Indicted by US Jury: Charge is 'Conspiracy to Cause Armed Revolution': Bonds Put at $5,000." (Milwaukee Leader) [events of Jan. 23-24, 1920] Coming on the heels of a mass arrest of members of the Communist Labor Party on conspiracy charges for having held their founding convention in Chicago came the Jan. 23, 1920 indictment of 85 key figures of the Communist Party of America. This article from the Milwaukee Leader is useful for its extensive listing of those embroiled in the case. Those arrested included CPA CEC Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg, as well as CEC members and top cadres Rose Pastor Stokes, Nick Hourwich, Louis Fraina, Isaac Ferguson, Oscar Tyverovsky, John J. Ballam, Alexander Bittelman, Daniel Elbaum, K.B. Karosses, Paul Petras, John Schwartz, Joseph Kowalski. Also included were heads of the various foreign language federations associated with the CPA as well as a list of "ordinary" delegates to the CPA founding convention.
"Gitlow Found Guilty." (The Toiler) [event of Feb. 5, 1920] Short news account from the weekly newspaper of the Communist Labor Party detailing the end of CLP leader Ben Gitlow's trial in New York state for "Criminal Anarchism" connected with his role in 1919 in publishing the Left Wing Manifesto in the proto-communist paper The Revolutionary Age. Although he did not testify in the trial, former Assemblyman Gitlow was allowed to provide the defense's concluding speech to the jury, the account indicates. Gitlow attempted, with only limited success, to deliver a political speech to the jury, proclaiming "I am a revolutionist" and condemning the world was an an incident which "showed plainly the failure of capitalism." Gitlow's attempts to deliver a propaganda speech were cut short by the judge, who used his gavel to keep Gitlow from straying from the evidence presented in the case. The speech was to no avail and Gitlow was convicted of the charge against him following several hours of jury deliberations, the article indicates.
"The Question of Unity of the Communist Labor Party and the Communist Party." (The Toiler) [events of Dec. 16, 1919 to Feb. 14, 1920] Official published account of the Communist Labor Party of America about its unity dance with the rival Communist Party of America, dating from an unofficial inquiry about unity prospects from the CPA's German Federation Secretary Fritz Friedman to a formal meeting of 3 person negotiating committees on February 14. The CLP, as is typical, casts itself as the unflinching advocates of immediate unity on the basis of organizational equality and contends that not only a majority of the rank-and-file of each organization were in favor of such a position, but also a minority of the Executive Committee of the CPA. Unfortunately, the CLP contends, a majority of the CPA Executive, consisting of "five or six individuals," stood as the sole obstacle to unity. When the CPA insisted upon adoption of its manifesto, constitution, and program as the basis for a unity convention, the CLP countered with a proposal noting it impossible for either constitution to be used in the post-Palmer Raids political environment, accepting the CPA's manifesto and program as a basis for a unity convention, and calling for immediate merger of the Executive Committees, National Offices, and defense work of the two organizations, with the all-important federation question to be decided by the convention, it is intimated. This counter-proposal was not answered by the CPA, the CLP indicates, with the latter organization learning of its rejection only from an article published in the CPA press.
"The Power of the Press," by Eugene V. Debs [Feb. 20, 1920] This short and fluffy article by Socialist leader Gene Debs makes for useful blurb material for radical publishers of any ages. The ruling class are "keenly alive to the power of the press in molding public sentiment and in shaping affairs in accordance with their interests" and thus their press is adequately funded, Debs states. The working class press, on the other hand, is underfunded and its newspapers and periodicals quick to starve and die. Particularly in times of labor strife is felt the unbalance between the ruling class and working class press, Debs indicates: "If the working people had a press the slugging methods of corporations in a strike and the activities of their murderous gunmen would not only be impossible but unthinkable." "The working class can expect nothing from the press of the capitalist class but misrepresentation and injustice in the struggle for its rights," Debs writes, and he deems the development of a vital working class press essential to the liberation of the proletariat from wage slavery.
"Query of 'Where Is John Reed?' Answered: Shipped to Norway, Then Turned Stowaway. (The Toiler) [Feb. 22, 1920] Readers of the Communist Labor Party's legal weekly, The Toiler, are regaled with the exploits of the CLP's man in Moscow, journalist John Reed in this summary report detailing "what the US government has officially learned so far." Reed, under indictment in Chicago along with other CLP leaders in connection with the founding convention of the CLP held in that city the previous summer, had gone missing and was the subject of a nationwide search, the Toiler report indicates. Reed had surfaced in Moscow where he had attended and addressed official meetings of the Third International and the 7th All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the news account states, having shipped to Norway as a seaman and stowed away from Stockholm to Helsinki, Finland, where he crossed the frontier disguised as a peasant. Of historical note is the article's claim that Reed's famous appointment by Trotsky as Bolshevik Consul General in New York was merely a pretext "made to facilitate his return to the United States."
"The Lesson of Albany: An Editorial from The Toiler," by Elmer T. Allison [April 9, 1920] Coming to finish one day after any legal possibility of new elections to fill their denied seats (not accidentally), the end of the so-called "trial" of the five Socialist Assemblymen is celebrated in this editorial in the legal weekly newspaper of the underground Communist Labor Party. "It is folly to feel remorseful at this blow directed at the principle of representative government," writes editor Elmer Allison, "Rather may we feel grateful that the hand of the buccaneers has been brought into view and the class character of capitalist government shown up so glaringly." Allison argues that the Socialist Party, instead of tailoring its appeal to "the court of last resort -- the working class" had instead tried to curry favor with the ruling class parties in Albany. "They attempted to barter their revolutionary soul for a mess of pottage -- and didn't get it," Allison colorfully remarks. The entire tactic of parliamentary action, long criticized by the Left Wing, had been exposed and discredited, since "the present state is a machine for the perpetuation of capitalism and could not be used for the production of anything else even though the workers should be successful at the elections." Now the working class "must now swing to the Left — for there is nowhere else they can go," Allison optimistically declares.
"Communist Labor Party is Legal, Says Secretary Wilson: Rules Cannot Deport Aliens Who Hold Membership." (The Toiler) [event of May 5, 1920] Although the American Communist movement throughout it first four decades was dealt a massive series of legal defeats which opened the door to state repression, one surprising exception came in May 1920, when Secretary of Labor William Bauchop Wilson ruled that unlike the Communist Party of America, mere membership in the Communist Labor Party of America was not illegal per se and an automatically deportable offense. As immigration and deportation ran through the Labor Department, this put a severe kink in the efforts of the Department of Justice and the right wing political establishment to conduct mass deportations of radical aliens. In contrast to the free-ranging acceptance of tangential evidence then in vogue, Sec. Wilson offered a principled rationale. "The tactics of the Communist Party in Russia can have no bearing upon the Communist Labor Party in the United States except in so far as those tactics are accepted or adopted by the Communist Labor Party; nor can the statements made by prominent members of the party be accepted as the expressions of the organization unless the party by its own action adopts the statements," he declared.
"Secretary Wilson’s Ruling: An Editorial from The Toiler," by Elmer T. Allison [event of May 5, 1920] Editorial from the legal weekly of the Communist Labor Party extolling the decision of Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson that mere membership in the CLP was not sufficient grounds for deportation of non-citizen members. Editor Allison professes confusion over what distinction the Secretary found between the illegal per se Communist Party and the CLP, declaring that differences between the groups lay in the realm of tactical and organizational matters, not those of fundamental policy. "It is said that the Almighty moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. So it is with politicians," Allison whimsically comments. Allison already argues the case for electoral participation for propaganda purposes if the Secretary of Labor's interpretation of CLP legality stands. He welcomes legality as an opportunity for the CLP to "push will all the force at their command the upbuilding of the organization." He optimistically declares: "It is safe to assert that that which could not be destroyed by repressions and intimidations of Palmer and his agents and inquisitors must flourish with even a modicum of liberty of action."