NOTE: Since the Communist-Opposition political movement headed by Jay Lovestone went through a series of four organizational names in little over a decade, the groups are combined under the heading "The Lovestone Organization" here. It is always less than satisfactory to personalize political movements; nevertheless, the gains of convenience seem to outweigh whatever costs are paid in the realm of oversimplification. One should bear in mind that this evolving organization was the sum of the efforts of many rather than a function of the personality of a single individual.
Communist Party USA (Majority Group) The CP(MG)'s headquarters was initially located at 37 E 28th Street, Room 807, New York City. 1. "Enlarged Session of National Committee" --- [New York?] --- Oct. xx-xx, 1929.
Elected a 49 member "National Council" to lead the organization, the names of which were published in the first issue of The Revolutionary Age on Nov. 1, 1929.
The CP(MG) attempted to hold a Ruthenberg Memorial Meeting on March 2, 1930, the third anniversary of Ruthenberg's death, but the meeting was closed by the police when Communist Party regulars created a disturbance.
"Second Plenum of the National Council" --- New York, NY --- Feb. 22-23, 1930.
Attended by 60 delegates and a number of visitors.
2. "1st National Conference" --- New York, NY --- July 4-6, 1930.
On Oct. 16, 1930, Judge Woolsey of the US Distict Court upheld the action of the Post Office Department in declaring the official organ of the Communist Party (Majority Group), The Revolutionary Age, to be unmailable.
Plenum of the National Council --- New York, NY --- Nov. 26-28, 1930.
The plenum elected a representative to the International Conference of Opposition Groups, which was to meet Dec. 15, 1930 in Berlin.
3. "2nd National Conference" --- New York, NY --- Sept. XX-XX, 1932
This gathering changed tghe name of the organization from "Communist Party (Majority Group)" to "Communist Party (Opposition)."
Communist Party USA (Opposition)
In the second half of 1933, the CP(O) made serious overtures to the Proletarian Party of America on behalf of organizational unity. The PPA was embroiled in a major faction fight, however, and the Keracher leadership did not desire unification on anything approaching a basis of equality. Three CP(O) fraternal delegates to the 1933 Proletarian Party Convention were not allowed to present their credentials and the Keracher group established a set of patently one-sided demands aimed at sinking any talk of unification with the Lovestone organization.
[fn. Robert J. Alexander, The Right Opposition. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981), pp. 95-96.] 5. "4th National Conference" --- New York, NY --- Dec. 30, 1933-Jan. 1, 1934.
The 4th National Conference of the CP(O) was held at party headquarters, located at 51 W 14th Street in New York. A total of 53 accredited delegates were seated, 31 of whom were from New York and 22 from out of town. Delegates attended from Los Angeles, Hartford, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne, Philadelphia in the United States as well as from Montreal and Toronto, Canada. There were also 21 alternates in attendance (15 of whom were from New York City), as well as a number of fraternal delegates.
The gathering heard reports on the International situation, with Jay Lovestone delivering the majority report for the National Buro and Herbert Zam a minority report. Lovestone's report lasted over three hours and dealt with a range of topics including the disintegration of the 2nd International, the development of the Comintern, and the role of the Trotskyists as "the ideological focul point for the new centrism." Zam polemicized against Lovestone's report, arguing that the CP(O) had failed to reorient the CPUSA or to achieve critical mass as the main party of communism itself and calling for a new orientation to building a new Communist Party and eventually a new Communist International. A lengthy discussion followed in which 25 delegates participated before finally adopting the majority report by a vote of 45 to 7. The second day was dedicated to the theme "The NRA and the Labor Movement," with Will Herberg delivering the report and supplemental field reports delivered on behalf of the the needle, textile, shoe, coalmining, and metal industries. Day 3 was dedicated to organizational questions with D. Benjamin giving the report.
All sessions on the first and third days were open to all members in good standing of the CP(O). A "select group of sympathetic and interested workers" were also admitted to the sessions on the invitation of the National Buro. The second day's sessions were open to the general public, with an admission charge of 25 cents collected from attendees.
[fn. "The National Conference," Workers Age, v. 2, no. 24 (Dec. 15, 1933), pg. 5; "Report of Convention," Workers Age, v. 2, no. 2-3 (Jan. 15, 1934), pp. 1-2.] 6. "5th Convention" --- New York, NY --- Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 1935.
The 5th Convention of the CP(O) was attended by over 80 delegates, with a number of additional fraternal delegates also in attendance. Attendance was llimited to delegates and members of the CP(O) in good standing.
Reports were delivered on "The Situation of the International Labor Movement and the Condition of the International Communist Opposition," by Jim Cork; "Problems and Outlook of the American Labor Movement," by Charles Zimmerman; and "The Present Situation and the Tasks of the CPO" by Jay Lovestone.
A resolution on the 7th Congress of the Comintern was passed and a new National Committee of 23 members elected.
[fn. "CPO Convention Closes with Unanimous Resolution," Workers Age, v. 4, no. 36 (Sept. 14, 1936), pp. 1-2.]
7. "National Conference" --- New York, NY --- Sept. 5-7, 1936.
There were no delegate details published in Workers Age regarding the Conference of the CP(O) held in New York City over the weekend of Labor Day 1936.
The conference was opened by George F. Miles and received greetings from Mooney and Billings. The keynote report was delivered by Jay Lovestone who warned that war brought with it the danger that the bourgeois democratic states would be transformed into open military or fascist dictatorships. Lovestone also noted that the National Buro of the CP(O) and of the International Communist Opposition had arrived at the position that the Comintern had broken with Marxist principles on the war question and its opportunistic defense of bourgeois democracy. Lovestone also provided a "favoroable estimation of the Soviet Constitution." A report on the labor question was delivered by Will Herberg. Herberg noted that the formation of a new labor federation by the CIO consituted a "necessary and progressive step for American workers," since the new grouping was composed of bona fide labor unions and not dual splits of existing AFL unions. Herberg also presented the CP(O) position on the 1936 Presidential campaign, in which the party lent its support to Earl Browder and the Communist ticket, arguing that the basic choice lay between the 2nd and the 3rd Internationals. According to the report in the party press: "Since the possiblility of reform of the 3rd still exists, we can support Earl Browder. This support will be completely independent of the party's campaign and will be baed on an appeal to vote for communism, and therefore for the Communist Party, which despite all deviations is still the historical representative of communism."
[fn. "The CPO Conference Decisions," Workers Age, v. 5, no. 37 (Sept. 12, 1936), pp. 1, 4.] 8. "6th National Convention" --- New York, NY --- May 29-31, 1937.
The 6th National Convention was attended by 101 delegates -- regular, alternate, and fraternal. According to a report by Will Herberg in the official organ of the ICLL, Workers Age, "35 of the delegates had taken part in the foundation of the [Communist Party (Majority Group)], nearly 8 years before," while "over 50...had joined in the last four years."
The first day of the convention was dedicated to the International situation and the Spanish revolution. The second day was devoted to the CIO and the situation in the trade union movement. On the third day, Jay Lovestone delivered a report on "The Situation in the Labor Movement and the Tasks of the CPO."
The governing National Council was greatly expanded by the 6th Convention to include 53 members. This group was to met "several times a year" in full and more frequently in two sections, the "East" and "Midwest." Day to day activities were to be conducted by an Executive Committee of 11.
The 6th National Convention ended a lengthy period of discussion about changing the name of the organization by deciding upon the moniker Independent Communist Labor League (ICLL). According to the convention resolution making this change, this name was selected as a way of reflecting 1) that the group constituted a communist organization; 2) that it was at the same time independent of the official Communist Party and the Comintern; 3) that the group had independent policies and activities in the class struggle; 4) that these activities were "aimed at increasing our influence in the trade unions and other organizations and building up the labor movement"; and 5) that "any pretension of playing the role of a party" was rejected at that time.
[fn. Will Herberg: "CPO Convention Reflects New Stages of American Labor" and "CPO is Now ICLL," Workers Age, v. 6, no 24 (June 12, 1937), pp. 1,7 & 2 , respectively.] (insert logo here) Independent Communist Labor League 8. "7th National Convention" --- New York, NY --- July 2-4, 1938.
The 7th National Convention of the Independent Communist Labor League was held July 2-4, 1938 in New York. The convention came on the heels of a June 10-11 New York District Convention, which was attended by 29 delegates representing every branch and trade group of the NY District.
The July 1938 Convention of the ICLL heard two reports: "The International Conference and Our International Perspectives," delivered by Jay Lovestone, and "The New Orientation of Our Group and Our Program of Action," delivered by Will Herberg. The Lovestone report was followed by a discussion in which 20 delegates took part and the Herberg report was the occasion for a massive 9 hour debate in which nearly 50 speakers participated.
The 7th Convention adopted a new constitution for the organization which retained its affiliation with the International Communist Opposition. "The Independent Labor League strives to develop a powerful, class-conscious labor movement in this country and internationally," the constitution declared.
The 1938 Convention was the only national gathering called under the auspices of Independent Communist Labor League -- as the convention voted to change the name of the organization yet again, this time to Independent Labor League of America (ILLA). This fourth and final name for the so-called "Lovestone organization" was the first to drop the word "Communist." An editorial in Workers Age explained, "In this country, the term 'communist,' never very popular with the masses, has become thoroughly identified with the hectic super-opportunism of the Communist Party, with its frenzied jingoism, with its sinister tactics of 'rule or ruin' in the labor movement, with its unscrupulous deception and double-delaing. The term, laden though it may be with the great traditions of the Russian Revolution, has been sullied beyond redemption, at least for the present. Our repudiation of any connection with that reactionary, anti-proletarian outfit known as the 'Communist Party' would be incomplete and largely meaningless did we retain anything in our name that could possibly link us with it."
[fn. "Hail the ILLA!" [Editorial] and " Herberg: "Our Convention," Workers Age, v. 7, no 29 (July 16, 1938), pp.2 & 1, 6 , respectively.]
(insert logo here) Independent Labor League of America 9. "8th National Convention" --- New York, NY --- Sept. 2-4, 1939.
The 8th Convention opened the day after war was declared in Europe, in conjunction with the Labor Day Weekend. Consequently the gathering dealt extensively with the international situation. Reports were delivered by Jay Lovestone and Marceau Privert of the PSOP. Lillian Symes of the Socialist Party of the United States also addressed the gathering. After extensive discussion, a resolution on "Socialist Unity and United Action" was unanimously adopted.
The convention then heard the appeal entitled: "Keep America Out of War! Uninte for Peace, Freedom and Socialism!" which was prepared by its resolutions committee. This appeal declared that "the seeds sown by the last war and its brutal imperialist peace have begun to bear their new fruit.... in the name of all the mass of mankind in all lands of the earth we declare: THIS IS NOT OUR WAR!" The appeal was adopted enthusiastically by the convention.
The evening of the second day, the convention moved on to a discussion of the labor situation, presented in a report deliivered by Will Herberg.
[fn. Workers Age, v. 8, no 37 (Sept. 16, 1939), passim.] 10. 9th National Convention --- New York, NY --- Dec. 28-29, 1940.
The 9th and final National Convention of the Independent Labor League of America dealt with two issues: the position of the ILLA on the war and the future of the organization itself. Two reports were delivered on the war, a majority report delivered by Will Herberg and a minority report delivered by Jim Cork. Twenty delegates took part in the debate which followed, with the final vote upholding the anti-war majority position by 22 to 2, with one abstention. The Resolution declared that "the present war is an imperialistic war in that it was precipitated as the clash of two gigantic imperialistic coalitions... Yet it does make a very real difference who wins the war in terms of immediate prospects for democratic and labor forces throughout the world.... The victory of one or the other side cannot reverse the fundamental trend of the decay of capitalism, but it can accelerate or retard the tendency for this trend of decay to manifest itself in the fascist form. And this is of decisive importance to the forces of democracy and labor."
The question of the future of the ILLA was the subject of a report by Jay Lovestone, "who described the new situation created by events of recent years, especially the past year of war, and called attention to the utter failure of the various socialist and radical groups in the country to understand the new situation and grasp the problems emerging from it." The delegates thereupon voted to dissolve the organization, ending its 11 year life.
The final 2 page issue of Workers Age was published dated Jan. 23, 1941.
[fn. "Resolution on War Policy" and "ILLA Convvention Decides to Dissolve Organization," Workers Age, v. 9, no 42 (Jan. 25, 1941), pg. 1.]