"Platform of the Socialistic Labor Party of North America: Adopted at the 5th National Convention of the SLP, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 5-8, 1885." The program of the SLP, which states that given the endemic transgressions resulting from capitalist production, socialism is essential for the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Includes a list of "Demands for the Immediate Amelioration of the Condition of the Working People," both social and political. Among these demands is one for the abolitiion of the institutions of President, Vice-President, and Senate and the substitution of an "Executive Board" selected by and serving at the pleasure of a unicameral House of Representatives. "And to realize our demands, we strive by all proper means to gain control of the political power," the platform notes.
"Constitution of the Socialistic Labor Party: Adopted at the 5th National Convention of the SLP, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 5-8, 1885." Organizational regulations of the SLP, which bases the structure of the organization around the parallel institutions of a nine member National Executive Committee in one Section (which itself selects Secretaries for domestic and international affairs, Financial and Recording Secretaries, and two auditors) and a nine member Board of Supervisors in another Section, with tasks of supervision of the NEC and handling of appeals of the decisions of that and lower bodies. Of note is the lack of a National Executive Secretary under this particular variant of the SLP's conception of dual power.
"Socialism and Anarchism: Antagonistic Opposites." Text of a pamphlet published in English in New York by the National Executive Committee of the Socialistic Labor Party differentiating Marxian Social Democracy from the Anarchist movement. Anarchism was characterized as a utopian antipode of Marxism founded upon the notion of extreme individualism; Social Democracy portrayed as a byproduct of the scientific study of the evolution of the family into the tribe into the modern exploitative state. This modern capitalist state was said to be inevitably proceeding towards its own doom in the form of ever-worsening financial crises and the growing immiseration of the dispossessed majority. It was Capitalism and its unregulated production and inequitable distribution that was anarchic, not Socialism, this pamphlet charged. While there was little hope for an entirely peaceful renewal of society under collectivism, "that war must be forced upon us" and the change might well be brought about "without very violent and bloody convulsions" in a democratic society with freedoms of speech, press, assembly, organization, and uniiversal suffrage assured. "...We shall be revolutionists only when forced into being such by legislation and persecution withholding from us the means of a peaceable propaganda," it was asserted.
"The Socialistic Labor Party in 1886," by Edward Bibbins Aveling and his wife Eleanor Marx Aveling. This snippet was first published in 1891 as part of a book called The Working-Class Movement in America, published in London by Sonn Sonnenschein & Co., a prominent left-wing publisher. Eleanor Aveling was the daughter of Karl Marx. The speaking tour around America which she and her husband undertood proved something of a fiasco, but the pair did nevertheless get a glimps of the state of the American situation.
"Why Workman Are Unemployed? An Answer to a Burning Question," by Alexander Jonas. [March 1894] Jonas, a co-founder of the New Yorker Volkszeitung and one of the leading figures in the pre-DeLeon period of the SLP, here offers his workingman audience the reason for their misery in the then-current economic crisis -- private ownership, the parasitic profit system, and systemic underconsumption that resulted from workers being paid insufficient wages to purchase all the products which they produced. The political elite of the country -- lawyers, capitalists, and rich farmers -- had neither an understanding of the needs of labor nor a willingness to ameliorate the unemployment crisis through public works. Only a movement of the workers to unite behind the Socialist Labor Party could spur this out-of-touch elite into action, Jonas stated, "for there is no other means whereby emancipation from industrial slavery can be achieved, but political action."
relating to 1899 events
"The Disintegration of the SLP and the Establishment of the Socialist Party of America," by Morris Hillquit Section from Hillquit's History of Socialism in the United States (1903) in which he relates the story of the 1899 split in the Socialist Labor Party and the subsequent negotiations of the SLP's "Rochester faction" (so-called "Kangaroos) for unity with the Social Democratic Party of America -- two events in which Hillquit was himself a primary participant. Hillquit lists two primary factors behind the split of the SLP: the Socialist Trade and Labor Association, the umbrella association of dual unions "sprung as a surprise on the convention of 1896," which was billed as being a tool for "organization of the unorganized" but which instead "within a few years succeeded in placing the party in a position of antagonism to organized labor, as well as to all socialistic and semi-socialistic elements outside of the party organization;" secondly, an intolerant internal party regime in which the "strict disciplinarians" developed into "intolerant fanatics." " Every criticism of their policy was resented by them as an act of treachery, every dissension from their views was decried as an act of heresy, and the offenders were dealt with unmercifully. Insubordinate members were expelled by scores, and recalcitrant 'sections' were suspended with little ceremony," according to Hillquit. Hillquit also provides the best extant memoir of the negotiations between the insurgent SLP Right with which he was associated and the Social Democratic Party -- a process which resulted in a split of the SDP before eventual reunification at the founding convention of the Socialist Party of America in 1901.
"Daniel DeLeon and the 1899 Split of the SLP," by Morris Hillquit. This is a section from Morris Hillquit's 1934 memoir, Loose Leaves from a Busy Life. Hillquit, a member of the SLP from 1888, was a leader of the so-called "Kangaroos" associated with the New Yorker Volkszeitung, a group which broke with the SLP over the issues of dual unionism and the perception of a dictatorial internal regime within the SLP. This insurgent SLP Right fought a pitched battle for the name and property of the party before losing in court to party regulars loyal to Daniel DeLeon.
"The Situation in New York City." [May 1, 1899] First statement of the Socialist Labor Party's National Executive Committee to the membership of the SLP on the factional fight brewing in New York between party regulars surrounding the English weekly The People and German weekly Vorwaerts (on the one hand) and an insurgent SLP Right connected with the New Yorker Volkszeitung and its publisher, the Socialistic Cooperative Publishing Association (on the other). This conflict had its root in the SLP's turn to dual unionism in 1896 -- with related themes of party discipline and centralized control of the party press. This fight would rage throughout 1899, ending in a permanent split of the SLP. (The SLP Right would later become one of the main components of a faction of the Social Democratic Party in 1900 and subsequently of the new Socialist Party of America in 1901).
"Labor News Company: Growth of the Party's Literary Agency, and Significance Thereof," by Advisory Board, Labor News Co. [May 1, 1899] This review of the growth of the New York Labor News Co., the division of the Socialist Labor Party through which it published and sold its literature, provides an interesting view of the SLP's ideology at its organizational high water mark in 1899. Cash sales of literature had quadrupled between 1893 and 1898, statistics here indicate, with sales growth particularly strong from Aug. 1, 1898, when the Labor News Co. moved to new facilities. "But alongside of this quantitative increase there is also a qualitative improvement," the report indicates, with Blatchford's Merrie England, "with its invertebrate sentimentalism," dethroned as the SLP sales leader by DeLeon's What Means this Strike, a pamphlet with a "central idea of the class struggle" and an "uncompromising tone." Sales figures are provided for a number of other titles, including those by Marx, LaFargue, Lassalle, and Kautsky. States using the most literature from the NY Labor News Co. were said to be Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
"Proceedings of the General Committee of Section New York of the Socialist Labor Party of America, May 27, 1899." Rather terse account of the governing body of the Socialist Labor Party in New York City, which met May 27, 1899 and voted after long and heated debate 47-20 to accept a report of the NEC of the SLP harshly critical of New Yorker Volkszeitung Editor-in-Chief Schlueter for failing to lend sufficient support in the pages of that paper for the Socialist Trade & Labor Alliance and its strike actions in Allegheny, PA and New Bedford, MA. Schlueter is also criticized for failing to condemn the new phenomenon of "Haverhillism" -- the recent victory of the rival Social Democratic Party of America in Haverhill, MA, including the election of a mayor of that town. The main content of this document is the full text of the report of the NEC -- said to have been "suppressed" from the pages of the Volkszeitung. The perspective of 6 witnesses is expounded in some detail, including the lead speaker for the anti-Schlueter forces, Daniel DeLeon. The document hints that the primary issue for the SLP dissidents was the freedom to distance themselves from the unpopular "dual union," the ST&LA; for the SLP Regulars, the main issue being the ability of the party to control the content of its ostensible German-language official organ. "The press is the most important agency of the Party and the party must control its press or the press will control the Party. An association that has control of the Party press thereby has control of the Party itself, unless the association recognizes itself as subject to the control of the Party," the NEC report to the New York General Committee states.
"Ruskin Colony's Collapse: The Rise and Downfall of the Latest Utopian Scheme: Colonists Appealing for Fifteen Thousand Dollars," by Julian Pierce [May 28, 1899] Antipathy between the Socialist Party and the Socialist Labor Party had deep roots. This is a SLP perspective of the spectacular collapse of the Ruskin Cooperative Association, the utopian socialist publishing venture started in rural Tennessee by The Coming Nation publisher J.A. Wayland. Pierce outlines the development of the concept of "utopia" in the creative imagination of Thomas More in the 16th Century and notes that "the colony scheme, in its various forms, has been the heaven of the utopian." Pierce accuses Wayland of having acted in bad faith by promising to turn over his printing plant to the colony but ultimately only selling it to the group when he himself departed. The colonists published a series of false financial statements, Pierce indicates, failing to declare outstanding mortgage debts as liabilities. A number of colonists -- including editor of The Social Democrat A.S. Edwards -- are upbraided for hypocrisy by declaring the colony's finances sound in the pages of The Coming Nation while simultaneously swearing in court that the project was insolvent. "The People averred that the colony had not been started to make any experiments in Socialism, but rather that it had been started, and was being run, by a lot of clever rascals whose only object was to prey on the unwary and rope in the credulous," Pierce claims. The project was never socialist, he asserts, as the colonists were forced by outside economic circumstances to buy cheaply and sell dear like ever other profit-making concern. "Socialism is broader than a colony. It is broader than a municipality. It is broader than a state. The nation itself is the smallest unit for the proper development of the Cooperative Commonwealth; for the nation is supreme," Pierce declares.
"Correspondence Between the SLP and SCPA, May 1899." These three letters exchanged between ths National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labor Party and the Board of Directors of the Socialistic Cooperative Publishing Association detail the issues of press centralization and party discipline that were part and parcel of the 1899 SLP split. This exchange outlines the situation from the perspective of the SCPA, who answers specific complaints of the National Executive Committee with a historical overview of the relationship between the Association and its publicatons with the party.
"To the Membership of the SLP from its NEC." [June 6, 1899]. This is the Natonal Executive Committee's reply to the late May letter of the Socialistic Cooperative Publishing Association. The NEC argued that the SCPA was misrepresenting its true relationship to the party in its assertion of ownership and control over the content of The People and Vorwaerts. The May 1899 Correspondence between the SLP and the SCPA (document above) and this reply were sent to the sections and members of the party as background information along with a call for the membership to decide the issue with a vote.
"The Party Press," by A.M. Simons [June 17, 1899] Editor of the Chicago Socialist Labor Party weekly The Workers' Call Algie Simons announces the controversy which was sweeping the SLP over control of the party's official organs, The People and Vorwaerts. The apparent seizure of control by the Socialist Cooperative Publishing Society announced in the pages of The People "practically amounts to defying the party in its control of its most vital organ -- the party press," Simons states. The NEC had put forward a referendum on the matter, and all sections of the SLP were instructed to vote on the matter and pass along the result of the vote to the National Secretary by Aug. 1, 1899. Simons comes out strongly against the Insurgent Right, arguing that "Under these conditions there is but one thing to do. It is not a question of taxation or of trades unionism, but simply one of shall the party control its press or shall the national organs be at the disposal of some irresponsible and perhaps directly hostile body of persons. If the mailing lists of the party press are to be used to disseminate the opinions of individuals, then it is time they were taken from the individuals' control. This is the point under discussion and all other questions that may have previously arises are now beside the point."
"The Party Crisis: Resolution of Section Chicago Relative to the Present Party Situation -- July 18, 1899." "So far as the party organization is concerned a state of anarchy is practically in existence," declared Section Chicago SLP. Rather than make a choice between the Insurgent Right faction of the SLP which had seized the two central organs of the party press or the New York-based NEC headed by Executive Secretary Henry Kuhn, which fought the takeover tooth and nail, Section Chicago threw a pipe wrench into the faction fight by refusing to vote on the resolution of the NEC. Instead, it demanded that both factions immediately communicate to the membership three new referenda for membership vote: (1) removing the NEC from New York City; (2) selecting a new location for the NEC of the party; and (3) calling an emergency convention of the party, to be held not later than March 15, 1900. Voting was to be completed by Sept. 1, 1899, and the result transmitted to both parties in New York, the SLP Board of Appeals in Cleveland, and to The Workers' Call for publication. This action of Section Chicago ultimately did nothing to clarify the waters or to peacefully resolve the split between the Insurgent Right and the NYC Regular factions of the SLP.
"Chronological Recapitulation of the Volkszeitung Conflict." [Aug. 20, 1899] Published in the SLP official organ, The People, this is a highly tendentious blow-by-blow account of the battle between the SLP regulars loyal to Daniel DeLeon (including Henry Kuhn and Lucien Sanial, among others) and the SLP Right faction around the New Yorker Volkszeitung and its publisher, the Socialistic Cooperative Publishing Association. Interesting for its tone and useful for its provision of the critical dates in the conflict.
1896 and 1900 Constitutions of the Socialist Labor Party. Parallel texts of the 1896 and 1900 national constitutions of the SLP, illustrating organizational structure before and after the 1899 split of the SLP Right (the so-called "Kangaroos"). Useful for assessing the legality (or lack thereof) of various tactics employed by the New York-based "regular" NEC in the bitter 1899 factional struggle and the structural changes which it deemed necessary in the aftermath.
"Report of the National Executive Committee to the 10th (Regular) Convention of the SLP," by Henry Kuhn. [June 1900] The full text (37 pages, 292 k.) of the report of SLP National Secretary Henry Kuhn to the (regular) 10th Convention of the Socialist Labor Party, held in New York from June 2 to 8, 1900. Kuhn recounts the 1899 split with the SLP Right in exhaustive detail, including a state-by-state rundown of the party situation. The definitive account of the 1899 SLP split from the point of view of the SLP "regular" faction associated with the New York City NEC and the English language party organ, The People, edited by Daniel DeLeon.
"Territorial Expansion," by Lucien Sanial . Full text of a pamphlet published in 1901 by the New York Labor News Co. This is an early Marxist analysis of the phenomenon of imperialism written by one of the leading figures in the Socialist Labor Party of America. Sanial states that "the time comes when the capitalists of such a country as the United States, where this capitalistic phenomenon of a rapidly growing difference between Product and Wages is most accentuated, are confronted on all sides by an accumulation of commodities, which, ever so small as compared with the stupendous but unused forces of production at their command, challenges their power of exchange or waste.They are actually, then, 'smothering in their own grease.'" In response, Sanial notes, "they must expand abroad or burst." At first the capitalists seek only commercial expansion, Sanial states, but at a certain point "other means" are inevitably devised "to enlarge the foreign outlet" -- territorial expansion. In the United States, the growth of surplus value production had grown by an incredible rate through the implementation of new labor-saving production technology and "American capitalism has reached that point of 'suffocation by wealth,'" Sanial states.
"Italian Socialist Convention: West Hoboken, NJ -- Sept. 6-7, 1903," by Silvio Origo In September of 1903 the Federazione Socialista Italiana held its first convention in West Hoboken, NJ -- a conclave attended by 33 delegates from 8 states. The gathering marked the start of a turn of the Italian-American radical movement, built around the daily newspaper Il Proletario, away from the Socialist Labor Party and to the upstart Socialist Party of America. A resolution indicating that the Italian Federation was "on general principles with the SLP" but which made it "optional for comrades in places where there was no SLP to vote for the uncompromising candidates of the other Socialist Party" was rejected by the official delegate of the SLP as an unacceptable half-measure. In response, a new resolution was put forward, causing the Italian Federation "sever all connections and alliances with the SLP, and constitute themselves into an independent organization." This resolution was passed by a vote of 19 to 15, and disaffiliation was thus accomplished. The gathering also discussed the federation's position towards the trade unions and the cooperative movement and took steps to establish an "Immigration Bureau" designed to keep the "poor and simple Italian" new arrival to America from the clutches of "the padrone, the banker, and many other colonial sharks."
"Socialist Unity in the United States," by Charles H. Kerr [Dec. 1907] Eminent Socialist publisher Charles H. Kerr presents the recent referendum put forward by Local Redlands, California calling for the amalgamation of the Socialist Party of America with the Socialist Labor Party on the basis of industrial unionism and a party-owned press. Kerr -- himself a Marxist and a partisan of industrial unionism -- argues assertively against both of these preconditions for merger. With regards to industrial unionism, Kerr states that while California Socialists may consider it a facile matter, on the actual battlefront in the industrial east, things were not so simple. Most Socialists in industrial Chicago were members of the unions of their craft, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, Kerr states. These individuals "joined these trade unions long ago, and for the very good and very prosaic reason that they wanted better wages and depended on the unions to help get them, or perhaps found that they could not get jobs without carrying union cards. They remain inside these unions today for the most part because there are no industrial unions here in the trades in which they work. If they were to withdraw from the existing unions to join the budding organization of the Industrial Workers of the World, they would stand a very good chance of losing their jobs" and additionally be treated by their shopmates as scabs. It would be best not to mix the political and industrial questions, Kerr opines, instead putting forward the industrial union model as the only one suitable for meeting trustified industry across the bargaining table at anything approaching unity. With regard to party ownership of the press, Kerr is more negative still, noting that such a structure was traditional within the SLP and had led to a practical result which placed "the editor of The People [Daniel DeLeon], wielding the power of the National Executive Committee, in full control of the sources of information of the party membership, so that he has dominated and still dominates the opinions of the rank and file... ...I am decidedly opposed to a system placing such absolute power in the hands of any one man or small group of men." While unification of the American socialist movement would be a positive thing, in Kerr's view, the position of Local Redlands would have it "that the larger party should discard its successful methods and adopt the disastrous methods of the smaller party. I am for consolidation, but not on these terms."
"The Failure to Attain Socialist Unity," by Frank Bohn [June 1908] This article by former SLP member and current IWW activist Frank Bohn states that "unity of the Socialist movement should undoubtedly have been attained in 1901. Failure to secure the desired end by all of the then existing factions was due to a wrong position taken by some comrades, who will now pretty generally admit their error." Despite its "correct" tactical position since the convention of 1900, the Socialist Labor Party had failed to grow organizationally due to the attempt to separate its veteran revolutionary socialist membership from the rest of the movement, which was evolving towards its orientation, as well as an attempt to "draw about itself the veil of absolute sanctity," Bohn states, adding "The scientific truths at the bottom of the revolutionary upsweep were made over into the mumbled litany of a sectarian clique." Bohn states that in addition, the SLP used "wrong methods" of propaganda and organization: "Men and women who will develop into revolutionists worthwhile to the movement are sure to demand respect and decent treatment from their teachers while they are learning. This consideration the honest utopians and reformers in the movement (and all of us were such) have never received from The People, by which the work of the SLP is ever judged." In a second section of the article, Bohn relates the parable of the field, in which a "quack doctor" [DeLeon] and his servants, together with a number of energetic young men, fence themselves off from the rest of the community and stunt their own crops in the process -- the useful members of the community ultimately leaving through a hole in the fence to join the others while the "quack doctor" hides himself away in a patch of poison ivy with his retainers. "In the IWW we who uphold political action find no difficulty in working with those who do not. On the political field we industrialists can surely labor with equal success beside those who do not realize the efficiency and the ultimate revolutionary purpose of industrial unionism. For these reasons members of the IWW who favor political action should support the Socialist Party," Bohn concludes.
The Socialist Movement: Brief Outline of its Development and Differences in This Country. Text of a 1915 three cent pamphlet published by the Socialist Labor Party detailing that organization's differences with the Socialist Party of America. Five specific areas of difference are identified: Trade Union policy, Party Press Ownership, State Party Autonomy from the Center, Taxation Policy, and Immigration Policy. The SLP's vision of "industrial government" is outlined and contrasted to the program of the SPA, which is characterized as "anti-Socialist and bourgeois."
"Russian-American Feels Hand of U.S. Tsardom." [re: Boris Reinstein] [May 11, 1917] Brief and unsigned news account about the repression meted out to Boris Reinstein of the Socialist Labor Party, in March 1919 a founding delegate of the Communist International. Reinstein, a naturalized citizen since 1897 and a resident of Buffalo, NY, had sought to return to Russia for a visit following its democratic revolution of March 1917. He had duly applied for a passport. However, when he went to the post office in New York, under the pretense of getting a letter for him, Reinstein had been held up long enough for Justice Department authorities to be contacted. "After a few minutes conversation in which he was asked for his passport, he was "invited" across the street to their office, where he was relieved of other papers and asked many questions. The burdens of all of this cross-examination was as to whether he intended to do anything to help bring about a separate peace between Russia and Germany, and as to what his ideas were as to Root's acting as a member of the commission going from this country," the report indicates. Reinstein had been released, but his passport was taken by the authorities. The targeting of Reinstein so soon after American entry into the European conflict seems indicative that the Justice Department had a political intelligence apparatus well in advance of the declaration of war.
"History Repeats Itself," by Sam J. French [June 16, 1918] As was the case with the Socialist Party, the Russian Revolution exerted a strong influence upon the thinking of a certain section of the membership of the Socialist Labor Party, which sought to take a more assertive line in advancing the revolutionary Socialist cause with a view to great gains in the immediate future -- a rebellion against the perceived dogmatic conservatism of Secretary Arnold Petersen, Henry Kuhn, and others on the SLP's National Executive Committee. This article from the official organ of the SLP by a loyalist to Petersen and the NEC, casts the new inner-party opposition in the role of repeaters of the history of the 1898-99 split of the so-called "Kangaroos" from the SLP over tactical differences. French, a long-time member of Section Cook County, SLP, cites the recent battle between (NEC loyalist) Adolph S. Carm and (insurgent) Caleb Harrison as indicative of the mood. Although Carm won the balloting for Section Organizer, he was disqualified on a technicality. In the discussion around this election, Harrison is said to have sounded off against various members of the SLP's governing NEC, remarks quoted in detail in this article. French foresees the development of a situation in the SLP closely paralleled by the revolt of the so-called "Kangaroos." French says of the proto-insurgency: "They see the world in the turmoil of a great crisis; they vaguely realize the possibilities of the future; their sentimental desire to see the workers develop into a determining factor in the affairs of the immediate future prompts them to see people 'coming our way' in every group of discontented SP-ites, repentant 'wobblies,' or 'progressive radicals,' thus conjuring to their unstable minds the wonderful things that could be done if only our policy were less rigid, and we had more tolerance of variegated opinions. Hence their immature display of impatience with anything that smacks of the 'orthodoxy' of deliberate reasoning which calmly looks ahead and figures out the possible outcome of any particular line of tactics rather than impatiently rushing into what seems to be good at the moment." These tactics French likens to "piling sails on an unballasted ship" -- speedy in fair weather, but destined for disaster come the first storm.
"Cop Pictures Dodge at End of Rope, the Victim of Mob: Associate Protests Innocence of WIIU Leader Who Comes to Trial on Monday on Charge of Evading the Draft," by Philip S. Kerr [events of June 22-28, 1918] On June 22, 1918, a Socialist Labor Party activist mounted a soapbox on the corner of Mohawk and Main Streets in Buffalo, New York, where he spoke on behalf of the Workers International Industrial Union. "William Dodge, the speaker, pointed out that as long as the capitalist system continued there would be an endless struggle between the working class and the employing class. He explained the manner in which the capitalist class came into power and the methods by which they retained their power. Only by cooperating upon the political and industrial field could the workers hope to cope with the ever-growing power of capitalists." Dodge began to be heckled by a conservative in the crowd, who he parried with his words. "In a rage the skunk went up the street and, as was afterwards learned, told a couple of sailor boys whom he met that a soap-boxer was down the street criticizing the government. He advised them to beat the speaker up." This effort at inciting violence failed. Finally, a policeman showed up and yanked Dodge off the platform with the words, "Come, get out of here with that pro-German stuff." Dodge and his comrade Philip Kerr were arrested, and 2 others who protested the falsity of the arrest were held for 4 hours before being released. Kerr was ultimately released (an effort to immediately conscript him failing when he could not pass the army physical exam), but Dodge was held for purported seditious statements made to a police spy. "Dodge is entirely innocent of the charge against him, but there are forces at work that seek to weed out every active member of the labor movement," Kerr declares.
"Socialist Party Convention," by Emma Denney [events of Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 1919] This is a unique first-hand account of the pivotal 1919 Emergency National Convention of the Socialist Party, published in the pages of the official organ of the rival Socialist Labor Party. This account does not seem to have been known by Theodore Draper and it advances out understanding of the most eventful week in the history of American Socialism on the following matters: (1) Denney seems to indicate that the Chicago police responded to the scuffle between John Reed and Julius Gerber and were thereafter spontaneously used for their own ends by the Party Regular leadership, rather than through prearrangement. (2) The meeting hall was very large and included, in addition to the 200 or so delegates and potential delegates, spectators and press bringing the total to approximately 1,000. (3) Bits of flavor about the actual proceedings (which were not saved for posterity by a stenographer), including a heckling call by the Left Wing delegates for the election of the Chicago Chief of Police as Chairman of the day. (4) A protracted struggle on the floor over the presence of the police, in which the SP Regular leadership, headed by Chairman of the day Seymour Stedman, defeated all efforts to remove or formally protest the police presence. (5) The only first-hand account of the work of the Credentials Committee in its interrogation of challenged Left Wing delegates, in which Chairman Jacob Panken is said to have queried about personal information and hypothetical convention situations, during which some Left Wing challenged delegates are said to have responded to the committee's politically-driven obstructionism and badgering in an aggressive manner. (6) Prolonged discussion over the matter of setting aside the SPA constitution and electing the new NEC by the convention, despite lack of legal authority to do so. Denney also visited the conventions of the Communist Labor Party and the Communist Party of America taking place at the same time, but does not contribute appreciably to our understanding of either with her brief account.
"Raids and Riot," by Olive M. Johnson [Nov. 15, 1919] In November 1919, a major offensive was launched by the Department of Justice and various law enforcement agencies against the Russian radical movement in America centered in the Union of Russian Workers, an anarchist organization. This is a Socialist Labor Party perspective on the wave of persecution, characterized as a struggle between the "'upper' and 'lower' strata of anarchy." Editor Johnson notes that "But the crazed manifestations of anarchy, cries for 'mass action,' 'mass strike,' 'red guard armies,' 'dictatorship of the proletariat,' and the like in the 'lower' stratum are no more ominous than the purely anarchic manifestations, the utter disregard for decency, law, and order from the powers that be in government or industry and their official, semi-official, or self-appointed henchmen.... Armed with clubs, the police raiders broke into peaceful meetings.... Men and women were clubbed and their shrieks resounded through the neighborhood. Celebrations, concerts, jollifications, even a little package party, given to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the Russian Revolution, were invaded and broken up. More than a thousand people in New York City alone were dragged into the police stations only to find that there were no charges whatsoever upon which they could be held." Johnson observes that the intent of the raid did not seem to be to actually apprehend criminal anarchists but rather to deliberately "provoke anarchy than to stem the tide." Anticipating the Palmer Raids that were to take place 6 weeks later, she concludes " what the powers that rule are after is less to apprehend, punish, or deport a few really criminal anarchists, than to cause a sensation and a scare which will prepare 'public opinion' for some greater move in the future."
"The Labor Party Convention," by A.S. Carm [events of Nov. 22-24, 1919] In November of 1919, approximately 1,000 delegates representing trade unions from around the country gathered in Chicago to form the Labor Party of the United States. This is the account of the gathering from the pages of the official organ of the Socialist Labor Party. Max Hayes, former member of both the SLP and the Socialist Party, was elected permanent chairman of the gathering and delivered the keynote address. Carm indicates that many of the the delegates were members of the AF of L officialdom or past or present members of the Socialist Party of America. Outstanding figure in the organization is said to be Chicago Federation of Labor leader John Fitzpatrick, also a key figure in the effort to organize American steelworkers into an industrial union. Carm provides no evidence that anything of import was accomplished by the gathering, which from his account seems to have been dedicated largely to speeches from fraternal delegates and socializing amongst the delegates.
"Whippersnapper or Agent-Provocateur?" by Arnold Petersen [Dec. 6, 1919] Socialist Labor Party Executive Secretary Arnold Petersen unleashes a torrent of nasty ad hominem invective against Louis C. Fraina in reply to a recent article in The Communist (CPA) which had "the temerity to point the finger of reproof at the SLP." The 34 year old Petersen shamelessly plays the age card against the 27 year old "Master Fraina" calling him a "precocious lad," "little boy wonder of The Communist," a "flippant whippersnapper," "the male edition of Daisy Ashford (the girl wonder who wrote a book at 9 years of age)," the "boy wonder and Protean model," and a "silly youngster." Aside from Petersen's insipid name calling, a case is made against the Communist ideological concept of "mass action," which is characterized as an idea which "can result in nothing else than anarchy and is indeed the very essence of anarchy." The mob in the street -- at any moment but the final overthrow of capitalism -- contains within it not only unthinking workers, but also a certain percentage of agent-provocateurs, Petersen argues, the ill-conceived or insidious action of whom would provoke the crushing of the workers' movement with state violence. "The Constitution of the United States, defective as it is in other respects, possesses this redeeming feature, a feature that distinguishes it from other documents of class society: it provides for its own amendment even to the point of complete rejection," Petersen states. Noting that only the SLP "represents true revolutionary Socialism in America," Petersen cautions rank and file Communists: "Beware of the fellow who talks or suggests by innuendo force and violence. He is either an ignorant dangerous fool, or he is a scheming, and still more dangerous, agent of capitalism.... Repent in time. Repudiate your "mass action" and veiled advocacy of violence, cast out the ignorant whippersnapper and the agent-provocateur, and join the only organization that holds high the beacon light, and whose sturdy hammering of the capitalist armor has never for an instant ceased."
"Letter to Boris Reinstein in Moscow from Henry Kuhn in New York, Dec. 9, 1919." In this letter Henry Kuhn of the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labor Party attempts for a second time to make contact with Buffalo druggist Boris Reinstein, the SLP's representative to Europe who was a founding delegate of the Communist International in March 1919 despite his lack of a party mandate for any such purpose. Kuhn informs Reinstein about the strikes of coal miners, steel workers, and longshoremen in the United States as well as the split of the Socialist Party into three organizations -- "the old SP, a Communist Labor Party, and a Communist Party minus any qualifying adjective." Kuhn indicates that "the two latter formations came about largely because of rival leadership; there is little else to divide them. Their present attitude is one of leaning Bummery-ward -- a more or less open advocacy of physical force." This advocacy of force had given the state a pretext to exert force of its own, Kuhn believes, writing that "we are passing since the war (and during the war) through a period of reaction such as never experienced. The scarcely-veiled physical force attitude of the SP offshoots was water on the mill of the reactionists and relentless persecution resulted." This reaction had impacted the SLP, whose paper had lost its second class mailing privilege, many of whose members faced deportation, and whose St. Louis headquarters had been subject of a police raid. Nevertheless, the SLP was growing, particularly among its language federations, Kuhn indicates.
Letter from Arnold Petersen to N. Lenin, January 15, 1921. Text of a massive (26 page) letter from the National Secretary of the Socialist Labor Party to V.I. Ul'ianov (N. Lenin) in Russia from a copy in the Comintern archive. As might be expected, Petersen is harshly critical of all other groups in the American left -- the Socialist Party of America (reformist practitioners of a "species of fraud"), the Communist Parties ("Burlesque Bolsheviki" with a "predilection for repeating meaningless and undefined phrases because of their 'revolutionary' sound"), the IWW ("infested with police spies" and "in a state of decay"), and the AF of L ("officered by agents of the bourgeoisie"). Petersen defiantly defends the SLP's dual unionism and militant hostility against the AF of L ("there is not the slightest reason to believe that any outside influence, however powerful, is going to make the SLP throw away the fruits of its toil of a quarter of a century") as well as the use of the ballot as the main mechanism for revolutionary change ("not everything that has arisen during capitalism is a sham and a delusion"). Regardless of these differences, Petersen calls the existence of the Soviet Republic an "inspiration" and pledges that the SLP will do its utmost to bring about a revolutionary industrial republic in the United States.
The Party's Work, by Verne L. Reynolds. Text of a pamphlet written by the Socialist Labor Party's 1924 Vice Presidential candidate, published and distributed for free to the entire party membership in 1925 as a pocket guidebook to organization. Extensive discussion of how to promote speakers, to generate publication subscriptions and new party members, to delegate work within party sections, and to develop the speaking abilities of party members. Particular attention is paid to the handling of new party members -- building party discipline and keeping expectations for organizational growth reasonable without dampening the enthusiasm of the new convert.
The Workers Party vs. The Socialist Labor Party, by Joseph Brandon. Article from the Aug. 1, 1925, Weekly People that was reproduced as a five cent pamphlet. In this work Brandon contrasts the "ridiculous" principles and tactics of the Workers Party of America with the "100 percent perfect, all down the line" position of the SLP. Divergences noted by Brandon include the blind advocacy of the WPA to a Soviet-style "transition program" to socialism via the "dictatorship of the proletariat" (regarded as ahistorical and unnecessary in developed capitalist society); a refusal of the WPA to endorse new revolutionary industrial unions in favor of exclusive use of the tactic of "boring from within" existing unions (regarded as an impossible tactic that in practice meant little more than kowtowing to established labor leaders); and the WPA's celebration of general labor political success abroad from its partners in the "united front" (gains characterized as reformist and anti-revolutionary by Brandon). Finally, the Workers Party's advocacy of violence is depicted as playing right into the hands of the capitalist class, a policy advocated only by one who is "either a lunatic or a police spy."
"Beginnings of Revolutionary Political Action in the USA," by Vern Smith [Oct. 1933] A pamphlet-length historical survey of the development of the American radical movement from 19th Century utopianism to the formation of the Socialist Party of America, as published in the pages of the theoretical journal of the CPUSA. While tendentious treatments of controversial topics do creep into the work, as might be expected, the article remains useful as a brief summary of the main course of left wing political development throughout the last part of the 19th Century and first part of the 20th. Smith emphasizes the continuity between the American sections of the First International and the formation of the Socialist Labor Party, from which sprang the Socialist Party of America; from which in turn sprang the American Communist movement. Of particular interest is the rather heroic portrayal of the Chicago Anarchist movement of the 1880s -- depicted as fundamentally sound revolutionists who were pushed into the position of becoming "more and more extreme in the course of their reaction against the sickening legalism of the SLP." Also interesting is the accusation that the Socialist Labor Party took a position of national chauvinism during the Spanish-American War of 1898, ignoring the transparently obvious imperialist basis of the conflict and explicitly regurgitating the official slogan that this was a war to "Free the oppressed Cubans!"