History of the Communist Party of the United States (William Z. Foster)

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History of the Communist Party of the United States
AuthorWilliam Z. Foster
PublisherInternational Publishers
First published1952

Early American Class Struggles (1793–1848)

The history of the Communist Party of the United States is the history of the vanguard party of the American working class. It is the story and analysis of the origin, growth, and development of a working class political party of a new type, called into existence by the epoch of imperialism, the last stage of capitalism, and by the emergence of a new social system—Socialism. It is the record of a Party which through its entire existence of more than three decades has loyally fought for the best interests of the American working class and its allies—the Negro people, the toiling farmers, the city middle classes—who are the great majority of the American people. It is the life of a Party destined to lead the American working class and its allies to victory over the monopoly warmongers and fascists, to a people's democracy and socialism.

The life story of the Communist Party is also the history of Marxism for a century in the United States. The C.P.U.S.A. is the inheritor and continuer of the many American Marxist parties and organizations which preceded it during this long period. It incorporates in itself the lessons of generations of political struggle by the working class; of the world experience of the First, Second, and Third Internationals; of the writings of the great Socialist theoreticians, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin; and of the great revolutions in Russia, China, and Central and Eastern Europe. It is also the continuation and culmination of American scientific, democratic, and artistic culture, embracing and carrying forward all that is sound and constructive in the works of Franklin, Jefferson, Douglass, Lincoln, Morgan, Edison, Twain, Dreiser, and a host of American thinkers, writers, and creators.

The Party history is the record of the American class struggle, of which it is a vital part. It is the story, in general, of the growth of the working class; the abolition of slavery and emancipation of the Negro People; the building of the trade union and farmer movements; the numberless strikes and political struggles of the toiling masses; and the growing political alliance of workers, Negroes, farmers, and intellectuals. The Party is the crystallization of the best in all these rich democratic and revolutionary traditions of the people; it is the embodiment of the toilers' aspirations for freedom and a better life.

The story of the Communist Party is also necessarily the history, in outline, of American capitalism. It is the account and analysis of the revolutionary liberation from British domination and establishment of the Republic, the expansion of the national frontiers, the development of industry and agriculture, the armed overthrow of the southern slavocracy, the recurring economic crises, the brutal exploitation of the workers, the poles of wealth and poverty, the growth of monopoly and development of imperialism, the savage robbery of the colonial peoples, the great world wars, the barbarities of fascism, the bid of American imperialism for world domination, the fight of the people for world peace, the general crisis of capitalism, and the development of the world class struggle, under expanding Marxist-Leninist leadership, toward socialism.

Jeffersonian Democracy

The American Revolution of 1776, which Lenin called one of the "great, really liberating, really revolutionary wars,"1 began the history of the modern capitalist United States. It was fought by a coalition of merchants, planters, small farmers, and white and Negro toilers. It was led chiefly by the merchant capitalists, with the democratic masses doing the decisive fighting. The Revolution, by establishing American national independence, shattered the restrictions placed upon the colonial productive forces by England; it freed the national market and opened the way for a speedy growth of trade and industry; it at least partially broke down the feudal system of land tenure; and it brought limited political rights to the small farmers and also to the workers, who were mostly artisans, but it did not destroy Negro chattel slavery. And for the embattled Indian peoples the Revolution produced only a still more vigorous effort to strip them of their lands and to destroy them.

The Revolution also had far-reaching international repercussions. It helped inspire the people of France to get rid of their feudal tyrants; it stimulated the peoples of Latin America to free themselves from the yoke of Spain and Portugal; and it was an energizing force in the world wherever the bourgeoisie, supported by the democratic masses, were fighting against feudalism. The Revolution was helped to success by the assistance given the rebelling colonies by France, Spain, and Holland, as well as by revolutionary struggles taking place currently in Ireland and England.

The Revolution was fought under the broad generalizations of the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, which called for national independence and freedom for all men. It declared the right of revolution and the dominance of the secular over the religious in government. But these principles meant very different things to the several classes that carried through the Revolution. To the merchants they signified their rise to dominant power and an unrestricted opportunity to exploit the rest of the population. To the planters they implied the continuation and extension of their slave system. To the farmers they meant free access to the broad public lands. To the workers they promised universal suffrage, more democratic liberties, and a greater share in the wealth of the new land. And to the oppressed Negroes they brought a new hope of freedom from the misery and sufferings of chattel bondage.

The Constitution, as originally formulated in 1787, and as adopted in the face of powerful opposition, consisted primarily of the rules and relationships agreed upon by the ruling class for the management of the society which they controlled. The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the Constitution, providing for freedom of speech, press, and assembly, religious liberty, trial by jury, and other popular democratic liberties, was written into the Constitution in 1791 under heavy mass pressure.2

Great as were the accomplishments of the Revolution, it nevertheless left unsolved many bourgeois-democratic tasks. These unfinished tasks constituted a serious hindrance to the nation's fullest development. The struggle to solve these questions in a progressive direction made up the main content of United States history for the next three-quarters of a century. Among the more basic of these tasks, were the abolition of slavery, the opening up of the broad western lands to settlement, and the deepening and extension of the democratic rights of the people. The main post-revolutionary fight of the toiling masses, in the face of fierce reactionary opposition, was aimed chiefly at preserving and extending their democratic rights won in the Revolution.

It was a great post-revolutionary political rally of these democratic forces that brought Jefferson to the presidency in 1800. Coming to power on a program of wresting the government from the hands of the privileged few, Jefferson sought to create a democracy based primarily upon the small farmers, but excluding the Negroes. From this fact many have drawn the erroneous conclusion that his policies were a brake on American industrial development. Actually, however, by the abolition of slavery in the North, the opening up of public lands, the battle against British "dumping" in America, and the extension of the popular franchise, all during Jefferson's period, the growth of the country's economy was greatly facilitated.

The extraordinary rapidity of the United States' economic advance in the decades following the victorious revolution was to be ascribed to a combination of several favorable factors, including the presence of vast natural resources, the relative absence of feudal economic and political remnants, the shortage of labor power, the constant flow of immigrants, and the tremendous extent of territory under one government. Another, most decisive factor was the immense stretch of new land awaiting capitalist development, the opening up of which played a vital part for decades in the economic and political growth of the country. It absorbed a vast amount of capital; it largely shaped the workers' ideology and also the progress and forms of the labor movement; and it was a main bone of contention between the rival, struggling classes of industrialists and planters. As Lenin, a close student of American agriculture, noted, "That peculiar feature of the United States...the availability of unoccupied free land" explains "the extremely wide and rapid development of capitalism in the United States."3

The Beginnings of the Trade Union Movement

The swiftness of the industrial growth of the United States was matched by that of the working class. In pre-revolutionary days the stable part of the free working class was largely made up of skilled craftsmen—ship-builders, building mechanics, tailors, shoemakers, bakers, and so on—who inherited much of the European guild system, with its relations of masters and journeymen. The shift of the center of production from home to mill, however, and the development of the factory system, especially after the war of 1812, revolutionized the status of American labor. The development of the national market enabled the budding capitalists, with their expanding factories and large crews of workers, soon to replace the master craftsmen employing only a few mechanics at the bench. The new capitalists resorted to the most ruthless exploitation of the workers, which included huge numbers of women and children, and they displaced skilled labor by machinery.

The conditions of the workers in this period were abominable. The hours of labor extended from sun-up to sun-down—13 to 16 hours per day. Wages were often no more than a dollar a day for men, and far less for women and children. In the shops the workers were subjected to the worst boss tyranny. Health conditions were unspeakable, and safety precautions totally absent. The workers also had no protection whatever against the hazards of unemployment, accidents, sickness, and old age. When they could not pay their way, they were thrown into debtors' prisons—as late as 1833 there were 75,000 workers in these monstrous jails. Irish immigrants and free Negro workers were employed building turnpikes and canals, and they died like flies in the swamps.

The workers were faced with the alternatives of going west, of submitting to the harsh conditions of this work, or of fighting back. Inasmuch as the great bulk could not afford the expense of going west and taking up land, they stood and fought the exploiters. Mostly their struggles, at first, were in the shape of blind, spontaneous strikes. But soon they learned, particularly the skilled workers, that in order to fight effectively they needed organization. The trade union movement began to take shape, and strikes multiplied. But the employers struck back viciously, using the old English common law, which branded as "conspiracies" all "combinations" (organizations) to improve wages and other conditions of work.

Before the 1819 economic crisis there were already many unions in various trades and cities. During that industrial crash these early unions collapsed, but no sooner had industrial conditions begun to improve again when the workers, with ever-greater energy and clearer understanding, resumed the building of their unions. The next decade saw very important strikes of the new-born labor movement.

The unions, in this early period, began to extend into many new occupations and to combine into city-wide federations. By 1836 such union centers existed in 13 of the major seaboard cities. The unskilled were also being increasingly drawn into the movement. A high point in the rising labor movement was reached in 1833-37, when 173 strikes were recorded—chiefly for better wages and the shorter workday. During these years, in March 1834, the National Trades Union, the workers' first attempt at a general labor federation, was organized. It lasted three years.4

The panic of 1837 again wiped out most of the trade unions, yet the great struggles of the 20's and 30's had produced lasting results. In addition to the 10-hour day gains, imprisonment for debt was abolished, a mechanics' lien law passed, a common school system set up in the North, and property qualifications for voting as yet only by whites in the North "were practically eliminated.

Labor's First Steps toward Independent Political Action

The workers of young America, oppressed by ruthless exploiters, had been quick to learn the value of trade unionism, and the most advanced among them also saw early the necessity for political action on class lines. They realized that it was not enough that they had the voting franchise; they had to organize to use it effectively.

Bourgeois historians have coined the theory that the American workers historically have resorted alternately to economic or political action, as they lost faith in one form and turned to the other. The facts show, however, as indicated by these early American experiences, that the same working class upsurge that produced great economic struggles, also found its expression in various forms of political activity. Thus, the city of Philadelphia, the first to build a labor union, to organize a central labor body, and to call a general strike, was also the starting place for the first labor party in the United States.

The call for a political party issued by the Philadelphia labor unions in 1828 declared that "The mechanics and working men of the city and county of Philadelphia are determined to take the management of their own interests, as a class, in their own immediate keeping."5 The New York Workingmen's Party was launched a year later, and during the years 1828-34, some 61 local labor parties were established, with 50 labor newspapers. These local parties, despite ferocious attacks from the employers, made many gains such as the 10-hour day on public works, the free public schools, and limitations on the labor of women and children. The workers dovetailed this political struggle with the economic battles of the trade unions. But within a few years the local parties had passed out of existence.6

Although these local labor parties did not develop into a permanent national organization, they nevertheless prepared the ground for the next phase of the political struggles on a national scale—the farmer-labor alliance that formed around Andrew Jackson during the 1830's. Labor, although still weak, was particularly attracted to support Jackson, the frontiersman president, because of his vigorous attacks upon the United States Bank, the darling project of the budding capitalists of the time. This movement in support of Jackson was the beginning of labor's organized functioning in the support of bourgeois political parties, a policy which was to become of decisive importance in later decades. The disappearance of the early labor-party movement was to be ascribed to various reasons. The local parties were torn by internal dissension, cultivated by outside politicians, who sought either to lead them back to the bourgeois parties or else to destroy them. They were undermined also by political confusion, engendered by various schemes and panaceas of Utopian reformers. They were subjected, too, to extreme attacks from the reactionaries on moral and religious grounds. Besides, the major bourgeois parties, largely for purposes of demagogy, took over much of their program. Underlying all these weaknesses, however, was the basic fact that the continued existence of the frontier made possible the persistence of Jeffersonian illusions and prejudices which prevented the development of a stable working class and the establishment of an independent class political movement.

Ideology of the Early Labor Movement

The American labor movement entered the industrial era with a Jeffersonian ideology inherited from the agrarian and colonial past. The mass of workers who took part in the struggles of the 1820's and 30's of the immature working class, could not and did not raise the question of the overthrow of the existing social order. Their fight, instead, was directed toward realizing the promises of 1776, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. They held tenaciously to the concept of a government representing the interests of all the people. They saw the solution of their problems, not in changing the existing order, but in improving and democratizing it.

The workers predominantly held the Jeffersonian theory of democracy. This was largely the adaptation to American conditions of John Locke's conceptions of "natural rights" and "equalitarianism." These ideas, seized upon by the revolutionary bourgeoisie in its struggle against feudalism, had become the dominant ideology of the Revolution and as such were absorbed by the workers. The great influence of the Declaration of Independence upon working class thinking during the pre-Civil War decades was evidenced by the repetition of its language and form in many union constitutions and statements.

But the bitter capitalist exploitation soon began to give a different class content to the outlook of the working class. The workers' demand for equality was no longer limited to formal equality at the ballot box; it was also directed against economic inequality and exploitation. Crude but penetrating attacks upon the capitalist system began to be formulated in proletarian circles.

"We are prepared to maintain," said the Mechanics' Free Press of Philadelphia, "that all who toil have a natural and inalienable right to reap the fruits of their own industry, and that they who labor...are the authors of every comfort, convenience, and luxury."7 The Workingmen's Political Association of Penn Township, Pennsylvania, declared that "There appears to exist two distinct classes, rich and poor, the oppressors and the oppressed, those that live by their own labor and those that live by the labor of others."8 The Workingmen's Advocate of New York demanded a revolution which would leave behind it no trace of the government responsible for the workers' hardships.9 And Thomas Skidmore, one of the most famous radicals of the times, proposed a co-operative society which would "compel all men, without exception, to labor as much as others must labor for the same amount of enjoyment, or in default thereof, to be deprived of such enjoyment altogether."10 The land reform theory of George Henry Evans fell under this general head. Many poets and writers—Thoreau, Whittier, Emerson, and others—expressed similar radical ideas.

These anti-capitalist expressions represented a groping of the masses for a program of working class emancipation. But they lacked a scientific foundation and a firm set of working principles. It was the historical role of Marxism to give the needed clarity and purpose to this early proletarian theoretical revolt and to raise it to the level of scientific socialism.

Utopian Socialism

The crisis of 1837, and the twelve long years of depression that followed it, profoundly influenced the thinking of labor and the progressive intellectuals. In their search for a way out of the bitter evils which encompassed them, many advanced beyond the limits of capitalism proper. In the face of the reduced standards of the workers, the sufferings of the unemployed, and the general paralysis of industry, they concluded that what was needed was a new social system which would end the exploitation and oppression of the many by the few. Lacking a scientific analysis of the laws of capitalist society, however, they had no recourse but to devise or support various ingeniously concocted plans for newsocial orders. Thus was initiated an era of Utopian experiments.

While these Utopian schemes originated mainly in Europe, they were most extensively developed in the United States. At least 200 such projects were undertaken within a few years. American soil was particularly inviting for them. There was ample land to be had cheaply; the people were burdened with few feudal political restrictions; and the masses, near in experience to the great Revolution, were readily inclined to try social change and experimentation.

Indeed, America, long before this time, had already had considerable experience with co-operative regimes. The Indian tribes all over the western hemisphere had been organized on a primitive communal basis.11 Also the colonies in both Virginia and Massachusetts, during their early critical years, practiced some sharing in common of the general production.12 And from 1776 on numerous European religious societies, on a primitive communal basis—Shakers, Rappites, Zoarites, Ebenezers, Bethel-ites, Perfectionists, etc.—took root in the United States and expanded widely. But the three Utopian schemes most important in the pre-Civil War era were those of Robert Owen, a Scotsman, and Charles Fourier and Etienne Cabet, both Frenchmen.13

Owen, a humanitarian industrialist, planning to found a society in which all the workers would own the means of production and where there would be no exploitation, came to the United States in 1824 and established co-operative colonies in New Harmony, Indiana, and also in a few other places. At first these enterprises attracted wide attention, but by 1828 they had all perished. Owen was invited to speak to Congress. In 1845 he called an international Socialist convention in New York, but it amounted to very little.

The Fourierist Utopians made even more of a stir than the Owenites. Differing from Owen, who abolished private property rights, Fourier preserved individual ownership. Unlike Owen also, Fourier considered industry an unmitigated evil and relied upon an agrarian, handicraft economy. The Fourierists, with the support of such prominent figures Albert Brisbane, Horace Greeley, James Russell Lowell, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, and Henry Thoreau, during the 1840's set up some forty "Phalanxes," or colonies. The most famous of these was Brook Farm, near Boston. By 1850, however, the movement had virtually disappeared. The Cabet, or Icarian movement established its first agrarian colony Texas, in 1848. Various others were soon set up in Missouri and Iowa.

Some of these co-operative ventures lingered on in skeleton form until as late as the 1890's. During this same general period Wilhelm Weitling, a German immigrant worker, tried, with but little success, to establish a utopian-conceived labor exchange bank, from which the workers would receive certificates to the full value of their product. It was Weitling's idea that this scheme would gradually replace capitalist production; but it soon went the way of all such enterprises.

In the 1840's and 1850's a big movement also developed toward producers' and consumers' co-operatives, which the numerous Utopians advanced as a social cure-all. Many of the great crop of land reformers of the period were also filled with grandiose conceptions of fundamental social change, largely of a Utopian character. Even as late as the 1890's traces of this agrarian utopianism were still to be observed, as for example, in the Debs colonization schemes (see page 94).

The many Utopian colonies and movements which sprang up in the pre-Civil War period eventually died out because they were not based upon the realities of material conditions or upon an understanding of society and its laws of growth and decay. They were constructed according to arbitrary plans, emanating from wishful thinking. These little island colonies were artificial creations and could not survive in the midst of the broad capitalist sea, which inevitably engulfed them one and all. They proved, among other things, that it is impossible "to build the new society within the shell of the old." The more definitely Utopian schemes, with the exception of Weitling's, never greatly attracted the workers, who turned to more practical projects, such as trade unionism and political action. They were mostly anti-slavery, but they had few Negro members. The supporters of the various Utopias consisted chiefly of white farmers and city middle class elements.

The great European Utopian leaders, with their artificially constructed social regimes and ignorance of the leading role of the workers, could not lay the foundations of a solid Socialist movement. Nevertheless, they performed a very useful service for the workers by their sharp condemnations of capitalist exploitation. As Marx and Engels pointed out, they were definitely the forerunners of scientific socialism. And as Engels said: "German theoretical socialism will never forget that it rests upon the shoulders of St. Simon, Fourier, and Owen, the three who, in spite of their fantastic notions and utopianism, belonged to the most significant heads of all time, and whose genius anticipated numerous things, the correctness of which can now be proved in a scientific way."

This, briefly, was the course of the class struggle in this country before the rise of Marxism. The workers were with increasing vigor combating their exploiters economically, politically, and ideologically, but in this fight, because of the youth of capitalism, the working class still lacked the class consciousness, energizing force, and clear direction, which finally was to manifest itself in the Communist Party.

Pioneer Marxists in the United States (1848–1860)

The foundation of scientific socialism dates from the publication of The Communist Manifesto in 1848 by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.1 These two great scientists were the first to explain that socialism, contrary to the ideas of the Utopians, was not the invention of dreamers, but the inevitable outcome of the workings of modern capitalist society. They discovered the laws of capitalist development and proved that the growth of capitalist society, with the class struggle going on within it, must inevitably lead to the downfall of capitalism, to the victory of the working class, to the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism. They taught that the proletariat was the grave digger of capitalism and that its victory would rid humanity of all exploitation.

The doctrines of scientific socialism were introduced into the United States during the decade preceding the Civil War. The objective conditions had become ripe for them. Industry was growing rapidly and despite the restrictive power of the slavocracy, American capitalism had already reached fourth place among the industrial nations of the world. During this decade the volume of manufactured goods doubled, railroad mileage increased from 9,000 to 31,000, annual coal production (50,000 tons in the 1830's) reached 14 million in 1850, and a tremendous advance took place in the concentration and centralization of capital. The discovery of gold in California had given a big stimulus to general capitalist development. The working class had also become numerically stronger, and class relations were sharpening. Immigrants, mostly skilled workers and farm hands, were pouring into the country at double the rate of the preceding decade, and already about one-third of the population was depending upon manufacturing for its livelihood.

Marxism took root in the United States after the working class had already experienced two deep economic crises. The workers had long undergone severe exploitation at the hands of the employers, they had built many trade unions and local labor parties, waged innumerable hard-fought strikes and political campaigns, and won various important concessions in sharp class struggle. As we have seen, the most developed thinkers among them had already begun to attack the capitalist system as such and to seek a way of escape from its evils. The acceptance of Marxist socialism by these advanced sections of the working class was, therefore, the logical climax of the whole course of social development in the United States since the Revolutionary War. It was further stimulated by the current revolutionary events in Europe—the Chartist movement in England and the revolutionary struggles in France, Germany, and Ireland—with all of which the awakening American working class felt a vivid and direct kinship.

The traditional charge by employers that Marxist socialism, because it originated in Europe, is therefore alien to the United States, is typically stupid. As well assert the same of the alphabet, the multiplication table, the law of gravity, and a host of other scientific principles and discoveries, all of which also developed outside of the United States. "Marxism is no more alien to the United States because of the historically conditioned German origin of its founders, or the Russian origin of Lenin and Stalin, than is the American Declaration of Independence because of the British origin of John Locke, and the French origin of the Encyclopedists.2

German Marxist Immigrants

Marxist thought, based on the generalized experiences of the toiling masses of all countries and worked into a science on European soil, was transmitted to the American working class by the stream of political immigrants, mainly German, who came to this country following the defeat of the European revolutions of 1848. During the 1830's about 2,000 German immigrants arrived yearly, but after 1848 this stream became a torrent of over 200,000 annually throughout the 1850's. There were also large numbers of Irish immigrants, and Italian and French as well (the latter particularly after the Franco-Prussian war and the defeat of the Commune in 1871); but it was the Germans who remained the most decisive force in developing Marxist thought in the United States throughout most of the rest of the nineteenth century. They were the earliest forerunners of the modern Communist Party.

The Germans settled chiefly in such main industrial centers as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati. Many entered industry as skilled mechanics and soon began to exert a strong influence on the development of the trade union movement. While most of them considered themselves Socialists and revolutionaries, they brought along with them a wide variety of political ideas, and they reflected the many ideological divisions that existed in their homeland. Their primary preoccupation was with events in the old country, but many of the Germans, in the early 1840's, began to be drawn into American political affairs.

In 1845 a group of Germans formed the Social Reform Association, as part of the National Reform Association. The principal figure in this movement was Hermann Kriege, once a co-worker with Marx, who later swallowed the doctrines of George Henry Evans, a labor editor who had become a land reformer. Kriege was probably the first radical exponent of "American exceptionalism." In substance he was already generating the notion that there existed in the United States a capitalist system fundamentally different from that of Europe, and he developed the theory that because of the great mass of free land, the American workers need not follow the revolutionary course of their European brothers. He declared that if the 1,400,000,000 acres of United States lands were distributed to the poor, "an end will be put to poverty in America at one stroke."3 Marx castigated Kriege for this opportunism and riddled his agrarian illusions.

Another important figure among the early circles of German immigrant workers was Wilhelm Weitling. After an earlier visit, he returned to the United States in 1849. Weitling was one of the first revolutionary leaders to come from the ranks of the workers. He took a position midway between Utopian and scientific socialism. His plan for a "labor exchange bank," previously indicated, attracted much working class support, and for the next decade it proved to be a confusing element in the developing Marxist movement.

Weydemeyer, Pioneer of American Socialism

Joseph Weydemeyer, born in Germany, an artillery officer who had participated in the Revolution of 1848, was the best-informed Marxist early to immigrate to the United States.4 More than any other, he contributed toward laying the foundations of scientific socialism in the new world. Arriving in 1851, Weydemeyer stood out as the leader among the American Marxists, which then included such men as F. A. Sorge, Adolph Douai, August Willich, Robert Rosa, Fritz Jacobi, and Siegfried Meyer, most of whom had known and worked with Marx personally in Germany. Sorge, like Weydemeyer, was a well-developed Marxist. Marx and Engels long carried on a voluminous correspondence with him.5

Weydemeyer and his co-Marxists found the Socialist movement in the United States in confusion. There were the disintegrating effects of Weitling's labor exchange bank scheme; Kriege was advocating his agrarian panacea; Willich and Gottfried Kinkel were seeking to transform the movement simply into a campaign to advance the revolution in Germany; and there were various groups of Utopians and anarchists.

Of all the groupings only the German Sports Society, the Turnverein, organized in 1850, had a relatively sound program. Founded upon advanced socialist ideas, this body opposed conspiratorial groups and proposed instead a broad democratic movement rooted among the masses. While these Marxists supported the free soil and other reform movements, they warned that these were not the path to socialism and they emphasized that the emancipation of the working class could only be achieved in struggle led by the proletariat against the capitalist class.

Weydemeyer, a close co-worker of Marx and Engels and well-grounded in Marxist theory, was singularly qualified to undertake the task of clarifying the ideology of the budding American Socialist movement. He was an extremely capable and energetic organizer, and he had spent three years in underground work in Germany, where in the face of the fierce Prussian terror, he had continued to spread the works of Marx and Engels. A gifted polemist, Weydemeyer ably defended Marxism against many distortions. He possessed the ability to apply Marxist principles to American conditions. He avoided the errors of the Utopians, of the radical agrarians, and also those of the "exceptionalists," who believed that the workings of American bourgeois democracy on the land question would solve the problems of the working class. Marx considered Weydemeyer as "one of our best men," and had agreed to his going to the United States only because of the growing importance of America in the world labor movement.

The Proletarian League

The Proletarian League, founded in New York in June 1852, was the first definitely Marxist organization on American soil. It was composed of seventeen of the most advanced Marxists in New York City, at the initiative of Weydemeyer and Sorge. The rising tide of labor struggle and organization, and the rapidly developing strike movement in the United States, together with the foundation by Marx of the German Workers Society in Europe, gave the immediate impetus to the formation of the pioneer Proletarian League.

In starting the League, and in the ensuing work of that organization, the Marxists, then called Communists, based themselves upon the newly-published Communist Manifesto. This historic document, which still serves as a guide for the world's Socialist movement, furnished a clear and basic program for the young and still very weak American movement. Marx and Engels, who always paid very close attention to developments in the United States, were prompt in seeing to it that copies of the great Manifesto were sent to Weydemeyer and his co-workers.

The Communist Manifesto, among its many fundamental political lessons, teaches that "the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself";6 that "every class struggle is a political struggle";7 that the building of a political party of the most advanced section of the workers is fundamental to the success of the Socialist movement; that the proletariat, in its struggles, must make alliances with other progressive forces in society; that the Marxists have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole; that Communists must fight for the immediate as well as the ultimate interests of the working class; and that socialism can be established only through the abolition of the capitalist system.

Die Revolution, the first American Marxist paper, founded in 1852 and edited by Weydemeyer, popularized this basic program. In the first of the only two issues of the paper there appeared, years before it was published in Europe, Marx's classic historical work, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. During the following year this original Marxist journal was succeeded by another, Die Reform, also with Weydemeyer as its guiding spirit. This paper, finally a daily, became the leading labor journal in the United States.

As consistent Marxists, the League members did not live in an ivory tower. Together with centering major attention upon theoretical clarification, they also, in the spirit of The Communist Manifesto, participated actively in the struggles of the working class. In all this work Sorge played a role second only to that of Weydemeyer, and thenceforth, for over a generation, he was to be a tower of strength in the political movements of the American working class.

In line with their general policy of supporting the workers' struggle, the Marxists, small though they were in number, issued in March 1853 a call through the trade unions of German-speaking workers for the formation of one large workers' union. Consequently, over 800 workers gathered in Mechanics' Hall, New York, and launched the American Labor Union. The platform of this organization, avoiding the utopian-ism of Weitling and the "ultra-revolutionary fantasies" of Willich and Kinkel, adopted a short program of immediate demands. This first American Marxist program of immediate demands had the weakness of not being specific and also of ignoring the basic issue of slavery. The organization was composed almost exclusively of German workers. It was a sort of labor party, with affiliated trade unions and ward branches. Its life span was short.

While stressing the united political action of all workers, the American Labor Union directed its energies to the organization of new workers in each craft. Its program called for the immediate naturalization of all immigrants, passage of federal labor laws, removal of burdensome taxes, and the limitation of the working day to 10 hours. It gave active support to the many strikes of the period. And upon its initiative, representatives of 40 trades with 2,000 members launched the General Trade Union of New York City.

The impact of these movements made itself felt among the English-speaking workers in other cities. Through the efforts of two leading Marxists, Sam Briggs and Adolph Cluss, the Workingmen's National Association was set up in the city of Washington in April 1853. The organization, however, died during the same year. The American Labor Union was reorganized in 1857 as the General Workers' League, but it, too, died out by 1860.8

Formation of the Communist Club

The severe economic crisis that struck the country in the autumn of 1857 sharply changed the character of the workers' struggles. Although it hit the native workers hard, causing them much suffering, it was the newly-arrived immigrants who felt the brunt of the depression. The major struggles of the period were waged by the unemployed, and they developed into battles of unprecedented scope and sharpness. In the forefront of these struggles stood the Marxists who, though few in number, were able to give the workers clear-sighted and militant leadership. Big demonstrations of the unemployed, led by the Communists, took place in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark, and here. They demanded relief and denounced the ruling class and its system that created starvation amid plenty. So outstanding was the role of the Marxists in this period that all important struggles of the time were labeled "Communist revolts" and attempts at revolution.

To better co-ordinate their activities the Marxists reorganized their forces, forming the Communist Club in New York on October 25, 1858. Friedrich Kamm was elected chairman and Fritz Jacobi secretary, although Sorge was the real leader of the organization. A Communist Club resolution proclaimed as the aims of the Communists: "We recognize no distinction as to nationality or race, caste, or status, color, or sex; our goal is but reconciliation of all human interests, freedom, and happiness for mankind, and the realization and unification of a world republic."9

The Communist Club of New York, exercising national leadership, began to establish communication with similar but smaller groups springing up in other major centers, notably Chicago, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati. With many leading Marxists, including Weydemeyer, who had moved to the Middle West, the center of the movement also soon shifted to Chicago, where the Arbeiter Verein (Workers' Club) was coming forward as the most effective socialist organization of the period.

Developments abroad and the growing movement for international solidarity occupied much of the attention of the Marxists in the United States. The formation of an international committee in London in 1856 to commemorate the great French revolution, stimulated these trends. Consequently, an American Central Committee of the International Association was set up, with contacts in many cities. One of its first and most successful undertakings was a mass meeting to commemorate the historic June days of the 1848 Revolution in France. Another event, in April 1858, was a big torchlight parade in honor of Felice Orsini, the Italian patriot who had attempted the assassination of Napoleon III. All of these activities brought the German Marxists into contact with other working class forces, and consequently helped to prepare the groundwork for the International Workingmen's Association, founded in 1864 and later known as the First International.

Laying the Theoretical Foundations of Marxism in the United States

The early Marxists were confronted with the task of developing the ideological, tactical, and organizational bases for Marxism in America. As yet, however, this movement was not united ideologically, nor was it organized into a national party. This meant that first of all the Marxists themselves had to master the teachings of Marx and Engels. This implied, furthermore, acquiring the ability to apply the principles of Marxism to the specific conditions in this country. They also had to lay the foundations of a national Marxist political party. All this called for the most persistent struggle to free the minds of the workers from the many Jeffersonian, bourgeois agrarian illusions which persisted with particular stubbornness among them.

The needs for ideological clarification and political organization were freshly stressed when, with the easing of the economic crisis of 1857, various petty-bourgeois conceptions began to make themselves increasingly felt afresh in the thinking of the workers. These were also reflected in growing confusion and friction in the Marxist movement. Thus, some of the leaders did not push the fight against slavery, although claiming to be true disciples of Marx; also various Utopian sects reappeared, and Weitling's harmful notions sprang up again in new garb.

In undertaking their great tasks of ideological and organizational development, the early Marxists were favored by the fact that in the decade before the Civil War many of the fundamental problems of Marxist theory—its philosophy, political economy, and revolutionary tactics —had been developed by Marx and Engels. In addition to the famous Manifesto, they had also completed such basic works as Wage-Labor and Capital, Ludwig Feuerbach, The Eighteenth Brumaire, and The Peasant War in Germany. The American movement also had the tremendous advantage of close personal contact with Marx and Engels, who both carefully observed and advised on its development.

The great problem of the Marxists in the United States, of course, was to apply Marxist principles to specific American conditions. Here the early Marxists were faced with many objective and subjective difficulties. These difficulties, in their essence, continued constantly to reappear in new forms and under new conditions, and they have persisted in many ways down to the present day.

Already in the 1850's the Marxists noticed a seeming contradiction between the great militancy and fighting capacity of the American working class, and the slowness with which the workers developed a class-conscious outlook toward politics and society. They noted the contradiction between the highly advanced development of American capitalism and the subjective backwardness of the labor movement. Some of the German immigrants' tried to explain this on the basis of a supposed innate political inferiority of the American working class, while others concluded that Marxism had no validity in the new, democratic United States.

Combating such illusions, the early Marxist leaders pointed out the destructive effects upon labor of slavery in the South. They pointed out further that the existence of the free land in the West, by absorbing masses from the East, hindered the development of class consciousness and of a stable working class, and that the current petty-bourgeois Jeffersonian ideas among the workers stemmed from the Revolution of which the bourgeoisie were the ideological leaders, and also from the whole history of the country. They also gave a Marxist explanation of the recurrent economic crises, which deeply perplexed the workers and the whole American people.

So powerful were the current bourgeois illusions and disintegrating influences among the workers that Engels, in 1892, wrote as follows to Hermann Schlueter: "Up to 1848 one could only speak of the permanent native working class as an exception; the small beginnings of it in the cities in the East always had still the hope of becoming farmers or bourgeois."10

The pioneer Marxists, Weydemeyer, Sorge, and the others—greatly aided by the many new books, articles, letters, and the personal advice of Marx and Engels, fought on two ideological fronts—against the "lefts," who believed that political activity was futile and that Socialism was to be brought about by conspiratorial action and by directing themselves exclusively to supporting revolutionary movements in Germany; and also against the rights, who toyed with agrarian panaceas, sought to tie the workers to corrupt bourgeois politicians, and denied the role of Marxism in the United States.

The Marxists especially attacked the budding theories of "American exceptionalism," advocated by those who, like Kriege, sought to liquidate Marxism by arguing that communism was to be achieved in the United States by a different route from that in Europe—through agrarian reform. Of great help in this struggle were the current writings of Marx and Engels. They pointed out that the establishment of a bourgeois democracy, such as existed in the United States, did not abolish but greatly intensified all the inherent contradictions, and that the forces making for the speedier development of American capitalism were also producing more clear-cut class divisions and sharpening all class relations. They pointed out that the "land of opportunity" was also the classical land of economic crises, unemployment, and of the sharpest extremes between the wealth of the few and the poverty of the great masses.

One of the difficulties peculiar to early Marxism was that its founders, nearly all German immigrants, were striving to introduce their Socialist ideas into a labor movement speaking a different language and having a background and traditions which they little understood. Many of these immigrants also thought that their own stay in America was only temporary, until victory was won in Germany. These circumstances provided fertile ground for sectarian tendencies, which manifested themselves in strong trends among the Socialist-minded German workers to stay apart by themselves and to consider the American workers as politically immature. This sectarianism was a very serious obstacle to the bringing of Socialist ideas to the masses of native workers, and for a full generation Engels thundered against it.

The early Marxists carried on a great deal of propaganda on the need of the workers to act politically in their own interests. They stressed the importance of the workers fighting the employers on all levels; they exposed the fallacy of separating the political from the economic struggles; they showed that every economic struggle, such as the 10-hour day fight, when the working class fought as a class against the ruling class, was a political struggle.

The developed Marxists of the decade just prior to the Civil War were only a handful; yet, for all their weakness, they made tremendous contributions to the young American labor movement. They were pioneer builders of the trade unions; they fought in the front line of every struggle of the workers; they helped break down the barriers between native and immigrant workers; along with native Abolitionists, they were militant fighters against Negro slavery; they helped to build up a solid and influential labor press; and above all, they created the first core of organized Marxists in America, and they spread far and wide the writings of Marx and Engels. The extent of the general influence of the pioneer Marxists may be gauged from the fact that many young trade unions of the period, in their preambles, used The Communist Manifesto as their guide.

For all their relative sensitivity to the position of the white workers, the Negroes, the immigrants, and other oppressed sections of the population, the pioneer Marxists did not, however, become aware of the "significance of the struggle of the Indian tribes, who during these years were being viciously robbed and butchered by the ruthless white invaders of their lands. Indeed, in the whole period from Jefferson right down to our own day, the long series of workers' trade unions and political parties have almost completely ignored the plight and sufferings the abused and heroic Indian peoples. The story of labor's relations with the Indians is practically a blank.

The Marxists in the Struggle Against Slavery (1848–1865)

The United States Constitution, drawn up after the Revolutionary War and implying the continuation of Negro slavery, was a compromise between the rival classes of southern planters and northern merchants and industrialists. But it established no stability between these classes, and they were soon thereafter at each other's throats. The plantation system and slavery spread rapidly in the South after the invention of the 1795. In the North the power of the industrialists grew rapidly with cotton gin in 1793 and the development of sugar cane production in the expansion of the factory system and the settlement of the West. The interests of the two systems were incompatible and the clash between them sharpened continuously.

Developing relentlessly over the basic, related questions of control of the newly-organized territories and of the federal government, this struggle was finally to culminate in the great second revolution of 1861-65. As the vast new territories acquired by the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, by the seizure of Florida in 1819, and by the Oregon accession and the Mexican War of 1846, were carved up into states and brought into the Union, the bitter political rivals grabbed them off alternately as free or slave states. Thus, a very precarious balance was maintained. The northern industrialists vigorously opposed the extensive infiltration of the slave system into the West and Southwest, even threatening secession from the Union. They contested the Louisiana Purchase, and bitterly condemned the unjust Mexican War, in which the United States took half of Mexico's territory (the present states of Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and part of Wyoming). Lincoln denounced this predatory war, and opposition to it was intense in the young labor movement.1 On the other hand, the industrialists were eager to seize Oregon, and they never ceased plotting against the territorial integrity of Canada, as these were non-slavery areas.

Despite all its expansion, the slave system, however, could not possibly keep pace in strength with the great strides of industry in the North. By 1860, 75 percent of the nation's production was in the North, and the same area also held $11 billion of the national wealth as against five billion held by the South. To redress the balance of power shifting rapidly against them, the southern planters embarked upon a militant offensive to consolidate their own power. In the face of this drive the northern industrialists at first retreated. Their ranks were split, as many bankers, shippers, and textile manufacturers were tied up economically with the South; they were confused as to how to handle the complex slavery issue; and they feared the growing power of the working class.

During the 1850's the planters, through the Democratic Party, controlled both houses of Congress, the presidency, and seven of the nine Supreme Court judges. They used their power with arrogance. They passed the Fugitive Slave Act, repealed the Missouri Compromise by adopting the pro-slavery Kansas-Nebraska Act, slashed the tariff laws, adopted the infamous Dred Scott decision, vetoed the homestead bill, and declared slavery to be legal in all the territories. Marx raised the real issue when he spoke of the fact that twenty million free men in the North were being subordinated to 300,000 southern slaveholders.2 Class tensions mounted and the country moved relentlessly toward the great Civil War.

The Abolitionist Movement

It was the leaders and fighters of the Abolitionist movement, in their relentless opposition to slavery, who most fully expressed the historic interests of the as yet hesitant bourgeoisie, and of the whole people. Men and women like Frederick Douglass, Wendell Philips, William Lloyd Garrison, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, John Brown, and Elijah P. Lovejoy prodded and stirred the conscience of the nation. They fought to destroy slavery, built the underground railway, and aggressively combated the fugitive slave laws. With few exceptions they based their fight for Negro emancipation mainly upon ethical and humanitarian grounds.

The most powerful force fighting for abolition, however, was the tour million Negro slaves in the South. For generations, and especially Since the turn of the century, the recurring slave revolts, violent protests against the horrible conditions of slavery, shook the very foundations of the slavocracy. Despite the most ferocious suppression, the Negroes sabotaged the field work, burned plantations, killed planters, and organized many insurrections. These struggles grew more intense as the Civil War approached. The South became a veritable armed camp, with the planters making desperate efforts to stamp out the growing revolt of their slaves. Imperishable are the names of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, and the many other brave Negro fighters in this heroic struggle for liberty.

The northern white workers also played a vital part in the great struggle. The existence of slavery in the South was a drag on these workers' living conditions and the growth of their trade unions in the North. Marx made this basic fact clear in his famous statement that "Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin when in the black it is branded."3 Retarding factors to the northern workers' understanding of the slavery issue, however, were the anti-labor union tendencies among middle class Abolitionists and the pressure in the workers' ranks of opportunist leaders. Such men as George Henry Evans, the land reformer, for example, argued that the emancipation of the slaves prior to the abolition of wage slavery would be contrary to the interests of the workers, as it would confront the latter with the competition of a great mass of cheap labor. Once organized labor sensed, however, that the abolition of slavery was the precondition for its own further advance it was ready to join in the great immediate task of destroying the block that stood in the path of its development and that of the nation. With this realization, during the late 1850's, labor became the inveterate enemy of slavery, and it became a foundation force in the great coalition of capitalists, workers, Negroes, and farmers that carried through and won the Civil War.

The Role of the Marxists

From the beginning, under the general advice of Karl Marx, the Marxists in the United States took the most consistent and clear-sighted position within the labor movement in fighting for the outright abolition of slavery. The strong leadership of the present-day Communist Party among the Negro people has deep roots in the fight of these Marxist pioneers. They saw in the defeat of the slavocracy the precondition for consolidating the nation's productive forces, for the expansion of democracy, and for the creation of a numerous, independent, and homogeneous proletariat advancing its own interests. They also saw in the emancipation of the Negroes a great cause of human freedom. They realized that in order to clear the decks for the next historic advance, the working class must join with other anti-slavery forces and do its utmost in carrying through the immediate, democratic, revolutionary task of ending slavery and the slave system.

The contribution of the early Marxists to the Abolitionist movement was out of all proportion to their small numbers. They were very active in the terror-ridden South. Outstanding here was the work of Adolph Douai, who had been a close co-worker of Karl Marx in Europe. In 1852, Douai settled in Texas where, at the time, it was said that one-fifth of the white population was made up of 48'ers from Europe. In San Antonio Douai published an Abolitionist paper, until he was finally compelled to leave in peril of his life. Important work was also done in Alabama under the leadership of the immigrant Marxist, Hermann Meyer, who was likewise forced to flee.

In the North the anti-slavery Marxists were particularly active, notably the Communist Club of Cleveland. A conference in 1851 declared in favor of using all means which were adapted to abolishing slavery, an institution which they called repugnant to the principles of true democracy. In St. Louis and other centers where the German immigrants were numerous, the Marxists carried on intense anti-slavery activities. They developed these activities especially after the passage in 1854 of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which broke down the barriers against slavery in the Middle West. A few days after this bill reached Congress the Chicago Socialists, led by George Schneider, a veteran of 1848 in Germany and editor of the Illinois State Gazette, initiated a campaign which culminated in a large public demonstration.

On October 16, 1859, the heroic Abolitionist, John Brown, and his twenty-one followers, Negroes and whites, electrified the country by seizing Harper's Ferry in a desperate but ill-fated attempt to develop an armed rising of the Negro slaves of the South. The Marxists hailed Brown's courageous action, and they organized supporting mass meetings in numerous cities. The Cincinnati Social Workingmen's Association, led by Socialists, declared that "The act of John Brown has powerfully contributed to bringing out the hidden conscience of the majority of the people."4 Ten of Brown's men were killed in the struggle and he himself was later hanged.

Joseph Weydemeyer, the Marxist leader, considered that all these developments signalized the beginnings of a new political awakening of the American labor movement. Along with Marx, however, he had to combat the sectarian views, held by Weitling, Kriege, and others, that Marxists should limit themselves to questions of the conditions of the Workers and the struggle against capital, and that labor should avoid "contamination" with political activities. Some sectarians even branded participation in the anti-slavery movement as a "betrayal" of the special interests of the working class.

In all his activities Weydemeyer contended for the position that the fight against slavery was central in the work of Marxists in that period. He strove to involve the trade unions in the great struggle. He showed that without a solution of the slavery question no basic working class problem could be solved. He linked the workers' immediate demands with the fundamental issue of Negro emancipation. In this fight the American Workers' League, under Marxist influence, played an important role in winning the workers and organized labor for the abolition struggle. Thus, in 1854, after the passage of the infamous Kansas-Nebraska Act, the League held a big mass meeting which declared that the German-American workers of New York "have, do now, and shall, continue to protest most emphatically against both white and black slavery and brand as a traitor against the people and their welfare everyone who shall lend it his support."5

The Maturing of the Crisis

Following the "Nebraska infamy" of 1854, events moved rapidly toward the decisive struggle. The arrogant actions of the planters, who controlled the government, aroused and sharpened the opposition in the North and West. The old political parties began to disintegrate, and the Republican Party was formed in February 1854. Alvin E. Bovay, former secretary-treasurer of the National Industrial Congress and a prominent leader in New York labor circles, brought together at Ripon, Wisconsin, a group of liberals, reformers, farmers, and labor leaders-all of whom were disgusted with the policies of the Whig and Democratic parties. This group decided "to forget previous political names and organizations, and to band together" to oppose the extension of slavery.6 Their program also supported those who were fighting for free land.

The response of the northern industrialists to the new party was immediate and favorable. Most of them saw in it the instrument with which to wrest political control from the slave-owners and to advance their own program; protective tariffs, subsidies to railroads, absorption of the national resources, national banking system, etc. The mercantile and banking interests, however, tied financially to the cotton interests of the slave-owners in the South, largely condemned the new party.

The initial response of the workers to the Republican Party was varied. While many broke their traditional ties with the Democratic Party, others hesitated to join the same party with the industrialists. Among the northern and western farmers the new party, however, got wide acceptance from the outset.

The Marxists, basing themselves on the Marxist teachings (The Communist Manifesto) of fighting "with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a revolutionary way,"7 unhesitatingly supported the Republican Party and called upon labor to do likewise. Die Soziale Republik, organ of the Chicago Arbeiterbund, then the foremost Marxist group in the country, stated this policy. Although the Marxists were firm advocates of full emancipation of the Negroes, they held that they could best advance the anti-slavery cause by uniting with other social groups upon the basis of the widely accepted program of opposition to the further extension of slavery. This tactic was, in fact, a transition to a later, more advanced revolutionary struggle.

In the elections of 1856 the Republicans especially strove to win the support of the workers. The Marxists took a very active part in the campaign. For example, in February 1856, they helped to initiate a conference in Decatur, Illinois, of 25 newspaper editors, including the German-American press, to organize the anti-Nebraska Act forces for participation in the election campaign. Abraham Lincoln was present at this gathering and he ardently supported the resolution which it passed. This resolution was also adopted at the 1856 Philadelphia convention which nominated John C. Fremont for President. Fremont polled 1,341,264 votes, or one-third of the total vote cast. In consequence the Democratic Party was split, the Whig Party was practically destroyed, and the Republican Party emerged as a major party.

The Election of Abraham Lincoln

The election in 1860 was the hardest fought in the history of the United States up to that time. The Republican Party made an all-out and successful effort to win the decisive support of the great masses of armers, workers, immigrants, and free Negroes, who were all part of the great new coalition under the leadership of the northern bourgeoisie. Philip S. Foner states that "It is not an exaggeration to say that the Republican Party fought its way to victory in the campaign of 1860 "the party of free labor."8

Lincoln was a very popular candidate among the toiling masses. He was known to be an enemy of slavery; his many pro-labor expressions had won him a wide following among the workers; his advocacy of the Homestead bill had secured him backing among the farmers of the North and West; and his fight against bigoted native "know-nothingism" had entrenched him generally among the foreign-born. He faced three opposing presidential candidates—Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, and John Bell—representing the three-way split in the Democratic Party, and all supporting slavery in one way or another. Lincoln stood on a platform of "containing slavery" to its existing areas. There was no candidate pledged for outright abolition.

In the bitterly fought election the slavocrats, who also had many contacts and supporters in the North, denounced Lincoln with every slander that their fertile minds could concoct. The redbaiters of the time shouted against "Black Republicanism" and "Red Republicanism." Pro-slavery employers and newspapers tried to intimidate the workers by threatening them with discharge, by menacing them with a prospect of economic crisis, and by warning them that Negro emancipation would create a flood of cheap labor which would ruin wage rates. At the same time, the reactionaries tried to split the young Republican Party by cultivating "know-nothing" anti-foreign movements inside its ranks.

The Marxists were very active in this vital election struggle. The clarity of their anti-slavery stand and their militant spirit made up for their still very small numbers. Their key positions in many trade unions enabled them to be a real factor in mobilizing the workers behind Lincoln's candidacy. To this end they spared no effort, holding election meetings of workers in many parts of the North and East. Undoubtedly, the labor vote swung the election for Lincoln, and for this the Marxists were entitled to no small share of the credit.

The Marxists were energetic in winning the decisive foreign-born masses to support Lincoln. In 1860 the foreign-born made up 47.62 percent of the population of New York, 50 percent of Chicago and Pittsburgh, and 59.66 percent of St. Louis, with other cities in proportion. The Germans, by far the largest immigrant group in the country, were a powerful force in Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. They heavily backed Lincoln. "Of the 87 German language newspapers, 69 were for Lincoln."9

The Marxists were especially effective in creating pro-Lincoln sentiment among the German-American masses. This was graphically demonstrated at the significant Deutsches Haus conference held in Chicago in May 1860, two days before the opening of the nominating convention of the Republican Party. This national conference represented all sections of German-American life. The Marxists Weydemeyer and Douai, who led the working class forces at the conference, were of decisive importance in shaping the meeting's action. Douai, selected as head of the resolutions committee, wrote for the conference a series of resolutions demanding that "they be applied in a sense most hostile to slavery."10 These resolutions largely furnished the basis for the election platform of the Republican Party.

The fierce campaign of 1860 concluded with the election of Lincoln. The final tabulation showed: Lincoln, 1,857,710; Douglas, 1,291,574; Breckinridge, 850,082; Bell, 646,124

The Civil War

In the face of Lincoln's victory, the oligarchy of southern planters acted like any other ruling class suffering a decisive democratic defeat, by taking up arms to hold on to and extend their power at any cost. Acting swiftly and disregarding the will for peace of their people, seven southern states seceded, setting up the Confederate States of America, with Jefferson Davis as president. All of this was done before Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, while the planters' stooge president, James Buchanan, was still in office. Eventually the Confederacy contained eleven states. The seceders opened fire on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, thus beginning the war. The conquest aims of the rebellious South were boundless. "What the slaveholders, therefore, call the South," said Marx, "embraces more than three-quarters of the territory hitherto comprised by the Union."11 The second American revolution had passed from the constitutional stage into that of military action.

The North, ill-prepared, met with indecision the swift offensive of the southern planters. This weakness reflected the prevailing divisions in the ranks of the bourgeoisie. Among these were the Copperhead bankers and merchants, who strove for a negotiated peace on the slavocracy's terms. Then there were the Radical Republicans, representative of the rising industrial capitalists, whose most revolutionary spokesman was Thaddeus Stevens and who insisted upon a military offensive to crush the rebellion, with the freeing and arming of the slaves. And finally there was the vacillating middle class, largely represented by Lincoln's hesitant course.

The leaders of the government sought evasive formulas, instead of taking energetic steps to win the war. Lincoln, ready for any compromise short of disunion, proclaimed the slogan, "Save the Union," at a time when the situation demanded clearly also the revolutionary slogan of "full and complete emancipation of the slaves." Stevens, bolder and clearer-sighted, declared that "The Constitution is now silent and only the laws of war obtain." On the question of the slaves, Stevens stated that "Those who now furnish the means of war but are the natural enemies of the slaveholders must be made our allies."12 This position was strongly supported by the Negro masses, whose leading spokesman, Frederick Douglass, declared, "From the first, I reproached the North that they fought the rebels with only one hand, when they might effectively strike with two—that they fought with their soft white hand, while they kept their black iron hand chained and helpless behind them—that they fought the effect, while they protected the cause, and that the Union cause would never prosper till the war assumed an anti-slavery attitude, and the Negro was enlisted on the loyal side."13

While Lincoln carried on his defensive leadership the military fortunes of the North continued to sink. Events combined, however, to change the conduct of the war from an attempt to suppress the slaveowners' rebellion into a revolutionary struggle to liquidate the slave power. These main forces were, the increasing power of the northern bourgeoisie through the rapid growth of industry and the railroads; the lessons learned from the bitter defeats in the early part of the war; and the tremendous pressure exerted by the farmers, the Negro masses, and the white workers—especially the foreign-born—for an aggressive policy in the war.

Hence, on September 22, 1862, after about 18 months of unsuccessful war, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, proclaiming that after January 1st persons held as slaves in areas in rebellion "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." In August 1862, the enlistment of free Negroes into the armed forces had been authorized.14 Lincoln removed the sabotaging General McClellan in March 1862 from his post as head of the Union forces, and generally adopted a more aggressive policy. The liberation of the slaves, with its blow to the slave economy and the addition of almost 200,000 Negro soldiers to the northern armies, proved to be of decisive importance. From the beginning of 1863 the slave power was clearly doomed. But it took two more years of bitter warfare until the South admitted defeat, with Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. At the cost of half a million soldiers dead and a million more permanently crippled, the reactionary planters had been driven from political power and their slaves freed.

The Civil War constituted a bourgeois-democratic revolution. The capitalists of the North broke the dominant political power of the big southern landowners and seized power for themselves; the slave system, which had become economically a brake upon the development of capitalism, was shattered; four million slaves were formally freed; and the tempo of industrialization and the growth of the working class were enormously speeded up all over the country.

The Negro People and the Working Class in the War

In this long and bloody war the oppressed Negro people displayed boundless heroism. In many ways they sabotaged the war efforts of the South; they captured Confederate steamers and brought them into northern ports; and they were the major source of military intelligence for the North. In the plantation areas the slaves' spirit of rebellion was so pronounced that the South was compelled to divert a large section of its armed forces to the task of keeping them suppressed.

The heroism and abandon with which the newly-freed slaves fought in the Union armies amazed the white soldiers and officers. Characteristic of many similar reports was the statement of Colonel Thomas Went-worth Higginson: "It would have been madness to attempt with the bravest white troops what [I] successfully accomplished with black ones."15 The action of the almost legendary Negro woman, Harriet Tubman, who led many forays deep into the South to free slaves, was bravery in its supremest sense. And when Lincoln was urged in 1864 to give up the use of Negro troops, he replied: "Take from us and give to the enemy the hundred and thirty, forty, or fifty thousand colored persons now serving us as soldiers, seamen, and laborers, and we cannot longer maintain the contest."16

Together with the approximately 200,000 Negro fighters in the northern army and navy, there were also about 250,000 more employed m various capacities with the armed forces. Aptheker quotes government figures estimating that over 36,000 Negro soldiers died during the war. He states that "the mortality rate among the United States Colored Troops in the Civil War was thirty-five percent greater than that among other troops, notwithstanding the fact that the former were not enrolled until some eighteen months after the fighting began."17 Of the enlisted personnel of the northern navy, about one-fourth were Negroes, and of these Aptheker estimates approximately 3,200 died of disease and in battle. These gallant fighting services were recompensed at first by paying the Negro soldiers at lower rates than the white soldiers.

Organized labor also played a large and heroic part in the Civil War. The outbreak of the war found the great mass of the workers backing the war as a struggle to stop the further extension of slavery. Only a small section supported the advanced stand of the Marxists, who demanded abolition. A small minority of workers, the most backward elements in the big commercial centers of Boston and New York, were strongly under the anti-war influence of the Copperheads. There was also a small but influential group that opposed all wars on pacifist grounds. All through the war the workers suffered the most ruthless exploitation from the profiteering capitalists. Price gouging was rampant, and the capitalists brazenly used every means to cheat the government and to enrich themselves.

The call for volunteers received a tremendous response from the workers. Overnight, regiments were organized in various crafts. Foreign-born workers responded with great enthusiasm. Among the labor contingents to enlist were the DeKalb regiment of German clerks, the Polish League, and a company of Irish laborers. One of the first regiments to move in the defense of Washington was organized by the noted labor leader, William Sylvis, who only a few months before had voted against Lincoln. It has been estimated that about fifty percent of the industrial workers enlisted. T. V. Powderly, head of the Knights of Labor, was not far wrong when he declared years later that in the Civil War, "the great bulk of the army was made up of working men."18

At the start of the war, the labor movement was in a weakened condition, not yet having fully recovered from the ravages of the 1857 economic crisis. In the main, organized labor followed the bourgeoisie led by Lincoln, without as yet entering the struggle as a class having its own political organization and full consciousness of its specific aims. There was an actual basis for this course, inasmuch as the interests of the workers, in the fight against slavery, coincided with those of the northern industrialists. As the war progressed, labor's line strengthened and the workers became a powerful force pressing for the freedom of the slaves and for a revolutionary prosecution of the war.

Role and Strategy of the Marxists in the War Period

The war record of the Marxists, predecessors of the Communist Party of today, was one of the most inspiring chapters in the annals of the Civil War. Their response to Lincoln's call for volunteers set a good example for the entire nation. Within a few days the New York Turners, Marxist-led, organized a whole regiment; the Missouri Turners put three regiments in the field; the Communist clubs and German Workers' Leagues sent over half their members into the armed forces. The Marxists fought valorously on many battlefields.

Joseph Weydemeyer, formerly an artillery officer in the German army, recruited an entire regiment, rose to the position of colonel, and was assigned by Lincoln as commander of the highly strategic area of St. Louis. August Willich, who became a brigadier general, Robert Rosa, a major, and Fritz Jacobi, a lieutenant who was killed at Fredericksburg, were all members of the New York Communist Club. There were many other Marxists at the front.

The American Marxists, taught by Marx and Engels, had a more profound understanding of the nature of the war than any other group in the nation. They realized that a defeat for the Union forces would mean the end of the most advanced bourgeois-democratic republic and a retrogression to semi-feudal conditions. Victory for the North, they knew, would greatly advance democracy. They understood the war as a basic conflict of two opposed systems, which could only be resolved by revolutionary measures.

Hence, from the very beginning, the Marxists raised the decisive slogans of emancipation of the slaves, arming of the freedmen, confiscation of the planters' estates, and distribution of the land among the landless Negro and white masses. They understood, too, the Marxist policy of co-operation with the bourgeoisie when it was fighting for progressive ends. During the war they tended to strengthen the position of the working class and its Negro and farmer allies and practically, if not consciously, to lake them the leading force in the war coalition. They fought against pacifism and against Copperhead influences within and without labor's ranks. A major service of the Marxists was in helping to defeat the aspirations of Fremont to get the Republican nomination away from Lincoln in l864. Marx urged the working class to make the outcome of the Civil War count in the long run for the workers as much as the outcome of the War for Independence had counted for the bourgeoisie. This, however, the weak forces of the workers were unable to do. Nevertheless, their relative clarity of political line and their tireless spirit made the Marxists a political force far out of proportion to their still very small numbers.

During the Civil War Karl Marx himself played a vitally important part, his genius displaying great brilliance. Marx's many writings in the New York Daily Tribune and elsewhere constituted an outstanding demonstration of the power of revolutionary theory in interpreting developments, in seeing their inherent connections, and in understanding the direction in which the classes were moving. From the inception of the conflict and through every one of its crucial stages, Karl Marx, incomparably deeper than any other person, grasped the basic significance of events and projected the necessary line of policy and action. Lenin considered this "a model example" of how the creators of the Communist Manifesto defined the tasks of the proletariat in application to the different stages of the struggle.

Far better than the northern bourgeois leaders, Marx clearly understood that here was a conflict between "two opposing social systems" which must be fought out to "the victory of one or the other system." He blasted those who believed that it was just a big quarrel over states rights which could be smoothed over; he criticized the bourgeois leaders of the North for "abasing" themselves before the southern slave power, and he pressed Lincoln again and again to take decisive action. From the outbreak of hostilities Marx urged the North to wage the struggle in a revolutionary manner, as the only possible way to win the victory. He demanded that Lincoln raise the "full-throated cry of emancipation of slavery"; he called for the arming of the Negro slaves, and he pointed out the tremendous psychological effects that would be produced by the formation of even a single regiment of Negro soldiers. In the most discouraging times of the war Marx never despaired of the North's ultimate victory. His and Engels' proposals for military strategy were no less sound than their penetrating political analysis. Marx clearly gave the theoretical lead to the northern democratic forces in the Civil War.19

Marx, as the leader of the First International, exerted a powerful influence in mobilizing the workers of England and the Continent in support of the northern cause. With his position as correspondent to the important Die Presse of Vienna, Marx was also able to influence general European opinion regarding the decisive events in America. He upheld the Union cause in his inaugural address to the International and in three major official political documents addressed by that organization, in less than a year, to President Lincoln, President Johnson, and the National Labor Union.

The British ruling class, despite all their pretended opposition to slavery, wanted nothing better than to intervene in the war on the side of the Confederacy. If they were prevented from doing this, it was primarily due to the militant anti-slavery attitude of the British working class, who hearkened to the advice of Marx and developed a powerful anti-slavery movement. As Marx said, "It was not the wisdom of the ruling classes, but the heroic resistance to their criminal folly by the working classes of England that saved the west of Europe from plunging headlong into an infamous crusade for the perpetuation and propagation of slavery on the other side of the Atlantic."20

History records few such effective demonstrations of international labor solidarity. Lincoln himself recognized this when, addressing the Manchester textile workers who were starving because of the cotton blockade, he characterized their support as "an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age in any country."21 Lincoln also thanked the First International for its assistance, and the United States Senate, on March 2, 1863, joined in tribute to the British workers. The international support of labor was a real factor in bringing to a successful conclusion this "world historic, progressive and revolutionary war," as Lenin called it.

The International Workingmen's Association (1864–1876)

The International Workingmen's Association was founded in London on September 28, 1864. Its leading organizer and political leader was Karl Marx. The I.W.A. was formed during a period of rising political struggle in Europe and the United States. It was the first international organization of the rapidly growing trade union and socialist movements of the period, the first great realization of Marx's famous slogan, "Workingmen of all countries, unite!" The I.W.A. was committed to a program of the complete emancipation of the working class. Engels described it as "an association of workingmen embracing the most progressive countries of Europe and America, and concretely demonstrating the international character of the socialist movement to the workingmen themselves as well as to the capitalists and governments."1

The Marxists began to build the I.W.A. in the United States shortly after the Civil War, in 1867. Section No. 1, formed in 1869, was an amalgamation of the German General Workers Union and the Communist Club of New York. The combined group was called the Social Party of New York. Toward the end of 1870 two additional sections, French and Bohemian, were set up. These first three sections established the North American Federation of the I.W.A., with F. A. Sorge as corresponding secretary of the Central Committee. By 1872, the I.W.A. had 30 sections, with a membership of over 5,000, distributed in many parts of the country.

From Revolution to Counter-Revolution

The I.W.A., a most important stage in the development of American Marxism, for the first time provided at least a loose national center for the groups of Marxists, and began to function during a most crucial era of American history. With the defeat of the slave-owners in the Civil War, the revolution had completed but its first phase, the freeing of the slaves. It was now necessary to confiscate the planters' estates, to give land to the Negro ex-slaves, and also to prevent the return to power of the defeated slavocracy.2 These were the revolutionary tasks of the Reconstruction period.

The bourgeoisie was split over these basic questions. The left, or Radical Republicans, led by Stevens, called for a democratic reconstruction of the South; whereas the right forces, grouped around President Johnson (after Lincoln's assassination on April 14, 1865) wanted to halt the revolution and to restore the landowners to power in the South.

In December 1865, the Stevens forces, who controlled Congress, succeeded in rejecting Johnson's reactionary reconstruction program, and they also passed the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery throughout the United States. During 1866, after scoring a victory in the hard-fought elections of that year, they enacted the Civil Rights Bill, the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, and the Fourteenth Amendment, providing for equal rights of Negroes and whites. In 1867, they also Put through, the Reconstruction Acts. The sum total of these measures was to give the Negro people a minimum of freedom, but not the land which they so basically needed.

The Negro freedmen, with strong revolutionary initiative and consciousness, organized people's conventions, engaged actively in political action, elected many high Negro officials in local and state governments, and in various places fought arms in hand for the all-important land. Together with their white allies, they played an important part in many of the reconstruction period state governments in the South and they wrote a large amount of advanced and progressive legislation. They gave a brilliant demonstration of their political capacity. There were two Negro U.S. Senators, H. R. Revels and Blanche K. Bruce, both of Mississippi, between 1870 and 1881. Fourteen Negroes were members of the House during the same general period. There were also Negro lieutenant-governors in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Mississippi, as well as large numbers of Negro state and local officials in many southern states.

Karl Marx, with his great revolutionary knowledge and experience, understood the need of consolidating the victory won during the Civil War and he anticipated the danger of counter-revolution. In the famous September 1865 "Address to the People of the United States" of the General Council of the I.W.A., Marx warned the American people to "Declare your fellow citizens from this day forth free and equal, without any reserve. If you refuse them citizens' rights while you exact from them Citizens' duties, you will sooner or later face a new struggle which will "once more drench your country in blood."3 This was the general line of the I.W.A. forces in the United States, but the American Marxists did not fully understand how to make the fight against the counter-revolution.

The working class, supported by the farmers and Negroes, was the only class that could have carried through the bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1861-65 to completion in the Reconstruction period. But it was much too immature politically to accomplish this huge task. Preoccupied as it was with its urgent economic problems and afflicted with petty-bourgeois illusions, labor did not yet understand its true role as leader of all the oppressed. It could not, therefore, rally its natural allies—the working farmers, and Negro people—against the growing reaction of northern industrialists and southern planters. Consequently, the counter-revolution triumphed in the South.

The northern bourgeoisie had accomplished its major purposes by the Civil War. It smashed the national political control of the planters; it held the country intact; it removed the principal barriers to rapid capitalist development; it won complete control of the government. This was what it sought. With northern capital grown enormously stronger during the war and no longer fearing its old-time enemy, the planters, the bourgeoisie sought to make the latter its obedient allies, and it had no interest whatever in creating a body of free Negro farmers in the South. It wanted instead to put a halt to the revolution. Hence, during the presidency of Andrew Johnson, the northern capitalists, after defeating the Stevens Radicals, arrived at a tacit agreement with the planters whereby, with Ku Klux Klan violence, the latter were able to repress the Negro people and to force them down into the system of peonage in which they still live. This was a characteristic example of how the ruling, exploiting class, faced by a revolutionary situation, has resorted to terrorism and illegal counter-revolutionary violence.

Stimulated by the requirements of the war and released from the restraints of the slavocracy, industrial development, especially in the North, advanced at an unprecedented pace during the next decades. Heavy industry and the railroads recorded a very rapid expansion. The concentration of industries and the growth of corporations were among the significant features of the times. The bourgeoisie hastened to use its new political power to plunder the public domain and the public treasury. Thus the Civil War set off roaring decades of expansion and speculation, and a wild orgy of graft and corruption. It was the "Gilded Age." The swift development of capitalism also caused a rapid realignment of class forces, and the sharpening of all class antagonisms.

The Marxists and the National Labor Union

The broad expansion of capitalism, the increase in the number of industrial workers, and the intensification of labor exploitation during the Civil War decade also brought about a rapid growth in the trade union movement. Thus, in 1863 there were 79 local unions in 20 crafts, and a year later the figure had jumped up to 270 locals in 53 crafts. With the end of the war the tempo of growth became still faster. The need for a general national organization of labor grew acute. After an ineffectual effort with the Industrial Assembly of America in 1864, success came with the setting up of the National Labor Union in Baltimore on August 26, 1866. Joseph Weydemeyer, the Marxist leader, who contributed greatly to its founding, died of cholera in St. Louis on the day the N.L.U. convention began.

Marxist influence was definitely a factor in this great stride forward of the working class, but the N.L.U. was not a Marxist organization. In all the industrial centers the socialists were active trade union builders, and they had a number of delegates at the Baltimore convention. William H. Sylvis3 of the Molders Union and leader of the National Labor Union, although not a Marxist, was a friend of Weydemeyer and Sorge and also a supporter of the I.W.A. He had a great talent for organization and was the first real national trade union leader. William J. Jessup, head of the New York Carpenters, was in direct communication with the General Council of the I.W.A. A. C. Cameron, editor of the Workingman's Advocate, reprinted in full all the addresses of the I.W.A. General Council, as well as many articles by Marx, Wilhelm Liebknecht, and Sorge. Ira Steward, noted eight-hour day leader, read parts of Capital and was profoundly impressed by it. Even Samuel Gompers, then a young member of the labor movement and a friend of Sorge, was affected by the I.W.A. He said: "I became interested in the International, for its principles appealed to me as solid and practical." Of this time Gompers declared: "Unquestionably, in these early days of the 'seventies the International dominated the labor movement in New York City."4

The N.L.U. during its six years of existence led important struggles and developed much correct basic labor policy. One of its main activities was campaigning for the eight-hour day. As a result of these efforts, Congress, on June 25, 1868, passed a law according the eight-hour day to laborers, mechanics, and all other workers in Federal employ.5

The N.L.U. was also active in defending the unemployed. And it was the first trade union movement in the world to advocate equal pay for women and men doing equal work. Kate Mullaney, an outstanding union fighter, was appointed by Sylvis in 1868 as assistant secretary and organizer of women.6 The N.L.U. also campaigned against child labor and for the organization of the unorganized in all crafts and industries. The founders of the N.L.U. understood the need for independent political action. This led to the formation of the Labor Reform Party in 1871. The N.L.U. and the Labor Reform Party, however, fell into the hands of opportunists and reformers, who finally ran both of them into the ground. This trend was hastened by the sudden death of Sylvis in July 1869.

The Marxists took an active part in all N.L.U. activities. They were militant builders of the trade unions and advocates of independent political action. They participated in all the strikes and other struggles of the period. They helped to organize the historic eight-hour day parade in New York in 1871. In this parade a large I.W.A. contingent marched with the 20,000 workers, carrying through the streets of the city for the first time a red banner inscribed with the slogan, "Workingmen of all countries, unite!" As the I.W.A. section entered the City Hall plaza, it was greeted with lusty cheers from the 5,000 assembled, who shouted, "Vive la Commune." The Marxists were also a leading factor in the great Tompkins Square, New York, demonstration of the unemployed in 1874.

During this period of activity one of the big achievements of the I.W.A. was to secure the affiliation of the United Irish Workers, a group of Irish laborers. They were led by J. P. McDonnell, an able Marxist, a Fenian, and co-worker of Marx in the First International congresses. McDonnell, a capable and active trade unionist, was very effective in organizing the unorganized. For many years he was the editor of the Labor Standard, the leading trade union journal of the period. Gompers called him "the Nestor of trade union editors."

The N.L.U. and the Negro Question

During these years the question of Negro labor was a burning issue for the labor movement. The bosses were systematically playing the white workers against the newly-freed Negro workers, and were trying to use Negro workers to keep down the wages of all workers—even as strikebreakers. The more advanced leaders of the N.L.U., especially the Marxists, had some conception of the necessity of Negro and white labor solidarity and of the N.L.U. undertaking the organization of the freedmen. But, despite Sylvis, Richard Trevellick, and others, nothing much was done about it. Strong Jim Crow practices existed in many of the unions, and consequently the body of Negro workers were not organized nor their interests protected.

As a result, the Negro workers launched their own organization. In December 1869, after failure of the N.L.U. to give the Negro workers consideration at its convention a few months earlier, they called together a convention of 156 delegates, mostly from the South, and organized the National Colored Labor Union, with Isaac Myers as president. Trevellick was present, representing the N.L.U. The convention elected five delegates to attend the next convention of the N.L.U. The N.C.L.U. also set up, as headquarters, the National Bureau of Labor in Washington. Its paper was the New National Era.7

"In February, 1870, the Bureau issued a prospectus containing the chief demands of the Negro people; it called for a legislative body to fight for legislation which would gain equality before the law for Negroes; it proposed an educational campaign to overcome the opposition of white mechanics to Negroes in the trades; it recommended cooperatives and homesteads to the Negro people."8

Relations between the N.L.U. and N.C.L.U. became strained over a number of questions. They reached the breaking point on the formation of the National Land Reform Party. That this first great effort to establish unity between Negro and white workers failed was to be ascribed chiefly to the short-sighted policies of the white leaders of the N.L.U. They never understood the burning problems of the Negro people during the reconstruction period, some of them holding ideas pretty much akin to those of President Johnson. The N.C.L.U. soon disappeared under the fierce pressure of the mounting reaction in the South.

The Marxists, both within and without the N.L.U., were active on the Negro question, primarily in a trade union sense. They demanded the repeal of all laws discriminating against Negroes. Section No. 1 of the I-W.A. set up a special committee to organize Negro workers into trade unions. Consequently, the Negro people looked upon the Socialists as trustworthy friends to whom they could turn for co-operation. In the big New York eight-hour day parade Negro union groups participated wine the I.W.A. contingent. And in the parade against the execution of the Communards a company of Negro militia, the Skidmore guards, Marched under the banner of the First International. 9

From its beginning, the National Labor Union had a strong international spirit. This was largely due to German Marxist and English Chartist influences within its ranks. It maintained friendly relations with the International Workingmen's Association. Marx was highly gratified at the founding of the new national labor center in the United States. The question of affiliation to the I.W.A. occupied a prominent place at all N.L.U. conventions. Sylvis especially appreciated the importance of the international solidarity of the workers.

At the 1867 convention of the N.L.U. President W. J. Jessup moved to affiliate with the I.W.A., with the backing of Sylvis. The convention did not vote for affiliation, however, but it did agree to send Richard F. Trevellick to the next I.W.A. congress. Lack of funds, however, prevented his going. Good co-operative relations always existed between the two organizations, Karl Marx paying special attention to the promising N.L.U. Finally, late in 1869, A. C. Cameron attended the I.W.A. congress at Basle, as the representative of the N.L.U. There he presented several proposals, providing for co-operation between European and American labor to regulate immigration and to prevent the shipping of scabs to break strikes in the United States. The 1870 convention of the N.L.U., while not actually voting affiliation to the I.W.A., nevertheless adopted a resolution which endorsed the principles of the International Workingmen's Association and expressed the intention of affiliating with it "at no distant date."10

The death of Sylvis in 1869 was a heavy blow to the growing international labor solidarity. Commons says, "Had it not been for this loss of its leader, the alliance of the National Labor Union with the International, judging from Sylvis' correspondence, would have been speedily brought about."11 The General Council of the I.W.A. sent a letter to the N.L.U., signed by Karl Marx, mourning the loss of Sylvis. It said that his death, by removing "a loyal, persevering, and indefatigable worker in the good cause from among you, has filled us with great grief and sorrow."

The Decline of the National Labor Union

The N.L.U. reached its high point, with an estimated 600,000 members, in 1869. After that date it began to decline, and its decay was rapid. At its 1871 convention there were only 22 delegates, and these mostly agrarian reformers. The American Section of the I.W.A., which was affiliated, quit in discontent at the way the organization was being run. The 1872 convention brought forth only seven delegates, old-time leaders. This was the end of the N.L.U. Attempts were made to call conventions to revive it, in 1873 and 1874 at Columbus and Rochester, but these efforts were fruitless, the organization being dead beyond recall.

Numerous reasons combined to bring about the end of the once-promising National Labor Union. Among these was the fact that the organization was not definitely a trade union body. From the outset it was composed of "trade unions, workers' associations, and eight-hour leagues," and in the end it had been invaded by numerous preachers, editors, lawyers, and other careerists, who cultivated petty-bourgeois illusions among the workers. Moreover, the organization was poorly financed, and it was too decentralized. It had no dues system, nor any paid, continuous leadership. Its main activity was the holding of national conventions, with the follow-up work being done by its affiliated organizations. Last and most important of its weaknesses, the organization, under the influence of Lassalleans, finally deprecated trade union action and turned its major attention to the currency question and to other petty-bourgeois reformist political activities. This alienated the trade unions, which quit the organization, and it fell a prey to all sorts of non-working class elements.

As early as 1870, Sorge wrote a letter to Karl Marx in which he clearly foresaw the course of events: "The National Labor Union, which had such brilliant prospects in the beginning of its career, was poisoned by Greenbackism and is slowly but surely dying."12 The influence of the Marxists upon the N.L.U. was much too limited to counteract these disintegrating influences.

The National Labor Union, despite its short six years of life, played an important part in the development of the American labor movement. It was the successor of the National Trades Union of the 1830's and the predecessor of the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor. It was a pioneer in the organization of Negro workers, in the defense of the rights of women and all other workers, in the organization of independent political action, and in the development of the international solidarity of the working class. The traditions of struggle that Sylvis and his co-workers left behind them will long be an inspiration to the forces of American labor. They are vivid in the Communist Party of today.

The Marxists and the Lassalleans

During the period of the International Workingmen's Association a major ideological struggle of the Marxists was directed against Las-salleanism. Ferdinand Lassalle in 1863 organized the General Association of German Workers in Germany, the program of which was to win universal suffrage and then to use the workers' votes to secure state credits for producers' co-operatives. This Lassalle saw as the road to socialism.13 He considered as futile the trade union struggle of the workers for better economic conditions. This rejection he based upon his theory of "the iron law of wages," which assumed that the average wages of workers, always down to minimum levels, could not be raised by economic action. Hence trade unionism was useless.

The German immigrants brought Lassalle's ideas with them, and these gained considerable currency among the German workers in the United States. In this country, where the workers already had the vote, apparently all that remained for them to do was to use their ballots to gain control of the government and then to apply Lassalle's scheme of state-financed co-operatives. Whereupon, the workers' problems would be solved. This theory led to extremely pernicious results in practice. It meant the weakening of the everyday struggles of the workers and the Negro people; it led to neglect and isolation from the trade unions; it tended to reduce the workers' struggle to opportunist political activity. Lassalleanism was largely responsible for the fatal lessening of the basic trade union economic functions of the National Labor Union, where it exerted great influence. Seeing the unions breaking up during the big economic crisis of 1873 and in the lost strikes of the period, many workers lost faith in trade unionism and gave ear to the Lassallean illusions.

From the first appearance of Lassalleanism the Marxists, led by Sorge, took issue actively with its theory and practice, showing it to be false and injurious. Of great help to the American Marxists in this struggle was Marx's celebrated polemic against Weston in England, which was published, after Marx's death, under the title, Value, Price and Profit. In this pamphlet Marx proved conclusively that whereas the trend of capitalism is to bring about the relative and absolute impoverishment of the workers, the latter, by resolute economic and political action, can nevertheless secure a larger share of the value which they create. Marx demonstrated that while it was possible to abolish exploitation only by abolishing capitalism, the workers can successfully resist the efforts of the capitalists to force them down to a bare subsistence level.

The fight between the Marxists and Lassalleans raged with special sharpness for several years during the 1870's in all the journals and branches of the I.W.A., and it was also reflected in the trade unions. In this struggle the Marxists stood four-square for strong trade unions and for active economic struggle. They also contended that the workers should put up candidates in elections only when they had solid trade union backing. Good theory and the stern realities of life fought on the side of the Marxists. The workers, faced with hard necessity, continued to build their unions and to strike, and the opportunistic political campaigns of the Lassalleans suffered one defeat after another. The Lassalleans fought a losing battle. Gompers, at that time a radical young trade unionist, sided with the Marxists in this historic struggle.

During the course of the controversy, in 1874, the Lassalleans organized the Labor Party in Illinois and the Social-Democratic Party of North America in the East. They had their own journal, the Vorbote. Most active in these Lassallean developments were Karl Klinge and Adolph Strasser, the cigarmaker, who later played a prominent part with Gompers in the formation of the American Federation of Labor. The Marxists gradually won a large measure of control over the Lassallean journals and organizations and eventually gave them a Marxist program. Besides this fight against the right, against the Lassalleans, the American Marxists, with the active advice of Marx and Engels, also conducted a struggle against the deep-seated and persistent left sectarianism within the I.W.A. Among the current manifestations of this disease were tendencies among the German socialist workers to neglect to learn the English language and the American customs, to isolate themselves from the broad American masses and their daily struggles, to launch trade unions solely of German workers and dual to existing labor organizations, and generally to fail to apply Marxist principles concretely to American conditions. Some years later Engels, dealing with the still persisting sectarianism in the United States, stated: "The Germans have not understood how to use their theory as a lever which could set the American Masses in motion; they do not understand the theory themselves for the most part and treat it in a doctrinaire and dogmatic way, as something which has got to be learned off by heart but which will then supply needs without more ado. To them it is a credo and not a guide to action."14 Marx was equally outspoken in his criticism of this doctrinaire sectarian weakness in the United States.

Dissolution of the First International

The years of the International Workingmen's Association were full of storm and struggle. Organized reaction in Europe, frightened at the revolutionary implications of the International, waged ruthless war against it. This was particularly true after the defeat of the historic Paris Commune in 1871. The I.W.A. was outlawed in France and other countries. But more effective in bringing the First International to an end were profound internal ideological weaknesses. To correct these, numerous theoretical and practical battles were waged by the Marxists to establish Marxism as the predominant working class ideology. They fought against the opportunist trade union leaders in England, against the Proudhonists in France, against the Lassalleans in Germany, and against the Bakuninists on a general scale. The fight against the Bakuninists was the most severe.

Michael Bakunin, a Russian anarchist, led a determined struggle to wrest the leadership of the world's workers away from the Marxists. In 1868, he organized the so-called Black International, with a program of anti-political, putschist violence, and he demanded affiliation with the I.W.A. Refused by the General Council, Bakunin carried the fight into the 1869 Congress of the I.W.A. at Basle, Switzerland. Marx won the day, with a substantial majority. In the ensuing split Bakunin was able to carry with him important French, Spanish, and Belgian organizations. The struggle grew very bitter, and at its 1872 congress the I.W.A., in view of the unfavorable internal and external situation, decided to move its headquarters to New York. F. A. Sorge was chosen as secretary.

The difficulties which beset the First International on a world scale also, with variations, afflicted its American section. The I.W.A. in the United States, in view of the political immaturity of the working class and the socialist movement, was undermined by all sorts of reformists, pure and simple trade unionists, Lassalleans, and Bakuninist anarchists. The I.W.A., after shifting its headquarters to the United States, continued for four more years. But, on July 15, 1876, at its Philadelphia convention, which was attended almost exclusively by American delegates, the First International formally dissolved itself. Thirteen years would pass before a new international would take the place of the I.W.A.; but in the United States, as we shall see later, the dissolution was but a prelude to a new upward swing of Marxism.

During its twelve years of existence the International Workingmen's Association in the United States contributed much to the development of the socialist movement. At the beginning it found a few scattered groups of Marxists with an uncertain ideology. It greatly strengthened their Marxist understanding, and it did much to unite them as a national grouping. In short, it laid the ideological and organizational foundations of the structure which has finally become the modern Communist Party. On an international scale, the I.W.A. did immense work in giving the workers a revolutionary outlook and in building their mass trade unions and political parties. The First International raised the world's labor movement out of its former muddle of Utopian societies and half socialist sects and gave it a scientific Marxist groundwork. In the words of Lenin, "It laid the foundation of the international organization of the workers in order to prepare their revolutionary onslaught on capital...the foundation of their international proletarian struggle for socialism."15

The Socialist Labor Party (1876–1890)

For a quarter of a century, from the dissolution of the International Workingmen's Association in 1876 to the foundation of the Socialist Party in 1900, the Socialist Labor Party was the standard bearer of Marxism in the United States. This marked the next big stage in the pre-history of the Communist Party. The decades of the S.L.P. were a period of intense industrialization, of growing monopoly capitalism and imperialism, of sharpening class struggles, of many of the greatest strikes in our national history, of big farmer movements, and of the gradual consolidation of Marxism into an organized force in the United States.

The need for a Marxist party being imperative, the socialist forces proceeded to reorganize one in Philadelphia, July 19-22, 1876, just a few days after the old I.W.A. was dissolved in that same city. The new body was the Workingmen's Party of America, the following year to be named the Socialist Labor Party. It was based primarily upon a fusion of the Marxist elements of the I.W.A., headed by F. A. Sorge and Otto Weydemeyer, son of Joseph Weydemeyer, and of the Lassallean forces of the Illinois Labor Party and the Social-Democratic Party, led by Adolph Strasser, A. Gabriel, and P. J. McGuire. All told, there were about 3,000 members represented. The Philadelphia founding convention had been preceded by a unity conference in Pittsburgh three months earlier.

The Lassalleans at the convention succeeded in securing a majority of the national committee of the new Party, and they also elected one of their number, Philip Van Patten, to the post of national secretary. In the shaping of policy, however, the influence of the Marxists was predominant. The Party demanded the nationalization of railroads, telegraphs, and all means of transportation, and it called for "all industrial enterprises to be placed under the control of the government as fast as practicable and operated by free co-operative trade unions for the good of the whole people."1 The Declaration of Principles was taken from the general statutes of the I.W.A., and in the vital matters of trade unionism and political action, the Party's program unequivocally took the position of the old International.2 That is, the new Party would energetically support trade unionism and would base its parliamentary activity upon substantial trade union backing. A program of immediate demands was also adopted, and the Party headquarters was established in Chicago. J. P. McDonnell became editor of the Party's English organ, The Labor Standard, and Douai was made assistant editor of all Party publications. Organizational, if not ideological, unity was thus established. The conflicting Marxist and Lassallean groups went right on with their disputes in the new organization. Lassallean opportunism, although as such a declining force during the next decade, was soon to graduate into its lineal political descendant, pseudo-Marxist right opportunism.

The S.L.P. and the Great Railroad Strike

The economic crisis of 1873 was one of the severest in American history. The employers, taking advantage of the huge unemployment, slashed wages on all sides. The workers desperately replied with a series of bitter strikes, such as this country had never before experienced. These strikes were mainly spontaneous, most of the unions having fallen to pieces during the economic crisis. In 1874-75, there were broad, hard-fought strikes in the textile and mining industries. The "long strike" of 1875 in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania culminated in the hanging of ten Irish workers and the imprisonment of twenty-four others, as "Molly Maguires." They were falsely charged with murder, arson, and other violence against the mine owners. This was another of the many shameful labor frame-up cases that have disfigured American history.

The most important strike of this period, however, was the big railroad strike of 1877. This reached the intensity of virtual civil war. Beginning in Martinsburg, West Virginia, on July 17, 1877, all crafts, Negro and white, struck against a deep wage slash. Like a prairie fire the spontaneous strike spread over many railroads, from coast to coast. The listing weak railroad brotherhoods, led by conservatives, were but a small factor. For the first time the United States found itself in the grip of a national strike.

The government proceeded ruthlessly to break the strike. The big road centers were flooded with militia and federal troops. About 100,000 soldiers were under arms.3 In many places the soldiers fraternized the strikers; in others they fired upon the crowds, and in some places the militant strikers drove them out. Many scores were killed.

Finally, the desperate strike was crushed. The workers learned at bitter cost the need for strong unions and organized political action. This near-civil war deeply shook all sections of the population throughout the land.

The Workingmen's Party was very active in this great strike, as in all others of the period. The Party executive urged the workers and the public to support the strike; it raised the eight-hour demand and called for nationalization of the railroads. In Chicago, a socialist stronghold, the Party organized an effective general strike. "Chicago is in possession of the Communists," shrieked the newspapers. Albert R. Parsons was then one of the most active Party leaders in Chicago. The leadership of the socialists in St. Louis was also equally outstanding, and it made the strike very effective. "This is a labor revolution," cried the local paper, The Republican. For a week the Party-led strike committee was in virtual possession of St. Louis.4 Finally, the strike was crushed by troops and the wholesale arrest of the strikers' leaders. Activities were carried on by the Party in other strike centers.

For the Workingmen's Party all this was a new and tremendous experience in leading huge masses in struggle. It was a powerful blow against the sectarian barriers that were separating the Party from the workers. Marx and Engels hailed the great mass struggle. In its 1877 convention the Party changed its name to the Socialistic Labor Party of North America. The Party grew rapidly; by 1879 it had 10,000 members in 25 states, and between 1876 and 1878, 24 papers were established.

During this critical period, in 1877, there was published in the United States the famous scientific work, Ancient Society, by Lewis Henry Morgan. It was primarily a study of the social organization of the Iroquois Indians and perhaps the most important book ever written in the Western Hemisphere. Engels declared that "it is one of the few epoch-making books of our times." Morgan was not a Socialist, but Engels said of him that "in his own way [he] discovered afresh in America the materialist conception of history discovered by Marx forty years ago."5

Workers' and Farmers' Political Struggles

Following the big strikes of 1877, the workers, outraged by the brutal suppression methods of the government, took a sharp turn toward political action. Labor parties sprang up in many cities and states. In the meantime, the farmers, under the pressure of the severe economic crisis, also embarked upon political activity. They created the Greenback Party, whose cure-all panacea was the issuance of paper-money green-backs, hopefully to pay off the farmers' mortgages, to liquidate the national debt, and to finance a general prosperity. In the 1876 elections the workers' parties refused to support tire Greenback Party, because it had 110 labor demands in its program.

By 1878, however, there had developed a farmer-labor alliance, the National Greenback-Labor Party. This party, which by then included in its program minimum labor demands, scored considerable success in the elections of that year, polling its high vote of 1,050,000 and sending 15 members to Congress. The capitalist press shouted that the Communist revolution was at hand. But it was an uneasy alliance of workers and farmers. Labor's forces resented the domination of the party by businessmen and big farmers, and they also reacted against the minor stress that was placed upon the workers' demands. Disintegration of the party, therefore, set in; so that in the 1880 presidential elections its candidate, General Weaver, got only 300,000 votes. The Greenback-Labor Party was already far along the road to oblivion.

The Marxists generally took a position of participating in these important political struggles. They actively supported the building of the local and state workingmen's parties, and they also endorsed the general plan of a worker-farmer political alliance. They raised demands, too, for the Negro workers. However, they had opposed supporting the Greenback Party in the 1876 elections on the sound ground that it did not defend the workers' interests. In the 1878 elections considerable socialist support was given to the Greenback-Labor Party candidates, and in 1880 a national endorsement of that party's candidates was extended by the Socialist Labor Party.

In the carrying out of this general line there was gross opportunism. The Lassalleans, headed by Van Patten and other middle class intellectuals, controlled the Party. Taking advantage of the heavy defeats suffered by the trade unions during the economic crisis and misinterpreting the swing of the workers toward political action, they held that the trade unions had proved themselves to be worthless and that thenceforth the Party should devote itself exclusively to parliamentary political action. They elaborated upon this opportunism by making impermissible compromises with the Greenbackers and by surrendering to Denis Kearney of the Pacific Coast, with his reactionary slogan, "The Chinese must go." They also watered down the S.L.P. program until it called for the abolition of capitalism by a step-at-a-time process. The Lassalleans, here and in Germany, were gradually dropping Lassalle's original Utopian demand for state-financed producers' co-operatives, and were being transformed into the characteristic right-wing Social-Democrats, who were to wreak Such havoc with the whole world's labor movement for many decades.

The crass opportunism of the S.L.P. right-wing leadership antagonized Sorge, Parsons, Schilling, McDonnell, and other Marxists and trade unionists in the Party. The latter elements, in particular, insisted that the Party should combine economic with political action. The Party conventions from 1877 to 1881 were torn with quarrels over this issue. The factional split widened, minor secession movements developed, membership declined, papers succumbed, and the Party sank into an internal crisis. Meanwhile, a new danger appeared on the horizon—anarcho-syndicalism. During the next few years, this was to threaten the very life of the Socialist Labor Party.

The Anarcho-Syndicalist Movement

Anarcho-syndicalism originated from a number of causes. Among these were the following: (a) the extreme violence with which the government repressed strikes generated among workers the idea of "meeting force with force"; (b) the robbing of workers' election candidates of votes tended to discredit working class political action altogether; (c) the fact that millions of immigrant workers had no votes also operated against organized political action; (d) the opportunist policies of the reformist leadership of the S.L.P. disgusted and repelled militant workers; (e) the influence of petty-bourgeois radicals upon the working class, and (f) the injection of European anarchist ideas gave a specific ideological content to the movement.

As early as 1875, to defend themselves, German workers in Chicago formed an armed group. This tendency spread rapidly, as a result of the government violence in the big 1877 strikes. In 1878, the S.L.P. national executive condemned the trend and ordered its advocates to leave the Party. In October 1881, the supporters of "direct action," led principally by Albert R. Parsons6 and August Spies, met in Chicago and organized the Revolutionary Socialist Labor Party. This movement, however, did not take on a definitely anarchist complexion until after the arrival of Johann Most, a German anarchist, in 1882. Most found willing hearers, and in October 1883, a joint convention of anarchists and members of the Revolutionary Socialist Labor Party was held.

This convention formed the International Working People's Association.7 Its program proposed "the destruction of the existing class government by all means, i.e., by energetic, implacable, revolutionary, and international action," and the establishment of a system of industry based on "the free exchange of equivalent products between the production organizations."8 The program condemned the ballot as a device designed by the capitalists to fool the workers. The Chicago group, more syndicalist than anarchist, inserted the clause that "the International recognizes in the trade union the embryonic group of the future society." Behind this movement was the anarchist anti-Marxist conception that socialism could be brought about by the desperate action of a small minority of the working class, impelling the masses into action.

The opportunist-led S.L.P. shriveled in the face of the strong drive of the anarcho-syndicalists. By 1883 the S.L.P. membership had dwindled to but 1,500, whereas that of the International went up to about 7,000. Also, the latter's several journals were flourishing. In April 1883, after six years as S.L.P. national secretary, Van Patten suddenly disappeared, turning up later as a government job-holder. Shortly afterward attempts were made by prominent S.L.P. members to fuse that organization with the anarcho-syndicalist group; but to no avail, the latter replying that the S.L.P. members should join their organization individually. From then on it was an open struggle between the two parties.

The anarcho-syndicalist International met shipwreck in May 1886, at Chicago. The militants of that organization were taking a leading part m the A.F. of L. trade unions' big agitation for the national eight-hour general strike movement, which climaxed on May first. At the McCormick Harvester plant six striking workers were killed by the police. The anarcho-syndicalists called a mass meeting of protest in the Haymarket on May 4th, with Parsons, Spies, and Fielden as the principal speakers. Some unknown person threw a bomb, killing seven police and four rkers and wounding many more. In the wild hysteria following this event, Parsons, Fischer, Lingg, Fielden, Schwab, Spies, Engel, and Neebe were arrested. After a criminally unfair trial, another on the growing list of labor frame-ups, they were all convicted. Neebe, Schwab, and Fielden were glven long prison terms; Lingg committed suicide while awaiting trial and Parsons, Spies, Fischer and Engel were hanged on November 11, 1887. Governor John Altgeld, six years later, released the four reining in prison and proclaimed their innocence. Haymarket Affair was a heavy blow especially to the International group and after a futile effort in l887 to amalgamate with the S.L.P it dissolved. The substance of the Haymarket outrage was an attempt by the employers to destroy the young trade union movement.

The Knights of Labor

With the revival of industry, beginning in 1879, trade unionism, weakened in the long economic crisis, again spread with great rapidity. To meet the fierce exploitation by the employers, the workers had to have organization. Local trades councils and labor assemblies grew in many cities, and small craft unions also began to take shape. The Socialists, while only a small minority in the membership and leadership of the unions, were very active in all this work. The S.L.P. Bulletin, in September 1880, declared that the formation of the central bodies "has been accomplished mainly by the efforts of Socialists who influence and in some places control these assemblies, and are respected in all of them."9

A serious attempt to organize the labor movement upon a national scale was made through the International Labor Union, formed early in 1878. This center developed out of the joint efforts of such Socialists as Sorge, McDonnell, and Otto Weydemeyer, and also of the noted eight-hour day advocates, Ira Steward and G. E. McNeill. The I.L.U. laid heavy stress upon the eight-hour day, and advocated the ultimate emancipation of the working class. The organization finally developed, however, chiefly as a union of textile workers. It conducted a number of strikes, but was formally dissolved in 1887. More successful was the next big effort, the Knights of Labor.

The Noble Order of the Knights of Labor was organized in Philadelphia in December 1869, by Uriah S. Stephens and a handful of workers. It was at first limited to garment workers, but in 1871 it expanded to other trades. With the decline of the National Labor Union, the Knights of Labor grew and by 1877 it had 15 district or state assemblies. Like various other labor unions of the period, the K. of L. was a secret organization with an elaborate ritual. It held its first general assembly, or national convention, in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1878, when it became an open body. The Order grew rapidly in the aftermath of the great 1877 strikes and under the effects of reviving industry. In 1883, the K. of L. had 52,000 members; in 1885, 111,000; and in 1886, its peak about 700,000. Stephens was its Grand Master Workman until 1879-when he was succeeded by T. V. Powderly, who served until 1893, at which time he was replaced by J. R. Sovereign.

The K. of L. contained trends of Marxism, Lassalleanism, and "pure and simple" trade unionism. Its program set as its goal the Lassallean objective, "to establish co-operative institutions such as will tend to supersede the wage system by the introduction of a co-operative industrial system." It proposed a legislative program which included labor, currency, and land reforms, and also government ownership 0f the railroads and telegraphs, as well as national control of banking. The Marxist influence was to be seen chiefly in the many militant strikes of the K. of L. The Order considered craft unionism too narrow in spirit and scope, and it aimed at a broad organization of the whole working class. Its motto was "An injury to one is the concern of all." The K. of L. accepted workers of all crafts into its local mixed assemblies. It had many Negro workers in its ranks and about 10 percent of its members were women. Professionals and small businessmen were also admitted, to the extent of 25 percent of the local membership.

Although its conservative leadership, heavily influenced by Lassallean and outright bourgeois conceptions, deprecated strikes, even sinking to the level of actual strikebreaking, the K. of L. made its greatest progress as a result of economic struggles. During 1884-85 the organization was especially effective in a number of big strikes of telegraphers, miners, lumbermen, and railroaders. Harassed masses of workers turned hopefully to the new organization, and the employers viewed it with the gravest alarm. The K. of L. swiftly became a powerful force in the industrial struggle. It also was active politically, participating generally in the broad labor and farmer political movements of its era.

The period of the rise of the K. of L. was one of internal crisis within the S.L.P.—what with the crippling effects of the right-wing leadership, the continuing pest of sectarianism, and the severe struggle of the Party against the anarcho-syndicalists. Nevertheless, the Party did exercise a considerable influence in the K. of L. from its earliest period as an open organization, particularly in the local assemblies, in various cities where German immigrant workers were in force.

The American Federation of Labor

As the Knights of Labor developed, a new, rival union movement, eventually to become the A.F. of L., also began to take shape. This was based upon the national craft unions, which could find no satisfactory place in the K. of L. These organizations, some of which antedated the CiviL War, objected to the mixed form of the K. of L., to its autocratic centralized leadership, to its chief concern with other than direct trade union questions, and to its neglect of their specific craft interests. Hence, gathering in Pittsburgh, on November 15, 1881, six national craft unions painters, carPenters, molders, glass workers, cigar makers, and iron, steel, and tin workers—were the prime movers in setting up an organization more to their liking, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada.

Marxist influence was manifest but not dominant in this new movement. Samuel Gompers, a Jewish immigrant cigar maker born in London, who was its leading spirit, had long been associated with Marxist circles; indeed, he had probably belonged to the I.W.A., but later found it expedient to deny the fact. Gompers said that he had studied German so as to be able to read Marx's Das Kapital. Adolph Strasser, Ferdinand Laurrell, and P. J. McGuire, close Gompers associates, had been members of the S.L.P. There were eight S.L.P. members present among the 107 delegates at the founding convention. Marxist conceptions also stood out in the new body's preamble, still in effect in the A.F. of L. today. This signalizes "a struggle between capital and labor, which must grow in intensity from year to year." The constitution, which granted a high measure of autonomy to the national unions, was copied almost verbatim from that of the British Trades Union Congress and its Parliamentary Committee.10

The general trade union programs of the K. of L. and the new Federation were similar, but there were also important differences. "The Knights demanded government ownership of the systems of transportation and communication, but the new Federation did not. Nor did the Federation accept the monetary program of the Knights of Labor, indicating that it definitely regarded the industrial capitalist rather than the banker as the chief enemy of the wage-earners, and-unlike the Knights—had pretty nearly rid itself of the belief in financial panaceas. It is also significant that the Federation made no reference to producers or consumers co-operatives, and failed to recommend compulsory arbitration which the Knights supported."11 The new Federation was evidently geared to limiting itself to concessions under capitalism, rather than aiming at the abolition of the existing regime of wage slavery.

It was clear soon after its foundation that the new labor center, basing itself upon the skilled workers, was little concerned with the welfare of the masses of semi-skilled and unskilled. The A.F. of L. aimed chiefly at organizing the developing labor aristocracy, a policy which dovetailed with the employer policy of corrupting the skilled workers at the expense of the unskilled.' An anti-Negro bias was also to H observed in the affiliated A.F. of L. unions, reflecting the employers policy of discriminating against these workers. These were long step backward from the National Labor Union and the Knights of Labor. The K. of L. at its height, with some 700,000 members, had about 60,000 Negroes in its ranks, a figure not reached by the A.F. of L. for about fifty years, when it counted, however, a total of some three million members.

At first the new Federation was not considered as an enemy of the Knights of Labor—thus, at its first convention, 47 of the 107 delegates came from K. of L. organizations. Potential antagonisms sharpened, however, and soon the two labor centers were at loggerheads. Efforts were made, especially by the A.F. of L. leaders in the early years, to harmonize and unite the two bodies, but these came to naught and the rivals fought it out, to the eventual disappearance of the Knights.

For its first five years the Federation stagnated along, with only about 50,000 members. After its initial year Gompers was its president. At the Federation's second convention, in 1882, only 19 delegates attended. Nor were the three succeeding annual conventions any more promising. The attention of the workers, dazzled by the successful strikes of the K. of L., was focused on that organization. But the great events of 1886 were soon radically to change the whole labor union situation.

The National Eight-Hour Fight

The developing class struggle after the Civil War reached a new height of militancy in the great fight for the eight-hour day in 1886. The agitation for this measure had been on the increase ever since the end of the war. Its foundation was the intensified exploitation to which the workers were being subjected. Marx called the eight-hour movement "the first fruit of the Civil War ...that ran with the seven leagued boots...from the Atlantic to the Pacific."12

The Federation leaders, who were far more militant then than now, seized upon the shorter-hours issue. "Hovering on the brink of death, the Federation turned to the heroic measure of a universal strike which had been suggested a decade before by the Industrial Brotherhood. At its invention in Chicago in 1884 a resolution was adopted to the effect that from and after May 1, 1886, eight hours shall constitute a day's Work."13 The Federation put its forces behind the movement, but Powderly, the head of the Knights of Labor, a rank conservative, made the fatal mistake of opposing the strike.

The general strike centered in Chicago, where the Parsons-Schilling forces headed the Central Labor Union. Nationally, it was highly successful, some 350,000 workers, including large numbers of K. of L. members, going on strike. The eight-hour day was established in many sections, particularly in the building trades. And more important, despite the Haymarket outrage committed by the bosses (described earlier), a tremendous wave of trade union organization was set on its way. This laid the basis for the modern trade union movement.

Out of this movement was born historic International May Day, which, however, the A.F. of L., its creator, has never seen fit to celebrate, although A.F. of L. unions participated in May Day celebrations for many years. May first was adopted as the day of celebration of world labor at the International Socialist Congress in Paris, France, in July 1889. Since then, tens of millions of workers have marched on that day in every city of the world, in anticipation of the final victory of the working class.14

The 1886 strike virtually decided that the Federation and not the K. of L. would be the national trade union center. At its December 1886 convention in Columbus, the original Federation, now with some 316,469 members, and growing rapidly, reorganized itself and adopted its new name of the American Federation of Labor. Although the K. of L. gained heavily in numbers as a result of the great 1886 struggle, it had definitely lost the leadership of labor and soon thereafter began to decline in strength. By 1890 it had only 200,000 members and was no longer the decisive labor factor.

In the struggle for leadership the A.F. of L. had a number of advantages over the K. of L. The craft form of organization, based on the key role of the skilled workers in this period, was superior to the hodgepodge mixed assemblies of the K. of L. Its decentralized form was also more effective than the paralyzing overcentralization of the K. of L. The A.F. of L.'s policy of confining its membership strictly to workers likewise gave it a big advantage over the K. of L., which took in large numbers of farmers, professionals, and small businessmen. Its strike policy, too, was a big improvement over the no-strike attitude of Powderly and his fellow bureaucrats. The rejection of current money nostrums and other social panaceas that infested the K. of L. also helped the A.F. of L., and so did the opposition to the K. of L.'s adventurous petty-bourgeois political policies.

Despite these advantages, which compared favorably with the Knights of Labor, the A.F. of L. program contained a whole series of weaknesses which were to manifest themselves with deadly effect in the coming decades. The A.F. of L.'s gradual rejection of a Socialist perspective implied its eventual outright acceptance of capitalism and a slave role for the working class. Its concentration upon the skilled workers finally developed into direct betrayal of the unskilled and the foreign-born masses. Its obvious white chauvinism was a callous sell-out of the Negro people from the start. Its opposition to independent political action grew into a surrender to the fatal two-party system of the capitalists. Its general program, which through the years became a real adaptation of the labor movement to the profit interests of the powerful and arrogant monopolists, finally resulted in the wholesale corruption of the labor aristocracy, in the growth of a monstrous system of inter-union scabbing, and eventually in the creation of the most corrupt and reactionary labor leadership the world had ever known.

In the early years of the A.F. of L. the non-Marxist leadership of the unions, not yet solidly organized as a dominating clique, reflected some of the militancy of the rank and file under the latter's pressure. But with the development of American imperialism, particularly from 1890 on, they soon fell into the role allotted to them by the employers, as "labor lieutenants of capital," basing themselves upon the skilled at the expense of the unskilled. They proceeded to build up the notorious Gompers machine, which ever since has been such a barrier to working class progress. They were able to do this because of the whole complex of specifically American factors, related to the rapid growth of American industry, which had resulted in relatively high living standards for the workers as compared to those in other countries, and which were operating to prevent a rapid radicalization of the American working class.

The Henry George Campaign

The great eight-hour struggle naturally had important political repercussions for the workers. As the 1886 fall elections approached, the workers organized labor parties in a number of cities. The Socialists were active in all these parties, which played a considerable role in the local Sections. But by far the most important of such independent movements was the 1886 campaign of Henry George for mayor of New York City.

Henry George, because of his notable book on the single tax, Progress and Poverty, published in 1879 and selling eventually up to several million copies, had gained a wide popularity among the toiling masses. George considered the people's woes as originating basically from the private monopolization of the land, and his main social remedy was to tax this monopoly out of existence. This was the single tax. George failed to note, however, as Engels and the S.L.P. leaders sharply pointed out, that the main cause of the workers' poverty and the antagonism of classes was the capitalists' ownership of all the social means of production and that, therefore, the final solution, as the Socialists proposed, could only be had through the collective ownership by society of all these means of production. George did not understand the capitalist class as the basic enemy of the working class and the people. In his election platform, however, he included demands for government ownership of the telegraph and railroads, as well as some minor labor planks.

Henry George was nominated by the local trade union movement in New York. The S.L.P. also endorsed his candidacy as a struggle of labor against capital, "not because of his single tax theory, but in spite of it." While basically criticizing the single tax, Engels, who paid close attention to American labor developments, agreed that the Socialists should offer Henry George qualified support. The main thing, he said, was that the masses of workers were taking important first steps in independent political action.

The bitterly contested local campaign resulted in votes as follows: Abram S. Hewitt, 90,456; Henry George, 67,930; Theodore Roosevelt, 60,474. 15 The George forces claimed with justification that they had been counted out. Following the New York elections, the Socialists and the George forces split over the question of program, and the single tax movement, torn with dissension, soon petered out.

In the aftermath of the tremendous class struggles, beginning with the big national railroad strike of 1877, which climaxed in the eight-hour fight of 1886, the S.L.P., although still weakened by internal confusion and dissension, began to grow. At its seventh convention, in 1889, the Party claimed to have 70 sections, as against 32 at its convention of two years before. The Party press was also looking up-The Party, however, was far from having developed a solid Marxist program and leadership. As yet, those who could actually be called Marxists were very few. Consequently, the Party, while abiding by its ultimate goal of socialism and using the writings of Marx and Engels as its guide, was wafted hither and yon by the pressures of the current class struggle. Still torn with division, the Party had, in its fourteen years of life so far, developed various ideological deviations, most of which were to plague the Socialist movement for years to come.

There were the "rights," who had dominated the Party's leadership since its foundation in 1876. They underestimated the importance of trade unionism, made opportunistic deals with Greenbackers and other movements, yielded to Chinese exclusionist sentiment, catered to the skilled workers, and generally played down the leading role of the Party. Then there were the sectarian "lefts," who wanted to cast aside the ballot as a delusion, refused to participate in broad labor and farmer movements, toyed with dual unionism, and satisfied themselves with mere propaganda of revolutionary slogans. There were also the "direct actionists," anarcho-syndicalists who, as we have just seen, had nearly wrecked the Party. And finally, on the part of all these groupings, there was a deep misunderstanding and neglect of the vital Negro question.

Marx, and especially Engels, gave direct advice to the American Socialist movement during the seventies and eighties, fighting against all the characteristic deviations.16 These two great leaders sought tirelessly to break the isolation of the Socialists from the broad masses, urging their active participation in all the elementary movements of the working class and its allies—in the trade unions, the labor parties, and the farmer movements. But the great Marx died in 1883, and Engels followed him a dozen years later in 1895. Thus the young American proletariat lost its two most brilliant and devoted teachers and leaders.

One of the most serious handicaps of the S.L.P. during this whole period was its almost exclusive German composition. The publication of Lawrence Gronlund's Cooperative Commonwealth in 1884, and Edward Bellamy's famous Looking Backward in 1888, helped to popularize Socialist and semi-Socialist ideas among the American masses, but Justus Ebert could still say, "The Socialist Labor Party of the eighties was a German party and its official language was German. The American element was largely incidental."17 And Lawrence Gronlund also said that m 1880 one could count the native-born Socialists on one hand.

Engels spoke of the "German-American Socialist Labor Party," and he fought to improve its isolated situation. In a letter to Florence Kelley Wischnewetsky, he said of the S.L.P.: "This Party is called on to play a very important part in the movement. But in order to do so they will have to doff every remnant of their foreign garb. They will have to become out and out American. They cannot expect the Americans to come to them; they, the minority, and the immigrants, must go to the Americans who are the vast majority and the natives. And to do that, they must above all things learn English."18

In 1889, the internal dissensions within the S.L.P. reached a breaking point. The opposition to the opportunist leadership, according to Ebert, turned around three major points: "First...its compromising political policy; second, its stronger pure and simple trade union tendencies; third, its German spirit and forms."19 The revolt was led by the New York Volkszeitung (Schewitsch-Jonas group), founded in 1878 as a German daily paper. The Busche-Rosenberg official leaders of the Party, a hangover from the old opportunist Van Patten group, were deposed and the Schewitsch-Jonas faction elected instead. This led to a split, and in consequence for a while there were two S.L.P.'s. The Rosenberg group, the minority faction, got the worst of the struggle. It lingered along weakly, calling itself the Social Democratic Federation, until finally it fused in 1897 with Debs' Social Democracy. Lucien Sanial wrote the new program of the S.L.P. The split strengthened the Marxist elements in the Party. The S.L.P. of today dates its foundation from this period.

In the following year, 1890, an event of major importance to the S.L.P. and the labor movement took place. This was the entrance of Daniel De Leon into the Party. De Leon, born in 1852 on the island of Curacoa off the coast of Venezuela, was a professor of international law at Columbia University, and had supported Henry George in the 1886 campaign. Brilliant, energetic, and ruthless, De Leon immediately became a power in the S.L.P. In 1891 he secured the post as editor of the Weekly People (later a daily) which he held from then on. For the next thirty years, long after his death in 1914, De Leon's writings were to exert a profound influence not only upon the S.L.P., but upon the whole left wing, right down to the formation of the Communist Party in 1919, and even beyond.

The S.L.P: De Leonism and Decline (1890–1900)

During the period from the mid-eighties to the end of the century, American industrial development proceeded at an unheard-of pace. "The United States," wrote Lenin in 1913, "is unequaled in the rapidity of development (of capitalism at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the twentieth century)."1 In these years the United States leaped from fourth to first place as an industrial nation, leaving England, "the workshop of the world," far behind. Kuszynski says that the United Slates, in 1894, was turning out, in value of manufactures, over twice as much as England.2

Meanwhile, as American industry expanded it also became monopolized. In 1901, J. Moody listed a total of 440 large industrial, financial, and franchise trusts, with a total capital of over $20 billion.3 United States Steel, Standard Oil, and many other great trusts in railroad, sugar, coal, etc., date from this period. Morgan, Rockefeller, Kuhn Loeb, and others were already huge concerns by the end of the century. A great financial oligarchy, ruthlessly ruling the country, had grown up. This was a time of the fiercest competition, and particularly during the economic crises of 1885 and 1893 the big capitalist beasts devoured thousands of the smaller ones. The middle classes were being ground down, nor could the Sherman anti-trust law of 1890 save them. The workers were barbarously exploited and slaughtered in the industries.

The United States had become a powerful imperialist country. With its home market now assured, monopoly reached out for foreign conquests. The arrogant Wall Street monopolists, dominating the industries and the government, transformed the Monroe Doctrine into an instrument for the subjugation and exploitation of Latin America. By 1893, they had also virtually annexed the Hawaiian islands, on the route of conquest across the Pacific. In 1898, under the pretext of freeing Cuba, they provoked a war with Spain, with the result that the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Cuba fell into the hands of the United States. Flushed with imperialist ambition, Senator Lodge declared, "The American people and the economic forces which underlie all are carrying us forward to the economic supremacy of the world."4

Fierce Labor Struggles

The 1890's were a period of great labor struggles, exceeding in intensity and scope even those of the two previous decades. The working class, more and more employed in large enterprises, had grown very greatly in size. The arrogant capitalists, resolved to strip their wage slaves of every trade union defense and to subject them to the most intense exploitation humanly possible, met with extreme violence all resistance on the part of the workers to their imperious will. But they encountered a working class rapidly growing in numbers, understanding, and organization, and the hardest-fought strikes in our nation's history developed.

One of the most desperate of these was the great Homestead, Pennsylvania, strike of July 1892. The strike was directed against the Carnegie Steel Company by the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers, to prevent an announced wage cut. The company brought in 300 Pinkerton detective-gunmen to break the strike, but the armed workers drove them out and occupied the plants. Finally, however, the strike was broken, and a mortal blow was dealt to trade unionism throughout the trustified steel industry.

In the metal-mining country of the Rocky Mountain states, at the same time, there developed a whole series of strikes, in Colorado, Idaho, ind Montana. These reached the pitch of actual civil war, with armed encounters between strikers and troops. Many were killed on each side. These historic strikes, led by Bill Haywood, Vincent St. John, and other radicals, laid the basis for the famous Western Federation of Miners.

In this decade many important strikes also took place on the railroads, they culminated in the historic strike, beginning in May 1894, of the American Railway Union. This organization, which was industrial in form and a rival of the conservative railroad craft unions, was headed by Eugene V. Debs, who was not yet a Socialist. The strike began in the Pullman shops in Chicago against a wage reduction. It developed into a general strike on the railroads, with more than 100,000 workers out and many western roads tied up. The big strike was finally broken by the company's and government's use of scabs, troops, court injunctions, and the wholesale arrest of the strike leaders, including Debs.

Another big strike of this period was that of the coal miners, beginning in May 1893. Some 125,000 struck. The strike was broken; nevertheless the United Mine Workers virtually established itself as a solid union during this strike. Still another important workers' movement was the march of the unemployed to Washington in the hard times of 1894, led by General Jacob S. Coxey, a well-to-do businessman. In the final decade of the century the Knights of Labor faded out and the American Federation of Labor became the dominant organization, slowly increasing its membership to 548,321 in 1900.

The Role of De Leon

The S.L.P. bore heavy political responsibilities of leadership in the 1890's, faced as it was by rapidly developing American monopoly capitalism and by the intensely sharpening class struggle. If the Party was to function effectively and to grow it had to serve as the vanguard of the whole labor movement. This required that it should not only educate the workers regarding the final goal of socialism, but, imperatively, that it also give them practical leadership in all their daily struggles. But this mass guidance the S.L.P., under the leadership of Daniel De Leon, proved quite unable to provide.

De Leon made strong pretensions of being a Marxist, but until the day of his death in May 1914, he never succeeded in really becoming one. De Leon formally accepted such basic Marxist concepts as historical materialism, Marxist economics, and the class struggle. He also circulated the Marxist classics, knew the importance of industrial unionism, and was an advocate of a strong, centralized party. And above all, De Leon was a relentless fighter against right opportunism, his attacks against the right-wing Social-Democrats and against the reactionary leadership of the trade unions being classics of polemics. Nevertheless, De Leon's position was fundamentally revisionist, as he rewrote Marx in many important essentials. His general outlook was a mixture of "left" sectarianism and syndicalism. He was essentially a left petty-bourgeois radical. De Leon, for example, had a non-Marxist, syndicalist conception of the future socialist society. Marx, in The Communist Manifesto, pointed out the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which, as we see in the Soviet Union and the People's Democracies of Eastern Europe, implies the establishment of a workers' government in the interim period of socialism, between capitalism and communism. The function of this government is to act as an organ to repress the defeated, counter-revolutionary capitalist class, to build the new society, and to defend the country from foreign imperialist attacks. But De Leon never realized these facts. Departing radically from Marxist thinking, he early developed the syndicalist theory, borrowed mainly from the earlier anarcho-syndicalists,5 that the industrial unions would be the basis of the future society. This industrial organization, according to De Leon, would not be a state, with coercive powers, but simply an administrative apparatus.

In this respect De Leon's conceptions were in basic harmony with those of the I.W.W. syndicalists from 1905 on. De Leon said, "Industrial Unionism is the Socialist Republic in the making, and the goal once reached, the Industrial Union is the Socialist Republic in operation."6 He subscribed to the I.W.W. preamble, which declared that "By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old." And he definitely declared, "Where the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World will sit there will sit the nation's capital."7

After the Russian Revolution the S.L.P. leaders claimed that De Leon, with his concept of an industrial republic, had forecast the Soviet system, and that Lenin had congratulated him for so doing. But this was nonsense. De Leon's ideas of the structure of Socialist society were rooted in anarchist and left sectarian, not Marxist, sources. Significantly, De Leon's present-day followers, who rigidly cling to his ideas, have repudiated the whole organization of the Soviets.

De Leon also diverged widely from Marxism in his conception of how the revolution was to be brought about in the United States. He saw this in the sense of the workers taking over society in the face of a virtually unresisting capitalist class. It is a fact, of course, that Marx, long before, had made an exception of England and the United States in his generalization that the resistance of the capitalists to social progress would necessarily make the Socialist revolution violent in character. In this respect he said that "if, for example the working class in, England and the United States should win a majority in Parliament, in Congress, it could legally abolish those laws and institutions which obstruct its development.'"8 Marx qualified this with an "if"—that is, if the capitalists did not resist the legal transfer of power. Lenin later showed that the advance of imperialism in these two countries, by creating a big army and state bureaucracy, had changed this. The workers, true to their democratic instincts, would seek to make a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism, but they would have to face and defeat the capitalists' attempts to block them by violence.

De Leon, however, ignored these political changes in the United States and their consequences upon the ultimate fight for socialism. He elaborated his opportunist idea that the Party would peacefully win a majority at the polls and then, the Party's political function finished, it would at once dissolve; whereupon, the industrial unions would "take and hold" the industries, "locking out the capitalists." In the unlikely event that the latter would violently,resist, the industrial unions, although simply an administrative apparatus, would take care of them.9

De Leon had little conception of the leading role of the Party. His whole stress was upon the industrial unions before, during, and after the revolution. In his thinking they played the decisive role at all stages. Nor did he have any conception of Party democracy and discipline. He ruthlessly expelled all those who in any jot or tittle diverged from his dogmatism.

De Leon likewise deviated widely from Marxism on a whole series of vital questions of strategy and tactics. He had no conception of the farmers, middle class, and Negro people as natural allies of the working class. He rejected the labor party on principle, made no effort whatever to rally the Negro masses, withdrew from all farmer movements, and sneered at the fight of the middle classes against the trusts.

De Leon also had an almost solicitous regard for trusts as a basically progressive development. He stated, "We say, even if the Trust could be smashed, we would not smash it, because by smashing it, we would throw civilization back."10 This schematic attitude sufficed to cut the S.L.P. off from the mass struggle, healthy but not always skillfully waged, against the advance of ruthless monopoly capital. This wrong attitude toward the trusts also prevailed in the Socialist Party for many years, the latter dovetailing it with the slogan, "Let the Nation Own the Trusts."

Such sectarian trends sharply isolated the S.L.P. from all the elementary popular mass movements of the working people. To make this isolation doubly sure, De Leon also condemned on principle the fight for all immediate demands, which he characterized as "banana peels under the feet of the workers." Starting out with an acceptance of Henry George's wholly opportunistic program, De Leon wound up by rejecting partial demands altogether. Eventually he slashed the program of the S.L.P. to but one single demand, "the unconditional surrender of the capitalist class."

The trend of De Leonism was to reduce the Party to an isolated, sectarian, dogmatic body, propagating socialism in the abstract, as the S.L.P. continues to do to this very day. In 1891, when De Leon took the helm of the party, there were no Marxists able to challenge effectively his sectarian vagaries. Marx was dead, Engels was to die before De Leon got well going, the aged Sorge was no longer active, McDonnell had long since given up the work in the S.L.P., and the other Marxists, such as Sanial and Vogt, quickly fell under the spell of De Leon's brilliance. The tragedy of it all was that De Leonite thinking came to dominate the whole left wing for many years. Indeed, it was not until the advent of the stern realities of the Russian Revolution, the arrival in America of the profound Marxist writings of Lenin, and the formation of the Communist Party, a generation later, that the ideological influence of De Leon was finally broken.

The S.L.P. and the Trade Unions

By the 1890's the big capitalists of the United States had definitely launched upon a policy of hamstringing the fighting capacity of the working class by cultivating a labor aristocracy of better-paid, native-born, skilled workers. This they did at the expense of the unskilled and Negro workers. With the many advantages enjoyed by capitalism in this country, the capitalists had the financial reserves to carry out this policy of labor corruption to an extent far beyond anything ever achieved by the employers of Great Britain or any other capitalist country. The opportunist leaders of the A.F. of L. went right along with this general plan, with their bitter anti-socialism, class-collaborationism, opposition to a labor party, craft unionism, exclusion of Negroes and unskilled, and strike betrayals.

De Leon militantly attacked this official corruption, assailing the Gompers bureaucrats as "labor lieutenants of the capitalist class."11 But the general conclusion he drew from his analysis was wrong: namely, that the Socialists should withdraw from the old, conservative-led trade unions and devote themselves to building a professedly socialist labor movement. The effect of this policy was to leave the old unions in the hands of the reactionaries and to isolate the Socialists from these basic economic organizations of the working class. De Leon heaped his greatest scorn upon those who advocated the improvement of the conservative unions by "boring from within."

De Leon's dualist line went directly counter to the advice of Engels, who definitely favored working within the old unions. Already in 1887, warning against such isolating tendencies as De Leon's, Engels declared: "I think that all our practice has shown that it is possible to work alongwith the general movement of the working class at every one of its stages without giving up or hiding our own distinct position, and even organization, and I am afraid that if the German-Americans choose a different line they will commit a great mistake."12

The De Leon leadership in 1890 split with the A. F. of L. over the well-known "Sanial case." The S.L.P., with only a vague idea of the dividing line between Party and trade union, had its "American Section" affiliate with the independent Central Labor Federation of New York, which the Socialists led. Hence, when this body applied to the A.F. of L. for a charter, its delegate, Lucien Sanial, was rejected by Gompers on the grounds that the A.F. of L. did not accept the affiliation of political parties. After a bitter fight, the 1890 A.F. of L. convention in Detroit sustained Gompers' contention by a vote of 1699 to 535. Both Engels and Sorge later declared that Gompers was formally right in this issue, but De Leon seized upon the quarrel to drive a deep wedge between the S.L.P. and the A.F. of L. and to reduce greatly the socialist work done in that organization. The New York Central Labor Federation remained independent.

De Leon next turned his attention to the Knights of Labor, then definitely on the decline. He joined Mixed Assembly 1563 and had himself elected a delegate from this local to District Assembly No. 49 of New York, which the Socialists controlled. From this body De Leon was sent as a delegate to the 1893 General Assembly of the K. of L. There the Socialist delegates were chiefly responsible for defeating the reactionary Powderly and for electing J. R. Sovereign as Master Workman in his stead. Sovereign promised to make Lucien Sanial editor of the Order's Journal, but he later backed down on this agreement. Relations between Sovereign and the S.L.P. leaders therefore grew very strained; so that at the 1895 General Assembly of the K. of L. in Washington De Leon was refused a seat as a delegate.13

This experience finally sickened De Leon with work inside the old unions in general. Henceforth, he was as violently opposed to participation in the K. of L. as he was to work within the A.F. of L. Consequently, he had the Socialists, including District No. 49, also withdraw from the K. of L., as he had done from the A.F. of L. Then he proceeded to organize a new Socialist labor movement, one after his own liking, the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance.14 Significantly, Debs, with similar sectarian reasoning, had preceded De Leon by two years by founding the industrial union, the A.R.U., in competition with all the railroad craft unions.

The Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance

The S.T.L.A. was organized by De Leon without formal consultation with the party. He simply called a conference of the heads of the independent New York Central Labor Federation, the United Hebrew Trades, the Newark Central Labor Federation, and the seceded District Assembly No. 49, decided on a new organization, and launched the S.T.L.A. on December 13, 1895, at a mass meeting in Cooper Union. De Leon assured the doubting S.L.P. national executive committee that the S.T.L.A. would not be a rival to the A.F. of L., but would confine itself to organizing the unorganized. Experience quickly proved otherwise, however, and soon the new organization was in death grips with the old unions. Opposition to the S.T.L.A. began to mount also among S.L.P. trade unionists, but De Leon nevertheless managed to have the new organization endorsed at the Party's 1896 convention in New York, by a vote of 71 to 6.

In 1898 the S.T.L.A. claimed, excessively, to have 15,000 members. In reality it stagnated, incapable of growth. An auxiliary of the S.L.P., committed to support S.L.P. candidates in elections, and generally tied to De Leon's dogmas, the new general union could not attract the masses. It conducted a few minor strikes, and that was all. Ten years after its foundation, the S.T.L.A., in 1905, fused with other left-wing unions in forming the Industrial Workers of the World. At this convention De Leon claimed to represent 1,500 members in the S.T.L.A., but even this was an exaggerated figure. Meanwhile, the A.F. of L., which De Leon had long ago pronounced "deader than dead," continued to grow, expanding from 260,000 in 1895 to 1,480,000 in 1905.

One of the chief results of the S.T.L.A. was to create what turned out to be a fatal schism between the Party's trade unionists and the De Leon leadership. The dual organization, by pulling many militants out of the A.F. of L. unions, greatly weakened the Socialist forces in these bodies, and also their participation in the big strikes of the period. In the 1893 A.F. of L. convention in Chicago, the Socialist delegation, led by Thomas J. Morgan, had succeeded in getting through a twelve-point resolution including "the collective ownership by the people of all means of production and distribution." The latter plank was later defeated in a referendum. In the 1894 convention, the Socialists succeeded in defeating Gompers and electing as president for the ensuing year the conservative John McBride of the Miners Union. At this same convention the Socialists also had a resolution on the Negro question adopted, stating: "The A.F. of L. does not draw the color line, nor do its affiliates...a union that does cannot be admitted into affiliation with this body." In these formative years of the A.F. of L. a correct Marxist policy could have changed very considerably in a progressive direction the future history of that organization. But such dual unionism as that of the S.T.L.A., which in various forms was to plague the Marxists for twenty-five years after 1895, effectively crippled the left wing in the trade unions and facilitated the consolidation of the reactionary Gompers leadership.

The S.L.P. and the Negro

One of the greatest weaknesses throughout the history of the Socialist Labor Party was its incorrect position on the Negro question. It is a fact that ever since the Civil War, and even before it, the Marxists fought resolutely to include the Negro workers in the trade unions and to defend their economic interests. But they did not understand the Negro question as a developing national question, and they did not work out a full program of demands for the Negro people. Nor did they realize the true significance of the broad political demands raised by the Negro people themselves. This misunderstanding was particularly a handicap to the Negro masses during the reconstruction period after the Civil War, when the urgent need for working class support was most vital in their fight for land and freedom.

De Leon did nothing to clear up the weakness and confusion of the Marxists on the Negro question. On the contrary, he intensified it. After the Civil War the newly-emancipated Negro people, under heavy economic and political pressures, began to develop toward becoming a nation. This development has continued down to our years.18 De Leon, who claimed to be the leading Marxist theoretician in this country, had no inkling whatever of this basic development, even in its most elementary aspects. In fact, he virtually ignored the burning Negro question altogether. His writings are almost bare of references to the struggles and hardships of the Negro people, although the news dispatches of the times were full of reports of barbarous lynchings of Negroes, and the Negro people were being outrageously discriminated against politically, economically, and socially all over the country. Behind such gross neglect, as in the case of many later Socialist and trade union leaders, lurked the corroding disease of white chauvinism.

White chauvinism, the bourgeois ideology of white supremacy, is based upon the false notion that Negroes are inferior beings to whites. It is systematic discrimination and persecution directed against the Negro people economically, politically, socially. Although completely disproved innumerable times scientifically and in the real life of our people, it still persists. This is because the planters and industrialists, finding that it enables them to force lower living standards upon the Negro people, assiduously cultivate it. Originally the plantation owners' ideological justification for slavery, white chauvinism still infects in varying degrees all the strata of the white population, including large sections of the working class.

What little De Leon did write on the Negro question was incorrect. He reduced it all only to a class issue. The Negro constitutes, he said, "a special division in the ranks of labor...In no economic respect is he different from his fellow wage slaves of other races; yet by reason of his race, which long was identified with serfdom, the rays of the Social Question reached his mind, through such broken prisms that they are refracted into all the colors of the rainbow, preventing him from appreciating the white light of the question."19

The only program that De Leon had for the bitterly persecuted Negro people was eventual socialism. He saw no need to raise immediate demands to relieve the barbarous persecution to which they were being subjected. This basically incorrect attitude, as formulated by De Leon, became for many years the settled Socialist theoretical and practical approach to the Negro question, not only by "rights," but also largely by "lefts." It was not until after the advent of the Communist Party, a generation later, that the immense importance of the struggle of the Negro people to the Socialist movement in general was fully realized, that its nature as a national question came to be understood, and that correct Marxist policies were formulated to meet it.

The Decline of the Socialist Labor Party

In 1900, after twenty-four years of existence, the S.L.P. had not more than five or six thousand members, in twenty-six states. 20 The Party's national vote had advanced to 82,204. The great preponderance of the membership was foreign-born—German, Jewish, Scandinavian, Polish, etc. The party was largely isolated from the mass organizations and struggles of the toiling masses. Obviously, this was not the picture of a prospering vanguard party of the working class.

Undoubtedly, adverse objective conditions were in large part responsible for the S.L.P.'s failure to grow—a question discussed in Chapter 37. Even with the most correct of policies, under the circumstances of the time, it would have been difficult to build a strong Marxist party in a capitalist country such as the United States. Nevertheless, there were far greater opportunities for increasing the Party's numbers and influence than the S.L.P. was able to realize. This failure was largely due to De Leon's grave sectarian political errors. His withdrawal from the conservative trade unions, his anti-labor-party, anti-Negro, and anti-farmer-movement policies, and his abandonment of all immediate demands, all of which became the Party line, had particularly disastrous consequences for the Party during the big economic and political struggles of the 1890's.

That the S.L.P. under De Leon was unable to unite and give leadership to the Marxists of the country was also graphically demonstrated by the growth, during De Leon's period, of a whole series of Socialist and near-Socialist tendencies outside the control of the official De Leon leadership. Among these were the Debs movement in the Middle West, the radical Socialist group of Haywood and others among the miners of the Rocky Mountain states, the left and radical elements in the disintegrating Populist movement, and the crystallization of an opposition group within the S.L.P. itself.

The S.L.P. under De Leon's sectarian, dogmatic leadership, was also quite incapable of learning from its mistakes. Consequently, it could not reorient itself to draw into its ranks the new Socialist forces, nor meet the new and pressing problems being thrust upon it by developing American imperialism. In short, it had exhausted its role as the Socialist party of the American proletariat. Hence it began to disintegrate and to split, in the first stage. of being overwhelmed by the new Socialist forces and of being supplanted by a new organization, the Socialist Party.

The Split in the S.L.P.

The split movement began over the question of the S.T.L.A., but it soon involved the whole sectarian, authoritarian regime of De Leon. Almost immediately after the founding of the new general union, the trade unionists in the party had begun to line up against it. De Leon tried to stifle the growing discontent with a policy of repressions and expulsions. In December 1898, however, the Volkszeitung, taking an opposition stand, made so bold as to criticize openly the party policy. This brought about a sharp factional battle between the De Leonites and the dissidents. Among the Volkszeitung movement's leaders was Morris Hillquit. Born in Riga, in 1870, Hillquit had come to America when he was fifteen years old and worked at shirtmaking and other trades. At one time he was secretary of the United Hebrew Trades. He acquired a degree in law in 1893. As a member of the S.L.P., Hillquit took an active part in the anti-De Leon struggle.

The bitter Party fight came to a climax on July 10, 1899, when Section New York, which by a decision of the convention of 1896 had the authority to elect the national executive committee and the national secretary of the S.L.P., voted to remove the officials then in office and elected a new set. Thus, Henry L. Slobodin became the national secretary, in place of Henry Kuhn. De Leon refused to recognize this action, denouncing the rebels as "Kangaroos." A physical struggle ensued for possession of the Party's buildings, newspapers, and funds. Both groups claimed to be the Socialist Labor Party and each published its own The People. Eventually the courts ruled that the De Leon faction had the legal right to use the Party name. 21

In the meantime, the seceding group, still calling itself the S.L.P., held a convention in Rochester on January 1, 1900. Present were 59 delegates, representing about half of the Party's membership. The convention promptly condemned the S.T.L.A., drafted a new platform, enacted a new set of by-laws for governing the Party, and put up presidential candidates for the coming elections, Job Harriman and Max Hayes. The convention also adopted a resolution proposing fusion with the Social-Democratic Party, of which Debs and Victor Berger were the leaders.

The split was irretrievably disastrous to the old S.L.P. Its membership fell off to about one-half, and its candidates in the 1900 elections, James T. Maloney and Valentine Remmel, polled only 34,191 votes, or less than half the Party's vote in 1898. De Leon, no longer facing any opposition at the 1900 convention, promptly cut out "the tapeworm of immediate demands" from the Party's platform and left it with but one plank—a demand for the revolution. The S.L.P. convention also adopted a resolution prohibiting its members, on pain of expulsion, from becoming officers in old-line trade unions. The S.L.P., having lost the leadership of the Marxist movement in the United States, was now fully on the way to becoming the tiny, dry-as-dust, backward-looking, reactionary sect that it is today. De Leonism in the S.L.P. had arrived at its logical goal. But unfortunately De Leon's sectarian influence was long to linger in left-wing circles in the United States.

The Socialist Party (1900–1905)

At its foundation in 1900-01 the Socialist Party, which was eventually to give birth to the Communist Party, confronted a powerful and triumphant capitalist system in the United States. From 1860 to 1900, the value of manufactured products had leaped up from $1,885,825,000 to $11,406,927,000; the amount of capital invested rose from $1,000,856,000 to $8,975,256,000; the number of workers in industry increased from 1,310,000 to 4,713,000 and 14,000,000 immigrants had poured into the country. The population grew during these four decades from 31,443,321 to 75,994,575- The United States had been transformed from a predominantly agricultural country into the leading industrial nation in the world. Its tempo of development was to go right on through the period we are here discussing.

American capitalism, at the turn of the century, had definitely entered the stage of imperialism, as scientifically defined by Lenin. Its industries had acquired a high degree of monopoly; its financial system had become dominated by a few large banks; its big industrialists and bankers had fused into an oligarchy of finance capital which dominated the state; it was already a decisive factor in dividing up the world's markets; and it had, in the Spanish-American War, begun its grab for its imperialistic share of the world's territories. The agrarian country of Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln had become the monopolist, imperialist land of the Morgans and the Rockefellers.1

The big capitalists, in forging their way ahead to solid class domination of the United States, had slugged the workers, farmers, and middle classes in many hard-fought political battles since the Civil War, as we have seen, and they controlled the government from stem to gudgeon. In 1900, under the leadership of Bryan, the Democratic candidate, and with their main slogan directed against American imperialism, the farmers and small business elements made another bid for power. But to no avail. The Republican candidate of Wall Street, William McKinley, won handily. And when the new president was assassinated in Buffalo, on September 6, 1901, by Leon F. Czolgosz, an anarchist, he was succeeded by the ultra-jingoist and imperialist, Theodore Roosevelt.

Corruption of the A.F. of L. Leadership

Toward the workers the arrogant employers followed a two-phased policy of repression; on the one hand, violently combating every attempt at labor organization and struggle, and on the other hand, making minor wage concessions to the skilled workers in order to use them as a means to paralyze the struggles and to keep down the wages of the mass of the working class. The many bloody strikes of this general period and the extreme corruption of the A.F. of L. leaders were eloquent testimonials to the vigor with which the employers followed this labor-crushing policy.

By 1900 the top A.F. of L. leadership, ardent supporters of capitalism, had become thoroughly corrupted, politically and personally. They had accepted as their basis the employer policy, which became more and more marked as the imperialist era developed, of bribing the skilled workers at the expense of the semi-skilled and unskilled. They were indeed what De Leon called them, "labor lieutenants of the capitalists." The A.F. of L. leaders, in line with this policy, clung to their antique craft union system of having a dozen or more unions in each given industry, although the rise of the trusts and intense specialization of labor had rendered craft unionism obsolete. They fought desperately against every left-wing suggestion of industrial unionism, whether in the shape of new organizations or by the transformation of the old craft unions. Scores of lost strikes, in which habitually some of the unions would remain at work while the rest were striking, testified to the complete inadequacy of the craft form of organization and indicated the urgent need of the workers for industrial unionism. If the unions managed to register some growth during this period it was in spite of the policies of their reactionary leaders and because of the desperate need of the workers to defend their living standards. The Socialists militantly urged the foreign-born to unionize.

Especially did the labor bureaucrats of the A.F. of L. and Railroad Brotherhoods, loyal to the basic interests of the bosses, stand guard against independent political action by the workers. In 1895 the A.F. of L. convention decided "that party politics, whether they be Democratic, Republican, Socialistic, Populistic, Prohibitionist, or any other, would have no place in the convention of the American Federation of Labor."2 This policy, the Gompersites interpreted by making rabid . attacks against the Socialist Party and by a solid resistance against all attempts to form a labor party. They developed a sort of "economism,"

American brand, having practically no labor political program whatever. At the same time they were venal agents of the capitalist parties. With their slogan of "reward your friends and punish your enemies," they kept the workers locked in the two-party system. All of which worked measureless harm to the political interests of the working class.

Another keystone of A.F. of L. policy was to prevent the organization of the unskilled masses, especially the Negro workers, by keeping them out"of the unions through high initiation fees, "male white" clauses, apprenticeship regulations, refusal to organize the basic industries, and various other devices. As for the Negro people as a whole, they were abandoned completely to the mercies of the employers, the plantation owners, and white supremacists generally.

The essence of Gompersite policy was class collaboration, which meant class subordination of the workers to the capitalists. During the period from 1900 to World War I this policy was symbolized as well as organized by the National Civic Federation. The N.C.F. was established in Chicago in 1893, supposedly "to bring about better relations between labor and capital." In 1900, under the guidance of Ralph M. Easley, it was broadened out onto a national scale. "Employers, labor, and the public were separately represented on the leading committees of the Civic Federation. Senator Mark Hanna was Chairman, Gompers was Vice-Chairman, and among the representatives of the "public" were "August Belmont, Grover Cleveland, and President Charles W. Eliot."3 John Mitchell, head of the Miners Union, and many other labor leaders also became members. The Civic Federation set out to stifle every semblance of radicalism and life in the labor movement.

The establishment of the Civic Federation, with the help of tire Gompers leadership, was one phase of the employers' offensive against the working class, which took on added virulence after 1900. The other phase of the offensive was a big drive of many big employers' associations to establish the "open shop," or more properly speaking, the anti-union shop. This union-smashing drive was backed up by the courts, which annulled one labor law after another and confronted every important body of strikers with drastic injunctions. The immediate impulse for all this capitalist reaction came from the fact that the unions, despite the Gompers misleadership, were in a period of rapid growth, which carried them from 300,000 in 1898 to 1,676,200 in 1904.

It was in the middle of this general situation of expanding capitalism and labor misleadership that the Socialist Party came into being in 1900-01. Its predecessor, the Socialist Labor Party, under the leadership of De Leon, had signally failed to meet the new problems placed before the workers by the rise of imperialism. The main political fight of the most advanced sections of the workers, thenceforth for almost twenty years, was to be organized through the new Socialist Party. The foundation of the S.P. was another stage in the evolution of American Marxism, which was finally to produce the Communist Party.

Formation of the Socialist Party

As we have already remarked, the seceding Hillquit faction of the S.L.P., at its January 1900 convention in Rochester, sent a proposal to the Social-Democratic Party convention, proposing the fusion of the two groups. Eugene V. Debs, leader of this party, was born in 1855. A railroad worker for many years, he was formerly active in Democratic and Populist politics. He became interested in socialism, under the tutelage of Victor L. Berger, while he was serving six months in the Woodstock, Illinois, jail as a result of the American Railway Union strike of 1894. It was some time, however, before he was ready to take a definite stand for socialism. At the 1896 convention of the People's Party, 412 of the 1,300 delegates gave written pledges to Debs for his candidacy against that of Bryan. 4 The latter was nominated, however, and Debs supported him in the election. In January, 1897, Debs declared himself a Socialist.

In June 1897, at Chicago, the American Railway Union, now only a skeleton organization, dissolved itself into the Social Democracy of America, with Debs at the head. This party had a confused program, its principal aim being an impractical plan of colonization. The idea was to capture some western state at the polls and then to launch socialism within that area. This Utopian scheme, however, soon bred an opposition inside the party, especially from the more socialistic elements. At the organization's first convention in June 1898 in Chicago, therefore, a split developed, the seceding minority creating a new body, the Social-Democratic Party of America. This party, with a radical labor program, and with Theodore Debs, Eugene's brother, as national secretary, scored some local election successes in Massachusetts. At its first national convention, on March 6, 1900, it had an estimated membership of 5,000.

The S.D.P. convention delegates responded favorably to the proposals of the Hillquit group for amalgamation. Debs and others of the party leaders, however, were a bit shy. After complicated maneuverings by both sides, the two organizations finally agreed to put up a joint ticket in the 1900 presidential election. The candidates chosen were Debs of the S.D.P. and Job Harriman of the S.L.P. seceders. The ticket polled 97-73 votes or triple the vote secured by the old S.L.P. in the election.

Unity between the two organizations, however, was not yet achieved. The leaders of both factions jockeyed for position, while the membership pressed for unification. Finally, on July 29, 1901, a joint convention assembled in Indianapolis, The total membership represented by all groups numbered approximately 10,000. Of the 125 delegates, 70 came from the Hillquit group, 47 from the Debs group, and 8 from smaller groups. It was the largest and most representative gathering of American Socialists ever held up to that time. In addition to the Debs and Hillquit factions, there were representatives from the more or less independent Socialist groups of western metal miners, from the left wing of the disintegrating agrarian People's Party, and from grouplets of Christian Socialists. Three-fourths of the delegates were native-born. For the first time, there were Negro delegates (three) at a Socialist convention.

The convention formally united the Socialist movement. It adopted a constitution, worked out a platform, named the new organization the Socialist Party of America, established national headquarters in St. Louis, and elected Leon Greenbaum, a relatively unknown figure, as national secretary. Debs was the outstanding mass personality at the convention, with Hillquit and Berger the real political leaders.

The Socialist Party Program

The unity convention was pretty well agreed on the general aim of the Party which was broadly stated as "conquering the powers of government and using them for the purpose of transforming the present system of private ownership of the means of production and distribution into collective ownership by the entire people."5 On specific issues, however, sharp divisions prevailed. Strong De Leonist influence was present; nevertheless, the Hillquit-Berger forces wrote the bulk of the program.

The S.P. convention, like that of the S.L.P. in the previous year, displayed little understanding of the general question of imperialism, notwithstanding the fact that Bryan, the Democratic candidate, made this, confusedly, the central issue of the campaign. Both Debs and De Leon had opposed the Spanish-American war, and the A.F. of L. in its 1898 convention adopted a sharp resolution condemning the seizure of the Philippines and combating imperialism in general.6

But neither Debs nor De Leon had a grasp upon the basic significance of imperialism. De Leon (and pretty much Debs also) looked upon imperialism as simply "expansionism," as merely a quantitative growth of capitalism. The trusts, they both considered as a basically progressive development, about which nothing could or should be done in an opposition way. Said De Leon, "The issue of imperialism, which seems to be a political question, is only an economic question, being based upon and part of the economic question, expansion." Thus, De Leon mechanically accepted the development of imperialism, even as he did the growth of the trusts.7 In both respects, his fatalistic attitude tended to cut the party off from those masses, who wanted to fight both the trusts and imperialism generally.

In November 1898, an Anti-Imperialist League was founded in Chicago.8 Eventually it had some 500,000 members. It was essentially middle class, with leaders such as U.S. Senators Hoar and Pettigrew, Carl Schurz, Mark Twain, Finley Peter Dunne, and the big steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie. Samuel Gompers was a vice-president of the organization, and Debs displayed some interest in it. There was a strong pro-Philippines independence sentiment among the Negro people, and this found widespread expression in the Negro press of the time. Generally the tendency of the Socialists in the 1900 campaign was to reply to Bryan's and other attacks upon American imperialism by intensifying their anti-capitalist agitation, without grasping the special tasks thrust upon them by the rise of imperialism. Not the fight against imperialist policies, but the fight to destroy capitalism itself, is the issue, cried the De Leonites. Both Socialist parties in their current platforms completely misunderstood, underestimated, and ignored the entire question of imperialism.

A sharp debate occurred in the unity convention over the question of immediate demands. The "impossibilists," the incipient left wing, reflecting De Leon influence, insisted that all such demands should be kept out of the Party's program, and that the Party should confine itself to making propaganda for socialism. The "possibilists," however, beat down this argument, and by a vote of 5,358 to 1,325 the convention decided to support a policy of partial demands. The party's platform, therefore, in addition to demands for public ownership of public utilities and the means of transportation and communication, included demands also for reduced hours and increased wages, social insurance, equal civil and political rights for men and women, and the initiative, referendum, and recall.

The convention stated only generally its principles on the trade union question. It declared that both economic and political action were necessary to bring about socialism, and it also took the position that "the formation of every trade union, no matter how small or how conservative it may be, will strengthen the power of the wage working class." No mention was made in the Party's program, however, of the vital issue of industrial unionism.

De Leonite influence was strong so far as the Party's attitude toward farmers was concerned. But the convention could not come to a decision on what to do about the matter, so the whole question was postponed until the next convention. Also, no demands were made for Negro rights —a resolution was adopted, however, inviting Negro workers to join the Party. This was the only resolution on the Negro question passed by the Party for many years, in fact up to the time of World War I.

The unity convention in Indianapolis revealed the political immaturity of the founders of the Socialist Party, by compounding many De Leonite weaknesses and by displaying various reformist tendencies. The "unity" on the trade union question did not resolve existing basic differences on the matter, what with Hillquit leaning toward collaboration with Gompers, while Debs' tendency was toward dual unionism. In the main, the convention failed to hammer out sound political policies and tactics firmly grounded in Marxist principles. Nevertheless, the founding of the Socialist Party, by bringing the socialist movement into contact with broad masses, was a progressive development. It broke with the De Leonite sectarianism which was strangling the advanced working class movement. But the Socialist Party could not be the "party of the new type," as later defined by Lenin, as it finally failed to meet the demands of the imperialist era into which it was born.

The Employers' Open-Shop Offensive

Meanwhile, led by the National Association of Manufacturers, the attack of the employers against the trade unions and the living standards of the workers went on ferociously. In 1901, 62,000 steel workers, striking against the U.S. Steel Corporation, were defeated and unionism was practically wiped out in the trust mills. During the same year the National Metal Trades smashed a national strike of 58,000 machinists, knocking the union out of most of their big plants. From 1901 to 1904 a whole series of strikes and semi-civil wars raged in the Rocky Mountain mining regions, led and largely won by the militant Western Federation of Miners, headed by such fighters as Bill Haywood and Vincent St. John. In 190a the anthracite miners of Pennsylvania, organized in the United Mine Workers and led by the conservative John Mitchell, waged a long and mostly unsuccessful strike.9 And in 1905 the Chicago teamsters lost a strike of 5,000 men; casualties—20 killed, 400 injured, 500 arrested.

All these strikes were savagely fought by the employers, with every known strikebreaking weapon—troops, injunctions, scabs, gunmen, and all the rest. The A.F. of L. leadership, deeply corrupted by the employers, met the onslaught by laying every obstacle in the way of the workers' solidarity and militancy. The general result of the anti-strike drive was to weaken the craft unions gravely in the basic industries. Nevertheless, the unions managed to grow—from a total of 868,500 in 1900 to 2,022,020 in 1905—mostly in the building trades and the lighter, not yet trustified, industries.

The arrogant employers also pushed their drive against the workers in the political field. N.A.M. agents in 1902 defeated the eight-hour and anti-injunction bills before Congress. They also knocked out many local and congressional election candidates who showed sympathy toward labor. In 1903 there began, also, the celebrated Danbury Hatters' Case, which was eventually to outlaw sympathy strikes, boycotts, and the union label. Divided and misled, organized labor's political influence, nationally and in the various states, was down almost to the vanishing point.

Socialist Party Activity

The Socialists, at least partially freed from the fetters of De Leon's crippling sectarianism, plunged into this maelstrom of class struggle; that is, the worker Socialists, the growing left wing, did. They were active in all the strikes and union-organizing campaigns of die period. Consequently, they became influential in many local unions, city labor councils, and international unions. They also carried their struggle into the A.F. of L. conventions, where the bureaucratic union leaders were a definite section of the employers' strikebreaking forces. In these years the Socialist militants fought for independent political action, industrial unionism, the organization of the unorganized, a more effective strike strategy. They ran Socialist candidates against the Gompers machine.

In the A.F. of L. convention of 1902 in New Orleans the Socialist group introduced a resolution, calling upon the A.F. of L. to "advise the working people to organize their economic and political power to secure for labor the full equivalent of its toil and the overthrow of the wage system." After a prolonged and heated debate, the Gompersites defeated the resolution by the narrow margin of 4,899 to 4,171. 10 Among the unions which supported the Socialists' resolution were such important organizations as the miners, carpenters, and brewery workers. A similar political resolution, together with one on industrial unionism, were brought up in the 1903. convention, but both were beaten by a large margin.

The Gompersites violently resisted every effort of the Marxists to improve and modernize the craft unions. Their denunciations of socialism were as violent as those of the capitalists. Gompers himself, who only a few years before had freely expressed his sympathy for the First International, set the pace in this redbaiting. At the 1903 convention of the A.F. of L. he delivered himself of his well-known denunciation of the Socialists: "Economically you are unsound; socially you are wrong; and industrially you are an impossibility."11 This feud between the A.F. of L. leadership and the Socialists, which dated back to De Leon in the early 1890's, was to rage with greater or less intensity until the end of World War I.

Many petty-bourgeois intellectuals in the S.P. looked askance at the struggle against the corrupt and reactionary A.F. of L. leadership. They figured that it interfered with their vote-getting activities. Their reformism, in fact, was the same in substance as that of the A.F. of L. bureaucracy, arising out of the corruption of the labor aristocracy by imperialism. Gompers' bitter fight against socialism was directed basically against the left wing, the sequel showing that he had no real quarrel with the middle class intellectuals.

Already Hillquit and his fellow opportunists were developing their policy of "neutrality" toward the trade unions. A correct Marxist policy signified working in the unions in order to strengthen them, to defend the rights of the workers, and to develop their class consciousness in the direction of socialism. The opportunist "neutrality" policy, on the contrary, meant no struggle; that is, allowing the workers to be influenced by the ideas of the bourgeoisie and dropping all fight against the corrupt Gompers misleaders. Consequently, with the latter line in mind, at the 1904 convention of the A.F. of L., no general Socialist resolution was introduced. Max Hayes, a printer and prominent Socialist unionist, declared "that the Socialists had come to realize that socialism would win not by passing resolutions, but by agitation."12

The Formation of the I.W.W.

The Industrial Workers of the World was founded in Chicago, on June 27, 1905. 13 Present at the convention were 203 delegates, representing an estimated 142,991 members, of whom about 50,000 actually joined the new organization. There were 16 local and national A.F. of L. unions in attendance, but the main constituent bodies were the Western Federation of Miners (27,000), American Labor Union (16,750), United Metal Workers (3,000), United Brotherhood of Railway Employees (2,087), and the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance (1,450). C. O. Sherman of the United Metal Workers was selected general president.

The purpose of the new organization was to re-establish the labor movement on a new, Socialist basis. Its form was the industrial union; its method was militant struggle in both the economic and political fields, and its goal was the abolition of the capitalist system.

The I.W.W. was left-wing dual unionism. It was a militant answer of the workers to the stupidities and treacheries of Gompersite trade unionism—with its major concentration upon the skilled and betrayal of the unskilled; its craft unionism and union scabbing in an industry that had become highly trustified, where the skilled craftsmen played less and less a role and where worker solidarity had become imperative; its overpaid and financially crooked officials; its vicious practices of class collaboration; its corrupt alliances with the Republican and Democratic parties; and its worshiping at the shrine of the capitalist system. The fundamental mistake of dual unionism, however, was that by with-drawing the most advanced elements of the trade unions into ineffective competitive unions, the basic mass unions in the A. F. of L. were left in the virtually uncontested control of the corrupt Gompers machine.

The I.W.W. at its inception was a Socialist union, the creation of the left wing of the S.P. All its chief founders called themselves Marxists. Debs, De Leon and Haywood, 14 the three outstanding left-wingers of the period, "shook hands over the bloody chasm" of past quarrels in setting up the organization. The anarchists and other "direct actionists" were but a negligible factor at the initial stage.

The immediate impulse for forming the I.W.W. came from the metal miners of the West. The Western Federation of Miners, born in fierce struggle, had been organized in 1893 in Butte. Receiving no support from the A.F. of L., however, this union became independent. In May, 1898, it established the Western Labor Union, the aim of which was to organize generally the workers of the Rocky Mountain areas. In 1902, the W.L.U. reorganized itself into the American Labor Union, with the idea of one day superseding the whole A.F. of L. It was a national dual union. The A.L.U. had a Socialist leadership, and both Haywood and Debs were active in its formation. It was in following out this general line of independent Socialist unionism that the A.L.U. leaders three years later took the initiative in forming the I.W.W. De Leonist dual-unionist thinking predominated in the whole development.

The establishment of the I.W.W. brought about the first real crystallization of the left wing nationally within the Socialist Party, of those forces which, under new circumstances and with a sounder program, were to produce the Communist Party. The S.P. right-wing leadership condemned the I.W.W. vigorously, as they had rejected the A.L.U., on the grounds that it compromised the position of the Socialist forces in the trade unions. Between right and left the struggle sharpened over the basic question of trade unionism, with the I.W.W. in the center of the fight. This quarrel was fated to become more and more intense as the spectacular history of the I.W.W. developed during the next few years.

The Status of the Party

Immediately upon its formation in 1901, the Socialist Party began to flourish. At its second convention, in May 1904, it had 184 delegates, representing 1,200 locals in 35 states. The Party's dues-paying membership had doubled since 1901, now being 20,768. The Party press was also growing rapidly, amounting at this period to several dailies in German and other non-English languages, 20 English weeklies, and seven monthlies. The Socialist workers were active in all strikes and organizing campaigns; they vigorously attacked Gompersism, and they carried on a militant anti-capitalist campaign. The Party's trade union influence in consequence was rapidly on the rise, and its success in the 1904 national elections was significant. The S.P.'s candidates, Eugene V. Debs and Ben Hanford, polled 409,230 votes, or about a 350 percent increase over the vote in 1900.

Despite all this vigor and progress, however, the Party was already beginning to feel the effects of numerous negative influences which were to undermine it and to prevent it from becoming the vanguard party °f the working class. For one thing, the Party was already attracting a large and motley array of doctors, lawyers, dentists, preachers, small businessmen, and other reformers and opportunists. These elements, the radical wing of the city middle class, then being crushed by the advancing trusts, hoped to make use of the proletarian membership and following of the Party for their own ends, and they descended upon the Socialist Party in force. By concentrating upon innumerable opportunist partial demands and by damping down all militant struggle and revolutionary propaganda, they were transforming the Party into a vehicle for middle class reform. Closely allied with the reformists of the Second International, these elements fought against the Party basing itself upon the industrial proletariat and developing an anti-capitalist program. Already by 1905, the petty-bourgeois elements were busily consolidating their hold upon the Party, a control which was to last throughout the life of the organization.

The opportunist intellectuals were able to seize the leadership of the Socialist Party because the working class left wing of the Party, afflicted with sectarianism, lacked an effective program. Moreover, the bulk of the working class members, who were foreign-born, had big language difficulties, and were split into more or less isolated national groups (eventually the "language federations"), lacked the unity necessary to cope with the highly vocal middle class opportunists. Not until World War I and the Russian Revolution, as we shall see, did the proletarian left wing of the Party develop the program and solidarity necessary for it to become dominant in the Socialist Party.

A specific grave weakness of the Socialist Party, largely a reaction against the former experience with the stifling overcentralization of the De Leonite regime in the S.L.P., was the extremely decentralized form of the Party. Each state organization in the Party did pretty much as it pleased, with little or no direction from the national center (except when it wanted to curb the left wing). National Party discipline was almost at zero. The Socialist press, privately owned, was also in chaos. The various papers propagated their own particular ideas of socialism and Party policy. These ideas were many, various, conflicting, and often bizarre, ranging all the way from Christian socialism to leftist "impossibilism." There was no established body of Socialist thought, developed and defended by the Party as such. This confused and undisciplined programmatic set-up provided a perfect situation wherein the opportunists could peddle their wares, and they made the most of it.

From the beginning the S.P. leadership displayed a deep lack of appreciation of the role of Marxist theory. They were afflicted with so-called American practicality, devoting themselves almost exclusively to immediate tasks, combined with an abstract propagation of socialism. They and the Party as a whole paid little attention to the theoretical and tactical struggles going on in the European parties.

Another serious shortcoming of the party, also in evidence at the outset, was its sectarian attitude toward the labor party movement, local outcroppings of which were frequent. The National Executive Committee stated, on January is, 1903, that "Any alliance, direct or indirect, with such [labor] parties is dangerous to the political integrity and the very existence of the Socialist Party."15 The Party leadership definitely considered the labor party a rival. This anti-labor party policy, a mixture of De Leonism and a right sectarian attempt to apply European Social-Democratic policies artificially in the United States, was to continue in force in the S.P. for many years, until after World War I, and the appearance of the Communist Party upon the scene. Such a policy of abstention set up a high barrier between the S.P. and the spontaneous political movements of the masses, and it contributed much to the Party's eventual isolation and failure.

Dual unionism was a further weakness of the Party. This trend was already strongly marked at the time of the Party's foundation, as we have seen in the formation of the American Labor Union and the I.W.W. Dual unionism was particularly a disease of the left wing, one of the worst hang-overs of De Leonism. Indeed, for a quarter of a century, from the launching of the American Railway Union by Debs in 1893 until Lenin's blistering attacks upon dual unionism in 1920, 16 the left wing was hamstrung by the leftist notion that a new trade union movement could be established, in rivalry to the existing mass unions and on the basis of ideally constructed, Socialist unions.

The Party's Chauvinist Negro Policy

Throughout its entire existence the Socialist Party has had a chauvinist line on the Negro question. It has not only failed grievously to come to the assistance of the Negro people, harassed by lynching, Jim Crow, and a host of other discriminations and persecutions, but it has always completely misunderstood the theoretical nature of the question. Traditionally, it has been S.P. policy to ignore the national character of the Negro question and to present it all only as a class matter. The S.P.'s sole answer to the oppressed Negro people was that they should vote the Socialist ticket and hope for socialism. The S.P. could not see the Negro people as allies of the working class because of its opportunist-sectarian policies toward the Negro masses; neither could it understand the nature of the oppression of the Negro people because its leaders were blinded by the white chauvinist ideology of the ruling class.

This policy, to ignore the special status of the Negro people as an oppressed people and to treat the matter only as a class question, which was also De Leon's policy, was already manifest in the founding convention of the Socialist Party in 1901. The resolution on the Negro question adopted by that convention proclaimed "that we declare to the Negro worker the identity of his interests and struggles with the interests and struggles of all workers of all lands, without regard to race or color or sectional lines—that the only line of division which exists in fact is that between the producers and the owners of the world—between capitalism and labor."17 This policy, to consider the Negro people as proletarians (whereas about 85 percent of them worked on the land, mostly as sharecroppers), and to reduce their whole immediate problem primarily to one of trade unionism, was the policy of the Party for many years, with but slight variations.

The left wing of the Party also did not rise very much above this narrow right-wing sectarian conception of the Negro question. While condemning lynching and insisting upon the admission of Negro workers to the industries and unions, the left did not work out special demands to meet the Negro people's most burning problems. Thus, when proposals were made in the Party in 1903 to develop a Negro program, Debs opposed them, arguing: "We have nothing special to offer the Negro, and we cannot make separate appeals to all the races. The Socialist Party is the Party of the whole working class regardless of color."18 Debs said also, on the Negro question, "Social equality ...forsooth...is pure fraud and serves to mask the real issue, which is not social equality, but economic freedom."19 And, "The Socialist platform has not a word in reference to social equality."20

Behind the failure of the Socialist Party from its outset to take up the Negro people's special grievances and to penetrate the South lay a very obvious white chauvinism, particularly among the petty-bourgeois leadership within the Party. This often found open and brutal expression in the Party press. Thus, Victor Berger, in the Social Democratic Herald, in May 1902, stated that "There can be no doubt that the Negroes and mulattoes constitute a lower race."21 And William Noyes, writing as a "friend" of the Negro, had an article in the International Socialist Review, reeking with outrageous and unquotable anti-Negro slander, repeating every slave-owner insult and belittlement of this oppressed people. And nobody in the Review challenged his chauvinism.

Today, not even the most blatant white supremacist in the Deep South would dare to say publicly what Noyes, as a matter of course, wrote in 1901 openly in the Socialist press. 22 The fact that the constant expressions of white chauvinism on the part of the S.P. leaders did not provoke a bitter condemnation from the left showed that the Marxists in the Party were themselves by no means clear about this deadly political disease. With such false policies and attitudes prevailing, small wonder then that the Negro members of the Socialist Party were few and far between and that the Party's influence was negligible among the Negro masses.

Opportunist Influence of the Second International

Another detrimental influence upon the young Socialist Party, and one that was to continue to injure it from then on, was the opportunistic pressure of the Second International. During the period of the First International (1864-1876) and for a decade thereafter, the American Marxists had the inestimable advantage of the direct advice of Marx and Engels. But with the development of the policy of the Second International into more and more of an opportunist position, after that body's foundation in 1889, the former revolutionary international leadership came to a sudden halt. The Marxists in the United States were cut off from the left forces in Europe and exposed to a full stream of revisionist poison. Although, at the turn of the century, there grew up in Russia a great Socialist genius—Lenin—comparable to Karl Marx, the American Marxists down to World War I knew practically nothing about him and his writings, or of the growth of Bolshevism in tsarist Russia. Even the Russian Revolution of 1905, filtered as it was through the interpretations of the opportunistic leaders of the Second International, impressed few major lessons upon the American Socialist Party.

The Second International, with its parties, unions, co-operatives, and parliamentary groups growing rapidly in the 1890's, early developed reformist illusions to the effect that it was therefore in the process of establishing socialism step by step in various countries. 23 Its leaders came to believe that Marx, with his perspective of a militant struggle for socialism, had become outmoded and obsolete. This right opportunism was an outgrowth of the developing imperialist stage of capitalism, with its markedly increased bribery and corruption of the labor aristocracy upon which the Social-Democratic leadership mainly based itself.

This revisionism took strong root and the most outstanding spokesman of the trend was Eduard Bernstein, in Germany. 24 In 1899 he expressed his revisionist doctrines in his book, published in the United States under the title Evolutionary Socialism. Bernstein rejected the Marxist theories of surplus value, concentration of capital, the progressive pauperization of the working class, the class struggle, and the materialist conception of history, and he ridiculed the social revolution as the "ultimate goal." In this period, Bebel and Kautsky in Germany, as well as Lenin, Plekhanov, and others in Russia and on an international scale, waged energetic war upon Bernsteinism. Nevertheless it eventually became the predominant philosophy of the opportunist leaders of the Second International, with disastrous results to the working class movement in many countries.

This reformist poison the Second International steadily pumped into the veins of the young American Socialist Party. Victor Berger, from the early 1900's, openly supported Bernsteinian revisionism through his paper in Milwaukee and in the Party councils. Scores of other middle class Socialist Party leaders in the United States took a similar position. Thus they sapped the very foundations of Marxism in the Party. As in the Social-Democratic Party of Germany and in the general leadership of the Second International, Bernsteinism, with specific national adaptations, became, as early as 1905, the predominant philosophy of the ruling group of intellectuals in the Socialist Party of America. Hillquit himself, however, was a centrist, a follower of Kautsky, who, as the sequel showed, was only a disguised brand of Bernsteinist.

The Heyday of the Socialist Party (1905–1914)

The decade prior to the beginning of the first World War was a time of rapid growth and trustification of American industry, and also of imperialist expansionism. In the United States, as Lenin pointed out, the period of "imperialism, in particular, the era of finance capital, the era of gigantic capitalist monopolies, the era of the transformation of simple trust-capitalism into state-trust capitalism, shows an unprecedented strengthening of the state and an unheard of development of the bureaucratic and military apparatus."1

Following up its victory in the Spanish-American War, American imperialism turned its chief attention to the conquest of Latin America, particularly the Caribbean area. American investments soared and American armed forces intervened directly in the life of many of the countries—Venezuela, Honduras, Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and others. Cuba and Puerto Rico were held in colonial bondage. American aggression was one of the major factors that caused the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910. Yankee imperialism was systematically pushing the older British imperialism aside in the Caribbean. But the biggest conquest for Wall Street during the period was the seizure of Panama and the building of the Panama Canal.

The capitalists in the United States were busily grabbing the wealth of the country and its industries. In 1914, according to the report of an official government commission, "forty-four families have yearly incomes of $1,000,000 or more, and less than two million of the people ...own so percent more of the nation's wealth than all the other 90 millions. The rich two percent own 60 percent of the wealth, the middle class 33 percent own 35 percent, and the poor 65 percent own but five percent."2 The wholesale capitalist robbery of the people was enforced through a complete control of the government and through elaborate systems of espionage and gunmen in the company towns of the basic industries.

While generally the skilled workers of these times had considerably higher wages than those prevailing in other countries, the masses of the unskilled, unorganized, foreign-born workers, who made up the great majority of the workers in nearly all the trustified industries, were forced down to a bare subsistence level. The noted report of the Commission on Industrial Relations 3 pointed out: "It is certain that at least one-third and possibly one-half of the families of wage earners employed in manufacturing and mining earn in the course of the year less than enough to support them in anything like a comfortable and decent condition" (p. 10). And, "No better proof of the miserable condition of the mass of American workers need be sought than the fact that in recent years laborers in large numbers have come to this country only from Russia, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and the backward and impoverished nations of southern and eastern Europe" (p. 3). And, "Have the workers secured a fair share of the enormous increase in wealth which has taken place in this country, during the period, as a result largely of their labors? The answer is emphatically—No!" (p. 8).

On the eve of World War I women worked for about 30 percent less than men, child labor was a great national evil, and the Negro toilers, barred from many industries and trade unions, were by far the worst off of all. Owing to the employers' boundless greed, the industries were also literal slaughter-houses for the workers, the Commission on Industrial Relations stating, "Approximately 35,000 persons were killed last year in American industry, and at least half of these deaths were preventable" (p. 46). The Commission suggested that the situation might be improved if the capitalists were held criminally responsible for such needless deaths. Working hours ranged up to twelve per day, seven days per week (steel, railroads, etc.), with relatively few workers having the eight-hour day (coal mining, building, printing, etc.). In many localities, the immigrant workers' "homes" were mere bunkhouses, each working shift taking its turn in bed. The workers had little or no financial protection from industrial accidents. Nor was there any trace of insurance protection against old age and sickness. The workers were also fully exposed to the terrors of joblessness through economic crises.

The government, in all its branches, actively sustained this brutal exploitation. "The workers," says the Commission's report, "have an almost universal conviction that they, both as individuals and as a class, are denied justice in the enactment, adjudication, and administration of law" (p. 38). And, "It is quite clear that the fourteenth amendment not only has failed to operate to protect personal rights but has operated almost wholly for the protection of the property rights of corporations" (p. 56).

The Fight of the Trade Unions

The pre-World War I period that we are dealing with was one of an intense offensive against labor and the people by the greedy and arrogant monopolists. It was also a time of intensive counter-offensive by the working class against intolerable working and living conditions, a period of fierce strikes and of rapid growth of the workers' economic and political organizations.

During these years the A.F. of L. and railroad unions, despite the Gompersite theories of class collaboration, conducted many bitterly fought struggles. These were precipitated by the militant fighting spirit of the workers. The strikes were intensified by the economic crises of 1907 and 1913. Among the more important of the current strikes were those of the "shirtwaist" girls in New York in 1909 and the cloakmakers in New York and the men's clothing workers in Chicago in 1910, the national Harriman railroad strike in 1911, the desperate fight to organize the West Virginia coal miners in 1913, the Calumet copper mine strike of the same year, and the murderous Colorado coal strike of 1914. In all these strikes, the left wing was active. Everywhere the employers used the utmost violence. During the Calumet copper strike a company gunman shouted "Fire!" in a hall crowded with strikers' children, and 73 were crushed to death in the panic. The employers continued, too, to harpoon the unions in the political field, notably in the famous Dan-bury Hatters and Buck Stove and Range anti-boycott injunction cases. The first case led to a fine of $232,000 against the workers, and the latter case brought about the indictment, but not jailing, of Gompers, Morrison, and Mitchell, the top A.F. of L. leaders.

The politically and personally corrupt Gompersite leaders met this employers' onslaught in their usual spirit of retreat and surrender. Basing themselves principally upon the skilled workers and upon collaboration with employers, they rejected every proposal to establish industrial unionism; they voted down repeated moves for a labor party; and they broke their own strikes with the outrageous system of "union scabbing"—that is, part of the unions in a given industry working while the rest were striking. Their one feeble reply to the onslaught of capital was, in 1907, the outlining of what was called "Labor's Bill of Grievances." This series of timid legislative proposals finally resulted, in 1914, in the passage of the Clayton Act, which was supposed to shield organized labor from the Sherman anti-trust law, but did not. If during this period the membership of the A.F. of L. advanced from 1,676,200 in 1904 to 2,020,671 in 1914, this was due very largely to the efforts of the rank-and-file Socialists in the trade unions and to the effects of the big I.W.W. strikes, but not to the work of the overpaid and corrupt A.F. of L. leadership.

Two famous labor cases developed during this stormy decade. The first was the arrest, in February 1906, of Moyer, Haywood, and Pettibone, national officers of the Western Federation of Miners, who were charged with the bomb-killing of Governor Frank Steunenberg of Idaho in December 1905. After a bitter court fight which attracted national attention, this notorious frame-up was defeated and the three defendants were triumphantly acquitted. The second big labor case was that of the two MacNamara brothers, James and John (and eventually Matt Schmidt and David Kaplan). The MacNamaras were arrested in April 1911, and charged with dynamiting the Los Angeles Times building during a fierce struggle between the National Erectors Association and the Structural Iron Workers Union. The two brothers, after being betrayed into pleading guilty, served long terms in California penitentiaries. James J. MacNamara died in prison after being there 28 years. Several years before he died this indomitable fighter became a Communist.

Regarding the aggressions of American imperialism in Latin America, the A.F. of L. leaders, who in 1898 had vigorously opposed the seizure of the Philippines and "expansion" generally, had radically changed their position. They were now imperialistically minded themselves. Identifying their interests with those of the capitalists, they condoned Wall Street's infringement upon tire sovereignty of the peoples to the south. In particular their pro-imperialist meddling in the Mexican Revolution during these years was a deterrent to that great movement. The S.P. and the I.W.W., however, took more of a militant position against Wall Street's interventions and particularly in support of the Mexican Revolution.

The Struggle of the I.W.W.

The I.W.W. played a most important part during these immediate pre-war, pre-Communist Party years. At its foundation in June 1905, the organization was largely Socialist, but shortly thereafter it began to develop an anarcho-syndicalist, anti-political orientation. Already at the 1907 convention an unsuccessful attempt was made to strike out the endorsement of political action from the I.W.W. preamble. In the 1908 convention the "direct actionists," mostly floating workers from the West, who were led by Vincent St. John and William L. Trautmann, were in control, and they deleted altogether the hated "political clause." Thenceforth, the organization was to place its reliance upon the general strike, sabotage, and other methods of "direct action." More and more it took an anti-Marxist position in ensuing years. This move of the I.W.W. into syndicalism alienated the political Socialists. The W.F. of M. quit the I.W.W. during the first year, Debs withdrew shortly afterward, and the break with De Leon came in 1908. De Leon later organized the Workers International Industrial Union, which was similar to the old S.T.L.A.

The turn of the I.W.W. to syndicalism was to be explained by a number of factors, including (a) the disfranchised condition of many millions of foreign-born workers 4; (b) the workers' disgust at the opportunist political policies of the A. F. of L. and S.P. leaders; (c) the current widespread corruption in American political life; (d) the influx of consciously anarchist elements. As we have seen, roughly similar forces had combined to produce anarcho-syndicalism in Parsons' Chicago movement of the 1880's. A further important element in creating I.W.W. syndicalism was the long-continued influence of De Leonism itself. De Leon in his theorizing constantly played down the role of the Party and exaggerated that of the industrial unions before, during, and after the revolution. St. John and the other anti-parliamentarians and "direct actionists" of the I.W.W., by eliminating the Party altogether from their program, simply carried De Leon's ideas to their logical conclusion. Notwithstanding all his eventual denunciations of the I.W.W., De Leon was in truth the ideological father of anarcho-syndicalism in the United States.

The I.W.W. during this pre-war decade conducted many important and hard-fought strikes—at Goldfield, McKees Rocks, Lawrence, Akron, Paterson, New Bedford, Chicago, Little Falls, and in various parts of Louisiana, Minnesota, California, and Washington. These strikes were mostly among metal miners, lumber workers, textile workers, farm workers, and construction workers-largely foreign-born. The I.W.W. also led many courageous local fights for the right to speak on the streets to the workers-in Spokane, San Diego, Denver, Kansas City, Sioux City, Omaha, and elsewhere. During these fights many hundreds of members were slugged and jailed by vigilante-police gangs. 5 The I.W.W. became the very symbol of indomitable, fighting proletarian spirit.

During this period I.W.W. militants were barbarously framed and prosecuted. Among the more outrageous of many such cases were those of Preston and Smith, Nevada, 1907, 25 and 10 years; Cline and Rangel, Texas, 1913, 25 years to life; Ford and Suhr, California, 1913, life imprisonment; and—most shocking of all—Joe Hill, celebrated I.W.W. song-writer, Utah, November 19, 1915, executed on a false murder charge.

The I.W.W. won, or half won, most of its bitterly contested struggles. Nevertheless, by 1914 it had organized only about 100,000 members. Already it was sharply displaying many of the internal weaknesses which were eventually to prove fatal to its growth and development. Among the more crucial of these weaknesses were its destructive head-on collision with the trade unions and the Socialist Party; its failure to cultivate the political struggle of the working class; its reckless use of the general strike; its incorrect handling of the religious question (the "No God, no master" slogan in Lawrence); its anarchistic decentralization, which prevented all solid organization; its identification with sabotage; its reliance upon spontaneity; and its sectarian insistence, among conservative workers, upon their acceptance of its syndicalist conception of the revolution.

Growth of the Socialist Party

In all the strikes, free speech fights, labor cases, and political struggles of this period, the left-wing worker fighters of the Socialist Party were in the front line. The dominant intellectuals patronizingly called them the "Jimmy Higginses"6 of the movement. That is, they did the work and the fighting, while the petty-bourgeois leadership got the credit and held the party's official posts. A good example of the militancy of the left-wing was the great fight it waged to save Moyer, Haywood, and Pettibone. For example, Dr. Herman Titus, long the outstanding left-wing leader on the Pacific coast, moved his paper, the Seattle Socialist, to Boise, Idaho, the trial center, and published it from there, making the great trial almost its sole subject. The Appeal to Reason also carried on a tremendous campaign for the accused. In his famous Appeal article, "Arise Ye Slaves," the fiery Debs declared: "If they attempt to murder Moyer, Haywood, and their brothers, a million revolutionists, at least, will meet them with guns."7

In consequence of its many activities in the sharp class struggle of the period, the Party grew rapidly in numbers and influence. By 1912, the high-water mark achieved by the S.P., the Party had some 120,000 members. Pennsylvania was the banner state, with 12,000. The party had a powerful base in the trade unions. There was also strong organization among the western farmers. In this same year Max Hayes of the Typographical Union ran for President of the A. F. of L. and received 5,073 convention votes as against Gompers' 11,974. At this time, supporting the S.P. were the following A. F. of L. unions: Brewery, Hat and Cap Makers, Ladies Garment Workers, Bakery, Fur, Machinists, Tailors, and Western Federation of Miners. There were also large Socialist contingents among the leadership of the Coal Miners, Flint Glass, Painters, Carpenters, Brick, Electrical, Printers, Cigarmakers, and other unions. The Socialists likewise led many local and state councils of the A. F. of L. and they were generally a rapidly growing force in the unions.

The S.P. was also expanding its activity into many new fields. In 1905 the Intercollegiate Socialist Society was formed; in 1906 the Rand School was established; and in 1913 the Young People's Socialist League was organized. Very special attention was also paid to winning over the preachers, the Christian Socialists being a strong force in the party. The party carried on some work among women. In 1908 a national women's commission was set up. The same year the Socialist women of the East Side in New York organized a suffrage demonstration on March 8th, a date which later on became International Women's Day. Neglect of women's historical struggle for the vote, and underestimation of women's work in general, however, characterized both the S.L.P. and S.P. There were, nevertheless, many outstanding women workers in the Socialist Party.

The Party had considerable election success. In 1910 Emil Seidel was elected mayor of Milwaukee, and six months later Victor Berger was elected as the first Socialist in Congress from the same district. The Party in this period elected 56 mayors in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Montana, and New England, as well as 300 councilmen. In 1912 some 1,039 dues-paying Party members were holding elected offices. The presidential campaign of 1912, with Debs and Seidel as the candidates, resulted in a big advance for the Party—the vote, 897,011, being the highest polled by the Party up to that time.

The S.P. also built up a strong press. In 191s the Party had 323 periodicals. Among these were five English and eight non-English dailies; 262 English and 36 non-English weeklies; and 10 English and two non-English monthlies. The most important of these papers were the International Socialist Review, with about 200,000 circulation; Jewish Daily Forward, 200,000; National Rip Saw, 200,000; Wilshire's Magazine, 270,000; and the Appeal to Reason, 500,000. The latter weekly, which then claimed the biggest circulation of any Socialist paper in the world, was owned by J. A. Wayland and edited by Fred D. Warren, with Debs a frequent contributor. It was a very aggressive organ, with a mixed policy of opportunist socialism, populism, and militant unionism. During 1912 it circulated 36,091,000 copies. It concentrated on large special editions. The big "Moyer-Haywood" and "Debs' Reply to Roosevelt" editions ran to three million copies each.8 It took four solid mail trains of ten cars apiece to transport each of these immense issues. The Appeal had behind it a devoted, organized "army" of up to 80,000 workers and farmers.

During this general period an internal development took place in the S.P. which was destined to have a profound effect upon the Party's future. This was the organization of the national groups, or "language federations." The opportunist leaders of the Party, with eyes fastened upon the skilled workers and the middle classes, characteristically paid little or no attention to Party organization work among the many millions of voteless, non-English-speaking immigrants. As a result the Socialist workers among these groups themselves took up their own organization along national lines. Thus, successively, there developed national federations of Finns, 1907; Letts, 1908; South Slavs, 1911; Italians, 1911; Scandinavians, 1911; Hungarians, 1912; Bohemians, 1912; Germans, 1913; Poles, 1913; Jews, 1913; Slovaks, 1913; Ukrainians, 1915; Lithuanians, 1915; Russians, 1915. 9 These groups, largely unskilled workers in the basic industries, developed highly organized movements, with elaborate papers, co-operatives, and educational institutions. Gradually, the federations, at first independent, became affiliated to the S.P.—to begin with, loosely as national groups, but finally also as individual members and branches. Each language group had a translator-secretary in the S.P. headquarters. By 1912 the federations had added some 20,000 very important proletarian members to the S.P.

Renaissance of the Negro Liberation Movement

The period 1905-14, among its many important developments, brought about a new resurgence of struggle by the Negro people, the most important since the crushing of the Negro people during the Reconstruction years following the Civil War. American monopoly capitalism, imperialism, with its generally accentuated reaction, was having catastrophic effects upon the persecuted and oppressed Negro people in the South. Among these reactionary consequences were the repeal of the so-called Force Bills by Congress in 1894, the adoption all over the South of a whole series of Jim Crow laws relegating the Negro people to a position of semi-serfdom, the radical decline of land ownership in the South by Negroes, the rebirth of Ku Klux Klan terrorism, and the betrayal of the Populist movement in the South by such opportunists as Tom Watson and Ben Tillman. Particularly contemptible was the Jim Crow attitude of the southern white churches, which evidently looked forward to a "lily white" heaven. During 1888-1900, there was an average of 165 Negro lynchings yearly. 10 Bravely the Negro people fought against all this persecution.11

The greatly increased capitalist pressure upon the Negro people provoked sharp reactions from them. The first important expression of this was the organization of the Niagara movement in 1905. This movement was headed by the noted scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, and it sounded a ringing note of militant struggle for the Negro masses. Previously, from the early nineties on, Booker T. Washington had been the most outstanding spokesman of the Negro people. Through his Tuskegee movement he maintained that the Negro masses' path to progress was through improvement of their economic position by cultivating their skills and developing a strong middle class. He combated all struggle for social equality as "extremest folly." Washington was quite popular among white reformers and philanthropists; Andrew Carnegie, for example, gave him $600,000 for Tuskegee Institute.

The Niagara movement collided head-on with Washington's economic, political, and social doctrines. It rejected his policy of retreat and submission. "We shall not be satisfied with less than full manhood rights," its leaders declared. They demanded an end to all discrimination and insisted upon social equality. The modern Negro liberation movement can be said to have started with the Niagara agitation, which greatly alarmed the bourgeoisie. In 1909 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded. This was an alliance of Negro middle class intellectuals and their white friends, mostly liberals and a few Socialists. Its line was to secure civil-rights justice in the courts and equal economic, trade union, and social opportunities. It fought against lynching and the poll tax. In 1910 the Niagara movement merged with the N.A.A.C.P. The National Urban League was established in 1911. A number of Socialist leaders helped to form these organizations.

The growing Negro liberation movement was, however, primarily the creation of the Negro middle class. The workers were not the vital factor in it that they were to become later. The organized Negro masses were also largely isolated from the general labor and Socialist movement. The A.F. of L. leadership, reeking with race prejudice, freely tolerated and encouraged unions with "lily-white" clauses in their constitutions. The Railroad Brotherhoods were even worse, all of them barring Negro workers from the unions and seeking to force them out of the railroad service. The I.W.W., however, took a much more advanced position, Haywood and the other leaders roundly condemning all manifestations of Jim Crow. The I.W.W. Brotherhood of Timber Workers, which conducted important strikes in the lumber industry of Louisiana during 1911-12, was composed about fifty percent of Negroes. Ben Fletcher, Philadelphia longshoreman, was the outstanding Negro leader in the I.W.W.

The S.P., under its petty-bourgeois leadership, virtually ignored the hardships and struggles of the Negro people. It held to the incorrect theory that the Negro was persecuted not because of his color, but only because he was a worker. The few Negroes who joined the Party in the South were placed in segregated locals. The Party conducted no campaign to halt the frightful campaign of lynching which was raging throughout the South.

This S.P. indifference to the oppression of the Negro people, as previously remarked, was largely due to white chauvinism, which is white supremacist Jim Crow. The extent to which this reactionary poison affected the S.P. middle class leadership was shockingly illustrated during the debate on Chinese exclusion at the S.P. national congress in 1910. The upshot of the discussion was that the Party, aligning itself with the corrupt A.F. of L. bureaucracy and in the face of strong opposition from Debs and other left-wingers, went on record with a weasel-worded resolution not to admit to this country Chinese and other Asian peoples who might "reduce" American living standards. Lenin sharply condemned this action, and even the opportunist Second International could not stomach it, publicly criticizing the American Socialist Party.

During this notorious debate, various right-wing leaders freely came forth with chauvinistic expressions, hardly to be outdone by the most rabid white supremacists. For example, the extreme right-winger, Ernest Untermann, who made the minority report at the convention, declared that "The question as to what race shall dominate the globe must be met as surely as the question as to what class shall dominate the world. We should neglect our duty to the coming generation of Aryan peoples if we did not do everything in our power, even today, to insure the final race victory of our own people."12

Formation of the Syndicalist League

The Syndicalist League of North America was formed in March 1912, with William Z. Foster as national secretary and with headquarters in Chicago. The League was primarily a split-off from the I.W.W. Foster, after a year's study of the labor movement in France and Germany, during 1909-10, had become convinced that the I.W.W.'s policy of dual unionism was wrong. Returning to the United States, he pointed out that the effects of this dual unionism were to isolate the militants from the masses and to fortify the control of the Gompers bureaucracy in the old unions. He proposed that the I.W.W. should consolidate with the trade unions and devote itself to building the "militant minority" there in order to revolutionize these bodies. Frank Little was among those who agreed with Foster, but the I.W.W. as a whole would not hear of his policy. Foster, along with a few other militants, therefore, launched industrial organization.13

The League was not Marxist; it was syndicalist, modeled after the French Confederation of Labor. It advocated the general strike, industrial unionism, sabotage, anti-parliamentarism, anti-statism, anti-militarism, anti-clericalism, and an aggressive fighting policy. The S.L.N.A. had a distinct position of its own, however, in disputing the current syndicalist conception that the industrial unions would be the basis of the future society, taking the stand that labor unions were not producing bodies and that industry in the future would develop its own specific industrial organizations.14

The S.L.N.A. established about a dozen branches from Chicago westward, including a couple in western Canada. It carried on numerous strikes and organizing activities, and it produced four papers: The Syndicalist, 15 in Chicago; The Toiler, in Kansas City; The Unionist, in Omaha; and The Internationalist, in San Diego. Tom Mooney was a member of the organization, and he established a flourishing national section in the Molders Union. 16 Tom Mann of England, in 1913, made a highly successful national tour of the United States for the League.

The anarchist movement (Goldman-Berkman group), then almost completely decayed, tried to exploit the rising sentiment for French syndicalism. In Mother Earth, on September 30, 1912, Alexander Berkman and others published a call for the establishment of a syndicalist league, but nothing came of it.

The League petered out in 1914. Its death was primarily due to its incorrect syndicalist program. Its position against dual unionism was sound, but the left wing in the I.W.W. and S.P. was too deeply imbued with dual unionism to pay heed to the League's arguments for working within the old unions. Particularly so, as at this time the I.W.W. was carrying through a series of spectacular strikes. It is difficult to conceive now of how fervidly the left wing at that time believed in dual unionism. Bill Haywood said, "The 28,000 local unions of the A.F. of L. are 28,000 agencies of the capitalist class," and he added that he would rather cut off his right arm than belong to the A.F. of L. Vincent St. John declared that "The American Federation of Labor is not now and never can become a labor movement." De Leon stated that "The American Federation of Labor is neither American, nor a federation, nor of labor." Joe Ettor, Lawrence strike organizer, declared that it is "the first duty of every revolutionist to destroy the A.F. of L."17 Debs poured out a constant denunciation of the old craft unions and glorification of the dual industrial unions, and early in 1914 he called (in vain) for the establishment of a new labor movement, based upon an amalgamation of the U.M.W.A., the W.F. of M., and a regenerated I.W.W. 18 With such deep-seated convictions on dual unionism saturating the entire left wing, there was no place for the S.L.N.A. policy of "boring-from-within" the old unions. The S.L.N.A.'s anti-politics was also a big factor against it.

The New Freedom and the Square Deal

The big capitalists, greatly alarmed by the current growth of the trade unions, the I.W.W., and the Socialist Party during this period, in 1912 greatly elaborated their bourgeois reformism—in addition to their already extensive methods of breaking strikes, smashing unions, and generally fighting the advance of the working class. Thus was born in Democratic Party ranks the "New Freedom" of Woodrow Wilson, and in Republican circles the "Square Deal" of Theodore Roosevelt.

Wilson, with his anti-red demagogy, cried, "We are on the verge of a revolution," at the same time warning the people against the domination of the trusts. In general terms, he promised the people a new freedom, which, of course, failed to materialize. Roosevelt went even further than Wilson in his demagogy. With the steel trust behind him and sensing the need for a reform campaign, Roosevelt tried to get the Republican Party to write a few liberal planks into its platform. When he failed in this he seceded and launched the Progressive Party, with himself and Hiram Johnson as presidential candidates. This was the "Bull Moose," "Square Deal" ticket.

Roosevelt's program called for many reforms. He said, "We stand for the most advanced factory legislation. We will introduce state control over all the trusts, in order that there should be no poverty, in order that everyone shall receive decent wages. We will establish social and industrial justice; we bow and pay homage to all reforms; there is one reform and one only that we do not want and that is the expropriation of the capitalists."

In the three-cornered big-party fight Wilson won the election, with a million short of a majority; but with 435 electoral votes, against 88 for Roosevelt and 8 for Taft. The S.P., as we have seen, in spite of the double-barreled demagogy from the old party candidates, polled its largest vote up till then. The Progressive Party died after the campaign.

Lenin recognized the importance of the 1912 election, stating, "The significance of the election is an unusually clear and striking manifestation of bourgeois reformism as a means of struggle against socialism...Roosevelt has been obviously hired by the clever billionaires to preach this fraud."19 The extreme right-wing elements in the S.P., on the other hand, began to see in this bourgeois reformism a "progressive capitalism" and, thus, a step toward socialism. Walling, for example, stated that bourgeois reform leads to state capitalism, hailed its coming as a basic step forward, like the growth of the trusts. He said that "certainly the Socialist platform did not go any further than Roosevelt's unqualified phrase that 'the people' should control industry collectively."20 Both the Socialists and the LaFollette progressives complained that Roosevelt stole their thunder. Organized labor stayed aside from the movement, seeing in it a sort of neo-Republican Party.

Lefts Versus Rights in the Party

From its very beginning the Socialist Party, as indicated earlier, was a prey to the numerous middle class intellectuals and businessmen. Increasingly, they descended upon it—lawyers, doctors, preachers, dentists, journalists, professors, small employers, and even a few priests. Such people as these were Hillquit, Berger, Harriman, Wilson, Unterman, Hoan, Wilshire, Wayland, Russell, Mills, Frank and William Bohn,

Simons, Ghent, and others. By 1908 there were 300 preachers in the Party, with other professional groups in proportion. There was also a substantial group of "millionaire Socialists"—Stokes, Walling, Lloyd, Patterson, Hunter, and company. These non-proletarian elements, plus certain conservative Socialist union leaders—Barnes, Johnston, Germer, Maurer, Walker, Schlesinger, and others—progressively fastened their grip upon the Party as the years went by. The national secretaries of the Party, from 1901 to 1914—Leon Greenbaum, W. Mailly, J. M. Barnes, and J. M. Work—functioned in harmony with the middle class leadership.

There is a proper and effective place in the Marxist Party for middle class intellectuals. They can help especially in its theoretical development. But this only upon the condition that they get rid of their petty-bourgeois illusions and identify themselves completely with the immediate and ultimate aims of the proletariat. Few of those in the S.P., however, did this; the bulk of them clung to their reformism and thus comprised the right wing of the Party. Their deleterious influence was not lessened by the fact that many of them, including Hillquit himself, had proletarian backgrounds.

On this general question, Lenin said, in speaking of the development of class consciousness among the workers: "This consciousness could only be brought from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e. it may realize the necessity for combining in unions, to fight against the employers and to strive to compel the government to pass necessary labor legislation, etc. The theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical, and economic theories that were elaborated by the educated representatives of the propertied classes, the intellectuals. The founders of modern Socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves belonged to the bourgeois intellectuals."21

As we have previously remarked, these right-wing elements generally tended toward Bernsteinism. Their whole attention was devoted to parliamentary opportunism. They proposed to buy out the industries, and to them municipal and government ownership under capitalism amounted to socialism. They were "post-office Socialists." Their whole tendency was to kill the proletarian fighting spirit of the membership and to transform the Party into one of middle class reform. Among the dominant petty-bourgeois intellectuals were a group of centrists—Hillquit, Stokes, Hunter, et al. Radical in words, the latter elements, when it came to a showdown, traditionally served as a fig-leaf to cover up the political nakedness of the right opportunists.

The S.P. intellectuals produced many books and pamphlets, but not one important Marxist work. The many books of Myers, Russell, and Sinclair, although full of valuable factual material, were only a little above the bourgeois-reformist muckraking of Steffens, Tarbell, and others of the period. Hillquit's and Boudin's writings were but academic Marxism, and those of Simons and Oneal presented an opportunist conception of American history. Ghent's Benevolent Feudalism was something of a contribution, but quite important among the S.P. writings was The Iron Heel by Jack London—a book which foresaw, in a sense, the eventual development of fascism.

The S.P., like the S.L.P. before it, had a sectarian attitude toward American bourgeois culture. Its leaders, despite the contrary policies of Marx and Engels (and later of Lenin and Stalin), systematically ignored or deprecated the work of this country's scientists, inventors, artists, novelists, and democratic thinkers. It was only after the advent of the Communist Party, under the teachings of Lenin, that a correct Marxist attitude toward bourgeois culture began to be developed.

From the outset of the S.P. the working class membership, who wanted to make the Party into a fighting, proletarian Party heading toward socialism, tended to conflict sharply with the opportunists who controlled the Party. This growing left wing was the direct forerunner of the Communist Party. Its struggles were not without considerable progressive influence upon the Party's policies, particularly in the earlier years. Numerous collisions between the right and left took place in various cities and states. The traditional handicap of the young left wing in these fights was its lack of a sound program, free of sectarianism.

The first crucial struggle developed in the state of Washington, coming to a split at the Everett convention, held in July 1909. The leader of the left was Dr. Herman F. Titus, editor of the Seattle Socialist and for many years an outstanding national left leader in the Party. The local leader of the right wing was Dr. E. J. Brown, a rank opportunist. Alfred Wagenknecht and William Z. Foster were both members of the local S.P. in Seattle during this significant fight. The immediate cause of the split was a fight over control of the convention; but the basic reason was a long-developing opposition generally among the left-wingers to petty-bourgeois domination of the S.P. The outcome was a split and then two Socialist parties in the state. The National Executive Committee recognized the right-wing forces in Washington, although the left clearly had a majority. Consequently the latter found themselves outside the Party, most of them, including Foster, never to return.

The expelled left wing, those who did not commit themselves entirely to the I.W.W., formed the Wage Workers Party, with Joseph S. Biscay as secretary. This Party, which perished shortly, was typically ultra-leftist. It laid particular stress upon the fact that it confined its membership solely to proletarians, specifically excluding lawyers, preachers, doctors, detectives, soldiers, policemen, and capitalists. It published but one issue of its journal, The Wage Worker, in September 1910, before it died. Dr. Titus, with a grim logic, abandoned his profession and became a proletarian. Foster and many other expelled members, upon the demise of the W.W.P., joined the I.W.W.

The S.P. Split in 1912

The next big clash between left and right in the S.P. came at the Party's convention in May 1912, held in Indianapolis. This marked a new high stage in the development of the left wing, parent of the eventual Communist Party. The convention fight involved the whole line of the Party, including the perennial matter of petty-bourgeois leadership. The fight at the convention, however, boiled down to two basic questions—sabotage and industrial unionism. The right wing undoubtedly came to the convention determined to crush the left wing, which with the growth of the I.W.W. and the development of the "language federations," was threatening the control of the petty-bourgeois intellectuals, as well as their whole opportunist political policy. To this end, among their other preparations, they invited the opportunist German Social-Democrat, Karl Legien, to make a rabid anti-left speech at the convention.

The big struggle occurred over the question of sabotage. The I.W.W. and the left wing in the S.P., following the example of the French and Italian syndicalists, had been laying some stress upon sabotage as an important working class weapon. The right wing at the 1912 convention, with Hillquit in the chair, made its main attack upon this issue, proposing the following amendment to the constitution, the well-known Article II, Section 6: "Any member of the Party who opposes political action or advocates crime, sabotage, or other methods of violence as a weapon of the working class to aid in its emancipation, shall be expelled from membership in this Party." While the right wing concentrated its main assault upon sabotage, which should not have been defended by the left wing as a working class weapon in the daily class struggle, its main objective was to destroy the revolutionary perspective and militancy generally of the left wing of the Party. The rights, in this historic fight, were intensifying their drive to make the Party into simply an election machine with an opportunist program. This was the real meaning of the amendment and it was made quite clear in the discussions.

If most of the left wing voted against the amendment, this was primarily for the purpose of preserving the fighting spirit of the Party, then under attack from the right wing, rather than an endorsement of sabotage as a working class tactic. Marxists, on principle, condemn not only sabotage, but also syndicalism generally, as a destructive tendency in the class struggle. The previous S.P. convention of 1908, with but one dissenting vote, had rejected the use or advocacy of force and violence.

After a very bitter fight, the new clause was adopted by a vote of 190 to 91. The rights then pushed through a trade union resolution which evaded the burning issue of industrial unionism and virtually adopted a policy of neutrality on trade union questions, a resolution for which the left wing mistakenly voted. The rights even tried to defeat Debs for the presidential nomination, but in this case they were frustrated. C. E. Ruthenberg, eventual chief founder of the Communist Party, was an active left-wing delegate at this convention.

After their victory at the convention, the rights carried the war to the lefts by filing fake charges against Bill Haywood, alleging that he had violated the amended constitution by advocating force and violence in a public speech. This false charge was rammed through by a national referendum, which the rights won by a vote of 22,000 to 11,000. Haywood was thus recalled from the National Committee, whereupon he quit the Party. Without any formal split, many thousands of Socialist workers soon followed Haywood's example.

The effects of the split provoked by the right wing were almost catastrophic for the Party. In May 1912, the party had numbered 150,000 members (although the average for the same year was 120,000), but in four months' time it had dropped by 40,000. The Party also immediately went into a financial crisis. By 1915 the Party's membership had tobogganed to 79,374, and in 1916 with Benson as the candidate and with Debs refusing to run, its national vote was but 585,113, a falling-off of over 300,000 since 1912. In its policies the Party moved rapidly toward the right. Thenceforth, for example, it put up no more candidates against Gompers at A.F. of L. conventions, and it soon dropped its practice of introducing resolutions there for industrial unionism. The Socialist Party's opportunist leaders were now well on the way to their eventual tight alliance with the Gompers reactionaries. The S.P. was never able to recover fully from the 1912 split.

The Status of the Left Wing

On the eve of World War I, the broad left wing, although greatly increased in strength over earlier years, was still lacking in developed leadership, solid organization, and a correct political line. There were three streams or segments in the growing left forces which were later to form the Communist Party. The major one was the left wing in the S.P.; then there were the Marxist forces in the I.W.W.; and finally, the militants of the Syndicalist League.

The real mass leader of the S.P. left wing during this crucial period was William D. Haywood. Born in Salt Lake City in 1869, Haywood was a fighting metal miner. He became secretary-treasurer of the Western Federation of Miners in 1901. His trial in 1907 gave him enormous prestige, and from then on he was the most dynamic figure on the left. He was a bold, dogged battler, although not a theoretician. He always recognized the workers' enemies—whether employers, capitalist politicians, labor fakers, or opportunist Socialists—and he fought them all relentlessly, with indomitable courage and without giving or asking quarter.

Eugene V. Debs, too, was of the left. He was a militant trade union fighter, a pioneer industrial unionist, a fiery and brilliant orator who boldly challenged capitalism and who did more than any other in his time to popularize socialism among the masses. He was an important forerunner of the Communist Party, despite the fact that, old and sick when the Party was formed, he did not grasp its significance and never joined it. A great weakness of Debs was his theoretical inadequacy. Also, while he courageously and tirelessly attacked the capitalists, he did not systematically attack their reflection in the Party—the right wing of the Party. He never attended Party conventions, nor did he accept any official Party posts until his final years. He never understood the basic anti-Socialist character of the Hillquits and Bergers. Haywood finally became a Communist, while Debs did not.

Two other men, eventually to become left wing leaders, began to function nationally in this period. These were Charles Emil Ruthenberg and William Z. Foster. Ruthenberg, a former carpenter, who joined the Party in 1909, was already a power in Ohio, and he played a big part in the ranks of the left at the S.P. 1912 convention. Foster, a railroad worker, had belonged to the Party from 1900 to the split in 1909, and was now busily organizing the left-wing forces within the old trade unions.

There were many outstanding women in this pre-war period, among them such well-known left wing S.P. fighters as Mary Marcy, Kate Sadler Greenhalgh, Rose Pastor Stokes, Anita Whitney, Margaret Prevey, Jeannette Pearl, and others. Especially to be mentioned are "Mother" Mary Jones, an early S.P. member and noted United Mine Workers organizer, who, when she died in 1930 at the age of 100, for almost three-fourths of a century had been in the forefront of all big strikes in every industry; Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, nationally-known I.W.W. speaker and leader, now a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party, who was very active in the I.W.W. all through its heroic period; and "Mother" Ella Reeve Bloor, who died August 10, 1951, at the age of 89, and who had been an active organizer in Socialist ranks since 1897.

The national left wing rallied principally, in an organizational sense, around the International Socialist Review. But it was by no means a clear-cut Marxist journal. This monthly paper, founded in 1901, was edited by A. M. Simons until 1908, when he resigned and the Bill Haywood-Charles H. Kerr-Mary Marcy group took over completely. Here and there in the localities, the left wing also had more or less control over local papers, such as The Socialist in Cleveland; and in 1914-15, The New Review, a left organ of middle class intellectuals, was published in New York.

The program of the developing left wing left much to be desired from a Marxist standpoint. As we have seen, the line of the I.W.W. and also that of the S.L.N.A. was purely syndicalist. The policies of the left forces in the S.P. were also very heavily tinctured with syndicalism and De Leonist "leftism." There was, however, a qualitative difference between the S.P. left wing and the syndicalists. The S.P. left wing based itself upon the writings of Marx and Engels, called itself Marxist, believed in a workers' political party, and carried on political action (although sectarian—to all of which the syndicalists were diametrically opposed. The most authoritative statement of the S.P. left's program in this period was the pamphlet, Industrial Socialism (published by Charles H. Kerr Co. in 1911) by William D. Haywood and Frank Bohn. The latter was formerly national secretary of the S.L.P.

This pamphlet, while not specifically endorsing the I.W.W., presented much of the latter's program, except that it called also for some measure of political action. The political line was the familiar De Leon conception of the political party winning the powers of government in an election, whereupon the industrial unions would really take over. The program declared that "The labor union will become organized industrial society"; and, "Under socialism the government of the nation will be an industrial government, a shop government." This was De Leon's Industrial Republic all over again. The Haywood-Bohn conception was called "socialism in overalls." The pamphlet was full of the characteristic syndicalist-De Leonist underestimation of the Party, over-estimation of the role of the industrial unions, misconceptions of the state, playing down of immediate demands, and indifference toward the urgent Negro question.

An important distinction must be made, however. The De Leonite S.L.P., even in its best years of 1890-1900, was not a fighting, but a propaganda organization, and it organized and led no important strikes or other mass struggles. In contrast, the I.W.W. and S.P. left wing fought the Gompers bureaucracy, agitated tirelessly for industrial unionism, were highly militant, and conducted some of the hardest-fought strikes and free speech fights in American history.

The broad left wing during this period, while it paid much lip service to Marxism, nevertheless carried out a revisionist line in a "leftist" sense. Had it studied the Marxist classics more carefully, had it but grasped the lessons of the great Communist Manifesto, not to mention the other Marxist classics and the innumerable writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin on the American question, it could have avoided its gross theoretical errors. But this elementary task of putting the American left wing upon a truly Marxist path was to await the time when the writings of the great Lenin should come to the United States and the Communist Party be founded.

World War I: Social-Democratic Betrayal (1914–1918)

The first World War was an inevitable consequence of the entry of capitalism into its imperialist stage. It was a ruthless clash among the big imperialist powers, each fighting for a greater share of the world, its resources, and its markets. They began a battle royal for mutual subjugation or extermination. This struggle, which had been previously fought by economic and political means, was now to be decided on the field of battle. The war grew out of the very nature of the capitalist system. Capitalism, based on greed and force, could find no other way than war for resolving the fundamental conflicts among the big powers. The outbreak of the war expressed the working out of the law of the uneven development of capitalism, which was first stated by Lenin.1 That is, instead of developing at an even pace, the rate of growth and state of development of all the capitalist countries varied widely in tempo and extent. This spasmodic, jerky course of capitalist growth inevitably threw the great powers into violent collision with each other, to battle out a redivision of the world according to their changed economic and political relationships.

After the turn of the century Great Britain, the pioneer imperialist landgrabber, held more foreign territory than Germany, France, Russia, Italy, and the United States combined. But she had already lost her industrial leadership of the world. As Perlo says, "Between 1899 and 1913 steel production in the United States and Germany increased threefold, while British steel production increased by little more than fifty percent, and British iron production declined. The former industrial leader of the world fell far behind its rivals."2 Consequently, the rival imperialists were impelled to redivide the world in accordance with the new power relationships, and World War I resulted.

All the imperialist powers were war-guilty. Germany aimed at seizing colonies from Great Britain and France, and at grabbing the Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic provinces from Russia; tsarist Russia fought for the dismemberment of Turkey and the acquisition of the Dardanelles; Britain strove to defeat its great rival, Germany, and also to take over Mesopotamia and Palestine; the French wanted the Saar, Alsace, and Lorraine from Germany3; and the United States began to figure that with the weakening of its European rivals it could dominate the world.

The alliance, primarily, of Great Britain, France, and Russia (eventually involving the United States), fought against the alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. All the great powers of the world were finally involved. The war, in which 65,000,000 soldiers were engaged, started July 28, 1914, and lasted over four years, until November n, 1918. It cost 10,000,000 soldiers dead, 21,000,000 wounded, innumerable civilian casualties, and it wasted $338 billion in wealth. In this typical capitalist wholesale butchery, the U.S.-British-French forces won the war and therewith the power to redivide the world to suit their imperialist greed.

World War I was an explosion of basic imperialist tensions. It evidenced the fact that the world capitalist system had begun to sink into general crisis. The system's internal contradictions had now become so deep-seated and destructive that their working out began to undermine and destroy the capitalist system itself. World War I, by costing capitalism the loss of one-sixth of the world's territory, Russia, to socialism, did irreparable harm to the world's capitalist system.

The Great Social-Democratic Betrayal

The Marxists had long foreseen the coming of the first World War. Engels predicted it as early as 1892, and Lenin had repeatedly signalized its approach, its causes, and its imperialist character. Even the right wing Social-Democrats recognized the looming war clouds upon the world horizon. Consequently, after 1900 the question of the growing war danger was repeatedly considered at the congresses of the Second International. These discussions climaxed at the Congress of Stuttgart, Germany, in 1907, in the adoption of an anti-war resolution containing the following key amendment, presented by Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, and Martov, for the Russian and Polish delegations: "In case a war should, nevertheless, break out, the Socialists shall take measures to bring about its early termination and strive with all their power to use the economic and political crisis created by the war to arouse the masses politically and hasten the overthrow of capitalist class rule."4 This resolution was adopted at the Copenhagen Congress of 1910 and unanimously endorsed at the Conference of Basle in 1912. American delegates from the S.P. and S.L.P. attended these gatherings. Meanwhile, the syndicalist leaders in France, Italy, and elsewhere were also militantly declaring that they would checkmate and defeat the threatened capitalist war by declaring a general strike against it.

But when the war crisis actually came, the right-wing Social-Democratic leaders promptly and in general ignored the "unanimous" resolutions against war, which they had adopted tongue in cheek. These people, as history has since so abundantly proved, were not Socialists at all. At most, they were but believers in a fake "progressive capitalism," and their interests all dovetailed with those of the capitalists in their countries. So they shamelessly followed the latter into the war, blessing it as a defensive war, and making no resistance to it whatsoever. This was the logical climax to their whole reformist, opportunist line. The chief syndicalist leaders of Europe, despite all their previous fiery denunciations of war, mainly took the same chauvinist position.

The German Social-Democrats took the lead in this treason to the working class. Three days after Germany entered the war the Social-Democratic fraction in the Reichstag voted the government war credits with only the courageous Karl Liebknecht and a few others firmly standing by their anti-war pledges-. Soon the conservative Social-Democratic leaders all over western Europe, the dominant Socialist group in each country, followed the lead of the German Social-Democrats, and lured and drove the masses into the slaughter on the pretext that they were fighting a defensive war. "The leaders of the Second International proved to be traitors, betrayers of the proletariat, and servitors of the bourgeoisie." The Second International was dead. "Actually it broke up into separate social-chauvinist parties which warred against each other."5

But the Russian Bolsheviks and small groups of left-wingers in various countries held fast. This, too, was the result of their entire history of Marxism and internationalism. The Russian Bolsheviks, who since 1903 had combated the right wing within the Social-Democratic Labor Party of their country until they split and formed their own patty in 1912, further developed their international policies in fighting against the war. They resolutely combated the war in Russia, and they took steps to unite the international anti-war forces. Besides eventually having revolutionary consequences in Russia, these anti-war activities led to the holding of the important wartime conferences in Zimmerwald, in September 1915, and in Kienthal, in 1916 (both in Switzerland). At these conferences Lenin presented his famous slogan of transforming the imperialist war into civil war, for the establishment of socialism. Lenin was a great champion of peace, and his slogan would not only have ended the current slaughter in World War I, but would have prevented the even greater butchery of World War II. Lenin's orientation for peace, was shown by a general appeal to all the warring countries to end World War I which was made upon the establishment of the Soviet government. The conferences in Switzerland, while not adopting Lenin's slogan, nevertheless represented significant first steps toward uniting the anti-war forces and toward the eventual establishment of the Third, or Communist International, to take the place of the defunct Second International.6

The United States during the Early Years of the War

When the war broke out in Europe the policy of the American bourgeoisie was to play neutral, to watch its imperialist rivals kill each other off, and to furnish them the necessary munitions with which to do the job, meanwhile making huge profits in blood money from the terrible slaughter. At the time the war began the United States was in the midst of an economic crisis, but the flood of war orders soon had the industries humming busily again. Profits piled sky-high, the monopolies expanded and multiplied, and before the war ended there were 20,000 new millionaires in the United States.

From August 1914 to the end of 1918 the cost of living rose very rapidly with wage rates dragging, and the workers were in a very militant strike mood. But the A.F. of L. leaders, obedient as ever to the basic interests of the capitalists, re-echoed the latter's neutrality slogans and damped down the efforts of the more and more impoverished workers to organize and strike. Most of the 4,924 strikes that took place during 1915 and 1916 were spontaneous, the work of the rank and file themselves. A notable struggle was the national eight-hour movement of the four Railroad Brotherhoods in 1916, which culminated in the passage of the Adamson law, a substantial victory for the 350,000 workers involved. The I.W.W., unlike the A.F. of L., carried out an active strike policy, with strikes, among others, of 8,000 oil workers in Bayonne, 15,000 iron miners in Minnesota, and 6,000 steel workers in Youngstown.

The Socialist Party, in August 1914, adopted a resolution denouncing the "senseless conflict," expressing "its opposition to this and all other wars, waged upon any pretext whatsoever," and calling upon the United States, while carrying out a policy of strict neutrality, to use all its efforts to have the war ended as quickly as possible. It also demanded that the question of war should be referred to the people in a general referendum before the government could engage in hostilities. In December 1914, the party also proposed a whole program upon the basis of which the war should be settled.7 This pacifist program, which did not discriminate between just and unjust wars, was supported in practice by a general agitation against war and against the campaign to bring the United States into the struggle. The left wing especially led a strong fight against conscription.8

The American S.P. leadership promptly exonerated the Social-Democrats in Europe of war guilt. In a statement on September 19, 1914, the National Executive Committee declared: "We do not presume to pass judgment upon the conduct of our brother parties in Europe. We realize that they are victims of the present vicious, industrial, political, and military system and that they did the best they could under the circumstances."9

The left wing of the S.P., while not yet clearly differentiating itself from the official pacifist policy of the Party, began to sharpen up its anti-war activity. In doing this it utilized principally the columns of the International Socialist Review. On November 26, 1916, the Socialist Propaganda League of America, an S.P. left-wing organization, with headquarters in Boston, issued a manifesto sharply repudiating the war and condemning the treason of the right opportunists of the Second International.4 Lenin replied to this document, greeting its general line and expressing the desire "to combine our struggle with yours against the conciliators and for true internationalism."10

One of the outstanding events of the years just before the entry of the United States into the war, was the arrest in San Francisco of Tom Mooney and Warren K. Billings. They were charged with responsibility for the bomb explosion in the Preparedness Day Parade on July 22, 1916, which killed nine and wounded forty persons. In the prevailing war hysteria Mooney and Billings were shamefully framed up and sentenced to die, a sentence which later, under the pressure of the masses, including the revolutionary workers of Russia and other countries, was commuted to life imprisonment. The generation-long struggle of Mooney and Billings for freedom had begun.

This country entered the war on April 6, 1917, three weeks after the world was startled by the bourgeois revolution in Russia, on March 14th. The reason why the United States went into the war was the fear on the part of the American bourgeoisie that the Anglo-French-Russian alliance would lose the struggle under the heavy blows of the German armies. The Wall Street monopolists, who could handle the declining British empire, feared the rise of a far more powerful German empire. The latter would have jeopardized their whole structure of foreign trade and investments. Hence, they plunged the United States into the war, eventually turning the tide against Germany.

Just five months before this, Woodrow Wilson got himself re-elected president with the hypocritical slogan, "He kept us out of war." This slogan was a pledge that the United States would continue to stay out; but as soon as Wall Street saw its vital interests threatened, it cynically trampled upon all such pacifist demagogy and flung the nation into the wholesale slaughter. In doing this the capitalists were quite unconcerned that the American people had repeatedly showed that they were opposed to going into the war. Monopolist America, as Wilson declared, was now out to "make the world safe for democracy."

In order to circumvent the peace will of the people, big capital needed to mobilize the support of the labor leaders for the war. This proved to be only a small chore, however. The Gompers clique, obedient servants of capitalism, were ready and eager for the task. Gompers, in the early stages of the war, called himself a pacifist; but keeping step with the war plans of the capitalists, he grew more and more belligerent, until finally he became the most rabid of warmongers. As the entry of the United States into the war approached, Gompers called a general trade union conference of the top officialdom, on March 12, 1917. This conference declared that "should our country be drawn into the maelstrom of the European conflict, we ...offer our service ...and call upon our fellow workers ...devotedly and patriotically to give like service."11 This gave the government the green light, and three weeks later it rushed the country into the war.

Gompers, however, faced a considerable opposition to his war treason in the ranks of organized labor. The United Mine Workers, Typographical Union, Ladies Garment Workers, Western Federation of Miners, and Journeymen Barbers refused to attend his pro-war conference. Besides, local unions, city central bodies, and state federations in many partsof the country were evidencing a strong anti-war spirit. But the Gompers machine, with the active help of the government, overrode this peace sentiment. One of the most effective means for doing this was the American Alliance for Labor and Democracy, organized on August 16, 1917, by the A.F. of L., jointly with pro-war renegades from the Socialist Party. The Alliance, acting virtually.as a government agency, held meetings in many parts of the country, peddling the war slogans of the imperialists.

The Gompers machine promptly became part of American imperialism's war apparatus. Gompers himself was chairman of the Committee on Labor of the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense. Other officials occupied war posts of various kinds all over the country. Gompers remained a close co-worker of President Wilson all the way along, even at the peace conference of Versailles in 1919. The enemies of the workers hailed him as a great "labor statesman."

Gompers eventually wangled into the Versailles Treaty a watered-down version of his well-known dictum that "the labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce." This sentence was quoted from the Clayton Act of October 1914, which was supposed to, but did not, exempt organized labor from the Sherman Anti-Trust Law. Its deeper meaning, as Gompers stressed, was that, contrary to Marx, American workers were free. It was daily refuted by the fact that tens of millions of workers, acting under severe restraints, sold their labor power to their employers. The bosses, enjoying the reality of the wage system, which Gompers endorsed, were willing to allow the latter his demagogic assertion that labor power was not bought and sold in the United States.

In addition to committing the labor movement generally to the war, the biggest service of the Gompers bureaucrats to the imperialists was to stifle the wartime efforts of the workers to organize and strike. Through the War Labor Board and National Defense Council, the A.F. of L. and Railroad Brotherhood leaders gave up the right not only to strike, but even to organize the open-shop basic industries. Lorwin says, "Organized labor relinquished its right to strike," and there was "the understanding at Washington that the status quo in industrial relations should not be disturbed."12 Thenceforth, the Gompers war policy was to smother strikes and to sabotage organizing campaigns.

The workers, however, harassed by the rapidly rising living costs and having but little feeling of solidarity with the war, were in a very militant mood and much disposed to organize and strike. In 1917, the first war year, there were 4,233 strikes, or more than in any other previous year in American history. Consequently, despite its leaders' ruinous polices, the A.F. of L. grew by 650,000 members during 1917-18. Had it not been for the treacherous Gompers no-organizing, no-strike agreement with the bosses and the government, the A.F. of L. could readily have organized at least ten million workers during the war and thus have accomplished the unionization of the basic and trustified industries—a job, however, that had to await the arrival of the C.I.O., almost two decades later.

The Socialists and the War

As the United States entered the war on April 6th, the S.P. held its 1 Emergency Convention in St. Louis to shape its policy to meet the situation. The sentiment in the party had been demonstrated by the adoption, by a vote of 11,041 to 782 in a national referendum, of a resolution proposing to expel any and all Socialists holding public office who should vote money for the war. The party was slowly recovering from the blow of the 1912 split. Workers from the basic industries were again joining it. Membership increased from 79,374 in 1915 to 104,822 in the first three months of 1919.

The St. Louis convention was heavily anti-war. This was basically because of the tragic lessons of the socialist betrayal in Europe, the influences of the developing Russian revolution, and the anti-war attitude of the new proletarian elements which had come into the party. Consequently, the outright pro-war Socialists were swamped, and the Hillquit centrists also had to bend before the anti-war storm.

At the convention three resolutions were presented on the war question. The majority resolution, submitted by Hillquit, branded "the declaration of war by our government as a crime against the peoples of the United States and against the nations of the world," and declared the party's "unalterable opposition to the war." It stated that "the only struggle which would justify the workers in taking up arms is the great struggle of the working class of the world to free itself from economic exploitation and political oppression, and we particularly warn the workers against the snare and delusion of so-called defensive warfare." It proposed that the war be fought by "continuous, active and public opposition to the war, through demonstrations, mass petitions and all other means within our power."13 The second resolution, presented by Louis Boudin, varied but little from Hillquit's. The third resolution, by John Spargo, was openly pro-war, stating that "having failed to prevent the war, we can only recognize it as a fact and try to force upon the government through pressure of public opinion a constructive policy."

The convention vote was as follows: for the Hillquit resolution, 140 votes; for Boudin's, 31 votes; and for Spargo's, 5 votes. Later on, in a national referendum, the majority resolution was endorsed by a vote of 21,000 to 350.14

The Party's resolution was a product of a compromise between the center and the left. Ruthenberg was the outstanding leader of the left at the convention.15 He had also been a factor in the 1912 convention. Moreover, along with Wagenknecht, he had built a powerful Party organization in Ohio, and he was increasingly active in fighting against the war. As secretary of the subcommittee which drafted the majority resolution, Ruthenberg was responsible for most of its fighting clauses. Hill-quit's original draft was merely pacifist. Major weak spots in the resolution were that it did not more clearly distinguish between just and unjust wars, that it did not condemn the social-chauvinists abroad, and that it did not provide a definite program for anti-war struggle.

Following the convention, the pro-war elements—Simons, Benson, Stokes, Walling, Spargo, Hunter, Ghent, Russell, Gaylord, Frank and William Bohn, et a/.—quit the Party and joined the openly pro-war forces.16 Also many Socialist trade union leaders, while formally remaining within the Party, carried out the Gompers war line. Relatively few rank-and-file members were included in these defections.

The centrist Hillquit leadership of the Party, while adopting the anti-war resolution, did little to apply it. This lip service was necessary in order to cover up its betrayal in practice. Centrism was the dominant form of opportunist leadership in the S.P. in 1916-17, because the war was already two years old, revolutionary moods were rising in the ranks of the workers and soldiers in Europe, and this fighting spirit was reflected in the United States. The radicalism of centrism was designed to deceive these militant workers. The left elements, however, pushed the anti-war campaign vigorously, Debs, Ruthenberg, Wagenknecht, and others boldly speaking out against the war. Consequently, in the 1917 local elections the Party polled high votes in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, and other centers, and its membership grew rapidly. Divergent attitudes toward the war created a growing friction between the right and left wings.

The I.W.W., from the outset, took a position of opposition to World War I and maintained it courageously. A couple of months after the war began, by convention resolution the organization condemned the war and refused participation in it. It declared that "We, as members of the industrial army, will refuse to fight for any purpose except for the realization of industrial freedom."17 This abstentionist attitude remained essentially the position of the l.W.W. throughout the war. It was in sharp contradiction to the pro-war position of the French and other syndicalists.

Paying but little attention to the political aspects of the war, the l.W.W. devoted its main efforts to the prosecution of economic struggles and to building its own membership. Its operations concerned mostly agricultural workers, miners, and lumber workers. In carrying out this economic line, which was accompanied by anti-war agitation, the l.W.W. encountered fierce opposition on the part of the government, the employers, the labor misleaders, and self-constituted vigilante gangs.

The Agricultural Workers Organization (l.W.W.) during the war years had an estimated 20,000 members. It conducted strikes of farm workers in many parts of the West—largely successful. One thing to which it paid special attention was halting the prevalent terrorizing and robbing of transient workers by railroad brakemen. It became so that a card in the A.W.O. was good to ride freight trains almost anywhere throughout the West.

In June 1916, the I.W.W. conducted a strike on the Mesabi iron range in northern Minnesota. All the miners in the district came out-some 16,000. Several strikers were killed, the leaders were arrested, and the strike was broken. Later, however, the companies had to improve the conditions of the workers. In Everett, Washington, in November 1916, the I.W.W., engaged in a campaign of organizing lumber workers, came into head-on conflict with local vigilantes. Five I.W.W. members and two vigilantes were killed. The militant I.W.W., however, pressed its work, and during 1917 it led strikes of some 50,000 lumber workers in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Out of these fights eventually came the eight-hour day for the industry.

In 1917, the l.W.W. also conducted big strikes of copper miners—24,000 in Arizona and 14,000 in Butte, Montana. The companies fought the strikes violently. In Bisbee, Arizona, 2,000 strikers were seized, transported far out into the desert, and left there with no food or water. This outrage provoked a national protest. In the hard-fought strike in Butte, on August 1, 1917, several gunmen kidnapped Frank H. Little from his hotel and hanged him from a railroad bridge on the outskirts 0f the city. Little, a member of the General Executive Board of the I.W.W., was laid up with a broken leg when the lynch gang seized him.


At the end of the war the I.W.W.'s membership was variously estimated at up to 120,000.

The I.T.U.E.L.

The International Trade Union Educational League was formed in St. Louis, on January 17, 1915, at a conference of a dozen former members of the Syndicalist League from Chicago, Omaha, St. Louis, and Kansas City. Chicago was chosen as headquarters, and William Z. Foster was elected secretary. Its principal papers were the San Diego International, the Omaha Unionist, and the Chicago Labor Nexus. The organization never really got established, however, basically because the left wing at the time, firmly wedded to the policy of dual unionism, had no use for the I.T.U.E.L.'s program of working within the old craft unions. A syndicalist organization, the I.T.U.E.L. was anti-political, endorsed industrial unionsm, and opposed the war. 18 It held the opinion that the trade unions as such were essentially revolutionary, whether led by conservatives or revolutionaries. This was true, it argued, because they were class organizations, which followed a policy of securing all the concessions they could wring by force from the employers. In view of the ever-growing strength of the trade unions, the I.T.U.E.L falsely assumed that this policy would eventually culminate in the overthrow of the capitalist class by the economic power of the workers; whereupon, the unions would take over the control of society. This syndicalism, of course, expressed a gross overestimation of the power of trade unionism and an equally great underestimation of the power of the capitalist state. It also underestimated the disruptive capacity of reactionary Social-Democracy, and it did not give necessary weight to the need for a class-conscious ideology and a vanguard political party.

By the spring of 1917 the I.T.U.E.L. had disappeared as an organization, about all that was left of it being a loose group of a couple of dozen militants in Chicago and a scattering of active workers in other cities. Most of the Chicago group, however, were leaders in their local unions and also delegates to the Chicago Federation of Labor. There they constituted a very important influence.

The former League members had fought against the war and American participation in it, and had taken the general position that the outbreak of the war should have been countered by a revolutionary general strike. When the United States entered the war in April 1917, they took the position that, inasmuch as the revolution had been betrayed by the reactionary Social-Democrats and syndicalists, the main task during the war was to organize the great unorganized masses into the trade unions. The trade unions, they held, were the all-important basic organizations that would one day emancipate the working class. The war situation, with the great demand for labor and the government's basic need for all possible production, presented an exceptionally favorable opportunity for such union-building work. This should be based on an active strike policy. Every other consideration in the war period was to be sacrificed to the central task of building the unions. Foster led this group.

This, of course, was a highly opportunistic conception. While it did not involve actual support of the war, it nevertheless was an incorrect compromise. It was a sort of economism, an attempt to by-pass the war and to focus the struggle upon immediate trade union questions. The very active unionizing and strike campaigns of the Chicago I.T.U.E.L. group did, however, conflict directly with the no-organizing, no-strike policies of the pro-war Gompers machine.

The Chicago group of militants were in a favorable position to get results in their aggressive unionizing campaigns. For several years they had been winning support in the Chicago Federation of Labor, and they had good working relations with the progressive Fitzpatrick-Nockels leadership. It was largely because of the work of this militant group that the C.F. of L. became the most progressive central labor union in the United States. The left forces, by their influence, made the C.F. of L. the national labor center in the big fight to save Mooney and Billings; it became the leader in the national labor party movement from 1917 on; it hailed the Russian Revolution and demanded the recognition of the Soviet government; it fought the Gompers machine on many fronts; and it became identified with every progressive cause. Significant of the left-wing influence in all this radicalism was the fact that when later on, in 1923, the left-center alliance in Chicago was broken, the C.F. of L. soon degenerated into a routine, conservative Gompers organization.

The first important wartime unionizing work tackled by the Chicago militants was in the railroad industry. Through the Railroad Labor Council, set up by a number of A.F. of L. and Brotherhood local unions which they led, the left forces organized some 25,000 workers locally into the railroad craft unions during 1916-17. This general movement, under the leadership of L. M. Hawver, a League member, finally culminated in the unofficial 1919 national strike of 200,000 railroad shopmen.

The next and still bigger campaign of organization undertaken by the Chicago militants, former members of the I.T.U.E.L., was to organize the national meat-packing industry. For thirteen years this great industry had remained almost completely without unions, and was considered by the A.F. of L. to be impossible to organize. But the Chicago group pushed through the work successfully, on the basis of a federation of the dozen craft unions in the industry and an active organizing and strike policy. John Fitzpatrick was chairman of this national committee and William Z. Foster was its national organizing secretary. Jack Johnstone, organizer for the C.F. of L., eventually became secretary of the Chicago Stockyards Council, with 55,000 members. Joseph Manley and various other left-wingers held key posts. The campaign began on July 11, 1917, and after striking the national industry once and taking another national strike vote, it ended successfully on March 30, 1918, with an arbitration award by Federal Judge Altschuler, granting big wage increases, the eight-hour day, union recognition, and other improvements. At these arbitration hearings the nation was amazed by the dramatic exposure of the horrifying wage and working conditions prevailing in the meat-packing industry.

One of the greatest achievements in this packinghouse campaign was the organization of the Negro workers. They formed at least 20,000 of the 200,000 workers who were organized nationally. Their organization was of major importance and also unique in trade union history. They constituted the largest body of organized Negro workers anywhere in the world. Thus, the "hopeless" national packing industry, the despair of organized labor for many years, became organized. The whole labor movement was thrilled. And the prestige of the Chicago Federation of Labor and its left wing soared.

The next big wartime organizing task which the Chicago I.T.U.E.L. group set itself was the organization of the national steel industry, the toughest of all tasks confronting the labor movement. This campaign was begun on April 7, 1918, only a week after the Altschuler decision in the packing industry. The left-wingers presented the resolution on organization to the Chicago Federation of Labor, which endorsed it. Foster was elected delegate of the C.F. of L. to the A.F. of L. convention at St. Paul, in June 1918, and he had the steel resolution adopted there. The organizing campaign began under a national organizing committee of representatives of 23 unions, with three million members. Rompers was chairman and Foster was organizing secretary. Later on, as the strike approached, Gompers got cold feet, resigned the chairmanship, and put John Fitzpatrick in his place.

The campaign was marked with the characteristic Gompers sabotage, employer violence, and government repression. Nevertheless, the organizers managed to unite 250,000 steel workers in all the major steel centers of the country. The plan of the lefts had been to force a favorable settlement through a strike in wartime, 19 but owing to lack of funds the campaign was slowed and the national strike of 367,000 steel workers did not come about until September 22, 1919, about ten months after the war's end. The strike was crushed, after nearly four months, by a combination of sabotage by the Gompers machine and wholesale strikebreaking and violence by the employers and the government. Although the great strike was lost the employers had to abolish the twelve-hour day and seven-day week and to introduce many improvements in wages and working conditions. The 1919 strike, by proving that the steel industry, the greatest of all trustified, open-shop, company-unionized industries, could be organized, paved the way for the completion of this basic task fifteen years later by the C.I.O.

The Chicago group felt that all these big organizing successes constituted a brilliant justification of its long-advocated policy of working within the old unions, but the S.P. left wing and I.W.W. militants still remained fascinated by the dual union policy, which had been traditional for some twenty-five years past.

Govenment Terror against the Left

The government, under the "liberal" Wilson, fearing the anti-war moods among the masses, immediately after pushing the country into the war, adopted a body of reactionary legislation directed at curbing the anti-war left. The first of these laws was the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917, a sort of grab-all law aimed at curbing a host of labor activities. This infamous law was eventually followed by the Trading with the Enemy Act, Conscription Act, and so on, as well as by dozens of anti-sedition and anti-syndicalism laws in the various cities and states. The sum total of all this legislation was to strip the American people of rights of free speech which at least the whites, if not the Negroes, had practiced ever since the founding of the Republic almost a century and a half before. Under these Draconian laws the government, through Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, proceeded ruthlessly against the left wing of the labor movement.20

The I.W.W. was the organization to suffer the heaviest blow. On September 5, 1917, simultaneous raids, with vigilante participation, were made by Department of Justice agents upon I.W.W. headquarters all over the country. Private homes were broken into and records seized. Bill Haywood, general secretary-treasurer of the I.W.W., estimated that up to February 1918, 2,000 members were under arrest. The mass arrests covered all the members of the I.W.W. General Executive Board, secretaries of industrial unions, editors, and prominent local leaders. In Omaha, the whole convention of the Construction Workers Industrial Union—164 delegates—was arrested. Substitute sets of leaders were also arrested nationally. Everywhere the I.W.W.'s were railroaded to jail for long sentences, charged with general obstruction of the war. The raids culminated in mass trials in Chicago (165), Sacramento (146), Wichita (38), Tacoma (7), Omaha (27), Spokane (28). In the big Chicago trial, in April 1918, under the notorious Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, 15 I.W.W. members got 20 years, 35 got 10 years, 33 got 5 years, and 12 got one year, and $2,300,000 in fines were levied against the convicted men. In Sacramento, of the I.W.W.'s on trial, 26 got 10 years each. Similar savage sentences were levied elsewhere.

Many wartime raids and arrests were also directed against the Socialist Party. In September 1917, the national headquarters of the Party was raided. Dozens of Socialist papers, including the Appeal to Reason, International Socialist Review, The Socialist, New York Call and The Masses, were prosecuted, threatened with denial of second-class mailing privileges. Many of the papers died. Debs was arrested for a speech he made in Canton, Ohio, against war, on June 16, 1918, and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Scores of others—Charles E. Ruthenberg, Alfred Wagenknecht, Kate Richards O'Hare, J. O. Bentall, Scott Nearing, Rose Pastor Stokes, and many more—were jailed and given sentences ranging from one to three years. Molly Steimer, a young girl, got 15 years in jail for distributing leaflets against intervention in Russia. 21 The National Executive Committee of the S.P. was indicted through its officers—Victor Berger, Adolph Germer, J. Louis Engdahl, Irwin St. John Tucker, and William Kruse—but they did not serve time.

Besides the I.W.W. and S.P. cases, there were many other wartime arrests. Among them, Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman were sentenced to two years for obstructing the draft. There were also various pacifists, conscientious objectors, and others jammed into the crowded jails. It has been estimated that 1,500 were sent to prison during the war. Debs went to jail on April 12, 1919, and got out on December 25, 1921. It was not until December 1923 that the last of the I.W.W. war prisoners were set free under the pressure of a strong, united front mass campaign for their release. The wartime terrorism against the left was the first fruit of the imperialist war "to make the world safe for democracy." It was, however, only a foretaste of the still more bitter fruits that were to come, after victory was won and presumably democracy had been assured.

The great war, precipitated by the uneven development of world capitalism, made that unevenness even more pronounced. The United States, the real capitalist victor in the war, enormously expanded its industries during the war. It entered the war a debtor nation and emerged a great creditor nation, with $20 billion in outstanding loans. The dollar had defeated the pound and the mark, and the center of gravity had definitely shifted from Europe to the United States. Imperialist Wall Street was well on its march to world capitalist domination. World War I sowed the seeds for World War [II.]

The Russian Revolution (1917–1919)

The great Russian Revolution of November 7, 1917, born of the deepening general crisis of world capitalism, was the first Socialist breakthrough of the fortifications of the international capitalist system. The revolutionary masses of workers and peasants, led by the Bolshevik Party, which was headed by the great Lenin, smashed tsarism-capitalism in Russia and thereby dealt a mortal blow to the international capitalist system. World imperialism was broken at its weakest link. The Revolutions of 1905 and of March 1917 had been but preliminary to the very basic Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917. A new era of world history was now ushered in—the era of proletarian and colonial revolutions and the decline of world capitalism.

With revolutionary energy the new Soviet government carried through the great tasks that the Kerensky provisional government could not and would not do. "In order to consolidate the Soviet power, the old, bourgeois state machine had to be shattered and destroyed and a new, Soviet state machine set up in its place. Further, it was necessary to destroy the survivals of the division of society into estates and the regime of national oppression, to abolish the privileges of the church, to suppress the counter-revolutionary press of all kinds, legal and illegal, and to dissolve the bourgeois Constituent Assembly. Following on the nationalization of the land, all large-scale industry had also to be nationalized. And, lastly, the state of war had to be ended, for the war was hampering the consolidation of the Soviet power more than anything else. All these measures were carried out in a few months, from the end of 1917 to the middle of 1918."1 The Soviets withdrew from the war and called upon the world to make peace.

The Russian Revolution sent a thrill of joy through the hearts of hundreds of millions of the exploited and oppressed all over the world. Its influence was decisive in the profound wave of revolution which swept eastern and central Europe upon the end of the war. Kings and emperors toppled as this revolutionary upsurge went through Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Balkans. The whole of European capitalism was shaken to its foundations.

If the peoples of the world were inspired by the Russian Revolution, the capitalists of all countries were profoundly shocked by it. In their fright they trembled at the threatened destruction of their whole system of exploitation and robbery. So they lost no time in taking drastic measures to try to checkmate and defeat the revolution. Immediately at the close of the war the victorious Entente powers began to pour their troops into Soviet Russia and to stimulate and organize the domestic counter-revolutionists to fight the Soviet government. Great Britain, France, Japan, the United States, Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia all had a hand in this counter-revolutionary intervention.

The consequence was a tremendous civil war. The revolutionary Soviet people, although harassed by economic breakdown, famine, blockade, and general exhaustion from the world imperialist war, rallied their forces, built up a powerful Red Army, and with unparalleled heroism, beat back all their foreign and domestic enemies. In this desperate struggle they battled through a thousand Valley Forges. At one time by far the greater portion of the country was in the hands of the interventionists and their Russian counter-revolutionary allies. But the Red Army finally defeated them all, smashing Denikin, Kolchak, Yude-nich, Wrangel, and the host of other tsarist and foreign generals. Consequently, at the end of 1920 Great Britain, France, and Italy had to lift their blockade, and soon thereafter Japan was forced out of Siberia. The United States troops had to get out, too. The revolution had won a decisive victory in its life-and-death struggle.

The bases for this immense victory were the indomitable revolutionary spirit of the Russian people, their all-out support of the Soviet Red Army, the invincible power of the Communist Party, and the brilliance of its great leader, Lenin. Not the smallest factor in winning the victory was the supporting spirit among the workers in many other countries, which prevented the respective capitalist governments from mobilizing their full strength against the embattled Soviet people.

The United States government, dominated by reactionary monopoly capital, took a leading part in the counter-revolutionary intervention against Soviet Russia during 1918-20. The "liberal" President Wilson, without even asking any authorization whatever from Congress, arbitrarily sent armed American expeditions to Siberia and north Russia. The alleged purpose of the one to Siberia was to guard against the danger from large numbers of German and Austrian prisoners, freed by the Revolution; whereas the stated purpose of the expedition to north Russia was to attack Germany from the rear. But the whole intervention was nothing but a brazen attempt to overthrow the young Soviet government and to restore capitalist reaction to power.

The Siberian expedition of some 7,000 men, under General W. S. Graves, co-operated with the Russian reactionaries and the Japanese to overthrow the local Soviet in Vladivostok. President Wilson supported the tsarist General Kolchak in his efforts to smash the Soviet government and to make himself dictator of Russia. The Siberian adventure came to an inglorious end when Kolchak's forces were wiped out by the Red Army.

The adventure in north Russia, centering around Archangel, was carried out in conjunction with the British, French, and White Guard Russians. About 5,000 American soldiers, under Colonel Stewart, made up this country's armed forces. The aim of the allied expedition was the capture of Petrograd and the overthrow of the Soviet government.

But the northern invaders were defeated and in danger of annihilation. "On March 30, igig, Company T of the 339 U.S. Infantry refused to obey orders to proceed to Archangel." The men yielded only after one of their number who had been arrested was released. This unrest was blamed upon "Bolshevik propaganda." "Fear of a general mutiny was expressed, and General March, Chief of Staff, pledged the withdrawal of the American forces by June,"2 which was carried out.

Lenin roundly condemned this reactionary United States intervention, declaring that "the British and Americans are acting as hangmen and gendarmes of Russian freedom, in the same sense in which the role was played under the Russian hangman, Nicholas I."3

This was only the first of a generation-long series of United States aggressions against Soviet Russia, including also economic blockade and diplomatic boycott—all of which were defeated by the unconquerable revolutionary Russian people. The United States refused even to recognize the U.S.S.R. diplomatically until 1933, in Roosevelt's day. This bitter anti-Soviet hatred on the part of the ruling monopolists of the United States, implacable and never-ending, has finally culminated in Washington's present attempt to organize an all-out capitalist war against the U.S.S.R.

The Social-Democrats Betray the Revolution

Inspired by the Russian Revolution and horrified by the butcheries 01 World War I, the world's workers were swept by a great wave of revolutionary spirit, especially in Europe. Given proper leadership, the latter were ready to follow the example of the Russian workers. They were ripe for Socialist revolution. But the right-wing leaders of the big European Social-Democratic parties, strongly entrenched in all the organizations of the working class, had quite different ideas. To them the proletarian revolution, both in Russia and in their own countries, was a terrible nightmare—no less so than to the employers. It went violently counter to their whole outlook and program, which was to patch up capitalism here and there with minor reforms. They were committed, in reality, to the continuation of the capitalist system, and the very last thing they wanted was to see this system overthrown and a real Socialist system substituted.

Therefore, just as these elements had rushed to the support of their respective capitalist classes during World War I, so now they hurried to the defense of the capitalist system itself, threatened as it was with revolution. Joining forces with the capitalists, these pseudo-Socialists proceeded to attack with fire and sword the entire revolutionary movement among the proletarian masses in all its manifestations, both at home and in Russia.

The dominant and traitorous European right-wing leaders were typified by such figures as Legien, Noske, and Scheideman in Germany, Henderson, Hyndman, and MacDonald in England, Guesde and Thomas in France. Another group of Social-Democratic leaders, the centrists, were typified by Kautsky, Hilferding, Bauer, Longuet, Fenner Brockway, Hillquit, and Ledebour. The latter group was long on revolutionary phrases and short on revolutionary struggle. Lenin characterized Kautsky as "In words everything, in deeds nothing." The substance of the centrists' policy was to give lip service to the revolution while fighting against it in fact. The general effect of this policy was to paralyze the action of the revolutionary workers, while the right forces, in open alliance with the capitalists, virtually cut the revolution to pieces. It was these centrist elements who set up so-called left Socialist parties to block the Communist parties in various countries. In February 1921, in Vienna, they formed the International Working Union of Socialist Parties, nicknamed the "Two-and-a-Half International," as a counterweight to the Communist International. After the depth of the revolutionary crisis in central Europe had passed, the centrists and their phony international went back where they belonged politically, into the Second International.

The apparently divergent policies of the right-wing leaders and the centrists were, in fact, only a division of labor, the basic aim of which was to defeat the revolution in central and western Europe. This they accomplished together, working hand in hand with the capitalist generals and politicians. They shot down the revolution in Germany, Hungary, Austria, and Italy, and only the strong fist of the Red Army prevented them from doing the same thing in Soviet Russia. The right and centrist Social-Democratic leaders saved capitalism in middle Europe, and thereby also in western Europe. Upon the heads of these betrayers of socialism, therefore, rests the responsibility for all the evils that have since followed—the rise of fascism, World War II, and now the threat of another great world conflagration.

Impact of the Revolution upon the American Labor Movement

In the United States, as in other countries, a wave of fighting spirit was generated among the masses by the advent of the great Russian Revolution, but, unlike eastern Europe, it did not reach the intensity of a tornado. At last the workers had succeeded in smashing their way through the fortifications of the hated capitalist system and had opened tip the way to socialism. Even the more conservative categories of workers realized that a great blow had been struck for freedom. Crowded meetings of workers in American cities, hungry for every scrap of information about the First Workers Republic, made the rafters ring with applause at every mention of the Bolsheviks and their great leader, Lenin. Debs, with his genius for revolutionary expression of rank-and-file spirit, declared, "From the crown of my head to the soles of my feet I am a Bolshevik, and I am proud of it. The day of the people has come."4 The Seattle longshoremen, in the spirit of the period, struck against loading munitions to be used against Soviet Russia. The broad masses of the American proletariat distinctly felt that the great victory in Russia was also their victory. This was especially the case among the huge armies of immigrant workers.

But the opportunist leaders of the American Social-Democracy, like their kind in Europe, took an altogether different attitude toward the Russian Revolution. The A.F. of L. top leaders, for example—an undeveloped brand of Social-Democrats who, because of the ideological undevelopment of the American working class, do not need to make demagogic use of Socialist slogans 5—condemned the revolution from the outset. Their instinct, as labor tools of the capitalists, was as unerring in their hatred of living socialism as that of the big monopolists themselves. The 1919 convention of the A.F. of L. refused its endorsement of the Soviet government of Russia, and subsequent conventions, becoming bolder in their reaction, attacked the Soviets with unlimited violence and slander. From the earliest period right down to the most recent days, the big bureaucrats of the A.F. of L. have been outstanding and relentless instigators of every capitalist assault against the Soviet Union.

The leaders of the Socialist Party, at the outset, were more circumspect. They were mostly centrists of the Hillquit brand—the bulk of the extreme right-wing leaders having quit the Party after their failure to win it for a pro-war policy. The centrist opportunists, who also in their hearts deeply hated the Soviet government and considered it the repudiation of all their political plans and programs, adopted a policy of maneuvering regarding it, against the pressure of the militant rank and file of the Party. Consequently, they weakly hailed the Revolution, and in their 1919 convention, tongue-in-cheek, pledged "our support to the revolutionary workers of Russia in the maintenance of their Soviet government." 6 They also, pushed on by the rank and file, lodged a formal protest against the armed intervention of the United States and other capitalist powers in Soviet Russia. But when, as the sequel showed, the hypocrisy of these pretenses was unmasked, Hillquit and his co-leaders became no less violent in their opposition to the Soviet Union than were their political kin, the reactionary leaders of the A.F. of L. Hillquit later pronounced the Soviet government "the greatest disaster and calamity that has ever occurred to the Socialist movement." 7

The left wing tirelessly challenged the treacherous attitude of the Hillquit leadership toward the Russian Revolution, bringing to the masses, as best it could, the lessons of this tremendous political forward leap of the world's working class. And the Communist Party, born from the left wing of the Socialist Party, throughout its 32 years of life, has never flagged in its efforts to have the masses of workers understand the constructive meaning of this gigantic political development.

The Teachings of Marxism–Leninism

The Russian Revolution, and the long revolutionary struggle preceding it, resulted in the formulation of tremendous contributions to the body of Marxist social science. These were expressed in the reality ofthe great Revolution itself and, inseparably, in the brilliant scientific writings of Lenin. The sum and substance of this whole theoretical development was to raise Marxism to the level of Marxism-Leninism. This, in a scientific sense, is the greatest of all the contributions of the Russian Revolution to world humanity.

"Leninism," says Stalin, "is the Marxism of the era of imperialism and of the proletarian revolution."8 There are two major aspects to the theoretical work of Lenin. First, Lenin re-established the principles of Marxism, as already stated by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto and their other works. These principles the right-wing theoreticians of the Second International had been busily tearing down and burying for the previous half century. Second, Lenin further greatly developed Marxism, adding to it the basic lessons to be learned from the present period of imperialism and proletarian revolution. His work summed up to a complete theory of the Socialist revolution.

In the first aspect of Lenin's work, namely, the freeing of Marxism from opportunist revisionism, Lenin restated Marx's basic proposition that the present state is a repressive instrument of capitalism, the "executive committee of the capitalist class," thereby theoretically destroying the current Social-Democratic revisionist conception that the modern state under capitalism is a sort of people's state, without specific capitalist class domination. Lenin also proved the correctness, under modern conditions, of Marx's fundamental contention that the capitalist state, because of ruling class violent resistance to all democratic advance, would have to be abolished before socialism could be established. He declared that all the right-wing Social-Democratic chatter about capitalism being gradually transformed step by step into socialism was opportunism. At the same time, Lenin showed the growing over of the bourgeois democratic revolution into the socialist revolution.

Lenin, too, demonstrated irrefutably the fundamental correctness of Marx's conception of the dictatorship of the proletariat being the state form of the workers' rule under socialism, 9 and he shattered all revisionist nonsense about socialism—or what the opportunists miscall socialism-being only a continuation, in a more advanced form, of bourgeois democracy. Lenin also brilliantly revalidated the great Marxist principle of the class struggle, as against the mess of class collaborationism, which actually means working class subordination to capitalist class domination, into which the revisionist theoreticians of the Second International had hogged down the Socialist movement. Finally, to mention no more of Lenin's tremendous rebuttressing of Marxism, he restated Marx's fundamentals of dialectical materialism, 10 in opposition to the welter of bourgeois idealism and eclecticism which the degenerate Social-Democratic theoreticians of the Second International had absorbed from their bourgeois masters.

In the second major aspect of Lenin's theoretical accomplishments, namely, the development of Marxism to encompass the many problems of modern monopoly capitalism and proletarian revolution, Lenin performed a prodigious amount of pioneering theoretical work. Here we can give only the barest outline of his immense contributions in this respect. Lenin performed the basic task of analyzing capitalist imperialism, dissecting the whole structure of modern monopoly capitalism, and demonstrating that it is moribund capitalism, the final stage of the capitalist system. In doing this work, Lenin laid bare the basic causes of modern war. This general analysis he further strengthened by his profound discovery of the law of the uneven development of capitalism: the law which explains how and why the capitalist nations, instead of all developing at an even pace, grow at widely varying tempos, with the result that they periodically readjust by war their changing political relationships. Lenin also successfully challenged the bigwigs of the Second International, who held that socialism must come first in the most industrialized countries and, to be successful, must also occur in several of them at once. He proved that socialism, on the contrary, could be established in one country alone, specifically in backward, predominantly agricultural Russia. Stalin, later on, was also to make brilliant contributions on this key question. Lenin, while pointing out the ingrained warlike character of imperialism, also stressed both the necessity and the possibility of the peaceful coexistence of capitalist and socialist states in the world.

Lenin, along with Stalin, developed the theory of colonial and national liberation revolution. He likewise demonstrated the basic need for co-operation between the colonial peoples and the revolutionary proletariat of the imperialist countries. Repudiating the entire body of Social-Democratic revisionist theory, Lenin also showed the revolutionary potentialities of the peasantry in alliance with and under the general leadership of the proletariat. Lenin, who was as great a strategist and tactician as he was a theoretician, developed the role of partial demands, of trade unionism, and of parliamentarism, thus solving many difficult problems of methods and weapons in the general fight of the working class for socialism. Lenin, throughout his entire work, thoroughly unmasked the opportunist Social-Democrats, showing them to be wedded to the capitalist system, and exposing the economic and political reasons why this was so.

To cap his immense theoretical achievements, Lenin was also the architect and chief organizer of the great Russian Communist Party, which led the Russian people in their historic victory over capitalism. Lenin called this "a party of a new type." It is incomparably the most highly developed political organization in the history of mankind. The Communist Party is composed of the best, most advanced elements of the working class, peasantry, and intellectuals. It is highly disciplined, yet it practices a profound democracy. It employs a regenerating self-criticism —learning from its own mistakes—which invigorates it in every phase and stage of its work. Its membership is inspired by the highest qualities of courage, devotion to the Soviet people's interests, and loyalty to the great cause of socialism. This great Party, the nightmare of capitalists and their Social-Democratic henchmen all over the world, is an imperishable monument to Lenin's theoretical skill and organizing ability and also to the profound revolutionary spirit of the Soviet people.

Lenin, like Marx, incorporated his theoretical work in many powerful books. And Lenin, again like Marx, also found the greatest justification of his writings, not only in their strong argumentation, but especially in the supreme test of experience in life itself. Lenin not only worked out revolutionary theories, but he also stood at the head of the masses of the Russian people in carrying through, in line with these theories, the greatest revolution in all of human history. His closest co-worker in this tremendous movement was Stalin. Lenin's theories and Marx's are now-being profoundly justified by the present whole course of world political development, by the rapid decline of capitalism and rapid rise of socialism.

Marxism–Leninism and the American Marxists

Marxism-Leninism is universal in its application. It is as naturally international as are all other branches of science. Its principles and policies apply to all countries, in all stages of capitalist or Socialist development. But, following the dictum of Engels, and as every Communist theoretician has pointed out time and again, Marxism-Leninism is not a dogma, but a guide to action. It is not to be applied as a blueprint in every situation, as a readymade panacea. The value of Marxism-Leninism can be realized in a given country only if its principles and policies are flexibly adapted to the specific situation prevailing in that country. As Lenin put it in 1918, "the revolution proceeds with a different tempo and in different forms in different countries (and it cannot be otherwise)."11

Marxism-Leninism made its impact upon the American left Socialist movement not only by means of the practical example of the Russian Revolution and Lenin's major writings, but also by direct counsel from Lenin himself. Lenin knew the American situation profoundly and was deeply interested in it. He wrote a basic work on American agriculture,12 and twice he sent major political letters directly to the American working class—once, in 1916, in answer to a manifesto of the Socialist Propaganda League, and the second time in 1918, in his famous A Letter to American Workers. Also, during the early years of the Communist International, Lenin often spoke about the "American question."

The initial influence of Marxism-Leninism on American Marxist thinking was tremendous. Lenin provided the basic answers to many complicated problems of theory and practice which for decades past had confused and crippled the American Socialist movement. This clarification, besides acting with crushing effect upon the right-wing sophistries, also tended to liquidate the traditional sectarian errors of the left wing. Lenin exposed the De Leonite theories, syndicalist and sectarian, which had dominated and plagued the left wing ever since the death of Engels almost a quarter of a century earlier. Lenin provided a solid theoretical basis for the left's fight against Gompersism in the trade unions, and he also refuted the pseudo-Socialist pretenses of all sections of right-wing Social-Democracy—including its Bernsteinian and Kaut-skyan varieties. This had a clarifying and strengthening effect upon the American Marxist movement.

Highly important from the American standpoint was Lenin's scientific analysis of imperialism. With powerful emphasis, Lenin pointed out the qualitative differences that develop within the whole structure of capitalism with the growth of monopoly. Previously, without clearly differentiating itself from the right wing on this question, the left wing had tended to consider the growth of monopoly as merely a quantitative development of capitalism, and its "expansionism" (imperialism) as simply a secondary policy manifestation, instead of a basic expression of monopoly capitalism. This error led to a profound underestimation of the aggressive character, reactionary aims, and war-making potentialities of imperialism. Lenin cleared up all this confusion.13

Lenin also made clear the road of all-out political mass struggle to socialism. In so doing, he annihilated for Americans the prevalent De Leonite, syndicalist ideas that the workers would win their way to power by "locking out the capitalists," or by means simply of a general strike, and other kindred illusions. He also smashed the syndicalist conception, 14 Lenin, Capitalism and Agriculture in the the U. S. previously held almost unanimously by all sections of the American left wing, to the effect that after the workers had secured political power the party would dissolve itself and the unions would take over the management both of the industries and of society as a whole. Lenin with the reality of the Russian Revolution to back up his words, clearly outlined the Soviet form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, pointed out that it is incomparably more democratic than the bourgeois dictatorship, and stressed the decisively leading role of the Party in every stage of the struggle, both before and during the existence of socialism. 15 Lenin also, in his masterly analysis of the national question, with the able co-operation of Stalin, laid the basis for a fundamental understanding of the Negro question in the United States, a problem that had baffled left-wing thinking up to that time. With his historic doctrine that "Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement," Lenin struck hard, too, at the traditional American tendency to minimize theory.

Among his many other contributions to the American revolutionary movement, Lenin clarified the question of the role of the farmers, which had always been a weak spot in S.L.P. and S.P. policy, especially after the advent of De Leon. Lenin stressed the vital necessity of labor co-operating with the oppressed and exploited strata of these toilers, and he indicated the basic conditions under which such co-operation, with working class leadership, should be carried out. Lenin, also, with his strong anti-sectarian position and his supreme genius for mobilizing all the potential strength of the anti-capitalist forces, laid the basis for a clarification of the question of the labor party. Smashing through the crippling De Leonite policy of non-participation in the broad, elemental mass movements of struggle, Lenin categorically, like Engels long before him, supported participation in such movements. Lenin likewise clarified the knotty question of partial political demands, which had also been a bone of contention in left-wing ranks for many years, especially under De Leon's intellectual tutelage. Indeed, Lenin had made this question quite clear in Russian practice, long before the Bolshevik Revolution. He showed that partial demands are an integral part of the workers' whole struggle. And Stalin, in his Foundations of Leninism, points out that reforms are by-products of revolutionary struggle and reforms can and must be used in the fight for socialism.

Lenin also clarified American Marxists on the question of religion. The Socialist Party, from its inception, had a confusion of policy on the matter, ranging from a cultivation of petty-bourgeois "Christian socialism" to the placing of "God-killing" as the main task of the Party. Lenin, reiterating Marx's statement that "Religion is the opium of the people," stressed its class role in the exploitation of the workers, and declared: "We demand that religion be regarded as a private matter so far as the state is concerned, but under no circumstances can we regard it as a private matter in our own party." Lenin insisted, on the one hand, upon the complete separation of Church and State, and on the other, on an educational campaign by the Party. However, "the propaganda of atheism by the Social Democracy must be subordinated to a more basic task—the development of the class struggle of the exploited masses against the exploiters." The Party should not write atheism into its program. It should, however, freely admit religious-minded workers to membership and then educate them to a scientific outlook on life.16

The writings of Lenin, the master Party builder, clarified the American left-wing movement about the structure, practice, and role of the Communist Party. In this respect he also made crystal-clear many problems which had worried and handicapped the left for many years. Lenin's basic teachings on the Party were especially needed in the United States, because of the long prevalence of syndicalist and semi-syndicalist ideas, the heart of which was a belittlement of the Party and an underestimation of political action.

To all these great contributions of Lenin to the American movement must be added at least another. It was Lenin, above all others, who finally knocked on the head that chronic American sectarian disease, the dual union illusion. As we have seen earlier, ever since the days of Debs' American Railway Union in 1894 and De Leon's Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance in 1895, American left-wingers had been obsessed with the idea that the way to revolutionize the labor movement was to withdraw from the conservative trade unions and to organize independent, theoretically perfect industrial unions. The general effect of this policy had been to leave the Gompers machine in virtually unchallenged control of the basic mass economic organizations of the working class and to waste the strength of the dynamic left-wing fighting trade unionists in innumerable Utopian industrial union projects.

Lenin had encountered the problem of such abstention from the unions in Russia in 1908, on the part of the Otzovists, a group among the Bolsheviks. These elements, among other wrong tendencies, refused to work in the trade unions and other legally existing societies. Lenin, with his keen ability to go straight to the heart of a problem, and thus with a penetrating analysis to settle it once and for all, sailed into the Otzovists and destroyed their position completely. 17 Lenin dealt again and crushingly shortly after the beginning of the Russian Revolution, when "ultra lefts" in Germany, Holland, England, and other European countries, in the exuberance of their revolutionary spirit, had no patience for work in the old trade unions, but sought short cuts by setting up new revolutionary labor organizations. Lenin sharply denounced this practice as a serious form of sectarianism. He declared that "To refuse to work within reactionary trade unions means leaving the insufficiently developed or backward working masses under the influence of reactionary leaders, agents of the bourgeoisie, labor aristocrats, or 'bourgeoisified' workers." 17 This criticism applied with triple force to the United States, where the dual union fallacy had reigned almost unchallengeable in left circles for many years, thereby doing incalculable damage to the revolutionary movement.

Lenin, in fighting for a correct political line, fought on two fronts. That is, he combated both the right danger and all forms of pseudo-leftism. This two-front fight was particularly necessary in the United States, with its ingrained historical right weakness of American exceptionalism and its long affliction of "left" sectarianism.

The long-continued sectarianism of the left wing was basically an immature political reaction against the extreme opportunism of the S.P. and A.F. of L. leaders, which was bred of the especially corrupting influences of American political life. The left's dual unionism, anti-labor party, anti-farmer, anti-immediate demands, anti-parliamentary, and other ultra-revolutionary policies and attitudes were short-cut methods aimed to create powerful trade unions, a militant workers' party, and a mass Socialist ideology. A historical influence, too, producing left sectarianism was the pressure of the vast body of foreign-born workers, who were as yet little integrated into American economic, political, and social life.

Important also in this general respect was the fact that the American Marxist movement, in the imperialist epoch, had produced no outstanding Marxist theoretician, capable of immediately and basically solving the many complex problems faced by die working class. During many years, from the 1890's on, the great Lenin was developing Marxism into Marxism-Leninism and building the core of the eventual powerful Bolshevik Party. At this time, the American Socialists, in an extremely difficult objective situation, were being gravely hindered in their development by the powerful but revisionist influence of the ultra-left sectarian and semi-syndicalist theoretician, De Leon.

The sudden impact of Lenin's profound and comprehensive writings, supported as they were by the tremendous reality of the Russian Revolution, revolutionized the thinking of the Marxist forces in the United States. The left moved rapidly toward a position of scientific communism. As Alexander Bittelman put it: "The formative period in the history of our Party appears as a development from Left Socialism to Communism. The essence of this development consisted in this, that the Left wing of the Socialist Party (1918-1919) was gradually freeing itself from vacillation between reformism and ultra-Left radicalism by means of an ever closer approach to the positions of Marxism-Leninism."18

Manifestly, Marxism-Leninism applied completely to the United States, but not as a blueprint. For this country is no "exception"; it is flesh and blood of the world capitalist system and is subject to that system's laws of growth and decline. But to adapt this tremendous body of scientific Marxist-Leninist principles to the specific conditions prevailing in the United States—that is, for the strengthening of every phase of the American workers' struggle for a better life—was a task of very large proportions. And as the sequel showed, many mistakes were to be made in this adaptation. Long-continued modes of incorrect thinking and of sectarian policies were not be overcome in a day. To build a mature Communist Party in any capitalist land is a very difficult political task, but most of all, in the United States, the stronghold of world capitalism.

The Split in the Socialist Party (1919)

The split in the Socialist Party, which gave birth to the Communist Party, came to a head in the fall of 1919. It had its origin in the long struggle between the right and left which had gone on in the Party, with constantly greater intensity, ever since the foundation of the organization in 1901. Historically, this struggle had turned around many issues, covering practically every phase of the Party's program, its every-day activities, and its composition. It was the struggle of the militant proletarian left of the Party, striving to make the Socialist Party into the fighting Party of the working class, against the opportunist right which wanted to make it into a Party of petty-bourgeois reforms. That these two incompatible groups should eventually find themselves in separate parties was inevitable.

The Long Internal Struggle

In the present history we have already briefly reviewed some of the outstanding features of this long and ever-growing struggle within the S.P. Among these were the persistent fights against the control of the Party by petty-bourgeois opportunists; the many years' battle against Berger's "Milwaukee socialism"; the struggle against pro-Gompersism in the Party leadership; the persistent effort of the left to make the Socialists active workers in strikes, labor defense cases, and other working class battles; the struggle against white chauvinism and the oppression of the Negro people; the fight for the organization of the unorganized into trade unions; the endless battle over industrial unionism; the struggle for a strong anti-war policy; and the attempt to give the Party a sound position on the Russian Revolution. It was a continuous battle against an insolent and aggressive Bernsteinism, a corrupt Gompers-ism, and a tricky Kautskyism, by a militant left wing working to create a fighting Marxist policy and party.

Toward the end of World War I the dominant Party leadership had crystallized into two opportunist groups. One, the extreme right, the outright Bernsteinians, although weakened by the right-wing split on the war, were typified by Berger, Cahan, Germer, Hayes, Van Lear, Stit Wilson, Harriman, and the like. The other group, the centrists—Kautskyans, who were long on revolutionary phrases and short on revolutionary deeds—was typified by Hillquit, Oneal, and Lee. As the struggle against the left developed, these two groups tended to merge into one general right wing, resolved at all costs to prevent the Party from becoming a fighting Socialist organization.

The constant internal struggle led, through the years, as we have seen, to a number of heavy political-organizational collisions between the right and the left. During the earlier days of the Party there were sharp local struggles in many cities and states—Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and especially Washington in igog. Then came the big national battle at the 1912 convention in Indianapolis over the moot question of the Party's rejection of the use of sabotage in the class struggle. Next, there followed the struggle at the 1917 St. Louis Emergency Convention and afterward, with the Party's anti-war policy as the main bone of contention. And finally, there came the decisive 1919 Chicago convention, when the whole life and line of the Party were at stake.

During this long struggle the left wing, although not able to control the Party, had been growing in political strength and maturity. While still largely a prey to "left" sectarianism, it had nevertheless clarified itself on many questions. It was also developing organizationally. Its growing consolidation as a definite national force was seen in its strong grouping in pre-war days around the International Socialist Review. And, after the Review had been destroyed during the war, around the Socialist Propaganda League, which had been launched in Boston in November 1916, with S. J. Rutgers (who later returned to his homeland, Holland) as its leader. Finally, in Chicago, in September 1919, the left wing could and did establish its own independent political organization. This was an historical political necessity. The American Communist movement, fundamentally the product of a long evolution in the intense class struggle of the United States, had at last reached its natural goal by becoming an independent party.

The Immediate Causes of the 1919 Split

Various powerful political forces combined to bring about the split in the Socialist Party at the precise time it occurred. Fundamentally, these were products of World War I and the Russian Revolution. The United States, under its own specific conditions, felt the terrific shock of these basic events which were undermining the whole structure of world capitalism. Among the manifestations of this shock were the break-up of the Socialist Party and the birth of the Communist Party.

A major immediate factor leading to the split within the Party was the acute discontent among the rank and file at the way the opportunist party leadership had met the issue of the war. This was directed not only at the seceding pro-war leaders of the right, but also at the Hillquit group. There had been great enthusiasm after the St. Louis convention, with its militant anti-war resolution—even the left wing being more or less taken in by Hillquit's anti-war demagogy. But soon thereafter disillusionment set in among the lefts, because many of the Party leaders who had voted for the St. Louis resolution either failed to back it up in practice or came out in open support of the war. This course deeply outraged the proletarian membership, who ardently wanted the Party to conduct a militant struggle against the imperialist war.

Added to this rank-and-file discontent was an even greater resentment of the left-minded membership at the compromising manner in which the right-centrist Hillquit leadership handled the central question of the Russian Revolution. The militant membership of the Party rightly looked upon the Revolution as a supreme Socialist triumph of the Russian working class, and they were determined to give it all the support and protection they could against the armed intervention and other attacks being made upon it by the capitalists of the United States. Consequently, the proletarian members of the Party were not slow to understand that the Hillquit leaders of the Party, with their weasel-worded, opportunistic endorsements of the Soviet government and their feeble protests against American intervention in Soviet Russia, were in reality enemies of the Russian Revolution.

Additional fuel was added to the fire of Party discord by the specific controversy over the question of the international affiliation of the Party. This began to take shape during the war in connection with the wartime conferences in Zimmerwald and Kienthal, with the left wing pressing for active support of Lenin's fight for a sound international working class policy. It became even more acute when in Moscow, under Lenin's direct leadership, on March 2-6, 1919, nineteen left-wing groups and parties established the Third, or Communist, International.1 This was an indispensable development, growing out of the whole international situation —with the Second International broken down by the war treason of its leaders and the revolutionary workers of Europe on the march, demanding a new international organization.

The left wing of the American Socialist Party insisted that the Party affiliate to the Communist International. But again the slippery Hillquit leadership, while speaking softly about the new organization, took an active initiative in trying to put the shattered Second International back on its feet. The latter elected delegates to the proposed Stockholm conference of 1917 (which never assembled), and they also supported the Berne conference of September 1918—both of which were designed to disinter the dead Second International. These actions caused deep resentment in the Socialist Party of the United States.

Still another factor intensifying the inner-Party tension was the urgent need to develop a fighting program to support the current big struggles of the workers and to counter the post-war offensive of the employers. This was the time of the Seattle general strike (January 1919), of the Winnipeg general strike (April 1919), and of the great steel strike (September 1919). Many other strikes were looming on the horizon. On all sides, too, the employers were obviously preparing for an aggressive anti-labor drive. The opportunist Hillquit leadership, to the deep discontent of the rank and file, was quite incapable of developing a program of militant action which would place the Party in the vanguard of the tremendous class struggles which were then in the process of taking place.

The Relationship of the Party Forces

The left wing of the Party was in a strong position in the growing internal fight. Its supporters had been basically educated in the fight against the war, and they were also profoundly inspired by the great Russian Revolution. Most important in strengthening the ideology of the left wing during this critical situation was the initial publication in the United States during 1918 and 1919 of such fundamental documents of Lenin's as A Letter to American Workers, The Soviets at Work, State and Revolution, and Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.

The left clearly had behind it a majority of the Party membership. It drew its strength from all sections of the Party, but its main strongholds were in New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Massachusetts, and especially in the "language federations." Of these organizations, the Russian Socialist Federation, with about 8,000 members, was the largest and most militant. The Party membership had gone up from 80,379 in 1917 to 104,822 in the first months of 1919, and most of these new members, workers who had been recruited by the federations, were definitely left in their thinking.

Regarding the Party press, the right-wing leadership eventually managed to hang onto control of the New York Call and most of the other English-speaking organs. The non-English press, however, with the. notable exception of the Jewish Daily Forward, almost solidly supported the left wing. During the struggle the left wing created several new English-language papers, the most important of which were The Class Struggle (1917) and The Communist (1919) in New York; The Revolutionary Age (1918) in Boston; The Proletarian (1918) and The Communist (1919) in Chicago; and The Socialist News in Cleveland. The Revolutionary Age served as the central organ of the S.P. left-wing movement.

During the previous few years the left wing had also been building up many new leaders. Outstanding among these were Charles E. Ruthenberg of Cleveland and John Reed of New York. These new leaders could be depended upon to fight for a sound program. While the old left-wing leader, Debs, spoke militantly against the war and for the Russian Revolution and also supported other policies of the left, he nevertheless refused to carry on the indispensable struggle against the right-wing opportunists who held the leading posts in the Party. Haywood, outside of the Party, belonged to the I.W.W.

The right wing in the Party, in contrast to the left, was in a very difficult situation. It was definitely in the minority, and besides, it had lost many of its ablest writers and speakers through the wartime defection of these pro-war elements. But what the rights lacked in numbers and ability they hoped to make up in a ruthless use of their key posts in the Party. As reactionaries always do in such situations, they decided to defeat the democratic will of the membership by violence, and to hold on to the party leadership at all costs.

To achieve their own program, the left wing sought, as the fight grew, to function through the democratic workings of the Party. But the Hillquit-Berger leadership, with their desperate policies, would have none of Party democracy under these conditions. The Revolutionary Age expressed the situation thus: "The slogan of the moderates is: Split the Party for moderate Socialism! The slogan of the Left-Wing is: Conquer the Party for revolutionary Socialism—for the Communist International."2 Along these lines the fight was conducted. In view of the right wing's complete suppression of Party democracy the split was inevitable.

The Developing Struggle

With the beginning of the fateful year, 1919, the internal Party struggle became more and more intense. By then the central issues between the two major Party groupings had become clearly crystallized—class struggle against class collaboration, proletarian internationalism against national chauvinism, proletarian dictatorship against bourgeois democracy, the Third International against the Second International.

In New York the left wing was making rapid headway in winning locals, only to have them immediately reorganized and screened under right-wing leadership by the Party bosses. Nevertheless, the Party branches in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens quickly came under left-wing leadership. On February 15, 1919, when the Central Committee of the Greater New York locals of the Socialist Party, dominated by Julius Gerber, refused to censure the local Socialist aldermen for supporting the war, the representatives of twenty left-wing locals from various parts of the city came together in a conference to take action. After listening to talks by John Reed, Jim Larkin, Rose Pastor Stokes, and by representatives of various federations, the conference organized itself as the Left-Wing Section of the Socialist Party and elected officers. The conference also decided to publish a Manifesto, 3 and to issue a paper, which appeared on April 19, 1919, as the New York Communist, with John Reed as editor. The left wing can be said to have come into being as an organized force at this date. Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, and other centers, taking the New York Manifesto as their basis of policy, soon followed New York's example.

Meanwhile, important events quickly followed one another in the national sphere. For one thing, in answer to the call for a conference in March in Moscow to organize the Communist International, the left wing had submitted to the S.P. in good time a referendum proposal to the effect "That the Socialist Party should participate in an international congress or conference called by or in which participate the Communist Party of Russia, and the Communist Party (Spartacus) of Germany." The referendum carried by a huge majority, but the wily Hill-quit held up the returns until May, two months after the founding conference of the Comintern had been held.

Then came the national elections within the Party, which were also, as usual, conducted by referendum vote. Held early in the spring of 1919, the elections resulted in a sweeping victory for the left wing. Even such outstanding right-wing leaders as Hillquit and Berger went down to ignominious defeat. But Hillquit, with his rule-or-ruin policy, refused to make public the unfavorable returns. The election figures, as finally authenticated by the left wing, showed that for the post of international secretary Hillquit had received only 4,775 votes, as against 13,262 for Kate Richards O'Hare; and for the Second International representative, Berger had been swamped by John Reed to the tune of 17,235 votes to 4,871. The left wing also elected 12 of the 15 members of the National Executive Committee. Ruthenberg and Wagenknecht were elected to the National Executive Committee with over 10,000 votes each, or from three to five times as many as the corresponding right-wing candidates.

Hillquit's "Pink Terror"

The significance of these events was not lost upon the Party's official leaders. They saw clearly that if inner democracy were to be continued, the left wing would surely win national control of the Party. Therefore, resolved to hold on come what might, they embarked upon a policy of expulsions which had never been equaled, even by the ultra-reactionary A.F. of L. leadership. The expelled members and organizations were given no semblance of trials, nor were formal charges even preferred against them.

The National Executive Committee, in its May 24-30, 1919, meeting, arbitrarily expelled the Michigan state organization with 6,000 members, and it suspended (expelled) the Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, Lettish, Hungarian, Ukrainian, and South Slav federations, with a total of over 40,000 members.4 The right-wing leadership especially wanted to get rid of the rapidly growing federations, whose militant spirit, based on abominable conditions in American industry, also largely reflected the revolutionary situations in their respective native countries.

In the succeeding weeks the state organizations of Massachusetts and Ohio were also expelled, 5 and along with them the Party organization in Chicago and whole groups of locals in New York and in various other centers. In all these sections of the Party the left held large majorities. Finally, a total of at least 55,000 members had been dicta-torially driven out of the Party. At the same notorious May meeting the National Executive Committee set aside the results of the national election referendum and transferred the entire property of the Party to a corporation of seven members.

The men who committed this crime against Party unity and democracy were A. Shiplacoff, James Oneal, G. H. Goebel, Fred Krafft, Seymour Stedman, 6 Dan Hogan, John M. Work, and M. Holt. The two left-wing members present at this infamous meeting—Alfred Wagenknecht and L- E. Katterfeld—were powerless to halt the outrageous proceedings. Five National Executive Committee members were absent. 7 Hillquit, then sick in the hospital, engineered the whole shameful business.

Meanwhile, on May 5th, a call had gone forth summoning a national conference of the left wing to take action in the Party crisis. It was signed by Local Boston, Local Cleveland, and the Left Wing Section of the S.P. of New York. The call aroused tremendous enthusiasm within the Socialist ranks, and the membership rallied to support it. The wholesale expulsions perpetrated by the National Executive Committee majority served to intensify the conflict.

The National Left-Wing Conference

The National Conference of the Left Wing met in New York, at Manhattan Lyceum, on June 21, 1919. Present were 94 delegates from 20 cities, including New York, Boston, Buffalo, Cleveland, Rochester, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Minneapolis, Duluth, St. Paul, Detroit, Kansas City, Denver, and Oakland. The delegates represented the bulk of the membership of the Socialist Party.

The main purposes of the gathering, as stated in the call under which the conference had assembled, were "to formulate a national declaration of Left Wing principles, form a national unified expression of the Left Wing (a sort of general council—not a separate organization) and concentrate our forces to conquer the Party for revolutionary Socialism." 8 Hardly had the conference gotten under way, however, when a serious division took place within it. This was caused by a statement by Dennis E. Batt of Detroit (later a renegade) to the effect that immediate steps were being taken by his group to form a Communist Party on September first in Chicago, and proposing that this be the line of the conference. Behind Batt's proposition stood the Michigan District and the seven ousted federations. This was the beginning of a deep split in American Communist ranks which took two and a half years to heal.

Those who advocated forming a Communist Party at once took the position that there was little or no prospect of capturing the S.P. special convention, scheduled for Chicago on August 30th; that the right-wing officials would hang onto control despite all attempts to oust them; that it was useless to capture a completely discredited Party; and that the historic moment had now struck to form the Communist Party. The opposing group, which included such as John Reed, Charles E. Ruthen-berg, Alfred Wagenknecht, Alexander Bittelman, W. W. Weinstone, and Charles Krumbein, maintained, on the contrary, that the present tactic of fighting to secure control of the S.P., in the name of the Party majority, was winning the support of the mass of the rank and file; that it was exposing the Hillquit leaders, with their ruthless expulsions, as the real splitters; and that, in order to win over the still wavering groups in the Party, this policy should be continued up to the August 30th convention. The latter, undoubtedly the more flexible and more correct position, was calculated to win the greatest body of supporters for the new party.

The dispute over tactics occupied the main attention of the left-wing national conference. After three days of deliberation, Batt's proposal to quit the struggle inside the S.P. and to proceed directly to launch the C.P. was voted down, 55 to 38. The majority decided that "This conference shall organize as the Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party and shall have as its object the capturing of the Socialist Party for revolutionary Socialism." This was carried by a vote of 43 to 14, with 14 abstaining. The Conference, as part of its general tactical line, also decided that it would elect Left Wing delegates, including the expelled organizations, to the S.P. convention; that it would seek to have the S.P. convention adopt the Left Wing Manifesto as the basis of its program; that it would fight for affiliation of the S.P. to the Communist International; that the results of the national election referendum should be accepted; and that, if through the courts and the police, the right-wing leaders should maintain control of the convention, then the Communist Party should be formed at once.

The Michigan-federation group refused to abide by these decisions. They let it be known to the conference that, regardless of that body's decisions, they were going to abandon work within the S.P. and in any event would orient themselves toward launching the Communist Party in Chicago on September first. The Communist ranks were deeply split.

The National Left Wing Conference provided for the publication of a manifesto and program. It also established headquarters in New York and made The Revolutionary Age its official organ. The conference selected a National Council of Nine. Among these were Charles E. Ruthenberg, John Ballam, I. E. Ferguson, James Larkin, and Eadmonn MacAlpine. Ferguson was chosen national secretary. The conference also issued a call for a convention in Chicago, on September first, of all revolutionary elements that would unite with a revolutionary Socialist Party or with a new Communist Party.

The S.P. leaders, as the date of their Chicago convention approached, intensified the expulsion campaign, and the left wing also busily mobilized its forces. Meanwhile, on July 26-27, the left-wing National Executive Committee members who had been elected in the national referendum, but not recognized by the S.P. controlling clique, held a meeting in Chicago. This meeting claimed to be the legitimate National Executive Committee of the S.P., and it elected L. E. Katterfeld Party chairman, and Alfred Wagenknecht, national secretary. Adolph Germer. S.P. executive secretary, was removed and instructed to turn over the effects of the Party to Wagenknecht. But this line of policy was not aggressively pushed, and the new left-wing National Executive Committee of the S.P. played little part in the big struggle now rushing fast to a climax. 9

In an effort to heal the breach in the Communist ranks, a conference of both Communist factions was held in August. This meeting, by a vote of seven to two, decided to support the proposition of launching the C.P. on September first, Ruthenberg and other Council leaders, in the meantime, having gone over to the Michigan-federations policy. Therefore, a joint call for a Communist Party convention on September first was issued, signed by the National Left Wing Council and the National Organizing Committee (Michigan-federations group).10 But the National Council minority, headed by John Reed and Alfred Wagenknecht, refused to accept this decision and continued with the original policy of the Council, to try to win control of the S.P. Unity had not been achieved, and the two Communist factions continued to work at cross purposes.

The Left Wing Manifesto

At this point it may be well for us to make a brief analysis of the National Council's Left Wing Manifesto, upon the basis of which the American Communist movement was being organized. This Manifesto, differing little from the original New York Left Wing Manifesto, eventually served also, with only minor changes, as the basis for the programs of the two Communist Parties soon to be born. 11

The Manifesto correctly condemned the whole political line, root and branch, of the right-wing S.P. leadership. It accused Hillquit and company of basing the Party program upon the petty bourgeoisie and the skilled aristocracy of labor; of failing to support industrial unionism and the workers' economic struggles; of surrendering to Gompersism; of carrying on an opportunist parliamentary policy; of sabotaging the struggle against the war; of opposing the Russian Revolution; of accepting a Wilsonian peace; of supporting the decayed Second International; and of generally carrying on a policy of reform which led, not to socialism, but to the perpetuation of capitalism.

As against this policy of reformism and class collaboration, the Left Wing Manifesto outlined a policy of militant struggle in both the industrial and political fields. It proposed basing the Party and its program upon the proletariat; full support of industrial unionism; relentless war against Gompersism; revolutionary parliamentarism; support of the Russian Revolution; affiliation to the Communist International; and a program aimed at the abolition of the capitalist system and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The Manifesto registered a long stride by the Left Wing toward a Marxist-Leninist policy. It was an enormous qualitative advance over pre-war programs of the left, such as the "Industrial Socialism," Haywood-Bohn platform of 1911. The previous left line had been saturated with sectarianism and syndicalism, whereas the 1919 program was predominantly Marxist-Leninist. Among its good points, the Manifesto presented an essentially sound analysis of American imperialism, a lack of which in years past had been a grave weakness of the left. The Manifesto also made a clear analysis of the recent imperialist war, which was also a vast improvement over the pacifist conceptions that had hitherto prevailed in the Party, even in its left wing. Another big step forward in the Manifesto was its Marxist analysis of the state, both in its capitalist and socialist forms. In particular, its presentation of the dictatorship of the proletariat, while exhibiting some hangovers of De Leonism, was a marked advance over the previously prevailing syndicalist ideas of a labor union state. The program of organized mass action, as the way to socialism, showed the left wing was beginning to free itself of De Leonite illusions about "locking out the capitalists," folded arms general strikes, and other fantasies. The Manifesto also laid great stress upon the leading role of the Party, as against a gross underestimation of the Party in the past.

That is to say, the Manifesto (aside from such theoretical weaknesses as its failure to analyze Social-Democracy correctly) marked real progress toward grasping the general theoretical principles of Marxism-Leninism, in the broad sense indicated above. On the negative side, however, the Manifesto showed little skill in applying these correct fundamentals to the specific situation in the United States. The American Communists had gotten a first grasp upon the powerful. weapon of Marxist-Leninist analysis, but they had not yet learned how to use it correctly. They were still far from having mastered Lenin's great lesson that Marxism is not a dogma, but a guide to action—a weakness that was to plague the Party for many years. Particularly with regard to the basic question of the road to the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism, there was a tendency to overlook specific American conditions and to think mechanically in terms of the experience of the Russian Revolution. This weakness made for political rigidity, and it tended to stimulate long-

The Manifesto, in its theoretical approach, dealt decisive blows against the opportunist right wing and also against sectarian errors of the left in the past; but on its practical side it did not even partially liquidate the "leftist" sectarianism which had always been a heavy handicap to the American Marxist movement, especially since the theoretical predominance of De Leon after 1890, by blocking broad united coalition action on immediate political, economic, and legislative issues.

The Left Wing Manifesto, in fact, fairly reeked with this traditional sectarianism in practice. It continued the incorrect line of attempting to desert the old trade unions and to replace them with ideally conceived, dual industrial unions. It also took a narrow position toward the labor party, repudiating it as a danger to the working class. It likewise failed completely to develop a program of united front action with labor's natural allies, especially the Negro people and the farmers, considering the anti-capitalist struggle to be one for the working class alone. It ignored generally the basic Negro question. It also left the matter of partial demands completely out of the picture, and it reduced its parliamentary activity simply to one of agitation. The conception of an immediate, as well as an ultimate, program did not enter into the document. As Alexander Bittelman says, "The Left Wing did not seem to realize that revolutionary mass action grows out only of the real living issues of the class struggle, as it develops day by day."12

Thus, it will be seen from the Manifesto that the Communist Party (in its two sections) was born while in the midst of absorbing the great meaning of the Russian Revolution and of learning the basic essentials of Marxism-Leninism. 13 This indefinite position was a handicap to it and was basically responsible for the Party's later struggles to heal the split and to achieve a more correct, broad mass program. Ruthenberg noted this fact, 14 remarking that most of the European Communist parties were organized at later periods than ours—to their advantage. Whereas the American Communist Party was born in September 1919, the dates of other Communist parties were: England, August 1920; Germany, early in 1921; France, January 1921; Italy, 1921. By their later dates of birth these parties were far better prepared ideologically to take up the tasks of independent parties than was the case in the United States. But the general situation in the United States, as we have seen, conditioned irresistibly the birth of the Communist Party at the time it actually took place; it could not have been delayed.

The Decline of the Socialist Party

The split, now so rapidly coming to a crisis, was to prove disastrous to the Socialist Party. After the break the membership dropped swiftly from 104,822 in 1919 to but 26,766 in 1920. The decline continued, until it had sunk to 7,425 in 1927. At the present time, in 1952, the S.P. has probably not over 4,000 members. The Party's mass influence also tobogganed; it became a prey to internal dissensions, and finally splitting in 1936, it gave birth to the bourgeois Social-Democratic Federation. Moreover, the S.P. has degenerated politically to the extent that, as we shall see, it has become an unblushing supporter of warlike American imperialism.

The Socialist Party came into existence as a sound reaction against the sectarian dogmatism of the Socialist Labor Party. After twenty-five years of existence the latter had remained a skeleton organization, made up mainly of foreign-born workers, propagating socialism abstractly, and carrying on few activities related to the everyday problems of the American working class. The S.L.P.'s chronic failure to measure up to the needs of the period became especially glaring as the United States entered the stage of imperialism and the working class embarked upon broad mass struggles. Manifestly, the S.L.P. could not be the vanguard party of the working class in this situation; hence the flag of Socialist leadership passed to the Socialist Party.

In its earlier stages the Socialist Party displayed great activity in the class struggle. In the innumerable strikes of the period the Socialist workers were most active. Large numbers of trade unions were organized by Socialists, and Party members were always prominent in unionizing campaigns, labor defense cases, farmers' struggles, and the like. For many years the Party, which was composed overwhelmingly of workers, fought the corrupt and reactionary Gompers machine. The Party also carried on much valuable anti-capitalist propaganda among the workers. This is why it grew so rapidly and became an important political factor in the country. The healthy aspects of these accomplishments were the work primarily of the Party's proletarian left wing.

Thus, as we have seen, the Socialist Party, despite its considerable early achievements, also failed to live up to the tasks placed upon it by history, specifically by the era of imperialism into which it was born." was not the needed "party of a new type," but was patterned after the opportunist-dominated Social-Democratic Party of Germany. From the outset it was crippled by a petty-bourgeois leadership and afflicted with a bourgeois ideology rather than that of Marxist socialism. The reformist Party leaders proved incapable of giving the necessary economic and political leadership to the working class. The Party also suffered from strong sectarian and syndicalist tendencies in its left wing, which greatly hindered its development.

The failure of the Party, under opportunist leadership, to act as the vanguard of the working class inevitably produced within it the development of a strong left wing, fighting for a real class struggle policy. The growth of this left wing was the gestation of the Communist Party. The new Party finally and inevitably came to birth in the fire of World War I and the Russian Revolution. The S.P. opportunist petty-bourgeois leadership had especially failed to understand the political lessons of these great events; but, in meeting them it definitely exposed itself instead as an enemy of the Socialist system that had just been established. The leadership of the Socialist movement in the United States, therefore, had to and did pass from the Socialist Party to a new organization, one truly Socialist in character, the Communist Party.

The Formation of the Communist Party (1919–1921)

The Socialist Party convention opened on August 30, 1919, in Machinists' Hall, 113 South Ashland Boulevard, Chicago. The Hillquit clique had complete control of the Party apparatus, and from the outset they used this control drastically. Their Contest Committee, passing on challenged credentials, refused seats to delegates of the left wing from a dozen states. When John Reed and other left-wingers nevertheless tried to take their seats, Executive Secretary Germer called in the police to expel them. At this outrage the left-wing delegates walked out. The long-brewing division between the right and left wings had now reached the final stage of an open, organizational split.1

The Two Communist Conventions

Meanwhile, the two Communist groups went ahead with organizing their separate conventions. Sharp criticisms were flying back and forth between the factions. The Reed-Wagenknecht group, after their expulsion from the S.P. convention, at first claimed to be the legitimate S.P., but on the day following, August 31st, they went to the I.W.W. hall, on Throop Street, and formed themselves into the Communist Labor Party of America. A day later, on September 1st, at 1221 Blue Island Avenue, the Michigan-federations group organized the Communist Party of America. 2

The C.P., containing the federations, was much the larger of the two new parties. It had 128 regular and fraternal delegates and claimed a membership of 58,000. The C.L.P. had 92 delegates at its convention. It issued no figures as to membership, which was mainly American-born, but it was obviously very much smaller than the C.P. The C.P. asserted that the C.L.P. had about 10,000 members. Efforts were made to unite he two conventions, especially by Ruthenberg, but without success. The C.P. criticized the C.L.P. as centrist, and declared that if the latter wanted unity the C.L.P. delegates could come over to the C.P. convention and participate there as fraternal delegates. This proposition, of course, the C.L.P. scorned.

Meanwhile, the Michigan group at the C.P. convention, led by Batt and Kcracher, took exception to the strong control exercised by the federation leaders and refused to vote for the C.P. program. This group was expelled on December 2nd, after which in June 1920, they organized themselves as the Proletarian Party, a wisp of a party which still exists. Ruthenberg was elected executive secretary of the C.P. and Wagenknecht was chosen for the same position in the C.L.P. The Communist became the organ of the C.P., and The Toiler (formerly the Socialist News) the journal of the C.L.P. The C.P. set up its headquarters in Chicago and the C.L.P. moved to Cleveland. The C.P. had 12 publications in its "language" federations.

Both U.S. Communist Parties extended their organization into Canada. In June 1921, however, the two groups were fused into one Communist Party, which was born "underground."3 The Workers Party of Canada was founded in February 1922. In June 1943 the C.P. of Canada was reorganized into the present Labor-Progressive Party.

The Communist Programs

The programs of the two parties were essentially the same. 4 Their strengths and weaknesses were those of the Left Wing Manifesto, upon which they were based and which we analyzed in the preceding chapter. That is, they developed a basically correct Marxist-Leninist position on such general questions as the state, imperialism, the war, and proletarian dictatorship; but they failed in applying Marxist-Leninist principles to the concrete American situation. In the latter respect, they largely remained clamped in the traditional sectarianism and "leftism."

Thus, on the trade union question, dualism expressed itself in both parties. The C.P., for example, proposed the formation of a "general industrial union organization embracing the I.W.W., W.I.I.U., 5 independent and secession unions, militant unions of the A.F. of L., and the unorganized workers, on the basis of the revolutionary class struggle. The C.L.P. also took a dual union line. The C.L.P. did not mention the Negro question at all, and the C.P. outlined the incorrect, but generally-held opinion in the word-for-word De Leonite formula that "The racial expression of the Negro is simply the expression of his economic bondage and oppression, each intensifying die other. This complicates the Negro problem, but does not alter its proletarian character." 6

Both parties proposed to have nothing to do with partial, immediate political demands. The C.P. said that its parliamentary representatives "shall not introduce or support reform measures," and the C.L.P. declared that its platform "can contain only one demand: the establishment of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat." Parliamentary action was thus reduced to a question of agitation of revolutionary formulas.

The parties' platforms were also incorrect in their approach to the question of the workers' potential united front allies in the class struggle. For example, said the C.P.: "The Communist Party, accordingly, in campaigns and elections, and in all its other activities, shall not cooperate with groups or parties not committed to the revolutionary class struggle, such as the Socialist Party, Labor Party, Non-partisan League, People's Council, Municipal Leaguers, etc." The C.L.P. was no less "leftist."

Both parties declared for affiliation to the Communist International. Both also stressed the leading role of the Party, but this they did in an abstract manner, failing to realize that the Party had to be the leader not only in periods of revolutionary struggle but also in every day-today issue of the working class, no matter how small.

The political basis of the "leftism" that prevailed in both parties was a wrong estimate of the general political situation in the United States. The tacit assumption of both parties was that the country was approaching a revolutionary crisis. Thus, the C.L.P. program "realizes that the time for parleying and compromise has passed; and that now it is only the question whether all power remains in the hands of die capitalists or is taken by the working class." The C.P. program expressed a similar spirit of revolutionary urgency. Little analysis was developed at the time of this key proposition, however.

Much of Europe then was in a revolutionary situation. Moreover, die revolution in Germany, had it not been betrayed by the Social-Democrats, could have spread widely, thereby directly affecting the United States. It was therefore quite correct for the American Communist Parties to have a general Socialist perspective. Their mistake was in conceiving this in an altogether too immediate sense and in a mechanical fashion. They failed to make a clear distinction between a Europe devastated by the war and the scene of active revolutionary struggle, and a capitalist America enriched by the war and by no means ready for socialism. This faulty analysis contributed directly to the young Communist parties' underestimation and neglect of the daily struggles of the workers for partial demands. Raising the slogan of Soviets for the United States was a serious political error, indicating the political immaturity of the Party.

The two conventions, between them, laid the organizational and political foundations for the eventual Communist Party of the United States. But many urgent tasks confronted this young and split movement. The first and most important of these was to bring about unity between the two Communist parties. There were also very many left-wing elements still to be assembled, including sections remaining in the S.P., the more advanced I.W.W. members, the militants in the A.F. of L., and other groupings moving toward Marxist socialism. Above all, there was the necessity of securing a better grasp upon the great theoretical principles of Marxism-Leninism so newly come to the knowledge of the American left wing. But before these urgent tasks could be done the movement was to undergo its first test by fire.

The Palmer Raids

The Communist Party of the United States was born in the midst of sharp economic and political struggles, both abroad and at home. The Russian Revolution was surging ahead, smashing the armies of the counter-revolutionary interventionists, and Germany and all of central and eastern Europe were stirring with revolutionary spirit. In the United States the workers, reflecting something of the revolutionary mood of the working class in many countries, were fighting on the offensive. The historic Seattle and Winnipeg general strikes were still fresh in memory, and the great steel strike, a thrust by over a third of a million workers at the very heart of the open-shop industries, was just beginning. In this situation came the formation of the Party, the most advanced expression of the workers' militancy and fighting spirit.

The capitalists, frightened at all these threatening developments, were beginning their intense post-war offensive to give the workers another bitter taste of the "democracy" they had saved by winning the war. They arbitrarily used the state power for the illegal suppression of the people's rights. This growing employers' offensive hit the Communist parties with full force in the infamous Palmer raids at the end of 1919.

On October 16th of that year the police pushed into the C.L.P. headquarters in Cleveland and arrested the Party leadership, and on November 8th, in New York, 700 police invaded mass meetings celebrating the anniversary of the Russian Revolution, seizing several hundred workers. But these raids were only dress rehearsals for the big outrages yet to come. Suddenly, during the night of January 2, 1920, the Department of Justice struck nationally in 70 cities, dragging workers from their homes, slugging them, and throwing them into crowded jails, often without proper food and toilet facilities. These monstrous raids, authorized by the "liberal" President Wilson, were carried out by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and his hatchet man, J. Edgar Hoover. Allegedly, the country was on the brink of a revolution and this was the way to save it, regardless of law and constitutional rights.

An estimated 10,000 were arrested. 7 Most of the two Communist parties' leaders were in jail, 39 of the officials of the C.L.P. being indicted. Eventually, Ruthenberg, Larkin, Winitsky, Whitney, and others, arrested during the period of the raids, were sentenced to long terms in the penitentiary. The government struck hardest at the foreign-born workers, whom it considered the most dangerously revolutionary. Under the Wartime Deportation Act over 500 aliens were summarily deported. On the steamer Buford, sailing from New York, there were 249 deportees, including Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman. In the prevailing hysteria Victor Berger, although regularly elected, was refused a seat in the House of Representatives, and five Socialist Assemblymen were denied their places in the New York State Legislature. 8

This terrorist attack, accompanied by rulings of the Department of Labor that foreign-born members of the Communist movement were deportable as such, deprived the two Communist Parties of their basic rights of free speech and free assembly. It forced them to close their national headquarters and to take other elementary steps to protect their members, branches, press, and leading committees from arbitrary raids and terrorist victimization. That is, faced by illegal attacks designed to outlaw the Communist movement and to drive it underground, the two Parties reacted as various other labor and progressive movements before them had done in American history when facing similar persecution. They adopted protective measures and pursued their legitimate activities as best they could under the circumstances. No constructive political movement will allow itself to be destroyed by police persecution.

The term "underground," in relation to the Parties' position during these years of persecution, was greatly exaggerated and distorted in the press. The fact was, however, that A. Mitchell Palmer, J. Edgar Hoover, and the others carrying out the offensive against the Communists did not succeed in stopping completely the open and public activities of the Communist movement, which persisted in spite of the government's efforts to drive it underground. Despite violence, threats of violence, vigilante action, and similar illegal policies, either practiced directly or condoned by the authorities, the Parties openly published various journals, such as The Toiler of the U.C.P. and Der Kampf, the first Jewish Communist paper in the United States. Books and pamphlets were also sold openly, and the "language federations," for the most part, managed to operate their "homes" and keep their papers going. The Workers Council also functioned openly and published its paper.

The term "illegal," as applied to the status of the two Parties during this period, was a misnomer. In reality, the advocacy of the Parties' programs and the practice of their general activities were legal, in that they were entirely within the Constitution, but because of the prevailing violent and illegal suppression the Party was unable to exercise these democratic rights openly. Proof of the correctness of this analysis was to be seen in the fact that once the Palmer terror was over and the Communist Parties had succeeded in practice in establishing their democratic rights, the legal status of the Communist Party was not challenged by the national government for 25 years; that is, until a new governmental terrorism was launched as an integral part of Wall Street's present drive to master the world.

During the following months the Communist Parties, both of which had moved to New York, were busily occupied reorganizing themselves—their branches, papers, and leading committees—in accordance with the new situation. When, later on, in their 1920 conventions the parties took stock of their membership, they found that they had held together only about 10,000 out of the approximately 60,000, who had earlier flocked to the standard of the left wing. The Palmer raids had seriously weakened the parties' numerical strength, but had by no means broken their backs. They were now reduced to the hard core of resolute Communist fighters. Their reduction in size after the government's ruthless onslaught was not surprising. During the terror following the 1905 Revolution in Russia, for example, the Bolshevik Party was greatly reduced in numbers. Similar shrinking in size, but not in revolutionary spirit, was later to be observed of the Communist Party of China under Chiang Kai-shek's terror, and also of the parties in many European countries under the ruthless fascist regimes. The 50,000 or so of erstwhile members who dropped out of the Communist parties in the United States under the Palmer terror generally became non-member supporters and sympathizers of the Party.

Formation of the United Communist Party

Obviously, Party unity in the United States was a burning necessity. The leaders of the Communist Labor Party, from the time of the conventions, pressed for a consolidation of the two parties; but the federation leaders in the Communist Party were reluctant. Their unity proposition to the C.L.P. was, in substance, that the latter should join up with the C.P. as individuals and locals. "Unity with the C.L.P. as a party of centrists," said they, "was impossible." 9 The federation leaders raised two definite issues, which stood in the way of unity. First, they charged that the C.L.P. leaders were opportunists, holding that their own members, mostly foreign-born, were imbued with a more revolutionary spirit than the predominantly American-born C.L.P. membership. Second, they feared that the C.L.P. leaders, underestimating the role of the foreign-born generally in the class struggle, would destroy the "language federations," not realizing what a powerful means these were for organizing the foreign-born workers of the respective national groups, most of whom at that time did not speak English. A further general bar to unity was the fact that, since they were in the process of grasping the great body of Marxist-Leninist thought, there was a tendency in both parties to magnify the importance of every detail of difference, to dispute over minor points with rigidity, and to apply Marxism-Leninism to the United States in a blueprint fashion, rather than upon the basis of actual American conditions. This sectarian attitude led to secondary splits in the parties during this formative period.

Notwithstanding these differences the two parties, early in 1920, began unity negotiations. 10 Ruthenberg, executive secretary of the C.P., was an ardent advocate of Party unity in that body. Despite these efforts, the unity proceedings dragged on without any results, with each side voting down the proposals of the other. Finally, the C.P. itself split over the unity question, with a large section of that organization, led by Ruthenberg, joining up with the C.L.P. Segments broke off from several of the federations, and the bulk of the Jewish Federation, led by Alexander Bittelman, disaffiliated from the C.P. and joined the C.L.P. A unity convention was held at Bridgman, Michigan, in May 1920. As a result, the United Communist Party of America was born. Ruthenberg was elected executive secretary, and the new Central Executive Committee was made up of five members from the C.P. and five from the C.L.P.

The U.C.P. made no important changes in political policy from that of the C.L.P. and C.P. The big question at issue in the convention was the role of the federations. The C.P. was practically a "federation of federations"; these bodies had a high degree of autonomy, holding their own conventions, electing their officials, and having the power (used upon occasion), if they saw fit, to withdraw from the Party. The U.C.P., on the other hand, was opposed to this loose system. While authorizing federations, the U.C.P. declared that these would hold national conferences, not conventions, and that their decisions, activities, officials, and journals were all to be under the direct control of the Central Executive Committee. The basic Party unit was set by the convention at not more than ten or less than five members.

The C.P., in turn, held its convention of 34 delegates (also "underground") in July 1920, in New York City. There was much bitterness over the recent "unity" proceedings, which had split the C.P., and the new U.C.P. was dubbed the "United Centrist Party." No important programmatic changes were made by the C.P. Incorrectly, however, the U.C.P. was accused of giving undue prominence to the Negro question in its convention by considering it as a separate item. Reports to the C.P. convention showed that whereas the total dues payments of the C.P. for the last three months of 1919 averaged 23,744 per month, the number was down to 5,584 for the first four months of 1920. The estimated membership at convention time was 8,500. It was reported that 18 percent of the membership had been lost to the U.C.P. in the "unity" proceedings. Charles Dirba was elected executive secretary of the C.P.

The Role of the Communist International

Founded in March 1919, the Comintern, by the time of its second congress in July 1920, 11 was actively functioning. Henceforth, during the next twenty years, the American Communist movement was to have the invaluable advantage of the advice and experience of the Marxist-Leninists of the world in the development of Communist policy in the United States. This was of great importance because the American left had been practically isolated from the left wing in other countries since the death of Engels in 1895.

The Communist International, made up in its congresses and leading committees of worker delegates from all over the world, was a highly democratic organization—far more so, in fact, than the Second International had ever been. No decisions were arrived at without the most thorough discussions with the delegations directly concerned. Charges by Social-Democrats and other capitalist agents that the Comintern issued arbitrary orders and directives to its affiliates were only so many examples of the current anti-Communist slander campaign. Stalin, years ago, answered this calumny: "The assumption that the American Communists work under orders from Moscow is absolutely untrue. There are no Communists in the world who would agree to work 'under orders' from outside against their own convictions and will and contrary to the requirements of the situation. Even if there wrere such Communists they would not be worth a cent."12 The Comintern was a disciplined organization, and international capitalism dreaded its decisive action; but its Leninist discipline was based upon a profound democracy throughout its entire structure.

Enemies of communism also made many fantastic charges about the Comintern sending its "agents" to various countries, including the United States. These delegates were painted in an especially sinister fashion. In reality, however, with respect to its representatives traveling to various countries, the Comintern functioned much like any other international labor body. Such representatives, members of brother Communist parties, simply undertook to give the parties concerned the benefit of their own particular experience in the light of the general policies and decisions of the Comintern.

Stupid and baseless also was the charge that the existence of the Communist International (and now of the respective Communist parties, since the Comintern was liquidated) constituted interference by the Soviet Union in the internal affairs of other countries. The Comintern was a movement, based on the Communist parties of all the major countries in the world and growing out of the Socialist movement, which had been developing for at least 75 years before the U.S.S.R. was born.

Among its many general decisions, the second congress of the Comintern, in July 1920, formulated three of special importance. These were the well-known "21 points," the colonial resolution, and the development of the policies laid down in Lenin's famous pamphlet, "Left-Wing' Communism, an Infantile Disorder.

The "21 points" laid down the working principles of the Communist movement, both on a national and international scale, in the intense revolutionary situation then existing. The points provided for a revolutionary Party—in regard to its membership, leadership, policy, press, and discipline. Their primary purpose was to establish what a Communist Party should be in order to lead the masses in the revolutionary struggle then rapidly developing in Europe. The "points" were guides, not inflexible rules. In the practice of the various Communist parties they were widely varied. At this time the two American Communist Parties were only in fraternal affiliation with the Comintern, and the Communist movement of the United States, after its eventual unity, never officially endorsed the 21 points.

If the "21 points" were a devastating blow against the right, Lenin's "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder was no less sharp an attack against the "ultra-left." It was a slashing assault upon sectarianism among Communists, in all its forms. In this great booklet Lenin especially demolished the illusion of dual Socialist unionism, using among other illustrations the experience in this matter in the United States. Lenin also cracked down on such virulent forms of "leftism" as non-participation in bourgeois parliaments, refusal to fight for partial demands, failure to develop fighting alliances with labor's small farmer and other allies, tendencies to try to apply the Russian experience mechanically in other countries, and the like.

The colonial resolution, written by Lenin, was of major importance. It explained the relations between the struggle of the working class in the imperialist countries and those of the colonial peoples fighting for national independence. It clearly forecast the immense revolutionary struggles now shaking the whole colonial world.

Party United Achieved

Despite the failure of the U.C.P. convention of May 1920 to establish Party unity, strong rank-and-file pressure continued in that direction. The U.C.P. leadership also redoubled its unity agitation. A Communist Unity Committee, headed by Alexander Bittelman, member of the U.C.P., criticized the leadership of both parties and insisted upon immediate Party unification. Moreover, the Comintern lent its influence. The C.P. federation leaders yielded under the strong unity urge in the Party.

Consequently, unity negotiations were begun shortly after the first U.C.P. convention, but they dragged along slowly, deadlocks occurring over the matter of representation at the proposed unity convention. The C.P. also insisted upon autonomy for the federations, asserting besides that the U.C.P. was "not sufficiently revolutionary." The separate conventions of the U.C.P. in January, and of the C.P. in February 1921 (both held without any open publicity) gave new strength to the movement for unity. Finally, after much negotiation, the general convention to unify the C.P. and U.C.P. took place in May, at Woodstock, New York.13

Each Party was represented by 30 delegates. The convention lasted for two weeks. The U.C.P. reported 5,700 members, organized into 667 groups, and 35 publications. The C.P. reported a dues-paying membership of 6,328 and 19 newspapers. Each Party stated that it had issued some two million copies of leaflets during the past few months.

The debates at the convention, although heated, brought forth no important political differences between the two groups. The main discussions turned around questions of tactics, especially on how to break the parties' isolation and how to apply the principles of Marxism-Leninism in the sharp class struggles then going on. On this question the influence of Lenin's writings, particularly his "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder, was in evidence. The most important change in policy adopted by the convention was the abandonment of the historic left-wing policy of dual unionism. In this respect, the convention declared that "The policy of the I.VV.W. and similar organizations of artificially creating new industrial unions has been shown by experience to be mistaken." And "The Communist Party condemns the policy of the revolutionary elements leaving the existing unions."

This stand against dual unionism constituted a heavy blow against sectarianism. But the Party was not yet prepared to draw the full implications from its new tactical line, particularly as expressed in Lenin's pamphlet against leftism. While endorsing the principle of partial demands, it developed no program of such demands. The Party also, in its Unity Convention, while speaking for co-operation with the exploited rural masses, worked out no practical united front policies for so doing. Nor was it, as yet, prepared to endorse the labor party movement. And as for the Negro question, little or no progress was made on this. The matter was not included in the Party's program, but was referred to the manifesto. Despite these many shortcomings, however, the convention's proceedings, above all in the abandonment of dual unionism, went far toward the elaboration of a sound Marxist-Leninist mass policy for the United States.

A serious dispute at the U.C.P.-C.P. Unity Convention took place over Party structure. The role of the federations was the principal bone of contention. Finally, a compromise was arrived at which held the federations under general Party control, while allowing them considerable autonomy. Henceforth, the federations would hold conferences, not conventions; they would be subject to general supervision of the Central Executive Committee; and their members would have to pay their dues directly to the Party. The fused organization was called the Communist Party of America, and its headquarters was established in New York. Ruthenberg was elected executive secretary. The Central Executive Committee, instead of the proposed nine members, had to be enlarged to ten—five from each constituent party.

It was a joyous delegation that completed the arduous work of this long and decisive convention. Amid the general enthusiasm of the convention, "Party lines melted away. Comrades, who had been separated for years, embraced each other; hands clasped hands; the delegates sang the International with as much energy as could be mustered after the trying 48-hour continuous sessions."14

Concentrating the Communist Forces

Meanwhile, as the former left wing of the Socialist Party, now crystallized into the Communist Party, went ahead unifying itself and developing an American Marxist-Leninist program, it was also absorbing strength from other militant currents. First, there was the I.W.W. From the outset, the Communists exerted great effort to win over members of this fighting organization. In January 1920, the Comintern addressed a special letter to the I.W.W., polemizing against its syndicalist illusions and offering it "the hand of brotherhood." Many of its outstanding leaders turned to the Party, including William D. Haywood, George Hardy, Art Shields, and Roy Brown. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who joined the Party some years later, also came from the I.W.W. Haywood declared, "As soon as the consolidation of the Communist Party in the United States was effected, I became a member." 15 He died in Moscow in 1928, where, a sick man, he had gone to avoid a 20-year prison sentence for his anti-war stand.

In 1920 the I.W.W. General Executive Board formally endorsed the Communist International. However, because most of the I.W.W. leaders were nevertheless opposed to communism, they finally succeeded in driving a wedge between the I.W.W. and the Communist Party. In the spring of 1921 the I.W.W. sent a delegate to the first congress of the Red International of Labor Unions in Moscow. But upon receiving an unfavorable (highly biased) report from its delegate, George Williams, on what had happened there, the I.W.W. decided not to affiliate to the new labor international. Like a number of other syndicalist organizations in Europe and Latin America, the I.W.W. oriented toward the so-called Berlin syndicalist international, which was being organized at the time. Despite the I.W.W.'s strong syndicalist trend, however, considerable numbers of its members became Communists. Gambs says, "Possibly the I.W.W. have lost as many as 2,000 members to the Communist Party."16

The Socialist Labor Party furnished but few members to the Communist Party—Boris Reinstein, Caleb Harrison, and some others. The S.L.P., immersed in the sectarian dogmas of De Leon, was totally unable to understand the Russian Revolution and its profound implications for the world labor movement. It condemned the Revolution as "premature" and ridiculed the C.I. as "only a circus stunt."17 The S.L.P. soon degenerated into a frenzied redbaiting and Soviet-hating sect.

An important development of this period, signalizing the beginning of one of the—eventually—most important of all the membership sources of the Communist Party, was the growth of the Communist movement among the Negroes, in New York. This took place chiefly around the journal, The Messenger. This paper, of which we shall have more to say in a later chapter, was established in 1917 by a group of Negro intellectuals and trade unionists, including A. Philip Randolph, Chandler Owen, Richard B. Moore, and Cyril Briggs.

The Messenger, which had the backing of many Socialist-led trade unions, followed an essentially left line. It opposed the war, supported the Russian Revolution, and was in favor of an active fighting policy for labor and the Negro people. During the period of the S.P. 1919 split, the editorial board of The Messenger was divided, the lefts, Briggs and Moore, resigning. Randolph, hanging onto the paper, transformed it into a typical right-wing Socialist journal. Eventually, in 1925, it became the official organ of the newly-organized Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Out of The Messenger group came several pioneer Communists.

The youth were also a source of strength for the gathering Communist forces. The profound events which had resulted in the split in the Socialist Party and the organization of the Communist Party naturally had its repercussions among the Socialist young people. The S.P., in April 1913, after several years of preliminary work of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, had constituted the Young People's Socialist League. The Y.P.S.L. in 1916 consisted of 150 clubs and 4,000 members. It published The Young Socialist and carried on educational and social work. 18 During the war the organization, leftward-inclined, held many anti-war meetings and made much agitation against conscription.

The treacherous attitude of the Social-Democratic leaders of the Second International, toward the Russian Revolution and the war, produced profound repercussions in the Y.P.S.L., as in other sections of the American Socialist movement. At the Y.P.S.L.'s first national convention, held in May 1919, this left spirit in the organization found expression. The convention passed resolutions condemning the Second International and supporting the Third International. In December 1919, after the Socialist Party had split in September, the Y.P.S.L. held a special convention, in response to left-wing demands. It thus set itself up as an independent organization, declaring for the Young Socialist International, which was then in the process of transforming itself into the Young Communist International. When the Palmer raids against the labor and Communist movement took place, the independent Y.P.S.L. disintegrated as a national organization, although some of its sections remained in existence. Wm. F. Kruse, the head of the Y.P.S.L., joined the Workers Party at its formation in December 1921, and many former Y.P.S.L. members also took part in forming the Young Communist League. The Y.C.L. came into existence, at a convention in April 1922, in "underground" conditions. The Young Workers League was organized in May 1922, 19 out of the numerous youth groups then existing. Among its leaders were Harry Gannes and John Williamson.

In the breakdown of the Socialist Party and the formation of the Communist Party in 1919, women Socialist fighters also played an important role. Most of them went over to the new party, or became active sympathizers. At the founding convention of the C.P. and C.L.P., there were several women delegates. Among the most outstanding of the pioneer women Communists may be mentioned Ella Reeve Bloor, Anita Whitney, Margaret Prevey, Kate Sadler Greenhalgh, Rose Pastor Stokes, Hortense Allison, Sadie Van Veen, Jeannette Pearl, Rose Wortis, Margaret Krumbein, Rose Baron, Becky Buhay, Dora Lifshitz, Clara Bodian.

Another important source of recruits for the Communist Party was the Trade Union Educational League. The T.U.E.L., the successor to the old Syndicalist League and International Trade Union Educational League, was founded in Chicago, in November 1920. After the loss of the big national steel strike, the group of Chicago militants who were behind that movement more than ever felt the need to organize the "militant minority" in the trade unions. The organization also included trade unionists in Canada.

The T.U.E.L. was not so definitely syndicalist as its predecessors, the S.L.N.A. and I.T.U.E.L., had been. Its members and leaders were decisively influenced by the lessons of the great Russian Revolution and by the writings of Lenin. The Chicago syndicalist group was a revolt not only against Gompersism in trade unionism, but also against the right opportunism of the Socialist Party; hence the works of Lenin had a tremendous impact upon it, even as upon all other sections of militant workers. The group's anti-politicalism was breaking down, and it had played an important part in the labor party movement which centered nationally in Chicago. It was rapidly moving toward Marxism-Leninism. In 1920 the chief remaining barrier between the T.U.E.L. militants and the Communist Party was their difference over the trade union question, the T.U.E.L. being unshakably opposed to dual unionism, which the Communists still supported. This obstacle, however, was removed when Lenin's pamphlet, "Left-Wing' Communism, an Infantile Disorder, appeared in the United States in January 1921. From then on dual unionism was finished as Communist policy. William Z. Foster, the head of the T.U.E.L., whose thinking had been revolutionized by Lenin, was invited to come to Moscow for the first congress of the Red International of Labor Unions, held on July 3, 1921. There the R.I.L.U. definitely repudiated dual unionism. In the summer of 1921 Foster and other T.U.E.L. militants joined the Party. This brought in a considerable group of active and experienced trade unionists, among them Jack Johnstone, Jay Fox, Joseph Manley, David Coutts, Sam Hammersmark, and many others. The T.U.E.L., however, remained an independent, broad united front organization, made up of left-wingers and progressives generally.

The Workers Party (1921)

The years immediately following World War I were years of virulent capitalist reaction. We shall deal with this offensive of capital more fully in the next chapter. During this period the United States went through many hard-fought strikes, numerous "race riots," and labor frame-up cases. The labor movement was fighting for its very existence. The severe economic crisis of 1920-21 sharpened the class struggle. This was the time when the Ku Klux Klan, flourishing as never before, claimed to have five million members. In order to play an important part in the current big class struggles, it was necessary that the Communist Party should carry on public activities in all kinds of tasks so far as possible under the existing circumstances. The fusing together of the two "underground" Communist Parties at the May 1921 convention was a long stride in this general direction.

But to get the Party fully into the open was no small problem. In fact, it was a unique task, which was to take nearly two years to accomplish. The basic difficulty, of course, was to develop the mass work of the Party in the face of the reactionary capitalist offensive then going on. There was little known Communist experience to serve as a guide in this specific situation. Of course, there were cases of Communist parties which, forced underground by capitalist terrorism, had emerged into legality during periods of revolutionary upheaval. Striking examples of this were given by the Bolsheviks during the 1905 and March 1917 revolutions in Russia, and also by the parties in the Balkans after World War I. There were similar experiences later in many European countries upon the defeat of Hitler and the revolutionary upsurge of the working class in the aftermath of World War II. But few, if any, examples were to be found then of Communist parties that had legalized themselves during periods of sharp reaction, such as existed in the United States.

Besides these objective difficulties to the Party's assuming a fully open status in the face of the current capitalist reaction, there were also subjective reasons making this task even more difficult. That is, the sectarianism still prevailing in the Party—the tendency to stand apart from the daily struggles of the masses and to deal only with Socialist agitation, under the pressure of the force and violence of the authorities—led to the tacit acceptance of "underground" conditions, to the idea that of necessity a Communist Party had to be illegal in a capitalist country. Such false conceptions were strengthened by the fact that the left-wing non-citizen immigrant workers were victimized by arbitrary deportation and needed all possible protection from ruthless reaction.

The American Labor Alliance

The Communist Party, as the basic champion of democracy, always strives to carry on its activities in the greatest possible publicity, in order most effectively to reach the masses with its message. This was the fundamental orientation of the C.P.U.S.A. during this difficult formative period. The Party, as best it could, moved toward winning for itself the prevailing popular democratic rights of free speech and free assembly, in spite of all the barbarous persecution to which it was subjected. And it eventually succeeded in this endeavor.

Nevertheless the opportunities for mass Communist work were being neglected because of sectarian moods in the Party. The May 1921 C.P. convention correctly declared, "Far greater and much more effective use of legal channels can and must be made. Our legal activities, always under the control of the Central Executive Committee of the C.P., should be amplified and intensified."1 In line with this decision, the Workers League was set up in New York City, and it ran candidates in the Fall elections of 1921. Attempts by the local election board to disqualify these candidates on the grounds that they were either in jail or indicted were defeated. The Party also began to take an active part openly in various current local political struggles.

The Party's first organizational step toward a fully open status, however, was taken with the establishment of the American Labor Alliance. This body was set up, rather tentatively to begin with, at an open convention in New York City, in July 1921. There were 15 organizations present, including the Irish American Labor League, National Defense Committee, Finnish Socialist Federation, Associated Toiler Clubs, American Freedom Foundation, Ukrainian Workers Clubs, Independent Socialist League, Marxian Educational League, Hungarian Workers Federation. The A.L.A. convention elected Elmer L. Allison as secretary and established headquarters at 201 West 13th Street.

The Alliance declared that its aim was to "unify, through a central body the great mass of discontented 'left' political and economic forces of the country and rally them about a common aim."2 Later, and more specifically, the A.L.A. stated that it "is of the opinion that the time is ripe for the organization of the class conscious workers of America into a new revolutionary Party and it announces that in the near future it will call a national conference to form such a Party." 3 To this general end, one of the essential moves of the A.L.A. was to come to an agreement with the Workers Council.

The Workers Council

After the big split in the Socialist Party in 1919, which led to the formation of the two Communist parties, there remained a number of opposition elements within the S.P. who were still nursing the hope of using that organization as the working class Party. This tendency was led by J. Louis Engdahl, Alexander Trachtenberg, William Kruse, Margaret B. Prevey, and M. Olgin. Numerous centrists also went along, including Salutsky, and others. The lefts in this group made the serious error of not leaving the S.P. with their following immediately upon the formation of the Communist Party in 1919.

At the Chicago S.P. convention, in September 1919, this group was responsible for the passage of a resolution making a qualified (originally unqualified) application for affiliation to the Comintern. The latter sharply rejected this, stating that "The Socialist Party of the United States is not a working class Party, but an auxiliary of the American bourgeoisie, of American imperialism." 4 At the New York convention of the S.P., in May 1920, the Engdahl-Trachtenberg group was again defeated, although Trachtenberg, candidate for international secretary against Hillquit, received one-third of all votes cast. This group supported the nomination of Debs, then in jail, by the convention—Victor Berger, who favored Hoan, declaring that no American would vote for a man in jail. At that convention, the group functioned as the "Committee for the Third International," which it had previously organized to carry on propaganda within the S.P. They also formed, in May 1921, the Workers Council, which was a functioning political organization, claiming the support of the Jewish, Finnish, and Czech federations, the German Workers Educational Society, and a part of the Italian Federation. It also received the support of groups of English-speaking members throughout the country who still belonged to the Socialist Party and who were in favor of affiliation with the C.I. In June 1921, the S.P. held its convention in Detroit. The convention declared against the Communist International, against the dictatorship of the proletariat, and against mass action.

Whereupon, the Workers Council group belatedly quit the Socialist party. In an article in their official journal, entitled "Farewell to the Socialist Party," they declared, "The Committee for the Third International sees no further reason for staying in the Socialist Party. It believes that the Socialist Party has completely and beyond recovery outlived its usefulness as an agency for propaganda and as an instrument for the realization of socialism."5

During this period the S.P. suffered a series of losses, in addition to the withdrawal of the Workers Council. Most important, the Finnish Federation, with several thousand members, seceded on December 20, 1920; the Jewish Federation followed suit in September 1921; and one week prior to this the Bohemian Federation had voted by ten to one to withdraw from the Socialist Party. 6 From 1920 to 1922, the S.P. declined from 27,000 to 11,000 members.

The wholesale splittings from the Socialist Party in 1919-21 left Debs almost the sole prominent "left" still within the Party. He cut a tragic figure, this one-time battler for the left who had been such a brilliant propagandist for socialism but who was now unable to follow the path toward socialism. When the big Communist split was developing early in 1919, Debs kept silent, making no statements as to his position in the basic conflict within the Party. Evidently, however, while supporting the Russian Revolution, he did not understand the dictatorship of the proletariat because of his bourgeois-democratic prejudices, nor could he realize that his old co-workers in the leadership of the S.P. were in actuality enemies of socialism. He was in jail when the 1919 split took place. D. Karsner, who visited Debs at his home and at the Atlanta penitentiary, states that the latter said to him, "I do not see any difference between the Workers Party and the Socialist Party," and he proposed a fusion of the two parties. Debs is also reputed to have told Karsner, "I have arrived at the definite conclusion that my place in the future as in the past is in the Socialist Party." 7 Whatever he may have said to Karsner, the fact is that Debs remained in the bankrupt Socialist Party until he died on October 20, 1926.

Formation of the Workers Party

The American Labor Alliance, with the active support of the Communist Party, began, in August 1921, to charter locals for a new organization. At the same time the Workers Council, which supported the plan for such a party, also began organizational work to the same end. On October 15th, the Workers Council issued a call for a conference to consider the possibilities of forming the new Party. In consequence, the American Labor Alliance and the Workers Council, after considerable negotiation, got together and issued a joint call to establish a new Party. 8

The call was endorsed by the following organizations: American Labor Alliance, and its affiliated bodies, the Finnish Socialist Federation, Hungarian Workers Federation, Italian Workers Federation, and the Jewish Workers Federation, the Workers Council of America, Jewish Socialist Federation, and Workers Educational Association (German). The call was signed by Elmer L. Allison, for the Workers Party Convention Committee.

Accompanying the convention call was a statement of principles, which the participating organizations were required to approve. It read:

"1. The Workers' Republic: To lead the working masses in the struggle for the abolition of capitalism through the establishment of a government by the working class—a Workers' Republic in America.

"2. Political Action: To participate in all political activities, including electoral campaigns, in order to utilize them for the purpose of carrying our message to the masses. The elected representatives of the Workers Party will unmask the fraudulent capitalist democracy and help mobilize the workers for the final struggle against their common enemy.

"3. The Labor Unions: To develop labor organizations into organs of militant struggle against capitalism, expose the reactionary labor bureaucrats, and educate the workers to militant unionism.

"4. A Fighting Party: It shall be a party of militant, class conscious workers, bound by discipline and organized on the basis of democratic centralism, with full power in the hands of the Central Executive Committee between conventions. The Central Executive Committee of the Party shall have control over all activities of public officials. It shall also co-ordinate and direct the work of the Party members in the trade unions.

"5. Party Press: The Party's press shall be owned by the Party, and all its activities shall be under the control of the Central Executive Committee."

The convention for the new Party was convened at the Labor Temple on East 84th Street, New York, December 23-26, 1921. There were 150 delegates from all over the country. Among the most important organizations represented, with power to affiliate, were, in addition to the Ameriran Labor Alliance and the Workers Council proper, the Russian, Finnish, South Slavic, Ukrainian, Irish, German, Greek, Jewish, Italian, jjsthonian, Spanish, Armenian, Lettish, Scandinavian, and Hungarian federations and sections. There were also fraternal delegates from such organizations, among others, as the Proletarian Party, Left Poalei Tsion, young Workers League, and the African Blood Brotherhood. The convention acted for a combined membership of some 20,000 in the fully accredited organizations, which issued nine daily and 21 weekly publications.

The convention was opened by J. Louis Engdahl, who in a short address greeted the delegates and dealt with the historic significance of the gathering as "opening a new epoch in the struggle of the American working class." He welcomed the delegates from the various groupings, "who for many years had been traveling different roads and had finally come together and found common ground in the joint effort to build a real revolutionary Party in America."

The three days of discussion that followed revealed substantial agreement on all major questions of principles and tactics. The only important differences were those raised by the three fraternal delegates from the Proletarian Party. They criticized the whole project of the convention from a narrow "leftist" sectarian viewpoint, claiming that their own tiny organization would suffice as the party of the working class. The Proletarian Party later refused to affiliate with the new Party.

The new organization was named the Workers Party of America. Plans were made for the early publication of an official organ, The Worker. A Central Executive Committee of 17 members was elected; Ruthenberg was chosen secretary, but since he was in jail, Caleb Harrison, appointed assistant secretary, was named to serve as acting secretary. New York City was designated as the seat of the national headquarters. 9

The Workers Party Program

The Workers Party convention of 1921 constituted a very important stage in the history of the developing Communist Party of the United States. It established the long-sought unity of practically all the Communist forces in the country, and it also marked the conclusion of the founding phase of the Communist Party. It ended the period of almost exclusively Socialist propaganda and initiated the new Party into the beginnings of mass work. It dealt a number of blows at the traditional sectarianism of the left wing by working out an elementary program of immediate demands. It marked, especially, an important step in the open work of the Party. In short, the convention registered real progress in the adaptation of Marxism-Leninism to the specific conditions of the class struggle in the United States. Enemies of the Party, such as James Oneal, have tried to interpret the founding of the Workers Party and the adoption of its specific program as an abandonment of the Leninist line of the Communists. But this was nonsense. The whole development represented the normal growth of the Party in its historic task of combining Socialist propaganda with a militant struggle for the everyday needs of the workers and the masses of the people.

The W.P. program, for the first time in a generation of left-wing history, contained what might properly be termed both a maximum and a minimum program. It did not confine itself simply to outlining the basic program of communism. The main principles of the organization were stated in the document that accompanied the call for the convention. These (see page 190) expressed in simple terms the general Socialist aims of the Party without, however, defining in detail the general perspectives and strategy of the Party, which had so much occupied the attention of previous Communist conventions.

In this respect, the program declared, "The Workers Party will courageously defend the workers and wage an aggressive struggle for the abolition of capitalism." The convention also gave a ringing endorsement to the Russian Revolution, which had ushered in a new period, "the era of Workers Republics," and it demanded recognition of the Soviet government by the United States. After making a concrete analysis of the world setting in which the United States found itself and of the general position of American imperialism, the program proceeded to outline a course of practical mass struggle.

The trade union question occupied nearly half the space in the program. After dealing with the shameful desertion of the workers by their Social-Democratic leaders in the current bosses' offensive, the program called upon all workers to join the union of their trade, to form minority groups of left-wing workers within the unions, to work for fighting programs in the organizations,, and to depose the reactionary union leadership. The program condemned dual unionism and all ideas of destroying the old craft unions. It supported the amalgamation of the trade unions into industrial organizations.

On the Negro question much progress was registered over the past neglect of this vital matter. Under the head of "The Race Problem," the program, beginning with an analysis of the history of Negro oppression in the South, went on to say that "The Workers Party will support the Negroes in their struggle for liberation, and will help them in their fight for economic, political, and social equality. It will point out to them that the interests of the Negro workers are identical with those of the white. It will seek to end the policy of discrimination followed by organized labor. Its task will be to destroy altogether the barrier of race discrimination that has been used to keep apart the black and white workers, and weld them into a solid union of revolutionary forces for the overthrow of their common enemy." While falling short of an understanding of the Negro question as a national question, this was the most advanced resolution on the matter ever adopted by any Marxist party in the United States up to that time.

The resolution on the youth provided that "The C.E.C. [Central Executive Committee] of the W.P. appoint a provisional national organization committee to amalgamate all existing militant young workers' organizations, to create new ones wherever possible, and to carry on all work preparatory to the calling of a national convention which will unite these forces and officially launch the Young Workers League of America." Pursuant to this resolution, a conference was held a couple of months later and the proposed league was established.

A further resolution declared that "The Workers Party recognizes the necessity for an intensified struggle to improve women's conditions and to unify them in the common struggle with the rest of the working class against capitalism." It was to take the initiative in organizing and leading them in struggle. The convention pledged its support to the workers in agriculture. It also denounced the frame-ups against Mooney and Billings, and Sacco and Vanzetti, and it called upon the workers to fight for their freedom. Debs had been freed by President Harding, under strong mass pressure, and to him the convention said: "We greet with joy your homecoming [from prison] and fervently hope that you will soon again be fighting in the ranks of the American working class in their struggle for emancipation."

On the question of parliamentary action the program, while pledging participation in elections and in the general political life of the country, still displayed heavy indications of the traditional "left" sectarianism t>y considering parliamentary action exclusively as a means of exposing capitalism and of conducting Socialist agitation. The partial demands worked out for the elections and for other phases of the workers' struggles were altogether inadequate and in no sense presented a rounded-out program for the day-to-day struggle. The Party, as yet, also took no steps toward participation in that broad mass political activity of the American working class, the labor party.

The Party Asserts Its Democratic Rights

The establishment of the Workers Party was an important step in winning the democratic rights of the Communist movement after it had been stripped, in its two original sections, of free speech and assembly by the ferocious Palmer raids of January 1920. But this progress was not achieved without a serious split in the Communist Party. Three members of the Central Executive Committee, believers in the theory that, of necessity, the Communist movement had to be "underground" in a country such as the United States, took the position that the very existence of the Workers Party would tend to liquidate the Communist Party both programmatically and organizationally. So they took a flat stand against this policy and developed a factional struggle to support their point of view. All attempts at resolving the differences having failed, the rebellious dissident group was suspended on November 2, 1921.

On February 3, 1922, the ousted group, under the name of the Workers Defense League of New England, issued a call for a national conference, to be held in New York City on February 18th. Here was formed the United Toilers of America, which, with a "leftist" line, was sharply opposed to the newly organized Workers Party. The new Party set up headquarters in New York and issued The Workers Challenge as its official organ. The United Toilers had a small following, mostly in the New York area, but it claimed a membership of 5,000. The movement was liquidated at the Bridgman C.P. convention of August 1922, nearly all of its members returning to the Party.

After the formation of the Workers Party in December 1921, the fight to establish in practice the democratic rights of the Communist Party proceeded apace. This question was the central issue at the Party convention in Bridgman, Michigan, in mid-August of 1922. Given the continuing post-war offensive of the employers against the whole labor movement, however, the convention, by a close vote, decided against liquidating the "underground" aspects of the Party. In the existing factional line-up, the majority group, led by Katterfeld and others, were known as the "Goose caucus," and they called the minority group, led by Ruthenberg, the "Liquidators."10

An indication that the government's attempt to outlaw the Party was not yet over—the Party convention was raided on August 22nd by agents of the F.B.I, and the State of Michigan, just as it had concluded its deliberations and was dispersing. Seventeen delegates were arrested with 40 more jailed later on. They were all charged with violating the Michigan anti-syndicalist law-concretely, with "unlawful assembly." This was the beginning of a long legal fight (see next chapter) to win for the Party the elementary democratic right of freely presenting its program to the American people.

However, the conditions, marked by the illegal force and violence of the authorities, which had deprived the Party of its democratic rights, were changing. A new turn was developing in the general political situation (as we shall see in ensuing chapters), with the employers' offensive against the working class assuming less violent forms. The opportunity was, therefore, at hand for the Party to reach its desired goal of a completely public existence. Consequently, on April 7, 1923, the Communist party declared its full consolidation with the Workers Party. Thus, the "underground" period of the Communist Party, forced upon it by die barbarities of the Palmer raids, came to an end after 29 months. At its 1925 convention the Workers Party changed its name to the Workers (Communist) Party and, finally, at its 1930 convention, to the Communist Party of the United States. The winning of its elementary legal rights of free speech and assembly by the Communist Party was an important victory for democracy in the United States.

The Communists and the Capitalist Offensive (1919–1923)

Immediately after their foundation, the young Communist parties had to face a most vicious employers' offensive. American imperialism, as we have remarked, emerged from World War I as the leading world power in a capitalist system which, as the sequel has showed, had received a blow during the war from which it would never recover. It was stricken with an incurable, deepening general world crisis. The United States, now more firmly controlled by monopoly capital, and greatly enriched and centralized as a result of the war, was powerful, arrogant, and reactionary. It took a decisive hand in writing the Versailles imperialist treaty, and then stayed out of the League of Nations in order to preserve its own complete freedom of action. With its successive Dawes and Young plans,1 the United States largely dominated the economic life of the conquered countries of Europe. It asserted its growing power in the Pacific in the Nine-Power Pact. Under the "Open Door" policy it maneuvered to seize hold of war-torn China. With an active trade and political offensive in Latin America, it strengthened its grip in that great area at the expense of the Latin American peoples and of its weakened imperialist rivals, Great Britain and Germany.

Animated by the reactionary spirit which was soon to produce fascism in Europe, sensing its new position as the leading world capitalist power, and panic-stricken at the revolutionary spirit of the workers in Russia and elsewhere in Europe, Wall Street undertook to cripple the organization of the militant American workers. Consequently, during the first four post-war years there developed the most violent anti-labor drive in American history.

This offensive, aimed at every phase of the labor movement, had as its main objectives to cut the heart out of the trade unions and to destroy the newly-born Communist movement. During the war «he workers, despite the treacherous attitude of the top leadership of the A.F. of L-. and Railroad Brotherhoods, had won the eight-hour day in many areas of industry and had managed to extend trade unionism into various sections of the forbidden open-shop territory, the trustified industries. The most important of these advances were in steel, railroad, mining, marine transport, meat-packing, lumber, and textiles. Therefore, monopoly capital set out to drive the unions from these advanced posts and, if possible, still further back than they had been before the war. The capitalists would demonstrate in practice just how cynical had been their wartime slogan, "Make the world safe for democracy." They would give the workers a real taste of democracy, Wall Street brand.

Big capital in the United States deliberately sought to destroy the trade union movement and to replace it by its own system of the "open," anti-union shop and company unionism. Company unions, first suggested by one J. C. Bayles in 1886, began to grow after 1900.2 By the end of World War I there were 250 company unions, in the metal trades, on the railroads, and in the trustified industries. Generally, the employers built these company unions as barriers to the spread of the trade unions proper. The post-war plan was to extend this poisonous system as far as possible, thereby rendering the trade union movement virtually powerless. In developing this system of employer-controlled unions, American big business gave the lead to Mussolini and Hitler with their later, fully developed, fascist unions.3

Hardly had the war ended when the employers began their drive against the trade unions, but it only got really under way during the great steel strike of September 1919. This offensive was in evidence at the National Industrial Conference of October 1919, called by President Wilson presumably to adjust the stormy industrial situation. At this conference the big industrial dictators not only refused to settle the current steel strike, but they virtually declared war upon all organized labor. "Labor unions are no longer necessary," had said the arrogant Judge Gary, head of U.S. Steel, and the conference acted in this sense. The open shop movement, with its slogan of "the American plan," was soon raging throughout the country. All the big employers' associations —National Association of Manufacturers, United States Chamber of Commerce, and many powerful bodies in the individual industries-were in it, backing the National Open Shop Association. "By the autumn of 1920," say Perlman and Taft, "the country was covered with a network of open shop organizations. In New York State alone at least 50 open shop associations were active." 4 In the Middle West and West the drive was no less malignant than in the industrial East.

The First Blow Falls upon the Left

The first to feel the blow of the capitalist offensive were the more advanced and militant workers. The employers understood very well then, as they do now, the fighting role of the most class-conscious among the workers, and they always give them the heaviest and earliest blows. The capitalists particularly feared and hated the new Communist movement, which they sensed was the vanguard of the working class. We have already seen how the two young Communist parties were assailed and violently persecuted by the ferocious Palmer raids of 1919 and 1920. And over two years later, in August 1922, the government showed that it was still striving to wipe out the Communists by raiding the national convention of the Communist Party, held in Bridgman, Michigan.

The wartime attack upon the I.W.W. was also continued into the post-war period, with added fury. In Centralia, Washington, on Armistice Day, November 11, 1919, during a parade of the American Legion, a gang of hoodlums attacked the I.W.W. hall and in the ensuing armed battle three Legionnaires were killed. One I.W.W. member was lynched and eight others were sentenced to from 25 to 40 years in jail. This was the signal for violent attacks upon the I.W.W. all over the West. As it turned out, the Communists, with the benefit of world experience at their hand, were able to save their organization during the post-war drive by protective measures, but the I.W.W. was largely cut to pieces. Partly from these attacks and partly from its failure to learn the general political lessons of the Russian Revolution, the I.W.W. from this period on ceased to be a real factor in the labor movement.

The Drive against the Trade Unions

During the decade of the war and post-war period the working class had greatly changed. The number of workers engaged in industry was up by 31.6 percent. The sharp dividing line between skilled and unskilled was greatly blurred by the growth of mass production. A considerable Negro proletariat had grown up in the northern industries. And with immigration shut off, the speed of Americanization of the foreign-born workers had been hastened. All this made for a greater homogeneity and solidarity among the workers.

The workers, coming out of the war and harassed by the rapidly rising cost of living, were in a militant mood. Besides having their own immediate grievances, they also reflected to a considerable extent the revolutionary spirit of the workers in Eastern Europe. During 1919 4,160,348 workers engaged in strikes (the largest number in any one year in previous American history). This worker militancy produced, among many other struggles, the notable general strikes in Seattle (February) and in Winnipeg, Manitoba (August), the Boston police strike (September), the unofficial strike of 200,000 railroad shopmen, and the great coal and steel strikes (September). 5

These strikes, while bringing certain economic concessions to the workers in each case, were all beaten to a greater or less extent by the aggressive employers, with the help of the government, the police, and the courts. The coal strike was peremptorily outlawed by an injunction issued by Federal Judge Anderson, who forbade the national officers of the U-M.W.A. to do anything that would further the strike. John L. Lewis then called off the strike, making his well-known statement, "I cannot fight the government." The miners continued to fight on, however, and eventually won livable agreements. The big steel strike of 367,000 workers was fought out under terroristic conditions. The whole of the steel areas was overrun with strikebreakers, armed guards, police, deputy sheriffs, and troops. Pickets were arrested on sight, and in the great Monongahela River district outside of Pittsburgh, where 200,000 steel workers were employed, not a single mass meeting of strikers was permitted during the nearly four months of the strike. Finally, the strike was broken and the unions completely smashed. Among the 22 killed in this strike was Mrs. Fannie Sellins, U.M.W.A. organizer in the steel campaign, who was brutally murdered by steel trust gunmen at New Kensington, Pennsylvania. 6

The strikes of 1920-21 were sharpened by the outbreak of a severe economic crisis. This was caused primarily by difficulties in the changeover from war to peace production and by a heavy falling off of American exports—from $6,516,000,000 in 1920 to $3,771,000,000 in 1921. Industrial production dropped 25 percent, and by October 1921, there were 5.750,000 unemployed. Although profits remained at levels 100 percent higher than in 1913, the employers took advantage of the situation by slashing wages from 25 to 50 percent and by intensifying their assaults upon the trade unions.

The workers did not take these wage cuts unresistingly, and the years 1920-21 were marked by many hard-fought strikes. Notable among them was the "outlaw" switchmen's strike of April 1920, beginning in Chicago, fanning out all over the country, and paralyzing many of the biggest railroads. This spontaneous rank-and-file revolt was led by John Grunau. In West Virginia, during 1920-21, virtual civil war existed in the mining regions. In May 1921, the Atlantic Coast seamen went out, in the biggest strike in the history of that industry, a strike which was broken by employer violence. During 1921-22, the Typographical Union led a whole series of hard-fought strikes in many localities, and the building trades, notably in Chicago and New York, fought hard struggles against the open shop during 1921. The year ended with the defeat, in December, of 45,000 packinghouse workers in 13 cities, resulting in the nation-wide break-up of the unions in that industry.

The big post-war open-shop drive came to a climax in 1922. This year saw many big strikes, chief of which were those of the New England textile workers, the coal miners, and the railroad shopmen. The textile strike began in January, and it lasted six months, in the face of wholesale use of strikebreakers, court injunctions, and troops by the employers and the government. The workers were largely defeated.

The coal strike, starting on April 1, 1922, involved 600,000 hard and soft coal miners. This strike, as usual with miners' strikes, was marked with extreme violence on the part of the employers' thugs. But in Herrin, Illinois, these gunmen bit off more than they could chew. In June they murdered a couple of strikers there in cold blood, whereupon the miners mobilized, killed 19 gunmen, and drove the rest out of the community. Result, 214 miners were indicted for murder, treason, and conspiracy, but in the strongly union coal country it proved impossible to convict them. The national strike resulted in an agreement which, however, left out the 100,000 unorganized miners who had struck in Western Pennsylvania, a disastrous betrayal by Lewis, as it turned out later.

The strike of the 400,000 railroad shopmen began on July 1, 1922, against repeated wage slashes put through by the Railroad Labor Board. The Harding Administration, which was bringing the country "back to normalcy," announced that it would break the strike by every means necessary. It was helped by the train service unions, which remained at work while the shopmen were striking, and by the Maintenance of Way Union, 350,000 strong, which pulled out of the strike movement on the eve of the strike date. On September first, Attorney General Daugherty secured a federal injunction virtually outlawing the strike. These blows were too much, and on September 13, with the strike practically broken, some 225,000 of the men were signed up in a surrender agreement known as the B. & O. plan—of which more later. About 175,000 went back without any agreements or unions.

All told, some ten million workers were on strike during the four years of intense struggle from 1919 to 1922 inclusive. Organized labor lost much hard-won ground. The unions in the steel, meat-packing, lumber, and maritime industries were almost completely wiped out. Working conditions suffered accordingly. Even such well-established organizations as those in the coal, railroad, printing, building, textile, and clothing industries were deeply injured. As a result, the membership of the A.F. of L. dropped from 4,160,348 in 1920 to 2,926,462 in 1923. It was the most serious defeat ever suffered by the American labor movement.

Misleaders of Labor

The top leaders of the A.F. of L. and Railroad Brotherhoods—lazy, incompetent, corrupt, and reactionary—were shocked and demoralized by the big offensive from their capitalist friends of wartime. Their policy to meet the offensive was a combination of crass betrayal and cowardly flight. In the midst of the drive, on February 23, 1921, the A.F. of L. Executive Council called a meeting of high officials to consider the critical situation, "to combat the problems arising from unemployment, reaction, and Bolshevism." The conference proposed nothing but a publicity campaign to win popular support. As Lorwin says, it "could offer little tangible aid to the unions. Each international union had to face its own problems." 7

This was bankruptcy in the face of the aggressive enemy. The leaders of each union tried to save themselves at the expense of the other unions. An orgy of labor betrayal and "union scabbing" took place. In the steel strike the workers were shamelessly abandoned to their fate by the A.F. of L. leaders. In meat-packing the A.F. of L. leaders split the federation that had organized the industry, expelled the Stockyards Labor Council, and alienated the Negro workers. In printing, the Typographical Union fought for its life, 8 all the other unions in the industry continuing at work, trying to profit at the striking union's expense. When the Pressmen struck, on rank-and-file initiative, the ultra-reactionary leader, Berry, cynically replaced them with union scabs. The betrayal of the 100,000 unorganized striking miners in Western Pennsylvania in the settlement of 1922 ultimately became a disaster to the U.M.W.A. During the railroad shopmen's strike, the union scabbing reached its lowest depths. While the shopmen fought desperately against the companies and the government, not only did the Maintenance of Way Union pull out of the movement and make its own terms, but the four strategically situated operating Brotherhoods remained at work, and worse yet, actually made new agreements at the expense of the striking shopmen. Small wonder, then, that organized labor in general suffered such a big defeat.

The initiative in the struggle during this crucial period came from the rank and file and the lower officialdom. During the war, with the top leaders tied up with pro-war, no-strike, no-organizing agreements with the government and the employers, the organizing campaigns and strikes had been led by the workers. For example, the big meat-packing and steel campaigns were the work of the workers themselves, against the will of die upper union leadership. After the war, in the face of the employers' offensive, this rank-and-file initiative continued. While the reactionary top leadership ran for cover from the storm, it was the workers themselves who developed the struggle. Their fighting spirit and initiative were especially manifested by the "outlaw" shopmen's strike, "outlaw" switchmen's strike, "outlaw" pressmen's strike, the spontaneous strikes of the unorganized coal miners of Western Pennsylvania, of New England textile workers, and by strikes of various other groups of workers.

The Communist Party Breaks Its Isolation

Unfortunately, throughout most of this great struggle there was no organized left wing in the unions to give leadership to the militant workers, betrayed by their high-paid, capitalist-minded officials. The T.U.E.L. was not formed until the end of 1920, and it took a year really to get under way; and the Communist Party was as yet too young and unready to register its latent strength in the struggle. The Party, itself the object of heavy blows from reaction, was fighting to unify itself and to secure its democratic rights to a legal existence.

But the greatest difficulty of all for the young Communist movement in this critical period was that it had not yet hammered out its Marxist-Leninist program. It was still primarily a party of Socialist agitation, with little or no program of partial demands and immediate struggle. The Party was also especially hampered by its long-time policy of dual unionism. Ruthenberg remarked later, "The Communist Party of 1919 stood outside of the labor movement, endeavoring to draw the workers into its ranks through agitation and propaganda which pointed to the necessity of a revolutionary party fighting for the overthrow of capitalism"; and, "The Party in 1919, and during 1920, was isolated from the trade union movement." 9

During this period the Party (in its two split sections) participated in a number of strike situations—in the 1919 steel strike, in the 1920 coal strike, and others. But in doing so it dealt almost exclusively with revolutionary objectives. In steel, for example, with the city of Gary under martial law, the Party declared, "The workers must capture the power of the State...The answer to the Dictatorship of the capitalists is the Dictatorship of the Workers."10 This was theoretically correct long-range advice, under radically different objective conditions, but with the workers fighting desperately to establish their unions and to abolish the twelve-hour day and the seven-day week within the framework of capitalism, it fell upon deaf ears.

It was not until late in 1921, with the achievement of Party unity and especially with the abandonment of the crippling policy of dual unionism, that the vigorous young Communist movement, now called the Workers Party, began to play a real part in the struggles of the hard-pressed working class. As Ruthenberg said in his above-quoted article, "In 1921 the Party revised its trade union policy and adopted the correct Communist policy of working within the existing trade unions." This shift in policy mainly took the practical form of all-out support to the Trade Union Educational League.

In this general respect the practical experience and union prestige of the group of T.U.E.L. militants, now become Communists, who had led the big meat-packing and steel organizing campaigns as well as many other progressive causes in Chicago, was of great advantage to the Party. Their effectiveness was further enhanced by the important fact that this group had a close, working united front with the Fitzpatrick-Nockels leadership of the Chicago Federation of Labor, a body of 325,000 members and the leading progressive labor center in the American trade union movement.

The Early Activities of the T.U.E.L.

The T.U.E.L., although organized in November 1920, did not become a real factor among the trade unions until early in 1922. Its official organ, The Labor Herald, appeared in March of that year. Its program, printed in the first issue, assailed the reactionary bureaucracy and proposed a fighting policy instead of class collaboration, amalgamation of the craft unions into industrial unions, organization of the unorganized, independent political action, affiliation to the Red International of Labor Unions, recognition of Soviet Russia, and the abolition of capitalism ard the establishment of a workers' republic. As its organizational forms, the T.U.E.L. set up groups of progressives and left-wingers in the unions of the various crafts, industries, localities, and regions on a non-dues-paying basis to promote its general program. The entire trade union strength of the Workers Party was mobilized in the T.U.E.L., and most of the latter's leaders were Communists.

The T.U.E.L. was well received and soon developed a broad left-progressive coalition. Militant workers all over the country, disgusted with Gompersism, quickly became interested in its program. Among others, Alex Howat, Kansas mine leader, became a League member, and so did J. G. Brown, national head of the Labor Party, while John Fitz-patrick and Ed Nockels looked upon the organization with a friendly eye. Debs endorsed the League and wrote, "The Trade Union Educational League is in my opinion the one rightly-directed movement for the industrial unification of the American workers."11

The T.U.E.L. quickly established flourishing local and national groups in various industries: mining, textile, building, clothing, food, leather, etc. At its national railroad conference in Chicago, in December 1922, there were 425 delegates from all over the country. Otto Wangerin led this strong movement. T.U.E.L. groups were also established in Canada under the general leadership of Tim Buck.12

Almost at once the League began to exert a strong influence in many situations. In Chicago T.U.E.L. militants, Charles Krumbein, Nels Kjar, and others, were largely responsible for a union demonstration of 125,000 workers against the infamous Landis building trades award. At the
Detroit convention of the Maintenance of Way Union in 1922 the aroused delegation, led by a few T.U.E.L. members, fired Grable, the union president, and his entire administration, for their crass betrayal of the railroad shopmen's strike. In the current Machinists' Union national election the left-wing nominee for general president, the T.U.E.L. candidate, polled 14,598 votes against 41,837 votes for the incumbent, William H. Johnston. Andrew Overgaard led this movement. In the needle trades the left wing at once became an important factor.

In the national coal strike of 1922, League militants, by calling huge protest meetings of miners, prevented Frank Farrington, the Illinois district U.M.W.A. leader, from making a separate settlement that would have broken the strike. At the U.M.W.A. convention of that year the League members, working jointly with Alex Howat on the question of the latter's expulsion because of his all-out fight against the infamous Kansas Industrial Court law, polled a majority of convention votes against John L. Lewis. Early in 1923 Joseph Manley and Margaret Cowl were instrumental in preventing a split of some 50,000 foreign-born workers from the U.M.W.A. throughout the Pennsylvania anthracite regions. This secession movement was provoked when the conservative district leadership suddenly decided to change the union organization from a language to a mine basis, the purpose of which was to throw the union's control into the hands of conservative English-speaking elements. Pat Toohey and Tom Myerscough were the League's outstanding leaders among the miners.

The League members were especially active in the 1922 national railroad shopmen's strike. While on a national tour to strengthen the strike, Foster, the secretary-treasurer of the T.U.E.L., was kidnaped from a hotel in Denver by the Colorado Rangers (state police), held several days, spirited all the way across Colorado and Wyoming, and dumped out at the Nebraska state line. Debs wired Foster his support. This case was the central issue in that fall's elections in Colorado, with the result that the incumbent governor was defeated and the State Rangers were abolished during the new governor's term.

Mass Campaigns of the T.U.E.L.

The Workers Party, in line with its growing role as the vanguard party of the working class, projected as the three most basic issues confronting the workers, the amalgamation of the trade unions into industrial unions, the formation of a labor party, and the recognition of Soviet Russia. These corresponded to the most pressing needs of the labor movement. In the trade unions directly, the Communists advocated these issues through the united front T.U.E.L.

The League concentrated its fight nationally around these three major issues. The great rank and file of organized labor, disgusted and indignant at the shameful bankruptcy of their leaders in the face of the employers' offensive, gave the three issues powerful support. "Amalgamation or Annihilation," "Amalgamation and a Labor Party," "Recognize Soviet Russia," were slogans that ran like wildfire throughout the labor movement during 1922-23. The Workers Party, through its extensive organization and press, rallied its forces actively for all these
struggles.

The big campaign for amalgamation began with the adoption by a vote of 114 to 37 of a resolution by Johnstone and Foster at a meeting of the Chicago Federation of Labor, on March 19, 1922. At the following meeting the reactionaries, who hoped to rescind the resolution, were again defeated, this time by 102 to 14. Alarmed at these developments, on April 11th, Gompers came to Chicago and, fearing to attend the C.F. of L. session, called a meeting at the Morrison Hotel of several hundred hand-picked union officials. Putting out the slogan, "Capture the C.F. of L. from the Reds," he advocated what meant a violent attack on the local federation. But nothing came of this desperate proposal. The C.F. of L.'s endorsement of amalgamation stood fast.

The progressive prestige of the Chicago Federation of Labor was high, because of its sponsorship of the big meat-packing and steel campaigns, its leading role in the labor party movement, its active support of Mooney and Billings, and its general reputation as an anti-Gompers organization—so that when it endorsed amalgamation, this had a tremendous influence nationally. Trade union organizations all over the country, wherever the Party and the T.U.E.L. had contacts, began to adopt resolutions for amalgamation. The movement ran like a prairie fire, with the confused and alarmed Gompers machine unable to halt it. The rank and file saw in the amalgamation movement the labor solidarity and fighting policy so shamefully lacking in the bitter strikes of the period. The top union leadership saw in it a deadly menace to their whole corrupt position.

Sixteen international unions during the next 18 months endorsed amalgamation, including such organizations as the Railway Clerks, Maintenance of Way Workers, Typographical, Molders, Amalgamated Clothing Workers, Furriers, Bakery, Lithographers, Brewery, Butcher Workmen, and others. Seventeen state federations, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, and others took similar action. Scores of large city central bodies and trade councils also went for amalgamation, as did thousands of local unions—3,377 in the railroad industry alone. Tim Buck also reported, 'Amalgamation resolutions have been endorsed during the past year by almost every kind of union in every part of Canada." The League was well within the truth when it claimed that two million organized workers had endorsed amalgamation, or more than half of the whole labor movement.13

The Workers Party campaign for the labor party, which was also being advocated militantly all over the country by the T.U.E.L., was almost as successful as that for amalgamation. The workers drew correct lessons from the outrageous policies of the government in the political situation. A whole string of international unions and state and local labor bodies, in response to the Party's and the League's campaign, went on record for the labor party. In March 1923, the T.U.E.L. put out a national labor party referendum directly to 35,000 local unions of the A.F. of L. and Railroad Brotherhoods.14 Although this met with active opposition from the reactionaries, 7,000 locals replied favorably to the League, and doubtless many thousands more took affirmative action without notifying the T.U.E.L. In the following chapter we shall deal further with the labor party movement and the key role played in it by the Workers Party.

From its inception the Workers Party had made a continuous and resolute fight for the recognition of Soviet Russia. This, too, the T.U.E.L. took up as a central issue. The fight was widely successful among the masses. Many international unions, including the Miners, Stationary Firemen, Locomotive Engineers, Machinists, Painters, Amalgamated Clothing Workers, and so on, as well as innumerable central bodies, supported this demand. In 1919, in New York, the American Labor Alliance for Trade Relations with Russia was formed—its president was Timothy Healey, head of the Stationary Firemen's Union—and many trade unions were affiliated to it.15 In addition to the Workers Party and the T.U.E.L., big factors in the recognition campaign were the Trade Union National Committee for Russian Famine Relief, headed by Joseph Manley, and the Friends of Soviet Russia, led by Alfred Wagenknecht. The latter organization, in its several years of very effective work, raised two million dollars for famine relief and technical aid for Soviet Russia, then fighting to live and develop in the face of a world of capitalist enemies.

Under the stimulus of its three big integrated campaigns for amalgamation, the labor party, and recognition of Soviet Russia, the influence of the Workers Party soared and the T.U.E.L. grew rapidly. For the Communists, this situation was indeed a far cry from that of but a short while ago, in the days of the Party's "underground" status, of its purely Socialist agitation, and its isolation from the labor movement.

The A.F. of L. Convention of 1923

The big rank-and-file movement that the Workers Party and the T.U.E.L. had created came to a head-on collision with the bureaucratic machine at the A.F. of L. convention in Portland, Oregon, in the fall of 1923. By this time the A.F. of L. leaders, recovering from their initial fright and confusion at the sudden appearance of the strong Communist-progressive opposition, were again organized and in full control of their situation. In the convention, made up almost completely of top officials of the international unions, there was no trace of democracy. That over half the rank and file of organized labor had voted for basically new policies, meant nothing to these misleaders. With old man Gompers in the driver's seat, they proceeded cynically to violate the mandate of their members and to disregard the entire rank-and-file movement. In this policy the Social-Democratic union leaders at the convention fused completely with the Gompersites. The whole outrage was staged amid an orgy of redbaiting, designed to terrorize the delegates into compliance with the will of the Gompers machine.

Amalgamation was condemned as "communistic," with no discussion or roll-call vote permitted. The labor party resolutions were steamrollered to defeat, as "un-American," the vote on them being 1,895 for and 25,066 against. The resolution for recognition of Soviet Russia got the most support, Hayes of the Typographical Union, Healey of the Firemen, Smart of the Switchmen, Johnston of the Machinists, and others all speaking for it; but it too was swamped by the machine vote. Thus, the A.F. of L. leaders, faithful to the interests of their capitalist masters, cold-bloodedly condemned a program that would have brought real life to the labor movement, which they had nearly ruined by their reactionary policies. To cap the climax, a Communist delegate at the convention was illegally and dramatically expelled from the convention upon the motion of Philip Murray, then of the Miners Union.

A number of forces combined to make it possible for the A.F. of L. leaders to succeed with this monstrous flouting of rank-and-file wishes. First, the economic situation had ameliorated somewhat and the violent union-wrecking campaign of the bosses had also materially slowed down. Second, the A.F. of L. leaders at this convention came forth with a whole new program of class collaboration, of "union-management co-operation" (of this more later), which they elaborately paraded as a constructive and progressive policy. Third, the Workers Party and the T.U.E.L. had much too loose a following to back up their wide agitational support by vigorous organized action. Fourth, and highly important, was the fact that three months before, the Workers Party had a serious split with its progressive allies of the Fitzpatrick group over the labor party, and the Gompersites were able to take advantage of this split situation and to carry out the attack against the left wing. The Portland convention was the signal for a violent assault upon the Workers Party, the T.U.E.L., and all their friends and supporters throughout the labor movement.

Defense of Class War Prisoners

Labor defense was a very important activity of the Workers Party during the period of intense capitalist offensive after World War I.

There were the numerous I.W.W. cases of the war and early post-war periods: the cases of Debs, Ruthenberg, and many others arrested in connection with the war; the historic Mooney-Billings case; the famous McNamara-Schmidt case; and various others. Then there were scores of cases of foreign-born workers arbitrarily jailed or deported by the reactionary Wilson and Harding governments. At first the Party either organized or co-operated with special defense committees around these various cases, but on June 23, 1925, in Chicago, it took the initiative, with other forces, in establishing the International Labor Defense, a united front organization on a mass basis. Prominent in this work were Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Anna Damon, and Rose Baron. In the same period the Council for the Protection of the Foreign Born was established.

On May 5, 1920, another celebrated case was added to the many frame-ups that were already disgracing American democracy. This was the arrest in Massachusetts of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. They were anarchists and both foreign-born, the first a shoemaker and the other a fish peddler. They were falsely charged with committing a $15,000 payroll robbery in South Brainlree, Massachusetts, during which a guard was killed. After a farcical trial, marked by the most cynical redbaiting and national chauvinism, the two defendants were convicted and sentenced to the electric chair. The Workers Party became the heart of the fight to save them.

The outrageous frame-up aroused indignation in labor and liberal circles all over the world. For the next seven years demonstrations, strikes, and protests against the legal lynching took place in many cities, with Communists everywhere playing a leading role. But the ruthless capitalists refused to let their prey escape, the conviction of Sacco and Vanzetti being sustained all through the courts despite its obvious injustice. The two victims of class hatred were finally executed on August 23, 1927, in the midst of a great international protest. There were demonstrations in many cities in the United States, and also in Panama, Manila, Brussels, Havana, Mexico, Buenos Aires, Montreal, Warsaw, Belgrade, Melbourne, Cairo, and the Soviet Union. In Geneva, Switzerland, 50,000 demonstrated. Armed guards were posted at United States embassies all over the world. After the executions, 150,000 marched on the United States embassy in Paris and fought the police from barricades. In Boston, 250,000 turned out for the funeral in a downpour of rain.16 The Sacco-Vanzetti lynching was one of the bitter outrages for which the workers will one day exact retribution.

Then there was the defense of the 57 Communist leaders arrested and indicted in connection with the Communist convention in Bridgman, Michigan, in August 1922. The Labor Defense Council was set up to lead in the defense. This was a broad united front movement, including in its executive committee such figures as Eugene V. Debs, Max S. Hayes, Robert M. Buck, Rev. John A. Ryan, J. G. Brown, Roger N. Baldwin, R. D. Cramer, F. Fisher Kane, and George P. West. The chief counsel was the well-known attorney, Frank P. Walsh. The defense had the active support of the Chicago Federation of Labor and of trade union bodies in many other cities.

The trials took place in St. Joseph, Michigan, beginning in February 1923. Each of the three score defendants demanded and secured a separate trial under the state law. Foster was the first tried. After a three weeks' trial the jury was hung, six and six. Ruthenberg was tried next and, more drastic frame-up methods having been found necessary, he was quickly convicted. He was sentenced to three to 10 years for "illegal assembly." His conviction was sustained all through the courts, including the Supreme Court, but his death took place before he could actually begin serving his sentence. Meanwhile, the authorities in Michigan, facing the prospect of endless individual trials, abandoned the whole unprofitable business. Finally, in 1934, a dozen years later, the indictments were dropped by a New Deal attorney general in Michigan.

The Communists and the LaFollette Movement (1922–1924)

The general resistance of the workers to the capitalist offensive in the years immediately following World War I crystallized in a big farmer-labor movement, and culminated in the independent candidacy in 1924 of Senator Robert M. LaFollette for the presidency of the United States. This was the biggest effort ever made, before or since, by the rank-and-file American workers and their class allies to set up an independent political organization in the face of official betrayal. The Workers Party, the Communist Party of the period, played a most important role in this significant development.

For the past century and a half one of the American capitalists' most powerful means of dominating the workers has been to keep them affiliated to, or under the domination of, the capitalist political parties. Since Civil War times this device of the capitalist rulers has manifested itself in the so-called two-party system. Throughout all these years the advanced workers repeatedly rebelled against this infamous political control by organizing labor parties, but these attempts did not succeed. Various reasons combined to bring about their failure. Basic among these were the following: the political immaturity ideologically and organizationally of the working class; its lack of homogeneity, made up as it was largely of great masses of workers with different languages, religions, and cultural backgrounds; the persistence of petty-bourgeois illusions among the workers; the stubborn opposition of the trade union bureaucracy since the rise of the A.F. of L.; and last, but not least, the lack of a clear lead from the Marxists, chiefly because of sectarian reasons. In the decades immediately following the Civil War, the early American Marxists, with the personal advice of Marx and Engels, did in general follow the sensible policy of participating in these elementary working class parties and of co-operating with the closely affiliated farmer political organizations, although not without making many sectarian and opportunist mistakes. Lenin wrote: "Marx and Engels taught the socialists to break at all costs with narrow sectarianism and affiliate with the labor movement, so as to rouse politically the proletariat, since the proletariat displayed almost no political independence either in England or America in the last third of the 19th century."1 From 1890 on, however, the sectarian De Leon put an end to this essentially correct mass policy, holding that the labor and farmer parties were basically reactionary and that the Socialist Labor Party alone sufficed as the party of the working class. The Socialist Party continued this narrow line, and it was not until as late as 1921 that it began to look upon the spontaneous labor party movement as anything but a rival. The Workers Party inherited from the Socialist Party the long-standing hostile attitude toward the labor party.

In 1922, however, the Workers 'Party broke sharply with the thirty-year-old anti-labor-party policy of the S.L.P. and the S.P. and took its place in the forefront of the growing struggle for a labor party. The Workers Party, through discussions at home and with European Marxists in Comintern sessions, understood that the political development of the working class in the United States was not following an identical pattern with that in Continental Europe. In Europe, where the trade unions were organized either after, or simultaneously with, the Socialist Party, this Party developed independently with an individual membership, a Social-Democratic program, and a recognized political leadership of the working class. On the other hand, in certain countries, owing to factors specifically retarding the political development of the workers, the trade unions came before the political party in the development of working-class organization. There the workers, seeking to wage a political as well as an industrial struggle, eventually came to set up a labor party based primarily upon the trade unions. This latter course has been true of Great Britain and its several dominions—Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa—and also of the United States. Here the general line of development is also toward a broad party based on the trade unions, but the tempo of its growth is far slower because the retarding political factors have been much greater. Further elaboration upon this point is to be found in Chapter 37. Over many years the American Marxists failed to understand the foregoing facts, finally pointed out by Stalin, about the general line of working class political development, and the role of the labor party in it.

By 1922 the Workers Party had come to understand the vital importance of supporting the labor party as a break on the part of the workers with the two-party system and bourgeois political domination. This was a big stride away from sectarianism and into broad mass work. At its second convention, held in New York City in December 1922, the delegates, therefore, confirmed the earlier decision by the Central Executive Committee in May 1922, and declared:2 The Workers Party favors the formation of a labor party-a working class political party, independent of, and opposed to, all capitalist political parties. It will make every effort to hasten the formation of such a party and to effect admittance to it as an autonomous section." It added: "A real labor party cannot be formed without the labor unions, and organizations of exploited farmers, tenant farmers, and farm laborers must be included."3

The political situation at this time was propitious for the formation of a labor party. The workers in the United States, passing through the bitterest offensive of big capital, had carried out a whole series of fierce strikes. They had been largely disillusioned by Wilson's "liberalism" and, of course, they had no use for Harding's brand of reaction. Besides, the Gompers leaders had been deeply discredited in the whole post-war struggle, and they were little able to stem the strong tide for independent working class political action. Also, for the first time in over 35 years the Marxists, in the Workers Party and the T.U.E.L., were making a real fight for a labor party. Consequently, the workers turned sharply toward independent political action.

The Developing LaFollette Movement

Four main streams of mass political organization finally culminated in the movement behind the LaFollette presidential candidacy of 1924. These were: (a) The group of local labor parties that grew up during 1918-19 in Chicago, New York, Bridgeport, and other cities, with state parties in Illinois, Connecticut, Michigan, Utah, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. The Chicago Federation of Labor was the recognized leader of this movement, (b) The Nonpartisan League, founded in 1915 as a left wing in the Republican Party and headed by A. P. Townley, formerly an S.P. organizer. The N.P.L. claimed 188,365 members in 1918. It was centered in the Dakotas, and loosely grouped around it were a number of state farmer parties in the Middle West and Northwest, (c) The Committee of Forty-Eight, founded in 1918 and headed by J. A. H. Hopkins. This was an extensive petty-bourgeois liberal organization, (d) The Plumb Plan movement, which was organized in 1919. Its leaders were Warren S. Stone and William H. Johnston, the heads of the Locomotive Engineers and Machinists Unions respectively. It was based on the sixteen railroad unions and had a program calling for "government ownership and democratic operation of the railroads." The N.A.A.C.P. eventually also endorsed LaFollette.

In November 1919, the various state and local labor parties met in Chicago and combined into the National Labor Party. The pre-T.U.E.L. group in Chicago was active in this movement, and the national secretary of the National Labor Party, J. G. Brown, later became a member of the T.U.E.L. In 1920, again in Chicago, the National Labor Party took part in a merger of the Committee of Forty-Eight and a number of state farmer parties, emerging as the Farmer-Labor Party, again with Brown as secretary. The Chicago left-wingers were also very active in this convention—in fact, actually bringing about the amalgamation of the two main groups by rank-and-file action when their leaders vacillated. The F.L.P. sought LaFollette for its candidate in the 1920 elections; but its program was "too radical" for him and the "lefts" objected to LaFollette's white chauvinism. Parley Parker Christensen, who was comparatively unknown, was nominated and polled some 300,000 votes.

The next big step in the developing LaFollette movement was taken when the Plumb Plan movement, in February 1922, transformed itself into the Conference for Progressive Political Action (C.P.P.A.). Attending its founding meeting in Chicago, besides the representatives of the sixteen railroad unions, were representatives of the miners, needle trades, nine state federations of labor, and other union bodies, and also the National Farmer-Labor Party, Socialist Party, Nonpartisan League, various state labor parties, the National Catholic Welfare Council, Methodist Federation for Social Service, and so on. All told, about 2,500,000 were represented. Dodging the labor party issue, however, the conference decided that each state should use such plan of organized political action as it saw fit, working either as a minority within the old parties or as an independent political party. J. G. Brown and Morris Hillquit were members of the national organizing committee.

In December 1922, the C.P.P.A. held another conference in Cleveland. Here, however, the question of forming an independent labor party thrust itself forward and occupied the center of attention. The labor party resolution was finally voted down, 64 to 52; whereupon the Farmer Labor Party, led by Fitzpatrick, decided to withdraw from the C.P.P.A. The Communists advised against this action, 4 the Workers Party having sent two delegates to this Cleveland conference—Ruthenberg 5 and Foster. The Socialist Party, joining with the reactionaries, issued a statement demanding that the Workers Party be barred. 6 The whole Chicago Farmer-Labor group insisted that Ruthenberg and Foster be accepted as full participants. But the conference, controlled by conservative union leaders, voted not to admit the representatives of the Workers Party.

The Workers Party and the Farmer-Labor Party

The Workers Party and the T.U.E.L. meanwhile were actively pushing among the masses their agitation for a labor party. The T.U.E.L.'s national referendum on the labor party was a big success. All over the country unions voted favorably upon the T.U.E.L.'s proposition to establish a labor party forthwith. The Labor Herald reported that "the unions now on record in the League vote extend over 40 states and 47 international unions. In the thousands of locals in which the issue has been raised we have been informed of less than a dozen which failed to approve of a labor party."7 The leaders of the Chicago Federation of Labor endorsed this referendum.

It was during this time, in April 1923, that the Communist Party, at a special convention, liquidated its "underground" phase. The Workers Party now became in fact, if not in name, the Communist Party. The Workers Party moved its headquarters from New York to Chicago in July. At its third convention, in December 1923, the Party reported a membership of 25,000.

Meanwhile, definite working relations were developing nationally between the Workers Party and the Fitzpatrick-Nockels-Brown group. The ten years of co-operation between the Federation leaders and the Chicago T.U.E.L. militants, which had resulted in so many constructive national campaigns, was now developing finally into a united front between the Workers Party and the Farmer-Labor Party.

By mutual agreement of the two parties, a call was issued by the Farmer-Labor Party for a general convention to take place in Chicago, on July 3, 1923, of "all economic and political organizations favoring the organization of a Farmer-Labor Party." The W.P. and F.L.P. leading committees agreed upon the basis of representation, the construction and the number of the future party's leading committee, and also upon certain resolutions to be proposed, including the recognition of Soviet Russia. They also agreed that if there were half a million workers represented at the convention the new party should be formed. The W.P. and the F.L.P. shared the costs of the sending out of the convention call. On the agreed upon basis invitations were extended nationally to all trade unions, local and state labor and farmer parties, and the Socialist, Socialist Labor, and Proletarian parties, in addition to the two sponsoring parties. 8 The S.P. declined the invitation, but the general response was excellent. The movement grew in many directions.

As the July 3rd convention approached, however, the Fitzpatrick group began to waver and to grow visibly cool toward it. The A.F. of L. had cut off its subsidy to the Chicago Federation of Labor, and many LaFollette-inclined forces were trying to induce Fitzpatrick and his group to cut loose from the coming convention. The latter weakened under these pressures. Nevertheless, they went into the convention without openly repudiating their agreement with the Workers Party.

The Federated Farmer Labor Party Convention

The convention of July 3, 1923, brought together an estimated 600,000 workers and farmers, represented by 650 delegates. Of these, the Communists made up but a very small minority. The enthusiasm for the proposed federated party swept the gathering, which was composed mostly of rank-and-filers. From the outset the Fitzpatrick group maneuvered against the convention's establishing a party. First, they tried to reject the credentials of the Workers Party, but this move was defeated almost unanimously by the convention. Then they sought, through an out-of-town delegate, to transform the convention into simply a consultative conference. This move was countered by an amendment to form the new party, made by Joseph Manley, a Workers Party member representing Local 40 of the Structural Iron Workers Union, and supported by Ruthenberg.

Only on the night of the third and last day of the convention did the confused Fitzpatrick group bring in a definite proposition as to what they wanted done. They then proposed that all the organizations present should affiliate to the Farmer Labor Party as autonomous units, except that the revolutionary elements, meaning the Workers Party, should be excluded. The F.L.P. proposal said "it would be suicide ...to bring into such affiliation any organization which advocates other than lawful means to bring about political changes"—strange charges indeed coming from the radical Fitzpatrick group, which had invited the W.P. to this convention and which only a few months before had voted to seat Ruthenberg and Foster at the C.P.P.A. gathering in Cleveland. The convention rejected the Fitzpatrick proposition with a roar and decided by a vote of about 500 to 40 to organize the Federated Farmer Labor Party, which was done.9 As Fine says, the Fitzpatrick group wanted to bolt, "but they did not have enough of a following for that." 10 A representative group of workers and farmers were then elected as the Executive Committee. Joseph Manley was chosen secretary-treasurer, and the F.F.L.P. established its headquarters in Chicago.

The program of the F.F.L.P. proposed to "free the farm and industrial worker from the greedy exploitation of those who now rule this country and to win for them the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which their exploiters deny them." The new party demanded "the nationalization of all public utilities and all social means of communication and transportation" and that these industries to be operated democratically, eventually by the economic organizations of the workers and farmers. For labor the demands were the eight-hour day, the abolition of child labor, and a federal minimum wage. For veterans, the bonus. For all city and rural workers, the establishment of a general federal system of social insurance, covering sickness and other disabling causes. For the farmers, the demand that the land be assured to the users, as well as the issue and control of all money by the government, the payment of war debts by an excess profits tax, and a moratorium on all farm debts. The program made no specific demands for the Negro people.11

The organizations which voted to form the Federated Farmer Labor Party on July 3rd, represented approximately 600,000 members—some 50,000 miners, 10,000 machinists, 100,000 needle workers, 7,000 carpenters, 10,000 metal workers, the West Virginia Federation of Labor with 87,000 members, the A.F. of L. central bodies of Detroit, Buffalo, Minneapolis, and Butte, with 140,000, 40,000, 20,000, and 10,000 affiliated members. The farmer-labor parties of Washington, Ohio, California, Illinois, Wisconsin, and elsewhere added many additional thousands. But when it came later on to actually affiliating with the F.F.L.P., only some 155,000 did so, and these were mostly the more advanced organizations.12 In short, the F.F.L.P. had failed to win the masses. The attraction of the C.P.P.A., plus the Fitzpatrick split—both with the help of the redbaiting capitalist press all over the country—succeeded in keeping the more conservative trade unions at the convention from joining up with the F.F.L.P. The latter organization gradually dwindled in strength.

The Farmer-Labor Party

Labor party sentiment continued strong, however, and a fresh attempt was made by the Workers Party to get such a party established on a broad basis. This new effort was organized in conjunction with the well-established Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, with which the Workers Party had built up friendly relations. A general convention was held in St. Paul,

Minnesota, on July 17, 1924, for the purpose of setting up a national farmer-labor party. This convention assembled 542 delegates from 29 states, representing largely farmers. After adopting a program similar to that of the F.F.L.P., it elected as its executive secretary C. A. Hathaway, an influential Minnesota Communist machinist. The convention chose as its candidates in the approaching national elections, for president, Duncan McDonald, former U.M.W.A. head in Illinois, and for vice-president, William Bouck, chief of the Western Progressive Farmers League of Washington.

At the St. Paul convention, despite the overwhelming decision to form the new Farmer-Labor Party, there was much sentiment for LaFollette, and proposals were carried for negotiations with the Conference for Progressive Political Action on the question of joint support for a LaFollette ticket. The Workers Party, looking askance at LaFollette as a petty-bourgeois reformist, declared to the St. Paul convention that "the only basis upon which the Workers Party will accept LaFollette as the candidate is that he agree to run as a Farmer Labor candidate, to accept the party's platform and its central control over the electoral campaign and campaign funds."13 LaFollette rejected these terms.

A couple of weeks after the St. Paul convention, on July 3rd, at Cleveland, the C.P.P.A. nominated Robert M. LaFollette and Burton K. Wheeler to run for president and vice-president. The convention represented at least four million organized workers, farmers, and middle class groupings. The A.F. of L., for the first time endorsing independent presidential candidates, gave the movement its official blessing. With the ultra-reactionaries Calvin Coolidge and John W. Davis, running as the Republican and Democratic candidates, the A.F. of L. could not withstand LaFollette pressure among its rank and file. Moreover, the Gompers-ites had a healthy respect for the railroad unions behind the C.P.P.A., as the latter had given them the worst licking in their career at the 1920 A.F. of L. convention in Montreal upon the issue of the Plumb Plan. But the Executive Council, in endorsing LaFollette, made it clear that this action was in no sense "a pledge of identification with an independent party movement or a third party."14

The strong mass sentiment for LaFollette had disastrous effects upon the Farmer-Labor Party just organized at St. Paul. Most of the participants at that convention later mounted the C.P.P.A. bandwagon. Consequently, the Executive Committee of the Farmer-Labor Party deemed it the part of wisdom to withdraw its candidates, McDonald and Bouck, thereby dissolving the F.L.P. as a party. The Workers Party thereupon put up William Z. Foster, the leader of the 1919 steel strike, as its candidate for president. This was the first national Communist ticket, an event of prime historical importance in the life of the working class. The Party got on the ballot in 13 states, made a strong campaign, and polled for the national ticket, according to the unreliable official figures, some 33,316 votes.

In the presidential elections the LaFollette Progressive Independents polled 4,826,382 votes, or about 16.5 percent of the total vote cast. Undoubtedly, large numbers of votes were stolen from the LaFollette column. LaFollette's good election showing and the huge mass organizations behind the C.P.P.A. obviously provided a sufficient basis for a strong national party of workers and farmers; but this was the last thing wanted by the A.F. of L. and railroad union leaders, tied as they were to the two capitalist parties. Consequently, on February 21, 1925, they met in Chicago, and after rejecting proposals to form a labor party, informally dissolved the C.P.P.A. and went back to the old Gompers policy of "reward your friends and punish your enemies." Gompers died on December 13, 1924, shortly after the LaFollette campaign, but his anti-working class policies lived right on after him.

Despite the favorable political situation, the working class was not able, during the crucial period of 1922-24, to make a breakaway from the two capitalist parties and to establish an independent mass political party. This was because of the workers' prevalent ideological and organizational weaknesses mentioned above, the crass betrayal by the trade union leaders and the Hillquit S.P. leadership, and the fact that in 1923 the economic situation began to pick up substantially. The ensuing "prosperity" tended to re-create petty-bourgeois illusions among the masses, and it also strengthened the control over the unions by the reactionary leaders, sworn enemies of the labor party. Errors made by the left wing were also a factor in the failure to organize a labor party.

Tactical Mistakes of the Workers Party

It is clear that in this complicated fight for a labor party the young Workers Party, in its eagerness to help the working class to break out of the deadly two-party trap and to establish a labor party, made some serious errors. The most basic of these was to permit itself to become separated from the broad movement of workers and farmers gathered behind LaFollette. Although the Party was barred from affiliating officially, nevertheless, through the mass organizations, it could have functioned as the left wing of the LaFollette movement, even at the cost of a qualified endorsement of its candidates. The basic reason given by the Workers Party for not participating in the LaFollette movement—the fear that the small Party would be engulfed by this broad petty-bourgeois-led movement—was not a sound conclusion. The fact that the Party, at the time of this broad movement of workers and farmers, was compelled to put up its own candidates, was proof that a sectarian mistake had been made.

That there was, of course, some danger that the Party might be swamped ideologically by LaFollettism was to be seen right in the Workers Party itself. John Pepper, a Central Executive Committee member, put forward a highly opportunistic evaluation of the LaFollette movement. He called that movement "the third American revolution." Said he, "The revolution is here. World history stands before one of its great turning points—America faces her third revolution ...the coming third revolution will not be a proletarian revolution. It will be a revolution of well-to-do and exploited farmers, small business men, and workers...It will contain elements of the great French revolution, and the Russian Kerensky revolution. In its ideology it will have elements of Jeffersonianism, Danish co-operatives, Ku Klux Klan, and Bolshevism."15 The danger of such trends was emphasized by the current petty-bourgeois illusions among the masses.

Of course, in any broad mass movement there will be different ideologies, some even reactionary, but to say, as Pepper did, that the labor-La-Follette movement represented a "third revolution," was not only to overestimate its social character and its strength, but also to give a wrong perspective on the nature of the social change which America faces in the future. The LaFollette movement represented a united front of workers, petty bourgeoisie, and farmers in the struggle against monopoly capital, with the petty bourgeoisie and labor leaders in control. Time, experience, and the work of the Communists were necessary to change that domination. But to withdraw from the movement, as the Communists did, was a political error. The Party should have gone along in critical support of the LaFollette movement. Thus, it could not only have carried on effective work among the masses in motion, but could also have avoided much of the Party's later relative isolation.

Another error, of the same general character, was the split with the Fitrpatrick group over the formation of the Federated Farmer-Labor Party on July 3, 1923. In view of the strong tendency among the masses to turn toward the C.P.P.A. and a LaFollette ticket, which was already then in prospect, and also in view of the vacillating attitude of the Fitz-patrick forces, it was unwise for the Communists to insist upon setting up the F.F.L.P. at that time, even though this was formally in accordance with the pre-convention agreement between the W.P. and the Fitzpatrick Farmer-Labor Party group. The Workers Party should have been able to realize that under these circumstances there was as yet no solid basis for the new labor party. The result of this mistake was the still-born Federated Farmer-Labor Party. The later formation of the Farmer-Labor Party at the June 17, 1924, convention in St. Paul, merely compounded the original error with another premature party, which had to be abandoned almost at once.

The W.P.-Fitzpatrick split on July 3, 1923, was particularly harmful in that it spread throughout the trade union movement. Eventually it largely divorced the Communists from their center group allies, breaking up the political combination which had carried through the amalgamation and labor party campaigns, not to mention, in its earlier days, the Mooney campaign, the meat-packing and steel organizing drives, and various other progressive movements. The left-center split on July 3rd was one of the basic reasons why the Gompers bureaucrats could ride roughshod over the left wing at the A.F. of L. convention a few months later.

From a policy standpoint what had happened was this: The Workers Party started out with the correct theory that the labor party had to be based on the broad trade union movement. But when its affiliation to the C.P.P.A. was denied, it mistakenly concluded that the left-center combination of the W.P. and the Fitzpatrick group would suffice to build the labor party. And finally, when the ill-advised split came with Fitzpatrick, the W.P. departed still further from its broad and correct labor party policy and undertook to organize the labor party itself, with only its closest allies. This narrowing line was quite futile, as both the July 3, 1923 and June 17, 1924, conventions demonstrated, and as was shown by the relative isolation of the Workers Party.

Factionalism in the Workers Party

The labor party campaign of 1922-24 gave birth to a sharp factional struggle within the Workers Party, which was to continue, with greater or less intensity, until 1929. Grave inner-Party differences developed over the strategy and tactics to be pursued in the fight for the labor party. The Party was split into two major groups which, in the heat of the internal fight, came to act almost like two separate parties, with their specific caucuses and group disciplines. The Bittelman-Foster group, which controlled the majority at the Workers Party convention in 1924, having the support of the great bulk of the trade unionists in the Party, had a background of experience and training in the Socialist Party, the I-W.W., and the A.F. of L. The Ruthenberg-Pepper minority group, on the other hand, came almost exclusively from the left wing of the Socialist Party and had Party and political experience but had done little or no practical trade union work. A number of its leaders were intellectuals, and there also were some intellectuals in the Bittelman-Foster group. The factional struggle was not entirely negative, however. What took place basically during the long internal fight from 1923 to 1929 was a slow process of gradually welding together these divergent Party groups into a united Marxist-Leninist leadership.

The Bittelman-Foster group, themselves not without blame for the July 3rd split, soon thereafter concluded that a serious error had been made in organizing the Federated Farmer-Labor Party, and they wanted to do away with the narrow labor party policy that had brought it about. They argued that this split with the progressive elements was isolating the Party in the trade unions, a situation which they, as active trade unionists, felt keenly. They also maintained that by keeping "left" labor parties in the field, which cost the Workers Party heavily in finances, personnel, and prestige, the Party was in fact tending to liquidate itself. They insisted that a labor party should be established only when this could be done on a broad trade union basis. But in maintaining that there was then no such broad basis for the labor party, the Bittelman-Foster group made the serious error of proposing that the labor party slogan be dropped, "at least for the time being." This would have had the effect of further isolating the Party from the labor party movement. The statement eventually cost the group the Party leadership.

The Ruthenberg-Pepper group, on the contrary, stoutly refused to admit that the July 3rd split and formation of the F.F.L.P. was a mistake. Instead, they defended the whole political line that had brought this about. Pepper, particularly, devised a set of opportunist theories to this effect. He argued that of necessity the labor party in its initial stages had to be a "left," or "class" party; that this "left" labor party would transform itself gradually into a mass Communist Party; that the trend was for the various labor groupings each to organize its own labor party —the progressive labor unionists, the Socialists, and the Communists each having a separate labor party or striving to build one; that the united front with the Fitzpatrick group was opportunistic anyhow and had to collapse eventually.16

The fight over labor party policy spread into all branches of Party work, involving also the national groups and the Young Workers League. A bitter struggle developed between the two factional groups for control of the Party. The issue was taken up in the Comintern. After a long discussion, a resolution was worked out, early in 1925, 17 to the effect, that the Bittelman-Foster group was wrong in proposing to drop the labor party slogan and that the Ruthenberg-Pepper group had placed the labor party question "somewhat too narrowly." It was characteristic of the existing factional situation that both groups claimed that their position had been sustained, and the struggle went right on.

The Bittelman-Foster group won a majority of the delegates at the fourth convention of the Workers Party, on August 21, 1925, in Chicago.

The factional fight in this convention was intense. Jay Lovestone, who later became a bitter enemy of communism, at one point tried to split the Party. The Ruthenberg-Pepper group was holding a general meeting, while the waiting convention held up its sessions. Lovestone introduced a motion in the caucus, proposing that the minority should not return to the convention—a move which, if carried out, would have split the Party. But this splitting motion was defeated by one vote.

At this convention the Bittelman-Foster group gave up its majority on the Central Executive Committee (a mistake) because of criticism from Zinoviev, head of the Comintern. For making this criticism, which was flatly against the thoroughly democratic procedure of the Comintern, Zinoviev was later severely condemned. A "parity" Central Executive Committee was elected by the convention, which soon became a Ruthenberg-Pepper majority. And the factional fight continued. An important constructive measure of the 1925 convention was the expulsion of the small Lore group of right opportunists. The Party also added the word "Communist" to its name, becoming the Workers (Communist) Party.

The Death of Lenin

On January 21, 1924, the peoples of the Soviet Union and the world suffered a tremendous loss by the death of the great Lenin, at the age of 54. Lenin, who stands in history as a peer of the brilliant Karl Marx, was extraordinarily gifted as a theoretician, organizer, and practical leader. Lenin developed the Marxist analysis to explain monopoly capitalism, imperialism, the final stage of the moribund capitalist system, and he expanded and applied in the actual building of socialism Marx's great conception of the hegemony of the working class in political struggles and °f the dictatorship of the proletariat. He fought against all the bourgeois idealist schools of thought. It was he, too, who worked out the basic principles for the organization of the resolute, disciplined, flexible Communist Party, the party of a new kind, dreaded the world over by the capitalists and their labor leader lackeys. It was Lenin, also, who taught the workers the indispensability of the peasants and the colonial peoples as revolutionary allies. To climax his innumerable achievements, theoretical and organizational, Lenin demonstrated the correctness of all his work by leading in person the great Russian Revolution to a shattering socialist victory over world capitalism. Lenin was the capable continuer and developer of the historic work of Marx and Engels. Stalin, the present brilliant head of the Soviet people, who has further enriched and expanded Marxism-Leninism, was the ablest pupil of Lenin. Lenin, a devoted son of the people, and a bold and indomitable leader, was the towering political genius of the twentieth century.

Toward Negro-White Labor Solidarity (1919–1924)

One of the most important developments of the World War I and post-war period was the beginning of an active co-operation between the Negro people and the labor movement. A number of factors combined to produce this most significant movement. Not the least of these factors was the educational work of the Workers Party, and a more correct attitude toward the Negro question on the part of the broad left wing of the labor movement. An important element, too, was the growth of a substantial body of Negro workers in the North.

During the period from 1910 to 1920 there was a migration of well onto a million Negroes from the South to the North. Conditions were so terrible for the Negro people in the southern states that they sought in great masses to escape from them by fleeing north where, however, things were not radically better. The Negro population during these years increased in New York by 66 percent, in Chicago by 148 percent, in Detroit by 611 percent, and in other cities similarly. The Negro migrants flocked into the industries—such as were open to them. The existing body of Negro wage workers was greatly increased. According to the federal census figures, the number of Negro workers in manufacturing industries rose from 631,280 in 1910 to 886,870 in 1920, a 40 percent increase. The principal industrial strongholds of the Negro workers in 1920 were in steel—17 percent, meat-packing—15 percent, railroads—8 percent, and coal mining—7 percent. The growth of the Negro proletariat was one of the most significant political features of this general period.

The Negro people suffered most in the wave of reaction unleashed by the capitalists during and after the war. The lynchers were abroad with gun and torch and rope. Not a week passed but sadistic lynch horrors were splashed in the newspapers. In 1917 at least 38 Negroes were lynched; in 1918 the number went up to 58, and in 1919 to 70. In the 45 years from 1885 to 1930 there were 3,256 lynchings, or an average of 73 per year. "Race riots" were precipitated by the employers and their lackeys in scores of towns and cities, including Chicago, Detroit, East St. Louis, and Washington. The Ku Klux Klan, huge in size and bold and ruthless, attacked the Negro people, the foreign-born, and the Communists as its main targets. The Klan invaded many northern states and insolently announced that it would eventually seize control of the national government.

But the lynchers and white supremacists unexpectedly encountered a very militant Negro people, who frequently fought arms-in-hand against their persecutors. In the great East St. Louis riot of July 1917, which cost 40 lives, many of those who perished were whites. The same was true of the 13-day riot in Chicago in July 1919, where, with 13 officially listed as dead, the Negroes successfully defended themselves from the lynch mobs. In Elaine County, Arkansas, an estimated 100 Negro sharecroppers were butchered by armed thugs in a bitter battle. Illustrating the Negro people's militant spirit, in September 1917, a Negro regiment in Houston, Texas, goaded beyond endurance by attacks of the Jim Crowers, defended itself, killing 17 attackers. The fact that 13 Negroes were hanged for this affair and 41 imprisoned for life did not quell the fighting spirit of the Negro people.

The sharp spirit of resistance of the Negro masses was akin to the militant mood generally of the workers during this period. And much of it was to be attributed to the fighting line of the Workers Party, although it also had other sources. The Negro people were outraged and aroused by the brutal regime of Jim Crow and persecution under which they lived. In France, too, the Negro troops, themselves segregated into Jim Crow regiments, had been received by the masses of the people with far more of a spirit of fraternity than they had ever known in the United States. Hence, when the soldiers returned home they were resolved not to submit to the monstrous Jim Crow spirit prevailing in both North and South. Also, very important in producing militancy among the Negro masses was the stimulating example of the great Russian Revolution. In the U.S.S.R., the American Negro people, as well as the oppressed nations all over the world, saw before their eyes the tremendous example of the many peoples who make up the Soviet Union living together in harmony and equality. Soviet influence upon American Negroes in this respect has been far greater than is generally recognized.

The Garvey Movement

The first important step taken by the harassed Negro people in an organized manner to defend themselves during the war and post-war years was the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the so-called Garvey movement. Its founder, Marcus Garvey, a brilliant Negro leader, born in Jamaica in 1887, was originally a printer and editor. He launched his movement in the British West Indies in 1914, and it was designed to appeal to the Negro peoples of the world. Garvey came to the United States in 1917, establishing the first section of the U.N.I.A. in New York during that year. The movement showed vitality, grew rapidly, and it held its first organized national convention in 1920.

During the initial stages of his movement, Garvey, in line with the militant spirit of the American Negro people, developed a bitter bill of grievances. Among these, as he outlined them in 1920, were inequality in wages of Negro and white workers, exclusion from trade unions, deprivation of land, taxation without representation, unjust military service, Jim Crow laws, and lynching. The U.N.I.A. demanded "complete control of our social institutions without interference by any alien race or races." It originally favored the U.S.S.R., supported self-determination of peoples, and repudiated the League of Nations because "it seeks to deprive Negroes of their liberty." It declared also that "the Negro should adopt every means to protect himself against barbarous practices inflicted upon him because of color."

Garvey had no faith in the possibilities of Negroes securing just treatment in any country, including the United States, where they constitute a minority. Although his program stimulated the American Negro people to fight gross injustices, Garvey's real objective was eventually to get the Negro masses to return to their original homeland. "Back to Africa" was his central slogan.

The Negroes of the United States joined the Garvey movement in substantial numbers. During the early 1920's, the U.N.I.A. claimed half a million members, and it was by far the largest Negro political organization in the country. Negro militants were attracted to the movement chiefly, however, because of its fighting spirit, but without attaching basic importance to its "Back to Africa," "Negro-Zionist" aspect. The Negro masses, Americans of many generations standing, were obviously determined to fight for their rights in the land of their birth. The "Back to Africa" slogan was purely Utopian.

Soon the U.N.I.A., opportunistically led by Garvey and his group, began to yield to reactionary capitalist pressures and to shed its early radicalism. As Robert Minor describes it, "By a process of elimination, all demands which were offensive to the ruling class were dropped one by one, and the organization settled down to a policy of disclaiming every idea whatever of demanding any rights for the Negro people in the United States—the policy of declaring that the Universal Negro Improvement Association was ...trying only to construct an organization of a 'home for the Negro people in Africa.1 Eventually its policy degenerated to the point where the organization quit real fighting for equality for the Negro in this county. This reactionary line eventually killed the Universal Negro Improvement Association among the Negro people.

From 1921 on the main activities of the U.N.LA. leaders were centered around selling stock in the Black Star Line of steamships, which was to render a triangular service between the West Indies, Africa, and New York. About $500,000 was collected for this purpose. The steamship line not materializing, however, Garvey was arrested by the federal government, convicted, and sent to Atlanta federal penitentiary in 1925 for two years. The big movement which he had built, torn with factionalism during his imprisonment, gradually fell to pieces. As Harry Haywood points out in his book, however, the disintegrated Garvey movement left many small organizations behind it.2

The central political significance of the Garvey movement was its national content. Garvey cultivated a national spirit, although it was a bourgeois nationalism, among the Negro people of the United States. His movement, being basically Utopian, could not serve the aspirations of the Negro people, but it did help to raise them to a new level of unity and consciousness. The Negro national spirit vaguely voiced by Garvey reached its full development in present-day Communist policy, which is based upon the reality that the Negro people in this country constitute an oppressed nation.

The Workers Party generally adopted a friendly, although critical, attitude toward the Garvey movement. In 1924 the Central Committee sent a letter to the U.N.LA., offering the support of the Workers Party and urging co-operation between Negroes and whites. In this letter, however, the Party still handled the question, not from a national but from a class and race standpoint. 3

Attempts to Divide Negro and White Workers

Employers have long used the policy toward their workers of divide and rule. They have systematically played off one group against another, to the detriment of all: native-born against immigrants, men against women, skilled against unskilled, members of one nation or religion against those of another. Negro workers have been especially the victims of this disruptive policy. For many years the employers made it impossible for Negroes to work in various industries—steel, auto, rubber, textile, lumber, electrical, etc., or to secure jobs at skilled trades, unless they would agree in practice to take the jobs of striking white workers. The heart of the Communists' policies has always been to combat and defeat these divisive tactics of the employers.

The conservative trade union leaders, however, as lieutenants of capital in the ranks of the workers—and particularly the Gompers clique of bureaucrats—went right along with the infamous anti-Negro policy of the employers. Themselves experts at discriminating against various sections of the working class—against women, young workers, the unskilled, and the unemployed—these labor officials practiced the worst exclusionism against Negro workers. They did their utmost to prevent Negroes from getting a foothold anywhere in the industries, especially in the skilled trades. Dozens of trade unions cynically barred Negro workers from membership by constitutional provisions, while many more excluded them in practice. These treacherous policies were made all the more disgraceful by the hypocritical official pretenses of the A.F. of L. to organize all workers, "regardless of race, creed, or color," while its leaders refused to stir in order to compel its affiliated unions to admit Negroes into the industries and the unions. The anti-Negro policies of the Gompers clique constitute the most shameful of all the disgraceful pages in the history of these misleaders of labor. The essence of the latter's position, like that of the employers, was that if the Negro workers were to get into the industries, and particularly the skilled trades, it could only be by taking strikers' jobs. And the tragedy was that such reactionary policies of the union leaders had a certain amount of support from the more backward and chauvinistic sections of the white workers.

To make the position of the Negro workers still more difficult, some of their own people to whom they then looked for leadership—conservative petty-bourgeois elements, who were outraged by the shocking conditions of discrimination practiced against Negroes in the industries and the unions—also took a position that the only way the Negro worker could get into industry and skilled work was by disregarding the unions. Spero and Harris give many examples of this attitude, which was sharply marked during the World War I period. 4 Booker T. Washington saw no hope in trade unionism for the Negro worker. Nor did Garvey. The latter's attitude, say the above-mentioned writers, was that the Negro should "beware of the labor movement in all its forms." Kelly Miller, a Negro professor at Harvard, dealing with the Negro and trade unionism, said, "Whatever good or evil the future may hold for him, today's wisdom heedless of logical consistency demands that he stand shoulder to shoulder with the captains of industry." There was also anti-trade union sentiment in such organizations as the Urban League and the N.A.A.C.P. a quarter of a century ago. And every practical trade union organizer of those days knew that a number of the Negro petty-bourgeois leaders, sickened by the Jim Crow policies of many trade unions, were sure to take a stand advising the Negro workers to have nothing to do with the labor movement. Cayton and Mitchell say, "Toward the labor movement the Negro upper class has generally been antagonistic." 5 Many of these intellectuals, too, precisely because of their weak class position in relation to the white bourgeoisie, tended to sell out the interests of the workers to the latter.

Growing Unity between Negro and White Workers

It is to the great honor of the Negro workers that they have been able largely to win their way into the unions and industries and to create, during our years, a body of almost one million solid trade unionists from their ranks. And they have accomplished this in spite of the Jim Crow policies of the employers and their lackey trade union leaders, as well as the unwise advice of many petty-bourgeois Negro leaders. Of course, some Negro workers were misused as strikebreakers in the post-World War I years, but this development has geen grossly exaggerated by enemies of the Negro people. Strikebreaking was far more prevalent among the whites. For every Negro strikebreaker there were scores of white ones.

The solidarity between Negro and white workers was greatly increased during the World War I period. This was the work of the most advanced elements among the Negroes and the left-wing whites, and it was accomplished in the face of strong opposition from the forces described above. The Communist Party is particularly proud of the fact that it was a dynamic factor in this whole crucial development.

The first major concrete step in developing Negro-white trade union co-operation during this period was in the big meat-packing organizing campaign and strike movement of 1917-18, which we have outlined in Chapter 9. This key movement was led by William Z. Foster and J. W. Johnstone, who eventually became Communists. The unionizing drive succeeded in bringing into the labor organizations some 20,000 Negro workers, out of a total of about 200,000 workers organized all over the country. This achievement surpassed anything that had previously been accomplished by labor unions friendly to Negroes, such as the I.W.W., Miners, Longshoremen, and others. It is today a cherished tradition of the Communist Party.

The packinghouse success was all the more significant because it was achieved in the face of powerful opposition not only from the packers' trust and the Jim Crow leaders of the A.F. of L., but also because it had to counter a strong resistance on the part of many Negro petty-bourgeois intellectuals. The latter, judging from past experiences, feared that the packinghouse union campaign would be only another trap for the Negro workers. Many also feared to lose their own leadership among the Negro masses to the unions. But the strong proletarian sentiments of the workers overcame all this opposition and led them to grasp in friendly solidarity the hands of the white workers outstretched to them.

The newly-developed solidarity of Negro and white workers in the packing industry had a real test of fire during the severe Chicago "race riots" of July 1919. This anti-Negro pogrom was organized by agents of the packers, who above all wanted to force the Negroes out of the unions and to drive a wedge between the Negro and white workers in their plants. The Chicago Stockyards Labor Council, then headed by T. W. Johnstone (Foster having left the packing industry to work in steel), saw the storm coming and mobilized the union membership to head it off. On July 6th a big parade of white and Negro packinghouse workers marched through the Negro districts of the South Side of Chi-go, in an effort to allay the grave tension. Nevertheless, on July 27th, a result of direct provocation by packer-organized hoodlums, the storm burst. Virtual civil war raged for two weeks in the whole area, with ,000 police and soldiers mobilized to intimidate the Negro people, meanwhile, 30,000 white stockyards union workers met, protested, pledged solidarity with their Negro brother workers, and demanded the withdrawal of the armed forces, which had done most of the killing. The splendid stand of the Stockyards Labor Council during this crisis, and specially of Jack Johnstone, stands forth as one of the very finest events the history of the American labor movement. It did much to cement Negro-white labor solidarity over the country. 6

A second basic development in this general period, making for Negro-white labor solidarity, was the wartime growth of The Messenger group New York Negro workers and intellectuals. In Chapter 12 we have fetched an outline of this important movement. Its main significance, particularly with regard to Negro-white labor co-operation, rested in the fact that it challenged current Negro petty-bourgeois opinion that trade unionism was injurious to the Negro workers and it boldly urged Negroes to get into the unions. The group tirelessly exposed the indignities and injuries inflicted by the A.F. of L. Jim Crow system and demanded the admission of Negro workers into all unions on the basis of full equality. Besides, it displayed initiative in organizing Negro workers those callings where they predominated in the working force.

The Messenger group, in whose early and best stages pioneer Negro Communists played a decisive part, gave birth to a whole series of constructive activities and organizations, which we can only list here. It created several papers besides The Messenger itself, including The Crusader, The Challenge and The Emancipator. Among the labor organizations growing out of this group's activities were the United Brotherhood of Elevator and Switchboard Operators, National Brotherhood Workers of America, National Association for the Promotion of Labor Unionism among Negroes, the proposed United Negro Trades, the Brotherhood of Dining Car Employees, and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. The broad Messenger group was also the source of several general Negro organizations of political protest and activity, among them the Friends of Negro Freedom and the African Blood Brotherhood. 7

The Messenger group, particularly in its earlier phases, was essentially a radical, left-wing body. It sounded a high note of fighting militancy for the Negro people, in a period of hysteria when they were being fiercely attacked by capitalist reaction. The "New Negro" of the Messenger conception was one who was quite willing to die if need be in defense of himself, his family, and his political rights. He demanded "the full product of his toil." His immediate aim was "more wages, shorter hours and better housing conditions." He stood for "absolute social equality, education, physical action in self defense, freedom of speech, press and assembly, and the right of Russia to self-determination." 8 The Messenger was one of the very few Negro papers that opposed World War I. The F.B.I., distorting the paper's militancy, stated that "This magazine threw all discretion to the winds and became the exponent of open defiance and sedition." 9 Such militancy was eventually ironed out, however, by Randolph and his associates in pushing The Messenger into the typical right-wing Socialist position. Pressure from The Messenger group and from the Communist Party was largely responsible, during the early 1920's, for the more favorable position on trade unionism for Negro workers taken by the N.A.A.C.P. and the Urban League.

The appearance of the Communist Party upon the political scene, after 1919, raised the whole struggle of the Negro people to a higher level in their fight for fundamental human rights. The Communists in particular strengthened the basic tendency of the Negro masses, the white workers, and progressives generally to work together for the promotion of their common interests. With their customary thoroughness and militancy, the Communists quickly overcame the crass neglect and misunderstanding of the Negro question which had been such a marked weakness in the policies of the Socialist Labor and Socialist parties for the previous forty years, and they made the fight for Negro rights a burning issue throughout the labor movement.

Already during the period of 1920-1921 the Party had increasingly recognized the significance of the Negro question. When the Workers Party was organized at the end of 1921 and brought the Communist movement into legality, it took a better position regarding the Negro people. As remarked earlier, the convention resolution then adopted was the most advanced ever written on the Negro question by any working class party in the United States. At its 1922 convention, the Workers Party re-stressed the Negro question, adopting a program of full support to the fight of the Negro people for economic, political, and social equality, and waging a fight against white chauvinism and for unity in the struggle against capitalism.

The T.U.E.L. in its mass campaigns during the early 1920's also gave encouragement and support to the general movement of the Negro people. In the national elections of 1924, William Z. Foster, presidential candidate of the Workers Party, presented the Communist program on the Negro question in many cities of the Deep South. And from those years right down to the present time there has been no convention or mass campaign of the Communist Party in which the Negro question has not been in the front line of consideration.

Five specific features may be singled out as characterizing the Communist fight on the Negro question, initiated during these early years. First, the Communists understood the key significance to the Negro people of a place in industry and in the unions, and they fought relentlessly to break down every barrier in this respect. Second, there was the special stress that the Communists laid upon the vital issue of social equality. Other movements which had given some co-operation to the Negro masses in their fight for justice almost always dodged and hedged on the matter of social equality. But not the Communists. In their programs and in the life of the Party, they saw in the fight for social equality a basic aspect of the whole struggle of the Negro people. Third, from the outset the Communists also realized the basic need to fight against white chauvinism (white supremacist ideology), not only in the ranks of the established enemy, but also among the white workers, even among those politically well developed. The importance of this position may be realized when one looks back at the outrageously chauvinistic material that formerly appeared unchallenged in the press of the Socialist Party. The fight against this insidious white chauvinism, in the midst of the Communists themselves, has gone on with increasing clarity and vigor ever since. Fourth, the Communists made clear the enormous political significance to white workers of the fight for Negro rights. They knocked on the head the current idea that support of the Negro people was only a sort of generous gesture of solidarity, and made it clear that the white workers could not win their fight without the co-operation of the Negroes. They demonstrated the fact that the Negro people constituted a powerful constructive force which imperatively had to be linked up with that of the whites. And fifth, whereas in the past most forces in the labor movement who were sympathetic to the Negroes' cause at best gave it only a sort of lip service, the Communists, realizing the tremendous importance of the Negro question, have always placed it high on their program and given it all possible support and emphasis. The Party in these years, however, had not yet come to understand the Negro question as a national question.

A New Stage in the Negro People's Movement

The foregoing policies the Communists practiced over the years in all their activities on the Negro question, in such bodies as the American Negro Labor Congress, the trade unions, and many other organizations and movements. These Communist activities were a major factor in raising the Negro people's struggle to a higher political level.

The general developments listed above produced marked constructive effects upon the liberation movement of the Negro people. The first of these effects was the beginning of a break-down in the previous isolation of the Negro movement. The isolation of the Negro people had been most sharply cultivated by the Garvey movement, which not only discounted all hope of co-operation with whites, but even proposed that the Negroes should leave this country altogether. However, finding new allies among the white left-wing forces and the broad labor movement, the Negro people, in line with their stand in previous decades of struggle, gradually abandoned the Garveyite idea that they had to make their fight alone. More and more they took their proper place in the front ranks of the broad progressive, democratic forces of the United States.

The second important development in the Negro national movement during the period, arising from the causes with which we have been dealing, was the strengthening of the role of the Negro proletariat in the liberation movement. Not only did the workers become more important because of their growth numerically, but they also played more of the part of leaders of the Negro people. This was a consideration of major importance; for among the Negro people as well as among the American people in general, only the proletariat can successfully lead the toiling masses to freedom.

The third important development in the Negro movement in this period was the acceleration of the growth of Communist influence among the Negro masses. The Communists, who all over the world stand at the head of the fighting working class and the oppressed colonial peoples, were particularly fitted to convey a new strength and leadership to the Negro movement in the United States. In the ensuing years they were to demonstrate this fact very clearly.

A.F. of L. Class Collaboration During the Coolidge "Prosperity" (1923–1929)

The period from early 1923 through most of 1929 was one of industrial expansion and capitalist prosperity for the United States. With ups and downs, the "prosperity" lasted practically all through the presidency of the Yankee skinflint and police strikebreaker, Calvin Coolidge, as well as during some six months of the term of the "great engineer," Herbert Hoover, imperialist exploiter of colonial peoples. It was a time of speculation and capitalist arrogance, until finally, in October 1929, the whole dizzy economic edifice went crumbling like a house of cards in the greatest economic crisis in the history of world capitalism.

American industry, fed by the red blood of war, increased its production from 1913 to 1929 by 70 percent.1 "By 1928 the total volume of (U.S.) production exceeded the production of the whole of Europe."2 The production of passenger automobiles, the bonanza industry, went up from 895,930 in 1915 to 4,587,400 in 1920, and trucks from 74,000 to 771,000. The production of gasoline increased by 300 percent. During this whole period monopoly flourished, the trustification of industry developed at a rapid speed, and the number of blood-nourished millionaires multiplied. Never before had the world seen the like of this saturnalia of capitalist profit-making. But the living standards of the workers lagged.

Various factors combined to create the Coolidge post-war boom. Among these were the American capital export of $20 billion in war and post-war loans to finance Europe's war and to rebuild its shattered industries; the capture of world markets by the United States from the crippled European powers; the introduction of an intense speed-up, or "rationalization" of industry in the home country; the growth of a huge installment-buying system; the industrialization of the South; the expansion of the automobile industry; and the wide extension of luxury industries. The whole fevered development was based upon the destruction wrought by World War I. This great war not only tremendously enriched the United States and made it far and away the wealthiest capitalist country, but it also demonstrated that the world capitalist system, including the United States, was sinking into an incurable general crisis, and that in order to keep going even temporarily, it required the fatal stimulant of war.

During the Coolidge "prosperity" period American imperialism was aggressively expansionist and reactionary. Its general predatory spirit was exemplified by the huge growth of military and naval armaments, repeated armed invasions of Caribbean and Central American countries, systematic penetration of Germany through the Dawes and Young plans, violent hostility toward the Soviet Union, and inroads upon China through the device of the "Open Door" policy. It was characterized by such developments on the home front as the passage of reactionary legislation to curb union labor, the systematic encouragement of company unionism, the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, the continued imprisonment of Mooney and Billings, the unchecked outrage of lynching in the South, the Teapot Dome scandal, the Scopes anti-evolution trial, and the like.

The Speed-Up, or "Rationalization" Drive

The central economic aim of the big capitalists in the United States during this period was to speed up the workers in production, to exploit them to the limit of their endurance. To exploit the workers more intensively is, of course, always the objective of the capitalists; but this was especially the case during the Coolidge years. Their aim was to satisfy the commodity-hungry post-war world markets, with a minimum of new capital investment—the demand for capital export to Europe being very heavy. Hence the speed up or "rationalization of industry," as they called it, became a fetish with the American capitalists during these years.

The heart of the rationalization of industry was the system of mass production. With the assembly line as its characteristic feature, and the reduction of innumerable skilled jobs to the common denominator of the line, this changed the whole lay-out of the plant. This system, stimulated by World War I, was the basis for the eventual great increase in the productivity of American industry. During the 1920's the capitalists strove to drive the workers even faster and to make them helpless in the mass production system.

But to enforce their speed-up of the workers, it was necessary for the employers to break the latter's resistance to being thus ruthlessly driven. Here the conservative trade union leadership came into the picture, as willing servants of the employers. The top A.F. of L. and Railroad Brotherhood leaders had rallied their membership for the employers' imperialist World War I and shamelessly sabotaged the workers' resistance during the big union-smashing drive of the bosses after the war had been won. Now they could be depended upon to perform this new speed-up task for their masters, the employers—and they did just that.

The conservative union leaders were not only willing but eager to carry out the bosses' plans for the "rationalization" of industry. What happened to the workers' living standards in the meantime was not of primary concern to them. These labor bureaucrats were frightened by the serious defeats the unions had suffered during the post-war offensive of the capitalists and by the growth of radical sentiment among the rank-and-file workers. And so the only condition they laid down to the arrogant employers was that they be allowed to maintain some sort of dues-paying mass unions, however enfeebled, that would suffice to pay their over-swollen salaries, not to mention their other financial perquisites.

To this end, the conservative union leaders were ready to go far in the direction of company unionism, and they did. William Green, who succeeded Gompers as the head of the A.F. of L. in 1924, made this willingness very clear in a number of the most servile speeches ever delivered by a labor leader in the United States. He placed the unions of the workers at the disposal of the bosses in the latter's speed-up plans. The Executive Council's report to the A.F. of L. convention of 1927 showed how far the labor bureaucrats were going toward company-unionizing the trade unions. It declared that "there is nothing that the company union can do within the single company that the trade union cannot develop the machinery for doing and accomplish more effectively. Union-management co-operation...is much more fundamental and effective than employee representation plans for co-operation with management."

Some sections of big, open-shop capital became interested in these offers of the A.F. of L. leaders to have the craft unions "do better" the functions of the company unions than the company unions themselves. William Green reported to the Executive Council, in January 1927. that "the General Motors Company was prepared to agree to the organization of some of its big plants as an experiment in union-management co-operation, provided that there would be no jurisdictional fights." 3 But the 19 unions claiming jurisdiction over the automobile workers could not agree among themselves as to which should get the workers. With the characteristic stupidity of craft unionism, they preferred see the basic industries remain unorganized than to surrender their rival paper claims over the workers. Therefore the whole scheme fell through. Lorwin says that other big concerns besides General Motors were also interested in Green's plans to company-unionize the American labor movement.

The Unions as Speed-Up Agencies of the Bosses

The new orientation of the labor bureaucracy toward intensified class collaboration for the speed-up began to manifest itself in the form of the so-called Baltimore and Ohio plan, a scheme for more intensive production, devised by the efficiency experts of that railroad. It was forced upon the defeated shopmen on several roads at the end of their ill-fated strike of 1922. The essence of the B. & O. plan was that if the workers would agree with the bosses to turn out more work they would thereby automatically reap real advantages in the shape of increased wages and more continuous employment.

With the top labor officials bankrupt after the big post-war drive of the employers against the unions, the A.F. of L. convention of 1923 grasped at the B. & O. plan, or union-management co-operation scheme, as manna miraculously fallen from heaven. It offered a way to preserve some semblance of mass organization and it gave them a sort of program to take to the workers, so they made the most of it. The convention, composed almost exclusively of high union officials, hailed the plan as a turning point for the labor movement and the United States. Two years later the 1925 convention of the A.F. of L. developed the plan in great detail as the "new wage policy."

Not content with offering to co-operate with the capitalists for more production, the trade union leaders went into the speed-up business themselves. They put efficiency engineers on the union payrolls and had them devise plans for increasing production. These schemes they then proceeded to force upon the workers and also offered them, free of charge, to the employers. Many labor organizations followed such practices. Indeed, unions that did not do so were looked upon by the bureaucrats as backward and unprogressive. So low had the trade union leadership fallen that it had actually transformed the unions from fighting organizations, designed to protect the workers' interests, into parts of the employers' producing mechanism. Union-management co-operation thus went far beyond even the rosiest dreams of the classical industrial efficiency expert, Frederick Taylor. Before World War I, Taylor's speed-up devices had been condemned with bell, book, and candle by the labor officialdom as the death of all trade unionism; but now these same leaders accepted Taylor's ideas as the gospel of organized labor.

The erstwhile "progressive" or center group in the labor movement vied with the right-wing labor leadership in its enthusiasm for union-management co-operation. The Socialists, too, grabbed it hook, line, and sinker. In fact, in no unions in this country was the speed-up system so highly developed as in the supposedly socialistic needle trades unions. They had complete sets of efficiency engineers, standards of production, and all the rest of the speed-up plans. Leo Wolman, research director of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, thus explained the role of labor unions in this period: "The primary aim of the labor union is to co-operate with the manufacturer to produce more efficient conditions of production that will be of mutual advantage. In some cases labor unions will even lend money to worthy manufacturers to tide them over periods of distress."

Ford versus Marx

In order to drive ahead with the speed-up, "rationalization" plans and to demoralize the labor movement still further, blatant American imperialism put forth during the Coolidge period a whole series of "prosperity illusions" designed to befuddle and confuse the workers. Never in the whole history of American capitalism did the bosses give birth to so many glowingly Utopian ideas of social progress as in the hectic boom times of the 1920's.

For example, Thomas N. Carver, Harvard professor of political economy, came out with a glittering theory to the effect that the workers, because of mass production and the speed-up, not only could become but were becoming capitalists by buying up industrial stocks. 4 "The only revolution now under way," said he, "is in the United States. It is a revolution that is to wipe out the distinction between laborers and capitalists by making laborers their own capitalists and by compelling most capitalists to become laborers of one kind or another." He stated that the savings of the workers were so great that "Any day the laborers decide to do so, they can divert a few billions of savings to the purchase of common stock of industrial corporations, railroads, and public service companies, and actually control considerable numbers of them." Thus, said he, "If the railroad employees would merely save the increase which they had recently received in wages, it would give them $625,000,000 a year for investment. On this basis, if they bought railroad stocks at par, they could, by investing all their savings and dividends in railroad stocks, buy $3,490,000,000 in five years. This would give them a substantial majority of all the outstanding stocks." But how the workers were to eat in the meantime, Carver did not say.

Professor Tugwell of Columbia, in his book, Industry's Coming of Age, developed the perspective that capitalism—monopolized industries and all—was gradually becoming "socialized," with the private ownership feature tending to atrophy and die out. Gillette, the safety razor magnate, in his book, The People's Corporation, painted a capitalist-"Socialist" Utopia, which the people were gradually creating by buying industrial stocks, a plan akin to Carver's. Foster and Catchings, forerunners of John Maynard Keynes, elaborated plans for "financing the buyer" which supposedly would eliminate economic crises and bring prosperity for all. Stuart Chase, an erstwhile Socialist, pictured a new and glowing mass prosperity inherent in the simple plan of abolishing waste in industry by applying more scientific production methods. Whiting Williams, Mac-Kenzie King, Glen Plumb, Thorstein Veblen, and many others added their voices to the chorus of capitalist economists and industrialists who were about to create a world of plenty for all. It was in this spirit that Herbert Hoover, who was Secretary of Commerce under Coolidge and one of this school of economists, assured the people after his election, in November 1928, that the United States was then on the verge of abolishing poverty. All this demagogy, of course, was but the delirium of optimism (in an extreme degree) always felt by the capitalists when their economic system is in the boom phase of its cycle.

The substance of what all these exuberant boosters of American capitalism were saying was that capitalism in this country, by the natural processes of its evolution, was turning into socialism, if not something far superior. Capitalism in the United States, distinct from that in Europe, had overcome its internal contradictions, had "come of age," was being democratized, and had entered upon an endless upward spiral of development and mass prosperity. It was a sort of "capitalist efficiency socialism." The "New Capitalism," they called it. As these soothsayers would have it, Henry Ford had superseded Karl Marx.

During these hectic years the capitalists of Europe and elsewhere looked with envy and admiration upon the United States, where the capitalists by the magic of mass production and the speed-up had apparently tamed the labor movement and solved all economic problems. In the forefront of these foreign admirers of American monopoly capitalism and imperialism were the Social-Democrats of Europe. Rudolph Hilferding, leading theoretician of German Social-Democracy, said at the Kiel 1927 convention of that party, "We are in a period of capitalism which in the main has overcome the era of free competition and the sway of the blind forces of the market and we are coming to a capitalist organized economy." Karl Kautsky also supported this line. The Social-Democrats outdid each other in praise of the new American mass production and intensified class collaboration, and they sought eagerly to introduce these things into their own countries. In the United States, so they believed, all their Bernsteinian dreams of capitalism turning into "socialism" were coming true.

"The Higher Strategy of Labor"

The upper officials of the A.F. of L. and the Railroad Brotherhoods fell right in with this campaign of ideologically poisoning the working class, even as they had fully accepted the speed-up program which was the basis for the great flood of capitalist demagogy about everlasting "prosperity." William Green, an apt pupil of Gompers, arch-reactionary and labor sponsor of capitalism, took the lead in pledging loyalty to the capitalist system and in excoriating everything radical or revolutionary. H. V. Boswell, head of the Locomotive Engineers Bank of New York, also expressed the current bureaucratic opinion when he said: "Who wants to be a bolshevik when he can be a capitalist instead? We have shown how to mix oil and water; how to reconcile capital and labor. Instead of standing on a street corner soapbox, screaming with rage because the capitalists own real estate, bank accounts, and automobiles, the engineer has turned in and become a capitalist himself." 5

To carry out their new speed-up, get-rich-quick orientation, the labor bureaucrats, upon Carver's suggestion, worked out what they grandiloquently called "the higher strategy of labor." Matthew Woll, in Iron Age, thus expressed his idea of this newfangled term: "In its early struggles labor sought to retard, to limit, to embarrass production to obtain that which it desired. Now it seeks the confidence that it is a preserver and developer of an economic, industrial, and social order in which workers, employers, and the public may all benefit." And Warren S. Stone, "progressive" president of the Locomotive Engineers, explained it thus: "Organized labor in the United States has gone through three cycles...The first was the period during which class consciousness was being aroused...The second was the defensive struggle for the principle of collective bargaining...The third cycle or phase lies in constructive development toward a system of co-operation rather than war." 6

The plain English of all this blather was that the "new wage policy" and "the higher strategy of labor" amounted to a speed-up, no-strike policy. That is, the workers were to produce to the limit and then trust to the "intelligent" capitalists to reward them adequately in friendly conferences with the union leaders. Consequently, the number of strikes and strikers toboganned. In 1932 the total number of strikers was 1,612,562, but by 1929 this had fallen to only 230,463. 7 The workers' living and working standards suffered accordingly.

Along with Wall Street's no-strike policy, dolled up as "the higher strategy of labor," the top labor leadership also accepted the current bourgeois propaganda about the tremendous savings of the workers, and they plunged into business in a big way. During the early twenties they set up a whole maze of labor banks, insurance companies, investment concerns, and the like, more than one of which operated upon a non-union basis. This was "trade union capitalism," as Communists called it. The unions went in especially for labor banking. The international union or important central labor body that did not support labor banking was considered very much behind the times. All told, at the height of this craze, in 1925, there were 36 labor banks, with total resources of $126,356,944. Outstanding leaders in this banking movement were the Locomotive Engineers and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers.

Degeneration of the Labor Bureaucracy

The top leadership of the American Federation of Labor and the Railroad Brotherhoods, ever since the 1890's, had been noted for its corruption by capitalist influences, its almost total lack of working class integrity. The characteristic A.F. of L. leader of the period (with many honorable exceptions, of course) was one who was devoted to the perpetuation of capitalism, was an inveterate enemy of all radicalism, and looked upon trade union leadership as an easy way of making a good living. Top jobs in the unions were rich sinecures, to be grabbed and held by any means possible. Such posts, among their numerous financial advantages for their holders, provided many opportunities for union leaders to milk employers who wanted guarantees against strikes, and also opportunities for these leaders to develop remunerative alliances with the Republican and Democratic parties. The welfare of the workers who made up the unions was a matter of but secondary consideration. The marvel was how the labor movement could exist at all, much less make real progress, with such a corrupt top leadership.

During World War I, the post-war offensive, and the Coolidge "prosperity" period, the corrupting capitalist influences upon the labor bureaucracy were particularly strong, and the leaders' morale sank visibly under the pressure. Many of the officials became rich from the plentiful sources of graft open to them. John Mitchell, former president of the United Mine Workers and first Vice-President of the A.F. of L., was a characteristic figure, a real capitalist.

When he died in 1919 his wealth totaled $244,295, including investments in many capitalist concerns—coal mines, Armour & Co., the B. & O., the New York Central, the Rock Island—all companies that were noted for their labor-crushing activities. George L. Berry, head of the Printing Pressmen and long an honored figure in the A.F. of L. hierarchy, acquired a million dollars or more by his various brands of skulduggery. There were many like him in the various unions. Dozens of labor leaders were taken over by the capitalists and used as "personnel directors"—as strike-preventers—in their industries.

Corruption was most rampant in the building trades, which formed the backbone of the A.F. of L. during these times. There real gangsterism prevailed. Many building trades leaders sold "strike insurance" freely to the employers and robbed their membership by every known device. Numbers of them also were directly tied up with the underworld during the period of prohibition. They ruled the unions by force and, fighting for control, they periodically carried on murderous gun battles with each other. A star product of this Gompers unionism was Robert P. Brindell of New York, who was credited with amassing a million dollars in the two years before he was exposed by the Lockwood Committee in 1920. Another was Simon O'Donnell, wartime head of the Building Trades Council of Chicago, who was given a spectacular funeral, gangster fashion, with a $10,000 coffin, when he died in 1927. Still another was the notorious "Big Tim" Murphy, also of the Chicago Building Trades. Murphy, who was finally killed in a gangster war, expressed the characteristic A.F. of L. philosophy of labor leadership as follows: "I'm still pretty much of a kid, but I made a millon and spent a million, and I figure I'll make another million before they plant me." 8

The bosses cultivated this corrupt type of leadership, even though occasionally, to discredit the unions, they would send one or two crooked union officials to jail after a spectacular trial. As for the A.F. of L. Executive Council, it did precisely nothing to eliminate the gangsterism and corruption. On the contrary, the Mitchells, Berrys, Brindells, O'Don-nells, and many more of the like were for decades dominant figures in the A.F. of L. Some of them enjoyed honored seats in the Executive Council itself, and generally they crowded the A.F. of L. conventions, voting down all "red" proposals. This was the kind of labor leadership that so ruthlessly rejected amalgamation, a labor party, and Soviet recognition at the 1923 convention of the A.F. of L., even though the bulk of the organized workers had demanded these policies. It was such labor leaders, too, who were ardent supporters of the Gompers clique in office, and defenders of the "new wage policy," "the higher strategy of labor," "trade union capitalism," and militant struggle against the left wing, during the Coolidge boom period of 1923-1929.

The Bill of Reckoning

The intensified class collaboration carried on by the conservative upper leadership of the trade unions during the Coolidge period had a number of very harmful effects upon the workers and their unions. For one thing, the acceptance and propagation by the union leaders of prosperity illusions, put out by the employers, were demoralizing ideologically to the workers. Especially confusing was the boundless flood of propaganda to the effect that economic crises were now a thing of the past in the United States. It left the workers quite unprepared for the economic holocaust that struck in October 1929. The top trade union leaders, deceived by their own propaganda, were even less ready for the great economic breakdown than the workers themselves when it finally came.

The bosses' speed-up program, popularized among the workers by the trade union leaders under the name of the "new wage policy" and "the higher strategy of labor," also operated to the detriment of the working and living standards of the workers. This no-strike policy took all the fight out of the unions. Never in the life of the modern American labor movement was its morale so low as during the Coolidge period of intensified class collaboration. Taking advantage of the cultivated inertia of the unions, the employers naturally grabbed unto themselves all the advantages of the increased production which they were able to wring from the workers under the very convenient plan of union-management co-operation.

There was also a general worsening of conditions in the shops during this period. With the class vigilance of the unions weakened by the pest of class collaboration, the bosses were able, under the sacred sign of industrial efficiency, to strip the workers of many hard-won labor conditions. In a period of industrial activity, when the workers possessed a maximum of latent power with which to improve their wage rates, the employers kept wages down. From 1923 to 1929, although output in industry increased no less than 29 percent per worker and profits doubled and tripled, the workers' wages advanced little, if at all. Wage increases, coming mostly from overtime work, went mainly to the skilled workers, with the wage conditions of the masses of semi-skilled and unskilled either stagnant or declining. The top union officials, now blossoming forth as bankers and industrialists, had little time to waste upon such minor matters as protecting the workers' standards.

The class collaboration policies of the union leaders also had deleterious effects upon the growth of the unions. The Coolidge boom years, although accompanied by considerable unemployment, constituted a period of high industrial activity that should have provided a big increase in union membership. But the unions actually declined numerically during these years. Thus in 1922 the A.F. of L. had 3,195,635 members, whereas in 1929, after several years' dose of "union-management co-operation," the number had fallen to 2,933,545, a l°ss °f 262,090 members. Actually the loss was much greater, as many unions, despite membership decreases, continued for internal political reasons to pay their earlier, top-figure per capita tax to the A.F. of L. For example, in 1928 the U.M.W.A. paid on 400,000 members, as in 1920, but in the meantime it had lost about 200,000 dues-paying members. The 1923-29 period was the first time in labor history that the trade unions failed to grow substantially during a long period of "prosperity."

To make the "new capitalism" policies still more bankrupt, the union leaders made ducks and drakes of the millions of dollars that the workers had so trustingly placed in their hands through the many labor banks and other financial and industrial concerns organized during the epidemic of "trade union capitalism." The whole shaky structure soon collapsed, with losses to the workers of huge sums of money. This financial debacle was brought about by wild speculations in Florida, and by general recklessness and incompetence. Speaking of the breakdown of the Locomotive Engineers' big string of banks, Perlman and Taft say, "On the larger issue of redirecting capitalism the movement for labor banks, as shown by the engineers' fiasco, was little more rational than the children's crusade against the Saracens." 9 The number of labor banks fell off rapidly, in the midst of the growing scandal. By 1932 their number was reduced to seven, and now there are only four of them left. This was the unhappy ending of Professor Carver's scheme for the workers to buy out capitalism—as executed by the capitalist-minded reactionaries heading the A.F. of L. and Railroad Brotherhoods.

Communist Class Struggle Policies (1923–1929)

Throughout the Coolidge "prosperity" period the Workers Party, renamed the Workers (Communist) Party in 1925, fought strongly against the whole class collaboration program of the trade union leadership and came forward with a policy of class struggle. This in spite of serious right opportunism—Lovestoneism—in its own ranks. The Party exposed the fallacies, in theory and practice, of the "B. & O. plan," "union-management co-operation," the "new wage policy," "labor banking," "the higher strategy of labor," and all the rest of the current ideological sugar-coating of the employers' speed-up program. It also blasted the crude "American exceptionalism" underlying the entire campaign of confusing and thereby more intensively exploiting, the workers—the notion that somehow capitalism in the United States was different from and superior to capitalism in the rest of the world. The Party showed that the so-called "new capitalism" was just the same old capitalism in the boom phase of its economic cycle, and that, far from having ended all economic crises, this system was at the time definitely heading toward a severe industrial break-down. The Party demonstrated that the entire policy of the official bureaucracy was bringing about lowered living standards and weakened trade unions for the workers.

The Communists and their allies, in spite of severe persecution, fought everywhere against the application of the deadly class collaboration program of the A.F. of L. leadership—on the floors of union halls, in the trade union elections, and on strike picket lines. They cultivated a militant struggle of the workers, Negro people, and farming masses for their elementary demands. Most of the important organizational campaigns and strikes of the period were either directly led or heavily influenced by the Communists and their co-workers. This was because the official heads of the labor movement refused to give leadership to the workers, even on the most elementary questions. This resolute fight against the A.F. of L. class collaboration policies during the Coolidge regime constitutes one of the most effective pages in the history of the Communist Party of the United States.

The Expulsion Policy

A basic necessity for the employers and labor leaders, in order to force the current speed-up program upon the unwilling workers, was to break down all opposition to such a program in the unions. This was what the efficiency expert Taylor had euphoniously called "getting the workers' consent." It implied war to the knife against the Communists and all other opponents of intensified class collaboration. As a general consequence democracy was just about extinguished in the trade unions. A "goon" rule, patterned after the current gangsterism of the prohibition era, and in many cases actually carried out by professional gangsters, was instituted in unions where the left wing had a strong following. Moreover, the employers and the police could also be relied upon to help the reactionary union leaders, should the situation threaten to get out of hand.

The worst feature of this terroristic regime was the leaders' policy of expelling militants from the unions. The Workers (Communist) Party was blasted, the T.U.E.L. was condemned as a Communist organization and a dual union, and membership in either brought expulsion. The Communists, who could not be defeated in honest debate, were ousted from the unions altogether, often to the accompaniment of physical violence. This meant that they were also forced out of the industries where they earned their livelihood. Such terrorism was something new in the American labor movement, for all of its previous record of reaction. Never before had workers been systematically expelled from their jobs and from their unions because of their political opinions. Dozens of union ruling cliques, anticipating by a generation the Smith and McCarran Acts, wrote clauses in their union constitutions specifically barring Communists (often along with Negroes, women, youths, and other "undesirables"). The expulsion campaign, beginning with a few militants here and there, finally reached the stage of ousting thousands at a time.

The Socialists went along with the outright Gompersites in this terror campaign, even as they had swallowed whole the latter's B. 8c O. plan, new wage policy, speed-up program. Indeed, in their activities the Socialists even outstripped the open reactionaries. For the first of the expulsions took place in the Socialist-led International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and it was also in that organization that the expulsion campaign later reached its highest point, with the ouster of 35,000 New York cloakmakers. No unions in the country were more gang-ridden than the needle trades organizations.

In the shameful class collaboration of the Coolidge period the Socialist leaders finally cemented the open alliance with the Gompers—now Green—bureaucracy that they had been courting for so many years. Schneider and Saposs describe this development in which the Socialists gave up their policy of militant boring-from-within and sought to win the confidence of the A.F. of L. administration.1 And, says Saposs, "After the world war the Socialist boring-from-within policies and tactics were completely reversed...Instead, they aim to sue for the confidence and good will of the entrenched labor leaders...This new political alignment of the Socialists with the Administration forces marks the end of their leadership of the opposition in the labor movement."2 Ever since then, the Socialists have been part and parcel of the reactionary clique dominating the American labor movement.

About the close of the "prosperity" period, in May 1929, a group of "left" Social-Democrats and renegade Communists, alarmed at the too flagrant corruption of the Socialist Party leadership, formed the Conference for Progressive Labor Action. It aimed at eventually becoming a rival of the Communist Party. Its chief figures were A. J. Muste, head of the Brookwood Labor School, J. H. Crosswaith, and others. Its program called for an active wage policy, social insurance, trade union democracy, a labor party, workers' education, and recognition of Soviet Russia. The C.P.L.A. was built on the Two-and-a-Half International plan—that is, lots of radical talk but little constructive action. It made a pale effort to pattern its main work after the T.U.E.L. This "Muste movement" existed for several years. It took part in a few textile and mine strikes, but it played no very important role in the labor movement. In October 1934, it merged with the Trotskyites—a short-lived union which hastened its disintegration. The C.P.L.A. served mostly as a fig leaf to cover up the nakedness of the leadership of the Socialist Party and the A.F. of L. The Musteites were the "little brothers of the big labor fakers."

The resentment of the masses of workers at the treacherous class collaboration policies being followed by their unions' leadership was evidenced by the strong support given the Workers (Communist) Party and T.U.E.L. program in many industries, despite the expulsion policy of the top union leaders. Thus, in the Machinists Union elections of 1925 the Anderson progressive-left slate got 17,076 votes, against 18,021 for the administration candidate, William H. Johnston. Undoubtedly, the left actually won the election. And in the Carpenters Union elections of the same year the T.U.E.L. candidate, M. Rosen, was credited with 9,014 votes against 77,985 for the reigning autocrat, Hutcheson.

Hard-Fought Textile Strikes

Among the many industries where the Communist Party and T.U.E.L. forces led strikes during the Coolidge period were the textile, needle trades, and mining industries. These were the so-called sick industries of the period, suffering heavily from unemployment, speed-up, low wages, and—to make matters worse for the workers—reactionary trade union leadership. All these strikes were conducted upon a broad united front basis of Communists, left Socialists, and progressives, through the T.U.E.L. and its specific organizational forms in the various industries.

The first big struggle of textile workers to be initiated by the Pafty and conducted directly by the T.U.E.L. was the famous Passaic, New Jersey, strike of 1926. At the outset the workers, employed mostly on woolens and worsteds, were almost completely unorganized—of the one million textile workers nationally, not over five percent were unionized at that time. The Party forces energetically set about organizing among them. Characteristic conditions of deep poverty, gross exploitation, and boss tyranny prevailed. The spark that touched off the bitter struggle in Passaic was a 10 percent wage cut in October 1925. The A.F. of L. union in the industry, one of the most incompetent in the labor movement, the United Textile Workers, refused to stir in the matter, so the T.U.E.L. forces, in the form of the United Front Committee, began with success to organize in Passaic.

The strike was precipitated on January 21, 1926, when a committee of 45, presenting the demands of the workers to the Botany Mills, were discharged forthwith. The response of the mass of workers to this brutal treatment of their leaders was immediate and powerful. In two days the 5,000 unionized workers of the autocratic company were on strike, and within a few days the whole Passaic area, with some 16,000 textile workers, was tied up. The bosses, with the characteristic violence that accompanied the "open shop" movement, undertook to break the strike by instituting thug rule in the community. Every known strikebreaking technique was used; but they all failed, the solidarity of the workers was invincible. The official head of the strike was Albert Weisbord, a weakling; but the main strength came from the Pafty backing, with such militant fighters as W. W. Weinstone, Charles Krumbein, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, John Ballam, Alfred Wagenknecht, and others.

The strike was very well organized and was fought on both sides with great stubbornness. It attracted national attention. This hard-fought strike sounded a new and militant note in the labor movement, then being choked by the union-management co-operation poison. The struggle lasted thirteen months; it was finally settled by a compromise which restored the wage cut, admitted the right of the workers to organize in the A.F. of L., and gave some recognition to the union grievance committees.

The next big textile strike in which the Party and the T.U.E.L. played a decisive role was the walkout of 26,000 cotton mill workers in New Bedford, in April 1928. This strike was also against a wage cut and the speed-up, and for union recognition. The strike gave birth to a series of further strikes in Fall River, Woonsocket, and surrounding textile centers. After six months of struggle the wage cut was defeated in New Bedford, but the workers were deprived of a real victory by a typical A.F. of L. sell-out. The strike resulted in the formation of a new textile union, the National Textile Workers, affiliated to the T.U.E.L.

The most desperately-fought textile strike of the period, however, was that in Gastonia, North Carolina, in 1929. The National Textile Workers Union sent organizers into the south in February of that year. Their activities started a general movement among the textile workers, who were suffering under extremely low wages, the stretch-out (speed-up), and anti-union shop conditions. The workers involved were almost entirely American-born, for several generations back. The N.T.W. forces concentrated on the Gastonia area, where a strike of 2,500 workers of the Loray mills took place on April 2nd. Later these workers were joined by 1,700 others. The whole membership of 25,000 local textile workers was deeply stirred by the dramatic strike. The Workers (Communist) Party had many of its organizers in the field.

The millowners and the state government officials set out immediately to break the menacing strike by violence. The governor, a textile millowner, ordered several companies of militia to the scene. The American Legion organized vigilantes, and on April 18th, a masked gang of 50 to 75 attacked the union headquarters, wrecked it, and beat up strikers there. On June 7th, another gang of thugs, led by Chief of Police Aderholt, raided the union center; but this time the workers were prepared and defended themselves with gunfire. The police chief was killed and three of his deputies were wounded. This led to the arrest of 100 workers. Eventually seven strike leaders were found guilty of second degree murder and given prison sentences of up to 20 years. During the trial, a vigilante mob ran riot, smashing the union headquarters and assaulting organizers. Ella May Wiggin, a mother and militant strike leader, was murdered. The strike was finally crushed, but the millowners were compelled to make concessions to the workers.

The A.F. of L. was greatly alarmed by the uprisings of the southern textile workers and the growing Communist influence, which affected Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas, and other centers, and it sent a flock of organizers into these areas in an effort to head off the movement. William Green toured the South hobnobbing with the millowners and bankers and offering them co-operation of the approved B. & O. plan type. But the textile bosses, mostly representing Wall Street big capital, preferred their own methods of suppressing strikes and union activities by open terrorism. The southern textile workers, however, remained unorganized. At the time the Workers (Communist) Party made a major mistake of concentrating too much of its attention upon Gastonia and not spreading out and challenging the employers and the A.F. of L. mis-leaders in other key southern textile centers.

The Passaic, New Bedford, and Gastonia strikes represented new high levels of strike organization for the United States. Not only was the strike organization itself highly perfected in each case, but the auxiliary departments were also well developed. There were strong youth sections to mobilize the youth and children. Special attention was paid, too, to the enlistment of women in the strikes, and many women leaders played most active parts. The Workers International Relief (W.I.R.) thoroughly organized national strike relief campaigns, and the International Labor Defense (I.L.D.) conducted vigorous fights for legal defense of the many arrested strikers and union leaders. The Workers (Communist) Party gave vitality and strength to all this work. The strikes, too, were conducted with a keen eye to strike strategy, a subject to which the T.U.E.L., in international affiliation to the R.I.L.U., paid very much attention during these years. The great significance of the strikes was their high fighting spirit at a time when the A.F. of L. was carrying out its no-strike policies. They emphasized the role of a new factor, the Communist Party, in [...]

The Needle Trades Strikes

The needle trades "Socialist" union leaders, as already remarked, were neck deep in the paralyzing A.F. of L. class collaboration and speedup policies of the period of 1933-29. This fact brought them into head-on collision with the Communist and progressive forces, who were strongly organized in the Party and the T.U.E.L. in the industry. The left wing fought for improved wage conditions, the 40-hour week, the shop delegate system, organization of the unorganized, a needle trades industrial union, a labor party, affiliation with the R.I.L.U., defense of the Soviet Union, and against the whole prevailing speed-up, gangster-control regime of the right-wing leaders.

The first decisive collision developed in the Fur Workers Union. After various oscillations in power, the left-center united front made a bitter fight and won solid control of the New York Joint Board, which constituted about 80 percent of the whole union. Ben Gold, who was stabbed by gangsters during the struggle, became head of this Board. In February 1926, some 12,000 New York furriers went out on strike with the 40-hour week as their central demand. The ensuing 17-week strike was one of the hardest fought in the history of New York City.

The Kaufman leadership of the national union sabotaged the strike from the outset. Finally they brought in William Green, A.F. of L. president, who went over the head of the New York Joint Board and arranged a sell-out with the bosses on the basis of the 42-hour week. The left rallied the fur workers so solidly, however, that they refused to allow the betrayal agreement to be put through. Several weeks later, the workers finally won the 40-hour week, the first instance of its establishment in American industry. It was a resounding victory for the workers and the left, and a direct smash in the face of the strikebreaking top leadership of the A.F. of L.

The latter was not so easily disposed of, however. Deeply embarrassed and embittered by their defeat, Green and Co. set up an ultra-reactionary committee, consisting of Matthew Woll, E. McGrady, J. Ryan, J. Sullivan, and H. Frayne, to "investigate" the conduct of the strike. As a result the Furriers' New York Joint Board and its affiliated local unions were "reorganized" in January 1927. The effect of this unheard-of action was to expel 12,000 furriers from their union and to leave the International bankrupt. 3

The struggle in the International Ladies Garment Workers was no less intense. By 1925, in spite of the top leaders' gangster and expulsion licy, the left-center united front had won control of locals 2, 9, and 22, comprising about 70 percent of the New York Joint Board, backbone of the International. Whereupon, President Sigman cynically expelled the 77 Communists and T.U.E.L. supporters on these locals' executive boards, an action which amounted to ousting 35,000 members from the union. The expelled locals set up the Joint Action Committee, conducted a sharp struggle, and after 16 weeks compelled Sigman to give in and reinstate the three locals. This was a nationwide victory for the left wing of the union. Consequently, when the national convention of the I.L.G.W.U. assembled in Philadelphia in November 1925, the left wing, with 114 delegates, represented 34,762 members, or two-thirds of the convention's real representation. But the Sigman administration had so gerrymandered the union elections that although there were only 15,852 members behind them, they nevertheless had 146 delegates, or the convention majority. They used this control to maintain themselves in power.

On July 1, 1926, the left-led I.L.G.W.U. New York Joint Board called a strike of 40,000 cloakmakers against intolerable conditions in the industry. The Workers (Communist) Party gave all-out support to the strike. President Sigman, while officially endorsing the strike, sabotaged it. Finally, in December, after a bitter 20 weeks' strike, Sigman made an agreement with the bosses behind the back of the Joint Board, patterning this maneuver on Green's in the fur situation. This second time, however, the treachery succeeded. There were many fine leaders among the cloak-makers, such as Joseph Boruchovitch, but the key figures of the cloak and dressmakers Joint Boards—Louis Hyman and Charles Zimmerman (who were later rewarded by the International)—did not boldly rally the strikers to defeat the sell-out, as the Gold leadership had done in fur, but tamely yielded. The strike was lost, and 35,000 workers found themselves outside of the union.

The mass expulsions of Communists and other progressives from the Fur Workers and I.L.G.W.U. resulted, on December 28, 1928, in the formation of the Needle Trades Workers Industrial Union (T.U.E.L.). Louis Hyman was elected president and Ben Gold secretary-treasurer. Then followed a bitter seven-years' fight between rival unions for control of the industry. But of this general development more later.

In the long and difficult needle trades struggle women militants played decisive parts. There were no braver pickets or bolder fighters for trade union democracy. When the Needle Trades Workers Industrial Union was formed it had more women than men members.

In the Amalgamated Clothing Workers (and the Cap and Millinery Workers) the struggle between left and right was not so sharp, although in both cases the top leadership (especially Hillman) was tied up with the B. & O. plan, the "new wage policy," labor banking, standards of production, speed-up, and the general class collaboration program of the A.F. of L. The A.C.W. also expelled a number of militants for T.U.E.L. membership. However, Sidney Hillman, head of the organization, was inclined to follow some elements of a progressive political policy, A.C.W. conventions commonly adopting left resolutions on non-economic questions. The union also displayed friendship for embattled Soviet Russia; in 1921 it organized the Russian American Industrial Corporation, with Robert W. Dunn in charge, to aid in establishing the clothing industry in that country. The A.C.W., then an independent union, also maintained a fraternal affiliation with the R.I.L.U. On many political questions the left had a united front with Hillman, but, as in many such cases, the left was not skillful enough 10 build up its own forces while working in the united front. Today, under the Potofsky leadership, the A.C.W. is just another dry-as-dust A.F. of L. union, but a generation ago, as an independent union born in struggle in 1914 against A.F. of L. crooks, it enjoyed great prestige with the left wing. Indeed, most of the independent industrial unions of the period—in metal, textile, food, shoe, tobacco, etc.—included in their titles the word "amalgamated." The direct strength of the Communist and T.U.E.L. forces in the A.C.W. was indicated at its 1924 convention when Phil Aronberg, Communist candidate for the general executive board, received 8,897 votes against 17,362 for his opponent.

The Struggle in the Mining Industry

The United Mine Workers sank almost into a death crisis during the Coolidge "prosperity" period. The coal industry, a "sick" one, partly owing to swift mechanization, suffered from heavy unemployment which sapped the economic power of the union. The mine operators, realizing their advantage in this situation, proceeded to stick the harpoon into the weakened union. John L. Lewis, U.M.W.A. president, made the situation worse by a lot of leadership sins of commission and omission. Instead of fighting resolutely against unemployment, he raised the reactionary slogan, "200,000 miners must go." In 1922, also, Lewis abandoned the key miners of the unorganized districts in the strike settlement of that year, and he also refused to make a serious effort to organize the strategic mines in the southern states. To make a bad situation worse, Lewis expelled Freeman Thompson, Pat Toohey, Frank Borich, Dan Slinger, Tony Minerich, and hundreds of other Communist union fighters, who had dared speak out against his ruinous policies.

The T.U.E.L., with the active support of the Party, began activities early in the mining industry (see Chapter 13). In Pittsburgh, on June 2-3, 1923, it organized the Progressive International Committee of the U.M.W.A. This broad left-progressive committee put forward demands, major among which were the six-hour day, five-day week, enforcement of the union scales, unemployment relief and insurance, organization of the unorganized miners, opposition to arbitration and speed-up agreements, a national contract for all coal miners, restoration of union district autonomy, nationalization of the mines, and a labor party. In furthering this program the left-progressives nominated an election slate, headed by George Voyzey, a Communist rank-and-file Illinois miner, against the Lewis ticket. In the final election tabulation Lewis credited Voyzey with polling 66,000 votes, as against 136,000 for himself. The opposition claimed that Voyzey had actually been elected.

Meanwhile the union's position in the industry deteriorated rapidly.

The Jacksonville agreement of February 1924 was supposed to run until April 1927, but in 1925 the big operators of West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania, including the Pittsburgh Coal Company, the largest of them all, began freely to violate the union agreement and to operate open shops. The union rapidly disintegrated in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, and other bituminous districts. When the crucial strike of April 1, 1927, began, the U.M.W.A. controlled only 40 percent of soft coal production, as against 60 percent in 1924.

In 1925, the T.U.E.L. forces in the industry, to counteract the catastrophic decline of the union, put out the slogan, "Save the Union," and organized a broad united front committee by that name. Pat Toohey was secretary, and Frank Keany, former head of the U.M.W.A. in West Virginia, was editor of The Coal Digger. The T.U.E.L. carried out a three-phase campaign in the mining areas. The first stage of this was to push for the organization of the vital West Virginia, Kentucky, and southern mine fields in preparation for the coming strike. Nothing came of this, however, as Lewis, despite the demands of many scores of local unions, refused to budge toward doing the job.

The second stage of the Save-the-Union campaign was to put up a national ticket of progressives against the Lewis slate in the 1926 U.M.W.A. elections. The chief Save-the-Union candidates were, for president, John Brophy, president of District 2; and for secretary-treasurer, William J. Brennan, former president of District 1 in the anthracite region. This was a very broad united front movement. The left-progressive opposition made a vigorous campaign, for which Lewis allowed 60,661 votes for Brophy and counted 173,323 for himself. Brophy protested that gross frauds had been practiced and claimed he had been elected.1

The third stage of the Save-the-Union program was all-out support of the strategic 1927 bituminous strike. The progressive opposition mobilized its strong forces everywhere to man the picket lines and to hearten the strikers. The Penn-Ohio Strike Relief, headed by Alfred Wagenknecht, was set up and conducted a vigorous national campaign. After the strike had been going on for a full year, on April 1, 1928, the Save-the-Union Committee held a mass conference in Pittsburgh, for the purpose of strengthening and.extending the strike. Present were 1,125 delegates representing 101,000 miners, or about half the total of the U.M.W.A. membership. The conference issued a call to the miners in the non-striking fields to come out, and there was a considerable response.

But the strike was beyond saving. Shortly afterward Lewis signed a separate agreement for the Illinois district, after which the other districts straggled back to work as best they could. Wages and working conditions won in 30 years of struggle were lost almost overnight. Then, indeed, the union crumbled. Splits and dual unions developed in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Colorado, and elsewhere. During this period of collapse of the U.M.W.A. the Save-the-Union forces, except for the Brophy group, drew their supporters together and, in September 1928, founded the National" Miners Union in Pittsburgh. John Watt was elected president, William Boyce, vice-president, and Pat Toohey, secretary-treasurer, of the new miners' organization. 4

The Formation of the T.U.U.L.

The Trade Union Unity League was founded in Cleveland, Ohio, August 31-September 1, 1929. It developed as a reorganization of the T.U.E.L. at the latter's fourth national convention. In attendance were 690 delegates from 18 states. Some 322 delegates came from the three newly-organized national industrial unions in the textile, needle trades, and mining industries, which together had a membership of about 57,000; 159 delegates were from left-wing groups in craft unions; 107 from small groups in unorganized industries; and 18 came directly from A.F. of L. local unions. Of the delegates, 64 were Negroes, 72 women, and 159 young workers. The average age was 32 years. A National Executive Board of 10 and a National Committee of 53 were elected. Labor Unity was the official organ and New York was chosen as national headquarters. William Z. Foster was elected general secretary. 5

The program of the T.U.U.L. followed the general lines of the old T.U.E.L. It was a broad, independent, united front movement of Communists and progressives. It made a head-on collision with the class collaborationism of the A.F. of L. leadership, basing itself on the class struggle. Its central slogan was "Class against Class." Concretely, the program called for the seven-hour day, the five-day week, the organization of the unorganized, industrial unionism, social insurance, full economic, political, social equality for the Negro people, affiliation to the R.I.L.U., world trade union unity, struggle against fascism and imperialist war, defense of the Soviet Union, and socialism.

The major difference between the T.U.U.L. and T.U.E.L. was that whereas the old T.U.E.L. placed the main stress upon the work within the conservative trade unions, the new Trade Union Unity League put its main emphasis upon the organization of the unorganized into industrial unions. As we have seen, this new orientation had been developing through 1927-28 in the work of the T.U.E.L.; in fact, the scenes of its sharpest struggles—textile, needle, and mining—had produced three new independent industrial organizations, based on the principle of "one factory, one industry, one union."

Three basic considerations made necessary this radical change in trade union policy represented by the difference in line between the T.U.U.L. and the T.U.E.L. First, the class collaboration, speed-up policy of the A.F. of L. and railroad union leadership was violently contrary to the interests of the workers, and it destroyed the fighting qualities of the unions. As the program of the T.U.U.L. declared, "the trade union movement of pre-war days, despite its corruption, backwardness and general weakness, was a fighting organization in comparison with the degenerate A.F. of L. of today." Second, the A.F. of L. unions, misled and betrayed into the hands of the employers, were in serious decline. They had lost out in many important sections of industry, particularly its trustified areas—steel, auto, meat-packing, textile, lumber, railroads, coal mining, etc. Now more than ever, they were becoming restricted to skilled workers and did not represent the great masses of unskilled and semi-skilled workers or protect their interests. Third, the expulsion of large numbers of Communists and militant rank-and-file workers from the old unions posed the question of independent unionism in an acute form. It was these general reasons which led the Communists and their progressive allies at this time, through the T.U.U.L., to put the main stress upon organizing new unions in the unorganized or semi-organized industries.

This sharp departure in labor policy was not supported by the Workers (Communist) Party without very considerable discussion. 6 Jay Lovestone and his followers generally opposed the new trade union line. The R.I.L.U. also spoke on the question, as the world-wide expulsion and splitting policies of the Social-Democrats were everywhere making the question of independent unionism an urgent matter.

This changed labor policy did not signify that the Communists were reversing themselves and going back to dual unionism, as Muste and other enemies maintained. Undoubtedly, under the circumstances there was a wide base for independent unionism. During the next few years, however, there were considerable sectarian tendencies to build independent unions in situations where there were no grounds for them, and also to consider the T.U.U.L. as a national labor center that would eventually supersede the A.F. of L. Nevertheless, the T.U.U.L. unions led many important strikes, organizing campaigns, and unemployment fights. In particular, they did invaluable pioneering work in preparation for the tremendous organizing drives of the middle 1930's.

International Labor Unity

Communists, as conscious internationalists, are always ardent supporters of world trade union unity. This issue, in various forms, was important during the Coolidge period. One manifestation was the campaign during those years for trade union affiliation to the R.I.L.U. The most important action in this respect was the vote for affiliation of the Nova Scotia miners in 1923, for which, among other things, they were expelled from the U.M.W.A. Another important international activity was the going of labor delegates to Soviet Russia to study the new socialist republic at first hand. The most important of these delegations was that in 1927, consisting of James H. Maurer, John Brophy, F. L. Palmer, J. W. Fitzpatrick, and A. F. Coyle, all well-known trade union figures—together with economists—Robert W. Dunn, Stuart Chase, Paul Douglas, and others. The delegation submitted a favorable report, which was well received by the rank and file of organized labor.

During these years, the Russians made a big fight to establish world trade union unity. The policy of the Social-Democratic International Federation of Trade Unions was to keep the Russian unions isolated from the labor movement of the West. Therefore, after several ineffectual tries for general unity, the Russian trade unionists got together with the British union leaders and formed the Anglo-Russian Committee. The British leaders were the more willing to do this, as Great Britain was anxious to gain access to the great Russian markets. The A.F. of L., violently anti-Soviet, was radically opposed to the new committee, which opened up promising perspectives for a united trade union international. Hence, when A. A. Purcell, head of the British Trades Union Congress, came to the A.F. of L. convention of 1925 as a fraternal delegate and spoke for world labor unity, he was denounced as a "red" by the Green bureaucrats and virtually treated as a pariah. The Workers (Communist) Party vigorously supported and popularized the Anglo-Russian Committee. The Committee was dissolved, in September 1927, by the British union leaders, on the pretext of the Soviet trade union leaders' criticism of their treacherous betrayal of the workers in the great English general strike of 1926. 7

Building the Party of the New Type (1919–1929)

To cope with the tasks of the American class struggle the working class needs what Lenin called a party of a new type. This party, as Stalin explains it, must be a party able to "see farther than the working class; it must lead the proletariat and not follow in the tail of the spontaneous movement. , . . The Party is the political leader of the working class." It must be "a militant party, a revolutionary party, one bold enough to lead the proletarians to the struggle for power, sufficiently experienced to find its bearing amidst the complex conditions of a revolutionary situation, and sufficiently flexible to steer clear of all submerged rocks on the way to its goal."1 The party, self-critical, democratic, and disciplined, must fight in the vanguard of the struggle, yet be most intimately interwoven with every fiber of the proletariat. It is a party which does not substitute wishful thinking and empty slogans for the real situation, objectively or subjectively. The party of the new type stays with the working class and the people at every stage in their struggle, providing the best solutions for all the problems of a given period, leading to the final stage where the toiling masses find it necessary to change the basic social relations.

During the decade from 1919 to 1929 the Communists laid the first foundations of such a Leninist party in the United States, the stronghold of world capitalism; that is, they largely absorbed the general principles of Marxism-Leninism, united the Communist forces, withstood the first great attack of the government, fought their way to legality, began to learn to practice self-criticism and discipline, and cleansed their ranks of various opportunist elements. They also participated in many broad, united front mass struggles, displaying, as we have seen, no little Leninist initiative in so doing. The Communists were establishing political contacts with the working class, and specifically with the trade unionists, Negro workers, women, youth, and foreign-born. They had begun to master the Leninist task of combining the fight for socialism with the everyday struggles of the masses. The Party also displayed a real international spirit, with its fight for the defense of the Soviet Union, its energetic "Hands Off China" campaign, its vigorous fight with the Communists in Latin America against American imperialism, its constant co-operation with the Canadian Communists, and its active support of the work of the Red International of Labor Unions and the Communist International. All these tasks in the building of a party of the new type were comprised in the general slogan, "Bolshevization of the Party." Nevertheless, at the end of the decade, the Party was still too largely agitational in character and it retained many sectarian weaknesses.

In 1925, at the fourth convention of the Party, then called the Workers (Communist) Party, an important organizational step was taken in the Bolshevization of the Party by the reorganization of the Party from its old "language federation" basis to one of shop and street branches with fractions of the national groups to work among their specific organizations. In this convention the Party contained 18 "language federations" (national minority group organizations), the largest of which were the Finns, 6,410; Jewish, 1,447; South Slavs, 1,109; Russians, 870; Lithuanians, 850; and Ukrainians, 622.

Twenty-seven papers were reported as left-wing papers. They operated upon an independent basis, being usually owned by broad united front groups. (See table on page 262.)

During these years, especially after the organizational changes of 1925, the Party's membership fluctuated considerably. The statistics show: 1923, 15,395; 1925, 16,325; 1929, 9,642. The Y.C.L. ranged from 1,000 members in 1922 to 2,500 in 1929. In 1929 the Party had 25 shop papers. On Friday, June 21, 1929, the Daily Worker suspended publication for one day, the only time in its 28 years of stormy life. The Workers School, established in October 1923, had at this time about 1,500 students. On January 24, 1927, the Party moved its headquarters from Chicago to New York, and at its 1930 convention it changed its name to the Communist Party of the United States.

The fourth and fifth conventions of the Party (in 1925 and 1927) laid great stress on more completely involving the Party membership in trade union work. The main bulk of the Party workers, foreign-born, worked in unorganized industries, and traditionally had devoted themselves chiefly to political agitational work. This situation was largely changed by decisions to form shop groups and have trade union secretaries in Party branches, by the establishment of mixed nationality branches, and by stress upon the need to give leadership in the workers' economic struggles.

[table]

These and ensuing conventions put growing emphasis upon concentration work; that is, the strengthening of the Party's work among the miners, steel workers, railroaders, maritime workers, chemical workers, and others employed in the basic and trustified industries. These are the

heart of the working class, and without their support no trade union movement or workers' political party can succeed in either its immediate or ultimate goals. It was upon the basis of this concentration principle that generally European Marxist parties and the trade unions, historically, have always devoted special efforts to winning the affiliation of the workers in the basic industries. By the same principle, in reverse, the basic weakness of the American trade union movement was expressed in the fact that it long refused to concentrate and to base itself upon the workers in the trustified industries. When the C.I.O. finally did successfully achieve this concentration, the effect was too raise the whole American labor movement onto a higher plane. The Communist Party, in its concentration work, is simply applying with characteristic Communist clarity and vigor the long-established labor principle of centering upon the workers in the key and basic industries, who are the main foundations of the working class.

[table]

In the 1928 presidential elections the Workers (Communist) Party put up national candidates, with William Z. Foster heading the ticket. The Party was on the ballot in 32 states; it put on a very active campaign, and polled 48,228 votes, an increase of 15,000 over 1924. In this campaign, the Party fought against the war danger and aggressive American imperialism; it demanded farm relief and social insurance for the workers; it advocated a labor party; and it called for the repeal of the Volstead Act and the Eighteenth Amendment(prohibition).

The gravest weakness of the Party during this whole period was the prolonged internal factional fight. As we have seen, this fight began in 1923 over the question of the labor party. Although this specific question, after the LaFollette campaign of 1924, ceased to be a matter of sharp dispute within the Party, the factional struggle nevertheless continued around many other questions, hampering the Party in all its activities. Time and again efforts were made by the main Ruthenberg-Pepper and Bittelman-Foster groups to compose their differences and to establish Party unity, but to no avail. Further events were to show that Party unity could be achieved only by the elimination of the disruptive non-Communist elements from the Party—the Cannonites and Lovestoneites.

Party Work among Women and the Youth

As an essential phase of building itself into a true Leninist organization, the Party during its first decade paid increasing attention to work among the masses of women. In 1921 the Party set up a National Women's Commission. The Party based its main orientation upon women in industry, but it also conducted considerable activities among housewives. United front Women's Councils were a factor in these years. All the national group federations, in their respective spheres, interested themselves in women's work. During the 1920's the number of women in the Party did not exceed 20 percent, although in the 1930*5 it reached almost double that number.

Communist women workers, besides being generally active politically, were a very important force in many strikes during this period, particularly in the needle trades and the textile industry. Women displayed great activity in labor defense work. In such notable struggles as those for Mooney and Billings, Sacco and Vanzetti, and MacNamara and Schmidt, they led the fjght all over the country. Women were also outstanding fighters against the high cost of living and all forms of militarism.

During the early 1920's the Party took a sectarian position regarding special protective legislation for women, and it was neglectful of the particular demands of Negro women in industry. The Party organ, The Working Woman, for March 1929, had as slogans, for International Woman's Day, equal pay for women; higher wages and shorter hours; better working conditions; an end to child labor; maternity leave and benefits for working mothers; social insurance for unemployment, sickness, accident, old age, and maternity; opposition to the high cost of living, the open shop, the war danger, and "imperialism that breeds war."

The Young Communist League, the name of which varied with the changing titles of the Party, shared most of the weaknesses and strengths of the Party. About 1923, breaking somewhat with its early sectarianism, it started to develop specific youth demands and to lay the basis for children's organizations and sports activities. Its 1927 convention showed a marked orientation toward trade union work, with active youth participation in a number of strikes. The League had the disadvantage of having a weak industrial base, most of its members being students. The factional strife in the Party reflected itself in the League and hindered its development. A special brand of youth sectarianism, "vanguardism," was stimulated by the factionalism in the Party. This deviation, based on the notion that the youth, just because they are young, are more class-conscious than adult workers, tended to narrow down the League from the broad organization that it should have been into a sort of "junior Communist Party."

The Death of Ruthenberg

On March 2, 1927, the Party suffered a grievous loss in the death of its general secretary, Charles E. Ruthenberg. He died of appendicitis, which in his overwork he had neglected. Ruthenberg, 45 years old at the time of his death, was the outstanding founder and leader of the Communist Party. He was a sincere, determined, and intelligent fighter. Joining the Socialist Party in 1909, Ruthenberg was especially influential in Ohio. He came to national attention during the well-known "Article 2, Section 6" fight at the S.P. convention of 1912, and he also played a decisive role in the emergency, anti-war convention of the S.P. in St. Louis, in April 1917, as well as generally in the fight against the war. He was particularly effective in the struggles to form the Communist Party, to unify it, and to win it a legal status. He was active also in theParty's early mass struggles, notably around the question of the labor party. His bold testimony on the stand in the 1917-20 and 1922 Communist trials was an inspiration to the Party. During the factional fight Ruthenberg enjoyed the confidence of both warring groups, so that even during its bitterest phases he remained general secretary.

Ruthenberg was deeply hated and attacked by capitalist reaction, and he spent several years in prison. He was an outstanding student of Marx and Lenin, and he was a powerful influence in giving the young Communist Party a fundamental theoretical grounding. He was widely known and respected among the Communists of the world.

The Sixth World Congress of the Comintern

One of the main international events of this general period was the sixth congress of the C.I., held in Moscow, July-August, ig28. Bringing together leading Marxists from all over the world, it sounded a note of militant struggle. The C.I. Executive Committee, at its meeting of March 1925, had declared that Europe, with American financial help (Dawes plan, Young plan, etc.), had succeeded in "relatively," "partially," and "temporarily" stabilizing itself, after the revolutionary storm of the previous few years. But the sixth congress, three years later, pointed out that even this "relative, partial, and temporary" capitalist stabilization had already come to an end and that the world perspective was one of a deepening of the general crisis of capitalism and a sharpening of the class struggle internationally.

The sixth Comintern congress, at which the first complete program of the C.I. was formulated, analyzed the post-World War I international situation in three periods. The first of these periods, lasting approximately from March 1917 to the end of 1923, was marked by a series of revolutions and revolutionary struggles in Russia, Germany, Hungary, Turkey, Bulgaria, China, India, Korea, and elsewhere. The second period, from early in 1924 to the end of 1927, the time of "relative, partial, and temporary stabilization," was signalized by a growing offensive on the part of the employers and by a comparatively defensive struggle by the proletariat and its allies. The third period, beginning in 1928, when the precarious capitalist stabilization came to an end, opened up a new wave of struggles—between workers and employers, between capitalist countries and colonies, among the imperialist powers, and between the capitalist and socialist sectors of the world.

The concept of the "third period" was hotly debated in the labor movement all over the world, including the United States. It was at the sixth world congress that the fight against the Bukharin group in the U.S.S.R. began to take definite shape in the C.I. over questions of the stabilization of capitalism, the fight against the right wing, etc.—but of this more later. The soundness of the Congress line of intensified struggle was ultimately and dramatically demonstrated by the facts that within the next decade there developed the great world economic crisis, fascism spread over most of Europe, and World War II broke out.

The Comintern congress of 1928 called for a sharpening of working class struggle on every front. It urged a militant fight against the right-wing elements in the Communist parties, and it intensified the attack against the opportunist Social-Democrats, who were stigmatized as "social fascists" because, in the name of socialism, they were breaking down the workers' resistance before advancing fascism. The central slogan of the congress was "Class Against Class." The right was the main danger, because these opportunist elements in the parties and throughout the labor movement had assumed that the previous partial stabilization of capitalism indicated a permanent healing of the diseases of that social system and therewith a softening of the class struggle.

The Negro Question as a National Question

A development of prime importance at the sixth congress was the profound discussion of the colonial question. The American delegates, as well as those of many other countries, participated deeply. Out of this discussion came the analysis of the Negro question in the United States as a national question. Whereas, the Marxists in the United States had traditionally considered the Negro question as that of a persecuted racial minority of workers and as basically a simple trade union matter, the Party now characterized the Negro people as an oppressed nation entitled to the right of self-determination. This position was developed in full in a further resolution in 1930. This new understanding of the Negro question raised the Party's work among the Negro people to a far higher Leninist level.

This view of the Negro question was founded upon the actualities of the situation of the Negro people and the principles previously evolved by Lenin and Stalin, the world's two leading authorities oh the national question. Lenin, in the colonial theses of the second congress of the Comintern, which he wrote in June 1920, already recognized the position of the American Negroes as that of an oppressed nation. The theses called upon the workers of the world "to render direct aid to the revolutionary movements in the dependent and subject nations (for example, in Ireland, Negroes in America, etc.), and in the colonies." (Italics mine—W.Z.F.). 2

Stalin, who is the world's greatest living expert on the subject, has defined a nation as an "historically evolved, stable community of language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a community of culture."3 These are scientific bases of nationhood. According to these criteria the Negro people in the so-called Black Belt in the American South, where they form the majority of the people, constitute an oppressed nation. Commenting upon the Negro people's development of nationhood, Allen says: "Slavery contributed a common language, a common territory, a common historical background and the beginnings of a common ideology, characterized chiefly by aspirations for freedom. In the period of capitalist development, unhindered by chattel slavery, the conditions arose which made it possible for the Negro people to develop more fully along the lines of nationhood. The Negroes were drawn more directly within the process of capitalism, thus evolving the class relationships characteristic of all modern nations." 4 The Negroes in the North, under this general definition, are an oppressed national minority.

Haywood elaborates further: "Within the borders of the United States, and under the jurisdiction of a single central government, there exist, not one, but two nations: a dominant white nation, with its Anglo-Saxon hierarchy, and a subject black one...The Negro is American. He is the product of every social and economic struggle that has made America. But the Negro is a special kind of American, to the extent that his oppression has set him apart from the dominant white nation. Under the pressure of these circumstances, he has generated all the objective attributes of nationhood." 5

The practical consequences, in policy, of the Communist Party's new position on the Negro question were that, in addition to pressing as before for full economic, political and social equality in all their ramifications for the Negro people, the Party also raised the slogan that the Negro people should have the right of self-determination in the "Black Belt" of the South on the basis of the break-up of the plantation system and the redistribution of the land to the Negro farmers. The demand for self-determination did not mean, however, that the Party advocated the setting up of a "Negro republic" in the South, as its enemies asserted. But it did mean that the Party, henceforth, would insist that the Negro nation should have the right of self-determination, to be exercised by it whenever and however it saw fit to use this right.

The American Negro Labor Congress

As we have seen in earlier chapters, the Communist Party from its foundation has increasingly interested itself in the fight for justice for the bitterly exploited and harassed Negro people. Among the earliest organized expressions of this Communist policy was the formation of the African Blood Brotherhood, with its paper, The Crusader. This body, an offshoot of The Messenger group in New York during the early 1920's, together with split-offs from the left wing of the Garvey movement, made a militant fight for Negro rights. It participated in the Negro Sanhedrin, held in Chicago in February 1924. The organization, however, did not achieve a mass basis; and in Chicago, in October 1925, the American Negro Labor Congress was launched. 6 Its outstanding leader at this time was Lovett Fort-Whiteman, and its journal, The Negro Champion.

The central significance of the American Negro Labor Congress was its indication of the growing importance of the proletariat in the developing struggle of the Negro people. The A.N.L.C, in advocating aggressively its demands for full economic, political, and social equality for Negroes, laid special stress on the trade union question. It especially fought for the admission of Negro workers into the unions. Its general organizational form was that of local councils composed of Negro labor unions, trade unions that did not discriminate against Negroes, and groups of unorganized Negro workers. 7

The A.N.L.C. did valuable agitational work for several years but it, too, remained small and was largely limited to Communists in its membership. In this organization's work, new leaders of the Negro people came to the front, including James Ford, Harry Haywood, Maude White, and many others. Cyril Briggs, in describing Communist work in this period, says, "The Party led the Negro fig and date workers' strike in Chicago, the laundry strike in Carteret, N. J., the Colored Moving Picture Operators strike in New York. In addition, we organized the Negro Miners Relief Committee, captured the Tenants League from the Socialists, held classes and forums in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc." 8

The A.N.L.C. was superseded in 1930 by the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. The latter's national secretary was Harry Haywood, and its journal was The Negro Liberator. The League, in making its fight for Negro rights, based itself upon a general struggle for Negro national liberation. This organization did much pioneering work in the South during the ensuing years.

The tireless and resolute fight of the Communist Party during the Coolidge period won much attention and support from the masses of the Negro people. Gradually a substantial body of Negro Communists was built up. The growth of Communist influence among the Negro people was particularly marked after the Party's recognition of the national character of the Negro question and its application. At the Communist Party's sixth convention, in March 1929, Jack Stachel reported that there were about 200 Negro members, but a year later, in the membership drive beginning March 6, 1930, which brought in a total of 6,167 recruits, no less than 1,300 of these were Negroes—so rapidly was Communist sentiment growing among the Negro masses.

The Expulsion of the Trotskyites

Among the major steps taken during this decade of 1919-29 toward the building of the Party of a new type was the expulsion of the Trotskyites on October 27, 1928. This group was led by James Cannon, who had long played an active part in the Party leadership (Bittelman-Foster group) as an inveterate factionalist. This Trotskyite development also had a direct relationship to the sixth congress of the Communist International.

For several years prior to the sixth Comintern congress Trotskyism, which Lenin had long fought, had become a malignant pest in the Soviet Union. Leon Trotsky, always an opportunist and adventurer, made a reckless grab for the leadership of the Communist Party after the death of Lenin in 1924. The substance of his "ultra-revolutionary" program was the provocation of a civil war against the Soviet peasantry as a whole and the unfolding of an aggressive foreign policy that could only have resulted in bringing about a war between the capitalist powers and the Soviet Union. Trotsky's central argument was that socialism could not be built in one country and that, consequently, an immediate European revolution was indispensable. His policies to force such an artificial revolution would have been fatal to the Russian Revolution and would have brought about the restoration of capitalism in Russia. 9

The Soviet people wanted none of Trotsky's destructive program. The brilliant Stalin proved in theory (and the experience of the ensuing quarter of a century has completely demonstrated his correctness in practice) that it was possible to build socialism in one country, the Soviet Union, and that the Communist Party's policies were leading to precisely that goal. As a result the Communist Party, the Soviets, the youth, the trade unions, and the various other mass organizations overwhelmingly defeated the Trotsky program, which had been given strong support by the opportunist Zinoviev-Kamenev group.10 Inasmuch as all these elements, in their struggle against the Party, had proceeded to criminal means of sabotage and other violence, this whole group of leaders were expelled as counter-revolutionaries by the fifteenth congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in December 1927.

At the time of the sixth congress of the Comintern in 1928 Trotsky was in exile, as a criminal against the Revolution. He made an appeal to the congress to try to get it to repudiate the decision of the Communist Party and the government of the Soviet Union. The congress, however, overwhelmingly rejected this insolent proposal. Nevertheless the scheme found a secret supporter in James Cannon, one of the Communist Party delegates from the United States. Upon Cannon's return to this country he began at once to spread clandestine Trotskyite propaganda with his friends. They advocated withdrawal from the existing unions, abandonment of the united front, and carried on a bitter factional struggle. The Bittelman-Foster leaders, learning of what was going on, preferred charges against Cannon, Max Schachtman, and M. Abern, and all three were promptly expelled by the Party as splitters, disrupters, and political degenerates. About 100 of Cannon's followers were also finally ousted from the party.

Upon their expulsion the Trotskyites formed themselves into, an opposition league, which, after several internal splits and two slippery amalgamations—the first with the Musteites in 1934, and the second with the Socialist Party in 1936-finally emerged, in January 1938, as the Socialist Workers Party, an organization which has since averaged only a thousand or two members. The reason-for-being of this party, which is the American section of the so-called Fourth International, with its pathological antagonism toward the Communist Party and the Soviet Union, is to serve as a tool of reaction. It carries on its counter-revolutionary work against the Party and the U.S.S.R. under cover of a cloud of super-revolutionary phrases.

Lovestone and Exceptionalism

The sixth world congress of the Comintern was followed by the expulsion, in June 1929, of the Lovestone group of right opportunists, numbering some 200 members, including Lovestone himself, B. Gitlow, B. Wolfe, and H. Zam, the latter being head of the Y.C.L. Jay Lovestone, a petty-bourgeois intellectual, came into the Party from the Socialist Party at the beginning. Like Cannon, Lovestone was a professional factionalist and intriguer. Upon the death of Ruthenberg in 1927, he, as a leading member in the Ruthenberg-Pepper group, managed by factional methods to become executive secretary of the Party, a position which he held for two years.

Lovestone's opportunism was brought to a head by the penetrating analysis and fighting perspective developed by the sixth congress of the Comintern. The substance of Lovestone's political position was that while the "third period" of growing capitalist crisis and intensifying class struggle, as outlined by the congress, was valid for the rest of the world, it did not apply to th» United States. To justify this contention, Lovestone restated in Marxist phraseology, the traditional bourgeois theory of "American exceptionalism." That is, that in its essence capitalism in the United States is different from and superior to capitalism in other countries and is, therefore, exempt from that system's laws of growth and decay. What Lovestone did was to found his analysis upon the specific features of American capitalism, upon its minor differences from capitalism in other countries, instead of upon its basic sameness with capitalism the world over. Lovestone sought to buttress his opportunist conclusions by arguing that his theory of American exceptionalism fitted in with and was based upon Lenin's law of the uneven development of capitalism. The main practical conclusions from Lovestone's position were that while capitalism in the rest of the world was in deepening crisis and could anticipate revolutionary struggles from the workers, capitalism in the United States was definitely on the upgrade and no sharpening of the class struggle could be expected. Lovestone was supported in his opportunistic theories with especial vigor by Pepper and Wolfe.

These opportunists had already been developing their exceptionalist theories before the sixth congress, and they intensified them after that gathering. At first they wrote in terms of cunning implications, but gradually they grew bolder in their expressions. The May 28, 1928, plenum of the Central Executive Committee, where they had the majority, officially accepted the Pepper idea that "An analysis shows that there is a basic difference between European and American conditions at present." Wolfe outlined a glowing "Program for Prosperity," grossly exaggerating the economic perspectives of American capitalism. Lovestone developed a whole body of revisionist theory-that the industrialization of the South would automatically wipe out the Negro question as such by making proletarians of the Negro masses; that the "Hooverian Age" of American capitalism corresponded to the "Victorian Age" of British capitalism; that American imperialism was a "cat's-paw" of British imperialism; that in analyzing world capitalism primacy had to be given to the external contradictions—the latter an expression of Lovestone's position that American capitalism, unlike capitalism elsewhere, was sound at heart; that there was no prospect of an economic crisis in the United States, and so on.11

Meanwhile Lovestone had been intriguing with the right-wing forces throughout the Comintern who were fighting against the political line of the sixth world congress. At the same time he absorbed the Trotskyite position that the leadership of the Comintern and Soviet Communist Party were in decay and that the Russian Revolution was being destroyed by a Thermidorean reaction. Lovestone sewed up an alliance with Bukharin, the leader of the international right wing, who was then developing his opportunist fight against the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Communist Party, at the outset of the first five-year plan, was aggressively pushing the work of industrialization, farm collectivization, and struggle against the kulaks (big farmers) and village usurers. Bukharin and his group, on the way to counter-revolutionary activities, held to the theory that world capitalism had definitely stabilized itself and was becoming "organized." They directly opposed the Party line, proposing instead to slacken industrialization, to halt farm collectivization, to abandon the struggle against the kulaks, and to liquidate the state foreign-trade monopoly. Stalin demonstrated to the Party the fatal consequences of Bukharin's policy, and the defeated Bukharin early in 1929 formed his unprincipled, and eventually fatal, bloc with the expelled Trotsky-Zinoviev counter-revolutionary cliques. These elements reflected the interests of the remnants of the former ruling classes in Russia. It was with these reactionary forces that Lovestone and Pepper aligned themselves. 12 This pair reflected these renegade currents in the American Communist Party.

In the field of practical Party work Lovestone's revisionism manifested itself in tendencies to concentrate upon struggles over inner-Party control rather than mass work, to neglect the fight for Negro rights, to underestimate the role of the new T.U.U.L. industrial unions, to fail to give full support to left-led strikes and organizing campaigns, to underestimate the importance of the fight against Social-Democracy, and to soften the Party's ideological attack upon the current intensive class collaboration policies and prosperity illusions of the top trade union bureaucracy. Lovestoneism definitely slowed down the mass struggles of the Party in the crucial 1927-29 period.

The development of Lovestone-Pepper revisionism greatly sharpened the factional fight within the American Communist Party. The Bittelman-Foster group actively challenged the whole Lovestone-Pepper line, arguing that it gave a wrong estimation of the international situation, of domestic economic perspectives, of the position of Social-Democracy, and of the radicalization of the workers; in other words, that it contradicted flatly the realities of the political situation and the validity of the sixth congress political analysis in the United States. The internal controversy came to a crisis at the sixth convention of the Party, held in New York, beginning on March 10, 1929, at which the Lovestone-Pepper group had behind them a majority of the delegates. After futile discussion, the convention unanimously decided to seek the advice of the Comintern in the solution of this problem.

During the next weeks the C.I. held elaborate discussions on the questions submitted to it by the American Party. Our Party's persistent internal struggle attracted wide attention among all delegations. Leading Marxists from many countries participated in the discussion—from France, Germany, Britain, China, Czechoslovakia, Canada, U.S.S.R. Stalin, who was a delegate, spoke on the question.13 He criticized both groups for their narrow factional attitudes and for their overestimation of the strength of American imperialism. He said, "Both groups are guilty of the fundamental error of exaggerating the specific features of American imperialism...This exaggeration," he stated, "lies at the root of every opportunistic error committed by both the majority and minority groups." He also remarked that "this is the basis for the unsteadiness of both sections of the American Communist Party in matters of principle."

Further, on the key question of American exceptionalism, Stalin said: "It would be wrong to ignore the specific peculiarities of American capitalism. The Communist Party in its work must take them into account. But it would be still more wrong to base the activities of the Communist Parly on these specific features, since the foundation of the activities of every Communist Party, including the American Communist Party, on which it must base itself, must be the general features of capitalism, which are the same for all countries, and not its specific features in any given country." Stalin also gave a brilliant Marxist forecast of the coming American economic crisis. Said he: "The three million now unemployed in America are the first swallows indicating the ripening of the economic crisis in America." This he said on May 6, 1929, at a time when the bourgeois and Social-Democratic theoreticians, glowing with enthusiasm for the "new American capitalism," were shouting all over the world that economic crises were now a thing of the past for the United States.

Stalin heavily stressed the menace of factionalism in the American Party. He said that "factionalism is the fundamental evil of the American Communist Party." The long struggle, become a fight for power between the two groups, he characterized as "unprincipled." He declared further that such "factionalism is dangerous and harmful, because it weakens communism, weakens the offensive against reformism, undermines the struggle of communism against Social-Democracy in the labor movement." Democratic centralism requires free discussion in the Party, combined with sound discipline; but the type of struggle that went on in the American Communist Party had become destructive.

The commission, made up of delegates from Communist Parties from many countries, finally outlined its position in an "Address to the C.P.U.S.A."14 This statement developed the explanation of the validity of the sixth congress analysis for the United States, indicating the approach of an economic crisis, with an intensified class struggle. On "American exceptionalism" it said: "The ideological lever of the right errors in the American Communist Party was the so-called theory of 'exceptionalism,' which found its clearest expression in the persons of comrades Pepper and Lovestone, whose conception was as follows: a crisis of capitalism, but not of American capitalism; a swing of the masses to the left, but not in America; a necessity of struggling against the right danger, but not in the American Communist Party."

The Unification of the Party

Lovestone and Gitlow rejected this outcome, and upon their return to the United States, they made a determined attempt to split the Party. But in this they failed completely, almost their entire group repudiating them and rallying to the support of the Party. Finally, as we have already noted, a couple of hundred of them were expelled by the Party for factionalism and disruption. The Central Executive Committee issued an extended statement explaining the basis for their expulsion.

During this period the Central Executive Committee set up a leading secretariat of four: Robert Minor, Max Bedacht, W. W. Weinstone, and William Z. Foster—that is, of representatives of the former inner groupings in the Party. This secretariat then proceeded to do away with the remnants of factionalism and to unite the cleansed Party. It was thebeginning of a Party unity which, not without many flaws, was to last for almost fifteen years. The elimination of the unhealthy, non-Communist Trotskyite and Lovestone elements, who were basically responsible for the unprincipled aspects of the factional fight, had finally made it possible to unify the Party. Thus, the six long years of sharp factionalism from 1923 to 1929 came to an end. The achievement of Party unity was another long stride toward the building of a Leninist Party of a new type in the United States.

The future course of events quickly and fully justified both the political and organizational line taken by the Party during this situation. The outbreak of the great economic crisis in October 1929, only a few months after Lovestone's expulsion, dealt a smashing blow to the bourgeois theory of "American exceptionalism," and it was also a conclusive demonstration of the fundamental correctness of the analysis of the sixth congress. As for the Lovestoneite leaders, they soon fell into the political degeneration which is the common fate of renegades from communism. For a few years, making pretenses of being Marxist-Leninists, the Lovestoneites maintained an organization conducting anti-Party propaganda, but eventually the group fell apart in complete political demoralization. Lovestone became an open enemy of communism and the Soviet Union. He is now an anti-Communist expert and specialized booster of American imperialism in the service of the reactionaries, David Dubinsky and Matthew Woll. Wolfe, become a professional defender of capitalist "democracy," busies himself publicly with devising plans on how American imperialism might overthrow the Soviet Union and the Chinese People's Republic. And as for Gitlow, he has degenerated into just another bought-and-paid-for government, anti-Communist stoolpigeon.

The Communist Party and the Great Economic Crisis (1929–1933)

The golden era of "permanent prosperity" in the United States was brought to a sudden end by the terrific stock-market crash of October 1929. This was accompanied by a headlong fall in all spheres of the national economy, a decline which continued without let-up for the next four years. Over $160 billion in stock-market values were wiped out, basic industry production sank by 50 percent, 5,761 banks failed, and the value of farm products fell from $8.5 billion to $4 billion. Wage cuts for all industries ran to at least 45 percent. By 1933 some 17 million workers were walking the streets unemployed, and many millions more were on part time.1

This great cyclical crisis, beginning in the United States, spread rapidly throughout the capitalist world. The other countries of the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the colonies were all engulfed by it. Capitalist world production dropped 42 percent and foreign trade 65 percent. The number of unemployed throughout the world reached the staggering total of 50 million.

The crisis was one of overproduction—an explosion of the basic capitalist internal antagonism between the private ownership of industry and the social character of production. That is, rapidly expanding production had far outrun the limited power of the capitalist markets to absorb this output, owing to the systematic exploitation of the toiling masses by the robber capitalists. This condition was accentuated by the anarchy of capitalist production. Hence the general economic glut and violent crisis catastrophe resulted.

The cyclical crisis was far and away the most severe in the history of world capitalism, in its depth, duration, and universality. This exceptional severity was due to the fact that the breakdown took place within the framework of the deepening general crisis of the world capitalist system. That is to say, the crisis occurred in the midst of a prolonged international agricultural crisis, of great political upheavals in the colonial world, and of the tremendous growth of socialism in the Soviet Union. The cyclical economic crisis, in turn, greatly deepened the general crisis of world capitalism and had the effect of intensifying the decay of that economic and political system.

The capitalists of the world and their Social-Democratic lackeys were profoundly shocked and demoralized by the great crisis, particularly those in the United States. All their dreams of the "new capitalism," which was to establish permanent capitalist "prosperity" and to put an end forever to the menace of socialism, were destroyed overnight by the terrific economic hurricane. The capitalist leaders were confused, frightened, and planless, and so they remained throughout the crisis.

Many capitalist spokesmen became panicky. Whereas only a short while before they had seen a capitalist heaven at hand, now they heard the Socialist revolution knocking at their doors. The leading Wall Street economist, Dr. Irving Fisher of Yale, warned that the United States was in danger of being "devoured by some form of socialism." Judge Brandeis declared that "The people of the United States are now confronted with an emergency more serious than war." Representative Rainey, in the House, stated that the United States is "right up against Communism"; and the capitalist press generally was filled with the most lugubrious forebodings.

To make the capitalist-Social-Democratic discomfiture worse, not only was their supposedly crisis-proof capitalist system broken down, but the Soviet economic system, which the bourgeois economists had long since condemned as unworkable, went right on throughout the crisis, growing and flourishing like a bay tree. Between 1929 and 1933, when world capitalist production was cut almost in half, that of the Soviet Union increased by 67 percent; the number of wage earners jumped from 11,500,000 to 22,800,000; wages were doubled; and unemployment became non-existent. The first five-year plan, which all the economists and labor leader flunkeys of capitalism had sneered at, was finished in four years. Triumphing over tremendous difficulties—fifteen years of imperialist and civil wars, intervention, and blockade—the Soviet Union leaped forward from a predominantly agricultural country, almost medieval in its backwardness, to first place among the industrial nations in Europe. And it did all this while world capitalism, caught in the tangle of its own contradictions, lay economically prostrate. Altogether it was a world-shaking demonstration of the superiority of socialism over capitalism.

Marxists Anticipate the Crisis and Gird for the Storm

The outbreak of the economic crisis did not take the Marxists of the world by surprise. They had understood from the outset of the Coolidge boom period that the capitalist "prosperity" was built upon sand. Repeatedly during these years the Marxists, notably in the speeches of Stalin, had pointed out the coming of an economic crisis in the United States. The American Communist Party had analyzed indications of the approaching crisis, namely, the prolonged agricultural depression, the big unemployment in coal mining, textiles, and other industries, and the deadly overproduction effects of the speed-up and low-wage policies of the bosses and their agents, the top trade union leaders. At its meeting in February 1928, the Central Committee of the Communist Party warned that serious cracks were appearing in the American economy and that these would grow and have far-reaching effects. In the presidential election campaign of that year the Party made a central issue of the question of unemployment. Also, during the fight against Lovestone in 1927-29, a key matter of dispute was precisely the economic prospects of the United States. Lovestone contended that whereas other parts of the world might become involved in economic crisis, the United States, in an exceptional position, would continue indefinitely upon an upward spiral of development; whereas the Marxists in the Party maintained that a great American economic crisis was in the making.

The Party repudiated Lovestone and his bourgeois prosperity theories in good time. At the October 1929 meeting of the Central Committee the Party leadership examined the existing situation and declared that it showed "the clear features of an oncoming economic crisis which would shake the very foundations of the power of American imperialism." The Central Committee called upon the Party membership to get ready for the storm, to root out all passivity and indifference, and to adopt the methods and forms of struggle demanded by the new period. Hardly had the plenum adjourned when its analysis was confirmed by the roar of the great stock-market crash that was heard around the world.

The Wall Street magnates, and their little brothers, William Green, Norman Thomas, Jay Lovestone, et al., still refused to take this foreboding event seriously and predicted that capitalism, basically sound, would soon resume its upward growth. But the Party rejected such rosy prophecies. At its January 1930 meeting the Central Committee pointed out that the stock-market crash was but the opening phase of a serious economic breakdown. It said, "We are dealing with the most far-reaching economic crisis in the history of capitalism, involving the whole world." This correct analysis was an indication of the growing Marxist-Leninist development of the Party leadership.

Hoover's Starvation Policies

With the outbreak of the economic crisis the bourgeoisie immediately embarked upon the same course that it had followed during all previous crises; namely, to unload the burden of the economic breakdown upon the shoulders of the workers and poorer farmers. Without the slightest concern for the welfare of their wage slaves, out of whose labor they had amassed their fortunes, the capitalists proceeded to throw millions of workers out on the streets without any relief, much less unemployment insurance, such as prevailed in most European countries.

President Hoover, who took office seven months before the crash, while spouting demagogic phrases that poverty was about to be abolished and that he would put a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage for the workers, did nothing to relieve the ghastly situation of mass starvation. Hoover's idea was to let the economic hurricane blow itself out, as such storms had always done in the past. So he threw the power of the government behind the employers' wage-cut program, used the armed forces to intimidate the unemployed, relegated the stingy relief program entirely to the individual states, and filled the country with Pollyanna propaganda to the effect that the return of prosperity was "just around the corner." He used every means to protect the interests of the employers. A major device in this respect was the organization of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which handed out two billion dollars to the railways, banks, and industries, to the tune of his assertions that the benefits of these subsidies would "trickle clown" to the workers.

Meanwhile, the economic situation steadily worsened all through 1930-32, and myriads of workers and poor farmers fell into actual starvation. The United States had a dramatic example of the workings of the Marxist principle of the absolute impoverishment of the workers through the operation of the capitalist system. Bread lines and soup kitchens multiplied all over the country. "Hoovervilles"—horrible shanty towns built by the unemployed—sprang up on city dumps and vacant lots everywhere. Vast masses of workers were evicted from their homes—typically, 100,000 in Ohio alone during the first two years of the crisis. Millions of homeless workers drifted aimlessly on the railroads in a fruitless search for work. Although wages dropped almost 50 percent, retail food prices went down only 12 percent. The United States, erstwhile land of boasted capitalist prosperity, became a nightmare of hunger, sickness, destitution, and pauperization. Under these heavy pressures petty-bourgeois illusions among the workers were weakened and a fighting spirit grew.

Worst of all stricken were the Negroes. In the industrial centers unemployment among them ran about twice as high as among the whites. Negro workers were laid off and whites given their jobs at lower wages. Wages for Negro workers averaged 30 percent less than for whites. Also in the matter of relief the Negroes got much the worst of it, being either denied assistance altogether, given less of such aid, or discriminated against otherwise in the distribution process. Always the poorest paid in industry, the Negroes had few or no reserves with which to meet the crisis, and conditions among them beggared description. During the four crisis years 150 Negroes were lynched.

Meanwhile, the capitalists occupied themselves with destroying the huge surpluses that were glutting their production system. Among many such examples, great masses of oranges in California were soaked with kerosene to prevent their being eaten; in the Middle West vast amounts of corn were used to fire furnaces, and cattle and hogs were destroyed, and in the South big amounts of cotton were plowed under. And all the while the people starved. Capitalism in the United States had become idiotic in its chaos.

The A.F. of L. and S.P. Political Bankruptcy

The A.F. of L. leaders were no less shocked and demoralized by the crisis than were the capitalists themselves, and for the same basic reasons. Their stupid capitalist dreams had exploded in their faces. They developed no program whatever to protect the workers' interests in this unprecedented economic holocaust. Their whole impulse was to tail along after the capitalists, as the latter floundered about, trying to find some way out of the crisis. The Green bureaucracy followed Hoover's general line. They weakened the workers' militancy by re-echoing Hoover's demagogy to the effect that economic recovery was right at hand. They adopted the Hoover
"stagger plan" of employment, which meant pauperizing the whole working class. They surrendered to Hoover's wage-cutting program. Consequently, never in the history of the American labor movement did the trade unions submit so unresistingly to slashing wage cuts in an economic crisis as they did during 1929-32 under the misleadership of the A.F. of L. officialdom.

The A.F. of L. leaders especially supported the capitalists in combating the mass demand for unemployment insurance. With incredible brass and stupidity, they denounced this vitally needed measure as "the dole," as "subsidizing idleness," as "degrading the dignity of the working man," and as "a hindrance to real progress." President Hoover and the many generals, bishops, and capitalists who crowded the platform of the 1930 A.F. of L. convention, had good reason to congratulate-as they did—Green, Well, and company for so energetically combating the demand for unemployment insurance then being raised insistently all over the country by the Communists and the hungry working people. It was not until July 1932, after nearly three years of bitter crisis, that the well-paid A.F. of L. leaders finally yielded to the great mass pressure and reluctantly endorsed unemployment insurance. 2

The Socialist Party leaders, firmly wedded to the Green bureaucracy and its bourgeois ideology, followed a similar line during the crisis years. It was four years before they showed any life on the unemployment question. They supported the Hoover "stagger plan"; they made no fight for unemployment insurance, although the S.P. had endorsed it long before; they gave no support to strike resistance against the universal wage cuts; they counseled patience and predicted an early return of "good times." In "Socialist" Milwaukee, workers were evicted and starved, as elsewhere. The surrender policies of the Socialists were well illustrated by Norman Thomas who spoke with J. P. Morgan on the radio in support of Hoover's "block-aid" policy, a system of neighborly mutual aid, whereby presumably Morgan would help his needy neighbors on Park Avenue, while the starving unemployed did the same in the slums and "Hoovervilles" of Harlem and the East Side. The S.P., like the A.F. of L., had abandoned the unemployed.

The Communists Lead the Mass Struggle: March 6th

There was only one party in the United States from which leadership could and did come for the unemployed—the Communist Party. With relatively few members, 3 but with a clear head and a stout heart, the Party boldly organized the famished unemployed. The first major result was seen upon the death of Steve Katovis, a striking bakery worker who had been brutally killed by the New York police in January 1930. His funeral procession, essentially a protest of the unemployed, massed 50,000 indignant workers.

Then on March 6, 1930, came the historic national unemployment demonstration, led by the Communists. The Communist Party, the Young Communist League, and the Trade Union Unity League threw their united forces into the preparations. A million leaflets were circulated and innumerable preliminary meetings were organized. The national demonstration was held under the auspices of the T.U.U.L. The central demand was for unemployment relief and insurance, with stress upon demands for the Negro people, against wage cuts, and against fascism and war.

Among the mobilizing slogans were "Work or Wages!" and "Don't Starve —Fight!" The city authorities everywhere massed their armed forces against the demonstration, as though to put down a revolutionary uprising—in New York 25,000 police and firemen were concentrated against the Union Square demonstration. Obedient to their capitalist masters, the A.F. of L. leaders cried out that it was all a Moscow plot—Matthew Woll shrieking that the T.U.U.L. had just received two million dollars from Russia to finance the great conspiracy against the United States.

The March 6th turnout of the workers was immense—110,000 in New York; 100,000 in Detroit; 50,000 in Chicago; 50,000 in Pittsburgh; 40,000 in Milwaukee; 30,000 in Philadelphia; 25,000 in Cleveland; 20,000 in Youngstown, with similar huge meetings in Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and other cities all over the country. All told, 1,250,000 workers demonstrated against the outrageous conditions of hunger and joblessness. In the demonstrations Negro workers were a pronounced factor. Everywhere the unemployed had to face police brutality; in New York, for example, the police, refusing to permit the demonstrators to present their demands to the playboy "tin box" mayor, James J. Walker, violently dispersed the monster meeting. William Z. Foster, Robert Minor, Israel Amter, and H. Raymond, leaders of the demonstration, were arrested and railroaded to the penitentiary for indeterminate three-year terms.

The gigantic March 6th demonstration startled the entire country. Under the leadership of the Communists, the unemployed had stepped forth as a major political force. The great demonstration at once made the question of unemployed relief and insurance a living political issue in the United States. It showed that the masses were not going to starve tamely, as the bosses and reactionary union leaders had thought they would. The bourgeois and imperialist press grudgingly admitted that the Communists were leading the unemployed masses. The vast turnout gave a new sense of political strength to the Party. Altogether it was a magnificent demonstration of the Leninist leading role of the Communist Party.

Unemployed Councils and Hunger Marches

The National Unemployed Council, made up of workers of all political affiliations, was organized in Chicago, on July 4, 1930, at a convention of 1,320 delegates. It was fully backed by the C.P., T.U.U.L., and Y.C.L. Local unemployed councils were set up in scores of cities all over the country. Besides the unemployed, the movement also included trade unions, fraternal societies, Negro organizations, and other sympathetic groupings. The councils fought for unemployment insurance, immediate cash and work relief, public work at union wages, food for school children, against eviction, against Negro discrimination, and so on. They used mass meetings, parades, petitions, picketing, hunger marches, and many other forms of agitation and struggle; they formed block committees to organize the workers in their homes. The main instrument for work inside the A.F. of L. was the A.F. of L. Committee for Unemployment Insurance and Relief, headed by Louis Weinstock of the Painters Union, which won the direct support of 3,000 local unions, 35 city central labor councils, 6 state federations, and 5 international unions. This movement concentrated its general political demand on the Workers Unemployment Insurance Bill (H.R. 2827).

The Unemployed Councils, in the face of widespread police brutality, conducted a mass of activities to bring pressure upon employers, local relief boards, and the city, state, and national governments. They led hundreds of demonstrations on a local and national scale. Some of the most important national mass movements were those on May 1, 1930, with 350,000 participating; on National Unemployment Insurance Day, February 25, 1931, with 400,000 demonstrators, and the turnout, on February 4, 1932, with 500,000 in the nationwide mass meetings. Three times mass petitions with a million signatures or more were presented to Congress. There were also hunger marches from the industrial centers to the capitals in many states. And then there were the two national hunger marches to Washington on December 7, 1931 (1,800 marchers) and December 6, 1932 (3,000 marchers).

These national hunger marches attracted tremendous attention. They were highly organized. The marchers traveled in old automobiles, which had been collected; the participants were registered, and each car, detachment, and column had a leader. The strictest discipline prevailed. Columns started from St. Louis, Chicago, Buffalo, Boston, and elsewhere, with regularly scheduled and organized stop-over places. All the columns converged upon Washington with clockwork precision. The return journey was made in an equally disciplined and organized manner. Attempts of American Legion elements and assorted hoodlums to break up the marches en route failed.

In Washington the marchers were a sensation. Their band played The International on the great plaza before the Capitol. Thousands of police and detectives had been mobilized from all over the country. Troops at nearby forts were held in readiness. One would have thought the marchers were going to try to overthrow the government. As the first hunger march went along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House (and later to the A.F. of L. building) to lay its demands before Hoover (and Green), the parade was Hanked on both sides by rows of marching policemen who outnumbered the hunger marchers by at least two to one. The Party concentrated its entire forces upon making these national marches successful.

The manifold activities of the Unemployed Councils, besides making a burning national issue of unemployment insurance, also resulted in securing many immediate relief concessions to the unemployed all over the country. The frightened capitalist class saw that the old game of letting the workers starve it out during economic crises would no longer work. They were dealing with an awakening working class, one which in the next few years would write some epic labor history.

The Fight against Wage Cuts

While the unemployed, under the leadership of the Communists, were thus militantly fighting against starvation, the masses of organized workers, locked in the grip of the Green misleaders, were yielding, almost without any resistance, to the repeated, deep-cutting wage slashes of the crisis years. Like Hoover, the top union leaders (though they made wordy complaints to the contrary) believed that the wage cuts were economically necessary; hence they helped the bosses put them through. This was quite in line with their no-strike, class collaboration policies of the previous Coolidge "prosperity" period, The union leaders' spinelessness and corruption in this respect were illustrated by the fact that when the railroad unions accepted a national 10 percent wage cut without a strike, Matthew Woll hailed it as one of the greatest industrial achievements in the history of the country. Consequently, during the crisis years the number of strikes fell to a record low, in contrast to the naming resistance of the workers during the crises of 1877, 1893, and 1921. Hoover, at the A.F. of L. convention in 1930, might well gloat that "For the first time in more than a century of these recurring depressions, we have been practically free of bitter industrial conflicts." Small wonder that during the crisis the Federation lost about a fifth of its membership.

With the Communist Party so heavily engaged in leading the unemployed all over the country, the lefts and progressives were unable also to secure the leadership of the employed, to smash the no-strike policy of the Green bureaucracy, and to develop a solid resistance against the sweeping wage cuts of the period. Nevertheless, during this period the T.U.U.L. unions, most of whose leaders were Communists, did lead a number of important strikes. These included several textile strikes against wage cuts in New England, involving some 75,000 workers. A very important and successful strike was that of 1,500 steel workers led by the T.U.U.L. in October 1932, at the Republic Steel plant at Warren, Ohio. Then there were numerous small strikes among the needle trades workers in various cities, together with T.U.U.L. strikes in food and other industries. Important, too, were big T.U.U.L.-led strikes of 7,000 agricultural workers in Imperial Valley, California, in 1930, and 18,000 Colorado beet workers in 1932.

But the most important T.U.U.L. strike of the crisis period was that of 42,000 coal miners, 6,000 of whom were Negroes, in the Pittsburgh area, beginning in May 1931. This was the largest strike ever led by a left-wing union in the United States. The fierce struggle, with its slogan of "Strike against Starvation," was conducted by the National Miners Union—T.U.U.L. The miners, whose U.M.W.A. union had been destroyed locally in the great strike of 1927-28, were at the last extreme of hunger and desperation. The strikers fought in the face of violence from the mine operators, the government, and the U.M.W.A. leaders. After a desperate struggle of four months the strike was broken. An aftermath of this bitter fight was a strike of 8,000 Kentucky miners, on January 1, 1932, also under the leadership of the N.M.U. Guerrilla war conditions prevailed, with the whole union leadership arrested in Pineville. This strike, too, was beaten. Harry Simms, Y.C.L. organizer, was killed in this Kentucky strike.

The Labor Research Association listed 23 workers brutally murdered by the police, company gunmen, and vigilante thugs in the many struggles of the Communist Party, Unemployed Councils, and Trade Union Unity League during 1929-32. Eight of these were killed in strikes and 15 in unemployed demonstrations. Hundreds more were slugged and jailed. Five workers were killed by police in the famous hunger march to the Detroit Ford plant on March 7, 1932, including Joe York, Y.C.L. organizer and Joseph Bussell, 16-year-old Y.C.L. member. Three Negroes were shot down in an anti-eviction fight in Chicago on August 4, 1931. Unemployed Council and T.U.U.L. headquarters were raided repeatedly. Two national secretaries of the National Textile Workers Union, William Murdock and Pat Devine, were deported to England as Communists. The Food Workers Industrial Union had no injunctions issued against it in New York strikes, and 100 T.U.U.L. agricultural strikers were arrested, with eight of their leaders being sent to the penitentiary for terms of from 3 to 42 years. It was during this period, in May 1930, that the House of Representatives established the Fish Committee, forerunner of the notorious Dies, Thomas, Wood, Rankin, and McCarran thought-control committees of later years.

The Penetration of the South

One of the greatest achievements of the Communist Party during the big economic crisis was its penetration of the South. During the Coolidge years the Party had carried on considerable work in the South —the building of scattered branches, the Foster election tours of 1924 and 1928, and so on. But its real work there began when, on August 30, 1930, it established the Southern Worker at Chattanooga, Tennessee with James S. Allen as editor. Conditions in the South at the time were shocking—huge unemployment, sharecropper farmers at the point of starvation, and the country overrun with a plague of terroristic organizations—K.K.K., Blue Shirts, Silver Shirts, Black Shirts, Crusaders, White Legion, and others.

The Party worked bravely in this extremely difficult situation. It carried on unemployed demonstrations among the textile workers in the area from Virginia to Georgia, and also in various other centers. It actively led the heroic strike of the Negro and white miners of Kentucky and Tennessee early in 1932, under the auspices of the National Miners Union. In diis bosses' civil war many were killed. The Harlan County mine operators association posted a reward of $1,000 for the arrest of Frank Borich, Communist president of the N.M.U., dead or alive. 4 For a worker to carry a card in the N.M.U. or the Communist Party subjected him to a charge of criminal syndicalism. The Party was also very active among the Negro and white steel workers and miners of the Birmingham, Alabama, area. 5

The greatest struggle that developed out of the Party's southern penetration was the international fight to save the nine Scottsboro youdis. On March 25, 1931, nine Negroes—mere boys—were jailed in Scottsboro, Alabama, charged with having raped two white girls on a freight train. Actually the rape never occurred, as Ruby Bates, one of the girls concerned, later publicly testified. 6 Nevertheless, as part of the general terrorism directed against the Negro people, the nine boys—C. Norris, C. Weems, H. Patterson, O. Powell, O. Montgomery, E. Williams, A. Wright, W. Roberson, and Roy Wright, were quickly convicted in a lynch atmosphere, and all except Wright (who was 13 years old) were sentenced lo die in the electric chair.

On April 9th, the International Labor Defense wired Governor Miller, demanding a stay of execution, and sent its lawyer, the veteran Communist Joseph Brodsky, to Alabama to defend the Negro youths about to be legally lynched. Meanwhile, the Communists moved promptly to make the case known all over the country, which action saved the boys from death. However, the A.F. of L., S.P., A.C.L.U., and even the N.A.A.C.P. displayed no interest in the case.

Then began a great legal mass struggle lasting for many years and paralleling the famous Mooney fight. The case was fought back and forth in the Courts. Mass meetings were held all over the country. The C.P. led all this work. Liberal and labor organizations finally interested themselves. In 1934, the American Scottsboro Committee, led by S. Leibowitz, was set up, and in 1935 the united front Scottsboro Defense Committee was organized; it was made up of the I.L.D., N.A.A.C.P., A.C.L.U., L.I.D., Methodist Federation for Social Service, and other organizations. This defense committee waged the legal battle, while the I.L.D. conducted the mass campaign. J. Louis Engdahl, general secretary of the I.L.D., died of pneumonia while touring Europe, speaking on the case. After the lynchers were frustrated in their attempts legally to murder the Negro youths, then came the fight to save the latter from the ferocious prison sentences —up to 99 years—that were inflicted on them. Actually, it was not until 1950 that this scandalous frame-up came to an end, with the release of the last of the innocent Scottsboro prisoners. 7 William L. Patterson was I.L.D. national secretary during most of this big struggle.

The great Scottsboro fight made the Communist Party known and respected by the Negro people everywhere. An aftermath of Scottsboro was the bitter fight of the sharecroppers at Camp Hill, Alabama, on July 16, 1931. With cotton selling at nine cents per pound and costing 17 cents to produce, the economic conditions of the sharecroppers were terrible. The landlords were raising rents, seizing more and more of the tenants' crops, and even robbing the small farmers of their livestock. The Party in the South, undertaking to organize the Negro and white sharecroppers, proposed as an emergency program 50 percent reduction in rents and taxes, a five-year stay on all debts and mortgages, and a cash advance from the government to the small farmers. 8

An important struggle began in January 1931, by a march to England, Arkansas, of 500 Negro and white sharecroppers, who forced the local planters and merchants to give them food. Meanwhile, Communist Party members initiated the formation of the Share-Croppers Union in Tallapoosa County, Alabama. A heavy clash came at Camp Hill in July when a meeting of the union, called to protest the Scottsboro outrage, was broken up by a white mob and the meeting place, a church, was burned to the ground. Captured after a gun battle in which the sharecroppers had defended themselves against mob violence, the Negro leader, Ralph Gray, was cold-bloodedly murdered by the mob. Scores of Negroes were slugged and arrested. But the Share-Croppers Union grew. By the end of 1932 it numbered 1,500 members, and it was to play an important part in the tenant farmers' struggles during the New Deal years.

Another big battle growing out of these early years of the Party's work in the South was the Angelo Herndon case. Herndon, a member of the Y.C.L., was arrested in Atlanta, on July 11, 1932, because of his activities in behalf of the Scottsboro boys and the unemployed. He was charged with incitement to insurrection (under a law of 1861) and after a kangaroo trial was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison. The I.L.D. led the broad united front fight, and the leading lawyer was Benjamin J. Davis, Jr., now in prison as a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party. It was a long legal battle, backed by innumerable mass meetings and a huge petition campaign. The Supreme Court at first sustained the conviction but eventually reversed itself by a five-to-four decision. Herndon, out on $18,000 bail, was finally freed in 1937 from the clutches of the white supremacist lynchers.

During this period one of the most dramatic episodes in the Communist Party's figiit against white chauvinism, both within and without the ranks of the Party, was the public trial of a Party member, A. Yokinen, in March 1931, in New York City. Yokinen, charged with practicing social discrimination against Negroes, was given an open hearing, at which were present 211 delegates from 133 mass organizations, as well as 1,500 spectators. Found guilty by the workers' jury, he was expelled, but promised to change his course thereafter. 9

While the Communist Party was thus battling bravely and energetically for rights of the Negro people, the reactionary spirit of the Socialist Party was shown by the following scandalous item in its official organ: "Almost all the Southerners believe in segregating the Negro and depriving him of the social and political rights that whites enjoy. The Southern Socialists must adjust themselves to this state of affairs. It is certain that there never will be a thriving movement in the South unless it is conducted in southern style."10 Top A.F. of L. policy also remained at a similar reactionary Jim Crow level.

The Farmers' Revolt

The farmers of the West and Middle West fought back against the economic crisis hardly less militantly than the unemployed workers and the Negro people. They faced impossible conditions. Not only had the farmers' income been cut to less than one-half, but the banks and insurance companies were actively foreclosing on mortgages. From 1929 to 1933. some 1,019,300 farmers accordingly lost their property.11

The farmers developed an aggressive fight against these barbarous conditions. They organized milk strikes, carried on demonstrations, demanded relief. One of their most effective weapons was the so-called "penny sale." That is, when a foreclosed farm was put up for auction a friendly neighbor would bid a penny for it and the farmers assembled would prevent anyone else from going above this bid. The revolt against foreclosures reached the point of open resistance in many places.

The Communist Party was very active in many rural areas and actively supported this strong farmers' movement. Mainly upon its initiative, the Farmers' National Relief Conference was organized in Washington on December 7, 1932, side by side with the Second National Hunger March. Present were 248 delegates from 26 states, representing 33 organizations and unorganized farmers. The Conference set up a Farmers' National Committee of Action. In November 1933, this Committee of Action met in Chicago; the conference had 702 farmer delegates from 36 states, representing the Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, Farmers Holiday Association, and others. Communist and other left influences was responsible for its program, which called for cancellation of the debts of small and middle farmers, no forced sales or evictions, cash relief for destitute farmers, reduction in rents and taxes, reductions in prices of things the farmers must buy, and abolition of the system of oppression of the Negro people. This militant movement had much to do with developing the important role played by the farmers during the oncoming New Deal years.

The National "Bonus March"

One of the most significant and dramatic events of the crisis years of 1929-33, was the national bonus march of the war veterans to Washington in July 1932. The ex-servicemen, suffering the full blows of the deep economic crisis, betrayed by the American Legion officials, and kicked around politically by the Hoover Administration, took a leaf from the book of the unemployed and en masse presented their griev-ances to the heads of the federal government. The call for the national march to Washington was made at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee in April 1932 by representatives of the Workers Ex-Servicemen's League (W.E.S.L.). This organization was led nationally by the well-known Communists Emanuel Levin, Peter Cacchione, James W. Ford, and others.

There was a tremendous response by the veterans to the call for the march. Unorganized groups of veterans poured into Washington from all over the country, occupying empty buildings and setting up a great shack camp on the Anacostia flats. Attempts by the Administration, reactionary American Legion officials, and the A.F. of L. leaders to head off the demonstration only increased it. Many Negro workers were in the march, and there was no Jim Crow at Anacostia. The press shrieked "reds" and "revolution."12

The marchers in Washington eventually reached a total of 25,000. They shouted, "We Fought for Democracy—What Did We Get?"; "Heroes in 1917—Bums in 1932." Their central demand was the payment of their adjusted service pay—miscalled a bonus. 13 This demand the Communist Party actively supported in the face of strong opposition from the Socialist Party and A.F. of L. leadership. Eventually the "bonus" was realized under the Roosevelt New Deal.

The Hoover Administration, highly embarrassed by the ex-soldier marchers and unable to induce them to leave Washington with their demands unmet, finally ordered out the armed forces against them. General Douglas MacArthur, nowadays posing as an ultra-patriot, military genius, and peerless statesman, thereupon, had his troops, armed with bayonets and tear gas, violently drive the ex-soldiers from their camp and burn it down. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then an aide of MacArthur and now an eager aspirant for the U.S. presidency, also participated in this dastardly affair. Two veterans were killed and scores wounded. This was the infamous "Battle of Washington." It proved to be a nail in the political coffin of President Hoover. It now rises to menace the hopes of General MacArthur to be the first fascist ruler of America.

The Communists played a very important part in this great movement of the veterans. The W.E.S.L., however, with its very small forces, was not able to maintain the leadership of the swiftly developing struggle. Another factor in this inadequacy was some initial hesitation in the Party leadership as to the potentialities of the movement.

The Presidential Elections of 1932

At election time in 1932 the country, after 37 months of economic crisis, remained industrially paralyzed. The Republican Party, with Hoover as its candidate, proposed nothing but a continuation of the latter's fruitless policies. The Democrats, with Franklin D. Roosevelt, outlined a platform differing little from that of the Republicans; Roosevelt proposing government economy, a balanced budget, sound currency, and making general promises of unemployment relief. Roosevelt gave no indication of his later extensive reform program, but he did refer in his speeches to "the forgotten man," and he proposed vaguely a "new deal." The A.F. of L. leaders leaned toward Roosevelt, but still clung officially to their antiquated Gompersite nonpartisan policy. The election, a foregone conclusion, went overwhelmingly to Roosevelt by the record plurality of seven million. He carried all the states but six.

The Communist Party put up as its candidate for president William Z. Foster, and for vice-president James W. Ford, a Negro and former Alabama steel worker, whose grandfather had been lynched by klansmen. The Party's election platform included demands for unemployment and social insurance at the expense of the state and employers; opposition to Hoover's wage-cutting policy; emergency relief for the hard-pressed farmers without restrictions by the government and banks; exemption of impoverished farmers from taxes) and no forced collection of rents or debts; equal rights for Negroes and/ self-determination for the Black Belt; opposition to capitalist terror; opposition to all forms of suppression of the political rights of the workers; opposition to imperialist war; defense of the Chinese people and the Soviet Union. The Party, on the ballot in 40 states, campaigned aggressively, holding hundreds of meetings, distributing seven million leaflets, and selling a million pamphlets. In the midst of the campaign Foster suffered a heart attack, which was to lay him up, more or less, for several years. The Party's national vote was 102,991.

The Status of the Party and the Y.C.L.

Obviously the Communist vote in the election, although more than double that polled by the Party in 1928, was in no sense proportionate to the big struggles led, and militant leadership showed, by the Party and other left-progressive organizations during the crisis years. The basic explanation for this disproportion was that although the workers in masses willingly followed Communist leadership in the bitter fights for their daily demands—relief, wages, etc.—they were not yet ready to make the break with capitalism as such, which they felt that a vote for the Communist candidates would imply. Also, caught in the trap of the two-party system, they did not want to "throw away their votes" on minority candidates.

The Party itself tended to restrict its vote and general mass influence by failing to develop a broad united front election campaign around the burning issues of the period, summarized in its platform. It should have kept these immediate questions far more to the front in its election work. Instead, it laid altogether too much stress upon such advanced slogans as "The revolutionary way out of the crisis," and "A Workers and Farmers Government." This was a leftist sectarian error, into which the Party was led by its failure more skillfully to develop a Leninist line to meet the devastating economic crisis situation.

At the seventh Party convention in June 1930, the secretariat was reorganized to consist of W. W. Weinstone, organization secretary; William Z. Foster, trade union secretary; and Earl Browder, administrative secretary. Browder was formerly editor of the Labor Herald and Labor Unity and had long been a member of the Central Executive Committee.

During the crisis years of 1929-33, the membership of the Communist Party went up from somewhat less than 10,000 members to 18,000, and that of the Y.C.L. reached about 3,000. These figures, however, also bore but little relationship to the extensive influence of the Communists in the broad mass struggles of the period. The workers, still believing in capitalism, while following the Communists in daily fights, were not yet disposed to join up with militant Communist organizations in large numbers, even as they were not ready to vote the Party election ticket.

Nevertheless, far greater membership gains could have been registered had it not been for inadequate organizational work, especially due to the effects of a stubborn tendency to believe that Party recruiting could not be carried on during mass struggles. The Party, in fact, was beginning to fall into the bad habit of doing nearly all of its recruiting during special membership drives, usually held during less tense political periods. Other negative factors of major significance in keeping down the Party's numbers were a lingering underestimation of the importance of specific youth organization and also, even among Communists, a failure to grasp fully the all-decisive importance of building a powerful mass Communist Party. The latter weaknesses have been particularly strong in the United States, where the trade unions have been the chief leading organizations of the working class and where the workers' parties historically have played much less of a role.

Early Struggles Under the New Deal (1933–1936)

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president on March 4, 1933, American capitalism, lately hailed enthusiastically all over the world by capitalist and Social-Democratic economists as crisis-proof, was still prostrate after more than three and a half years of the great economic crisis. Industrial production was reduced by half, and so was foreign trade. Roosevelt had to close every bank in the country; seventeen million workers walked the streets jobless; millions of skilled workers, farmers, and middle class people had lost their savings, homes, and farms through bank crashes and mortgage foreclosures. And the masses were bitterly disillusioned and resentful at the starvation conditions so brutally thrust upon them by the employers. The country was alive with unemployment demonstrations, strikes, and bonus marches, and the horizon loomed with the sharpening class struggle. Never in all their history had the American capitalists been so confused and frightened as they were now at the appalling economic and political situation.

Not prosperity for them, but "revolution," seemed to be "just around the corner." To meet this chaotic condition Roosevelt proceeded with fantastic speed to introduce his "New Deal," about which he had said almost nothing during the election campaign. Bills were shot through Congress so fast by the panicky capitalist politicians that many of the legislators had only the vaguest ideas of what they were voting on, even if they actually read the many projects. This flood of legislation was chiefly the product of Roosevelt's "Brain Trust"—Moley, Tugwell, Berle, et al.

The New Deal, as expressed in the score of alphabetical laws and bureaus of its first couple of years, constituted a greatly increased centralization of the federal government and its intensified intervention in the economic life of the country for the following specific purposes: (a) to reconstruct the shattered financial banking system; (b) to rescue tottering business with big loans and subsidies; (c) to stimulate private capital investment; (d) to raise depressed prices by setting inflationary tendencies into operation; (e) to overcome the agricultural overproduction through acreage reduction and crop destruction; (f) to protect farm and home-owners against mortgage foreclosure; (g) to create employment and stimulate mass buying power through establishing public works; (h) to provide a minimum of relief for the starving unemployed."1

The general purpose of this mass of often contradictory reform legislation was to give a shot in the arm to the sick economic system. It also had a major political objective, namely, to keep the militant-minded masses from taking much more drastic action. Varga points out that, "The aim of the New Deal consisted first and foremost in holding the farmers and workers off from revolutionary mass action."2 Indeed, had it not been for Roosevelt's program, the workers during this period would have gone much further than they did and almost certainly would have broken away from the two-party system and launched a political party of their own.

The Communist Party, while demanding many of Roosevelt's reforms, clearly pointed out that the New Deal was not a program of steps toward socialism, as Social-Democrats all over the world declared. There was nothing whatever socialistic about it. The capitalists were left in complete control of the banks, factories, and transportation systems, to exploit the workers as before. Nor was the New Deal a program of "progressive capitalism," as the labor leaders, liberals, and eventually Earl Browder called it. Economically, it was simply a plan to shore up broken-down capitalism in this country, to recondition American impe-realism so as to help it to survive in a world capitalist system enmeshed in its deepening general crisis. For the most part the New Deal was based upon the ideas of the noted British economist, John Maynard Keynes, whose theory it was that capitalism in its monopoly phase, having ceased to be a self-regulating economic system, must either adopt a policy of direct government intervention and subsidies to industry, or else fall into hopeless ruin.3

President Roosevelt, himself a wealthy man, was a frank supporter of the capitalist system, and the avowed purpose of his New Deal was to preserve and strengthen that social order, with certain liberal trimmings. In working out his program, Roosevelt carefully avoided all measures which could in any way tend to undermine the capitalist system. His whole regime worked out to the advantage of monopoly capital, of American imperialism. Profits were never better for the capitalists, trustification went on at an accelerated pace, there was a rapid integration of the monopolies with the government—into a state monopoly capitalism. Under Roosevelt's presidency Wall Street monopoly capital made many strides ahead, at home and abroad, and these finally placed it in a position to make its present desperate bid for the mastery of the world.

Why Not Fascism in the United States?

Five weeks before Roosevelt took office in the United States Adolph Hitler, on January 30, 1933, grabbed power in Germany. Hitler, the agent of German monopoly capital, came to government domination directly as a result of the workings of the so-called "lesser evil" policy of the Social-Democrats. That is, refusing to unite with the Communists on an anti-Hitler ticket and struggle, the Social-Democrats voted for and helped to elect as president the reactionary General von Hindenburg, who was supposed to be a lesser evil than Hitler. Whereupon, von Hindenburg, once in office, promptly made Hitler his chancellor. Thus the Nazis came to power. The Social-Democrats, to make their treason to the working class even more flagrant, stated that Hitler had gotten power legally and they voted to support him on that basis. Then the fascist lightning hit, wrecking Social-Democracy, as well as the Communist Party, trade unions, co-operatives, and all other democratic organizations and institutions.

When Hitler took office in Germany, the country was in a mess from the great economic crisis. There was a complete economic breakdown, with about eight million famished unemployed and an impoverished middle class. The big monopolists, now in full control with Hitler, at once established a fascist dictatorship by smashing the labor movement and destroying bourgeois parliamentary government. To put the halted industries into operation, they plunged into a big campaign of rearmament. Then they set out to master the world—a wild fascist dream which finally landed them in the shattering debacle of World War II.

The fascist course taken by the German bourgeoisie was not something peculiar to Germany alone. It was more or less the general orientation of monopoly capital internationally. It was the way the big bankers, manufacturers, and landlords figured to overcome the general crisis of capitalism and to liquidate once and for all the menacing threat 61 socialism, on both a national and international scale. Undoubtedly the big capitalists, the most reactionary elements among them, dreamed of establishing a fascist world. All over Europe these ruling strata were saturated with fascist conceptions. This was particularly true in Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, and the Baltic and Balkan countries. In France, and to a lesser extent in Great Britain as well, there were powerful pro-fascist currents in the ruling class. In the United States, as we shall see later, finance capital was also permeated with a fascist spirit.

Why, then, was there no fascist regime organized here? If the United States, ruled by big business, did not reach the stage of actually trying the desperate fascist solution to its devastating economic crisis, this was because of a number of factors which lessened the capitalist drive toward fascism: (a) U.S. capitalism was not as deeply affected by the general crisis of the system as was German capitalism; (b) U.S. capitalism did not face an imminent proletarian revolution as did German capitalism; (c) U.S. capitalism belonged during that period to the group of imperialist powers that temporarily favored the maintenance of the status quo in the world relation of forces in the imperialist camp, and it was not actively preparing for a world war to redivide the world as was German capitalism; (d) U. S. capitalism, unlike that of Germany, still possessed the financial means to carry out a reform program such as the New Deal, instead of turning to the fateful weapon of fascism.

Undoubtedly the foregoing factors greatly reduced the urge and push of American finance capital toward fascism; but it is indisputable that it nevertheless displayed strong tendencies in this direction. In checking this fascist danger, the mass resistance of the people—workers, Negroes, poor farmers, and lower petty bourgeoisie—played a decisive role. While not revolutionary, they acted in the best traditions of the American people and conducted a whole series of economic and political struggles which largely escaped the controls of the confused employers and their trade union bureaucratic lackeys. The Communist Party considered its main task to stimulate this resistance and to squeeze all possible concessions from the employers and the government. The mass struggles of these years definitely balked the growing fascist tendencies among the ruling class and forced them to make serious concessions to the impoverished and resolute toilers. In short, although in less acute conditions of political struggle, the American workers, like those of France and other European countries, halted the advance of fascism in this country.

The National Industrial Recovery Act

The keystone of the early Roosevelt program was the National Industrial Recovery Act, passed by Congress on June 13, 1933. This law (N.I.R.A.) provided for the setting up of industrial price and labor codes in the various industries. Its professed aim was to establish "fair competition" in business and agriculture. The workers were theoretically granted ambiguous rights to organize under Section 7 (a), which stated that the workers had "the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing." The whole code-making machinery was handled by the National Recovery Administration (N.R.A.), in which the workers were conceded consultative rights in the Labor Advisory Board. But actually, of 775 code-making bodies set up labor was represented on only 26. Big business controlled the whole thing.

This elaborate scheme expressed the strong fascist sentiment current at this time in American big business. N.I.R.A. originated with the United States Chamber of Commerce and it was patterned after Mussolini's "corporative state." The plan proposed generally a state-controlled industrial system and labor movement. The man put in charge of it, General Hugh Johnson, was a reactionary and a frank admirer of the fascist dictator of Italy, Mussolini. Roosevelt gave this dangerous fascistlike plan his hearty endorsement.

The N.I.R.A. was launched in 1933 amid a great ballyhoo, with the backing of an all-class national front. The monopolists, seeing an opportunity to strengthen their industrial control, to extend company unionism, and to reduce organized labor to impotence, were for it. The farm and middle class leaders were allured by its vivid promises of industrial recovery. The A.F. of L. leaders, including the "Socialists," hoping to build up a big dues-paying membership, even on a company union basis, hailed it joyously. Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and other fascist demagogues also ardently supported the N.I.R.A. The Blue Eagle, symbol of N.I.R.A., became at the time the very mark of patriotism and good citizenship. An intense campaign was carried on to put N.I.R.A. across. "Chiselers" on the industry codes were denounced virtually as traitors to the country. Only the Communists opposed N.I.R.A. consistently.

Beginning of the Mass Struggle

According to the theory behind N.I.R.A. the workers were supposed to sit quietly while their leaders, in brotherly conference with the capitalists in the N.R.A. code-fixing and labor boards, would hand them down an assortment of improved wages and working conditions. Roosevelt and Johnson declared that there must be no strikes, as they would hamper "recovery." The trade unions and Socialist leaders, also with this idea in mind, established what was virtually a no-strike policy. Strikes, in fact, were denounced as a sort of treachery to the existing "national front" behind N.I.R.A. But the masses of the workers had quite other ideas. They observed that although prices under the new codes were rapidly rising, their wages lagged far behind. Hence, in the general spirit of rebellion generated by the great economic crisis, after a short strike lull during the first months of the Roosevelt Administration, they proceeded, despite their "leaders," to develop a rising strike movement. The biggest mass movement of the workers in American history began to get under way.

The Communist Party gave every possible encouragement and leadership to the growing strike movement. From the outset the Party had condemned the N.I.R.A. and all its practices. It warned of the grave dangers of fascism in this early program of the Roosevelt Administration —especially in the light of the tragic course of events in Germany under Hitler. In July 1933, the Party called an Extraordinary Conference of 350 delegates in New York. 4 This conference addressed an Open Letter to the Party, outlining a program of militant struggle, stressing the need to concentrate upon building Party units and trade unions in the basic industries and to give all support to the growing mass strike movement. The conference urged the workers to "Write your own codes on the picket line." It played a vital role in preparing the Party for the big mass struggles ahead.

In 1933 the total number of strikers ran to goo,ooo , or more than three times as many as in 1932. The T.U.U.L., headed by Jack Stachel (with Foster sick), led 200,000 workers in strikes, as compared with 250,-000 independent union strikers, and 450,000 in the A.F. of L. The most important of the many T.U.U.L. strikes of that year were those of 16,000 auto workers in Detroit, 5,000 steel workers in Ambridge, 3,000 miners in Western Pennsylvania, 12,000 shoe workers in New York, 15,000 needle workers in New York, 18,000 cotton pickers and 6,000 grape pickers in California and Arizona, and 2,700 packinghouse workers in Pittsburgh. 5 During these years, all the unions began to grow, the A.F. of L. by 500,000, independents by 150,000, and the T.U.U.L. by 100,000, giving the latter a membership of some 125,000. 6

The Big Strike Movement of 1934–36

The mass strike movement that got under way in 1933 varied from the traditional craft patterns of the A.F. of L. It reflected the principles, strategy, and tactics that had been so vigorously propa

gated by the Communist Party and the T.U.U.L. The strikes penetrated the hitherto closed trustified industries—steel, auto, aluminum, marine transport, etc.; they ignored the A.F. of L. dictum that union contracts justify union scabbery; they were industrial in character; they embraced Negroes, unskilled, foreign-born, women, youth, and white collar workers; they struck a high note of solidarity between employed and unemployed; they used mass picketing, shop delegates, broad strike committees, sit-down strikes, slow-down strikes, and other left-wing methods; they took on an increasingly political character; and they developed over the opposition of reactionary labor officials who wanted to stifle them.

The years 1934-36 intensified this radical mass strike trend. The number of strikers was high and so was their militancy—1,466,695 strikers in 1934; 1,141,363 in 1935, and 788,648 in 1936. It was a time of both national industrial strikes and local general strikes. The workers fought mainly for wage increases and trade union recognition. Mostly their strikes were successful. During this period the strikes had been largely aimed by the workers "to enforce the codes," but in reality the workers pushed their demands beyond anything contemplated by N.I.R.A. As the Communist Party militantly urged, the workers were indeed writing their own codes on the picket lines.

The employers countered the rising strike movement, as usual, with a policy of violence. They mobilized their armed company gunmen against the strikers, they used the local police forces to beat and jail workers, they had the troops out in dozens of strike situations. In the big national textile strike, 16 workers were killed; many more were killed in the coal strike, the San Francisco strike, and in other bitter economic fights. All told, in 1934-36, 88 workers were killed in mass struggles. But the workers fought back and the strike wave continued to mount.

Of much importance in the strike movement during these early New Deal years were the activities of the National Unemployed Council. This organization kept up its steady agitation for unemployment relief and insurance, and insistently promoted solidarity between the unemployed and employed. It was active in every important strike, strengthening the fighting lines. The Socialists had organized the Workers Alliance, and this also was a factor among the unemployed. In April 1936, in Washington, the Unemployed Councils, Workers Alliance, and National Unemployed League, upon the proposal of the Communists, united in one organization, with an estimated membership of 500,000. 7 In 1938 its membership reached 800,000. The Communists became the most influential element in the new organization and its leadership. The result of the active work among the unemployed was that for the first time in American labor history scabs could be recruited only with difficulty during an economic crisis. Although the number of unemployed never dropped below thirteen million during 1933-36, they refused to take the jobs of strikers. Owing largely to the militant leadership of the unemployed by the Communist Party, this marked a new high level of working class solidarity in the United States.

The biggest and most significant national industrial strikes during 1934-36 were those of the textile workers and the bituminous coal miners, both A.F. of L. strikes. The national textile strike, led by the United Textile Workers in September 1934, embraced 475,000 workers in 11 states, including large numbers of workers in the South. The strike faced great violence from the employers and the government. It was largely lost when the demands of the strikers were referred to an arbitration board and the strike was called off. The national bituminous coal strike of September 1935 brought out 400,000 miners, tying up nearly every important soft coal field. Within a few days the strike resulted in a victory. It put the U.M.W.A. back on its feet as a powerful organization, after it had been almost demolished in the fateful strike of 1927-28. There was also the left-led National Lumber Workers strike of 41,000 lumbermen in the Pacific Northwest. Another highly important strike early in 1936, significant of the great wave of strikes soon to come in the trustified industries, was the successful strike of the rubber workers in Akron.

Important local general strikes and near-general strikes, which cut right across A.F. of L. "sacred" contracts, were a pronounced feature of these years. In Milwaukee (February 1934) and Minneapolis (May 1934) small bodies of strikers quickly attracted the support of the local labor movements when attacked by employer violence, and general walk-outs were averted only by timely settlements. In Pekin, Illinois, during the same year, there was another such general strike movement. In Toledo (May 1934) when the bosses tried to smash a strike of 1,500 metal workers, the local labor movement came to their active support, 83 of 91 A.F. of L. local unions, to the outrage of their conservative leaders, voting to strike. In Terre Haute (July 1935) a two-day strike of 48 A.F. of L. locals with 26,000 workers took place in support of 600 hard-pressed metal workers. In all these situations the Communists were highly active.

The San Francisco General Strike

The great general strike in the San Francisco Bay area, embracing 127,000 workers, took place during July 16-19, 1934. It grew out of a coastwise strike of 35,000 maritime workers. The Communist Party, which had a strong organization in California, gave the strike its full support and its influence was of major importance in the struggle. The historic strike gave an enormous impetus to the whole American labor movement. 8

The movement began in a drive from 1932 on, led by Communists and progressives, to organize the marine workers of the Pacific Coast. This drive culminated in a strong A.F. of L. longshoremen's union with Harry Bridges at its head, a demand for better conditions, and a coastwise strike of 12,000 of these workers on May 7, 1934. The Marine Workers Industrial Union (T.U.U.L.), headed by Harry Jackson, which won the leadership of decisive sections of the seamen, also called them on strike, and by May 23rd, the eight A.F. of L. maritime unions were out all along the coast. For the first time West Coast shipping was at a complete standstill. The conservative A.F. of L. leadership tried desperately to check the powerful movement, but in vain. Joseph Ryan, dictator of the Longshoremen's Union, was forced to abandon the strike and left the city. Bridges, head of the rank-and-file committee of 75, in tune with the militant workers, brilliantly outgeneraled the labor misleaders at every turn.

Enraged at the employers' violent efforts to break the maritime strike and also at their obvious determination to make the city open shop, the workers of San Francisco developed a strong fighting spirit. The Communist Party, which had many members and supporters in key A.F. of L. local unions, urged a general strike in all the cities along the Pacific Coast. To no avail, the top union leadership opposed the rising general strike spirit among the workers. In mid-June, Painters' Local 1158 sent out a letter for a general strike. By early July the influential Machinists Local 68, along with many other local unions, had endorsed the proposed strike. The police killing of two waterfront workers on July 8th—one of them Nick Bordois, a Communist—added fuel to the flames, with 35,000 angry workers turning out to the funeral. On July 10th the Alameda Labor Council called for a general strike; on July 12th the San Francisco and Oakland teamsters went out; and on July 16th 160 A.F. of L. unions, 127,000 strong, tied up the whole San Francisco Bay region.

The strike was highly effective. Practically the entire industrial life of the great bay community came to a halt. The workers were powerfully demonstrating their resentment at the great economic crisis and their determination to have a better day under the promised "New Deal."

Not a store could open, not a truck could move, not a factory wheel could turn, without the permission of the General Strike Committee. Never was any American city so completely strike-bound as was the whole San Francisco Bay community during this great strike.

The government—local, state, and national—turned all its guns upon this—to the capitalists—highly dangerous strike. Mayor Rossi swore in 5,000 deputies and police; Governor Merriam ordered out 4,500 militia to dominate the area; President Roosevelt denounced the strike, and his agents, Hugh Johnson of N.R.A. and Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, were on the spot to try to disintegrate it. The press whipped up the whole region with frantic redbaiting and yells that the Communist revolution was at hand. Vigilante gangs raided and wrecked the headquarters of the Communist Party, the Western Worker, and various labor and left-wing mass organizations. Over "400 men and several women were arrested and thrown into a jail so crowded that most of them had to sleep on the floor," reported the New York Times, on July 29, 1934. For several weeks the Communist Party was virtually outlawed in California.

While the government attacked the strike from without, the A.F. of L. leaders assailed it with more deadly effect from within. William Green blasted the strike as "unauthorized" and as the work of the Communists; Joseph Ryan and other national labor fakers tried to force their members back to work; and Howard of the Typographical Union managed to keep his men on the job on the basis of a last-minute 10 percent wage increase. As for the local top union leaders in San Francisco—Vandeleur, Kidwell, Deal, and others—when they saw that they could not forestall the general strike, they joined it in order to strangle it. With control of the General Strike Committee in their hands, they refused to halt publication of the capitalist newspapers and the operation of telephone and telegraphic services; they issued large numbers of permits to restaurants to open, and to trucking outfits to operate; they made no attempt to police the city with the strikers; they gave their endorsement to the bosses' strikebreaking and redbaiting campaign. And when they felt that they had things well enough in hand, they suddenly moved to call off the strike. But with all their maneuvering they could carry the anti-strike motion only by a standing vote of 191 to 174, not daring to risk a roll call vote. The historic strike was over.

The maritime workers were left to fight alone. On July 30th these 35,000 strikers went back to the job, after a three-month walkout. Their demands were referred to arbitration, out of which they secured a partial victory. In this epoch-making strike the West Coast longshoremen and their leader, Harry Bridges, laid the basis for one of the finest labor unions in the capitalist world, the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union.

The key to winning the great San Francisco strike was to spread it all over the coast, and still farther. This extension was indispensable jn order to checkmate the co-ordinated attempts of the government, the employers, and the A.F. of L. leadership to localize, isolate, and strangle the strike. The Communists and the other left and progressive elements, despite numerous minor mistakes, were quite aware of this imperative need to spread the strike, and they tried to do just that. But their forces were too small to accomplish it in the face of the formidable opposition. The "lost" San Francisco strike, in spite of all lugubrious predictions, had a stimulating effect upon the labor movement in California and all over the United States. The strike created one of the most glorious traditions in the entire history of the American labor movement.

The T.U.U.L. Merges with the A.F. of L.

During the first two stormy years of the New Deal about one million workers, largely unskilled and foreign-born from the basic industries, poured into the A.F. of L. unions. Naturally these workers preferred to join the recognized and established labor unions if there was a possibility of getting results from them. This influx radically changed the situation in those organizations. It broke down the officials' no-strike policy, brought in a breath of democracy, weakened the bureaucrats' control, and made it more difficult to enforce the anti-Communist clauses against the left. Besides, sections of the top leadership began to interest themselves in organizational work.

Recognizing that the conditions that had originally caused the formation of the T.U.U.L. were now breaking down, the Communists and other lefts, always ardent champions of labor unity, began at once to shift their orientation toward a return to the A.F. of L. Already, early in 1933, they joined forces with the miners in their drive to re-establish the U.M.W.A., and in September 1934, the T.U.U.L. proposed trade union unity to die A.F. of L. In various industries T.U.U.L. bodies began to join up with corresponding A.F. of L. unions. This unity trend, however, did not sit well with the A.F. of L. top leaders, and William Green sent out a letter warning against the unity moves of the T.U.U.L.

In die spring of 1934 9 the Communist Party advanced the slogan, "For an Independent Federation of Labor," to be composed of the 400,000 members of the T.U.U.L. and other independents, but this policy was soon perceived to be incorrect and it was dropped. Instead, the trend toward general labor unity was pushed vigorously by the Party everywhere. Early in 1935 the T.U.U.L. steel, auto, and needle trades unions voted to affiliate with the A.F. of L., the workers joining as individuals where they could not affiliate in a body. On March 16-17, 1935. at a special convention, the T.U.U.L. resolved itself into a Committee for the Unification of the Trade Unions, with the objective of affiliating the remaining T.U.U.L. organizations to the A.F. of L.. 10 Four months later the T.U.U.L. disbanded altogether.

Although it displayed some sectarian and dualist tendencies, the T.U.U.L. nevertheless played an important and constructive role in the labor movement. All through the great economic crisis, when A.F. of L. militancy was at its lowest point, the T.U.U.L. did heroic and effective work, as we have seen, in leading the employed and unemployed workers in struggle. Its militant advocacy of industrial unionism over several years was highly educational to the workers. The contacts it had established in the basic industries, together with the shop units of the Communist Party, were fundamental factors in developing the great C.I.O. organizing campaign of the next few years. The Party was basically correct in supporting the T.U.U.L. as it did.

The Formation of the C.I.O.

The big labor struggles of the early New Deal years came to a sharp climax with the formation of the Committee for Industrial Organization (C.I.O.) in November 1935. This body was originally composed of representatives of the coal miners', textile, ladies' garment, men's clothing, printing, oil-field, cap and millinery, and metal miners' unions, with a combined membership of about one million. The Committee's purpose was the unionization of the almost totally unorganized millions of workers in the basic trustified industries. It was truly a momentous development, and the Communist Party gave its most active support from the start.

The dominant leaders among the Green A.F. of L. bureaucracy had looked with grave misgivings and alarm upon the tremendous mass movement toward unionism that developed during the last months of the economic crisis and the early period of the New Deal. They feared it hardly less acutely than did die employers themselves. They were afraid that the huge numbers of new unskilled and foreign-born union members, with their radical conceptions of what labor unions should be and do, would spoil the long-time picnic of the bureaucrats by eliminating the 1 Daily Worker, March u, 16, 17, 1935.

skilled workers as the dominant trade union element, by breaking down craft lines and transforming the craft unions into industrial unions, by forcing the labor movement from its class collaboration basis onto one of class struggle, and by selecting for themselves new and presumably radical leaders. To avoid all these threatening disasters and yet to profit from the mass upheaval, the policy of the Green bureaucrats was to grab off the skilled workers and let the rest go—in the time-honored A.F. of L. fashion.

Significantly, the eight A.F. of L. unions that launched the C.I.O. were all either industrial or semi-industrial in form. Their leaders-John L. Lewis, Philip Murray, Sidney Hillman, et al—while basing themselves, like the Green bureaucrats, primarily upon the skilled workers, had learned that this policy did not necessarily involve excluding the unskilled from the unions. Because of the bitter experience of the post-World War I and economic crisis years, and also because of the great pressure of the rank-and-file workers for organization, they had become convinced that the unionization of the basic industries was an absolute necessity if the labor movement was to survive and progress. Later on, under the weight of the newly organized masses, this position led these leaders to adopt many progressive measures. Only in this narrow sense could they themselves be called progressives. The sequel was to show that they did not depart from their basic role as defenders of the capitalist system against the elementary interests of the workers (see Chapter 34).

The split in the ranks of the labor bureaucracy greatly accelerated the tempo of trade union progress. The Communists, who were a considerable factor in the A.F. of L., gave the opposition leaders all possible co-operation and support in their new progressive role. In 1933, when the organization spurt began, the A.F. of L. leaders had tried to sort out the new union recruits according to crafts and distribute them among the respective unions, but this proving impossible, they assembled the workers into miscellaneous federal local unions. At the 1934 A.F. of L. convention, with 2,000 such locals existing, however, the issue had to be settled. There was a powerful sentiment for industrial unionism, with 14 resolutions demanding this measure. The Communist Party vigorously stimulated this movement among the rank and file. Even the hard-boiled officials that make up A.F. of L. conventions knew that a maneuver had to be made. So the leadership put through a unanimous resolution which, while endorsing craft unionism, "wherever the lines of demarcation between crafts are distinguishable," vaguely recognized the need for industrial unionism and instructed the Executive Council to issue charters in various industries. The progressives assumed that these charters

would be of an industrial character. This A.F. of L. convention was held in San Francisco only a short while after the great San Francisco General Strike, in which the lefts, all industrial unionists, had such an important part.

During 1935 the Executive Council gave limited industrial charters to the United Auto Workers and the United Rubber Workers, but they refused national charters to the many new local unions in radio, cement, aluminum, and other basic industries. They also did nothing to advance the projected campaign to organize the steel industry, although large numbers of steel workers had literally forced their way into the unions. In short, the Council brazenly sabotaged the 1934 convention resolution. All of which greatly enraged the advocates of industrial unionism.

At the 1935 convention in Atlantic City, beginning October 7th, therefore, John L. Lewis and five other leaders introduced a resolution calling for the organization of the basic industries into industrial unions. The resolution sharply condemned A.F. of L. craft unionism as futile in trustified industries and declared that "in those industries where the work performed by a majority of the workers is of such nature that it might fall within the jurisdictional claim of more than one craft union, it is declared that industrial organization is the only form that will be acceptable to the workers or adequately meet their needs." After a long and bitter debate the Lewis resolution was defeated by a vote of 18,025 to 10,924. The A.F. of L. leaders were willing to keep the industries unorganized, just so their own jurisdictional claims remained intact.

Undeterred by their convention defeat, the Lewis group a month later organized the C.I.O. and began the work of unionization. They launched active national campaigns in steel, auto, rubber, textile, and coke-processing. Huge sums of money were pledged by the eight co-operating unions. National organizing committees were set up, and new industrial unions were to be formed. The basic industries would be organized in spite of the A.F. of L. leadership.

The Green bureaucrats promptly condemned the C.I.O. for this action, and after considerable maneuvering, suspended its eight unions on August 5, 1936, for "dual unionism and insurrection" against the A.F. of L. This suspension, which amounted to the expulsion of over one million members (about 40 percent of the A.F. of L.), was endorsed by the A.F. of L. convention, despite strong opposition, at Tampa, Florida, in October 1936. Wide protests from local unions, city central bodies, and state federations all over the country were unavailing to halt the Green-Woll-Hutcheson splitters. They were ready to wreck the labor movement rather than depart from their decrepit craft unionism.

Lewis, apparently taking it for granted that the organizational work had to be done outside of direct contact with the Green reactionaries, made no determined fight to maintain affiliation with the A.F. of L. On this tactical question the Communists disagreed with him. The Communists believed that inasmuch as Lewis had 40 percent of the A.F. of L. unions behind him and a vast following among the rest of the labor movement, it would have been possible for him to beat the Green machine by a resolute fight. As it was, Lewis did not even have his C.I.O. delegates at Tampa. If the split could not be avoided, the Communists said, at least it could be made to take place under far more favorable conditions for the C.I.O. The Party opposed the split and its slogan was "For a United, Powerful A.F. of L." 11 It gave everything it had, however, to the building of the C.I.O. at all stages, and in the organization of the basic industries for which it had fought so long and militantly.

The Growing Communist Party

During the years 1933-36 the Communist Party, deeply involved in all the mass struggles of the period, made considerable growth, not only in mass influence but also in numerical strength. It concentrated its efforts more and more upon the basic industries. At the eighth convention of the Party, in Cleveland, April 2-8, 1934, the membership was 24,500, as against 14,000 in 1932. Of the 233 regular delegates, 119 came from basic industries. There were 3g Negro delegates, and 2,500 Negro Party members. The increasing percentage of native-born was also indicated by the fact that 145 of the convention delegates were born in the United States. At this time the Y.C.L. had grown to 5,000 members, also a substantial increase over 1932. By the time of the ninth Party convention, held in New York, June 24-28, 1936, the Party membership had gone up further to 41,000, and there were 11,000 in the Y.C.L.

The Socialist Party, Musteites, Lovestoneites, Trotskyites, S.L.P., and Proletarian Party—all remained small and mostly stagnant sects. For a while in the middle of the 1930's, the Socialist Party began to show some life and growth. But the new "left" trend, led by the opportunist Norman Thomas of all people, soon petered out, and the S.P., wracked by Trotskyites and right opportunist Social-Democrats, Musteites, and Lovestoneites, went on to a confused split in 1936, which reduced it to still greater helplessness. The leadership of the Communist Party as the vanguard party of the militant forces in the labor movement had become clear and indisputable.

The Broad Democratic Struggle (1933–1936)

The early New Deal years saw, along with the great trade union upsurge, the development of various other mass democratic struggles. The Communist Party, with its broad united front policy and in its growing role as the vanguard of the working class, played a major pan in initiating and stimulating many of these movements. The Roosevelt Administration, increasingly needing popular support in its fight against extreme reaction, also tolerated and, in some cases, supported them. All these forces went to provide the democratic basis of the great political coalition that carried Roosevelt four times to the presidency.

The National Negro Congress

These years marked a great political advance by the Negro people. The Negro masses battled militantly against job discrimination, Jim Crow, and lynching; they forged ahead and won national distinction in ' the fields of science, literature, the theater, and sports;1 they broke down the segregation walls of the labor movement and laid the basis for the present splendid army of a million Negro trade unionists; they stood in the front ranks of the democratic masses generally in every sphere of the class struggle.

The rising spirit of struggle among the Negro people during these years reflected itself in the National Negro Congress, organized in Chicago, February 14-16, 1936. The N.N.C. grew out of a conference held previously under the auspices of Howard University and the Joint Committee on National Recovery.2 The Congress, which included also whites, was a broad united front of Negroes from all democratic strata. There were Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, and Communists at the Congress; there were churchmen, workers, professionals, businessmen. All told, 817 delegates attended, coming from 28 states and representing 585 organizations with a "combined and unduplicated" membership of 1,200,000. Among those present were such notables as Ralph Bunche, W. E. B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, R. A. Carter, John P. Davis, James W. Ford, and others. A majority of the delegates came from the civic (226), educational (14), and religious groups (81). Eighty-three unions were represented and 71 fraternal organizations. The national president was A. Philip Randolph and the secretary John P. Davis.

The Communists played an important part in the organization of this significant Congress. The idea for the Congress was suggested two years before by James W. Ford, well-known Communist, in a debate with Oscar De Priest and Frank Crosswaith. Party forces also spent much effort in popularizing the Congress and in doing the extensive organizational work to bring the convention together. At the convention itself Ford and other Communists and sympathizers were very influential. In the National Council of 75 elected by the Congress, there were several Communists.

The Congress adopted a progressive program meeting the most pressing needs of the Negro people. It urged the participation of Negroes in trade unions, endorsed trade union unity, condemned the Jim Crow system and all types of reaction, and demanded full rights for Negroes. It supported the developing fight against fascism and war, and it repudiated the "neutral" attitude of the United States toward the invasion of Ethiopia. It proposed a plan for consumers' and producers' co-operatives and also the extension of the Workers Alliance. The Congress favored a world congress of the Negro people, and the church panel recommended that churches should devote every fifth Sunday to advancing the work of the Congress. On political action, the Congress voted for the ultimate formation of a farmer-labor party; however, in the meantime it declared, "We do not support any candidates, but we give you their records." The Congress did not take any stand as to its ultimate political goal, nor did it raise the question of the Negro people as a nation.

The National Negro Congress, a broad movement uniting Negro workers and middle class elements, had local councils in many cities. It became a vehicle for the expression of the leading role of the Negro working masses in the general movement of the Negro people. During the next years it was to prove an especially important agency for building the C.I.O. and for promoting trade union organization generally among Negro workers.

The American Youth Congress

One of the most vital of all the mass movements that developed during the early New Deal years was the American Youth Congress. The United States had never before seen anything like it. Organized in 1934, the movement encompassed about 4,600,000 young people by the outbreak of World War II. Animating it was a militant protest of American youth against the bitter hardships of the young people during the great economic crisis, against the general neglect of their interests by the government, and against the looming prospect of fascism and another world war.3

The Roosevelt Administration early undertook to control this new and dynamic national force of the organized youth. Consequently, it selected as its agent a young woman, Viola lima, who with the backing of Mrs. Roosevelt, half a dozen governors, Mayor La Guardia, and other Administration forces, called a general youth convention in New York, in August 1934. The response was heavy, at least 1,500,000 organized young people being represented, including the Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A., Y.M.H.A., and many other religious and fraternal youth organizations. The Catholics were there as observers. Both the Y.P.S.L. and Y.C.L. were present.

Miss Ilma, who had just returned from fascist Germany, obviously had acquired her ideas for the type of new youth organization from the Hitler youth. She seemed to think that the young people had come to the convention in order to be told what to do—as they were in school, in the factories, and in the army. But she entirely underestimated the new democratic spirit of the youth. Hence, when the convention tried to elect its own chairman and she refused even to entertain the motion, the convention overrode her arbitrariness and voted her down. She then quit cold, crying out in the newspapers that the Communists had captured the youth movement. Mrs. Roosevelt was stunned at the unexpected course of events, but the stakes were very high and she went along with the American Youth Congress then being formed. Gilbert Green, head of the Young Communist League, was a member of the National Board that was set up.

The next few years were full of activity for the Youth Congress. The A.Y.C. took an active part in the trade union organization of young people, fought for improved conditions in the government Civilian Conservation Corps youth relief camps, demanded a more enlightened program from the National Youth Administration (which was established in June 1935), condemned in unmeasured terms all discrimination against the Negro people, and fought against the rising dangers of fascism and war. The A.Y.C. formulated its immediate program of political youth demands in the American Youth Act, introduced in Congress on January 13, 1936. 4 This bill elaborated an extensive plan of vocational training and student aid, financed by the government and managed by the students. Although the bill never became law, it was widely popularized and served as the basis for much state and federal youth legislation.

Almost overnight the organized youth became a power in the land. Youth leaders—Waldo McNutt, William Hinckley, Joseph Cadden, Gilbert Green—were figures to be reckoned with. Even the A.F. of L. had to recognize the new youth movement at its 1935 convention, where for the first time in its history it gave favorable consideration to a series of youth proposals. The C.I.O. also sent delegates to the A.Y.C. congresses, cultivated youth strike demands, and otherwise actively supported the movement. Many trade unions and state farmer-labor parties developed youth sections, activities, and demands. Both the Republican and Democratic parties paid much attention to youth work of their kind.

An important development in the youth movement of this period was the formation in Columbus, Ohio, in December 1935, of the American Student Union, through the amalgamation of the National Student League (Communist-led, founded in 1932) and the much weaker Student League for Industrial Democracy (Socialist-led, founded in 1905). Characteristic of the A.S.U.'s many and various activities, it led a national anti-war strike of 184,000 students on April 12, 1937. Such strikes were continued until April 1941, those in 1938-39 totaling several hundred thousand students. Another, and very important, youth development of the period was the formation of the promising united front Southern Negro Youth Congress in Richmond, Virginia, in February 1937. Edward Strong was chairman. James W. Ford, James Jackson, and Henry Winston were also leaders in this vital movement, which for the next few years, throughout the South, carried on widespread educational work, supported strikes, popularized the National Youth Act, and generally struggled against Jim Crow. By 1939 this organization and the Southern Conference for Human Welfare represented at least 500,000 Negro youth in the South. Communists were very active in the work of these organizations.

Communist influence was powerful in the American Youth Congress, which followed an advanced policy. In particular, the young leaders of the broad organizations of young men and women were greatly attracted by the militancy of the Communists, by their understanding of the general youth question and specific youth demands, by their skill in developing the broad united front movement of elements which were widely divergent politically and religiously, and especially by their clear-headed and tireless struggle against the growing danger of fascism and war. Enemies of the A.Y.C.—Socialists and others—shouted that the Communists were in complete control of the youth movement. Gilbert Green was the chief Communist youth leader.

The Socialists, Lovestoneites, and Trotskyites, while maintaining a precarious affiliation with the A.Y.C., generally took such a sabotaging position toward the movement, in their hatred of the Communists, that they could only stagnate in their political degeneration. The Young Communist League, however, flourished as a result of its sound policies. Its active participation in the broad mass youth movement largely broke down its long-time sectarianism. The League grew in numbers, influence, and experience, and it acquired a more solid base among the young workers. At its ninth convention in 1939, it reported a membership of 22,000, as compared with 11,000 in 1936 and 3,000 in 1933. In Green, Winston, Thompson, Weiss, Gates, Strack, Ross, and others, the League was building a strong Marxist-Leninist youth leadership.

The Women's Movement

Women, who form one-half of the American electorate and about one-third of all wage workers, also took a prominent part in the broad mass upsurge that developed among all the democratic strata of the population during the early years of the New Deal. The women, however, did not create a strong and well-defined national organization such as those we have been describing in this and the previous chapter. They rather constituted a basic and very active part of all these mass movements. During the period we are dealing with, the most generalized form of the women's movement was that around the Women's Charter.

The Women's Charter was written in 1936 by a group of liberal and labor women. 5 It had the support of a vast range of organizations, including, with qualifications, the Communist Party. It was supported, among others, by such government officials as Mary Anderson, head of the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor. This signified that it had the backing of the Roosevelt regime. Eventually, in the ensuing few years the Charter was endorsed by organizations totaling several million women. It was incorporated in the Resolution on Equal Rights for Women adopted at the International Labor Conference in Geneva in 1937.

The Women's Charter was an assertion of the rights of women to full equality in all spheres of social activity. Mother Bloor welcomed it 6 also on the grounds that "it may be a great unifying force for peace—and the struggle against reaction and fascism." Ann Rivington says of it that it was for women the "high point of the united front during this decade." 7 Margaret Cowl Krumbein, head of the Party's Women's Commission during this period, gave the Charter active support.

Women wage workers made up a large part of the masses of newly organized workers in various industries—needle, textile, electrical, and others—and the Party paid its main attention to them. They constituted a vital force with the big network of women's trade union auxiliaries that grew up largely under Communist stimulation in the C.I.O. unions in steel, auto, and various other industries. The Party women workers also greatly concerned themselves with strengthening the activities of the
Women's Trade Union League.

Communist women were always the Party leaders in the people's health movement. They organized the Workers Health Bureau of America in New York, and in June 1927, they held a national trade union health conference in Cleveland. Official delegates were present from the A.F. of L. state federations of Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Washington, and Rhode Island, and from many city central bodies and local unions. This pioneer conference concerned itself mainly with occupational hazards and diseases, and it worked out a program of extensive educational work, health protection, prevention of accidents, and workmen's compensation. In the later stages of the New Deal, the Party women were also most active in the big mass movement for federal health insurance and a broad national health program.

Besides fighting for their own specific demands, and especially for maternity insurance, protection in industry, and child care, the women advanced the whole program of the Party. They were particularly effective in fighting against the high cost of living and cuts in W.P.A. relief, and in supporting all the current strikes for better wage and working conditions. They devoted special attention to the needs and demands of Negro women. They also fought tirelessly against the reactionary Equal Rights Amendment, which was sponsored by the Women's Rights Party and endorsed by both the Democratic and Republican parties. They made the recurring International Women's Day, on March 8th, the occasion of big demonstrations. Women were especially effective in the fight for peace, and they formed the backbone of the American League Against War and Fascism.

The development of international fascism lent new fire to the struggles of the women, for as Dimitrov said at the Seventh C.I. Congress, "Fascism enslaves women with particular ruthlessness and cynicism, playing on the most painful feelings of the mother, the housewife, and the single working woman." The Communist women made effective propaganda use of the superior economic, political, and social status of women in the Soviet Union over that of women generally in all the capitalist countries. 8 The Party during these years was building up a strain group of women Marxist-Leninist leachers. The attraction of the Party for women fighters was exemplified by the fact that in the big recruiting drive of 1937 over 30 percent of the new members were women.

The "Panacea" Mass Movements

Striking manifestations of the broad democratic upsurge of the masses during the early New Deal period were the many "panacea" mass agitations. These were wide movements of farmers, city middle classes, and proletarian elements, sometimes running into the millions. Generally it was the workers who gave vitality to these movements. Shaken by the deep economic crisis, these masses struck out blindly against capitalism, desperately striving for some remedy. Usually their programs were fantastically utopian, and the demagogic leaders were frequently fascist-minded, but the masses were full of democratic fighting spirit. That such confused movements could spring up testified to the ideological backwardness of the American workers and their lack of a broad political party with progressive working class leadership.

1. Technocracy: Fathered by Howard Scott and based upon a mishmash of ideas of the I.W.W. and Thorstein Veblen, this movement developed during the deepest phases of the economic crisis and ran like wildfire throughout the country in 1932-33, the entire capitalist press being agog with it. Technocracy was based on the fallacy that the evils of capitalism originated not primarily in its productions relations, but simply in its "distributive system." Its cure-all was to substitute a system of "ergs," or energy units, in place of the current "price system." Technocracy denied that the workers were exploited, repudiated the class struggle, and rejected the revolutionary role of the workers. In substance, it advocated a ruling aristocracy of engineers. For a while it had a big vogue among eh intellectuals, making a special appeal to engineers and technicians. It declined as swiftly as it arose, but some remnants still linger.

2. End-Poverty-in-California (Epic): This movement grew up rapidly in California and neighboring states following the publication, in October 1933, of Upton Sinclair's book, I, Governor of California. Epic was based upon the idea of self-help among the unemployed. It proposed that idle factories be turned over to the unemployed workers, who would operate them and develop a system of barter. It held to the utopian belief that a separate system of non-profit-making production and exchange could exist independently within the framework of the capitalist system, which is based upon private ownership and distribution. On the Epic ticket Upton Sinclair, Democratic candidate for governor of California in 1934, polled 879,000 votes against 1,138,000 for Merriam, after which the Epic movement gradually faded out. 9

3. The Utopian Society: This organization, launched by E. J. Reed, in the fall of 1933, soon grew to claim a million adherents in southern California. The Utopians, declaring for the "Brotherhood of Man" and "Plenty for All," hoped to achieve general prosperity through government ownership. Largely middle class, the movement rejected the class struggle and had no day-to-day demands. Its life span was short.

4. The Townsend National Recovery Plan: Animated by a fanatical enthusiasm and eventually claiming several millions of adherents, this huge mass movement was launched, in April 1934, by Dr. F. E. Townsend in Long Beach, California. It was basically a movement of the elderly and middle-aged. Its panacea was to establish maximum pensions of $200 per month for the aged, to be financed chiefly by a national two percent transactions tax. The $20 billion thus raised yearly, it was hoped, would not only provide for the aged but, keeping the industries in active operation, would provide a general and lasting prosperity for the whole population. The Townsend Plan failed to realize, however, that the basis of the crisis and destitution was the private ownership of the industries, and that only when this was abolished and socialism established could economic crises be averted and prosperity and full employment assured. The Townsend movement was a considerable pension force for many years and still exists. 10

5. The "Ham and Eggs" Movement: This was another mass panacea movement having a special appeal to the aged. It too, originated in southern California, where old people doubly abound. Formally known as the Retirement Life Payments Association, it was founded during the 1930's by L.W. Allen of Hollywood. In 1938 and 1939 the movement succeeded in placing on the referendum ballot a constitutional amendment providing that the state of California would pay $30 per week (every Thursday) for life to every unemployed or retired California citizen over 50 years old or over. The move was defeated both times at the polls. The official weepy organ was called National Ham and Eggs.

6. The National Union for Social Justice: This movement, in organized form, was launched in November 1934, in Detroit, by Rev. Charles E. Coughlin, Catholic priest. Fortune, at the time, estimated that this demagogue had ten million listeners to his weekly radio broadcasts. An expression of this movement was the notorious Christian Front, with its organized groups of hoodlums and storm troopers. Cough-lin's Utopia was built upon the traditional American illusion that prosperity could be achieved by issuing huge quantities of paper currency. His following was especially strong among Middle West farmers, city middle class elements, and Catholic industrial workers. Coughlin himself, a silver speculator and associate of big bankers, was a violent critic of everything democratic, and he undoubtedly aimed at establishing a fascist America—presumably with himself as the dictator. He was finally "silenced" by the Catholic Church, which apparently did not yet -want to be so completely identified with fascism in the United States. The Communist Party conducted a most active struggle against this dangerous movement.11

7. Share-the-Wealth: This mass movement sprang up in 1934 and spread with the rapidity characteristic of the "panacea" agitations generally. Its founder was Senator Huey P. Long of Louisiana. Long, the "kingfish," had as his main slogans, "Share the Wealth" and "Every Man a King." He proposed to take away most of the capitalists' wealth by a gigantic capital levy. The resulting $165 billion in the hands of the government he would distribute among the people, each family getting $5,000 down and each worker also being assured a yearly income of $2,500. The Share-the-Wealth movement was the most fantastic of all the panaceas and Long the most effective fascist demagogue the United States had yet seen. He set up a virtual dictatorship in Louisiana and also had a wide following among the poor farmers and workers all over the South. He was assassinated in September 1935, by a man whom he had victimized, after which his movement, fallen into the less capable hands of Gerald L. K. Smith and others, gradually disintegrated.12

The Communist Party paid close attention to the "panacea" movements. Although often led by dangerous demagogues, these movements were not wholly in vain. They dramatized the plight of the workers, the unemployed, the aged, the farmers, and the impoverished petty bourgeoisie. They also evidenced the determination of the people to fight against the outrageous conditions which engulfed them. The development of the reform aspects of Roosevelt's New Deal program was a fundamental factor in undermining and preventing the further development of such movements. That the "panacea" movements did not become perverted into a real base for American fascism was also due in no small measure to the activities of the Communist Party in exposing their economic fallacies, in combating their reactionary leaders, and in directing their masses into more practical channels of political struggle.

The Cultural Upsurge

From its inception, the Communist Party has challenged the domination of the capitalists in the cultural field. It has striven for the development of the arts and sciences in the interest of the people, not of the ruling exploiters. Over the years, despite its small size, the Party has exercised a powerful influence in this vital field. Its efforts, constantly improving in effectiveness, began to be especially felt during and after the great economic crisis years.

During the Coolidge boom of the 1920's monopoly capital greatly strengthened its control over the main media of mass cultural expression—the newspapers and magazines, the school system, the church, the motion picture, and the young radio industry. This resulted not only in an unparalleled standardization of the people's intellectual fare, but also in turning capitalism's cultural workers into a force to glorify the current "prosperity," the blessings of Fordism, and the wonders of the "new capitalism." It was consequently a period of unprecedented degeneration of bourgeois art and literature. Anti-Semitism and white chauvinism ran wild in every capitalist cultural area. The blatant and cynical Mencken was the most authentic bourgeois literary spokesman of the period. James-Dewey pragmatism, the hard-boiled philosophy which says that whatever the capitalists are and do is right, flourished and spread in bourgeois circles. Pragmatism's great value to the capitalists is that it robs the working class of a theory of society. It undertakes to substitute an idealist, rule-of-thumb practice for a scientific Marxian analysis of the laws of social development. This cynical philosophy permeates not only capitalist ranks, but also of the bosses' labor lieutenants, and it contaminates the entire fabric of the educational system of this country.

Democratic forces, mostly in the "little theater" and "little magazine" movements, fought an uphill struggle against the current overwhelming flood of standardized capitalist trash and reaction. But the most clearheaded and energetic in the fight for a real people's culture were the Communists and other lefts, including Art Young, Robert Minor, Michael Gold, William Gropper, Fred Ellis, and Moissaye J. Olgin, who were mainly associated with The Liberator and its successor, New Masses.13 In October 1929, the first John Reed Club, a left-wing literary organization, was formed in New York. Three years later there were a score of such clubs in all parts of the country.

The Communist Party during the 1920's, as part of its struggle against the deluge of reactionary capitalist cultural slush and for the beginnings of a democratic people's culture, also began to appreciate and evaluate the democratic, artistic, literary, and scientific elements that have been expressed historically within the framework of American bourgeois culture as a whole. This was the start of the breakaway from the traditional sectarian attitudes of American Marxists toward culture. It was an essential part of the maturing of Marxism-Leninism in this country.

The great economic crisis dealt a shattering blow to the whole dizzy capitalist economic propaganda structure of the Coolidge prosperity period. Exploded overnight were the complacency, conceit, and rosy dreams of the "new capitalism." Stark hunger preyed upon the country. The bourgeois intellectuals and artists, singers of the glories of capitalist "prosperity," also felt the blasts of the economic hurricane. They were thrown into ideological confusion and their economic position was undermined. Their incomes were slashed, almost as much as were those of the workers and farmers; about 30 percent of them were unemployed, and in May 1934, some 91,000 professionals were on the W.P.A. relief rolls.14 They began to listen to the Communists.

The big mass democratic upheaval, which brought Roosevelt to the presidency and was responsible for the building of the new trade unions, the "panacea movements," and the reforms of the New Deal, was also shared in by the artists and professionals generally. Overcoming their traditional bourgeois aloofness, large numbers of them made common cause with the workers and other democratic elements fighting against reaction. From bitter experience they had sensed that their previous individualistic attitude of each fending for himself was disastrous and that they had to make an organized struggle to protect their interests. Consequently, during these years nearly all the organizations of professionals, both of a technical and trade union character, experienced the greatest growth in their history. Teachers, actors, engineers, artists, lawyers, and newspaper workers shared in the movement, and "white collar" workers of all kinds for the first time became an important factor in the labor movement. These elements forced the Roosevelt regime to give them some consideration in the Federal Arts Projects for writers, musicians, and actors.

There was not only an economic but also an ideological content to this upsurge of the intellectuals during the New Deal years. They wanted to know the cause of the great economic crisis, of the decay of culture, of the threat of another great imperialist war. They attacked the bourgeois theories of "art for art's sake" and of the artist standing above the class struggle. The teacher, as well as looking out for her wages, began to have something to say about what she was teaching. The writers and actors of Hollywood and Broadway started to raise their voices against the mass of capitalistic swill which the movie moguls and theatrical producers were inflicting upon the American people under the guise of entertainment. With the great Theodore Dreiser at their head, the novelists struck a new note of revolt against outrageous social conditions. Dreiser himself became an ardent member of the Communist Party. The newspapermen, through their new national Guild, became a force for democracy in journalism. And the lawyers began to come forward with new and democratic concepts of what the law and court practice should be. The inspiring development of Soviet art, notably in the films, stimulated the whole cultural awakening.

The reactionaries looked with grave alarm upon this upsurge among the intellectuals and artists, upon whom they counted to drive their propaganda into the heads of the workers. But in the existing political situation, they were unable to stifle it.

This democratic movement among the professionals and cultural workers was given added strength by the shocking events under the barbaric policies of German fascism. What fascism held in store for the cultural workers was made quite clear by the dictum of the Nazi youth leader who declared, "When I hear the word culture, I cock my revolver," by the savage book burnings of May 1933, by the general strangling of art under Hitler, and by fascism's total subjugation of cultural workers of all kinds to the propagation of anti-Semitism and similar barbarities—excesses which, obviously, incipient American fascism would be only too eager to duplicate.15

The most general expression of the upsurge of the cultural workers was the formation of the American Writers Congress in New York on April 26, 1935. Present were 216 delegates from 26 states, with 150 writers attending as guests. There was a public attendance of 4,000, "the largest audience that ever participated in a literary event in this country." 16 Thirty papers were read at the Congress, dealing with many aspects of the writer's craft and social role. In accordance with the united front spirit of the times, the Congress was much broader in scope than the earlier John Reed clubs, which had pioneered the movement. For ie next few years the Congress was a powerful force in cultural circles, not the least in Hollywood. The Communists were most active in this development, as in nearly every other phase of the cultural movement of the period. The Communist Party was officially represented at the founding convention of this very important writers' united front movement. Another significant organization was the American Artists Congress, founded in 1936.17

The greatest and most lasting achievement of the cultural renaissance of the New Deal period, however, was the real stress it laid upon Negro culture. This movement was many-sided. Its most important aspect was the crushing attack it delivered through the distinguished anthropologist Franz Boas, many other scientists, and a whole group of Communist writers, against every attempt of the racists and white supremacists in science, in industry, in politics, on the stage, and everywhere else, to picture the Negro people as inferior beings. The movement also made real progress toward developing an understanding of the profound contributions that the Negro people have made to the best in American culture. The movement also began to develop an appreciation of the splendid body of artists and cultural workers that the Negro people had been developing in the face of a world of difficulties—Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Marian Anderson, Sterling Brown, and many others. Especially important was the beginning made at revaluating the history of the Negro people-by James W. Ford, Harry Haywood, Doxey Wilkerson, James Jackson, Herbert Aptheker, Philip S. Foner, James S. Allen, Robert Minor, John Howard Lawson, and others—to free this persecuted people from the mountains of slanders and belittlement built up by generations of white chauvinist historians. 18 In this vital struggle with and for the Negro people in their fight for cultural recognition and development, it is hardly necessary to state, the Communists were the most devoted and tireless fighters, and their influence was far-reaching.

The Seventh Comintern Congress and the Roosevelt Coalition

The great mass struggles of workers, unemployed, farmers, Negroes, youth, women and intellectuals in the early New Deal years in the United States were directly related to the developing struggle against world fascism. Only in this sense can they be fully understood. The fight against fascism was clarified and organized on an international scale at the Seventh Congress of the Communist International, held in Moscow, from July 25 to August 21, 1935. At this historic congress, in which a strong delegation from theC.P.U.SA. participated, Georgi Dimitrov, head of the Comintern and hero of the Reichstag fire trial, swept aside the current liberal-Social-Democratic nonsense to the effect that "fascism is a revolt of the middle class" and exposed it in its full nakedness as "the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital." "Fascism," said he, "is a most ferocious attack by capital on the toiling masses; fascism is unbridled chauvinism and annexationist war; fascism is rabid reaction and counter-revolution; fascism is the most vicious enemy of the working class and of all toilers."19

Dimitrov proposed, and this became the political line of the congress, that to fight fascism a great anti-fascist people's front of workers, farmers, intellectuals, and all other toiling, democratic sections of the population must be built up. The purpose of this broad united front, said Dimitrov, is that "in countries of bourgeois democracy, we want to bar the road to reaction and the offensive of capital and fascism, prevent the abrogation of bourgeois-democratic liberties, forestall fascism's terrorist vengeance upon the proletariat, the revolutionary section of the peasantry and the intellectuals, save the young generation from physical and spiritual degeneracy. We are ready to do all this because in the fascist countries we want to prepare and hasten the overthrow of the fascist dictatorship. We are ready to do all this because we want to save the world from fascist barbarity and the horrors of imperialist war."20

Speaking of the United States, Dimitrov pointed out that "millions of people have been brought into motion by the crisis." He signalized the menacing fascist danger in this country and warned of its insidious approach. "It is a peculiarity of the development of American fascism," said he, "that at the present time it appears principally in the guise of an opposition to fascism, which it accuses of being an un-American tendency imported from abroad." He indicated the need for a people's front in the United States and stated that "A Workers and Farmers Party might serve as such a suitable form. Such a party would be a specific form of the mass people's front in America."

The people's front was the application of the historic united front policy to the conditions of the struggle against fascism and war. The Communists have long advocated and carried out the principle of the united front. In The Communist Manifesto, written over a century ago, Marx stated that the Communists fight for immediate demands in alliance with groups, classes, and parties which do not accept the long-range goal of socialism.

Dimitrov's statement on the workers and farmers party, which the American Communists had long advocated, as the form of the people's front in the United States, fitted right in with the traditions and conditions of the American class struggle. For a long time, even as far back as President Jackson's era, as we have noted in previous chapters, there has always existed a strong tendency for the workers and farmers to join forces together in united front political struggle against the common enemy, the capitalists. This trend was evidenced with especial sharpness during the important political fights of the Greenbackers, the Populists, and the LaFollettites. Indeed, the characteristic united front alliance of workers and small farmers has more of a background of political history in the United States than it has in industrial Europe, where Social-Democracy, ignoring the political potentialities of the peasantry, traditionally concerned itself almost exclusively with the fight of the proletariat and the middle class.

During the general period under consideration, 1933-38, the Communist Party greatly improved the character of its united front work. It broke more and more with the sectarian leftism which it had manifested to some extent in the depth of the great crisis. This was shown by its effective work among the trade unions, in the struggles of the unemployed, the Negro people, the youth, and in many other fields. The Party was playing a very important part in the ever-increasing fight against fascism and war.

The growth and activities of the C.I.O., the Unemployed Councils, the National Negro Congress, the American Youth Congress, the women's movement, the upsurge of the intellectuals, and the broad "panacea" organizations during these years were not isolated phenomena. They sprang from the same basic cause—the ravages of the great economic crisis; they had many direct ties and much spirit of solidarity with each other; they headed toward the same goal, die defeat of threatening reaction; and they tended naturally to coalesce in a general movement of struggle. The united front policies of the Communist Party greatly aided this unification. In the period of imperialism and the struggle against fascism and war, the historic American practice of the toiling democratic masses to fight side by side moved toward the creation of a people's front.

However, the incipient people's front movement of those years, a blood brother to the great people's front movements of Europe, never reached the stage of becoming a full-fledged mass "Workers and Farmers Party" as described by Dimitrov. This was partly because of Roosevelt's skillful maneuvering to keep the workers tied to the Democratic Party, and partly because of the timidity and treachery of the workers' own union leaders, who refused to break with the two-party system. Consequently, the movement never rose to a higher level than that of an uncoordinated popular coalition around Roosevelt, a loose "democratic front"; but it nevertheless proved powerful enough to halt, at least temporarily, the advance of fascism in the United States.

The Communist Party and the Nation

A fundamental implication of the anti-fascist people's front developed by the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, in line with American tradition and political conditions, was the great stress it laid upon the reality that the Communist parties, besides being the leading parties of the proletariat, were by the same token also the basic parties of their respective nations. Marx and Engels had long before taught—and Marxists generally understood—that in defending the interests of the working class and other toilers, the Marxist party is thereby defending the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people. It is functioning in the interest of the nation against a reactionary bourgeois nationalism, against an exploiting capitalist class which always advances its own class interests at the expense of the people in general. The classic example of the Marxist party as the party of the nation was seen in the Bolshevik Party in Russia which led the people of that country, who had faced ruin and slaughter at the hands of their treasonable ruling class, in overthrowing tsarism-capitalism and building socialism.

In the situation confronting the peoples of the world with the rise of fascism during the 1930's, there was a supreme need for the Communist parties, with greater clarity and consciousness on the national question than ever before, to come forward as the defenders and champions of their respective nations against their treacherous bourgeoisie, and this they did. The big capitalists, frightened at the great cyclical economic crisis, at the deepening general crisis of the capitalist system, and at the revolutionary mood of the workers, were trying to betray and force their respective nations into the fateful traps of fascist tyranny and an imperialist world war.

It was to unite the respective peoples against this murderous treason by the ruling bourgeoisie that the Seventh Congress of the Comintern enunciated its famous call for an anti-fascist people's front. The new tactical orientation—namely, the creation of a broad alliance of all the democratic strata and the agreement for participation by the Communists in the people's front governments—was, in fact, the organization of the nation to save itself from disastrous betrayal by the capitalist class. "The socialist revolution will signify the salvation of the nation"21 said Dimitrov; and as he also indicated, here was a situation, under capitalism, where the workers, following the leadership of the Communist Party, had to save the nation from disaster.

There was a time, before the imperialist era, when the interests of the developing national capitalist class, in a measure at least, coincided with those of the nation. But that time is now forever past. The people, led by the workers, at the head of which stands the Communist Party, must take their fate into their own hands, in opposition to the treasonable capitalist class. "We Communists," says Dimitrov, "are the irreconcilable opponents, on principle, of bourgeois nationalism of every variety. But we are not supporters of national nihilism."22 The capitalists' pretense of leading the nation is a monstrous lie and betrayal. This historic fact was dramatically signalized by the anti-fascist people's front policy of the Seventh Congress of the Communist International. And it is now being further demonstrated by the peace fight of the Communist Party against the war-mongering, pro-fascist monopolists, who, for the sake of their own profits, are driving the people toward the national disaster of war.

Roosevelt and Wall Street (1933–1936)

When President Roosevelt began to put his New Deal into effect early in 1933, he had, as we have noted, the support of the bulk of big business. Frightened and demoralized, the capitalists grasped at his program in the hope that it could pull them out of the deadly crisis. Indeed, it might even take them along the road to the fascism which so many of them wanted. In the meantime they grudgingly agreed to make some small concessions to the workers, with the objective of holding them back from taking more drastic political action. But it was not long before the big capitalists began to break with Roosevelt and to attack his program. Eventually their opposition grew so fierce that he became perhaps more hated and denounced by them than any other man ever to occupy the White House.

This big business opposition to Roosevelt started to develop within a year after he took office. Economic conditions had begun to improve, chiefly through the normal tendency of capitalism eventually to work its way temporarily out of its cyclical crisis and a little as a result of the government subsidies to industry and agriculture under the New Deal. By January 1, 1934, industrial production stood at 73.1, as against 58.5 in March 1933, and 116.7 m October 1929. In 1932, 1,435 big corporations suffered a deficit of $97 million, but in 1933 the same concerns reaped profits of $661 million. Prices rose sharply and unemployment decreased somewhat from the unprecedented figure of 17 million a year before. The Democrats, with redoubled energy, sang "Happy Days Are Here Again"; big business, feeling that "prosperity" was about at hand and relieved of its fears of collapse and revolution, believed that it could dispense with even Roosevelt's niggardly relief to the unemployed, his equivocal concession to the workers of the right to organize, and his skimpy subsidies to the farmers.

It was a "false dawn," however, so far as the economic situation was concerned, for industry had by no means escaped from the slump. Stalin, at the Seventeenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (in January 1934), gave a clear picture of what was happening in the major capitalist countries. He summed up his analysis with the statement: "Evidently what we are witnessing is a transition from the lowest point of the industrial crisis to a depression—not an ordinary depression, but a depression of a special kind which does not lead to a new upward trend and industrial boom, but which, on the other hand, does not force industry back to the lowest point of decline."1 Stalin's profound Marxist analysis was proved brilliantly correct during the ensuing years. World capitalism, and particularly capitalism in the United States, could not and did not overcome its "depression of a special kind," but continued with under-average production and huge unemployment, meanwhile plunging into the economic crisis of 1937, until the outbreak of World War II in the fall of 1939 put the wheels of industry once more into full operation. It took a huge blood transfusion from slaughtered millions to revive even temporarily the hopelessly sick capitalist system.

Wall Street's Attack on the New Deal

The big capitalists of Wall Street, alarmed at the workers' militant strikes and organizing campaigns of the first years of the New Deal, demanded that the government take drastic action to curb the rebellious workers. Nor did their demands go unheeded. Troops were used freely by governors in many states against strikers; 88 workers and farmers were killed in 1933-34, with the murderers going unpunished; 18,000 strikers and demonstrators were arrested in 1935; scores of drastic injunctions were directed against striking unions; lynchings mounted in the South; and the K.K.K., vigilantes, and other terroristic organizations ran riot. Nor did the supposedly pro-labor federal government stir a finger to halt this mounting wave of employer-provoked violence.

But the great mass movements of the period which we have described in the two previous chapters—the big strikes, organizing drives, unemployment demonstrations, Negro and youth organizations, and the confused "panacea" movements—were not to be halted by this violence. The workers and other toilers were in a fighting mood, with prices soaring and wages lagging, with up to 13 million jobless, with a total of 24 million dependent upon government aid (the average family receiving only $19 monthly in relief), and with the employers once again piling up huge profits. The workers were insisting militantly that the promise of a "new deal" for them should be realized.

The basic "crime" that big business held against Roosevelt was that his policies were leading to the unionization of the basic industries. This fact underlay every charge of "red" and "Socialist" that they made against him. The tycoons of Wall Street regarded with the gravest alarm the militant movements of the workers during 1933-34 in which the Communist Party played such a vital part. These movements, they realized, signified that their main industrial fortress—the "open shop" in the trustified industries, the pride and hope of every reactionary-was crumbling into collapse. The workers were finally breaking through this barrier which, with its network of company unionism, spy systems, gunman control, and violent anti-unionism, had long balked every forward move of the trade unions. This was a political defeat of major proportions for big business, and the latter blamed Roosevelt for the disaster.

The American Liberty League

After incubating for several months, the American Liberty League was formally incorporated on August 15, 1934. Its chief sponsors were the du Ponts, and on its list of supporters were many of the largest capitalist concerns in the United States. These included representatives of the Morgans, Rockefellers, Mellons, and numerous other leading Wall Street corporations, such as United States Steel, General Motors, Bethlehem Steel, Pennsylvania Railroad, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Reading Railroad, Bankers Trust, Montgomery Ward, General Foods, Armour &: Co., Guaranty Trust, United States Rubber, American Telephone & Telegraph, International Harvester, and a host of similar firms. The organizer of this big capitalist political outfit was John J. Raskob, a du Pont "angel" of the Democratic Party. Its chief front man was Alfred E. Smith, Democratic candidate for president in 1928. Smith, a boy from New York's slums who had "made good," was counted on to give a democratic flavor to the reactionary enterprise. In addition to its general anti-Roosevelt agitation, the Liberty League directed heavy blows against Roosevelt's control of the Democratic Party, the president's chief political stronghold. The Communist Party, from the outset, exposed and fought this vicious organization. 2

The Liberty League quickly attracted to itself all the outstanding fascist demagogues of the country. Hearst backed it and gave it endless publicity; Huey Long and Father Coughlin also lent it their considerable support. The two latter had originally given Roosevelt their backing, when they believed that his program was leading toward fascism; but they quickly became his enemies when they perceived the progressive mass movements that were developing under his regime. The Liberty League worked hand in glove with the Republican Party, and their combined forces violently combated Roosevelt, opposed the advance of the trade unions, and gave open or covert support to anti-Semitism, Negro discrimination and every other reactionary and fascist-like political current. They demanded a return to Hooverism, so despised by the masses.

Roosevelt Fights Back

This developing attack of big capital put Roosevelt between two fires. On the one hand, there was the pressure of the great mass movements of the people, resolved upon winning drastic economic and political reforms; and on the other hand, there was the increasingly violent opposition of big business, which wanted to put a quick end to every democratic reform. Roosevelt himself was a liberal who had taken office as the representative of what was virtually a national front including most of big business. He vacillated under these two heavy pressures, striving to reconcile the irreconcilable. But he was finally compelled to take a more definite stand against the section of finance capital which wanted to force the country along the Hitler road toward fascism, and to support of that section of the capitalists which favored a policy of mild reform and minimum concessions to the working class. Roosevelt still steered a middle course, but now, as he called it, "a little to the left of center."

Lenin long ago pointed out that the bourgeoisie, in its need to hold the workers in subjection, uses alternately, as the situation demands, two general methods of control: "They are, firstly, the method of force, the method which rejects all concessions to the labor movement, the method of supporting all the old and obsolete institutions, the method of irreconcilably rejecting reforms...The second method is the method of 'liberalism' which takes steps toward the development of political rights, toward reforms, concessions and so forth." 3 Under the growing pressure of the masses, Roosevelt took this second course. His section of the bourgeoisie believed that a policy of limited reforms was both possible and indispensable. It was on the basis of these reforms, particularly facilitating the growth of trade unionism, that the strong "Roosevelt tradition" was built up among the workers. Under the given conditions, the other way—stark repression—would have been the road toward fascism, leading to eventual defeat of the capitalists at the hands of the awakening workers.

The first major political clash between the Roosevelt forces and the Liberty League-Republican Party combination came in the mid-term fall elections of 1934. It was a hot battle, and Roosevelt emerged from it victorious, substantially strengthening his hold upon Congress and in many states. But this victory was by no means a decisive one. Undeterred by their defeat at the hands of the people, the anti-New Deal forces of big business called upon their faithful ally, the Supreme Court, to help them. This body promptly responded, declaring unconstitutional, early in 1935, the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Railroad Retirement Act, the Frazier-Lemke Act (which gave partial relief on farm mortgages), and the Agricultural Adjustment Act. These were all key New Deal laws. At the outset of the New Deal, big businessmen had pinned their hopes upon N.I.R.A., as we have seen, depending upon it to give them solid control of the industries and to build up a system of fascist-like company unions; but it backfired and they had the Supreme Court get rid of it, dealing Roosevelt a sharp blow.

Roosevelt, heavily pressed by the workers, retaliated against this attack from the Supreme Court by having the Democratic Congress adopt several new laws in 1935. Chief of these were, as enacted in April, the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.); in July, the National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act; and in August, the Social Security Act. The Guffey Coal Act was also passed.

The W.P.A. was the work relief project, however skinflint the relief rates and wages. The Wagner Act, more clearly than Section 7 (a) of the N.I.R.A., granted the workers the right to organize and set up certain restraints against employer interference with the workers using this right. At once it became a great bogey to the capitalists and a major issue in their "Hate Roosevelt" campaign. The Wagner Act legally abolished the employers' spy and gunman system. Under Section 7 (a) of the N.I.R.A., company unionism had made the biggest strides in its career. The La-Follette Commission, authorized by the Senate on June 6, 1936, exposed the fact that in their union-wrecking schemes the employers spent $80 million per year for their espionage-terrorist system. There were 230 agencies (Burns, Pinkerton, Sherman, etc.) engaged in this nefarious work. It was estimated that the employers had 100,000 spies, with at least one in each of the 48,000 local unions of the labor movement. 4 The Social Security Act established small federal benefits for the aged and unemployed. The Guffey Act, in certain features, favored the United Mine Workers. All of these laws were literally written by the workers themselves by their great industrial and political struggles of the period. The president also set out, in the midst of wild opposition, to alter the composition of the Supreme Court accordingly. This brought down upon his head violent charges that he was packing the high court. Roosevelt confined himself to the foregoing relatively modest reforms, most of which were already in effect in various European countries. He carefully opposed any and all measures that could directly weaken the capitalist system or that might worsen the basic position of the monopolists—such as democratic nationalization of the banks and railroads, a capital levy to procure government relief, a stated limitation upon capitalist profits, or the establishment of a farmer-labor party. Roosevelt, in his New Deal program, remained at all times the champion and defender of capitalism, which meant, of course, monopoly capitalism. Under his presidency big business made much of the most rapid and substantial economic progress in its entire history.

The Communist Party actively supported Roosevelt in his fight against the most reactionary sections of big business. Its general line, while combating bourgeois-democratic illusions among the workers about Roosevelt and his New Deal, was to support his reform measures and to get from them the maximum possible benefit for the working class. It was a policy of support with active criticism.

The Elections of 1936

The Presidential elections of 1936 were among the hardest-fought in the life of this country. Never were class lines more sharply drawn, and never was the partisan strife more bitter. The biggest and most fascist-minded reactionaries of Wall Street were resolved to get rid of Roosevelt at any price and to put into the White House a more pliable figure, one who would further their ultra-reactionary policies. The men they chose for their standard bearers were Alfred M. Landon, governor of Kansas, and Colonel Frank Knox, owner of the Chicago Daily News. Landon, known as the "Kansas Coolidge," was an ultra-reactionary, and the substance of his program was to undo all the work of the New Deal and to return to the policies of Herbert Hoover. As for Roosevelt himself, he promised, if re-elected, a continuation and development of the New Deal program. He demanded the defeat of the Wall Street "economic royalists."

The election was fought out against a background of mounting political struggle, not only on the domestic, but also on the international scene. The Hitler-Mussolini-Hirohito axis by now had its drive for world conquest under way. The Japanese were overrunning North China, the Italians had invaded Ethiopia, Hitler was blazing ahead in Germany, and the Germans and Italians had provoked the Spanish Civil War. World fascism was on the march, and it was in this spirit that the most reactionary sections of Wall Street finance capital fought Roosevelt. Their first attempt to shove the country toward fascism under the National Industrial Recovery Act had failed, but perhaps they would have better success in 1936. Many undoubtedly calculated that a defeat of the Roosevelt forces in the election would clear the way for the beginnings of fascism in the United States.

The big reactionaries rallied their forces to defeat Roosevelt and to elect the Landon ticket. The National Association of Manufacturers, the United States Chamber of Commerce, and other big combinations of capital used all their strength. The Republican Party spent money like water, and so did the American Liberty League and other Wall Street groups. The press was lined up at least 85 percent for Landon, who was the special darling of William Randolph Hearst.

A cunning election device of the Republicans was the setting up of the so-called Union Party. The agents of big business who did this job were the fascists Father Coughlin and Gerald L. K. Smith. Coughlin and Smith were assisted by Dr. Townsend, of old age pension fame. These elements chose as their presidential candidate Congressman William Lemke, an old time Non-Partisan Leaguer. The purpose of the Union Party maneuver was to play upon the third party sentiment among the workers and also upon the radicalism of the masses in the confused "panacea" movements, and thus to win these elements away from the Roosevelt camp.

The election struggle had not progressed far, however, before it became clear that big capital, lined up strongly against Roosevelt, was meeting determined resistance among the masses of workers and farmers. Especially significant was the pro-Roosevelt attitude of the Negroes in the North, who possessed votes. Ever since the Civil War the Negro people, in the main, had supported the Republican Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln and Negro emancipation. But great masses among them broke with this strong tradition in 1936. It was mainly a rank-and-file revolt, the old-line Negro politicians trying to keep the Negro masses in the Landon column. The Defender and other prominent Negro journals followed this course. But the Negro masses nevertheless voted for Roosevelt: four to one in Harlem, two to one in Brooklyn, with similar majorities in Chicago, Detroit, and other strong northern Negro centers. James W. Ford said of the election, "The Roosevelt landslide saw twenty-five Negroes elected to the state legislatures and one to the Congress of the United States. The majority were Democrats. In several instances Negro Republicans were succeeded by Negro Democrats. No Negro legislative candidate running on the Democratic ticket was defeated." 6 This break of the Negro masses from Republican tutelage was of historic importance. Never since then have they gone back to their old-time allegiance. Instead, with a strongly marked political progressivism, they occupy a highly strategic political position in several key northern states, especially New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

Labor in the Elections

Organized labor went heavily for Roosevelt. This was particularly the case with the newly-established C.I.O. Whereas William Green and his A.F. of L. cronies still maintained the form of the old Gompers policy of rewarding labor's friends and punishing its enemies, John L. Lewis and Sidney Hillman, the leaders of the C.I.O., came out strongly for Roosevelt. In April 1936, they induced George L. Berry, president of the International Pressmen's Union (A.F. of L.) to work with them in setting up Labor's Non-Partisan League, of which Berry became the first president. The League, a step forward from the old Gompers policy, not only followed the practice of working within the Democratic Party (and also the Republican Party), but it likewise co-operated with such independent farmer and labor parties as existed at the time. Organized before the C.I.O.'s final suspension by the A.F. of L. convention in November, 1936, and before the League was condemned as "dual" to the A.F. of L., the League quickly won a wide support in official A.F. of L. ranks. It assembled 35,000 national and local union leaders as active workers in its cause. It was a power in the elections, carrying on agitational and organizational work upon a far broader scale than anything yet seen in the American labor movement.

The situation presented a splendid opportunity to launch a farmer-labor party, a more favorable moment even than during the LaFollette campaign of 1924. The workers were on the march politically, even as they were advancing in the industrial field. They gave every indication that they would have supported an independent party movement under the leadership of organized labor. Their militant spirit was indicated by the foundation and rapid growth during this period of the American Labor Party of New York, the Washington Commonwealth Federation, a similar federation in Oregon, the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, the Progressive Party of Wisconsin, the Epic movement in California, and various other such organizations in a number of states. Communists played a very important part in all these state movements.

The strength of the workers' political movement was further indicated by the fact that at the second national convention of Labor's Non-Partisan League (held in Washington, March 1937), there were present 600 delegates, representing 3,500,000 workers in the A.F. of L., C.I.O., and Railroad Brotherhoods. But the top union leaders, true to form, did not rise to the situation. Despite the broad demand of the rank and file and the energetic agitation of the Communists, they refused to establish an independent party of the toiling masses, even though this would have strengthened, not weakened, the mass support for Roosevelt. So this golden opportunity to launch the working class on the path of independent political action was lost.

The position of the Communist Party in the 1936 elections, in line with its general attitude toward the New Deal, was one of objective, but not official support for Roosevelt. At its ninth convention (in New York, June 24-28, 1936), the Party took the stand that the central issue of the campaign was "democracy versus fascism," and it pointed out that the major forces of reaction and fascism were ganged up behind Landon. It called for "the concentration of all forces of the working class and its allies in the fight against the Republican-Liberty League-Hearst combination and for the defeat of its plans in the elections of 1936." The Party directed its main fire against Landon. As for Roosevelt, while the Party realized that he had made certain concessions to the toilers, it correctly asserted that he had made bigger "concessions to Hearst, to Wall Street, to the reactionaries." 7 It declared that Roosevelt's "middle course" was "not a barrier to reaction and fascism," 8 and that the Party could not therefore give him a full endorsement. Consequently, the Party put up its own national ticket, Earl Browder and James W. Ford. It was on the ballot in 34 states. The type of campaign which the Party carried on, however, calling for the defeat of Landon at all costs, militated against the Party polling its own full potential vote in the elections—hence its ticket received only 80,181 votes.

The Socialist Party, which at that time was displaying some activity, particularly in the unemployed field, and was passing through its phony "left" orientation mentioned in a previous chapter, took an ultra-left stand in the elections. Norman Thomas, in an absurd burst of radicalism for this opportunistic mountebank, stated that the issue in the elections was socialism versus capitalism and that the only immediate demand of the Socialists was for socialism. The S.P. declared that it was of no interest to the workers whether Landon or Roosevelt were elected, and it condemned the Communist Party for giving even conditional support to Roosevelt.

The elections were fought with extreme vigor and bitterness. Roosevelt was attacked as a near-Communist, and every device was used by the reactionaries to delude or scare the masses into voting the Republican ticket. But these efforts were quite in vain, the wild redbaiting failing of its purpose. Roosevelt's victory was of spectacular proportions. He carried every state in the Union, except Maine and Vermont. His popular vote was 27,750,000, over 11 million votes more than Landon's total—the largest election plurality in American political history. Both houses of Congress went solidly Democratic, and the Rooseveltites controlled the governorships of all the states except seven. The fascist tool Lemke, on the Union Party slate, polled only 891,858 votes, carrying not a single state. The Socialist Party, which for many years had polled a large "protest vote," got only 187,343 votes in 1936, or less than one-fourth of its vote in 1932. 9 The attempt of the Wall Street reactionaries to push the country in the direction of fascism had failed, wrecked upon the rocks of the democratic will of the American people.

The Political Line of the Communist Party

During the early New Deal years here under consideration, from the beginning of 1933 to the end of 1936, the general policy of the Communist Party was sound, although a number of weaknesses and some outright mistakes developed in its application. The basic correctness of the Communist political line was reflected in a wide increase in the Party's mass influence and in a steady growth in the number of its members throughout this period.

The Party was essentially correct in its attitude toward Roosevelt, its sharp opposition to the strong fascist influences in the early phases of the New Deal, and its later limited and critical support of Roosevelt and a number of his reforms. As early as 1936, however, Browder was slackening in necessary criticism of Roosevelt, an opportunism that was later to have disastrous consequences.

The Party was correct in the major stress which it laid upon stimulating the struggles of the masses for their immediate demands, more and more on a united front basis—for wages, unemployment relief, Negro rights, the youth, and trade union organization. It was quite right, too, in warning the masses that they would secure consideration for their demands only to the extent that they fought for them. This militant stand of the Party against all trimmers and compromisers was a major factor in the workers winning such concessions as they did during these years. Although the Party still tended to put somewhat too much stress upon the "revolutionary way out of the crisis," this did not prevent it from making an aggressive and successful fight for the everyday demands of the toiling masses.

In particular, the Communist Party was a highly constructive force in the persistent and intelligent fight it made to strengthen the trade union movement. Of course, the Party, as the vanguard party of the working class, was intensely interested in every trade union question; however, it did not itself intervene in the life of the trade unions. The Communists worked energetically to have the unions adopt progressive policies; nevertheless, in the highest sense of discipline and solidarity, they faithfully carried out the union's decisions, even when they might not fully agree with them. Communists were in the forefront of every organizing campaign, strike, and other union activity. They were also militant champions of labor unity. And they tirelessly worked to prevent the A. F. of L. and C.I.O. from splitting, and also to reunite the two organizations after the split had become a reality.

In its endless fight for labor unity, the Party made a united front proposal, in March 1933, to the A.F. of L. and S.P. to work together jointly on the basis of a common program of struggle.10 This proposal was in line with the realities of the American political situation and also with the fight that the Communists everywhere, in the face of the growing fascist menace, were making for world labor unity. The top leadership of both the A.F. of L. and S.P., however, were unresponsive to the C.P.'s unity proposals, but many of the lower organizations were not. During these years hundreds of A.F. of L. local unions and many local branches of the S.P., against the will of their main leaders, participated in such progressive united front organizations as the National Negro Congress, the American Youth Congress, the American League Against War and Fascism, the Workers Alliance, the League of American Writers, and the Councils for the Foreign-Born. In the 1936 campaign the C.P., following its correct united front policy, also proposed a joint election slate with the S.P. (which had grown considerably since 1933 and was then showing "left" tendencies), but this proposal was ignored by the Thomas leaders. In January 1936, the Y.C.L. proposed ineffectually to the Y.P.S.L. to form a united youth organization.

The Party correctly took a firm stand for the firmer political crystallization of the loose democratic mass coalition that was backing Roosevelt. It particularly stressed the necessity for establishing a definite people's front, in its American form of the farmer-labor party. In all the state parties and political federations of the period the Communists were active and effective workers, and in Labor's Non-Partisan League, the Communists and other lefts were also the most dynamic elements. The Party was quite aware of the historic opportunity which the early New Deal years presented for the working class to break with the poisonous capitalistic two-party system and to embark upon a course of independent political action.

In this general matter, however, the Party narrowly escaped making a serious blunder. After the C.I.O., the A.F. of L., and the various existing state labor and farmer parties had clearly indicated, early in 1936,11 that they were not going to launch an independent party for the presidential elections of that fall, Earl Browder, general secretary of the C.P., nevertheless insisted in our Party that it put a labor party ticket in the field. If this had been done, it would have meant another Federated Farmer Labor Party (1923), but upon a still narrower basis. Browder sought to justify this impractical, right-sectarian proposition, which would have disastrously isolated our Party, on the absurd grounds that such a party would draw votes from Landon's column rather than from Roosevelt's. Only after he was defeated did Browder withdraw his proposal and accept the policy of a qualified endorsement of Roosevelt, which the Party successfully followed in the 1936 elections.

The Party, too, was essentially correct in its sharp opposition to Roosevelt in the initial three years or so of his regime. Fascism was a burning menace throughout the capitalist world and there were many pronounced fascist trends in the Roosevelt program, especially in the N.I.R.A. However, when Roosevelt, under the pressure of the big mass struggles and the attacks of the extreme right, began to take a more definite stand against militant reaction, then the Party changed its attitude toward him. At the ninth convention of the Communist Party, in June 1936, it was decided, in substance, to give Roosevelt indirect support by directing the Party's main fire against Landon. This correct policy, however, as later events were to show, was eventually to be distorted by Browder into an impermissible subordination of the Communist Party to the bourgeois Roosevelt program in general.

Browder and American Democratic Traditions

The most serious theoretical error made by the Communist Party during the early Roosevelt period was its erroneous handling of the question of the American national democratic traditions. The matter of national traditions, long neglected by many Communist parties, became of imperative importance with the rise of world fascism and the attempt of the fascists to rewrite their peoples' history to suit their own reactionary purposes. The Communist Party, leader of the powerful People's Front movement in France, in accordance with the facts in France and on the basis of principles established long before by Lenin and Stalin, greatly stressed the question from 1933 on. It demonstrated effectively to the masses that the Marxist-Leninists, in fighting against fascism and war and for socialism, were not only acting as the immediate leaders of the nation, but at the same time were carrying forward the revolutionary and democratic traditions of the French people. This correct policy blasted the fascists' historical pretensions and greatly strengthened the whole fight of the People's Front. Georgi Dimitrov, at the Seventh Congress of the Comintern, emphasized the importance of this task, pointing out that "The fascists are rummaging through the entire history of every nation so as to be able to pose as the heirs and continuers of all that was exalted and heroic in its past."12

Earl Browder, distorting the sound example of the French Communists, undertook after 1934 to analyze the relationship of American communism to American democratic and revolutionary traditions. In doing this he fell into the grossest opportunistic errors. Browder's central mistake in this general respect was his failure to distinguish between bourgeois democracy and proletarian democracy. He ignored the basic facts that bourgeois democracy is the rule of the bourgeoisie and proletarian democracy the rule of the working class, and also that between the two lies the establishment of socialism. In applying his opportunist theories to American history, Browder did not differentiate fundamentally between the narrow, restricted type of democracy conceived by the bourgeoisie and the broad popular democracy fought for by the proletariat. 13 He obscured the reality that the bourgeoisie systematically limits, thwarts, and distorts the democratic institutions under capitalism in its own class interest, and that the working class historically lights to expand the bourgeois democracy. The workers, as Lenin points out, develop bourgeois democracy to the utmost, and then make the leap to Socialist democracy. The fight for socialism is a struggle, by democratic means, for the highest form of democracy, which is completely unachievable under capitalism.

Browder, with his un-Marxist, undifferentiated concept of "American democracy," stood for bourgeois democracy in itself, and he was already, at this early date, putting forward the perspective of its constant, evolutionary growth. This implied the abandonment of socialism and the indefinite continuation of the capitalist system. Browder summed up his opportunist conceptions of American revolutionary and democratic traditions in the slogan, "Communism Is Twentieth Century Americanism," which he introduced at the eighth convention of the Party in Cleveland in 1934. As H. Jennings points out, the meaning of this slogan was that "what passes for the American tradition, with all its vague classless connotations and its illusion of an abstract and timeless democracy standing above class antagonisms, is acceptable as a definition of Communism."14 Browder's slogan was criticized, and he later made a public restatement of it, supposedly self-critical. 15 He continued to advocate the slogan; but it soon fell into disuse.

After 1934 Browder's writings were saturated with his "all-class" conceptions of "American democracy." He developed his idea that Marxism-Leninism was only a sort of expanded, unbroken continuation of bourgeois democracy. At the tenth convention of the Party, held in New York, beginning on May 27, 1938, Browder stated that "A full and complete application of Jefferson's principles, the consistent application of democratic ideas to the conditions of today, will lead naturally and inevitably to the full program of the Communist Party, to the socialist reorganization of the United States, to the common ownership and operation of our economy for the benefit of all." 16 In accordance with this revisionist conception, Browder was instrumental in having the convention write into the Preamble of the C.P. Constitution his false notion of the gradual evolution of Jeffersonianism into Marxism-Leninism. The Preamble, as amended, read that the C.P. simply "carried forward the traditions of Washington, Jefferson, Paine, Jackson, and Lincoln under the changed conditions of today." This was a complete denial of the class content of bourgeois democracy.

Browder's opportunist conception of bourgeois democracy not only eliminated the fight for socialism, but also ignored the democratic role of the working class in American history. Washington, Jefferson, Paine, Jackson, and Lincoln, it is true, fought for certain restricted democratic freedoms, needful to the ruling classes of a country emerging from a bourgeois agrarianism and slave economy into industrial capitalism, including limited rights of free speech, assembly, worship, trial by jury, and the like. These democratic freedoms the working class also struggled to establish, defend, and expand; but it fought, too, for its own specific democratic demands-higher wages, shorter hours, popular education, Negro people's rights, the right to organize and strike, social insurance, protection of women and children in industry, etc., to all of which, historically, the ruling class has been opposed. These working class demands, fundamentally different in substance from the limited democracy of all American bourgeois leaders, past and present, are the roots, within the framework of capitalism, of what will eventually mature under socialism as proletarian democracy.

The working class has played a most vital part in establishing such democracy as there is in the United States. And now the workers and their democratic allies, here as in all other capitalist lands, have become the sole protectors and developers of democracy. Without the workers' democratic fight, the fascist-minded monopoly capitalists would soon destroy every democratic institution in this country. Browder undertook to ignore or deny all these realities. Despite the gross opportunism of Browder's formulations, they nevertheless remained in the Preamble of the Party Constitution until the emergency convention of July 1945, when the present sound Marxist-Leninist clauses were substituted.

Browder's identification of proletarian democracy with bourgeois democracy signified his acceptance historically of the capitalist class as the democratic leader of the American people. It was a specific repudiation of the role of the working class, especially when headed by the Communist Party, as the leader of the nation. Uncorrected, this false idea was to cause Browder, several years later, also to accept the leadership of American imperialism in the realm of practical politics. This he did in January 1944, in his notorious Teheran thesis, which extolled "progressive capitalism." At its conventions of 1934, 1936, and 1938 the Party was not yet keen enough in its Marxist-Leninist clarity to grasp the significance of Browder's developing opportunistic interpretations of American democratic history, and thereby to kill this particularly venomous political snake in the egg. For this political shortcoming the Party was to pay dearly in subsequent years.

The Communists in the Building of the C.I.O. (1936–1940)

The building of the C.I.O. unions was the greatest stride forward ever made by the American labor movement. It changed the whole situation of the trade unions and brought the working class to new high levels of industrial and political strength and maturity. In this historic movement the Communist Party played a vital and indispensable role. It acted truly as the vanguard party of the working class.

As we have seen in Chapter 21, the Committee for Industrial Organization was established late in 1935 under the leadership of John L. Lewis. Its first main concentration was upon steel. In June 1936, the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, led by Philip Murray, was formed; district headquarters were set up in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Birmingham, and some 200 full-time organizers were put into the field. The eight associated C.I.O. unions, especially the miners, were prepared to spend millions in the work.

The steel workers were ripe for organization. Many were paid as little as $560 per year, as against a $1,500 standard cost-of-living budget; and long hours and tyranny prevailed in the shops. The workers were inspired by the world-wide proletarian fighting spirit of the period. So the organizing work was immediately successful. By the end of 1936 the S.W.O.C, which had virtually swallowed the old, fossilized Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers, had 150 local unions with 100,000 members.

Meanwhile, dramatic and decisive events were also happening in the automobile industry. The United Automobile Workers, which had been formed by the A.F. of L. but later joined the C.I.O., succeeded in building, by December 1936, an organization of about 30,000 members. Demanding an agreement with the General Motors Corp. and being refused, the workers, whose earnings then averaged but $20 per week, began to strike—in Atlanta and Cleveland. Finally, by January 1937, 51,000 were on strike, and they tied up 60 G.M. plants in 14 states, employing some 140,000 workers.

The center and decisive point of the strike was in the major G.M. plants in Flint, Michigan, the heart of this great industrial empire. There the workers, patterning their actions after a strike of rubber workers in Akron a few months earlier, and in line with workers' experience in France and Italy, occupied the plants. It was a "sit-down strike." The workers barricaded themselves in the workshops, set up a military-like discipline, beat off all armed attempts of company gunmen and police to recapture the plants, and threatened to resist with every means any attempt of the state militia to dislodge them, as the company was demanding from the governor. The solidarity of the workers was unbreakable, and after 44 days of struggle the great $1.5 billion General Motors Corp. capitulated, recognizing the union and granting substantial improvements in wages, hours, and working conditions.1

The G.M. strike, particularly in its key Flint section, was one of the most strategically decisive strikes in American labor history. It made the first real breakthrough for the C.I.O. into territory of open shop monopoly capital, and its effective sit-down tactics were a tremendous inspiration to the entire working class. The other C.I.O. campaigns thereafter went like wildfire, with the sit-down tactic being used successfully in many places. On March 8th, some 63,000 workers of the big Chrysler Corp. also went on strike (about two-thirds of them sit-downers), and they won a victory after a short struggle. Then, indeed, the unionization of the auto industry proceeded with great strides.

In steel also, dramatic success was being achieved. On March 2, 1937, the country was amazed by the announcement of an agreement between the S.W.O.C. and the United States Steel Corp., covering some 240,000 workers in its basic plants. The agreement established the eight-hour day and 40-hour week, provided for a 10-cent hourly wage increase, and for grievance committees, seniority, and other improvements. At long last, after nearly half a century of struggle, the unions had finally blasted their way solidly into the greatest open shop fortress of them all, Big Steel.

These decisive successes in steel and auto, the heart of basic industry, did not, however, complete the organization of these two great industries. "Little Steel"—the Bethlehem, Inland, Republic, and Youngstown companies—held out and with traditional violence, in May 1937, smashed the strike of 75,000 of their workers. In the infamous Memorial Day massacre in Chicago 10 picketing workers were killed and over 100 wounded by the police. In auto also, the great Ford empire managed to resist the current ground swell of unionization. But both Ford and Little Steel, within the next four years, finally had to submit to the organization of their workers.

In the meantime, militant and successful organizing campaigns were proceeding in various other industries—radio and electrical, maritime, metal mining, textile, lumber, transport, shoe, meat-packing, leather, rubber, aluminum, and glass, among white collar workers, etc.—but a description of all these campaigns would pass beyond the scope of this outline. Suffice it to say that by the end of 1940 the C.I.O. unions encompassed some four million workers, a growth of over three million in four years. By the time World War II began to engulf the world, the organizing drive of the C.I.O. had proved to be an unqualified success; the heart of trustified industry was unionized.

The A.F. of L. Leaders Sabotage the Campaign

As the demand for industrial unionization began to grow during the early thirties in the A.F. of L., Daniel J. Tobin, head of the Teamsters Union, "scornfully characterized the unskilled workers in mass production industry as 'rubbish.' 2 This was a true, if unusually frank, expression of the real attitude of the top leaders of the A.F. of L. toward the problem of organizing the basic industries. Give them the skilled workers, and the fate of the rest did not concern them. With this attitude, Green and Co. tried to stifle the current big spontaneous upheavals of the masses. They refused to grant the workers industrial charters; they expelled the C.I.O. unions in an attempt to break up the organizing drive at its inception; they condemned the sit-down strike as illegal and a harm to organized labor; they repeatedly had their craft unions play strikebreaking roles; they seconded every employer condemnation of the C.I.O. as "red." But the workers, with their wonderful fighting spirit and solidarity, and especially under Communist influence, smashed through this A.F. of L. sabotage (which had been so fatal in past union drives) and carried their organizing campaigns and strikes through to success.

By a historical irony, however, the A.F. of L. unions also profited hugely from the great mass organizing movement which their top leaders were doing so much to scuttle. Several of the more alert unions—machinists, teamsters, electrical, boilermakers, hotel, and restaurant, etc.,—took advantage of the favorable situation and organized workers on all sides, paying little attention to jurisdictional lines. They became mass, semi-industrial unions, all increasing heavily in membership. Communists were active in all of these campaigns. By 1940 the A.F. of L., in spite of losing several unions to the C.I.O., numbered about as many members as the C.I.O. did. At no time, however, did the A.F. of L. top leadership put on a general systematic campaign to organize the awakening workers. It was one of the more significant aspects of the labor situation that the growth of the C.I.O. and the influx of large numbers of unskilled workers into the craft unions had a restraining effect upon the reactionary course of the leaders in the A.F. of L.

There was a noticeable relaxation of gangster control and of the crass corruption that had so long been such a disgrace to the A.F. of L. leadership. The Federation also began to take a little more interest in progressive political programs, to be achieved through legislation. The old apoliticalism of Gompers, which opposed legislation on wages, hours, and working conditions as tending to liquidate the trade unions, was now a thing of the past. There was even a substantial decline in redbaiting in A.F. of L. unions.3

At their 1940 conventions the C.I.O. and A.F. of L. represented 3,810,318 and 4,247,443 members respectively. The total for the whole labor movement, including the independents, was about ten million. During the great organizing campaign of the late thirties the C.I.O. directly added to itself some three million members, and the A.F. of L., as compared with 1935, grew by 1,750,000. The railroad unions had practically overcome the disastrous losses of the 1922 strike, and the original eight C.I.O. unions increased by some 800,000. The C.I.O. principal unions at this time were the miners with 600,000 members, steel workers 535,109, auto workers 206,824, packinghouse workers 90,000, and transport workers 90,000. Up to 1940, the total gain to the trade union movement in the broad campaign initiated by the C.I.O. was about seven million members.

Although at this time the C.I.O. and A.F. of L. were about the same size numerically, the former was the most basic and promising section of the labor movement. This was because it was founded principally upon the heavy industries, and because of its more advanced policies, its more progressive leadership, and the greater influence of the Communists in its ranks.

Labor's Solidarity Overcomes All Obstacles

The key to the great success in building the C.I.O. during these years was the high solidarity and fighting spirit of the workers, which was assiduously cultivated by the Communists. This spirit was bred of long years of tyranny under the open shop, of the bitter destitution during the great economic crisis, of the feeling of economic and political power that the workers had gained through the successful strikes since 1933, and of their realization that they had beaten the Republican Party in the elections of 1932 and 1936.

The high morale was all-pervasive, running through the ranks of the workers, the unemployed, the Negroes, the foreign-born, the women, and the youth. Its central symbol was the sit-down strike and its highest expression the unbreakable unity between the employed and the unemployed. Although there were never less than ten million unemployed throughout this whole period, and there was also a developing economic crisis in 1937, the strikes were extremely solid, it being very difficult to recruit strikebreakers to take the place of strikers. It was this unparalleled proletarian solidarity and militancy that—apparently with ease—defeated the employers and forced open the way for the unionization of the trustified industries.

A factor highly favorable to the organization of the workers was the deep split in the ranks of the top bureaucracy of the trade unions—as distinguished from the split in the labor movement itself. Previously, attempts at mass organization had to face the united and usually fatal opposition of the upper leadership, who based themselves primarily upon the skilled. Hence, organizing campaigns in the basic industries had to be undertaken by the rank and file or by independent unions, with all the money, organizers, and prestige of the conservative union leadership arrayed against them. Except for this top opposition, the mass production industries could have been organized long before—certainly during World War I or during the Coolidge years. But now, with the Green-Lewis split in the bureaucracy and with Lewis pushing for organization, it became possible to tackle the job seriously for the first time with the real power and prestige of solid trade unions behind the campaign. Success was thus assured from the outset.

The hard-boiled employers—in steel and auto, for example—caved in with surprising ease before the advance of the C.I.O. Even the Girdlers and Fords could not long resist the organizing movement. Their "Mohawk formula" and all other approved and tested strikebreaking methods had lost their potency. This was primarily because the intense fighting spirit of the workers destroyed ruthlessly the company unions, spy systems, gunman control, and the rest of the open shop demagogy and terrorism which the employers had been building up for a generation, and which had hitherto been so drastically effective in preventing unionization. The leaders of U.S. Steel, General Motors, and other trusts, facing an aroused working class, feared that an open struggle would bring about even more radical labor organization than what they finally got. The Communist Party, dynamic force in the whole movement, was at the time advocating a joint strike movement in steel, auto, and coal mining; and such a broad strike was definitely a practical perspective. So the big magnates of industry made the best of a bad situation, and they set out to try to control the new unions that they could no longer forestall. After all, "labor lieutenants" like Green, Woll, Frey, and Co. were not very terrifying people to contemplate dealing with, and such figures, they apparently hoped, would also come to lead the C.I.O.

In fighting against the formation of the C.I.O. unions, the employers were hampered because the current Federal Administration was not the facile and effective strikebreaking machine that it had been in the past. Roosevelt was not a Grover Cleveland smashing the 1894 American Railway Union strike, a Woodrow Wilson giving the green light to Gary and his steel union-crushers in 1919, nor a Warren G. Harding tearing to pieces the 1922 strike of the railroad shopmen. Instead, Roosevelt, a liberal, favored unions in a moderate way, more especially in view of his need for their support against the violent attacks that extreme reaction was making upon him. He recognized that the days of the old-time open shop were over. But without the great militancy of the masses little union-building would have taken place under his regime. Indeed, in co-operation with William Green, Roosevelt had "compromised" out of existence the strong union drives in steel and auto in 1934, by referring their demands to labor boards which knifed them. The Administration also condemned the vitally important sit-down strike tactic. And Roosevelt's Wagner Act, although a real improvement over Section 7 (a) of the N.I.R.A., was anything but the all-decisive "Magna Carta of Labor" that union officials called it. While it recognized the right of the workers to organize, the latter had to fight to make that right real. The Wagner Act was a reflection of the great contemporaneous advance of the workers, not the cause of it. Minus the aggressive spirit of the workers, this act would have remained only a paper declaration without real substance, had it ever been written at all.

The Role of the Communist Party

The Communist Party fully supported the C.I.O. program of establishing new industrial unions in the basic, unorganized industries. Although the C.I.O. was split off from the A.F. of L., the Party in no sense identified this broad independent mass movement with the narrow left-wing dual unionism which the Party had long opposed-despite certain deviations of its own during the T.U.U.L. period. The traditional left dual unionism had the effect of withdrawing the militant elements from the unions and isolating them from the general labor movement in small unions, but nothing like this took place with the founding of the C.I.O. On the contrary, the C.I.O. was in every sense a broad mass movement.

The Communists played a decisive part in the great strikes and organizing drives that established the C.I.O. This was evident on the very face of things. It was to be seen in the highly militant character, as remarked in Chapter 21, of the methods and spirit of the general movement. The new unions certainly did not learn their militant organizing spirit, intensified political activity, internationalism, more enlightened Negro policy, shop steward system, rank-and-file democracy, anti-racketeer fight, mass picketing, union singing, sit-down strikes, slow-down strikes, and sound fighting policies from the old-line trade union leaders who officially headed the historic movement. Nor did they get them from the Trotskyites or Socialists, who took very little part in these struggles. And the I.W.W. tradition was long since inactive. Stolberg, a redbaiter who hated the Communist Party and loved its enemies, in 1938 said of the Trotskyites as participants in these struggles: "The Trotskyites in the C.I.O. we may dismiss." And of the Socialists, who were not much more of a factor than the Trotskyites on the fighting-organizing line, Stolberg also stated: "The Socialist Party has no clear trade union policy in the C.I.O. or elsewhere."4 Significantly, almost the whole of his book is devoted to describing Communist influence in the C.I.O. The plain fact is that the ideological spirit of the great union-building movement and its militant tactics were chiefly a direct reflection of the big mass influence of the Communists, who were everywhere active in the work of organization and struggle. The C.I.O. took over the bulk of the immediate program of the Trade Union Unity League.

Actually, the "Old Guard" Socialists opposed the C.I.O. and its program. At the Tampa convention of the A.F. of L. they voted to expel the C.I.O. unions. And it was under "Old Guard" pressure that Dubinsky got cold feet, withdrew the I.L.G.W.U. from the C.I.O. and brought it back into the A.F. of L.

The Communists were well fitted to play their vital part in the C.I.O. drive. For years they had paid major attention to the question of organizing the basic industries, and they had assembled vast practical experience, as well as many mass contacts. They had conducted innumerable T.U.E.L. and T.U.U.L. strikes and Unemployed Council and Workers Alliance activities in many heavy and trustified industrial centers. The Communist Party, with its system of shop groups and shop papers, also had valuable connections among the most militant workers in many open shop industries. The left wing had hosts of other such contacts in these plants through the various Negro, foreign-born, and other mass organizations in which it had an important influence. All of these connections the Party set in motion when the great organizing drive got under way. The 15-year struggle of the Party in the basic industries trained thousands of fighters, who later formed the very foundations of the C.I.O.

These basic contributions of the Communists to the building of the C.I.O. are now conveniently ignored or denied by the present right-wing leadership. But occasionally some credit is given our Party. Thus, Alinsky, in his "unauthorized" biography of John L. Lewis, which was written in close collaboration with the latter, says of the role of the Communists in building the C.I.O.: "Then, as is now commonly known, the Communists worked indefatigably, with no job being too menial or unimportant. They literally poured themselves completely into their assignments. The Communist Party gave its complete support to the C.I.O...The fact is that the Communist Party made a major contribution in the organization of the unorganized for the C.I.O."5

As the general C.I.O. movement developed the Party published a series of pamphlets, outlining in detail the ideological case for industrial unionism, effective methods of organizational work in mass production industries, the elements of strike strategy, and the principles of the construction and operation of democratic industrinl unions. These pamphlets summarized the constructive experience of the I.W.W., the T.U.E.L., the T.U.U.L., and the independent industrial unions over the past generation, and also that of the organizing campaigns in the A.F. of L., such as those in meat-packing and steel in 1917-19. They were given a wide circulation, and in many instances were to be found in local C.I.O. headquarters, serving as handbooks on organization for those doing the field work.6

In discussing necessary conditions for the success of the general organizing campaign then getting under way, the Party laid down as the most fundamental of all, as condition number one, that there be developed free working relations between the progressives and Communists in the movement. This was in accord historically with the best experience of the labor movement, in all phases of its growth. As the Party put the matter: "The organization work must be done by a working co-ordination of the progressive and left-wing forces in the labor movement. It is only these elements that have the necessary vision, flexibility, and courage to go forward with such an important project as the organization of the 500,000 steel workers in the face of the powerful opposition of the Steel Trust and its capitalist allies."7

A handicap to the maximum work and growth of the Communist Party during this general period was the developing opportunism of Earl Browder, its general secretary. Browder, with no mass union organizing experience and no talent for or appreciation of such work, preferred to maneuver opportunistically with top union and political leaders. He constantly sought to dampen the insistent working and fighting spirit of the Party. Especially he shied away from actively recruiting Party members in the basic industries, for fear that this would antagonize the top C.I.O. leaders. Such opportunist tendencies, which a few years later were to mature as a full-fledged system of revisionism and liquidation-ism, caused much friction in the top leadership of the Party and they worked against the organizational growth of the Party and the broadening of its influence among the masses of workers.

There was another very harmful tendency at the time—to overestimate the progressive character of the top leaders of the C.I.O. This wrong tendency was exemplified by Browder's extravagant adulation of Lewis and Murray, in turn, as the super-greatest of American labor leaders. Not enough attention was given to the fact that the "progressive" role being played by these leaders at the time was essentially opportunistic and that, when opportunity beckoned to them from another quarter, they would quickly drop their "progressivism," as they eventually did. At most, it was only skin deep.

John L. Lewis, Sidney Hillman, and their co-workers were apparently convinced of the value of Communist co-operation, because from the outset the organizing work and the leading of innumerable victorious strikes were done by a combination of the left-center forces—that is, Lewis, Hillman, the Communists, and other progressives. This working combination, although largely informal while Lewis remained president of the C.I.O. (up to the end of 1940), was a matter of common knowledge. As F. R. Dulles says, "Lewis did not hesitate to draw upon their [the Communists'] experience and skill in building up the C.I.O." 8 Practically everywhere, therefore, Communists became active and effective members of the big organizing crews. With the accession of Philip Murray to the presidency of the C.I.O., the left-center bloc was, for some years, even more definitely consolidated, and it became virtually a working alliance. The C.I.O. could not have succeeded upon any other basis.

The Communists worked very diligently to build and strengthen the left-center bloc. They refrained from grabbing for office in the new unions, and they gave unselfishly of themselves to the organizing work. As an example of the Party's co-operative spirit, in 1939 it liquidated its system of trade union fractions and shop papers. The Party's trade union fractions—educational groups of Communists in the local unions—were dissolved to end all fears that they were formed for the purpose of controlling the unions. The Party's shop papers, which had performed invaluable services in the initial stages of the C.I.O. campaigns, were also given up for the same general reasons.

It was this left-center bloc, the working combination of progressives and left-wingers (mainly Communists), that carried through successfully the great organizing campaigns and strikes which unionized the basic industries and established the C.I.O. It was also this combination, throughout the ten years it lasted, that made the C.I.O. the leading section of the American trade union movement and a constructive force among the organized labor unions of the world. Mr. Murray and his friends, however, in the post-World War II years, have seen fit to break their connection with this left-center bloc, which has been of such vital importance in the life of the C.I.O.—but of all this more later.

The Communists in the Steel Industry

In 1936, when the campaign began, the Communists had many valuable contacts with which to help organize the steel industry. The Party had branches in the main steel towns and mills, and it also had many scattered individual steel worker members. There were also a large number of left-wing members in the political and fraternal organizations of Negro and foreign-born workers in these areas. The T.U.U.L. had conducted several strikes and led many unemployed movements among steel workers over the years, and the Communists were very active in the steel organizing campaign of 1933-34. Besides, the national chairman of the Party, William Z. Foster, had led the great steel strike of 17 years before and was well known throughout the industry.

Co-operative relations, an informal united front, existed between the Communists and Philip Murray, head of the S.W.O.C, in carrying on the steel campaign. Of the approximately 200 full-time organizers put into the steel areas on the payroll of S.W.O.C, some 60 were Party members, as Murray well knew. The Party gave many of its best workers to the campaign, including a number of Negro organizers. Among them were Gus Hall, Ben Carreathers, John Steuben, and Pat Cush. All its local units and contacts were stimulated to work; for the Party the organization of the steel workers became the first order of business. W. Gebert was the Party's liaison with the S.W.O.C, and he held many conferences with the heads of that organization.

One example of the effectiveness of the Communists' organizing work was the national conference of Negro organizations held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on February 6, 1937, to help organize steel. There were 186 delegates, representing no organizations with a total membership of 100,000. The conference was brought together by Benjamin L. Carreathers, a leading Negro Communist of Pittsburgh and full-time organizer for the S.W.O.C. The Party rallied all its Negro worker contacts to make this basic organizing conference the success that it was. The great importance of the conference may be grasped when it is realized that there were then about 100,000 Negroes working in the steel mills. 9 The intense activity of the Communists on the Negro question was a basic reason why the Negro workers joined all the C.I.O. unions in such numbers and also why the C.I.O. took its generally advanced position regarding the Negro people.

Another example of the systematic Communist organizing work in the steel campaign was the national conference of the organizations of the foreign-born. This was the work of W. Gebert, Party organizer in the steel industry, and it had the endorsement of Philip Murray and Clinton Golden. The conference, held in Pittsburgh on October 25, 1936, brought together 447 delegates, officially representing 459,000 members of many Lithuanian, Polish, Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Russian, and other groups, 10 including several important Catholic organizations. Gebert was chairman, and Murray and Golden spoke. In view of the huge number of foreign-born workers in the steel industry, this conference was obviously of basic importance in the organization work.

The Young Communist League was also responsible for the holding of numerous broad conferences in various steel centers, to win the support of the young workers for the drive. Communist women took similar measures. In the steel areas the entire Party was active in the work of organization, and its influence in bringing the masses into the union was undoubtedly very great.

The Communists and other lefts, although becoming influential in the steel union in many localities, never got a corresponding position in the top leadership. This was partly because the C.I.O. leaders, realizing that steel was the key to the general organization they were building up, took elaborate precautions to keep tight control of the new steel workers' union. They manned all the key official union posts with coal miners, from Philip Murray on down, and to this day an authentic steel worker leadership of the union has not developed. Indeed, not until six years after signing of the agreement with Big Steel did Philip Murray even permit the closely-controlled S.W.O.C. to become reorganized into the supposedly democratic United Steelworkers of America.

More basic, however, in the failure of the left to consolidate its forces in steel were its own errors and shortcomings, typical of the Browder period. These included inadequate criticism of the Murray leadership, failure to build the Party and its press in the shops and mills, failure to develop independent union election activities, and the like. Devoting themselves whole-heartedly to the building of the union, as in the case of other industries, the Communists did not pay enough attention to the question of developing a progressive union leadership. The Communists and lefts in the steel industry were in a strong enough position locally at the time to have insisted that representative steel workers be brought into the top leadership; but they failed to do so. So the miners union functionaries, many of whom were mere chair-warmers and time-worn bureaucrats, retained full control of all decisive top positions.

The Communists in the Auto Industry

When the A.F. of L., in 1935, was compelled by the demand of the automobile workers to charter an international union, the United Automobile Workers, the Communists already had a long record of activity in that industry. Raymond, McKie, Schmies, and others were well known as loyal fighters. There were many C.P. shop units and individual members in the plants. The T.U.U.L. had also conducted several local strikes, the Unemployed Councils had organized scores of demonstrations of the unemployed, and for 15 years the Party in its general political agitation had laid constant stress upon union organization. So that when the U.A.W., late in 1935, quit the A.F. of L. and became part of the C.I.O., the left wing was a central factor in the young union. Says Alinsky: "When Lewis turned to help the auto workers, he saw that they were being organized and led by the leftists. The leaders and organizers of the U.A.W. group in General Motors were the left wingers Wyndham Mortimer and Robert Travis. These two built the union inside the great General Motors empire. If Lewis wanted to take the auto workers into the C.I.O. he had to take their left-wing leadership."11

The main stroke in organizing the auto industry nationally, as we have seen previously, was the big G.M. sit-down strike of January 1937. After this resounding victory, it was only a question of gathering in the mass of auto workers now thoroughly ready for organization. It is no exaggeration to say that the G.M. strike organized the United Auto Workers. Indeed, this may also be said, within limits, of the whole C.I.O.; for this strategic strike produced such a tremendous wave of enthusiasm and fighting spirit among the workers throughout the basic industries that their organization into the C.I.O. unions became largely routine.

It was the left wing—Communists and their close progressive coworkers—that led the historic G.M. strike to this brilliant victory. The heart of the great strike was in Flint, Michigan. There, as Alinsky says, the union was built and led by the broad left wing, with Mortimer and Travis at the head. The center of the Flint strike was Fisher Body Plant No. 1. There the great sit-down strike began in the Michigan area, from there it spread, and there too it was won. Travis was the union organizer in Flint, where the whole strike found its decisive bulwark and organization. As the national strike progressed, the decisive question was whether or not the strikers, under the heavy pressure of the employers and the city, state, and federal governments, would abandon their sit-down and quit the plants. Had they done so, the strike would have been lost. But due primarily to the unshakable stand of the workers in Fisher Body No, i, and the backing of the local Communist forces, the sit-down was maintained, and eventually the great strike was won. John L. Lewis and Wyndham Mortimer were the main negotiators and signers of the decisive G.M. agreement.

Nearly all of the seven members of the strike committee in the key Fisher Body No. 1 plant were Communists, and their leader, Walter Moore, was the Party section organizer in Flint. The Communist Party in Michigan, of which W. W. Weinstone was the district organizer, gave everything it had to the strike, and not without success. In the later successful general Chrysler strike and other work in further building the union, the Communists were no less active.

The auto workers, unlike the steel workers, developed their own top leadership. This was accompanied by many internal struggles and much factionalism. The auto manufacturers, resolved upon controlling the new union, took a hand in this internal strife. Consequently, at the 1936 South Bend convention, when the Dillon A.F. of L. reactionaries were cleaned out by the rank and file, the employers managed to wangle their new man, Homer Martin, into the presidency of the union. A number of left-wingers and progressives, however, were elected to the top leadership, including Mortimer, Travis, Hall, Anderson, and others. In the winter of 1938-39, Homer Martin (whose chief advisor was Jay Lovestone, a renegade from Communism), fearing he was going to be displaced by the rank and file, expelled the left-wing majority of the executive board, and with the help of a gang of thugs, took over control of the international office by force.12 Dubinsky was a backer of Martin.

At the Cleveland convention, in April 1939, where Martin was exposed and expelled as an agent of Ford, the left-progressives —the "Unity Caucus"—controlled three-fourths of the delegates. Murray and Hillman insisted that R. J. Thomas, whom Lewis later called a "dunder-headed blabbermouth," be elected president. This proposition; the left-progressives mistakenly agreed to accept, instead of electing a progressive to head the union, as they could have done. Murray and Hillman at the same time abolished all vice-presidencies, thus further weakening the position of the left. The main weakness of the Communists and the real progressives in this struggle was that they did not develop a sufficiently independent line, as against that of Addes and Thomas, and Murray and Hillman as well, in the general struggle against the right.

The conservative and incompetent President Thomas, with his persistent knifing of the left-progressive bloc, prepared the way for the rise of Walter Reuther to the presidency several years later. In the 1936-38 formative years of the auto union Reuther was a relatively minor figure. He had just returned from a year's visit to Soviet Russia, where, he said, he had been favorably impressed by what he saw of socialism. For a while he even pretended to be a Communist. It was with the support of the Communists that he managed to locate a job in the shops and eventually become president of the West Side local in Detroit—his main base in his later successful fight for national leadership. Reuther's inordinate ambitions and crass opportunism, however, soon led him in directions other than communism.

The Communists and Progressives in Other Industries

The broad progressive forces also displayed high initiative in the organizing work of practically all the other C.I.O. unions. In the maritime industry, on the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts, they built the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union and the National Maritime Union, in a whole series of successful strikes from 1934 on. Harry Bridges, the outstanding figure in this situation, became C.I.O. director on the Pacific Coast. The Atlantic Coast N.M.U. leader, Joseph Curran, now a fevered redbaiter, worked closely with the Communists. The majority of the N.M.U. board were Party members. Altogether, the several new unions in the maritime industry numbered about 125,000 members by 1940.

In the textile industry the Party, as a result of its many earlier strikes and unemployed campaigns, also had many members and contacts, and they all went to work vigorously building the new United Textile Workers of America. This project was under the direct leadership of Sidney Hillman. While quite willing to make a united front with the Communists and other progressives, Hillman always maneuvered to balk their efforts to build up a truly representative leadership.

In the radio and electrical industry the left-progressive group was the decisive organizing force that established the big United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, now headed by Albert J. Fitzgerald, Julius Emspak, and James Matles. The first president of this union, the notorious James Carey, lost his post at the 1940 convention of the organization because he attempted to push through a resolution aimed at barring Communists and other left-wingers from holding union office. It was a mistake of the progressive forces not to have insisted then that this later-to-be extreme reactionary, who had been repudiated by his own union, be replaced as national secretary of the C.I.O. With vigorous insistence this could have been readily accomplished.

In the woods and sawmills of the Northwest, where the I.W.W. tradition was still strong, the left wing was responsible for building the C.I.O. union, the International Woodworkers of America, whose first president was Harold Pritchett, a Canadian Communist. This union was the result of a breakaway from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.

The International Fur and Leather Workers Union, the most militant and progressive union in the needle industry, was brought into the C.I.O. when the Communists and the progressives won the leadership of the union at its convention in Chicago in 1937, and withdrew it from the A.F. of L. Organizing the fur industry completely and branching out into the unorganized leather industry, it then quickly tripled its membership. Its leader then and now is Ben Gold, brilliant veteran fighter. Irving Potash is a mainstay in this union.

The Transport Workers Union was organized mainly by the Communists. The president of this union, the redbaiting Michael Quill, at that time proclaimed himself as a leftist among the lefts. He was a pseudo-Communist. The International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers, an organization with a great fighting tradition (dating back to the old Western Federation of Miners) and one of the most important basic unions in the United States, was also built by the broad left wing-progressive combination. And so, mainly, were the Packinghouse and Cannery Workers, the Farm Equipment and Metal Workers, the American Communications Association, United Office and Professional Workers, State, County and Municipal Workers, and the American Newspaper Guild. In the building of the other new C.I.O. unions, such as Shoe, Rubber, Aluminum, Flat Glass, etc., the Communists also did their part.

Communists were likewise pioneers, along with other progressive elements, in building many C.I.O. city and state industrial councils. Consequently the councils in nearly all the big cities—New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Seattle, San Francisco, Buffalo, and elsewhere—were led by left-progressive forces, as also were a, number of the state bodies—Illinois, California, Wisconsin, Indiana, Washington, and others.

By 1940 the Communists were a strong influence in the leadership of the C.I.O. This position of influence they had won, in spite of many mistakes, by clear-thinking, successful organizing work, militant fighting on picket lines, and all-around devoted service to the working class. The Communists were everywhere identified in the minds of the workers with the big organizing campaigns of these foundation years of the C.I.O. and with such hard-fought strikes as those of San Francisco, Flint, Ford, Little Steel, and the Atlantic and Pacific coast waterfronts. In the A.F. of L. unions the Communists were less strong, although about one-third of all Communist trade unionists belonged to these organizations. Main Communist positions in the A.F. of L. were in the food, painters, and machinists unions. This comparative weakness in the A.F. of L. was due to neglect of Communist work in that organization and to the concentration upon work in the C.I.O.

Communist influence in the C.I.O. ran far beyond the degree of formal leadership exercised by Party members. As we have indicated earlier, it was to be seen in the comparatively advanced political program of the C.I.O., in its progressive attitude toward the Negro workers, in the up-to-date organizational methods used in building the unions, and in the militant fighting spirit with which strikes were carried through. The Communist Party may well be proud of the role it played in the building of the C.I.O. and the unionization of the trustified industries. In view of this splendid record, charges by A.F. of L. and C.I.O. top leaders that the Communists are trying to "dominate the trade union movement," or even "to break it up," are simply ridiculous.

The Good Neighbor Policy (1933–1941)

The "good neighbor" policy, Roosevelt's program toward Latin America, was a cornerstone of the New Deal. In his Inaugural Address of March 4, 1933, the president introduced this program, stating that "In the field of world policy, I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself, and, because he does so, respects the rights of others." This doctrine the president also enunciated shortly afterward in Montevideo, Uruguay, at a meeting of the American states. Thenceforth, until his death, the good neighbor policy, so far as Latin America was concerned, remained a definite part of the general Roosevelt program.1

Roosevelt followed up his professions of inter-American friendship and equality at Montevideo by introducing a minimum of liberalism into United States-Latin American relations. He proceeded to abolish the Piatt Amendment in Cuba, which gave the United States the right to intervene in that country; he abrogated the U.S. treaty right to send troops into Mexico; he withdrew American troops from Haiti and other Caribbean countries; and he abandoned the "right" of the United States to interfere in Panama and the Dominican Republic.

These steps were widely hailed in Latin America and the United States as signifying the end of Yankee imperialism in Latin America and the beginning of a system of fraternal equality among the nations of the western hemisphere. But this, of course, was incorrect. The same fundamental imperialist-colonial relations remained between the United States and the other countries of the Americas. The "Colossus of the North" continued, under even more favorable circumstances, to dominate the economic and political life of its Latin American and Canadian neighbors. This was the net effect of the good neighbor policy. American investment remained and continued to draw huge profits, and Yankee political intervention went right on in more subtle forms, as illustrated by U.S. opposition to the overthrow of Machado in Cuba, its interference in the Gran Chaco War in South America, its support to the fascist opposition to Cardenas in Mexico, its interference in Argentina, and the like.

Roosevelt with his New Deal did not abolish monopoly capitalism in the United States; nor did he, with his good neighbor policy, do away with Yankee imperialism in the rest of the hemisphere. In both instances, with his liberalism, Roosevelt simply adopted a few badly-needed reforms in order to make this system of exploitation more workable. The fact is the good neighbor policy operated so advantageously for American imperialist interests that it soon came to be endorsed by the big American monopolists as an effective imperialist policy, and their political leaders vied with Roosevelt in claiming its authorship.

The good neighbor policy was not officially designed to apply to highly industrialized Canada, although Wall Street definitely considers that country to be part of its ail-American hinterland and accordingly carries on an active economic and political penetration of it. American investments in Canada now total over $6 billion and are rapidly increasing; whereas those of Great Britain are only about one-fourth as much and are steadily diminishing. American political influence is correspondingly growing in Canada, and British influence is in decline. The United States, with its many bases, has now established virtual military control over Canada, and it has the further imperialist advantage in the fact that the labor union movement of Canada is dominated by Americans, through the A.F. of L. and Railroad Brotherhoods, to which it is mainly affiliated. The C.P.U.S.A. has always co-operated closely with the Communist Party of Canada in its fight for the national independence of its country against the encroachments of Wall Street.

The Yankee of Exploitation and Tyranny

When President Monroe proclaimed on December 2, 1823, the doctrine which came to bear his name, it was primarily an attempt to prevent the newly-freed colonies of North, Central, and South America from becoming re-enslaved by the Holy Alliance (Russia, Prussia, and Austria) or by Great Britain. But even in those early years there were many American landgrabbers and expansionists who looked forward to a time when the United States would dominate the whole western hemisphere. As early as 1786 the liberal Jefferson declared, "Our confederacy must be viewed as the nest from which all of America, north and south, is to be peopled." 2 And in 1820, Henry Clay, expressing similar widely-held expansionist ideas, proposed a Yankee-run league of "all the nations from Hudson Bay to Cape Horn."3

With the growth of the United States, and especially with the development of American imperialism in the period of 1880-1900, Yankee interventionist tendencies in Latin America grew much more pronounced. The Monroe Doctrine became transformed into an instrument to lend a legal coloring to American domination of the hemisphere. The Pan American Union, a U.S.-inspired association of Latin American states under American hegemony, was organized in 1889. It was from the outset a weapon of Yankee imperialism with which to combat the British imperialists and to exploit the Latin American peoples.

As a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898 the United States seized Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines and other strategic islands in the Pacific. It was the beginning of the establishment of an American colonial empire. Then followed a whole series of gross imperialist military and political aggressions, some of the more important of which were the seizure of Panama, interference in Venezuela, occupation of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean countries, invasion of Nicaragua, intervention in the Mexican Revolution, and the making and unmaking of various Latin American governments. The symbol of all this ruthless Yankee imperialism was President Theodore Roosevelt, with his "dollar diplomacy" and his "big stick," arrogantly asserting the right of the United States to police the whole western hemisphere.

Behind this extreme political and military aggression by the United States was a no less active drive for the imperialist economic penetration of Latin America. In 1900 American investments in Latin America were very small, but by 1913 they reached $173 million, and by 1930 they had skyrocketed to almost $5 billion. United States-Latin American trade developed correspondingly; by 1938 the United States was selling Latin America 39.8 percent of its imports and buying 32.8 percent of its exports. 4 These economic activities were highly advantageous to the United States, profits ranging from 10 to 50 percent. Rippy says that by the end of 1930 the bulk of the mineral resources of Latin America was owned by United States capitalists. 5 It was estimated that the United States in 1934 controlled in Latin America, "all the bauxite, a considerable part of the coal, about 90 percent of the copper, one-third of the gold, practically all of the iron ore, more than one-third of the lead, one-half of the manganese, over one-half of the petroleum, approximately one-half of the platinum, 70 percent of the silver, only one-tenth of the tin, all of the tungsten and vanadium, and two-thirds of the zinc." 6 The economic and political domination of the United States was particularly marked in the Central American countries of the Caribbean area. 7 The United States has long reaped super-profits from its big investments in Latin America. In 1951, the rich United Fruit Co. alone pulled out profits, after taxes, of $66,159,375. American concerns are now milking Latin America of at least half a billion dollars yearly. Lazaro Pena, Cuban labor leader, states that between 1913 and 1939, the imperialists (mostly the Americans) drew $6.5 billion out of Latin America and reinvested there less than $2 billion. 8

American Imperialism Gets a "New Look"

By the time Franklin D. Roosevelt came to the presidency in March 1933, the—to Wall Street—hitherto very favorable situation in Latin America had fallen into sad disarray. The great cyclical crisis had played havoc with economic conditions. Latin America, like the United States, was flattened by the industrial holocaust; so that United States-Latin American trade fell off from $686 million in 1930 to but $96 million in 1932, and American yearly investment in the Latin American countries, which amounted to $175 million in 1929, was nothing at all during the years 1931-35.

To make matters worse, new and dangerous competitors were appearing on the horizon to contest the Latin American markets and political controls with the Yankee businessmen. These rivals were Germany, Italy, and Japan. The history of Latin America had been one long record of a developing struggle, chiefly between British and American imperialism, for economic and political supremacy, with the British slowly getting the worst of it. But especially with the rise of fascism and in view of the intense importance the fascists placed upon conquering Latin America, the Germans, Italians, and Japanese constituted an additional set of militant imperialist enemies who were a real menace to Yankee imperialism and the Latin American peoples.

Moreover, the workers and peasants of Latin America, like the toiling masses in the United States, were beginning to organize politically and in unions and to go on the march against their exploiters after the terrible years of the great economic crisis. Much of their resentment was directed against the Yankee capitalists, who everywhere were allied with the domestic big landlords and employers. The peoples were very bitter against Wall Street imperialism, which for so many years had inflicted upon them the grossest indignities and injuries.

It was to improve the position of American imperialism in this most unfavorable situation that the good neighbor policy was formulated, carrying as it did some recognition of the national independence of the Latin American states. The good neighbor policy, particularly in the latter 1930's, had some stimulating effect upon the peoples' defeat of the fascist attempts to seize the governments of Brazil and other countries, and also was a factor in uniting the Latin American peoples for the international struggle against fascism during World War II.

The Stunted Economy of Latin America

Latin America is very much less developed industrially than the United States. Although that great area has adequate material resources and a population just about as large as that in the United States, nevertheless its industrial output is hardly more than 10 percent of that of the latter country. In the United States only 20 percent of the population are actual farmers, whereas throughout Latin America the average runs to about 70 percent. There are in the United States six times as many miles of highway, four times as much railway mileage, 20 times as many telephones, and 30 times as many automobiles as in all of Latin America. The production capacity of the steel industry of the United States (about 105,000,000 tons annually) is about 70 times that of the whole of Latin America (1,500,000 tons).

The economic underdevelopment of Latin America generally (some countries, such as Argentina, are more advanced, and others, like Paraguay, more backward) stems primarily from the relative incompleteness of the bourgeois revolution in these countries. The hemisphere-wide bourgeois (i.e. capitalist) revolution through the years 1776-1837 shattered the colonial systems of Spain, Portugal, France, and Great Britain in America. It made the American peoples politically independent; it set up a score of new states, and it gave a tremendous impulse to the development of capitalism throughout the western hemisphere.

In Latin America, however, the revolution was incomplete, in that it did not result in breaking the power of the big feudal land-owners. Consequently, down to the present time the latifundia system of immense landholdings prevails over almost all of Latin America. Small farmers hardly own more than 10 percent of the land in the aggregate, and the vast bulk of the land workers own no land at all. The big landowners, besides using incredibly backward techniques in agriculture, have deliberately checked the growth of industry. Their domination of the national governments and of the national economies has thereby restricted the growth of the characteristic capitalist, middle, and working classes. The landowners are the chief source of the many tyrannies and dictatorships that have plagued the Latin American peoples for generations. The Catholic Church, with its powerful economic, political, and ideological controls, is tied in with this reactionary big landowning system, which is the basic curse of Latin America.

Imperialist economic and political penetration of Latin America, which became an important factor from about 1880, has operated even more powerfully to hinder the growth of Latin American industry. This is because the imperialists develop only such enterprises—usually mining, transportation, and certain plantations—as serve their exploitative purposes. They pump huge profits out of the countries and rob them of their natural resources. They especially prevent the development of all industries which would produce the means of production and thus bring about an industrialization competitive with the imperialists. They also contribute to maintaining the latifundia system, both by political alliances with the landowners and by grabbing great stretches of land for themselves—examples being the vast holdings of the United Fruit Co. in Central America, the gigantic American sugar and coffee plantations in Cuba and Brazil, Ford's big plantation in Brazil, and the huge copper, coal, oil, and other mineral lands owned by United States capitalists in Chile, Peru, Brazil, and elsewhere. The American holdings in Venezuelan oil and iron are fabulously rich.

One of the worst features developed by this big landowner-imperialist system is so-called monoculture. This is the production of but one or two commodities for export by a given country, whether coffee, sugar, bananas, copper, oil, or whatnot. Thus, in five republics more than two-thirds of the total value of their exports comes from one product, in six from two products, and in five from three. The most deadly effect of monoculture is that this system prevents the development of an efficient agriculture and a rounded-out industrial economy, making the given country dependent upon the foreign imperialists for all sorts of manufactured goods; and it also leaves the various countries totally exposed to the disastrous fluctuations of world market prices for their export commodities.

Another very detrimental feature of the Latin American economy, bred of imperialist dictation, is the dependence of its foreign and domestic trade upon the interests of the dominating foreign capitalists, principally Americans. By controlling the main market for a country's given product—say Cuban sugar, Brazilian coffee, or Caribbean bananas —the United States is able to establish arbitrarily the price of these commodities, to restrict the respective countries from trading with each other or with rival imperialist competitors, and to dump its own goods upon their domestic markets at extravagant prices.

What the United States has done in the Philippines and Latin America (including Puerto Rico, an outright colony) is to build up a vast system of puppet governments more or less completely under its control. It is a lie to say that this country is opposed to colonialism. Wall Street's specific type of colonialism, in which the colonialized lands are given a shadow of political independence, is merely a more up-to-date brand, designed to confuse the people's demand for national liberation.

The Exploited and Famished Peoples of Latin America

As the result of the ferocious oppression and robbery which they have experienced for so long from landowners, local capitalists, and foreign imperialists, the peoples of Latin America have been pushed down to extremes of poverty and destitution. Wages for workers in industry average from one-tenth to one-third of what they are in the United States, while the great masses of agricultural workers in the haciendas, estancias, and fazendas—mostly Indians, Negroes, Mulattoes, and Mestizos 9—live in a state of virtual peonage, overwhelmed with debt to the landowners.

Conditions of semi-starvation are widespread in many of the Latin American countries. "Two-thirds, if not more, of the Latin American population are physically undernourished, to the point of actual starvation in some regions," say George Soule and his associates. 10 Illness and early death are the inevitable consequences of such extreme poverty. The toiling masses are saturated with sickness, including tuberculosis, malaria, syphilis, gonorrhea, dysentery, trachoma, typhoid, hookworm, jungle fever, and many other diseases. Miguel Pereira, a Brazilian scientist, recently remarked that "Brazil is an immense hospital," and the same could be said with equal truth of many other Latin American countries. "One-half of the Latin American population," say Soule and his co-writers, "are suffering from infectious or deficiency diseases." The annual death rate in Latin America is over twice as high as it is in the United States. Mass illiteracy naturally accompanies this dreadful poverty and sickness. There are 70 million illiterates in Latin America and 50 million more who have had only one or two years of schooling.

American imperialists, because of the exploitation they practice, are largely responsible for these horrible conditions in Latin America. But, characteristically, they shrug off this responsibility, attributing Latin American poverty to what they slanderously call the shiftlessness and

incompetence of these peoples. They cannot, however, evade their responsibility for the miserable conditions prevailing in Puerto Rico, which for over half a century has been completely under American domination. When it was taken over by General Miles' forces during the Spanish-American war in 1898, Puerto Rico was promised early freedom. But this promise has been flagrantly violated and Puerto Rico has ever since remained a colony, a United States military base guarding the Panama Canal. It suffers all the typical economic ills of colonialism, as well as all its political tyranny. The island has a monoculture—sugar, and it has been prevented from developing substantial manufactures. Its trade, both foreign and domestic, is controlled and dominated by the United States. Wages are about one-third as high as they are in the United States, although the cost of living is about the same in both countries. Sickness is rampant, and the huge slums in San Juan and other Puerto Rican cities are among the worst in the world. The whole situation is a burning crime against the Puerto Rican people and a disgrace to the United States. Similar conditions prevail in the Virgin Islands, owned by the United States since 1917.

The Latin American Peoples' Fight against Fascism

During the great 1929-33 economic Crisis in Latin America, when unemployment ran as high as 50 to 75 percent in the various countries, the workers and peasants conducted many hard fights in order to live. After 1933, with the rise of world fascism, and particularly in view of the determined efforts of domestic reactionaries and Hitler-Mussolini agents to set up fascist governments in Latin America, these struggles of the democratic peoples took on a broader scope, a deeper intensity, and reached higher political levels. The Seventh Congress of the Comintern, with its slogan of the people's front, gave a clear political direction to this mass fight.

Among the most significant of the mass struggles in Latin America during this pre-war period was the revolutionary overthrow in 1933 of the bloody Machado tyranny in Cuba, an action which brought about many vital democratic reforms in that country. In Chile also, after long and bitter struggles, a people's front government—the first in the western hemisphere—was elected in 1938. In Brazil it was the embattled people's democratic forces that prevented the seizure of the government, during 1935-37, by the Hitler-inspired Integralistas. In Mexico, during the Cardenas regime of 1934-40, the bourgeois-democratic revolution in that country took on a new and greater vigor under the pressure of the masses. There were similar people's struggles in Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and various other countries. The general result of these mass struggles was that the peoples of Latin America smashed the attempt of Hitler and Mussolini, in collusion with the local reactionaries, to seize South America.

The Communist and trade union movements were the backbone of these militant struggles. In the face of the most brutal opposition, the labor organizations had built up their strength in most of the countries. They came together in Mexico City in September 1938, and formed the Latin American Confederation of Labor (C.T.A.L.), with some four million members. This was a labor event of world-wide importance. The president of the new organization was Vicente Lombardo Toledano, who designates himself as an "independent Marxist." Among the labor notables from various countries present at the founding convention was John L. Lewis, then head of the C.I.O. The advent of the C.T.A.L. marked a deep intensification of the struggle of the workers and a general raising of their fight to a higher level.

The political leaders of the broad people's front, anti-fascist struggle throughout Latin America were the Communist parties. These parties, led by such men as Victorio Codovilla, Luis Carlos Prestes, Bias Roca, Dionisio Encina, Juan Marinello, Louis Recabarren, Rodolfo Ghioldi, Gustavo Machado, and Eugenio Gomez, began to be organized shortly after the outset of the Russian Revolution. They had been building and developing themselves mostly under conditions of sheer terrorism and illegality. They were everywhere the leaders and inspirers of the people's front and the general struggle against fascist reaction. In these countries the Social-Democrats were a negligible force, save in a few places, chiefly Argentina and Chile; also the syndicalists, once a powerful element throughout Latin America, were decidedly in decline, and the counter-revolutionary Trotskyites had but tiny grouplets here and there.

Roosevelt's pronouncement of his good neighbor policy in 1933 had a stimulating effect upon the growing democratic struggles throughout Latin America. The peoples, while antagonistic to the "Colossus of the North" as a result of much bitter experience, welcomed Roosevelt's democratic utterances, his promises of fraternal relations among all the nations of the Americas, his assurance of an end to the long-continued and barbarous intervention of the United States in the lives of its Latin American neighbors. The masses also sympathized fully with Roosevelt's developing opposition to world fascism. Roosevelt's reputation as a liberal soared all over Latin America.

On the basis of the good neighbor policy, which was replete with glowing (but mostly unfulfilled) democratic promises, Roosevelt established friendly working relations with most of the governments and with the democratic forces throughout Latin America. The latter began to interest themselves in the doings of the Pan American Union, which hitherto had been "a hissing and a by-word" throughout Latin America. There was also a new all-American co-operation of democratic elements as, for example, in the International Congress of the Democracies of America, held in Montevideo in March 1939. The general outcome of all this democratic friendliness was that when the great clash came with the fascist Axis in World War II, all the countries of Latin America, with the exception of Argentina (which finally was forced to break relations with Germany) were in the same anti-fascist war alliance with the United States.

The Communist Party and Latin America

Lenin was a great champion of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples. Once, in 1920 he suggested a modification of Marx's famous slogan, "Workers of the World, Unite!" to "Proletarians of All Countries and Oppressed Peoples, Unite!"11 As a Leninist organization, therefore, the Communist Party of the United States has always interested itself deeply in the struggles of the peoples suffering under the heel of the imperialist aggressor. This has been particularly true in connection with Latin America, and above all, regarding Puerto Rico and Cuba. The Party has also always supported the struggle in the Philippines. For all this is the hinterland of Yankee imperialism, and these are the direct colonies of Wall Street. This area is definitely heading toward a great anti-imperialist, national liberation revolution, much on the broad lines of the great movements now stirring other parts of the colonial and semi-colonial world. It is the proletarian duty of the Communist Party of the United States to give these peoples its untiring support in their fight.

The Communist Party of the United States, from its inception, took a firm stand against all the manifestations of American imperialism in Latin America. It worked in close cooperation with all the Communist parties in these countries. It was active in organizing the All-American Anti-Imperialist League in Mexico City in 1924, a body which fought Yankee imperialism throughout the Hemisphere. The Party especially gave vigorous support to August Cesar Sandino, the brave Nicaraguan patriot, who for five years fought off the invading U.S. Marines, only to die in 1934 at the hands of an American-trained assassin, after peace had been established.

One of the major means of Wall Street's penetration into Latin America during the "twenties" was the Pan-American Federation of Labor, organized in November 1918 by the leaders of the A.F. of L. These labor imperialists used the P.A.F.L. to support every incursion of Wall Street against the peoples of Latin America. The Communists of the United States, along with those of Latin America, vigorously fought this treacherous organization. Consequently, badly discredited, the influence of the P.A.F.L. waned and after 1930 it existed (for several years longer) only on paper.

The C.P.U.S.A., throughout the years, has constantly kept the Latin American question before the American working class. It participated in many inter-American conferences with the Latin American Communist parties. It attended their conventions and welcomed their delegates to its own conventions. In New York, in June 1939, six American Communist parties held a conference and issued a statement calling upon the peoples to rally to defeat fascism.12 The Communists were chiefly responsible for the friendly attitude taken by the C.I.O. toward the Confederation of Latin American Workers (C.T.A.L.). The question of Latin America has always been on the order of business in the journals and meetings of the Communist Party of the United States but the Party has never done enough on the question.

The general line of the various Communist parties during the Roosevelt era was to fight for "A democratic application" of the good neighbor policy in Latin America. In this pre-war period, however, certain wrong attitudes were beginning to develop on the question of Roosevelt's Latin American policy. A marked tendency grew up both in the U.S. Party and in the parties of other countries in the western hemisphere, to look away from the fact that Roosevelt, together with his liberalism, was an imperialist, and that the good neighbor policy, for all its democratic trappings, was a policy of Yankee imperialism, designed to meet a given different situation. Earl Browder, as usual, encouraged this serious right deviation. In 1942, when the false trend had become quite definite, he expressed it thus:

"There is still much to be done to dissipate the fear and suspicion of Yankee imperialism in order to create confidence throughout Latin America in the role of the United States as a leader of the United Nations. Memories of the past, however bitter they may be, of broken promises and violent intervention, of economic pressures, sharp diplomatic practices and financial exploitation, all could be removed to the archives of history and no longer play a damaging role in the present, once the peoples of Latin America felt an assurance that the 'good neighbor' policy was something deeper than the expediency of the historical moment."13

The essence of this Browder statement was that the good neighbor policy was not imperialist in character and that therefore, the peoples of Latin America should put their trust in Roosevelt. This was a dangerous position, a surrender to bourgeois-inspired illusions. While the main enemy in those years was Hitler fascism, nevertheless the policy advocated by Browder would have made the Latin American peoples put down their guard before an aggressive power, Wall Street imperialism. The United States, under the banner of the good neighbor policy, was rapidly strengthening its position in Latin America and infringing upon the rights and welfare of the peoples in that vast area. In the long run it was to prove, in the post-war period, even more menacing to the Latin American peoples than Hitlerism itself.

The Fight Against Fascism and War (1935–1939)

Immediately after Hitler took over power in Germany, one month and four days before Roosevelt was inaugurated President of the United States in March 1933, the Nazis, the agents of German big capital, launched their program of ruthless imperialist expansion. To solidify their home front, they banned the Communist and Socialist parties, seized and reorganized the trade unions and co-operatives, wiped out the rival bourgeois parties, abolished the Weimar Republic, and set up a fascist regime.

Declaring their determination to destroy the Versailles Treaty by force, the Nazis at once embarked upon a vigorous foreign policy of conquest. Rapidly they quit the League of Nations in order to have a free hand; began to rearm Germany in violation of the treaty; signed an anti-Soviet pact with Poland; engineered a fascist putsch in Austria; regained control of the Saar basin by a terroristic plebiscite; and forcibly reoccupied the Rhineland. Meanwhile, Germany's fascist allies, Italy and Japan, were busy with similar aggressions. In 1935 Italy invaded Ethiopia and subjugated that country, and Japan had been actively overrunning North China since 1931. In November 1936, Germany and Japan signed their anti-Comintern pact, "to fight communism," which Italy joined a year later.

The League of Nations stood impotent in the face of all these violent aggressions. This was because of three basic considerations: First, the ruling big capitalists of Great Britain, France, and other European countries were themselves saturated with fascist ideas, believing that Hitler, in Nazism, had found the means for finally disposing of the labor movement and for averting the danger of socialism. Second, they were sure that the war which the German fascists were obviously preparing would be directed against the U.S.S.R., and that in such a war both belligerents would about destroy each othier. The big capitalists in the United States had essentially the same ideas. So they all "appeased" Hitler and his fascist allies; that is, they gave him active economic and political support. Third, the Social-Democrats reflected the moods and policies of their capitalist governments and made no fight against the advance of Hitlerism.

The Soviets for Collective Security

The violent aggressions of Germany, Italy, Japan, and the group of satellite countries which they quickly gathered about them in Eastern Europe, manifestly threatened mankind with another world conflagration. The Hitler-Mussolini-Hirohito gang of imperialists were going to try to cut their way out of the general crisis of the world capitalist system by ruthless war and an attempt to bring the whole world under their sway. Humanity faced the most terrible threat of butchery and enslavement in its entire history.

In this grave crisis it was the Communists who came forward with the basic preventive means. True to its nature, the Socialist peace-loving country, the Soviet Union, presented the historic policy to check and defeat fascism. In the League of Nations, which the U.S.S.R. had joined toward the end of 1934 after the three major fascist aggressors had quit it, Maxim Litvinov, on behalf of the Soviet government, repeatedly proposed that the peace-loving countries get together in an international peace front and restrain the fascist aggressors. "Collective security," he called the policy.1 This peace proposal, had it been adopted, could have nipped world fascism in the bud and prevented World War II; for at that time the fascist powers were still weak and the United States, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and their friends had an overwhelming superiority in armed forces, industrial productive capacity, and natural resources.

But the capitalist powers of the West were not interested in halting Hitler and fascism, for the reasons stated. As for international Social-Democracy, true to its nature as a prop of capitalism, it followed its capitalist masters and also rejected collective security. Roosevelt, who had recognized the Soviet government in November 1933, under broad mass pressure, made a couple of gestures toward collective security. He weakly moved to support oil sanctions against Italy for invading Ethiopia, and on October 5, 1937, in Chicago, he proposed to "quarantine the aggressors." But nothing came of all this. Even these mild moves toward checking the fascist Axis met with powerful capitalist resistance in the United States. Roosevelt, therefore, refused to back the Soviet Union's peace proposal, the only practical way to achieve collective security. He let Germany and Italy run their aggressive course without challenge, and he permitted a great flood of scrap iron and other war materials to flow to Japan, at that time engaged in overrunning huge sections of China. The fascist powers pushed the world toward war, and the capitalist "democratic" powers refused to halt them.

The People's Front

Meanwhile, the Communists, who were the outstanding fighters for peace on the world scale, also took the lead in combating the fascist menace in their respective countries. This they did through the famous policy of the anti-fascist people's front. In Chapter 22 we have shown how this policy was developed at the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern in Moscow in 1935. The policy called for a united front of all those democratic elements—workers, peasants, intellectuals, small business people, Communists, Socialists, Catholics, and others—who were willing to make a common fight against fascism and war. These masses had to fight for their unions, their living standards, their democratic liberties, their very lives, and the Communists led the way in this. The Communists were giving another basic illustration of the truth that they were the leaders of the nation, as well as of the working class, in this time of dire national and international peril.

In the face of the malignant fascist-war menace, the people's front policy almost immediately scored important victories. In February 1936, the workers of France led an offensive of the broad democratic forces that smashed the domestic drive of the French fascists for power, launched a vast sit-down strike movement, increased the membership of the General Confederation of Labor (C.G.T.) from 900,000 to four million members, and that of the Communist Party from 40,000 to 270,000. They elected a modified form of people's front government in France. Simultaneously, the workers of Spain made a similar, but broader movement. On February 16, 1936, the people's front won an election victory in Spain, which raised the number of the left's seats in the parliament to 268 members, as against 205 for the reactionaries. In various other countries the people's front became a powerful force.

The Communist parties gave all possible assistance to the embattled people's front in France and Spain. But in each case a right-wing Social-Democrat became the prime minister—Leon Blum in France and Largo Caballero in Spain. From 1934 to 1939 the Second International refused ten different proposals from the Comintern for a general united front opposition to fascism, each time referring the matter to the national parties.2 In the countries where the people's front was strong the right-wing Social-Democrats, who still held the decisive posts in the labor movement all over Western Europe, would head such movements in order to decapitate them. The influence of Blum in France and Caballero in Spain was disastrous. The right-wing Social-Democrats everywhere added to the fascist-war menace by carrying on a poisonous campaign of Soviet-baiting.

The Spanish Civil War

Hitler and Mussolini, emboldened by the success of their aggressions (due to the pro-fascist policies of Britain, France, and the United States), at once set out to overthrow the People's Front Spanish Republic. On July 17, 1936, their stooge, General Franco, led a revolt in Morocco. Had the Republican government, headed then by Caballero, acted promptly, the uprising could have been speedily stamped out, but it was paralyzed by the usual Social-Democratic conservatism, so the fascist revolt gained headway. Hitler and Mussolini supplied large numbers of troops, guns, tanks, and planes to the Franco counter-revolutionaries, and soon the latter were knocking at the gates of Madrid.

In the League of Nations the U.S.S.R. repeatedly demanded collective action to halt the fascist aggression in Spain. But this was refused, and instead a policy of "non-intervention" was adopted. That is to say, while Hitler and Mussolini poured a flood of men and munitions into Spain, the various capitalist democratic countries, Great Britain, Fiance, and the United States, obviously hostile to the Spanish Republic, assumed a hypocritical "neutral" attitude, refusing to sell war supplies to either side. Roosevelt followed this policy under the Neutrality Act of January 8, 1937, and the Embargo Act of May First of the same year. Thus the legally elected People's Front Republican Government of Spain, which under international law had every right to buy munitions anywhere with which to defend itself, was placed at a disadvantage to the fascist bandits who freely got arms from Germany and Italy. This betrayal was another gross "appeasement" of Hitler. It doomed the Spanish Republic to defeat and opened the road for World War II. The right-wing Social-Democrats of the world supported the outrageous "non-intervention" policy, while the Communists everywhere denounced it.

The Communist parties gave all possible assistance to the embattled Spanish Republic. Most important of this help, they organized the International Brigades, which were made up of Communists and other antifascist fighters from all over Europe—France, Poland, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Great Britain, and elsewhere, and also from many countries of the Americas. Fifty-four nations were represented. All told, the International Brigades were estimated to number up to about 30,000 men. Their political leader was the well-known French Communist, Andre' Marty. The International Brigades constituted a tower of strength in the long and heroic struggle of the Spanish people.

The C.P.U.S.A. and the Y.C.L. organized the sending of some 3,000 soldiers, many of them non-Party, to the Loyalist forces in Spain. This was a tremendous job under the circumstances. On January 6, 1937, the Abraham Lincoln Battalion was formed, and shortly afterward, the George Washington Battalion. Later they were merged into the Lincoln-Washington Battalion. The American forces, together with the British, Canadians, Irish, and other English-speaking groups, belonged to the 15th Brigade. Officers and leaders of the American volunteers included I. A. Valledor, R. H. Merriman, Hans Amlie, Leonard Lamb, Milton Wolff, Dave Doran, John Gates, Robert Thompson, Steve Nelson, Joseph Dallett, George Watt, Bill Lawrence, Saul Wellman, Joe Brandt, and others. American medical units were headed by Dr. E. K. Barsky.

Among the 3,000 Americans there were several hundred Negroes who displayed characteristic heroism throughout the bitter war. Unlike the U.S. army, which is saturated with Jim Crow and discrimination, in the International Brigades Negroes came forward as officers and in skilled military fashion led their men, both Negro and white, in battle. Many gave their lives in the gallant effort to wipe out fascism, with its hideous racism and human slavery.

The American brigades fought in the Brunete offensive, at Jarama, Quinto, Belchite, Fuentes de Ebro, Teruel, Aragon, in the Ebro offensive, and in many other battles. They gave a splendid account of themselves, and their military achievements were noted far and wide in the American press, and among the great masses of the pople, who were sympathetic to Loyalist Spain. The medical units, working under the most primitive and dangerous conditions, rendered an heroic service. Along with the soldiers from the United States there fought some 500 from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and the Philippines. 3 The Canadians were mainly members of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, the "MacPaps." They numbered 1,300. Dr. Norman Bethune of Canada, who later served with the Chinese People's Armies, introduced the first large-scale use of the blood bank under battle conditions.

The fight of the Spanish Republic was one of the most heroic in history, but the odds against it were too great. Betrayed, outnumbered, and outgunned, the brave Loyalist fighters were gradually defeated. Madrid fell on March 28, 1939, after almost three years of desperate struggle. Four days later the Roosevelt government rushed indecently to recognize the regime of the butcher Franco and to lift the arms embargo.

The casualties in the Civil War were frightfully heavy, not only from the fighting but also from the post-war massacres by the fascists. All told, Spain probably lost at least two million people killed. In Seville after the war 50,000 were shot; in Navarre, 20,000; and there were similar butcheries elsewhere. 4 Of the American volunteers, some 1,500, or about 50 percent never returned, and in the Canadian, British, and other battalions the casualties were equally heavy. Among our heroic dead were such well-known fighters as Dave Doran, Joseph Dallet, R. H. Merriman, and the young Negro leaders, Milton Herndon, Oliver Law, and Alonzo Watson.

The Communists of the United States may well be proud of the active part they took in the gallant defense of the Spanish Republic. It constituted the most glorious event in the entire life of the Party. The volunteers fought in the resolute spirit that Communists invariably have shown on the battlefields of Russia, China, and in many other parts of the world. The fight to save Spain was the fight to save the world from fascism and a second world war. It was a fight, therefore, in the interest of the American people. That fight was lost, owing to betrayal of the Spanish Republic by the western capitalist governments and by world Social-Democracy. In consequence, scores of millions of people had to die in World War II.

Munich and War

The fascist would-be world conquerors redoubled their aggressions after the successes in the Saar, Ethiopia, China, and Spain. In February 1938, Hitler sent his Wehrmacht into Austria, occupying that country. At the same time he cooked up a big crisis with Czechoslovakia over alleged injustices to the German minority there. President Roosevelt suggested that an effort be made on a general scale to adjust the critical European situation, whereupon Hitler organized the notorious Munich conference of May 1938. The heads of the governments of Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and France—Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain, and Daladier—got together and agreed that Germany should take over the Sudetenland, which meant eventually all of Czechoslovakia. This outrageous appeasement of the fascists, the latest in a long series of similar betrayals, was hailed all over the world by bourgeois and Social-Democratic statesmen and spokesmen as establishing "peace in our time." The Communists, virtually alone in so doing, condemned Munich as a criminal sell-out and war provocation. The objective of the fascist-minded ruling classes of Britain and France at Munich was not to establish peace, but to turn Hitler's guns eastward against the Soviet Union.

During this period, on March 10, 1939, Stalin stated the peace policy of the U.S.S.R. as follows: "We stand for peace and the strengthening of business relations with all countries...We stand for peaceful, close, and friendly relations with all neighboring countries which have common frontiers with the U.S.S.R...We stand for the support of nations which are the victims of aggressors and are fighting for the independence of their country...We are not afraid of the threats of aggressors, and are ready to deal two blows for every blow delivered by instigators of war who attempt to violate the Soviet borders."5

In line with this policy, the Soviet government persisted in its efforts to organize an international peace front against the fascist bandits. Time and again it proposed joint action with the western democracies to save Ethiopia, to save China, to save Spain, to save Austria, to save Czechoslovakia, But the capitalist governments of Western Europe, and the United States as well, were not interested in any such peace front and joint action. The Soviet Union therefore agreed to put into effect its mutual defense pact and to defend Czechoslovakia, with the help of France; but France demurred. The U.S.S.R. similarly offered to defend Poland when Hitler was about to attack it, but Poland refused to allow Russian troops to cross its soil. Meanwhile, the efforts of the U.S.S.R. to negotiate a mutual assistance treaty with Great Britain during early 1939 failed—the Soviets already having made similar pacts with France, China, and a dozen other countries. Tory Britain, deliberately seeking to create a German-Russian war, wanted no such pact, and its negotiations with the Russians were a swindle. The delegation that it sent to Moscow had no mandate to make a pact; it was headed by a third-line hack diplomat, and it merely stalled along for the sake of appearance.

The Soviet government repeatedly warned Great Britain that its treacherous course was impermissible. Stalin on March 10 declared that the Soviet Union was not going to be a cat's-paw to pull British chestnuts out of the fire. Similar warnings came almost weekly from Litvinov, Zhdanov, and other Soviet leaders—all of which were ignored by the British government.

Finally, seeing that it was being flagrantly betrayed by Great Britain and France (as well as by the United States), the Soviet Union moved for peace on its own account by signing on August 24, 1939, a 10-year pact of non-aggression with Germany. Molotov said of this agreement: "The decision to conclude a non-aggression pact between the U.S.S.R. and Germany was adopted after military negotiations with France and Great Britain had reached an impasse ...the conclusion of a pact of mutual assistance could not be expected [and] we could not but explore other possibilities for insuring peace and eliminating the clanger of war between Germany and the U.S.S.R."6 The Soviet Union was criticized by its enemies for this action. Later events showed, however, that the 22 months of breathing space gained by the U.S.S.R. through the pact, by enabling it to arm itself effectively, were a decisive factor in winning the eventual world war. The charge that during the pact the Soviets helped Hitler is a lie. The latter found the pact a hindrance to his plans—hence his invasion of the U.S.S.R.

Meanwhile, Hitler, who had been boiling up a big crisis with Poland, undertook to solve it by marching into that country on September 1, 1939. World War II, which had its beginnings in the invasions of China, Ethiopa, Spain, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, was now a reality.

The United States and the War

With the development of the aggressive fascist expansionist drive of German, Japanese, and Italian imperialism, during the immediate pre-war years, the general policy of American imperialism (with certain differences within the capitalist ranks) was to direct the coming war blow against the U.S.S.R. This explains the American government's "appeasement" of Hitler, and also its endorsement of the Munich sell-out. When the war against the West actually began, however, the split in the American bourgeoisie, which had been more or less in evidence all through the great economic crisis (see Chapter 23) and in the pre-war years, became more pronounced. The Roosevelt group took a line of co-operation with Britain, while the Republicans and Tory Democrats gave indirect support to Hitler. Beneath these differences, however, American imperialism was basically aiming at securing the world predominance of the United States through the weakening of the U.S.S.R., Germany, and Japan, and the accentuated break-up of the British empire as a result of the war.

When Roosevelt brought about the long-delayed recognition of the Soviet Union on November 16, 1933, he was probably motivated chiefly by the need, in fighting the economic crisis, to develop an extensive trade with that country. But all through the pre-war crisis years he steadily refused to join in the repeated proposals of the Soviet Union to establish a system of international collective security-to save China, Ethiopia, Spain, Austria, and Czechoslovakia from the maw of advancing fascist powers and to avert a world war. Obviously, he, too, was not anxious to divert Hitler's preparations and threats of war from the East.

When war in Europe began, the Roosevelt Administration adopted the line of an informal alliance with Great Britain (a combination which it figured on controlling). This pro-British policy was largely explainable by the fact that of the total of almost $12 billion U.S. foreign investments at the time no less than 42 percent were inside the British Empire. Besides this big stake in the British Empire, Roosevelt also considered that the rise of militant German-Italian-Japanese fascist imperialism was a menacing threat to the position of American imperialism in Europe, the Far East, and Latin America. To avert this threat, he pushed aggressively the arming of the United States. He adopted a policy of active co-operation with Britain and France, which went through advancing stages from "aid to Britain" and "the arsenal of democracy," to "all means short of war," and finally to war itself.

The Republican-Tory Democrat opposition to Roosevelt, which had the support of the bulk of big capital, repudiated his pro-British policy and followed what amounted to a line of pro-German support. This was because this opposition, saturated with fascist ideas, favored a partial victory or a stalemate in Europe, believing that the United States was powerful enough to take care of itself in a fascist world. Its planned-for objective was a debilitating war between Germany and the Soviet Union, with the capitalist countries more or less supporting the former. It also looked for a growing break-up of the British Empire. The anti-Roosevelt forces were alarmed, however, by the advance of Japanese imperialism in China, which was imperiling their chosen field for imperialist expansion in the Far East, and they therefore favored an all-out war against Japan. In view of the strong anti-fascist and peace sentiments among the masses, even limited open support of the Axis powers was impossible; hence, the anti-Roosevelt opposition followed a policy of "isolationism" toward Europe. This, in fact, consisted of giving covert support to Hitler, and of opposing every form of aid to Great Britain and of collaboration with the Soviet Union.

All the fascist forces of the country rallied to this opposition as to a magnet. The Hearsts, Coughlins, Winrods, Smiths, Ku Klux Klanners, the men of Wall Street who had tried to get General Smedley D. Butler to organize an army of 500,000 veterans to' march on Washington, the German-American Bund, the fascist groups among the national minorities —they were all there. "Dr. Birkhead counted 119 pro-fascist organizations in the United States in 1936 and estimated that there were probably more than 250 of such organizations, having connections with at least 5,000,000 people."7 In June 1938, the so-called House Committee on Un-American Activities, headed by Martin Dies, was set up and began its pro-fascist campaign of thought control. The fascist danger in the United States reached the highest level it had yet achieved in the immediate pre-war years.

The Communist Party collided head on with the pseudo-"isolationism" of the pro-Hitler Republican-Tory Democrat opposition. It also opposed the pro-British line of the Roosevelt Administration, while actively supporting its domestic reforms. The Party fought for world peace, and it insisted that the only way this could be assured was on the basis of international collective security, as proposed by the Soviet Union. Its main slogans were against fascism and imperialist war. It declared, "Keep America out of war by keeping war out of the worldl" The Socialists and Trotskyites, buried in deep hatred of the U.S.S.R., found themselves virtually in the camp of the reactionary "isolationists."

The American People—Anti-Fascist and Anti-War

During these crucial pre-war years the workers and other democratic strata of the American people were overwhelmingly opposed to fascism, particularly in its more obvious European types. But as for the trickier American varieties, hiding under pretenses of democracy and peace, their judgment was not always infallible. They wanted to aid those peoples who were being assailed and conquered by the fascist states, but generally in their organizations they did not rise to the heights of demanding a system of world collective security to restrain and defeat the aggressors. They were largely isolationist. Above all, they were flatly opposed to war.

At its 1938 convention, the A.F. of L., always cultivating the conservative bourgeois currents among the workers, condemned Hitler and Mussolini fascism, but decided to give the infamous Dies Committee "all possible assistance." It did, however, vote down the attempt of Matthew Woll and John P. Frey to have the New Deal condemned as "socialistic." But it rejected the O'Connell Peace Act and the "policy of 'quarantining the aggressors.'" It favored a boycott against Germany and Japan. Under the leadership of John L. Lewis, and especially the influence of the Communists, the C.I.O., at its first constitutional convention in Pittsburgh, in November 1938, gave a ringing endorsement to the New Deal and also to the policy of collective security.8

The Negro people were in the forefront of the forces fighting against fascism and imperialist war. The National Negro Congress held its second general convention in Philadelphia in May 1937. It was a broad united front movement of 1,200 delegates, with figures such as Walter White (N.A.A.C.P.), Philip Murray, Norman Thomas, and T. J. Kennedy (U.M.W.A.) speaking there. Its mainspring was the Communist Party. The organization was a power in every anti-fascist, peace-striving movement, as well as in the fight for the special economic and political demands of the Negro people. The Southern Negro Youth Congress, an offshoot of the N.N.C., exercised considerable influence among the Negro people in the South, taking a strong position against fascism and for collective security.

A development of major importance in the life of the Negro people and the fight against fascism during this period was the formation of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare in Birmingham, Alabama, in November 1938. This organization had the backing of the Roosevelt Administration, which had called the South "the nation's economic problem number one." Its founding convention attracted 1,350 delegates, among them many of the most outstanding liberals and labor men in the South. The Communist Party was officially represented and exercised much influence in the organization. Dr. Frank Graham was chairman, and John P. Davis, of the National Negro Congress, was a member of the council of 15 chosen to head the organization. The convention laid down a program calling for jobs, civil rights, and federal education for Negroes, also taking a sharp stand against lynching and other persecutions of the Negro people. For the next several years the S.C.H.W. was a considerable force against the hidebound tories of the South.9

The American Youth Congress, representing the bulk of the organized young people of the United States, held yearly conventions during the pre-war period. It took generally an advanced stand against fascism and for collective security. This, despite the disruptive efforts of Catholics, Social-Democrats, and Trotskyites, whose sole objective in the organization was to weaken the Communists' influence even if they had to wreck the Congress in the attempt. At the fifth convention of the A.Y.C. in July 1939, in an ill-advised attempt to fend off the charge of communism being directed against the organization, a resolution was adopted opposing dictatorship "whether Communist,' fascist, Nazi, etc." Among its many mass activities, the Congress organized a pilgrimage to Washington of 35 national youth organizations and youth-serving agencies "for jobs, health, and education." In August 1938, the Second World Youth Congress was held in Poughkeepsie, New York, with delegates from 53 countries, representing 40 million young people. In all these activities the Young Communist League took a very energetic leading part. One of the most important united front organizations of this period in the fight against the rising menace to democracy and peace, was the American League Against War and Fascism, of which Dr. Harry F. Ward was the national chairman. It was established on September 29, 1933, in New York. After its convention of November 1937, in Pittsburgh, the organization was known as the American League for Peace and Democracy. The Communist Party was affiliated with the former but not with the latter. In both it had much influence. This was a large united front organization, carrying on a general struggle for economic and political demands, for the rights of the Negro people, for democracy, and for collective security. Women were very active in the organization, as in all others fighting the fascist-war danger. The League held big annual congresses, with 2,000 to 3,500 delegates, representing as many as four million people. At these gatherings there were large delegations of Negroes, youth, and trade unionists. At its 1937 convention, for example, about 30 percent of the entire labor movement was represented, either by endorsements or by direct delegates. The League was a major influence in the fight for peace and democracy.

The Elections of 1938

The mid-term elections of 1938 were fought out in an atmosphere of intense class struggle. The economic situation was bad, the cyclical crisis of 1937 having again knocked the bottom out of industry. There was wide discontent at the inadequacy of the New Deal reforms. At least ten million workers walked the streets idle, while capitalist profits soared. Obviously, the Keynesian "pump-priming" policy had failed. Although Roosevelt's huge subsidies to industry and to "strengthen the purchasing power of the workers" had added S16 billion to the national debt, they could not liquidate the "depression of a special kind." Only the approach of war, causing an enormous output of munitions, did that.

The big employers, violently antagonized by the organizing campaigns and strikes of the C.I.O., viciously attacked Roosevelt and the New Deal. At the same time, they demagogically promised a whole row of reforms to offset those of Roosevelt. Organized labor was badly divided in the elections. The A.F. of L. reactionaries were doing their best to kill off the C.I.O., and they also condemned Labor's Non-Partisan League, to which many A.F. of L. elements were affiliated, as being "as dual to the non-partisan political policy of the A.F. of L., as the C.I.O. is to the A.F. of L. itself."

The Communist Party put on an energetic campaign. It fought for a democratic front of all progressive elements. It concentrated its fire against the reactionaries, while criticizing the Roosevelt policies, although inadequately. While putting up candidates of its own in various localities, it also supported "progressives" upon the Democratic and other tickets, including a few Republicans. It actively advanced the O'Connell Peace Bill (H.R. 527), designed to implement Roosevelt's "quarantine the aggressors" speech. Its central slogan was, "For Jobs, Security, Democracy, and Peace."

The Republicans had the best of it in the elections. They won 79 new seats in the House and eight in the Senate, as well as numerous governorships. Although both houses of Congress remained nominally Democratic, the Republican-Tory Democrat alliance dominated them. In the 1939 session, therefore, reaction proceeded to slash into the New Deal, reducing W.P.A. wages, cutting taxes of the well-to-do, lavishly financing the Dies Committee, supporting various anti-sedition and anti-foreign-born measures, and refusing to amend the Neutrality Act and thus to allow the United States to join in a concerted effort with other countries to prevent war.

A favorable by-product of this generally reactionary election, however, was the release in California by the newly-elected New Deal Governor Olson of Tom Mooney (on January 7, 1939) and Warren K. Billings (in October 1939). Mooney, his health ruined by 22 years in prison, did not long survive; he died on March 6, 1942. He was a warm sympathizer of the Communist Party. Matt Schmidt (of the McNamara case) was also paroled (in August 1939) but the heroic J. B. McNamara was left to perish in jail. He died on March 8, 1941, in Folsom prison, a member of the Communist Party, after serving 29 years. Four of the Scottsboro Boys were also released on January 24, 1937, leaving five still in jail. Ray Becker, the last of the I.W.W. Centralia prisoners of 1919, was also set free in September 1939.10

The Growth of the Communist Party

During the pre-war years here under consideration, years of rapid organization of the working class, the Communist Party made substantial progress. And this in the face of the growing Browder neglect of opportunities for Party building and even opposition to such work, as we have seen. The tenth Party convention in New York, in May 1938, registered 75,000 members for the Party and 20,000 for the Y.C.L. This was an increase in two years of 35,000 for the former and 10,000 for the latter. An important occasion at the convention was the announcement of the establishment of the People's World on January 1, 1938, in San Francisco, and of the Midwest Daily Record,11 on February 12, 1938, in Chicago.

The Party's progress was based upon an essentially sound political policy, although it made numerous individual errors, some of the most important of which we have indicated in passing. The Party conducted a militant fight for the workers' economic interests, for their organization into trade unions, for the rights of the Negro people, for the demands of the youth and women, and especially against the growing menace of fascism and war. In all these spheres the Party displayed initiative and leadership. It was greatly helped in developing the generally correct political line because of its active participation in the Communist International, where it had the benefit of the counsels of the leading Marxists of the world. Particularly helpful to the Party during these years were the books, Foundations of Leninism and History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, by Joseph Stalin, and also the writings of Georgi Dimitrov. The History especially is an encyclopedia of Marxism-Leninism and a work of immense educational value. It gives not only a history of the great Russian Revolution, but also of the developing theoretical work of Lenin. It contains a fine exposition of Marxist dialectical materialism.

An important element in the Party's expanding influence during these years—an influence which ran far beyond the scope of its membership totals and its votes in elections—was its united front policy. The Party was learning how to unite and lead the masses in their everyday struggles over burning issues. An important feature of this policy, stressed at the tenth Party convention, was the "outstretched hand" to the Catholic workers. This was in line with the Communist challenge all over the world to the attempt of the Catholic hierarchy, on the basis of their religious controls, to mobilize their huge following into the camp of reaction.

Communists, of course, have the same basic economic and political interests as Catholic workers. That friendly co-operation between the two groups is possible has been amply demonstrated by the fact that literally tens of millions of Catholics, in the post-World War II period, have joined the Communist Parties and Communist-led trade unions in France, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Latin America, and elsewhere. American Communists have also always worked in a most co-operative spirit with Catholic workers in the C.I.O. and other labor unions.

A very important development at the tenth convention also was the enunciation of the policy of the "democratic front." Previously, since 1935, the Party had held the position that the farmer-labor party was the specific American form of the people's front. With the development of strong left trends in the Roosevelt wing of the Democratic Party, however, the conception of the people's front was broadened to include this Democratic element, along with such bodies as the American Labor Party, Minnesota Farmer Labor Party, Washington Commonwealth Federation, the trade unions, the National Negro Congress, the American Youth Congress, and so on. This "democratic front," says the main resolution of the convention, "under the conditions prevailing in our country, represents the beginning of the development of a real people's front against reaction and fascism." This was essentially what later became known as tire "Roosevelt coalition."

The democratic front was undoubtedly a correct policy, and only by the grossest distortion of it was Browder able, a few years later, to arrive at his monstrous revisionist policy. He did this by rejecting an independent line for labor and following the lead of Roosevelt; by subordinating the class struggle to Roosevelt's policies; by refusing to build solidly the alliance of workers, Negro people, working farmers, and poor city middle classes; by failing to promote labor's influence and eventual leadership in the coalition; by repudiating the independent policy and vanguard role of the Communist Party; by failing to build the Party; and by the gradual watering down and elimination of Marxist ideology from the Party's mass work.

World War II: The Early War Phases (1939–1941)

World War II, like the first world war and the great economic crisis of 1929-33, was a manifestation of the deepening general crisis of world capitalism. It was a great explosion of imperialist contradictions, within the framework of the rapidly decaying capitalist system. The war was precipitated as a murderous struggle among the big capitalist powers for control of world markets, resources, territory, and populations—for a political redistribution of the world. In its largest aspect, the war was also an attempt by reactionary big capital in the major countries to destroy democracy and socialism and to establish a fascist world in which the workers would be merely so many robots. The chief aggressors were the German, Japanese, and Italian imperialists who, after wiping out democracy in their own countries, directly initiated the conflict by brazenly setting out to conquer the world. But the imperialists of Great Britain, France, and the United States, through their governmental appeasement of the fascist powers, also bore a large share of the war guilt. Before the war was finished, the capitalist war criminals were responsible for the deaths of at least 50 million people, for a vast ocean of mass suffering, and for the destruction of $4,000 billion in wealth.1

From the outset the war also had a deep people's content. This was the struggle of the democratic masses, battling in self-defense against enslavement by the fascist imperialists of the Axis powers. It was this growing struggle of the peoples against slavery that finally put the stamp of a people's war, a just war, upon World War II as a whole. Stalin, after showing that the hostilities had originated in the irreconcilable antagonisms between the two camps of big imperialist powers, thus characterized the war: "Unlike the first world war, the second world war against the Axis states from the very outset assumed the character of an anti-fascist war, a war of liberation, one of the aims of which was also the restoration of democratic liberties. The entry of the Soviet Union into the war against the Axis states could only enhance and did enhance, the anti-fascist and liberation character of the second world war."2 As the great war developed, the peoples fought with desperation against the most bloody and menacing tyranny the world had ever known. They fought for their civil rights, their living standards, their labor unions, their national independence, their very lives.

In the early, imperialist-dominated stages of the war. Communist policy called for defense of the invaded peoples (in China, Spain, Ethiopia, Poland, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere), prevention of the spread of the war, and for a democratic peace. After the involvement of the Soviet Union, which drastically changed the character, scope, and perspectives of the war in a democratic direction, the Communists militantly supported the prosecution of the war, to the overwhelming defeat of the fascist enemy.

The "Phony" War

World War II proper began with Hitler's attack upon Poland, on September 1, 1939. The war was led on both sides by imperialist governments. Hitler's powerful, highly mechanized army shattered the Polish resistance in three weeks, and the fascist Polish government, cowardly taking to its heels, fled across the border, leaving the country to its fate. Hitler, therefore, speedily fanned out his forces all over western Poland. Meanwhile, the U.S.S.R., in self-defense in the face of the advancing Nazi troops, took over eastern Poland, essentially up to the so-called Curzon Line, which many years before had been designated by a League of Nations commission as the proper demarcation point in the Soviet-Polish border dispute. The revolutionary peoples of Lithuania, Latvia, and Esthonia, who had been torn away from Russia twenty years before by the Versailles Treaty, proceeded to rid themselves of their pro-Nazi governments and voted to resume their affiliation with the U.S.S.R.

After the fall of Poland the so-called "phony war" set in. Great Britain and France, which were both pledged to defend Poland, never stirred to help that assailed country. Obviously these two great powers were utterly dumbfounded by the unwanted situation confronting them. Through several years they had systematically "appeased" and built up Hitler's Germany and its armed forces, in the full expectation that this great might would be used to destroy the hated Soviet Union. But now, by the unexpected turn of events, these very forces were being turned into a destructive drive against themselves, while the Soviet Union stood unscathed. The British-French-American imperialists had been hoist by their own petard. They had developed a "wrong war"; now they must needs transform it into the "right war" against the Soviet Union. This murderous scheme was their goal during the next six months, during the "phony war" period, when neither side in the conflict made a military move against the other.

Hitler had his own strategy for world conquest. He would have gladly united with the western powers for an all-out attack against the U.S.S.R., could he have made a satisfactory bargain with them—this was the motive of the Hess flight to England, and Goebbels hammered on it all through the war. There were two great obstacles which prevented such an agreement, however; namely, the antagonistic imperialist ambitions of the western powers and the powerful anti-fascist spirit of their working class, led or heavily influenced by the Communist parties. More-aver, the arrogant Hitler believed Germany was strong enough to defeat all its imperialist rivals, plus the Soviet Union. His war plans, therefore, conflicted directly with those of his western capitalist rivals. His strategic objectives were first to knock out Britain and France and their satellites as the easiest marks, and then later to defeat the Soviet Union. Thus, he hoped to kill two birds with one stone; he would gain the productive capacity of western Europe and he would not have to share with Britain and France his anticipated rich plunder of the Soviet Union. As for the task of beating the Soviet Red Army, Hitler had no doubt that this would be a small chore for his powerful Wehrmacht.

While the western imperialists, after the collapse of Poland, were trying desperately to shift the war away from themselves and against the U.S.S.R., the Finnish-Soviet war broke out on November 30, 1939. The war was immediately caused by Finnish incursions across the Soviet borders, but at bottom it was a British-French provocation, an attempt to unite the armed capitalist world against the U.S.S.R. in a frenzied anti-Communist war crusade. Finland had been armed by Great Britain, and its famous fortifications on the Soviet frontier were built by British engineers. The Finnish government was run by the typically fascist clique of the ex-tsarist general, "Butcher" Mannerheim, with the help of a particularly degenerated group of Social-Democratic leaders, all of whom were also tied in with Hitler.

The Finnish-Soviet war lasted until March 12, 1940. Upon that date the U.S.S.R., after smashing the "impregnable" Mannerheim Line, made a fair and democratic peace with Finland. During the war period the wildest agitation against the Soviet Union was carried on in Great Britain, France, Scandinavia, and the United States. Fascist Finland was pictured as an abused democratic country, and the U.S.S.R. was expelled from the League of Nations as an "aggressor." Fantastic stories were broadcast about Finnish military exploits in the war. Volunteer anti-Soviet armed forces were raised in Britain, France, and elsewhere. In the United States, where a frenzied pro-Finland incitement raged, President Roosevelt denounced Russia and granted Finland a $10 million loan, while reactionaries and confused liberals cried out for general war against the U.S.S.R. But later on, to the embarrassment of all its friends in the western world, the government of "democratic" Finland clearly displayed its true fascist colors by fighting on the side of the Axis powers in World War II.

Hitler, as remarked earlier, had his own war plan, and it was not based upon co-operation with the western capitalist nations. When he was all prepared, he launched his crushing attack upon the western countries. His armies invaded Denmark and Norway on April 9, 1940, and finished off those countries in a few days. By May 28th of the same year, Der Fuehrer's forces had smashed the "invincible" French army, forced the Low Countries out of the war, and driven the British army into the sea at Dunkirk, France. The capitalist governments of western Europe, with their ruling classes and army officers corps saturated with fascism, callously betrayed their peoples and crumbled before the attack of Nazi Germany.

American Reactions to the War

While highly sympathetic to the peoples attacked by the fascist aggressors, the American people were sharply opposed to the United States entering the war. Several Gallup polls, between September 1939 and May 1940, indicated that over 96 percent of the American people opposed American participation in the war.3 All the mass organizations reflected this general anti-war sentiment. At its 1939 convention, in October, the A.F. of L. declared, "As for our own country, we demand that it stay out of the European conflict, maintaining neutrality in spirit and act." The C.I.O. convention, meeting at the same time, took a similar stand, stating that "Labor wants no war nor any part of war."4

The three major farm organizations—the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Grange, and the National Farmers Union-assembled in their conventions during November 1939, protested against the current high military expenditures and opposed the United States entering the war. Such united front organizations as the American League for Peace and Democracy, National Negro Congress, American Youth Congress, League of American Writers, Southern Congress for Human Welfare, and the like, also went on record against United States participation in the war. When President Roosevelt, therefore, two days after the invasion of Poland, declared that the attitude of the American government toward the war would be one of neutrality, he was undoubtedly supported by the great masses of the people.

The powerful pro-fascist elements in the United States took a position of so-called neutrality toward the war. But this was of a very thin variety. Actually their line was to prevent the American people from aiding in any way the invaded nations of Europe and Asia, and at the same time themselves to give all possible assistance to the fascist aggressors. To this end they systematically cultivated and exploited the strong and traditional isolationist sentiments among the people.

The Communist Position on the War

On the day Hitler attacked Poland, thus precipitating World War II, the National Committee of the Communist Party was holding an enlarged session in Chicago in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Party in that city. Regarding the war, the National Committee declared, through the general secretary's report, that "The American government cannot take sides in the imperialist rivalries which directly led up to the invasion of Poland. But it can, and must, intervene jointly with the Soviet Union on behalf of peace, on behalf of the national independence of Poland, on behalf of a peace policy which would prevent the realization of new Munich betrayals."5 This was an unclear position.

On September 19, 1939, the National Committee of the Communist Party issued a formal statement on the war. 6 It said, "The war that has broken out in Europe is the Second Imperialist War. The ruling capitalist and landlord classes of all the belligerent countries are equally guilty for this war. This war, therefore, cannot be supported by the workers. It is not a war against fascism, not a war to protect small nations from aggression, not a war with any of the character of a just war, not a war that workers can or should support. It is a war between rival imperialisms for world domination." The Party called for "maximum support to China and to all oppressed peoples in their struggle against fascism, for freedom and national independence." It urged the forging of "the Democratic Alliance of the workers, toiling farmers, and middle classes against the economic royalists and imperialist warmakers." It would fight to "protect and improve living standards, democratic liberties, and the right to organize and strike." It called for support of "the peace policy of the Soviet Union—the land of Socialist democracy, progress, peace, and national liberation." The central slogan was, "Keep America Out of the Imperialist War."

This attitude of opposition to the war in its early stages, when the imperialists dominated it, was in accord with the position of the Communists all over the world. On November 7th, the twenty-second anniversary of the Russian Revolution, when the political leadership of the western allies' war forces was still in the hands of the British and French imperialists, the Communist International issued a manifesto on the war, entitled Peace to the People. The Comintern characterized the war as "an unjust, reactionary, imperialist war, which the ruling circles of Britain, France, and Germany are waging for world supremacy." It stated, "The bourgeoisie began this war, because they became entangled in the insurmountable contradictions of the capitalist system and are trying to solve these contradictions by means of new wars." This war, the bourgeoisie would not have begun or waged, "had it not been aided by the treacherous top leaders of the Social-Democratic parties...The working class cannot support such a war." The statement declared, "Down with the imperialist war," and it called upon the proletariat, while defending its living standards, organizations, and liberties, to "demand the immediate cessation of the predatory, unjust, imperialist war."7

The Communist policy was not one of isolationism or neutrality, but of dynamic struggle to defend the rights of the conquered peoples, to prevent the spread of the war, and to bring the war to the quickest possible democratic conclusion. It was along this general line that the C.P.U.S.A. conducted its fight in the first phase of the war, between September 1939 and June 1941.

During this period, among the many peace activities backed by the Communist Party was the American Peace Mobilization. This organization was formed in Chicago, on August 31, 1940, at a great united front convention of trade unions, youth organizations, Negro groups, women's clubs, fraternal societies, etc. There were present some 6,000 delegates from 39 states, representing a total membership of about 12 million. Along with defending the economic and political rights of the American toiling masses, this big movement fought against the further extension of the war and "For a People's Peace. For a peace without indemnities, without annexations, based upon the right of all people in subjugated or colonial countries to determine their own destinies." 8

Roosevelt Heads Toward War

Although President Roosevelt at the war's beginning had pledged the country to a policy of neutrality, he at once began to orientate toward supporting the western powers against the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis. A whole body of legislative and executive orders started to take shape, designed to recruit large armed forces, to mobilize industry and the workers for war production, to finance the military effort, to give aid to the western powers, and to curb all opposition to the war. This war program became much more definite when in the spring of 1940 Hitler's Wehrmacht began to overturn and break up the rotten governments and fascist-saturated armies of Britain, France, and their allies.

On November 4, 1939, Congress amended the Neutrality Act of 1937, and the eventual great flood of munitions to Great Britain began. At first this operated according to the so-called cash-and-carry-plan, whereby the western allies could get whatever supplies they could pay for. Fifteen months later, however, beginning on March 11, 1941, this was followed by the Lend-Lease Act, which conferred upon the president dictatorial power with regard to the disposition of American war materials. According to this law, the president was authorized to transfer the whole or any part of U.S. naval and army equipment to other countries and to place new defense production at their disposal, upon such financial terms as the president saw fit to impose. This direct aid to the Allies was supplemented by such measures as the defense pacts with Canada, on August 18, 1940, and with Great Britain, on September 2, 1940, by which that country was given fifty destroyers in return for granting the United States 99-year leases on bases in her colonies all the way from Newfoundland to Guiana. In March 1941, a $7 billion aid-to-Britain bill was passed. 9

Industrial mobilization was also pushed energetically. The United States was now becoming "the arsenal of democracy." To bring some faint traces of order into the characteristic capitalist production chaos, the government set up the National Defense Advisory Commission, headed by William S. Knudsen, president of General Motors. When this failed, the president established the Office of Production Management on January 7, 1941, with Knudsen and Sidney Hillman as co-chairmen. On May 27th, Roosevelt declared an unlimited national emergency. Intense propaganda was also instituted to speed up the workers. The general result of these combined efforts was that production began to climb. Unemployment largely subsided. War put into operation the industries which capitalism otherwise could not get under way. Whereas in 1939 the gross national product was $88.6 billion, by 1941 it had reached $120.5 billion. Congress poured out huge appropriations to finance the mounting production and the other war expenses. These soared from $931.5 million in 1938 to $8.2 billion in 1941.

The traditional volunteer system for recruiting manpower for the armed services was quickly superseded by the principle of compulsion, for the first time in American peacetime history. On September 16, 1940, therefore, the president signed the Selective Training and Service Act, submitting some 16,500,000 men, aged from 21 to 35, to conscription. Most of the war measures in Congress had been adopted with top-heavy majorities, but this one, confronting widespread popular resistance, faced a one-third opposition vote in Congress.

The 1940 Elections

In the midst of these far-reaching preparations for war the presidential elections of 1940 took place. The Democrats nominated Roosevelt, with Henry A. Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture, for vice-president. The Republicans picked out for their candidates Wendell L. Willkie and Senator Charles L. McNary. Willkie, formerly a Democrat, was a Morgan man and previously the head of a monopoly, the Commonwealth and Southern Corp. A "Wall Street liberal," he saw eye to eye with Roosevelt on many phases of domestic and foreign policy. That this type of liberal was able to win the Republican nomination (against Senator Taft) signified that the "isolationist," pro-Hitler leaders of the Republican Party had passed into a temporary eclipse because of the powerful mass alarm at the startling victories which Hitler's armies were then winning in Europe.

Although the Republican Party platform assailed the New Deal, Willkie's attitude was, in substance, that he would, if elected, out-New-Deal Roosevelt. In a speech at Elwood, Indiana, Willkie quoted the precise words of President Roosevelt as expressing their common stand on domestic and foreign policy. As the election approached, however, Willkie realized that he could not be elected with any such me-too stand. So he demagogically appealed to reactionary anti-red prejudices by declaring that Roosevelt had "Communistic tendencies," and he also tried to misuse the peace sentiments of the masses by stating that Roosevelt was forcing the country into the war. In addition, he made a big fight against Roosevelt's breaking of the two-term tradition.

Roosevelt, who assured the people that he would not lead their sons into war, was duly elected for his third term. He carried 38 states with 449 electoral votes, while Willkie won in only 10 states with 82 electoral votes. Roosevelt's plurality in 1940, however, was much reduced from that of the elections of 1936, dropping from 10,797,090 to 4,938,711.

The Communist Party, at its eleventh convention held in New York City, beginning on May 30, 1940, put up as its presidential candidates Earl Browder and James W. Ford. Meeting much local resistance, however, from the American Legion and other reactionary organizations, the Party succeeded in getting on the ballot in only 23 states, being barred by one device or another in New York, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and other important states. This accounted for the Party's low election vote of 46,251. The Party centered its main fight around the slogans, "Keep the United States out of the imperialist war" and "For a people's peace." It also made a vigorous fight for the demands of the Negro people and the youth, for the preservation of democratic rights, and especially in defense of the living standards of the working class, which were being undermined by the insatiable demands of the growing war machine.

An important by-product of the 1940 election was the resignation of John L. Lewis as president of the C.I.O. Lewis, who had fallen out with Roosevelt, claimed that the latter was not giving sufficient concern to the needs of the workers and called upon the people to elect Willkie. He declared, "I think the re-election of President Roosevelt for a third term would be a national evil of the first magnitude."10 Therewith, Lewis promised to resign if Willkie were not elected, a pledge which he duly carried out by quitting at the Atlantic City convention, on November 18, 1940, as head of the C.I.O. Thus Lewis, instead of taking the line of independent political action, had tried to lead the workers deeper into the two-party trap. Philip Murray was elected as the new president of the C.I.O.

John L. Lewis did a real service for the working class in leading the great organizing drive of the C.I.O. which resulted in the unionization of the basic and trustified industries of this country. His most glaring contradiction as a labor leader, however, was that while making an economic fight for the workers, at the same time he gave his support to the ultra-reactionary Republican Party. Only during Roosevelt's first two terms did he waver in this life-long Republican affiliation. At the time of Lewis' resignation his popularity in the C.I.O. and far and wide among A.F. of L. workers was immense.

Persecution of the Party

In the pre-Pearl Harbor period militant reaction, under cover of the proclaimed "national emergency," developed a sharp attack against the Communist Party. Roosevelt obviously gave his sanction to this. Among these attacks, during October-November 1939, Earl Browder, general secretary of the C.P., William Weiner, I.W.O. leader, and Harry Gannes, foreign editor of the Daily Worker, were arrested charged with passport violations. Browder was sent to Atlanta prison in March 1941, and served one year of a four-year sentence, when he was released by Roosevelt under heavy mass pressure. Weiner and Gannes were not tried, on account of grave illness.

William Schneiderman, Secretary of the C.P. in California, a naturalized citizen living in this country since the age of two, had his citizenship revoked in June 1940, on grounds of membership in the Y.C.L. and C.P. before his naturalization. The U.S. Supreme Court in October 1942, however, during the war situation, reversed the lower court's ruling, stating that it was a tenable conclusion that the "Party in 1927 desired to achieve its purpose by peaceful and democratic means."11 Wendell Willkie was Schneiderman's attorney. Judge Murphy wrote the Court's opinion.

A number of other prosecutions were directed against Party leaders. Several were condemned by the Dies Committee for contempt for refusing to turn over Party membership lists. Also, in West Virginia the C.P. candidate for governor, Oscar Wheeler, in August 1940, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for collecting signatures on a Party election petition. During the same month 18 workers carrying on routine election activities were arrested in Oklahoma, charged with violating the state anti-syndicalism law, and held in $100,000 bail each. R. Wood and A. Shaw were sentenced to 10 years apiece, but were shortly released.

Among the many vicious laws passed during this period was the notorious Smith Act, of June 22, 1940. This law, under which the Party is now, in 1952, being prosecuted, provides ferocious sentences for the alleged crime of "teaching and advocating the overthrow of the United States government by force and violence," and for conspiring to do this. Its chief significance in 1940, however, was that, as a repressive measure, it forced the Hitler-like finger-printing and registration of 3,600,000 non-citizen foreign-born.

Another vicious piece of legislation was the Voorhis Act, fathered by Congressman Voorhis, a member of the Dies Committee. It was signed by the president in October 1940. This reactionary law deprived the Communist Party of the right of international affiliation, a right enjoyed for generations by a host of organizations-economic, political, scientific, industrial, educational, and religious. To meet this attack, the Party held a special convention in New York, November 16-17, 1940. This convention, while reaffirming the "unshakable adherence of our Party to the principles of proletarian internationalism," and resolving to fight for the abolition of the Voorhis Act, declared, "That the Communist Party of the U.S.A., in convention assembled, does hereby cancel and dissolve its organizational affiliation to the Communist International, as well as any and all other bodies of any kind outside the boundaries of the United States of America, for the specific purpose of removing itself from the terms of the so-called Voorhis Act." This act of disaffiliation killed the contemplated prosecution of the Party by the Department of Justice, which was designed to illegalize and break up the Party and to jail its leaders. The Party did not abandon its internationalist position. As a result of the newly-passed Smith Act, the Party at the 1940 convention, upon Browder's proposal, incorrectly adopted a clause in its constitution restricting the Party's membership to United States citizens. This cost the Party about 4,000 members and substantially weakened its influence among the foreign-born. The clause was removed at the 1944 convention. At the latter convention, also, the admission age for Party membership was reduced from 21 to 18 years.

The America First Committee

The sinister movement comprising the America First Committee was the nearest thing to a general fascist party that the United States has yet had. Its line was the familiar "isolationism." Under cover of elaborate peace demagogy it cultivated every form of reaction in the United States and gave all possible assistance to the fascist Axis powers. The America First Committee was much more definitely fascist than its predecessor, the American Liberty League of the 1936 presidential campaign.

The America First Committee was launched on the campus of Yale University, initiated by R. Douglas Stuart, a 24-year-old law student, in the spring of 1940. It spread rapidly, being taken over by General Robert E. Wood, head of Sears, Roebuck and a member of the Chicago Tribune gang. The movement was lavishly financed, having among its many backers Henry Ford, L. J. Rosenwald, E. P. Weir, Robert M. McCormick, T. N. McCarter, and others. Among the large number of public figures associated with it were Senators Wheeler, Nye, and Lodge, Hugh S. Johnson, Amos Pinchot, Philip LaFollette, Edward Rickenbacker, John T. Flynn, Kathryn Lewis, and others. It attracted many muddle-headed liberals, including Chester Bowles, later the head of Americans for Democratic Action. William H. Hutcheson, first vice-president of the A.F. of L., was a member, and Norman Thomas spoke from its platform at a mass meeting in New York, in March 1941.12 The influence of the Catholic hierarchy was also much in evidence. Every fascist organization in the country was directly or indirectly connected with the Committee. Charles A. Lindbergh, the noted aviator whom Roosevelt called a "copperhead," was its principal spokesman. Headquarters were in Chicago.

A subsidiary of the America First Committee was the No Foreign Wars Committee. This outfit was run by such notorious fascist-like elements as Merwin K. Hart, Vern Marshall, and G. T. Eggleston. Its special task, in the broad America First movement, was to propagate a virulent anti-Semitism. The Communist Party made an all-out campaign against the America First Committee and all its works.

The America First Committee, playing upon the intense peace sentiments of the people, mushroomed into a national organization claiming 15 million adherents.13 It had a tremendous propaganda organization, large numbers of neighborhood public headquarters being established in all parts of the country. The aim of the backers of the movement was to crystallize it into a political organization, as a reinforcement for the Republican Party. But the whole vast agitation met a sudden shipwreck after the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941. In the face of the surging war spirit of the people, the America First Committee was immediately dissolved.

Hitler Marches Toward Disaster

Now let us turn back to the war proper. After Hitler had driven the British into the sea at Dunkirk, obviously the next strategic step was to overrun the British Isles. They were largely defenseless. Hanson W. Baldwin states that "the British in the summer of 1940 had less than one fully equipped division able to meet German invaders."14 The British air force and navy were similarly weak, and could not have repelled an invasion. Nevertheless Hitler did not venture to seize the great prize lying so temptingly before him. This was primarily because of his fear of a two-front war, his dread of the Red Army in his rear in the East. The fact is that up to this time, so great was this fear, Hitler kept three-fourths of his army in Eastern Europe, on guard against the Russians. It is a fiction that the Royal Air Force, in the "Battle of Britain," saved that country from invasion.

Instead of grabbing Britain when he could, in 1940, Hitler had to turn his urgent attention to the Balkans, particularly as the Red Army had just occupied the former Russian province of Bessarabia. For the next few months, therefore, Hitler devoted his main efforts to the East, pulling Bulgaria into the war, militarily crushing Yugoslavia, Greece, and Albania, and otherwise getting the Balkan situation under control. Then, considering that Great Britain could be no danger in his rear for the next period, he delivered his major blow—against the U.S.S.R. Hitler felt it was indispensable to smash the Soviet Union in order to subjugate Europe and to break his way through to the lush perspectives of conquest in Asia and Africa. Therefore, on June 22, 1941, cynically violating his non-aggression treaty with that country, he suddenly sent his armies storming across the borders of the Soviet Union. This was Hitler's fatal step. It changed the whole course of the war, and it marked the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany and its pirate allies.

The Peoples' Anti-Fascist War (1941–1945)

Hitler assumed that it would be a relatively easy task to whip the U.S.S.R., and almost unanimously the bourgeois military experts of the world agreed with him.1 A few weeks at most would do the job. These elements were drugged by their own lying propaganda against the Soviet Union. They believed that the Russian economic system was weak and rotten, that the Soviet people were discontented slaves and would revolt if given arms, and that the Red Army, with its best officers purged, was a third-class military organization. So they all waited for Hitler quickly to chop up the supposedly decrepit Soviet Union. The Communist Party of the United States, however, never wavered in its firm conviction that the powerful and healthy young Socialist Republic could withstand every force that decadent capitalism could throw against it.

Realities in the U.S.S.R. were fundamentally different from the fantastic lies that had long been spread over the capitalist world by the professional Soviet haters. Economically the country had been growing at a stupendous rate for fifteen years past, and it had become the leading industrial land in Europe. Also the Red Army, in anticipation of the attacks that were sure to be made by imperialist capitalists against the Soviets, had been built up to a high level of strength and efficiency. Indeed, events were to show that in discipline and fighting spirit it was far and away the most effective army in the world. As for the morale of the people, that was superb. They were proud of their new Socialist system and willing to defend it with their lives. The great state trials during the 1930's, of the Trotsky-Zinoviev-Tukhachevsky-Bukharin wreckers and counter-revolutionaries, instead of weakening the country as capitalist leaders believed, had enormously strengthened it. The trials destroyed the sprouting fifth column root and branch and had deprived Hitler of a most powerful weapon, one that he had counted upon heavily.

The Great German Offensive

When the German armies crossed the frontiers of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Hitler threw a mighty power against the great Socialist Republic. He had behind him not only the vast armies and industries of Germany and Italy, but also the factories and manpower of a host of satellite countries and conquered nations, comprising virtually all of Europe—France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, Luxemburg, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. He also dominated the production powers of the "neutral" nations, Sweden and Switzerland. Hitler's forces enormously outnumbered those of the Soviet Union in manpower and industrial production—in everything except the main things, revolutionary fighting spirit and Socialist organization.

Hitler's great "blitz" blow carried him far and fast into the Soviet Union. His "irresistible" Wehrmacht marched to the tune of the most fantastic stories of Russian defeats and the destruction and capture of millions of Red Army soldiers. These lying tales, sent out by the Nazi propaganda agencies, were readily believed by the gullible in all the capitalist countries, who daily expected the complete collapse of the Soviet government. But again the realities of the situation were far different from the picture painted for the capitalist world by Goebbels. The German army was advancing at frightful cost, the Red Army taking a ghastly toll as it backed up against the main Soviet bases. Already, by August 11th, only six weeks after the great offensive began, General Haider was warning Hitler that they had fatally "underestimated the Russian Colossus," and was saying that "Germany's last reserves were committed in a last desperate effort to keep the line from becoming frozen in position warfare."2

How much of the great Russian withdrawal was a question of calculated strategy and how much of it a matter of compulsion, remains to be told by Soviet military historians. The bourgeois military writers' insistence that the Soviet government had been "surprised" strategically by the Nazi invasion is obviously incorrect; if that had been true, the Red Army would have been destroyed before it could mobilize its real strength.

The German army besieged Leningrad on September 8th, and on October 3rd the vainglorious Hitler shouted to the world that Russia was defeated and "will never rise again." On November 12th the Germans reached the gates of Moscow, but Hitler's forces, held at both Moscow and Leningrad, were forced into the dreadful winter struggle of 1941-42. Hitler's army then got a triple taste of what Napoleon's legions, over a century before, had experienced from the indomitable Russian people.

The Japanese Attack upon Pearl Harbor

Meanwhile the Japanese imperialists, encouraged by Hitler's conquests in Europe, decided that the time had come for them also to deliver their major blow against their traditional enemy, United States imperialism. So they struck at Pearl Harbor. Early on December 7, 1941—one of the most tragic days in American history—the Japanese sent 105 planes over the sleeping, unsuspecting garrison. "So great was the surprise that most American aircraft were destroyed on the ground, leaving the American fleet at the mercy of the treacherous foe. Nineteen of the eighty-six American ships in the harbor were seriously hit, five great capital ships were either sunk or otherwise put out of action, and casualties to personnel reached 4,575 killed, wounded, or missing...Had the Japanese brought with them troops to effect a landing, they might with ease have taken the whole of the Hawaiian Islands."3

This monstrous crime, made all the more outrageous because it was committed during the course of U.S.-Japanese peace negotiations, utterly shocked and enraged the American people. The next day Congress recognized a state of war with Japan. On December 11th, Germany and Italy, in common action with Japan, declared war against this country. The United States was now in World War II, with its navy badly crippled. The American officers responsible for permitting the barbarous assault upon Pearl Harbor were never punished for their criminal negligence. Indeed, the two ranking men, General W. C. Short and Admiral H. E. Kiinmel, were allowed to resign on full retirement pay, and the whole disgraceful matter was eventually hushed up. The "great" General Douglas MacArthur was equally guilty, his planes being all destroyed on the ground in Manila by the Japanese at the same time, despite repeated warnings from Washington beforehand.

After Pearl Harbor, Japan launched an aggressive expansionist offensive. Within the next five months its forces conquered the Philippines, Wake, Guam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, British Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, much of China, and they were threatening India. Almost overnight the Japanese had built up one of the hugest empires in history and had come into possession of enormous quantities of manpower and natural resources.

The Soviets March to Victory

The winter of 1941-42 was a disastrous one for the Germans, at the gates of Leningrad and Moscow. In the spring of 1942, however, Hitler managed to organize another offensive, aimed against industrial Stalingrad and the Caucasus oil fields, with the end in view of eventually encircling Moscow and finally defeating the U.S.S.R. But with this vast plan Hitler broke his neck. He tried in vain to capture Stalingrad. His troops arrived before that city in August 1942, and for five months nearly a million men were locked in desperate struggle. On January 31, 1943, the Nazi Marshal Von Paulus, defeated, encircled and isolated, surrendered with 200,000 men and 16 generals to the Red Army. This was all that was left of the 400,000 men in the German Sixth Army. The heroic defense of Stalingrad was the most decisive battle in world history. It ruined the German Wehrrnacht and wrote finis to Hitler's dreams of world conquest.

The world rang with praise of the Russians for their great fight. Long before the battle of Stalingrad, even reactionary General Douglas MacArthur was constrained to declare, "The world situation at the present time indicates that the hopes of civilization rest upon the worthy banners of the courageous Russian Army. During my lifetime I have participated in a number of wars and have witnessed others, as well as studying in great detail the campaigns of outstanding leaders of the past. In none of these have I observed such effective resistance to the heaviest blows of a hitherto undefeated enemy, followed by a smashing counterattack which is driving that enemy back into his own land. The scale and grandeur of this effort marks it as the greatest military achievement of all time."4

After Stalingrad the Red Army, in a never-ending offensive, proceeded to drive the German-Italian-Romanian-Hungarian-Finnish-Spanish armies out of Russia, inflicting catastrophic losses on them. For the next two years, almost daily, the world's press heralded great victories of the advancing Red Army. On February 16, 1943, Kharkov was recaptured; on November 6th, Kiev was retaken; and on November 26 th the Russians liberated Gomel. On April 10, 1944, the Red Army retook Odessa; on May 9th it captured Sevastopol; and on June 4th, it crossed the Polish border. Since Stalingrad, the "invincible" Nazi Wehrrnacht had been driven back halfway across Europe by the "defeated" Red Army. With boundless joy the peoples of the world, including those in the United States, hailed the victorious advance of the Soviet forces.

On June 6, 1944, the United States and Great Britain opened up the long-promised western front in France and the death agony of the Nazi regime was on. On August 25th Paris was liberated, and on September 11th, the Anglo-American-Canadian forces crossed the German border. On January 17, 1945, the Russians captured Warsaw, and on February 7th, they reached the defenses of Berlin. On April 25th the American and Soviet forces met on the Elbe; on May 2nd, the Russians captured Berlin; and on May 7th, Germany surrendered unconditionally. President Roosevelt died on April 12th, less than a month before the victory was won. The great offensive of the Soviet people and their Red Army against the Nazi hordes was guided daily by Stalin, a highly experienced soldier from the time of the Russian revolutionary wars. This brilliant war achievement greatly enhanced Stalin's already tremendous prestige among the Soviet people, won by his vital services, side by side with Lenin, in founding and defending the Soviet Republic, his magnificent leadership in the building of Soviet socialism, his epic defeat of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Bukharin, and the rest of the wrecker opposition in what were perhaps the most complex political debates and struggles ever to take place, his outstanding theoretical work as the greatest living Marxist, and his brilliant diplomacy as far and away the outstanding statesman of our times. Now Stalin faces the most difficult task in his entire career of leading the Soviet People—to fend off the malignant and aggressive offensive of the Anglo-American imperialists, to preserve world peace against their war policy, and to protect Soviet socialism, the bulwark of world democracy and social progress.5

The Question of the Western Front

No sooner had the U.S.S.R. become involved in the war than Great Britain and the United States, which in the pre-war years had so stubbornly rejected Soviet anti-fascist co-operation, pronounced the Soviet Union their ally. Churchill promptly declared that "any man or state who fights against Nazism will have our aid," and a couple of days later Roosevelt announced that Russia would be given military help under the lend-lease plan. On January 1, 1942, also, 26 anti-Hitler nations, laying the foundation of the United Nations war alliance, endorsed the Roosevelt-Churchill Atlantic Charter of August 14, 1941, pledged each other all-out mutual aid, and agreed not to make any separate peace with the fascist powers. 6

On the surface, therefore, the U.S.S.R. was considered a full-fledged ally by the western powers, but the truth was quite otherwise. The big imperialist powers did not lay aside their anti-Soviet hatred and fear so easily. In reality Anglo-American war policy was based throughout upon the old pre-war Munich project of letting the Soviet Union and Germany fight out the war together in the hope that they would undermine or destroy each other in the process. Neither before, during, nor after the war was the U.S.S.R. either accepted or treated honorably as an ally by the United States or Great Britain.

With the fate of the world at stake, many bourgeois statesmen even openly proclaimed the let-Germany-and-Russia-fight-it-out treachery. Thus, President—then Senator—Truman, declared on June 23, 1941. "If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany."7 Ex-President Hoover, in the same outrageous and reactionary vein, declared that when "Stalin and Hitler were locked in deadly combat . . statesmanship required the United States to stand aside in watchful waiting;, armed to the teeth."8 This was also Churchill's line. The Truman-Hoover-Churchill conception was in fact the decisive opinion of the American and British bourgeoisie and it provided the basis for the policy of their two governments. If President Roosevelt thought otherwise, he certainly was not able basically to change American-British war policy. The attitude of betrayal toward the U.S.S.R., however, was buried under a mountain of hypocritical expressions of co-operation—to avoid alienating the Soviet Union and in order to satisfy the strong pro-Soviet sentiment among the American masses.

The purpose of the Anglo-American imperialist advocates of the let-Germany-and-Russia-butcher-each-other policy was easy to understand. They figured cold-bloodedly that in the post-war period, with both Russia and Germany knocked out, they would be able to reorganize and dominate the world to suit themselves, with the United States playing the decisive role. Already in 1941, Henry Luce, the big magazine publisher, was filling the air with his shrill cries that "The twentieth century is the American century."9

The great test of Anglo-American policy toward the U.S.S.R. came on the question of the western front. Obviously a sound allied military strategy demanded that a front in western Europe should be established at the earliest possible date, to catch Hitler in the vise of a two-front war and to relieve the heavy pressure against the U.S.S.R. A prompt establishment of the western front could have ended the war at least a full year earlier. The Soviet government demanded this second front, and the masses all over the world clamored for it. The Communist Party of the United States made this fight its major campaign, and undoubtedly the bulk of the American people agreed with its general contention. But the United States and British governments stubbornly refused to set up the badly-needed western front, although military means were undoubtedly at hand in Great Britain to have invaded Europe by the fall of 1942. The American and British forces refused to stir, however, and they went on piling up military supplies in the British Isles until, as the current saying had it, they were in danger of sinking the country into the sea.

Meanwhile, lend-lease supplies were being forwarded by the United States to the embattled Soviet Union. But here, too, the strong anti-Soviet bias of Anglo-American policy was in evidence. That is, the Russians, who were doing practically all the fighting in Europe, were given only about one-fourth as much lend-lease war materials as Great Britain, which was doing hardly any fighting at all.

Finally, in November 1942, in the face of a widespread demand for the western front, the western allies got into motion—but by invading Africa, not Europe. The African-Italian invasion was in no sense the second front needed. First, it involved relatively few divisions, and second, it was essentially political, not military, in character. The basic purpose of this Churchill-inspired invasion against "the soft underbelly of Europe" was not to relieve the pressure upon the Soviet Red Army, but to occupy Italy and if possible the Balkans with Anglo-American troops in order to forestall expected post-war revolutions in these areas.

It was not until June 6, 1944, nineteen months later, that the American-British-Canadian forces finally crossed the English Channel, established themselves in France, and began their push into Germany. The invasion could not have been postponed any longer. Not only was the mass demand for the second front imperative, but—what was even more urgent—the Russians had decisively licked the Germans and were triumphantly advancing across enslaved Europe. The Red Army, as we have noted, had smashed the backbone of the Wehrmacht, driven it back 1,300 miles, and crossed the border of Poland on June 4th, two days before "D-Day" in France. It was only then that the gigantic forces of Great Britain and the United States were activized and the long-delayed western front opened. It was a matter of comment among the newspaper columnists at the time that if Eisenhower did not hurry up and get his troops across to France it would be too late, as the Red Army would march across the whole continent in its fight to destroy the Nazi forces.

The War against Japan

The main enemy and by far the most powerful fascist power in World War II was Nazi Germany, controlling as it did nearly all of Europe. It was against Hitler, therefore, that the decisive blow had to be struck.

Japan, as it turned out, proved to be only a second-rate power so far as fighting capacity was concerned. The Roosevelt Administration was aware of the primacy of Germany as the major enemy and the need of making the heaviest concentration against it. Secretary of the Navy Knox declared, "We know who our great enemy is, the enemy who before all others must be defeated first. It is not Japan, it is not Italy. It is Hitler and Hitler's Nazis, Hitler's Germany."10

This remained ostensibly the American as well as the United Nations policy throughout the war. Actually, however, the United States struck its hardest blows against Japan, leaving the main enemy, Germany, as we have seen, primarily for the U.S.S.R. to dispose of. This course was partly due to heavy pressure from those reactionary elements who wanted to let Russia and Germany fight each other to death, but it was especially due to the fact that American imperialism felt itself much more affected by the far-flung conquests of Japan in the Pacific and the Far East, areas which American imperialism had staked out for itself.

It was not long after the disaster of Pearl Harbor, therefore, that the tremendously superior production and manpower of the United States began to make itself felt in the Pacific phase of the world war. The naval Battle of Midway, fought June 3-6, 1942, was an American victory and it marked the end of Japan's advance toward Australia. Then came Guadalcanal—in August-November 1942—which was another major defeat for Japan. After this the "island-hopping" got under way, with the American and allied forces gradually pushing north, capturing during 1942-43 the Solomons, New Guinea, Tarawa, and other key islands. The 1944-45 campaign found the Japanese everywhere on the retreat and the (chiefly) American forces taking one island stronghold after another—the Dutch East Indies, Kwajalein, Saipan, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, etc. Then came the fire-bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities, and on August 6th and 9th the horrifying and needless atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The war in the Pacific has been falsely portrayed to our people as almost exclusively an American affair; but it was in reality a coalition war, far more so, in fact, than the war in Europe. Indispensable factors in defeating Japan were the great armies of Russia and People's China. All through the war the Soviet Red Army, although locked in a death struggle against Hitler's powerful armies in Europe, kept Japan's finest land force, the Kwantung army of one million men, tied up along the Siberian frontiers. This enormously weakened Japan's armed strength available to extend and defend its conquests against American and otherallied troops. Without this fact, the American advance would have been vastly more difficult, if not impossible. The U.S.S.R. also gave powerful aid to the Chinese People's Army in the field in the early stages, at a time when the United States was still sending scrap iron and other war materials to Japan. And when the U.S.S.R., in accordance with the agreement with its allies, entered the war against Japan on August 8th, it speedily wiped out the crack Kwantung army. This was another body blow against Japan.

The forces of Free China, led by the Communists, also were a most vital factor in winning the war in the Pacific. For several years they kept over a million Japanese soldiers fully occupied in the field, inflicting upon them gigantic losses in manpower and war material. "In the eight years of the War of Resistance, they [the Eighth and Fourth People's Armies] engaged 64 percent of the Japanese troops in China and 95 percent of the puppet troops."11 Japan was greatly weakened by the war in China and was hamstrung in its fight against the American and Soviet forces. As for Chiang Kai-shek's national armies, however, they directed their main attacks, not against Japan but against the Chinese people's armies.

Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945, thoroughly beaten by the combined American, Russian, and People's Chinese forces. The British had little to do with Japan's defeat.

An Estimate of World War II

The U.S.S.R. was the decisive force in the coalition which won the general victory over fascism in World War II. Its entry into the hostilities changed the character of the war in that it greatly strengthened the democratic element in the struggle, making it basically a peoples' war. This was a qualitative as well as a quantitative strengthening of the fight of the peoples. With its enormous political, economic, and military strength, the Soviet Union contributed to the war its perspective and final realization of victory. When the U.S.S.R. entered the war, the struggle was a lost cause so far as the western allies were concerned. They were virtually defeated, politically as well as militarily, and their prospect for victory was just about hopeless. From the time of its entry into the hostilities the Soviet Union became the peoples' leader of the war. This was the basic reason why the war was won.

The Soviet Union gave the cause of the allies democratic political strength, stability, and direction. As a great Socialist country, the very antithesis to fascism, the Soviet Union, a land without imperialists, was squarely and irrevocably anti-fascist in its whole war drive. Its interest in utterly destroying fascism was identical with that of the democratic masses of the world. In the war the U.S.S.R. gave a smashing demonstration of the political idiocy of those who shout that "fascism and Soviet socialism are the same."

The capitalist governments of the United States and Great Britain, controlled by reactionary ruling classes tainted heavily with fascism and having in mind only one objective—the making of billions for themselves, could not possibly rise above the sordid level of their own imperialist interests during the war. They could not represent the anti-fascist spirit of the American, British, and world masses, nor could they have led a people's democratic anti-fascist war. Their imperialist interests in pulling such territorial and other conquests as they could out of the war, had nothing in common with the aims of the peoples, who were fighting desperately for their freedom and their very lives. The imperialists constantly betrayed the democratic war aims of the allied coalition. The only consistently anti-imperialist and anti-fascist force among the big powers in the war alliance was the U.S.S.R.

The imperialists of the United States and Great Britain showed their unwillingness and inability to fight fascism by their active support of Hitler before the war and by their constant pressure for a negotiated peace during the war. Without the anti-fascist influence of the Soviet Union, they would have arrived at a settlement with Hitler, far more definitely than they did with Hirohito. Significantly, in the present postwar years of "cold war," when the Anglo-American imperialists are trying desperately to organize an all-out capitalist war against the U.S.S.R., they are complaining that the biggest mistake they ever made was to yield to the mass pressure and to smash the Hitler regime so completely in World War II. The only way that the war could have the degree of anti-fascist content that it did attain, and the "unconditional surrender" slogan be carried through, was by the predominant democratic influence of the Soviet Union. In this respect, the Soviets were in harmony with the democratic masses everywhere, including those of the United States. The political leader of World War II in the fight against Hitlerism was the U.S.S.R., and it could not have been otherwise.

The Soviet Union also, naturally enough, contributed the basic political-military strategy to the democratic side of the war. That is, the policy of an all-out international alliance of the democratic powers, and of national, anti-fascist unity in the various countries, was simply the wartime expression of the line developed by the Seventh Congress of the Communist International in 1935; namely, that of an international peace front to halt the fascist aggressor states and of a people's front to defeat fascism in the individual countries. Great Britain and the United States (and their Social-Democratic stooges) rejected this antifascist co-operation with the Communists in the pre-war years, and if they accepted it in the war situation (to the limited degree we have indicated), it was only because of the desperate debacle into which they had plunged themselves through their "appeasement" policies. In this grave crisis their need for Communist help was imperative.

In addition to being the political leader of the war and giving it its main political-military strategy, as we have remarked, the U.S.S.R. also did the bulk of the fighting to win the war. This is obvious at once from a comparison of the list of killed, wounded, and missing of the respective big powers on the democratic side—Britain, 755,257; the United States 994,893; the U.S.S.R. 23,417,000 12 In soldier deaths, the Russian losses, 6,115,000, were almost eleven times as great as those of the United States (325,464) and Britain (244,723) combined.

As we have seen earlier, it fell to the lot of the Soviet Union, virtually single-handed, to defeat the main enemy, Nazi Germany. Hence the gigantic Russian losses in manpower and territorial devastation. Of course, the U.S.S.R. got some help from the Anglo-American bombing of German cities and Lhrough American lend-lease military supplies. But this help was more than offset by the fact that the U.S.S.R., all through the war, was subjected to the tremendous strain of keeping over a million of its best troops on the Siberian borders to hold the Japanese in check. Moreover, the crippling effect of the air-bombing of German industry upon the Nazi war effort has been greatly overestimated. The fact