Puslapio vaizdai

nook and cranny of the globe, studying with fanatical interest the proletarian and labor movements everywhere. Later on he revisited Germany, France, England, Italy, and Russia, making contacts with the revolutionary and labor leaders in those countries, and perfecting his vast knowledge in the history and tactics of the international labor movement.

In 1909, Foster joined the I. W. W. But he soon appreciated that any movement which deliberately cuts itself off from the mass organization of the workers can never hope to influence them. Accordingly, he left the I. W. W. and joined the American Federation of Labor. When the war broke out, he organized the workers in the meat-packing industry. In 1919 In 1919 he led the great steel strike, during which he came in intimate contact with the leaders of American labor. But he found them far too slow, and late in 1921 he organized the Trade Union Educational League, whose program was to "bore from within" our craft unions toward industrial unionism. Unfortunately, however, his very revolutionary impetuousness drives him away from his conviction that he must stay within the labor movement and makes him an easy victim of the political adepts who control American labor.

The Russian revolution completely hypnotized him, and in 1921 he made his pilgrimage to Moscow. There, at the Third International he threw his influence against the I. W. W., who were negotiating a renewal of their affiliation, and he got the Russian leaders to "recognize" the American Communist party, which was then underground. When he returned to America he tried to avoid and to disclaim his

relation to the communists, and when they asked him to address them in the Michigan woods, he begged to be excused. But "revolutionary discipline" exacted obedience; he went. He was arrested on the charge of "criminal syndicalism." So far he has escaped conviction. But ever since 1921 the process of psychological summation drove him completely into the arms of the Workers' party, whose national chairman he now is and on whose ticket he ran for the Presidency in the last campaign. His Trade Union Educational League is now virtually out of business for the same excellent reason for which he had indicted the I. W. W. Its affiliation with the Workers' party has severed it completely from the mass movement of American labor.


The actual tactics of the Workers' party are a confused reflection of the complex interrelation of the Soviet Government and the Third International-a confusion worse confounded by the belatedness of the reflection upon the American scene.

From 1918 to the end of 1920 the Russian Government was busy perfecting the essential new bureaucracy, building the Red army, and fighting the White invasions. All articulate opposition in those martial days was necessarily met with the weapon of the Terror. In 1919 the Third International was founded and caused the final split in the International Socialist movement, including our own. The Third International vocabulary was a terrorist a revolutionary-vocabulary, and before the foundation of the Workers' party the American communists aped this mar

tial language, which made sense in Russia, but none here. To talk with an American Bolshevik from early 1919 to the end of 1921 was much like talking with an asylum Napoleon. But by 1921 Lenine had changed his program, strategically, but none the less profoundly. The civil war was virtually over. The Russian peasant, a congenital petty landowner, wanted his land back, most of which the state had had to return to him even before then. The lag of industry became daily more troublously apparent. Surreptitious trading became universal. And the revolutionary government, under Lenine's masterful retreat, began to compromise. The return of the land to the peasant was completed. Finally, in 1921, Lenine instituted the new economic policy, which grudgingly legalized the small middleman; which, indeed, exchanged the utopia of the socialist commonwealth for the actuality of government ownership of public utilities and large-scale production. And money, which had been watered out of use in the days of the Terror, froze back into a natural medium of exchange.

Plainly, when the American communists formed the Workers' party the Russian Government had completely adopted the slogan of "opportunism." But as the Russian Government became ever more "opportunist," it compensated itself for its revolutionary heterodoxy by letting the Third International indulge in revolutionary orthodoxy. But the poor Workers' party became completely bewildered by this inverse ratio between the realism of the Russian Government and the utopianism of the Third International. In its confusion it aped both. But since Lenine's strat

egy was necessarily quixotic in America, all the American communists could do was to talk in opposite directions. Accordingly, from 1921 until the La Follette campaign, we find them talking "opportunism"-and also talking red revolution. They were one hundred per cent. for a proletarian dictatorship and also for voting in "united front" with the rest of American labor in the Republican and Democratic primaries. They were reviling the labor leaders as “fakers,” "traitors," and "cowards"-and also offering these leaders their aid in times of strike and boycott. The week before Senator La Follette repudiated them in May, 1924, they extolled him as a demi-Lenine, while the very next day they wrote lengthy and detailed "analyses" why he is an incurable "petty bourgeois" and "progressive fraud." No wonder President William H. Johnston of the International Association of Machinists and Chairman of the La Follette campaign once remarked to me with the air of one making a discovery: "These fellows are n't really reds like the old Knights of Labor and the Wobblies. They are plumb crazy." This diagnosis is not quite fair, I protested. They are Peter Pans, having a good time in a figmentary predicament. And their revolution is a grown-up Children's Crusade.

In conformity with the Lenine Program the Workers' party made several notable attempts to break into the progressive wing of American labor. First, it tried to get into the Cleveland meeting of the Conference for Progressive Political Action. This standing conference was a non-partizan trial and error organization toward a third party. Its backbone were fifteen

of the sixteen railroad brotherhoods, its flesh and bone were the farmer, labor, and liberal bodies, which finally coalesced into the La Follette campaign, and its spirit was old-fashioned American populism changed to meet contemporary conditions. But the leaders of the various organizations in the conference did not for a moment entertain the belief that the Workers' party, which was bitterly attacking them in its press, was at one with them in their political program. Instinctively, they agreed with Lenine, who had preached all his life that "populism" and revolutionary socialism are natural enemies.

Soon after the Cleveland meeting, the Farmer-Labor party withdrew from the conference for progressive political action. The leaders of this party were irritated by the Fabianism of the conference, and they issued a call for a regular third-party convention to meet in Chicago in July, 1923.

The big unions and granges conspicuously ignored the invitation. The delegates were mostly unattached liberals, unrepresentative labor radicals and unorganized tenant farmers. The only group which knew what it wanted was the Workers' party. In accord with its Lenine program, it wanted to "capture" this gathering of American "workers and peasants." The "capture" of paper organizations is not very difficult. The new party was christened the Federated FarmerLabor party, a name too long to go on the ballot of most States. The few responsible trades-unionists, who had called the convention, had no choice but to bolt it. And so the Workers'

party "captured" in the end nothing more substantial than its own padded enlargement.

It was at this Chicago meeting that the gradual dissolution of the communist mirage in America began. From July, 1923, until May, 1924, the Workers' party tried to use the fictitious Federated Farmer-Labor party as a wedge with which to break into the "united front of American labor." But American labor refused to "unite." It gathered around Senator La Follette, and he repudiated all communist support. The communists were forced to tear up their paper Federated FarmerLabor party and nominated Foster to head their national ticket of the Workers' party. The party could not muster enough signatures to get on the ballots of most States. The majority of its members have no vote. Foster polled a national vote of about 18,000, about 7000 in New York City and not quite 6000 in Chicago.

The communist faith proscribes quiescence. "The enlightened militant minority" must at least be militant. Being unable to "capture" American labor, it has been reduced since last November to an inner struggle against "Trotzkyism," which once more refracts the Russian situation, and to breaking up socialist meetings, which have to be restored to order by the police. The present slogan of the Workers' party is its own “further Bolshevization," a slogan which supposedly represents the victory of pure Leninism, but in fact is a perfect apothegm of its quixotic predicament. And American labor, no longer fearful of the "red menace," is watching this burlesque with unholy joy.


Richard Kane Reads the News

A Lively Discussion of What Newspapers Mean to Us


FTEN when Richard drops in to see me, he gives me the impression of bringing in with him a vivifying breath of the great world. It is part of Richard's business in his publishing house to keep alertly browsing through the flood of papers and magazines that pour into his office from points on both sides of the Atlantic. Richard modestly disclaims omniscience, but there seems to be nothing current in the contemporary world of events of which Richard is unaware. He knows the personal history of suddenly famous Nobel prizewinners; he knows when the musical festival will take place in Salzburg, and what the program will be. If there is a sale of a folio edition of Shakspere in London or a report of the first stone sculptures in Abyssinia, Richard has heard of them. Often before I have got round to the scientific journals, Richard will call my attention to the account of an experiment that refutes Einstein, a startling discovery among rats in Canada that proves that acquired characteristics can be transmitted. He will glibly tell me what is the condition of prohibition enforcement in Alabama and the new liquor regulations in Quebec. Of things like the Dawes plan or the plebiscite in the Tyrol or the adjustment of powers

controlling northern China, of all of which I have only the faintest notions, Richard can give me on demand, and often without it, precise and detailed accounts. He makes me feel as if I have been moving in a singularly quiet and restricted corner of the world.

Even if Richard's business did not keep him so closely in touch with current papers and periodicals, I think he would still be singularly sensitive to the "new." He has the American flair for contemporaneity; even four years of college and a year abroad have not robbed him of the sense that the newest and latest are somehow the beautiful and the best. Nor has he permanently learned that eternal things are dateless and do not lend themselves to the facility of head-line shouting. He likes to ride on the forefront of things, to be always alive at the bright, recent, and public frontiers of events.

The history of Richard's mind might indeed be traced through the sections and pages of the newspapers that have successively absorbed his attention. There were those early days at home when out of the heavy bundle of dead forest called the Sunday papers the lurid colors of the comic section were for him the only essential fiber. From ten to fifteen it was primarily

the sporting section. It seems incredible to Richard now, and to me, that his life should have revolved even as a child about the fortunes of the Giants, and that the batting averages of the star players of each major league team, the trades and waivers between the teams, were for him so long the only real news in the paper. It is true that at school he did read with a certain mild interest the tabloid news sheet for school-children, "Current Events," but the reports of what the President did always seemed to him less tangible and actual than the dramatic exploits of Christy Matthewson. During his high-school days his interest veered to the murders and to the humorous columns. It is a weakness which he has not to this day outgrown. The murders, he told me once, give him the vicarious sense of being a bloody, lustful, and ingenious scoundrel. The humorous columns remind him not to be too solemn about an existence that is ultimately ridiculous. The latter are also responsible for his tendency to turn every simple answer into an epigram, and conversation into "good lines." That tendency was most noticeable in the period when he filled in for a while on the humorous column of the college paper. It disappeared in his grave junior year. It was then, when the problems of the world were settling heavily upon him, that he would wait for the daily editorials of the liberal evening paper to which he had sworn allegiance. And on occasion he still lapses into the "significant," "profound," and "auspicious" clichés of those who are engaged in ameliorating the dreadful conditions of things. There was a time indeed when he had deserted the newspapers altogether for the journals of opinion,

the intellectual weeklies and the scholarly quarterlies. He came to the conclusion that the scattered fragments of head-lines, the screaming journalizings of current themes, in the Sunday supplements were hardly food for a civilized mind. The clatter of events mattered less than the thunder of opinions. He never made up his mind on politics until his liberal weekly reached him in the mail. During his European year events on the American scene had seemed to him as tiny as the actors on the stage of the Metropolitan seen through the wrong end of the operaglasses from the top gallery. And European newspapers he had seen chiefly for the language, and not much at that.

§ 2

Now that he was moving so much among publicists of various sorts, you could depend upon finding at Richard's house a certain number of people preoccupied with newspapers, and a certain percentage of the conversation revolving around discussion of contemporary themes. I was always meeting at Richard's house, for one thing, a number of people who gave one a sense of very special access to what was going on behind the scenes of any given event. There was the assistant musical critic of one of the papers who always had amusing bits of gossip about the salaries, scandals, and quarrels of opera-singers and concert-givers. He knew always just what society matron was responsible for the advancement of just which handsome young conductor. He knew just which houses were papered and just which "artists" allowed their names to be exploited for musical publicity. There was a gentleman who did special-feature

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