The Nation

[Vol. 140, No. 3648

Most of this excitement reflects a growingsplit between the right and left wings of the party. they turnout for the annual M a y D a y parade.000 members in some 500 locals. Butthat is no reason forconfusing the variouslower-middle-classfarmer-labor and progressive movements with modern socialism. I n every way Milwaukee is a model city of Socialist integrity for capitalistsafety. but some of it is also the thrill of expectancy whichtheparty invariabIyexperiences. modernist ministers. there is a world of truth in the contention that Marxism in America must be naturalized. T h e number of its liberal sympathizers must have increased correspondingly.OOO members in almost 1. orLaGuardia. Almost every biennial national election sweeps into ofke one or t w o state legislators in Pennsylvania or an occasional mayor or councilman in some Wisconsin hamlet. with his exquisite cynicism. At such a timethese Western comrades more or less rebel against what seems to them the alien socialism of New York City. a rebellion not untinged with nativist chauvinism. whose “infantileleftism” satisfies theircravingfor social adventure. Then. . Hence. TheretheHoan administrationhas been runningfor years the steadiest and smoothest goodgovernment machine in American history. whose limitedrange is almostentirely confined to discussions o f “good government. 19357 The Nation 649 The Socialist Party Today By BENJAMIN STOLEERG the Socialist Party is getting out of the red. especially instates with a populist tradition. Then the Socialist tail-enders in these populist states always hope for some miracle which. Mayor Jasper McLevy is engaged in similarmunicipalMarxism.for obviously few things are more natively American than the recurrent populist movements from President Jackson to Governor Olson. the more swank or bohemian or naive revolutionaries in New York are becoming “fellow-travelers” of theComriunistParty. Five years ago thepartyhad less than 10. It is this historic incompatibilitybetween the importedcanned Marxian orthodoxy of New York and the “native” populism of our MidwesternSocialistswhich has kept thepartyfrom being a unified national movement.mayenablethemto wag the populist dog. As a matter of fact. thepartyinNewYork is infinitely weaker than are its peripheral and completely autonomousinstitutions. a Jewish workmen’s benevolent society whose energies are also expended mostly in bitter denunciations of Stalin as being not one whit better than a fascist. T h e president of theRand School is Algernon Lee. good-government addicts.” But in the overwhelming majority of states the Socialist parties are paperorganizations confined to the letter heads of volunteer secretaries. Connecticut. at this moment the Socialist Party everywhere displays considerable excitement. a Scotchman who fancies himself a bit of a Connecticut Keir Hardie in his rank-and-filehaberdashery. is the best in the world. McLevy helped to elect three state senators and two state representatives. T h e sewer system o f Milwaukee. T h e prize exhibit of American socialism in office is of course Milwaukee. there is theRand School of Social Science-combination cafeteria.settlementworkers. research department. Of course. practically all of it in the needle trades. he said. These Socialist tailorsarerather indifferent intheirparty devotion. LastNovember Mr. Politically the party proves.‘Comrade McLevy is a homespun rebel. Nevertheless. T h e Forward endows or subsidizes various Socialist activities. And.Lehman. In Milwaukee we have what the late Morris Hillquit.” Another powerful Socialist auxiliary is the Workmen’s Circle. and thatthe ghost of Soclcless Jerry Simpson is not confused withthe memory of FriedrichEngels.000 locals. Today it has more than ZO. I n Bridgeport. of L. Butthe provincial intelligentsia andthe lesser professional reformersareapt to followinthewake of the pink Chautauquas of NormanThomas. with infinite patience.the astonishingfluctuationsin the Socialist vote of the city. This attitude of being the Marxian rear.June 5. T h e richest and most reactionary of these is the Jewish Daily Forward. needless to say. but a Babylonian Talmudist by nature. which is a non-profitmaking cooperative newspaper nowadays specializing in slandering the Soviet Union. His adherents are practicallyall of the Splendid Character type-liberal rabbis. and Marxian Cooper Union. They pay their dues if they can.when- N O T only in policy but also in membership ever therearerumblings of a nationalthird-party movement. but they are not the only ones. and they vote for Thomas. O n paper it is reviving. and a lot of just decent bewildered folk.best balanced in America. instead of the vanguard. just-awakening college youth. o f the progressive movement is always rationalized by the comrades west of the Hudson as the “Americanization” of theparty. F. and he himself made a very respectable run for governor against Governor Cross. called “sewer socialism” in perfect flower. Most of i t is in the A. A s the crisis deepens. Mr. progressive educators. which keeps his Socialist enthusiasm from soaring above sound city i‘inance and the honest collection of municipal garbage. and Solomon unless their “Socialist” leaders for reasons of industrialstrategy decide to knife these faithful musketeers infavor of Roosevelt. Morethan one-tenth of the national membership is there. the city budget is the . Milwaukee cops neverframe innocent women and they show a comradely courtesy to pickets whodon’t block the traffic. There is no doubt that the heart of the Socialist rnovement beats in N e w York City. Milwaukee and Bridgeport are the bright spots in American political socialism. the theoretical leader of the Old Guard. unions. of course. W h a t really annoys the provincial Socialists is that in New York even the latest expression of Bryanism is not considered a sound expression of the class struggle. such as theDebsradio station. Waldrnzn. He takes great pride in his revolutionary horse sense. a Midwestern Yankee by birth and training. where courses on dialectic materialism are lightened by lectures on musical appreciation. bookstore.intransigent pacifists. “the inevitability of gradualness in the conquest of revolutionary power. Thomas enjoys the amorphous distinction of being theleader of an incalculablefollowing.

T h i s Declaration of Principles was fashioned as a comIt is true that the Socialist Party has appeared officially promise by Mr. the Communist Parry in the United States reflects the rudimunicipal Socialists. when People’s Socialist League and the League for Industrial Democracy. which has no such opportunity. which they hope to transform into a modern thing. I. All Abraham Cahan of the Forward ernment by massed war resistance. vague pacifist leftism of Norman Thomas. a man of characterandgreat energy. Socialist industrial unionism and to force the center. no social oriengovernment under the workers’ rule.. T h e third every union local throughout the country. F. in thenational labor bodies. Harry Lang. It [the Socialist can do is encourage its labor reporter. F. our Socialist Party is passage of the declaration: They [the Socialists] will loyally support.. who was raised next door to Gene Debs in T a r e opposition to Samuel Gompers in the A.650 The Nation cvol. on the ballots for morethanthirty years.They movement. T h e controversial issuebeitshightragic significance. They [the When Social Democracy was in power in Germany.Thomasandwritten by his man Friday. then naturally the inner radical vitality of M a r y Fox. . he tends European counterpart for the reason thatthe American to become emotionally a socialist Bourbon. Norman Thomas. is also subsidizing the revolutionary traveling symptom of the disintegration of the role of the fellowship of Mr.captured the National itscontent or its meaning.. Norman Thomas is the respectable radicalzero he isbecause. a man of extrapower. At the last national convention of the party i n Detroit. in theannual of the New York State party. between the Old Guardand these young militants. a Gandhi pacifist. T h e Ameriit not for the psychological factthat whenevera Socialist can Socialist Party has always been more reformist than its leaderpermits himself to be driven totheright. Buttheparty Devere Allen. Victor Berger and Meyer London served long terms ages mass conscientious objection to warwithan air of in Congress as mere progressives. Harry W. Scheidemann.tween them and the Old Guard is contained in the following mocracy or the British Labor Party. in the tragic not a party of revolutionary compromise.phrase-mongering. but a movement. and Noske were busy shooting revoalready mapped out by the war-mapping arms of the govlutionary workingmen. It is merelyrevolutionary Even in its heyday it never enjoyed a parliamentary represen. any o f their comrades who for anti-war cature of revolutionary compromise engaged in a war of shadactivities or refusal to perform war services come into owattritionwiththe equallyludicrousCommunistParty. I n almost Haute and is today a sort of Hoosier Kautzky. His social philosophy simple trade unionism to adopt such progressive measures as would be aboutthesame as that of the L a Follettes were workmen’s compensation and the Plumb plan. but with the enormous difference of Bridgeport. a state representative parties had undergone. McLevy Darlington Hoopes. Pennsylvania. Socialists] will meet war and the detailed plans for war Ebert. Andit has nothing to sell fundamentally because it has never functioned as areal political movement. editor of the New labor movement. T h e reasons are various. unlike the Scheidemanns ‘andMacDonalds. andtheThomasites mentarygestures of the Russian Revolution without either themilitants. to tell Party] unhesitatingly applies itself t o the task of replcacing lies aboutthe Soviet UnionintheHearst press. of L. organized labor movement has been a strictly reformist trade unionism. Through such intransigent pacifism. the latter of whom lays a book on indus. For one munistParty. i t seems. parties the world over. for it from the responsibility o f organizing and maintaining a has nothing to sell-no power. N ~ 364s .140. andthevarious railroad in his earlyforties. tation.. Under the splendid even Section 7-a failed to revive it. so the Socialist Party reflects the spiritual corruption of West European socialism without newDeclaration of Principles. American socialism cannot be used cannot permit of orderly procedure.the formedatemporary “left” coalition.. Yet for all these institutional activities the Socialist nist leanings who find it impossible to work within the Comwish toworkwithinthe trade-union Party is decomposing. in the state federaleader of the Old Guard. the Socialist delegates forced our pure and and he is a Socialist from mere habit.Socialist Party inthetrade-union T h e militants are a group of young people of Commutrial democracy and the good life every other year. should col1. T h e other elder statesman is Jim Oneal. and forced through the convention a of Russian communism. whose social decency is conhasnever achieved political office. UnliketheGerman Social De. T h e and the so-called “militants“ in the party. no influence. The’present conflict between the Old Guard Philistine attitude of a great many undergraduates. . is the chairman tions of labor.. the that of a benevoIent parasite in the body of our organized Socialist Party would come into power with the aid of “a . And whenthereformlabor movement plainly T h e most vital elements in thepartyaretheYoung reached its uttermost limits under monopoly capitalism. like a monologue by Joe Cook. Afterthatthe American branch underwent thedeterioration which theEuropean Socialist stand the municipal Socialists-Hoan of Milwaukee. T h e first part of the declaration encourtation. Thomas andthe research work of Dr. Ramsay the bogus democracy of capitahist parliamentarism by a MacDonald could join a “National Government’‘ of social genuine workers’ democracy. It is merely a carievent of war. is nothing L. will not shrink as a political smoke screen by American capitalism. T h e fact is that the main advocating thetransformation of aninternational war into service of the Socialist Party in ‘the past hasalways been civil war. just as stantly nullified by his political weakness. If the capitalist system reaction. whether or not in such case it is a majority. which works in the colleges. In aftermath of the Russian Revolution split the. of L. Laidler. American socialism received a mortal blow when the into political action. For years it has really been His Majesty’s Leader. Theyare playing with the that American socialism has never hadany experience of from Reading. conflict with public opinion or the law. brotherhoods. he ordinary ideological confusion. As social theory it sounds was never organized forthe conquest of Socialist power.confused by the third-party hopes of theMidwestern Socialists. the League for Industrial opposition of the Socialist Party within the trade-unionmoveDemocracy has brought abouta healthy change in the hithertoment also died. Louis Waldman. I n other words. and hence is a mereburlesque Executive Committee.apse in a general chaos and confusion. H e is a verysuccessfullawyer conventions of the A. . the Socialist Party. no matter how opportunistic. D.

” which is Thomas’s paraphrase of the “dictatorship of the proletariat. and also FranceandItalywill meet in Rome to discuss the creation of a Danubian pact designed to assure the independence of Austria and maintain peace. theGermany of 1931 was already assuming a more militaristic character .Immediately after the proposal of this unfortunate scheme Italy and France tried to find means to unite the smaller Central European states in some form of economic cooperationwhich would serve as a counterpoise to Germany’s expansion. A national referendum upheld the Declaration of Principles. But thissham battle betweenthe O l d k u a r d a n d the militants is none the less shaking the party. Thomas’s leadership is not likely to be as1 decisive as that.’’ Justhow onecan achieve a Tevolutionary coup d’ttat. I f Germany could .] The Roads ‘to Rome B y M. and Hungary. T h e failure of the most powerful of Austria’s financialinstitutions. who wishes especially to see Austria guaranteed against the menace expressed in the expansionist aims of Germany. it was a work of genius compared to the obtuse and senseless St. Since Germany became aggressively expansive under Hitler the powers have been faced with the task of finding a workable substitute for the unity they recklessly destroyed. Thomas’s essential liberalism has already been tested in Washington by Mr. Since the National Executive Committee under Mr. With the ever-increasing power of Hitlerisrn these fearshave become even more justified.000. Czecho-Slovakia could no longer exist.whichmeans thatthe Socialist Party will decapitate itself. Germany. 1933. was an idea which appealed to liberal-minded people andmight seem to constitute no realdangerto peace. then. including Austria.000 people and probably the best army on the Continent! France feared the potential increase of the German army by 10 per cent through the inclusion of Austria. But even more ludicrous is Mr. Much talk about the “debasing dictates of the Versailles peace treaty” has been heard recently in connection with Germany’s move to repudiate the military clauses of the treaty. Jugoslavia. wroteninety years ago that if Austria did not exist i t would have to be invented or created.” T h e simple fact is that Mr. [Thiscriticalanalysis of the Socialist Party will be followed in later issues by similar discussions of the Communist Party and other organized factions of the left. however. T h e historianFrancis Palacky. nearly 45 per cent voted withtheOldGuard. hence thefear of German expansion wasnotunfounded.865 who voted on the declaration. And was it obvious that once Germany possessed Austria. FODOR pean countries.000 people opened an even easier way to Germany for expansion towardthesouth and the southeast. hoping that such a financial and economic blow would suffice toforestall a movewhichundoubtedlywasintended as a preliminary step toward political union. . sooner orlater.The New YorkStateparty. No conference can undo the evils which the breaking up of the old Austro-HungarianMonarchy caused in Central Europe .were itsfears of a neighbor whichwould have 72.which dismembered the old Austrian Empire. Thomas was going to find out whether it was legal to be a revolutionist. not only caused a serious financial and economic crisis in Austria. M a y 10 URING the month of June all the Central Euro- I the last four years all the energies and abilities of the leading French and Italian statesmen have been required to prevent Austria from falling a prey t o Germany. and Poland. It will be the most important of all the conferences held for this purpose: and Mussolini hopes that it will achieve more than did its many predecessors which also aimed a t anewstability in the Danube basin. But stupid as the Versailles treaty was.and for D Vienna. When Clemenceau decided to dismember the old Hapsburg monarchy] which even before the war undoubtedly had become derelict. Czecho-Slovakia. Germaintreaty.the ideological nonsense packed into these few sentences would tax the genius of a political Lewis Carroll.bring an alleviation. thattheNewDeal isdoing pretty much what i t would be doing were it in office. being aCzech. But the small countriescreated in the place of the former unit of 55. and Rumania. Rooseveltsince March 4. refuses to abide by the referendum. Jugoslavia. he believed that by this move he would destroy forever the greatest potential ally of Germany. Hungary. In short.000. while Hungary. could hardly be accused of overwhelming sympathies for the Hapsburg empire. W h e n pressed by the OldGuardto statejustwhat this Declaration of Principlesreallymeant. underthe leadership ofLouisWaldman. T h e first positive step toward Anschluss was the abortive customs-union scheme of Schober and Curtius in 1931. Italy faced the more imminent danger. however. W. It had suffered enough from a weak Austria-Hungary.Thomas admittedthathe didn’treallyknow andthatthe section was being referred to three lawyers for their expert opinion. T h e chief sponsor of theconference is SignorMussolini.and they precipitated the failure of the Creditanstalt in Vienna. Indeed.would become mere vassal states of an expandingGermany. 19351 T h e Nation 65 1 genuine workers’ democracy. how much more justified. Rumania. Mr. if that’s what the declaration is talking about.the chances arethat this tempest in a teapot will go on unti1 the pot is dry. Thomas’s promise “not to shrink from the responsibility of organizing and maintaining a government under the workers’ rule. T h i s clever yet diplomatically inept plan on the part of ‘Germany filled the Frenchwithfright. But of the 10.June 5 . T h e tragi-comedy of the Socialist Party is reail. At the present moment there is a possibility that the New York State party may be outlawed by theNationalExecutive Committee. with a pacifist industrial democracy as a weapon wearenot told. who. both disarmed. Mr. While the union of a democratic Germany and Austria. but contributed to the departure of Great Britain from gold and seriouslyaggravated the world economic crisis. Rome may.

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