Reds in America - Richard M. Whitney

The Raid at Bridgman

The most colossal conspiracy against the United States in its history was unearthed at Bridgman, Michigan, August 22, 1922, when the secret Convention of the Communist party of America was raided by the Michigan Constabulary, aided by county and Federal officials. Two barrels full of documentary proof of the conspiracy were seized and are in possession of the authorities. Names, records, checks from prominent people in this country, instructions from Moscow, speeches, theses, questionnaires—indeed, the whole machinery of the underground organization, the avowed aim of which is the overthrow of the United States Government, was found in such shape as to condemn every participant in the convention.

It is now known and can be made public to what extent this movement, inspired from Moscow and directed by Lenin and Trotsky, has grown since the first seeds were sown a few years ago. The seriousness of the menace may now be measured for the first time. The ramifications of the organization are now known. It can be stated with authority that the Workers' party of America is a branch of this organization, placed in the field by orders direct from Moscow and supported by the illegal branches of the Communist party. It is known that agents of the Communists are working secretly, through "legal" bodies, in labor circles, in society, in professional groups, in the Army and Navy, in Congress, in the schools and colleges of the country, in banks and business concerns, among the farmers, in the motion picture industry—in fact, in nearly every walk of life.

These agents are not "lowbrows," but are keen, clever, intelligent, educated men and women. They are experts in their several lines. Their programs, which are now known, show that their plans for inciting the negroes, the fanners, the clerks, the workmen in industry, members of Congress, employees in Government departments everywhere, to violence against the constituted authorities, have been drawn with almost uncanny appreciation of the psychology of each group, with facts and figures so manipulated as to appeal to those approached, with false premises so cleverly drawn as to fool almost anyone.

The names of persons interested directly or indirectly in this movement are astounding. They range from bricklayers to bishops, and include many prominent official and society people. It must be understood that by far the greater number of these people do not know to what they are lending the use of their names and influence or to what they are giving their money. They have been approached to give aid to the Workers' party, or to the many relief organizations which have sprung up disguising Communistic activities, or to the forward-looking, "advanced" schools of political thought. They do not know that their names are on what are known in the secret circles of the Communists as "sucker lists" comprising the names of people who have given to one or another of the various "causes" which are manipulated by the Communists and who can, if properly approached, be induced to give again.

These are not idle words. The plans and programs of the Communists contain the proofs. But for the length of the documents they might all be printed in full. They are worth the study of all true Americans, for by suggestion and innuendo, they are designed to bring about the moral annexation of the United States to Russia, and by direct words they show that Lenin and Trotsky with their precious group in Moscow, control the secret as well as the open work of the Communists of America in all its ramifications.

The coal and railroad strikes of 1922 are striking examples of the opportunities afforded the Communists for making and abetting disorder. For the Communists thrive on disorder. Trouble is a rallying cry for them. They deliberately "plant" their agents in labor unions for the purpose of inspiring disorder. Their creed is to make capital out of strikes, riots, and every other form of popular unrest. Their plans for the coal and railroad strikes, which were so extensive a feature of 1922, were laid in 1921. Their sympathizers attend church meetings for the purpose of presenting arguments to weaken the faith of members of the church. They preach free love, the nationalization of women and children, and openly proclaim that the breaking up of the home ties is an advance in civilization.

Many of the leaders of this movement in the United States are foreigners who cannot speak the English language. In the ranks are large groups of non-citizens whose sole reading is the radical papers printed in their native language. Communist literature includes thousands of books, pamphlets, magazines and newspapers printed in various editions to meet the requirements for their foreign readers; fully a half score of languages other than English are found in this literature. Much of the scheming is done by these foreigners, but a part of it, and practically all the putting into effect of the results of the conspiracies, is the work of native Americans.

The raid at Bridgman will go down in history as one of the most important events in the war against Radicalism and World Revolution. Seventeen delegates to the convention were arrested on the spot and others were later apprehended in different parts of the country. All who were there have been identified by the records which were captured and which answer any pleas of alibis. The place of the convention was an ideal one. It was in a wooded valley on the estate of Karl Wulfskeel, less than a mile from Bridgman and about twelve miles each from St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. Small hills surrounded the meeting place from which lookouts could keep watch and give warning of the approach of strangers. The grove in which the convention was held is close by a few cottages, which the owner was accustomed to rent to summer campers and which served to house the seventy-odd delegates to the convention. The spot could be reached only by a wagon road, not in good repair, so that swift automobiles could not travel with sufficient speed to prevent flight.

Watchers were also stationed in the town of Bridgman to note and report the presence of any strangers and on August 21, this foresight yielded its rewards. Word was also received from Chicago of a raid in that city on the offices of William Z. Foster, who was in attendance on the Bridgman convention, in his official capacity as head of the Trade Union Educational League. Foster and some of the higher-ups from Russia and the United States escaped during the raid but later seventeen were caught. Foster himself was arrested the next day in Chicago, and denied that he was at Bridgman—but the authorities had the minutes of the meetings, including rollcalls to which Foster answered "present," and the text of the speech delivered by Foster. Denial was useless.

Preparations had been made, as is always the case at the illegal meetings of the Communists, to secrete the records in case of discovery. In this instance a hole had been dug back of one of the cottages into which were dumped typewriters, mimeograph machines, adding machines, the private papers of the delegates and the official records of the convention when the authorities swooped down upon the conspirators. They are called conspirators advisedly, for the purpose of the Communist party of America is to overthrow the Government of the United States by violence, by armed revolution, and to make this country like present-day Russia.

It is interesting to note that every member of the Communist party has what is known as a "party name," by which alone he is known to the other members. Rule No. 12 of the regulations governing the meetings at Bridgman states that "no one shall disclose or ask for the legal name of any person present." The identity of many members is unknown, although the party name of practically every member is now on record.

The delegates who were in attendance at this illegal annual convention of the Communist party of America came from all parts of the United States. There were also present honored guests (albeit in an official capacity) from Moscow, bearing instructions from their chiefs, Lenin, Trotsky, el al., and they gave explicit orders as to what should be done in this country looking to its overthrow. There were present besides Foster, C. E. Ruthenberg, three-time candidate for mayor of Cleveland; Ben Gitlow, the New York labor leader; Ella Reeve Bloor, who says she has been arrested more than a hundred times for radical agitation among workers; Robert Minor, J. Lovestone, Ward Brooks, direct representative of the Communist International, of Moscow; Boris Reinstein, representing the Red Trade Union International of Moscow; Rose Pastor Stokes, whose spectacular radical career is well-known; William F. Dunne, candidate for governor of New York on the ticket of the Workers' party, a "legal" branch of the "illegal" Communist party, and many others. The seventeen arrested at or near Bridgman were Thomas Flaherty of New York; Charles Erickson, Charles Krumbein, Eugene Bechtold and Caleb Harrison of Chicago; Cyril Lembkin, W. Reynolds, Detroit; William F. Dunne of Butte, Mont., and New York; J. Mihelic, Kansas City; Alex Bail, Philadelphia; Francis Ashworth, Camden, N. J.; E. McMillin, T. R. Sullivan and Norman H. Tallentire, St. Louis; Max Lemer, Seattle, and Zeth Nordling, Portland, Oregon.

The convention was called to order on the afternoon of August 17 by Comrade J. Lovestone, Secretary to the Central Executive Committee. Lovestone, whose party name is L. C. Wheat, had just returned from a trip to Germany where he secured $32,000 from the International Propaganda Bureau. At the head of this organization is Karl Radek, the notorious Bolshevik who has been identified with the Communist movement since the time of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty and whose real name is Tobiach Sobelsohn. The International Propaganda Bureau was organized for the specific purpose of pooling and distributing all propaganda funds so that the money could be quickly placed where most needed. A definite proportion of the funds collected in the United States is sent to this bureau in Berlin, a definite portion being retained for direct propaganda work here.

The convention was quickly organized, committees appointed, and the work begun. William Z. Foster figured largely in the organization, be having been seated as a fraternal delegate by virtue of his position as head of the Trade Union Educational League. Comrades Ben Gitlow and Caleb Harrison were chosen chairmen by the "Presidium," or governing body, of the convention.

The regulations governing the convention, drawn by the grounds committee, illustrate the efforts made to prevent any knowledge of the proceedings becoming known outside the secret circle. All persons were forbidden to leave the grounds without permission of the grounds committee, and if granted this permission they must register when leaving and report when returning. "No person shall mingle with strangers," reads Rule No. 4, and the next one provides that no persons shall be allowed to send messages or mail letters. Rule No. 6 reads:

"No incriminating literature or documents shall be kept in baggage or in rooms. All such matter must be turned over to the committee every evening. The grounds committee must arrange for the safe keeping of this matter."

The rules prescribed the time lights should be out, what time the delegation should get up in the morning, and when they should bathe and that "all persons going in bathing must wear bathing suits." Lest some trace of their plans become known it was forbidden to write on tables, seats, or any part of the premises, and all were prohibited from "throwing away papers or written matter of any kind;" it was provided that "all written notes, not longer required, must be handed to the committee for destruction." Roll calls were held three times a day to guard against spies getting in or leaving, and all grants to leave the grounds must be reported at every roll call.

Following the organization of the convention and the adoption of the rules and regulations. Comrade Ward Brooks, of Moscow, addressed the convention in German. Notes taken in English by Comrade Max Bedacht, a member of the Central Executive Committee, were found among the buried records. At the outset of his address Comrade Brooks admitted that "for the first time since the Third International" the party was faced by really serious problems. He said:

"The revolutionary situation immediately following the Russian Revolution gave its impress on the Communist International. It was thought that we were really at the beginning of the world revolution. Some say that this crisis will be the final one. Others that it will be followed by a period of prosperity."

Evidently prosperity is not to be desired, for the Communist movement thrives on the dissatisfaction of the masses. Throughout their literature and in all their speeches the Communists stress "class struggle," preaching always the need of creating class consciousness as a step toward the "struggle." Comrade Brooks's explanation of the present situation follows in the next two paragraphs;

"The situation is really that although the economic situation is bettering, still the political consciousness and the class struggle are sharpening. Capitalism has no way out to regain complete health. The situation in the Entente is such that England and France are constantly at odds. America is at odds with the rest of the world. This leads to a great complication of interests. Thus the revolutionary movement is solidifying. Ireland endangers the position of Great Britain on the Continent.

"Germany is the greatest proletarian power, with seventy percent urban population. The bourgeoisie cannot for any length of time hold power. The slogan of a proletarian government by the German Communist party is not artificial, but is based on the desires of the proletariat. Germany is the seed of Europe. France is so closely connected with Germany that an uprising in Germany would ultimately lead to a revolution in France."

Comrade Brooks went on to report on conditions in Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Finland, Japan and Russia, painting the picture in brilliant colors for his American hearers, turning every defeat of Communist plans to victory by twisting the significance of the developments which led to the defeat and claiming the results as satisfactory to the Communists. Among other wild claims he made was that Russia herself had contributed ninety-nine percent to the relief of the famine sufferers of that country. Then he turned to America.

"The American situation. What has happened? Much and better. The Communist party in America sees more concretely, more definitely, its goal and also sees the methods. The tactical questions were never so intensively discussed as during the last year. This will fit them to take the lead in the class struggle. As far as results go nothing is to be seen as yet. Are we better or worse off than we were last year? Better, because the party exists and knows why it exists. It is more fit for the purpose of the Communist party than it was last year."

Inasmuch as they were among themselves at Bridgman there was no need of pretending that the work of the Communists was legal. The differentiation of the legal and illegal branches was made clear, and the fact that the illegal branch is regarded as the more important and the controlling branch is plainly stated. For it is in the work of the illegal branch of the organization that the violations of the laws of the country are committed, the conspiracies fathered by Moscow and imposed upon the party in America are carried out.

The report of the Adjustment Committee, of which Robert Minor was chairman and of which Brooks and Reinstein of Moscow were among the members, consisted of Revolutionary Resolutions, which were adopted, as follows:

  1. "To multiply tenfold the activities of the whole membership of the Communist party in the trades unions is not only a question of the life and death of the party, but, alongside of another form of the work among the masses, the best counter-balance against controversies that tear the party to pieces.
  2. The road to revolution in America leads over the destruction of the power of the yellow leadership of the American Federation of Labor. This aim can be accomplished only through work within the American Federation of Labor for the conquest of this organization. Therefore it is the main task of the Communists to work in the American Federation of Labor.
  3. The main goal of the Communists in their trades union work is the unification of all organized labor into one federation.
  4. The work in the independent unions must be carried on in the above spirit. The necessary and right amalgamations (not artificial ones) of independent unions within a certain industry or in local councils should be influenced by the Communists so that they are not carried through in a separatist spirit against the American Federation of Labor but as a step toward the general unification of labor and in support of the work within the American Federation of Labor.
  5. The tendency for the formation of a national federation of independent unions or the amalgamation of local councils into a competing federation against the American Federation of Labor is harmful.
  6. The existing councils wishing to affiliate with the Red Trades Union International should not be discouraged but should be attracted under the condition that they support the trades union program of the party."

The Illegal Party Must Continue

  1. The illegal Communist party must continue to exist and must continue to direct the whole Communist work.
  2. The open work in all forms and especially in Number Two is the main task of the party.
  3. A legal Communist party is now impossible. Should conditions change, only a convention can change the party's policy."

Relations of One and Two

  1. According to the thesis of the Second World Congress of the Communist International the role of the Communist party in the Proletarian Revolution is. the Communist party is the organized political lever by means of which the more advanced part of the working class leads all the proletarian and semi-proletarian mass.
  2. The Communist party in its revolutionary outlook does in no country feel itself bound by the existing laws forced upon it by the bourgeois class state; not only in the historic revolution which it strives to bring about and which naturally cannot be carried out legally, but also in its activity in the period of preparation does the Communist party and the fighting proletariat come in open conflict with bourgeois justice and the organs of bourgeois state apparatus. Whether in spite of these facts the Communist party can exist as an open party, tolerated by the enemy as a so-called legal party, or whether it must exist as an illegal party depends upon a number of circumstances which differ in various countries and from time to time. Even an open Communist party must be armed for the eventuality of exceptional laws against it and also for the carrying out of many permanent tasks it must maintain an illegal apparatus. The present situation in America makes the existence of a legal Communist party, as it exists in Germany, France, Italy, etc., impossible. In spite of all differences America belongs in the category of countries like Finland, Poland, Roumania, Yugoslavia where the Communist party must be illegal. In spite of the fact that lately an extension of the possibilities of legal activities has taken place, prospects for the possibilities of an open Communist party within a reasonable length of time do not exist. The American illegal Communist party, therefore, is and remains the Communist party, the only section of the Communist International in this country.
  3. The center of gravity of the Communist party lies in its open activities. The whole open work of all Communists in the legal political field, in the trades unions and all other organizations, and in the press, must he directed by the Communist party. The direction of this whole open work will not lead to a neglect of the illegal party work but, quite the contrary, will instill the party with real life and give its work political significance. It will direct its attention to the great problems of the struggle of the proletariat. It will establish the real connections between the party and the masses and their struggle. If in the future Number Two should become a revolutionary mass party which can openly and unrestrictedly operate as and call itself a Communist party, then the present underground organization will become an illegal apparatus within that party and must he adapted to the new situation and new functions.

For the practical carrying out of these policies the following rules must be observed:

  1. "A. In all their activities the Communists are subject to the directions and discipline of the party.
  2. "B. Every member of the Communist party is in duty bound to be active in Number Two.
  3. "C. The Central Executive Committee will see to it that the directing body of Number Two will be subject to its guidance in the composition of its membership as well as in the execution of the political directions of the Central Executive Committee. All meetings of the Number Two must be prepared for by the Number One. This is especially important for the conventions of the Number Two which, under present conditions must be preceded by a convention of the Number One.
  4. "D. The same holds true for local party committees.
  5. "E. The meetings of party committees of Number One as well as the organizations and groups of Number One must be devoted, along with inner organizational questions, mainly to discussions of plans of action in the open work. These meetings must not duplicate and thus hinder the open work but must become the driving force of the open activities.
  6. "F. The Number Two shall be recruiting ground for the Number One and must be the constant source of new forces.
  7. "G. No member of the Number One is allowed to neglect Number One work but must be in constant touch with the illegal organization. This must give the members backbone and direction for the open work.
  8. "H. The Central Executive Committee publishes monthly an illegal organ for the discussion of important party questions to be distributed among party members and sympathizers. By actual work the Central Executive Committee must keep in constant touch with the membership so that its decisions are not carried out by purely mechanical means, but also and more important, by a thorough understanding of party policy and technique on the part of the membership.
  9. "I. The publication of illegal propaganda and agitational literature for mass distribution shall be adapted to political necessity whenever the legal possibilities are exhausted."

To Proletarian Dictatorship

  1. "The program of the Number Two must be short. A manifesto which in short, concise sentences, not in the form of a narrative or a syllogism, contains the declaration of principles.
  2. "The red thread of the program is the idea and the practice of the class struggle. In this connection mass-actions should be dealt with. This part must be American; it must deal with partial struggles of the American masses as well as with the general struggle of the thirty million of American workers. In this portion must be stated the basic elements out of which our trade union tactics are developed. The fundamentals of the United Front should be here expressed.
  3. "The political part must lead up to the climax of the proletarian dictatorship. This formula appears in contradistinction to the dictatorship of the capitalists. American democracy must be analyzed. Rule of the thirty million for the overthrow of capitalism as against rule of Wall Street for the conservation of exploitation. Soviet rule as the historic form of a proletarian regime in the transformation period.
  4. "One or two sentences may be inserted in a fit place dealing with the yellows and reformists and against the policy of compromise."

Centrists in the Workers' Party

"The Workers' party was organized to comprise not only Communists but also sympathizers who, although not yet clear-cut Communists, gravitate toward Communism and accept the moral and political leadership of the Communist International and the Communist party of America. From that point of view the decided non-Communists and anti-Communists (that is, opponents of the existing Comintern), especially when they belong to the caste of leaders, are not a desirable element in the Workers' party, but are a disturbing and at times even a dangerous element. Even though at a certain period of development we are forced to accept such element on account of their important following, we must do everything in our power to win this following for us as quickly as possible and to destroy the influence of the non-Communists. . . .

"To the question of whether it would be better for us if they go sooner or if it were better they go later, we answer: at the present moment an open breach would mean a split, a weakening and compromising of the as yet extremely weak party. They may therefore remain; but even now already our Communist work within the Workers' party must be doubled and trebled as well as our propaganda for the Workers' party.

"Especially dangerous are the positions of power of the centrists and half-centrists in the daily papers. This condition must be remedied immediately. First by organizational measures to get this press absolutely in our control; secondly, by the open criticism of their mistakes in the official organ of the Worker's party which latter organ must be absolutely in our control; thirdly, by the establishment as soon as possible of an English daily paper."

The "Coordination of Communist Activity in the Americas" [see Appendix A] was discussed at length as a thesis presented to the convention. The chief point made in this thesis was that the Communists of the United States must take the lead in all Communist activity in the Latin American republics because they brand the Latins as backward, lacking in intelligence and in no way strong enough to accomplish anything without the support of the organization in this country. The capitalists of the United States were condemned utterly because they have invested so much money in Latin America, but no credit, naturally, is given for the work of aiding the countries to the south of the United States by giving employment to the people and by developing the natural resources. This extension of capital for use in Latin America is called "imperialism" by the Communists and the warning is sounded that the American capitalists are thus extending their influence for the purpose of finding labor to import into the United States to bieak strikes. It is also stated in this thesis that:

"The introduction of an exotic capitalism into Latin American countries has opposed to a backward and unripe proletariat the highly developed bourgeoisie of the most powerful capitalistic nation in the world, with the military resources of the United States at its command. The fight is unequal. Isolated, the Latin American workers can not hope to defend their interests successfully against their mighty adversary. They need us as well as we need them. A proletarian revolution anywhere in Latin America is well-nigh impossible until there is a revolution in the United States. Wall Street, with its billions of dollars imperiled, would crush it immediately. American imperialism, economic and political, is the instrument of exploitation throughout the western world. In Latin America, as in the United States and Canada, the Class Struggle is a struggle against Wall Street."

Throughout the minutes of the convention, and also in all Communist literature, the letter "X" is used to refer to the Trade Union Educational League, of which William Z. Foster is the head and organizer. This is done in order to aid Foster in his efforts to avoid conflict with the authorities and to make the American people and his opponents in labor union circles believe that it is not connected with the Communist movement. Foster was a member of the committee which drew up the resolutions on the Relation of the Communist party to the Trade Union Educational League, adopted by the convention. These resolutions provide specifically that the illegal branch of the party must always be in control of the League. They read as follows:

  1. "The party recognizes the 'X' as one of the most important factors for the revolutionizing of the trade and industrial unions and therefore will take all the necessary measures in order to develop and strengthen it through the active participation of the membership of the party to its work.
  2. "The formulation of the trade union policies by the party must be based upon the closest contact of the party with the experiences of the trade union nuclei.
  3. "The general control of the Number One nuclei within X as within all other organizations must be in the hands of the party and not in the hands of the special committees.
  4. "Contact must he established between the executive committees of the party and the executive committees of the X.
  5. "Number One nuclei within the X must be made to function regularly."

Foster's Speech to the Convention

The most important event, in the eyes of the delegates, was the speech of Foster himself before the convention. His hostility to Samuel Gompers and to the American Federation of Labor, of which Foster is a member, was shown in his address. He told of the work done among the railroad workers and the miners leading up to the strikes of 1922. He counselled violence in overthrowing the Government of the United States. He told of his dealings in person with the authorities in Moscow and how the leaders in Russia understood the situation in this country. His speech in part follows:

"The fate of the party depends upon its control of the masses. The trade union work is one of the most important things in order to get control of the masses. The influence of the masses can be measured by the amount of control we happen to have in the trade union work in all Countries. We have seen the Socialist party here go to pieces, more so than in any other country of the world. The Socialist party in Germany suffered, but not like the Socialist party here. It is practically outside the labor movement. There is nothing left of it.

"One of the prime reasons is that the Socialist party in this country never understood the importance of industrial work; never had an industrial policy. It seemed to go along on the idea that the Socialist party should be an organization of citizens in general, and did not realize that the foundation had to be the workers, and not only the workers but the organized workers. The Socialist party never realized that the key to the working class lies through organizations that carry on bread-and-butter, every-day struggles. The consequence was that the Socialist party has wavered ever since it was formed. The Socialist party never crystallized itself. It fell into the hands of Debs, and Debs has been a man who has never really grasped the significance of mass organizations. As a consequence, the Socialist party developed a wing that stood for dual organizations, a left wing. The right wing stood for working in trade unions in mild milksop fashion. They used the trade unions merely as vote-getting machines. They did not attach first-rate importance to them. The left wing, led by Debs, Haywood and others, had the idea of dual organizations, the right wing had an idea of going along in trade union work mildly.

"The result was a compromise between the two positions. They endorsed the principle of industrial unionism but failed to direct the active work or attempt to put it into practice. The Socialist party had an industrial program, but they failed because of lack of organized effort. When the war came along, the Socialist party took a stand against the war. The result was that Gompers by controlling strategic points was not only able to sway the masses in favor of the war, but the whole working class as well, and the Socialist party failed to realize the necessity of intrenching itself in these masses and found itself at the end of the limb, amounting to nothing. The whole working class turned against it because it was foolish enough to allow their unions to remain in the hands of the bureaucracy. The split that came along completed the job because of their faulty industrial policy. They could have withstood solidly but because they had no backing of the workers, they collapsed.

"The Communist party is not going to make the same mistake. This laying so much stress on the importance of the trade union work is one of the most helpful features of the movement. When we lay stress on the importance of this work, we realize that we must capture the trade unions if we want to get anywhere. Different Communists differ as to the importance of capturing the unions in the revolutionary struggle. Some say that the trade union, does not amount to anything; that it is just a neutral organization and will never become a revolutionary unit. Others say that it is one of the really revolutional instruments of the workers and will function as such in the revolutionary struggle. Syndicalists take the position that trade union work is the only thing. Although we may differ as to the positive value of the trade union work, we must agree with the negative, namely, that it is absolutely impossible to have a revolution in the country unless we will control the mass trade unions. This fact alone should justify the policy that the Communist party of the United States is working out. If we wish a revolution, we must have their support.

"After our delegation came back from Moscow last year, it brought with us a program which we thought was a good practical program for this country, and we want to tell you this—a lot of people say that those in Moscow do not understand the situation. I want to dispute that. I found in the Red Trades Union International and in the Communist International and generally in Moscow, a keen understanding of the fundamentals of our situation in this country. I can say that I found a better understanding of the general fundamental situation in America than we can boast of here. It was a peculiar thing to find men like Radek and Lenin telling American revolutionary organizations that their industrial policy was wrong. Radek said, 'Your delegation that you had here at the previous congress of the Communist International seemed to be too anxious to get away from the trade unions.' They do not know details but understand basic principles of trade unionism, and these fellows were too anxious to find excuses to run away.

"Radek knew that these fellows were wrong because of his general knowledge of the international situation and fundamentals of the labor movement. Radek stated that every policy that we are now undertaking we should put into effect. Every leading man in Russia took that position. The important thing is that we finally arrived at a practical foundation for a trade union policy in this country. We came back with this policy and started to put it into effect. It was laid before the Central Executive Committee and endorsed and also before the Number Two and endorsed, and we were instructed to undertake to organize the Trade Union League. We began in February. The program initiated was to simultaneously set up groups in all parts of the country. It was a very good conception and should have worked out better than it did, but unfortunately most of the people were not clear and did not get as good results as should have been gotten.

"However, we succeeded in establishing branches of the League in practically all important centers of the country. Some of these branches are small, but I think we have reached the point of development where we no longer measure the importance of revolutionary organizations by size. In some places where there are only one or two men, more results are obtained than where they have larger organizations which spend time fighting and not doing real work.

"We formed this league, but in forming it we were under a great disadvantage. We did not dare to say it was a Communist organization. It was necessary to camouflage to a certain extent, and for that reason it had to start differently. The ideal way to have started this league, was to call a national conference and there adopt a program, endorse the Red Trades Union International program and send it out broadcast. We were unable to do that because it would immediately have been labeled Communist. The alternative was to start it and have the Chicago league function as the national organization until it had union connections established and could call a national conference. That has been the proposition up to the present time. The Chicago League served as the national organization. We picked its executive board which mapped out a policy and served as a national organization. We now have reached the stage where we can call our national conference.

"Before I touch on the conference, I would like to say that we started this League with an idea to making it a paying organization, but we had to abandon this idea. In spite of the financial loss, we had to give it up, because the American labor movement is in such a state and the bureaucracy is so ruthless and so weak that we run a great danger of expulsion for dual unionism, and it was necessary to have an organization that did not carry cards but more of a diffuse proposition so that they could not put a finger on it and clean it out.

"In France they started out with a policy of accepting affiliation from organizations endorsing its program. It was a left block organization. The program was very general in character, to overthrow the yellow bureaucracy. The affiliations from local and national unions and sympathetic ones eventually resulted in fact that the bureaucracy was able to charge them with having a dual labor movement, and convinced the rank and file and the French trade unions that the R. S. C. was in reality a dual labor movement, and not only convinced a great portion of them that that was the case, but also convinced the leaders of the R. S. C. themselves that it was an unadvisable thing.

"The reason urged for the split was that it was a dual organization. Before the split occurred, the R.S.C. abolished the proposition of accepting affiliations and therefore their organization, to some extent, was on the same basis as the Trade Union Educational League, but it was too late. The fight was made and even by stopping the affiliations it did not have the desired effect of taking away the unions. When the R. S. C. was formed it in many respects was analogous to our own league except that it was dominated by syndicalists, and the Communists were in a minority, whereas in the United States the league is in the hands of the Communists. They paid no attention to excepting dues when discussion on fundamental policy was adopted. Afterwards they found out that it was a great handicap. We decided to accept neither affiliations nor organizations without dues, but rather function in a more advanced manner, at least until we were well intrenched on a firmer basis without danger of expulsion. We have succeeded in making an inroad into a number of organizations. In fact, I find that the American trade union movement is very receptive to a great deal of the program.

"The situation on the railroads: we have carried on work not only in the mining districts, but were particularly successful in the railroad trades. To show the ripeness of the American trade unions for this kind of proposition, to concentrate on explaining the situation will be as good as any. We started out with the railroads with a program of industrial unionism. There are sixteen organizations on the railroads. We started out with laying stress on the proposition of industrializing the situation, and started a movement for amalgamation. The trade unions connected with the Trade Union Educational League were instrumental in sending out several thousand letters through local unions. In the face of the convening of the railway employees' convention, we sent out a letter with the idea of industrial organization to the rank and file and delegates to that convention (500), ninety-eight percent being highly paid officials getting from $400 to $700 a month, more than the presidents. When the convention came together, Knudson and I spoke to as many delegates as we could and the result was that between sending out these letters and one meeting, we set up a stampede among the delegates of the convention and had a majority on record for our program.

"This shows conditions as they were at the convention. Samuel Gompers came to Chicago for the purpose of spiking the league and preventing it from having any effect on the convention, and he held a public meeting and advanced the league as being financed by Moscow and out to destroy the unions. He sent a man there to address the workers. He was denied the right to speak to the convention, but in spite of all that, we succeeded in stampeding these under-officers for that much of the program. Could that happen in France or any other country where a lot of fellows could stampede a convention of high-paid officials? It could not be done. In no other movement in the world is there such a thing. If we were able to stampede the majority of this convention, what can we do with the rank and file? The president of the railway employees' department issued a challenge to me to the effect that these people who talk industrial unionism should help them get down to something concrete and something definite.

"We drafted a program for industrial unionism and sent out 11,000 copies to every trade union in America. This cost the party absolutely nothing. It was so organized as to pay for itself. The trade unions in Minneapolis and St. Paul raised the money and circularized all the railroad unions in the country. We knew that the strike was coming along and tried to be on the job. The strike occurred with the result that there was the great object lesson of-hawses using one section to defeat the other. The leaders were cowards and did not dare tell the men that the brotherhoods were at work. It fell upon our league**** to show the men this. We were the only element in America to point out the lessons of this strike. The leaders did not dare to mention it and we did it. The result has been that our propaganda has run like wildfire through the railroad men of the country.

"So far in the railroad situation we have merely talked industrial unionism to them. We have not raised the issue of the Red Trade Union International and various other issues. If we have not raised them our enemies have and in the campaigns wherever the officials have taken a hand in it, they said that the Trade Union Educational League is purely a Communist organization, and the rank and file know definitely whom its program has come from and what is involved. In such a desperate state, and destitute of leadership on the part of any of the officials, they are accepting it anyhow. During the strike I could go before them and talk anything at all. The wall has broken and we have succeeded in getting a grip in these organizations and have got them coming our way. We have got to break the monopoly of the press.

"The bureaucracy of the trade unions has got the press which is one of the secrets of control, and we must try to aim at that—the breaking of the monopoly of the press, and with the great volume of sentiment we could succeed.

"I am not trying to overstress the importance of industrial trade unionism. The workers of America are ready for new ideas. There is nothing to be got from the old machine and if we will go to them, they will listen to what we have got to say. In our conference we should be very careful about the program that we adopt. As far as 1 am concerned, we should adopt a clear-cut revolutionary program. Adopt a proposition indorsing Russia and indorsing the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia. Adopt a resolution calling for the affiliation with the Red Trade Union International without qualifications. Adopt a program calling for industrial organizations, and adopt a revolutionary program as a basis of our work. Popularize it and let it be spread broadcast. It is a strange thing that some of our men who are most extreme radicals left us and advocated the idea that we go careful on the industrial field. It is a strange situation, but natural."

Relations Between Legal and Illegal Parties

The relations of Number One and Number Two, that is the illegal and legal branches of the party, to each other was set forth in a thesis that was adopted by the convention. [See Appendix B] It was prepared with great care by an important committee of which J. Lovestone, executive secretary of the party in America, was chairman. It provides for the permanency of the illegal branch setting forth explicitly that even after the Communist party becomes strong enough to come out in the open the illegal branch will be necessary to direct the conspiracies of the party. It says at the outset, in discussing the "necessity of a Communist party": "all experience in the modem class struggle proves that the working class can emerge victorious only after developing an organ of leadership in the form of a highly disciplined Communist party, thoroughly conscious of revolutionary principles and tactics. The first task of the Communists is, therefore, to develop such a party."

The authors of this thesis point out that while education and propaganda are necessary in preparing for the final great armed revolution, it is more important that all Communists have a major task in the "participation in all the struggles of the workers as the most active force." The inciting "masses," not individuals or even small groups, to violence is held to be the chief effort to which the Communists should lend themselves. It holds that "the leadership of the masses of the exploited can be attained only by directly engaging in all their struggles together with the masses of the workers." It is then urged that political organizations are necessary and states that "in America it has become the most urgent, immediate task of the Communists to secure a public, open, so-called 'legal' existence as an organization." The significance of the following paragraphs is obvious.

"A truly revolutionary (i. e. Communist) party can never be 'legal' in the sense of having its purpose harmonize with the purpose of the laws made by the capitalist state, or its acts conform with the intent of capitalist law. Hence, to call a Communist party 'legal' means that its existence is tolerated by the capitalist state because of circumstances which embarrass the capitalist state's efforts to suppress it. The revolutionary party can avoid suppression into a completely secret existence only by one or both of two means:

"a. By taking advantage of the pretenses of 'democratic forms' which the capitalistic state is obliged to maintain. By this means the Communists can maintain themselves in the open with a restricted program while establishing themselves with mass support.

"b. (Later stage) By commanding such mass support among side masses of workers that enable them to proclaim publicly their final object in the revolutionary struggle and manoeuvre openly to attain this object regardless of the desire of the capitalist state to suppress it. It is necessary at the present time (and circumstances make it the most urgent immediate need) to resort to the first of the before-mentioned methods of open contact with the working masses; which means to maintain an open political party with a modified name and a restricted program."

The thesis continues:

"A legal political party with such restrictions cannot replace the Communist party. It must also serve as an instrument, in the complete control of the Communist party, for getting public contact with the masses. It must mobilize the elements of the workers most sympathetic to the Communist cause, with a program going as far toward the Communist program as possible while maintaining a legal existence. It must, with a course of action in daily participation in the workers' struggle, apply Communist tactics and principles, and thus win the trust of the masses, and prepare them for the leadership of the Communist party."

Again it is declared that:

"The overthrow of the capitalist system can only come through the overthrow of the capitalist state."

"To accept this view is to accept the certainty that the capitalist state will find itself in violent conflict with the masses led by the Communist party. While the capitalist state retains the governmental machinery, and as the struggle grows sharper in approaching the final struggle, the capitalist state will inevitably strike again and again at the revolutionary party in the effort to destroy it. After the Communist party shall have established itself in the open, it must be prepared for and must expect to be driven out of a 'legal' existence from time to time. the Communist party must at all times be so organized that such attacks cannot destroy it. It must perform its functions of leadership in the class struggle no matter what tactics the ruling class adopts—open as far as possible, secretly as far as it must."

For this reason, it argues, the underground machinery of the Communist party, that is, the illegal machinery, is not merely a temporary device, but is for permanent use.

"There is never a time," it states, "previous to the final overthrow of the capitalist state, when a truly revolutionary party does not have to perform a considerable amount of work free from police knowledge and interference. the Communist party will never cease to maintain its underground machinery until after the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of the Workers' Soviet Republic."

It is held to be necessary for all members of the legal party to become members of the Number One, or illegal part of the party, and it is impressed upon all members of the Number One to be supporters of the legal political party. Then the thesis urges activity in the work of Communist party caucuses, in the ranks of the trade unions, constantly striving to alienate conservative members of the unions from their conservative ideas, thus increasing the sphere of influence of the radicals in the union ranks until they become all-powerful.

The Pittsburgh District presented a thesis complaining of lack of action at the present time. This thesis said that the party was not thinking enough of its immediate work in America, was relying too much on instructions and orders from abroad (meaning Russia), and that it was and always must be largely in control of foreign elements because the English-speaking workers always get the easiest jobs. It says: '"The Communist party is not organized for itself and for the satisfaction of idealists, but we are a rough fighting organization, aiming to bring about a mass movement in this country led by us."

Comrade Lovestone also presented "a brief statement of the progress and aims of the African Blood Brotherhood!" which calls for a liberated race, "liberated not merely from alien political rule, but also from the crushing weight of capitalism"; absolute race equality, "political, social and economic"; the fostering of race pride, "fellowship within the darker races and with the class-consciousness and revolutionary white workers"; higher wages and lower rents. The entire program is intended to incite the negroes to attain by violence the ends specified.

The work of The World War Veterans was also highly commended by Lovestone, who presented to the convention the constitution and by-laws of the organization and a declaration of principles which has many revolutionary features. It declares its unalterable opposition to any form of compulsory military training, and to "any interference, official or unofficial, with any right secured by us by the first amendment to the Federal Constitution." It also expresses sympathy with and states that the organization shares the aspirations of "the people of India, Egypt, Ireland and Russia."

The split in the Communist party of America in December, 1921, when three members of the Central Executive Committee broke away from the majority members and continued publishing their illegal paper under the same name as that used officially by the party, the Communist, was taken to Moscow for settlement. Each faction sent representatives to Moscow, and the authorities there decided in favor of the majority, ordering the minority faction to return at once to the fold and the majority faction to receive them without prejudice. This in explanation of the following messages received from Moscow and read to the convention. The first, a cablegram, reads:


This cablegram was signed "Block and Company" and apparently relates to business matters. "Block and Company" are Comrades Jake Cannon and Bittleman, agents for the majority faction sent to Moscow. They, of course, are the "salesmen." The "board of directors" is the Comintern or governing body of the Communist Third International, and the "stockholders meeting" is the convention at Bridgman. If it had been postponed the raid might not have taken place. The second message was a radiogram, also apparently a business message, which reads:


"Henry Curtis Dow" are the party names of the minority members who seceded from the Central Executive Committee; the "firm name and trademark" are the Communist organ. "John" is John J. Ballam of Winthrop, Mass., who was sent by the minority leaders.

Comrade Lovestone then read from the "news letter" sent out from the party headquarters with instructions to "rush to every group" the information that "Comrade Cook, member of the Presidium of the Comintern and the Presidium of the Red Trade Union International, has been ordered to return home (from Moscow) immediately, with full instructions from the Communist International," and urging all districts to hold themselves in readiness to call hurried meetings to hear the instructions. He says in this news letter that the Central Executive Committee, by a vote of five to five, had decided not to postpone the Bridgman Convention in spite of instructions to do so. This was doubtless because of the preparations already made for holding the meetings and the difficulties of disseminating the news of the postponement without letting the secret be known.

The imperative need of a "united front" of the workers was also presented by Comrade Lovestone in a thesis on political activity. After stating that "a united front of labor, a solid phalanx of the working class drawn up in battle against the forces of the capitalist class and the capitalist state is the prerequisite of the victory of the proletariat," he declared that the groups of workers already in the labor organizations and independent groups of workers must unite to attain this end. Without mentioning names, he referred repeatedly to the "treacherous leaders" of organized labor who have fought the idea of the labor party, and cautions that because of this the word "labor" must be kept out of the name of the new party. He approves the support of the labor organizations when they have united on an independent candidate for office, but warns against lending support to the labor unions when the latter are supporting the candidates of any other party.

"The basis for a united political front," he says in announcing the program for the coming elections in the United States, "which will embrace the working masses, has not yet been created in the United States, To enter into a political federation with existing political organizations, none of which has the support of the masses of the workers, would be to negate the possibility of creating a real united front of the workers politically. The Workers' party will, therefore, as a rule, nominate its own candidates in the coming elections and carry on its campaigns independently."

In referring to the platform, he says;

"The platform must raise as the issues of the campaign immediate questions of the class struggle such as unemployment relief, the open shop, the use of the injunction against the workers, opposition to industrial courts, etc."

He also says that special permission may be secured from the Central Executive Committee to place a candidate on the ticket of an existing working class political organization if it is impossible to launch an independent ticket.

An exhaustive report of the activities of the party, especially in relation to the organization itself, followed. This report bitterly assailed the minority trouble-makers, and precipitated a scorching debate, but documents found by the authorities show that this trouble was settled by the resignation of the three trouble-makers and the election of Robert Minor, A. Wagenknecht and E. Browder in their places. This was in obedience to the mandate from Moscow, and resulted in the unification of the party in America. This settlement of factional fighting within the party was followed by the issuance of a "special bulletin," one copy to be sent to each group in the country, with the injunction to "read this carefully: study each point thoroughly; and then make sure this is put into action." The bulletin deals with the relations of the members in legal and illegal work of the party, and states that the organization is enlarging its scope of work, and that new responsibilities are imposed on each member. The features of the conspiracy laid bare in this document, with the injunction of secrecy are foreign in nature to the American mind, but are a part and parcel of the Communist work.

"All members of the Number One," says the bulletin, "must join the Number Two, and activities of the latter are to be broadened as extensively as possible. We have no room for anyone who does not participate wholeheartedly. Number One must be strengthened by all possible means. No liquidators will be tolerated and all rights must be watched. Every member of Number One must submit to an iron discipline in both Number One and Number Two. If anyone is called upon to do a certain task, he or she must carry it out unflinchingly . . .

"All addresses of connections of Number One must be kept in code, and all incriminating material is to be kept absolutely safe; if possible outside of the place where you live. All records of Number One must be kept safely and the identity of the members of Number One working in offices or upon committees or in units of Number Two, as well as their relations to Number One must not be exposed. All groups are to have alternate captains. All branches are to have alternate branch organizers. . .

"We must endeavor to have a majority of our members on all important committees, and all our members to fill the offices of Number Two. . . . Use nothing but the Real Names in Number Two. Get used to speaking in terms that will not in any way reveal connections with Number One. Do not discuss any of the specific affairs of Number One in meetings of Number Two."

Under the head of Industrial Activities the bulletin says:

"The proper conduct of this line of activities is dependent upon the alertness and understanding of our forces, and must be controlled and guided by Number One—the same principle applies here as was laid down before, that all decisions as to policies and fundamental principles, as well as tactics, are to be decided upon by Number One before being carried out in Number Two. We must organize nuclei of members of Number Two, and work as a unit within these nuclei, and become a live factor in all the activities; but at all times keep our forces intact. We must endeavor to create left wing militant groups within the labor organizations in which we must also become the leading factor."

The end of this illegal, secret, mysterious convention came suddenly. On the afternoon of August 20, William Z. Foster saw on the grounds a man whom he recognized as a Government official. Within a half hour he was on his way to the railroad station at Bridgman with several of the other delegates. He did not warn his comrades but promised to send more watchers from Chicago. The next day the watchers in the town of Bridgman reported the presence of Chicago detectives arriving in town. In view of these facts the Presidium decided to end the convention that day and so notified Comrade Caleb Harrison, who was presiding. The Presidium called a special meeting for the final proceedings which were rushed through with machine-like speed. It was then night, and no raid had come, but the delegates were warned of their danger, the grounds committee advised everyone to leave, and the records, private papers, etc., were buried in the hole already prepared for such an emergency. But there was no train they could take from Bridgman before morning so many of the delegates decided to stay in the grove. During the night several made their way carefully out of danger, and in the morning the officers gathered in those who were left.