When Holland, Michigan (!?) had a Socialist Party office, a regular newspaper, and two elected city alderman…
‘Learn from Local Holland’ from International Socialist Review. Vol. 14 No. 5. November, 1913.
It is one of the model Socialist organizations in the United States. Located in the city of Holland, Michigan, among the conservative Holland people the statement was often made, “You may capture other towns but never Holland.”
This local conducts permanent headquarters on the ground floor of one of the business blocks in the city. The rental is taken care of with the profits on the sale of cigars, tobacco and candies.
The education end is also self-sustaining. For two winters the comrades have conducted the National Lecture course and made it pay its way. Each speaker coming to this city finds the meeting well arranged, advertised and generally enough tickets sold to more than cover the entire cost.
The local publishes the Holland Progressive Worker, directly owned by the· local and responsible to it. This paper is one of those originally started by the Finlay Call. When the flood swept that plant away they commenced to print it locally. It has been self-sustaining from the first. The monies coming in from subscriptions and advertising produce more than the expense of operating. The profits are used in the general distribution of the paper among non-subscribers. The advertising is secured on the guarantee results plan, tickets being printed and distributed among the local members bearing the words, “Holland Progressive Worker brings results.” The merchants receive these and marks results on the back. They are all eager to advertise in the Worker as the results are not in doubt. Even our bitter opponents place their advertising with the Worker and do not try to control the policy of the paper. Considerable credit must be given the manager, Arie VanDoesburg, for its success.
Holland has elected two aldermen, Olaf Manson and Vernon King. These men are real Socialists and willingly receive the directions of the party local, carrying out all the resolutions that are given them. Sometimes there is a hot fight in the local but after a decision is reached practical unity is the result. Local Holland uses their aldermen to propagate Socialism. They do not think that political action can alone bring about Socialism.
Last spring Alderman King was reelected for a second term against the combined opposition of the Republicans, Democrats and Bull Moosers by a vote of almost two to one. He is now a candidate for the state secretaryship of the party in Michigan. He is not connected with any of the factional fights in the state. A great majority of the comrades are sick of eternal scrapping among ourselves.
The motto of Local Holland has ever been “Let the Heathen pay the freight.” Even the picnics are more than self-sustaining. Our affairs are conducted on strictly a business basis and systematized in the best method possible. The city is subdivided into districts for the distribution of literature and can be covered in one-half hour’s time.
The new city charter provides for the initiative, referendum and recall and many other measures, making for popular government by the voter. These measures are some of the results of our work.
Holland has a considerable number of city industries, such as the electric light and water plant, both conducted for profit. The acquiring by the city of the gas plant is now being fought out and will probably be lost. The comrades consider these measures as educational but not as steps toward the revolution. The resolution. for pure milk sold by the city, however, is held by them to be in the right direction. Holland is on the Socialist map to stay, and other locals may learn many lessons from Local Holland.
The International Socialist Review (ISR) was published monthly in Chicago from 1900 until 1918 by Charles H. Kerr and critically loyal to the Socialist Party of America. It is one of the essential publications in U.S. left history. During the editorship of A.M. Simons it was largely theoretical and moderate. In 1908, Charles H. Kerr took over as editor with strong influence from Mary E Marcy. The magazine became the foremost proponent of the SP’s left wing growing to tens of thousands of subscribers. It remained revolutionary in outlook and anti-militarist during World War One. It liberally used photographs and images, with news, theory, arts and organizing in its pages. It articles, reports and essays are an invaluable record of the U.S. class struggle and the development of Marxism in the decades before the Soviet experience. It was closed down in government repression in 1918.
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/isr/v14n05-nov-1913-ISR-riaz-ocr.pdf