“The Class Struggle” from The Communist (‘old’ Communist Party of America). Vol. 1 No. 5. October 25, 1919.

The magazine ‘Class Struggle’ was among the most important vehicles in promoting a Left Wing and a new International in the Socialist Party during World War One. It split apart in the early fall of 1919, along with the rest of the movement, as its three editors (Louis Fraina, Ludwig Lore, and Louis Boudin) went separate ways. Written for the new Communist Party of America’s journal, presumably by Louis Fraina, this short article reports on its demise.

“The Class Struggle” from The Communist (‘old’ Communist Party of America). Vol. 1 No. 5. October 25, 1919.

IN the Spring of 1917 a group of Comrades in New York City decided to issue a Left Wing organ. Among these comrades were Leon Trotzky, N. Bukharin, Alexandra Kollontai and Sen Katayama. Before the first number was issued the first three comrades left for Russia. The magazine, “The Class struggle” appeared in May, 1917, with L. B. Boudin, Louis C. Fraina and Ludwig Lore as editors.

The group issuing the magazine was not a unified group. The first struggle of policy appeared on Boudin’s attitude on the war, a struggle emphasized by the Bolshevik Revolution and Boudin’s opposition to it. One group, led by Fraina, insisted that Boudin should be ousted; another group, led by Lore, urged compromise and unity. Finally Boudin’s actions became so impossible that the compromisers were compelled to yield and Boudin resigned.

There was peace after that until the Left Wing developed as an organized movement. Again Lore appeared as a’ compromiser. Lore did not approve of a Left Wing organization, did not want the magazine to officially endorse the Left Wing, although willing to carry its propaganda. “The Revolutionary Age” at the time stigmatized Lore as “a cheap American imitation of Hugo Haase” Again after a struggle, the impulse of events swept the compromisers into the Left Wing.

But the attitude of these compromiser toward the Left Wing was vacillating. Lore never participated actively in the Left Wing organization, insisted on his right to speak on the same platform with Right Wing speakers, and generally compromised and hesitated. Then about two months ago Lore was slated for expulsion from the Left Wing, charges having been preferred against him.

At Chicago, during the conventions, Lore again compromised miserably. Although instructed to participate in the Communist Party convention, Lore disobeyed these instructions and participated in the Communist Labor Party convention.

At a meeting of “The Class Struggle” group two weeks ago the question was the disposal of “The Class Struggle”. At first Lore proposed neutrality for the magazine concerning the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party; but then changed his mind. At the meeting eight voted in favor of neutrality; on the final vote 13 favored turning the magazine over to the Communist Party and 16 in favor of the Communist Labor Party, six of those favoring the C.L.P. having first voted in favor of neutrality and at least one still being a mel1lber of the Socialist Party!

Precisely those who ·wavered concerning Boudin, who compromised miserably on the Left Wing- Centrists all- voted in favor of the Communist Labor Party.

This is significant of the elements which are rallying to the Communist Labor Party- compromisers, Centrists, masters of the revolutionary phrase and poltroons in action.

Emulating the Bolsheviks who changed the name of their party in 1918 to the Communist Party, there were up to a dozen papers in the US named ‘The Communist’ in the splintered landscape of the US Left as it responded to World War One and the Russian Revolution. This ‘The Communist’ began in September 1919 combining Louis Fraina’s New York-based ‘Revolutionary Age’ with the Detroit-Chicago based ‘The Communist’ edited by future Proletarian Party leader Dennis Batt. The new ‘The Communist’ became the official organ of the first Communist Party of America with Louis Fraina placed as editor. The publication was forced underground in the post-War reaction and its editorial offices moved from Chicago to New York City. In May, 1920 CE Ruthenberg became editor before splitting briefly to edit his own ‘The Communist’. This ‘The Communist’ ended in the spring of 1921 at the time of the formation of a new unified CPA and a new ‘The Communist’, again with Ruthenberg as editor.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/thecommunist/thecommunist3/v1n05-oct-25-1919.pdf

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