‘Daily Worker’ business manager Moritz J. Loeb looks back on the first year of the first English-language Communist daily newspaper and the efforts it took to make it happen.
‘Torchbearers’ By Moritz J. Loeb from Workers Monthly. Vol. 4 No. 1. November, 1924.
WHEN a year ago we organized and struggled and sacrificed, it was a great dream we had that pushed us on with all our energy. We were visionaries, impractical idealists, fanatics, for we dreamed of establishing and operating a Communist daily in America. What a crazy idea! With a hundred thousand dollars we purposed to start a daily in the English language and to maintain it in the face of the hostility of not only the capitalist class, but also that of the entire officialdom of the organized labor movement.
We didn’t get the hundred thousand; less than three quarters of that amount was collected all told. Almost a year has passed since the first edition of The Daily Worker was published. The Daily Worker still lives. It thrives. Its circulation is increasing, its influence extending. The $75,000 bought not only a Communist daily paper; it bought also a home for the center of the Communist movement in America and a printing plant with which it is possible to do that which is the dread of all the enemies of labor, to flood the country with Communist literature.
We have secured for ourselves the machinery to set the wheels of revolution moving. We have laid the basis for a real communist press in America.
Already tremendous steps have been taken. Not only is The Daily Worker published in our printing plant, but also The Young Worker, The Young Comrade, all of the leaflets and pamphlets of the Workers Party, and up until now the Labor Herald, the Liberator, and the Soviet Russia Pictorial. And now the Workers Monthly unites these last three to complete the cycle of Communist literature in this country.
The daily, the monthly and the party publishing department, united under one roof, almost unlimited in capacity are ready to fill the educational and propaganda needs of the American Communist movement.
A Barometer of the Class Struggle
The Communist movement in America is passing out of infancy. We are entering a period of steady, healthy growth—growth in membership, in structural strength, in organizational permanence and in mobility. Ordinarily we would now be beginning to plan and create our propaganda machinery, our permanent party press. It is particularly fortunate that to some extent that task has already been performed. Around the Daily Worker has been built the printing machinery upon which our press may be erected, upon which the permanency of our press is maintained.
Upon our press depends the rapidity and the healthiness of the growth of our party. Upon the quality of our press depends the education of our membership, the “bolshevizing” of our Party, the making of Communists out of Communist Party members. Upon the circulation of our press depends the increase in our numbers. For it is axiomatic that our press is our barometer. Its nature reveals the state of our health. Its abundance testifies to our virility and our attained and potential power.
The Party Press Machinery
It has been stated that around the Daily Worker has been built printing machinery upon which our press may be erected. In truth, we have realized that much of our wonderful dream. But printing presses do not make Communists, nor do they build Communist Parties. Nor do Communist newspapers and magazines and books. Not they alone.
In addition to our printing plant and as a complement to it, must be built the human machinery which will make possible the growth.
It is no easy task which we have set ourselves. Many a labor daily with much more rosy an outlook than ours, with much more simple a financial problem, has met an early and often dishonorable end. And yet we have undertaken not only the obligation of a daily paper but also weekly and monthly publications, together with the operation of a large printing plant as well. It takes work to keep these going… and organization.
Built inside of our party and parallel to it must be erected the machinery which will have as its task the sale and distribution of the party publications. An army composed of hard working, unrelenting propagandists must be created which will cover the country with a sales organization which will advance the interests of our daily, our monthly and our books and pamphlets in every factory, at every working class meeting, in every working class home in the country.
A great forward step has been taken in the centralization of the communist publishing enterprises into the one organization, the Daily Worker Publishing company and the building of an adequate production equipment. Now the next step is obvious and equally necessary. Centralize the distributing machinery for the Communist press and build an adequate organization to make it live.
In general, every Communist, every militant, must become a cog in this machine. Always it is a first duty to support the press. In particular it is the duty of every Communist organization and every unit thereof to organize the machinery, so that each unit has its press director and committee.
The results from the organization of such machinery are as sure as they are obvious. As the erection of the printing plant has made our party press possible, so the erection of the distribution machinery will make our press fruitful.
The First Time in History!
The first Communist industry in America has been created! Our press is established, our organization is being effected!
To be sure, its future is not yet secure.There have been no miracles. Our papers are small in size and in circulation. They have little or no advertising income. There are deficits; not so large as had been expected, but large enough and dangerous enough. But here we are; and while our future is difficult, after all we are workers, and we are fighters.
Now we campaign again for our press. But how different is this campaign from any in the past. Then we campaigned for a dream (an illusion, many called it), or we campaigned for some debt ridden, hopelessly money-losing paper, to keep it going a little longer until a miracle happened. Now we campaign for a reality, for a press which is growing and healthy. We campaign to build our press stronger and faster, to secure for the revolutionary movement a militant, virile, self-sustaining the Workers Monthly and the Daily Worker.
We light the dark places in the minds of the work- We light the flame of the class struggle. We are torchbearers of the revolution!
The Workers Monthly began publishing in 1924 as a merger of the ‘Liberator’, the Trade Union Educational League magazine ‘Labor Herald’, and Friends of Soviet Russia’s monthly ‘Soviet Russia Pictorial’ as an explicitly Party publication. In 1927 Workers Monthly ceased and the Communist Party began publishing The Communist as its theoretical magazine. Editors included Earl Browder and Max Bedacht as the magazine continued the Liberator’s use of graphics and art.
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/culture/pubs/wm/1924/v4n01-nov-1924.pdf