‘Idaho Reds’ from the International Socialist Review. Vol. 15 No. 3. September, 1914.

‘Idaho Reds’ from the International Socialist Review. Vol. 15 No. 3. September, 1914.

The Idaho State Convention. —To the Socialist Party of Idaho belongs the distinction of having adopted what is probably the shortest, yet one of the most complete state platforms ever set forth by any political party.

Reform measures under the name of “Immediate Demands” were completely eliminated, and the platform stands out clear-cut, concise and revolutionary, containing nothing which the old parties will care to steal.

The question of incorporating “Immediate Demands” was brought up at four different stages of the convention in as many different forms, but failed to confuse the delegates. Regardless of the fact that they were as uniformly voted down a persistent effort was made by a few of the delegates to smuggle in some reform measures. This developed, as a last resort, into a frantic attempt to over-ride the convention and force certain reform planks into the platform. This attempt to use a steam roller in a Socialist convention caused much indignation among the delegates. Several lengthy and heated discussions were launched, some of which were tinged with bitter sarcasm and personal remarks, but the clear understanding of the class struggle prevalent among the majority of the delegates in the Idaho state convention remained unchanged.

A. B. Clark of Latah County, with F. Olson of Twin Falls, C. B. Lentz of Bonner, C. F. W. Donicht of Bannock and Herman Barber of Canyon counties, and others, fought eloquently for the elimination of “Immediate Demands” which, they held, mean only reform measures and are a detriment to the real fundamentals of Socialism. They maintained that such planks in a Socialist platform are superfluous and confusing to the minds of the workers, that should they be obtained, can bring only temporary relief to a specified few and no relief whatever to the working class as a whole, thus retarding rather than advancing the real issue. The old parties, they declared, will offer reform measures galore in a vain hope to pacify and thus retain their grasp upon the working class, and when these reforms have been tried and proven a failure let it not be said that the Socialist Party advocated them. They emphasized the fact that if the Socialist Party stands for anything it is for REVOLUTION and not reform, that while the old parties can adopt the same reform planks or “Immediate Demands” which the Socialist Party might incorporate, they can never touch the vital part of our philosophy. They held that the entire program of Socialism is an immediate demand for the permanent relief of the entire working class, and that we should stand firmly upon the rock foundation of this principle rather than upon the wavering promises of reform.

The platform as adopted is as follows:

“We, the Socialist Party of the State of Idaho, declare our allegiance to the international program of Socialism.

“Labor alone produces all wealth. We propose that laborers alone shall have all wealth.

“No man has a natural and inherent right to exploit the labor of any other man, therefore we demand that he shall not have a legal right to do so.

“We demand the collective ownership of all things collectively used, the private ownership of things privately used—the abolition of interest, rent and profit.

“We demand the initiative, referendum and recall of all public officials.

“Our candidates when elected shall always and everywhere, until the present capitalistic system of industry is abolished, make this question their guiding rule of conduct: ‘Will this legislation or action advance the interests of the WORKING CLASS and aid the WORKERS in their CLASS STRUGGLE?’ If it will the elected Socialist is strenuously for it; if it will not he is, and shall be, absolutely opposed to it.”—Elda B. Conly, Secretary of Convention.

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/v15n03-sep-1914-ISR-riaz-ocr.pdf

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