Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

What are the chances of a revolution in Germany? Even in the case of victory and without the tight blockade of OTL, the war would still have been immensely taxing on the populace. Add in the impending quagmire in the Eastern European sphere and methinks you'd have good grounds for a revolution in the 1920s...
 
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Something I noticed while re-reading: Princip is called a Yugoslav nationalist...I feel like that’s foreshadowing something.
 
Part 7: Chapter XXVI - Page 175
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Adolph F. Germer, c. 1919 - Source: Wiki Commons

Set against the backdrop of unsettled troop movements in Ontario and a spike in mass demonstrations across the world, the American Socialists were about to encounter a crossroads unseen in nearly a decade. Johnson's decision-making in accordance with militaristic interests appeared to guarantee an escalation of violence on the Northern border, and his diplomatic choices indicated an intent to continue an ongoing trade embargo with France and Russia whilst eliminating any trace of a trade barrier with Great Britain. The motive behind this turn of events, both the economic restrictions as well as the occupation of Canada, revolved around defending the unchallenged permanence of global capitalism. Socialists in the U.S. understood this well, and as such they knew the unparalleled importance of dethroning the Johnson regime in the upcoming presidential election. Accomplishing that was paramount. However, the party first had its own internal kinks to work out.

The Socialist Party of America, albeit significantly bolstered by its recent victories at the polls, remained in a quandary regarding its overall positions on various political movements and its stance on the general strike tactics of 1918. Thus far, the party allowed for the IWW to command the pickets and guide organized labor on the ground. Individual SP officeholders provided legal support when necessary to workers under duress, and a few city chapters declared themselves allied with the strikes, yet the national party did not stake an official position on the 1918 Labor Rebellion. It was impossible for the IWW to promote the SP on its behalf when the latter's ruling board seemed to brush off the greatest revolutionary uprising of the masses in American history. The same held true for the Socialists' lack of a coherent position on the workers' revolutions in France and Russia. Even if an overwhelming majority of its members supported these developments, the party had professed neutrality until the time arrived for the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Party to meet and decide the fate of the SP's advocacy moving forward.

It is crucial to mention that the sitting NEC was not at all emblematic of the party's now-massive, diverse membership. The NEC was composed of fifteen individuals, many of whom were men sunk deep into the comfortable party bureaucracy. It firmly represented the Old Guard and their unevolved ideas at the expense of the new breed of Socialists. Member John Spargo, for example, maintained throughout 1918 that the party's affiliation with the IWW was a mistake, regardless of the union's profound influence on the labor movement. The majority right-wing of the NEC was precisely the reason for the SP's silence on the Bolshevik and SFIO revolutions. Their leadership also ensured inaction in the realm of integrating women into their rolls, as well as a denial on all fronts to confront segregated party chapters in the Southern U.S. From their perspective, the impartiality of the Socialist Party on a host of divisive issues widened their electoral possibilities. Morris Hillquit's respectable second-place finish in the 1917 New York City mayoral election, when compared with self-described "American Communist" Charles Ervin's meager 10% in the following year's gubernatorial race, was often brought up as proof of their position on the matter. Nonetheless, this conservative-leaning facet to an otherwise revolutionary organization seemed completely counterintuitive to the objectives of the party.

By 1919, the left-wing of the Socialist Party was, in actuality, now the center. The minds of Eugene Debs and Bill Haywood had long-since prevailed over the business Socialists from the early part of the century. They defeated the conservatives at the contentious nominating convention of 1908, pushed through permanent ties with the IWW, and emerged in vocal opposition to pre-war Preparedness and the eventual entrance of the U.S. in the Great War. All these triumphs flew in the face of the NEC, but none yet dared to reform that committee. That is, until the results of the spring elections for national office came to light. Candidates in league with the new ideological center auspiciously captured 12 out of the 15 total seats on the board. Seeing as this progression all but doomed the sitting bureaucrats, a slim majority of the outgoing NEC opted to throw a Hail Mary and planned to outright declare the election invalid. The old party regulars were willing, by all accounts, to throw away all they had worked for if doing so meant holding onto power and denying the left-wing a seat at the table. "Party documents provide a historical record of the plot," wrote Thomas O'Conner, "as do the transcripts of the meeting in Chicago. The resolution was authored by National Executive Secretary Adolph Germer, and the NEC was not unified on its passage.

Beginning on May 24th, 1919, the National Executive Committee held their Chicago-based conference ready to move on invalidating the vote and, presumably in the inevitable fallout, expelling from the party all who questioned their authority. Yet, by the actions of one of the few left-wing representatives on that committee, lecturer and SP functionary John M. Work, word of the NEC's deceit found its way to the ears of Eugene Debs. According to the unverified memo, the Germer Resolution included not only a dictatorial pronouncement of the election as fraudulent, but sweeping suspensions of any member engaged in political action. Debs' presence virtually ensured the plot's failure from the start. He promptly leaked Work's testimony to the entire delegation and the state chairmen, and pulled together disparate wings of the organization to curb a looming disaster.

When the conference came to order, New York City Councilman and former editor of The Masses Max Eastman famously led the charge against "boss rule." John Reed, now-famed for his account of the Russian Revolution in Ten Days That Shook the World, eagerly rose beside Eastman to demand the vote be deemed authentic. Too rose dozens more to say the same. The scheme was outright indefensible, they declared, and it was an act that ran counter to the core democratic values of the party. A loud majority of the delegation called for immediate resignations, others for expulsions. NEC member L.E. Katterfeld joined the fray and too demanded Germer and his conspirators be removed from the committee. "I have seen no evidence of voting irregularities. The tally must be confirmed," Katterfeld stated to uproarious applause from the delegates. Before long, and especially once Morris Hillquit was seen rallying support for Germer's removal, the NEC agreed to vote on the motion. By a count of 11-4, it approved the certification.

The rise of a transformed NEC led by newly designated National Executive Secretary Alfred Wagenknecht undoubtedly secured party unity and saved the Socialists from what may have been an earthshattering rift. Now free of its shackles to an outdated organizing body, the Socialist Party could now embrace the positions of its members. Its new NEC promptly adopted submissions by newspaper editor Louis C. Fraina and Representative LaGuardia pertaining to a renewed alliance with the American working class, a commemoration for the workers slain by strikebreakers, a commitment to bring about equality for women, confirmation that it will demand fair representation of black Americans in the South, and a declaration citing solidarity with the struggles for worker liberation in Europe. Heading into 1920 and the next presidential cycle, the horizon looked bright for American Socialism. "Adolph Germer submitted his resignation in the aftermath of the certification," explained O'Conner.
"He claimed ignorance, as did Julius Gerber and the other members active in the plot to derail the NEC vote. Gerber remained an organizer in Queens for the Socialists. Germer was exiled. [...] Internal documentation from within the committee apparatus revealed ample evidence of a consistent exchange of letters with Washington. Non-socialistic publications neglected to print the allegations. Biographers today never hesitate to do so."
 
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Well, that could have gone a lot worse. Though I have to assume even the attempted purge of the left won't do great things to party unity. Much less than an actual purge would have of course.

I don't know if I missed it but what's the Democrats' position on the continued occupation in Canada?
 
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Part 7: Chapter XXVII - Page 176
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CLA Chairman John Fitzpatrick - Source: Wiki Commons

Chapter XXVII: The Election of 1920: Showdown of the Century

On Inauguration Day, March 4th, 1897, President William Jennings Bryan fatefully declared, "the great corporations, trusts, syndicates, and combinations of wealth are against us." He observed that the sheer economic power of the financial elite, if left unbounded by his and future administrations, stood to overshadow the Constitution and live untethered by the law. He and others swore to fend off these forces, and yet, the lack of proper oversight over the course of some decades built toward a reality much like Bryan's nightmare. For all intents and purposes, and despite President Roosevelt's tepid and underwhelming response to the trusts, an Oligarchy had risen to a position of unchallengeable authority in the United States. Robber barons and their oligopolies ran the levers of the economy behind the curtains. The monopolies and triopolies controlled by Rockefeller and Morgan interests, with their tentacles stretched from steel and oil to rail and coal, effectively wiped out any lingering competition from local industries. They skillfully dodged any statewide or federal enforcement of measly antitrust laws and sidestepped parameters set by the courts in the Northern Securities case, thus allowing for the greatest era of income inequality and lopsided wealth distribution since the height of the old Gilded Age.

By January of 1920, the American Oligarchy was hard at work delegitimizing IWW-affiliated labor unions and the U.S. Socialist Party as creatures of the Bolshevik Communists. Together with the Hiram Johnson Administration, corporate executives and company presidents heavily clamped down on any slight upsurge in labor organizing - the latter often responding with mass firings and blacklists. Especially in the aftermath of Bloody September, manufacturing owners had no reason to act coy. Any worker seen flashing his or her IWW "red card" was booted from company grounds, unless in the rare instance of a pre-existing union contract disallowing such a practice. Most steel and coal workers, even if they belonged to the Sons of Vulcan or United Mine Workers respectively, were not permitted to discuss party politics whilst on site. These initiatives complicated the ability of IWW organizers to expand their influence among industrial workers, as one may imagine, and it noticeably stunted the total number of labor strikes in the second half of 1919. Alongside underground raids aimed at spooking the labor movement into submission, owner practices sought to ensure that a calamitous strike wave like that of 1918 would never emerge again.

The above tactics were a concerted effort by President Johnson, Attorney General Palmer, and industry leaders like Elbert Gary to incite what some historians call a "Red Scare" into the populace. Their objective, to forever rid the country of the threat of a Bolshevik revolution, meant conducting unwarranted arrests (wholly illegal once the courts struck down California's Sedition Law) and disrupting the activities of the IWW while simultaneously instilling in the public a sense that all left-wing activism and politics were innately foreign-born. Nativism was markedly on the upswing in the postwar period. Capitalizing on that equaled certain success. However, due to the size and favorability of the IWW and the SP by a sizable portion of the country, the Red Scare thus far was a flop, but the instigators wholeheartedly believed that continuous agitation by state and city leaders would eventually wear down the notion that the IWW was inherently an American entity.


Brushing off election results the previous November, [Johnson] stayed in the mindset that the stopping the Far Left was of paramount importance and superseded the public's desperation for Roosevelt-style progress. He kept Palmer close and requested he join to attend most of the president's meetings. Henry Cabot Lodge, his Secretary of State, was most displeased and objected to Palmer's presence at discussions pertaining to foreign affairs. He was overruled, of course. Johnson, always subdued and austere, perhaps allowed his militant AG more space at the table than others may have. [...] Congress, ripped from the Progressives and handed to the Democrats, passed some dozen notable bills and resolutions in its first two sessions. Just a few flew over Johnson's veto. [...] Congressman Hayward introduced the resolution at the start of the May session, and it was quickly granted the necessary votes for complete approval by the House and Senate. The proposed 18th Amendment to the Constitution was sent to the states, giving state governments a chance to voice their feelings. It was soon approved by three-fourths of the states, forever reducing the extent of the lame duck period and clarifying contingent election rules.
H. William Ackerman, Columbians in Washington: Great Expectations and the Hope of a Nation, 2013

Part of Johnson's fears stemmed from the electoral successes of the Socialist Party. Their spectacular showing in 1918 demonstrated the increasing electability of political brand once deemed insatiable to the general public. Expanding their total number of House seats was a commendable feat worthy of Debs' praise and Johnson's scorn. It took decades of work, but the predominant labor party at last achieved respectable minorities in many state legislatures, which in turn set the stage for fairer redistricting and apportionate distribution of party representation. Still, the party thus far struggled on the state level insofar as executive positions were concerned. Beyond marginal city council and town supervisory victories, three-term Mayor Emil Seidel remained the party's highlight. Seidel, who in 1920 served as the Wisconsin State Chairman for the Socialists and was considering a run for the U.S. Senate, was joined by a sparse few others on the same level. Newspaper editor Daniel Hoan (S-WI) carried on Seidel's policies in Milwaukee, but other than in the 414, victory was unattainable. The news was less fruitful on the gubernatorial stage up to this point as men like William C. Sproul (P-PA) and James M. Cox (D-OH) figuratively pummeled left-wing adversaries in their respective elections. Author Albert Farr (S-NJ) did manage to surpass Progressive Newton A.K. Bugbee for second place in the 1919 New Jersey gubernatorial race (won by Democrat Edward I. Edwards), and Socialist Ingvar Paulson nearly tied with incumbent Governor Samuel W. McCall (P-MA) for that year's Massachusetts election (won by Bryanite Democratic reformer and businessman Richard H. Long (D-MA)). The one bright spot for the Socialists on the electoral front, and a victory that momentarily shook the political world, was the shocking upset in the 1919 Chicago mayoral election.

Incumbent Mayor Carter Harrison, Jr., then known and scandalized in some circles for his links with the SA, announced his intent to run for yet another term. This flew in the face of the state party's expectation that he would step down, and ultimately cost him the crucial support of Cook County Clerk Robert Sweitzer. As the city was neck-deep in a budget crisis and suffering from one of the worst job shortages in the country, Harrison was all but dead-on-arrival in the general, though his command of the Chicago Party handily won him the nomination over the objection of several skeptics and lesser opponents. Republicans sided with the rather conservative William H. Thompson and the Progressives lifted up Municipal Court Chief Justice Harry Olsen. Cook County State's Attorney Maclay Hoyne ran on an independent ticket, further dividing the field. Socialists chose John Fitzpatrick, a union organizer and sitting chairman of the Chicago Labor Association. His five-year service at the newly established CLA oversaw peaceful coordination with the Chicago Federation of Labor and local IWW branches, a post-strike rebuilding project as authorized by the state, and reformist petitioning for stronger workplace protections. His campaign drifted to the right of the national party, espousing city-wide union recognition but nothing resembling industrial democracy. He distanced himself from the 1918 Chicago General Strike and only referred to its correlated riots as a means to attack the unhelpful, red-baiting tactics of Mayor Harrison. As the candidate emphasized, "Workers rebuilt this city. It is about time we have a mayor who sides with workers, the lower class, the robbed, the oppressed, the impoverished, the great majority of the earth, not the exploiters and aristocrats."

Fitzpatrick took about half of the African American vote in Chicago, a plurality of the women's vote (suffrage had been legalized in Illinois by 1919), a huge percentage of Irish Americans', and caught the attention of nearly all unionized voters. This, in addition to a poor showing by the Democrats and Thompson's inability to discredit Olsen, placed Fitzpatrick ahead of the field. He won with 30%. Rumors swirled of the mayor-elect's potential arrest or ballot invalidation at the behest of Carter Harrison, and indeed Thompson disgracefully called the vote into question, but the incumbent chose not to go down that road. "One step out of line with the Constitution," Harrison elucidated, "and Palmer will be at his doorstep." Anti-socialists stood at the ready at every corner, from the chief of police to Governor Frank Lowden (P-IL). Fitzpatrick would be in for a rough tenure should he have imposed an IWW-style program for the city. Nevertheless, this stunning upset by the Chicago Socialists shattered President Johnson's hope that internal divisions and electoral disadvantages, abetted by intensive sabotage and instigating by the FIA, would forever prevent the ascension of socialists to higher office. As the presidential cycle neared, the incumbent readied to roll-out a campaign unlike any other.
 
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The harder they try and squash, the moe they fight back. And then once it hits the fan with the Great Depression, people will begin asking themselves "were the socialists right all along?"

I am thinking also the American socialists will still distance themselves from the USSR politically and so on.
 
The harder they try and squash, the moe they fight back. And then once it hits the fan with the Great Depression, people will begin asking themselves "were the socialists right all along?"

I am thinking also the American socialists will still distance themselves from the USSR politically and so on.
Especially since they don't offer viable alternatives. Scaremongering isn't 100% effective, especially when it's so widespread and popular.
 
Nice to see that the SPA leadership's plot failed and didn't result in the OTL expulsion of over half the party membership and the subsequent formation of three competing Communist parties.
 
The harder they try and squash, the moe they fight back. And then once it hits the fan with the Great Depression, people will begin asking themselves "were the socialists right all along?"

I am thinking also the American socialists will still distance themselves from the USSR politically and so on.
We have no idea of how the ussr is doing rn, nor france
And i want to sew both, but i want to see the US plot advance further so i''l hold.my tongue.
 
We have no idea of how the ussr is doing rn, nor france
And i want to sew both, but i want to see the US plot advance further so i''l hold.my tongue.
I can't say for France, but Russia would likely remain an autocartic state as the USSR at least initially. After all, they did just come from being a semi-absolute monarchy and the enforced secular nature means something has to fill the hole of the cultural leadership left behind by the Patriarchate.

Really, you look alot of the nations that went "red" in OTL, most of them were previously pretty strong monarchies with a religious institution dictating culture around "strongmen" (pope of the Catholic Churches, Orthodoxy patriarchs, the Mandate of Heaven of China, etc).
 
I can't say for France, but Russia would likely remain an autocartic state as the USSR at least initially. After all, they did just come from being a semi-absolute monarchy and the enforced secular nature means something has to fill the hole of the cultural leadership left behind by the Patriarchate.

Really, you look alot of the nations that went "red" in OTL, most of them were previously pretty strong monarchies with a religious institution dictating culture around "strongmen" (pope of the Catholic Churches, Orthodoxy patriarchs, the Mandate of Heaven of China, etc).
I have a theory that this is why authoritarian socialism became the predominant model.
 
I have a theory that this is why authoritarian socialism became the predominant model.

Well, I don’t think they followed Russia’s example for that. They all already had those problems along with issues against the colonial powers of Europe and so on.

They just couldn’t live up tot he ideals because they hadn’t advanced enough and tried cheating. It’s like trying to solve a maze by running through the walls.
 
I can't say for France, but Russia would likely remain an autocartic state as the USSR at least initially. After all, they did just come from being a semi-absolute monarchy and the enforced secular nature means something has to fill the hole of the cultural leadership left behind by the Patriarchate.

Really, you look alot of the nations that went "red" in OTL, most of them were previously pretty strong monarchies with a religious institution dictating culture around "strongmen" (pope of the Catholic Churches, Orthodoxy patriarchs, the Mandate of Heaven of China, etc).
I'd rather let the writer do his job, really.
 
How are going things in Mexico? Because with Johnson anxiously looking for a foreign crisis/enemy to keep the nation marching toward his authoritarian anti-Reds leadership that could fill perfectly, especially if Villa e Zapata are winning the Mexican people for their cause.
 
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