[ End of article ]

The Finns and the Crisis Over 'Bolshevization' in the Worker's Party, 1924-25

Auvo Kostiainen

The Daily Worker of December 18, 1925, carried an article entitled "The Finnish Section Convention - A Triumph for the Party" by C. E. Ruthenberg, a prominent leader of the Workers' (Communist) Party of America. In the article Ruthenberg declared, "the outcome of the Finnish Section Convention was a welcome surprise to every supporter of our party. The enemies of our party had looked to the Finnish Convention for a split which would bring disorganization into the ranks of the party. But in place of a split or even a bitter factional struggle the convention took a unanimous stand in support of the central executive committee and the Communist International."

The convention referred to by Ruthenberg was the last convention of the Finnish Federation of the Workers' (Communist) Party of America. The Finnish Federation was dissolved and the convention decided to give unanimous support to reorganization of the party.1 In reality party reorganization meant that the Finns had to join shop and street nuclei or cells, which were to be the new basis of American communism; cells where all nationalities worked together.

In general, the Communist Party reorganization was called "Bolshevization" or "Stalinization". Specifically it meant that now communist parties in the Western World were subject to more strict control by Communist International headquarters in Moscow.2 For the Finnish communists in America, the acceptance of Bolshevization came only after a long and bitter factional struggle which alienated about 4,000 Finns from official membership in the Party. Bolshevization marked the beginning of Finnish-American communist opposition to the Communist International.

Many Finns saw Bolshevization as a threat to the pleasant ethnic traditions that they had maintained for nearly a generation in their workers' clubs and halls. Instead of becoming "Bolshevized", the majority of Finnish-American communists decided to keep their clubs and halls intact and merely sympathize with communism rather than join the Workers' Party on a shop or cell nucleus basis.

In the Bolshevization process the western communist parties were reorganized into cell structures according to the Soviet Russian pattern. They became more disciplined, centralized and unified organizations and were thus able to carry out orders more efficiently. The purpose of Bolshevization was to destroy the last remnants of socialist and social democratic thought among the world's communists.

Perhaps the most difficult process of Bolshevization was carried out in the Workers' Party of America, which was established as a legal communist party at the end of 1921.3 The reasan for the difficulty was that the structure of the Workers' Party had been inherited largely from the Socialist Party of the United States. The language federations in the Workers' Party, for the most part, were nationalist social organizations, which were almost independent. The members of these ethnic organizations read foreign-language newspapers published by the federations and were interested in events in "the Old Country". Their Party activities centered around the social functions of their federation. In other words, the Workers' Party was mostly a party of foreign-born immigrant workers, and to Bolshevize the Party meant, in fact, the assimilation of those people into one unit - that they should become "Americanized".4 In the beginning of 1924, when the Communist International started a strong campaign to reorganize on a cell-structure basis, there was a special requirement for the Workers' Party: the language federations had to be abolished.5 As a loyal follower of the Comintern, the Workers' Party immediately gave its official support to the plans.6 However, the abolition of the language federations was much easier said than done - especially in the case of the Finnish Federation.

In the spring of 1925, the Fifth Plenum of the Communist International (the so-called Bolshevization Plenum) was held in Moscow. At the meeting, one of the leaders of the Workers' Party, William Z. Foster, gave a report on the progress of Party reorganization in America. He did not have much progress to report, for there were only seven factory cells in the American Workers' Party, and all seven of these were located in Chicago. Foster stated that there was strong opposition to reorganization in the Workers' Party.7

This was exactly the case in the Finnish Federation of the Workers' Party. The Finnish Federation had separated rom the Socialist Party after a long and painful process during the years 1919-1921. In the spring of 1921, the majority of the Finns in the Socialist Party made a decision to become an independent organization sympathetic to communism. This independent organization was one of those which farmed the Workers' Party of America at the end of 1921.8

When reorganization was discussed for the first time in the Party, the Finns refused to follow Comintern directions. At that time the Finns were the largest language group with more than 7,000 members or about forty per cent of the entire Party membership.9 The Executive Committee of District Eight of the Workers' Panty had accepted a statement at the end of the year 1923 which provided reorganization on the basis of factory and workshop cells. This was definitely opposed by the largest Finnish-American Communist newpaper, Työmies, published in Superior, Wisconsin. The opposition expressed in Työmies was based an the fear that language federations might disappear in the reorganization of the Party.10

Finnish-American radicals, of course, realized the small possibilities of preserving the Finnish language and were thus apt to emphasize the language question. Työmies affirmed this, too, when it stated that the Finns had better learn English, but stated also that the question of language could be solved only when the working people came into power.11 One reason for Työmies' position was the belief that since most foreign-born communists were poor in their use of English, they could easily be fooled into subservience by the bourgeoisie.12

After the Comintern had started the strong campaign for reorganization in the beginning of 1924, another Finnish-American communist newspaper, Eteenpäin of Worcester, Massachusetts, presented its opinion on the matter.13 Eteenpäin stated that reorganization would be especially difficult in factories where there were only a few Party members employed. The workers might not be able to understand each other because of language differences. Eteenpäin believed also that the structure of the Party would become weaker and, because of that, language federations were necessary. Finally, Eteenpäin unconstrainedly urged the Comintern to think the matter over again and to give a new decision! Eteenpäin continued the same line later in criticizing the Comintern by stating that in America it was important to have great masses in the class struggle. Good propaganda must be provided, the newspaper said, rather than frequent organizational changes.14

The attitude of the Finnish-American communists toward Party reorganization was well summarized in the proposal of the Chicago Finnish branch for the annual convention of the Finnish Federation in 1925. This pnaposal stated that even if cell structure organization must be adopted, the language federations must be preserved. Because the majority of the Party was made of foreign language federations, these foreign-born people would have no more influence in American politics after the dissolution of federations, the proposal concluded.15

In all, Finnish-Americans resisted the sudden dissolution of the language federations. The main reason for this was a well-justified fear that foreign-born Party members would fall outside the influence of the Party. In the background there was, however, the fear that connections between Finnish branches might be cut off and the social functions of the branches might cease.

The only differing voice in this debate was that of the Minneapolis Finnish branch, which suggested that the language federations should be dissolved immediately. Minneapolis said that the Finns could speak English well enough and that they could be in contact with the Party organs without the federation. The Minneapolis branch also pointed out that the costs would become smaller without language federations.16 In general, however, it must be said that the Finns were very hard-working when it came to raising money for the Party. For example, they gave $ 25,000 for the establishment of the communist daily newspaper, the Daily Worker17 Such requests by the Party for money were frequent. The Daily Worker was almost always in a financial crisis.

Those intra-Party differences, which had been smouldering under the surface, now came to the fore. After the founding of the Workers' Party at the end of 1921, three major groups had formed in the Party: " the political group" under the leadership of C. E. Ruthenberg which supported every major political and industrial fight; "the industrial group" under the leadership of William Z. Foster consisting of trade unionists and former IWW members; and the "right wing" group under Ludwig Lore. There was also a small group of left-wing communists in the Party.18

Foster's group got support mainly from the Midwest, and it was more American than Ruthetlberg's group, which found its best support among the foreign-born members and was more apt to follow orders from Moscow.19 Lore got his support mainly from the Jewish and German language federations.20

The main dispute was over the issue of farmer-labor politics, which meant participating in political activities through the local farmer-labor parties which were born in the middle states in the beginning of the twenties.21

At the Third Convention of the Workers' Party early in 1924, Foster's group took control of the Party, supported by Lore's group.22 The real fight started when the Workers' Party was preparing for its fourth convention in 1925. The National Executive Committee made a proposal on farmer-labor politics. The Committee was, however, divided and there were in reality two proposals. The majority of the Committee, Foster and his supporters, accused farmer-labor politics of bringing "right-wing" tendencies to the Party. They demanded that these elements should be weeded out from the Party and emphasized the fact that it would be important to have a mass trade-union basis for the Party.23 The minority under the leadership of Ruthenberg, on the contrary, said that farmer-labor politics was the best means to develop a mass basis for the Party.24

Debate about farmer-labor politics continued from December 1924 to January 15, 1925, whereafter the dispute was transferred to the Comintern to be solved. The Comintern postponed the convention of the Workers' Party from winter, 1925, until the following summer and asked the leaders of the Party, William Z. Foster, James Cannon, C. E. Ruthenberg and Jay Lovestone, to come to Moscow far hearings. When the Comintern finally gave Its decision into the quarrel, it announced that the position favoring a farmer-labor alliance had been the right direction; or, in other words, Ruthenberg had been right.25 And when the Party convention was held in August, 1925, Fosters group had the majority, but the Comintern sent a telegram in which it ordered that in the new Executive Committee, Ruthenberg's group must have an equal number of representatives.26 The Comintern had also condemned Ludwig Lore and his supporters, and in the Party convention Lore had been expelled from the Party.

The Finns had been looking at the events in the Party very confusedly. When the Party convention was postponed, the Executive Committee of the Finnish Federation decided that the Finnish convention was to be held after the Party convention.27 This was not, however, accepted by the majority of the Finns. The first Finnish branch which opposed this was Superior. In its proposal for the Finnish Federation convention, which was postponed more than half a year, Superior strictly opposed the procedure.28 Superior's proposal soon received support from many other Finnish branches and District Committees.29 All of these demanded that the Finnish convention should be held immediately, even if the Party convention were postponed.

The Executive Committee of the Finnish Federation at once ended these debates by stating that the rules of the Party ordered language federation conventions to be held only after the Party convention.30 Supporting the Executive Committee was the Chicago Finnish branch.31 The reason for this support might be that the Finnish Federation Executive Committee members were all either from Chicago or its neighboring cities.32 And if Chicago had been criticizing the Executive Committee, it had been criticizing itself.

The other factor which aroused opposition in the Finnish Federation was discussion about the statements of the majority and minority proposals of the National Executive Committee of the Party. These statements were also published in the Finnish press.33 As we remember, the majority did not accept working through local farmer-labor parties, but the minority supported this kind of policy. A very common opinion among the Finns was that the differences in the Party were purposely being made greater. For example, Henry Puro, the leading Finnish-American communist, made a statement in Eteenpäin in which he said that the differences in the Party were exaggerated.34

When the statements of the majority and the minority were published, the editors of Eteenpäin gave a unanimous opinion on the matter. They complained that they were upset to see the National Executive Committee divided and grouped before each convention, and the editors claimed that in many cases the main reason for this had been competition concerning who would be on the next National Executive Committee.35 Almost the same kind of opinion was expressed by the editors of Työmies, who also thought that the dispute was artificial and exaggerated. The editors of Työmies preferred the Finns not to take part in the dispute at all.36 The Finns in general supported the newspapers. For example, Superior demanded a warning be given to the Finnish Federation Executive Committee for trying to involve the Finns in the dispute.37

The Executive Committee of the Finnish Federation, however, again stayed strictly with the Party and condemned the opinions of neurality in the dispute. The Committee stated that non-participation would be "a wrong and uncammunistic concept of the matter" and demanded the support of the Finns to be given to the majority, or Foster's group.38

In the Finnish press and in proposals for the Finnish Federation convention, there were several statements supporting the neutral position. These came mainly from the eastern states. Those statements, which supported the majority, came from Chicago and the western states.39 Noteworthy is the fact that none of the Finns supported the minority, which received the support of the Comintern in August, 1925.

These proposals must have been one of the major reasons why the Finns were accused of being Loreists. The general feature of Loreism was its support of Leon Trotsky in the internal fight for power in Soviet Russia. The Loreists accused the Comintern of not knowing the special conditions prevailing in America, and for too frequent changes in tactics.40 After the Comintern had condemned Lore for taking a centrist position, American Communist leaders thought there were Loreists among the Finns.41

The Finns, however, strictly denied it. Eteenpäin, for example, called these claims "loose-talk, which was caused by too much enthusiasm".42 Lore himself had claimed that the Finns were his supporters, but the Finns did not adrnit it.43

The fact is, however, that there were great similarities between Lore and the Finns. The Finns had accused the Comintern of not being able to understand American conditions and asked it to think again about reorganization. The Finns did not like the quarrels in the Party and did not want any maneuvering within Party lines. These characteristics could be interpreted as signs of Loreism. However, it seems that the Finns had not any direct contact with Lore. And the fact that the Finns were not afraid of resisting the Comintern, or the National Executive Committee of the Party, must have made their position still worse.

At the end of July, 1925, less than one month before the Party convention, the Finns again gave trouble to Party leaders. Again, it was the Superior Finnish branch, which openly accused the National Executive Committee of the Party of putting a one dollar tax per member as a term for participation in the convention. This was, of course, heaviest for the Finns who were the largest group in the Panty. Superior also complained about the Committee's refusal to allow the Finns to hold their own conference immediately after the Party convention. And in addition to these, Superior complained that rules had been violated because there had not been the required sixty days for discussion of Party issues.44

Superior :got support from most Finns, but not unanimous support, for Eteenpäin condemned Superior's attitude.45 Eteenpäin stated that Superior had been inciting an open rebellion against the Party and that this "wasn't real communistic behavior but a violation of Party discipline".46

Even the National Executive Committee of the Party interfered and stated than the Finns tried to divide the Party ideologically. The Committee said that "Superior was going to the swamp of Loreism and opportunism". The Committee also said that Superior's attitude was to emphasize Federation nationalism.47 The statement of the Finnish Federation Executive Committee was published in the same context as that of the Party's and it condemned Superior even more strictly, if that was possible. The Finnish Committee said that those people who supported Superior "...would plunge the Finns back under the mental tutelage of social democrats and anarchosyndicalists".

And to make the condemnation of Superior as strong as possible, the Daily Worker also published a letter to the Finnish-American communists from the Finnish Communist Party headquarters in Moscow.48 In this letter the Finns were urged to accept the reorganization, to stop all quarrels, and to break away from Loreism.

All three Finnish-American communist newspapers (Työmies, Toveri, and Eteenpäin) published these important letters. But there were differences in the amount of publicity given, which reflect their attitudes towards the issue. Eteenpäin published the statements on August 4 in a prominent place with a headline of several columns. Toveri published them the following day with great attention to them. Työmies published the statement of the Finnish Communist Party on August 4, but waited until August 7, when it published the statements of the Party and the Finnish Executive Committee in a very obscure place with one small column.

The letter from the Finnish Communist Party may have more importance than one sees immediately.49 The Communist Party of Finland often sent greetings and instructions to the Finnish-Americans. Finnish communists in Moscow were looked on as models; they had been expelled from Finland and some of them had earned important positions in the Comintern. Otto Wille Kuusinen was particularly appreciated, because he was undoubtedly one of the top figures in the world communist movement.

The background data for the letter from Moscow was obviously delivered during the spring of 1925 when the leaders of the Workers' Party visited there. It is also most probable that the Finnish-American communists had direct letter contacts with the Finnish communist leaders in Moscow.

As has been said earlier, the Finns in .the Workers' Party definitely denied being Loreists or Lore's supporters. The leaders of the Party, however, accused the Finns of being Loreists. One editor from Työmies was especially singled out. He was Henry Askeli,50 who published an article in the Daily Worker under the title: "Are Finns Social Democrats?"51 Askeli's message centered on the need to end quarrels in the Party. He did not resist the cell basis organization because he thought it theoretically sound, but he denied that the Finns were Loreists or centrists. Askeli opposed all kinds of intra-party maneuvering. He stated also that ninety-nine per cent of the Finns were opponents of farmer-labor politics. James Cannon answered Askeli's article. He accused Askeli of trying to split the Party, and of opposing the Comintern and the National Executive Committee of the Party.

The Finns in the western states were clearly confused by these charges and counter-charges. When Askeli said cells were theoretically sound, and should thus be adopted, James Cannon called him a "centrist" or "rightwinger". Toveri, however, viewing the fight from Oregon, accused Askeli of "ultra-leftism".52 It appears that Toveri had forgotten its "lines" somewhere.

At the Party convention, Askeli was one of the main persons accused of deviation. He was given the floor for fifteen minutis to defend himself, but he did not change his opinions.53 Both the majority and the minority of the National Executive Committee condemned him as a Loreist.54

If we follow Askeli's fate later on, less than one month after the Party convention he was fired from editorship of Työmies by the board of directors. The board even suspected that other editors were of the same opinion as Askeli.55 The editors, for their part, denied the charges and said that the newspaper had been following the right line.56 But a new editor-in-chief came to Työmies towards the end of the year, K. E. Heikkinen, who was a known supporter of Bolshevization.

Now, Askeli had also been condemned by the Finns. If he did not want to be expelled from the Party, he had to make a confession and correct his opinions. Accordingly, he sent a letter to the National Executive Committee of the Party, wherein he stated that he had been drawn to opportunism by accident. Askeli said that he had underestimated Bolshevization and that he now realized that it was a necessary step for reorganizing the Party.57

After the Party convention, a campaign was started in the language federations publicizing the principles of Bolshevization. A very important factor for the Finns was the preparation for the Finnish convention, which was to be held in December, and where the final decision on Bolshevization was to be made.

The Finnish press almost daily published articles in which the new cell structure was discussed. Articles were written both by the leaders of the Party and of the Finnish Federation. The September 20, 1925, issue of Eteenpäin, for example, carried articles on Bolshevization by Ruthenberg, Lovestone, and Foster. Among the Finns, Elis Sulkanen and Henry Puro also contributed articles on this subject. Puro was a leader of Bolshevization among the Finns. The main subject of the articles was the liquidation of national groups in the Party, which should become, they said, a part of American society.

In all of the language federations special commissions were formed which were to conduct reorganization. In the commission for reorganization of the Finns a sub-commission was also formed which was the real leader in the process. The members in the sub-commission were Jay Lovestone, Elis Sulkanen, Henry Puro and Fahlo Burman, the secretary of the Finnish Federation.58

The very thorough and careful work done by the commission is illustrated by the fact that special writers were selected, whose duty was to write articles on reorganization. In more than one hundred Finnish branches, all over the country, speeches on reorganization were made.59

However, there was still opposition towards reorganization during the campaign. The most important expression of it was the so-called Minneapolis letter. The letter in question had been accepted in the meeting of the Minneapolis Finnish branch on October 12, 1925. It was a protest against the groupings in the Party before the Party convention. In the letter, concern was expressed about the future of the Finnish Federation, the property owned by the Finns, as well as the right to initiatives and certain tactical points.60 Perhaps the most important reasons for this letter were the fears that the connecting links among the Finns and their branches might disappear and that the branches might lose control of their property. Puro later wrote that the Finns were afraid that the Jews in the Party - this meant the leadership - would take the newspapers, halls and other property, and destroy the Finnish workers' social life.61

The final opponents of reorganization were accused of being supporters of social democratic traditions and ideas. These people, however, thought themselves to be real communists. J. B. Wirkkula commented on this kind of situation in the Chicago Finnish branch. He told of a "comrade" in the branch who had refused to come into a cell. Wirkkula continued: "...this same comrade swears to be a communist and disapproves to be called a social democrat".62

The last opposition against reorganization was concentrated mainly in Minneapolis, Brooklyn, New York City and Chicago.63 Superior was not mentioned in this context, but Puro claimed later that Superior was opportunistic and the background leader of the opposition.64

The campaign for Bolshevization culminated in the convention of the Finnish Federation in December of 1925. The conference approved the reorganization unanimously and condemned all "opportunistic strivings" - especially the Minneapolis letter. One of the main opponents, Onni Saari from Massachusetts, was expelled from the Party. And those who had been supporting Minneapolis were asked to give final statements on the letter.65 Shortly after the convention, those who had been on Minneapolis' side gave statements in which they confessed their errors and promised support for reorganization.66

The fear of the dissolution of the connections among the Finns finally disappeared when the Finnish -branches continued their existence as Finnish workers' clubs. After the party convention the Center of Finnish Workers' Clubs, under Party leadership, had been formed. In the convention of the Finnish Federation there were already 112 Finnish branches which had joined this organization.67 So, it was possible to belong at the same time to the Finnish workers' clubs and to international cells.

One important reason for the fact that the Finns accepted reorganization must have been the presence of Yrjö Sirola in the United States. He stayed in America from the fall of 1925 to the beginning of 1927 as representative of the Comintern. Sirala was supervising Borlshevizaltion in the Party, amid especially in the Finnish section of the Party, under the name of Frank Miller.68 As a former teacher at the Work People's College (and minister in the short-lived People's Republic of Finland in 1918, Sirala had great authority among Finnish-Americans. Sirola must have had great effect on the issue, for he was internationally known and of course, he spoke Finnish fluently. He also knew intimately the conditions in the United States and especially the upper Midwest. Yet, Sirola's work here was secret, so only the main features are known.

Bolshevization of the Party was, however, much easier ordered than carried out. Its immediate effect was the loss of fifty percent of the members in the Party.69 The Finnish Federation of the Party had 6410 members in June, out of 16,000 in the whole Panty70 Of the Finnish members, fewer than 2,000 joined the cells.71 This seemed to be very gloomy for the future of Finnish-American communism, but their rescue was the Center of Finnish Workers' Clubs which was the successor to the Finnish Federation.

In summary, the Finnish-American communists during the first stage of Bolshevization had resisted it very strictly by opposing the dissolution of the language federations. They wanted to preserve the status quo in the Party. The Finns had condemned Lore and his supporters even if they had themselves been expressing almost perfectly the same kind of opinions. The Finns had also openly resisted the Comintern and Party leadership.

The Finnish opposition had appeared in almost all places in the United States where Finnish-American communists resided. However, the main opposition came from Superior and New York, while the strongest supporter of the Party line was the Finnish Federation Executive Committee. The Finns had also seen the pleading oppositionists expelled from the Party or forced to make a confession.

How was it then possible that the Finns made a unanimous decision to dissolve the Finnish Federation during their convention? The answer to this lies in several contributing factors. One answer for the acceptance of reorganization was the effective campaign for reorganization. The other was the continuation of the Finnish Federation in the form of the Center of Finnish Workers' Clubs. We must once more emphasize the fact that the Finnish workers' clubs could exist and continue their social life practically in the same measure as earlier.

An important reason was the authority of the Comintern. The American Finns saw the International as a world party, which represented the dream of oppressed immigrant workers. Because the Workers' (Communist) Party was a part of the world party, Finnish-American communists simply wanted to stay in. the American Communist movement. As an outside observer, a Russian, perhaps caught the point when he analyzed the events in the Finnish-American communist movement: "the Finns admire communism, but don't adopt it yet".72

What was, then, the real meaning of Bolshevization for the Finns? One purpose of the process was to place American communists under the leadership of the Comintern and the other main purpase was to Americanize the immigrant workers, to make them a real part of American communism. However, the Comintern and American communist leaders were forced to continue Bolshevization in the United States among the Finns for many years. Bolshevization was, then, as a whole, a failure during these early years of the process, with a great loss in membership among the Finns. The only real result was the official abolishment of the autonomy of the language federations, and the dissolution of the Finnish Federation.

1. "The Manifesto of the Finnish Federation of the Workers' (Communist) Party of America, '"Long Live the American Workers (Communist) Party'"," Daily Worker, December 12, 1925; see also H. Puro, "Amerikan kommunistinen liike ja suomalaiset siinä". Lehtipaja. Työmiehen netjännesvuosisatajulkaisu (Superior, 1928), p. 96.

2. Theodore Draper, American Communism and Soviet Russia (New York, 1960), p. 158.

3. On the founding of the Workers' Party of America, see Theodore Draper, The Roots of American Communism (New York, 1957), pp. 341-343, or James Weinstein, The Decline of Socialism in America (New York, 1967), pp. 254-255, or William Z. Foster, History of the Communist Party of the United States (New York, 1952), pp. 189-191.

4. On immigrant workers in the United States, see Gerald Rosenblum, Immigrant Workers: Their Impact on American Radicalism (New York, 1973).

5. Draper, American Communism, p. 158.

6. Daily Worker, March 22, 1924.

7. Foster (as Dorsey) in International Correspondence, March 18, 1925, p. 322 and April 6, 1925, p. 360, quoted from Draper, American Communism, p. 158, note 14.

8. On this process, see Auvo Kostiainen, "Amerikansuomalaisen kommunistisen liikkeen synty, 1917-1922." Unpublished M.A. Thesis, University of Turku, Finland, 1972. pp. 101-118.

9. The average membership in the Workers' Party in 1924 with its 18 language federations was 18,049. The average for the Finnish Federation in 1924 was 7631 members, the Jewish Federation 1506, the South-Slavic Federation 1287 and all English branches together 1946 members. Daily Worker, December 4, 1924.

10. Työmies, December 16, 1923.

11. Työrnies, July 10, 1924.

12. Työmies, December 30, 1924.

13. Eteenpäin, February 14, 1924.

14. Eteenpäin, August 10, 1924.

15. Alustuksia W. P. Suomal. Järjestön Edustajakokoukselle v. 1925 (Superior, Wis. n.d.), pp. 53-55. The same opinion was expressed in the annual report of the Executive Committee of the Finnish Federation, Alustuksia, p. 5.

16. Alustuksia, p. 52, and Eteenpäin, January 24, 1925.

17. Puro, p. 94. However, the Finns frequently complained of the high costs required for Party work. See the proposal of the Astoria, Ore. Finnish Branch in Alustuksia, pp. 56-57.

18. Draper, American Communism, p. 80--81.

19. Irwing Howe and Lewis Coser, The American Communist Party: A Critical History (New York, 1962), p. 152.

20. Melech Epstein, The Jew and Communism. The Story of Early Communist Victories and Ultimate Defeats in the Jewish Community, USA 1919-1941 (New York, 1959), p. 110.

21. See Arthur Naftalin, "A History of Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota", unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota, February 1948.

22. Draper, American Communism, pp. 90-91 and Howe and Goser, p. 153.

23. Daily Worker, November 7, 1924.

24. Daily Worker, December 1, 1924.

25. Daily Worker, May 19, 1925.

26. On the Convention, see Draper, American Communism, pp. 142-147 and Foster, p. 223. The telegram was published in Workers Monthly, October 1925, pp. 236-237.

27. Eteenpäin, January 22, 1925.

28. Eteenpäin, January 30, 1925.

29. Superior received supporting statements from the District Committees of the Finnish Federation of Minnesota, Marquette, Mich. and Ohio, and from the Finnish branches of Cloquet, Minn., Virginia, Minn. .and Ishpeming, Mich. and "partly" from Keene, N. H. Eteenpäin, January 18, 22 and 30, 1925.

30. Eteenpäin, January 30, 1925 and Toveri, January 31, 1925.

31. Eteenpäin, February 13, 1925.

32. The following persons were members in the Executive Committee of the Finnish Federation of the Workers' Party of America in the beginning of 1925: K. F. Tuhkanen (Chicago, Ill.), Betty Kari (Chicago, Ill.), O. E. Toivonen (Chicago, Ill.), Nick Hautala (Waukegan, Ill.), John Huttunen (Waukegan, Ill.), Toivo Hannula (Waukegan, Ill.), John F. Lehto (Waukegan, Ill.). Alustuksia, p. 13. The reason for this kind of situation must have been practical. The headquarters of the Finnish Federation being located in Chigago, the Excutive Committee could be easily and quickly summoned when needed.

33. Eteenpäin, December 3, 1924 and Työmies, December 9-12, 1924.

34. Eteenpäin, January 31, 1924.

35. Eteenpäin, December 5, 1924.

36. Työmies, December 19, 1924.

37. Alustuksia, p. 17. The similarity of the editors' opinion and that of the Superior Finnish branch can be explained by the fact that most of the editors were in leading positions in the Superior Finnish branch. Kostiainen, p. 62.

38. Eteenpäin, January 3, 1925.

39. In addition to Superior statements which demanded neutrality came from: the District Committee of Massachusetts (in Eteenpäin, December 17, 1924), the District Committee of New York (in Eteenpäin, January 7, 1925), the Worcester, Mass. Finnish branch (in Eteenpäin, December 23, 1924) and the Warren, Ohio Finnish branch (in Eteenpäin, January 11, 1925). The statements which supported the majority were: the Chicago, Ill. Finnish branch (in Työmies, December 23, 1924), the Rock Springs, Wyo. Finnish branch (in Alustuksia, p. 58), the District Convention of Washington-Oregon (in Toveri, March 14, 1925) and the District Convention of California (in Toveri, September 3, 1925).

40. Draper, American Communism, p. 106-107.

41. Max Bedacht in Daily Worker, August 7, 1925, William Z. Foster in Daily Worker, August 7, 1925; see also Eteenpäin, January 4, 1925 and Epstein, p. 110.

42. Eteenpäin, January 4, 1925.

43. Työmies, July 28, 1925, Toveri, August 12, 1925. For ex., the Rook Springs, Wyo., Finnish branch strictly denied Loreism and asked the Convention of the Finnish Federation "to condemn democracy as represented by Ludwig Lore". Alustuksia, p. 58. In Daily Worker Special Magazine Supplement, August 8, 1925, in his article "Our Struggle Against Loreism Must Be Concrete", Alexander Bittelman found several similarities in the attitudes and history of the Jewish and Finnish Federations.

44. Työmies, July 17, 1925.

45. The following Finnish branches gave statements supporting Superior: Chigago, Ill. (in Eteenpäin, July 28, 1925), Detroit, Mich. (in Työmies, July 29, 1925), Astoria, Ore. (in Toveri, July 24, 1925), Minneapolis, Minn. (in Työmies, July 29, 1925), Norwood, Mass. (in Eteenpäin, August 1l, 1925), Brewator, Minn. (in Työmies, August 20, 1925), and Savo, Minn. (in Työmies, August 20, 1925).

46. Eteenpäin, August 2, 1925.

47. Daily Worker, August 1, 1925.

48. The Communist Party of Finland (Suomen Kommunistinen Puolue) was at that time illegal in Finland. Its headquarters was in Moscow as a result of the Finnish Civil War in 1918, in which "the Reds" were defeated and many escaped to Soviet Russia.

49. Puro, for ex., emphasizes the importance of this letter as a factor which had very much influence on the acceptance of reorganization by Finnish-American communists. Puro, p. 96.

50. Askeli had served for many years as the secretary of the Finnish Socialist Federation of the Socialist Party of the United States before the great ideological split in 1919-21.

51. Daily Worker Special Magazine Supplement, August 8, 1925.

52. Toveri, August 12, 1925.

53. Daily Worker, August 26, 1925.

54. Daily Worker, August 30, 1925.

55. Työmies, September 12, 1925.

56. Työmies, September 25, 1925. However, it must be said that the charges were not without reason, for one year later another editor of Työmies, Kalle Aine, was accused of heresy. Työmies, October 9, 1926.

57. Työmies, November 5, 1925.

58. The members in the commission for reorganization of the Finnish Federation were the following persons: Fahle Burman, Elis Sulkanen, Oscar Corgan, Matti Tenhunen, Henry Puro, Wm. Janhonen, V. Finberg, Theo Mäki, K. E. Heikkinen, John Sjölund, Leonard Luoto, Eemeli Parras and J. Sjöman. Eteenpäin, October 22, 1925. On the reorganization in other language federations in the Workers' (Communist) Party, see the report from the meeting of the representatives of the reorganization commissions for language federations, Daily Worker, November 11, 1925.

59. Daily Worker, October 24, 1925.

60. The letter had been sent to Finnish branches, but it was never published in any newspaper. However, the contents of the letter can be found out from opinions expressed on it and from the cancelling of the letter made by the Minneapolis Finnish branch. Eteenpäin, January 23, 1926.

61. Puro, p. 98.

62. Eteenpäin, November 21, 1925.

63. Eteenpäin, November 15, 1925.

64. Eteenpäin, October 23, 1925.

65. Eteenpäin, December 3, 5, 6, 15, 1925.

66. For ex., see the statement of the Chicago Finnish branch, Eteenpäin, December 11, 1925 and that of the Minneapolis Finnish branch, Eteenpäin, January 23, 1926.

67. Pöytäkirja Yhdysvaltain Suomalaisen Työväen Järjestön Perustavasta Edustajakokouksesta, Chicagossa, Ill., Tammikuun 24, 25 ja 26 p., 1927. n.p., n.d., p. 3.

68. Draper, American Communism, p. 170 and Benjamin Gitlow, The Whole of Their Lives: Communism in America - A Personal History and Intimate Portrayal of Its Leaders (New York, 1948), p. 151 and Elis Sulkanen, Amerikan Suomalaisen Työväenliikkeen Historia (Fitchburg, Mass., 1951), p. 267.

69. Draper, American Communism, pp. 187-188.

70. The 4th National Convention of the Workers Party of America, Chicago 1925, quoted from Nathan Glazer, The Social Basis of American Communism (New York, 1961), p. 42.

71. Puro, p. 97.

72. Quoted from Kalle Rissanen, "Opettaja, johtaja sekä taistelija", Lehtipaja. Työmiehen neljännesvuosijulkaisu, (Superior, Wis. 1928), p. 24.

Published in The Finnish Experience in the Western Great Lakes Region: New Perspectives, Ed. by Michael G. Karni, Matti E. Kaups & Douglas J. Ollila. Migration Studies C3 (1975), p. 171-185.

© Auvo Kostiainen

[ Beginning of article ]