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How to keep locals alive and to make them grow is a problem we must solve, be it ever so difficult.
We must crystalize our fast growing Socialist sentiment into a powerful, trained, effective, militant organization. We must learn how to run our party business quickly, smoothly and without waste, for it is the necessary preparation for the splendid task we are approaching.
We can no. more afford to depend on haphazard, spasmodichowever good-natured-effort to build the Commonwealth, than we could depend on such methods in our fire departments, postal service or power houses.
I offer a few suggestions from my experience.
First, strive to thoroughly educate each new member in the matter of the great necessity of organization, training and work. Keep a good stock of National Office leaflets on hand: "Why Socialists Pay Dues,” organization leaflets, etc.
A couple of courageous, active collectors can do wonders; keeping dues paid up, and funds on hand to keep “doing things," is the keynote of Socialist vitality.
We will rapidly develop out of the childish stage of needing a collector, but until we do, never let one member feel that he can be spared or is overlooked.
Again I would suggest rigid adherence to the rule of getting through the business routine in a rapid, business-like way. Do not tolerate a long drawn out, slovenly method of party work.
Before a public lecture in South Bend one evening, the local had a business session, and my heart swelled with pride as I sat in the audience and watched the clean, true, sure way our comrades did things. It was a good lesson for the audience.
Strive to make every local meeting really worth while as an educational or propaganda meeting. A good reader can give fifteen minutes to current events; well condensed items from the magazines and press. Have them short and crisp.
Try to develop speakers among your group; urge and encourage each one to try; do not allow one tedious comrade to take the whole time. We must be ready to take and give kindly criticism. Limit to three or five minutes; select subject and speakers or readers in advance. I strongly favor an outline of study either for each meeting or every alternate meeting.
A committee for announcing and distributing material is desirable, each member having a list of names to take care of, and mail
postal announcements or other urgent matters to his set of names, thus dividing the burden and speeding the work.
We must strive to strengthen the solidarity of feeling among the families. From Oklahoma comes the plan of Sunday afternoon meetings once a month; Socialist songs and readings from the young folks, ofttimes little prizes awarded; lunch and coffee served; all tend to promote better acquaintance and attract newcomers.
Carefully planned literature campaigns are invaluable. In some places the comrades select certain groups and alternate the circularizing. The following groups are mentioned: Teachers, doctors, preachers, farmers, women especially interested in public questions, and above all, groups of organized working men and women. Follow up circularizing by visits, soliciting subscriptions to papers and joining of locals.
One successful local I have in mind bought space in a weekly local paper for the best Socialist articles available.
You will find many valuable suggestions in our party papers; bring every item on organization before the local.
This work tests the fibre and endurance of our working class army more than does spurts of bright effort, and is absolutely necessary, for in no other way than by organized, united, intelligent work
we overcome our great enemy who has the advantage economically as well as the fine training acquired in exploiting us so successfully.
GERTRUDE BRESLAU HUNT. Where We Can Breathe. It is probable that the membership of the Socialist party will vote favorably on the proposition to hold biennial delegate conferences. This means that every other year, probably in the summer, our men and women representatives will meet and spend a week in conference and discussion. Would it not be profitable in many ways for these conferences, and indeed the nominating conventions themselves, to be held in some small city, perhaps in some pleasant park offering a suitable auditorium?
The conventions of the capitalist parties gravitate naturally to the cities, as the hotel-keepers and the "business men” are assessed for local expenses. No agreeable meeting place may be had in Chicago the cost of which is not prohibitive to us. Why not therefore look about in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan or Ohio, and find a place offering necessary hotel accommodations and an auditorium somewhat more inspiring and attractive than Brand's Hall, Chicago?
It is agreeable of course to local Socialists to be able to drop in to a session of the National Convention and contribute a bit of gallery enthusiasm; and gallery enthusiasm is often agreeable to the speakers; but one will hardly undertake to say such conditions-or for that matter the atmosphere of a large city itself—are most favorable to balanced deliberation.
Personal discomfort, which one may discern is not wholly seperable from conventions held under such conditions as our last, does not make for an even temper or an unhurried consideration of necessary business, and it would be agreeable to us of the rank and file who send our delegates so far and at such expense to know that all the local conditions are most favorable to those doing their very best for us.
FRANKLIN H. WENTWORTH. Salem, Mass.
The Agrarian Strike in Italy. Have you been keeping apace with the agrarian strike in northern Italy, particularly in the region of Emilia? Parma is the center of action. The economic organiza
tions of the farm laborers is in such splendid trim that they were able to place the landed proprietors in a very bad fix all of a sudden. The rest of the working class is showing a most admirable spirit of solidarity. At the beginning of the strike the old people said: "We are ready to eat grass if need be, even to starve if it is necessary to win, but we don't want to see our children suffer."
Then from all other sections of the country their comrades opened their arms to welcome the little ones.
News was spread through the capitalist press that six or eight hundred "scabs" were expected from Sicily to break the strike. But at the last moment, when these men were overdue, Bernardino Verro, representing the agrarian laborers, arrived bearing the greetings and a message of solidarity from their Sicilian brothers, assuring them that not even six or eight would come from that region.
All these things are signs of the times and very encouraging to a student of social questions. They make me very hopeful for the future. I have no doubt but that the agrarian laborers will come out victorious in the end. The signs point that way. A few days ago the landed proprietors of Rovigo acceded to their demands. The Mayors and the Prefect of the Province of Parma are in a continuous tete-a-tete in order to cope with the situation. The soldiers have been stoned over and over again by the strikers and, although they have been ordered to shoot at the farm laborers, those who obeyed fired into the air.
The Syndicalists are leading the fight and from their manifestos I judge they have little faith in parliamentary action.
GIOVANNI B. CIVALE.
Somebody Try It. I believe the time is here when a canvasser can make a good living and work for Socialism at the same time. The other day I picked up a cheaply gotten up book, “Capital and Labor," I think it was, and asked the owner where he got it. He replied that a man had worked the town some few weeks before and sold 18 or 20 of the books at one dollar each. I was somewhat surprised that so many of the books could have been sold in the town (a place of about 5,000 population), but my informant stated that the bankers, lawyers, doctors and reading public generally were interested in the labor question and Socialism, and that it was no trouble to sell them books.
Now, why can't a few comrades start out with a supply of Work's “What's So and What Isn't,” Spargo's "Common Sense,” or of “Socialism,” and sell oodles of them? Not any comrade, but those who have shown shome degree of ability as canvassers.
I believe any bright man or woman with the push and stick-toitiveness to succeed at anything can jump in now and make a record as a pioneer book seller. Go to a nearby town of 5,000 to 15,000 people and canvass the well-to-do trade. You will be surprised at the results. Every lawyer will want a copy of “Economic Foundation of Society" when you explain the book to him, and Spargo's “Common Sense" should meet with a general sale.
FRANK P. O'HARE, Vinita, Okla. Only Slaves Wanted. This is the title of the leading article of a recent issue of "L'Union des Travailleurs," a Socialist party weekly at Charleroi, Pa. It is so good that we translate it in full:
“The times change and men also. Once it was loudly proclaimed that the United States were a refuge ever npen to the victims of European tyrants. But in those times these victims were rarely opposed to the exploitation of man by man. They were simply opposed to certain forms of government.
“To-day it is different. In Europe there is an ever-growing number of people who are not only tired of certain forms of government, but also and chiefly of capitalist exploitation.
“And the capitalists who govern the United States naturally do not wish their country to become 'a refuge for people opposed to capitalist exploitation, and they use every means to prevent these "undesirable citizens" from coming here.
"On their demand, the United States government has just established detective bureaus in the principal European ports, Naples, Havre, Marseilles, etc., in order to obtain information on the emigrants and prevent the landing in New York of those having Socialist ideas.
"Only docile slaves are to-day desirable in the United States. But the capitalist system is creating malcontents enough in the United States to cause its downfall without the help of European malcontents."
World-wide Propaganda by Literature. One of the English locals lately sent in an order for six thousand Pocket Library booklets for use in the Socialist Cycle Clubs, which are sending speakers into every portion of England this season. A comrade in the island of Tahiti wrote that Jack London had just paid him a visit and ordered a large stock of books to hand out to the sailors who land to trade on the island. Two large orders came in from Australia for the kind of literature that speaks for itself—and for the movement there—while a very live comrade in Alaska writes that there are now twenty out of fifty men receiving mail at that point who are Socialists, where he was the only one a year ago. He sent in an order for thirty-five dollars worth of books, which he said would do for a "starter.” We wish there were more like our friend in Alaska.
The Negro Problem. "Comrade I. M. Robbins has suffered in health from the "ferocious heat," and has thus been unable to contribute his usual article on this subject for the August REVIEW, but he promises to resume the series with the September number. His study of this subject has attracted wide attention, and it is safe to promise that the remaining articles will be even more interesting than the earlier ones.
A Correction. Comrade Goebel of New Jersey desires us correct an error in our report of the National Convention on page 722 of the June REVIEW. We find by referring to the complete stenographic report of the convention, not yet printed, that he was not among those delegates whose seats were contested.
The only way to understand Socialism is to study it. There is no short cut. A complete understanding of it is not an easy matter. A wage-worker whose practical experience has brought him into vital relations with the processes of capitalist production will, other things being equal, find the literature of Socialism easier to grasp than will a member of the leisure class, but neither one will learn without studying. The object of our co-operative publishing house is to provide the books that the Socialist movement needs if it is to be strengthened by new members with clear heads.
In our Book Bulletin, which contains full descriptions of all our publications, the books are for the most part arranged in the order in which they were published, not in the order in which they should be read to get the best results. We shall suggest here several small libraries, each arranged progressively, starting with the easiest books.
This includes ten of the volumes from our International Library of Social Science, published at one dollar each:
The Common Sense of Socialism, by John Spargo, is in the form of familiar letters to a workingman, and explains clearly and simply the reasons why those who live by working should join the Socialist party.
Principles of Scientific Socialism, by Charles H. Vail, is a systematic outline for study, which serves as a good introduction to more advanced works.
The Rise of the American Proletarian, by Austin Lewis, applies Marx's historical method to facts, with which many American are already familiar, and thus makes it easier to understand the method itself.
Marxian Economics, by Ernest Untermann, is a connected story of industrial development from savagery to capitalism, leading up to