Socialist Unity Conference Fails (1917)


Socialist Unity Conference Fails

From the Weekly People, January 13, 1917 as reprinted in The People, January 11, 1991, page 7

After deliberations lasting two days, the conference of delegates representing the Socialist Labor and Socialist parties, held for the purpose of finding a basis for uniting the two parties, reached a deadlock on Sunday evening, Jan. 7.

No basis of agreement could be reached upon the question of the attitude that a united party should adopt toward the economic organization of the working class. The Socialist Party delegation insisted upon the proposed united party's remaining neutral upon this matter of the economic organization -- labor union -- of the working class, while the Socialist Labor Party delegation urged that the mistakes and weaknesses of the craft union form of organization be pointed out to the workingmen and that the principle of socialist industrial unionism be endorsed.

As no agreement could be reached on the question of economic organization, the conference decided, at the suggestion of [SLP delegate Arthur] Reimer, to proceed nevertheless to take up the question of form of unity. The SP delegation refused absolutely to consider the SLP plan of federative unity, to obtain until time could make more complete union possible; and the SLP men refused to consider complete organic unity. Thereupon the SP men submitted a plan of looser affiliation through national and state councils and participation of the SLP in SP conventions, which the SLP delegation offered to accept if the SP side would accept the industrial union resolution. As the SP men refused to do this the conference reached the position where no agreement was possible, and adjourned.