Krasnow Scrapbooks -- February 07, 1916On a Mutual Aid Society
This article tells of efforts by the Russian Socialist Party to organize non-partisan groups. As the writer proceeds with his report on these efforts, it becomes clear that by non-partisan is meant a combination of all shades of progressive "isms," rather than a blank non-partisan state of mind. The author records the discussion pro and con on non-partisan organizations at two meetings. Those opposing argued that such organizing, which must needs be done by the best workers in the Socialist Party, leaves a non-partisan group. These comrades pointed to the Arbeiter Ring as proof of their contention. "This organization drew off all the active forces of the Jewish Socialists, which weakened, and continues to weaken, the Jewish Socialist movement."2
Those in favor of such organizations pointed to the Social-Democrats of Europe in general, and to the Russian social democracy in particular; it was further pointed out that "such non-partisan groups help us to get nearer to the masses, and to get them nearer to us." One comrade told his experience in organizing a non-partisan club in a Canadian town, with excellent results. And it was further pointed out that although the American-Russian colony never had anything resembling the Arbeiter Ring, yet its Socialist movement in America "is in an extremely weak stage of development."
Some suggested joining the already existing non-partisan organization rather than organize a new society, the club Znaniye (Knowledge).
But on a closer examination of its tenets the notion for joining it was shelved. "It appeared that outside of all else it was under the thumb of the local Russian Church, which made such a name for herself by the numerous evil deeds, which approximated even robberies."3
In the club 'Knowledge,' supposedly non-partisan, all nationalities having the privilege of membership, one of the leaders in that club gave the following reply when he was asked whether Jews are accepted as members: "Yes, accepted, only we would put him in such a position that he would go of his own accord." It was further stated that the members have no voice in the rules of the club, the chairman is vested with very broad authority, and it is forbidden to discuss politics at meetings.
The writer concludes his article by stating that the Russian Socialist Party of Chicago in the end adopted a resolution to the effect that it was desirable to organize a non-partisan mutual aid society, and a committee was named to familiarize the colony with such a plan, to work out a plan of organizing the society and to work out the fundamental points of the society's statute. Then he further explains that "the conception of non-partisan is understood not as a ban on raising political questions but rather as a privilege for any political 4movement to present to the members its views, lectures, reports, etc."
The division for organizational work was of the opinion that such a society would cement the radical-progressive elements of the Russian colony in Chicago, and will give them an opportunity to live an interesting social life.
II D 1, I C, I E
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