From Fourth International, Vol.16 No.4, Fall 1955, p.110.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
As a natural target for bouquets – or more often bricks – whether deserved or not, the editor found the mail in response to the last issue of Fourth International of unusual interest, mostly due to the article by James P. Cannon on the fiftieth, anniversary of the founding convention of the IWW.
G.B. of Detroit, for instance, who claims that he is “not the fan-letter type, being more inclined by nature to indignant letters to the editor,” writes that he couldn’t refrain from expressing his “pleasure and delight” with the IWW article. His “only regret on finishing it was that it did not go on.”
A Brooklyn reader, B.S., admired Cannon’s “scrupulous regard for the historical truth.” He feels that the article “goes a long way in placing those early developments in the proper historical perspective and strengthens a little more the traditions of our movement.”
In Manhattan, E.P. thought it “an important contribution to the history of the American labor movement and a wonderful companion piece to the work on the CIO.”
M.T. pointed to the way the article cuts “through all the defensiveness, apathy asnd staleness so prevalent in our time, and in a few lines brings all that is good in our past back to life – fresh and vibrant. One of the young comrades here who read it emerged from the experience glowing. ‘It’s not like reading a history. You really get the feel of the movement – what a guy The Saint must have been!’ We learned from Trotsky that those who make history are the ones who write it best.”
Farrell Dobbs, National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party, considered it “an important contribution to the education of the young workers of today in the traditions and lessons of that ‘singing movement with confidence in its mission.’ I like, especially the section on St. John, ‘the man of decision and action,’ who ‘understood the class struggle as a ruthless struggle for power.’ The analysis of the duality of the IWW and the whole concluding portion on the interrelationships between the revolutionary vanguard and the instinctive mass movement contained much rich food for thought.”
Vincent R, Donne voiced the sentiment of the Twin Cities vanguard in calling it “an inspiring piece of Marxist literature.” In his opinion, “It’s a big down payment on the debt we owe to those gifted men. Nothing at all like it has appeared. Nothing less than a triumph for our party.”
From England, J.H. wrote, “Great stuff, the IWW article – really first class.”
This sentiment is echoed by R.D. of Canada, who says that “the Cannon article speaks for itself.” He adds:
“The series of book reviews are in my opinion a real step forward in widening circulation. The only thing wrong with this issue is that there is too little of it.” In a later letter he reports that “We have ‘terribly’ misjudged the interest here in ihe last issue of the FI. Every time we look at the stand it seems we are sold out again. Please rush us another 10 copies.”
H. Baker of Seattle mentions a similar experience: “Send us 20 more copies of the last issue with Cannon’s article on the IWW. We haven’t begun to touch our possible market for that issue.”
In Philadelphia, too, George Clement reports “all the latest issues of the FI have been sold out. Please send us 15 more copies as quickly as possible.” That sampling from the mail bag should be sufficient to establish the point, we hope, that our last issue met with unusual response. And to those who have asked, we can answer, “Yes. Cannon’s article on the IWW is definitely scheduled for publication in pamphlet form.” Meanwhile, however, we still have extra copies of the last issue of the FI. How about ordering some for your friends?
Last updated on: 2 April 2009