The Parting of the Ways
THE Federated Farmer-Labor party came into the world stillborn. As soon as the delegates left Chicago and scattered across the country, the Communists found they had won a Pyrrhic victory. They had been skillful enough to seize control of the convention, but they were not strong enough to pump life into the movement. The vast majority of the 600,000 members the delegates had claimed to represent faded away when it became clear that the Communists controlled the party.
The Communist secretary of the F.F.-L.P., Joseph Manley, later admitted that the Workers party had furnished the "overwhelming bulk" of the membership and finances. Only the Workers party had paid the nominal per capita tax to the F.F.-L.P. The Workers party had turned over its Chicago organ, The Voice of Labor, to the F.F.-L.P., which had renamed it the Farmer-Labor Voice, but the Workers party had continued to pay all expenses as before.1 Only 100,000 members were represented in the organizations that had actually affiliated to the F.F.-L.P., most of them "on paper only."
"They could just as readily have been affiliated to any united front committee set up by the Workers Party," Manley stated.2 Another Communist leader declared that the F.F.-L.P. had consisted of "ourselves and our nearest relatives."3
At first Foster did not fully realize how much the great Chicago victory had cost him. For a few weeks, he entertained the hope that