The Second Split
IT WAS easier for the Communists to run away from the police than to run away from their own problems. Despite the trials of the underground, the unfinished business of the founding conventions could not be postponed. At no time did the two parties, or the factions within them, call a truce just because their leaders were being hounded and arrested, and their rank and file terrorized and deported.
The struggle for control between the American groups and the foreign-language federations in the Communist party erupted at the height of the government's anti-Communist campaign.
The founding convention of September 1919 had barely been able to hold together the three major factions--the foreign-language federations, the Michigan group, and the other English-speaking Left Wing Council group. The Michigan group remained in the party only by a technicality, since it refused to accept any official position or take responsibility for the program. The Council group stayed in by dint of concessions to and from the federations.
The first to go was the Michigan group. Its major stronghold was the so-called Proletarian University in Detroit, a school to spread the gospel of the Michigan faith. Since its teachings were considered heretical in the Communist party, the Central Executive Committee decided to take it by storm in January 1920. The committee ordered the "university" to become a party institution under its supervision.