The Two-Way Split
THE Workers party caused another split in the American Communist movement.
Just before the split, one Communist leader wrote: "It cannot be denied that the Communist Party of America practically does not exist as a factor in the class struggle."1 Another added: "We have virtually disappeared from the public scene."2 The total number of American Communists was estimated by the Communists themselves at about 10,000. 3 Weak as the party was, it was capable of making itself weaker.
The split came after only eight months of "unity." Most of these months were spent preparing for the split. The majority of the official party's leadership had moved toward a break by suspending the three Left Opposition leaders. The Left Opposition countered by organizing itself as a caucus on a national scale. When the Workers party was launched without a preliminary underground convention, the caucus was ready to hit back by transforming itself into an independent party.
The split was consummated at an "emergency convention" of the Left Opposition early in January 1922. The 38 delegates claimed to represent 5000, or half of the former membership. Over 80 per cent of the Opposition came from the foreign-language federations.
The new organization refused to give up the old name. Again there