July 18, 2024

Editor’s Note: The following is a speech delivered by an Assistant Editor of New Worker at the event held in Juarez, Mexico, to celebrate the centenary of El Machete. We note that the relationship between the communists of Mexico and the US through their respective organs is a restoration of the internationalism that previously existed between El Machete and The Daily Worker.

Title of a Special to The Daily Worker on Its First Anniversary. Vol II, Issue No. 27 .Thursday, February 12, 1925.

January 13th of this year marked the 100th anniversary of the Daily Worker’s first issue. The Daily Worker was an English-language communist daily, the first of its kind, published by the Communist Party USA—then legally organized as the Workers Party of America. It represented a significant advancement in the revolutionary proletarian movement in the US. For the first time in our country’s history, the proletarian class and working masses had a daily newspaper that fought for and told of their struggles from an unreservedly classist point of view. The Daily Worker traces its history to the earliest struggles of the communist movement. Beginning in 1917 as the Ohio Socialist, it was then the organ of the Ohio section of the Socialist Party of America. In 1919, the Ohio section of the SPA split to join the newly created Communist Labor Party of America, which resulted in a name change to The Toiler and another in 1922 to The Worker, still published weekly. In 1924, The Worker made the jump to daily publication and was renamed the Daily Worker. With only an eight-person editorial staff, the Daily Worker made its historic entrance into the struggle.

From the beginning, the party faced major difficulties. Even distribution had to be figured out from scratch. Distribution routes had been set up in key working-class neighborhoods but were hampered by hostile class elements. The local Newsboys Union, having been thoroughly infested with gangsters, refused to carry the Daily Worker. Such was the hostility of the criminals that controlled the union that when Jack McCarthy, the paper’s circulation manager, attempted to speak with the newsboys, he was run out of the union hall under a hail of bullets.

The Daily Worker, though starting from humble beginnings, soon became a powerful weapon in the hands of the working class. It was a fighting paper whose pages were filled with stories of class struggle. It covered every trade union battle against greedy bosses, every fight against reactionary organizations which aided the bourgeoisie like the Ku Klux Klan, and advanced the interests of the proletariat and laboring masses. When 4,000 garment workers went on strike in 1924, the Daily Worker was the only paper to print the strike call. The entire combined might of the bosses and their henchmen, the police, came down on the strike in an attempt to completely destroy the union, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers. It was the communists armed with the Daily Worker who jumped into the fray. Hundreds of copies were distributed daily on the picket lines, boosting the morale of the workers. Even the right-wing vice president of the union was forced by the dire stakes of the battle to admit that the workers were better fighters when they read the Daily Worker. With such a weapon in their hands, the workers bravely faced the brutality of the capitalist class and emerged victorious only weeks later.

In this way, the paper demonstrated a clear understanding and application of the lessons conveyed by Lenin in “Where to Begin?” as a fundamental step in the establishment of a revolutionary Communist Party, a party of a new type, the subjective factor necessary for awakening the great working masses. For 34 years, the Daily Worker was the vital organ around which the efforts of agitation and organization of the entire party were centered. With mounting financial troubles compounded by the slow ideological degeneration facing the CPUSA at the time, the Daily Worker published its final issue in 1958.

The Daily Worker, the beacon of communism in America, is the legacy of all communists in the US. To the Communist Workers’ Platform, it is an indispensable legacy and one that inspires us, even 100 years later, to pick up the red banner and carry it forward. With the Daily Worker in our hearts, we established the New Worker as the continuation of this militant and classist tradition. The New Worker, in the spirit of the Daily Worker, is a fighting paper. In our pages are the stories of class struggle, from interviews with trade unionists fighting against greedy employers like Starbucks to coverage of and support for the struggle of the Palestinian people. The New Worker will carry the bright legacy of the Daily Worker forward and be the spark that lights the flame.