Louis Waldman

Louis Waldman

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Louis Waldman was a leading figure in the Socialist Party of America
Socialist Party of America
The Socialist Party of America was a multi-tendency democratic-socialist political party in the United States, formed in 1901 by a merger between the three-year-old Social Democratic Party of America and disaffected elements of the Socialist Labor Party which had split from the main organization...

 from the late 1910s and through the middle 1930s, a founding member of the Social Democratic Federation
Social Democratic Federation (US)
The Social Democratic Federation of America was a political party in the United States, formed in 1936 by the so-called "Old Guard" faction of the Socialist Party of America...

, and a prominent New York labor lawyer
Labour law
Labour law is the body of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which address the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations. As such, it mediates many aspects of the relationship between trade unions, employers and employees...


Early years

Louis Waldman was born on January 5, 1892 in Yancherudnia, Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, not far from Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, the son of a Jewish innkeeper who was one of the few literate men of the village. Waldman emigrated to America in the summer 1909 at the age of 17, arriving in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 to join his sisters on September 17. Waldman first worked in a metal shop before becoming an apprentice garment lining cutter in one of the sweatshops of the city. He joined a union and participated in the 11-week New York cloakmakers' strike of 1910, while attending high school in the evenings. Upon conclusion of the strike and resumption of his job, Waldman was fired and blacklisted
Black List
Black List is the second of two L.A. Guns compilation albums featuring their third singer Paul Black.-Track listing:#"Stranded in L.A."#"L.A.P.D."#"Show No Mercy"#"One More Reason to Die"#"Looking Over My Shoulder"#"Love & Hate"#"On And On"...

 for carrying out his function as a union representative in supervising the enforcement of the union contract in his shop. Barred from the garment industry, Waldman thereafter worked unsuccessfully as a door-to-door peddler of ribbon before taking a job in a cardboard box factory.

Waldman graduated from high school in the spring of 1911 and, owing to a lack of funds for college, enrolled in the Cooper Union
Cooper Union
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly referred to simply as Cooper Union, is a privately funded college in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, United States, located at Cooper Square and Astor Place...

 to study engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

 that fall.

Waldman was a shocked member of the crowd on the street that witnessed the catastrophic Triangle Waist Company fire of 1911, an event which clearly always remained with him and served as one of the landmarks of his life. Waldman described the grim scene in his 1944 memoirs:

"One Saturday afternoon in March of that year — March 25, to be precise — I was sitting at one of the reading tables in the old Astor Library... It was a raw, unpleasant day and the comfortable reading room seemed a delightful place to spend the remaining few hours until the library closed. I was deeply engrossed in my book when I became aware of fire engines racing past the building. By this time I was sufficiently Americanized to be fascinated by the sound of fire engines. Along with several others in the library, I ran out to see what was happening, and followed crowds of people to the scene of the fire.

"A few blocks away, the Asch Building at the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street was ablaze. When we arrived at the scene, the police had thrown up a cordon around the area and the firemen were helplessly fighting the blaze. The eighth, ninth, and tenth stories of the building were now an enormous roaring cornice of flames.

"Word had spread through the East Side, by some magic of terror, that the plant of the Triangle Waist Company was on fire and that several hundred workers were trapped. Horrified and helpless, the crowds — I among them — looked up at the burning building, saw girl after girl appear at the reddened windows, pause for a terrified moment, and then leap to the pavement below, to land as mangled, bloody pulp. This went on for what seemed a ghastly eternity. Occasionally a girl who had hesitated too long was licked by pursuing flames and, screaming with clothing and hair ablaze, plunged like a living torch to the street. Life nets held by the firemen were torn by the impact of the falling bodies.

"The emotions of the crowd were indescribable. Women were hysterical, scores fainted; men wept as, in paroxysms of frenzy, they hurled themselves against the police lines."

Packed into a tight space and locked away from means of escape, 146 workers from the building's 9th floor died that day in one of the greatest tragedies in New York City's history. At a memorial meeting held at Cooper Union in the aftermath of the fire, Waldman saw and heard Socialist leader Morris Hillquit
Morris Hillquit
Morris Hillquit was a founder and leader of the Socialist Party of America and prominent labor lawyer in New York City's Lower East Side during the early 20th century.-Early years:...

 speak for the first time, an event which inspired Waldman to engage in "a veritable orgy of reading" on socialism and thereby won the young man over to the socialist cause.

Waldman graduated from Cooper Union in June 1916 with a degree in engineering, and worked as a construction engineer during the day while following his ambition to become a lawyer by attending law school in the evenings. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1923 and worked thereafter as counsel for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America was a United States labor union known for its support for "social unionism" and progressive political causes. Led by Sidney Hillman for its first thirty years, it helped found the Congress of Industrial Organizations...

, for the New York Central Trades and Labor Council, and for various other unions in the building and garment trades.

Socialist in the New York Assembly

In 1916 the young engineer Louis Waldman was approached at a meeting of his Socialist Party branch and was drafted into becoming a candidate of the party for the New York State Assembly
New York State Assembly
The New York State Assembly is the lower house of the New York State Legislature. The Assembly is composed of 150 members representing an equal number of districts, with each district having an average population of 128,652...

. Although he protested that between his engineering job and his evening studies of law he had no time for campaigning, the party official approaching him smiled and replied, "Campaigning? Who said anything about campaigning? We just want someone to run for office. If you get more than seven hundred votes we'll be lucky. The real campaigns this year will be for Meyer London
Meyer London
Meyer London was an American politician from New York City. He was one of only two members of the Socialist Party of America elected to the United States Congress.-Early years:...

 and Morris Hillquit." And thus was born a Socialist Party politician. Waldman did actually campaign, however, mounting the platform to give public speeches, at which he gradually improved. Waldman performed well in the 1916 election, tripling the Socialist tally while losing to his Democratic opponent by a few hundred votes.

In 1917, with America embroiled in the European conflict and a section of the American electorate radicalized by the turn towards war by the Democratic administration of Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

, Waldman ran for the Assembly again as a Socialist, this time winning election. Waldman was one of 10 Socialists elected to the Assembly that year, the best electoral performance that the organization would ever achieve.

In 1918, Waldman met with defeat, but he ran again for state assembly in 1919 against a fusion candidate of the Democratic and Republican parties and emerged victorious, along with four other Socialist Party comrades, August Claessens
August Claessens
August "Gus" Claessens was an American socialist politician, best known as one of the five New York Assemblymen expelled from that body during the First Red Scare for their membership in the Socialist Party of America...

, Samuel Orr
Samuel Orr
Samuel Orr was a socialist politician from New York City best remembered for being one of the five elected members of the Socialist Party of America expelled by the New York State Assembly during the Red Scare of 1919-1920.-Early years:...

, Charles Solomon
Charles Solomon (politician)
Charles "Charley" Solomon was a socialist politician from New York City, elected to the New York State Assembly in 1919 and expelled with four of his fellows on the first day of the legislative session, one week after the sensational Palmer Raids...

, and Samuel A. DeWitt
Sam DeWitt
Samuel Aaron "Sam" DeWitt was a businessman, poet, playwright, and politician. He is best remembered as a New York State Legislator who represented Bronx's 7th district from 1919 until his expulsion from the Assembly in 1920....

. The five Socialist Assemblymen were suspended on the first day of the new legislative session by the Republican-dominated body and their expulsion trial before the assembly and subsequent court fight became a cause celebre of the Red Scare
First Red Scare
In American history, the First Red Scare of 1919–1920 was marked by a widespread fear of Bolshevism and anarchism. Concerns over the effects of radical political agitation in American society and alleged spread in the American labor movement fueled the paranoia that defined the period.The First Red...


In 1924, he ran on the Socialist ticket for New York State Attorney General
New York State Attorney General
The New York State Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the State of New York. The office has been in existence in some form since 1626, under the Dutch colonial government of New York.The current Attorney General is Eric Schneiderman...


Waldman was elected chairman of the Socialist Party of New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 state in 1928, a position which he retained through the first half of the 1930s. He also stood as the SP candidate for Governor of New York
Governor of New York
The Governor of the State of New York is the chief executive of the State of New York. The governor is the head of the executive branch of New York's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military and naval forces. The officeholder is afforded the courtesy title of His/Her...

 in 1928, 1930 and 1932, polling over 100,000 votes in each of these races. Along with Morris Hillquit
Morris Hillquit
Morris Hillquit was a founder and leader of the Socialist Party of America and prominent labor lawyer in New York City's Lower East Side during the early 20th century.-Early years:...

, James Oneal
James Oneal
James "Jim" Oneal , a founding member of the Socialist Party of America , was a prominent socialist journalist, historian, and party activist who played a decisive role in the bitter party splits of 1919-21 and 1934-36.-Early years:...

, and Algernon Lee
Algernon Lee
Algernon H. Lee was an American socialist politician and educator, best known as the Director of Education at the Rand School of Social Science for 35 years.-Early years:...

, Waldman was recognized as a leader of the SP's "Old Guard" faction, which favored close working relations with the trade unions of the American Federation of Labor
American Federation of Labor
The American Federation of Labor was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in 1886 by an alliance of craft unions disaffected from the Knights of Labor, a national labor association. Samuel Gompers was elected president of the Federation at its...

 and pursuance of gradual ameliorative reforms leading eventually to socialism rather than cataclysmic revolutionary transformation. This perspective brought Waldman and the Old Guard into opposition of the largely youth based "Militant" faction in the party, who favored reconciliation with the Communist Party USA
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

, in keeping with the United Front
United front
The united front is a form of struggle that may be pursued by revolutionaries. The basic theory of the united front tactic was first developed by the Comintern, an international communist organisation created by revolutionaries in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.According to the theses of...

 policy of the Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

 and preparation for a socialist struggle for power in the event of capitalism's collapse.

Factional leader in the 1930s

During the first half of the 1930s, Waldman was one of the leading figures of the so-called "Old Guard"
Old Guard faction
The Old Guard faction was an organized grouping of Marxists in the Socialist Party of America who sought to retain the organization's traditional orientation towards electoral politics by fighting generally younger party members who factionally organized to promote greater efforts at direct action...

 of the Socialist Party — an organized faction based in New York City which sought to continue the party's traditional orientation towards electoral politics and close cooperation with the trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 movement. The Old Guard organized itself in opposition to a so-called "Militant faction
Militant faction
The Militant faction was an organized grouping of Marxists in the Socialist Party of America who sought to steer that organization from its orientation towards electoral politics and towards direct action and revolutionary socialism. The faction emerged during 1930 and 1931 and achieved practical...

" which emerged in 1930 and 1931, consisting of younger and more radical members who sought a turn towards direct action
Direct action
Direct action is activity undertaken by individuals, groups, or governments to achieve political, economic, or social goals outside of normal social/political channels. This can include nonviolent and violent activities which target persons, groups, or property deemed offensive to the direct action...

 and a program endorsing revolutionary socialism
Revolutionary socialism
The term revolutionary socialism refers to Socialist tendencies that advocate the need for fundamental social change through revolution by mass movements of the working class, as a strategy to achieve a socialist society...

. Although both of these main factions considered themselves orthodox Marxists, the social democratic Old Guard considered their Militant opponents to be adventurists
Adventurism is a criticism levelled at governments which pursue reckless policies, seemly for the sake of excitement. Countries pusuing foreign wars of dubious merit or which have little chance of success have often been accused of adventurism by opponenets....

 with a deluded sense of enthusiasm for the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the world communist movement
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, while the Militants considered the Old Guard to be dyed-in-the-wood reformists
Reformism is the belief that gradual democratic changes in a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations and political structures...

 unwilling to challenge anti-democratic behavior in the union movement.

Personal and personnel issues entered into play. The Militants sought to replace Socialist Party National Chairman Morris Hillquit
Morris Hillquit
Morris Hillquit was a founder and leader of the Socialist Party of America and prominent labor lawyer in New York City's Lower East Side during the early 20th century.-Early years:...

, the best known and most widely respected of the Old Guard leaders, as an impediment to the future growth of the party. The Old Guard, similarly, sought the removal of the party's National Executive Secretary, Clarence Senior
Clarence Senior
Clarence Ollson Senior was, as a young man, an American socialist political activist best remembered as the National Executive Secretary of the Socialist Party of America during the 1930s. Originally a protégé of Presidential candidate Norman Thomas, during the inner-party fight of the 1930s,...

, a protégé of the charismatic spokesman for the radical wing of the party, former Presidential
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 candidate Norman Thomas
Norman Thomas
Norman Mattoon Thomas was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.-Early years:...

, an outspoken pacifist who had made common cause with the organized Militant group in an effort to build the SPA into a mass movement.

The critical moment in the struggle between the two main factions came in June 1934 at the Socialist Party's National Convention in Detroit, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan
Detroit is the major city among the primary cultural, financial, and transportation centers in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people. As the seat of Wayne County, the city of Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan and serves as a major port on the Detroit River...

. There the assembled delegates took up debate of an aggressively anti-militarist Declaration of Principles
1934 Declaration of Principles
The 1934 Declaration of Principles was a political platform of the Socialist Party of America passed at the May 1934 National Convention held in Detroit, Michigan...

 for the party, written by Thomas ally Devere Allen. Louis Waldman was one of the key spokesmen for the Old Guard in the debate over this document at the Detroit Convention.

Waldman took issue with the clause of the proposed Declaration of Principles which called for "massed war resistance" by the party in the face of a new war":

"Comrades, what does that phrase mean? 'Massed war resistance' is one of the clauses which constituted the basis of indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

 of thousands of people during the last war. 'Massed war resistance' is one of those provocative phrases which is capable of all kinds of construction. What does a political party dedicated to lawful and peaceful struggle mean when it declares itself dedicated to the use of massed war resistance if it does not mean extra-legal means? * * *

"For myself, comrades, it is inconceivable to me that I can remain a Social Democrat and become bound by this declaration....

"I make my appeal to you, comrades. If we have to adjourn without a declaration I would a thousand times rather do that than commit the Socialist Party to an anarchistic
Anarchy , has more than one colloquial definition. In the United States, the term "anarchy" typically is meant to refer to a society which lacks publicly recognized government or violently enforced political authority...

, illegal, and communistic doctrine."

Following the conclusion of debate, the Declaration of Principles was approved by majority vote of the assembled delegates and the matter referred to the membership of the party for ratification by referendum vote
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...


The Old Guard minority issued a formal statement on the matter, calling the Declaration of Principles "inadequate and confused" and a step towards turning the SPA into an "underground organization." The Old Guard statement continued:

"Existing democracy, incomplete though it be, is immensely valuable to the workers, through whose struggles it has been won. Let communists and fascists
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 call it 'bogus.' Our duty is to defend and perfect it.

"The pledge to support any 'comrade' coming into conflict with the law by any anti-war activity invites fanatics and provocators
Agent provocateur
Traditionally, an agent provocateur is a person employed by the police or other entity to act undercover to entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act...

 (sic.) to join the party and involve it in responsibility for acts inconsistent with socialist prinicples. It is also an incitement to unlawful acts. Such incitement is itself a crime, for which courts could hold every party member liable."

The membership of the party was encouraged to defeat proposed new Declaration of Principles in favor of retention of the existing 1924 Declaration.

The 1934 Declaration of Principles was ratified by the party membership nonetheless.

The factional war within the Socialist Party continued unabated for more than a year more, with the Old Guard faction ultimately exiting the party en masse to form the Social Democratic Federation
Social Democratic Federation (US)
The Social Democratic Federation of America was a political party in the United States, formed in 1936 by the so-called "Old Guard" faction of the Socialist Party of America...

 (SDF) at the time of the party's May 1936 convention in Cleveland.

The Social Democratic Federation years

Waldman continued to play a leading role in the new SDF organization. An organizational meeting was held of the new group in early July, at which Waldman sought to endorse Franklin Delano Roosevelt for President of the United States in lieu of the Socialist nominee, Norman Thomas. The gathering found itself split on the issue, however, and no endorsement was forthcoming. Waldman's foes, such as New York Socialist Party Executive Secretary Jack Altman and Socialist candidate for Governor Harry W. Laidler
Harry W. Laidler
Harry Wellington Laidler was an American socialist functionary, writer, magazine editor, and politician. He is best remembered as Executive Director of the League for Industrial Democracy, successor to the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, and for his close political association with perennial...

 were quick to attack Waldman, charging him with a "betrayal of Socialist principles" in attempting to "divert 100,000 Socialist votes to the Roosevelt column."

Many SDF members became involved in the American Labor Party
American Labor Party
The American Labor Party was a political party in the United States established in 1936 which was active almost exclusively in the state of New York. The organization was founded by labor leaders and former members of the Socialist Party who had established themselves as the Social Democratic...

 when it was formed in 1936, supporting the faction led by David Dubinsky
David Dubinsky
David Dubinsky was an American labor leader...

. Waldman however resigned from the ALP in 1940, feeling it had been taken over by a pro-Communist faction led by Sidney Hillman
Sidney Hillman
Sidney Hillman was an American labor leader. Head of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, he was a key figure in the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations and in marshaling labor's support for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic Party.-Early years:Sidney Hillman was...

. It was not for another four years until Dubinsky and his supporters reached the same conclusion and bolted to form the Liberal Party
Liberal Party of New York
The Liberal Party of New York is a minor American political party that has been active only in the state of New York. Its platform supports a standard set of social liberal policies: it supports right to abortion, increased spending on education, and universal health care.As of 2007, the Liberal...


After resigning from the ALP, Waldman had virtually no political involvements and devoted himself to his law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 practice, becoming one of the most distinguished labor lawyers in the nation. During this period, he represented Walter Krivitsky
Walter Krivitsky
Walter Germanovich Krivitsky was a Soviet intelligence officer who revealed plans of signing Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact before defecting weeks before the outbreak of World War II....

 among others.

He was also active in the New York State Bar Association
New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association , with 77,000 members, is the largest voluntary bar association in the United States.-History:The State Bar was founded with a constitution that dates to 1877...

 and served over the years on numerous state commissions. Representing unions as varied as the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America was a United States labor union known for its support for "social unionism" and progressive political causes. Led by Sidney Hillman for its first thirty years, it helped found the Congress of Industrial Organizations...

 and the International Longshoremen's Association
International Longshoremen's Association
The International Longshoremen's Association is a labor union representing longshore workers along the East Coast of the United States and Canada, the Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes, Puerto Rico, and inland waterways...

, Waldman continued his practice right up to his death.

Perspective of the Civil Rights Movement

Like many liberals of his time, Waldman expressed sympathy for the endeavors of civil rights activists but did not agree with their tactic of breaking the law. In an article published by the New York State Bar Journal in 1965, he expressed his worries. He begins by assuring his readers that he "espoused and still [espouses] the cause of civil rights for all people" and then argues:

“Those who assert rights under the Constitution and the laws made thereunder must abide by that Constitution and the law, if that Constitution is to survive. They cannot pick and choose; they cannot say they will abide by those laws which they think are just and refuse to abide by those laws which they think are unjust....
The country, therefore, cannot accept Dr. King’s doctrine that he and his followers will pick and choose, knowing that it is illegal to do so. I say, such a doctrine is not only illegal and for that reason alone should be abandoned, but that it is also immoral, destructive of the principles of democratic government, and a danger to the very civil rights Dr. King seeks to promote."

In such a way, Waldman asserted: defying the law is on its face generally a bad thing because defiance would weaken respect for the law in most cases, especially if the legal system is basically decent; therefore, in order to meet this objection, those who advocated civil disobedience must have legitimate justifications to defy the law. Answering Waldman's objections, King often used such a particular argument: the evils being opposed were so serious, so numerous, and so difficult to fight that civil disobedience was a justifiable last resort. Although the means were regrettable, the end justified the means.

Death and legacy

Louis Waldman was married to Bella B. Waldman, with whom he had two sons. He died on September 12, 1982. His papers reside at the New York Public Library
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...


Vladeck, Waldman, Elias and Engelhardt

The law firm he helped found, now Vladeck, Waldman, Elias, and Engelhardt, continues to exist as one of the leading labor law firms in New York.

Labor Lawyer

In 1944, Louis Waldman published his first autobiography, Labor Lawyer, in which he laid out his defense of the positions he had taken in his political career. Among other things, Waldman became very critical of the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

, considering it to be overly accommodating to the Communists and exhibiting certain authoritarian tendencies, somewhat echoing the critique of the old right
Old Right (United States)
The Old Right was a conservative faction in the United States that opposed both New Deal domestic programs and U.S. entry into World War II. Many members of this faction were associated with the Republicans of the interwar years led by Robert Taft, but some were Democrats...

. He was particularly alarmed by the integration of trade unions into the state apparatus that began to occur during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


Labor Lawyer also represents an important primary source
Primary source
Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied....

 for the history of the Socialist Party in the years following the death of Eugene Victor Debs. It is worthy of note that many of the figures he denounces as dangerous pro-Communists in his book, such as Reinhold Niebuhr
Reinhold Niebuhr
Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr was an American theologian and commentator on public affairs. Starting as a leftist minister in the 1920s indebted to theological liberalism, he shifted to the new Neo-Orthodox theology in the 1930s, explaining how the sin of pride created evil in the world...

 and Andrew Biemiller
Andrew Biemiller
Andrew John Biemiller was a prominent leader of American liberalism in the 20th century....

, would later become pillars of anti-Communist liberals
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 of the postwar years. While Waldman himself was mostly apolitical after the war, this perspective clearly informed younger Old Guard supporters such as Morrie Ryskind
Morrie Ryskind
Morrie Ryskind was an American dramatist, lyricist and writer of theatrical productions and motion pictures, who became a conservative political activist later in life.-Biography:...

 and Ralph de Toledano
Ralph de Toledano
Ralph de Toledano was a major figure in the conservative movement in the United States throughout the second half of the 20th century.-Early years:...

 who moved to the right from the anti-Communist left.

Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

(possibly Whittaker Chambers
Whittaker Chambers
Whittaker Chambers was born Jay Vivian Chambers and also known as David Whittaker Chambers , was an American writer and editor. After being a Communist Party USA member and Soviet spy, he later renounced communism and became an outspoken opponent later testifying in the perjury and espionage trial...

) reviewed the book, saying:
Waldman's experiences in the years that followed were part of the tumultuous coming of age of U.S. social consciousness... Labor Lawyer, Waldman's autobiography, is an esoteric jumble... Above all, it is an old Socialist's insistent, desperate warning against Communism as the No. 1 despoiler of the democratic ideal... Waldman believes that the strength of Communism in the U.S. is now reaching a new peak in the C.I.O.'s Political Action Committee (TIME, July 24, 1944), "the catch-all for the political activities of unions dominated by Communists, militant Socialists and others willing to cooperate with them." He concludes flatly: "Unless the New Deal casts out the seeds of left-wing totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

, which it fosters today, it may either lead to an American variety of Communism, or, what is more likely, provoke an American expression of unadorned fascism."
Waldman published a second memoir, The Good Fight, in 1975.

Books and pamphlets


  • "The 1932 Socialist Campaign and the American Political Scene," American Socialist Quarterly, vol. 1, no. 4 (Autumn 1932), pp. 10–21.

Additional reading

  • New York State Legislature, Standing Committee on the Judiciary, Louis M. Martin, Louis Waldman, Samuel Aaron De Witt, August Claessens, Samuel Orr, Charles Solomon, Proceedings of the Judiciary Committee of the Assembly: In The Matter Of The Investigation By The Assembly Of The State Of New York As To The Qualifications Of Louis Waldman, August Claessens, Samuel A DeWitt, Samuel Orr, And Charles Solomon To Retain Their Seats In Said Body. In Three Volumes. New York: J.B. Lyon Co., 1920. Available online: Volume I, Volume II, Volume III.

External links