MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations



Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company

Established in Chicago, Illinois in 1886 by Charles Hope Kerr, originally to promote his Unitarian and vegetarian views. As Kerr’s personal interests moved from religion to Marxism and he became interested in the labor movement, the company’s publications took a similar turn. The company’s 1900 catalog promised books “on socialism, free thought, economics, history, hygiene, American fiction, etc.”

In 1906 Kerr published the first volume of Karl Marx’s Capital. Kerr & Co. was also the first publisher of volumes 2 and 3 of Capital, publishing original translations made for it by Ernest Untermann in 1907 and 1909, respectively. From 1900 through 1918, Kerr also produced a monthly theoretical and political magazine, the International Socialist Review (ISR), one of the most important publications of the American radical movement in this period. The publication was closely linked to the Socialist Party of America, with first editor A.M. Simons taking a scholastic and theoretical bent towards its content. From about 1908, Charles H. Kerr himself took over the publication’s editorial role, and the magazine moved further to the left wing of the socialist movement, paying closer attention to the strike movement and the Industrial Workers of the World.

Kerr was noted for his translation from the French of the radical workers’ movement anthem, “The Internationale;” his version became the English words sung in the United States (although a different, anonymous English translation is sung in Britain and Ireland). Kerr’s version was widely circulated in the IWW’s Little Red Songbook.

During the First World War, the US government denied mailing privileges to all Kerr publications, alleging them to be seditious violations of the Espionage Act of 1917. The ban dealt a fatal blow to the ISR, never a profitable publication in the best of times.

Immediately after the war Charles Kerr came into close contact with the Scottish-born Detroit radical John Keracher through the latter’s “Proletarian University” movement and its need for Marxist literature. In 1920, Keracher took a faction out of the underground Communist Party of America and established a small rival organization, the Proletarian Party of America. Keracher became a member of the Kerr Board of the Directors in 1924 and in 1928 Charles Kerr sold him the bulk of his controlling shares in the firm. Thereafter, the Proletarian Party controlled the operations of Kerr & Co., publishing a number of Keracher’s works, including How the Gods Were Made (1929), Producers and Parasites (1935), The Head-Fixing Industry (1935), Crime: It’s Causes and Consequences (1937), and Frederick Engels (1946). Owing to poor finances, comparatively few other new Kerr titles were ever published by the PPA, although the backlist of the company was no doubt invaluable in maintaining the tiny organization’s solvency.

Following the departure of the Proletarian Party from the scene in the 1960s, Charles H. Kerr & Co. was kept alive by a hardy band of midwestern radicals close to the IWW orbit under its new moniker, Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co. Today, the Company advertises “Subversive literature for the whole family since 1886.”


Chartists (Chartism)

The first mass revolutionary movement of the British working class in the 1830s and 1840s. Mass meetings and demonstrations involving millions of proletariat and petty-bourgeois were held throughout the country for years.

The Chartists published several petitions to the British Parliament (ranging from 1,280,000 to 3,000,000 signatures), the most famous of which was called the People's Charter (hence their name) in 1842, which demanded:

1) universal suffrage for men
2) the secret ballot
3) removal of property qualifications for Members of Parliament
4) salaries for Members of Parliament
5) electoral districts representing equal numbers of people
6) annually elected parliaments

The British Parliament did not approve the People's Charter, rejecting every petition.

The government subsequently subjected the Chartists to brutal reprisals and arrested their leaders. The remaining party then split as a result of a divide in tactics: the Moral Force Party believed in bureaucratic reformism, while the Physical Force Party believed in workers' reformism (through strikes, etc).

The Chartist movement's reformist goals, although not immediately and directly attained, were gradually achieved. In the same year as the People's Charter was created, the British Parliament instead responded by passing the 1842 Mining Act. Carefully valving the steam of the working class movement, British Parliament reduced the working day to ten hours in 1847.

See Chartists History Archive.



See Also: Soviet Secret Police, NKVD


Chief Land Committee

The Chief Land Commmittee was set up by the Provisional Government in April 1917 under pressure of the growing peasant movement which demanded a solution to the land question. The overwhelming majority of the Committee's members were Cadets and Socialist-Revolutionaries. The Committee was to supervise the collection and working up of material for an agrarian reform, for which purpose local land committees were formed.

The formation of the Chief and local land committees was a political manoeuvre on the part of the Provisional Government assigned to drag out the settlement of the land question as long as possible, and to wean the peasant masses away from revolutionary forms of struggle by means of reforms from above that would leave landed proprietorship intact.

After the October Revolution the Chief Land Committee opposed the enforcement of Lenin's Decree on Land and was dissolved by a decision of the Council of People's Commissars in December 1917.


Chkheidze Group

A Mensheviks group in the Fourth Duma led by N. S. Chkheidze. During the First World War the Menshevik Duma group held a Centrist position, but in practice gave full support to the policy of the Russian social-chauvinists.