A 74-year-old "rebel girl," who made her first speech on a New York street corner in 1906, came to Lowell House last night and gave a bunch of capitalist intellectuals hell.
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who "would be chairman of the American Communist Party if the McCarran Act permitted it to have officers," held forth like a queen for almost two hours. She reminisced about her lifelong fight for a socialist America "in the plain simple language of the workers--no Madison Avenue terms; the bosses aren't the establishment for me."
The American Communist Party is not the agent of any foreign power, Miss Flynn maintained. Its link with the Soviet Union is stated only in the McCarran Act, she said, and this link is based merely on findings of the House Un-American Activities Committee. "There has never even been the slightest attempt to prove the link legally," she insisted; "if we agree on something, it doesn't mean we are taking orders."
"If we could just loosen up the full democratic processes--bring about the full integration of all people, relieve restrictions on minority parties--we could have a socialist America even under the present American forms and system," she said. "We won't have to take to the hills. The more the capitalist class improves the United States, the better it will be to take over."
Miss Flynn defended the actions of labor unions from their earliest days, including her participation in the International Workers of the World (IWW) as well as the actions of Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa today. "We don't organize unions to be pure and holy, but to help the workers," she insisted.
Delighting, amusing, and scolding her audience at once, Miss Flynn admitted she "could talk all night," and there were those who would have have stayed and listened.
As President Lowell stared out over her head from his portrait in the Junior Common Room, she bitterly attacked his role in the Sacco-Vanzetti case, in which she too had figured prominently. "No matter how many books are written about bullets," she said, Sacco and Vanzetti will someday be exonerated.
But J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, George Meany, and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy '48 got theirs, too. Kennedy, she charged, has a "vendetta against Hoffa and the Communist Party" and should by no means be nominated for the Vice-Presidency.
Asked whom the American Communist Party would support for the Presidency this year, Miss Flynn smiled and suggested that "we just might have our own write-in candidate this time. Since what happened in New Hampshire, we've been thinking about it. Gus Hall has a short name, you know.