From people such as these you would hear the most revolutionary utterances; but Peter soon realized that it was mostly just talk with them. They would work off their frenzies with a few dashes of paint or some ferocious chords on the piano. The really dangerous ones were not here; they were hidden away in offices or dens of their own, where they were prompting strikes and labor agitations, and preparing incendiary literature to be circulated among the poor.
You met such people in the Socialist local, and in the I. W. W. headquarters, and in numerous clubs and propaganda societies which Peter investigated, and to which he was welcomed as a member. In the Socialist local there was a fierce struggle going on over the war. What should be the attitude of the party? There was a group, a comparatively small group, which believed that the interests of Socialism would best be served by helping the Allies to the overthrow of the Kaiser. There was another group, larger and still more determined, which believed that the war was a conspiracy of allied capitalism to rivet its power upon the world, and this group wanted the party to stake its existence upon a struggle against American participation. These two groups contested for the minds of the rank and file of the members, who seemed to be bewildered by the magnitude of the issue and the complexity of the arguments. Peter’s orders were to go with the extreme anti-militarists; they were the ones whose confidence he wished to gain, also they were the trouble-makers of the movement, and McGivney’s instructions were to make all the trouble possible.
Over at the I. W. W. headquarters was another group whose members were debating their attitude to the war. Should they call strikes and try to cripple the leading industries of the country? Or should they go quietly on with their organization work, certain that in the end the workers would sicken of the military adventure into which they were being snared? Some of these “wobblies” were Socialist party members also, and were active in both gatherings; two of them, Henderson, the lumber-jack, and Gus Lindstrom, the sailor, had been in jail with Peter, and had been among his intimates ever since.