S. J. Rutgers
Sebald Justinus Rutgers (1879–1961) was a Dutch Marxist theoretician and journalist who played an important role in the Left Wing section of the Socialist Party of America. He was also a construction engineer who was active in building industry in the Soviet Union.
S. J. Rutgers was born in Leiden, Netherlands on January 25, 1879. He studied from 1896 to the Polytechnical School of Delft, where he came into contact with socialism. In 1900 he graduated as a civil engineer and took a job for the municipality of Rotterdam, where he worked on the expansion of the port. At the same time, he was active from 1899 in the SDAP. From 1911 to 1915 he was director of public works in Medan, and then buyer for Indonesian companies in the United States.
During World War I, Rutgers was a frequent contributor to the Left Wing socialist press in America. His influential articles in The International Socialist Review and other publications supported the antimilitarist Zimmerwald Left movement and helped publicize the ideas of revolutionary socialism to an American audience. Rutgers was the financial force behind the establishment of a group called the Socialist Propaganda League of America in 1915, a revolutionary socialist forerunner of the Communist Party of America.
After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Rutgers made his way to Soviet Russia via Vladivostok and Japan. Having transversed the war zone of the Russian Civil War, he arrived in Moscow whereupon he was invited to meet with Lenin in the Kremlin. He attended the First Congress of the Communist International. When the Comintern established its Amsterdam Bureau, Rutgers was appointed secretary and given the major portion of twenty million roubles – in the form of precious stones – with which to found this bureau.
From 1922–1926, he led the construction of an international workers cooperative, the Kuzbass Autonomous Industrial Colony in the Kuzbas area of Siberia. From 1926-1938 he lived alternately in the Netherlands, Vienna, and Moscow. In 1938, Rutgers left the Soviet Union.
Back in the Netherlands, Rutgers lived out his life as a respected, but non-influential member of the Communist Party of the Netherlands.
Death and legacy
Sebald Rutgers died in Amersfoort, Netherlands on June 14, 1961.
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- "Archief Sebald Justinus Rutgers finding aid," Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiendenis, Amsterdam.
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- "World Policies," International Socialist Review, vol. 18, no. 3 (September 1917), pp. 172–173.
- "Letter to Oakley C. Johnson in NYC from S.J. Rutgers in Amersfoort, Holland, April 21, 1958," C.E. Ruthenberg Papers, Ohio Historical Society, Box 14, Folder 4, Microfilm reel 8. Corvallis, OR: 1000 Flowers Publishing, 2012.