The Communist International and U.S. Communism, 1919 - 1929 (Historical Materialism)

The Communist International and U.S. Communism, 1919 - 1929 (Historical Materialism)

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 1608464873

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Communist Party of the United States of America was founded amid the wave of international revolutionary struggles inspired by the Russian Revolution, with the express goal of leading US workers in the struggle against capitalism. Despite these intentions, the first years of its existence were plagued by sectarianism, infighting, and an obsession over the need for an underground organization. It was only through the intervention of the Communist International (Comintern) that the party was pushed to “Americanize,” come out from “the underground,” and focus on the struggles for Black liberation. This unique contribution documents the positive contribution of the Comintern in its early revolutionary years and its decline under Stalin.

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support of the Third International; the dictatorship of the proletariat; and ‘political action’, that is, ‘participation in all political activities, as well as electoral campaigns’. They attacked the Communists’ insistence on illegality as ‘not only an obvious mistake, but a violation of the conditions laid down by the Communist International’. The American Communists’ refusal to surface from the underground left the ‘revolutionary movement in the United States . . . not only weaker than that of

involvement of several score (perhaps as many as 300) American Communists as accomplices of Soviet espionage during World War II, there are no longer grounds for serious disagreement’.19 18 19 clear by context, I have placed the information in square brackets; where I am only fairly certain, I have indicated this by adding a question mark. Since many documents are in more than one location—as well as contained in non-Comintern archives—I have also given the author, title and date of the

207; Bittelman, ‘Things I Have Learned’, pp. 429–33; Foster at American Commission meeting, 27 November 1925; the next day Pepper responded, ‘I am no so-called “trade unionist”; but if I met a trade union on the street I would immediately see that it was a trade union and not a pretty girl’; both in Comintern archives, 495:37:5. It is clear from French syndicalists-cum-Communists Boris Rosmer’s and Boris Souvarine’s letters to Pierre Monatte at the time of the First Profintern Congress (reprinted

would have little value by itself, despite its inherent interest as a topic. introduction 11 analytical. While rightly insisting on the importance of the Comintern to the early years of American Communism, Draper saw this as negative. Instead, as will be shown in the following chapters, Comintern intervention was crucial in forcing the American party to ‘Americanise’. Draper also did not distinguish between the Comintern in the early 1920s and in the later 1920s. The Comintern in this period

proves that he is in no case a Communist’, and advocated that the party remove Lore from the CEC and publicly denounce him.11 Meanwhile, the party increased its support for the Russian anti-Trotsky campaign. In December 1924, Foster and Ruthenberg co-signed a telegram to Moscow against Trotsky. This concluded: ‘We again express our complete solidarity with the CEC of the RCP and expect the entire Comintern to stand behind the Old Bolshevist guard’. Pepper and Lovestone may have introduced

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