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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the American labour movement and American society. Many radical Finns saw radicalism as a way to preserve a distinctive ethnic culture. More assimilated Jewish Americans than assimilated Finnish Americans were active on the left.17 15 16 17 United States Census Bureau 1921, I, p. 13; II, pp. 690–1; Kostiainen 1978, pp. 142–5; Karni 1975, p. 19. Two sociologists have argued that there is a direct correlation between the presence of Finns and the strength of the left in a particular area

from the Workers’ Council, in the latter’s eyes.22 The CP saw things differently. No doubt this reflected some disdain toward figures who had been important parts of the SP apparatus and had refused to split in 1919, whom Cannon later called ‘a group of second-line, second-grade Communists’. In August 1921, the CEC wrote a letter to the WC that reasserted the CP’s status as the Comintern affiliate in the US and the Communist position that any unity would be on the CP’s terms and programme. ‘The

‘Bolshevisation’, 1924–6  152 8 The Foreign-Language Federations and ‘Bolshevisation’  172 9 Factionalism and Mass Work, 1925–7  187 10 The Death of Ruthenberg and the Ascension of Lovestone, 1926–7  205 11 Lovestone Between Bukharin and Stalin, 1927–8  223 12 The ‘Third Period’, the Sixth Congress and the Elimination of Opposition, 1928–9  249 13 Lovestone Becomes a Lovestoneite, 1928–9  266 14 The ‘Negro Question’ to the Fourth Comintern Congress  287 vi contents 15

member of the CEC at this time, recalled that ‘Pepper spoke no English, but his words counted’. At the Bridgman Convention in the summer of 1922, he was elected to the CEC. In April 1923, Ruthenberg again wrote to the Comintern, asking for another Hungarian to be sent to edit the paper (which he claimed had a circulation of up to 12,000), in part because ‘comrade Joseph has no time at all for the Hungarian Section because all of his time is taken up in the General movement—the American Party’.23

enemies and has not, so far, been able to gain the affiliations which were hoped for by those who were enthusiastic . . . We are facing a bitter fight all along the line’. He noted the UMWA and needle trade unions’ ‘open war against the T.U.E.L.’ and bemoaned that ‘even the Amalgamated has demanded the dissolution of the T.U.E.L.’39 This division developed after the split with Fitzpatrick. In his memoirs, Bittelman, a key ally of Foster, emphasised that ‘At the July 3rd Conference itself we had

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