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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more difficulties for the inquiring student than all the preced­ ing years put together’. In this period, he continued, acute factional struggle ‘became bankrupt for lack of real political justification for the existence of factions’. The party needed to transcend these factions through common work that would unify the party and bring new political issues to the fore. Given the rancour between the factions, forged in half a decade of bitter animosity, this unity could have been achieved only

Communists’ relation to Debs, see Ginger 1949, pp. 396–8. For Communist speculation about Debs, see New York Times, 27 November 1921. Rose [Pastor Stokes] to Dan [Kiefer], 1 February 1922, in Rose Pastor Stokes Papers, Socialist Party Collection, Tamiment Institute, XIX:15f. See also Zipser and Zipser 1989, pp. 233, 263; [Wagenknecht] to ‘Comrade EV Debs’, 23 March 1922, and EV Debs to ‘Comrade Wagenknecht’, 25 March 1922, both in Communist Party USA. Collection, Tamiment Institute, box 256,

By the 1921 Socialist convention in Detroit, the SP’s old-guard leadership was openly anti-Bolshevik. In pre-conference discussion, Engdahl complained, ‘For two years now the party officialdom has been busy expelling and driving out of the party those comrades who have taken a stand with the Third International’. When Kruse submitted a resolution for Comintern affiliation, 31 delegates voted against, while only four supported it. The old-guard SP leadership also opposed the term ‘dictatorship of

of delegates who supported the Profintern, and anti-Communist syndicalists. A minority, centred on delegates from Argentina, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the US (which included the IWW’s Williams), met in Berlin after the Profintern Congress to organise an anti-Profintern syndicalist bureau.43 Many American delegates, even in the ‘Communist Caucus’, still opposed ‘boring from within’. Haywood argued that it was ‘absolutely impossible to carry on any work inside the Federation [AFL], so

producers, the farmers and industrial workers, has not been benefitted, but in fact has grown steadily worse’. The FLP in the state declared that its goal was ‘disrupt­ ing private monopoly in the United States’. One historian noted that ‘there was very little that had not been in the previous political platforms of the past twenty years’.10 Meanwhile, the CPPA had called a convention in Cleveland on 4 July as part of a campaign to stand La Follette for president. Even though the Communists were

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