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United States & comparative communist history: bibliography 2002

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"Goshaku no sake" (Five cups of sake, 1947) was the first postwar literary work by Nakano Shigeharu, a communist writer whose critical stance toward the imperial institution was well known. The work attracted attention because it was expected to tell the reader how Nakano would grapple with the question of the symbolic emperor in the postwar democratic system. The dominant autobiographical reading tended to reduce the text's message to a simple matter of left-and-right politics. This essay tries to offer a different reading by focusing on the subtle and complex layering of political and emotional responses underlying the narrator's attitude. This new reading throws into relief the narrator's broadly moral concerns transcending partisan politics, which in turn enriches our view of the Japanese postwar experience and the narrator-author's position in it.
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Previous explanations of the Chinese Communist revolution have highlighted (variously) the role of ideology, organization, and/or social structure. While acknowledging the importance of all these factors, this article draws attention to a largely neglected feature of the revolutionary process: the mass mobilization of emotions. Building upon pre-existing traditions of popular protest and political culture, the Communists systematized "emotion work" as part of a conscious strategy of psychological engineering. Attention to the emotional dimensions of mass mobilization was a key ingredient in the Communists' revolutionary victory, distinguishing their approach from that of their Guomindang rivals. Moreover, patterns of emotion work developed during the wartime years lived on in the People's Republic of China, shaping a succession of state-sponsored mass campaigns under Mao. Even in post-Mao China, this legacy continues to exert a powerful influence over the attitudes and actions of state authorities and ordinary citizens alike.
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This book explores the political significance of the development of historical revisionism in the USSR under Khrushchev in the wake of the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU and its demise with the onset of the 'period of stagnation' under Brezhnev. On the basis of intensive interviews and original manuscript material, the book demonstrates that the vigorous rejuvenation of historiography undertaken by Soviet historians in the 1960s conceptually cleared the way for and fomented the dramatic upheaval in Soviet historical writing occasioned by the advent of perestroika.
Article
When criticized by writer Fred J. Cook in The Nation, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his associates declared a communist-organized smear campaign was under way and quietly called upon a trusted team of adjuncts in the press and Congress to offer a timely and “objective” defense of his organization. United by their anti-communist ideology and employing an information subsidy provided by FBI investigators, defenders in the press and Congress criticized The Nation, portraying the publication as outside the mainstream while changing the subject to more FBI-friendly topics. The lengths to which Hoover and his defenders went to counter criticism published in The Nation demonstrates the tremendous value FBI officials placed on maintaining a positive public image. The willingness of members of the press to come to Hoover’s defense demonstrates the value an association with the FBI held for adjuncts in the press and Congress.
Book
BENJAMIN GLASSBERG'S DAY BEGAN LIKE ANY OTHER. AFTER DRESSING, eating an early breakfast, and perusing the daily newspaper for the latest information on world and national events, he scurried off to Commercial High School where he taught history and government to the wide-eyed youth of Brooklyn. However, when he entered the classroom that morning of January 14, 1919, Glassberg was unaware of the turmoil that he, as well as the state and nation, would soon experience. "Why is Bolshevism attacked with such hatred in the American press?" asked Edgar Grimmel, a fifteen-year-old student of Glassberg's. "The American people are being misled," his teacher replied. "Government officials are suppressing true reports from American Red Cross observers regarding the Russian Bolsheviki." Glassberg went on to denounce specific news accounts, published in what he labeled "the capitalistic New York press," of Bolsheviks murdering women and children in Russia.
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The article discusses the mysterious circumstances of the death of Andrei Zhdanov who, after the Second World War, appeared poised to succeed Stalin. Zhdanov's sudden removal from the political stage in the summer of 1948 was quickly followed by his death, leading to suspicions of possible foul play. Even though evidence leads to the incontrovertible conclusion that his demise itself was wholly due to natural circumstances, Zhdanov's end provided an opportunity to his Politburo rivals to settle political scores with some of his allies. In the wake of their fall, the remembrance of Zhdanov disappeared from Soviet public discourse.
Article
The little-understood roots of the left offer us the chance to demonstrate a vital continuity. A bridge just now being rediscovered exists between the nineteenth century Euro-American traditions upon which the modern Marxist movements were founded, and the cultures (i.e., the collective, including artistic, expression) of minority populations old and new to the United States. This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website, where most recent articles are published in full. Click here to purchase a PDF version of this article at the Monthly Review website.
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In this insightful new book, Mark Franko explores the many genres of theatrical dancing during the radical decade of the 1930s and their relationship to labor movements, including Fordist and unionist organizational structures, the administrative structures of the Federal Dance and Theatre Project, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and the Communist Party. Franko shows how the structures of labor organization were reproduced and acted out but also profoundly reasoned through in corporeal terms by choreography and performance of the proletarian mass dance, the chorus line of the Ziegfeld Follies and the reflexive backstage musical film, Martha Graham s modern dance, the revolutionary dance movement of the proletarian avant-garde, African-American ethnic opera-ballet, and Lincoln Kirstein s American ballet. The contributions of many important personalities of American theatrical, visual and literary culture are included in this study. Franko's focus extends from the direct impact of performances on audiences to the reviewing, reporting and photography of print journalism."
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Explores the influence of the Civil War in the U.S. on the organization, methodology, and content of the book 'Capital' and its implications for the relevance of Karl Marx's thought in the postmodern world. Image of Marx in Marxist scholarship; Details of several studies conducted by Marx which focus on the Civil War in June 1861; Description of the Marxist conflict between two antagonistic social formations; Impact of the Civil War on the revolutionary movements in Europe.
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The story of how Helen Keller (1880-1967), struck blind and deaf while a toddler, overcame her disabilities with the help of her teacher Anne Sullivan, is a familiar one. William Gibson's drama, The Miracle Worker , made into a movie, popularized that part of her story. She is remembered for accomplishments such as graduating cum laude from Radcliffe College; as an internationally famous advocate for the deaf and blind; and as a celebrity, writing books, appearing in films and on the vaudeville stage. Her friend Mark Twain described her, along with Napoleon, as one of the "two most interesting characters of the nineteenth century." What is usually forgotten, however, is that she was also a prominent, articulate, and passionate voice for socialism. From a condition of profound isolation she grew into an inspired communicator, fully engaged with the world around her. She joined the Socialist Party in 1909 (later she'd join the Industrial Workers of the World, too) and championed her socialist vision while lecturing and writing on the issues of her day—in support of worker's struggles, the Russian Revolution, and women's suffrage, and against the First World War. There was no separation in her mind between her struggle on behalf of the disabled and her struggle for socialism. She attributed the greater portion of the ills experienced by the disabled, and the cause of these disabilities in many cases, to capitalism and industrialism. After 1921, she focused her energies on raising funds for the American Foundation for the Blind but she remained a supporter of radical causes for the rest of her life. This essay appeared in the New York Call , a daily newspaper of the Socialist Party, on November 3, 1912.—The Editors This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website, where most recent articles are published in full. Click here to purchase a PDF version of this article at the Monthly Review website.
Article
Vigilant Conservative Protestants, eager to defend the “American Way of Life,” confronted the threats of Communist expansion in the world and “infiltration” in the United States. Leaders such as Billy Graham, Carl Henry, and J. Edgar Hoover offered pietistic, aggressive, and virile ideals that shared common ground with early Cold War American expectations. In an examination of the forces shaping American Cold War culture, one must consider the amplified voices of Conservative Protestants.
Article
Labor Studies Journal 27.2 (2002) 39-49 I could not agree more with Peter Meiksins's initial observation that the field of labor studies, as represented by the two books under review in this symposium, is housed under a "very large tent"—in this particular case stretching to include the last 75 years of historical time and covering two settings as different as the inter-war United States and contemporary China. Still, this sweeping intellectual canvas only covers a small portion of what constitutes labor studies today. For all of our differences in topic, method, and theoretical positioning, these two contrasting works of sociology represent but a small part of what comprises the growing scholarly world of labor studies, an expanding universe that draws on academics and activists from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds and institutional affiliations. Meiksins expresses a certain ambivalence, which I share, about the resulting "diversity of labor studies." On the positive side, the recurring clash of disciplinary assumptions and perspectives creates—particularly in the presence of practical knowledge gleaned from the trenches of labor activism—a volatile intellectual mix that sustains the field's dynamism. Lacking a canonical set of assumptions at its core, labor studies scholars are free, in Meiksin's words, to "co-exist and learn from one another." The resulting atmosphere of intellectual openness and engagement found in this journal and others is refreshing and worth defending. The flip side of this openness, however, is that the field can be said to lack a basic consensus about its "central focus of inquiry," such that, in Meiksins's words, it "runs the risk of fragmenting into separate or even warring camps" that fail to engage in constructive dialogue with one another. Is this intellectual fragmentation of the field a realistic scenario and if so, does it pose a threat or an opportunity for labor studies scholars? Frankly, I am not in a position to say, though I think it may be useful to inject a note of sobriety into all such celebrations of "openness" for its own sake. Perhaps it is sufficient to bear in mind that—in scholarship as in camping—the larger the tent, the more firmly it must be anchored to the ground. Let me now turn to that one piece of turf under the "big tent" of labor studies that I know best: historical sociological research on the 20th century American labor movement as represented in my book, Battling for American Labor (hereafter Battling). Both Meiksins and Larry Isaac have done a superb job of summarizing the main tenets of my argument. In his more detailed comments, Isaac has gone even further, offering an extended discussion that highlights the study's main implications, while drawing out its larger theoretical and methodological lessons for students of American labor. As renderings of my work, I could not have done it any better myself. So, I can happily resist my authorial impulse to "set the record straight," and focus instead on the intriguing questions and challenges posed by Meiksins and Isaac Battling advances a controversial claim that the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL), despite their contrasting ideological visions and utopian commitments, sustained a syndicalist orientation in their respective practices of unionism. This "syndicalism, pure and simple" was defined by its rejection of the political arena as the preferred terrain of struggle in favor of worker self-activity at the point of production. It was not, as I argued, a syndicalism of ideas but of practice. This "practical syndicalism" defined the broad contours of American trade unionism for at least the first half of the 20th century and, to a diminished extent, down to the present. My argument can be fairly criticized for claiming both too little and too much. It claims too little, one might reasonably conclude, to the extent that this conceptualization of syndicalism is so expansive as to cover most expressions of unionism in the U.S. and elsewhere. After all, if syndicalism is equated with collective efforts undertaken by workers to advance their interests on the job, it is admittedly difficult to see the term's analytic...
Article
In 1959 the United States Information Agency coordinated the American National Exhibition that was sent to Moscow. Included in the displays of American culture, science, and technology was an art exhibit that was intended to highlight the broad range of American painting and sculpture and, by doing so, the freedom of Americans to express themselves as they desired. Chosen by a jury of respected art museum directors, artists, and art professors, the exhibit became embroiled in a controversy instigated by Representative Francis E. Walter, the chair of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Walter charged that more than 50 percent of the artists represented in the exhibition had prior Communist affiliations. He attempted to recall the exhibition from Moscow and convened congressional hearings on the matter. Although the hearings detracted from the use of cultural diplomacy in the Cold War, Walter failed to block the exhibit.
Article
All in all, though the contributors to stengazety were a self-selected group, passionately convinced of the righteousness of their views, they did not always articulate these in politically respectable ways. Like letters to political institutions, or the writing of official autobiographies, notes for the stengazeta were a way in which the masses engaged with the new language of Soviet power. But at the same time they were generators of a new culture in which old and new were bizarrely mixed, sometimes as grotesquely as in the case of the rank-and-file Komsomol member who wrote to the Komsomol's Central Committee in 1925 with the information that he hated Jews because 'you've only to read the 24 Protocols stolen from the Central Committee of the Jewish Elder-Leaders [i.e. the anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion] to find out what their politics are like'. Though the editorial filtering undergone by unsolicited contributions to the stengazeta could ensure conformity to the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation, and weed out gross ideological errors, the semi-professional worker correspondents who supervised the functioning of the genre found drawing a rigid boundary between 'acceptable' and 'unacceptable' utterances even more difficult than professional journalists did. The history of the stengazeta, then, indicates the double-edged nature of the Soviet modernisation programme, which not only inculcated new practices but also sheltered, and at times positively reinforced, traditional patterns of conduct and belief.
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The question of the transition to socialism has plagued Marxists since the 19th century. This paper investigates how two prominent British socialists in the 20th century - E.P. Thompson and Perry Anderson - sought to answer the question "What is to be done?" In doing so it provides a revision of conventional histories of the New Left, arguing that there was far more continuity between the "first" and "second" New Left than has conventionally been supposed. And it suggests that this becomes evident in a comparison between the socialist strategy of Thompson and Anderson in the early-to-mid 1960s. /// La question de la transition au socialisme préoccupe les Marxistes depuis le 19e siècle. Cette thèse mène une enquête sur la façon dont deux socialistes britanniques remarquables au 20e siècle - E.P. Thompson et Perry Anderson - cherchaient à répondre à la question " Qu'est-ce qu'il faut faire? " En faisant cela, la thèse prévoit une révision des histoires conventionnelles de la nouvelle gauche. Elle constate qu'il y a eu beaucoup plus de continuité entre la " première " et la " deuxième " nouvelle gauche qu'il a été conventionnellement supposé. Et elle suggère aussi que cette continuité est évidente dans une comparaison entre la stratégie socialiste de Thompson et celle d'Anderson du début au milieu des années 1960.
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This paper commences with a suggestion that "the British Marxists" may well be a more diverse group than has generally been recognized. It concerns itself with the formation of the first British New Left in the 1950s. The content of the E.P. Thompson and John Saville edited journal, The New Reasoner is examined, with attention paid to the publication's internationalism, its use of critical social science, the accent placed on culture, and the stress on organization. To the extent that The New Reasoner failed in its intended aim of building and sustaining a New Left, the paper closes with some suggestions about the implications of this failure, especially as it related to E.P. Thompson's historiographical contributions, in which the influence of The Making of the English Working Class (London 1963) loomed large. /// Cette thèse commence avec la suggestion que les " marxistes britanniques " faisaient partie d'un groupe beaucoup plus varié qu'il a été généralement reconnu. Elle traite la formation de la première nouvelle gauche britannique dans les années 1950. Le contenu du journal édité de E.P. Thompson et John Saville, The New Reasoner, fait l'objet de l'examen portant attention à l'internationalisme de la publication, à son utilisation de la science sociale critique, à l'accent mis sur la culture et l'emphase sur l'organisation. À l'égard du fait que The New Reasoner a manqué son objectif voulu de bâtir et de maintenir une nouvelle gauche, la thèse se termine avec quelques suggestions sur les implications de cet échec, surtout en relation avec les contributions historiographiques de E.P. Thompson, dans lesquelles l'influence de The Making of the English Working Class (Londres 1963) se fait vraiment sentir.
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Edward thompson developed a distinct view of the transition from capitalism to socialism. Rejecting the concept of a catastrophic change in which the vanguard party would serve as the institutional nucleus of a new society, Thompson argued that capitalism had been "warrened" from within by a network of local, self-governing, working-class institutions that prefigured a socialist world. In the mid-1960s, however, Thompson turned to other matters and failed to resolve the longstanding debate on the Left about the role of trade unions in a transition to socialism. Recent events in Seattle, Québec City, and Genoa suggest that workers and students acting through new institutions improvised for the occasion must work together in actually bringing about revolutionary change. The same pattern shows itself in highpoints of working-class activity in the 20th century, as in Russia in 1905 or Hungary in 1956. /// Edward thompson a élaboré un vue distincte de la transition du capitalisme au socialisme. En refusant la concept d'un changement catastrophique dans lequel le parti d'avant-garde servirait comme le noyau institutionnel d'une nouvelle société, Thompson a constaté que le capitalisme s'est fait " embrouillé " à l'intérieur par un réseau d'institutions locales, autonomes et de la classe ouvrière qui a préfiguré un monde socialiste. Au milieu des années 1960, toutefois, Thompson s'est tourné vers d'autres affaires et a manqué de résoudre le débat invétéré sur la gauche à propos du rôle des syndicats dans une transition au socialisme. Les événements récents à Seattle, Québec et Genoa suggèrent que les travailleurs et les étudiants agissant par l'intermédiaire de nouvelles institutions improvisées pour l'occasion doivent travailler ensemble pour y apporter des changements révolutionnaires. La même tendance s'est révélée aux événements des activités de la classe ouvrière au 20e siècle, comme en Russie en 1905 ou en Hongrie en 1956.