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United States & comparative communist history: Bibliography 2003

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The British Communist Party continues to attract the attention of historians who have produced divergent assessments of its politics, organization, personnel and activities. This article critically reviews the literature: the concentration is on detailed studies which have appeared since the 1980s. It scrutinizes the apologetic literature produced by party historians prior to, and in response to, the critical studies which appeared from the late 1950s. It explores this pioneering academic work, now too frequently discounted, before addressing recent research often informed by reaction against it. The paper concludes that this revisionist approach tends to diminish the crucial Russian dimension to Communist politics and neglects the decisive, primary, strategic control Moscow exercised and the distinctiveness of the party in British politics.
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The International Lenin in School in Moscow trained British Communists for leadership positions from 1926 to 1937. This article relates the school and its programmes to their context, the development of Stalinism in Russia and the Russification of the Third International and its affiliates. It explores the organization and regime of the school, its purposes, pedagogy and curriculum. It provides for the first time a detailed listing of British students and explores their background and experience before entering the school. It proceeds to sketch the subsequent careers of a sample of the graduates. The paper pays particular attention to women students. The conclusion is that the training was far from successful in creating Marxist theorists or leaders. But it had a substantial impact in cementing loyalty to the British party and the Russian regime.
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From Partisan Review April 2003 ARTHUR KOESTLER WRITES in his first volume of memoirs, Arrow in the Blue, that he would gladly exchange a hundred readers from his own time for just one of the next century. That's an intriguing trade for any writer, and Koestler probably meant it. But it is only about twenty years since his joint suicide with his wife Cynthia, and it is hard to see where that reader will come from. He was a Cold War literary celebrity, and the Cold War is over. His politics were shaped by the mass upheavals of the twentieth century, but the mass technologies of mass upheaval have been superseded. Jaded by communism, he argued voluminously against deterministic notions of scientific discovery, but the epistemological wars, fought out in academic circles, have been won mainly without him. As a moral writer, Koestler warned of the dangers of devotion--to the Party, the tribe, scientific "progress"--and yet his younger and healthy wife ("utterly devoted," his friends said) was found dead by his side. Darkness at Noon was grippingly told, but his other political novels have the quality of a master's thesis with added characters to personify arguments. His last polemical books in the philosophy of science did not quite defend, but did attack the attackers of parapsychology and Lamarckianism. And returning late in life to the Jewish question, he tried to prove against Zionist wisdom (and as if it mattered) that European Jews were actually descended from Slavic converts. Why bother with him? Most who do have found in him a compass pointing away from the ideological claims of twentieth-century communism and cannot resist framing his life along these lines. This approach is reasonable enough but also a missed opportunity. For the appeal of communism was never simply in the way it organized the political landscape in terms of an elaborate ideology. Communism's appeal--and Koestler has been indispensable to our seeing this--was also to a particular kind of internal landscape, to a cast of mind that is drawn to the order promised by elaborate ideology itself and, indeed, may be most distinctive for the way it denies internal landscapes altogether.
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This article investigates the remarkably productive alternative historical culture which emerged in East Germany after 1990 and its links to the official historical culture dominated by West Germans. This alternative historical culture in the East is supported very largely by historians of the former GDR who lost their jobs following the evaluations and restructuring of the GDR's system of higher education in the wake of reunification. It finds expression in a multitude of historical associations, some of which are briefly mentioned. The historians, who have been active here, have been drawing up a balance sheet of their own for the historical sciences in the GDR. The article explores the way in which they engage with their own past as historians in the GDR and with the past of the state and the party with which they, for the most part, identified. Finally, the article analyses the diverse ways in which this alternative historical culture has assessed the revolution of 1989 and the subsequent reunification process. It concludes by asking about the prospects for this alternative historical culture in the medium to long term.
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After World War II, Weirton Steel remained a critical barrier to the unionization of the steel industry. Weirton kept unions at bay through a plan of high wages, welfare, and company unionism, which it combined with an authoritarian style of management. Forbidden from using intimidation by the federal courts, Weirton substituted a celebration of Americanism that associated freedom with limited government and an absence of unionism. Foreseeing a union drive in 1950, Weirton staged a pageant to dramatize its version of patriotism. The steelworkers countered with a competing version that stressed trade unionism as a way to give workers a democratic voice. This article reveals how postwar patriotic pageantry was rooted in the struggle between labor and capital.
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In 1913 Socialist Party (SP) leader Morris Hillquit contended that the United States had embarked on the path toward socialism. He argued that the “modern principle of control and regulation of industries by the government indicates the complete collapse of the purely capitalist ideal of non-interference, and signifies that the government may change from an instrument of class rule and exploitation into one of social regulation and protection.” He then asserted that like “the industries, the government is being socialized. The general tendency of both is distinctly towards a Socialist order.” This fit with his understanding of the stages a nation underwent as it progressed first from a society with little to no state involvement in the economy, to a social democracy with state regulation of corporations and protections for workers, to, finally, a socialist state where a government which the people elected managed the economy.
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Historiography on the intersection of sport and politics is a vast field within which six major areas can be identified. 1. German, Italian and — to a lesser extent — Japanese historians have written extensively about the role of sports under fascist regimes. 2. There have also been numerous efforts to analyse the role of sport in communist societies (as well as considerable attention to `workers' sports' in the 1920s and 1930s). 3. Many historians have dealt with sport and the politics of race and ethnicity (especially, but not exclusively, in South Africa, the USA, Australia and Ireland). 4. European and American historians have also written extensively and with considerable passion about the politics of gender discrimination. 5. The Olympic Games, which their founder intended to be a political force, have been a fifth focus of historical scrutiny. 6. A small but prolific group of French and German neo-Marxist historians and sociologists have argued that modern sports are a mirror image of capitalist institutions and are, therefore, inherently repressive. These are all areas of intense and intensive historical attention.
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This study is a comparative essay about the ‘Cold War culture’ of the two main communist parties of Western Europe, the French and the Italian, during the tense period of 1947–53. Both parties had a common Marxist ideology and used similar elements of propaganda: anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, defence of ‘national independence’, defence of the Soviet Union, and the struggle for peace. However, while the French communist ideology was completely focused on the Soviet position, the Italians tried to maintain a limited autonomy for their parliamentary activity and their reactions to national issues. The reception and use of communist ideology and propaganda by some social categories of population, especially among the working classes, is then examined. The essay concludes with a reflexion on the notion of the ‘culture of war’ in France and Italy.
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Mainstream social scientists and historians argue that because Marx's prediction of socialism's triumph over capitalism failed, and because class consciousness and, class conflict have been comparatively weak in the United States, Marx's class theory is largely irrelevant to understanding American politics and society. U. S. history in the 1930s, however, reveals that class conflict has been as central in the United States as in other industrial capitalist societies. Before a fully developed Marxist theory of America can be developed, the importance of class must first be established. Choosing the 1930s loads the dice in favor of class, but in fact, while the class struggle varies in overtness and intensity in different historical periods (as Marx knew, full well), class and class conflict are crucial to understanding every period of American history. In any case, a theory that-denies the importance of class cannot explain such a significant era as the 1930s, which in itself calls into question claims-that Marx has little to offer students of the United States.
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Clement Greenberg's Modernist Painting, written in spring 1960 and broadcast world wide as a radio programme by the Voice of America in February 1961, has enjoyed a canonical status in many accounts of art and art criticism since the Second World War. Greenberg's version of Modernism has also been critiqued for its euro-centric, gendered and classed characteristics. This article neither reviews these critiques nor revisits the arguments of Modernist aesthetics and apologists. Rather, it considers: the circumstances in which Modernist Painting was written; its ideological place within values and institutions in the United States during the Cold War; and its contribution to the contested definitions of 'American culture' constituted by American cultural relations abroad. First, the article corrects errors and misconceptions about the original date of Modernist Painting and considers the historical implications of which version is cited. The social and political circumstances of Greenberg's revisions and changes to his text are explored. So, too, are major aspects of the political history of his invitation, by Lamar Dodd, to contribute to the Forum series sponsored by the USIA's Voice of America.
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The ‘politics of productivity’, an attempt to raise levels of industrial productivity in Europe by transcending class conflict and creating a consensus in society for economic growth, was a prominent element in Marshall Plan thinking. It constituted a central focus of the European Recovery Program's labour programme administered by American trade union officials who staffed the Marshall Plan's Labor Division. This programme was initially supported by the American Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), until hostility to collective bargaining in the local business community, combined with the unwillingness of senior Marshall Plan administrators to insist on collective bargaining as the price of receiving American assistance, blighted the project. This contribution contrasts the CIO's initial support for the productivity programme with the American Federation of Labour's (AFL) more direct strategy of combating communism at the level of organization and propaganda. It concludes by describing how the competing claims of these two American labour organizations for US government funding became a significant factor in American labour's conduct of Cold War politics.
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positions: east asia cultures critique 11.1 (2003) 217-239 —W. E. B. Du Bois, Crisis, 1930 —W. E. B. Du Bois, "I Sing to China," 1959 W. E. B. Du Bois's lifelong advocacy for the liberation and independence of Asian countries is both the least appreciated aspect of his political career and the one perhaps most central to its leftist trajectory. Between his support for Japan in its 1904 war with Russia and his second and final trip to Maoist China in 1959, Asia was for Du Bois a literal and figurative site of his intellectual evolution from "fabian socialist" (Adolph Reed) to revolutionary Marxist. Asia was the twin pole of Du Bois's black intellectual world: after 1900, he imagined the U.S. "color line" as the "world color line," extending into China, Japan, and India, and he considered Pan-Africanism and Pan-Asianism as mutually constituting global struggles. Du Bois's attention to and support for radical Indian political movements near the turn of the century was likewise his first serious intellectual identification with Marxian politics. Thus it is not surprising that during and after World War I, Du Bois found himself in the midst of a national, and international, debate over the relationship of Asia and Asian national movements to the West, including Africa. Indeed by 1921 Du Bois had become the target of and impetus for arguments within the United States over two vitally linked discourses enveloping this debate: orientalism and Eurocentric race theory, on one hand, and bolshevism and anticommunism on the other. This essay will explore Du Bois's writings during this period as a means of measuring his role in and contribution to these debates. In particular, it will examine Du Bois's 1928 novel Dark Princess as a symbolic configuration of Du Bois's political engagement with three central movements and events of the interwar era: the Indian home rule and national movements, the emergence of black radicalism in the United States, and the role of black and Asian radicals in revising Soviet policy on both "Negro" and Asian liberation during the formation of the third International after 1919 and the crucial 1922 and 1928 Cominterns in Moscow. Dark Princess, I will argue, is Du Bois's attempt to synthesize these events as they unfolded in Moscow, Berlin, China, India, and the United States, the sites most prominent on Dark Princess's geopolitical map. In addition, the novel demonstrates Du Bois transforming his famous metaphor of "double consciousness" into a trope for the most hotly debated political questions of his time for radicals: proletarian internationalism and the role and function of the nation. Finally, it reveals how Du Bois's conception of orientalism was wedded to a patriarchal or paternal ideology inflected by contemporary debates about female subalterns in the United States and India in particular, and by Du Bois's own romantic conceptions of the Asiatic. The significance of Du Bois's political project in Dark Princess is thus several-fold. First, it marks a continuation and departure in the history of African American intellectual engagement with the discourse of orientalism, an engagement crucial for later generations of African American radicals and intellectuals. Second, it demonstrates the scope and depth of African American participation in internationalist political debates during and after World War I, a history recently beginning to be re-revealed. Third, it predicts a series of political decisions and maneuvers by black and Asian radicals away from the trajectory of an "American century" toward a...