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United States Communist History Bibliography, 2007-2008

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This article is constructed around the counterfactual of Abraham Maslow being made to testify before a McCarthy-type investigation in the US ColdWar era. We set out the extent to which Maslow was, factually, engaged with the internal US Cold War and note his surveillance by the FBI. This lends plausibility to our counterfactual case: there were episodes in Maslow's life and work which rendered him vulnerable to McCarthyite inquisition.Two sets of consequences for humanism in management history of this initial counterfactual event are explored, depending on whether he would or would not have testified. Concluding, we argue that while we counterfactualize Maslow's life, we cannot logically do so for Maslow's hierarchy. That hierarchy's deceitfulness is revealed by its naturalization of a narrative of sequential social/ individual betterment, in which the factual social evil of McCarthyism is unrepresentable.
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The Leninist argument, that the class struggle of the European proletariat was intertwined with the liberation of the `toiling masses of the East', led to an official ideology of Soviet internationalism in which Africans occupied a special place. Depictions of the evils of racism in the US became a staple of Soviet popular culture and a number of black radicals, among them Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson and Claude McKay, flocked to the Soviet Union in the 1920s-30s, inspired by the belief that a society free of racism had been created. While there was some truth to this view, people of African descent in the Soviet Union nevertheless experienced a condescending paternalism, reflected also in their cinematic portrayal and in popular literature and folklore. With the onset of the cold war, young Africans were encouraged to study in Russia, where they received a mixed reaction and, on account of occasional conflict with the authorities and Soviet cultural norms, became symbols of dissent against official Soviet culture. Later, in the perestroika period, Africa became a scapegoat for popular discontent amidst a worsening climate of racism.
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Explores the cultural forces that shaped two pivotal events affecting the entire West Coast: the 1919 Seattle General Strike and the 1934 San Francisco General Strike. In contrast to traditional approaches that downplay culture or focus on the role of socialists or communists, Victoria Johnson shows how strike participants were inspired by distinctly American notions of workplace democracy that can be traced back to the political philosophies of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.
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Don West composed poetry to catalyze political action. The son of a small farmer turned sharecropper from the north Georgia mountains, West first attended Lincoln Memorial University and then Vanderbilt, where he trained as a preacher of the Social Gospel. After cofounding Highlander Folk School in 1932, West served as a Communist organizer in Georgia, North Carolina, and Kentucky through 1937. From 1938 to 1941, he worked as a Congregationalist minister in Ohio and Georgia, and during World War II he earned national recognition as a public school administrator who taught democracy in rural Georgia. Yet at each step of his varied career, West had written and published poems. He mobilized all his skill as a poet (and an activist and organizer) to help create a society where the working and lower classes could join together across categories of work, race, gender, or locality to struggle for political, social, and economic rights. In May 1946, West’s poetry became the center of his work when the leftist, New York press Boni and Gaer brought out West’s Clods of Southern Earth as their first book. The book selected the strongest of his poems from the previous fifteen years, and its publication (along with his work as an educator) earned West a professorship of Human Understanding and Citizenship at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.
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Political movements develop a certain momentum that is uniquely sustained by discourse and other cultural synergies, as well as compelled by the usual instruments of organizational and material influence. It should be useful, therefore, to trace certain themes in the diverse oppositional culture of American communism as a way of finding out more about the movement as a whole and its influence on American life. Culture in this sense is primarily a way of characterizing the world-views of the adherents of a particular political movement — the ways in which they organized the memory of their concrete experiences so that there is some commonality and cohesiveness of perception. These common perceptions, traceable in part through language, idiom and myth, in turn help to establish a template for action at a collective level.
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Miracles and Sacrilege is the story of the epochal conflict between censorship and freedom in film, recounted through an in-depth analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court?s decision striking down a government ban on Roberto Rossellini?s film The Miracle (1950). In this extraordinary case, the Court ultimately chose to abandon its own longstanding determination that film comprised a mere ?business? unworthy of free-speech rights, declaring for the first time that the First Amendment barred government from banning any film as ?sacreligious.? Using legal briefs, affidavits, and other court records, as well as letters, memoranda, and other archival materials to elucidate what was at issue in the case, William Bruce Johnson also analyzes the social, cultural, and religious elements that form the background of this complex and hard-fought controversy, focusing particularly on the fundamental role played by the Catholic Church in the history of film censorship. Tracing the development of the Church in the United States, Johnson discusses the reasons it found The Miracle sacrilegious and how it attained the power to persuade civil authorities to ban it. The Court?s decision was not only a milestone in the law of church-state relations, but it paved the way for a succession of later decisions which gradually established a firm legal basis for freedom of expression in the arts.
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This chapter explores how African Americans forged solidarity with Japan in the years between 1917 and 1922 by focusing on Hubert Harrison’s relationship with the Japanese in New Negro movement mobilization. Harrison (1883–1927), an African Caribbean immigrant from St. Croix of the Dutch West Indies and more famously known as the “father of Harlem radicalism,” knew very well why Japan mattered to African America and the darker world during and after World War I. This chapter argues that Harrison was the central figure that constituted the “New Negro” as a political category of struggle among Harlem-based intellectual-activists; as the “voice of Harlem radicalism,” he was mainly responsible for communicating the categorical imperatives of the New Negro to reach out, within, across, and beyond myriad Afrodiasporic experiences and communities. It also considers how, in the immediate aftermath of World War I, the iconography of Japan as the New Negro of the Pacific helped to open another space to critique white supremacy: feminism.
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When I was a boy I always assumed that I would grow up to be both a scientist and a Red. Rather than face a problem of combining activism and scholarship, I would have had a very difficult time trying to separate them. 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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Populism, as both ideology and social movement, is nearly a universal, albeit sporadic, feature of all modern democratic political systems. Populism is also arguably the only example of an indigenous radical mass movement in America and, after the discredited state of socialism, the only continuing source of democratic protest. Yet populism does not enjoy a central place in democratic theory. In fact, many writers contend that when populism arises, it has a destabilizing effect on democratic regimes. Even when others attempt to credit populism, they acknowledge the existence of significant negative features. This essay reviews the contested status of populism and suggests a greater appreciation of its positive contribution to democratic theory can be reached through an analysis of Philip Roth's "American Trilogy." Like Roth, students of populism place their assessments in the context of historical narratives. Thus, Roth's fictional recreations of post-war America can be compared to the analyses of "populist moments" in America as analyzed by both populist critics and defenders. Unlike most democratic theorists, however, Roth is willing to explore the nature and source of populist anger and its related expressions, and thus to expose its poignant dimensions. By appending Roth's insights, it is possible to ameliorate populism's contested status in democratic theory by acknowledging the positive role of emotion, properly understood, in political protest.
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Although William Faulkner's Light in August was written in - and its main action occurs during - the early years of the Great Depression, the novel presents a much different economic surround. Instability constitutive of a society in economic crisis is transferred to the novel's character system, one that sees instability and violence as the effects of a fanaticism deriving from flawed character, rather than from class struggles inflamed by socioeconomic catastrophe. For the novel's aesthetics to cohere, the Depression, in numerous particulars - from the political economy of the South to details about the lumber industry - had to be obscured or erased. These particulars would otherwise disable the anti-radical politics embedded in the character system, a paradigm in which social change is brought about naturally and gradually by the "best whites," politically moderate native southerners, assisted by the "best blacks."
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The U.S. trade union movement finds itself today on a global battlefield filled with landmines and littered with the bodies of various social movements and struggles. Candid, incisive, and accessible, Solidarity Divided is a critical examination of labor's current crisis and a plan for a bold new way forward into the twenty-first century. Bill Fletcher and Fernando Gapasin, two longtime union insiders whose experiences as activists of color grant them a unique vantage on the problems now facing U.S. labor, offer a remarkable mix of vivid history and probing analysis. They chart changes in U.S. manufacturing, examine the onslaught of globalization, consider the influence of the environment on labor, and provide the first broad analysis of the fallout from the 2000 and 2004 elections on the U.S. labor movement. Ultimately calling for a wide-ranging reexamination of the ideological and structural underpinnings of today's labor movement, this is essential reading for understanding how the battle for social justice can be fought and won.
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Lorraine Hansberry's concerns about peace issues have been largely neglected in previous scholarship. Absorbing the views of the Communist left of the post-World War II era, particularly those of Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois, and coupling these with her personal abhorrence of war and violence, she expressed a commitment to peace that was evident from the Progressive Party campaign of 1948 until her untimely death in 1965. Her focus on opposing U. S. Cold War policies — including support for European colonialism, the war in Korea, and the buildup of nuclear weapons — was of necessity combined with opposition to McCarthyist measures intended to silence such opposition. Hansberry was not alone in making a long-term commitment to the "fight for peace" (as it was called during the 1948 presidential campaign), and recognizing the way in which she and her contemporaries linked peace and freedom enriches their legacy.
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This article examines the representation of Cuban refugees during the 1960s and 1970s in the USA. Positioning the Cuban refugees as `ideologically' valuable, the US government undertook a substantial public relations campaign that sought to secure public mandate for incoming refugees. In order to avoid a national anti-Cuban backlash, the US government and the popular media alike constructed `positive' portrayals of incoming Cuban refugees. These representations played up the refugees' purportedly universal anti-communist stance and the socially and racially desirable qualities of these `good immigrants', who were perceived as `white' and middle to upper class. In order to contextualize these representations, a history of US—Cuban relations and mid-20th-century refugee policies are discussed. Thus anti-communism, whiteness, and middle-class attributes were strategically linked and broadcasted by the US government and public media sources alike.
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This article traces the development of the FBI’s investigation of Hollywood during World War II. Motivated by a fear of Communist propaganda, the FBI initiated this surveillance before the onset of the Cold War. The Bureau conflated the cultural struggle over film with national security concerns. Justifying its investigation as a defense of democracy, the FBI data collected and formulated during these years would soon contribute to the stifling of the freedom of the screen.
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This article is a close reading of the late philosopher Richard Rorty's critique of the 1960s and of several prominent New Left intellectuals in his book Achieving Our Country. Rorty argues that the depth of animus generated by these American critiques of US foreign policy and society as well as by the turn toward identity-based politics was too severe and had the long-term effect of weakening and undermining progressive and left-wing political traditions within the United States. The article questions both Rorty's representation of the legacy of New Left intellectuals, as well as Rorty's own personal political positioning and identifications. Rather than providing a way forward, or reconciliation between differing progressive traditions in the United States, the article argues that Rorty continues in the tradition of sectarian debate and rejection of differing political positions. Thus, Rorty ends up reproducing the very sort of critique that he seeks to transcend and move beyond.
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Between 1945 and 1991, tension between the USA, its allies, and a group of nations led by the USSR, dominated world politics. This period was called the Cold War – a conflict that stopped short to a full-blown war. Benefiting from the recent research of newly open archives, the Encyclopedia of the Cold War discusses how this state of perpetual tensions arose, developed, and was resolved. This work examines the military, economic, diplomatic, and political evolution of the conflict as well as its impact on the different regions and cultures of the world. Using a unique geopolitical approach that will present Russian perspectives and others, the work covers all aspects of the Cold War, from communism to nuclear escalation and from UFOs to red diaper babies, highlighting its vast-ranging and lasting impact on international relations as well as on daily life. Although the work will focus on the 1945-1991 period, it will explore the roots of the conflict, starting with the formation of the Soviet state, and its legacy to the present day.
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Applying the theories of Guy Hocquenghem, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Louis Althusser, this essay identifies Robert Coover's novel The Public Burning and Norman Mailer's novels of the sixties, An American Dream and Why Are We in Vietnam?, as cold war critical national narratives. The essay discusses the crises of masculinity provoked in the American fifties and sixties by anticommunist discourse, which rhetorically linked communism and homosexuality (and thus, in the psychiatric and popular imaginary, effeminacy) as "perversions." These novels critique the way homosociality functions to consolidate patriarchal power, and the resulting institutional homophobia, homosexual panic, and violence. These concerns center on the anus and anality, a trope signifying male homosexuality, and subverting the dominant discourse. The essay also discusses Mailer's and critic Leslie Fiedler's homophobia and concludes that Coover, with his use of subversive Bakhtinian carnival laughter, presents a more devastating, comprehensive critique of cold war rhetoric than Mailer.
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Scholars have paid a great deal of attention to the Sharecroppers' Roadside Demonstration by evicted farmworkers, who camped out along rural highways in Missouri's southeastern Bootheel in January 1939. This article differs from previous works by focusing on Fannie Cook and Marcus "Al" Murphy and their interactions with the sharecroppers. Cook, an affluent Jewish woman, and Murphy, an African-American member of the Communist Party, both participated in the St. Louis Committee for the Rehabilitation of the Sharecroppers. After state officials removed the demonstrators from the highways, Cook traveled to the Bootheel to observe conditions there and wrote a novel about what she saw. She also helped support the Sharecroppers' Camp, or Cropperville, a privately funded refuge for displaced farmworkers. Murphy came to St. Louis in the mid-1930s to teach farmworkers how to organize. When the demonstrators went out onto the roadsides, he worked with labor organizations to collect and deliver supplies. Ultimately, the connections between these urban supporters and rural protesters were personal, not ideological, reminding us that history is not about abstractions, but people.
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This article critically examines the Sojourners for Truth and Justice, a short-lived black women's radical protest organization, and its human rights agenda during the early Cold War. The first and only group in the Communist Left led by African American women, the Sojourners formulated a black left feminism, a distinct politics that combined Communist Party positions on race, gender, and class with black nationalism and black radical women's own lived experiences that paid special attention to the intersectional, transnational nature of their oppression across the diaspora. The Sojourners attempted to mobilize black women against Jim Crow and U.S. Cold War domestic and foreign policy and to expose violations of African Americans' human rights before the United Nations. Sojourners' affiliations with the Communist Left coupled with their human rights agenda prompted cold warriors to view the group as subversive. In addition, the Communist Party's ambivalence toward the Sojourners contributed to the organization's demise by late 1952. Excavating the understudied group complicates the history of African American women's activism, black feminism, American communism, human rights, and the Cold War by revealing the ways in which a small group of black women radicals invented their own unique understandings of liberation and human rights during the McCarthy period. It also illustrates how the Red Scare silenced black women radicals at a crucial juncture in the emergent civil rights movement and kept them from the global political stage. The Sojourners, moreover, provide a lens for appreciating the continuities and the breaks in the postwar black freedom movement and in modern black feminism.
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The spread of the term “male chauvinist,” coined in the United States around 1934, reveals the crucial work done in a social movement — in this case the second wave of American feminism — by what we call “everyday activists.” Everyday activists may not interact with the world of formal politics, but they take actions in their own lives to redress injustices that a contemporary social movement has made salient. The interplay between organized and everyday activists creates an evolutionary dynamic of “organized activist variation” and “everyday activist selection.” Organized activists in tightly-knit and protected enclaves (such as those in the American Communist Party in the 1930s or the feminist movement in the late 1960s) produce a cornucopia of counter-hegemonic concepts. Everyday activists then select the concepts they will use, primarily for the purpose of persuasion, in everyday talk.
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From the early 1930s through the 1960s, the mainstream press in Tennessee relied on the narrative of anti-communism to oppose the labor and desegregation movements. But by 1965, The Knoxville Journal remained as the only newspaper of eight in the state to continue to prosecute the social changes promised by the Civil Rights Movement in those terms. This study applies James Carey's principle of combining mainstream and journalism history to interpret the social meanings of the news. By focusing coverage of the state legislature's last attempt to investigate alleged communist activity at the locally based Highlander Research and Education Center, this textual analysis of the Journal's coverage from 1965 to 1967 shows how the movement's changes were already inscribed on the state's dominant institutions a year before the movement ended in Memphis. The analysis interprets the negotiation of social change in terms of Anthony Giddens's theory of structuration.
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This article focuses on the career of the Duala man Joseph Bilé in order to investigate the development of pan-African and anti-colonial political groups amongst Germany's black population in the period 1918-35. During and after the first world war, the men involved in these formal and informal organizations claimed the role of spokesmen for African interests in debates about the fate of Germany's colonies and led moves for the political defence of the interests of former colonial subjects in Germany itself. Tentative transnational links would be established with similar groups in France and in Cameroon. Educated in eastern Germany and a veteran of the first world war, Bilé was a central member of both the Hamburg-based Afrikanischer Hilfsverein and, later, the communist-influenced Liga zur Verteidigung der Negerrasse in Berlin. As a member of the German Communist Party, Bilé's political activities saw him become involved in the Comintern-organized Scottsboro campaign in the early 1930s, as well as being sent to Moscow by the Comintern. With the coming to power of the National Socialists in 1933, a return to Germany was no longer possible and Bilé eventually found himself stranded in Paris and struggling to return to Cameroon. The article places Bilé's biography in the wider context of the experiences and survival strategies of Germany's black diaspora and their struggle for political recognition and self-definition, as well as economic survival.
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This article argues that the decline of the public housing program in the early 1950s has an overlooked political dimension-the role of the Red Scare/McCarthyism. Public housing advocates had used social democratic reform to secure the program. After the 1949 Housing Act, public housing foes were able to sequester the expansion of public housing legislation by turning to the local level. Many municipal policy battles attempted to limit the acceptance of federal public housing by means of Red Scare tactics. This is illustrated by the Los Angeles public housing war, one of the most vicious Red Scares of the domestic cold war. The Red Scare was used to cancel the ten-thousand-unit public housing contract with the federal government and to reverse city policy by toppling the pro-public-housing mayoral regime. Public housing's local defeats were circulated back to the national level, resulting in the demise of the program.
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The Yiddish American poet H. Leyvik (1888–1962) stated in 1923, that the Yiddish press in America was “the greatest enemy of Yiddish literature,” and that it only posed as interested in developing Yiddish culture,1 Meylekh Ravich (1893–1976) responded from Warsaw that the situation there was not much better.2 The Jewish educator Yisroel Rubin (1890–1954) warned shortly afterwards that “the press swallows our literature”3 and that the “greed” of the newspapers was a real danger to Yiddish literature and its creators. The rationale behind this was that in order to make a living, the writers had to waste their time writing shallow journalism. A question that arises is how far do these expressions reflect the reality of the period in which they were written? Assuming that such a trend existed, it may be asked whether it was a new phenomenon or the continuation of an existing state. To answer these questions it is necessary to look back to the beginnings of the modern Yiddish press in Eastern Europe that emerged with the appearance of Alexander Tsederboym’s (1816–1893) Kol-mevaser [A Voice of Tidings] in 1862, as a Yiddish supplement to his Hebrew weekly, Hamelits [The Advocate] (Odessa). Besides the possible profitable aspect of a popular paper in the spoken language, Tsederboym’s initiative also had clear didactic and socio-political aims. He hoped to bring the Jewish masses to forsake the use of Yiddish in favor of German or Russian. It was only at a later stage, and due to the campaign in favor of Yiddish that was led in Kol-mevaser by Yehoshua Mordekhay Lifshits (1829–1878), that Tsederboym came to realize that Yiddish could be an aim in itself.4 Tsederboym included literary works in his newspaper with the intention of culturally advancing the Jewish reading public. In its first year the newspaper published translations of poems by Gabriel Risser and Alexander Pushkin. However, the first significant contribution made by this newspaper to the development of Yiddish literature was at the end of 1864 with the publication, in installments, of Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh’s (1836–1917) first literary work in Yiddish, Dos kleyne mentshele [The Little Man], where the famous character of Mendele the book-seller was first introduced. Abramovitsh, who was already known as a Hebrew maskil, signed only with his initials. In his memoirs he recalled the doubts he had regarding the use of Yiddish for literary purposes, and how surprised he was by the great success the novel had among its readers. In flowery Biblical language he described his deep emotions towards the despicable Jewish “zhargon” and his decision to include Yiddish in his writing.5 Another writer who published for the first time in Yiddish was Yitskok Yoel Linetski (1839–1915). His Dos poylishe yingl [The Polish Boy] in Kol-mevaser was published in several issues of the journal in 1871 and, like Dos kleyne mentshele, was immediately reprinted as a separate booklet for the benefit of those who had missed reading it in the newspaper. Besides this anti-hassidic novel, Linetski also wrote feuilletons, which were the most attractive part of the paper after the serialized novels. Thus, Kol-mevaser introduced the Yiddish reader not only to “proper” literature, but also to the feuilleton. As in the contemporary Russian press, authors, who would later become well known, wrote feuilletons. These were based on lively topics from everyday life that were draped in a literary style and read with great enjoyment.6 In his paper Alexander Tsederboym published a number of works by Avrom Ber Gotlober, such as a translation of a fable by Krilov (1863) and most importantly his anti Hassidic satire Der gilgul [The Reincarnation] (1871). Poems by Avrom Goldfaden were also published there from 1863 onwards, as were a poem, a feuilleton and a translated story by the famous Hebrew writer Yehuda Leyb Gordon (1866, 1868, 1872). Because of the exceptional and somewhat revolutionary character of Kol-mevaser, it served as a platform for female writers, where they were able to express their criticism regarding current Jewish social affairs and to show their abilities as writers or translators from German, French and Russian. Unfortunately...
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This article examines the United Automobile Workers’ Union (UAW) efforts to organize the aircraft industry, 1937–1942. It argues that the North American Aviation Strike in Inglewood, California in 1941 played a pivotal role in determining the union's fate in the industry. Following the controversial strike national UAW leaders seized control over the Aviation Organizing Campaign, placing the drive clearly in the hands of the union's auto interests. The move removed local leaders, and alienated a workforce that long cast a suspicious eye on the UAW. Ultimately, as events at Curtiss-Wright in Buffalo, New York show, the decision greatly hindered the UAW efforts in aircraft and opened the door to fierce competition from the International Association of Machinists.