Originally written in letter form in response to inquiries from American historian Theodore Draper as he was researching his The Roots of American Communism (1957) and American Communism and Soviet Russia (1960), this work by Cannon, by then a leading figure in the Socialist Workers Party (US), recalls Cannon's involvement in the first ten years of the Communist Party of the United States, from its founding in 1919 until his expulsion in 1928 for his attempt to found a Left Opposition in the Party sympathetic to Leon Trotsky's critique of the direction of the Comintern. In addition to recounting and critiquing the activities of and debates within the Communist Party in detail for Draper, Cannon also included reflections on the Communist Party's approach to what was then known as the "Negro question," an assessment of Eugene V. Debs (and the socialist movement of his time) and the Industrial Workers of the World (of which Cannon was a former member) as precursors to the communist movement, and a critique of Draper's histories of American communism. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
First Ten Years of American Communism: Report of a Participantby James P. Cannon, Theodore Draper (Preface by)
Preface by Theodore Draper, photographs, index. Now
Stalinism has worked mightily to obliterate the honorable record of American communism in its pioneer days. Yet the Communist Party wrote such a chapter too, and the young militants of the new generation ought to know about it and claim it for their own. It belongs to them.”—James P. Cannon, 1962.
Preface by Theodore Draper, photographs, index. Now with enlarged type.
- Pathfinder Press GA
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This is the book to find out about the impact of the Russian Revolution in the U.S., before Stalinism. Cannon was the most important of the original American communist leaders¿and a great writer to boot. In his easy and colorful style, he focuses on the critical importance of the Russian Revolution for his generation of working class militants. Those who rallied to its banner gave a vital impetus to all later fighters for social change. Among the most valuable lessons are how the communists defended all class-war prisoners, regardless of their adherence to communism, including the story about Big Bill Haywood and the International Labor Defense. Also interesting, is Cannon¿s appendix on the ¿Negro Question¿ (as it was then known). I¿m convinced by his thesis¿that the Russian Revolution and the existence of a U.S. communist party had a liberating effect on the Black struggle in the 1920s.