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The Soviet World of American Communism
     

The Soviet World of American Communism

5.0 2
by Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, Kyrill M. Anderson
 

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The Secret World of American Communism (1995), filled with revelations about Communist party covert operations in the United States, created an international sensation. Now the American authors of that book, along with Soviet archivist Kyrill M. Anderson, offer a second volume of profound social, political, and historical importance.

Based on documents

Overview

The Secret World of American Communism (1995), filled with revelations about Communist party covert operations in the United States, created an international sensation. Now the American authors of that book, along with Soviet archivist Kyrill M. Anderson, offer a second volume of profound social, political, and historical importance.

Based on documents newly available from Russian archives, The Soviet World of American Communism conclusively demonstrates the continuous and intimate ties between the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) and Moscow. In a meticulous investigation of the personal, organizational, and financial links between the CPUSA and Soviet Communists, the authors find that Moscow maintained extensive control of the CPUSA, even of the American rank and file. The widely accepted view that the CPUSA was essentially an idealistic organization devoted to the pursuit of social justice must be radically revised, say the authors. Although individuals within the organization may not have been aware of Moscow’s influence, the leaders of the organization most definitely were.

The authors explain and annotate ninety-five documents, reproduced here in their entirety or in large part, and they quote from hundreds of others to reveal the actual workings of the American Communist party. They show that:

• the USSR covertly provided a large part of the CPUSA budget from the early 1920s to the end of the 1980s;

• Moscow issued orders, which the CPUSA obeyed, on issues ranging from what political decisions the American party should make to who should serve in the party leadership;

• the CPUSA endorsed Stalin’s purges and the persecution of Americans living in Russia.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Histories of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) all build on Theodore Draper's classic The American Communist Party: A Critical History, 1919-1957 (1957. o.p.). The recent opening of Soviet archives to scholars has generated a new spate of books. This one is a companion to the authors' earlier The Secret World of American Communism (Yale Univ., 1995), and follows the same format of interspersing reproduced documents with well-informed narrative. The authors focus on the CPUSA's relationship with the Communist International (Comintern), whose mission was to spread world communism from its inception in 1919. The Comintern, they conclude, closely directed the CPUSA, allowing little independence in the American party's daily functioning. The book concentrates on the period from about 1920 until Khrushchev's secret 1956 speech that condemned Stalinism and served to undermine communism's international cohesiveness. This valuable synthesis will complement Albert Fried's recent Communism in America: A History in Documents (Columbia Univ., 1997). Recommended.Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Sam Tanenhaus
"[This book] is the first important study of the relations between American Communists and theUSSR since Theodore Draper's 'American Communism and Soviet Russia', published in 1960." -- New York Review of Books
David Plotke
Klehr and his co-authors make their point powerfully...If Klehr's work is unlikely to make converts, it is useful in clarifying the historical record. And it may encourage discussion of significant issues.
Political Science Quarterly
Kirkus Reviews
With the publication of this book, the debate about whether the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) was a genuinely home-grown movement or a tool of the Soviet Union has been finally answered. Based on the archives of the Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow, Klehr and Haynes (coauthors of The Secret World of American Communism, not reviewed) and Anderson (a Russian archivist) make it clear that, throughout the period from its founding in 1919 until the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943, the CPUSA was heavily funded by the Soviet Union, which selected and paid its leaders, and dictated its strategy. The volume doesn't purport to be a comprehensive history of the party but concentrates on the relationship with Moscow. It is clear that that subordination damaged the ability of the party to make the alliances and adjustments that would have increased its already considerable influence in the labor movement, where by the end of WW II Communists led or helped lead 18 CIO affiliates. While large numbers of individual members became disillusioned and resigned, the party obediently followed every twist in Soviet strategy, from the Nazi-Soviet Pact to its repudiation when Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Most shameful of all, the authors note, there is not a single document in which an official of the CPUSA tried to save anyone from Stalin's purges. Indeed, there were occasions in which they leveled accusations that sent Americans to the Gulag. This belief in Soviet perfection "gave American Communists strength," convincing them that it was possible to create an American utopia; the Khrushchev revelations about Stalin's crimes lost the party more than three-quarters of itsmembership. This is one of those seminal books that do not merely contribute to a debate, but effectively end it.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300071504
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
02/17/1998
Series:
Annals of Communism Series
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt


CHAPTER ONE

Orders from the Comintern

THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL sent thousands of written instructions to the Communist Party of the United States of America. Some were short, only a paragraph or two, while others went on for pages. Some were general enough to allow American Communists to interpret them to suit local conditions, while others were highly detailed, leaving no room for variation. To be sure, not all the Comintern's orders were carried out. It was not unusual for Moscow to order the CPUSA to do something, or even to do many things simultaneously, that the party did not have the personnel, the resources, or, most important, the popular support to accomplish.

But failure on the part of the CPUSA was rarely due to unwillingness to obey the orders; rather, it was the result of an inability to do so. On the few occasions when CPUSA officials objected to a Comintern order, they usually pleaded that the Comintern did not understand the situation or that a particular Comintern representative had exceeded Moscow's mandate. One finds no documents in the Soviet archives, either in the records of the Communist International or in those of the CPUSA, that show American Communist leaders refusing to carry out Comintern orders as a matter of principle. There are no American assertions of independence from Soviet authority; no minutes from the CPUSA's Political Bureau, Central Committee (CC), or national convention attest to debate over American autonomy. Instead, the archives contain unqualified assertions of American Communist loyalty to the "first land of socialism."

In this chapter, we reprint Comintern orders from the early 1920s to the mid-1940s. Although most historians agree that the Comintern basically controlled every aspect of American party affairs during the 1920s, some scholars have asserted that after that time, as the CPUSA matured, the movement became "Americanized," and the party exercised a large degree of autonomy. These post-1970s historians maintain that American Communists of the 1930s and 1940s generation were essentially democratic in their outlook and that, although they still honored the Soviet Union symbolically as the first and most powerful socialist country, the CPUSA was neither Stalinist nor totalitarian in outlook or conduct.

But as the documents in this chapter show, even in the 1930s, Moscow decided how the American Communist movement would be run in matters of policy, organization, and choice of personnel. The Comintern not only guided the overarching strategy of the American Communist party but selected the party's leaders, rescheduled CPUSA conventions to suit Comintern needs, and ordered that a ranking American Communist official whose personal habits were deemed unacceptable be disciplined. These documents also show that although the Comintern's micromanagement of American affairs did decline during the 1930s, the essential nature of the relationship between the two groups remained unchanged.

In the Beginning: The 1920s

The Consolidation of the American Communist Party

On 31 August 1919 John Reed, Benjamin Gitlow, and a group of pro-Bolshevik delegates who had been ejected from the national convention of the Socialist Party founded the Communist Labor Party. The next day, Charles Ruthenberg and Louis Fraina, joined by left-wing Socialists and other radicals who had boycotted the Socialist Party convention, created the Communist Party of America. Both parties announced their loyalty to the principles of the Bolshevik Revolution and to the leadership of the newly formed Communist International.

Two American Communist parties were one too many, and the Comintern ordered the two to merge. In January 1920 Grigory Zinoviev, head of the Comintern, dispatched a courier to America with written instructions demanding that the parties unite and giving guidance for the organizational structure of the new party. A supplemental order even specified the name: United Communist Party. The courier was arrested and his papers confiscated as he was trying to cross Latvia. But the Latvian government released the messages to the press, and they were effectively delivered when the New York World published them.

In the United States, both Communist parties promised obedience to the Comintern, but personal and organizational rivalries were so intense that the union was repeatedly delayed, as various factions maneuvered for supremacy. So bitter was the in-fighting that the Communist Party of America, the larger of the two original parties, split into two more groups, each of which claimed the name Communist Party of America. One of the splinter groups, led by Ruthenberg and Jay Lovestone, proceeded to merge with the Communist Labor Party in 1920 under the name United Communist Party. This new party, however, was no larger than the remaining Communist Party of America, which, under the leadership of Nicholas I. Hourwich and Alexander Bittelman, continued to be its hostile rival. There were still two American Communist parties.

The Communist International was planning to hold its third congress in June 1921. It did not want the occasion to be marred by the presence of competing American delegations. Therefore, in the spring of 1921 the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) issued an ultimatum to American Communists, demanding that they settle their differences. Document I is the actual text of this ultimatum. Note that it is not a plea for unity; rather, it is a blunt assertion of the supremacy of the Comintern, containing the declaration that further delay constitutes a "crime against the Communist International" and that the American failure to achieve unity is an "injury of the authority of the Communist International." To press the point, the Comintern threatens to deny both groups representation at the congress and actually voids their representation in the ECCI until they achieve unity.

The Communist, the journal of the United Communist Party, carried a toned-down sequel to the ultimatum in its April 1921 issue, along with detailed Comintern instructions about the format of the unifying convention. The Communist unquestioningly accepted the Comintern's assertion of authority, proclaiming: "The Communist International has acted! . . . It is binding on the convention and on the representatives themselves. There will be no modification.... The highest authority of the Communist movement has spoken." The convention met in May, and the two parties formally merged under the name Communist Party of America.

Soon afterward, factionalism once more rent the movement. At the third Comintern congress in June, Lenin had announced a shift in Communist policy. Asserting that expectations of an immediate, widespread proletarian revolution were an illusion, he insisted that Communist parties worldwide begin a lengthy period of proselytizing. Their first task would be to win organizational and ideological control over the industrial workers. American Communists found the new Comintern policy hard to accept. Most of them had abandoned the Socialist Party because it had failed to support immediate revolution, and the Communist Party of America had specifically organized itself on the Bolshevik model as an underground insurrectionary movement. Now, the American party found itself under Comintern orders to surface and undertake the slow task of organizing American workers. Nonetheless, the majority of the American party's Central Executive Committee (CEC, at that time the party's highest body) created an above-ground party, the Workers Party of America, at a convention held on 23-26 December 1921.

A minority of the CEC balked, however. They refused to recognize the new party, called an underground party convention, and proclaimed themselves the legitimate Communist party. All the evidence suggests that this dissident, underground convention attracted the support of a majority of rank-and-file American Communists. The dissidents did not see themselves as acting independent of the Comintern, nor did they believe that they were defying Moscow. Rather, they thought that they were allowed some latitude in interpreting the Comintern's directives. As a concession to the Comintern's demand for an above-ground organization, they created the United Toilers of America as a legal front. Once again there were two Communist parties, each with an underground and an above-ground arm.

Both factions sent telegrams and delegations to Moscow justifying their actions and requesting Comintern recognition as the legitimate Communist party. After hearing out the rival delegations, the Comintern issued document 2. This order, addressed to "All Members of the Communist Party of America," drove home the point that the American party possessed only such latitude as the Comintern chose to give it. The order ignored the issue of which faction could claim the greater support. Instead, the key question was which faction was "in harmony with the Theses of the Third Congress . . . sent to the American Party as an instruction." The Comintern repudiated the United Toilers faction for its "refusal to abide by the decisions of the C.I." As an extra show of its power, the Comintern required John Ballam (whose pseudonym in document 2 is Moore), the chief figure in the United Toilers faction, to personally undertake the dissolution of his organization. The only concession granted Ballam's faction was a promise that if its adherents obeyed the order within thirty days, they could remain in the American Communist party. (In addition, as will be documented in chapter 2, their debts were picked up by the Comintern.)

Faced with the Comintern ultimatum, the United Toilers faction, despite its rank-and-file backing, collapsed. Ballam toured the United States speaking to Communist groups and urging his supporters to embrace Moscow's decision. Overwhelmingly, they did so. The experience was an early and forceful lesson to American Communists on the nature of their relation to the Comintern. An American party convention, held in August 1922 and supervised by a three-member Comintern delegation, ratified the new arrangement.

Document 1

From M. [Mikhail] Kobezky, secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, 17 March 1921, RTsKhIDNI 495-1-26. Original in English. The document was printed on a small, thin swatch of silk for easy concealment by the courier who took it to America.

The Executive Committee of the Communist International having listened to the reports of the United Communist Party and the Communist Party of America, hereby declares that the further postponement of the unification of the two Communist groups is a crime against the Communist International.

At the moment when the great economic crisis (four million unemployed) and the savage persecutions prevailing in the United States are creating a most favourable ground for propaganda and organisation, at that moment a few thousand Communists are wasting their time in inter-organisational squabbles which have no political significance and only result to the injury of the authority of the Communist International.

Should the two groups fail to unite by the time the Third Congress is convened, the Executive Committee will propose that neither of the two groups be allowed representations at the Congress.

The Executive Committee hereby welcomes the desire for unity expressed by the rank and file members of both parties, and calls upon the comrades to unite in spite of the leaders should the latter continue to sabotage the cause of unity.

The Executive Committee further declares that the present representation of the American parties in the Executive Committee will be regarded as void till the time the union of both groups is brought about.

[illegible stamp]

Secretary Executive Committee Communist International:

Moscow, 17/III-21. M. Kobezky

Document 2

From the ECCI "To All Members of the Communist Party of America: After Hearing the Claim of Comrade Moore . . . ," RTsKhIDNI 495-1-26. Undated, but context puts it in March or April 1922. Original in English; it is a typed draft with editing changes in ink. "Moore" is John A. Ballam, "Henry" is George Ashkenudzi, and "Dow" is Charles Dirba, all leaders of the United Toilers faction. "Lewis" is William Weinstone, "Marshall" is Max Bedacht, and "Carr" is Ludwig E. Katterfeld, all leaders of the Workers Party faction. Charles Ruthenberg was the head of the latter faction but at this time was serving a prison sentence for criminal anarchy in New York. Weinstone served as the party's executive secretary during Ruthenberg's absence.

TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF AMERICA.

After hearing the claim of comrade Moore, that his group should be recognized as the Communist Party of America, the Executive Committee of the Communist International, decides as follows:

1. The Executive Committee of the Communist International recognizes as its American Section, only the Communist Party of America of which Lewis is at present Secretary, Marshall--resuming delegate, and Carr--representative in the E.C. of the C.I.

2. The E.C. of the C.I. approves the action of the Majority of the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America in forming a legal Party in harmony with the Theses of the Third Congress and the Theses on this subject, adopted by the E.C. of the C.I. last November, and sent to the American Party as an instruction.

3. The E.C. of the C.I. repudiates, the actions of the Minority Group, headed by Moore, Henry, and Dow, and severely reprimands them for their refusal to abide by the decisions of the C.I. and their destructive breach of Communist discipline.

4. The E.C. of the C.I. specifically prohibits this group, or any of its followers, from using the name of the C.P. of A., section of the C.I., or the Communist emblem, and prohibits them from issuing any further literature purporting to represent the C.I.

5. Regarding the threat of appeal to the Fourth Congress, the E.C. of the C.I. states that only members of a recognized section of the C.I., who obey its decisions, have a right to appeal. Those that place themselves outside the organization cannot appeal to the International Congress.

6. The E.C. of the C.I. instructs all members of the faction led by Moore, Dow, and Henry, who desire to remain members of the Communist International, to put themselves in good standing in the regular C.P. of A. organization, at once. This means, that every member must pay dues through the regular Party channels, and must comply with the decisions of the C.E.C. of the C.P. of A., and the Theses of the C.I. in regard to joining also the Legal Party.

7. All members that comply with this instruction within thirty days from the time that this is sent out by the C.E.C. of the C.P. of A. are to be accepted as members with full membership rights immediately, including the right to participate in the election of delegates to the C.P. of A. Convention this spring.

8. The C.P. of A. Convention must be held on such a date, that the members and branches, which comply with the above, can participate within their Sections in the choice of electors for picking the Convention delegates.

9. Any members of this "minority" that do not place themselves in good standing in the regular C.P. of A. within the time specified, are expelled from the Communist International, and cannot be readmitted to any section of the Third International, except as new members.

10. Moore is instructed to return to A. at once and do his best to help carry out these decisions.

The Comintern Sets American Party Policy

American Communists not only accepted Comintern intervention, they sought it, as document 3 shows. In this 1924 letter Charles Ruthenberg, executive secretary of the Workers Party of America, informs Israel Amter, the party's representative to the Comintern, that the party will be sending a delegation to Moscow to ask the Comintern to decide "our Labor Party policy."

Ruthenberg also refers to divisions within the American Communist movement concerning the 1924 third-party presidential candidacy of U.S. Senator Robert La Follette (Republican, Wisconsin). The broad liberal and leftist backing for La Follette, particularly that of major unions in the American Federation of Labor (AFL), suggested that he might have a chance to change America's reliance on a two-party system. This center-left coalition, organized as the Conference for Progressive Political Action (CPPA), planned to hold a national convention at which they would nominate La Follette for president.

Communist leaders thought that the La Follette campaign offered a way for them to gain entry into organizations with large constituencies. How they approached the La Follette candidacy, however, was bound up with the party's still severe internal factionalism. At this point the Workers Party of America was divided into three groups, two large and one small. Ruthenberg and John Pepper led one of the major factions. Ruthenberg, of course, had been a leading figure in the American Communist movement since its inception. Pepper, a Hungarian, had arrived in the United States as a member of the three-man Comintern delegation that had supervised the 1922 convention. He had stayed on, using his Comintern status to insinuate himself into the leadership of the American party. Citing the Comintern's support for "united front" tactics, he urged American Communists to move aggressively into mainstream politics. Opposing Ruthenberg and Pepper was the largest faction, led by William Z. Foster, head of the party's labor arm (the Trade Union Educational League), and James Cannon, the party's chairman. Foster and Cannon thought that Communists should make their move into mainstream labor and liberal groups gradually, establishing a solid base of support before attempting to influence these organizations. They regarded Pepper's tactics as too aggressive and liable to provoke a backlash. Ludwig Lore, head of the German immigrants, led a small third faction. Lore took a more leftist position, disdaining the shift away from an explicitly revolutionary position.

Communists sought entry into the third-party movement through an arrangement with leaders of Minnesota's Farmer-Labor Party. This state party had displaced the Democratic Party in Minnesota as the chief rival to the Republicans in 1918; in 1922 the Farmer-Labor Party had supplied both U.S. senators and two members of the House of Representatives. In 1924 it sought to spread its call for a leftist "cooperative commonwealth" (to be achieved by nonrevolutionary means) beyond Minnesota. William Mahoney, head of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Federation, the organizing body of the Farmer-Labor Party, enthusiastically backed La Follette but tried to nudge the campaign to the left by making him the candidate of a national farmer-labor party rather than of the more centrist CPPA. With that in mind, Mahoney and the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Federation called a founding convention for a national farmer-labor party. Mahoney felt that if sufficient trade union, farmer, and independent leftist groups supported the convention, it could shape La Follette's campaign.

Communists approached Mahoney and offered their support. Thanks to its Moscow subsidies (documented in chapter 2, below), the Communist party and its affiliated ethnic, labor, and single-issue front groups employed several hundred organizers. Communist support guaranteed that the Farmer-Labor convention would receive public endorsement from these groups, as well as hundreds of delegates. Mahoney accepted the aid, believing that Communists were now ready to deal with other leftists on an equitable basis.

Both the Ruthenberg-Pepper and the Foster-Cannon factions agreed to enter the third-party movement via Mahoney's Farmer-Labor convention. Lore considered the idea ill-advised. The disagreement between the dominant factions was simply a matter of tactics. But as document 3 shows, even this minor, domestic-policy issue was referred to Moscow for resolution, on the initiative of the American Communist leadership.

In Moscow, Comintern leaders listened to the Americans' arguments and rendered a decision. Their judgment was made not on the basis of American political realities but according to internal Soviet needs. Lenin, who had been gravely ill for more than a year, had died in January 1924, and the fight over who was to succeed him was well under way. Grigory Zinoviev was one of the leading contenders for the position. Leon Trotsky, who had been the early favorite but was now losing ground, sought to discredit Zinoviev by criticizing the Comintern's version of the united-front policy as opportunistic. Trotsky charged that the American Communist plan to back the reformist La Follette showed how soft policies led to the abandonment of revolutionary principle. Rather than argue about which of them was the more revolutionary, Zinoviev performed a tactical left-turn and ordered foreign Communists to pull back from close alliances with nonrevolutionary groups.

The Comintern delivered its decision on 20 May 1924. In it, the Soviets chastised both the Ruthenberg-Pepper and Foster-Cannon factions for offering excessive support to La Follette. The Comintern sent Foster back to America with orders for a drastic shift in the Communist stance at the upcoming Farmer-Labor convention, scheduled for 17 June in St. Paul, Minnesota. Document 4 is the draft of a cable sent to Communist leaders in America while Foster was still in transit. In this cable, the Comintern orders a "sharp campaign against LaFollette" and instructed American Communists to urge the convention to found a national farmer-labor party with a Communist as its presidential candidate. If they are unable to stop the convention from supporting La Follette, they must sabotage the effort by attaching impossible conditions to the convention's support, namely, that La Follette break with capitalist organizations and accept control of his campaign by the new Farmer-Labor Party.

William Foster carried back a more detailed version of the Comintern decision. In its last paragraph, document 4 referred to the text of this decision ("sent with Bill") and included instructions for changing the wording in two lines. Foster's text, modified to make it appear American in origin, was formally adopted by the American Communist party and published in its press.

As one member of the party's CEC noted, the Comintern decision confronted American Communists "with the necessity of completely reorienting ourselves practically within 24 hours." But they did it. More than five hundred delegates from thirty states attended the 17 June Farmer-Labor convention. Many represented genuine, if small, farmers', labor, progressive, and radical organizations. Several hundred, however, were Communists, attending as delegates from the party's many affiliates and fronts. The covert Communists, as directed, argued for the immediate creation of a national farmer-labor party with a radical presidential ticket. When Mahoney and other noncommunists resisted, Communists reverted to the fallback position outlined by the Comintern in document 4: a "reliable worker president, working farmer vice-president." Under Communist pressure the convention nominated Duncan Macdonald, a mine-workers unionist, for president, and William Bouck, a radical farmer, for vice president. To win Mahoney's endorsement, Communists gave vague assurances, which Mahoney considered binding, that the ticket would be temporary, pending La Follette's nomination by the CPPA.

However, again in accordance with document 4, Foster also warned Mahoney that Communists would acknowledge La Follette as the Farmer-Labor candidate only if he accepted the new party's radical platform and its control of his campaign, conditions that La Follette was unlikely to agree to. In fact, La Follette had already denounced Communist participation in the 17 June convention. After the CPPA nominated La Follette for president on a Progressive Party ticket on 4 July, Communists moved swiftly. The June convention had elected a National Executive Committee, which held a secret Communist majority. This majority met on 10 July and withdrew the Macdonald-Bouck ticket-not in favor of La Follette, as Mahoney had originally planned, but in favor of the just-announced ticket of the Communist party, William Foster and Benjamin Gitlow.

The Comintern's decision regarding the La Follette campaign thus had several results for American Communists. First, they passed up a chance to participate in the impressive, if unsuccessful, La Follette campaign. Even without Communist support, La Follette received 4,825,000 votes. The Communist party, on the other hand, retained its status as an isolated radical sect on the margin of American society; Foster received only 33,300 votes. Minnesota's Farmer-Labor Federation, badly scarred by the Communist manipulation, expelled scores of Communists from its ranks. When Communists reentered the state farmer-labor movement in the mid-1930s, William Mahoney, who had never forgiven their derailing of his dream of a national farmer-labor party, became their most determined enemy.

A surprising casualty of the Comintern's decision was Ludwig Lore. On the surface, the Comintern had upheld Lore's ideological objections to Communist entry into the La Follette campaign. But despite its appearance, the Comintern's decision to order a pull-back from the campaign was not a matter of principle. In reality it was an anti-Trotsky ploy by Zinoviev. Lore was an admirer of Trotsky's; consequently, document 4 ordered American Communists to adopt a position that was closer to Lore's while simultaneously announcing: "Lore position repudiated. Comintern severely rep[r]imands Lore." Soon afterward, in 1925, Lore and other Communists who were deemed guilty of "Loreism" were expelled from the party.

Document 3

Ruthenberg to Amter, 16 February 1924, RTsKhIDNI 515-1-307. Original in English.

FEBruary 18 1924

#25

I Amter
Moscow Russia

Dear Comrade Amter

You will find enclosed herewith the minutes of the meeting of the Central Executive Committee of our Party for February 15th and 16th from which you will see that a very deepgoing difference of opinion has developed in our Committee in reference to our Labor Party policy[,] which is made more dangerous for our Party in view of the factional situation which has developed as indicated in the minutes of this meeting.

The C E C has decided to send a delegation consisting of Comrades Pepper, Cannon, Foster and Ruthenberg and a representative of the Anti-Third Party tendency to Moscow immediately to present the whole question to the Executive Committee of the C I in an effort to secure a decision and avoid a factional controversy in our Party which would endanger the work and our achievements of the past year.

The points to be brought before the Comintern are the following:

1 Are the policies outlined in the November thesis of the C E C in regard to our relation to a Third Party correct?

2 Is the decision of the minority that we must take a decisive stand immediately for organizational crystallization of the class farmer labor forces thru a convention on May 30th so that the class farmer labor forces may act as a unit in relation to the July 4th Third Party convention correct?

3 The protest of the minority against removals of Party workers for factional reasons.

I do not know just how soon the delegation will be able to leave but we will hasten the matter in every way possible. I hope that the delegates can be gotten off within two or three weeks' time.

We are writing you in advance of the arrival of our delegation so that you can bring the whole matter before the E C of the C I and have the necessary preparations made so that we can present the case as quickly as possible. It is very essential in view of the critical situation in regard to our Labor Party policy and the general situation in regard to the Farmer Labor movement that some of the members of the delegation return to this country as quickly as possible in order to participate in the various conventions which are planned for May 30th and July 4th and in the negotiations in relation to these conventions.

It is not likely that all of our delegation will be able to remain for the meeting of the enlarged executive committee owing to the situation as outlined above and it is our request that preparations be made to act upon the controversy immediately upon the arrival of the delegation in Moscow.

We have sent you the minutes of our various committee meetings from time to time and also various documents and we trust that these are on file in Moscow so that they will be available in submitting the controversy to the Executive Committee of the C I. We will send today additional copies of the various documents so that all the papers will be available.

Fraternally yours,

Executive Secretary

CER:PEB
OEA 12755

Document 4

Kolerov to CPUSA, "C. I. Decision . . . ," 1924, RTsKhIDNI 515-1-255. Original in English with annotations in Russian script. The annotations date the telegram as before 17 June, and the text itself indicates that it was probably sent before 4 June. Magnus Johnson was a U.S. senator from Minnesota and a leading figure in the Farmer-Labor Party. "Bill" was William Foster. "Kolerov" was Vasil Kolarov, a Bulgarian Comintern official.

the telegram signed by Kolarov
(Before 17.VI.1924)

C. I. Decision: Must carry on sharp campaign against LaFollette, Magnus Johnson. Not for publication: Go June 17th Workers Party warn workers farmers against all alliances Third Party. Must strive form Farmer-Labor Party. Nominate Communist President, vice-President. If rejected propose reliable worker president, working farmer vice-president. Program [should] contain demands [of] city rural workers [and] toiling farmers. If proposals rejected Communists support LaFollette only if breaks with capitalist parties and makes clear declaration accept full farmer-labor program and control, come to convention, accepts farmer-labor control campaign funds. In case split C. E. C. decide if masses leaving with us warrant campaign under farmer-labor workers Party. Must nominate candidates and make energetic campaign [in] important states [of] industrial workers [and] exploited farmers.

Lore position repudiated. Comintern severely rep[r]imands Lore. Kolerov.

Bill arrives about June 4th. ***** sent with Bill. Page four line[] sixteen change word third into petty bourgeois[i]e. Line seventeen change combine into make alliance with.

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This book brings some closure to the McCarthy era witch-hunt, and to accusations that many in the west, sympathetic to Communism, turned their backs on the Great Terror where millions of people died. When Communism fell ten years ago, archives were finally opened and the connection between Soviet controls of American Communism was finally documented. Not only did American Communists turn their backs on the politicide taking place in the Soviet union under the pseudoscience of cultural determinism, but in some cases they were implicated in handing over to the Soviets, American citizens of the Communist Party, who would be put to death. But the real story is yet to be told. As I read this book it opened up more questions than it explained. Who were these traitors? Why were they so accepting of terror and totalitarianism and why did they cling so tenaciously to such a horrific doctrine, one that as it turns out was far more devastating in human life and misery than the Nazi Holocaust? And why were they so unwilling to question official doctrines, especially when they changed so capriciously from time to time? But the big question, never mentioned in this book but glaringly apparent to any one who has looked into the Communist phenomena, is why were so many Jews at the vanguard of American Communism (and Communism in most Western countries)? This book never makes mention of their role. Was it because they felt persecuted under imperialist forms of government and Communism looked like a way to end the hatred of Jews? Were they more inclined than other ethnic groups to follow leadership blindly, as they once followed their rabbis when they were assigned to the Jewish ghettoes? Is it because Jews are more political and radical, whether on the left or the right? It would have added a lot if at least this book would have touched on these issues, as they are important for understanding why some people and not others are so easily led by different types of political systems and doctrines that strain the credulity of rationality. But perhaps we are asking the wrong people to analyze why American Communism was such a pawn under Soviet control. More and more, those who understand human behavior via group evolutionary strategies can only answer these questions. That is, history and cultural analyses both fail to consider humans as artifacts that evolved thousands of years ago under different ecological conditions. Only recently have we been able to look at fascism, communism, democracy, and religious movements as attempts to meet our evolutionary goals.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book brings some closure to the McCarthy era witch-hunt, and to accusations that many in the west, sympathetic to Communism, turned their backs on the Great Terror where millions of people died. When Communism fell ten years ago, archives were finally opened and the connection between Soviet controls of American Communism was finally documented. Not only did American Communists turn their backs on the politicide taking place in the Soviet union under the pseudoscience of cultural determinism, but in some cases they were implicated in handing over to the Soviets, American citizens of the Communist Party, who would be put to death. But the real story is yet to be told. As I read this book it opened up more questions than it explained. Who were these traitors? Why were they so accepting of terror and totalitarianism and why did they cling so tenaciously to such a horrific doctrine, one that as it turns out was far more devastating in human life and misery than the Nazi Holocaust? And why were they so unwilling to question official doctrines, especially when they changed so capriciously from time to time? But the big question, never mentioned in this book but glaringly apparent to any one who has looked into the Communist phenomena, is why were so many Jews at the vanguard of American Communism (and Communism in most Western countries)? This book never makes mention of their role. Was it because they felt persecuted under imperialist forms of government and Communism looked like a way to end the hatred of Jews? Were they more inclined than other ethnic groups to follow leadership blindly, as they once followed their rabbis when they were assigned to the Jewish ghettoes? Is it because Jews are more political and radical, whether on the left or the right? It would have added a lot if at least this book would have touched on these issues, as they are important for understanding why some people and not others are so easily led by different types of political systems and doctrines that strain the credulity of rationality. But perhaps we are asking the wrong people to analyze why American Communism was such a pawn under Soviet control. More and more, those who understand human behavior via group evolutionary strategies can only answer these questions. That is, history and cultural analyses both fail to consider humans as artifacts that evolved thousands of years ago under different ecological conditions. Only recently have we been able to look at fascism, communism, democracy, and religious movements as attempts to meet our evolutionary goals.