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Thursday, 1 April 2010

The American Communist Party and the Soviet Union

The right-wing leadership of the Socialist Party of America opposed the Russian Revolution. However, those members who disagreed with this policy formed the Communist Propaganda League.

In February 1919, Jay Lovestone, Bertram Wolfe, John Reed and Benjamin Gitlow created a left-wing faction that advocated the policies of the Bolsheviks in Russia. On 24th May 1919 the leadership expelled 20,000 members who supported this faction. The process continued and by the beginning of July two-thirds of the party had been suspended or expelled. In September 1919, Jay Lovestone, Earl Browder, John Reed, James Cannon, Bertram Wolfe, William Bross Lloyd, Benjamin Gitlow, Charles Ruthenberg, William Dunne, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Louis Fraina, Ella Reeve Bloor, Rose Pastor Stokes, Claude McKay, Michael Gold and Robert Minor, decided to form the Communist Party of the United States.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAcommunist.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jreed.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAfrainaL.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAdunneWF.htm

The American Communist Party was therefore a product of the Russian Revolution. It also received a considerable amount of funding via the Comintern. William Z. Foster, went on record as saying, "I am for the Comintern from start to finish. I want to work with the Comintern, and if the Comintern finds itself criss-cross with my opinions, there is only one thing to do and that is to change my opinions to fit the policy of the Comintern".

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAfosterW.htm

The party was divided between the views of Foster and those of Charles Ruthenberg who favoured independence. The Comintern eventually accepted the leadership of Charles Ruthenberg. As Theodore Draper pointed out in American Communism and Soviet Russia (1960): "After the Comintern's verdict in favor of Ruthenberg as party leader, the factional storm gradually subsided... At the Seventh Plenum at the end of 1926, the Comintern, for the first time in five years, found it unnecessary to appoint an American Commission to deal with an American factional struggle.... "

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAruthenberg.htm

On the death of Charles Ruthenberg in 1927 Jay Lovestone became the party's national secretary. James Cannon, the chairman of the American Communist Party, attended the Sixth Congress of the Comintern in 1928. While in the Soviet Union he was given a document written by Leon Trotsky on the rule of Joseph Stalin. Convinced by what he read, when he returned to the United States he criticized the Soviet government. As a result of his actions, Cannon and his followers were expelled from the party. Cannon now joined with other Trotskyists to form the Communist League of America.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAlovestoneJ.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAcannonJ.htm

In 1929 Nikolay Bukharin was deprived of the chairmanship of the Comintern and expelled from the Politburo by Stalin. He was worried that Bukharin had a strong following in the American Communist Party, and at a meeting of the Presidium in Moscow on 14th May he demanded that the party came under the control of the Comintern. He admitted that Jay Lovestone was "a capable and talented comrade," but immediately accused him of employing his capabilities "in factional scandal-mongering, in factional intrigue." Benjamin Gitlow and Ella Reeve Bloor defended Lovestone. This angered Stalin and according to Bertram Wolfe, he got to his feet and shouted: "Who do you think you are? Trotsky defied me. Where is he? Zinoviev defied me. Where is he? Bukharin defied me. Where is he? And you? When you get back to America, nobody will stay with you except your wives." Stalin then went onto warn the Americans that the Russians knew how to handle troublemakers: "There is plenty of room in our cemeteries."

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAgitlowB.htm

Jay Lovestone realised that he would now be expelled from the American Communist Party. On 15th May, 1929 he sent a cable to Robert Minor and Jacob Stachel and asked them to take control over the party's property and other assets. However, as Theodore Draper has pointed out in American Communism and Soviet Russia (1960): "The Comintern beat him to the punch. On May 17, even before the Comintern's Address could reach the United States, the Political Secretariat in Moscow decided to remove Lovestone, Gitlow, and Wolfe from all their leading positions, to purge the Political Committee of all members who refused to submit to the Comintern's decisions, and to warn Lovestone that it would be a gross violation of Comintern discipline to attempt to leave Russia."

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAwolfeBD.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ARTminor.htm

William Foster now took over as leader of the American Communist Party. It was now a completely loyal to the dicatates of Joseph Stalin.

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