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John Simkin

Gus Hall and the American Communist Party

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During the Great Depression in the 1930s a large number of young people were attracted to the American Communist Party. Capitalism seemed to have failed and with the growth of fascism in Europe it seemed that revolutionary socialism was the only answer. Members included people like John Reed, William Z. Foster, James Cannon, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Ella Reeve Bloor. These were basically good people who cared about their fellow human-beings.

A high percentage of members were immigrants living in and around New York City. There were also a large number involved in the arts including Elia Kazan, Erskine Caldwell, John Dos Passos, Howard Fast, Pete Seeger, Clifford Odets, Larry Parks, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Gale Sondergaard, Joseph Bromberg, Richard Wright, Dalton Trumbo, Richard Collins, Budd Schulberg, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Albert Maltz, Edwin Rolfe, Adrian Scott, Samuel Ornitz, Paul Jarrico, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, Alvah Bessie, Claude McKay, Michael Gold and Robert Minor.

The largest vote recorded by the American Communist Party was for William Z. Foster in the presidential election in 1932. Foster polled 102,991 votes, but Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party candidate, polled seven times that figure. Earl Browder was the candidate for the next two elections but did badly: 1936 (80,195) and 1940 (46,251).

The reason that the American Communist Party did so badly was its support for Stalin in the Soviet Union. If you remained a member you had to support Stalin's policy of eliminating those members of the party who supported Trotsky's view of the need for world revolution. Stalin took the view of "socialism in one country". It is interesting to read the right-wing press on Stalin in the 1930s. They were of course all in favour of the purges and the show trials. The main fear in the US was that socialism would be exported to America. The ruling classes in the UK took a similar view. It was Trotsky rather than Stalin that got the bad press.

After the war people had no excuses for supporting Stalin. The 1930s purges in the Soviet Union was followed by the persecution of the left in Eastern Europe. "Socialism in one country" had been changed to "Soviet style communism in all territory under Stalin's control".

Gus Hall was the leader of the American Communist Party after the war. He ran for president in 1968 but received only 1,075 votes. He was also the party's candidate in 1972 and 1976 when he obtained 58,992 votes. In 1984 his vote dropped to 36,386 votes. He deserved no better. Hall had played his part in conspiring against the possibility of world socialism.

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

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

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During the Great Depression in the 1930s a large number of young people were attracted to the American Communist Party. Capitalism seemed to have failed and with the growth of fascism in Europe it seemed that revolutionary socialism was the only answer. Members included people like John Reed, William Z. Foster, James Cannon, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Ella Reeve Bloor. These were basically good people who cared about their fellow human-beings.

A high percentage of members were immigrants living in and around New York City. There were also a large number involved in the arts including Elia Kazan, Erskine Caldwell, John Dos Passos, Howard Fast, Pete Seeger, Clifford Odets, Larry Parks, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Gale Sondergaard, Joseph Bromberg, Richard Wright, Dalton Trumbo, Richard Collins, Budd Schulberg, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Albert Maltz, Edwin Rolfe, Adrian Scott, Samuel Ornitz, Paul Jarrico, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, Alvah Bessie, Claude McKay, Michael Gold and Robert Minor.

The largest vote recorded by the American Communist Party was for William Z. Foster in the presidential election in 1932. Foster polled 102,991 votes, but Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party candidate, polled seven times that figure. Earl Browder was the candidate for the next two elections but did badly: 1936 (80,195) and 1940 (46,251).

The reason that the American Communist Party did so badly was its support for Stalin in the Soviet Union. If you remained a member you had to support Stalin's policy of eliminating those members of the party who supported Trotsky's view of the need for world revolution. Stalin took the view of "socialism in one country". It is interesting to read the right-wing press on Stalin in the 1930s. They were of course all in favour of the purges and the show trials. The main fear in the US was that socialism would be exported to America. The ruling classes in the UK took a similar view. It was Trotsky rather than Stalin that got the bad press.

After the war people had no excuses for supporting Stalin. The 1930s purges in the Soviet Union was followed by the persecution of the left in Eastern Europe. "Socialism in one country" had been changed to "Soviet style communism in all territory under Stalin's control".

Gus Hall was the leader of the American Communist Party after the war. He ran for president in 1968 but received only 1,075 votes. He was also the party's candidate in 1972 and 1976 when he obtained 58,992 votes. In 1984 his vote dropped to 36,386 votes. He deserved no better. Hall had played his part in conspiring against the possibility of world socialism.

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

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

I myself wouldn't be so rough on Gus....How would anyone end up a hero surronded by spies of every kind good or bad.

Gus Hall came over to visit once when I was older, probably in the 60s and I asked him if Russia funds the Party and He laughed and said something about the Rothchilds or Rothchild Bank......

If the FBI had the majority of members...well that might be a exageration...but what about all the other federal and foreign agencys that the FBI weren't even allowed to control or monitor ...they were in there too. The Rothchild comment leads me to wonder who controls the US government.. Don't you think the big World Banks have a big say too?

They seem to have as much or more than ever today. War is a business... a legal rackett since nobody but a handful of losers at Nuremberg has ever been punished for profiting from or promoting war. Security and Fear is the goose that lays the golden egg.

Divide and Conquer has always been the MO of the Ruling Class.

I think some wealthy people now may be catching on to how this War business is bad in the end for them and the Planet.

We are now at the cross roads...Maybe someday soon we will learn.

A great verse to Phil Och's song, "The Power and Glory" which I think was given to him by Theodore Bikel goes:

OUR WORLD IS STILL RULED BY MEN WHO HAVE TO HATE, THEY TWIST AWAY OUR FUTURE AND THEY TWIST AWAY OUR FATE

FEAR IS THEIR WEAPON AND TERROR IS THEIR CRY...WE CAN STOP EM' IF WE TRY.

Andy of the New Limelighters told me about Bikel's verse a few weeks ago at the Fogartyville Cafe in Bradenton Florida and I think Theo even told me about that in NYC more than 20 years ago and the New Limelighters added the word "Terror" instead of "Treason" which makes for another great Phil Ochs song improved by the Folk Process.

Jim

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http://www.libertygunrights.com/SovietDefined.html

so′vi∙et n. [Russ. sovet.]

1. A council; specif.: (a) [often cap.] Either one of two governing bodies (village soviets, town soviets) consisting of representatives of workmen, soldiers, and peasants, in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. A soviet is the supreme local authority and it sends deputies to each of the higher bodies (soviet congresses) having authority over larger units. The highest governmental body of all is the Supreme Soviet or Council.

The purges were under way in 1927. Stalin had suppressed Lenin's last testament, or statement to the Supreme Soviet where he warned against support for Stalin and put forth Trotsky as the person to follow.

One of Trotsky's signifcant contributions was development of the concept of "the Permanent Revolution", not quite world revolution, though that is seen as the logical outcome of a Union of Soviets in a state of permanent revolution.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/wo...1-tpv/index.htm

"The theory of permanent revolution was first formulated in the wake of the 1905 Russian Revolution as an attempt to explain what class would need to lead the coming revolution in Russia.

Trotsky agreed with the other Russian Marxists that it would have to initially be bourgeois-democratic in character in order to accomplish such tasks as the overthrow of the Tsarist regime and the transformation of agrarian relations.

In Results and Prospects, Trotsky took this idea a step further and analyzed how the conditions unique to Russia meant the working-class would need to join the peasantry to overthrow the capitalist class. (hence hammer plus sickle)

Trotsky outlined the theory of permanent revolution from his cell while awaiting trial for his participation in the Petersburg Soviet of 1905.

Some 24 years later, The Permanent Revolution (1929) was written in response to an attack on the the theory by Karl Radek, a Soviet journalist and former Left Opposition member who advocated Stalin’s theory of "socialism in one country". It’s purpose was to clarify the relationship between Trotsky’s and Lenin’s perspectives on class relationships and objectives of the Russian revolution in the international arena.

Succinctly, Trotsky wrote: "The Perspective of permanent revolution may be summarized in the following way: the complete victory of the democratic revolution in Russia is conceivable only in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat*, leaning on the peasantry.#

The dictatorship of the proletariat*, which would inevitably place on the order of the day not only democratic but socialistic tasks as well, would at the same time give a powerful impetus to the international socialist revolution.

Only the victory of the proletariat in the West could protect Russia from bourgeois resoration and assure it the possibility of rounding out the establishment of socialism."

*where the working classes rather than the capitalists dictate the course of events.

- Adolph Hitler, 1922 Munich Speech - "There are only two possibilities in Germany; do not imagine that the people will forever go with the middle party, the party of compromises; one day it will turn to those who have most consistently foretold the coming ruin and have sought to dissociate themselves from it. And that party is either the Left: and then God help us! for it will lead us to complete destruction - to Bolshevism, or else it is a party of the Right which at the last, when the people is in utter despair, when it has lost all its spirit and has no longer any faith in anything, is determined for its part ruthlessly to seize the reins of power"

Trotsky was marginalised, expelled and eventually assassinated. He was indeed the true enemy of Capitalism, Stalinism, Maoism, and Fascism.

James Patrick Cannon - http://reds.linefeed.org/bios/cannon.html

(1890-1974)

Chief American Trotskyist leader and theoretician. Cannon was born in Rosedale, Kansas, to working-class Irish-Catholic radicals. He became a Wobbly* organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and was personally trained by IWW leader Bill Haywood. He joined the Socialist Party when he was 18.

He was one of the leaders of the pro-Bolshevik split of the Socialist Party in 1919, becoming the first national chairman of the "Workers' Party" (Communist Party USA). He was politically allied with William Z. Foster in the Communist Party; both hoped to translate Bolshevism to the American labor movement. He organized the CP's International Labor Defense (ILD) to defend such workers as anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti.

In 1928, while attending the Sixth Congress of the Communist International (Comintern), Cannon received a critique of the Stalinist corruption of the Soviet Union, written by Leon Trotsky.

He became an open sympathizer of Trotsky's Left Opposition, and was consequently expelled from the Communist Party. Canon then formed the Communist League of America and began publishing The Militant with Max Shachtman. After a brief entry into the Socialist Party, Cannon's CLA emerged as the Socialist Workers Party in 1938. The SWP then became the largest section of the new Fourth International.***

He served as national secretary of the SWP during its early life. In 1941, along with 17 other party leaders, he was arrested under the anti-communist Smith Act. (The Communist Party's Stalinist leadership applauded this act.) After being convicted in 1943, he served a sixteen-month prison term at Sandstone Prison. He was released when World War II ended in 1945 and continued as SWP national secretary until 1953. He was replaced in that position by National Labor Secretary Farrell Dobbs. He remained active in the SWP as national chairman emirtus until his death in 1974.

*nickname for a member of IWW. (Other prominent member Joe Hill.)

#this is important as it recognises Russia as a special case with a large peasant base. Other countries who did not have a peasantry but a large industrial working class need to be approached differently.

***The history of the "Internationals" from the first to the fourth is an interesting subject in itself.

Edited by John Dolva

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I myself wouldn't be so rough on Gus....How would anyone end up a hero surronded by spies of every kind good or bad.

Gus Hall has clearly had a bad press. However, he deserves it. In my view, those on the left, who supported the persecution of socialists in the Soviet Union and the suppression of democracy in Eastern Europe, betrayed the campaign to obtain equality between individuals and between countries. Communists have as much responsibility for the problems that we have today as the right-wing supporters of capitalism.

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According to the old Spotlight newspaper, in some articles published in the early 1990s (I think, not sure about the exact date), when the KGB archives began to be opened and released publicly, it was discovered that Gus Hall had been paid millions of dollars over the decades directly by the Soviet government. The Spotlight, published by Liberty Lobby, certainly had its own agenda, and has been branded as anti-semitic by many, but if this story is accurate, it certainly should cause us to view all supposed "radical" leaders in a different light. Much like the rumors that feminist leader Gloria Steinem was actually an employee of the CIA, or the reports that many of the radical leaders of the 1960s were financed by the huge foundations, this is perhaps is another indication that we should pause and be a bit more skeptical of any "outsider" or "reformer" that suddenly bursts onto the scene.

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According to the old Spotlight newspaper, in some articles published in the early 1990s (I think, not sure about the exact date), when the KGB archives began to be opened and released publicly, it was discovered that Gus Hall had been paid millions of dollars over the decades directly by the Soviet government. The Spotlight, published by Liberty Lobby, certainly had its own agenda, and has been branded as anti-semitic by many, but if this story is accurate, it certainly should cause us to view all supposed "radical" leaders in a different light. Much like the rumors that feminist leader Gloria Steinem was actually an employee of the CIA, or the reports that many of the radical leaders of the 1960s were financed by the huge foundations, this is perhaps is another indication that we should pause and be a bit more skeptical of any "outsider" or "reformer" that suddenly bursts onto the scene.

I would take anything in the Spotlight 'with a grain of salt'. That being said it wouldn't at all surprise me if he as head of the CPUSA which which beholded to the Soviet CP was on the Russian payroll. I don't know how this would be a reflection on other radicals. John seemed to be hinting at the opposite, that Hall was backed by reactionaries.

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According to the old Spotlight newspaper, in some articles published in the early 1990s (I think, not sure about the exact date), when the KGB archives began to be opened and released publicly, it was discovered that Gus Hall had been paid millions of dollars over the decades directly by the Soviet government. The Spotlight, published by Liberty Lobby, certainly had its own agenda, and has been branded as anti-semitic by many, but if this story is accurate, it certainly should cause us to view all supposed "radical" leaders in a different light. Much like the rumors that feminist leader Gloria Steinem was actually an employee of the CIA, or the reports that many of the radical leaders of the 1960s were financed by the huge foundations, this is perhaps is another indication that we should pause and be a bit more skeptical of any "outsider" or "reformer" that suddenly bursts onto the scene.

I would take anything in the Spotlight 'with a grain of salt'. That being said it wouldn't at all surprise me if he as head of the CPUSA which which beholded to the Soviet CP was on the Russian payroll. I don't know how this would be a reflection on other radicals. John seemed to be hinting at the opposite, that Hall was backed by reactionaries.

I believe there was false reporting and propaganda on all sides. My first thought on that is sure Gus could have lied to me about Rothchild Bank or maybe it was a boast about the funding but if Russia was sending Gus millons or any money, it would have to be known to all the spies in and out of the party and he would have been in jail for that and if it was confirmed by the KGB, that would have been more reason for him to be arrested for being a paid agent of Russia. Do you think the FBI and CIA would miss a great propaganda coup about why the cold war spying on all the movements of the left which were accused by the right wing of being commie dups was justified?.... Well for some mysterious reason they let Gus and the CPUSA off the hook.

Now if it was the Bank or a group of banks, I think Russia and the US would keep that under wraps ...maybe I am just not informed enough on this but the accusation from Liberty Lobby is that Russia knew and they have proof to put away the CPUSA for good but the US government lets a huge propaganda victory for the Cold War slide.....I don't think so.

Jim

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