American Communism and Soviet Russia: The Formative Period

By Theodore Draper | Go to book overview

5
The LaFollette Fiasco

AFTER the split with Fitzpatrick, the miscarriage of the Federated Farmer-Labor party, and the tailspin of the Trade Union Educational League, the Communists were down but not out. The "Third Party alliance" gave them the rare opportunity of playing the same game twice.

The concept of this alliance arose out of Communist doctrine as it was understood and practiced in this period. According to this doctrine, the LaFollette movement represented a third party of the petty bourgeoisie as distinguished from the two parties of the big bourgeoisie, the Republican and the Democratic. To the extent that it signified a split between the petty bourgeoisie and the big bourgeoisie, the Communists welcomed it. On the other hand, they did not wish to be tainted by or accept any direct responsibility for a petty-bourgeois party, which, they insisted, could solve no problems for the working class but would inevitably mislead and betray it. To get around the difficulty of belittling the LaFollette movement and yet refraining from breaking with it, they conceived of an "alliance" between the Third Party, representing well-to-do farmers and small businessmen, and the Farmer-Labor party, representing workers and exploited farmers. They did not ask LaFollette whether he wanted to have Communist allies, but as long as he did not repudiate them publicly, a tacit understanding with a portion of LaFollette's following was possible.

-96-

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American Communism and Soviet Russia: The Formative Period
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Note ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The New Day 9
  • 2 - The Farmer-Labor United Front 29
  • 3 - Roads to Chicago 52
  • 4 - The Parting of the Ways 75
  • 5 - The Lafollette Fiasco 96
  • 6 - How to Win A Majority 127
  • 7 - Bolshevization 153
  • 8 - Party LIfe 186
  • 9 - Politics and Trade-Unionism 215
  • 10 - Ruthenberg's Last Wish 234
  • 11 - Lovestone in Power 248
  • 12 - American Exceptionalism 268
  • 13 - The Turning Point 282
  • 14 - The Sixth World Congress 300
  • 15 - The Negronn Question 315
  • 16 - The Birth of American Trotskyism 357
  • 17 - The Runaway Convention 377
  • 18 - How to Lose A Majority 405
  • Notes 445
  • Acknowledgments 533
  • Index 535
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