The Roots of American Communism

By Theodore Draper | Go to book overview

1
The Historic Left

The older native American communists were born, with few wxceptionsn in the decade 1881-91. They were still relatively close to the birth of the modern American labor movement; to the infancy of socialism, trade unionism, anarchism, and syndicalism; to the heyday od radical and reform movements now only dimly remembered.

The first Marxian Socialist in the United States were German immigrants who came over after the ill-fated German revolution of 1848. These German immigrants brought with them a degree of trade-union and political conciosness then unknown in the United States. No sooner had they arrived than they set about duplicating their old-world allegiances in their new homeland. But they do not get very far until after the Civil War. The Internation Workingmen's association, the so-called First International, founded in London with the help of Karl Marx in 1864, obtained its first American section five years later.

The next and larger wave of German immigrants in the seventies and eighties however, owed their socialism less to the exiled Marx than to the romantic founder of German social democracy, Ferdinand Lassalle. Lassalle taught that state aid through political action was the only road to the future revolution. He believed in the "iron law of wages"-that it was impossible in an economic system based on free competition for workers to receive more than the bare minimum

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The Roots of American Communism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Historic Left 11
  • 2 - The Age of Unrest 36
  • 3 - The New Left Wing 50
  • 4 - Influences and Influencers 65
  • 5 - The Left at War 80
  • 6 - The Reflected Glory 97
  • 7 - Roads to Moscow 114
  • 8 - The Revolutionary Age 131
  • 9 - The Real Split 148
  • 10 - The Great Schism 164
  • 12 - The Underground 197
  • 13 - The Second Split 210
  • 14 - Spies, Victims, and Couriers 226
  • 15 - The Crisis of Communism 246
  • 16 - To the Masses! 267
  • 17 - The Revolution Devours Its Children 282
  • 18 - New Forces 303
  • 19 - The Legal Party 327
  • 20 - The Manipulated Revolution 345
  • 21 - The Two-Way Split 353
  • 22 - The Raid 363
  • 23 - The Transformation 376
  • Notes 399
  • Acknowledgments 459
  • Index 463
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