Nazis, Communists, Klansmen, and Others on the Fringe: Political Extremism in America

By John George; Laird Wilcox | Go to book overview

Part II. The Far Left

The far left in America consists principally of people who believe in some form of Marxism-Leninism, i.e., some form of Communism. A small minority of extreme leftists adhere to "pure" Marxism or collectivist anarchism. Most far leftists scorn reforms (except as a short-term tactic), and instead aim for the complete overthrow of the capitalist system including the U.S. government. In Lenin's view, the battle for an eight-hour work day was nothing more than a "tactical maneuver to improve the power position of the party" and those who saw it as something more were guilty of vulgar reformism. 1

Recent developments in the Soviet bloc and elsewhere have complicated the international Marxist-Leninist picture, and the impact of these enormous changes is only now being felt on groups in the United States. Generally, orthodox Marxism- Leninism is in increasing disfavor.

In the traditional form, virtually all Marxist-Leninists may be categorized as follows: Soviet, Trotskyist, Maoist/ Kimist/ Hoxhaist, or Independent. The proSoviet types, for example, include the Communist Party USA and the Young Communist League, who always regarded the USSR as the way, the truth, and the light until the Gorbachev reforms.

Trotskyists are those communing with the ghost of Leon Trotsky ( 1877- 1940), who was expelled from the Soviet Union by Joseph Stalin in 1928. Stalin and Trotsky had many differences, but the main one was over building Marxian socialism in one country ( Stalin) v. bringing revolutions in all nations as rapidly as possible ( Trotsky). More realistically, Stalin's expulsion of Trotsky was a matter of eliminating a rival and the ideological considerations were a convenient rationalization. A Stalinist agent, Spanish Communist Ramon Mercador, assassinated Trotsky in Mexico in 1940. The Socialist Workers Party was the main Trotskyist organization in America until 1985, when its leaders abandoned their commitment to Trotsky's ideas in favor of a more flexible line.

The Maoists/ Kimists/ Hoxhaists could be accurately termed neo-Stalinists. After Nikita Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin in 1956, these die-hards wrote off the Soviet Union as hopelessly revisionist and came, to adopt the views of the Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung, or his avid follower, the late Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, or the aging North Korean strongman Kim Il Sung. The first well-organized American Maoist group ( 1962) was the Progressive Labor Party, which later denounced Mao in 1971 over his backing of Pakistan against the Mukti Bahini guerrillas in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Independent Communists are those who claim to follow the line of no nation

-101-

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