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Introduction: History and Historiography of American Communism in the 1920s

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses political history of the first decade of the American Communist Party (CP). It argues that in the early 1920s the Comintern helped the early Communists come to grips with American society. By the end of the decade, reflecting the political degeneration of the Russian Revolution under Stalin, the Comintern's interventions were negative. In the 1920s, the Bolsheviks focused on countries with mass Communist Parties and palpable struggles; American Communism was on the periphery of the Comintern, and one assumes that letters to American Communists occupied a small portion of the time of the Comintern leaders. In 1921, the American representative to the Comintern used the parlance of the underground party to bemoan 'the little esteem that the general office has for the American business in general', and to complain that 'the main office considers the American branch as a nuisance than as a bona fide business institution'.

Keywords: American Communism; Bolsheviks; Comintern leaders; Russian Revolution; Stalin

10.1163/9789004268890_002
/content/books/b9789004268890_002
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