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8 The Foreign-Language Federations and ‘Bolshevisation’

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Chapter Summary

The foreign-language federations wanted what the Jewish Bund had demanded from the Russian Social Democracy decades earlier: a monopoly over work among their particular ethnic or language group. Given the Communist emphasis on a common political programme and organisational unity, the foreign-language federations were less compatible with the Communist movement than with the heterogeneous. Arne Halonen, a leader of the Finnish federation who opposed Bolshevisation, stressed later that 'as a rule, the Finnish members scorned the ridiculous ultra-revolutionary doctrine of the Comintern'. The resolution on Bolshevisation passed by the Fourth National Convention highlighted that 'the Federation form of organization is a most fertile soil for factionalism'. Ruthenberg reported to the American Commission, stating that 'naturally, this reorganization was a great shock to the language federations and particularly to the Finnish section'. Bolshevisation precipitated years of internecine fighting within the Finnish American community over control of the federation's resources.

Keywords: Arne Halonen; Bolshevisation; Finnish American community; foreign-language federations; Fourth National Convention



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