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Chapter Summary

The Stalinisation of American Communism meant its transformation from a party dedicated to workers' revolution into a social-democratic party that sought to pressure the American government for policies benefitting the Soviet government. The reformist, social-democratic aspects of Stalinism were clear in the popular-front period in the mid-1930s. The study of Communist pamphlets identified several characteristics of the Third Period must have appealed to revolutionaries: an emphasis on revolution and class struggle; a focus on Marxist theory; attacks on Democratic politicians; polemics against Socialists and trade-union leaders for betraying the working class. Communists were at their most heroic during this period, as they formed militant unions against the American Federation of Labor (AFL), fought Jim Crow, and organised the unemployed. Although marked by ideological errors and eccentricities such as dual unionism, 'self-determination' for black Americans, the Third Period in the United States had more positive effects than in other countries.

Keywords: American Communism; American Federation of Labor (AFL); Jim Crow; Marxist theory; Stalinism; Third Period

10.1163/9789004268890_020
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