CPUSA: Moscow's stooge

Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Sat Apr 22 19:15:04 MDT 1995

On Sat, 22 Apr 1995, Andy Daitsman wrote:

> >The WSJ had a review of a book whose identity escapes me except that it was
> >published by Yale, which the reviewer claims "proves" that the CPUSA was
> >really truly Moscow's stooge. Anyone know the story on this?
> >
> I heard an interview with the guy on NPR a couple of weeks ago.  I can't
> remember his name either.  For some reason, I think he's a professor at
> Columbia.  Maybe Louis knows a little more about him.

One of the coauthors--Harvet Klehr--is a history prof at Emory, a vehement
anticommunist but a good historian. He wrote a book on The Communist Party
In Its Heyday: The Depression Decade, which is basically a sequel to
Draper's works on the CP in the 20s in conception and tone. His line is
that the Party was a slavish tool of Moscow. At the higher levels of
policy he documents this pretty well. The conclusion has not been
challenged by the New Comminist History (Alan wald, Maurice Isserman,
etc.), who simplyt argue that there was more to the Party in that period
that the policy of its leaders. Klehr also wrote a survey of the New Left
which was rather less good, the documentation for the NL being very
scattered and hard to put together. His discussion of my old outfit, The
Communist Workers Party (now defunct), was only moderately accurate and
not very insightful. I wrote him about this and he never wrote me back.

Louis mentioned that the evidence from the Moscow archives has to be
regarded with great care--I would emphasize that they are not being thrown
opewn to all disinterested scholars to double-check claims madxe on their
basis. This doesn't mean that it's worthless evidence.

A story about British Communism. When the great economist Piero Sraffa
died, his old college and mine (Kings College Cambridge) published an obit
with the following anecdote. The author recalled talking to Sraffa at the
time of the Fourth Man revelations, before Blunt was exposed as he. "Were
you the fourth man?" the authour asked Sraffa. Sraffa waved his hands in
some indescribable Italian manner. "I forget which one I was," he replied.

A friend of mine who was a student of Sraffa's reports that in his rooms
he had the collected woreks of Stalin enormously annotated, little slips
of paper bristyling out of the volumes and spidery handwriting (in
Italian) all over the margins.

--Justin Schwartz

> His view is a little more nuanced than the popular press accounts of the
> book would lead you to believe.  His research is based on Soviet archives,
> and he claims to have found evidence that the CPUSA did in fact run a covert
> intelligence operation, which was financed entirely by the Soviets.  The
> vast majority of party members however were unaware of the network.  He
> found no references to Alger Hiss, but he did corroborate important parts of
> Whittaker Chambers' story.  The Rosenbergs, he says, were innocent.
> He claims to be doing a revisionist history of the Cold War now that it's
> over.  He wants to recognize that the ideals of the Communist rank and file
> were pure, but the actions of the leadership really did pose a threat to the
> national security of the US.
> Big revision, huh?
> Andy
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