Marxism in the USA

Sol Dollinger soldoll at
Tue Nov 30 20:09:45 MST 1999


Marxism in the USA by Paul Buhle published by Humanities Press, 1987 is a
study that concentrates on the years of the German immigration  before the
Civil War up to the large Jewish influx that began to arrive in the last
decade of the nineteenth century.  Buhle covers a lot of ground in dealing
with the earlier German Marxists.  His study of the Jews is surprising since
he is not Jewish and makes no explanation as to how he made the translations
of the early Jewish representatives of culture.  I would recommend the book
to any one interested in the early history of the immigrant Socialists who
came to these shores.  His emphasis on the Jews does not give enough credit
to the Germans who constructed all of the social organizations that he
applauds the Jews for doing.  The Germans did it earlier and in some
respects better.  They had almost a four decade head-start on the Jews and
set an early pattern for the Jews to follow.

Buhle pays special respect to his mentor C L R James and I found the attempt
to artificially inject the James thesis of the national role of Blacks
intrusive to the main story he sets forth.  These are minor  intrusions and
easily overlooked in the broad spectrum of immigrant life as Buhle relates

Not until the end of the book does Buhle reveals his Stalinophobia that he
manages to hide by neutral interviews and accounts from some leading members
of the Communist Party. His cloak of neutrality is stripped away when Buhle
comments on the critical 1946 and the 1947 conventions of the UAW.  Reuther
consolidates his control of the union in these two historic conventions.
The 1947 convention has to consider in one package, the Taft- Hartley Bill,
with the noncommunist affidavits and the more devastating  onerous
anti-union provisions banning secondary boycotts, NRLB injunctions, cooling
off periods before a strike could be called and many other draconian
measures.  The passage of this bill set labor back for five decades and it
has not recovered from this disaster.  John L Lewis walked out of the AFL
convention when the AFL agreed to recognize Taft-Hartley.  Reuther was the
first to impose its restrictions in the UAW.

Paul Buhle is an intellectual but he carries with him a lot of the theories
of his friends once identified with        C L R James.  They said  a plague
on Reuther and Addes-Thomas:

"One of the other "industrialized" (note the suggestion that we are
importations from the outside) Trotskyist factions, the strongly union
followers of Bert Cochrane (sic) and Harry Braverman soon made its peace
with the stumbling Communist apparatus in the auto industry and took over
editing of the left UAW press.  It was an emblematic decision, either
capitulation or realism depending on the perspective." (p. 201)

The Trotskyists In Detroit organized a demonstration in Detroit of  500,000
auto workers by shutting down the plants so that the workers could march
into Cadillac Square to protest this vicious law.  The demonstration was
approved by the International Executive Board of the Union.  Reuther,
president of the union, advised his followers in three GM plants not to walk
out.  Over 30 officers of the union, led by John Anderson, a Cochranite,
were penalized and Reuther opposed the action of 50 Detroit UAW local union
presidents who instructed Reuther to get the penalized workers back on the
job.  Buhle calls this group that fought  Taft Hartley  'a stumbling
Communist apparatus.' We knew that the election of Reuther would set labor
back  for years, even decades.  We fought to prevent this from happening and
gladly sought out allies in the Addes-Thomas caucus.  It appalls Buhle that
several prominent Communist leaders were in this group.  They were a beaten
and cowed group bowing before the red baiting of Reuther.  We didn't stand
above the battle, indifferently, while labor took these sledge hammer blows
and in many locals we dominated the caucuses while the CP stood aside and
let us carry the brunt of the work. As responsible political leaders in the
union movement, we could not adopt the neutral stance of Paul Buhle. It was
better to have fought the battle and lost than to sit by and not do

Sol Dollinger

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