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From: "Lloyd Miller" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Date: Tuesday, August 08, 2000 6:25 AM

Date: Sat, 05 Aug 2000 21:39:28 -0700
From: Michael Pugliese <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: eric garris <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>, Paul Buhle <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>,
Discussion of right-wing influences on the left <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: [right-left] Samuel Edward Konkin III MARXISM IN THE UNITED STATES

Samuel Edward Konkin III: MARXISM IN THE UNITED STATES (Review)   Too
fucking much! Doing some digging in "Holocaust Revisionism" find this
Libertarian, reviewing Paul Buhle, in the Willis Carto rag, JHR.
     Not only does Konkin write for that illustrious journal, he goes to
their conferences!
A016 The Second IHR Conference (1980): Plenary session
by John Bennett; Tom Marcellus; and Samuel Konkin III.

 >From the Second IHR Conference -- 1980.

     I'd never heard of Libertarians into Denial. That's one step or two
further than Harry Elmer Barnes for sure.
                                                            Michael Pugliese

Audio; 90 mins; $9.95.


Book Reviews
Paul Buhle. London: Verso (Haymarket Series), 1987, paperback, 299 pages,
$12.95, ISBN 0-86091-848-3.
Reviewed by Samuel Edward Konkin III
The most enjoyable treasure is that which is found in the most unlikely
place. Who would have thought of looking in a history of American Marxism,
written by a New Left activist, published by a British New Left press, for a
neglected, if not suppressed, account of the political history of early
German-American immigrants? Or how the conversion of the U.S. (Marxist) Left
from its interventionist globalism in the 1940s to an anti-interventionist
New Left version in the 1960s happened because, at least in part, of its
birth on a Wisconsin campus, in a population center of isolationist
German-American Progressives?
Paul Buhle tells us his own history in the penultimate chapter of Marxism in
the U.S. He was the founding editor of Radical America, which he describes
as the "unofficial journal of SDS" (the Students for a Democratic Society),
as "there was no official journal." He was one of Cold-War Revisionist
William Appleman Williams' students at the University of Wisconsin and
active in SDS from its takeover from the Old-Left League for Industrial
Democracy to its spectacular demise in 1970.
This reviewer came across Radical America in 1970 while at UW; it contained
a remarkable notice (remarkable to your reviewer, who like many of you,
evolved from the right) which verified something Murray Rothbard has been
telling us early Libertarians (this reviewer founded the first Libertarian
Alliance at UW in February 1970). Rothbard and fellow Libertarian
Revisionist Léonard Liggio had been doing missionary work amongst the SDS
and New Left historians, converting them to Isolationism. Many of us could
not believe our old campus opponents were open to such reason, but there it
was in Radical America: a special "Old Right" issue concerning the heroic
Isolationists who had kept the faith during the New Deal, Second World War
and even the Cold War, until the New Left came along. [1] It had a profound
effect on our thinking and led us out of the Left-Right statist trap
cramping our reason.
Buhle has continued his historical work largely Revisionist in both the
historical sense and in the sense that Marxists use it, since those days;
today he is the editor of The Encylopaedia of the Left for Garland
Publishing. [2] Marxism in the U.S. is one of the first in the Haymarket
Series published by the still-New-Left Verso Press in England; American
Revisionists and anti-imperialists should keep their eyes out for new books
in this series.
The history of the Left, in particular the American Left, is fairly simple
in outline, and generally agreed upon; however, once one seeks any details,
the versions diverge dramatically according to which faction is telling the
tale. Buhle has his heroes and villains and many would not match ours.
Furthermore, he neglects the proto-Libertarian individualist anarchists, who
considered themselves of the Left, in the nineteenth century. [3] On the
other hand, he covers many of the common ancestors often neglected:
Jacksonian Democrats, Abolitionists, Populists, Spiritualists, Bellamy
Nationalists and native Utopians. Herein lies the interest to todays
Revisionist readers.
Immigrants brought Socialism to the United States, and remarkably early at
that. In 1848 the U.S. was mopping up the Mexican War and native radicals
has risen up against the blatantly imperialist policy. Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto that year,on the eve of a
European-wide insurrection centered in the German states. Many of the
insurgents fled to German communities in the United States, bringing with
them the ideas that had led them to the barricades. Although Marx has his
followers in the first wave, Ferdinand Lassalle was an even more popular
German Socialist leader ("statuettes of whose countenance graced the
Socialist locals and often served as raffle prizes"). [4] The '48ers
supported the Radical Abolitionist cause; Adolf Douai edited a Texas
Abolitionist paper and died still editing a German-language Socialist daily
in 1888. Not surprisingly, German-Americans disproportionately joined the
Union in the Civil War/War between the States.
The '48ers were the alte Genossen to the post-war wave of German immigrants.
Editor and playwright Augustítto Walster, son of a leathersmith, immigrated
to America to start the German-language national weekly newspaper, Arbeiter
Stimme. The large German- language press was disproportionately Socialist,
and quite cosmopolitan. Douai worked on the New Yorker Volkszeitung side by
side with Russian nobleman Serge Schevitsch (who brought Lassalle's mistress
to the U.S., where she became an actress after Lassalle had died in a duel
over her) and with German Jew Alexander Jonas, who commuted every few years
between Germany and the United States, working freely in the press milieu
and later, importantly, attracting Jewish immigrants to Socialism.
As the German Social Democratic Party grew in success (it became the largest
party in the new German empire, though not allowed to take power until the
final days of World War I), its progress was followed in the German-American
press. Socialism, or social democracy, was not achieving notable success in
the United States, and Germans tended to drop it as they became
progressively assimilated. As they were followed by other Eastern European
immigrant waves, these new groups replaced them, particularly if they were
familiar with German already (Poles, Bohemians, Jews, Croats and so on).
Interestingly, Buhle singles out the German-Jews (later followed by Russian
Jews, though still Yiddish-speaking) and hints that their slowness in
assimilating may have led to their becoming the core of U.S. Socialism:
Taking nothing away from the German-American papers, they had not (except,
perhaps, the weekly anarchist Arme Teufel from Detroit) become the site of
an avowed search for identity; Socialism and their homeland traditions
provided that easily, no doubt too easily. The editorials, the headlines,
the formal understanding of the Jewish press do not seem so superficially
different But to the close observer, Tsukunft and even more the Arbeiter
Tseitung made that search the focus for Socialist politics. [5]
In the 1890s the immigrants reached out to an Anerica seething with a wave
of strikes, a depression, and Populist uprisings in the rural areas -
seemingly ready for class revolt A Portuguese from Trinidad, Daniel DeLeon,
entered the Socialist Labor Party in the U.S. and began its first
English-language weekly, The People, in 1891. Buhle credits DeLeon with
being the first truly American Marxist; he brought theoretical rigor to the
U.S. movement - and a pre-Leninist discipline and sectarianism which had the
SLP in ruins by 1899. (The SLP still has a tiny organization alive today; it
is perceived through the Left as DeLéon's personal cult)
What American Socialism needed was a native American standard-bearer who
could appeal both to the theoretically rigorous immigrants and the Utopians,
Christian Socialists, Spiritualists and radicals in the native populace - a
synthesizing Socialist in the James Stewart/Henry Fonda mold. It found this
in Eugene V. Debs, and the new Socialist Party reached its high point under
his leadership, particularly in becoming the focus of opposition to American
entry into World War I. Unlike the European Social Democratic Parties, the
American Socialists remained united against American participation, from the
Left to the Right ends of their spectrum (though with defectors and
opportunists from all parts as well). Had not the Bolshevik Revolution
occurred, it would be fascinating to consider what might have happened in
1920, at the end of the Palmer raids, when the U.S. SP and the International
Workers of the World, its sometime ally, though wounded from persecution,
were at the height of popularity, as the rest of the U.S. populace soured on
war and intervention following Versailles.
Unfortunately, the Russian Revolution completely changed the utopian
expectations of the Left, not merely in the United States but throughout the
world. And V.I. Lenin's apparent success in bringing about a form of
Socialist utopia granted him followers throughout every Socialist
organization and, hence, instant factionalism. At its height, then, the U.S.
Socialist Party split apart. In America the "Menshevik" faction really was
the minority but excluded the majority delegates to hang onto control and
maintain the SP as an increasingly anti-communist but ever smaller Left
organization. The "Bolsheviks" split immediately into squabbling factions,
arguing over which splinter was the real standard-bearer of Lenin in the
U.S. [6]
All this is covered in the first three chapters of Marxism in the United
States, roughly half the book. The next three chapters deal with the
Leninist infection, its impact on culture (particularly literary) in the
thirties, Eugene Lyons' Red Decade and the winning of intellectuals to the
supposedly proletarian cause, then the Communist Party U.S.A.'s sudden
acceptability during the World War II, followed by its anathema and
persecution as the Empire-builders cranked up a "no-win," "Cold," "perpetual
war for perpetual peace."
Near the end of the sixth chapter, Buhle delineates the roots of the New
Left, and here is another section of interest to Isolationist-Revisionists:
Shortly after the New York Intellectuals evolved definitively toward
accommodation with Pax Americana, a less prestigious but - from the
retrospective viewpoint of the New left - more important group moved in the
reverse direction for precisely opposite reasons. The University of
Wisconsin had been a center of anti-monopolist, anti-imperialist thought
since the days of Robert La Follette. It was shortly to regain its historic
role, in New Left guise.
Many intellectuals in the old Middle Border had bowed uneasily to the
inevitability of war mobilization, suspecting - with a handful of
Trotskyists, unrecalcitrant pacifists, and Charles Beard - that
militarization of American life would become permanent . . . A new
generation of scholars, mostly refugees from Old Left families and from the
Henry Wallace campaign, joined these odd ducks on the Madison campus and
relearned radical history with native coloring. The same youngsters were
also, and not coincidentally, the first generation of immigrants' children
who could fit comfortably into a field now composed not of gentlemen
scholars but of middling professionals. They took their models . . . from
the quasi-isolationist, anti-military tradition of Progressive historians
and from the new mass student culture. [7]
A few paragraphs later, Buhle pays homage to Cold-War Revisionist William
Appleman Williams and the historical school he founded; earlier C. Wright
Mills gets his due for bringing class theory (or, if you prefer, conspiracy
theory) back into respectable academic discourse.
Readers of the reviewer's (and Buhle's) age will find a Big Chill or horn in
the seventh penultimate chapter, on the New Left. Buhle was there and tells
it, honestly, first-hand, admirably dropping the detached-historian voice
for that of the first person.
Buhle is weakest in his Conclusion, an eighth but unnumbered chapter. This
is hardly surprising for a historian, for he is trying to assimilate the
seventies and eighties even as he is still within them. The Black movement,
the feminists, the literary deconstructionists and structuralists, and the
liberation theologists all require analysis, which would redeem them perhaps
from their status here, as undigested lumps disgorged by Buhle. But even in
these chunks Buhle's basic honesty and analytic mind is evident
A favorite sport of right-wing commentators from the late 1970s has been the
attack upon the New Left greybeard, the mutton-chop sideburned college
professor who forces his Marxist ideas upon hapless undergraduates. This
attack cannot be denied its industrial-sized grain of truth. Radicals in the
academy have found themselves trapped inside a massive contradiction, not
between theory and reality (as the Right claims) but between theory and
practice, between (in the theoretical version) materialism and idealisms.
Paul Buhle provides us with not only the first modern comprehensive overview
of the American Left, even if primarily of its Marxist strand, but begins
the task of re-inclusion of those strands deliberately severed, buried and
covered up during the Leninist fever. Besides the value this book has in
returning integrity to the Left, it contains numerous gems for the pleasure
of discovery by those who consider the label "Left," let alone Socialist,"
fit only to hang on enemies and future targets. Even they may consider
swapping their scatterguns for more accurate rifles after conferring with
Paul Buhle.

[1]For those interested in following up the New Left/Old Right connection, a
search for the out-of-print magazine Left & Right, largely written by
Rothbard, Liggio and their friends between 1965 and 1968; I inherited my
copies from a prominent Libertarian. Somewhat more available is Carl
Oglesby's excellent Cold War isolationist book, Containment & Change, which
describes the Libertarian "Old Right" as the best allies for the New Left's
coalition building against the U.S.-centered Empire. Best of the New Left,
before he turned Establishment apologist, was Ronald Radosh, who wrote
paeans to the heroes of most JHR readers: Oscar Garrison Villard, John T.
Flynn, Robert A. Taft and even alleged "fascist" Lawrence Dennis, in his
still available Prophets On The Right.
[2]Who are also preparing The Encyclopaedia of Libertarianism, edited by
this reviewer.
[3]Benjamin Tucker called himself a "laissez-faire Socialist" and belonged,
along with many other free-market anarchist advocates (mostly in New
England), to the First Workingmen's International (which Marx dissolved
rather than let the Anarchists take it over).
[4]Marxism in the United States, p. 29.
[5]Marxism in the United States, p. 49.
[6]See the film Reds for a portrayal of this schism; John Reed (played by
Warren Beatty) exemplified the conversions that occurred and the later
[7]Marxism in the United States, pp. 215-6.
[8]Marxism in the United States, p. 264.

Source: Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 8, no. 2, pp.

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