The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Communism and John Kerry - again

Way back on June 4, I [1] drew attention to the fact that a slogan of the late candidate was derived from a poem by fellow-traveller Langston Hughes - and the fact was being passed over by the Big Media.

Compared to his I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it, pretty small - nay, minute - beer.

However, reading [2] Arthur Herman's book on McCarthy, I come across a further fact on Hughes' pink connections.

Apparently (p70), an organisation of liberals had been formed in 1939 [3] under the name Committee for Cultural Freedom, to oppose equally all forms of totalitarianism, of the Stalinist as well as the Nazi variety.

In response, an open letter dated August 14 1939 bearing 165 signatures but supposedly supported by four hundred liberals
dismissed the members of the [CCF] as "fascists and allies of fascists" who were trying to prevent "a united anti-aggression front" with the Soviet Union.

Amongst the signatories was Langston Hughes.

I note also that, according to Herman, both IF Stone and George Seldes signed the 1939 open letter: these journos of the left noted for their independence from Big Media (each publishing in their own newsletters) [4] turn out to be guilty of a monumental trahison des clercs!

  1. There were a few of us actually, as I recall...

  2. As I mentioned on November 17.

  3. I'm not clear when (must have been before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 23 1939, obviously) or in what circumstances: this says its members included Sinclair Lewis, Thomas Mann and Ira Gershwin. The piece also refers to the Dewey Commission, a Trotskyite organisation formed in 1937 aimed at discrediting the Moscow Trials; another open letter was directed against the Commission. I suspect some common membership between the CCF and the Dewey Commission on the one hand, and the ranks of signatories of both the 1937 and 1939 open letters on the other.

  4. I discussed both in pieces on March 6 and April 4.

    A Front Page piece from August 4 under hed The Abominable I.F. Stone (the tone is Likudnik) says he only broke with the Party after the invasion of Hungary in 1956.


Whilst the URLs are to hand:

A piece on the US reaction - or rather the lack of it - to the 1932 Ukraine Famine includes Richard Wright and James Thurber as on the list of 1939 open letter signatories.

A PBS page on New York intellectuals in the 1930s and 40s.

The 6,000 word introduction from Dictators, Democracy, and American Public Culture: Envisioning the Totalitarian Enemy, 1920s-1950s by Benjamin L. Alpers looks promising.

A piece on the Partisan Review in the 1930s by a French Trotskyite author translated into Spanish! (Might be something in it...)

A piece by Roger Kimball examining Julien Benda's 1927 essay La Trahison des clercs looks interesting (though well outside the wheelhouse of your humble blogger).

The Trotskyite antecedents of the American version of neoconservatism makes for an interesting, if fanciful, ideological symmetry: Hughes and Kerry, the CCF Trots and Bush.

A piece (PDF) Une passion anticommuniste : Sidney Hook (1902-1989) - Hook organised the Dewey Commission, it seems.

(The journal Sources, described as a revue d'├ętudes anglophones has a convenient page listing its articles - all PDF. The first number, in 1996, includes an interview with Michael Foot on British society during World War II.

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