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ERIC Number: EJ863122
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0895-4852
Revising Revisionism: A New Look at American Communism
Klehr, Harvey; Haynes, John Earl
Academic Questions, v22 n4 p452-462 Dec 2009
Although the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) never became a major player in American political life, it was a significant participant in mainstream politics and the trade union movement in the 1930s and 1940s. It has also been the focus of sustained attention by historians. An online bibliography of scholarly writing about domestic American communism has more than 9,000 entries, listing hundreds of dissertations and books as well as thousands of published articles. This enormous corpus of works on a political movement that never enlisted more than 88,000 members is filled with fierce debates between "revisionists" convinced that their subjects have been marginalized or unfairly denigrated and opponents less enamored with the role the CPUSA played in American life. The revisionist works that began to appear in the 1970s poured out hundreds of essays and books on a broad array of topics. They emphasized the heroic battles Communists had fought, the severe repression they had endured, the progressive causes they had enriched, and their personal virtue and nobility. Most revisionist works dealt with a limited geographic area, a short time span, a single incident, a specific ethnic or racial group, a particular union, or some other partial aspect of Communist history. When the Soviet Union collapsed and its archives were opened to scholars, historians of American communism had to confront mountains of new information, most of which greatly bolstered the traditionalist, not the revisionist, perspective of communism. Today, the historiography of American communism and anticommunism is unsettled. The revisionist domination, achieved in the 1970s and 1980s, has been shaken, but not shattered. Revisionists easily outnumber traditionalists and dominate the most prominent American historical journals. These authors, however, contend that as historians are forced to confront the archival evidence demonstrating the nature of American Communism, it will be only a matter of time before the revisionist project withers away. (Contains 20 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: USSR