Great Moments in Leftist History

Ever wonder where that hyphenated American rubbish started? You know, where seemingly everyone describes himself as a [fill in the ethnicity]-American? Whatever happened to the melting pot?

The story is both fascinating and disturbing. It involves Bella Dodd, who was sort of a distaff version of Whitaker Chambers, a one-time functionary of the Communist Party (and head of the New York State Teachers’ Union, which I gather is pretty much the same thing) who, disillusioned with the CPUSA, later became an ardent anti-Communist.

Her autbiography, “School of Darkness,” (available free online here) details her work and life as a Communist apparatchik and her later political conversion. The entire book is well worth reading, but the operative part for this present topic appears in Chapter Thirteen (please excuse the extensive quote):

BY APRIL, 1945, there was evidence of trouble in the Communist Party. Uneasiness increased among its functionaries. I first became aware of this in my work with the Italian Commission of the American Communist Party.

One day two foreigners appeared in our midst, recently come from Italy. Berti and Donnini were a smooth, attractive pair, who called themselves professors and had become leaders of the Italian Commission. They immediately started a controversy, about the work among national minorities.

Earl Browder at the convention of 1944 had insisted on the elimination of a sense of difference among the foreign-born and had moved to have them treated as part of the American labor movement. To this Professors Berti and Donnini offered strenuous objections. They emphasized the importance of separate national organizations, of encouraging the foreign-born to use their languages, and of circulating foreign-language newspapers. They encouraged the organizing of the different national groups almost as if these were foreign colonies. It would strengthen the sense of nationalism among them, they asserted, a necessary thing for the building of world communism.

These two Party functionaries found themselves on the carpet for their unwelcome views. Plans were on foot to expel them. Then, suddenly, came the amazing news that they were members of the Italian Communist Party! Up to this point, like others, I had regarded them as honest but misguided foreigners with a penchant for disputation.

Now I realized that nothing they said had been unpremeditated, and that they were not speaking for themselves. They represented the International Communist movement and it was clear that Browder’s approach to the national problem was in disfavor with some sections of world communism.

She goes on to make clear that the shift in policy was dictated by Moscow, i.e., Stalin, who now shifted his target from the recently defunct Nazi Germany to his next enemy: the United States, inter alia by promoting divisive Balkanization among its populace.

So here we are, 70 years on, we see the fruits of his endeavor in the quotidian usage of hyphenated American.

8 comments on “Great Moments in Leftist History
  1. One day maybe the LIVs will realize that their proud membership in the hyphenated world of the politics of division has essentially disenfranchised them.

    And no….I am not holding my breath.

    • The ironies abound. What country was known for having particularly fractious ethnicities subsumed within it? Surely the USSR would be high on this list (later to be followed by Yugoslavia). Perhaps that’s where Stalin got the idea to infect the U.S. with the same problem.

  2. The effectiveness of the Left amazes me. I have come to the conclusion that this can only have sprung from a diabolic source.

    Whether or not you accept the concept of a personification of evil (call him Satan, the Devil, etc.), I can think of no other source for the slide of the world into what it has become.

    No one on earth, and especially not leftists, is smart enough or capable enough to have pushed us to this in such a manner.

    I am only comforted in my knowledge of what will come after.

  3. Hey now…this place is shiny and spankin new! Mind if I stop by every once in a while to drop a turd or two? I’ll offer no substance or thought to a conversation but I’m warm and fuzzy and people like me godammit! I’ll usually just sit in the corner pickin at my toe cheese and I’m other wise harmless except at feeding time.

    Thank you

  4. Pingback: Not much of a surprise, in hindsight | Scott's Blog

  5. Dodd’s book is only $2.99 on Kindle (which means I should be able to have it read to me in TTS), so thank you for reminding me to get it.

  6. tweeted a link to this as “How Stalin started the hyphenated-American strategy”

    Btw why no tweet buttons on each post? Just wondering.

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