'Bitter with the Past but Sweet with the Dream': Communism by Cathy Bergin

By Cathy Bergin

The legacy of the connection among African American writers and Communism within the US is a contested one. Bergin argues that during 3 novels, through seminal mid-century authors (Wright, Himes and Ellison) Communism isn't brushed off as incapable of assembly the calls for of black political id yet is castigated for its refusal to take action. a close specialise in the political milieu within which those texts function demanding situations a number of the presumptions concerning the ‘inability’ of Communism to appreciate racial oppression, which dominate literary severe ways to those novels. She attracts at the complicated formations black political company presumed and reproduced by way of American Communism throughout the Depression.

Biographical note
Cathy Bergin (DPhil (2004) is a Senior Lecturer within the Humanities Programme on the collage of Brighton.

All drawn to the contested dating among African American writers and Communism and the connection among politics and literary shape.

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Extra info for 'Bitter with the Past but Sweet with the Dream': Communism in the African American Imaginary. Representations of the Communist Party, 1940-1952

Sample text

66 The dark history of the purges in Stalinist Russia in the mid-1930s offer a sobering context for reviewing these events and certainly throughout the 1930s dissenting comrades were expelled from the American Party under a variety of pretexts. However, as with so much of this history, there is a contradictory element. By taking an uncompromising stand on racism and privileging black experience of discrimination, the Party signalled that it was a unique force on the Left. When Hosea Hudson attended a Communist Party educational, a small incident regarding borrowed face cream became a major event.

The Cracker has in his blood the desire to kill and brutalize the Negro because of his vaunted image of superiority based upon the difference of color. When you scratch the Communist beneath the surface, you will find him the same vicious Southerner whose political belief will not surmount his racial prejudices and for this, we have always kept 48 49 50 51 52 53 Allen 1974, p. 240. See Solomon 1998, pp. 23–35. Garvey 1967b, vol. 2, p. 71. Garvey 1967b, vol. 2, p. 72. Ibid. Briggs 1931, pp. 174, 176.

For Communists in the 1930s, black workers had the power to become agents of their own liberation, not by narrowing the focus of their struggle, but by 32 Anderson 1981, p. 148. ‘ towards soviet america ’ 27 broadening it. Although race remained a determining factor, active political identity did not reside in ethnic particularity alone but in class-conscious racial awareness. Black proletarian identity in this context bears little relationship to the model of identity posed by Garveyism; a model premised on racial exclusiveness.

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