Raya Dunayevskaya on A.J. Muste and the American Trotskyists

The Marxists Internet Archive has made available a 1958 column by Raya Dunayevskaya on A.J. Muste’s American Workers Party, a short-lived but important political grouping of the Great Depression (“Unemployment and Organizations to Fight It“).

She had firsthand knowledge of the topic, as she was a member of the the Workers Party of the U.S., the group that succeeded the AWP when Muste and his followers merged in late 1934 with the Trotskyists of the Communist League of America. Dunayevskaya’s archives, housed at Wayne State University’s Reuther Library, include an announcement of a talk she and Charles Curtiss delivered (“The Communist International Turns Right Again”) in Los Angeles in 1935 under the auspices of the Workers Party.

The point of the column is that the Trotskyists were unable to give a theoretic orientation to the potentially influential force that the new organization represented. Mentioned are several important figures of the history of American Marxism, such as Louis Budenz, Sidney Hook, and James Burnham.

The 1958 column from News & Letters is a slightly truncated version of one she published in Correspondence in December of 1953, titled “Intellectuals and Radical Workers.” The longer version is stronger because it gives a little more context to the motives of the intellectuals, but even so, the 1958 version has great interest for still-relevant topic of relationship of theory and mass political practice.

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