Communism as Real as Baseball
Bernhard Thuersam <bernhard1848@...
The socialist basis of the United States today has its origins in the
1920s and 1930s, the rise of the Communist Party USA, and Roosevelt
the Second’s appropriation of the collectivist vote to hold power.
For those connecting the dots, the civil rights outbursts of the 1950s
had CPUSA underpinnings, and the 1960s saw an American cultural
revolution as a predictable result. Bernhard Thuersam
Communism as Real as Baseball:
“In an attempt to reinforce ties between the country’s past and the
CPUSA’s socialist program for the future, the ideological roots of the
Communist party grew beyond Marx, Lenin and Stalin, who were placed on
an equal ideological standing with the founding fathers. The preamble
to the Party’s new constitution . . . stated that American Communists
carried “forward today the traditions of Jefferson, Paine, Jackson and
Lincoln, and of the Declaration of Independence.” The Declaration of
Independence became the Communist Manifesto of the eighteenth century
. . . and important Party functions were held to coincide with
Washington’s Birthday, a date the Party leadership insisted had to be
The claim of the continuity of the country’s revolutionary past and
the Communist program, culminated in [CPUSA Presidential candidate
Earl] Browder’s slogan, “Communism is the Americanism of the twentieth
A changed political reality led to a new terminology: “anti-fascist,”
“progressive,” and “democracy” became the new catch-words replacing
“proletarian,” and “dictatorship of the proletariat.” The Daily
Worker opened its pages with a range of nonpolitical topics including
reviews of popular movies and a column on the problems of raising and
disciplining children. The paper’s sports writer, Lester Rodney,
successfully combined first class reporting with the denunciation of
racial discrimination in professional sports.
The Young Communist League, not to be outdone, sponsored fashion shows
complete with models sporting the latest in “anti-fascist style”
women’s clothing, and promoted the boycott of Japanese silk in favor
of synthetic substitutes and cotton.
When young Communists met in convention they no longer limited
themselves to speeches and passing resolutions. They now rocked
Madison Square Garden with jitterbugging and ever performed a musical
revue, “Socialism in Swing” . . . Communists also began promoting Big
Band music, more specifically black music such as swing, jazz, and
even traditional spirituals as embodiments of the county’s national
character and popular music.
Black artists such as W.C. Handy, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Jimmy
Lunceford, Count Basie, and boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons and
Meade Lewis, played at Party-sponsored events.
In commenting on the decision to introduce a sports page in the Daily
Worker as a regular feature in 1936, [it was commented that]: “When
you run the news of a strike alongside the news of a baseball game,
you are making American workers feel at home. It gives them the
feeling that Communism is nothing strange and foreign, but is as real
as baseball . . . let’s loosen up. Let’s begin to prove that we can
be a human being as well as a Communist. It isn’t a little sect of
bookworms or soapboxers.”
(The Communist Party of the United States, Fraser M. Ottanelli,
Rutgers University Press, 1991, pp. 123-128)
"We believed we were right and have not changed our minds."