One Hundred Years of Communism in the USA
Sat, November 10th, 2018
8:00 am - 7:45 pm
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One of the biggest political developments of the last century was the rise and fall of the American Communist Party. Introducing long overlooked archival material and fresh interpretations, this conference at Williams College offers an exploration of the party’s evolution, leadership, and demise since its founding in 1919 to illuminate trends in American society, not only politically but socially, culturally, and economically. These include the U.S. government’s reaction to radicalism after World War I, the rise of African American activism, the heyday and later decline of the American labor movement, and the role of communists in Hollywood (both real and imagined), as well as in the farm belt and other regions of the country.
Alongside these domestic party links, panelists will also explore the efforts of Americans to assist Soviet causes both at home and abroad particularly during the Spanish Civil War and World War II, as well as the U.S. government’s response to Soviet agents’ own infiltration here, a response that has affected the U.S. security state in American life to this day. Participants will also explore the legacy of the party’s role in such areas as film and politics, even after its eclipse following Khrushchev’s secret speech against Stalin and its near disappearance after the Cold War, a legacy still colored with lasting acclaim for its record on social justice issues.
This conference is sponsored by the Stanley Kaplan Program in American Foreign Policy and the Political Science Department.