In Defense of Pete Seeger, American CommunistRoundup: Talking About History
tags: Communism, Pete Seeger
When the legendary folk singer Pete Seeger died Monday at the age of 94, remembrances of him, unsurprisingly, focused less on his music than on his social activism. All the better — Seeger, the epitome of tireless commitment to “the cause,” would have liked it that way.
Some comments were laudatory, praising every aspect of his advocacy. But most of them struck the balanced tone of The Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews, who tweeted: “I love and will miss Pete Seeger but let's not gloss over that fact that he was an actual Stalinist.”
Such attempts at balance miss the mark. It’s not that Seeger did a lot of good despite his longtime ties to the Communist Party; he did a lot of good because he was a Communist.
This point is not to apologize for the moral and social catastrophe that was state socialism in the 20th century, but rather to draw a distinction between the role of Communists when in power and when in opposition. A young worker in the Bronx passing out copies of the Daily Worker in 1938 shouldn’t be conflated with the nomenklatura that oversaw labor camps an ocean away.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, time after time American Communists such as Seeger were on the right side of history — and through their leadership, they encouraged others to join them there....
comments powered by Disqus
- ‘If You Want to Experience Liberation, Black Women Must Be at the Table’
- A Century After a Race Massacre, Tulsa Finally Digs for Suspected Mass Graves
- Historians Will Likely Rank Trump as One of the Worst Presidents
- Black Lives Matter Movement Prods Bethlehem and Other Districts to Review How History is Taught
- During the Civil War, the Enslaved Were Given an Especially Odious Job. The Pay Went to Their Owners.
- Is Evangelical Support for Trump a Contradiction?
- Survival Of The Kindest: Can Our Better Nature Help Us Build A Better World?
- As Monuments Tumble, Are We ‘Erasing’ History? Historians Say No
- Historical Association Schools Teachers on White House History
- MIT Professor Tunney Lee, an Architect, Urban Planner, and Historian of Chinatown, Dies at 88