The Long War

The Intellectual People’s Front and Anti-Stalinism, 1930–1940

The Long War

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: Published: January 1995

Author: Judy Kutulas

American Studies, History > U.S. History, Politics > Political Science

In the early 1930s, the American Communist Party attracted support from a wide range of liberal and radical intellectuals, partly in response to domestic politics, and also in opposition to the growing power of fascism abroad. The Long War, a social history of these intellectuals and their political institutions, tells the story of the rift that developed among the groups loosely organized under the umbrella of the Party—representing communist supporters of the People’s Front and those who would become anti-Stalinists—and the evolution of that rift into a generational divide that would culminate in the liberal anti-communism of the post-World War II era.
Judy Kutulas takes us into the debates and outright fights between and within the ranks of organizations such as the League of American Writers, the John Reed Clubs, the Committee for Cultural Freedom, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners. Showing how extremist views about the nature and value of communism triumphed over more moderate ones, she traces the transfer of the left’s leadership from one generation to the next. She describes how supporters of the People’s Front were discredited by the time of the Nazi-Soviet Pact and how this opened the way for a new generation of leaders better known as the New York intellectuals. In this shift, Kutulas identifies the beginnings of the liberal anti-communism that would follow World War II.
A book for students and scholars of the intersection of politics and culture, The Long War offers a new, informed perspective on the intellectual maneuvers of the American left of the 1930s and leads to a reinterpretation of the time and its complex legacy.


The Long War is a carefully crafted archaeological excursion through the debates of the intellectual Left during the ‘Red Decade’ of the 1930s. With admirable mastery of her complex and convoluted subject, Kutulas traces the schism that developed between those working in more or less direct cooperation with the Communist party during the period—a broad array of writers, artists, and others aligned under the Popular Front, here treated with greater sympathy and nuance than in most accounts—and their anti-Stalinist adversaries. . . . Kutulas writes with striking clarity, and her study is impressive in its comprehensiveness and detail. . . .” — Gregory D. Sumner, Journal of American History

"The Long War is full of important, previously untold stories about relations between intellectuals and the radical parties. It offers moments of real subtlety and insight." — Alan Filreis, University of Pennsylvania

"Better than any study I know, The Long War articulates the relationship between the anti-Stalinism of American intellectuals during the 1930s and the ideology of anti-Communism that has dominated American culture and society since the 1950s. The book is also a significant intervention into the historiographical debates concerning the American Communist Party and the People’s Front tactic it embraced during the late 1930s." — Arthur D. Casciato, Miami University, Ohio


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Judy Kutulas is Assistant Professor of History at St. Olaf College.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Abbreviations Used in the Text xiii

Introduction 1

1. "Leftbound Local": The Lost Generation, Social Activists, Communists, and the Depression 18

2. "The Disinherited": The Emergence of a Left-wing Opposition, 1932-1935 52

3. Becoming "More Liberal": constructing the People's Front, 1935-1937 87

4. Challenging "The Writers Congress Creed": Left-wing Opposition to the People's Front, 1937-1938 106

5. "The More Developed Writers": Managing the People's Front, 1937-1938 132

6. "Bystanders" and the "Tit for Tat Front": The Emergence of Extremism on Either Side of the Front Barrier, 1939 148

7. "A Pretty Pickle": The Nazi-Soviet Pact and the Breakup of the Intellectual People's Front, 1939-1940 164

8. Countering "Totalitarian Liberalism": The Demise of Anti-Stalinism and the Emergence of Liberal Anticommunism, 1939-1940 186

9. The "Official Creed": The Legacy of the 1930s Intellectual Left 209

"Newcomers . . . Forcing Themselves toward the Fore": Some Conclusions 234

Notes 241

Selected Bibliography 299

Index 315
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1524-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1526-1
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