Scholar, Historian Theodore Draper
Theodore Draper interview with author.
Historians of American communism have failed to recognize the existence of this political double standard. Their oversight has left them in a historical vacuum as they debate the behavior of communist professors. Thus the anticommunist historian Theodore Draper attacks communist professors for failing to maintain scholarly neutrality and worshipping the Soviet Union, while anti-anticommunist historian Ellen Schrecker defends these communists by arguing that they displayed "fairness and lack of bias" in their teaching. Both sides of this debate seem to assume that the presence of any bias in the teaching of communist faculty would constitute both a terrible indictment of them and a unique departure from professional standards. This is a naive assumption that reflects a lack of familiarity with what was going on in the classrooms of Depression America. The problem with both Schrecker and Draper is that since they only study communist teachers and not conservatives or liberals, they do not understand that these nonradical teachers were every bit as biased in their classroom work as their radical counterparts. However one judges radical teachers in Depression America, their instructional work cannot be set into historical context unless it is recognized that during this turbulent era bias entered the classroom from all positions on the political spectrumright, left, and center. Unless this context is understood, we will never move beyond the unreality of this debate which casts communist teachers as either apolitical saints or indoctrinating sinners. On this debate see, Schrecker, 43-44; Theodore Draper, "The Class Struggle: The Myth of the Communist Professors," (Jan. 26, 1987), 29-36.
(Theodore Draper: op. cit.; p 71).
Theodore Draper was similarly disillusioned by the Nazi-Soviet pact, but in his case it led to the rejection of Marxism and the adoption of a liberal anticommunism which characterized him politically for the rest of his life.
Theodore Draper's incredibly detailed book about the many groups, factions and individuals that would form what became the Communist Party USA. Mostly focusing on the years 1917-1921, Draper traces the roots from the 'Left-Wing' of the Socialist Party of America and the IWW, to the Third International-linked CPUSA. At Mr. Theodore Draper's request, I am sending you herewith a copy of Chapter9, "The Politics of Trade Unionism," from his forthcoming second volume of the history of the CPUSA.I am going to try to put together the whole Passaic story and after next week, and I Imgoing to take the liberty of bothering you if something should be unclear. Meanwhile,my deepest gratitude for your help so far, and I wish you would give my warmestregards to your wife.Sincerely,Theodore DraperBy Theodore Draper New York: Times Books, 1996. Pp. xiv, 544. $35.00 cloth, $17.00 paper. Theodore Draper has a well-deserved reputation for producing excellent histories......Continue reading about