Western Marxist collection
Scope and Contents
publications of U.S. and international Marxist organizations, intended to educate a broad public audience. The other half of the collection consists of internal publications from these organizations, where the donor played an active organizing role. These documents reflect the nature of the Marxist-Leninist trend, which combined activism with detailed study of history and Marxist theory. There are documents showing internal debates on a variety of issues such as trade unions, minority empowerment, and feminism. Because of the historical persecution of communist organizers and activists, many documents have names and other words deleted to protect the identities of the people involved.*
This collection was named the Western Marxist collection because there may be other individuals in the future who wish to contribute their own documents and comments. Currently it comprises six series. The first, COMMUNIST PARTY, OCTOBER LEAGUE, AND OTHER GROUPS contains internal materials from several communist organizations from 1968 to 1982. These materials include internal debates about ideology and strategy, meeting agendas, correspondence, and summaries of various sponsored activities. Of particular interest are the Unity Debate internal papers, which illustrate a failed attempt to reconcile and unite divergent organizations. The next section, U.S. MARXIST-LENINIST ORGANIZATIONS PAMPHLETS AND PUBLICATIONS consists of publications and pamphlets printed by communist organizations such as the October League, typically intended to inform and educate the public. These publications cover various communist or leftist issues such as racial empowerment and labor unions.
INTERNATIONAL MARXIST-LENINIST ORGANIZATIONS’ PAMPHLETS AND PUBLICATIONS are publications and pamphlets printed by international communist organizations. The majority of these publications are written about the Communist Party of China, reflecting the influence of Chinese communist ideology and Mao Zedong on American communists of the 1970’s. Several publications involve revolutionary groups in South America, where organizations such as the New American Movement were involved in encouraging communist revolution. MARXIST BOOKS AND EXCERPTS contains books by major communist theorists such as Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin, and Joseph Stalin as well as lesser known authors’ investigations of communism. Many of these books are written by or about Mao Zedong, whose philosophy and personality greatly influenced many of the communist organizations represented in the collection.
COMMUNIST NEWSPAPERS consists mainly of editions of The Call, the newspaper of the October League and later the Communist Party, from 1973 to 1982. This series also includes miscellaneous editions of newspapers published by other organizations such as the Revolutionary Union. U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL POSTERS is a collection of posters dated from 1972 to 1982. The influence of Chinese communism and Mao Zedong can be seen in several of these posters. Many other posters reflect the attention given to South American revolutionary groups. There are also posters detailing events sponsored by various communist organizations.
- 1969 - 1984
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for access.
Conditions Governing Use
Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.
Biographical / Historical
These comments are written by the donor about the Western Marxist Collection.
These are the collected papers on an organizer. For the years between 1969 and 1982 I was an activist in the best “radical” tradition of that period. I have since left political life, still with high hopes for building a better society, but with a different vision of how I may contribute my talents.
I struggled for a long time within myself about how to summarize those years. My conclusion: the time was not yet ripe. For the few thousand of us, from several political organizations representing the U.S. Marxist-Leninist trend during the late 1960’s, 1970’s, and early 1980’s, this period is just coming to light. This collection, along with future work by my former political associates, will eventually make this summary possible. This collection will aid in a public review now emerging of a period embroiled in tremendous social turmoil and will allow future generations to view the innermost debates of our struggle. There is also a need, I believe, to record the countless efforts of many truly selfless people in their attempt to create a better society.
Younger individuals than I have asked me how this political activism came to be. I still cannot answer that question, although I firmly believe that my experiences, and those of others, were the result of tremendous social forces produced by rapid technological, economic, and political change. It is a type of change which has marked the development of the U.S. and which escalated in the 1960’s. The decrease in isolationism and the increase in global communications in the 1960’s allowed average citizens to directly view our country’s role abroad.
As a background for the reader, there is, as I found early in my political career, a rich international and U.S. socialist history opposed to war for profit and tied to labor and nationality movements. There are many socialist groups tracing their ideological roots to Marx and Engels, but the U.S. Marxist-Leninist (ML) trend up through the early 1980’s followed not only those revolutionaries, but also the philosophy of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung. The Chinese Cultural Revolution gave a special momentum to the Marxist-Leninist trend in the U.S. The appeal of Lenin’s struggle for political clarity, Stalin’s early writings on the rights of minority nationalities, and Mao’s remarkable 1949 Chinese Revolution were positive examples upheld by the young U.S. Marxist-Leninists. Some negative aspects of these leaders were often dismissed.
As a college student from 1967 to 1972, I and a number of my political friends had received our political education in the Kennedy era. We had high hopes for social justice. However, in a few short years, the Kennedys and King were assassinated and the U.S. became inextricably involved in an unpopular war. My own transition to an anti-government, revolutionary, and Marxist-Leninist political viewpoint, in that order, was no doubt linked with a profound feeling of betrayal by the U.S. government for its persistence in the Vietnam War. This sense of moral injustice, combined with an abhorrence at the lack of fundamental rights of minority peoples which was then being increasingly uncovered, led to a personal search for alternative solutions. My own progression, from anti-war work, through revolutionary study circles, to Marxist-Leninist collectives, and eventually into organizing a Marxist-Leninist party, was the logical result of a desire for wanting to actively build a new and better society.
There are probably many reasons why our movement failed. Among them was a lack of clear class analysis of U.S. society. Certainly there were “ultra-leftist” errors in some of our work and organizational life. These isolated us and demoralized many good activists, who later left politics with their idealism shattered. Much of this is referred to in the debates leading up to the Second Congress of the Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist (CPML) included in this collection. However, the changing conditions in the U.S., particularly the end of the Vietnam war and improved nationality relations, were also contributing factors. A future historian will do better than I in unraveling the many components of this movement which was spawned from an age of turmoil.
*See appendix on relevant communist organizations
10.5 linear feet (23 Boxes)
Language of Materials
The collection consists of the papers of a Colorado Marxist political activist and organizer. The collection contains both internal documents and party publications from local (Boulder) and national organizations, dating between 1969 and 1982. These organizations represent the New Communist movement of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, and include the October League and its successor, the Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist. The internal papers consist of study guides, internal debates on party issues, and correspondence. The publications include pamphlets, newspapers, and books. Also included are international and U.S. political posters.
This collection is arranged in the following series: Series 1: Communist Party, October League and Other Groups, 1969-1987 Series 2: U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organizations' Pamphlets and Publications, 1967-1987 Sub-series a: The Call Pamphlets (Alphabetically), 1973-1980 Sub-series b: Students for a Demosratic Society Publications, n.d. Sub-series c: Radical Education Project Publications, n.d. Sub-series d: Communist League Publications, 1972 Sub-series e: October League, Marxist-Leninist Publications, 1972-1976 Sub-series f: Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist Publications, 1977-1980 Sub-series g: Liberator Press (October LEague/Communist Party), 1976-1978 Sub-series h: Revolutionary Union Publications 1972 Sub-series i: Communist Youth Organization Publications, 1976-1979 Sub-series j: Colorado Organization fro a Revolutionary Struggle (CORES) Publications,1977-1979 Sub-series k: Other Communist Organizations, 1967-1987 Series 3: International Marxist-Leninist Organizations - Pamphlets and Publications, 1939-1980 Sub-series a: Interntaional Communist Party Publications, 1974-1975 Sub-series b: On Albania-Pamphlets and Publications, 1971-1976 Sub-series c: On Australia-Pamphlets and Publications, 1973-1981 Sub-series d: Canadian Communist League, Marxist-Leninist Publications, 1975-1978 Sub-series e: Chile-Publications About and Partido Comunista Revolucionario Publications, 1971-1972 Sub-series f: Communist Party of China Publications, 1963-1972 Sub-series g: Ethiopian Advocacy Organizations, 1976-1977 Sub-sereis h: Communist Party of India, Marxist-Leninist, 1970-1976 Sub-series i: Kampuchea-Pamphlets and Publications, 1978-1979 Sub-series j: North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), 1970-1971 Sub-series k: Movimiento de Liberacion Nacional (M.L.N.) - Uruguay, 1971-1980 Sub-series l: Other South American Communist Organizations, 1971-1974 Sub-series m: Communist Party of the Soviet Union (C.P.S.U.) Publications, 1939-1976 Sub-series n: Other International Communist Organizations, 1967-1978 Series 4: Communist Books, 1934-1984 Sub-series a: Lenin, 1940-1975 Sub-series b: Mao Zedong, 1967-1978 Sub-series c: Karl Marx - Writings, 1970-1975 Sub-series d: Joseph Stalin - Writings, 19729-1975 Sub-series e: Miscellaneous Marxist Books (Alphabetical by Author), 1934-1977 Series 5: Communist Newspapers and Newsletters, 1970-1984 Sub-series a: Miscellaneous Newspapers, 1970-1984 Sub-series b: The Call, 1973-1982 Series 6: U.S. and International Posters, 1972-1982
- In Progress
- Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner, February 5, 1988 Revised by Mohammad Adra, November 16, 1990
- November 16, 1990
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository
1720 Pleasant Street
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States