In Defense of Pete Seeger, American Communisttags: 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
- Expressing Outrage over Attacks on Cultural Heritage of Iraq, General Assembly Unanimously Adopts Resolution Calling for Urgent Action
- Isis Palmyra demolition has begun with ancient God Lion statue destroyed
- Moving Photographs of Japanese American Internees, Then and Now
- A One-of-a-Kind Trove Reveals What 19th-Century American Boyhood Was Really Like
- St. Louis University moves controversial statue after protests
- NYT hosts debate including Eric Foner: How Americans should remember Reconstruction
- William Leuchtenburg says historians and the media have been too hard on Obama
- Hugh Ambrose, historian who helped develop WWII Museum, dead at 48
- Historian discounts claim that Churchill and other British PM's were gay
- Nick Bunker Wins $50,000 2015 George Washington Book Prize