Document Type

Interview

Duration

01:04:07

Publication Date

4-16-2009

Journal, Book or Conference Title

New Books Network

Abstract

Most people know what "appeasement" is. You know, the Spanish Civil War, the Nazi Anschluss with Austria, the Sudeten Crisis, Neville Chamberlain, "Peace in Our Time." The Western democracies went (as Margaret Thatcher might have said) all "wobbly" on Fascism, with tragic results. But not everyone was fooled by the Fascists. Socialist and Communist parties all over the world recognized it as a dire threat as early as the 1920s, and they never wavered in this conviction (until the Molotov-Ribbontrop Pact, of course). So as much as we might want to blame the radical left for the many woes of the twentieth century, we should remember to give credit where credit is due. Joel Lewis does in his illuminating new book Youth Against Fascism: Young Communists in Britain and the United States, 1919-1939 (VDM, 2007). In the book, Joel tells the story of the communist youth movement in the UK and US. It's a fascinating topic, and one that is little understood. Of particular interest is Joel's excellent treatment of the transition from the Leninist generation of communists (1917-1933) to the Popular Front generation (1934-1941). The switch from the one to the other has too often been seen as entirely directed by Moscow. Joel tells a slightly different tale, one in which pressure from below among young communists played an important role in creating the Popular Front. It's too bad this pressure wasn't strong enough to convince the right and center parties to take Hitler more seriously than they did. If they had, World War II might have been avoided. (By the way, the Young Communist League is still around if you want to fight Fascism. And who doesn't?)

Keywords

20th Century, Anti-Fascism, Bolsheviks, Capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Foriegn Policy, Historiography, Hitler, Ideology, Intellectuals, Lenin, Nationalism, Nazis, Popular Front, Radicalism, Russia, Socialism, Stalin, Trotsky, War, World War I, World War II, Youth Movements

Rights

Copyright © 2009 New Books In History

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URL

https://ir.uiowa.edu/history_nbih/54