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Daily Worker
Daily Worker.pdf
No. 254 of the Daily Worker (November 7, 1927)
TypeDaily newspaper
Formatbroadsheet and tabloid
PublisherCommunist Party of the United States
Founded1921; 100 years ago (1921)
Political alignmentCommunist
LanguageEnglish
Ceased publicationJanuary 1958
Headquarters
Circulationvarious

The Daily Worker was a newspaper published in New York City by the Communist Party USA, a formerly Comintern-affiliated organization. Publication began in 1924.[1] While it generally reflected the prevailing views of the party, attempts were made to reflect a broader spectrum of left-wing opinion. At its peak, the newspaper achieved a circulation of 35,000. Contributors to its pages included Robert Minor and Fred Ellis (cartoonists), Lester Rodney (sports editor), David Karr, Richard Wright, John L. Spivak, Peter Fryer, Woody Guthrie and Louis F. Budenz.

History

Origin

The origins of the Daily Worker begin with the weekly Ohio Socialist published by the Socialist Party of Ohio in Cleveland from 1917 to November 1919. The Ohio party joined the nascent Communist Labor Party of America at the 1919 Emergency National Convention.

The Ohio Socialist only used whole numbers. Its final issue was #94 November 19, 1919. The Toiler continued this numbering, even though a typographical error made its debut issue #85 November 26, 1919. Beginning sometime in 1921 the volume number IV was added, perhaps reflecting the publications fourth year in print, though its issue numbers continued the whole number scheme. The final edition of the Toiler was Vol IV #207 January 28, 1922. The Worker continued the Toilers numbering during its run Vol. IV #208 February 2, 1922 to Vol. VI #310 January 12, 1924. The first edition of Daily worker was numbered Vol. I #311.[2]

The Ohio Socialist became Toiler in November 1919. In 1920, with the CLP going underground, Toiler became the party's "aboveground" newspaper published by "The Toiler Publishing Association." It remained as the Cleveland aboveground publication of the CLP and its successors until February 1922.

In December 1921 the "aboveground" Workers Party of America was founded and the Toiler merged with Workers Council of the Workers' Council of the United States to found the six page weekly The Worker.

This became the Daily Worker beginning January 13, 1924.[2]

In 1927, the newspaper moved from Chicago to New York.[3]

Depictions of Soviet Life & Women's Role in the Revolution

The women of Russia have thrown off their yoke. We too, must know that only by united action of the entire working class—both men and women—can the burden of capitalist exploitation be lifted from our shoulders and then only dare we hope to live a nobler life.”[4]

           The Daily Worker shows a uniquely positive portrayal of Soviet policies and life relative to other American publications, especially in regard to women's rights. Every year, on or near March 8th, the newspaper put out a special edition for International Women’s Day that usually focused on calling upon American women in the working class to mobilize and join the socialist movement. Many female authors were involved in these publications. Many articles dedicated to this topic tended to explain the “double-enslavement of women” in a capitalist society and how the only way to complete female liberation, which they claimed has been accomplished in the Soviet Union, is through the class revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The depiction of how the Soviet Union advocated for and treated women is deeply positive and idealistic, and for the most part lacking in nuance. The Daily Worker used the governmental action enacted by the Soviet Union to support women as a mobilizing force for American women to fight for the same in the United States. The effort put in by the Bolshevik government in the 1920s to improve the lives of women was so much more than what American women witnessed in their own country, likely making it easier to turn a blind eye to other hardships plaguing the Soviet people at this time as a direct result of government action. For The Daily Worker to call American women to arms, the female experience under communist leadership had to be as idealized, while still realistic, as possible.

           In the mid-1920s to early 1930s, the Soviet Union looked to the outside world as either a terrifying case of revolution gone wrong or a utopian ideal where citizens were forging their own futures. For many liberal-minded American women, it was the latter. As women were increasingly entering the political sphere in the United States, many of the concerns of working-class women were left unaddressed, as they were still bound by the weight of poor working conditions and the difficulties of raising large families.[5] An article from 1927 in The Daily Worker explains that upper-class women “claim a monopoly as spokeswomen for the entire female portion of the human race,” ignoring class differences.[6] And, as the energy of the 1920s transitioned into the Great Depression of the 1930s, working class women in the United States faced even more hardship as unemployment increased. At the same time, the Soviet Union under Stalin was pushing for rapid industrialization, reducing unemployment in the cities significantly, while also putting into place laws intended to create equal rights for women in both political and industrial spheres.[7] This led to an appearance of prosperity, even as the collectivization of agriculture caused millions to die from famine at the same time.[5]

           The pages of The Daily Worker consist of a variety of different publications, from reports of strikes or articles exploring the specific hardships of a given subset of industry workers, to advertisements for dances and articles meant to educate on various aspects of the class struggle. In the editions from International Women’s Day, they dedicate space to exploring the specific struggles of women in a capitalist society. They explain the “double enslavement” of women by both capitalist labor structures and by the expectation to serve their fathers and husbands in the home.[8] In nearly every mention of this “double enslavement,” they follow with the claim that only in Russia, through the actions of the Communist leadership, have “women have achieved their freedom and independence.”[4] They explain both how this has come to be through class liberation and through specific actions the government had taken. This is used as context to call upon American women in the working class to have a model system to build off of. Without being able to see the successes, if idealized, of their Russian counterparts, American women could have lacked the hope and motivation required to act toward actively fighting for their own change.

Though many of the articles portrayed an idealized version of the state of women in industry and in the home, leaving out some of the more imperfect aspects of Soviet life at the time, they also depicted the ongoing process of the liberation of women. In exploring how exactly the Soviet Union was working to improve the lives of women, they were able to claim a direct link between communism and female equality, as well as pointing to direct courses of action that could also be undertaken in the United States.[4] Articles about the socialization of traditional housework through public dining halls and laundries explored freeing women from the ties of the home, while articles about educational improvements and specialized support in the workplace for women explore freeing women from limiting working options. In regard to the former, multiple articles focused on following the process of how many public kitchens, childcare facilities, and laundry centers were created for workers as a measure of the success of “the emancipation of the toiling women” through “the reorganization of the whole of our [Soviet] living conditions.”[9] The latter focused on eradicating illiteracy in order to improve upon the cultural involvement and workplace performance of women.[10] Also, as women were being added to the workforce in the Soviet Union at increasing amounts every year, which was also documented by this paper, and as more women in the US were also forced to join industry to support their families, The Daily Worker emphasized the difference in support for the specific difficulties that women in the workforce might experience, such as paid maternity leave and limited shift lengths.[4]

Though these were discussed as ongoing processes, they had such a positive trajectory from the view of the American citizen that it was enough for the writers of The Daily Worker to make large claims about the status of Soviet women. One such claim that was quite striking was that the Soviet Union has carried out “the full realization of the watchword given out by Lenin… that every kitchen maid should learn how to govern the country.”[9] Or, that “through construction of socialism, complete sex equality and liberty became a reality” in the Soviet Union, “the greatest peace and liberty state of our epoch.”[11] Thus, The Daily Worker’s portrayal of these events was overwhelmingly positive.

A major portion of the discussion of women in The Daily Worker, especially as they are trying to call women to join the American Communist Party, consists of claims that women will only be liberated from the burden of work and family expectations once the entire working class is mobilized and freed from capitalist exploitation.[4] An interesting emphasis is placed on the fact that women in classes above the working class are not troubled as much by the specific problems that working class women face. This likely comes from how American society does not have the same rules for members of different classes. One article alludes to upper-class women having access to “family planning,” which likely refers to abortions, while working-class women who would actually face more real difficulties from having unwanted children are not able to have safe access to abortions or birth control.[12] What is notable about these articles is how they place more importance upon the relationship between working class women and men than between women of different classes. They acknowledge that working class women experience more hardships than working class men, but that the experience of the working class in general is unique in comparison to higher classes.[5] There is an emphasis on the need for the unity of working class in order to achieve any real changes. This is interesting because these articles both call for more female involvement in the male-dominated socialist movement, but also call for male workers to support their female counterparts in their fight to free themselves from their double enslavement.[6]

Given the portrayal by socialist publications of the freedom that Soviet women were experiencing in this time period, and the uphill battle awaiting American women for the same rights, it is not surprising that many liberal-minded American women were inspired to move to the Soviet Union in search of a level of liberation that had yet to occur in the United States.[7] Adding to this, as industrialization increased in the Soviet Union, creating an excess of available industry jobs, while the Great Depression was setting into the US, unemployed working class American women had even more incentive to change location.[7] In doing so, however, some of these women would be able to see a more nuanced view of how the Soviet Union’s policies towards women were not always as ideal as The Daily Worker would portray. Some of the laws that led to “perfect equality between genders” reduced the focus on women’s struggles that continued as cultural expectations of women in the home lagged behind public expectations of women in the workforce.[7] Also, though there were new laws created by the Soviet government to improve the status of women, the overall hardships plaguing Soviet citizens may not have outweighed the positive actions. Conditions in factories were difficult, the collectivization of agriculture led to both dislocation and famine, and the socialization of housing in urban areas led to stress through lack of privacy.[7][13]

An image of Clara Zetkin, a German Marxist activist who was specially commemorated and quoted in an International Women's Day edition of The Daily Worker.[14]
An image of Clara Zetkin, a German Marxist activist who was specially commemorated and quoted in an International Women's Day edition of The Daily Worker.[14]

Overall, the portrayal given by The Daily Worker of the living conditions experienced by Soviet women in the late 1920s to early 1930s is very idealized, focusing more on the ideological intentions behind the lawmaking process in the Bolshevik state, rather than the actual results of these laws. While the attention paid to women by the Soviet government was much more progressive than what was being seen in the United States at the time, it was not as perfect as the publications in The Daily Worker made it seem. However, as the socialist movement was trying to gain more traction with the female members of the working class, showing how a communist government advocated for the equality of women even remotely, was a useful tactic to employ.

Popular Front changes

May Day parade float with statue reading the Daily Worker
May Day parade float with statue reading the Daily Worker

In politics, the Daily Worker consistently adhered to a Stalinist party line from the time of Joseph Stalin's rise to power in the Soviet Union. The paper maintained a series of correspondents in Moscow, including Vern Smith in the mid-1930s, who invariably depicted Soviet reality in the most favorable possible light.[citation needed] The paper upheld the verdicts of the Moscow trials, criticized at the time outside the USSR as show trials, and later exposed as having used fabricated evidence and extorted confessions. The Daily Worker's editorials constantly criticized all opponents of Stalinist socialism, including other communists, such as Leon Trotsky, who was assassinated at Stalin's order in 1940.[citation needed]

Beginning in the Popular Front period of the 1930s, when the party proclaimed that "Communism is Twentieth Century Americanism" and characterized itself as the heirs to the tradition of Washington and Lincoln, the paper broadened its coverage of the arts and entertainment. In 1935 it established a sports page, with contributions from David Karr, the page was edited and frequently written by Lester Rodney. The paper's sports coverage combined enthusiasm for baseball with the usual Marxist social critique of capitalist society and bourgeois attitudes. It advocated the desegregation of professional sports.

Post-World War II

The Daily Worker had constant financial and distribution problems. Many newsstands and stores would not carry the paper. The revelations of Soviet MVD spy rings inside the U.S. government, the 1945 revelations of former Daily Worker managing editor Louis F. Budenz, a self-admitted recruiter of agents for the Soviet NKVD (forerunner of the MVD and KGB), combined with the resultant intense anti-communism of the 1950s (labeled "McCarthyism") caused a large drop in the paper's circulation.

The membership of the American Communist Party had fallen to around 20,000 in 1956, when Khrushchev's speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU (the "Secret Speech") on the personality cult of Stalin became known. The paper printed articles in support for the early stages of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, a popular revolt by the Hungarian people against continued domination by the Soviet Union, which subsequently installed a puppet regime, the János Kádár government, in Budapest and had begun to persecute its political opponents. The Daily Worker's editor, John Gates opened the paper for discussion of the topic, a novel event for a party-line newspaper, and one appeared to promise further liberalization and dialogue inside the Communist Party in the United States.

Despite widespread dissension in the CPUSA, the paper finally endorsed Moscow's suppression of the Hungarian uprising. In the disruptions that followed, about half of the remaining party membership left, including Gates and many staff members of the Daily Worker. Owing to greatly reduced operating income associated with a reduced membership, the CPUSA was forced to cease publication of a daily paper, with the final issue of the Daily Worker appearing on January 13, 1958.[15]

After a short hiatus, the party published a weekend paper called The Worker from 1958 until 1968. A Tuesday edition called The Midweek Worker was added in 1961 and also continued until 1968, when production was accelerated. According to ex-CIA agent Philip Agee, a large number of subscribers during this period were CIA agents or front companies linked to the CIA. Agee claimed that the CIA's funding prevented The Worker from having to cease publication.

Two newspapers and a merger

In 1968 the Communist Party resumed publication of a New York daily paper, now titled The Daily World. In 1986, the paper merged with the party's West Coast weekly paper, the People's World, which hewed slightly less closely to the Moscow political line than the New York party organization and paper had done. The new People’s Daily World published from 1987 until 1991, when daily publication was abandoned.

The paper cut back to a weekly issue and was retitled People's Weekly World (later retitled to People's World as to de-emphasize the weekly component), which remains the paper of the Communist Party USA today. Print publication of the People's World ceased in 2010 in favor of an online edition.

Currently (2012), People's World claims that, "Peoplesworld.org is a daily news website of, for and by the 99% and the direct descendant of the Daily Worker." Its publisher is Long View Publishing Company. The online newspaper is a member of the International Labor Communications Association and is indexed in the Alternative Press Index. Its staff belong to the Newspaper Guild/CWA, AFL-CIO.[16]

Masthead

1920s

1930s

1940s

1950s

Pamphlets

Before the Party established the Workers Library Publishers in late 1927, the party used to Daily Worker Publishing Company imprint to publishes its pamphlets.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Pederson, Vernon (January 11, 2008). "Take It As Red". On The Media for National Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2008-08-21. Founded in 1924, the Daily Worker – which ceased to be a daily 50 years ago – was the de facto house organ of American Communism.
  2. ^ a b Goldwater, Walter Radical periodicals in America 1890-1950 New Haven, Yale University Library 1964 pp.10, 30, 42, 46
  3. ^ "Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection". Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive. September 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Undjus, Margaret. “Women in The Class Struggle: World Women’s Day.” The Daily Worker. Chicago, Ill. 07 March 1925. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib.of Congress.
  5. ^ a b c Reuben, Mary J. “The Professional Woman in the Class Struggle.” The Daily Worker. Chicago, Ill. 07 March 1925. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
  6. ^ a b “Working Class Women! Organize Along with the Workingmen in struggle against exploiters!” The daily worker. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.), 08 March 1927. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
  7. ^ a b c d e Mickenberg, Julia. American Girls in Red Russia: Chasing the Soviet Dream. University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2017.
  8. ^ Cowl, Margaret. “Women and the International Class Struggle.” The daily worker. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.), 08 March 1927. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
  9. ^ a b Rasumova. “Form special organizations to teach USSR Women labor” The daily worker. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.), 08 March 1929. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. Of Congress.
  10. ^ Damon, Anna. “Working women! Rally on int’l women’s day: workers to mobilize today in face of growing world crisis.” The daily worker. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.), 08 March 1930. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
  11. ^ “Greetings from Krupskaya and Clara Zetkin” The daily worker. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.), 08 March 1927. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
  12. ^ Johnson, Helen. “Time for Women to think about class struggle.” The daily worker. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.), 07 March 1926. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
  13. ^ Buchli, Victor. An Archaeology of Socialism. Oxford NY 1999. pp. 63-135
  14. ^ "Greetings from Krupskaya and Clara Zetkin” The daily worker. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.), 08 March 1927. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
  15. ^ Daryl Van Vleet and Jean Van Vleet, "Daily Worker (vol. 35, no. 7)," Oakland, CA: Bibliomania online catalog, accessed Aug. 30, 2016.
  16. ^ "About the People's World". People's World. 2009-08-25. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  17. ^ a b c d Chambers, Whittaker (1952). Witness. New York: Random House. pp. 206–207, 218–229, 252–259. ISBN 978-0-89526-789-4. LCCN 52005149.
  18. ^ Morris, George (1952). A Tale of Two Waterfronts. Daily Worker. p. 31. Retrieved 12 June 2021.

Further reading

Articles

  • Fetter, Henry D. "The Party Line and the Color Line: The American Communist Party, the Daily Worker and Jackie Robinson." Journal of Sport History 28, no. 3 (Fall 2001).
  • Gottfried, Erika, "Shooting Back: The Daily Worker Photographs Collection," American Communist History, vol. 12, no. 1 (April 2013), pp. 41–69.
  • Lamb, Christopher and Rusinack, Kelly E. "Hitting From the Left: The Daily Worker's Assault on Baseball's Color Line". Gumpert, Gary and Drucker, Susan J., eds. Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Communicating Baseball. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2002.
  • Rusinack, Kelly E. "Baseball on the Radical Agenda: The Daily and Sunday Worker Journalistic Campaign to Desegregate Major League Baseball, 1933-1947". Dorinson, Joseph, and Woramund, Joram, eds. Jackie Robinson: Race, Sports, and the American Dream. New York: E.M. Swift, 1998.
  • Smith, Ronald A. "The Paul Robeson-Jackie Robinson Saga and a Political Collision". Journal of Sport History 6, no. 2 (1979).

Theses

  • Evans, William Barrett. "Revolutionist Thought in the Daily Worker, 1919-1939". Ph.D. diss. University of Washington, 1965.
  • Jeffries, Dexter. "Richard Wright and the ‘Daily Worker’: A Native Son’s Journalistic Apprenticeship". Ph.D. diss. City University of New York, 2000.
  • Rusinack, Kelly E. "Baseball on the Radical Agenda: The Daily and Sunday Worker on Desegregating Major League Baseball, 1933-1947". M.A. Thesis, Clemson University, South Carolina, 1995.
  • Shoemaker, Martha Mcardell. "Propaganda or Persuasion: The Communist Party and Its Campaign to Integrate Baseball". Master’s thesis. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1999.

Books

  • Chambers, Whittaker (1952). Witness. New York: Random House. pp. 218–229, 252–259. ISBN 978-0-89526-789-4. LCCN 52005149.
  • Hemingway, Andrew. Artists on the Left: American Artists and the Communist Movement, 1926-1956. New Haven, Yale University Press, 2002.
  • Schappes, Morris U. The Daily Worker: Heir to the Great Tradition. New York: Daily Worker, 1944.
  • Silber, Irwin. Press Box Red: The Story of Lester Rodney, The Communist Who Helped Break the Color Line in American Sports. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003.

External links

This page was last edited on 18 August 2021, at 11:22
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