Bertram Wolfe

Bertram Wolfe books and biography

Bertram Wolfe

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Bertram David Wolfe (January 19, 1896 – February 21, 1977) was an American scholar and former Communist best known for writing Three Who Made a Revolution (1948), a biographical study of Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky, and The Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera (ISBN 0-8128-1259-X).


Early life

Born in New York City, Wolfe was active with the Socialist Party of America in his youth and was a founding member of the Communist Party of America and the principal author of its manifesto. He was one of the party's delegates to meetings of the Communist International in Moscow. He was Jay Lovestone's chief ally and collaborator and helped develop the theory of "American exceptionalism". He went to Moscow as a delegate to the Sixth Congress of the Communist International in 1928 to defend the thesis against Stalin's criticisms and try to persuade the Soviet leader not to remove Lovestone as the American party's general secretary. Wolfe was expelled from the Communist movement for his troubles and was under virtual house arrest in Moscow for six months before he could obtain an exit visa.

Communist Party (Opposition)

Upon returning to the United States, he and Lovestone (who had also been expelled from the party), formed the Communist Party (Opposition) to further their views. Having expected a majority of American Communists to join them they were disappointed at only being able to attract a few hundred followers. Wolfe became editor of the CP(O)'s newspaper Worker's Age and its chief theorist. Initially, Lovestone and Wolfe hoped to eventually be welcomed back into the Communist movement but when changes in the Comintern's line failed to result in a rapprochement, the CP(O) moved further and further away from Communism. Wolfe and Lovestone were sympathisers of Nikolai Bukharin and helped found the International Communist Opposition (also known as the International Right Opposition) which for a time had some influence before petering out.

In the 1930s, Wolfe and his wife, Ella Goldberg Wolfe, travelled around the world visiting Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico City in 1933 and spending time in Spain prior to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.

The CP(O) meanwhile moved further away from the left and went through several name changes finally becoming the Independent Labor League of America in 1938 before dissolving at the end of 1940 in part because of a break between Lovestone and Wolfe on their interpretation of World War II with Lovestone favouring American intervention and Wolfe opposing support for what he argued was an imperialist war.

Cold War

Wolfe's political perspective changed with time, however, and during the Cold War was a leading anti-Communist. In the 1950s he worked as ideological advisor to the State Department's International Broadcasting Office which was in charge of Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe. He then joined Stanford University's Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace's library as Senior Fellow in Slavic Studies and, in 1966, became a Senior Research Fellow at the institution. He also served as a visiting professor at Columbia University and the University of California.

Wolfe died at the age of 81 from burns he suffered when his bathrobe caught fire.

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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