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International Socialism, Mid-December 1973


Bill Kaye

I.F. Stone’s Weekly


From International Socialism (1st series), No.65, Mid-December 1973, pp.29-30.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The Best of I.F. Stone’s Weekly
Ed. N. Middleton
Pelican Books, 60p.

I.F. STONE’S WEEKLY has become part of the established ‘Old Left’ in the United States. Yet when the paper was launched in 1953 at the height of the McCarthy investigations, its uncompromising radicalism placed it pretty well in the front of the fight against the demagogic anti-communism and racism of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Comparing McCarthy to Hitler or Goebbels; exposing the fraudulent ‘justice’ of the investigating committee, the corruption and graft in the government; giving public support and encouragement to small groups who began to organise against this era of repression; the Weekly became a rallying point around which the anti-McCarthy counter-attack was launched.

Although the editor’s intention in this selection was to show how Stone’s thinking developed, what emerges from the book are the limitations of a politics based simply on a moralistic view of the world. Stone comes from a long tradition of American populist writers (such as Upton Sinclair or John Steinbeck), each of whom went through the same process of standing still while the world clianged around them, ending up in a far more conservative position than they started from.

As early as 1954, I.F. Stone was warning the United States about the dangers of becoming involved in a war in SE Asia. But despite the massive protest movement that developed and then faded; and despite the deepening cynicism of millions of Americans towards their political system, Stone ends making the same demands he started with-educate the public; pressure through the universities and men of good will, and so on to change either the minds or the people who rule the system, but not the system itself.

Even so, for anyone interested in the American political scene, and particularly for the authentic accounts of what it felt like to be involved in the anti-Cold-War struggle of the 1950s and the freedom movement of the sixties, this book – written in a very easy, humorous and extremely professional journalistic style – is pretty fundamental reading.

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Last updated on 21.1.2008