Ashley Lavelle
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The First World War
A defeat borne of nationalist bloodshed
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The outbreak of hostilities in August 1914 was a calamitous defeat not just for humanity at large, but also for revolutionary socialism and internationalism. This proved to be fertile ground for generating turncoats: in the US alone there were numerous prominent opponents of the war who, after their country entered the fray, became patriots. Radical novelists Upton Sinclair and Jack London rallied to their country’s cause when Woodrow Wilson thrust the US into battle, and even the later pro-Bolshevik and founder member of the American Communist Party Louis Fraina – who was devastated by the demise of the second international following the breakout of war – was reported to be initially pro-ally. Mussolini, among numerous others, may well have been affected by the disintegration of international solidarity at the outbreak of WWI and the concomitant descent into nationalism and warmongering. This chapter discusses the relationship between political defeat and renegacy among early twentieth century radicals.

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The politics of betrayal

Renegades and ex-radicals from Mussolini to Christopher Hitchens


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