Women, the family, and sexuality in U.S. Communist Party publications
Refashioning Marxism for the Popular Front era
in Marxism and America
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When the Popular Front policy was adopted by the Communist International in July 1935, the American Communist Party began a campaign to ally with liberal forces in America and insert itself into the political mainstream by abandoning its Marxist rhetoric to instead promote traditional, patriotic ideas. In contrast to the radicalism of its earlier publications, the party’s newspapers and pamphlets began to exalt the family as the “cornerstone of present-day civilization” and to express concerns about sexual “immorality” and “deviance” in modern American society. Party literature began to characterize women primarily in terms of their relation to the family unit, and appealed to the gender stereotypes which reinforced it. Examining various publications of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), this chapter analyzes how it abandoned a Marxist interrogation of the family, sexuality, and the woman question in order to both appease liberal and religious sections of America and follow the line of the Soviet Union under Stalin, and how the loss of a Marxist analysis caused disorientation and undermined the struggle for women’s liberation.

Marxism and America

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