‘Something real’: Black Bolshevism and the Comintern

Twentieth Century Communism - ISSN 1758-6437
Volume 2023 Number 24

‘Something real’: Black Bolshevism and the Comintern
CATHY BERGIN pages 43-75


This article is an exploration of the internationalist race/class politics of black Bolsheviks in the United States. It places those politics within the context of both the Comintern’s anti-colonialism and the wider black radical tradition. Black communists and socialists living in the US were highly attuned to both racialised pasts and the racialised present and this impacted on their particularly enthusiastic response to the October revolution and its aftermath. It argues that these writers, thinkers and activists inaugurated an ambitious and influential political imaginary in which black workers were central to the dismantling of racial capitalism. Through an engagement with black socialist and communist publications of the period the article demonstrates that the Comintern’s anti-colonial politics of liberation spoke to black experiences of class exploitation and racial oppression and also to the established global imaginary of the black radical tradition. These transnational politics of solidarity had an impact both on forms of African American anti-racist class politics and on the Comintern’s understanding of the politics of race and class in the United States. 

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To cite this article
CATHY BERGIN (2023) ‘Something real’: Black Bolshevism and the Comintern, Twentieth Century Communism, 2023(24), 43-75

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