Guardian (United States)

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For the U.S. edition of the British Guardian, see The_Guardian#Guardian_America/_US.

The Guardian, originally the National Guardian, was a radical leftist independent weekly newspaper published between 1948 and 1992 in New York City. The paper was founded by James Aronson, Cedric Belfrage and John T. McManus.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

Supporters of the Progressive Party presidential campaign of Henry A. Wallace founded the paper in 1948 as the National Guardian to circumvent the increasingly pro-Cold War mainstream press. At the outset, the National Guardian formed part of a leftist movement in New York, along with other front groups of the Communist Party USA such as the daily newspaper PM and the labor left in the CIO District Council 65. It published early campaign reporting by Norman Mailer. The paper continued after the campaign as a locus of support for the New Deal and the New York American Labor Party (ALP) which had elected Vito Marcantonio to the US Congress from East Harlem with Communist Party support.

When other papers on the left would not or could not publish news sympathetic to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the National Guardian did. The reportage was so important to the defense that Aronson was named guardian to the Rosenbergs' children. The major part of the National Guardian's reporting on the case came from William A. Reuben who later published an expanded version of his original articles as The Atom Spy Hoax (Action Books, 1954).

After the dissolution of the ALP, the National Guardian supported the 1958 Independent-Socialist campaign of co-founder John McManus for New York Governor. The new initiative's vote fell to 35,000 from the ALP's 1950 vote of 208,000 and the left lost its ballot line. The paper remained outside particular party organizations, while continuing to advocate a unified leftist party in the United States.

In the 1960s the paper became known for its independent and investigative journalism. Joanne Grant wrote groundbreaking articles on the Civil Rights Movement. Mark Lane wrote a critical account of the John F. Kennedy assassination in a special issue of the Guardian which appeared on December 13, 1963.

The name change and the New Left[edit]

The paper changed with the times, but not without internal conflict. As the 1960s progressed, the Aronson and Old Left leadership disagreed with a more radical staff about the direction of the paper. In 1968, Aronson sold his shares to the staff and the National Guardian became a New Left publication, shortening its name to Guardian in the process, and was edited by Jack A. Smith for more than a decade.

In the 1970s, the Guardian adopted a Marxist-Leninist ideology initially aligned with the Third-worldist and Maoist New Communist Movement and later oriented toward The Trend. The paper editorially called for a new Marxist-Leninist party in the United States. It never aligned with any particular group and remained critical of the small New Left party organizations. At the same time, it opened its pages to opposing viewpoints and continued a tradition of investigative journalism.

In the early 1980s, the paper established Guardian Clubs for readers and discussed forming a new political party. After a political dispute, Guardian editor Irwin Silber left the Guardian and built a new political formation around the Guardian clubs. This new "party building" formation published the "Frontline" newspaper as a direct competitor to the Guardian and also published a theoretical journal "Line of March" which advocated that American supporters of the New Left reconcile themselves with the Soviet Union. Silber was succeeded as editor by Bill Ryan, who attempted to continue the Guardian's previous non-party New Left posture, with an editorial line that sometimes favored revolutionary movements not in favor with the Soviet Union, such as in Western Sahara and in Eritrea, where the Soviet Union supported the position of the pro-Soviet Ethiopian government. Under Ryan, the Guardian changed its tax status to that of a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and attempted to solicit foundation support to make up for the support lost to the Frontline organization.

With the rise of the non-Marxist Green Party in Germany and various other countries, some Guardian writers and supporters unsuccessfully attempted to re-fashion the Guardian to support the Green Party ideologically. The Guardian ceased publication in 1992 after years of financial difficulties and declining circulation.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Archives

  • Cedric Belfrage Papers. Archive #: Tamiment 143. Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.
  • Sally Belfrage Papers. Archive #: Tamiment 189. Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. New York University.

Articles

  • Colhoun, Jack. The Guardian Newsweekly Ceases Publication. Radical Historians Newsletter number 67. November 1992.
  • Georgakas, Dan. National Guardian/Guardian. Encyclopedia of the American Left pp 529–532 Oxford University Press Second Edition 1998. ISBN 0-19-512088-4.
  • Munk, Michael. The Guardian from Old to New Left. Radical America 2 (March–April 1968).
  • Munk, Michael. Perils of a left paper in the US (Review of "Something to Guard") In These Times. April 25, 1979.
  • Rubinstein, Annette. The Independent Socialist Party. Paper presented at Explorations in the History of U.S. Trotskyism conference. New York University, Tamiment Library, 2000.

Books

  • Aronson, James and Belfrage, Cedrick.Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian, 1948 - 1967. 362 pages. Columbia University Press. 1978. ISBN 0-231-04510-7.
  • Elbaum, Max. Revolution in the Air: 1960s Radicals turn to Lenin, Mao and Che. 320 pages Publisher: Verso (June 2002) ISBN 1-85984-617-3.
  • Grant, Joanne. Black Protest: 350 Years of History, Documents, and Analyses. Ballantine Books; 2nd edition (September 29, 1996). ISBN 0-449-91223-X.

Publications

  • Allen, Robert L. Dialectics of black power. Weekly Guardian Associates, New York. 1968.
  • Belfrage, Cedric. Why I am troublesome to the McCarthy mind. Weekly Guardian Associates, New York. 1955.
  • League for Proletarian Revolution. Which side are you on? Reply to the opportunists of the Revolutionary Union, October League, and the GUARDIAN newspaper. Red Star Publications, San Francisco. 1974
  • Cloke, Ken. A Pocket Manual on Draft Resistance. A Guardian Pamphlet, New York. 1968
  • Munk, Michael. The New Left: What It Is ... Where It's Going ... What Makes it Move. 22pp. A National Guardian Pamphlet. New York. n.d. [1965]. Stapled softcover. Photos.
  • Pritt, Denis Nowell. An appeal for clemency. National Guardian, New York. [1952?].
  • Smith, Jack A. Unite the many, defeat the few. China's revolutionary line in foreign affairs. Guardian, New York. 1972.
  • Smith, Jack A. The Guardian Goes to War, in Voices from the Underground: Volume I: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, ed. Ken Wachsberger (Tempe, AZ: Mica's, 1993)
  • Thomas, Tony. Marxism versus Maoism; a reply to the Guardian. Pathfinder Press, New York. 1974.
  • Women in revolution the 1979 Guardian calendar. Guardian Publications, New York. 1978.

External links[edit]

Guardian Publications[edit]

Related links[edit]