Leninist League (US)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Leninist League was a communist political party in the United States. It published a newspaper, In Defense of Bolshevism.


Its origins lay in the Revolutionary Workers League of Hugo Oehler, which had originated in the Trotskyist movement, but rejected Trotskyism in 1937. A few members felt that it had not gone far enough, and, led by George Spiro (known as "Marlen", a portmanteau of Marx and Lenin), split in early 1938 to form the "Leninist League". The group was often referred to as the Marlenites after their leaders pseudonym.

Spiro aimed to destroy Trotskyism, calling Leon Trotsky an agent of Joseph Stalin and claiming that even the Revolutionary Workers League was "an enemy of the international working class. It is a sabotaging agency in the struggle of exposure and destruction of the Stalinist reaction."[1]

While initially a tiny group, a small degree of press attention enabled the League to grow slightly. It published several books, and remained hostile to other left-wing currents. Its 1937 publication, In defense of Bolshevism; behind the betrayal in Spain, declared that it was "against the policy of 'correcting' Stalinist reaction, the counter-revolutionary social democracy, and also Lovestoneism and Trotskyism which are separated from Leninism by a narrow but very deep gulf!"[2]

The League declared World War II to be a "phony" war, obscuring the real war of Western capitalists and Stalinist state capitalists against the proletariat.

In 1946, the League renamed itself the Workers League for a Revolutionary Party, and its publication as the Bulletin.[3] It became critical of both Leninism and Marxism. Spiro began to focus his work on anti-semitism among the left, and disagreement about its direction caused the group to dissolve itself in about 1950.

One person who was influenced by the Marlenites was a young Noam Chomsky, who was introduced to the group, partly as a result of the history professor Ellis Rivkin. He was impressed by their characterization of World War II as a "phony war" instigated by both by Western capitalists and the Soviet Union.[4] He "never really believed the thesis, but... found it intriguing enough to try to figure out what they were talking about."[5]



Other works by George Spiro[edit]