JF Ptak Science Books Post 1179
This dapper young man with the sharply snapped salute is a communist, and as he tells you, he’s at your service. But the Young Communist League (of the United States) in the 1920's–when this pamphlet was printed–was a semi-underground organization with few members who wanted to serve you and which was also “devoted to the interests of all young people and is dedicated to the revolutionary cause of the working class of our country, the transformation of the United States through mass democratic struggle into a socialist society”.
So the YCL service venture may have been more helpful to someone with Communism in mind than anything else. It did have a diffident bit of patriotism in the design of the pamphlet’s covers, but they wanted a United States that wasn’t the United States that very many other people wanted.
Perhaps the October Revolution wasn’t what the people of Russia wanted, either. They certainly wanted their freedom from Tsarist rule, but the revolution orchestrated in the name of freedom was hardly that. Significant American thinkers and writers on the plight of the people in Russia at the end of the 19th century–including George Kennan, author of the still very readable and absorbing Siberia and the Exile System (1891)–pretty much jumped off of the bandwagon by WWI. I can understand a haphazard interest in the Communist Party and the idea of socialism in the United States in the 1920's and even the support of the still relatively new Soviet Union, but this was a period in which the member in the cascade of three-letter acronyms of Communist political affiliates and parties had a weak draw. Interest in them picked up in the United States in the 1930's, though this was also the period during which the atrocities of the monster Stalin were being discussed. I’m not sure why this popularity grew in the light of these revelations–I just don’t know the history. (Even though this was supposed to be Stalin’s quote but wasn’t, it fits quite well: "death of one man is a tragedy, death of a million is a statistic"–as a murderer of millions of people, he was very well versed in statistics of genocidal sadism.)
In any event, I simply liked the public face that the YCL engraved for themselves–it looks much like any other face you’d see in any other magazine hawking coats or cigarettes or Dunlop tires. A face like any other.
Kennan wrote in 1923: “The Russian leopard has not changed its spots... The new Bolshevik constitution ... leaves all power just where it has been for the last five years--in the hands of a small group of self-appointed bureaucrats which the people can neither remove nor control.”