Stalinism’s impact is difficult to see in the world today. North Korea and Cuba limp along, sponsored by a capitalist China and caudillo-ist Venezuela, respectively. The official Stalinist parties in the Western world remain, at least on paper, but tend to throw support behind Hillary Clinton or the local equivalent. In one way or another, any examination of Stalin is thus historical—not a critique of a living political movement, but of a movement situated in a time remote from our own. The object of investigation is a legacy whose practical effect in the present is deeply obscure.
Last May, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a conversation on the campus of the University of Chicago between Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and Cornel West, a veteran member of the Democratic Socialists of America, the co-author of The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto (2012), and Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. Watson Ladd and Spencer A. Leonard circled back to that conversation on their radio show Radical Minds on WHPK (88.5 FM) with an eye on the upcoming U.S. elections. What follows is an edited transcript of their interview with West on October 23, 2012.
Last winter, on their radio show Radical Minds on WHPK-FM Chicago, Spencer A. Leonard and Watson Ladd interviewed Ben Lewis, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and co-author and translator, together with Lars T. Lih, of Zinoviev and Martov: Head to Head in Halle (2011). The interview originally was broadcast on December 6, 2011. What follows is an edited transcript of their conversation.