Histories of American radical left groups abound. The Communist party, the tiny Trotskyist movement, and the New Left have all been abundantly chronicled. Very little information has been available, however, about the radical left today. Far Left of Center remedies that deficit.
Many people erroneously assume that with the collapse of the New Left in the early 1970s, American radicalism disappeared. It is true that the 1980s have not been good years for radicals. Their ideologies, particularly Marxism-Leninism, have been discredited, their tactics and visions have been repudiated, and they have been plagued by internal problems. Even so, the history of American radicalism suggests that such movements have rebounded in the past; and in any event, Marxist-Leninist groups have often had an impact far out of proportion to their size.
Part One deals with the Communist party of the United States, the largest and most influential Marxist-Leninist group in the United States. Its membership is only about 15,000, but it has been growing steadily in recent years. This section also discusses a variety of front groups which the party has created to facilitate work and to garner support from people who would not otherwise cooperate with Communists. Part Two deals with Trotskyist, Maoist, and other Marxist-Leninist organizations in the United States. Far more militant than the CPUSA, these sects are usually quite small, often under a thousand members. They include the tiny offshoots of the New Left. Part Three deals with organizations that eschew formal ties to Marxist-Leninist parties and are not under the control of these parties, although they may work with them toward some of the same objectives. Many of these have especially targeted Israel as a danger to world peace and security. They are also hostile to American foreign policy and support Marxist revolutionary regimes abroad.
The basic premise of Far Left of Center is that these far-left groups support and defend oppressive and totalitarian regimes, and cooperate with those dedicated to the destruction of democracy and intellectual freedom. The author is careful to distinguish these groups from democratic socialists in the United States, who have vigorously and continuously denounced Marxism-Leninism and those regimes founded on its principles. This book is not about these organizations. The focus is, instead, on groups whose denunciations of American society and political life go hand-in-hand with testimonials to some of the most repressive regimes in the world. Klehr has written a sober, well documented, comprehensive account of the radical left in the United States today.