+1 Recommend
1 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Claudia Jones, the Longue Durée of McCarthyism, and the Threat of US Fascism

      Journal of Intersectionality
      Pluto Journals
      US Fascism, anti-fascism, Black radicalism, Cold War, CPUSA, Claudia Jones


            This article examines the ways that the Black Communist luminary Claudia Jones theorized the fascist threat in the United States in the early Cold War era. Drawing on her political thought and that of her comrades, the article begins by defining the peculiar brand of US fascism that loomed large in the minds of Black radicals who critiqued and militated against global capitalist exploitation. Then, “the longue durée of McCarthyism” is employed as an analytical framework to explicate the post-World War II “fascist-like” political formation that both preceded and exceeded Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy's reign of repression. The next section highlights Jones's analysis of the 1940 Alien Registration Act, commonly known as the Smith Act, which was the first peacetime sedition act in US history. The focus of the final section is Jones's critique of, and subjection to, the Internal Security Act of 1950, also known as the McCarran Act, which President Harry S. Truman unsuccessfully vetoed. As Jones's biographers Buzz Johnson and Carole Boyce Davies note, taken together, the Smith Act and the McCarran Act created the conditions for the persecution of thousands of progressives, launched an all-out attack on their civil rights, and laid the foundation for immigration checks, deportation, and harassment particularly aimed at Black people. Ultimately, the lives of many Black anticapitalists, including Jones, Paul Robeson, C.L.R. James, and Ferdinand Smith were fundamentally disrupted by this “strong anti-Black and anti-communist hysteria” that portended the rise of fascism in the United States.


            Author and article information

            Journal of Intersectionality
            Pluto Journals
            1 July 2019
            : 3
            : 1 ( doiID: 10.13169/jinte.3.issue-1 )
            : 46-66
            Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science, Carleton College
            © 2019 Pluto Journals

            All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles published in the journal are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

            Custom metadata

            Theory of historical sciences,Political & Social philosophy,Intercultural philosophy,General social science,Development studies,Cultural studies
            Black radicalism,US Fascism,CPUSA,Cold War,anti-fascism,Claudia Jones


            1. Adi, Hakim. Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa, and the Diaspora, 1919-1939. Trenton, NJ: African World Press, 2013.

            2. Bass, Charlotta. Forty Years: Memoirs from the Pages of a Newspaper. Los Angeles: Charlotta A. Bass, 1960.

            3. Bogues, Anthony. Caliban's Freedom: The Early Political Thought of C.L.R. James. London: Pluto Press, 1997.

            4. Britt, Lawrence W. “Fascism Anyone? The 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism.” In Not Our President: New Directions from the Pushed Out, the Others, and the Clear Majority in Trump's Stolen America edited by Haki R. Madhubuti and Lasana D. Kazembe, 423-425. Chicago: Third World Press Foundation, 2017.

            5. Burden-Stelly, Charisse. “Constructing Deportable Subjectivity: Antiforeignness, Antiradicalism, and Anti-Blackness during the McCarthyist Structure of Feeling.” Souls 19, no. 3 (July-September 2019): 342-358.

            6. Burden-Stelly, Charisse. “W.E.B. Du Bois in the Tradition of Radical Blackness: Radicalism, Repression, and Mutual Comradeship, 1930-1960.” Socialism and Democracy 32 (3) (2018): 181-206.

            7. Civil Rights Congress. The “Crimes” of Claude Lightfoot and Junius Scales, New York: Civil Rights Congress, 1955.

            8. Davies, Carole Boyce. “Deportable Subjects: US Immigration Laws and the Criminalization of Communism.” The South Atlantic Quarterly 100, no. 4 (Fall 2001): 949-966.

            9. Davies, Carole Boyce. Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.

            10. Davies, Carole Boyce. Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc., 2011.

            11. Davis, Benjamin J. Communist Councilman from Harlem: Autobiographical Notes Written in a Federal Penitentiary. New York, NY: International Publishers, 1991.

            12. Davis, Benjamin J. Ben Davis on the McCarran Act at the Harvard Law Forum. New York: The Gus Hall-Benjamin J. Davis Defense Committee, n.d.

            13. Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley. The Alderson Story: My Life as a Political Prisoner. New York: International Publishers, 1972.

            14. Getachew, Adom. Worldmaking After Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019), 14-36.

            15. Gore, Dayo F. “From Communist Politics to Black Power: The Visionary Politics and Transnational Solidarities of Victoria ‘Vicki’ Ama Garvin.” In Want to Start a Revolution? Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle, edited by Jeanne Theoharis, Komozi Woodard, and Dayo F. Gore, 72-94. New York: New York University Press, 2009.

            16. Horne, Gerald. Black Liberation/Red Scare: Ben Davis and the Communist Party. Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 1994.

            17. Hunton, Dorothy. Alphaeus Hunton: The Unsung Valiant. Richmond Hill, NY: D.K. Hunton, 1986.

            18. Johnson, Buzz. “I Think of My Mother”: Notes on the Life and Times of Claudia Jones. London: Karia Press, 1985.

            19. Jones, Claudia. Ben Davis: Fighter for Freedom. New York: National Committee to Defend Negro Leadership, 1954.

            20. Lightfoot, Claude. Chicago Slums to World Politics: Autobiography of Claude Lightfoot. New York: New Outlook Publishers and Distributors, 1985.

            21. Murno, John. The Anticolonial Front: The African American Freedom Struggle and Global Decolonisation, 1945-1960. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

            22. Padmore, George. “Ethiopia and World Politics.” The Crisis, May 1935, 138-139.

            23. Patterson, William, ed. We Charge Genocide: The Historic Petition to the United States Government for relief form a crime of the United States government against the Negro People (New York: Civil Rights Congress, 1951), 134-5, 167-8.

            24. Ransby, Barbara. Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.

            25. Robeson, Eslanda. “A Citizen's State of the Union,” Daily Worker, March 19, 1953.

            26. Sherwood, Marika. Claudia Jones: A Life in Exile. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1999.

            27. Schrecker, Ellen. The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Von Eschen, Penny. Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997.

            28. Wilkerson, Doxey. The Negro People and the Communists. New York: Workers Library Publishers, 1944.


            Comment on this article