Editor’s note: A longer version of this article first appeared at American Spectator.
The left-leaning magazine The Nation has published a list of what it deems America’s all-time, most influential progressives. The list, which you can review for yourself, is very revealing.
For starters, it’s fascinating that The Nation leads with Eugene Debs at number 1. Debs was a socialist. It was 100 years ago this year, in 1912, that Debs ran for president on the Socialist Party ticket.
Today’s progressives get annoyed if you call them socialists. Well, why is a pure socialist the no. 1 “progressive” on The Nation’s list?
Of course, progressives really get annoyed if you suggest they bear any sympathies to communism. That being the case, two other “progressives” on The Nation’s list are quite intriguing: Paul Robeson and I. F. Stone.
Paul Robeson was a proud recipient of the “Stalin Prize.” Even the New York Times concedes Robeson was “an outspoken admirer of the Soviet Union.” When Robeson in 1934 returned from his initial pilgrimage to the Motherland, the Daily Worker thrust a microphone in his face. The Daily Worker rushed its interview into print, running it in the January 15, 1935 issue under the headline, “‘I Am at Home,’ Says Robeson At Reception in Soviet Union.”
The Bolsheviks, explained Robeson, were new men. He was bowled over by the “feeling of safety and abundance and freedom” he found “wherever I turn.” He discovered sheer equality under Joseph Stalin.
When asked about Stalin’s purges, Robeson retorted: “From what I have already seen of the workings of the Soviet Government, I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot!”
Yes, Robeson was deadly serious.
Robeson told the Daily Worker that he felt a “kinship” with the USSR. So much so that he moved his family there.
He also joined Communist Party USA. In May 1998, the centennial of Robeson’s birth, longtime CPUSA head Gus Hall hailed Robeson as a man of communist “conviction,” who “never forgot he was a communist.”
None of this is mentioned in The Nation’s profile, which blasts anyone who dared consider Robeson a communist. Instead, The Nation insists that Comrade Paul was a “progressive.”
And that brings me to I. F. Stone.
Stone is listed at number 26 on The Nation’s list. Stone has been hailed by liberals for decades as the literal “conscience” of journalism—a hero of impeccable honesty. In fact, we now know that Stone, at one time, was a paid Soviet agent.
In their latest Yale University Press work, historians John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev conclude that Stone (from 1936-39) was a “Soviet spy.” Also closely studying Stone’s case is Herb Romerstein. In The Venona Secrets, Romerstein likewise concluded that “Stone was indeed a Soviet agent.” One of the stronger confirmations from the Soviet side is retired KGB general Oleg Kalugin, who reported: “He [Stone] was a KGB agent since 1938. His code name was ‘Blin.’ When I resumed relations with him in 1966, it was on Moscow’s instructions. Stone was a devoted communist.”
None of this appears at Stone’s “progressive” profile at The Nation.
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