History, Department of


Date of this Version



Holm, Charles. "Black Radicals and Marxist Internationalism: From the IWMA to the Fourth International, 1864-1948." Master's thesis, University of Nebraska, 2014.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: History, Under the Supervision of Professor Jeannette Eileen Jones. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Charles Holm


This project investigates historical relationships between Black Radicalism and Marxist internationalism from the mid-nineteenth through the first half of the twentieth century. It argues that contrary to scholarly accounts that emphasize Marxist Euro-centrism, or that theorize the incompatibility of “Black” and “Western” radical projects, Black Radicals helped shape and produce Marxist theory and political movements, developing theoretical and organizational innovations that drew on both Black Radical and Marxist traditions of internationalism. These innovations were produced through experiences of struggle within international political movements ranging from the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century to the early Pan-African movements and struggles against racism and colonialism in the early twentieth century. Taking into account recent contributions to the historiography of Black Radicalism and international Marxism in the twentieth century, this thesis fills an important gap by examining how the “Black International” influenced Karl Marx himself during the American Civil War. It also addresses the contentious and problematic relationships between Black socialists and white Marxists in the American Socialist Party, within the context of emerging Pan African movements and the broader debates surrounding Marxism in the lead up to World War I. Additionally, this thesis reexamines the relationships between Marxism and Black radicals following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, incorporating into its discussion the largely neglected theoretical and organizational activities of the Marxist left that gravitated around Leon Trotsky and the Left Opposition following 1928, rather than focusing strictly on figures who remained organizationally and theoretically tied to the Communist International during the 1930s and 1940s.

Advisor: Jeannette Eileen Jones