‘Something real’: Black Bolshevism and the Comintern

Cathy Bergin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is an exploration of the internationalist race/
class politics of black Bolsheviks in the United States. It places those
politics within the context of both the Comintern’s anti-colonialism
and the wider black radical tradition. Black communists and socialists
living in the US were highly attuned to both racialised pasts and the
racialised present and this impacted on their particularly enthusiastic
response to the October revolution and its aftermath. It argues that
these writers, thinkers and activists inaugurated an ambitious and
influential political imaginary in which black workers were central
to the dismantling of racial capitalism. Through an engagement with
black socialist and communist publications of the period the article
demonstrates that the Comintern’s anti-colonial politics of liberation
spoke to black experiences of class exploitation and racial oppression and
also to the established global imaginary of the black radical tradition.
These transnational politics of solidarity had an impact both on forms
of African American anti-racist class politics and on the Comintern’s
understanding of the politics of race and class in the United States.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-75
Number of pages32
JournalTwentieth Century Communism A JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL HISTORY
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023


  • Black Bolsheviks
  • Comintern
  • black radical press
  • racial capitalism
  • transnational solidarity
  • African Blood Brotherhood


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