Radosh: Elena Kagan’s Anti-Communist Senior Thesis

May 21st, 2010 at 2:16 am | No Comments |

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Ron Radosh writes that Elena Kagan’s thesis on Communism is actually very good:

Some conservatives have been criticizing Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan for her 1981 Princeton senior thesis in history titled “To The Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933.”  Not me.

As a historian who has read widely in socialist and communist history, and written about the topic, I found her thesis to be academically first rate, based on a wide-ranging use of primary and secondary source material, with a thoughtful analysis and sound conclusions that derive from the evidence.

In her senior thesis, Kagan looked into the broader question of why socialism never took hold in America through a case study of New York City.  For a time in the 1900s, socialism appeared to be taking root and to have a bright future in New York, as it did in the rest of the country. What was it in their approach to politics that caused socialists to fail, despite their strong militancy and commitment to the rights of workers — especially those in what was called then the needle trades, i.e., the garment industry in New York City?

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