John Gates

From Academic Kids

John Gates, born Solomon Regenstriet in New York City in 1913, was a prominent American Communist. While a student at City College of New York, he became interested in communism and joined the Young Communist League, USA (YCL). He was active in the campaign to free the Scottsboro Boys. Upon leaving college, he first worked with unemployed workers in Ohio.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out, he joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and fought in Spain. He rose to battalion commissar of the Lincoln-Washington Battalion and was known as a strict disciplinarian. He later admitted he had gone somewhat overboard. In 1938 he was involved in the controversial decision to execute a deserter, Paul White.

Returning to the United States, Gates became leader of the Young Communist League. Later, he was the editor of the Daily Worker and, in an editorial policy which put him at odds with the Party leadership, he took liberal positions embracing Nikita Khrushchev's criticisms of Stalin [1] (http://www.trussel.com/hf/onleave.htm) and opposing the Soviet Union's suppression of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Party leaders were particularly upset by his support of Howard Fast, a prominent writer who was quite critical of the Soviet Union and soon after also left the Communist Party.

However, the Daily Worker was in deep trouble with significant losses in circulation due to a general disenchantment with communism, by both workers and intellectuals, and pressure from McCarthyism. Confronted with deep deficits and its inability to control Gates, on 22 December, 1957 the Party suspended publication of the paper as a daily, the last issue appearing 13 January, 1958.

Gates resigned from the Party in January 1958, claiming that it had "ceased to be an effective force for democracy, peace, and socialism in the United States".

Further reading

  • Dennis, Eugene and John Gates. What America needs; a Communist view. New Century Publishers, New York. March, 1956.
  • Gates, John. On guard against Browderism, Titoism, Trotskyism. New Century Publishers, New York. 1951.
  • Gates, John. The Story of an American Communist. Introduction by Earl Browder. Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1958, hardcover, 221 pages, available on ABE (http://dogbert.abebooks.com/servlet/BookSearch?an=john+gates&tn=story+american+communist&sortby=2&cf=MOREREFINE)
  • United States. District Court. New York (Southern District). The case of United States of America vs. William Z. Foster, Eugene Dennis John B. Williamson, Jacob Stachel, Robert G. Thompson, Benjamin J. Davis, Jr., Henry Winston, John Gates, Irving Potash, Gilbert Green, Carl Winter, Gus Hall. National Civil Rights Congress, New York. 1948, 56p

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