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Gus Hall (born Arvo Kustaa Halberg) (1910–2000) was, for much of his life, the leader of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party USA (CPUSA), exhibiting the triumph, within his own mind, of hope over adversity. He ran for President of the United States four times, but failed to raise many votes; it was obviously the fault of false consciousness stopping the dumb proles from seeing the gospel light. Hall ran in 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984, receiving 0.03%, 0.07%, 0.05%, and 0.04% of the vote respectively, qualifying him as a perennial candidate.
Hall grew up in a communist home and was recruited by his father to join the CPUSA in 1927.
Hall organised the "Little Steel" strike of 1937, which failed to achieve its aims but ended in a number of 10 deaths from police killing unarmed demonstrators. At this time Hall had founded the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) labor union, a branch of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).:95-126[note 1]
Hall enlisted in the Navy during World War II, shortly after he was cleared of criminal charges resulting from the Little Steel strike.:134 In 1946, shortly have being honorably discharged from the US Navy, Hall was elected to the national executive board of CPUSA based on his leadership during the Little Steel strike.:147
The 1940 Alien Registration Act (a.k.a., the Smith Act) was primarily intended to target American communists,:144[note 2] but because of the war, between 1940 and 1948 the targets of the act had been restricted to prosecution of Trotskyists and American fascists because both were enemies Stalin, who was an important ally during the war.:144 As the Cold War and concomitant Red Scare began, several CPUSA members were charged in 1948 under the act, including Hall who was charged with sedition.:144-171 Hall was bailed out of jail while he appealed his case all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. While he was out on bail, Hall compared President Harry Truman to Hitler, using the Slippery slope and Reductio ad Hitlerum.:147 After the Supreme ruled against Hall, he attempted to defect to the Soviet Union, but was caught in Mexico and returned to the US, where he spent five years in Leavenworth Penitentiary.:172-181
In 1956, while Hall was still in prison, the CPUSA suffered from both a large exodus of members and turmoil within the remaining members due to disillusionment based on Nikita Khrushchev' 1956 "secret speech" about Stalin's crimes and the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary.:194-196 Hall had been unable to participate overtly in the CPUSA during this period of 1956-1958 due to his still being on parole from prison.:194-197 After his parole, he campaigned for and was elected the General Secretary of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA in 1959, a post that he held until 2000.:196-210
Spy vs. Spy
From 1958-1977, the FBI conducted a secret espionage program on the CPUSA, code-named Operation SOLO. Operation SOLO largely relied on two brothers who were long-time members of the CPUSA, Jack and Morris Childs. Both of the Childs were double agents for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the FBI, with Morris receiving both the Order of the Red Banner from Leonid Brezhnev in 1975 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan in 1987.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, fresh documentation came to light about the Soviet Union's involvement with the CPUSA, thus removing any ambiguity about its status as a Soviet foreign-operations apparatus.
The Childs also played central roles in delivering cash from the Soviet Union via the Canadian Communist Party to CPUSA, hence the Soviets, the FBI, the Childs and Hall all knew how much the CPSU was being subsidized. The only people that did not know how much the CPSU was subsidized were all the other CPSU members and the public at large.:237-247 A consequence of this pseudo-secrecy was that Hall could keep what he did with the money largely secret from the CPSU, the Soviets, and likewise the Childs.:240-247 The Childs on the other hand were skimming large amounts off the top that Hall did not know about.:241 The Soviet Union was the primary source of funding for the CPUSA, and the CPUSA in turn received the highest per-member funds from the Soviets of any communist party in the world.:239 The Soviet funds helped to fund Hall's middle-class house in Yonkers, New York and his upper-class tastes when traveling,:437-439 Hall's daughter's family's lavish lifestyle,:242-243 and the purchase of stock shares for Hall's son-in-law.:242 Hall was also able to secure the delivery of top-quality Arabian horses from Poland in 1960 for the horse farm belonging to two of his brothers (Toivo and Veikko Halberg) in Minnesota.:466-473 The two brothers were ardent capitalists, and the horse delivery greatly improved their business.
Funding for the CPSU was shrouded in secrecy prior to Hall's election as general secretary, but less is known about those years.:244
Glasnost or not
During his lifetime, Hall shifted with the winds of communism to some degree, largely staying within Marxism-Leninism but supporting Stalinism when it was convenient and the reform of Khruschev when it was convenient.:450-453 During the 1980s, the Glasnost years of Mikhail Gorbachev, Hall held fast to his anti-revisionist Marxist–Leninist position, thus becoming increasingly out of step with the infusion of reality washing through the communist establishment at that time. The Hall and the CPUSA paid for this dearly by having their funds from the Soviet Union immediately cut off,:239 and CPUSA's party organ, The Daily Worker ceased being a daily newspaper, as much of its funding had been subsidized by ~40% of subscriptions coming from communist countries.:240
- the CIO later merged into the AFL-CIO.
- By 1957, The Smith Act was found to be mostly unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court (Bridges v. Wixon; Dennis v. United States; Yates v. United States; Watkins v. United States; Scales v. United States).
- Gus Hall (1910-2000) by Fred Mazelis (21. November 2000) World Socialist Website.
- See the Wikipedia article on 1937 Memorial Day massacre.
- Minnesota, Moscow, Manhattan: Gus Hall's Life and Political Line Until the late 1960s by Tuomas Savonen (2020) The Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters. ISBN 9789516534513.
- Making it in America: A Sourcebook on Eminent Ethnic Americans by Barkan, Elliott Robert (2001) ABC-CLIO.
- Gus Hall, Unreconstructed American Communist of 7 Decades, Dies at 90 by Sam Tanenhaus (Oct 17, 2000).
- Operation SOLO by Federal Bureau of Investigation (2016) Internet Archive.
- See the Wikipedia article on Morris Childs.