Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Focus: Radical & left history "Defender of the moment"

This profile of a radical lawyer, Albert Goldman, and is written by Joe Allen. The way in which Goldman got into radical politics is a unique story. It was his summer break from college where he was studying to become a rabbi, and while working in a Dakota wheat field. One of the more prominent steps that Goldman took next was to work, "[...] for several years as a journeyman tailor while going to school at night. The leadership of the Communist Party (CP) encouraged him to go to law school in an effort to build up the number of lawyers in its ranks. In 1923, he entered the Northwestern University Law School and graduated two years later with honors". After graduating he joined the International Labor Defense campaigns. It is said that many of the leading figures in this organization moved on to becoming the "the core leadership of American Trotskyis". To read more about the ideologies of the American Trotskyis as well as the ILD, and the people it stemmed from see the original article.

"THE ILD was the most successful political initiative of the early communist movement in the U.S. Its most famous campaign of the 1920s was the worldwide, but ultimately unsuccessful effort to save the lives of Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian-American anarchists framed for robbery and murder by the state of Massachusetts".

While Goldman was part of the ILD (1926 - 1933) he became "one of the most prominent radical attorneys in the Midwest". Associated with the ILD is the position it could put you in if you were a member. Although Goldman was becoming more and more successful in the court room the ILD could expose you to "life threatening situations". Goldman was used by the ILD for his political & law related education to defend the people involved with this radical organization, and this eventually backfired. The article states that Goldman travelled to Danville, a manufacturing city where people were protesting, "the demonstrators were charged with unlawful assembly. Both Goldman and Lofton faced a hostile crowd in court and were forcibly restrained afterward by members of the American Legion, the right-wing veterans group". Afterwards they were kidnapped and beaten. The article documents another incident of a similar manner that Goldman was involved in, but he was not accused of being involved. He was the one defending the protesters. (To read more click here).

In the late 1920's Goldman went to the Soviet Union to see what the Bolshevik revolution was for himself. He came back to America "disillusioned" as a result of Stalin's words, and the changes that had been made to Russia. Expelled from the ILD in 1933 he then became a legal representative - the attorney - "for the Trotskyist led Teamster Local 574 during its historic strikes and battles in the summer of 1934 in Minneapolis".The IlD's original mission of "non-partisan legal defense" changed from good intentions to a more "warped & twisted" one. Goldman was influential and a main part of the creation of the Non-Partisan Labor Defense which used the ILD's old aims.


Goldman was his personal attorney at various hearings that this article further discusses. Even though Goldman was involved with Trotsky on a personal level his most important case was unrelated to the historical figure; but rather the most important case in his career was the sedition trial of the Minneapolis Trotskyists. What is so special about Goldman is that"someone [such as himself is] under the same indictment as his clients is their lead counsel". His story intrigued me immensely because I have taken historical courses throughout my educational career, and since it is unexpected. This article brings to light a man who is not often mentioned, and if he is it is not in such a detailed account like this biography by Joe Allen. I highly recommend this read, and for more social justice issues in relation to radical and left history you should go to the connexions "about" page.

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