SOMETHING TO GUARD: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian, 1948-1967 by Cedric & James Aronson Belfrage

SOMETHING TO GUARD: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian, 1948-1967

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The fact that the National Guardian managed to survive through two decades as an ""independent"" leftist weekly newspaper hardly seems sufficient reason for a book-length eulogy. But, as co-founders Belfrage and Aronson persistently emphasize, those particular decades were the heyday of Cold War anti-communism, linking survival to broader issues of political and journalistic freedoms. When the authors, together with Jack McManus, launched the Guardian alongside Henry Wallace's Progressive Party presidential campaign, they saw themselves as the heirs to Jefferson, Lincoln, and the New Deal--that's what they were busy guarding--and pulled the paper together around a pastiche of populism, anti-fascism, and Soviet sympathy. Never aligned with the Communist Party USA, they self-consciously cast themselves in the role of fellow traveler--while remaining open to socialist experiments outside the Soviet Eastern Bloc--and paid the price of constant governmental harassment (Belfrage, a British citizen, was deported in 1955). The endless stream of ""defenses"" undertaken by and for the impoverished Guardian is chronicled here in glowing self-praise. In 1967, disputes between ""new"" and ""old"" leftists on the staff resulted in resignations by Belfrage and Aronson, a name-change to just plain Guardian, and, later, the split-off Liberated Guardian. The really interesting story, told here inadvertently, is not the survival-course record, but the stultification of American radicalism as exemplified by the Guardian, with its affinities to the hammer-lock thinking of the CPUSA--a legacy itself part of postwar anti-communism. Although it provides a sketch of life on the old left, this self-serving book is more document than documentary.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press