Gitlow, Benjamin

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GITLOW, BENJAMIN (1891–1965), U.S. Socialist and onetime Communist. Gitlow was born in New Jersey. He early became active in the Socialist Party and in the Retail Clerks Union of New York. Nominated in 1917 by the Socialist Party for the New York assembly, Gitlow was elected but became convinced that more revolutionary action was necessary and helped form the American Communist Labor Party. Elected to its Labor Committee at its 1919 founding convention, Gitlow was arrested that same year for publishing revolutionary material and served a three-year term. Gitlow then became a member of the Communist International executive committee and presidium, and also held a high position in the American Communist Party. While serving as general secretary in 1929, he and some associates were expelled by Moscow for not following the international communist line. In 1933, along with Lazar Becker, a colleague, he formed the Workers Communist League, later the Socialist Party. Disillusioned with Marxism, he became involved in investigations to expose the Communist movement and eventually wrote a bitter attack on the movement in his autobiography, I Confess: The Truth About American Communism (1940).

[Albert A. Blum]