Lovestone, Jay

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LOVESTONE, JAY (Liebstein, Jacov ; 1897–1990), U.S. Communist Party leader; architect of U.S. organized labor's post-World War ii anti-Communist foreign policy. Lovestone, who was born in Lithuania, was taken to the United States as a child and grew up on New York's Lower East Side.

Lovestone joined the Socialist Party as a youth and was active in that party's left wing. In response to the Bolshevik Revolution, Lovestone was a founder of the Communist Party of America in 1919, which merged with another faction in 1921 to form what became the Communist Party of the United States. He served as its executive secretary from 1927 to 1929. While American Communism's top bureaucrat, Lovestone outlined the notion of "American Exceptionalism," i.e., that the United States did not fit into the general Communist theory. However, he and his theory were reviled and ostracized after Stalin's Comintern declared a "third period" of capitalist crisis and revolutionary upsurge, which included the United States. Following the Stalinization of American Communism, Lovestone formed an opposition Communist Party (later the Independent Labor League) and during the Depression fought Communists in the auto workers' and ladies garment workers' unions. In 1944 Lovestone was chosen to head the Free Trade Union Committee. Thereafter, he guided the American Federation of Labor's anti-Communist foreign policy. He constructed a worldwide intelligence network which, throughout the Cold War era, worked closely with the CIA. When the afl and CIO merged, Lovestone continued his anti-Communist activities within the merged labor movement's Department of International Affairs. In 1963 he became director of the AFLCIO's International Affairs Department (iad), which covertly channeled millions of dollars from the cia to anti-Communist activities internationally, particularly in Latin America. During the 1960s he vigorously supported American military intervention in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam, and opposed the concepts and practitioners of neutralism and revolutionary nationalism. In 1974 he was expelled from the afl-cio when it came to light that he had been connected with the cia.


Lens, in: The Nation (July 5, 1965); Draper, American Communism and Soviet Russia (1960); L. Velie, Labor U.S.A. (1959). add. bibliography: T. Morgan, A Covert Life: Jay Lovestone, Communist, Anti-Communist … Spymaster (1999); R. Alexander, The Right Opposition: The Lovestoneites and the International Communist Opposition of the 1930s (1981).

[Kenneth Waltzer /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]