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英文解釈の思考プロセス 第179回


今回の題材は、2017年4月30日付(Digital Edition は29日付)の The New York Times 紙に掲載されたヴィヴィアン・コーニック氏によるエッセイ、 When Communism Inspired Ameicans ”共産主義がアメリカ人の思想に影響を与えていた日々” です。ロシア革命から100周年となる本年、そのロシア革命の歴史的意義を考察する The New York Times 紙に連載中の Red Century の一部です。全文の和訳はオリジナルの次にあります。


When Communism Inspired Americans


Vivian Gornick




A packed hall in 1947 for a speech by Eugene Dennis, a longtime leader of the Communist Party in the United States. Credit Patrick A. Burns/The New York Times

At a rally in New York City in 1962, the famously liberal journalist Murray Kempton said to an audience full of old Reds: “I have known many Communists in my life. I have not known them as criminals. I knew them once as activists — and we had our quarrels. But while this country has not been kind to you, it has been fortunate in having you. You have been arrested, you have been followed, you have had your phones bugged, you have had your children fired. Throughout this, I can think of numbers of you I have known who have remained gallant and pleasant and unbroken.” He added, “I salute you and I hope for times to be better.”

My mother was in the audience that night and said, when she came home: “America was fortunate to have had the Communists here. They, more than most, prodded the country into becoming the democracy it always said it was.”

My parents were working-class socialists. I grew up in the late 1940s and early ’50s thinking of them and their friends as what they themselves called “progressives.” The sociology of the progressive world was complex. At its center were full-time organizers for the Communist Party, at the periphery left-wing sympathizers, and at various points in between everything from rank-and-file party card holders to respected fellow travelers.

In my childhood, these distinctions did not exist for me. The people who came to our Bronx apartment or were present at the fund-raising parties we attended, the rallies we went to, and the May Day parades we marched in were all simply progressives. At the kitchen table they drank tea, ate black bread and herring, and talked “issues.” I understood nothing of what they said, but I was always excited by the richness of their rhetoric, the intensity of their arguments, the urgency and longing behind that hot river of words that came pouring ceaselessly from them.

They were voyagers on that river, these plumbers, pressers and sewing machine operators; and they took with them on their journey not only their own narrow, impoverished experience but also a set of abstractions with transformative powers. When these people sat down to talk, Politics sat down with them, Ideas sat down with them; above all, History sat down with them. They spoke and thought within a context that lifted them out of the nameless, faceless obscurity into which they had been born, and gave them the conviction that they had rights as well as obligations. They were not simply the disinherited of the earth, they were proletarians with a founding myth of their own (the Russian Revolution) and a civilizing worldview (Marxism).

While it is true that thousands of people joined the Communist Party in those years because they were members of the hardscrabble working class (garment district Jews, West Virginia miners, California fruit pickers), it was even truer that many more thousands in the educated middle class (teachers, scientists, writers) joined because for them, too, the party was possessed of a moral authority that lent shape and substance, through its passion for structure and the eloquence of its rhetoric, to an urgent sense of social injustice.

Most Communists never set foot in party headquarters, laid eyes on a Central Committee member, or were privy to policy-making sessions. But every rank-and-filer knew that party unionists were crucial to the rise of industrial labor; party lawyers defended blacks in the South; party organizers lived, worked, and sometimes died with miners in Appalachia; farm workers in California; steel workers in Pittsburgh. What made it all real were the organizations the party built: the International Workers Order, the National Negro Congress, the Unemployment Councils. Whenever some new world catastrophe announced itself throughout the Depression and World War II, The Daily Worker sold out in minutes.

It is perhaps hard to understand now, but at that time, in this place, the Marxist vision of world solidarity as translated by the Communist Party induced in the most ordinary of men and women a sense of one’s own humanity that ran deep, made life feel large; large and clarified. It was to this clarity of inner being that so many became not only attached, but addicted. No reward of life, no love nor fame nor wealth, could compete with the experience. It was this all-in-allness of world and self that, all too often, made of the Communists true believers who could not face up to the police state corruption at the heart of their faith, even when a 3-year-old could see that it was eating itself alive.

I was 20 years old in February 1956 when Nikita Khrushchev addressed the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party and revealed to the world the incalculable horror of Stalin’s rule. Night after night the people at my father’s kitchen table raged or wept or sat staring into space. I was beside myself with youthful rage. “Lies!” I screamed at them. “Lies and treachery and murder. And all in the name of socialism! In the name of socialism!” Confused and heartbroken, they pleaded with me to wait and see, this couldn’t be the whole truth, it simply couldn’t be. But it was.

The 20th Congress report brought with it political devastation for the organized left around the world. Within weeks of its publication, 30,000 people in this country quit the party, and within the year it was as it had been in its 1919 beginnings: a small sect on the American political map.

The effective life of the Communist Party in the United States was approximately 40 years in length. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were Communists at one time or another during those 40 years. Many of these people endured social isolation, financial and professional ruin, and even imprisonment. They were two generations of Americans whose lives were formed by political history as were no other American lives save those of the original Revolutionists. History is in them — and they are in history.

Correction: May 1, 2017

An earlier version of this essay misstated the month of Nikita Khrushchev’s address to the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party. It was February 1956, not April.

Vivian Gornick is the author, most recently, of the memoir “The Odd Woman and the City.”

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on April 30, 2017, on Page SR9 of the New York edition with the headline: They Were True Believers. Today’s Paper|Subscribe

< 全文和訳例 >

1962年、ニューヨークで開催された集会で、リベラル派の著名なジャーナリストであるマレー・ケンプトンは、会場を埋めつくした筋金入りの共産党員に向かって次の様に語りかけました:”私には、多くの共産主義者の友人がいますが、彼らは犯罪人などではありません。私は、かつて彼らは政治活動家あることを理解していたし、何度も彼らと言い争いになりました。しかし、アメリカが(赤狩り等によって)共産主義者対して非常に苛酷だった一方で、あなた方がいてくれたのは非常に幸運でした。官憲に逮捕され、尾行され、電話を盗聴され、(両親が共産主義者という理由で)子供達が会社を首になったかも知れません。この様な苦境にありながら、尚も勇敢で、快活で、そして不屈だった友人を、私は数多く思い起こすことが出来ます。” そして彼は更に続けました、”私は皆さんに敬意を捧げるとともに、未来がより良いものになることを願っています。”



私が子供だった頃には、これらの全員が同じ様に見えたものでした。自宅があったブロンクスのアパートを訪れた人々、あるいは、党の資金集めの催しに参加した人々、集会で出会った人々、メイデーで一緒にデモ行進をした人々は、いずれも端的に言って進歩的思想の持ち主だったのです。キッチンのテーブルで、一緒にお茶を飲み、黒パンとニシンの料理を食べながら、”社会問題” について語り合いました。私には、彼らの話す内容は全く理解出来ませんでしたが、その表現の豊かさ、白熱した議論、川の様に果てしなく続く会話の背後にある切迫感と願望に、いつもわくわくしたものでした。



ほとんどの共産主義者は、党本部を訪問すること、中央委員会のメンバーを間近に見ること、党の活動方針の決定に関与することなどは、決してありませんでした。しかし、一般の党員は皆、党の組合組織化担当者は、産業別労働組合がその発言力を強化する点で必須の存在であると認識していました;共産党の顧問弁護士は、南部で黒人の人権を擁護し、勧誘員は、アパラチアの鉱山で鉱夫と、カリフォルニアの農場で季節労働者と、そしてピッツバーグの製鉄所で工員と生活し、働き、時には生死を共にしていました。それら全てを実現していたのが、党が構築した強固な組織でした:具体的には、インターナショナル・ワーカーズ・オーダー(the International Workers Order、共産党が設立した金融機関)、ナショナル・ニグロ・コングレス( the National Negro Congress)、アンエンプロイメント・カウンシル(the Unemployment Councils、失業者支援組織)などがありました。大恐慌や第二次世界大戦が原因となって大惨事が発生するといつも、デイリー・ワーカー紙(党の機関紙)は即座に完売しました。


私が二十歳だった1956年の2月、ニキータ・フルシチョフ(共産党中央委員会第一書記(ソ連の最高指導者))は、ソ連共産党第20回大会最終日の演説において、スターリン時代の想像を絶する恐怖政治の実態を暴露しました(いわゆるスターリン批判)。それから毎晩、私の家のキッチンテーブルに集まっ父を含む共産主義者達は、怒り狂うか、すすり泣くか、あるいは虚ろな目をして座っていただけでした。私は、若気の至りで我を忘れて叫びました。”ほら、結局は嘘と裏切りと殺人ばかりじゃないの! それらは全て社会主義の名の下に行われたのよ!社会主義の名の下に!” 取り乱し、うちひしがれて、彼らは私に、もう少し様子を見よう、それが真実のはずはない、あり得ない、と言って説き伏せようとしました。しかし、真実でした。


アメリカ共産党の実質的な活動期間は、約40年でした。この期間に、数十万人のアメリカ人が一定の期間、共産主義者となりました。その多くは、社会的孤立、金銭面・仕事面での苦境、そして投獄さえも耐え忍びました。彼らは2世代に及び、その人生は他のアメリカ人とは異なって政治史によって彩られていましたが、それはソ連を変革した革命家達と同じでした。歴史が彼らの内にあり ―今や、歴史の一部なのです。

To be continued.