Max Eastman

Max Eastman

American journalist, writer, poet, literary critic
Date of Birth: 12.01.1883
Country: USA

Biography of Max Eastman

Max Eastman was an American journalist, writer, poet, literary critic, and radical political activist. He was born on January 4, 1883, in Canandaigua, New York. His parents, Samuel Eastman and Annis Bertha Ford, were Congregationalists. In 1889, his mother became one of the first women ordained as a minister.

Eastman received his education at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, graduating in 1905. He then taught logic and philosophy at Columbia University for four years. During this time, he actively participated in the socialist movement and in 1910, he was involved in the creation of the first men's league in support of the suffrage movement for equal rights for women.

Having demonstrated his skills in journalism, Eastman soon began publishing the radical magazine "The Masses," which became a prominent platform for left-wing politics and culture. The magazine featured contributions from notable writers such as Bourdman Robinson, John French Sloan, George Wesley Bellows, and Arthur Henry Young. Their satirical cartoons made "The Masses" one of the most well-known political publications in the United States. Eastman and the other editors of the magazine were taken to court twice in 1918 for their exposure of the imperialistic nature of World War I and the United States' entry into the war as part of the Allied Powers.

Afterward, Eastman edited and published a similar magazine called "The Liberator." In 1922, he traveled to Soviet Russia to gain a closer understanding of the socialist system. During his time there, he married Elena Krylenko, the sister of Nikolai Vasilyevich Krylenko, a member of the Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. Observing the power struggle in the years following Lenin's death, Eastman became a supporter of Leon Trotsky and a critic of Joseph Stalin.

In 1924, Eastman received a copy of Lenin's "Letter to the Congress" from Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, Lenin's widow. He published a condensed version of the letter in his essay "Since Lenin Died" (1925). Believing that the purpose of the October Revolution had been distorted by the bureaucracy and officials in the Soviet leadership, Eastman chose to leave the USSR and return to the United States.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Eastman published several books and articles from a Trotskyist and anti-Stalinist perspective, critically evaluating the socio-political and socio-economic development of the Soviet Union. These works include "Since Lenin Died" (1925), "Artists in Uniform" (1934), "The End of Socialism in Russia" (1937), and "Stalin's Russia and the Crisis in Socialism" (1939). In 1932, Eastman translated Leon Trotsky's "History of the Russian Revolution" into English. However, even at that time, Trotsky criticized Eastman for tendencies that would lead him to distance himself from the left idea, particularly his "systematic struggle against materialist dialectics" and its translation "into the language of vulgar empiricism."

From 1941 onwards, Eastman served as the editor of "The Reader's Digest," where he wrote articles on a wide range of topics. By this time, he had moved away from the communist movement and even actively participated in the McCarthyist campaign in the 1950s, becoming a key witness against American communists, which drew criticism from his former comrades.

In addition to his political writings, Eastman also authored several works of fiction, including "Enjoyment of Laughter" (1936) and "Enjoyment of Poetry." He also wrote two autobiographical books, "Enjoyment of Living" (1948) and "Love and Revolution: My Journey Through an Epoch" (1965).

Max Eastman passed away on March 25, 1969, in Bridgetown, Barbados, leaving behind a legacy of political activism, critical thought, and literary contributions.