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Harvey Goldberg

Harvey Goldberg
Harvey Goldberg

Teacher, Historian, Political Activist
March 13, 1922 - May 20, 1987

The point, you see, is that without history we’re truly walking around with no eyes… We’re really walking around blind....Harvey, November 1976

Welcome to Harvey's Section & the Harvey Goldberg Bootleg Lectures - re-mastered CDs of twenty-eight of the renowned radical historian's legendary lectures available through Rainbow. To order a particular set of CDs, click on its title, below.

Produced through a joint project of Madison's community-based Harvey Goldberg Memorial Fund and the Harvey Goldberg Center for the Study of Contemporary History at the University of Wisconsin Department of History, this collection of Harvey's unsurpassed lessons on the origins of our contemporary world -- all of them at least 30 years old and as salient as ever -- will certainly stir those who knew him back in the day and open new vistas for those who never had the privilege of hearing him in person.

Gathered in from a number of former students' cassette tape recordings, the sound quality varies across the collection. Most of the lectures, thanks to the wizardry of recent digital technology, are remarkably clear. Some contain extraneous noises and briefly inaudible or blank passages that reflect the circumstances under which they were recorded and their storage for over thirty years on an unstable medium.

The majority of lectures in the collection were given during Goldberg’s highly popular “Contemporary Societies” course during 1974 & 1976. An effort to demystify the post-World War II era and to shed light on US foreign policy and imperial strivings for a "Pax Americana" -- a new world order under US hegemony in the aftermath of the war -- the course extended from an explanation of the historic US imperial quest for a global “Open Door” – the free access to markets, investment opportunity abroad, to other’s resources and cheap labor.

The lectures assay the resistance to that post-war “new world order” by national liberation movements with origins in the war period and before, their development through the late 1940s and 1950s in countries including Greece, Vietnam and China. In that sense, the course provided case studies and important lessons drawn from the successes and failings of various anti-colonial struggles; of revolution and counter-revolution, of the obstacles to meaningful independence placed in the way by an aggressive US interventionism and the obsatcles faced by those communist-led movements that looked to Moscow for assistance and guidance in the post war era.

Rich in longer historical context and in the portrayal of events as they unfolded in the early years of the “Cold War,” this sampling of lectures, when listened to either individually, in specific case study series, or in their entirety, provides alternative understandings of the US role in the world that are fundamentally salient and meaningful for the present.

Set #1: US Imperialism and Postwar Europe. (A Set of 12 lectures , $60.00)

Goldberg sets the stage for the semester course with a longer overview of US strategic interest extending back to the earlier moments of U.S. overseas expansion following the crisis of the 1890s. He quickly moves forward to explore the World War II and very early post-war years, to provide the context for the rise of the “Pax Americana, resistance to it, and the origins of the "Cold War”. Included is a series of lectures on the history of 20th century Greece which sets the stage for an understanding of the "Truman Doctrine" and what came after.

Set # 2: France: Empire in Decline – Vichy, Vietnam and Algeria (A Set of 10 Lectures, $50.00).

Contains four lectures surveying the modern Vietnamese struggle against French colonialism up through Dienbienphu and the arrival of the US. That quartet surveys the origins and evolution of the national liberation struggle and the role of Vietnamese communist movement. The set also includes lectures on the Vichy collaboration during World War II, set against the backdrop of the Popular Front of the 1930s, French ruling class fear of the popular classes and concern for order as the bases for Nazi collaboration. In addition, the set includes an analysis of the Algerian liberation movement as a case study of the dilemmas of independence and neo-colonialism. It concludes with a discussion of the underlying causes of France in May, 1968.

Set #3. The Chinese Revolution. (A Set of 5 Lectures, $25.00)

Five lectures exploring the longer context of anti-colonial struggles and class conflict that led up to the rise and ultimate victory of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949.

On Rosa Luxemburg (December 1, 1975) A single Lecture, $10.00

This Harvey classic surveys the revisionist and reformist disputes within German Social Democracy (SPD), -- the rise of party apparatus, trade union bureaucracy, parliamentary road -- as the context for understanding Rosa’s political interventions. A biographical sketch of Rosa. Analysis of her polemics regarding the principle of continual struggle, the relation of the party to the mass, the question of spontaneity, the mass strike and the debate with Lenin. The question of trade union versus revolutionary consciousness.

Those acquiring the first three sets -- On War and Imperialism, France, and China -- will also receive an additional set as a premium – the single Rosa Luxemburg lecture, a recording of Goldberg's Memorial Service which also contains a separate lecture by William Appleman Williams, and a selection of brief Goldberg commentaries on a number of historic and contemporary questions.