Louis B. Boudin

Louis B. Boudin

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Louis B. Boudin was a Russian-born American Marxist theoretician
Theoretician (Marxism)
A theoretician is a term from the vernacular of Marxism relating to an individual who observes and writes about the condition or dynamics of society, history, or economics, making use of the main principles of Marxian socialism in the analysis....

, writer, politician, and lawyer. He is best remembered as the author of a two volume history of the Supreme Court's
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 influence on American government, first published in 1932.

Early years


Louis B. Boudin was born Louis Boudianoff in imperial Russia on December 15, 1874. He was born into a middle-class family, the son of a shirt manufacturer.

The family emigrated to America in 1891 and settled in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. Louis worked in the garment industry as a shirtmaker and as a private tutor. At the same time, Boudin began legal studies, gaining a Master's Degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 from New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

 and being admitted to the New York State Bar Association
New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association , with 77,000 members, is the largest voluntary bar association in the United States.-History:The State Bar was founded with a constitution that dates to 1877...

 in 1898.

Political career


In America, Boudin was first a member of the Socialist Labor Party of America
Socialist Labor Party of America
The Socialist Labor Party of America , established in 1876 as the Workingmen's Party, is the oldest socialist political party in the United States and the second oldest socialist party in the world. Originally known as the Workingmen's Party of America, the party changed its name in 1877 and has...

 (SLP). He was a member of the governing National Executive Board of the SLP's trade union affialiate, the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance
Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance
The Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance - commonly abbreviated STLA or ST&LA - was a revolutionary socialist labor union in the United States closely linked to the Socialist Labor Party , which existed from 1895 until becoming a part of the Industrial Workers of the World at its founding in 1905.The...

 (ST&LA) from 1898 to 1899. Boudin was also a delegate to the United Hebrew Trades
United Hebrew Trades
United Hebrew Trades was an association of Jewish labor unions in New York.It was founded by the Socialist Labor Party's Yiddish Branch 8 and Russian Branch 17 together with Jewish unions in in New York in October 1888. Among the founding members were Morris Hillquit and Bernard Weinstein...

 organization in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 at that same time.

Boudin wrote his first political articles in the Yiddish language
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

, contributing works on aesthetics
Aesthetics
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

 and the materialist conception of history (historical materialism) to such publications as Di Zukunft and Di Naye Geist.

Boudin left the Socialist Labor Party during the party fight of 1899, casting his lot with the dissident faction headed by Morris Hillquit
Morris Hillquit
Morris Hillquit was a founder and leader of the Socialist Party of America and prominent labor lawyer in New York City's Lower East Side during the early 20th century.-Early years:...

 and Henry Slobodin. This dissident SLP organization would eventually become one of the main pillars of the new Socialist Party of America
Socialist Party of America
The Socialist Party of America was a multi-tendency democratic-socialist political party in the United States, formed in 1901 by a merger between the three-year-old Social Democratic Party of America and disaffected elements of the Socialist Labor Party which had split from the main organization...

, established in the summer of 1901.

From May 1905 through October 1906, Boudin wrote a series of articles expounding upon Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 which were published in the Chicago magazine The International Socialist Review
International Socialist Review
International Socialist Review may refer to:*International Socialist Review *International Socialist Review *International Socialist Review...

. These articles were collected in book form as The Theoretical Sysem of Karl Marx in the Light of Recent Criticism in February 1907. The title was published by the leading radical publishing house of the day, Charles H. Kerr & Co., and was kept in print continuously over the next two decades through several reissue editions. The book, a defense of such orthodox Marxist tenants as the labor theory of value
Labor theory of value
The labor theories of value are heterodox economic theories of value which argue that the value of a commodity is related to the labor needed to produce or obtain that commodity. The concept is most often associated with Marxian economics...

 and historical materialism against their critics of the day, established Boudin's place as one of the foremost American authorities on Marxism among a generation of young political activists.

Boudin was elected a delegate of the Socialist Party of America to the 1907 Stuttgart Congress and the 1910 Copenhagen Congress of the Second International
Second International
The Second International , the original Socialist International, was an organization of socialist and labour parties formed in Paris on July 14, 1889. At the Paris meeting delegations from 20 countries participated...

.

Boudin was frequently a candidate for public office on the Socialist Party ticket. He ran for Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
New York Court of Appeals
The New York Court of Appeals is the highest court in the U.S. state of New York. The Court of Appeals consists of seven judges: the Chief Judge and six associate judges who are appointed by the Governor to 14-year terms...

 in 1910, 1914 and 1917
New York state election, 1917
The 1917 New York state election was held on November 6, 1917, to elect the Attorney General and two judges of the New York Court of Appeals, as well as all members of the New York State Assembly.-History:...

, and for Chief Judge
Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals refers to the position of chief judge on the New York Court of Appeals.The chief judge supervises the seven-judge Court of Appeals...

 in 1916. He also ran for Justice of the New York Supreme Court
New York Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the State of New York is the trial-level court of general jurisdiction in thestate court system of New York, United States. There is a supreme court in each of New York State's 62 counties, although some smaller counties share judges with neighboring counties...

 (2nd District) in 1910, 1912, 1919.

Together with Ludwig Lore
Ludwig Lore
Ludwig Lore was an American socialist newspaper editor and politician, best remembered for his tenure as editor of the New Yorker Volkszeitung and role as a factional leader in the early American communist movement...

 and Louis C. Fraina
Louis C. Fraina
Louis C. Fraina was a founding member of the American Communist Party in 1919. After running afoul of the Communist International in 1921 over the alleged misappropriation of funds, Fraina left the organized radical movement, emerging in 1930 as a left wing public intellectual by the name of Lewis...

, Boudin was a founding editor of The Class Struggle, a Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 theoretical magazine which first saw print in May 1917. The Class Struggle published news and commentary about revolutionary socialist events in Europe, including translations of works by some of the leading figures of the Zimmerwald Left
Zimmerwald Left
The Zimmerwald Left was a revolutionary minority fraction at the Zimmerwald Peace Conference of 1915, headed by Lenin. The Left of the Zimmerwald Congress was made up of eight out of 38 people: Lenin, Zinoviev , Jānis K. Bērziņš , Karl Radek , Julian Borchardt , Fritz Platten , Zeth Höglund and...

, and was an important influence on the formation of the Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party
Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party
The Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party was an organized faction within the Socialist Party of America in 1919 which served as the core of the dual communist parties which emerged in the fall of that year — the Communist Party of America and the Communist Labor Party of America.-Precusors:A...

 in 1919 — a group which provided the core of the Communist Party of America and Communist Labor Party later in that year. Boudin had left the project by this juncture, however, as a brief notice in the September–October 1918 issue indicated that he had resigned his position as an editor and member of the Socialist Publication Society owing to "differences concerning the policy of the magazine."

Life after politics


After the formation of the Communist Labor Party of America and the Communist Party of America, Boudin shied away from organized politics. He did, however, teach in the Communist Party-sponsored Workers' School in New York in the late 1920s and occasionally contributed articles to the CP's artistic magazine, The New Masses
The New Masses
The "New Masses" was a prominent American Marxist publication edited by Walt Carmon, briefly by Whittaker Chambers, and primarily by Michael Gold, Granville Hicks, and Joseph Freeman....

 during the latter half of the 1930s. Boudin repudiated communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 by 1940, although he remained a staunch defender of the civil liberties
Civil liberties
Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...

 of Communist Party members.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s Boudin was a frequent contributor of book reviews to scholarly journals such as the Columbia Law Review
Columbia Law Review
The Columbia Law Review is a law review edited and published by students at Columbia Law School. In addition to articles, the journal regularly publishes scholarly essays and student notes. It was founded in 1901 by Joseph E. Corrigan and John M. Woolsey, who served as the review's first...

, "The American Journal of Sociology, and The Journal of Politics.

In addition to working as a lawyer, winning several cases related to the rights of workers to organize trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s, Boudin also wrote a two volume work called Government by Judiciary, revisiting a topic which he had dealt with in a previous shorter book. In this work, never much read by the radical movement of the day, Boudin argued that the democratic rights of the people had been usurped by the judicial branch
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 of government. While not influential with political activists of the period, Boudin's book remained in use among law students for decades, according to historian Paul Buhle
Paul Buhle
Paul Merlyn Buhle is a Senior Lecturer at Brown University, author or editor of 35 volumes including histories of radicalism in the United States and the Caribbean, studies of popular culture, and a series of nonfiction comic art volumes. He is the authorized biographer of C. L. R...

.

Death and legacy


Louis Boudin died in 1952.

His papers reside at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

in New York City and include the manuscript of an unpublished book, Order Out of Chaos, a study of economic crises.

Books


Articles

  • "Stare Decisis, State Constitutions, and Impairing the Obligation of Contracts by Judicial Decisions." New York University Law Quarterly Review, vol. 11, nos. 1–2 (September–December 1933).
  • "The Sherman Act and Labor Disputes." n.c.: n.p., 1940.