Eisenhower

Some overly terse writing by your humble blogger appears to have kicked-off a bit of a ruckus in the comments. I will try to explain myself more eloquently.

Recent American history is plagued by dishonesty. One of my guiding principles when thinking about recent American history is to assume that every prominent American from the mid-20s to the mid-50s found a way to make himself acceptable to the communists. If an American during this period was unable to find a way to make himself acceptable to the communists, he wouldn’t have been prominent.

Even the conservative movement spent much of this time period appeasing the communists. Strange, no? (Even stranger, this is considered an achievement by conservatives).

Vladimir sums up this idea nicely in the comments:

The question was whether the leftist dominance in the intellectual circles — and consequently in the federal bureaucracies, academia, foundations, etc. — would be permitted to lead to further radical transformation and re-engineering of the country and the whole society in the leftward direction. The answer, of course, turned out to be yes, and the political forces that mounted any serious opposition were defeated utterly and consigned to infamy by the official history.

I’m sure this rule of thumb is wrong for some prominent historical figure during this time, I just haven’t found such a figure yet. Mencken said, "I am often wrong. My prejudices are innumerable, and often idiotic." I could say the same.

I tried to illustrate this point in a post last week. To recap, Tom Lamont was the effective head of JP Morgan, during a period in which large US banks de facto controlled foreign policy. Lamont actually negotiated many of the international agreements that followed WWI on behalf of the US government (or himself, or both, or maybe they are the same thing – these relationships get somewhat fuzzy). Lamont’s son was as big a commie as they come and his son thought highly of Lamont’s politics. What is Lamont’s relationship to communism or the Soviets? We have no idea. If you dig deeper though, this Republican banker sure has a lot of friends who are commies and who are directly connected to the Soviets.

The same thing basically happens when you pick anyone prominent in this time period.

Some of the details get fuzzy – it’s never clear who is running whom – but the connections are undeniable.

I assumed – last week – that Eisenhower would have similar connections.

So, in response to Ike’s defenders, I planned to dig through Ike’s connections and see what turned up.

Fortunately, Moldbug chimed in to the comments to point out that Ike chose Joseph Fels Barnes to ghostwrite his memoirs. I guess he couldn’t find any non-CPUSA members to write his book. Moldbug also adds, "Eisenhower did not keep Acheson as Secretary of State, but he kept the Acheson-Hiss State Department – and indeed collaborated quite enthusiastically in purging its enemies. This was not an accident or a mistake." Indeed, what could be more complicit with communism than not purging the State Department post-Hiss?

(Incidentally, I really like that all mainstream still refuse to admit that anybody was actually a member of the CPUSA or worked for the Soviets. I’m reading a mainstream history book now that still always refers to Alger Hiss as an accused spy – I’m pretty sure he was at least convicted. Are these guys afraid of being sued for defamation by Hiss’s heirs?).

The Birchers believe that Ike stopped short while the USA was defeating the Germans so that the Soviets could capture more territory. I have no idea if this is true. It probably doesn’t matter anyway, since the Acheson-Hiss State Department was going to make sure the Soviets got more than their fair share. The Birchers also believe that Ike has a lot of Commie friends during his time as president of Columbia. I suspect that this is probably true, but irrelevant – how could be president of Columbia in the ’40s and not have commie friends?

Moldbug also makes the point that I’m using "communist" much too loosely. He’s correct, for what it’s worth. At some point American Communism broke with the Russian sort. However, I think this break was less ideological than bureaucratic. One side was running the other side. At some point in the 50s, this stopped – they actually broke ties. The ideologies didn’t change but the power structure did.

Anyway, back to Vladimir for the summation:

However, the real truth was in fact even worse and scarier than these conspiracy theories. The domestic American left actually believed in pretty much all the worst ideas that a Soviet subversion program would have liked to install and promote — and they believed in these ideas, for the most part, honestly and independently. [This may not be an accident.  The Soviets may have believed what they believed because they were told what to believe the these Americans]. The real error of the McCarthyists and Birchers was that in their naivete and innocence, when they saw this organized insanity emanating from the highest reaches of the government, academia, NGOs, etc., they simply couldn’t bring themselves to believe that it might be anything other than an un-American foreign body implanted by nefarious aliens and traitors. They didn’t realize that the political, intellectual, and cultural war they were fighting was a civil war, not a struggle against foreign invasion. It is clear who eventually won decisively in this struggle — and whose side, for all practical purposes, Eisenhower was on.

Ike was a probably a good guy. I’m sure we’d have a hell of a conversation over some beers, but he wasn’t on the right side. As usual, those on the right side are considered crazy, if they’re even considered at all.

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123 Responses to Eisenhower

  1. RS says:

    > However, I think this break was less ideological than bureaucratic. One side was running the other side. At some point in the 50s, this stopped – they actually broke ties. The ideologies didn’t change but the power structure did.

    It’s hard to imagine that they would have been running us before barbarossa, simply because we were far more geopolitically powerful. On the other hand, they may have had a sort of moral high ground (of being radical, ‘real’) even at the beginning, when they were extremely weak. You’d think the Holodomor might do a number on that though. At any rate, as much as they got far stronger through the 30s, they were still generally expected to lose barbarossa.

    Is there a Harvard consensus/Official account of the Split, that you are less than confident in? Or is there not even that?

    The main thing that comes to mind is the beef over Greece and Turkey. I think two poles can easily get huffy over power even if there is little ideological difference. Just because you really like someone doesn’t mean you want to wind up getting ordered around by them for the rest of time. “I dig you, I really dig you, it’s just…”

    This joint has some talk about it, I mostly just looked at “C.” for some stuff about Turkey and Greece.

    http://www.funfront.net/hist/europe/coldwar.htm

    • Foseti says:

      “Is there a Harvard consensus/Official account of the Split, that you are less than confident in? Or is there not even that?”

      Not even that.

  2. “However, the real truth was in fact even worse and scarier than these conspiracy theories. The domestic American left actually believed in pretty much all the worst ideas that a Soviet subversion program would have liked to install and promote — and they believed in these ideas, for the most part, honestly and independently. [This may not be an accident. The Soviets may have believed what they believed because they were told what to believe the these Americans]. The real error of the McCarthyists and Birchers was that in their naivete and innocence, when they saw this organized insanity emanating from the highest reaches of the government, academia, NGOs, etc., they simply couldn’t bring themselves to believe that it might be anything other than an un-American foreign body implanted by nefarious aliens and traitors. They didn’t realize that the political, intellectual, and cultural war they were fighting was a civil war, not a struggle against foreign invasion”

    Great analysis.Thought-provoking and insightful. Love the blog Foseti, but this commenter stole the show.

  3. Doug1 says:

    Fosetti—

    The Birchers believe that Ike stopped short while the USA was defeating the Germans so that the Soviets could capture more territory. I have no idea if this is true. It probably doesn’t matter anyway, since the Acheson-Hiss State Department was going to make sure the Soviets got more than their fair share.

    What I’ve read about that is that it wasn’t that Ike wanted the Soviets to get more territory, it was that he didn’t much care if they got the glory of capturing Berlin and all of Eastern Germany, with the attendant costs in Red Army lives (which were heavy in the final months of the war), and was glad to trade that off for fewer American and British casualties. I don’t know that Ike was aware that the Soviets would keep an iron curtain Red Army control over eastern Germany and Europe for decades, but probably thought they’d want to give up the burdens of occupation as the US wanted to when it could. It was more that he (and Roosevelt) were naïve about the Soviets than supporting them versus liberal western democracies.

    It must be remembered that the Soviet Union looked it’s best to the outside world in the 20s and especially the 1930s and early 40s, peaking at the end of WWII. The Soviet Union grew much faster economically in the 1930s than the depression plagued United States or rest of Europe. It was undergoing the early and relatively simple stages of copy cat industrialization, where a command economy could do relatively well. It was also not greatly overspending on defense until attacked in WWII by the Nazis.

    • moldbug says:

      “It must be remembered that the Soviet Union looked it’s best to the outside world in the 20s and especially the 1930s and early 40s, peaking at the end of WWII. The Soviet Union grew much faster economically in the 1930s than the depression plagued United States or rest of Europe. It was undergoing the early and relatively simple stages of copy cat industrialization, where a command economy could do relatively well. It was also not greatly overspending on defense until attacked in WWII by the Nazis.”

      All of these sentences are false except possibly the penultimate. There were plenty of people reporting the truth about Bolshevism in the teens, ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. They were mocked and ignored by the conventional wisdom, which you repeat. Read communists – repeat lies.

      For instance, the Germans were amazed to discover the size of the prewar Soviet military machine. The Soviet Union began the war with more tanks than the rest of the world combined. Purely for self-defence, Comrade Litvinov assures you!

      FDR was in no sense “naive” about the Russians. For instance, he helped cover up Katyn. 20C history isn’t a children’s game. Go back to the kiddie pool!

  4. Doug1 says:

    I don’t think you’ve supported your point that Eisenhower was on the wrong side (left/liberal, strongly influenced by Communism) side whatsoever. It’s a relatively novel point and thus requires strong supporting evidence and argument to be taken seriously.

    No he wasn’t a total reactionary, but he wasn’t a Rockefeller Republican either. He was basically a status quo guy, with some sympathy for civil rights for blacks issues.

    • Foseti says:

      Yes, but this sells short the guys who were on the right side. Patton (“We’re going to have to fight the Russians eventually anyway. It might as well be now while we’ve already got the army here to do it”) , for example, would not have been so cavalier.

      I agree that the most likely explanation is that Ike was a status quo guy. But when he took over the presidency, the status quo was the Acheson-Hiss State Department. That’s worth at least considering, no?

  5. Vladimir says:

    On a tangential note, googling for some of this stuff, I just found out that Kathleen Harriman Mortimer, daughter of FDR’s ambassador to the USSR Averell Harriman, just died a few months ago. Interestingly, the Times obituary notes a charming assignment she did during the war:

    In 1944, as her father’s representative, she accompanied more than a dozen foreign correspondents into the Katyn forest, in western Russia.

    The forest had been the site of the massacre of thousands of Polish officers earlier in the war. Now the journalists had been taken there to witness autopsies of the exhumed bodies, part of a Russian disinformation campaign to ensure that Germany would be blamed for the killings.

    Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, a bit of further googling discovered this record of the 1952 Congress hearings on Katyn killings, in which her 1944 report is included:
    http://www.archive.org/details/katynforestmassa07unit

    Miss Harriman’s report is reproduced on page 2133. Amazingly, in the report she concludes that it must have been the Germans, since the killings were done in a “methodical manner” — something she apparently considered the Soviets incapable of! Also, as one of the committee members noted during the hearings, even her report “[has] in it more reasons why the Russians did it and not the Germans” — she talks about rehearsed witnesses, staged forensic demonstrations, etc. quite explicitly. Yet she and her father endorsed Stalin’s story nevertheless.

    • moldbug says:

      Page 2197, testimony of George Earle, former Governor of Pennsylvania, former Minister to Bulgaria and Rumania:

      “In May 1944 the President recalled me for consultation. I will not forget how an old friend of mine, Joe Levy, from the New York Times, went to the station and said, “George, you don’t know what you are going to over there.” He said, “Harry Hopkins has complete domination over the President and the whole atmosphere over there is ‘pink.'” He said, “If you go over and report against Russia, you, who would be the best authority for the administration in the Balkans, would be finished.”
      [...]
      In the anteroom there I met Secretary Forrestal of the Navy and talked to him about it and he said: “My God, I think this is dreadful. We were all alone over here. Russia can do no wrong. It is perfectly dreadful.” He said: “They just simply are blind to the whole situation.”

      This, obviously, would be an optimistic appraisal…

      • moldbug says:

        Page 2203:

        And then, Commodore Vardaman, one of Harry Truman’s closest friends, made a very interesting remark. He said: “We Truman people never turn over a Roosevelt stone that we don’t find a snail under it.”

        I don’t know what he meant by it, but possibly you gentlemen do. Now, I would like to go into this Katyn massacre…

        Curiously, enough, reading this old crap, I have the same experience. I never turn over a Roosevelt stone that I don’t find a snail under it. Ergo, when I see a fellow that was a lieutenant colonel in 1941 and a five-star general in 1944, I am conditioned to expect snails…

      • moldbug says:

        Page 2207:

        I think that the love and respect and belief in Russia in the White House was simply unbelievable to me. I just cannot understand it. Everywhere I went there were just a few people – Forrestal and Bullitt and myself and a few others…

        No way Eisenhower was one of the “few others” – *no* way.

  6. Vladimir says:

    Also, looking for more information on some of these sordid topics, I stumbled onto this excerpt from the book Caught between Roosevelt & Stalin: America’s ambassadors to Moscow written by one Dennis J. Dunn, a historian from Texas State University (emphasis mine):

    The Rooseveltians, however, added a revolutionary and paradoxical twist to Wilsonianism when dealing with the Soviet Union. They subsumed the Wilsonian legacy into the pseudoprofound theory of convergence. This theory held that Soviet Russia and the United States were on convergent paths, where the United States was moving from laissez-faire capitalism to welfare state socialism and the Soviet Union was evolving from totalitarianism to social democracy.

    (The whole chapter is available on Google Books preview, at least from my IP address, and it presents some further interesting facts and analysis. I’ll definitely add this book to my reading list.)

    This, I think, is the key to understanding the attitude of FDR and the New Dealers towards communism, both foreign and domestic. It also explains the later Cold War attitudes of the American left, which could never bring itself to believe that the USSR could be an actual enemy in any real sense, or that the communist regimes could be induced to behave better, either in international relations or in the treatment of their domestic subjects, by anything except kindness and benevolence — an attitude they maintained until the very end, as evidenced e.g. by Ted Kennedy’s Moscow contacts during the Reagan years. When I think of this, as well as all their crazy ideas for political and social re-engineering that they’ve managed to put into practice in the meantime, it’s really hard to blame the McCarthyists and Birchers for believing that all this insanity must be coming from an organized Soviet-led conspiracy of subversion. The reality has been only more bizarre and scary than what they assumed.

    • moldbug says:

      “The Rooseveltians, however, added a revolutionary and paradoxical twist to Wilsonianism when dealing with the Soviet Union. They subsumed the Wilsonian legacy into the pseudoprofound theory of convergence. This theory held that Soviet Russia and the United States were on convergent paths, where the United States was moving from laissez-faire capitalism to welfare state socialism and the Soviet Union was evolving from totalitarianism to social democracy.”

      This is right on the money. Moreover, this interpretation of the Soviet Union is the mainstream American position, at least among intellectuals, and never changes – from 1917 to 1989. Even military conflict with the Soviet is intended to coerce it into convergence, not to defeat it as Nazi Germany was defeated. Of course we see this both in Korea and Vietnam.

      It’s also important to note that the US is responsible for the very existence of the Soviet Union, even before 1920. US diplomacy helps instigate the February revolution, guides Kerensky in his various acts of folly, splits between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks/SRs/Cadets, then protects the Bolsheviks against the Europeans and Whites. The US did not intervene in favor of the Whites in the Russian Civil War – the Wilsonians actually shut down the European intervention, pretending to join the intervention but actually sandbagging it to protect the Bolsheviks.

      They are never in control of the Bolsheviks, but they always want to be in control of the Bolsheviks. Who never want to be in their control. Hence, “convergence.” The true history of US-Soviet relations in the 20C needs to be pieced together from very small clues – any text you can buy is a monstrous tissue of lies. A fruitful source for clue mining is the memoir of Samuel N. Harper.

      • moldbug says:

        Harper on the February Revolution is particularly amusing. At least, if you’re looking for a case study in political arson.

        I particularly admire the term “bureaucracy” as used to refer to the Tsar’s loyal civil service. You can compare the acuity of the “reformers” to that of the “bureaucracy” by a glance at the Durnovo memorandum – Durnovo being a “bureaucrat.” BTW, there is no evidence that these people were “conspiring with the Germans.” They should have been, though.

    • jamesd127 says:

      The Birchers were wrong to propose that State Department were puppets of the Soviets, and Moldbug oversimplifies when he says the Soviets were muppets of the Cathedral.

      The truth is, it was consensus, a consensus into which the communists were invited, and most Americans were excluded.

  7. Tschafer says:

    “I don’t think you’ve supported your point that Eisenhower was on the wrong side (left/liberal, strongly influenced by Communism) side whatsoever. It’s a relatively novel point and thus requires strong supporting evidence and argument to be taken seriously.”

    This pretty much sums up my position. The de-facto communists were pretty prominant in American life during the period 1917 – 1952 or so, and it would have been a rare politician who didn’t have at least some ties to them (Reagan and McCarthy certainly did). I would maintain that;

    1. Eisenhower didn’t advance farther East in WWII because the U.S. would have had to return any territory gained anyway, and Eisenhower didn’t see the point of suffering casualties by capturing the territory for the Russians. Under the “Eclipse” documents, the occupation zones were already set, and Eisenhower knew this. Capturing Berlin cost the Soviets a quarter of a million casualties. Does anyone think that it would have been reasonable to get that many Americans killed to capture a city deep in a zone that was going to be given to the Reds anyway?

    2. Eisenhower faced two communist challenges in the 1950’s; the challenge of the USSR and the challenge of domestic communism. He did a much better job on the foreign threat than he did the domestic, but according to John Barron’s book “KGB” the Soviets had FAR fewer agents in Washington at the beginning of the 1960’s than at the beginning of the 1950’s. Thank Truman and Eisenhower for that.

    3. Eisenhower knew Joseph Barnes from his work with OWI in Europe. There is still controversy about whether he was a communist or not, and we know a lot more about his background that Ike did. Also, I’d invite you to actually read Eisenhower’s memoirs, and find any statement that can reasonably be read as pro-Communist, or even very pro-liberal. You’ll find lots of denunciations of communist and leftism, though. Kind of strange for a pro-commie, no?

    My verdict; sometimes naive and reluctant to believe that Americans could be traitors. Not as conservative as I would have liked? Certainly. But pro-communist? Not even close. An examination of his whole record would convince anyone of this. You and Moldbug are off base on this one, I’m afraid. Some things are true, even though the mainstream says them…

    • moldbug says:

      1. The Germans in Berlin would have surrendered to the Allies with minimal struggle. They knew the difference. The ideal outcome was of course to ally with the US against the Soviets, second best was to let the West get as far as possible. So not only could Eisenhower have taken Berlin (and Prague), but this loss of life would have been avoided. At the cost of alienating the Soviets, of course, and shattering the new world order.

      2. Imagine you’re trying to determine whether someone is a Nazi or not. Say, John Demjanjuk. “He’s not a Nazi,” you say. Evidence: he denounces the Nazis! This proves: he has a motivation to denounce the Nazis. After 1945, everyone (including Nazis) has a motivation to denounce the Nazis. Your evidence: worthless. Later, you find out he was Eichmann’s right-hand man.

      Of course everyone knows this. About Nazis. If we applied the same standard to Communists, we’d have to excommunicate our entire political class. This is kind of the point.

      For instance, Thorbjorn Jagland, ex PM of Norway, chairman of the Nobel Prize committee, tearful lamenter of the glorious martyrs of the Workers’ Youth League, indeed the man who came up with the unintentionally brilliant Obama prize, had another identity as KGB informant “Yuri.” But he was just liaising with them – for purposes of detente, you see. Serving the cause of world peace. Just like Teddy Kennedy. No harm, no foul. Similarly, it’s a heinous slander to say that Bill Ayers is or ever was a Communist, or that he was ever B.H. Obama’s boss. He was just some random guy who worked down the hall. There’s no evidence that they even knew each other’s names. Whereas if your great-aunt bought a cat from an ex-Wehrmacht sergeant in 1954, you’re definitely a Nazi.

      Between 1940 and 1945 it’s very easy to tell whether a figure is pro-communist or anti-communist. If he’s working with Hitler, he’s anti-communist. If he’s working with Stalin, he’s either pro-communist or very confused. WWII is a war of communism against fascism – there’s really no third option. Everyone is guilty in the “Mission to Moscow” era. Yalta is by no means anomalous or exceptional – the whole left wing of the New Deal, containing of course OWI, produces enormous reams of propaganda in favor of giving Eastern Europe to Stalin (and China to Mao). You can go to any decent library and find great stacks of this stuff – look for anything by Leland Stowe, for instance. Eisenhower (like Marshall) is most certainly a creature of this wing – a New Deal political general.

      After 1948, someone who makes anti-communist statements can be (a) a genuine anti-communist (like Robert Welch); (b) pro-communist but anti-Soviet (like Eisenhower); or (c) a genuinely duplicitous pro-Soviet. I am hard pressed to think of any important case of (c). (b) is where the action is

      The view of the anti-Soviet communist, from Trotsky to Mao to Eisenhower to Enver Hoxha, is that the Soviet Union has sadly deviated from the true path of one democratic world socialism. This fellow can be distinguished from the all-around anti-communist (like Robert Welch) because he wants to reform the Soviet Union, not destroy it. Obviously the purest of anti-communists regret and would reverse both revolutions, February and October. But this position is not really found outside the Axis camp, not even in Robert Welch.

      So the Cold War in the eyes of the classic “Cold War liberal” is a competition between American communism and Soviet communism, to see which can communize the world first and best. Not that your liberal would ever put it that way, of course. But we know what he was thinking in 1944.

      3. The best practical way to distinguish between political factions is to ignore rhetoric, even ignore action (a better guide than rhetoric, but it is very hard to discern the motivation from the action) and trace social networks. Who ostracizes whom? Who associates with whom?

      Cold War “anti-anti-communists” ostracize genuine anti-communists, who generally return the favor. They do not ostracize communists, even the most slavishly pro-Soviet – not ostracizing communists is a basic principle of decency according to American “liberals.” “I will not turn my back on Alger Hiss.” Here for once Dean Acheson can be taken at his word. You will not find any significant division between liberals and “progressives” on the American social graph.

      I mean, dear God, Eisenhower (like Wendell Willkie) was well known as a Democrat until a year before he ran as a Republican. How much more Third World can you get? It’s like something that would happen in Bulgaria. Even Reagan and Nixon are not short of social connections to the left, most notably the Rockefellers. Eg, Kissinger is a Rockefeller man.

      And then, of course, there’s this.Also like something that would happen in Bulgaria. An autopsy can’t tell you why someone went out a window, even if he has a bathrobe cord tied around his neck and there’s a broken glass ashtray in his room. It’s perfectly possible that the Bulgarian Defense Minister, isolated in a military hospital on grounds of temporary insanity, broke his ashtray, tied a bathrobe cord around his neck, copied a morbid poem in someone else’s handwriting, then jumped out the window. Insane people are capable of almost anything. Especially insane Bulgarians. Think Bulgaria when you look at USG in the ’40s – you can’t go wrong.

      What exactly was the New Deal’s relationship to the Soviet active services? Did Stalin offer to lend these organs to FDR, and did FDR take him up on it? It would certainly fit the MO of both. But we have no, frickin, idea, and probably never will.

    • Foseti says:

      I think Ike deserves blame for ensuring that when the Republican Party is in power it would not: 1) do anything to identify current or former Soviet agents working for the US government and 2) do anything to roll back the New Deal.

      I’m not sure you’re disagreeing with these points. Perhaps then, the disagreement is about how pro-Communist this makes Ike.

      I’m certainly willing to admit that these actions can be explained in ways that would go either way.

      One way to look at it is to ask who liked these policies – this is generally my preferred way. I think it’s clear that the pro-Soviet side liked these actions. In other words, Hiss approved of these positions more than say John T. Flynn did.

  8. Hubbard says:

    There aren’t, I grant you, very many prominent Americans from 1920-1955 who didn’t try to win the approval of intellectuals (most of whom weren’t communists but were fellow travelers). But I can think of a few: Calvin Coolidge, Andrew Mellon, J. Edgar Hoover.

  9. Tschafer says:

    By the way, I agree that Eisenhower did not take the threat of domestic communism seriously enough, and did not really understand the nature of the threat. Very few people did at the time, and fewer do even today. That’s a long, long way from being pro-communist, or overlooking the fact that your agency heads are working for the USSR.

    • moldbug says:

      Your basic problem is that you’ve defined “communist” as “Stalinist.” You can define a word as anything, but how useful is it? By your definition, Mao is an anti-communist too. That is, he’s anti-Soviet. Or more precisely, he is pro-Soviet in one period, then anti-Soviet in another – just like Eisenhower.

      The October Revolution was in 1917. The Intercollegiate Socialist Society was founded in 1905. It later became the League for Industrial Democracy, a cool-ass name that always makes me think of Skinny Puppy. “God’s gift, Maggot! My friend, Maggot!” The LID later spawned the SDS, which gave us Bill Ayers, who gave us B.H. Obama. Another core institution of American communism is the ACLU, which was founded as and long acted as a CPUSA front group.

      Needless to say, B.H. Obama is our noble and holy president, and the ACLU is our most respected defender of civil liberties. So how can it be unfair to describe America as a communist country? If, that is, a communist country is a country governed by communists. All of this could, and probably would, have happened if the Soviet Union had never existed.

      • Tschafer says:

        Mao actually remained a Stalinist, it was Khruschev that denied Stalin. So Khruschev was “Anti-Soviet” by your definition? He was certainly anti-Stalinist. Also, it was the United States that was first pro-Soviet, then anti-Soviet, not Eisenhower; Eisenhower was a servant of the U.S. government, so he really had no choice. The question, of course is Eisenhower as president; how he felt about communism in 1935 or 1925, I have no idea, and fail to see the relevance. After all, Reagan, James Burnham and Whittaker Chambers were all Communists or commie sympathizers in the 1930’s.

        You are absolutely correct when you state “If we applied the same standard to Communists, we’d have to excommunicate our entire political class.” I agree completely. This was precisely Truman and Eisenhower’s dilemma. Had they tried to purge every (allegedly former) communist sympathizer from the Civil Service, they would have touched off domestic strife such as we saw in the 60’s and 70’s. Seeing as how the U.S. almost lost the Cold War to a half-dead USSR due to this, it’s easy to see why Truman and Ike didn’t want to risk this against a surging Soviet Union in the 1940’s and 50’s. A hard decision, and possibly the wrong one. But not pro communist.

        And as for the drive on Berlin, the simple fact of the matter was that the occupation zones for Germany were set, and Eisenhower saw no point in taking territory that was simply to be given to the Russians. Any speculation concerning Nazi resistance or lack thereof is just that, pure speculation. Certainly, the Nazis had fought hard enough against the Western Allies at Huertgen Forest, in the Ruhr, and and in the Ardennes. Hell, I can see how anti-Communists could call Eisenhower pro-commie for TAKING Berlin; “He sacrificed American boys so he could take territory to give to his buddies the Russians”! Blame FDR and State for “Eclipse”, not Ike.

        And we have several readers of this blog who have lived in communist countries, so lets ask them; is the U.S. a communist country? Of course, one might say that they too are confusing “Stalinist” and “Communist” but as you so correctly pointed out, one can define a word in any way one likes, but this is not necessarily an aid to understanding.

      • Foseti says:

        One other fun way to answer this question is to Google the platform of the Socialist Party of the United States during various historical elections years. Almost without fail, the things the SPUSA wants actually happen. There’s generally just a lag time of 10-20 years between the SPUSA’s platform and changes to law.

      • moldbug says:

        The Sino-Soviet split was only a decade after the Anglo-Soviet split. Tito split with Stalin, too – was Tito not a Communist?

        The experience of Communism was certainly very different in the Soviet Union circa 1935, the Soviet Union circa 1965, Yugoslavia, Albania, East Germany, the United States…

        You’re confusing the Nazi mind of late 1944 with the Nazi mind of April 1945. Resistance in the West had collapsed, because the Germans no longer had a hope of winning there. What mattered was that the Soviets were looting and raping and the Anglo-Americans (by comparison) weren’t.

      • Carter says:

        “One other fun way to answer this question is to Google the platform of the Socialist Party of the United States during various historical elections years.”

        See also Skousen’s list of “Current (1958) Communist Goals”:

        http://www.uhuh.com/nwo/communism/comgoals.htm

  10. Tschafer says:

    Mencius and Foseti;
    1. Was WWII purely a war of Fascism vs. Communism during the year and a half Hitler and Stalin were allies?

    2. Agreed, there was something odd about James Forrestal’s death. He died in May, 1949. Can someone please explain to me what this has to do with Eisenhower, who took office in in Early 1953? Robert Welch never mentioned that Ike had a time machine.

    3. I don’t know who Skinny Puppy is, but I have no problem accepting the fact that the ACLU was a Communist front, as were/are lots of other “progressive” organizations. Relevant to Eisenhower how?

    4. As for social networks, I’d be willing to bet that all three of us have more left wing friends than right wing, given what I know. Does that make us Communists?

    5. Yeah, Ike did some things that made the commies happy. So did Reagan. He did more things that made them unhappy.

    I don’t want to keep banging on this, so this will be my last post on this topic. I believe that Eisenhower was our best president between 1928 and 1980, that he made lots of mistakes, but, as Gibbon wrote of Belisarius “his faults were the faults of the times; his virtues were his own”, and that to call Eisenhower pro-communist requires a re-definition of the term “communist” that makes it effectively meaningless, except to mean “insufficiently anti-leftist”. In hindsight, Eisenhower probably didn’t move against the New Deal and its acolytes rapidly or firmly enough, and that’s all that can really be said on the debit side of the leger. That does not make Eisenhower, or Truman, pro-communist, no matter how the term is defined.

    • Foseti says:

      Thanks for the discussion. Obviously, it’s been stimulating.

      I’m willing to concede that Ike was the best President between ’28 and ’80, however I’m not willing to concede that this is an honorable distinction.

      Personally, I’m most frustrated by the historical double standard that arises when discussing fascism and communism. As Moldbug points out, by the standards applied to fascism, Ike is certainly pro-Communist (i.e. someone who tolerated fascists the way Ike tolerated Communists would be considered fascist). You may not think that this is a fair standard, but it’s a standard that we’re stuck with – at least on one side.

      Next, I’m frustrated by the lack of historical materials on these topics. We don’t know a huge number of the details. The more we dig, however, the more Commies we turn up. I find this interesting, and it colors my general perceptions of everyone from this era.

      Next, I’m frustrated by the fact that there were a lot of people living at the time who were right about the Commies. These people were marginalized, destroyed and/or forgotten. We do them a dis-service by forgetting their incredibly courageous efforts and insights. They are history’s losers, and I’m partial to history’s losers.

      Finally, I am very partial to the Old Right. The Old Right may not have had a chance after the FDR revolution. It was probably dead. Ike, however, made doubly sure of this. I’m not sure I can get over this fact.

    • moldbug says:

      1. My suspicion (which cannot be verified until all 20C archives are released, possibly not even then) is that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a ruse to draw Germany into a two-front war. It may even have been planned in Washington. Obviously, if this is true, only a few Americans could have known it.

      2. If Forrestal was thrown out a window, Eisenhower was friends with the people who arranged it.

      3. Ditto. If you’re part of a political organization, you’re deserve its label. If Eisenhower had broken with it, we’d know – he would have been ostracized, like the Birchers.

      4. None of us has any power so far as I know. But none of also has any authentic political connection to the Old Right. We can be post-communists but we can’t be pre-communists.

      5. Obviously you’ve never read Kent Steffgen’s book on Reagan. Political rhetoric is a matter of where you’re getting your votes, not what you do with them. Both Reagan and Nixon could say great things about liberalism – neither did much. (Even Eisenhower sounded like McCarthy on the campaign trail.) Was this because they couldn’t, didn’t want to, or both? Does it matter?

      • 1111 says:

        Re 1., are you aware of Stalin’s Poliburo speech on 19 August 1939?

      • Mencius Moldbug says:

        Everything we know about Stalin’s foreign policy in 1939-41 must be considered conjectural. My conjectures of US coordination are more conjectural still. Still, it’s important to make these conjectures, because if you don’t you’re assuming a negative without any evidence of that negative.

      • Mencius Moldbug says:

        See also the large quantity of links on this subject at Wikipedia. The level of examination of this subject, much unfortunately not in English, approaches that of Pearl Harbor. Moreover, Barbarossa revisionism and Pearl Harbor revisionism work together quite well, producing a narrative of the global conflict free from inexplicable stupidities like “Stalin trusted Hitler” or “Japan went crazy and attacked America.”

    • Leonard says:

      Tschafer, on social networks, I also have far more friends in the left than the right. (Practically the only rightists I know are via the net.) However, I don’t have any power. If I did gain power, and I actually tried to do anything anti-progressive, I would lose most of these friends.

      The social-network method for tracing factions only applies to the powerful, and probably in proportion to their power.

  11. [...] on the history of US and Soviet relations (also see other comments in the [...]

  12. Tschafer says:

    “There were a lot of people living at the time who were right about the Commies. These people were marginalized, destroyed and/or forgotten. We do them a dis-service by forgetting their incredibly courageous efforts and insights.”

    I agree with this 100%, although I’m not as partial as you are to the Old Right. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree about Eisenhower. In the meantime, it’s not like we don’t have plenty to agree on concerning our current president…

  13. Five Daarstens says:

    I found the case of George Koval interesting:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/12/us/12koval.html?pagewanted=1

    There was a commenter in on of the NYT story about him that asked, how could he have been put in a position like that without help, good question indeed.

  14. Tschafer says:

    So the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was a cunning Roosevelt plot , Eisenhower was friends with the guys who killed Forrestal (The Nazis, the Commies, the Jews, the UFO – MIB’s, or all of them? Please be specific), Eisenhower was a member of the ACLU, and Reagan was actually a cunning socialist? Am I reading this right? Are you really saying this? Is there one iota of proof of any of this? At all? Are you actually the Moldbug who writes all of that great stuff over at UR, or are you a commie provacatur? Because I’m actually starting to wonder…

    • moldbug says:

      I thought you weren’t going to post again?

      You really should read Welch’s The Politician. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s online. You can get Steffgen’s Reagan book, Here’s the Rest of Him (1968), from the odd site americandeception.com. It’ll cost you $300 in paperback. This is an insider’s account of California politics from the days of the young, fiery Governor Reagan, who talked such a good line about the hippies.

      It’s pretty clear in my judgment that when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union was about to invade Hitler. This is the Suvorov hypothesis – I’d give it about 80%. I’d be pretty confident that FDR’s insiders knew this – 50%. That the whole thing was a setup is the Preparata hypothesis – he’s an econ prof at UWashington, I believe. Preparata makes it a little too tidy, I feel, but I think he’s roughly in the ballpark.

      Look, fool, these are governments! They have secrets! They make plans! They’re not idiots! If a random doofus on the street like you or me knew their secrets, they wouldn’t be secret, now, would they?

      If Forrestal was thrown out the window, it was obviously by Soviet illegals. The best work on the Forrestal death is not the UFO or Jew cranks, obviously (though it’s a Jew crank who FOIAed the investigative report), but by Medford Evans, writing as “Cornell Simpson,” in the ’60s. Evans did not have the Willcutts Report but he had quite a bit of other evidence.

      Forrestal, who was rich as hell, was when he quit planning to buy the New York Sun and turn it into an anticommunist organ. His assistant, the oddly named Marx Leva, recounts (p. 43) the story of what happened after his resignation ceremony:

      I believe that either Forrestal [whom Leva has just described as perfectly sane, but overworked] went to an office that had been set aside for him afterwards, or he went home. In any event, we had an appointment on the Hill the next day, March 29th before the House Armed Services Committee because Chairman Vinson had said to me, “Be sure to have Mr. Forrestal there.” They wanted to take note of his outstanding service, etc. So I arranged that Mr. Forrestal would be there. He came to the Pentagon.

      I rode up to the Hill with him. That was the day after Johnson was sworn in, and we appeared before the House Armed Services Committee and Forrestal was sort of overwhelmed by the compliments of Carl Vinson and the ranking Republican member, Dewey Short, from the great state of Missouri. And he was a little teary eyed, I think, but he responded very beautifully and said that anything that he had been able to accomplish was because the Secretaries of Army and Navy and Air Force had been working so closely with him, etc. He made a, you know, good routine response. My further recollection at that time is is that Stuart Symington said to me, “Marx, old fellow, would you mind if I rode back to the Pentagon with Jim; there’s something I want to talk to him about.” I don’t know what it was.

      I said, “Sure.”

      So, I rode back with Royall because Forrestal and I had driven over together. When I got back to the Pentagon I went back to my office. Forrestal had been given an office down from the Secretary of Defense a little, next door to mine. So I stuck my head in–it was next door to my office–and he was sitting there just like this with his hat on his head, just gazing. And I went in and I said, “Mr. Secretary, is there anything I can do for you?”

      He was almost in a coma really. That was when I first knew and that was when I first got scared. So I said, “Do you feel faint?” I don’t remember what I said.

      He said, “No, no, I want to go home.”

      So, he got up and headed for the door and I said, “Where are you going?”

      He said, “I’m going for my car.” Well, he didn’t have a car.

      So, I ran like hell. I remember whose car I got; I got Dr. Vannevar Bush’s driver, who was then head of the Research and Development Board, and I said, “Take Mr. Forrestal home and phone me when you get him there.” I knew Mrs. Forrestal wasn’t in town, and I told the driver to make sure that the butler knows that he’s there, etc. And then I phoned, as it happened, Mr. Eberstadt who was testifying on the 1949 amendments to the unification act before the Senate Armed Services Committee. And I said, “I don’t like what I see. Can I meet you?”

      He said, “Yes, I’ll meet you at the house.”

      So, I met him at the house and the butler said he had gone upstairs. I don’t know, anyway–I’m sort of short-circuiting this. That wasn’t exactly what happened. We first phoned the house, Eber and I got together, the butler said, “He won’t speak to anybody.”

      Eber said to the butler, “You tell James (Eber and others of the Princeton group called him James), you tell James he can get away with that with a lot of people but not with me.” And so he came to the phone and apparently babbled a lot of stuff about the Russians–apparently it was just like that. I don’t know. The only further thing I knew is that I did drive to the house, I waited while Eber had the butler pack his clothes. Eber came out once and said,”Can you get a plane to take him to Florida?”

      And I said, “Certainly.”

      And I phoned and we got a Marine plane, I think, I don’t know. And so Forrestal came down and Eber sat in the back seat of my old, old Chevrolet and Forrestal sat in front with me and then the butler came running back, came running after us. He brought the Secretary’s golf clubs. So I opened the trunk, we put in the golf clubs and I drove out to the private plane end (we didn’t go to the military planes), private plane end of National Airport. And on the way out Forrestal said three times, the only thing he said, Eber tried to speak to him and he would say, “You’re a loyal fellow, Marx.” “You’re a loyal fellow, Marx,” three times. I remember that, I think I remember that. And we put him in the plane and I had also phoned to be sure to have a military aide there to look after him and then I said to Eber, “I hate for him to be going down there by himself but I know Bob Lovett is down there,” who was a close friend.

      And I said, “I’m going to phone Bob to be sure to meet the plane.” So I phoned Bob and Bob did meet the plane. I never saw him after that.

      By the way, psychiatry. He was never permitted to see the people he should have seen. I’m not sure he should have seen me, I would have reminded him of too much, but friends of his, people who loved him; Senator Leverett Saltonstall, just to mention one name, not really a political ally but just someone who really loved him; Kate Foley his secretary.

      The great vice of military medicine is that you see who they want you to see. Louis Johnson came out to see him and he saw him and that was the last person that he should have seen you know. Captain [George N.] Raines couldn’t say no to Louis Johnson but that’s the last thing that should have been done.

      Actually, as I understood later from Mr. Eberstadt–Mr. Eberstadt sent a plane down, chartered a plane, and sent Dr. Menninger from Topeka and wanted the Secretary to fly up to the Menninger Clinic, but Mrs. Forrestal and Mr. Truman agreed that it would be–neither of whom knew anything about psychiatry either–that there would be less stigma at being at the naval hospital.

      And only a Navy doctor could put a VIP patient on the seventeenth floor you know. I mean nobody else would put anybody above the second floor with that particular illness. Who is to know whether that had gone so far. I mean he apparently was beyond being neurotic, I mean it was apparently paranoid but I didn’t see it at all. It’s a long way to tell you that I did not see it at all until the day after he left office.

      How many facts do we need to put together here? Clearly, Stuart Symington told Forrestal something that really, really challenged his sense of reality – just as I’m challenging yours. Was it about the UFOs? The Jews? Or, duh, the Russians? Clearly, Forrestal was part of the anti-Russian wing of USG. (Intervening against the communists in Greece was his baby.) Clearly, the pro-Russian wing of USG had had some very intimate contacts with the Russian secret services. Harry Hopkins, who was basically running the White House, is named by a number of sources, and probably authorized Hiss. FDR probably authorized Hopkins.

      How hard is to believe that the KGB whacked a guy? Have you ever read, say, Victor Serge’s memoirs? Or Alexander Barmine? These people had just finished annihilating half of Europe and all of Japan, for god’s sakes, they were pretty comfortable with “necessary murder.”

      Forrestal’s was by no means the only suspicious death of a high USG official in this era. For instance, Laurence Duggan went out a window too, shortly before he was supposed to testify. Harry Dexter White, also a Soviet agent, died of a heart attack – only slightly harder to fake. There are others.

      My guess is that Symington (a) laid out the truth about the Russian relationship, and (b) told him that if he told that truth, he’d get whacked. You think these people were angels? Think Bulgaria, man.

      Any other questions? Or is this enough reality for one day?

    • Vladimir says:

      Moldbug does seem like he’s getting carried away with all this conspiratorial stuff a bit too much, and the “communist” label for the regular American leftism in its 20th century incarnations is certainly inaccurate, confusing, and way over the top. His old “Universalist” label was far better on all counts.

      (Generally, as a big fan of Moldbug’s writing, I am disappointed with his increasingly abrasive, bitter, and coarse rhetoric. Considering that he actually has a whole lot of interesting stuff to say, it’s a terrible waste of talent and certainly a disservice to his professed cause of reactionary enlightenment.)

      To make sure my position is clear, I’d emphasize once again that from a realistic perspective on the 1950s American left, the issues of Communist Party membership and Soviet espionage and infiltration were basically red herrings. The real problem, just like nowadays, was the radicalism of the respectable, out-and-proud, well-financed, and established liberal left, which was as always taking advantage of every opportunity to push the Overton window another notch leftward while presenting it as a clear-cut issue of reason and fairness — a process that has continued almost uniformly to the present day. In this situation, the cause of the left was in fact greatly aided by the Truman/Eisenhower policy of being tough on card-carrying communists and suspect spies while at the same time considering the respectable domestic left off-limits and opposing any organized political action against it as paranoid and irresponsible extremism.

      Now, most attempts to raise such action were misguided with their excessive conspiracy-mongering and failure to realize that the respectable left had mostly severed its ties with the diminishing Moscow-run web of subversion by 1950 or so. However, some of them, like the Reece Committee, were right on target — but these were ridiculed and shut down even more promptly, lacking the anti-communist propaganda angle, and enraging the influential intellectual and media types who correctly felt themselves targeted. So the ratchet kept moving, and it’s moving ever further even now — and the record of any post-WW2 Republican president in opposing its advance has, in my opinion, been too weak and pathetic to earn any praise.

      • Anonymous coward says:

        (Generally, as a big fan of Moldbug’s writing, I am disappointed with his increasingly abrasive, bitter, and coarse rhetoric. Considering that he actually has a whole lot of interesting stuff to say, it’s a terrible waste of talent and certainly a disservice to his professed cause of reactionary enlightenment.)
        You speak for me also! BTW, in the interests of reactionary enlightenment you ought to start a blog of your own, or whatever.

      • Foseti says:

        Universalism is a great word because it makes clear that everything that fits under it is one phenomenon. The things that fit under it including communism, social, progressivism, American liberalism from the 50s, etc.

        I don’t understand the objection to the word communism. Even communists don’t think Russia was *really* communist, so you’re left with no one being communist.

        Perhaps you think Moldbug’s version of the story is too extreme, but is it really less believable than the mainstream version? Which one makes more sense?

        The sad fact is that the more someone learns about American ties to foreign [insert word of choice to mean the same thing] governments, the more crazy one becomes. It is a maddening process. Perhaps it’s better not to go down the rabbit hole.

      • moldbug says:

        Perhaps I’ve just been reading too much Elizabeth Dilling.

        I find the peasant simplicity of classic anticommunism, especially pre-WWII anticommunism, increasingly attractive. Sure, it’s coarse. It’s also basically accurate, and wonderfully simple. One should always write sub specie aeternitas, and eternity is always a great simplifier.

        How will the historians of the 23rd century, supposing there are any honest historians then, read the 20C? Will they need two words, to soothe delicate, NPR-bred sensibilities? Or will one coarse simplicity suffice? You have to summarize the 20C in five pages for a junior-high textbook – one word, or two? If you think there’s a meaningful distinction between an American communist and a liberal/progressive/Universalist/whatever, how would you define that distinction?

        I showed the two Forrestal handwriting samples, the real memos and the fake Ajax poem, to my stepfather, a lifelong Washington insider of firmly orthodox convictions, also a minor historian who has written a history of DoD. He simply couldn’t process them. He was obviously unable to argue that the handwriting matched. He was equally unable to believe that a Secretary of Defense could be thrown out a window in 1949. (Perhaps part of this is that he knew the Washington of 1969, in which no one was thrown out of windows etc. Nor is anyone now. But 1949 was a very different world.) If my stepfather had to write a book about Forrestal today, he’d write that Forrestal copied the Ajax poem and jumped out the window. Evidence that doesn’t fit is rejected – as it probably should be.

        Refusing to accept the basically Bulgarian nature of USG in the ’30s and ’40s is a kind of failing to come to terms with history – a kind of presentism or antihistoricism. Presentism is found not only in inappropriate disrespect for the past, but also in inappropriate admiration. We have no trouble imagining squalid little plots in those parts of the past we’ve dissociated ourselves from, not only Bulgaria, but even – say – England in the 1840s.

        Did Lord Palmerston conspire? Did he have secrets? Was he disingenuous? Of course – he was a master bureaucrat (as well as a master politician). What about Pope Alexander VI? Could a Pope whack a guy? Well, if he was born “Rodrigo Borgia…”

        But in America, in the lives of those now living – unthinkable. Surely Stuart Symington could not have conducted himself like Paulie Walnuts from the Sopranos. Surely… why? I guarantee you that our 23C historian will have no difficulty in recognizing the first half of the 20C as one of history’s golden ages of conspiracy. Heck, that’ll probably be why he chose to specialize in it. Historical detective stories are hard, especially when you take them seriously. But if you don’t, why bother?

  15. teageegeepea says:

    I have to concur that a decidedly non-standard definition of “communist” is being used. True, Trotsky was not a Stalinist, but Eisenhower was certainly not a Trotskyist either. This wouldn’t be so bad if you just announced “I’m going to use this definition, so you can replace the word “communist” whenever you see it”, but then Moldbug talks about pro-communists using anti-communist rhetoric. Was Eisenhower campaigning on repealing the New Deal? Did he say he was going to conduct massive purges rather than just detect traitors like Hiss?

    Most of your complaints are about things Eisenhower DIDN’T do. Perhaps you would argue that comparable inactivity in reacting to fascists is evidence of pro-fascism, if you were an idiot. But reversed idiocy is not intelligence. “But they do it!” is whining rather than truth-seeking.

    • moldbug says:

      Of course I’m using a non-standard definition of the word “communist.” The standard definition is propaganda. By the standard definition, there’s no such thing as a communist.

      He said he would, and I quote, “clean up the mess in the State Department.” There was no shortage of McCarthyite rhetoric from Eisenhower on the campaign trail ’52.

      You should read The Politician, too. What Eisenhower was: a New Deal political general. He was not a leader. He was a tractable, loyal and reasonably competent staff officer who signed what was put in front of him. It’s a mistake to focus on his opinions. In Nazi Germany such a man was a Nazi, in Catholic Spain a Catholic, etc, etc, etc.

      • baduin says:

        The Anglo-Saxon progressives were neither communists nor fascist. In fact, as you correctly say, they were the central progressive movement, of which Communists was a radical provincial branch and Fascism a monstrous heresy, using progressive methods in service of anti-progressive ideas.

        Communists were a revolutionary radical faction which appeared in the underdeveloped countries – they tried to gain the Millenium in one leap. They are Chiliasts as defined in Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia, or Utopians as defined in Voegelin’s New Science of Politics.

        Anglo-American progressive were gradualists, they wanted to gain substantially the same goal, but in an orderly, gradual manner. They were the central part of the movement, and were mostly securely in control of their own societies, until 1968 when they were overthrown by an inner coup d’etat of their own youth fraction. Their aims are best explained in various books by Wells: Mankind in the Making, The New World Order, The Open Conspiracy.

        The most important difference was economic – Communists, as indicated in their name, wanted to have direct State ownership of all economy. Progressives wanted to have State control over the economy – but in a more workable, indirect form.

        In fact, their economic policy was quite similar to Fascism – because it was the common-sense rational policy of the time.

        Fascists did not have any special preferences for economic policy, and used the plans which seemed to work. They were an Utopian- anti-progressive movement. Their aims were anti-progressive but their whole construction – Party, the Thousand-Year Kingdom ie Millenium etc were classically progressive. Their aims were anti-progressive because they rejected rationality and universal benevolence, which are the fundamental features of Progressivism.

        Communists, despite their irrational and murderous system didn’t reject them – they killed – as they claimed – only to overcome obstacles on the road to common millenium, and they claimed their policy to be rational. This showed that their heart was in the right place, and minor differences should be resolved peacefully.

        In 1968 the youth faction of the Progressivists used their similarity with Fascism to – quite falsely – accuse them of fascism and overthrow them. This faction rules today absolutely, on the left as post-modernists Progressives such as Obama, on the right as neoconservative libertarians. It is, in fact, fundamentally different from both Progressives and Communists- it has no implementable economic policy (except supporting bankers) and is openly elitary and aiming at subjection of the common man to elite control. It is also fundamentally opposed to the idea of Progress etc. Their aim is always destruction of the present, with unclear promises of shining Millenium after the present corrupt world is destroyed. (Starving the Beast, as it is called on the right.)

      • Foseti says:

        ” By the standard definition, there’s no such thing as a communist.”

        This is absolutely true – and revealing

  16. prcaldude@gmail.com says:

    Maybe Patton really was assassinated. He was hated by all the wrong people and his papers made it clear that he hated Communists and Semites.

    • moldbug says:

      It’s as important to recognize that the Nazis were right about the Bolshevism part of Judeo-Bolshevism, as that the communists were right about the Judeo part. History can be a very unattractive spectacle.

      • prcaldude@gmail.com says:

        I’m sure we’ll pretty soon know the full history.

        I have to dive into your take on the matter more but I haven’t read enough of your blog. Patton was pretty clear that the post-war management of Bavaria was turning into a Jewish revenge on the Germans and he (Patton) felt that the Germans had been punished enough. It’s hard to know how much legitimate fear the Germans had of the Jews due to their involvement in Communism in Russia and their take-over of Bavaria during the pre-WWII era.

      • Mencius Moldbug says:

        There’s no question but that early Bolshevism was predominantly a Jewish affair. It may even be said that wood houses burn and brick ones don’t, but carpentry is not the cause of arson.

        Jews were a critical ingredient of old Russia, like the Armenians and Greeks in the Ottoman Empire, the overseas Chinese in Indonesia, etc. These other minorities were also among the first to catch the revolutionary fire, typically with equally dreadful consequences for them and/or their host populations.

        The best 20C writing on the Jewish question is Elie Kedourie’s Minorities, in The Chatham House Version. This is actually about Armenians. It never mentions Jews at all, though the author was a Baghdad Jew. Still, you can read between the lines. Did you ever wonder why the Turks massacred the Armenians? For the same reason that the Czars winked at the Black Hundreds’ pogroms. It is possible to understand 20C anti-Semitism without sympathizing with it, which is what I’d like to think Solzhenitsyn is about.

  17. KevinV says:

    This is an interesting debate, and I must say that it is heartening to see at least one corner of the Blogosphere still engaged in this sort of thing. I think that both sides, to generalize, are correct on specific points but are missing the most crucial piece of the puzzle. Let me try to explain what I mean, first with some context:

    1. First, the argument set forth above that American leftists saw both the United States and the USSR on a convergent path towards an expert-drivel social democracy with strong popular and democratic mores and structures is, as Moldbug notes, absolutely spot on the money. Also as noted, this is why the American Left never saw the USSR as an enemy in the true sense, even when its more clear-minded partisans saw that it was a threat in its then-current form. It was a deviation, an over-reaction to capitalism, a premature experiment that had to be contained until the natural force of economic and democratic history nudged it back towards social democracy. It is very important to keep this firmly in mind when discussing the men and events of this era.

    2. We must not make the same mistake the Left makes so routinely now when discussing WWII and the early Cold War era of not keeping front and center of any analysis that the United States was involved in a conflict of the old sort, one that involved a disciplined and capable enemy committed to imposing considerable physical destruction on the U.S. and its forces so as to preclude it from Pacific and European affairs. However one may feel about how what the U.S. role should be in those areas politically, the fact is the U.S. was in one hell of a fight and its leaders knew all-too-well that it stood little chance of success without the Red Army.

    3. The immediate pre-war era saw a deep discrediting of the American Right and a surge of support for the American Left and its champion, President Roosevelt. Again, setting aside how one feels about his or whether such a move was warranted or deserved, the important fact for analysis is that this occurred.

    4. The Allies were firmly committed to convening themselves as the United Nations (a term used quite often at the time to refer to what we routinely now call the “Allies”) to prevent a World War III and all were quite well aware of the need to keep the USSR on-side if this mechanism was to ever work.

    Putting these things together, at the time Eisenhower was moved from Torch to Supreme Allied Commander in London, the U.S. Government was deep in a real war, one which did not to that date feature any great degree of success on the part of American arms. Despite an overwhelming superiority of materiel, the Germans out-fought, out-thought and just plain beat the combined U.S./British forces under Eisenhower’s command until sheer strength of numbers and assets allowed the Allies to simply cut off their supply, dooming the Afrika Corps. The British were very strongly unconvinced of American war-fighting capability. With such difficulty in what was, in effect, a side show, Eisenhower was facing a massive task in preparing a U.S. Army able to take on Germany in Europe, from an amphibious landing, with equipment and tanks that was in almost every category inferior to German standard issue.

    The U.S. was firmly led by the left-wing President Roosevelt, who, like his partisans from the moderately pro-New Deal small businessman to the hardcore members of the CPUSA, viewed the Soviet Union as a necessary and indispensible wartime ally which could, over time, through UN involvement and partnership with the United States, move closer to the new U.S. model. This was the era of the Washington expert, the dollar-a-year man, when central planning and the industrial method were at their peak of attractiveness. That such planning was ruthlessly necessary given the scope of the national emergency only strengthened what had already become a strong movement.
    In my view, the above more than adequately explains Eisenhower’s supposed “softness” or alleged support for Communism, both domestically and internationally.

    Eisenhower, while a very smart man, was not an intellectual. He did not have grand theories or any deep ideological view on how things were and/or ought to be. Even his admission to West Point was very no-nonsense. There wasn’t any burning desire for martial glory, as with his good friend Geogie, nor any romantic notions of national service. He just wanted a college education and found himself in a milieu that challenged him and seemed to fit. He brought to his position, from the very first, a very strong will and a hard work ethic to get the job done, whatever that job may entail.

    In other words, Eisenhower was a man who worked with the tools at hand. He was Supreme Allied Commander not for his tactical skill but because he was masterful at keeping all of the various actors, each with their own culture, prejudices, ideas, ideals and preferences, on-side with the goal of defeating Nazi Germany, allowing the U.S. to then pivot to the defeat of Japan.
    In order to do that, Eisenhower frequently was accused by his fellow American generals of “betrayal” and being “more British than the damn British.” Both Patton and Bradley thought Ike was, at time, an outright traitor.

    Does that sound familiar?

    Eisenhower knew he needed the British to finish the job, so he sided with the British and moved things their way when necessary to keep the alliance strong. And he knew he needed the Soviets even more, that every 100,000 deaths on the Eastern Front meant another nail in Hitler’s coffin. And he knew that the political leadership back in Washington was heavily Left in nature and that to keep things on course towards victory, they would have to get theirs as well.

    As President, Eisenhower adopted the same approach. That he should root out the strong Left in the U.S. Government rang to his ears of setting off a fight among Americans when there was no real disagreement among these domestic “Allies” about ultimate goals anymore than there was among the wartime Allies about their ultimate goal.

    Eisenhower can thus, perhaps, be faulted for not being insightful enough to realize that this unanimity of goals was an illusion. However, given the context of the time—the strong need for non-likemindeds to work together during the war, the strong need for non-likemindeds to work together to prevent a World War III after the war—it is not surprising to me.

    He was a very capable man who grew up and into power at the high water mark of the American Left’s influence and whose formative experience required him to rely heavily on the Soviet Union. He was in his personal opinions, dating from his first political discussions in Abeliene, a staunch Democrat. He may well have shared the opinion and the hope that the Soviet Union would eventually transform into something more approaching Western social democracy.

    But in no sense have I ever seen any evidence or indication that he was a conscious agent of the left-wing ideological agenda.

  18. moldbug says:

    You too should have a look at Welch’s The Politician, then. Evidence doesn’t come looking for you – you have to look for it.

    Or try reading the George Earle testimony I linked above. Earle was there. He was an insider. He strikes me as honest and sober. I am very doubtful that he would agree with your perspective of the New Deal at war. In Washington at that time, I feel, there were two kinds of people – the “cool kids” and the dinosaurs. The cool kids all behave as if they have a special clubhouse secret no one else knows. The dinosaurs – like Earle, Forrestal, Wedemeyer in the Army, Spruille Braden at State, the later Bullitt – are increasingly weirded out by the cool kids, but they’re not in the club. They are tolerated only for their effectiveness. By the ’50s they’re all gone.

    But if, God forbid, I was teaching a class on this period, I would teach both this moderate perspective and the writers to its right, and invite people to make up their own minds. What I would recommend strongly against is adopting the moderate view without having read the “extremists.”

    One thing, though:

    one that involved a disciplined and capable enemy committed to imposing considerable physical destruction on the U.S. and its forces so as to preclude it from Pacific and European affairs

    This is an odd sentence construction which I think reveals the extent to which history has been tortured here. The whole Nazi-Japanese plot for world domination can’t really be taken seriously – both in light of what we know the Germans and Japanese were thinking, and in light of the obvious military disparities. Anglo-Americans had spent the last 50 years, and Englishmen the last 150, working on their world domination chops, so projection is the most parsimonious explanation of this meme, I feel.

    If there’s a grain of truth here, and I think there is more than a grain, it’s that the fascist powers accurately perceived the general degeneration of the Anglo-American democratic world. Their mistake was to be ahead of their time – their enemies had more remaining fiber than they thought. But to recognize the grain of truth in the myth, we first need to reject the myth.

    The grain doesn’t really justify the kind of thinking that, for instance, led George Marshall in 1940 to extrapolate the fall of France into a Nazi blitzkrieg that jumped south to Dakar, leaped the Atlantic to Brazil and wound up with Panzerdivisionen on the Rio Grande. If you go back and find any example of this rhetoric – say, Frank Capra’s “Why We Fight,” or FDR’s Navy Day speech – you’ll instantly recognize it as utterly deranged paranoia.

  19. [...] a discussion about communism. Hands up who’s reactionary and likes Skinny [...]

  20. KevinV says:

    Moldbug –

    You misread me. I said the enemy was committed to imposing considerable physical destruction on the U.S. and its forces, not to conquer it or to achieve some fantasy of world domination, but to “preclude it from Pacific (i.e. Japan’s sphere of influence) and European (i.e, Germany’s sphere of inflence) affairs.

    I completely agree with Buchanan’s argument that the fight was unnecessary for us and counter-productive. There was no German plan to take over the U.S. and the Japanese would have been content with dominating the Far East.

    The only point I was making here was unlike today’s wars, we were in a real frickin’ war, for serious and for keeps. And judging it and that mindset from the vantage point of today’s vast military superiority of the U.S. is to misread the situation.

    On your larger point, I am open to evidence and will read your suggestions. I always find your suggested readings to be very worthwhile. However, the fact that I have not read these specific pieces doesn’t imply that I have never gone looking for evidence.

    You and I understand these things a bit better than the average American because, unlike the vast majority, our families have significant hard-left backgrounds (me with the Trotskyite wreckers of the SWP, you with the ol’ skool commies). In a sense, though, this closeness is the lens through which we view left-wing activism of the era. I think we run the risk of forgetting that many millions of Americans at this time really and truly identified the new Americanism as part of a broader move to the controlled and managed economy Left, while falling well short of really believing that “Communism is 20th Century Americanism”

    • moldbug says:

      Yeah, that’s certainly true. The dog certainly bit hard enough once it was kicked. Japan never had a chance but Germany, like the Confederacy, might have been able to pull it out.

      You should also check out the American treatment of German POWs, eg, this. Note the hilarious inconsistency in the Wiki page – the POWs (after the war) were caged in the open with 12-1500 calories a day, no shelter, and no sanitary facilities, yet somehow “the death rates for German POWs held by Americans were among the lowest experienced by surrendered combatants during and after the war.” The magic of official statistics! I find Bacque’s investigation relatively credible. It is also consistent with US and British Teutophobia at the time. Dehumanization was by no means a Nazi monopoly.

      Dear old Ike is certainly implicated in this and a number of Morgenthau-esque policies, all emanating from the left wing of USG. To be fair to him, as you say, it was a serious war, and it was felt that unless the Germans were seriously abused not only during the war but afterward, they wouldn’t really get the message. They got the message, didn’t they? So at a certain level, it’s hard to argue…

    • Anonymous says:

      The Politician is found! No

      Revilo Oliver also has some interesting comments on the backstory of this curious book and the JBS in general. Oliver is a very curious case – once a founder of National Review, over time he degenerates into Ezra Pound on the Italian radio, becoming entirely focused on the Jewish peril. A case of Rothbard’s Law, perhaps. But he is at the very least a great source of links. I often find excellent sources through very odd intermediaries.

    • Mencius Moldbug says:

      No excuse for not reading The Politician now.

      Revilo Oliver’s insights on the backstory of this book and the JBS are also interesting. Oliver as he ages turns into Ezra Pound on the Italian radio, but the early RPO is a lot more than just an anti-Semite. He also is an excellent source of odd links.

      • Isegoria says:

        Revilo Oliver seems batshit insane from the get-go. I have no way to confirm (or deny) anything he says, but he sounds like a classic paranoid, with his narcissistic descriptions of everyone else’s motivations as, first and foremost, to destroy his America. It all screams crackpot.

  21. Vladimir says:

    Moldbug,

    There’s nothing wrong with simplisitic anti-communism — on the contrary. Many pre-20th century writers have demonstrated the insanity of communist ideas easily and correctly in a few sentences (David Hume, for example), and the matter really is that simple. The idea that communism requires some great sophistication to refute is indeed just another 20th century fashionable delusion. So no argument there.

    What I object to is the angry and bitter style. I understand that it’s hard to keep one’s cool looking at all this mendacity, lunacy, and criminality, but take the example of people like Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, who had it much worse. They had to watch the whole European civilization they were born in destroyed by madmen and drowned in rivers of blood, with any remaining voices of sanity marginalized and ridiculed — and yet they spoke the truth in the face of all this with unimpeachable dignity and class. With your intellectual talents, you have the potential to be their successor in our generation. It’s a terrible waste if you don’t at least try to voice your message in a similarly dignfied way, not as something a cultured audience will be apt to dismiss as an angry rant, and also with utmost care to stick to the truth, which is crucial for anyone who wants to fight the entrenched lies and delusions that have all the power and respectability behind them. Please take this as a well-intentioned criticism.

    • Anonymous says:

      I really haven’t read enough Hume.

      What’s remarkable is that my behavior on this thread is clearly the worst on it (I already apologized above), and it’s really not that bad by Internet standards. I’ve noticed this elsewhere. I think it’s not so much that enlightenment makes one a good person, but that it removes the naive impression that one’s ideas automatically matter. Since they don’t matter, why the fuss?

      And freed from this reflexive, simian delusion of desire, perhaps it’s easier to make them matter. Certainly the samurai is never angry in the heat of battle, the trader never greedy, the courtesan entirely innocent of lust. Or at least, this is the ideal…

    • Mencius Moldbug says:

      I need to read more Hume.

      It’s worth noting that my behavior (which I’ve already apologized for, sort of) is clearly the worst on the thread, and it’s not very bad by Internet standards. I have noticed this elsewhere among the enlightened.

      Perhaps it’s that political enlightenment is freedom from political desire, since we are relieved of the illusion that our opinions matter. Without this reflexive, simian desire, we are free to actually try to make them matter, which of course we are nowhere near doing. The samurai in battle is never angry; the trader is never greedy; the courtesan, utterly free from lust.

  22. Vladimir says:

    Foseti, Moldbug:

    Regarding the “communist” label, I think the highest precision with the fewest words is achieved by dividing the 20th century leftism into: (1) Leninism and its offshoots, which corresponds to the everyday meaning of “communism” almost perfectly, and (2) Universalism, which basically subsumes everything else, including the non-Leninist offshoots of Marxism. The category (2) includes all kinds of things, but they have all been either suppressed by the Leninists or assimilated by the Anglo-Universalism that has dominated the post-WW2 Western world.

    If you want a common label that suffices for describing the 20th century in a sentence, I think “leftism” is good enough. Insisting on using “communism” for things in category (2) runs against the common usage, which is based on common descent from Leninism, and makes you sound unnecessarily kooky (even if your main point is entirely correct). And since the discussion here is at a much higher level of detail than a hypothetical one-paragraph summary of 20th century, I think there are sufficient differences to maintain the distinction. Moldbug in particular has spent many words delineating the three great systems of the 20th century, so he at least should know what these are.

    • Anonymous says:

      But you want distinctions this big to be meaningful. And you want meaningful distinctions to be precise and unambiguous.

      So what algorithm do you use to classify an American “fellow traveler” as a Leninist or a Universalist? You end up making a very big decision, or what should be a very big decision, on the basis of a very small criterion, like whether X had a party card or not. To what extent is X aiding and abetting Leninists, working for Leninists, working with Leninists, thinking Leninists are working for him, etc, etc, etc?

      Welch himself had this difficulty – he shifted back and forth between “communists” and “Insiders.” The former was easily mischaracterized as a strawman charge, especially after the Anglo-Soviet split. The latter just sounded weird.

      Is Leninism anything more than an epiphenomenon of Universalism? Leninism is a very large, well-structured molecule of tyranny in a global system of anarcho-tyranny. The MS-13 is a much smaller, less structured tyranny. The “random” violence of the noble-savage thug is a tiny atom of the same tyranny. All are created by the same force: ambitious destruction of authority. Ie, leftism.

      But to say “leftist” instead of “communist” implicitly admits the claim that liberalism is not responsible for Katyn. It admits the dualist theory of the left and lets the mere anarchist, who destroys the authority whose place tyranny takes, off on the hook. “Communist” (a) gives no ground and can be defended, and (b) sounds refreshingly retro.

      • Leninists do not want a system of anarcho tyranny, they want plain and simple tyranny. While the anglo faction wanted and expected “convergence”, the communists wanted to bury us – The anglo Soviet split was over that not insignificant question.

        There is a significant difference between what Mencius calls anarcho tyranny, and the simpler, more straightforward, and unambiguous Leninist tyranny.

        In our present system, the thug supposedly uses violence as he wishes on his own initiative, but should he use violence in ways that are unacceptable to the consensus, the police lock him up and throw away the key. So the more intelligent thug gets the message that some uses of violence will be ignored, and others not ignored. This is in fact far less oppressive, because far less efficient, than Stalin drawing up execution orders and his executioners filling out forms in triplicate.

        The way the consensus works was revealed in the climategate files and in the challenger inquiry.

        The Challenger could not be launched until everyone agreed it was unlikely to explode – consensus. Unfortunately several engineers, particularly Roger Boisjoly said that if launched in the cold, would explode, killing all on board, due to the o-ring problem. Those engineers who said it was going to blow up were not overruled by Mr Mulloy, but rather faced extreme pressure to go along with the consensus, and eventually did, so that in practice the consensus was the opinion of Mr Mulloy, a man without relevant skills and qualifications to know if the challenger was going to blow up or not. But everyone had to go along with the consensus before the launch happened.

        Now in the Soviet Union, Mr Mulloy would be a political commissar, and Boisjoly would be an ordinary commissar or commander, and events would have played out in exactly the same way – but Mr Mulloy would have decided that the rocket failed because of wreckers, and sent Boisioly to the gulag instead instead of firing him.

        This is a significant difference.

        Thus I would categorize those on one side of the anglo-soviet split as commies, and those on the other side as something else – universalists, in that they are apt to believe that progressivism is the purest and trues form of Christianity, and also the truest and purest form of Islam, and also genuine science.

    • Mencius Moldbug says:

      If your distinction is this big you want it to be very sharp. So, in classifying an American fellow traveler, how do you classify him as a Leninist or a Universalist? Do you look at the details of his organizational relationship to the Party? How can this possibly matter?

      How is Lenin different from MS-13? How is MS-13 different from a random, unorganized gangbanger? All are phenomena of anarcho-tyranny – anarchy dissipates authority and creates the space for tyranny. What is the source of this anarchy, in all cases?

      You would say: leftism. But when you use this word, you implicitly concede the dual theory of the left, which holds the liberal not responsible for the deeds of the tyrant he enables. The anti-Stalinist, anti-anti-communist of the ’60s condemns Stalin not because he originates in leftist progressivism, but because he is in fact a rightist – a fascist – a tyrant. Ie, as I would say, he is criticizing Stalin not for being a communist, but for being a bad communist.

      He thus conceals the process which produces Stalin, which starts with the Universalist assault on Tsarism. He argues (I have in fact had this argument with actual Russians) that what Russia needed was neither Romanovs nor Lenins, but Kerenskys and Milyukovs. And by accepting a distinction between leftism and communism, you at least appear to agree with him. You thus lose the argument before you start.

      Whereas there is actually a retro freshness to “communist,” simply because anti-communism is so utterly dead. If you utter it with irony, you preempt satire. Moreover, it can be backed up quite rationally.

    • Foseti says:

      Let’s take Hiss. Is he (1) or (2)?

  23. Vladimir says:

    Moldbug,

    Re: conspiracies & the “Bulgarian” New Deal DC.

    With this comparison, you’re exaggerating in a way that obscures some vitally important questions.

    Whatever we might think about the New Deal regime and its subsequent mutations, what must be recognized is its amazing ability to neutralize its political opponents without violence and legal abuses, merely by destroying their prestige and reputations. The amazing puzzle is how this system has managed to produce a uniformity of mainstream opinion almost equal to that achieved by the open violence and repression in communist regimes; after all, the Old Right was neutralized as a political force as effectively as, say, Traicho Kostov’s faction in Bulgaria, but without any show trials and firing squads. And here your attempt at equalization obscures this fascinating question, which is clearly of key importance if we’re ever to understand how exactly we got into our present situation (and if there’s any hope to get out of it).

    So basically, while I have no problem considering the possibility that the New Deal regime occasionally practiced Bulgarian methods, it’s silly to proclaim the two as simply identical — instead of recognizing that their standard modus operandi was very different, and then asking what exactly prompted these exceptional instances.

    With this in mind, even though I haven’t studied the case of Forrestal in any detail, I think it’s reasonable to place a very high burden of proof on the proposition that in this particular case, some sinister forces in Washington found the extraordinary need to eliminate a political threat violently. What exactly made him so special, and what made them target him only in 1949 and not earlier? (On the other hand, I don’t find it that implausible that the Soviets might have offed Duggan or maybe even White for fear they’d talk too much once hauled in front of HUAC.)

    Furthermore, I think there is no need to postulate any conspiracies over the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which seems to me like a perfectly natural act for the political gangsters involved. Of course that gangsters making a deal about dividing the town always do it while planning for the eventual war even as they’re shaking hands. I don’t see how getting FDR and his clique into this adds any explanatory power. Ultimately, it looks like you’re trying to construct a strange twist of the official Allied propaganda by insisting on “communism vs. fascism” instead of the latter’s “free world vs. fascism” line.

    As bad as it was, I still think that FDR’s regime was too open for any really astonishing conspiracies. You’ll notice that when it comes to some of its dirtiest laundry, such as its cooperation with Stalin that involved everything from diplomacy via technical espionage to the Katyn coverup, pretty much everything was known publicly by the fifties. I might be wrong, but it seems to me that unlike the 20th century gangster governments, Washington never had any sort of truly secretive organizations surrounded by terrifying threats to anyone who would ask too much about them, so while many things are still mysterious to some degree, few if any have remained completely secret.

    • I was in the left in the sixties, and we were pretty good at killing unwanted people back then, and somehow strangely no one was the slightest bit interested. So I don’t think we should demand an exceptionally high burden of proof for the proposition that the old right was removed in the 1940s by murder when lesser means failed to suffice.

      I left the left in the seventies, mostly for its hypocrisy, partly because of its alarmingly effective procedures for dealing with internal dissent, but it still looks to me as lethal as ever it was.

      For more recent data on the left:

      Dalhousie university in its internal report on Ward Churchill said that he committed plagiarism, but they should shut up and let it pass for fear that something might happen to Professor Fay G. Cohen.

      A Dalhousie spokesman told the newspaper that Cohen did not pursue the charges because she became concerned after Churchill called her in the middle of the night shortly after she had made the charge and said, “I’ll get you for this”

      (Which is code for “Dalhousie university did not pursue the charges” for fear for Cohen. Since when has a plagiarism charge required a complainant?)

      And here is a tape recording of the radical leftist Ward Churchill sending a death threat to the radical leftist Vernon Bellecourt:

      Everyone knew that Ward Churchill was issuing death threats, and nobody blinked – which is the left I remember, little changed.

      • B says:

        >I was in the left in the sixties, and we were pretty good at killing unwanted people back then

        Jim-this is very interesting. I’m pretty interested in the evolution of the American left as a network from the 1930s to the present, and I never heard of this. I knew about fringe paramilitary organizations such as the Panthers and the SDS, but they never seemed to be too good at schwacking people. I know there were a lot of people around in the 30s and 40s who were working for the NKVD and GRU and might have been taught tradecraft etc. by them, but how did the ones in the 60s and 70s get that skillset?

      • B says:

        If you want, I can drop an email address and we can correspond privately.

      • spandrell9 says:

        no way, we all wanna know that. Use your blog Jim.

    • what must be recognized is its amazing ability to neutralize its political opponents without violence and legal abuses, merely by destroying their prestige and reputations.

      “Consensus” – meaning in practice consensus after the fashion of the climategate files and challenger launch decision – is the first approach of the universalists, bribery their second, and violence their last resort, performed inefficiently and deniably. The communists were swifter to resort to violence and less willing to tolerate compromise and delay. The Cathedral has compromise, then it insists on a compromise on the compromise. It is willing to wait, though in recent years, has been less and less patient, as illustrated by the FAA confrontation

  24. Mencius Moldbug says:

    If Whittaker Chambers hadn’t managed to find the right pumpkin, you could and perhaps would have said just the same thing about Alger Hiss. Factual evidence matters. Did you look at the handwriting samples? You have to work awfully hard to explain away that one piece of factual evidence. And even without the Willcutts Report, Medford Evans made quite a strong case.

    I love the Forrestal handwriting samples for exactly this reason. They force you to ask the question: which do I believe, the official story or my own eyes? All kinds of Americans were forced to ask the same question by the Hiss case. They simply couldn’t believe that this kind of Bulgarian behavior was going on in holy, noble America, whose ruling democratic people we are so reliably informed by such reliable sources. But there was no doubt about the facts. So they took it as an exception, and moved on.

    Note that your statement about “few if any have remained completely secret” is completely unfalsifiable. By definition, we know all the secrets that have been acknowledged. There are plenty of those. How many remain? Moreover, there are plenty of other instances of Bulgarian behavior – for instance, Pearl Harbor – that any honest, informed observer will regard as demonstrated, but which are nowhere near being acknowledged. These people had a strong sense of loyalty and omerta and were actually very good at keeping secrets. You have to be good at this when you’re fighting a war, you know.

    What will be needed when USG 4 is finally toppled is (a) full and unlimited disclosure of all 20C records, and (b) forensic investigation of what files appear to have been destroyed when. Ie, basically the level of historical transparency we have for the Third Reich. If Hitler has any secrets from us, he’ll keep them forever.

    Suvorov in the introduction to _Icebreaker_ says, about the Soviet Union: since the authorities are unwilling to open the files, I am forced to use the methods of military intelligence. As you see from the Katyn file, the US is a lot closer to the Soviet Union than most people think.

  25. icr says:

    One New Deal episode in particular has always puzzled me: the assassination of Huey Long in 1935. Long was a very big threat for the 1936 election and had already started putting his campaign organization together. The Long assassin had a thriving medical practice and young children. Theories regarding motivation are: (1)
    Long was spreading rumors that the assassin’s wife had some distant black ancestry, (2) Long had a lot of enemies plotting against him (he was virtual dictator of Louisiana) and the assassin simply drew the short straw.

    The first theory conveniently fits with the modern notion that white racism in the old days was so crazy and irrational that it was capable of reaching beyond the WT and cause a successful MD and happy family man to throw his life away over an insult. I don’t know what to make of the second theory.

  26. Spandrell says:

    Gentlemen this has been the most interesting thread I´ve read in years. Thanks everyone.

    Mr Moldbug you should upload a torrent file with all the files, books, whatever data you have on the issue (of american communism), it would be much appreciated. Even a text file with links to Google books would be nice. We should hoard all data we can before internet censorship kicks in.

  27. spandrell9 says:

    Gentlemen this has been the most interesting thread I’ve read in years. Thanks a lot.

    Mr Moldbug you should upload a torrent file with all the digital sources you have, and a file with links to Google books for those that aren’t available. Internet censorship is coming one day or another, and that data needs to be known.

  28. [...] Foseti – “Eisenhower” [...]

  29. Allan says:

    Much of what Mr. Moldbug has to say
    seems to me to be meaningless
    since it is not clear what he means by ‘Communist’

    (I am a mathematician
    I like precise definitions)

    I would define Communist as someone
    who advocates the abolition of most private property..

    Mr. Moldbug’s definition seems to be:
    anyone to the left of Robert Welch.

    • Foseti says:

      I really don’t think the definition of Communist that we’re using is that hard to understand. It’s way more precise than any mainstream definition of “fascist” that’s ever been used.

      I do think it’s also worth emphasizing that alternatives that have been proposed by others lead to absurd results. If Alger Hiss or Mao aren’t communists the term is meaningless.

      • Communism is socialism justified as dictatorship of the proletariat.

        If we use “communism” to refer to the forms of democracy emptied of their substance, what are we going to call socialism justified as dictatorship of the proletariat.

        After Gracchus touched the tribune, the forms of the Roman Republic were also emptied of their substance. Are we going to call the late republic and early empire communist also?

      • A.S.D.F. says:

        Sure, it’s more precise than the fantastically vague, utterly meaningless mainstream usage of “fascist”.

        But that’s setting the bar pretty low. You’re essentially saying that as long as Moldbug uses language about as meaningfully as, say, Paul Krugman, he’s doing fine. Personally, I think he can do quite a lot better. I think that because he always has done quite a bit better up until now.

        But the objection isn’t to vagueness. People object because the word “communism” already has an accepted “hard” definition, and an accepted colloquial definition, and people who read Moldbug will assume that he means one or the other. But of course he does not. He means something else entirely, which is unique to him and has nothing to do with the actual history of the word: He uses it to mean “any polity without opposition that MM personally considers serious.” Well, MM’s a radical. Any functioning society is going to have a rough consensus about how to run things, because if it’s not unmistakably broken at the moment, most people won’t want to make any drastic changes. He’s complaining about “market failure” in the marketplace of ideas. Well, that’s the human condition: We buy what worked last time. Not until we believe that it has stopped working will we begin to shop around. Nobody imposed this on us; it’s the way we are.

        Every stable polity that ever existed fits Moldbug’s new definition of “communism”. Therefore, the definition is not of much use. That is aside from the fact that MM is trying to use it to replace an existing, universally-known, and very different definition of an existing word.

        Anything MM writes using this new definition will have to footnote the word every time it’s used, and even so it’ll still come off as lunatic nonsense to everybody but his loyal readers who’ve memorized the code. This will not have the effect of expanding MM’s readership or the reach of his ideas. He’ll turn into a cartoon: The guy who rants about how the word “communist” should be used in some novel sense unique to him. Is that really the fight he wants to devote all his energy to? OK, then. It’s his energy.

  30. josh says:

    allan,

    a polar bear is not a bear because it has paws, it is a bear because it is related to other bears. knowing this we can predict much commonality with other bears, ie, it will have paws . moldbug is describing a singular movement.

  31. Allan says:

    As someone who lived through the Eisenhower years
    (and the Truman years
    and some of the Roosevelt years
    as well)

    To me those years were the golden era of the USA.
    The USA got very rich.
    There was a great amount of personal freedom
    (much more than today)
    He managed things extremely well given the climate of the times.
    He was not a communist.
    He did not have much of an ideology at all
    other than to maintain the established order.

    The USA would do very well
    to have him as president today
    I don’t see anyone on the horizon
    who looks any better.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Your line breaks are a work of poetry, Allan; fine, sparse, and direct. They would be the only fitting lines I can think of for any Eisenhower Memorial ever put up in D.C. Reminds me of old pharaonic inscriptions.

  33. Vladimir says:

    Moldbug, Foseti —

    The reason why I want to maintain the Universalist-communist distinction is that these ideologies are different in practice in all sorts of relevant ways, and these differences are mostly sharp and dichotomous. They are different in the ways they have historically obtained power, the ways they maintained power once they got it, the sorts of institutions they have created or destroyed, the social and economic re-engineering programs they have undertaken, and so on. If you read that Ruritania was communist until 1989 and then became Universalist, chances are you’ll have a highly correct picture of its political system both before and after — even if you know absolutely nothing about Ruritania other than this single fact. A contrast between two words that packs so much accurate information is, in my opinion, certainly worth keeping.

    As for assigning blame, I certainly have no love for the Universalist strand of the 20th century leftism, and I agree with most of your accusations against it — but again, its faults are of a very different nature than those of communism (i.e. Leninism). I don’t see how I grant Universalists anything just by recognizing their differences from the Leninists. You are absolutely correct that their undermining of sane and non-criminal structures of authority has opened the way for insane and criminal tyranny in countless places and times, but these weren’t just communist tyrannies. For example, when Universalists destroyed the Habsburgs, the void in Austria was eventually filled by the Nazis. If you recognize that Universalism is not Nazism, as you presumably do, does this absolve the former from the blame for this particular act of criminal insanity?

    Regarding the classification of New Deal-era fellow-travelers, boundaries between ideologies are often fuzzy when you observe individuals. People’s minds are often confused, delusional, and changing in matters of ideology. A Universalist fellow-traveler under FDR — and possibly even many a card-carrying American communist — presumably believed in the American-Soviet convergence towards Universalism, not Leninism, and I’m sure that in most cases, their delusions and rationalizations about the real nature of the latter were quite honest. And although it’s impossible to know their private thoughts, I find it plausible that this is how people like Hiss and White also thought.

    • An excellent observation on Ruritania: I steal from the best, so it is going up on my blog.

      But on the question “Why kill a man who had already been broken and defeated, and who could be easily ridiculed and dismissed in the future as mentally ill?”, you err in visualizing the Cathedral as single, efficient, well run conspiracy. That is not how it works.

      When the left kills people, it does so inefficiently, unreliably, irrationally, and unpredictably. It is not that a bunch of people at the top say “eliminate this man”, and then the vast apparatus of highly trained secret agents carries out the mission. Rather, the left has fair supply of thugs and criminals on hand, mostly in the lower rungs, and in an inefficient and indirect manner the message gradually percolates down from on high that certain crimes are unlikely be investigated, and should they be investigated the investigation is not going anywhere. And then, maybe someone commits the crime, usually in an inefficient and incompetent manner that leaves glaring clues all over the place. Or possibly not.

    • It is not like 007 being sent to take care of problem personnel. It is more like “who will rid me of this turbulent priest”

    • Foseti says:

      Vladimir,

      I understand your point. It’s a valid one, however it only seems to apply to leftist ideologies. I’ve been trying to think of other ideologies that receive this treatment, and I can’t think of any.

      For example, a modern Catholic is not really a Catholic by older standards, yet no one hesitates to call him a Catholic. A Conservative today bears little resemblance to a Conservative from the ’50s, but they’re both Conservatives. Conservatives and Catholics thus accept the good and the bad associated with their history.

      Only leftist movements are allowed to shed their history every few years. Communists became Leftists who became New Leftists who became Liberals who became Progressives. The term “universalism” makes these connections clear, but it impinges on the truth if it makes anyone forget that people who were happy to call themselves Communists in the ’40s and ’50s are still around, none of them call themselves Communists anymore, but they all still share the same ideology. If they had been anything other than “Communists” in the ’40s and ’50s, we wouldn’t allow them to change their name every decade. This treatment frees the modern incarnations of universalists to pick and choose from their past – taking the good and discarding the bad.

      I have the sneaking suspicion that if Lenin were alive, he’d call himself a Progressive today and everyone would rush to assure us that this new label was meaningful. This makes me . . . uncomfortable.

      • josh says:

        The Russians didn’t invent communism. The distinction is Stalinism/universalism. They are both communist.

  34. Spandrell says:

    I think all can accept that all aceptions of ´communism´here may be safely replaced by ´socialism´.

    but I see moldbug et al´s insistence on using ´communism´as a way of saying that the US and the soviets were pals, and the US establishment helped the USSR since foundation up until the end.
    Of course there was a faction after FDR of anti-soviet socialists, who say went to war in Korea, vietnam, etc. Calling them lefties after the Anglo-soviet split ´communists´doesn´t sound right.

    Unless moldbug implies that the korean war and all others were a sham, and even Reagan was secretly a soviet lover. Which would require further proof. Wouldn´t surprise me though.

  35. [...] Vladimir points out: If you read that Ruritania was communist until 1989 and then became Universalist, chances are [...]

  36. Vladimir says:

    Moldbug —

    Re: the “Bulgarian” New Deal,

    I agree that the official story about Forrestal’s death looks suspicious, but you’re definitely jumping with some conclusions. For example, what if Symington revealed his knowledge of some Forrestal’s personal dirty secret? Undergoing a nervous breakdown after such a revelation sounds to me even more plausible than in case of anything Russian-related. Then, who knows what sort of fashionable quack psychiatry he was forced to undergo once hospitalized? I certainly wouldn’t trust that psychiatrists of that era had any clue as to what they were doing, and if he died in some kind of incident that would reveal the psychiatrists’ incompetence, I can well imagine that they’d try to cover things up. These are of course just random speculations, but my point is that you’re too quick to propose a Russian connection to explain the problems with the official story.

    And ultimately, there is the question of motive. Why kill a man who had already been broken and defeated, and who could be easily ridiculed and dismissed in the future as mentally ill? If he was such a thorn in the side of the pro-Russian faction in Washington, why wasn’t he eliminated long before 1949?

    Moreover, I have lived under regimes that are known to have practiced an occasional political assassination (this was in ex-Yugoslavia and its successor states), and when I look at the structures of political gangsterism that make such things happen, I honesty don’t see anything similar in FDR’s regime, even after I have read a fair bit of anti-FDR literature. Again, my impression might be wrong, but when you look a government, you’ll usually soon get a fairly accurate feeling for what it’s capable of and what things you should be afraid of as its subject. This especially since some information will always find its way into the public record despite all the omerta, as it has indeed happened with all sorts of FDR’s well-established dirty laundry. (The latter also includes his working to get the country into the war against the popular sentiment, and contrary to his own duplicitous rhetoric. In this context, the question of what evidence he may have had about the Japanese plans for attack isn’t even that relevant.)

  37. Moreover, I have lived under regimes that are known to have practiced an occasional political assassination (this was in ex-Yugoslavia and its successor states), and when I look at the structures of political gangsterism that make such things happen, I honesty don’t see anything similar in FDR’s regime,

    They are not done in the same way. The structure of political gangsterism is different. It is most unlikely that anyone signed a death warrant for Forrestal. He was murdered by someone like Ward Churchill, not murdered by an American equivalent of a KGB operative – or perhaps he was murdered by an actual KGB operative, but he was not murdered by an American equivalent.

    Analogously, when Mann wants a graph that shows X, he tells a some menial subordinate that he needs a graph that shows X, and orders the subordinate to graph the actual data. Amazingly, the graph shows X, no matter what the original data shows. The original data gets replaced by value added, error corrected data, and no one knows who did it, least of all Mann.

  38. Vladimir says:

    James,

    Thanks for the compliment!

    As for political assassinations, where I come from, I can think of both kinds of examples, i.e. those planned and executed by the secret services (which presumably left a paper trail somewhere in the secret archives), as well as those done by low-level thugs (uniformed or not) on their own initiative once they picked up the signal that their political patrons wanted someone dead. I consider both as different kinds of political gangsterism.

    Now, when I consider the picture I have of the New Deal regime, I can imagine the latter sort of thing happening in some kinds of institutions that it rested on, like for example mafia-controlled unions. But I find it much harder to imagine it happening with a cabinet-level politician, especially since he wasn’t killed in a way that would be doable for a random thug. The murderer (if he was really murdered) must have gained access to his room, killed him, and disappeared from the scene without any witnesses, which would require either a very highly skilled operative or a conspiracy involving the hospital staff.

    All in all, I can think of more parsimonious hypotheses, like for example that he went berserk due to some quack treatment he received, after which his doctors tried to cover their asses by making it look like an ordinary suicide due to depression. Of course, this is sheer wild speculation, but the point is that it’s easy to come up with equally (im)plausible stories that don’t involve Russians in any way, directly or indirectly.

    • The murderer (if he was really murdered) must have gained access to his room, killed him, and disappeared from the scene without any witnesses

      Or the witnesses discovered that their testimony was unwanted and likely to adversely affect their careers

  39. Vladimir says:

    Foseti,

    But the actual communist (i.e. Leninist) parties aren’t attempting to shed their label, even in places where they’ve almost completely abandoned their ideology and largely reconciled themselves with reality, most notably in China and Vietnam. Even the nowadays marginal communist parties in Western countries have mostly wimped out and assimilated into the Universalist left in recent decades, but they still sport the communist label. In contrast, for the Universalists, “communist” has always been a term of opprobrium which they rejected, even during the high point of their honeymoon with the actual communists. The labels that they used for themselves in the past are still current, or at least not at all offensive (like progressives, liberals, New Dealers, social democrats, etc.).

    As I’ve already pointed out, “communist” in ordinary modern usage refers to Leninism and its subsequent offshoots. Thus, Stalinism, Trotskyism, Titoism, Maoism, Hoxhaism, the Khmer Rouge, Juche, etc. all qualify, but the New Deal doesn’t. This is not only a precise definition based on accurate observations about common descent, but it also has correct practical implications — despite their considerable differences in the level of extremism, they have all sought power by violent and conspiratorial means, ruthlessly exterminated their opponents, maintained power by open and crude repression, run command economies of some kind, etc. All this is of course straight out of Lenin’s textbook, and correctly implied by the plain ordinary folk meaning of “communist.”

    In contrast, Universalism has never worked that way, whatever its record of cooperation with communists and other nefarious crimes, however delusional its basic tenets, and however destructive it ends up being in the long run (and even in the short run when it undermines sane authority and abets political gangsterism abroad). Universalism also doesn’t descend from Leninism. So when you call Universalists “communists,” the ordinary meaning of these words is that you’re accusing them of being conspiratorial closet Leninists, and this is simply not true. (As I remarked earlier, the need to maintain this implausible accusation in order to avoid facing the even more terrible truth was what made the McCarthyist and Bircher position untenable.)

    • Foseti says:

      “Universalism also doesn’t descend from Leninism.”

      This is correct, however Leninism does descend from Univeralism, as you’ve defined it. And that fact is basically why I believe your distinction breaks down.

      Still think a bit about the scalpel you’re using to parse leftisms. Is Bill Ayers really so much further from Lenin that we need a different word to describe them where the same word can be used to describe Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and Katherine Jean Lopez (i.e. Conservative) or Pope Gregory I and John Kerry (“Catholic”). One could come up with a nearly infinite number of such ridiculous examples. And yet, such fine distinctions only seem to be necessary for distinguishing among leftists separated by a decade or two.

      • Is Bill Ayers really so much further from Lenin that we need a different word to describe them?

        Bill Ayers is a Leninist – but if he was a senator, he would need to be more careful to disguise this fact. Therefore the US government is not Leninist, the Cathedral is (mostly) not Leninist.

        So yeah, Bill Ayers is a commie, no doubt about it. But Al Gore is definitely not a commie – Gore wants to wipe out most of mankind for the trees, rather than enslave mankind for the proletariat.

      • Steve Johnson says:

        Gore wants to wipe out most of mankind for the trees, rather than enslave mankind for the proletariat

        No, Gore says he wants to wipe out mankind for the sake of the trees and Lenin said he wanted to enslave mankind for the proletariat but naming those the goals was just to fire up their support. I don’t have any idea why Al Gore wants to wipe out (his enemies among) mankind but I can guess.

        Similar means and ends – looks like one label could fit both quite easily.

  40. Universalism also doesn’t descend from Leninism. So when you call Universalists “communists,” the ordinary meaning of these words is that you’re accusing them of being conspiratorial closet Leninists, and this is simply not true.

    Well it is mostly untrue. Ayers is conspiratorial Leninist who is not particularly closeted. He is right in the establishment, and rather closely connected to Obama. The president of European Union was a conspiratorial Leninist, though I suppose he would say he no longer is.

  41. Vladimir says:

    Foseti,

    Well, “communist” already covers anything from Tito to Pol Pot. Insofar as it makes sense to compare political distances like that, that’s a difference as large as the ones between the conservatives and Catholics you mention.

    And once again, it’s not some forced fine distinction. The criterion is simple and clear (common descent from Leninism), and the established common usage follows it with high precision. And most of all, by insisting on an alternative more encompassing definition, you not only give up this precision, but also doom yourself to speak in a way that instantly triggers people’s crackpot-detectors. In this sense, it’s actually much like when some far leftist denounces the New York Times as “reactionary.” Once you start talking like that, even people who would otherwise give you an open-minded hearing are likely to dismiss you automatically as a crackpot.

    (On the other hand, it seems like Moldbug has given up hope for a meaningful discourse with anyone and decided to embrace the loner crackpot image with enthusiasm, which I can only say is a great pity. But as much as you recognize his intellect and contributions, there’s no need to follow him there.)

    As for Ayers, the more extreme offshoots of the New Left indeed represented another point where Universalism flirted with Leninist ideologies. But Ayers and the like are ultimately just another red herring. The modern conservatives latch onto him because he provides a way to attack the left without actually having to commit the terrible extremist step of questioning the consensus Universalist ideology and attacking the established and respectable Universalist institutions. In reality, however, the post-1980 respectable orthodox Universalist Ayers is representative of the real problem, not the militant and conspiratorial one before that.

    • Foseti says:

      Crack-pot or not, I’m concerned with what’s true.

      I want true answer to the question of: What is the relationship between communism and American leftism?

      By the standards applied to all other political ideologies, they should be grouped under the same label.

      For example, the Black Panther Party was avowedly Maoist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Panther_Party). The New Left in the US was highly inter-related with the Black Panther Party (wikipedia says the New Left drew inspiration from the Black Panther Party: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_left#1960s_in_the_United_States).

      Wikipedia also lists Ayers as a key figure in the New Left.

      If this is crack-pottery than Wikipedia must be part of the vast reactionary-crack-pot-conspiracy! Alternatively, if it’s crack-pottery to believe that which is clearly true, I see no reason not to be a crackpot.

      • I want true answer to the question of: What is the relationship between communism and American leftism?

        Close relatives, but not the same thing. Indeed, they never were the same thing.

        Trace communism back one hundred and seventy years, you get Marx and revolutionary unionism. Revolutionary Unionism died in the US with the formation of the Wobblies, a “union” with no employed working class members at all. In Europe, however, revolutionary unionism formed the socialist parties, which, as Lenin predicted, became more moderate and less revolutionary with the passage of time. This represents both descent from communism, and a split from communism. Lenin denounced them as heretics for they had abandoned the goal of one party democracy and physically eradicating non socialist parties.

        So one has a immediate large difference between communists and European democratic socialists – that the socialists embrace democracy, rather than one party democracy, and incorrectly believed they could have socialism and democracy both.

        Now that is a difference worthy of giving them a separate name.

        The American left, which now pretty much runs the left world wide, has, however, a different origin, so deserves a different name even more.

        Trace the American Left back one hundred and eighty years: The American left had its origins in the religious abolitionists. It is older than the Marxists, and separate from them. It always focused on race and sex. For example, it was the American left that raised the age of consent in America.

        Though the American race and sex left, and the European class war left, had a cozy relationship, with each infiltrating the other, they were from the beginning different and competing organizations, deserving of different names.

      • Foseti says:

        “The American left had its origins in the religious abolitionists.”

        If you broadened that a bit to hardcore American protestants, you’d also arguably have the starting point of communism: http://foseti.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/review-of-the-communistic-societies-of-the-united-states-by-charles-nordhoff/

  42. Vladimir says:

    Foseti:

    By the standards applied to all other political ideologies, they [Universalism and communism] should be grouped under the same label.

    Well, there are more general labels that encompass them both, most notably “leftism.” This doesn’t mean that there should not exist more specific labels for each one, especially since we already have precise and well-established labels. (Separate labels would be a bad thing if they really were the exact same thing and the differences between them imaginary, but that’s simply not the case.)

    As for Ayers, the Black Panthers, and the other more extreme offshoots of the New Left, my answer is the same as for the Soviet honeymoon under FDR. These instances of partial convergence, cooperation, and mutual cross-pollination should certainly be noted, but they still don’t mean that both major leftist currents of the 20th century are one and the same. Especially since, as I explained, equating them makes one blind to the complex, peculiar, and counter-intuitive modus operandi of the Universalists, whose correct understanding is crucial if we are to make any real sense of the situation.

    Regarding crack-pottery, clearly I’m not saying that your observations fall under that category. What I mean is that telling the truth about these things without being laughed off as a crackpot is difficult enough even if you don’t burden yourself with a terminology that makes it even harder. Moldbug seems to have developed the attitude that people are going to consider him a crackpot anyway, so what the hell. I find this sad and an unspeakable waste of talent and intellect, but I guess it’s his to decide. Are you really sure you want to follow him there, though?

    • Foseti says:

      Here’s the problem – this unique treatment for leftists gives them a free pass.

      They’re basically playing a video game with infinite lives, while everyone else is only playing with one.

      New Leftists are free to associate with Mao and his sympathizers and then later decide they want to be called liberals because . . . oops, Mao killed 30 million people. We’re all just supposed to pretend that liberals are different than New Leftists, even though the leaders are exactly the same.

      A rightist, like Ron Paul for example, is a racist because he may have written an article in a magazine 50 years ago that carried another article that was sort of racist. Meanwhile, no one can suggest that the folks Obama pals around with were blowing up buildings for Mao 50 years ago.

      Several important consequences follow. For example, do you think it’s an accident that so many Republican candidates for President were recently leftists (e.g. Eisenhower and Reagan)? It can’t be otherwise – if they’d been rightists all along, they’d have associated with a movement that – for whatever reason – is currently unacceptable.

      The leftward ratchet continues.

      Perhaps there’s nothing that can be done about this – maybe we have to play with the deck stacked against us. But, for Christ’s sake, we shouldn’t pretend that we’re playing with a fair deck!

      At some level, there may be meaningful differences between various leftist offshoots. Modern leftists may no longer be willing to directly blow up buildings, like Ayers was. Instead they just import an underclass to do the work for them. I don’t find this difference compelling, but perhaps others do. Most of the differences that have been pointed out seem like differences of degree and not of category.

      • A rightist, like Ron Paul for example, is a racist because he may have written an article in a magazine 50 years ago that carried another article that was sort of racist. Meanwhile, no one can suggest that the folks Obama pals around with were blowing up buildings for Mao 50 years ago.

        No, that is not the problem, because is presupposes that “racism” is evil and irrational, and the right, like the left, needed to reinvent itself to get away from its evil past – presupposes that recognizing real and morally important differences between races and sexes is equivalent to blowing up buildings and being an accomplice in the murder of millions.

        The difference is not that leftists get a free pass, but that leftists need a free pass. Since they need a free pass, we get anti anti communism, and anti fascism. It would be completely unthinkable to have a counter demonstration that physically attacked a leftwing demonstration on the plausible and widely believed grounds that the demonstration was organized by communists, or “neo communists”, whereas if “anti fascists” physically attack a right wing demonstration, police will come down hard on the right wing demonstration. They will piously endeavor to keep the groups apart by restricting where the right wingers can demonstrate, and should the police, alas, fail to keep the protests apart, they will arrest the right wingers for defending themselves.

        According to Inspector Gadget’s blog, in the recent London riots a large mass of armed and armored cops stood around like potted palms while a small group of rioters pushed an burning incendiary wheely bin into a building to set it on fire. Compare and contrast with the remarkable vigor and energy with which they set to preventing edl vigilantism or gun possession.

        It is not that the left gets to reinvent itself. The reason they discourage people from calling communists communists is that when you do that, you make it sound as if that was a bad thing. It is not that they are frightened of being called communists, it is that anti anti communism is overwhelmingly powerful. That they don’t get called communists is more because calling them communists, or neo communists, is ineffectual and discouraged.

        Modern leftists may no longer be willing to directly blow up buildings, like Ayers was. Instead they just import an underclass to do the work for them.

        They consider that is a pro market way of destroying bourgeois society, and it is. It is not socialism in the sense of a central plan, therefore not communism.

        Consider the Tony Martin case. The well known burglars regularly and routinely made repeat visits, and the police displayed total lack of interest, similar to their lack of interest in today’s arsonists, but to railroad Tony Martin, the police deployed an enormous force 24/7 to find any dirt that could be found on Tony Martin.

        Inspector Gadget suggests if police were allowed to beat people up, they would be better able to deal with the arsonists, but I think it more likely they would beat up those protecting property against the arsonists. It is apparent that those police going after guns are on a very long leash, while those police going after arsonists are on a very short leash.

  43. [...] Eisenshower was objectively pro-communist. Various people say no way, Moldbug says it’s so. Foseti refines his position a bit. The line of thought seems to have started with another post on a blue-blooded Wall Street fellow [...]

  44. Vladimir says:

    Foseti,

    I mostly agree with your last comment. Yes, the deck is certainly stacked. As soon as you have any opinions on any subject that are to the right of John McCain, or even if you are just somehow associated with some such people, you’ll be stamped with the scary “far right” label, which implies that you’re altogether unfit for polite company and that you’d be gravely dangerous if given any power or responsibility. In contrast, there is no such scary label for leftists.

    The present standards of public discourse are such that labels thrown at rightists (such as “far right,” “racist,” “bigot,” even “fascist”) are vague and all-encompassing — but no less damning for that — whereas any labels applicable to the leftists are evaluated with precision. So it’s standard practice to categorize, say, Ron Paul or Geert Wilders as scary “far right” together with Hitler, but it’s not OK to call someone a “communist” unless he really is a card-carrying or self-declared Leninist of some sort. That’s the reality we live in.

    Now, for rhetorical purposes, it would certainly be cool if there existed some generic damning label that could be thrown at leftists. This is even more so when we consider that practically everyone of any consequence in the entire post-WW2 right has endeavored to distance himself from anyone much further to his right and to win approval and respect from those to his left — whereas nothing analogous could be said about the left. As you note, being just a bit too un-PC on any relevant question is enough for respectable conservatives to condemn you frantically, whereas Bill Ayers is embraced by the respectable academic left with enthusiasm.

    Trouble is, you won’t achieve anything by rebelling against this convention unilaterally. Try to attack leftists by calling them “communists” or whatever, and people will just think you’re a crackpot; you’ll just shoot yourself in the foot that way. So you have the choice: embrace the fiery anti-left rhetoric and resign to being seen as a crackpot, or give up cheap rhetoric altogether and speak the truth with precision, clarity, dignity, and class. I try to go for this second option. The first one seems to me like a worse resignation that being altogether silent. There is at least some dignity and self-control in silence, whereas venting out with impotent and purposeless anger is, to me at least, sheer self-degradation.

  45. everyone of any consequence in the entire post-WW2 right has endeavored to distance himself from anyone much further to his right and to win approval and respect from those to his left — whereas nothing analogous could be said about the left. As you note, being just a bit too un-PC on any relevant question is enough for respectable conservatives to condemn you frantically, whereas Bill Ayers is embraced by the respectable academic left with enthusiasm.

    “No friends to the right, no enemies to the left”

    The resembles the dynamics of Muslim democracies, where the not very religious vote for the very religious out of piety, and the very religious liquidate the not very religious out of piety.

    In Muslim countries, there is also a similar dynamic of upper class fanatical terrorist Islam, similar to the American current of upper class fanatical leftism. The proles in Islamic countries are in practice not very religious – they drink, neglect prayer, and snack during Ramadan, and have no desire to be sent off to fight Israel – yet they vote to send some one else off to fight Israel.

    This makes sense from Moldbug’s analysis of leftism aka the US government as a theocracy. “The Cathedral”, “Universalism”. It fails to make sense from Moldbug’s analysis of leftism as “communism”

  46. David Martin says:

    For Vladimir to suggest that there is any chance whatsoever that James Forrestal committed suicide tells me that he hasn’t spent more than a couple of minutes actually examining the evidence. I suggest that he go to http://dcdave.com/article4/040927.html, read the short article there, and follow the links.

    I see that Mencius Moldbug is using my outdated information that the book “The Death of James Forrestal” by someonw using the pen name of “Cornell Simpson” was actually written by Medford Evans. I am now convinced that my information was wrong. See the latest word on that subject, the last bit of which I added just this morning, at http://www.dcdave.com/article5/110422.htm.

  47. [...] thinks many of the old establishment liberals were communists. Moldbug thinks communism was a creation of old establishment liberals. The two goddamn things have [...]

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  51. [...] Of course in a sense it’s fair to do so, as Republicans, as far as reactionaries are concerned, are no less communist than [...]

  52. James James says:

    A handwritten copy of a poem is found and declared to be Forrestal’s suicide note. The handwriting is utterly different to Forrestal’s.

    This doesn’t prove that Forrestal was killed and the suicide note was a forgery.

    It could just be nothing to do with Forrestal’s suicide. I mean, who said it was a suicide note in the first place? It doesn’t look like a suicide note. It’s a poem, not a “why I am killing myself” explanation.

  53. David Martin says:

    Only the entire press called it a suicide note, as did biographers Arnold Rogow and Townsend Hoopes and Douglas Brinkley. It’s the very cornerstone of their suicide conclusion. Please read my “Who Killed James Forrestal? and get back to us.

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