Review of “Masters of Deceit” by J. Edgar Hoover

Communism in the US has a long history. Let’s set aside the earliest bits and focus on the two most recent periods. These periods are the US-Russian Alliance period and the modern progressive period.

The US-Russian Alliance period was characterized by – unsurprisingly – an alliance between American Communists and Russian ones. This story is relatively well documented, if still not exactly well known.

It’s hard to avoid sounding like a nut job to mainstream ears when talking about this period, but it’s very difficult to overstate the ties between the Soviets and high-level officials in the US government. The Soviets, for example, didn’t counterfeit US dollars, they just printed them from original plates taken directly from the Treasury Department. At least, they didn’t control the US military . . . unless, of course, they did.

(Then, of course, there’s our allies . . .).

Hoover’s book is a decent place to start for analysis of this phase of Communism. However, this phase is ending as Hoover is writing the book. Focusing on it misses the bigger picture of the break between US and Russian Communists.

This break, brings us to the second (and most recent) phase of Communism, modern progressivism.

During the US-Russian Alliance, Communists took control of the governing institutions of the US. I use the term “Cathedral” (courtesy of Mencius Moldbug) to describe these institutions. Generally, the term refers to the institutions that run the country. Specifically it refers to the media, bureaucracy and elite universities.

A nice way to illustrate the fact that the Communists controlled these organizations is to look at the career of any known Communist agent. Let’s take one of the best known, Alger Hiss. Hiss’s career (including after he was accused of being a spy and after being in jail) included stints at: the State Department, the United Nations, clerking for Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, the Justice Department, some Senate Committees, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and – naturally – Harvard Law.

If you don’t know what I mean by the term Cathedral, it’s basically that list. Really, the only way it could be better is if he’d worked at the New York Times.

Given the reaction of these groups to Hiss’s trial, there’s no doubt that if Hiss had managed to avoid jail, many of these places would have re-hired him.

I rest my case that Communists, at one point, took over the governing apparatus of the US.

If you’d like to argue that Communists no longer control the governing apparatus of the US, you have two choices. First, you could argue that some other group eventually threw out the Communists and took the governing apparatus over. I know of no such argument.

Second, you could argue that the ruling group converted away from Communism. I think this happened . . . sort of. This conversion marks the start of the modern progressive phase of Communism.

This conversion is hard to explain. If you want to understand it, the best way to begin to try is to read this book (my favorite from the period).

The book is the memoirs of Elizabeth Bentley, a Soviet spy who broke with the Soviets but never repudiated any of her original, fundamental political ideas. Essentially, she just realized that the Russians were working for the Russians and not for Communism as she had always understood it. It’s faster to quote my self than to type:

Note that [Bentley] doesn’t ever repudiate her original ideas (hence unlike Whitaker Chambers, she is not a conservative icon) – in fact, she breaks with the Soviets because she believes that they do not actually agree with Communist ideas. Bentley’s break (and the Cold War) are best understood as a war between rival branches of the same original ideology.

And so, with this break, we got a ruling party that didn’t change ideologies, but that did change allegiances. The result has been the slow creeping increase in progressive ideas and policies that we see all around us.

Anyway, I didn’t say much about Hoover’s book. It will help you understand how the US-Russian alliance worked. However, don’t let that blind you to the later, more interesting phases of the ideology under discussion.

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21 Responses to Review of “Masters of Deceit” by J. Edgar Hoover

  1. Jehu says:

    Yes, the problem with anti-Communists in the US during that era is that they were nowhere near aggressive enough. They honestly needed to enact some hardcore purges. Killing about 10,000 and imprisoning about 3-4x that number probably would have done it. But they’d had to drop all pretense of rule of law to have done it. Unfortunately they didn’t realize that before you can have Law, you must have Order and Peace first. So there has been a lot more blood than the necessary liquidation back in the late 40s and 50s, and there will be a lot more blood in the future, regardless of whoever ultim.ately prevails

  2. In the same way that Orwell broke with the communists, because to him they weren’t communist enough. (And yet Orwell *is* a conservative icon- go figure…..) Richard Wright describes, with a combination of awe and fear, the true communist believers he encountered in New Deal Chicago. The Puritan leftists were never true believers. Communism was always just a tool for them.

  3. jamesd127 says:

    Back when I was in the radical left, It was pretty obvious that most people were taking their marching orders and funding directly from the KGB, but equally obvious that a lot of people were not. Some were independent communist, some where independent non communist leftist, and some were seeking marching orders from Mao, but Mao was not terribly interested in issuing marching orders.

    The Cathedral has never been perfectly united. Indeed, the basic mechanism that sends them ever leftwards is that they are always trying to out left each other, to benefit from the principle of no friends to the right, no enemies to the left.

  4. SOBL1 says:

    Did they break with the Communists or did they need to break because Nixon was so adroit at beating up on Commies that they had to relabel their brand?

    • Foseti says:

      That gives Nixon way too much credit. Though I do think understanding Nixon requires understanding that he knew quite a bit about Communists and everyone told him it was bullshit.

      • SOBL1 says:

        Nixon’s China baiting and red baiting as it was called was pretty effective at scaring the bejeesus out of the JFK and LBJ admins for fear of ‘losing’ Indochina like we had ‘lost’ China. I also think that Midwest and Western politicnas like Scoop Jackson even had a hand in fighting off the reds.

        Duranty’s worst crime against the West was lying for years which fed into the ‘idealist’ spy that the Cambridge 5 and other early Commie spies were. Had they known the depths fo Satlin’s depravity, we may not have seen so many Western Commie spies before 1950.

      • josh says:

        I think they split because the Soviets wouldn’t take the Marshal Plan money and create the globally integrated monetary system needed to prevent currency runs in centrally planned economies that issued lots of new currency.

        They didn’t fully participate in the IMF or World Bank and even sunk the UN. Its almost like Stalin wanted to be an autonomous tyrant or something. The split started at the highest levels in the Cathedral and worked its way down.

  5. Randoms says:

    [...] right along, Foseti reviews Masters of Deceit and confirms, yet again, that America is run by commies. Of course it’s more complicated than [...]

  6. Toddy Cat says:

    “Back when I was in the radical left, It was pretty obvious that most people were taking their marching orders and funding directly from the KGB”

    I always suspected this, but of course everyone told me I was nuts…

  7. Noumenon says:

    “The Soviets, for example, didn’t counterfeit US dollars, they just printed them from original plates taken directly from the Treasury Department.”

    Your link says they counterfeited Allied military marks in occupied Germany, not US dollars.

  8. […] our modern progressive society in Europe and the U.S.A. The Cathedral seems to fit their conspiracy theories of how Communism took over the world through internal techniques of control by infiltrating our […]

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  10. […] As I previously wrote: […]

  11. […] century liberalism was revealed to be a Soviet spy. Hiss couldn’t have been any more of a mainstream […]

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