Who “defeated communism?”

With Margaret Thatcher’s death in the news, one hears a fair bit about how she helped defeat communism.  The idea that Thatcher and Reagan and the Pope defeated communism is buncombe.

I have no wish to speak ill of the dead – or of the Baroness if she were still alive – but the narrative that involves the PM of England and the President of the US defeating communism with some strong language and a few policy decisions is . . . insufficient.

I don’t have a very good story to explain the defeat of communism, but I’ve got a better one that this (which isn’t saying much).

Without further ado, here’s my grand theory of the downfall of communism . . .

First, we must specify what we mean by “communism.”  Communism is best defined as the common ideology shared by the people who won World War II.

This definition excludes people like General Wedemeyer, Joseph McCarthy, Sisley Huddleston, John T. Flynn and perhaps even General MacArthur.  It may include some inconvenient people, but it has the distinct advantage of being able to explain what the hell happened after the war ended, which all other narratives cannot.

After all, if all of the Allies won, why did the US gain nothing, the British Empire begin a graceful decline, and the French Empire die, while the Russians (and their sympathizers) got everything they dreamed of  and then some?  The Russians won (see the map in the McCarthy review for incontestable proof).  The US fought a war for Russia (the US was not alone).  Some of generals knew it was happening and talked about it (see the reviews above).  These facts must be explained.

At the end of the war, the communists were united.  However, they soon split into factions.  These factions include three of particular importance: the Soviets, American progressives and the Chi-coms.  The split between the first two factions is known as the Cold War.  Although there are several personal stories that describe this split, this one is the best (Whittaker Chambers’ memoir is great, but he leaves the movement altogether, so I don’t include it).

Second, we must specify what we mean by “defeat.”   These three factions were not all defeated.  In fact, only one was – the Soviets.  American progressivism is stronger than ever and so are the Chi-coms (even if there governing ideology has changed a bit).
So the question should not be who defeated communism, but instead should be who defeated the Soviets.
I would suggest that the answer is American progressivism.  The Soviets never had a chance of gaining power in the first place, let alone surviving or winning the war without massive assistance from progressivism.  Once this assistance stopped, the Soviets were done.  Once there was hostility between the two, the end was imminent.  After all, can a communist really oppose the United Nations?  Of course not.
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40 Responses to Who “defeated communism?”

  1. VXXC says:

    The Defeat of the USSR and the freeing of Eastern Europe was No.Small.Thing. The 70s and 80s were very dangerous times.
    And as much as I despise the Current New Deal [corrupt and hateful of it’s country, a generation of Nero’s rule us] there’s a huge difference still between the US and the Gulag, or even Cuba.

    We may indeed have a Communist Government, we have never yet had a Communist country, or even a proper Dictatorship.

    This doesn’t mean we sit on our hands, or ignore the Great Question of our Times. But don’t rewrite History so that this great triumph is insignificant.

    I think Moldbug would take some issue that we gained nothing, we gained an Empire.

    In the Face of Evil actually has a good narrative on what Reagan did…it was Reagan, Thatcher and Karol Wotjya that bought it down.

    • Foseti says:

      Elaborate. How did they bring it down? At best, in that narrative, it was exhausted, and they hastened its end. There’s no story there to legitimately claim that they ended an otherwise functional system.

      The ending of Sovietism is not insignificant in my telling.

      If several prominent New Dealers (including the ones that negotiated the peace) had gotten their way (at least at the time), we all have been Soviets.

      • VXXC says:

        I don’t disagree with your rebuttal. But the fact that instead of Western Europe becoming Soviet vassals they were at last rolled back is no small thing, and it was done without War. War with the Chief openly Communist Country was avoided and they were further defeated and rolled back. The fate that was avoided was called “Finlandization”. As if the French, Italians, Netherlands would have been given the same respect the Finns were. The Finns earned that respect in blood.

        It was also done without Civil War in the Nations that had a strong Leftist faction in governments and elites, as we have. Yes indeed quite Communist. In terms certainly of all the wealth being held in common for the good of the elites, that’s what we have now. Our people are regarded as Kulaks. Blessedly we are yet armed.

        War was avoided. But only postponed.

        And The Great Question is upon us…

    • josh says:

      State gained an empire; we gained a burden.

      • Foseti says:

        Yeah. The form the empire took is also relevant. It’s an empire of United Nations, IMF, world bank, etc. The Cathedral in short.

        Again, not really a good argument against my suggestion here.

      • VXXC says:

        You are absolutely correct. Their Empire, our Burden.

        State is America’s Deep State, like the ISI in Pakistan or the FSB [KGB] in Russia. Just better hidden. The New Deal was always the penultimate example of the Silent Coup.

  2. Jehu says:

    Nobody defeated communism. For so long as Envy exists, Communism lives. It’s like an 80s cartoon, except with mega body counts. Perhaps in the 21st century it’ll be gigadeaths instead.

  3. vishmehr24 says:

    Why did American progressives fall out with the Soviets?

    • Foseti says:

      If you’re curious read Bentley.

      In short, Americans realized the Soviets were just serving the interests of Russia, not those of the revolution. Learning of stalin’s crimes didn’t hurt either.

  4. spandrell says:

    While I think it’s better than the traditional narrative, the America=communist narrative is also a bit simplistic.

    It surely doesn’t explain the anti-communist craze that the country had for a while. Big chunks of the USG apparatus were very busy suppressing communists nationally and abroad. And it doesn’t sound like it was a simple Pentagon vs. State thing. A more detailed study of the factions involved and how their positions evolved is needed.

    • Foseti says:

      The results of “the anti-communist craze” were:

      1) no communists lost their positions; and

      2) lots of anti-communists did.

      History considers the former heroes and the latter villains.

      I don’t see how that undermines my argument.

      Regular Americans oppose lots of things, but that doesn’t really matter (for example immigration and racial preference).

    • josh says:

      I think the schism may have occurred when Stalin turned down the Marshall Plan, which was essentially how the elites were going to bring about a coordinated global monetary system based on the US dollar. Turning this down meant that the USSR maintained some independence which meant no way were we going to give nukes to the UN. It probably angered a good many US communists that what they once considered the vanguard was now standing in the way of the new world order.

      • spandrell says:

        This does make some sense. USG wanted world government, thought USSR was on board, found out it wasn’t, freaked out. Hence Cold-War.

        But then ‘communist’ is not a good name. Communist is what the Soviets were. The USG were just world-governmentists who happend to be friends with the Communists for a while because they thought they’d be on board with their idea.

      • Foseti says:

        I don’t get the aversion to calling non-soviets communists.

        They called themselves communists (for a time). They worked directly for the soviets. They professed belief in the same ideals.

        At a certain point, if it walks, talks and acts like a communist, it’s a communist.

        The soviets did some horrendous things in the name of communism, but an ideology is an ideology. Try to find one that someone hasn’t done terrible things in the name of.

      • spandrell says:

        Soviets and Progressives work together.
        They are both communists.
        Then they stop working together.
        Well they can’t both still be communists. Something has to give.

        And there’s this little detail about Progressives not collectivizing industry and agriculture. Who’s the real communist here?

      • Foseti says:

        I don’t know how to answer this except by analogy. John Brown was a Protestant, so are my parents. My parents have never killed anyone with a broadsword. John Brown’s Protestantism is obviously different, but there’s also a shared ideology there somewhere.

      • josh says:

        There have been hundreds of different communistic societies that have not worked together.

        Progressives have collectivized industry and agriculture, just in a different way; via regulation, taxes, and subsidies and especially by controlling access to credit they control prices which determines the allocation of all goods and services in the economy. They can even intervene over and above the price mechanism to alter outcomes for different groups and individuals.

        They collect mountains of data and try to manipulate the outcomes. Fundamentally, they think of the world as a giant Brook Farm where they get to decide who gets what, how and when.

      • Nick B. Steves says:

        I think Josh has it about right there. TBTF is nothing if not a type of of state collectivism. Same could be said for FDIC, daunting regulations which serve nothing so well as prohibitive barriers to entry for little guys, tax policy, war policy, monetary policy, on down the line.

        True liberals, communists, hate hate hate neo-liberals at least as much as true conservatives hate the neocons, but the argument between them is little more than an intramural squabble about how things ought be collectivized (one that sorta works, at least for a while, and one that out-n-out doesn’t). And there is absolutely no doubt Western Gov’ts are uniformly neo-liberal.

  5. […] Who “defeated communism?” | Foseti […]

  6. Anonymous says:

    Victory defeated soviet communism and it will defeat american communism in time too

    • VXXC says:

      HA.

      What time is it Anon?

      Brings up a question of mine, I’m interested in Germanizing and agglutination of a concept: Realisierung [Realization] – the moment when you realize it’s YOUR Watch.

    • Nick B. Steves says:

      Hah! I admire your spirit, Anonymous, and I really do hope you’re right. Your last name would happen to be Lykov would it?

  7. spandrell says:

    “Progressives have collectivized industry and agriculture, just in a different way; via regulation, taxes, and subsidies and especially by controlling access to credit they control prices which determines the allocation of all goods and services in the economy. They can even intervene over and above the price mechanism to alter outcomes for different groups and individuals.”

    Look, we are playing with concepts here. There is a real world difference between what the Soviets did and what the Western world did. I won’t even get in the moral argument about killind and enslaving millions of Kulaks. I think we’ll all agree that the Western economic model is different. And much better. Calling them by the same name is disingenuous to say the least.

    Foseti is calling Eisenhower and others communists is because they helped the Soviets for some time. Well by that reasoning, when they stopped helping the Soviets they stop being communists. QED.

    The Chinese call themselves Communist because they were founded as a Communist outpost by Soviet communists. Surely not the case with US progressives.
    How many progressives in positions of power called themselves communist in 1945? How many in 1955? That would be interesting to know.

    • josh says:

      There can be more than one kind of communist. The ideas that were carried out by the progressives, new dealers, and their successors were ideas intended to bring about a kind of communism. They said so. The existence of colony that relied on more authoritarian, I’ll grant more evil, methods doesn’t mean that the first group is not communistic.

      • spandrell says:

        “They said so.”

        Well they progressives haven’t gone anywhere, have they? When did they stop saying it? What do they say now?

        I just don’t see what’s wrong with calling all leftist branches just, well, “Leftist”. Communism implies an identification with the Communist movement that just isn’t there.

      • josh says:

        So should we just allow the progressives to use language in this Orwellian way? We have always been at war with “the communists”! We have defeated “the communists”!

    • Foseti says:

      Spandrell,

      This is a fine definition of communist, but it also has problems. Non-communists under your definition include the Chinese Communist Party, Tito, etc.

      At a certain point, ideological distinctions become so fine that they’re not helpful anymore. Everyone has a unique ideology!

      • spandrell says:

        Might as well what I wrote:

        “The Chinese call themselves Communist because they were founded as a Communist outpost by Soviet communists. Surely not the case with US progressives.”

        I actually wrote this because I knew someone would bring up the Chinese.

        I do see what you’re trying to say, but I just like to keep definitions as clear as possible.

        The usual definition of communism is the communist movement that eventually begat, and became lead by the Soviet Communist Party.

        In fact the only reason you call Eisenhower and others Communists, is because they worked for/helped the Soviets. If Eisenhower had done all he ever did, but hadn’t helped the Soviets, you wouldn’t call him a communist.

        Communism has to be the abolition of private property. The USG never did that. All those progressives who were Soviet agent and then weren’t, they were in power and they never set up Chekas, GULAGs, GOSPLANs and all that stuff. They could have. They wer in power (and still are) But they didn’t. What’s so communistic about them? Yes they were very close to the Soviets until 1950. But that doesn’t make then communist. That makes them friends of the communists.

        It doesn’t make any sense that you have communists in power and they never do communism. What’s so communist about them?

        Now the idea that they were world-government fanatics and they thought the USSR was with them until they found out it wasn’t, that makes much sense to me. But there’s nothing communist about world-government.

      • Foseti says:

        As long as you agree that pre-some point, Soviets, Progressives and Chi-coms were all under believers in the same ideology and that post-that point, they broke, it doesn’t really matter what labels you want to use.

        I still argue that Communism is the most accurate label for this common ideology (and it’s an old label and an originally American one: https://foseti.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/review-of-the-communistic-societies-of-the-united-states-by-charles-nordhoff/ ).

        I think other names are more obfuscating than they are helpful, but whatever floats your boat.

      • Steve Johnson says:

        “Communism has to be the abolition of private property. The USG never did that. ”

        Actually they’ve done exactly that.

        The most obvious manifestation is in pervasive regulation. You can’t do with your property anything that displeases progressives. If you run a business you have to hire progressive thought police and pay them out of your pocket. If they detect thought crime they will work with other nominally private actors to directly take your money. In other words, they own the enterprise and you get to manage it for a fee (which they then rake back – of course you can avoid some of the rake back by spending money in more approved activities).

        The less obvious but more direct manifestation is that once a country is on a fiat money standard it has abolished private property in principle. By inflating the value of the dollar by 97% over its lifetime the USG has captured and spent all but 3% of the wealth of nation. If the USG wants a piece of private property it doesn’t have to bother actually confiscating it – it can just buy it with money that it printed.

        Call it QE3.

        Of course, the USG is usually more subtle – it just creates giant money losing corporations to ensure that property gets distributed the way it wants – like Fannie and Freddie.

  8. What Reagan and Thatcher did was reestablish containment, which in the aftermath of Vietnam was in question. Progressives opposed containment, they wanted communism to work its magic in all non-Protestant, non-former English colony places. Conservatives wanted to limit it to the territories in controlled in the aftermath of WWII. Projects like supporting Solidarity and anti-communists in Nicaragua and Afghanistan weren’t meant to roll it back as much as to warn them they would get mischief and subversion in exchange for mischief and subversion.

    Communism as we think of it- basically European communism- wasn’t defeated, it died of a lack of confidence. Not only didn’t people believe, they had trouble pretending to believe.

    Had not Reagan and Thatcher reestablished containment, would communism have survived? It would have had a better chance, probably in a more diluted form. They did a lot to discourage the Soviet form, for which some credit must be given. They were both spectacular failures at dealing with progressivism, which is what conservatives don’t want to think about and why they concentrate on their foreign policy.

    If communism can be said to have been defeated anywhere, it was in Spain and Latin America. And yet where it did succeed there, or partially succeed, it still hangs on- Cuba is still communist and Colombia still has an active insurgency.

  9. Dan says:

    Foseti, you make a giant error in thinking. Degrees matter a lot.

    * Quantitative easing when inflation is anywhere from 1 to 5 or 6 percent is not the same as chasing you off of your property at gunpoint.

    * A court system where plea bargains seem to be abused by prosecuters is not the same as a system where there is no due process.

    * A media environment where the president seems to escape proper criticism on many of the most influential channels is not the same as one where criticism of political leaders at any level is a capital offense.

    * A place where civilian guns are more numerous than people is not the same as one where gun ownership is a capital offense.

    * Killing tens of millions in the gulag is not the same as, well, there is nothing analogous in modern America. The president can’t kill one lousy random American without cause.

    By your logic there is no difference between my noticing your sister’s behind in a public place and my doing _(insert the latest celebrated perversion)_ to her. Its all lust right? Just degrees?

    If and when a leftist takeover happens in the US you’ll realize your mistake in saying that things were bad in 2013.

  10. PA says:

    You can say that USG “kills kulaks” by proxy of black on white crime. Both active crime, and passively by suppressing family formation through aggressive desegregation (think of the number of white children who were never born because their responsible parents could not afford a second or third child.). And anti-racism campaigns are in effect our version of class struggle.

    • josh says:

      I was going to say something like this.

      Also, the destruction of community (front porch culture)as such and its replacement with mass media; the suburbs and tv conspiracy. Crazy as it sounds, the FHA only approved certain kinds of homes (the homes of the future) for mortgage insurance. This meant the end of the row house and the front porch. Homes had to be a certain distance from the curb and from each other and had to have garages or carports in the the front. The cul-du-sac was created specifically in order to isolate people from each other.

      Zoning laws created market segmentation in housing based on economic classes, People move from neighborhood to neighborhood throughout their lives creating a completely rootless people with no ties to place or to other people. The only thing that connects us as a people is mass media.

      This is was consciously planned by conscious planners. See the Rockefeller War and Peace Studies.

      Also, 1 million abortions a year is pretty evil and the fact the fact that that isn’t obvious to everyone (as it once was not to me) is also pretty evil.

      Also, the OSS/CIA did some really, really crazy things from the 1940s to the 1960s. They used a lot of other groups as proxies. Who knows what they are ultimately responsible for? JFK? Jonestown? The entire hippy LSD movement? Nothing would shock me.

  11. RS says:

    The real problem for y’all’s taxonomy is fascism — and I mean proper Italian and German stuff, not Francoism.

    I’m inclined to grant most of what Foseti and Josh and others say about crypto-communism in Western domestic affairs. But then are fascists commies too? Everyone knows New Dealers admired socioeconomic policies of Mussolini, right?

    Fascists classically wanted to ‘discipline the economy to serve the needs of the state/society’ — rather than allow the private sector to be entirely self-serving, self-directed, and unforced in any charitability towards state/society ; this was their ‘socialism’. I’m not the expert on what all they did to the economy, other than sometimes tell huge firms, ‘guess what, you are going to open a gigantic project on making coal-gas — you’re not? — oh yes you are’ — and such. They were also into state-sponsored mass production of cheap cars and radios, but I’m not sure whose $ was used for that and how. How to judge, then, whether this is slightly more communist than the US panoptic regulatory state & too big to fail, or slightly less?

    Josh’s extremely fascinating points on the cul-de-sac etc sound like what we would call social totalitarianism, but they don’t sound like very clear criteria of communism. The Nazis simply shut down incompliant newspapers and artists where the US basically did not, to my knowledge, and the Bolshies I’m sure did. It would be hard to say the Nazis were less totalist than the US, so who is more communist on this dimension?

    Meanwhile, bourgeois in NATO Europe and USSR alike were allowed to live in cities, where Americans, however GULagless and however recently-free of (overt & complete) state health care, largely aren’t. So here America is the totalist standout.

    ‘De gustibus’, but I’d say you need to describe who did what and and teamed up with whom, and that anything shorter than this post & thread is too reductive. On the other hand I understand the wish not to let the various literal Bolshi collabos off the hook. Color me perplex’d.

  12. […] shares his heretical views on the defeat of communism. Or perhaps we should put scare quotes around […]

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