Communism- How did it happen?
The act of chronicling the rise and fall of communism as it happened in Russia from 1918 when the Bolsheviks stole the revolution to the collapse in 1991 of the Soviet Union is a work in progress. It its preview is contained in a review of a book by Lee Edwards entitled "The Conservative Revolution" and this text goes on to review a number of works written, with several exceptions by those who thought that they could represent better than any other communists of their time the correct understanding of what the communist revolution was all about.
Two of the authors considered were Elizabeth Dilling who wrote and published on her own in 1934 "The Red Network" to expose the locations of the leading sources of the disease of political-economy called communism; and William D. Pawley, an American of heroic proportions, who lived in the age of excitement that prepared him for a life of witnessing and fighting against those who would "save us from ourselves" by stealing our wealth and controlling our lives all in the name of 'humanitarianism'.
Those that professed the Godless approach of dialectical materialism contained within the communist approach to life are not often able to 'see the light' as happened to Djilas and Horowitz. Many others will not shy away from a new opportunity to show us how they can make communism work!
Notes on the Conservative Revolution by Lee Edwards
A review of Lee Edwards book entitled "The Conservative Revolution" The Free Press Div of Simon & Schuster 1998
by Richard R. Tryon
This book was very informative and stands as a fine history of the political system of thinking that is characterized by the much abused word of ‘Conservatism’ as contrasted to the equally maligned word of ‘Liberal’. One really stands for saving that which is good and the other for open minded thinking. Somehow political forces have managed to battle over the idea that one is caring only for the established order, while the other is presented as the wave of the future, aimed at looking for ideas that save those not happy with the values and institutions that are in place.
Thus, politicians want to pit one against the other. The truth is that we all embody a mixture of both qualities, although some are so unwilling to consider change as to be called ‘reactionary’, which is a derogatory way to contend that such persons do not want to consider the facts- only wanting to be against any new idea to deal with them!
On the other hand, the extreme liberal thinkers are accused of wanting such extreme changes as to be accused of ‘throwing out the baby with the dirty bath water’. Obviously, most of us are somewhere inbetween these extremes.
Author Lee Edwards manages to provide a cogent history of the movement ,characterized as being conservative, starting with some early commentary from the turn of the century but focuses quickly on the role of Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio, known as Mr. Conservative in Congress for a long time. He fought to gain the candidacy of the party for nomination to run for President, but lost to the so-called Eastern Establishment wing of the party that came to be indentified with ‘me-too’ type of politics- ie, in step with the liberals, but not as extreme. They elected Eisenhower and Taft could have helped give the Eisenhower years a lot more character, had he lived to do so.
Taft, author of the Taft-Hart labor law that drew the line to try to check some of the abuse of big and too strong organized labor, still managed to leave a legacy to show that Conservatives could care about the same issues as liberals, but they could not depart from a dependence on individualism and a natural rebellion against statism. Big government does not solve problems, it just institutionalizes them and throws money at them without any real positive results in more cases than not. Some temporary measures taken in the depression, may have been essential to save the nation from starvation, but such programs should have been quickly taken out. They were not and we moved on to the age of liberal control tinged with ideas spawned by East European concepts based upon Marxism.
When Dean Acheson and George Marshall told Truman to support Greece and Turkey vs the rising evidence of communist (Soviet Union) expansionism in 1946, it must have been painful for Acheson to do so. His left leaning proclivities showed up elsewhere in many ways, (like noting that Korea was outside of the U.S. sphere of influence) but he apparently found no way to sell out the Greeks and Turks to the Soviets, who took the spoils of WWII into there direct control. Their building of the ‘Iron Curtain’ did not surprise Churchill or for that matter Joseph Gobbells of the Hitler era who coined the phrase first in anticipation of losing WWII. One thing the Nazi had right was a genuine fear of the efforts of the communists to take over! That is no excuse for their style of dictatorship, but it shows that they knew what the dictatorship of the left meant long before we in America understood, because we had been so isolationist that we didn’t care to learn!
It is interesting to note (p-27) that former Pres. Herbert Hoover, who had a lot of experience with Marshall plan type of activity, after WWI, and who tried to do a lot of the emergency relief things that FDR got credit for before FDR took office, but was denied cooperation by the Democrats that controlled Congress, tried to include China in the Marshall Plan with a $450 million aid. The state department managed to exclude China, one of the big Four allies during WWII. It was the time to force China’s strong man of the right, Chang Kai Shek into a coalition with Mao Tse Tung. How strange that both had been sent to Moscow in the 20’s to learn about communism. One came back to lead the revolution and the other to fight against it!
Chang Kai Shek almost won the battle save for two key events. First, the Japanese invasion of the coastal areas of economic interest to them were invaded starting in 1937. This diverted key military forces just at the worst moment possible and it saved Mao. The second came at the end of the war when the U.S. State Dept. decreed that we must be neutral in China and remove all military material there or on the way, so as to force Chang into a coalition with Mao! We all know now how the communists handle that kind of opportunity! State Department officials knew it then, but some must have determined that helping the communists was a good idea! Although Sen. Joe McCarthy did his nation a great disservice by being so outrageous with his style, a better man could have helped us ferret out the real bad guys without throwing stones at the innocent and the fringe players whose activities were not so much un-American as just misguided. The role of Owen Lattimore in China is clearly detailed on P-44.
By P-77 the McCarthy story has been reviewed and the struggle against the list of bad guys was lost in the 1954 censure of McCarthy. Clearly the communists must have celebrated that victory! The nation was comfortable with the notion that we were too strong to have to worry about Un-American activities in a democracy! The death of Robert Taft from cancer in the early days of the Eisenhower administration left the nation bereft of the kind of conservative leader who would have put McCarthy down before he could show his radical and undisciplined ways. He would have, on the other hand, encouraged a real effort to weed out the subversives that did the most damage and he might well have saved China from its horrible edition of the communist experiment, had he come to power before Mao could have won. One can wonder how FDR would have treated his friend Chang Kai Shek, had he not died to leave the task to the inexperienced Truman.
The Pawley contributions, in his book “Why the Communists are Winning”, show that if he had managed to meet more with a living FDR, the result of history in China would have been far different. Instead of our looking now at a mainland China that calls Taiwan a renegade province, we could be working with a democratic combination that could have protected ‘human rights’ for the people long ago. On the other hand, it is not at all certain that such could have been done in a land of 1.2 billion people living in poverty and ignorance of the rest of the world. We of the West, do not understand very well the profound level of experience in living that has accumulated in China, which is so much older than our nation.
P-76 calls for the reading of Russell Kirk’s work “The conservative mind” to better understand why such thinking is superior to the liberal ideas of statism. The Ayn Rand review notes that her book “Atlas Shrugged” was despised by the communists and liberals condemned it- and rightfully so!
She, as an atheist, built a fortress mentality on simplistic notions that could be labeled conservative, but certainly not compassionate conservative! She embodied what it is to be self centered without any God! Her work should not have been lauded by any true conservative. She was not even “on the side of the Angels”.
By P-109 Edwards gets to the Bay of Pigs fiasco and contrast Kennedy vs Goldwater on the subject of containing communism in 1961. Pawley’s work clearly documents how the conservative position would have supported the freedom fighters quest to free their Cuban homeland from Castro. It shows how the state dept. managed to delay the campaign until Kennedy could move it and destroy it, while claiming to be honoring his campaign pledge. For his idea of an “Alliance for Progress” we got nothing, Castro won and Central America was thrust into an era of great destruction and communist subversion. The cold war allowed for more appeasement and we handed the communists the chance to ruin Nicaragua, Guatemala and Grenada and even Angola in Africa with help from Cuban mercenaries supplied by Castro and his band of fervent communist ideologues. His foolishness ultimately caused the Iran-Contra fiasco and the Reagan order to free Grenada.
It could have all been avoided if Eisenhower had pushed for action before he retired from office. The basic plan of the expatriate Cubans would have worked quickly with minimal support. Even if Kennedy had permitted a group of American pilots to fly on the first two missions of B-26’s, it is clear that Castro would have lost his three T-33 trainer jets that were able to shoot down the small remaining force that would have made the difference on the landing area.
Of course, it would have been essential that Kennedy would also not have forced the invasion to move from Trinity beach to the infamous swamp where the landed troops would be stuck with no way to move out! Further, the coral reef off shore that sank one of the key supply ships, because it was labeled by government photo experts as ‘sea weed’, would have not come into play. For this stupidity, we lost the chance to get Castro out of power and return the country to free elections by the people with a chance for two or more parties- not just the one that has ruled and killed for forty years. Think of the messes that would have avoided and how much different the Caribbean would be today, had Castro been ousted.
P-124 notes the birth of ‘affirmative- action’ a key liberal concept aimed at destroying poverty! It shows how Sen. Barry Goldwater was cast into the position of defending the Constitution at the expense of being labeled a ‘racist’. No worse label can be put on any American- at least not in the years since 1964! Conservatives since have found a few points, with help from key so-called minority support to put down some of the extremes of the hey-day of affirmative action.
The next 125 pp deal a lot with the age of Reagan. The most revealing parts deal with the active efforts of the president to help accelerate the collapse of the “Evil Empire”. What appeared in 1992 as a collapse of its own failure was true. However, many things were done to make it harder for the communists to put off the inevitable. The SDI or (Star Wars) effort forced the Russians to try to respond without having the resources to do so. Numerous presidential directives helped make it harder for the Soviets to finance their ambition and their people could not stand the added burden.
Coupled with the huge mistake of Gorbachev, who thought that ‘glasnost’ and ‘peristoika’ could allow for reform via open sharing of ideas and restructuring of industry, the stage was set. The ability of the fax and the beginnings of the internet made it impossible to keep the big secret by censorship. The collapse came quickly with minimal blood shed because everyone knew that the government did not represent the people, but only itself!
The P-286 section delineates the Gingerich saga and the “Contract with America” a political device that helped elect and enact a series of laws that rolled back some of the excess of the Johnson- Carter era of the so-called “Great Society”. It took more than a Reagan presidency, it took a conservative Congress and he managed to get a lot done before his own personal failings short-circuited his career in politics.
President George Bush really failed to support the Reagan legacy. However, he brought a wonderful career of experience to bear against the global threat of a new dictator of the right- one Saddam Hussein. It is unfortunate that Bush won the key battle and then lost the war by not destroying the power base that supported Hussein. Granted that the hostile Iraninan neighbor made it hard to know how to provide for a smooth transition, and the need to avoid taking over in Iraq, it is unfortunate that more was not tried to do so.
The book chronicles the Clinton win and the ability of his presidency to thwart sound economic and political decisions by Congress. Efforts, for example, to free the American people of a high tax burden have been put down by a President who refuses to lose the chance to have the funding for more liberal ideas to ‘save us from ourselves’. He has employed many devices to help candidate Al Gore claim all sorts of reasons to put fear in the minds of the voters. Fear of the collapse of Social Security means that it is ok to bury $300 billion in a lock box against a ‘rainy day’ period of less income! If that $300 billion were invested in mutual funds where it could grow to pay off the debt and provide for a level of social security that would be funded by earnings rather than current workers contributions, it could make sense. But, liberals are not investors, just spenders!
Reducing taxes and paying down the debt are not seen as compatible ideas. Liberals want people to think in terms of the finite knowns. The ‘National Pie’ is of fixed size in their minds. Making it grow is an accident of nature, not of vision and investment. The task is how to redistribute existing wealth, not how to make more of it to share with those willing to work.
The task for candidate George W. Bush is how to press forward on issues that are not always easy to explain- especially in twenty second sound bytes! So, the conclusion of the review is that the future of the conservative movement is not as bright, in my opinion, as it could have been if we had not seen so many opportunities for the liberals to excuse an immoral president and put fear in the minds of voters that the conservatives will leave the poor to starve. So, I will not be surprised to read in November that the liberals have won a new mandate to get a left leaning new Congress and President to pass wonderful new laws to expand the size of government to ‘save us from ourselves’. Conservatives of the compassionate sort may find themselves wondering again: If political power will only fall into the hands of those that accept redistribution of wealth as the only way to cure social problems?
If so, the liberals, who claim not to be communists, just unwitting socialists, will take us further down the road where only the state can save us. So, the Russian experiment can rise from the ashes of history and be tried again by a new management!
This review serves as a fine introduction to a work that offers a commentary on the writings of not only William D. Pawley, author of the unpublished manuscript entitled “Why the Communists are Winning” with a epilogue by Richard R. Tryon entitled “And how they lost”; but also the work of such eminent writers representing or knowing of the Communist perspective as:
David Horowitz in “The Politics of Bad Faith”, The Free Press Div of Simon & Schuster 1998
Nikita Khrushchev “Khrushchev Remembers”, Little Brown & Company 1970
Milovan Djilas “An Analysis of the Communist System”, Frederick Praeger,Publ. 1958
Elizabeth Dilling “The Red Network” published by the author Chicago, 1934