The Main Stream of History
In the recent modern history of mankind, a well defined stream of history can be clearly discerned. It flows from the supremely authoritative feudalism of the “divine right of kings” to rule and the inherited right of the nobility to noblesse oblige into the liberalism of limited monarchy and release from serfdom; through emancipation from slavery and the industrial revolution into the radical theory of the inherent freedom and dignity of the individual man and a representative government responsive to the will of the people which elected it. At times in the not distant past, the forward flow of this main stream has not always been apparent to its contemporaries. Reactions came, with strengthening of authoritarian control of kings and dictators, and it seemed for a time as if the stream were diked or dammed or had turned backward. But it always burst through the floodgates or moved around mountainous obstacles, carrying forward with it steadily improving conditions for the working man and the serf (the exploited) and sometimes extravagant rewards to the industrialist, landlord and financier (the exploiters); but always increasing regulation of these capitalists with decreasing return on their capital investment.
It must be remembered that, when our own American Revolution was new, its philosophy was considered libertarian, a radical creed of the most violent sort. It was regarded with fear and loathing by kings and their ministers everywhere and fought with grim determination by their hireling troops. For anyone to write that ordinary man was endowed with any “unalienable rights” and that among these were “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” was sedition of the most violent nature which must be ruthlessly suppressed. When this philosophy extended in the subsequent French Revolution to Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, the strongly entrenched ruling classes stood aghast.
How could there be complete Liberty for every man, if there were to be workers to produce the luxuries and pleasures which to the nobility were a necessity? How could anyone believe in anything so preposterous as the complete equality of every individual? And who could claim as a brother or sister the unspeakable dregs of the Paris slums, even philosophically?
The reaction set in. The stream ebbed for a time but always flowed on further than it had moved backward. It was in the main stream of events that the power of royalty should be restricted, that the privileges of nobility should decrease with the rise to wealth and importance of the middle class (bourgeoisie) during the Industrial Revolution, that serfs should be freed, slaves emancipated and, even in backward Russia and China which had not yet experienced the Industrial Revolution, that governments should increasingly “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
But where now flows the main stream of history? Probably, we are too close to events to discern its direction with clarity. Perhaps, indeed, as true Marxists, Leninists, Trotskyists and Fabian Socialists all agree, its flow leads eventually to socialism—the “pure” mystic socialism where all men and women are equal, where every person produces according to his abilities, where there is no want because every individual is supplied according to his needs, where there is no government because there is no crime and no crime because no one has wants or needs which he cannot gratify.
But come, let us turn back. This is pure fantasy, even though no more fantastic than the promises of Utopia which “pure” socialism is expected to bring to our troubled world. This is the mystic faith of socialism, and of Communism, which is so hard to understand, so difficult to combat. It has no basis in reality, no practicality in the world of humankind as men and women actually are. It is the heaven to which all good Communists go. It is the dream which they dream. But dreams are always harder to combat than reality. For a man will often follow a dream through a grim struggle with reality, holding to a dream hypnotically because it is better than anything else that he could dream.
This is not the dream of Joseph Stalin and his Politburo. The dream of those practical realists is of another kind. That we can have a measure against which we can gage the value of their dreams, it is well that we should better understand our own. For Communism has a mysticism when it contemplates its final Utopian stage of “pure Socialism” that produces in its believer a fervor not unlike a true religion.
In the beginning, our American philosophy of democracy had a religious fervor all its own. It is clearly evident in the impassioned Jeffersonian prose of our Declaration of Independence. It is implicit in the first ten amendments to our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and in the need which produced them.
But this is not the America of 1776. America is old as nations go; it is rich and powerful; its people are blessed as no other people in the world; its homes are more secure, even in this troubled era, than in any other country; the working class has benefits which are the envy of all working men; there is no peasant class, as such, but, in the language of the Communist doctrine, only Kulaks—therefore, America is conservative. In the eyes of the Communist revolutionists, because it has so much and wants to keep it, it is foully reactionary.
Not that America is perfect. There are inequities, injustices, some of them very pronounced, others outrageous, but they are less grievous and less prevalent than in any other country of the world.
What are the principles of Americanism, of the representative republican form of government which we call democracy, of the modified form of free enterprise of the capitalistic system under which we live? The Declaration of Independence is still a noble document with an inspiring message but this is 1951, not 1776. The basic principles by which we live have long needed a restatement, a revivification, for they are worthy of the religious fervor which they once inspired. What follows is not intended as a final answer, only as one man’s first draft. In the changing stream of history, we must have a standard against which to measure the competing currents as the tides of doctrine ebb and flow.
The Challenge of Americanism
Contrary to some of the other social doctrines abroad in our world today, at the very foundation of our society is our belief in the freedom and dignity of the individual man. These are the ends which we seek to, assure in our struggle for national security. But to us, national security means national freedom—the freedom to determine upon our own national policies without external coercion—not only for ourselves but for other nations about us in this shrinking world. We believe in having free and independent countries on our borders, with free and ready access to the world, the same sort of freedom which Mexico and Canada now enjoy, not cringing satellites. Certainly national freedom is a national goal, but our system of individual freedoms is just as fundamental an objective of our national policy.
We also believe in the supremacy of civilian control over the military. During the long course of our history, no military man has aspired to dictatorial power in this country, probably because, under our system of checks and balances, military control of the government could only be accomplished by bloody revolution. Military men in America have always acknowledged a higher loyalty to their country than to any service or military leader placed over them. This wise belief of our founding fathers in civilian supremacy, to which we still subscribe, has served to protect our free institutions, to ensure that the military subordinates its programs to the larger issues of national security and national policy, and to promote efficiency in the military establishment by searching examination into its conduct by responsible civilian authorities.
The Rights and Privileges of a Free American
In the United States, every person is of importance as an individual, to himself, to his family, to the community, and to the nation. He is not important solely for what he can contribute, or produce, though of course those attributes of the individual are of value—he is important because he is a free American.
He enjoys more individual freedom of his person than anywhere else in the world. He can go where he pleases or stay home; work in Washington, or out West in Wyoming; he can quit any job and move on, for, with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, no individual may be forced to work for another. He can go to the Catholic Church, or any one of fifty odd Protestant sects, Buddhist services, Mohammedan rites—or he can denounce all gods and be a heathen infidel. He can look any man in this country in the eye and say to him, “I am as good as you are,” for he knows that he commenced life on an even basis with any other citizen. But we do not believe that he must stay equal. With all our heart and mind, we believe in freedom of opportunity, in the Horatio Alger tradition of “obotblack to banker,” not in the equalitarian doctrine of each and every one of us being alike in what we contribute and what we get out of life.
We believe that every man and woman has a right to gather together with other Americans to form any kind of a society that they choose. At the meetings of his society, be it religious, political or governmental, a free American has the right to say anything he wants to say on any subject. This freedom, in the course of our development in technology, has quite naturally extended to publishing, talking on the radio, and expressing ideas on the stage, in the movies, and on television. But, from the time of the framing of our Constitution, Americans have been wise enough to know that these rights require protection. That is why American citizens have abandoned some of their rights and granted certain powers to the State in the form of restrictions for the common good. But we believe most earnestly that he who is least governed is best governed. Despite increasing incursion of government into private affairs of recent years, we believe that the American Government is the servant of the people, not their master.
In the Constitution and in the laws of the land, the American people through their selected representatives have set up certain safeguards to protect the rights, freedoms, and dignity of the individual. But we hold it to be our right and privilege to select any representative we want by voting in free and fair elections on a secret ballot. And we consider it a duty to go to the polls and vote.
The honest, law-abiding American has no fear of American police. He knows that his right to security of person and property is zealously protected by the law and that the police are the established authority for safeguarding this right. And so, we know and like our policemen. Except criminals and conspirators, Americans regard the policeman as a friend. Even our “Secret Police,” the F. B. I. operatives, inspire no fear in the honest man. He has no dread of the knock on the door at night, even when it proves to be the “cop on the beat” or the plain clothes investigator. Far from fear of being dragged off to the police station or to a concentration camp, he knows that the policeman probably is coming with news of his boy’s lost bicycle or looking for the missing baby down the street.
When we do fall foul of the law, whether guilty or innocent, we know that, within the limits of human frailty, we will be treated according to our deserts. As were the eleven Communist conspirators in their Federal trial in New York, we will be given defense counsel, whether we can afford to pay for it or not. We can apply for freedom on bail and it will usually be granted. No matter how unimportant we may be, we can demand trial by a jury of our peers. We can defend ourselves in a long trial at great expense to the government and, if we lose, we can appeal through a series of courts to the highest court in the land. If we be unlawfully confined, we can obtain our freedom on a writ of habeus corpus. Or we can obtain our release after bail has been illegally denied, even though we have been convicted of teaching and advocating overthrow of our government, as in the case of the eleven Communist leaders who appealed the ruling against them to the Supreme Court. We know all of these rights belong to us because we are guaranteed equal right to protection before the law.
Every child has the right to a good education. He may not avail himself of it but the opportunity must be there. After he finishes his education, the man can go to work for some person or corporation, or he can start a business of his own. He can live in a rented house anywhere he pleases, if he can afford it, or he can own his own home. The property necessary to his business or pleasure, he can acquire in his own name or in that of himself and his associates. Subject to the agreement of partners or management of the business in which he participates, he can manage his own affairs. If he doesn’t like the methods of the company for which he works, he can always quit. From his labor or his ingenuity, a man is entitled to a fair share of that which he produces, depending principally upon his own ability and application to his job. If he loses his job or cannot find employment, the government feels and accepts a responsibility for him through social security, unemployment insurance, and work relief.
This all sums up—every American is entitled to freedom and equality of opportunity. He may work when, where, and how he pleases, subject only to his own effectiveness in the competitive fields of labor, management, or individual private enterprise.
Limitations and Restrictions Upon a Free American
With the rights and privileges of an American go certain limitations. We must not exercise our rights so that they infringe upon the rights of others. The millennium of human relations has not yet been reached. That is why we must have laws and governments to administer them. We have a perfect right to start a fire to burn trash in our back yard, but it must not also burn down our neighbor’s house.
We must not exercise our rights so that they endanger the common welfare of the American people as a whole. For example, the Communists have a right to belong to their Party and to speak freely in support of it, but they cannot be permitted to perjure themselves when asked under oath whether they belong to their Party and they cannot be permitted to incite their listeners to rise against the constituted government and overthrow it by violence.
This points up that every American must obey the laws under which he lives. During the era of prohibition, a man had a perfect right to write and speak in favor of repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, but he had no right to disobey the law. An unpopular law, it was generally disobeyed, but government officials quite properly tried to enforce it. When the public indignation against the excesses it produced became too pronounced, the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed.
The Unwritten Laws of a Free American
Many of our American principles have never been codified or guaranteed by written law. These beliefs lie within the bounds of custom or common law. Accepted by the people of America, they have attained such general respect that they have become a basic part of our way of life.
We believe that a man shall make his own way upon his own merits. With increased income and inheritance taxes, family background and wealth are not as important as once they were. What a man can do on his own is what counts. He shall be judged upon his own record.
No man shall be held back because he can accomplish more than his neighbor. We still believe in the frontier dream of log cabin to President. An American shall be limited only by his ability and his opportunity to employ his talents. Freedom of opportunity is also one of our cardinal beliefs. Things may come easier to some, but to achieve greatness, Americans have always felt that a man must be willing to work for what he gets. Along with a willingness to work, an American must aspire to do a competent job and be eager to study and improve himself so that he can do always better work.
Every American is entitled to a fair share of the profits due to his labor and ingenuity. If he is in business for himself, his profits will be due principally to his ability and industry. The trade union advances since the turn of the century have seen organized labor obtain increasingly better returns and higher standards of living for the working man.
Americans have always been a proud race. Recognizing that the only true security in life is that which a man stores up for himself, we believe in being frugal, in saving for that “rainy day.” But we also believe that no man, woman, or child should be allowed to starve. Government and private assistance unites to provide adequate food, clothing, and shelter for those who are unable to provide for themselves. But, still, we believe that no man who is able to work should be a burden on society.
We believe in free enterprise, the right to engage in business with our own capital and to make a profit from our efforts and talents with the least possible regulation and supervision by government. We have always held that free competition carried on in a fair manner inspires a man to greater effort. Together with returning a fair share of profit to the working man for his labor, this is what has enabled America to produce more goods, more widely shared and more fairly divided, than in any other country.
Being predominantly Christian, Americans try to live by the Golden Rule. They believe that they should cooperate with each other for the common good. Honest, fair, and considerate treatment of our associates and a willingness to work together with them in harmony have contributed to make our country great.
Responsibilities of a Free American
Along with his rights and privileges an American has certain responsibilities as a citizen. His first responsibility is to his family, to protect them, to provide for them, and to bring up his children to be a credit to the community and good citizens of their country. His next responsibility is to the organizations of which he is a member. He must support them and take an active part in their activities. His next responsibility is to his country. If he would stay free, he must stand ready to defend it against outside attack. He must also be ready to defend it against the enemies within. To do this, he must take an active interest in the issues which arise, participating freely in government at every level, going to the polls, and choosing wisely when he votes. He must be zealous to guard against any infringement upon the freedom of the individual. And finally, the free American must look out beyond the borders of America at the problems of the whole world. Individual freedom challenged in any country is a challenge in his own. If he would retain and cherish the freedoms for which he and his forefathers have fought, he must study and understand the policies of his country and where they are leading. Together with other free Americans, he must encourage his country to support liberty and justice throughout the world that the tyranny of totalitarianism and the police-state shall not further cast its shadow over free people.
Marxism and Lenin Deviations
Socialism is no new philosophy. It existed long before Marx was born in 1818, to become in middle life one of its greatest doctrinaires. His philosophical theories grew through controversy with contemporaries of Marx and they changed during his life, so that he is said to have declared toward the end of his lifetime to one overenthusiastic disciple, “You know, I am not a true Marxist.”
Many books have been written about the philosophy of Karl Marx. At the risk of over-simplification, here is a brief of his beliefs:
1. Progress is an evolutionary process flowing from feudalism inevitably toward “pure” socialism, where all men would be equal.
2. There is an irreconcilable conflict between the two classes of capitalist society—the exploiters (nobility, industrialists, financiers and petty capitalist bourgeoisie) and the exploited (the workers). The stream of history is interpreted by Marx as being caused by this conflict.
3. The purpose of State is to safeguard private ownership. Therefore, the State must be smashed, not taken over by the proletariat in their revolution.
4. Antagonism to all religion is basic to the Marxist doctrine. Marx himself made the often quoted remark that religion is “the opiate of the people.”
5. Marx had an extremely simple moral code:
Anything that tends to bring about the ideal socialist (communist) society is morally good. Anything that works against this end is morally bad.
6. In his “dialectic of Revolution,” Marx held that the bourgeois revolution must first destroy or take over the feudal State and establish capitalism before a country would be ready for the proletarian revolution leading to “pure” socialism. To be successful, the social revolution must be extended until it is worldwide. Communism could not live in the same world with capitalism.
7. Since the proletariat would be unready to take over and run a country and since most countries would be unready for socialism, there would have to be a “dictatorship of the proletariat” to take the necessary steps to organize the country for “pure” socialism.
8. Marx described a mystic Utopian Communist society of the future which was to be the final stage of the social revolution, of which more later.
Before he came to power, Lenin subscribed enthusiastically to the Marxist doctrines and even after his Bolshevik Party seized power in November, 1917, he still took violent issue with anyone who deviated from the “dialectics” of Marx. But he found, as a practical matter of strategy and tactics in staging a revolution and in setting up his dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia, he had to make many compromises. Lenin was basically an honest thinker, who readily admitted his mistakes. He recognized and admitted his “deviations” as necessary tactics in the Russian and world revolutions.
The Bolshevik Revolution, following closely upon a Bourgeois Revolution, pretty well smashed the Russian State. In setting up his dictatorship, Lenin found he had to establish an even more authoritative State than the Czars had maintained. He was unable to go directly to Socialism as he advocated during the revolution and initially seized only the banks and large industries. He authorized departure from “equalitarianism” as a tactical necessity and permitted salaries to be paid on the basis of work accomplished rather than “each according to his need.”
Lenin was antagonistic to religion and set out to smash the Orthodox Church and other religions in Russia.
Lenin abandoned the Marx “dialectic of revolution” for immediate revolution in Russia without waiting for industrialization and the bourgeois revolution and he seized the existing government instead of immediately smashing it. In the Third International which he organized in Moscow in 1919, he advocated worldwide revolution but he preached working from within governments and other organizations, particularly trade unions, and the seizure of power within the existing governmental framework.
He early recognized that the “dictatorship of the proletariat” in Russia could only be run by the Party, that, in view of the counterrevolution and the backward nature of Russia, it would have to be extremely authoritarian and would have to continue much longer than Marx had envisioned. Yet, he was truly international in his thinking, nonnationalist, and expected the eventual end of the dictatorship, the establishment of “pure” socialism, and the end of the State.
He believed in and wrote eloquently of the mystic Utopian Communist society of the future.
The Challenge of Stalinism
Seriously ill by 1922, Lenin lived on until 1924. On his death, a determined struggle to succeed to his position and power developed among Old Bolsheviks. Recognizing the overweaning ambition for power in Joseph Stalin, Lenin’s disputed “Last Will” warns against Stalin. When Lenin died, there were seven members of the Communist Party Politburo. He left his position and authority to Kamanev and Zinoviev who invited Stalin into their Troika. Of the seven members of the Politburo, four were executed as Fascist spies and counterrevolutionaries, one was exiled and assassinated, and one committed suicide on the eve of arrest. The survivor, Joseph Stalin, firmly entrenched himself as Secretary- General of the Russian Communist Party in what now appears to be complete and unchallenged control of the Party and the Soviet Union.
To Marx, the reason for violent revolution and a radical change in productive relations was to introduce a new order of relations based on democratic principles. This, Lenin might have tried to do. Under Stalin, what he understood of Marxism as taught by Lenin was superimposed upon a Russian- Eurasian tradition. This resulted in a return to authoritarian rule, the only sort of government the Russian had ever known.
Like Lenin, Stalin has been led to give a new direction to Communism by the force of circumstances. But Stalin is a basically dishonest thinker. Instead of admitting past mistakes, he always tries to justify what he has done and said by reference to the writings and actions of Lenin. He knows and uses all the Marxist slogans, but in the course of his twenty-five years in power he has so transformed the teachings of Marx that Marx himself would never recognize them.
In his struggle for power, he first came up against Trotsky. The conflict between them was inevitable because both had tasted of power and wanted more. The issue between them is so esoteric that it is difficult for anyone but a Russian and a Communist to understand it. The dispute can be briefed in competing slogans—Stalin, “Socialism in one country”; and Trotsky, “The Permanent Revolution.”
Not that Stalin renounced world revolution for “Socialism in one country”—Russia —as Trotsky has charged; in the Stalinist scheme, firm establishment of Socialism in Russia came first. Trotsky held that the Russians had not “even approached the task of creating a socialist society” and that “a genuine advance of socialist economy in Russia will become possible only after the victory of the proletariat in the most advanced countries of Europe.”
This dispute caused a schism down the middle of Russian and International Communism. It also gave Stalin a weapon against his rivals in the Politburo. Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamanev and others were accused of counterrevolutionary designs, expelled from the Party, later accused of being agents of Fascism, and eventually tried and shot or banished and murdered.
In 1938, Stalin settled his argument with the Trotskyists. He pointed out that building up “socialism in one country” was not only possible but had been achieved in Russia. The victory of Socialism was not yet complete, nor could it be as long as Russia was surrounded by capitalist states. Unquestionably he believed, with Lenin, that “it is inconceivable that the Soviet Republic should continue to exist for a long period side by side with imperialist states. Ultimately, one or the other must conquer. Meanwhile, a number of terrible clashes between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois states is inevitable.”
Power is a disease that feeds upon itself. The more power one possesses, the more one wants. So it has been with Stalin.
When Stalin discusses the relationship between the Party, the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the Soviets,1 he is necessarily rather vague. He gives lip service to the ultimate goal of “pure” Communism when the State will “wither away.” Despite Communist polemics to disguise the ugly fact, under Stalin the power of the State has steadily increased.
The arguments seem to wander throughout a complete circle to justify the dominance of the Party. According to Stalin, Lenin said that the dictatorship is exercised by the Proletariat for the people of Russia. The Proletariat is organized into Soviets which are led by the Party. While the Party exercises the dictatorship for the Proletariat, and the dictatorship is, in its essence, the dictatorship of the Party, still this does not mean that the Party is the Dictatorship. If that is not entirely clear, probably Stalin did not intend for it to be.
Nevertheless, the Soviets have lost what constitutional authority they had in the beginning. The Party rules and in turn is ruled by its Politburo. At the top of this pyramid of power stands Stalin. A more complete and effective centralization of vast power into one pair of hands has not been seen in the history of the world. Thus, progressively less proletarian and less democratic, under Stalin the Party has become a centralized bureaucracy—a form of government that was an anathema to Lenin.
Stalin abandoned Lenin’s agrarian policy. In 1929, in spite of strong opposition within the Politburo, he proceeded with forcible collectivization of peasants onto state farms. This was the second, most bitterly contested and most bloody revolution of the Russian Communist movement. It brought on terrible famines and ghastly pogroms of murder and exile to Siberia. It succeeded in collectivization, but the ruthless measures employed contributed markedly to the degeneration of the Party.
When we consider quickly the Marxist slogan, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” it sounds wonderful. It is in its application that it is seen as the basically immoral policy that it is.
Under Lenin, the rewards of power were very modest. In the Kremlin, he lived in a Spartan simplicity that compared to his poverty-stricken exile. He believed most sincerely in the philosophy of equalitarian- ism. He laid down as the principle of “maximum income” that no State official should receive a higher wage than a qualified worker. During the Civil War, a maximum income of 400 rubles remained in force and non-Party specialists who earned more were regarded with contempt.
In 1934, Stalin denounced “equalitarianism.” By equality, he said, Marxism meant not the equalization of individuals but the abolition of classes. Under Socialism, men would be paid according to their work. With definition of “ability” and “need” left to the Soviet State, strange are the inequalities of reward in Soviet Russia, the gamut from degrading poverty with neither enough to eat or wear to a standard of living that a Byzantine Emperor might well have envied. And this in a “classless society.”
Finally, Stalin has come to embrace the Russian Nationalism of the Czars so vigorously that the Cominform and the Communist Parties of other countries have been hard put to justify their positions as Communists and Nationalists with respect to each other. Internally, this has caused little trouble for the Russian Party because the Nationalist expansion of Russia in territory has also generated the power to establish Communist regimes in countries where the local Communists were unable to do it for themselves. But, internationally, it has served to cause confusion between the competing nationalisms of adjacent countries.
Why Do the Russians Act as They Do?
To arrive at an answer to this we must consider three periods of Communist Russian history. In the period after the November Revolution, in a country of some 100 million, there was a proletariat of about three million led by a Bolshevik Party of about 200,000. So in Russia, a small group of determined revolutionists were faced with an overwhelming majority of the population which was hostile to their purposes or uncompromisingly neutral. With their announced program of revolution to start in Russia and spread to the rest of the world, they considered themselves surrounded by hostile capitalism. These conditions produced in the Communist regime a feeling of insecurity and fear at home and abroad.
In the period of the long Civil War, the attack by the Western powers and the White Russians convinced the Bolsheviks that Capitalist Imperialist nations were determined to overthrow their regime. The Lenin teaching of the inescapable conflict between capitalism and Communism and the necessity for world revolution for security of Communism was confirmed.
World War II brought a terrible challenge to the Russian nation. The Nazi Germans overran their country and very nearly defeated the Red Army. Only the timely support of the Western Allies saved Russia, although this information has not- been generally disseminated to the Russian people. It is the Party Line that the glorious Russian people rose and threw out the invaders without help from anyone. But the ruler in the Kremlin and his Politburo associates had a bad scare. They were particularly distressed at the joy with which the Ukranians and White Russians initially welcomed the German Armies as deliverers, only to be disillusioned later at a regimentation more severe than the Communist. Far from feeling grateful for the military and economic power of the Western Democracies which saved them, the regime felt even more uneasy because of this display of power and set about consolidating their position. Except for Finland in Europe, Turkey and Iran in the Near East, and Korea and Japan in the Far East, Russia is surrounded by satellites with “People’s Republican” governments responsive to the will of the Communist Party, that is to say, Stalin and the Politburo. Yet, they are still possessed by fear and insecurity. They feel that they must not only be completely ringed about by friendly nations, but they must also complete the proletarian revolution throughout the world. Only then, according to their doctrine, can they feel secure and permit their powerful State to “wither away.”
Three basic doctrines make the international actions of the Russians hard to understand:
Committed as they are to world revolution, how can they cooperate, in the United Nations or elsewhere, for the peace of the world?
Their standard of morality makes their promises and international commitments mean nothing. If it is morally good for Soviet Russia to enter into agreements and commitments as it serves her ends and if it is morally good to break them whenever they no longer suit her purposes, how can other nations cooperate with her on any basis?
The philosophy of perpetuation of the power of the dictatorship is in direct conflict with the basic teachings of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. Stalin’s position as the most powerful individual in the world today doubtless is pleasing to him, but it violates the principles of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of equalitarianism. It runs counter to the main stream of history from feudalism to “pure” socialism as Marx, Engels, and Lenin interpreted it. It is a sham before the world, for it is actually a personal dictatorship of the most authoritarian sort, supported by Armed Forces and secret police, posing as a benevolent administration of a humanism that pretends to be concerned with the fundamental good of mankind as a whole.
The Challenge of Communism
The Communist philosophy of history constitutes a threat to the United States in that it regards capitalism in any country as a possible threat to Communism. The mere existence of capitalistic states in the world necessitates a strong Russian garrison-police state in self-defense.
The Communist concept that the democratic state exists solely to protect the vested interests of private property and therefore must be destroyed presents an obvious basic conflict between Communist and capitalist societies.
Communist antagonism to religion and its punitive actions against Christians, Mohammedans, Buddhists, Confucianists, and any other religion which provides the “opiate of the people” is repugnant to Americans. It is a negation of our fundamental belief in the freedom and dignity of the individual man. The Communist moral philosophy that “the end justifies the means” is repulsive to our basic Christian belief in the Golden Rule.
The Communist concept of the necessity for world revolution and the imposition of the benefits of Communism on all peoples everywhere violates our belief in national and individual freedom.
Every movement which hopes to capture the masses must have a mysticism, a religious sort of faith which grasps the people’s imagination and holds their loyalty. It was in his extravagantly eloquent description of the Utopian society of the future that Marx probably made his greatest contribution to the Communist movement. When this “pure” socialism is attained as a result of abolition of private ownership of the means of production, in the words of Marx, “only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be fully left behind, and society inscribe on its banners; ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’ ”
Harmony will prevail. Culture and education will advance to a new high level of excellence. Men will become so nearly perfect and so social-minded that they will easily govern themselves without any government. For the first time in history, there will be complete equality among men.
If this seems fantastic in the light of humankind as we know it, Marx recognized that a drastic change in human nature would be required. Presumably that change will take place during the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
This is the idealistic goal of “pure” communism which provides Communists with mystic cause for which they can fight with fanatical and religious fervor. We do not believe in the practicality of their ideal. And we would not like to live under the terrorism and regimentation of the interim garrison-police regime, which it now appears may last a century.
“What is it that the Gentlemen Wish?”
The average American is psychologically incapable of realizing the serious threat that Communism is to the world and to his own country. Perhaps that is why so many “fellow travellers” in the free democracies are intellectuals to whom the liberal doctrines of Communism as written have an intellectual appeal. The constitutions of certain People’s Democracies appear to establish a representative government with many excellent guarantees to their citizens. Under our own Constitution, a similar document, so long as you obey the necessary laws, rules, and customs of our society, you live a comfortable, unharassed life. Your freedoms surround you in guarantees that you take for granted.
It is beyond your imagination that a leader of your opposition party, such as Mr. Dewey or Mr. Stassen, should have to flee the country to save his life. You read of political trials that make mockery of judicial procedure as you know it and of bombastic decrees and cynical executions of famous men once considered to be heroes of democracy. You know that these things are wrong, but you have no basis for comparison to comprehend the terror which controls every movement of every human being under a Communist dictatorship.
What would you think if every ring of the doorbell threw you into a paroxysm of fear that it might be the secret police? How would you feel if you could not trust your closest friend, not even your little son who might be prevailed upon to bear witness against you? Suppose the government allotted you and your wife and three children three rooms in the large and comfortable home which once you owned and crowded other families into other “suites” in the house? How would you like to have to carry with you always your “character” in a sealed envelope, which only a Party member could open? (It is an offense to be caught out without your “character,” punishable by. a heavy fine or imprisonment.) How would you feel if you could obtain no employment suitable to your experience if your “character” were undesirable in the eyes of the Party? How would you like to be fired from your present job, leave your family and friends, and go to work twelve to fourteen hours a day in a distant coal mine for little more than your food and clothing. (You would receive no news about your family.)
After being checked off in the books at the polls next November, what would you think if you were given a red ball with instructions to drop it (or not to drop it) into a box in plain view of the Party election officials, thus to signify your approval (or disapproval) of your President and his cabinet? What would you think if the President were only a figurehead, if he had to do everything just exactly as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee told him to do, if the members of that National Committee were also members of the Cabinet and heads of national departments, leaders of Congress, judges of the Supreme Court, Commanders- in-Chief of the three Armed Services, and head of the F.B.I.? How would you like to be told to turn out at a certain time and place for a “spontaneous demonstration” for President Truman or Secretary Acheson or some foreign dignitary?
What is it that the gentlemen wish? Freedom and dignity of the individual or complete regimentation?
The forces aligned against us are very powerful—the Soviet Russian State and its subservient worldwide Party machine. The philosophy of Communism, as we have seen, is a sort of humanism which appears to strive for the material good of all mankind. It professes to believe in the equality of races, sexes, and individuals, and it promises a Golden Age where all are one happy family.
The military strength of Communism can only be countered by similar or greater balanced military strength in the democratic world. The power of the Communist machine can only be destroyed by understanding it and working against it in fields where it prospers—in the press, on the radio, among our intellectuals, and in the trade unions. By every medium, the falsity of its apparent attractiveness must be exposed.
Vigilance is the Price of Remaining a Free American
Communism fights a continuous battle in all fields, lessening the pressure here, increasing it there, sometimes appearing to go along with the force which is resisting it. We must not be misled by these devious twistings and turnings of Communist strategy and tactics. The determination to destroy our free institutions is ever present. The pressure will be again applied when our resistance weakens.
The economic strength, the freedom and the security of our country rest upon the moral and spiritual vigor of our people. We owe our position in the world today not so much to the military might and economic power of our country as to the unusual kind of idealism we have presented to the world. By basing our political establishment on our belief in the capacity of free individuals for self-government, the United States of America has provided individual freedom and dignity for its citizens. Our system is dedicated to the belief that the individual must have an opportunity to develop his individual capacity—morally, intellectually, and materially—but this guaranteed opportunity entails certain individual responsibilities. A free man can remain free in a free society only by exercising the responsibility of citizenship, only by eternal vigilance to ensure that the processes of free government are not destroyed by forces from without or by conspiracy within.
If we recognize the challenge of Communism and understand what we are fighting for—our very way of life as we know it in America—we can not lose, for Communism, in the debasing greed for power which has turned.it back from the main stream of history recognized by its own philosophers, carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction. For whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad—with power.
* This article will appear as part of the new, revised edition of The Naval Officer’s Guide by Rear Admiral Arthur A. Ageton, U.S. Navy (Retired), to be published shortly by McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., and is printed in the Proceedings by special permission of the publishers.
1. Originally, a Soviet was a revolutionary society of workers or peasants, usually restricted to members in a single factory or peasants of one rural locality. During the March Revolution of 1917, the Soviets combined into a Soviet of Workers’ and Peasants’ Delegates. The Mensheviks subsequently organized Soviets in the Army and Navy. Lenin used this organization of Soviets in staging his November Revolution. Individual Soviets now combine into City and Village Soviets and elect the huge Union Congress of Soviets which theoretically holds all power in Soviet Russia.