Category: struggle against anti-communism
Settling with Our Past
worker | March 30, 2021 | 7:38 pm | struggle against anti-communism | Comments closed

Settling with Our Past

– from Greg Godels is available at:

We must move beyond Cold War myths, restore the missing chapters of race and labor militancy, and reject hysterical anti-Communism, if we are not to be participants in the death throes of a racist, exploitative empire... To read more, please go to:

Setting the Record Straight
worker | October 30, 2020 | 8:08 pm | Donald Trump, struggle against anti-communism | Comments closed

Setting the Record Straight

Since the end of the Cold War– almost thirty years ago– the neo-Cold Warriors have ruled the ideological battlefield, reconstructing, twisting, and distorting twentieth-century history. This has had an especially deleterious effect upon the non-Communist left, especially in the US and Europe. History that was once vigorously contested, has become the property of liberal historians bent on retelling events solely through the lens of bourgeois values and triumphant revisionism. To unfortunately great effect, far too much of today’s left has readily accepted this deceptive, often totally false picture.

Therefore, it is refreshing, even exciting, to read two recent, related articles by philosopher Gabriel Rockhill appearing in Counterpunch. Both Liberalism and Fascism: Partners in Crime  (reposted on the sister site, Marxism-Leninism Today) and The U.S. Did Not Defeat Fascism in WWII, It Discretely Internationalized It, dismantle much of the edifice constructed by capitalist apologists, both left and right. The two articles appear sandwiched between two other related Rockhill articles posted a few days apart, in Counterpunch and Black Agenda Report.

Rockhill’s contribution is important because it undercuts the many myths that fuel popular (mis-)understanding of fascism, a charged epithet that has been slung back and forth in the US electoral wars. In addition, he refutes the many influential canards about real-existing-socialism and the Communist parties that have become barriers to constructing a real-existing-socialism in the US, a socialism beyond polite reformism and utopian schemes.

On the question of fascism, Rockhill exposes two big lies:

  • Lie #1 “…liberalism defeated fascism in World War II…
  • Lie #2 “Fascism is the complete opposite of liberalism and liberalism is the essence of anti-fascism.” Any serious, honest student of history recognizes that the brunt of the war against European fascism was borne by the Soviet Union and the Communist-led resistance movements in the occupied countries, with their allies significantly joining the fight only after the Soviets alone were growing closer to defeating Nazism and liberating Europe in 1944.

Rockhill restores the historical record with the following facts:

  • Truth #1 “…what fascism and liberalism share is their undying devotion to the capitalist world order…”
  • Truth #2 Liberalism has waged a “long psychological campaign under the deceptive banner of ‘totalitarianism’” to equate fascism with Communism.
  • Truth #3 “Nazi racial police state and colonial rampage… were modeled on the United States.”
  • Truth #4 “…Western European fascism emerged within parliamentary democracies…” and not by overthrowing institutions. While it is important to affirm that Italian fascism and Nazism came through the front door, fascism has also been imposed violently (Franco, Pinochet). Moreover, European fascism also attempted to impose its will outside of parliament (March on Rome, Beer Hall putsch).
  • Truth #5 “The capitalist state turned itself over [to the fascists and Nazis] without a fight.”
  • Truth #6 The Social Democrats ”refused to form an eleventh-hour coalition with the communists against Nazism.”
  • Truth #7 Communist Party leader Ernst Thaelmann “had argued that a vote for the conservative Field Marshal von Hindenburg amounted to a vote for Hitler and for war.” Contrary to wide-spread fantasies, both right and left, neither Communist reluctance to coalesce, nor treachery opened the door to Hitler (or to Mussolini). German Communists offered united action on many fronts and in different Länders. They were never able to overcome Social Democratic refusals, except from appeals to those below the leadership. The presidential choice between Thaelmann and von Hindenburg was the last opportunity to forestall Hitler, who von Hindenburg appointed Chancellor despite the NSDAP losing electoral support.
  • Truth #8 “Capitalist states refused to form an antifascist coalition with the USSR.” I recount this sordid record of refusing to join the Soviet Union against fascism in some detail here.
  • Truth #9 “Indeed, it was the fear of being left to confront Hitler alone which eventually drove Stalin… into the Stalin[sic]-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939.” No diplomatic event has been so willfully misunderstood as has the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. To see a last-ditch survival maneuver as a betrayal of principle or of the working class is a mark of political opportunism or left-wing immaturity. The pact’s purpose was sensible and defensible.
  • Truth #10 It was not only the bourgeoisie and the large landowners who decisively backed Italian and German fascism, but also “the major corporations and banks whose headquarters were in Western bourgeois democracies…” like Ford, GM, Standard Oil of NJ, DuPont, etc.
  • Truth #11 “…if liberalism allowed for the growth of European fascism, it is capitalism that drove this growth.” Lost in superficial, impressionistic accounts of fascism is the truth that fascism functions and is implemented when capitalism is under existential threat. In every instance, the threat to capitalism or the perceived threat to capitalism has generated the material support for fascism. When sufficient numbers of the ruling class are convinced that bourgeois democracy cannot contain the threat to capitalism, they unleash fascism.
  • Truth #12 “It was above all the Red Army that defeated fascism in World War II, and it is communism– not liberalism– that constitutes the last bulwark against fascism… one cannot be truly antifascist without being anti-capitalist.” To be fair, many antifascists who were not anti-capitalist died fighting fascism. But there is no effectively antifascist ideology that is not anti-capitalist. Any such ideology supportive of capitalism fails to understand the roots of fascism and its function.
  • Truth #13 “In the reactionary political culture of the U.S., which has attempted to redefine the left as liberal, it is of the utmost importance to recognize that the primary opposition that has structured, and continues to organize, the modern world is the one between capitalism… and socialism.” This is, perhaps, Rockhill’s most important point, one that has been lost on many of those who have read and recommended Rockhill’s thoughtful essays. The lingering legacy of anti-Communist fundamentalism in the US blinds many to this truth, leaving US leftists bound to liberalism of one kind or another at the core of their “radical” visions.

From the sixties New Left to the Occupy advocates and the “democratic” socialists of today, radicals defer the socialism question, with the hope that liberal values will automatically generate a substitute socialism-of-the-heart.

Rockhill’s essays well retell the post-war collaboration of fascists and Nazis with the US intelligence services, the secret police that are today portrayed as warriors for democracy by the corporate media. The use of war criminals in the anti-Communist crusades, the corruption of many, if not most, of the Cold War intelligentsia by CIA funding, and the preparation of a vast, secret anti-Communist network– right-wing “militias,” to use today’s language– among US allies are exposed effectively and accurately by Rockhill. While these vile actions are documented by many academics, they must be retold again and again to counter liberal opinion-makers who conveniently ignore them.

Many of us familiar with the treachery of leading liberals in the McCarthy era draw a special glee from Rockhill’s scorching, incendiary attack on the hypocrisy of liberals and their collaboration with the forces of reaction. The sad state of US politics– two-party perfidy, complacent, self-serving labor leadership, blindness to the criminality of US foreign policy– flows directly from the cowardice or complicity of Cold War liberals.

Yet it is also important to remember that many popular front liberals fought, resisted, and were repressed by McCarthyism, defied Cold War conformity, and paid with their careers. Many others were cowed into submission. It was, in black-listed writer, Dalton Trumbo’s words: the time of the toad. Of course, today, toadyism is again fashionable with the liberal petty-bourgeoisie.

We must remember that fascism is an historical phenomenon, bound by time, place, and circumstance. Just as many mistakenly saw the rise of Mussolini and Hitler as merely another instance of a nineteenth-century European conservative reaction (as did PCdI’s Bordiga and Gramsci in the early years of Italian fascism) and not a unique movement, some today simplistically see European and US right-wing populist reaction as an instance of twentieth-century fascism. Focusing on similarities often obscures critical differences. If nineteenth-century reaction was a response to the rise and threat of liberalism, twentieth-century reaction (fascism) was a response to the rise of the workers’ movement and the threat of Communism. The existential threat to capitalism explains its social and political extremism.

Today’s reactionary movements are responding to the impotency of social democracy and the demise of revolutionary socialism (Communism). Right-wing, demagogic populism rushes to fill the void. Trump, Orban, Johnson, Salvini, and others are opportunistically attempting to occupy the political space abdicated by liberal, social democratic, or Eurocommunist parties and trade on a deepening mass dissatisfaction with the liberal order. They hitch their dubious populism to traditional right-wing programs.

It is useful to distinguish between liberal ideology and individual liberals, liberal movements, and their parties. Sometimes when Rockhill relates liberalism to fascism he is not always clear on which he means. Liberal ideology may well be spent. It does not have the energy or relevance that it had in driving reform in the nineteenth century. But it is not “partners in crime” with fascism. It is a distinctly different ideology from fascism.

Liberals and their parties have assisted, even collaborated with fascism, especially in legitimizing it politically within a parliamentary setting. As Rockhill acknowledges, it is because they both share a commitment to preserving capitalism. Hence, they collaborate especially when capitalism is perceived as under siege by the revolutionary left.

As much as we may enjoy Rockhill impaling the increasingly smug and self-righteous liberal ideologues, we must acknowledge that most of the political left and center identify with liberalism in the US two-party system. But they do so because they believe they see few alternatives. That support is, therefore, thin.

We must battle the ideology, but win over the followers. Rockhill’s essays are a helpful tool in that effort.

Greg Godels

Gulag Archipelago: Exposing the Anticommunist Fabrications of Solzhenitsyn
worker | October 22, 2020 | 7:14 pm | J. Stalin, struggle against anti-communism, USSR | Comments closed

Gulag Archipelago: Exposing the anticommunist fabrications of Solzhenitsyn

worker | September 20, 2020 | 5:09 pm | struggle against anti-communism | Comments closed
Running Amok
worker | March 26, 2018 | 8:48 pm | Analysis, Russia, struggle against anti-communism, struggle against nuclear war | Comments closed

from Greg Godels is available at:

Periods of generalized fear and mass hysteria are not new to the United States. In the aftermath of both World Wars, a virulent Red Scare spread near and far. Thousands were caught in an official dragnet aimed at capturing Communists and other dissenters. At the same time, the government and powerful interests terrorized the rest of the population with fear of incrimination and stoked hatred toward those with ‘dangerous’ ideas. Threats were manufactured.

The suddenly shrunken ranks of principled civil libertarians, those yet to be cowed by the hysteria, saw parallels with witch hunts and inquisitions for good reason. They saw fear spawning outrageous claims and ridiculous charges. The fear of nuclear annihilation contributed to the madness of the 1950s, along with the cultural vulgarity of zombies and vampires. Flying saucers, alien invaders, rock and rollers, fluoride, motorcycle gangs, juvenile delinquents, and defiant atheists added to the terror of that time.

Some saw this as sheer insanity, but behind the orgy of fear was a calculated purging of domestic dissent and a stoking of foreign aggression and intervention, both essential for the crafting of a post-war political and foreign policy consensus. The calculation came easy to wealthy and powerful elements who had absorbed the lessons of the post-Civil War South, an era that nurtured outrageously contrived threats attributed to former slaves. The demonization of African Americans in the South during Reconstruction and after served well as the basis for the virulent racism that protected the privileges of the white upper classes. Fear sustained a terroristic, racist ruling class

Therefore, US elites readily recognize the value of fear-mongering as an instrument of persuasion, as an arm-twister, as a lever of consent. They foresee and secure the eager complicity of the corporate media in amplifying these fears.

True to form, the lapdog capitalist media accept their mission of uncritically following the lead of US policy makers in manufacturing conflict in Eastern Europe, in Latin America, Northern Africa, and, most diligently, the Middle East. Media bought and sold the contrived excuses for invading Iraq without a whimper of dissent. The current Western consensus on Syria is grounded from “reporting” bylined Beirut or Ankara, where US embassy press releases are readily and safely available, or from the claims of a London-based “observatory” that incredibly touts reliable sources from afar in every oppositional town or village in Syria.

The foundation for this perversion of objectivity is fear, fear of ill-defined “terrorism,” fear of Islam, fear of brown people. As a result of this madness, the Middle East is fractured.

The historic success of fear-mongering has emboldened US rulers to offer a further set of demons, another source of great evil– Russia. At a moment of slack political credibility, at a time of lost confidence in the US electoral process, Russia-bashing is serving as a useful distraction. It’s difficult to discern an evil-inspired motive for Russia to want to destroy our rotting political system when its system resembles our own money-driven, elite-dominated, craven media “pseudo-democracy.” Maybe they hope to retaliate for the US intervention in securing political changes throughout Eastern Europe, especially on multiple occasions in Ukraine. Doesn’t anyone remember US diplomat Victoria Nuland crudely selecting the leaders for a US-friendly Ukraine?

Despite no evidence– credible or otherwise– that any real damage has been accomplished by Russian perfidy, the millionaire TV news readers and the screeching commentariat have succeeded in turning public opinion around in a short span. Gallup reports that in the winter of 2010, most US respondents (47%) had a “favorable” opinion of Russia. By a small margin, most people had put aside the Cold War craziness. But by the spring of 2017, 70% of the respondents now had an “unfavorable” view of Russia. A remarkable turnaround based on little more than fear-mongering and innuendo.

Russia-bashing has long since moved beyond the charge of political influence that energized it. Like previous US infections of political hysteria, Russia now causes everything from tooth decay to impotence. One could see it only too clearly in a series of copycat headlines that appeared a week or so ago. BBC, Time, CNN, Reuters, The Times, ABC, and a host of other prominent media outlets featured a close variation of the headline Putin Ordered a Passenger Plane to be Shot Down. Some headlines were more shrill than others, some added that he called off the hit, but the lasting impression was that the callous Putin was about to order a commercial passenger plane to be blown up with the death of many innocent people before backing off. For those who bothered to read on, the plane was believed to be directed by a terrorist and heading for the Sochi Olympic games. Action was called off when the threat proved bogus.

Given that the emergency procedure would be and is a commonplace with any competent security service, it is difficult to understand why so many news services chose to highlight such an insignificant Putin anecdote, except to exploit the existing anti-Putin mindset.

No opportunity is missed to further expand the fears of a Russian plan to destroy the US, though no one has exposed a credible motive.

Nearly all previous fright orchestrations have parlayed fear of a foreign “enemy” into a domestic crackdown– threats from Reds abroad mean threats from Reds at home, for example.

So far, the RussiaGate fanatics have seemingly sought few domestic leftist foes to boil in oil.

That may be changing.

An unlikely witch hunter, the iconic liberal Southern Poverty Law Center, served up a pot-boiler conspiracy theory linking the “Brown” with the “Red”– the so-called “alt-right” and the anti-imperialist movement. The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left wing resentment, authored by Alexander Reid Ross, a geography graduate student at Portland State University, pretends to expose a kind of united front between left and right knitted together by dark forces involving Putin, Rasputin-like Russians, and Russian “soft-power networks.”

Ross expresses his debt to an intellectual godfather, an anonymous self-styled anarchist blogger, “Vagabond,” who devoted 46,000 words in January to a meandering, unhinged attack on the US left for its “crypto-fascism.” Oddly, the acid-tongued Vagabond even castigates his sycophant, Ross, for posting on Counterpunch— the “red-brown cesspool.”

A sample of Vagabond’s writing captures its ominous, conspiratorial tone:

Now, why should the Stalinoid/Marcyite WWP and the PSL be shunned, apart from their obvious history of genocide denial and support for atrocities, lies in their alliance with fascists. The difference with Ross and the Marcyite parties is that Ross, while unfortunately published by CounterPunch, does not himself collaborate with fascists while the Marcyite parties are active collaborators of Lyndon LaRouche and Duginists.

The supreme irony of this innuendo-laced diatribe is that it is so reminiscent of the language of the attacks in the late 1960s on the National Welfare Rights Organization and the Marxist left by the National Caucus of Labor Committees and its guru Lyn Marcus– the aforementioned Lyndon Larouche. Like Larouche, Vagabond equates sharing a position on a public issue, any and even the most casual associations, or even attending a meeting or conference with the sin of “active collaboration.” This ‘gotcha’ politics was once solely the posture of the McCarthyite right, but has now become a signature feature with phony ‘antifascists’ like Vagabond and Ross.

Sadly, this charge of “red-brown” alliance seems to have gained traction in some anarchist and ‘antifa’ circles. In contrast to Vagabond’s shrill rants, Ross chooses a slightly more measured tone, referring to the imagined left-fascist connection as “syncretic”– “syncretic networks,” “syncretic news sites,” “syncretic figures,” “syncretic hub,” etc. Despite the attempt at academic-sounding cosmetics, both authors share the goals of guilt by association, of slandering the left.

Unshorn of the dubious web of ‘associations,’ the argument at the center of the attack– if it can be dignified by calling it an argument– is quite simply and transparently invalid:

The ‘fascists’ or ‘alt-right’ supports a multi-polar world

The Russians support a multi-polar world

The left supports a multi-polar world

Ergo, The ‘fascists/alt-right,’ the Russians, and the left are in alliance or, in a “syncretic” relationship.

Repeatedly, Ross (and others) build their case around the allegation that support for a multi-polar world– a world without one solely dominant power– is the tell in demonstrating underlying alliances, common networks, or sympathies. It must never occur to those seeing conspiracy that people could support the same end– a multi-polar world– for vastly different reasons. It must never occur to Ross, Vagabond, and their ilk (or the Southern Poverty Law Center) that the rational alternative today to a multi-polar world is a unipolar world like the one envisioned by the ruling class of the US. US elites brashly claimed that world for themselves after the demise of the Soviet Union, costing those standing in the way millions of lives.

But it is futile to reason with pathologies.

To add the illusion of seriousness, Ross supplies the reader with a pretentious network ‘map’ that obfuscates more than it clarifies, a Venn diagram that is not a Venn diagram, and a “conceptual model” that is a Venn diagram. The point of this exercise is only to present the Far Right and the Hard Left visually as overlapping or interlinked, just in case the narrative proved too convoluted and tenuous to suggest such a conclusion.

It is a curious picture, displaying a bizarre caricature of the left and singling out only those elements of the left that challenge the current US foreign policy line: active measures against Russia, Assad’s Syria, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eastern Ukraine, Venezuela, and others. From Black Agenda Reports’ Margaret Kimberley to ANSWER’s Brian Becker, outspoken anti-imperialists are labeled as part of a “red-brown” network. Workers World Party, Party of Liberation and Socialism, and even the Green Party’s presidential candidate, Jill Stein, are allies of the fascists in this demented picture. The leading anti-imperialist organizations, the ANSWER Coalition and the United National Antiwar Coalition are similarly charged with ‘brown’ affiliation.

Of course the glue that binds these individuals and organizations to the hard right, in the estimation of Ross and friends, is Russia, its foreign policy, and especially its media arms– RT and Sputnik. An appearance on either medium guarantees the “red-brown” disgrace.

For those in power, for those who crafted the imperialist policies that brought death, destruction, and chaos to the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and a host of other countries troubled by US intervention, an attack on the small, but dedicated “red” US left could not be more welcome.

History has shown that the vaunted liberal US values of fair play, due process, measured judgement, presumption of innocence, etc. are only credible when they are exercised under duress. Civil liberties are of greatest use precisely when they are most unpopular.

History also shows that in the most challenging times, in times of witch hunts and inquisitions, few liberals will step away from their comforts in defense of their values. Liberal fidelity runs thin.

With the endorsement of Ross’s baseless slander of the anti-imperialist and Marxist left, the Southern Poverty Law Center adds another chapter to that liberal history of disappointment, hypocrisy, and spinelessness.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has, on March 14, taken down the Ross posting. It is no longer accessible. In place of it, an “Explanation and Apology” has been posted that is neither an adequate explanation nor a sincere apology for the contemptible views originally posted. As SPLC sees it, “the article did not make the “point as clearly as it could or should have”, an explanation worthy of an adolescent caught in a fib. Further, the apology is extended to “those who believe they have been falsely described in it…”. There is no concession here that they have been falsely described. In my view, this weaselly “correction” only underscores the treason of the liberals in these dangerous times.

Greg Godels

Scandalize my Name…

Scandalize my Name…

– from Greg Godels is available at:

For the owners, publishers, and editors of the The New York Review of Books anti-Communism is still alive. The periodical occupies a unique, indispensable role in fostering and sustaining Cold War myths and legends.

The New York Review of Books has embraced rabid anti-Communism since its opportunistic birth in the midst of a newspaper strike. Founded by a cabal of virulent anti-Communists with identifiable links to the CIA through The Paris Review and the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, NYRB maintains the posture of the popular intellectual journal for academics, high-brow book clubbers, and coffee shop leftists for over half a century. Seldom would an issue go by without an earnest petition signed by intellectual celebrities pointing to human rights concerns in some far-off land that was coincidentally (perhaps?) also in the crosshairs of the US State Department. To be sure, the NYRB would muster a measure of indignation over the most egregious US adventures, particularly when they threatened to blemish the US image as the New Jerusalem.

Even with the Cold War behind us, the NYRB maintains an active stable of virulent anti-Soviet writers, partly to hustle its back list of Cold War classics and obscure “dissident” scribblers, partly to pre-empt any serious anti-capitalist thought that might emerge shorn of Red-dread.

Paul Robeson on Trial

In a recent essay/book review (The Emperor Robeson, 2-08-18), the NYRB brought its Red-chopping hatchet to the legacy of Paul Robeson in a piece transparently ill-motivated and poisonous.

Paul Robeson was nothing if not an exceptional, courageous political figure who galvanized US racial and political affairs in mid-century. Yet NYRB assigned Simon Callow, a UK theater personality, to the writing task despite the fact that he reveals in an interview cited in Wikipedia that “I’m not really an activist, although I am aware that there are some political acts one can do that actually make a difference…” And his essay bears out this confession along with his embarrassing ignorance of US history and the dynamics of US politics.

Callow begins his essay seemingly determined to prove his inadequacy to the task: “When I was growing up in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, Paul Robeson was much in evidence… His name was haloed with the sort of respect accorded to few performers…” He then goes on at some length, heaping praise on Robeson. Then suddenly at “some point in the 1960s, he faded from our view…”

Whether Callow’s impressions are reflective of the UK experience is irrelevant. Surely, the important truth, the relevant fact, is that in Robeson’s country– the US– he was, throughout that time, a veritable non-person, the victim of a merciless witch hunt. To fail to acknowledge the fact that Robeson and his work were virtually unknown, were erased by the thought police, underscores Callow’s unfitness to discuss Robeson’s career. Indeed, members of the crowd that sought, at that time, to put lipstick on the ugly pig of racism and anti-Communism were soon to found the NYRB.

To say, as Callow does, that before the Cold War Robeson was “…lionized on both sides of the Atlantic…” is to display an unbelievable ignorance of the racial divide in the US. Robeson’s unequalled command of and success at multiple disciplines failed to spare him the indignities and inequalities that befell all African Americans in that era of US apartheid.

As for the post-World War II Red-scare, Callow simply ignores it as if it never occurred. Never mind the harassment, the surveillance, the denied careers, the confiscated passports, and the HUAC subpoenas that Robeson, like thousands of others, suffered from a hysterical, vicious anti-Communist witch hunt. For Callow, Robeson’s problems spring from a meeting granted by then President Truman in which Robeson had the audacity to make demands on his government. “From that moment on…” Callow tells us, “…the government moved to discredit Robeson at every turn…”

What a deft, nimble way to skirt the suffocating, life-denying effects of an entire era of unbridled racism and anti-Communism.

And, from Callow’s myopic perspective, Robeson’s campaign for peace and Cold War sanity resulted in “…universal approbation turned overnight into nearly universal condemnation.” For Callow, standing for peace against the tide of mindless conformity and mass panic is not the mark of courage and integrity, but a tragic career move.

In contrast to Paul Robeson’s life-long defiance of unjust power, Callow attributes a different approach to Robeson’s father, William: “But the lesson was clear: the only way out of poverty and humiliation was hard, hard work– working harder than any white man would have to, to achieve a comparable result.” One waits futilely to read that this reality is precisely what son, Paul, was trying to correct.

Like so many of today’s belated, measured “admirers” of Paul Robeson, Callow cannot resist delving into Robeson’s sexual proclivities, an interest which bears relevance that frankly escapes me. Similarly, Callow raises the matter of Robeson’s mental health and his withdrawal from public life.

Rather than considering the toll that decades of selfless struggle and tenacious resistance might have taken on Robeson’s body and mind, as it did countless other victims of the Red Scare, Callow contrives different explanations. “Robeson, it is clear, knew that his dream was just that: that the reality was otherwise. But he had to maintain his faith, otherwise what else was there?” So, for Callow, Robeson’s bad faith was responsible for mental issues and ill health. It was not a medical condition, the emotional stress of racism, or the repression of his political views that explain his decline. Instead, it was the consequences of bad politics.

Paraphrasing the author of a book on Robeson that Callow favors, he speculates that Robeson’s physical and mental decline “may have directly stemmed from the desperate requests from Robeson’s Russian friends to help them get out of the nightmarish world they found themselves in.” We are asked to believe that a man who resisted every temptation of success, defied the racial insults of his time, and steadfastly defended his commitment to socialism was brought to his knees by anti-Soviet media rumors? Certainly, there is no evidence for this outlandish claim.

Again, using author Jeff Sparrow (No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson) as his mouthpiece, Callow reveals his “problem” with Robeson: “…Robeson’s endorsement of Stalin and Stalin’s successors, his refusal to acknowledge what had been done in Stalin’s name, is the tragedy of his life.” In other words, like Budd Schulberg’s fictional snitch in On the Waterfront, if Robeson had only denounced his class, ratted on his friends, and bent to authority, he could have been a “contender” for the respect of liberals and the blessings of bourgeois success. But since he didn’t, his life was “a pitiful spectacle.”

Thankfully, there are still many who draw inspiration from the “pitiful spectacle” of Paul Robeson’s extraordinary life.

One Who Does

As if misunderstanding Robeson were not enough, Callow attacks a prominent scholar who does understand Robeson’s legacy. In contrast with his fawning review of the Sparrow book (“as different as chalk and cheese”), Callow demeans the contribution of one of the most gifted and thorough chroniclers of the page in history that included the life of Robeson. As a historian, Gerald Horne’s prodigious work stretches across books on such politically engaged Robeson contemporaries as WEB DuBois, Ben Davis, Ferdinand Smith, William Patterson, Shirley Graham DuBois, and John Howard Lawson. His writings explore the blacklist and The Civil Rights Congress, both keys to understanding Robeson and his time. In most cases, they represent the definitive histories of the subject.

But Callow prefers the shallow Sparrow account that substitutes the overused literary devices of “in search of../searching for…” to mask its limited scholarly ambition.

Callow is baffled by Horne’s Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary. Horne’s insistence that Robeson was a ‘revolutionary’ makes Callow apoplectic (“…page after page…”). But if Robeson was not an authentic, modern US revolutionary, then who was?

Callow cannot find a “clear picture of Robeson’s personality” in the Horne account, a conclusion that probably should not trouble Horne who seems more interested in history rather than psychology.

Callow’s sensibilities are especially offended by Horne’s depiction of the odious Winston Churchill, the man many believe to share responsibility for the WWI blood bath at Gallipoli and the two million deaths in the Bengal famine of 1943. It seems that Horne’s words for the short, chubby, Champagne and Cognac-loving prima donna– “pudgy, cigar-chomping, alcohol-guzzling Tory” — struck Callow’s ears as “vulgar.”

But Callow spews his own venomous insults: Horne’s book lacks “…articulate analysis, his account is numbing and bewildering in equal measure, like being addressed from a dysfunctional megaphone…”

Horne’s concluding endorsement of the relevance of Marx and Engels famous slogan– Workers of the World, Unite! –really brings Callow’s rancor to a boil: “I’m sorry to break it to Mr. Horne, but he doesn’t. And it isn’t.”

We surely know which side of the barricades Simon Callow has chosen.

The Legacy

The legacy of Paul Robeson has been maintained for the four decades since his death by his comrades and allies of the left, principally the Communist left. Most of those who worked and fought alongside of him have also passed away. Yet a small, but dedicated group of a few academics and more political activists have continued to tell his story and defend his values against a torrent of hostility or a wall of silence. Through the decades, he has been forced out of the mainstream– the history books and popular culture.

Of course, he was not alone in suffering anonymity for his Communist politics. Another giant who was brought down by Cold War Lilliputians, denigrated by hollow mediocrities, was African American Communist, Claudia Jones. Until recently, her powerful thinking on race, women’s rights, and socialism could only be found by those willing to search dusty corners of used book stores.

Perhaps no one promised to live and further Robeson’s legacy than the young writer Lorraine Hansberry, celebrated before her tragic death for her popular play, A Raisin in the Sun. Her work with Robeson and WEB DuBois on the paper, Freedom, brought her politics further in line with theirs: militant anti-racist, anti-imperialist, pro-socialist, Communist.

Forgotten by those who wish to portray her as a mere cultural critic, she famously called out Robert Kennedy’s elitist, patronizing posture in a meeting with Black civil rights leaders as enthusiastically recalled by James Baldwin.

Ignored by those who would like to see her as simply another civil rights reformer, her speech at a Monthly Review fundraiser, shortly before her death, resounds with revolutionary fervor:

If the present Negro revolt is to turn into a revolution, become sophisticated in the most advanced ideas abroad in the world, a leadership which will have had exposure to the great ideas and movements of our time, a Negro leadership which can throw off the blindness of parochialism and bathe the aspirations of the Negro people in the realism of the twentieth century, a leadership which has no illusion about the nature of our oppression and will no longer hesitate to condemn, not only the results of that oppression, but also the true and inescapable cause of it—which of course is the present organization of American society.

Today, there is a renewed interest in Robeson, Claudia Jones, and Lorraine Hansberry. Articles, books, and documentaries are appearing or are in the works. Some are offering ‘new’ perspectives on the lives of these extraordinary people, exploring aspects of their lives that show that their humanity perhaps reached further than previously thought. Yes, they were Communists, but they were not just Communists. Indeed, they belong to the world.

However, it would be a great tragedy if they were denied their conviction that capitalism– the present organization of American society, in Hansberry’s words– represented the foundation of other oppressions. It would be criminally dishonest if there were no acknowledgement that they were made enemies of the state precisely because they embraced socialism. For an African American, in racist, Cold War mid-century USA, the decision to embrace Communism was not taken lightly or frivolously. Robeson, Jones, and Hansberry knew exactly what that commitment meant to the forces of repression. And they risked it. They should be looked upon as people’s champions for their courage.

New researchers are welcome to explore other dimensions of the lives of these unbending fighters for social justice. But their authentic legacies are needed now more than ever.

Greg Godels
‘Ugly socialists’: What on Earth are they smoking over at the Times of London?
worker | February 2, 2018 | 6:34 pm | Analysis, Discrimination against communists, struggle against anti-communism | Comments closed

‘Ugly socialists’: What on Earth are they smoking over at the Times of London?

‘Ugly socialists’: What on Earth are they smoking over at the Times of London?

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
‘Ugly socialists’: What on Earth are they smoking over at the Times of London?
Like the vast majority of people in the UK seeking serious news coverage and analysis, I do not read the Times newspaper of London. A recent story carried on its front page reminded me why.

With the UK’s governing Tory Party currently tearing itself to pieces over Brexit; with the number of people sleeping rough in England now at its highest level since records began; with terrorism still constituting a threat to the British people; and with the country’s National Health Service in a seemingly unending crisis, you might think the Times – which is, after all, the country’s newspaper of record – had plenty of issues to choose from for its front page. But, no, for the Times it is deemed far more important to put on its front page a story surrounding the findings of a ‘scientific’ study claiming that, wait for it, “attractive people have a tendency to be more right-wing.”

Just think about this for a moment: this is a story that was carried on the front page not of one of Britain’s array of cheap right-wing tabloids, whose bread and butter is the sensational, salacious and sordid; but the front page of a supposedly serious newspaper, popular with the country’s political and business elite.

Clearly the authors of this study, and the people over at the Times, do not subscribe to the view that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But even if you do subscribe to that view, has anybody had a look at Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson lately? I respectfully suggest that Mother Nature does not count him as one of her masterpieces.

Moreover, haven’t the author or authors of this ridiculous report, and its publication in the Times, noticed as they travel the world the preponderance of t-shirts, caps and other items carrying the iconic image of Che Guevara, a man whose life was dedicated to communism?

Just imagine if Che, who possessed the brooding countenance and looks of a Hollywood matinee idol, and a young Fidel Castro, who wasn’t exactly lacking in that department either, turned up a Tory Party conference in Britain or a Republican Party convention in the US. It would be tantamount to putting a couple of thoroughbred stallions into a field of donkeys. Then we have Charles De Gaulle, Winston Churchill, John McCain, and Donald Trump: four avowed right-wing leaders and politicians of note who, to be frank, were and are not among evolution’s finest creations.

Oscar Wilde, a dandy amongst dandies, was a man with socialist views, though as he famously opined once, “The problem with socialism is that it takes up too many evenings.” But he was no slouch in the fashion or flamboyance stakes in his day, proving that taking an interest in your appearance and being left wing in your political views are not mutually exclusive. What was it Wilde said again: “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.”

“Attractive children have been shown to experience warmer treatment from their parents,” the academic, Rolfe Peterson, of that world-renowned and respected institute of learning, Susquehanna University in the US, has written according to the Times story. Just by way of some friendly advice to the editor while we’re at it: it’s probably not a good idea when attempting to support an unsupportable generalization, such as contained in this report, to use a university that is so obscure you would struggle to locate it using the Hubble space telescope.

But, anyway, now that we’re here, on the actual substance of the claim that attractive children have been shown to experience warmer treatment from their parents, did it not strike Mr Peterson that this may just be a case of bad parenting? And what exactly is considered “warmer treatment”? Is it filling the child’s face with chocolate and sweets? Is it buying it everything it wants and more, filling the child’s head with expectation of future success and fame and celebrity? Is this what Mr Peterson of Susquehanna University and the clutch of right-wing cranks over at the Times consider to be “warmer treatment”?

Because it is precisely this malign brand of “warmer treatment” of children in the West that’s responsible for producing not balanced, caring and compassionate adults; but the archetypal right-wing sociopath, which is the norm within the Tory Party in the UK and the norm in Washington.

The real objective of this report, along with its coverage in the Times, is to place a pseudo-scientific gloss on selfishness, greed and narcissism – the very traits of those who subscribe to the mantra of me, myself, and I; such as your average Times newspaper journalist and reader. As the economist and author, John Kenneth Galbraith, once put it: “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

German philosopher Erich Fromm, in his classic work ‘The Sane Society,’ points out that “narcissism is the essence of all severe psychic pathology,” and that “the most extreme form of narcissism is to be seen in all forms of insanity.” Not casting any aspersions or anything, but Hitler was not exactly the full loaf of bread, was he? And the man did have some pretty right-wing views.

The Times story is not just fake news; it is mind-blowingly infantile propaganda masquerading as news. It is astounding, if not frightening, to think that this is the quality of brain nourishment being spoon-fed to Britain’s political and business elite, its movers and shakers, so to speak. No wonder the country’s in such mess.

Oh yes, and by the way, in the same story the Times also takes the opportunity to quote the findings of an “academic” paper from last year, which would have us believe that “socialists were more likely to be physically weak.”

Really? Try telling that to the soldiers of the Red Army who smashed their way through the gates of Berlin in 1945.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.