Why most establishment liberals are not anywhere near agents of Communist revolution
“Political forms change, capitalist appetites remain. If a fascist regime were to be established tomorrow on either side of the English Channel […] the Paris and London dictators would be just as little able to give up their colonial possessions as Mussolini and Hitler their colonial claims. The furious and hopeless struggle for a new division of the world follows irresistibly from the mortal crisis of the capitalist system.” –Leon Trotsky in exile, Coyoacan, Mexico, 1939.
The man who wrote these words died only a few months later due to a blow to the head from an iceaxe. His death, a result of an attack by a Stalinist assassin, marked what would become known in many Communist and Socialist circles as a betrayal of the Russian Revolution. In essence, Trotsky represented the liberal side of the revolution, whereas Stalin embraced the extreme, statist, conservative ideology that framed his authoritarian reign.
Communism, at least as it exists in theory, has never been realized. Certainly state systems have come and gone that have embraced at surface level the Communist ideology. Under the surface, however, these states have sought to serve the oligarchies which generally assume control in post-revolutionary situations.
In the United States, Communism has become a bad word over the decades. Although public opinion is most likely slightly less polarized than during the years of the Cold War, there is still a quite prevalent fear among conservatives of Socialist authoritarianism.
The standard conservative line of thought goes something like this:
1) The United States is not a Communist country because Communists, being fundamentally opposed to capitalist domination of the world economy over the long term course of societal evolution, cannot be patriotic Americans.
2) Any and all individuals who share any connection to Communist ideology are, therefore, opposed to the American system, and, thus, seek an abrupt end to the “greatness” that is (and has been since the universe was created by the God of the bible some 6000 years ago) the United States.
3) To preserve all that was good about the “glorious” America of the past, citizens must renew the capitalism of the past and reject any and all philosophies which seek to challenge the status quo.
4) Both Communism and Socialism are the exact same thing, therefore any effort at raising the status of the working classes (which falls more generally under the umbrella of Socialism as this stage comes before Communism in the Marxist paradigm) in the United States amounts to a direct challenge to the American way of life.
There are several criticisms to be leveled at this type of thinking:
1) Socialism and Communism, although similar, are by no means the same thing.
2) The ways in which Communism is portrayed by American conservatives represent a gross misrepresentation of the key differences between Communism in theory and Communism in practice.
3) Although some liberals do, indeed, embrace Socialist (and even Communist) thought, the majority still exist within the established American system and, therefore, would receive no immediate benefit from the destruction of said system.
4) Even if, hypothetically, all Democrats were hardcore Communists, there is a clear-cut limit to the amount of political change that can be forced onto a system within any finite period of time, therefore one can conclude that this fact would, indeed, amount to a near irrelevancy.
5) Historically, especially during the Cold War, Democrats like John F. Kennedy represented some of the harshest critics of Communism as it existed in the Soviet Union and other places around the world, because of this one can conclude that criticism of Communism stems much less from ideology in itself, but from geopolitical struggle.
Communist thought spans a huge area of ideological framework. In many ways the ideas of Socialism factor in quite well to this philosophy. When Karl Marx formulated his ideas on “class struggle” he sought to instigate a process of “continual revolution,” wherein the working classes would eventually take control of the system which they compose.
Marxism contends that human society has evolved in a linear fashion, progressing through stages economically. As each stage passes there is a period of revolution in one way or another. this revolution consists in an “overturning” of the previous economic order.
The lifeblood of any revolution is ideology. In the case of the American Revolution this ideology consisted of a belief that the British colonies in the Americas were entitled to self-governance and economic autonomy.
The “higher purpose” of ideology, therefore, consists in the organization of societies. A related example would be the rise of Nazism in Germany in the years following the First World War (1914-1918). This movement sought to exemplify the propagandized virtue of “German-ness.”
In much the same way “American-ness” has been propagandized by those within the establishment who seek as their goal the exploitation of the populace. This idea has then been used by propagandists in the past to brand any and all individuals opposed to the statist paradigm as enemies of the state system.
Many of the political changes implemented during and after the Russian revolution were extremely beneficial to huge sectors of the populace. It is most definitely true, however, that the system in place under the Tsars could have been managed in much more efficient ways. The Soviet system that took its place quickly became the embodiment of the establishment.
This can be connected in many ways to any numer of revolutionary movements throughout history. Once the revolution is over, the establishment must crush dissent from without and within.
Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) became, in many ways, the personification of the Soviet Union. To those in the United States he would also later be seen as the definition of Communism. In reality, Stalin betrayed the Communist ideal, and, thus, is easily more representative of extreme authoritarian practice. It is important to remember that the end goal of Communism is a stateless society, the Soviet Union under Stalin was far from that.
Many theistic conservatives make the somewhat erroneous contention that all things which are “evil” come from those lifestyles, like those of the atheist and agnostic which do not necessarily affirm the existence of God. Necessarily Communism, which tends toward atheism, falls into much the same category.
Relatedly, as was mentioned above, during he Cold War this type of thinking reached a fever pitch. Communism became associated with the Soviet Union and “Communist” China and was, thus, an enemy of the American way.
Socialism as a philosophy aims to create a society based on cooperative action. It exists as a means to wrestle control of the means of production from those who, in the capitalist system, own the working classes in one way or another. Necessarily there are many different forms of socialist thought that run the gambit from totalitarianism to anarchism.
Those (mainly poorly informed conservatives) who claim that all liberals, or, by extension, all Democrats, are de-facto Socialists seem to have missed the point entirely. Regardless of the political posturing that goes on in the public realm of pundits, it is clear that to a great extent both Republicans and Democrats are highly pro-establishment.
The establishment thrives off of the capitalist system and to that end neither party (especially not Republicans) wishes to remove it any time soon. To that end president Obama has little impetus or ability to impose an imaginary “socialist hellscape,” wherein all private property is confiscated and the mansions of the wealthy are reduced to burning piles of rubble.
Much has been said about the passing of so-called “socialized medicine.” In reality the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a.: Obamacare) is, to a great extent, designed to augment competition between insurance firms on a state by state basis. Therefore one can conclude that is not at all something which meshes ideologically with Communism.
Calling someone a Communist for advocating changes which are also favored by Communists is akin to branding an individual as a hedonist for enjoying a glass of wine every once in awhile. This is the type of criticism that the Obama administration has undergone during its tenure.
The assertion that all modern leftist political views derive strictly from Marxism can be paired with an equally non-sensical notion: that somehow all modern “conservatives” take direction only from corporatist dogma which asserts the fundamental necessity for a union of corporate and state powers.
In other words one could easily counter conservative propaganda about the evil communist demons that have obviously possessed every Democrat in the US government with the statement that Republicans have been irreparably infected with a strong case of paleo-Fascism. Both arguments are, of course, absurd, and this makes the truth quite clear.
Just for kicks, let’s create a hypothetical. Let’s say that Barack Obama really is a devout Communist revolutionary, hell bent on undermining everything that makes up the fabric of western civilization. If this were true it necessarily follows that he really is not doing a very efficient job of implementing his philosophy.
On one side, conservatives like Rick Santorum claim that Barack Obama is a bourgeois elitist. On the other individuals like Glenn Beck claim that he is an agent of proletarian (and somehow simultaneously Fascist) revolution. Well, which is it?
There will always be a certain set of executive decisions that must be made regardless of individual political persuasion. During the Cold War, a large portion of US policy was, in a way, dictated by the actions of the Soviet Union. Likewise much of the behavior of the Soviet Union was dictated by the United States.
To that end it follows that political decision making is driven less by the ideology of the individual in power than by the current dialectical environment. Democrats, in essence, are not enemies of the American way. This system made them what they are.
Progressives must realize the difference between political posturing and real world fact. The world economic environment is changing. Necessarily governmental reforms must be put in place to address the fallout from those changes. In truth Communism poses little threat to Americans and amounts to something which is fairly irrelevant to the realities of the dialectical process. It is, however, quite useful for the purposes of conservative, sensationalist propaganda.