The truth is that Communism as such has little appeal for the poor, the oppressed, or the exploited. The basic appeal of Communism is to the educated, and particularly to the student-intellectual.
A summary survey of leading Communist personalities will soon show that the great majority were recruited as students. While I was in Portland, Oregon, I went to collect my laundry. I mentioned to the laundryman the alarming figures of Communist advance. He had enough intelligence to be alarmed. He said, "We must do something! We must do something!" He thought for a moment and then said, "We must feed them. No man ever became a Communist on a full stomach."
I looked at him and said, "I could mention one or two who did: Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Molotov, Bulganin, Kalinin, Mikoyan, Kaganovich, Mao Tse-tung, Chou En-lai, Liu Shao-chi, Chu The, Ho Chi minh, Whittaker Chambers, William Remington, Hal Ware." I ran out of breath, but not out of names. Go to any country in the world, take the outstanding Communist figures, and, if they became Communists in a non-Communist country, you will find almost without exception that they embraced Communism as student-intellectuals.
Consider, for example, the Communist Party of China. The chairman, Mao Tse-tung was converted to Communism at the age of twenty-one while he was student-librarian at the National University in Peking. The Prime Minister, Chou En-lai, son of a wealthy Chinese aristocrat, was studying at a university in Paris, France, when he became a Communist. The commander-in-chief of the Red Army, Chu The, son of a wealthy Chinese, was converted to Communism by Chou En-lai while he was studying at a Prussian military academy in Germany. Liu Shao-chi, brilliant theorist and heir apparent to Mao Tse-tung, embraced Communism as a young student. The record is the same wherever you go. The sinister truth is that a majority of the students in the world today are attracted to Communism. Until the appeal of Communism to student- intellectuals is understood, any effort to combat its influence among them is futile.
Following an address at a Baptist school in the South, two students approached me. One was from Mexico, and the other from North Korea. The student from Mexico said, "When I was doing the pre-medical course in Mexico City, 80 per cent of the medical students were Communists. They were organized into cells. Their leaders, utterly godless and materialistic, were trained in Moscow."
Actually, it is doubtful that 80 per cent of the students were really members of the Communist Party. This would be contrary to the Communist concept of a small, elite group which influences, controls, and exploits much larger groups. However, his statement does indicate the powerful influence of Communism among the students of Mexico. The same thing is true in universities in Central and South America, India, Japan, Indonesia, the Near East, Africa, and, in a measure, in Europe and America. The appeal to Communism to the student-intellectual is extensive and powerful indeed.
It may well be asked why this is so. Some insight into this was given by the second student. He was a refugee from North Korea. America had opened its arms and its heart and had given him refuge. He was surrounded by love and affection; he was well fed and well clothed, an individual protected by the law, significant and important. Despite all this, the ideas the Communists had planted in his mind as a child were still there.
He began immediately to tell me all that was wrong with America, and right with Communism. The trouble with America, he said, was the way the bosses exploited the workers, particularly in the South. American prosperity was a bubble that was going to burst into unemployment, depression, crisis, and civil war. He went on to say that in North Korea, they had New Democracy which was bad, so bad that he had had to flee from it. But New Democracy was going to develop into Socialism such as existed in Russia which was much better. Socialism would finally evolve into Communism which was very good. Under Communism, human nature would be so perfect that there would no longer be the need for any government whatsoever.
The reality had driven him forth in hunger, nakedness and terror, but the vision still lived within his mind.
This student showed rather clearly certain aspects of the appeal of Communism to the student mind. Communism utilizes four things to recruit the young intellectual. These are :
The Marxist analysis superficially, is very convincing. Marx taught that the Capitalist system does two things: it produces commodities for distribution, and it circulates purchasing power or money. In other words, Capitalist society is built upon the production of commodities to be exchanged for money and the distribution of money to secure those commodities. Capitalist society is healthy, according to Marx, when the amount of money available to the people is adequate to buy the commodities produced.
Marx contended that, by the very nature of Capitalism, this balance between goods produced and money available cannot be maintained for very long. A certain sequence of events is inevitable. The goods produced have a certain money value. That money is distributed in two ways: the major portion is paid out in wages to the workers who manufacture the goods-- to the directors, the supervisors, and all the laborers down to the janitor: a smaller portion is retained as profit by those who own the means of production. During the early stages of the industry, the money paid to the owners as profit goes into circulation, because new capital goods such as buildings and machinery are necessary. Since these capital goods are produced and are not available for purchase by the mass of the people, the wages paid to the workers producing these capital goods are used to buy consumer commodities. During the period of capitalization, there is usually enough money in circulation to buy the consumer goods produced. But eventually the point is reached where there are enough factories and machinery, and there is no longer need for this expenditure. The profit is then retained and accumulated in bank balances, and the only money circulated is the money paid in wages for producing the goods. Since this is never quite enough to buy the goods produced, production inevitably leads to over-production.
At first this over-production is small and almost unnoticeable, but gradually it becomes more significant. The warehouses of the manufacturers become filled with goods, the inventories of the distributors are complete, and the point is reached where the factory has enough goods on hand to supply the demand for some considerable period. When that point is reached, alternative courses of action present themselves. The manufacturers may say, "Now, the real trouble is that people haven't enough money to purchase these goods. We had better find some way in which people can get more money." On the other hand, they may say, "We have enough goods now. We do not need to make any more for a certain period . We had better cease production until our surplus is used up." The normal process is to follow the latter course and to lay off the workers. When they are laid off, the purchasing power is further reduced, and the situation becomes worse.
According to Marx, this cycle is inevitable. Production leads to over-production which leads to unemployment. This leads to reduced purchasing power, which aggravates the entire situation by accelerating the accumulation of surplus products and leading to further unemployment. The eventual outcome is depression and crisis. Warehouses are filled with goods which the people cannot buy. The economy stagnates and grinds to a standstill.
When this happens, a method must be found whereby purchasing power is once again given to the people that the goods may be bought and that the wheels of the economy may begin to roll once again. Historically, one method has always put money in people's pockets without
simultaneously creating consumer goods. That method is war. A war breaks out on some pretext or another. Money is found to finance the war; the wheels of industry begin to turn on war production; money is distributed to the people, and the surplus consumer products are purchased. When the surplus is consumed, normal production begins again, and the cycle goes on, repeating itself again and again. According to Marx, therefore, as long as Capitalism continues, there will be recurrent crises of depression and war.
This seems a powerful and convincing argument. It is the more dangerous because it is, like most Marxian arguments, a half-truth. By taking some of the variables in the situation and concentrating on them, it produces conclusions which appear very sound. These conclusions, however, are not necessarily valid, for there are many important factors which are ignored.
In the first place, Marx's argument is merely diagnostic. Even if it be assumed that his diagnosis is accurate, it does not necessarily follow that the treatment prescribed by the Communists is correct. Other groups who accept the Marxian analysis of Capitalism have completely different prescriptions for treatment. Social Credit devotees, for example, say that the problem is not over-production, but lack of purchasing power. Therefore the amount of surplus production should be assessed periodically, and a national dividend declared corresponding to the surplus. This money, given to the people, can be used to buy up the surplus and production will continue.
In the second place, the argument ignores many most important factors in distribution. Although this is not a textbook of economics, some of these ignored factors should be mentioned. They are:
Marx himself cannot be blamed for his failure to consider the role of
advertising as the advertising industry was not in existence during his
lifetime. It is the followers of Marx who are culpable in this respect.
Contrary to the expectations of Marx, the ownership of American industry is constantly enlarging. There are now nearly as many stock holders in the United States as there are members of organized labor. It is quite conceivable that in a short period, the number of stock holders will exceed union membership. The profits received by the vast majority of these stock holders are utilized for purchasing.
This renders the whole argument of the "class war" ridiculous. Nothing
does such damage to the principles of Marxism as the development of worker
ownership in American industry. Proletarian stock holders certainly make
the concept of universal class war somewhat ludicrous.
In spite of the foregoing, the Marxist analysis has convinced many people. It would be a simple matter to go before any inexperienced student group and, taking them unprepared, convince practically every one of them that the Marxist argument is sound. This is what the Communists have done. Students throughout the world are being taught as a basic principle that the Capitalist system is evil and the creator of depression and war. Disenchantment with the Capitalist system is the first step in the conversion of a student-intellectual to Communism.
If the situation is considered objectively, it will be seen that there is much to be said in support of Capitalism. The Capitalist system has produced more goods, provided a more equitable distribution, and maintained a higher level of personal freedom than any other system in the world has been able to do.
The Korean student who spoke to me said, "Of course, in American there is far more freedom than anywhere else."
"That's interesting," I replied. "How did the American people get that freedom?"
He looked at me, puzzled.
"Let's think about it for a while," I said. "The freedom in America has a material and a spiritual foundation. The material foundation is the efficient production of goods in quantity and their extensive distribution is so that most people have the material requirements of freedom-- sufficient food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and other necessities. The material system within America has produced more food, clothing, and shelter per individual than any other system. Add to this material abundance the spiritual concept of man as the child of God, created, loved, redeemed, infinite in value, and possessed of certain inalienable rights. The result is this freedom you admire."
Then I asked, "What is the material system that has produced these goods in such quantity and distributed them so widely?"
"I don't know," he replied.
"You most certainly do know. You have been telling me for half an hour how bad it is. It is the Capitalist system. Did it never occur to you that maybe the Capitalist system that you abhor so much stands in causal relationship to the freedom you cherish so highly?"
He was lost. This had not been part of the closed circle of argument that he had heard. His arguments were all worked out and complete. These new ideas came in and shattered the symmetry and perfection.
The idea of collective ownership fascinates some people, but its benefits are a mirage. The story is told of a visitor to a Russian factory who asked the workers, "Who owns this factory?'
"We do," they replied.
"Who owns the land on which it is built?"
"Who owns the products of the factory when they are made?"
Outside in a corner of a large park were three battered jalopies. The visitor asked, "Who owns those cars out there?"
They replied, "We own them, but one of them is used by the factory manager, one is used by the political commissar, and the other is used by the secret police."
The same investigator came to a factory in America, and said to the workers, "Who owns this factory?"
"Henry Ford," they replied.
"Who owns the land on which it is built?"
"Who owns the products of the factory when they are made."
Outside the factory was a vast park filled with every make and variety of modern American automobile. He said, "Who owns all those cars out there?"
They replied, "Oh, we do."
You may take your choice but, personally, give me the automobile.
The concept that Capitalism is inherently evil and collective ownership inherently good is contradicted finally by one unanswerable fact. Wherever Communism is in power, the people flee by the millions. They leave everything they love, and they flee to loneliness and the unknown to escape the horror of life under Communist rule
On the other hand, when all the evils of the Capitalist system have been admitted, the fact remains that every year multiplied thousands risk their lives, not trying to get out of America, but trying to get in. They swim the Rio Grande River. Their goal is not to live at America's highest standard, but to live at her lowest. On a comparative basis, the economic system of competitive free enterprise has produced abundance and liberty and is a magnet to the less fortunate.
Many students, however, have a sense of shame concerning Capitalism.
They have been convinced by Communist arguments that the Capitalist system
is evil, that it has failed, and that it must be replaced. Once convinced
of this, a student has taken the first step toward becoming a Communist.
Speaking at a university, I outlined these basic, Communist materialist beliefs of communism:
(b) The material nature of man
(c) The environmental nature of man's intellectual and so-called spiritual qualities.A woman jumped to her feet and said, "Why, I hear these things taught in this university every day. The professor of psychology goes to the board and draws a diagram. He says, 'You are only a machine. You are no more and no less. You are a pattern of conditioned behavior. The machinery of your body is very complex. Indeed, your brain is so complex that it gives the impression of freedom, choice, and volition. But actually, you are as automatic as an automobile. You have no soul, you have no spirit, and, in the last analysis, you have no mind.' He laughs at God and he laughs at morality."
That man is not necessarily a Communist. He may even consider himself an anti-Communist. But every student who believes what he teaches will find the Communist program logical and appealing. For Communism carries this teaching to its logical conclusion.
Communism says that every characteristic and attitude of the human personality emerges from the brain. The brain is formed by the accumulation of experiences in the form of conditioned reflexes. These experiences are provided by the environment which is predominantly economic. What we think, what we feel, what we believe, whom we love, and whom we worship merely reflect our economic environment.
Once you accept this, it follows, as night follows day, that if you can control completely the environment, you can generate the mind and character you desire. Thus Communism becomes a program for scientific, materialistic regeneration.
This program for regeneration opens a wonderful vista for the human mind. The Russian Communists already claim to have successfully regenerated many people. One book they have published is entitled Peoples Regenerated. They claim they will produce perfect people with perfect bodies, perfect minds, and perfect characters, living together in perfect happiness. This is to be done by means of science.
The first step in the program is to face realistically the scientific needs. The present environment is Capitalistic and evil, creating degenerates, criminals, and sundry vicious characters. While that environment continues, human nature cannot be changed. To try and persuade people to be different while they live in an environment that determines how they act is fatuous nonsense. It is like trying to dry the baby while he is still lying in the bath water. To be successful, you must take him out of the water first. Similarly, if man is to be changed, he must be removed from his Capitalistic environment. To do this, the Communists must conquer the world and utterly destroy the Capitalist environment. Capitalism will then be replaced by Socialism which is built not on profit, greed, and self, but on service, cooperation, and others.
In the new environment of Socialism, the babes will receive new experiences which will condition them to unselfish, voluntary service. The babes will grow to children, the children to adolescents, and the adolescents to adults. How different things will be! Everyone will work because he loves to work. Everyone will give because it is better to give than to receive. The hand of none will be raised in anger against his brother. No longer will there be need for a police force, for there will be nothing for the police to do. There will be no income tax to pay, because people, working willingly, skilfully, and creatively, will produce total abundance, but will partake merely to the extent of their limited needs. All that mars the happiness of man will be gone forever. Vice, crime, famine, pestilence, and war will be merely words from a forgotten past, while abundance, brotherhood, and mutual, co-operative service will bind lives together in the golden day of Communism that has dawned upon the earth.
Frequently after depicting this promise of Communism, I am accused of making it appear too attractive. This is exactly the way it appears to the student. That is why student-intellectuals join the Party. This is just how Communism is presented to them, and on their materialist foundation, it is logical. Liu Shao-chi in his book, How to Be a Good Communist, writes:
What is the most fundamental and common duty of us Communist Party members?As everybody knows, it is to establish Communism, to transform the present world into a Communist world. Is a Communist world good or not? We all know that it is very good. In such a world there will be no exploiters, oppressors, landlords, capitalists, imperialists or fascists. There will be no oppressed and exploited people, no darkness, ignorance, backwardness, etc. In such a society all human beings will become unselfish and intelligent Communists with a high level of culture and technique. The spirit of mutual assistance and mutual love will prevail among mankind. There will be no such irrational things as mutual deception, mutual antagonism, mutual slaughter and war, etc. Such a society will, of course, be the best, the most beautiful and the most advanced society in the history of mankind. Who will say that such a society is not good? Here the question arises: 'Can Communist society be brought about?' Our answer is 'yes.' About this the whole theory of Marxism-Leninism offers a scientific explanation that leaves no room for doubt. It further explains that as the ultimate result of the class struggle of mankind, such a society will inevitably be brought about.(1)It is on the foundation of materialism that this scientific program for human regeneration is built.
There are, of course, one or two unpleasant steps on the way to this glorious goal. One of these is the problem of dealing with those who populate the world when the Communists conquer it. These people, formed in the old environment, will think, feel, love, and worship in an established pattern. If they are allowed to raise their young, they will reproduce in them their own qualities, and the Communist aim of generating new characters and perfect human society will be thwarted. Obviously, therefore, they cannot be allowed to remain where they are.
Some of them will be segregated and used to do some useful work until they die. Some of them can be reeducated in re-educational institutions, namely, the labor hospitals. The disease of Capitalist character, according to the Communists, is determined by the false labor relationships of the Capitalist system. In Capitalist society, labor is associated with profit or reward, whereas labor should be its own reward. The unfortunate victims of Capitalist society will be taken in their diseased state, and put into Communist institutions of pure labor. There they will rise in the morning to labor, and will go to bed at night weary and exhausted with never a thought of any reward. The therapeutic of labor will cure them of their grievous Capitalistic disease. The Communists consider themselves humane in the extreme for providing these therapeutic institutions of labor to regenerate diseased Capitalist mankind. It is our bourgeois ignorance that causes us to classify them as slave labor camps.
It is only the young, however, who merit the curative process. The older members of the diseased classes who are established in their ways must obviously be destroyed. This the Communists believe to be their duty. Such people would not be happy in the new environment. It is kindness to destroy them--a type of social euthanasia. The Communists have no conscience about it because, according to their materialist philosophy, it is but a step towards the glorious goal of the regeneration of all mankind. This step may seem a little unpleasant if bourgeois sentimentality persists, but it is quite necessary to the process of regenerating mankind.
The record of Communism is one of recurrent fratricide and genocide. Their contempt for individual human life has known no bounds. Whether the life to be sacrificed was that of friend or foe appears to have been immaterial. The Communist Party of Russia devoured its own creators. Stalin put to death a majority of the original Bolsheviks. The Communists destroyed not only landlords and Capitalists, but peasants and workers, Kalmucks and Balts with equal ferocity. In spite of knowing this, the allegiance of many educated, apparently cultured American Communists has not been shattered. Many people are amazed that they do not turn from Communism in loathing and repulsion when confronted with its unutterable barbarism, brutality, and intellectual prostitution.
To the dedicated Communist, however, these are but the temporary necessary sacrifices which
the glorious future demands. To wipe out the residual Capitalist debris is not murder but social science. Since any individual man is a mere historic accident, an undergraduate beast, it is stupid to regard him as of infinite value. It is the species and the class that are important. The Capitalist class has been rejected of history and must be destroyed.
Capitalism in America has developed to a greater degree than Capitalism in many other countries. Therefore the number infected by the capitalist virus is larger than in other lands. A greater program of elimination will thus be needed. It is probable and natural that, should Communism prevail in America, a program of class liquidation will ensue that will dwarf similar programs in other countries.
To those Capitalists who can regard the triumph of Communism with equanimity,
I would ask the question: What will be your attitude when you and your
family face destruction because of your membership in the historically
rejected Capitalist class? As the wide-bore revolver with the soft-nosed
bullet is placed at the nape of your neck to shatter your pattern of Capitalistically
conditioned reflexes into a bloody oblivion, will you be able to comfort
your dying hours with the thought that you are dying in a good cause, in
the interests of the scientific regeneration of the animal species homo
sapiens and the birth of the classless society?
People are mystified when a man born to great wealth and social position becomes a Communist, spends his fortune for Communist purposes, and even goes to jail in the interests of the Communist cause. To many people, this does not make sense.
Let us try to put ourselves in his position. As a child he has the finest tutors. He is very intelligent. Very early in life he learns that there is no God, that the idea of God is for dull and second rate minds, and that he, in the purity and perfection of his intellect, has no need for God. He accepts the Darwinian hypothesis concerning the origin of man, and the Marxian hypothesis concerning the origin of civilization, culture, morality, ethics, and religion.
As a young man he sits on the mount of learning and watches the progress of the animal species from the jungles via savagery and barbarism to civilization. He watches the productive forces as they operate on the human species dividing it into nations and classes, creating cultures, civilizations, moral codes, educational and political institutions and religious faith. He sits above it all, and beyond it all. He is lost in lonely isolation. Life is devoid of meaning, purpose, and objective. Yet he is a young man with all the idealism and emotional urgency of youth. Where can he find fulfillment? Some seek it in sporting life; some in the life of a playboy. These outlets have little appeal for him.
Suddenly he hears a whisper on the breeze that history in the goodness of its heart is calling unto itself a few of its finest and its best-- superior intellects, courageous characters with an insight into its mind and its purpose, and a knowledge of historic law and historic will; that it is uniting them into its finest organization and giving them the destiny of conquering the world and regenerating mankind. It comes as a vision of glory. It sets a song singing in his heart. It puts stars before his eyes. It leads him forward to live and, it necessary, to die in the Communist cause. In it he finds a religious refuge for his godless and unbelieving heart.
Communists are not born; they are made. They are being formed constantly on the campuses of the world. As long as youth is disillusioned, materialistically orientated and spiritually unfulfilled, there will be no dearth of Communist recruits. Herein lies our greatest challenge.
1. Liu Shao-Chi, How to Be a Good Communist (Peking,
China: Foreign Languages Press, 1949), pp. 37-38.