Frequently it is asked, "How do you tell a Communist?" It is not always easy. If a Communist does not wish to reveal his Communist membership, it may be difficult indeed to establish the fact that he is a Communist. One test that may give valuable information could be called the "word test." There are certain words in rather common usage which mean one thing to people in general, and something entirely different to the Communists. If such a word is introduced into conversation, a person's position may be indicated by his interpretation of that word.
One such word for example, is "sectarian." To most people, this word is primarily associated with religion. To the Communist, however, it means quite another thing. The term "sectarian" would be applied to a Communist who publicly advocates Communism and thereby isolates himself, instead of joining an organization and working hard for its objectives so that he can finally use that organization for Communist purposes, thereby multiplying his own power many times.
Lenin clearly discusses sectarianism in his remarkable book, Left Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder. The book was written as a textbook to direct the Third International or Comintern which had been organized in 1919 to work for world revolution. It is directed primarily against a group of enthusiastic young German Communists. The position they took was that they were Communists and proud of it. They wanted the whole world to know. They disguised neither their objectives nor their methods. With their goal clearly in view they marched towards it, spurning compromise and deceit. Whatever the difficulty or danger, they neither turned nor flinched. They would die for Communism, but they would not cooperate with their enemies or compromise their principles.
Lenin turned upon these young enthusiasts, whom he called Left Wing Communists, the full power of his invective which both his friends and enemies acknowledge as considerable. Although he did not believe in God he said, "God Himself has ordained that the young should be stupid." He ridiculed their unwillingness to indulge in compromise and deceit. He stated that they had accepted the limitations imposed by the bourgeois enemy. Compromise and deceit were very powerful instruments in the Communist program. He pointed out that a speaker openly advocating Communism was isolating himself from the great majority and limiting himself to a handful of rabid followers. True Communist strategy was to discover an issue that was important to a large number of people, to focus upon it, and to rally to it a large popular group. The test of their Communist caliber was the skill they showed in directing the people thus rallied into the service of the ultimate Communist purpose.
In illustration of this principle, Lenin gave specific instructions to members of the Communist Party of England to join the British Labour Party if they could, and to work for Henderson who was the Labour candidate for Prime Minister at that time. He said:
At present the British Communists very often find it hard to approach the masses and even to get a hearing from them. If I come out as a Communists and call upon the workers to vote for Henderson against Lloyd George, they will certainly give me a hearing. And I will be able to explain in a popular manner not only why Soviets are better than parliament and why the dictatorship of the proletariat is better that the dictatorship of Churchill (disguised by the signboard of bourgeois "democracy"), but also that I want with my vote to support Henderson in the same way as the rope supports a hanged man.(1)To be sectarian, then, is to operate in isolation instead of utilizing the great social forces that activate large groups of people. Sectarianism ranks high in the list of cardinal Communist sins.
The Communist formula for effective action is a simple one. It may be summed up: Discover what people want, promise it to them, and go to work to get it for them that you may come to power over them. This is the Communist program of action in any situation.
In Marxist schools the Communists study the groups that compose a given society. They study the emotions of each group, their longings and their grievances, and they devise a program to exploit these ambitions and resentments. They believe that each group of people is so short sighted and so selfishly motivated that, provided you are working in the interests of their most pressing desires in the immediate environment, they will pay no attention to what you are promising and promoting at a distance.
The Communist is not at all disturbed by the fact that he may be working simultaneously for two groups with conflicting interests and objectives. This is not inconsistency; it is the application of science.
The Communists have one objective-to come to power. They will do whatever is necessary for them to achieve this goal. In the economic realm, for example, they have no consistent economic program from country to country. Communist economic policy is to find out what any group wants and promise it to them. Classical Marxist economics advocated the collective ownership of land, but the Communists came to power in Russia and China by the reverse policy of the distribution of land, by making everybody a little Capitalist. Communist policy is to do whatever is necessary to advance the Communist Party's drive to dictatorial power.
Speaking at a girl's school in Dallas, Texas, I outlined to them the Communist formula for advance: Find out what people want, promise it to them, and go to work to get it for them in order to come to power over them. One girl asked the very natural question, "If Communists promise people all sorts of thing but do not fulfill their promises when they come to power, why are they not thrown out?" I replied, "If I get into this room by promising you girls that I have a lotion that will make each of you very beautiful, and if, as soon as I get in here, I pull out a machine gun and train it on you, why don't you throw me out?" Communism is, in essence, the fulfilment of the dearest ambitions of the populace, and retaining power by the efficient use of force.
The Communists go to the working man and promise him higher wages, shorter working hours and better conditions generally. They approach the employer with the glittering prospect of industrial peace, good trading relations and higher profits. To the colored man they promise first-class citizenship. They will strive so that he may live where he wants to live, work where he wants to work, and marry whom he wants to marry. They promise the opponents of the Negro that they will keep the colored man where he belongs. To the Jew the vision they present is that they will end anti-Semitism for all time. To the Arab they vow that they will eliminate the Jews. They tell the Christian of glorious religious freedom and Christian revival under Communism. Their promise to the Hindu is to aid in the conversion of every Christian and Moslem to the Hindu religion. The Moslem is lured by the promise of assistance in promoting the cause of Islam.
Their program of deception is so often successful for two reasons. In the first place, as far as people can observe in the local situation, the Communists are sincere and keep their promises. It is a characteristic of Communist conduct to work hard and sacrificially for the immediate needs of the group they are endeavoring to exploit.
A Communist attorney will frequently accept a case without any charge, and will work tirelessly and effectively on behalf of his client in the courts of the land. To the individual and his friends he appears a true angel of mercy. They know nothing of the deeper motives that lie behind his conduct.
An example of the effective and apparently sincere assistance Communism can render to oppressed minorities comes from Italy. A missionary representing an evangelistic Protestant denomination came into conflict with the local authorities and was prevented from conducting his Sunday evening services. He was approached by the Communist leader of that city who sympathized with him in his predicament and claimed that it was a violation of the Italian constitution which granted freedom to religion.
To prove his sincerity he invited the missionary to utilize the facilities of the Communist Party headquarters to conduct his evening service. Thus the preacher stood on the platform provided by the Communist Party under the photograph of the benign and smiling Joseph Stalin and proclaimed the Christian gospel. It is easy to imagine how difficult it would be to convince such a man that Communism is incompatible with religious liberty. His own experience assures him that they are the great practical supporters of religious liberty. He is entirely oblivious to the fact that once Communism assumes power not only his liberty to preach but also his liberty to breathe would be in serious jeopardy.
In the second place, the local objective advanced by the Communists is frequently one which, taken in isolation, would merit support. They go to religious groups, for example, in the name of peace. They are ardent advocates of slum clearance and improved housing. Today they are the exponents of a puritanical morality in contrast to their position some time back.
In foreign countries, Christian missionaries teach the natives such Christian principle as "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," and "Love your enemies." The Communist then approaches the mission convert with a program which seems to do nothing but advance the immediate well being of his neighbor and therefore merits his support as a Christian. He teams up with the Communist for this one purpose and the first step is taken on the bitter pathway of deviation and doom which Communism has marked out for his unwary feet.
A knowledge of the true program of Communism and its strategy and tactics
is the only protection good people of every sort have against the Communist
The following experience illustrates rather well a simple Communist method of operation. After addressing a civic club one noon, I visited the Communist book store in Berkeley, California. It was called the Twentieth Century Bookstore and at that time was located outside the gate of the University of California. With me was a minister who was very well informed on the subject of Communist techniques.
One entire window of the store was given over to a display of booklets prepared by the Communists on behalf of a Negro called Wells. While serving a life sentence in San Quentin prison, Wells had thrown a cuspidor in the face of his guard and had smashed his face. Under California law, a prisoner serving a life sentence who uses violence against a guard is customarily condemned to death. The death sentence had been passed. Many people thought that the death sentence was excessive.
The Communists saw in this situation a social force, an emotion common to a group of people which could be exploited for the Communist purpose. They set out to stir up agitation on behalf of Wells. After some months of agitation, they had prepared a book of some eighty or ninety pages showing what they had allegedly done on Wells' behalf. The book did not help Wells very much, but it presented the Communist Party in a very benign and humane light.
The minister who was with me took the book and started to browse through it. He had glanced through the Legal Committee for Justice for Wells, and was reading through the Religious Committee for Justice for Wells when he was startled to find there the name of a friend of his, the minister in whose church I was to speak that evening. He said, "Take this book out to him, tell him where you found it, and see what he has to say."
That evening we had a fine meeting. The minister was intelligent and patriotic. He was a fervent evangelical Christian and apparently an informed anti-Communist. Visiting after the meeting I produced the book, told him where I had found it, opened it, and showed him his name. His face fell. He said, "Fancy their doing that!"
"How did you come to get mixed up in this?" I asked.
"I didn't sign that the sentence be changed," he replied, "but only that it be reviewed."
"No you didn't," I said, and I read him the letter to which his signature was attached. "How did you become involved in it?"
He said, "A man said to me that here we had an example of cruelty and barbarity, and that as the Christian ministry was the servant of the forgiving and loving Christ, and that surely it was their duty to protest against the cruel, barbarous treatment of this man. If they did not protest, who would? He gave me the names of other ministers who were associated with this protest, and I thought it would not do any harm if I let my name go in too."
"What was the man's name?" I asked.
"He didn't tell me his name," was the reply.
"What did he look like?"
"I didn't see him."
"How did he get in touch with you?"
"He called me on the phone."
"Do you mean to tell me," I said, "that a man called you on the phone, and, without knowing who he was or what he represented, you allowed your name to go into an organization of this nature? Do you know what will happen? The Attorney General's Department, the House Un-American Activities Committee, or some official investigative agency will classify this movement as a Communist Front. Somebody will then observe your name and you will be classified as a supporter of Communist Fronts. What is more, the truth is that you are supporting a Communist Front. You did not do so willingly, but you have been outsmarted. They have exploited your basic Christian compassion for their purpose."
This is a regular Communist method of operating. Anybody not specifically informed about their methods could have been trapped in a similar fashion. I has happened to thousands. J.B. Matthews made the statement that seven thousand Protestant ministers in the United States have been involved in the Communist apparatus by allowing their names to be associated with some Communist Front. His statement was met with indignant and angry protests and treated as an attack on the Protestant ministry. There were a few honest ministers such as Daniel Poling of New York who humbly and courageously acknowledged the truth. Daniel Poling said, "As one of the seven thousand, I think the figure is far too low."
The principles according to which a Communist Front is organized can best be understood in terms of a series of concentric circles. At the center is the Communist Party, a small group whose members are organized, disciplined, and dedicated, and which has a single mind, will and purpose. This Party is composed of both open Communists such as William Z. Foster, Chairman of the American Communist Party, and crypto or hidden Communists, people who deny their Communist association and affiliation, but who are nevertheless dedicated Communists. The Communist Party is never entirely above ground. Clear rules to this effect were laid down in the by-laws of the Comintern where it is stated that in countries where a Communist Party is allowed legal existence, the legal party must be associated with an illegal party, and that the legal party must be under the control of the illegal party. The controlling segment of the Party is always underground.
Surrounding this small party at the center there is the zone of fellow travellers. A fellow traveller is one who approves Communist philosophy, Communist objectives, Communist organization and tactics, but who, for some personal reason, has not submitted himself to total Party discipline. He has never been able to reach the point of complete personal surrender necessary for actual Party membership. Fellow travellers frequently have guilty consciences because they are not Party members. They are subject in large measure to Party discipline, and they will willingly and sacrificially work with the Communists, but they can go into any court in the land, and swear under oath that they are not Communists because they are not members of the Party. Some of the prominent and powerful Americans who have served Communism most faithfully have been fellow travellers. There is no evidence, for example, that Harry Dexter White, who betrayed American governmental secrets to the enemy and provided aid to the Communists in every possible way, was a Communist. He was a fellow traveller.
Surrounding the zone of fellow travellers is the zone of sympathizers. This zone contains different groups who are sympathetic to the Communist Party-various brands of Socialists, collaborators, and pacifists. Sympathizers are against certain features of Communism. They claim to be against the brutality of the Communists, as well as against their use of censorship and their denial of individual liberty. Nevertheless they believe that, on the whole, Communism has achieved many good things. While they cannot approve of Communism altogether, they feel that there are many good features about it, and that it is progressive and in the interests of the working class, and that it is possible to associate with the Communists in a local worthy objective. They feel that if they work with the Communists, are tolerant of them, and love them a little, they will win them from their extreme practices, and that the evil features of Communism will wither away leaving only that which is worthwhile. In the group there are a number of religionists who are particularly prone to argue in this way.
Surrounding the zone of sympathizers is the zone of pseudo-liberals. Most of these liberals are to be found in the ivory cloisters of colleges and universities, frequently occupying professorial chairs, and usually characterized by a pseudo-intellectual outlook. They take this attiude: "I am against Communism. I am against the Communist restraint of human liberty, I am against their censorship, I am against their dictatorship, and I am against their brutality. Nevertheless, I refuse to become like my enemies in order to oppose them, and while I hate what the Communists say and do, I will fight for the rights of the Communists to speak and organize even as I will fight for my own rights." Thus in effect, they become the protectors and the runners of interference for the Communist conspirators. They uphold the right of Communists to be professors in schools and universites. They are the great defenders of the Fifth Amendment. They contend that no restraint or restriction of any kind should be applied to an individual because he has availed himself of the Fifth Amendment. Apparently their viewpoint is that nobody should suffer any social restraints or disadvantages unless there is evidence that is valid in a court of law.
Their argument is fallacious because they project certain conditions which prevail in the realm of law into the realm of privilege and social activity where they do not apply. For example, a man approaches the president of a bank seeking employment. The president, however, has heard a rumor that he was dismissed from his last employment because he had embezzled funds, and asks the man if this is true. The man refuses to answer on the grounds that he might incriminate himself. The man is quite within his rights in refusing to incriminate himself, and certainly cannot be sent to prison because of his reply, but if the bank president were to employ that man, he would be foolish indeed. The Fifth Amendment refers merely to imprisonment and legal penalty. Any attempt to project it beyond that realm is not intellectualism or liberalism, but stupidity.
The following little fantasy which I have called "The Liberal's Dilemma"
outlines the position reached when it is claimed that no restraints can
be placed on anyone in any situation unless there is evidence that is valid
in a court of law, and that the Fifth Amendment carries no implication
It is decided to form a Committee of Maternal Purity. The meeting is called, and a woman of great liberal outlook is installed as temporary chairman. She calls for nominations from the floor for the position of permanent chairman of the committee. To everybody's astonishment, the name of Madame Vice, madame of the local brothel, is nominated for the position. The chairman looks startled, then says, "I hear the name of Madame Vice nominated for the position of chairman of our Committee of Maternal Purity. Does anyone wish to speak on this motion?"
An indignant voice cries out, "But that's ridiculous! She's the cause of most of the trouble! She's a prostitute and a keeper of a house of prostitution."
"These are serious charges," the chairman says. "They must be supported by unimpeachable evidence. Anybody who can rise and say that they have first hand evidence that this woman has indulged in these alleged practices, please rise and speak."
The chairman says, "Since there is no evidence, apparently, to support these charges, I'll ask the woman herself. Madame, are you, as alleged, a prostitute and a keeper of a house of prostitution?"
The fur clad figure indignantly rises, "I ain't going to answer that question! You have no right to ask it! I ain't going to incriminate myself."
"Yes," says the chairman, "that is your privilege. Certainly no inference can be taken from that reply. There is no evidence to support these charges. From the woman's own words we can get no indication of their truth or falsehood. I have but one recourse. Has this woman been indicted and convicted in a court of law?"
Silence again prevails, and the voice of liberal learning, rich and mellow, is heard. "I accept the nomination of Madame Vice as the Chairman of the Committee of Maternal Purity of this city."
By the same process, it is easy to conceive the election of Al Capone as Chairman of the Committee for Public Security of the Chicago of 1930. Such ridiculous situations become possible when a provision of the Constitution designed solely to grant immunity from legal punishment is projected into the realm of normal life which involves privilege and responsibility far removed from legal punishment. This is the error which is made by the pseudo-liberals who fail to see the basic malignancy of Communism and thus become a zone of protection behind which the Communist conspirators pursue their evil schemes.
Surrounding the zone of pseudo-liberals is the zone of dupes. In this zone are to be found the genuinely patriotic American citizens from a great variety of walks of life. They have simply been deceived. Many solid citizens are astonished when they discover the trap into which they have fallen.
Consider the hypothetical case of a successful businessman whose name
appears on the letterhead of a Communist Front. He is whole-heartedly against
Communism but is also exceedingly busy. He wishes to help good causes and
will support them financially and with the use of his name. However, it
must be remembered that he has many pressing demands upon his time and
he cannot attend meetings or participate in the day to day activities of
the organization. That task he must leave to others. In this manner, the
Communists have successfully utilized the money and the prestige of many
of their most fervent opponents.
Communist personnel are allotted to set up the organization of the Front. They enlist a few fellow travellers and together they decide the precise nature of the organization to be formed. The purposes are clearly designated, the basic executive officers are selected, mostly from the ranks of Communists or fellow travellers, and the slogans which are to recruit the people are formulated. When these preparations have been made, the fellow traveller approaches the sympathizer. The Communist himself does not customarily approach the sympathizer, for the sympathizer has certain qualms about the Communists. He knows that they cannot always be trusted. But the fellow traveller is able to assure him that he is not a Communists, and thus can make the approach with every hope of success.
He outlines to the sympathizer the objective, namely, the preservation of peace in the face of the desperate threat of war and annihilation that hangs over us all. He describes the demands for disarmament which are to be made, to Communists and non-Communist countries alike. He does not point out, of course, that these demands cannot possibly have any effect in Communist countries because there is no public opinion there that they can influence, and that the people of the Communist countries cannot even find out about these demands unless the Communist Party decides to tell them. He does not indicate that the real purpose is to influence public opinion in free countries where the government is elected and controlled by the people. The sympathizer, satisfied when these demands are nominally extended to all countries, is sold on this magnificent idea and is enlisted in the cause.
The sympathizer then approaches the pseudo-liberal who thinks it a wonderful idea. He would not be happy to participate in a Communist plan, but he knows the sympathizer is not a Communist. He is aware, maybe, that the sympathizer has some radical ideas, but he, unlike most other people, is open-minded, and does not hold that against him. Obviously the idea is an excellent one and merits his support. Thus the pseudo-liberal becomes the spokesman who approaches the dupe, the patriotic businessman who will supply the finance and the respectability. At the periphery, then, the patriotic businessman is approached by an anti-Communist liberal for a worthy objective. The money is provided, names are written on the letterhead, a public relations department is established, the propaganda is proclaimed, and the organized Communist Front goes into operation. Superficially, it appears to be the work of patriotic businessmen, educators, scientists and others of repute, but behind these dupes are the pseudo-liberals; behind them are the sympathizers; and behind the sympathizers, at the very center, are the unseen Communists and fellow travellers who are in control of policy and program.
Fronts such as this have been formed a thousand times and in a thousand
ways. They have recruited many well-meaning anti-Communists into the service
of Communism. Thus is Communist science applied whereby the organized few
multiply their effectiveness by organizing a mass movement that, on specific
issues, can sometimes make and break democratic, anti-Communist governments.
Again the conclusion is clear that an understanding mind and an alert attitude
is the only protection the individual has against involuntary involvement.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
The Communists are magnificently organized. They have dedicated personnel and they have acquired vast experience. Only on a basis of understanding, organization and dedication can we hope to meet and defeat them. To hate them is futile. Some of their most effective servants have been their bitterest enemies. Eyes that see and minds that think must merge with hearts that love freedom, to meet this challenge.
1. V. I. Lenin, "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1950), pp. 120-1.