You’d need to be old -- really old; roughly a centenarian – to have any personal memories of the operations and tactics of Communists in America in the Twenties and Thirties. It was a tumultuous time for several reasons, not the least of which was that the United States had recently taken part in a foreign war for the first time. Though we’d been on the winning side, popular opinion of that involvement was mixed, to say the least. Many Americans regarded Woodrow Wilson’s intervention into purely European troubles as a huge breach of American ideals. They had some good arguments for their view, and the concurrence of one of the most notable figures of the Twentieth Century: Winston Churchill.
No, I have no personal memories of that period; I’m not that old. What I know about it is from my reading. But the pictures that reading has drawn, particularly of Communist agitation and the themes it employed, are vivid.
By the mid-Twenties, even before the death of Lenin, the Soviet experiment was already failing. Communist agitators in the U.S. were aware of that; it spurred them to redouble their efforts. (Cf. “fanatic”) The steady deterioration of conditions in Russia made it clear to them that they couldn’t tout the Soviet Union as a model for the future in fact. Tactics that skirted any mention of the economic collapse of Russian socialism were required.
The Communists’ principal tactics during the interwar period were:
- Promotion of pacifism;
- Infiltration of the labor-union movement;
- Exploitation of the racial tensions swelling in American cities;
- Soliciting the attention and affection of prominent writers and artists.
It was during that period that Communist axioms and overall habits of thought most successfully infected American life, particularly in government, the schools, and the arts.
The lesson to be drawn from Communist operations during that period is simple: Infer strategy from tactics, and objectives from strategy. This is just as imperative in studying hostile political movements as it is in warfare. The Communists wanted to inject socialism into the American political bloodstream. Their planners knew they couldn’t do it by pointing to the collapsing economy of the Soviet Union. They had to focus their target’s attention on more attractive ideas. The tactics they chose were well suited to the task and to American attitudes in that time.
The very same principle is on display in today’s operations on the Left. Warden at Ace of Spades HQ provides a video example. As unpleasant as it is, I urge you to watch it nevertheless.
There’s a wealth of vital information here. What American actually likes feeling hatred or revulsion? Who actively wants to feel hostility toward others, for whatever reason? Americans aren’t like that. When we feel ourselves growing angry toward someone or something, our natural inclination is to seek out the reasons and put an end to them. Thus, appealing to that inclination is a far more positive tactic for the Left, which seeks to redirect our energies away from the threat Islam presents to the U.S., than any imaginable argument for Islam’s “innocence.”
Of course, when there are sound objective reasons for hating someone, the proper course is to put an end to him. But the Left would prefer that you not think about that.
The desirability of the Left’s goals and the wholesomeness of its intentions are so frequently contradicted by the evidence of our senses that it must put special effort into deflecting our attention from them. When that approach fails it, the Left strains to redirect our responses from paths that disfavor its agendas. Sometimes, its tactics are easily spotted and dismissed; at other times, it takes more of a mental effort.
The point to bear in mind is that the tactics flow from the strategy, which in turn flows from the objectives. For example, the Left seeks to persuade us that we, the normal, decent persons of America, are the offenders – bigots and xenophobes – in our current struggles with Islam. Why? Because Islam is a highly useful weapon to the Left; its menace promotes fear, which causes us to seek protectors. This is a typical strategy for the enlargement of government power. But why does the Left seek to enlarge government power? Because it wants totalitarian power over all things, and the larger governments grow, the more susceptible they are to Leftist takeover. But obviously, freedom-loving Americans must not be permitted to think about that, so it strains to deflect our attention with phantasms, side issues, and tu quoque ripostes, and to redirect our attention into more positive-seeming paths, such as social harmony. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
Look for this pattern in the ongoing disturbances on our college campuses.
Please stop by a bit later, as I expect to have an announcement that will please...well, that I hope will please some of you. It’s not quite ripe yet. Until then, adieu.