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Includes the name: Mr. John Earl Haynes

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Churchill is supposed to have said “If you’re not a Communist when you’re 20, you have no heart. If you’re still a Communist when you’re 30, you have no brains.” This book demonstrates that a surprising number of American historians are brainless.


There’s a limited focus: contemporary historians (‘revisionists’) who deny or excuse or even praise American Communists who spied for the Soviet Union in the 1930s and 1940s. We don’t hear, except peripherally, about historians who deny that Stalin and Mao and Communism in general have been responsible for millions of deaths; the authors keep to their theme (with one interesting exception).


It’s a difficult book to follow unless you know the background. My own first memories of Communism involve having my parents usurp our brand new 6" black and white console TV to watch the Army-McCarthy hearings (when I wanted to watch cartoons or Westerns). I got the idea that Communists were bad people (which resulted in me taking the back door of our house off the hinges). Later, in my post-heart but pre-brains days I accepted that “McCarthyites” had engaged in a “witch hunt”, that the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss were innocent, and that Communism may have made some mistakes but was clearly the inevitable future. I even joined an urban commune at the University of Chicago (I think this last experience did a lot more for my disillusionment with the worker’s paradise than The Gulag Archipelago; a house full of middle to upper class college students who talked about the plight of the workers and peasants but who could never bring themselves to do the dishes.) After the collapse of the XSSR and the end of the Cold War, Communism seemed almost quaint; I heard of the Venona decrypts but didn’t pay much attention, and the stories of some of the lesser lights of the McCarthy era like Elizabeth Bentley and Lauchlin Currie and Harry Dexter White never entered my awareness.


Thus a good part of this book required a lot of further research. The tone of the authors, which originally struck me as shrill and overly confrontational, eventually seemed restrained. I was amazed to find the number of American historians who are still Marxists (did you know that there’s an “Alger Hiss Professor of History and Literature” at Bard College in New York?) and the lengths that they will go to explain away Communist espionage. The “Racehorse Haynes” approach is common: Communists didn’t spy, they didn’t realize they were spying, they were just “sharing” information, the US spied too, all the evidence is forged, they’d already done all their spying by the time McCarthy came around, and Stalin was a nice guy anyway. There are some funny quotes where various professors jam their heads in so far that they have to unzip their pants to say “hello”; I was especially amused by the one who thought, in a strange case of preRathergate technoilliteracy, that word processors were in use in the late 1940s and thus the fact that the Venona decrypts were typed is evidence of forgery.


The exception to the espionage theme I mentioned above is a chapter that discusses a number of American citizens of Finnish ancestry that emigrated to the USSR in the 1930s to “build Socialism” in Soviet Karelia. They are mentioned with praise in a number of leftist publications. What’s not mentioned is that they were all executed in 1938 and 1939; an appendix provides a sad list of names. While this is a story that I hadn’t heard before, and its denial or whitewash is reprehensible, I don’t see that it fits with the rest of the book.



Recommend with the caveat that you might have to look some stuff up. The book would benefit from an introductory chapter giving the dramatis personae.
… (mais)
 
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setnahkt | outras 2 resenhas | Dec 11, 2017 |
In Red Scare or Red Menace? : American Communism and Anticommunism in the Cold War Era, John Earl Haynes identifies four gaps in the historiography of American anticommunism. First, a downplaying of connections between the American Communist Party and Soviet spies; second, historians do not link postwar anticommunism with antifascism during World War II; third, they do not fully characterize the variety of anticommunism in the United States; and, finally, they portray anticommunism as irrational (pg. vii). Haynes makes use of documents that were recently available in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union to prove his first point.
In linking the American Communist Party with Soviet spies, Haynes writes, “In recent decades many historians have suggested that while the Soviet intelligence services recruited some American Communists for espionage, this did not directly involve the American Communist party…Since the collapse of Soviet communism, however, documents found in Soviet archives as well as the Verona intercepts confirm the CPUSA’s direct involvement in Soviet espionage” (pg. 61). According to Haynes, “The passage of time…has verified [Elizabeth] Bentley’s [HUAC] testimony. World War II NKVD messages decoded by the U.S. government’s secret Verona project but not released until 1995 confirmed that most of those named as Soviet spies by Bentley were just what she said” (pg. 78). Furthermore, “In 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, documents found in Russian archives confirmed [Whittaker] Chambers’s testimony about the existence of an American Communist party underground operating in Washington in the 1930s and early 1940s and of J. Peters’s role as its head” (pg. 86-87).
Discussing the role of anti-fascism with anticommunism, Haynes writes, “All the virtues and vices that would later mark post-World War II congressional investigations of communism were first played out by [New York Representative Samuel] Disckstein’s investigations of domestic fascism” (pg. 64). Haynes even links this back to the Red Scare of the 1920s, writing, “The heated atmosphere of the ‘Red Scare,’ as it was later called, provoked both federal and local agencies to disregard normal legal restraints on official power” (pg. 9). By the 1930s, however, communism became more acceptable to Americans, especially after Moscow’s call for a Popular Front led American communists to seek “common ground with liberals by supporting President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms at home and a foreign policy that opposed fascist aggression abroad” (pg. 12). This antifascism later informed anticommunist rhetoric. Haynes writes, “Much of the popular image of American communism that appeared after 1945 was based on attitudes developed in the 1930s and early 1940s toward fascism. In particular, the image of the American Communist party as a fifth column for the Soviet Union drew directly on late 1930s images of Nazi fifth-column activity” (pg. 19). Intellectuals attempted to link communism with fascism, but had little success until the Nazi-Soviet pact, at which point, “Because of the large reservoir of anti-Communist sentiment in the American population, the public easily accepted the Red fascism analysis and assimilated Communists into their fears about an American Nazi/Fascist fifth column” (pg. 35).
Haynes uses the different religious reactions to communism to describe the variety in anticommunist thought. Discussing about the Protestant evangelical Christian denominations, Haynes writes, "Their religious and their patriotic beliefs blended: a threat to one was perceived as a threat to the other. The cold war division of the world between the Western alliance led by the United States and the Communist bloc under the suzerainty of the Soviet Union; the irredeemably hostile nature of the Communist threat to the values held by evangelical Christians; and the apocalyptic nature of the contest, with its menace of nuclear catastrophe, resonated to evangelicals steeped in the Christian millenarian tradation" (pg. 90). Likewise, Catholics viewed the Soviet threat as one of secularism versus religion, a dichotomy beginning in the Spanish Civil War when the Catholic Church supported Franco’s fascists over the Republican forces. Socialists in the labor movement likewise worked to counter communist involvement in labor organization. Haynes describes Mensheviks, who opposed Lenin’s Bolsheviks, as providing “American Socialists with information about the Soviet suppression of dissent, the subordination of labor unions to the Communist party, and the replacement of the rule of law by the Communist party’s administrative fiat” (pg. 100).
In describing the onset of the Cold War and anticommunist activities, Haynes argues, “The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were about more than the immediate problems in Greece and Turkey or Europe’s economic crisis; they were a declaration of hostilities in the cold war and committed the United States to the containment of Communist expansion around the globe” (pg. 39). Haynes continues, “As cold war tensions sharpened, revelations of Soviet espionage linked to American Communists renewed the image of the American Communist movement as a treasonous fifth-column peril,” leading to investigations in which the government used tactics to procure information that would not hold up in court (pg. 50). Haynes writes, “This trade-off between the need quickly to stem the loss of sensitive information and the much slower pace required to gather evidence that could be used in a criminal proceeding plagued espionage cases throughout the cold war” (pg. 51). Similarly, much of political anticommunism served to advance political agendas and careers, as in the case of Richard Nixon and his work with HUAC.
… (mais)
 
Marcado
DarthDeverell | Mar 30, 2017 |
For those interested in the Spanish Civil War, Klehr's work holds only limited interest. Klehr presents several primary documents from the Russian Archives. The focus is primarily on the disapearance and almost certain execution American volunteer Albert Wallach. Klehr also presents a list of volunteers from the XVth BDE who were considered to be bad elements. The list is undated but probably dates from September 1938. The characterizations are interesting but would have been far more valuable with more information on the individual volunteers.… (mais)
½
 
Marcado
CTBrooks | Jul 19, 2009 |

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