One Communist, Two Communist, Red Communist, Blue Communist?

Foseti has created a bit of a kerfuffle with his observation that Eisenshower was objectively pro-communist. Various people say no way, Moldbug says it’s so. Foseti refines his position a bit. The line of thought seems to have started with another post on a blue-blooded Wall Street fellow who was very cozy with the communists.

Moldbug takes an extreme position, that Russian communism was actually a creation of the American political culture, and thus America itself is communist. This is an oversimplification, but all thinking is oversimplification, it’s what makes thinking possible. Still he is not giving Europeans credit for being able to come up with their own insane and destructive ideas.

The stumbling block of analytical thinking is trying to come up with a unified explanation that covers everything. I don’t think most things have one primary and sufficient cause. Usually multiple factors are involved. Reality is complicated and messy.

It’s certainly a bizarre story. You have the US government, and its political elite, theoretically in opposition to the Russian government and its political elite. And yet the US elite seems to have been quite friendly with its ostensible enemies. Were they part of the same system? Not really two separate things at all? Moldbug makes pre-WWII communism one thing, and post-WWII communism two camps, American and Russian. But as many similarities and common interests two things have, they can still be distinctly different.

A few things must be dispensed with. The more obvious is that the US is governed by the principles of the Scottish Enlightenment as encoded in the US Constitution. We are in fact governed by the Puritan concept of ordered liberty, and all the revolution, liberty, freedom, representation blah blah blah crap was only used to transfer power from the British aristocracy to the Puritan merchant and banker elite, and to keep it firmly there. They are assisted by various hunchbacked toadies, notably the Quaker/Methodist/other pacifist Christian bourgeoisie and the Jewish merchants and bankers, but these people should not be mistaken as having any executive function.

These people are not communists. The problem with all these political terms- communist, socialist, liberal, progressive- is that they obscure more than they describe. A communist strictly speaking is someone who advocates a communist form of government. Is someone friendly, or sympathetic to communism a communist? Is someone pro-communist a communist? Is someone opposed to anti-communism a communist?

I say no, because a person can be all of these things to various degrees and with various qualifications. This PQJ power structure is not communist; but it is definitely communitarian. It does not believe in individualism or individual freedom. It believes in the rule of the greater good, as they define it on your behalf, and for which your input is not wanted or needed.

Did the PQJs want communism for North America and Western Europe? No. They didn’t believe in the universal applicability of communism, so they can’t really be thought of as communist. More importantly they had a long-lived philosophy- centuries older than communism, and far different in nature- that however much it was compatible with communism, and however much it produced the same results, was something different.

The PQJs nonetheless thought communism was an excellent form of social organization for the rest of the world- Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America- and the preferred replacement for older authoritarian social systems. Representative democracy could too easily be hijacked by the old elites, as was the constant danger in the West. The idea that any small communist country would become a satellite was mocked. What conservatives called “human rights violations”- seizure of property, torture and imprisonment of political opponents, surveillance of the whole society by the secret police- were simply the necessary price to achieve “social justice”.

They didn’t want this in the West, because it wasn’t necessary- they were in charge. A certain amount of private property, free speech and other liberties could be tolerated because they controlled things and could ensure they wouldn’t get out of hand.

Another misconception is that Eisenhower, as an Army officer, would have been a conservative. But the US Army has always been a liberal and not very aggressive organization. West Point was founded to train surveyors and civil engineers to map and channel the frontier. Ike went in for the free education. His parents were pacifists. He was a staff officer his entire career and never enamored of the cult of the warrior.

I remember the constant arguments over communism in the 70’s and 80’s, and liberals made many different distinctions between different kinds of communists. The Soviet Union was an adversary and a potential military threat, and had to be regarded with caution, but was still a legitimate and decent society. It had its failings, but so did the US so Americans could hardly judge. Third World communists were idealists trying to improve the lot of the poor, and deserved our support. European communists were also admirable idealists. American communists were a bit foolish- America didn’t need communism, it had the PQJs- but still these people were idealists working for a better world, and any fear or condemnation of them was a sure sign of a warped mind and a cruel heart.

So the presence of these people in the US government, even by a mainstream Midwestern “conservative” like Eisenhower, would not be the least bit troubling, in fact they were regarded as a positive influence. This couldn’t be too openly admitted, as the unwashed masses were too in the thrall of visions of concentration camps, mass starvation, and mind control portrayed in lurid George Orwell novels. Contact with Soviets- “taking orders” would be viewed as a crude McCarthyism- was not viewed negatively either. Only actually taking cash would have been looked at badly, because proper people don’t do such things, but all the Soviet spies seemed to have been motivated by idealism, which is quite admirable.

And if actual Soviet intelligence officers are killing your political opponents, what of it? These are terrible people who brought it on themselves, by their hard, inflexible thinking and “knee-jerk” opposition to reform and social justice.

The policy of the establishment toward the Soviet Union was containment. Soviet influence and military power only needed to be corralled into the areas in which communism was an appropriate form of social development. Any Third World communist movement that could plausibly- or implausibly- be regarded as organic and not a product of Soviet influence got a pass.

I like the term “red socialism” for communism, and “white socialism” for fascism and social democracy for traditionalists. I have toyed with the term “blue socialism” for the New Deal system. Unlike red socialism, it tolerates and uses white socialism, although it keeps it on a very tight leash. My thesis is that red socialism has as its ultimate basis German Romanticism, as laid out in Goethe’s Faust Part II. Blue socialism has none of this, and indeed despises it- but it despises everything not of itself. hat our own countrymen and leaders, the best among us (as they remind us repeatedly) could have such affection and indulgence for these hostile, sinister forces is shocking. The idea that there must be a deeper link is very tempting. But it’s not there. The only commonality is the cruelty and arrogance of power-drunk elites, but it’s commonality enough.

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About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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12 Responses to One Communist, Two Communist, Red Communist, Blue Communist?

  1. Pingback: Randoms of the day « Foseti

  2. I prefer Moldbug’s old terms: “Universalism” and “the Cathedral” as they emphasize the religious and theocratic ancestry and nature of leftism. Today’s leftists have lost interest in economics. Indeed the American stream of leftism never was much interested in economics, since it always focused on race and sex, rather than class. If today’s left has lost interest in economics, it is because America’s left is running it worldwide.

    • Vanderbilt says:

      I agree with you as to the terms as well as the intellectual lineage. Aside from some technical caveats about not being deliberately supernaturalist, Communism is very much a theological doctrine; and all earlier communists before the Enlightenment (and most of those, at that!) were religious ideologies.

      I do, however, appreciate Thrasymychus’ point that Red socialism has a somewhat distinct lineage and orientation when compared to Western Europe’s Protestant Communitarianism; I also tend to think that the latter is ultimately more dangerous, though immediately less violent.

  3. bruce says:

    Excellent commentary. Government policy has to be viewed in historical context and understood as situational. Winston Churchill supported part of Fabian agenda in early 20th century. That did not make him a “socialist”. Too many intellectual types get carried away with their categorizing and don’t see that policy makers deal with limited options. Only talking heads who don’t face voters can be purists. But I won’t make a grand theory of it. Tocqueville -certainly one congenial to your views-warned us about dangers of grand theorizing and the categories that are associated with it.

  4. Tschafer says:

    I think that this is pretty accurate, within limits. Eisenhower was not a staunch conservative, he was a “moderate” status quo kind of guy; he certainly didn’t like Communism or Communists, but there’s no doubt that he regarded foreign communists as a far greater threat, and that he thought that most domestic communists were “misguided idealists” and no real threat, as long as they were not actually reporting to the KGB. That’s naive, but as I contended, it’s a long way from being pro-communist. And you’re right, the US Army is not a fundamentally conservative institution, that’s yet another gross misconception of the left.

  5. james wilson says:

    Tocqueville may have warned against the dangers of grand theorizing, but he had the clearest ideas of what the requirements of liberty were because they were not theoretical but rather based on observation, and were founded in particularism.

    Both Wittaker Chambers and Robert Conquest would tell us that the difference between liberalism, socialism, and communism is the the difference in pregnancy trimesters. You may retain your form in the first, but it is not going to stay that way.

  6. josh says:

    “Winston Churchill supported part of Fabian agenda in early 20th century. That did not make him a “socialist”.”

    Ha!

  7. robert61 says:

    Who are the PQJs? Protestants-Quakers-Jews? Progressive Queer Jagoffs? Sorry for the dumb question on fikonspråk, I’m new to you.

  8. Pingback: Linkage is Good for You: You Fill in the Blank Edition

  9. teageegeepea says:

    Yes, this is a much more plausible account (note I am just speaking relatively). But I would object that big southern planters played a major role in the war of independence (or secession of local elites). Many of them had amassed large debts to creditors in England and were happy to sever political ties and default on those debts. This later made it difficult for the Confederacy to borrow money.

    Usually it is libertarians who point out the similarities between fascism and social democracy, but social democrats sometimes do as well. But most people (perhaps since Isaiah Berlin) have traced fascism back to Romanticism/Counter-enlightenment, which is where you place “red socialism”. Michael Kenny pondered why Churchill, who seemed to personally prefer fascism to communism, allied with Stalin against Hitler and I gave a Vampire-of-the-Continent inspired answer here.

    You refer to George Orwell’s novels as “lurid”. Is that merely reflecting your own distaste or are you suggesting that the PQJ elite had that view due to his anti-Stalinism?

    George Kennan is known as the godfather of the “containment” doctrine, and he actually preferred the ancient regime of Europe or even Dolfuss’ austro-fascists to democracy/communism. But he also always expressed regret that he was associated with a “containment” strategy implemented by the government that he rejected.

    • Vanderbilt says:

      Kennan’s recommended policy was essentially that of the half-dead Ancien Regime against Napoleon. ‘Containment’ is exactly what they recommended; though Kennan should have learned from the failure of the Ancien Regime to actually achieve this despite vast resources at their disposal. In a mass industrial society, the Ancien Regime is self-restricting and this puts it at a disadvantage in political competition. All other things being equal, a government that converts to full-bore Statism (whatever its ideological justification) will be able to call upon reserves and legal authority that weaker, more personal political orders lack.

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