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The Communist defendants lost, which Martelle calls a “victory of the mob over the minority.” A more serious charge is that subsequent government actions against subversives, such as the Patriot Act, are “not the conditions of a free society. These are the acts of a police state. . . ” And they stand American freedoms “on their head.”
Martelle turns rather uncharitable toward CPUSA bosses such as Gus Hall. After his beloved Soviet Union ceased to exist, Hall turned even farther left, and East. “The world should see what North Korea has done,” Hall said. In some ways it’s a miracle. If you want to take a nice vacation, take it in North Korea.” That’s where The Fear Within ends, and that’s a shame because Hall refutes Martelle’s major claim.
After the 1949 trial, the CPUSA continued to exist, supported by Soviet money, and no government campaign prevented Hall from running for President of the United States in 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984. In 1980 and 1984, Angela Davis was his running mate. Davis went on to become a professor at UC Santa Cruz. Those are not the conditions of a police-state society.
The Fear Within, a self-refuting book, confirms that careful scholarship about Communism has taken a toll on revisionist writers, but they still have a way to go. Should any reader wish to balance Martelle’s account with a trial held by an actual police state, they should turn to Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books, 2010) for a treatment of the 1952 Slansky show trial in Czechoslovakia, held amidst hysterical fears of “Jewish bourgeois nationalism.”
Eleven of the defendents were Jews and the Czech Communist regime executed the eleven by hanging, then incinerated the bodies. The regime then took the ashes of the victims and used them to fill ruts in the road. That’s what a real police-state trial looks like.
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