Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States is a ludicrous encapsulation of the Kremlin’s view of the Cold War, amplified by the Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chavez, Hamas version of the post-Communist decades. Indeed, America is portrayed by the Stone-Kuznick author-team as such an evil force in the events of the last 75 years, they evoke overt sympathy for the Germans and the Japanese during World War II, as well as for Stalin himself, and then for really any self-declared enemy of the United States, not excluding Saddam Hussein and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I consider the reception of this latest Stone travesty to be a significant cultural event signifying a final coming out of the closet of what can only be termed the Communist left. It is the well-known views of the Communist left that undeniably constitute the Stone-Kuznick version of the events of the last seventy years, and their portrait of the United States. The fact that Henry Wallace, the hero of their malevolent work, was a Communist and Soviet pawn, is a perfect summary of the pathetic Stalinism that is the heart and soul of the world-view of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States.
Some years ago I made a case for characterizing the progressive, liberal left, including the organizations that form the heart of the Democratic Party – the government unions, the Soros Shadow Party, the Center for American Progress, and the Netroots activists – as “neo-Communists.” I made the argument for calling them neo-Communists on the basis of the fact that there was no discernible difference between the view these political actors took of American capitalism – corporations are evil, capitalism is bad, America is the great imperialist Satan – and the view taken by the Communists of the Stalin era.
Of course, time changes everyone somewhat. Even Communists like Khrushchev, who spearheaded Stalin’s purges, came to find it politically wise one day to be anti-Stalinists. So with the progressives. They may decry Communists who have been dead for fifty years but they are busily burnishing the Communists’ ideas and preserving their legacies and passing them on in the curricula of our schools and now on cable TV.
In light of these fairly obvious (if widely unspoken) facts, “neo-Communist” seemed to me an apt term to describe progressives and their liberal fellow-travelers. It seemed just as apt a term as, say, “neo-fascist” and more apt a term than “neo-conservative” (since even Norman Podhoretz says that neo-conservatism is no longer distinguishable from conservatism – although for Paul Gottfried and others that is undoubtedly a controversial statement).
What is striking about the Stone-Kuznick myth-making adventure, and the reason I am making these points once again, is its reception. The Untold History has been widely embraced by the leftwing academic establishment, by the Huffington Post pundits, by the Dissent historian, Michael Kazin, by The Nation and by the progressive culture generally (although not, be it said, the New York Times). Even more impressive has been the silence of the liberal lambs. This is in striking contrast to their reaction to the appearance of Stone’s equally awful JFK. When that piece of rot appeared twenty years ago, there were thunderous and near hysterical denunciations of its lies from leading Democratic Party figures. No such dissents have greeted Stone’s Stalinist revival, no outcries over the libels committed on the memories of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, not to mention America.
I read this as concrete evidence that neo-Communism is alive and well and is now the heart of the progressive movement and the Democratic Party, at least its activist center. I would include in this category the president, his likely new Secretary of State, and his chief political advisors.
[After writing the above I sent it to a conservative academic listserv with the following query: I am interested in the list’s thoughts on this. I would ask one favor, however. Please don’t bring up the fact that few people are still talking about the “dictatorship of the proletariat” or “taking over the means of production” in those words, or identifying themselves as card carrying Communists. First, the left has a history of studied and disciplined mendacity in pursuit of its goals. Second, its goals shift with its accretions of power. Finally, it has been to school with Saul Alinsky (about whom I have written quite a bit) and has absorbed his two main lessons: lie about your agendas; and remember that the end – the destruction of American capitalism – justifies any means.
[There were no responses to my query. I then sent the list this observation: When I posted the question of whether the term “neo-Communist” is not appropriate to describe the current generation of “progressives” I suspected there would be no takers no matter how persuasive the case I made for such an appellation. And that suspicion has been confirmed. What I conclude from this is that the left – the neo-Communist left if you will – has been so successful in its ongoing campaign of political intimidation of any critics of its loyalties, allegiances and endorsement of views that are totalitarian in origin and result – few are willing to risk even speculative thoughts on this matter. I think this is one of the most significant political problems that confronts anyone who wishes to raise his or her voice against this march to serfdom.]
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