Anti-communist attack is a house of cards

BY: Tony Pecinovsky| December 7, 2020
Anti-communist attack is a house of cards


False premises inevitably lead to false conclusions. This is my takeaway from reading (and re-reading!) Rod Dreher’s one-sided, ahistorical article “Down with Card-Carrying Communists” in the American Conservative (Nov. 19, 2020).

Full disclosure: I am a proud card-carrying member of the Communist Party, USA and have been for 23 years.

Speaking of cards, Dreher’s article, like all anti-communism, is a house of cards. Pull one card and the whole edifice tumbles down.

His main theme is embarrassingly simple. First, in his words young people are “ignorant,” uneducated, and lacking in “moral seriousness.” In short, they are too stupid to know their own self-interest, to know right from wrong. Dreher the parent must scold the child. In this regard, the article is an insult.

Second, this ignorance — this “lapse of historical education” — has caused young people to put their “faith in one of history’s most monstrous lies,” that is, communism. Dreher concludes, “All those tempted by this false hope should at least be compelled to see as much reality about Communism as we can muster for their inspection.”

That is it. The totality of Dreher’s article is that young people are “ignorant” and that it is his responsibility — and that of organizations like the so-called Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation — to educate them. Side note: Many of the so-called victims recognized by the Memorial Foundation were in fact Nazis killed in World War II by our then ally the Soviet Union. Does Dreher mean to recognize Nazis as “victims”?

It is not an accident that Dreher focuses on the boogeyman that is the former Soviet Union and the Eastern European states rather than on Communists in the United States, or France, or South Africa, or the Philippines, or Japan, or the countless other countries where Communists were in the forefront of the fight against fascism and expanding democracy.

To Dreher, these Communists — champions of democracy by all objective accounts — simply do not exist. They don’t fit into his boogeyman narrative.

Of course, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are easy targets. Communists (at least members of the CPUSA) do not deny that human rights abuses take place under all social-economic systems. Capitalism was literally born of genocide and slavery. In his one-sided, ahistorical analysis this fact seems to be lost on Dreher.

As people fortunate enough to live in a democracy (as imperfect as it is), we have a responsibility to account for the sins of our nation. Until we do so, we lack the moral authority to condemn others.

Contrary to Dreher’s argument, Communists are not “ignorant” or uneducated. In fact, it is our depth of understanding, our lived experiences, our ability to empathize with the victims of capitalism — right here in the United States — that give us our continued relevance, a partial explanation for why people continue to join the CPUSA despite 100 years of vilification.

Perhaps he should look at the lives of Ella Reeve “Mother” Bloor, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Benjamin Davis, Jr., William L. Patterson, Paul Robeson, W. E. B. Du Bois, W. Alphaeus Hunton, Claudia Jones, Henry Winston, Angela Davis, Charlene Mitchell, Arnold Johnson, Judith LeBlanc, and thousands of other U.S. Communists — Black, Brown, and white, young and old, gay and straight.

If he looks with an open mind, he will find that card-carrying Communists continue to build off the American radical democratic tradition and have done so for over 100 years now!

Editor’s note: The American Conservative refused to print this reply.



    Tony Pecinovsky is the author of Let Them Tremble: Biographical Interventions Marking 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA, and author/editor of Faith in the Masses: Essays Celebrating 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA. He has written for the St. Louis Labor Tribune, Political Affairs, Shelterforce, AlterNet, Z-Magazine, People’s World, and the journal American Communist History, among other publications. He is the president of the St. Louis Workers’ Education Society and speaks regularly on college and university campuses across the country. He lives and works in St. Louis, MO.

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