“…To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church…” – Our Lady of Fatima, 1917
You non-Catholics reading that might not be familiar, so I’ll explain. We Catholics believe that our Blessed Mother, Mary, appeared to a few children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 and uttered that rather dire prophecy, as well as some other things. You can believe that Mary appeared, or not, as you like (I do believe it), but no one can argue against the particular prophecy – the poison that arose in Russia in 1917 – communism – did indeed spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church, as well as many other horrors. I bring this up not as a lesson in theology or faith, but because there is a bit of an argument brewing on the right over a book which not only asserts the indisputable truth of the prophecy, but also goes a bit further and asserts that our government policy came largely under the control of communists and fellow travelers.
The book is called American Betrayal: the Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, by Diana West and the premise is that communism so deeply penetrated American government that it not only swayed American government policy in a pro-communist manner, but allowed our society to be infected by communist ideology overall. Not only did the communists get us to sell out at Yalta, they also got us to buy in to moral relativism and other communist ideas which have lead to the moral destruction we see around us today. The first I heard of the book was when I read a very hostile review – not from some lefty, but from a prominent conservative who’s views I greatly respect, Ron Radosh. The title of his review, McCarthy on Steroids, sets the tone for the whole piece. Radosh’s review is excellently written and makes many good points – but I confess I was disturbed by the title: as if Radosh thinks there was something wrong with McCarthy; reading the review, I can help but believe that Radosh does think ill of McCarthy – that McCarthy had in some way gone wrong. Not on the fact that communists had infiltrated, but I guess on some of the tactics that McCarthy is alleged by his critics to have used (being mean, browbeating, making false accusations, etc). Trouble is, in reading accurate accounts of the McCarthy period, I find no evidence of McCarthy using any of the tactics his enemies claim. Leaving aside McCarthy, we have a battle – between fellow conservatives and not about whether or not communism is an enemy which infiltrated, but about just how much infiltration there was and how culpable people on both the right and the left were and are.
Over at PJ Media, David Solway deplores the intramural argument – seeing in it a disintegration of the overall conservative movement as we battle internally while the leftist enemy advances. There is much to be said for this. We daren’t fight too much among ourselves. I, too, deplore an argument which sets us against each other – and while one, small blogger is not likely to resolve the issue, I think I have a couple things to say which both sides may find useful.
It is a certainty that communism was and remains an enemy of the very concept of the United States of America. It is also a certainty that especially under FDR, communist agents deeply penetrated the United States government and not only obtained secrets, but also were able to strongly influence US policy in a pro-communist manner. But to take these facts and then pretty much turn everyone in government in to traitors or dupes is to go a bit too far. As someone who has studied history quite a bit, I leave a great deal of room for sheer stupidity as the controller of events…with greed, cowardice and ignorance being the helpmates of stupidity. The most important thing to keep in mind when discussing any human endeavor is to remember that its run by humans. The first rule of study is to understand the Dogma of Original Sin. Be assured that even if you are the most convinced atheist the world has ever seen, if you fail to take in to account Original Sin, you’ll get everything flat wrong. Whether you believe in the theology or not, be sure you understand that human nature is messed up and it is inevitable that human beings will get it wrong – to greater or lesser degree depending on personal strength and circumstances, but human beings will always come up short. This does leave plenty of room for the operations of the actually baleful – who, indeed, gleefully take advantage of the fact that human beings will screw up. And, quite fortunately, the baleful are usually the last to see that they, too, are flawed, so that even as they take advantage of the errors of others they, also, are building up errors which will eventually be their undoing.
It didn’t take the presence of Alger Hiss – a genuine communist traitor – among the US delegation to Yalta to get Yalta to be a sell out. It mostly required FDR – who was tired, ill (dying, really – he died just a couple months later) and, like most Americans, marvelously ignorant of the world. Roosevelt was also amazingly naive about Stalin – from what I can gather, thinking of him as akin to that all-too-familiar creature, the corrupt ward boss who just wanted the best deal he could get, but who would keep up his end of the bargain. Yalta mostly just codified some realities – many people figure that FDR (and Churchill) sold out the Poles at Yalta, but this ignores the fact that by February of 1945, Poland was at Stalin’s feet and short of declaring war on the USSR, there was no way to stop Stalin from installing a communist government in Poland.
Much of the situation of post-WWII Europe was not settled in terms of a communist conspiracy against us, but in the rather slipshod way the war in Europe had been carried out at the highest command levels. Make no mistake about it, I have nothing but respect for the ground troops who crushed the Nazis – but their higher leadership was, on the whole, very bad. Hammering away at the enemy’s strong points, refusing to fully exploit the superior mobility and air power of the allied forces, administrative failures (the alleged lack of supplies which prevented getting in to Germany in September of 1944 was really not so much a lack as a mis-allocation…un-needed supplies were allowed to clog the pipeline while vital supplies were not only mishandled, but also allowed to fritter away for lack of competent management); the campaign in Europe took longer and cost far more lives than it had to because the high command wasn’t really up to the task. Winning eventually more on the merits of overwhelming power than good generalship – and this was especially noticeable towards the end. We laud the men who took the Bridge at Remagen but the fact is that when the bridge was taken in a brilliant feat of arms, the high command refused to allow anyone to do anything with the bridgehead because it didn’t “fit the plan”…which was to allow Montgomery to lumber across the Rhine weeks later using overwhelming force against an already defeated enemy. Many say treason caused us to allow the Russians to get in to Berlin – but, once again, when the 83rd infantry division in another brilliant feat of arms got a bridge across the Elbe and had nothing between themselves and Berlin, it was the high command which spiked an advance, allegedly for fear of casualties (the same high command which had sanctioned the bull-headed and costly attacks at Monte Casino and which had screwed the pooch to the tune of 19,000 dead in the Battle of the Bulge). If we were trying to help the Russians, we would have raced to Berlin and got there just about the time the Russians were going to start their offensive against Berlin – captured or killed Hitler and thus ending the war before 81,000 Russians were killed (by April of 1945, almost the entire effective German army was lined up against the Russians on the Oder River).
Stupidity, rather than treason explains most of the problems we have. Though, of course, treason did exploit the stupidity. But this still doesn’t mean we haven’t been poisoned. America has been betrayed, and quite a lot of communists and fellow travelers played key roles in the betrayal. But it hasn’t all worked from a plan. There is no puppet-master – even when Stalin was ruthlessly running things, there wasn’t a puppet master (people tend to not realize that in an absolute dictatorship the only thing the dictator is controlling is the two or three things he cares about most at the moment…everything else is left in the hands of subordinates who pretty much do as they please and are usually mostly interested in feathering their own nests; this is why dictatorships fail, because the Autocrat really can’t run everything). What has worked is a steady erosion of the moral backbone of the United States – people who want wicked things have steadily advanced their cause, and whether its from a devotion to communism or other leftwing ideology, or just a devotion to having personal power and wealth is irrelevant. But the real problem hasn’t been the purveyors of poison. Some people take comfort in the thought of a conspiracy of evil – relentless, remorseless and out to destroy. And, in to the bargain, entirely not the responsibility of the person opposed to the evil. Sorry, but I don’t let anyone off the hook. Many times I have written that if we want to see where the problem lies we should look in the mirror – and that still holds true.
If we have been afflicted by wicked people then it is only because we have allowed ourselves to be bamboozled. And by “allowed” I don’t mean “tricked in to” so much as “too lazy/cowardly/indifferent to fight”. We’ve got a welfare State but it didn’t suddenly spring up on us. Its not like a liberal leaped out of closet with an “ah, haha!” and stuck us with it. We allowed it to happen. We have decayed cities not because of some secret plot, but because we allowed them to decay. We’ve got an epidemic of illegitimate children not because someone sneaked up behind us and forced us to it, but because we let it happen…when was the last time any of us said, out loud in public, that a man who gets a woman pregnant should marry the girl? We’ve got violence and abortion and licentiousness because we didn’t stand up to the purveyors of same. Even if it could be supposed that all of this was worked from a Double Secret Plan, what difference does that make? Even if the plan is secret, as soon as someone said that abortion was ok, we should have smashed them to the ground. We didn’t. Now we’ve got abortion – which is, to be sure, something the communists wanted, but its not like they were able to put a gun to our heads and force it on us.
The poison that came out of Russia has, indeed, spread around the world. But it is a two-fold poison. The first aspect of it is the actual communism – and we can call it “liberalism” or “progressivism”, if we like. Its all the same. Slightly different flavors of the same inhuman thought. But the other half of it is indifference and cowardice. Lenin’s Bolsheviks didn’t win by strength of numbers – they mostly won because the non-Bolsheviks were unwilling to fight them (especially early on – no one wanted to do anything because they figured that Lenin would fall of his own accord). Rather than wondering just how we got here, it is high time we starting pondering how to get out of it – and my main prescription on that is to rediscover courage to fight. Fight all the time. Fight everywhere. Give not an inch. Call out each lie. Refuse to go along with anything which is false. Stop being indifferent. With half the poison gone, the other half can be easily tackled.
I do plan on reading Ms. West’s book, as I think it adds some useful information to the mix. But I’ll also keep reading Radosh, because he’s so clearly smart and knowledgeable. I won’t, that is, get in to a fight with my own. Maybe Ms. West goes a bit too far in one direction, maybe Radosh goes a little too far in the other. I call on both of them to cease fire on each other, and turn fire on the actual enemy.