During the Cold War, much was written about Marxism in the United States by Americans who had been members of the Communist Party USA (USA) and by clergy within the Catholic church.[1] According to these writers, Marxism is always on the offensive and is “flexible” in its line (propaganda and directives). Because it is always on the offensive, it looks to leverage stalemates (Korea is one clear example from the past) for later attacks.[2] Its flexibility is reflected in the ever-changing nature of Aesopian language; however, set patterns of behavior make the deceptions detectable.[3] One pattern that has been repeatedly used has been agitating for “social reform.”

The American system was built upon the values enumerated in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In 1762, while it was still a British colony, James Otis of Massachusetts emphasized the hypocrisy of slavery in a nation built upon liberty and freedom. Forbidden by the King to abolish slavery, Thomas Jefferson took up the issue in his original version of the Declaration; however, two of the thirteen self-proclaimed states refused to join in the rebellion if slavery were abolished. The issue was dropped because the strength of the rebellion relied upon unanimous consent. This true social reform took the Civil War and Constitutional amendments to resolve.

There are two key terms that have a wide range of meanings that need to be clarified to help determine whether the call for social reform is organic or agitated:

  1. Progressivism
  2. Socialism

The start of progressivism in the United States is typically dated to around 1890. But this view homes in on a set of issues without defining what progressivism in the US really is. What is labeled the Progressive Era was a reaction to what were seen as a set of injustices – labor abuses and lack of women’s suffrage. When viewed this way, it should be apparent that organic US progressivism is a desire to correct injustice. Since the cornerstone of a republic is justice, this desire should strengthen a republic – not weaken it. From this perspective, progressivism can be seen in the earliest days of the Republic. The trick is that it needs to be a real injustice – not one that is contrived.

From the beginning, Lenin’s Aesopian language used progressive to strictly mean “advancing socialism”; however, socialism itself can describe many different economic and political systems. There are a plethora of qualifiers that can be used that renders the general term difficult to pin down. Socialism in the United States actually predates Marx. Unlike atheistic Marxism, it was based upon religious communities like the Shakers or the Amana Colonies. This brand of socialism was more about pooling resources than anything approaching a dialectic process. Socialism to a Marxist is the period of time between the collapse of capitalism and the emergence of “Bolshevik man.” The difficult part is to understand the intended meaning behind the use of these terms. As Hayek writes, the original socialists (like those in the US) were horrified by the violence wrought by the “national” socialists leading up to World War II.

Louis F. Budenz concludes The Techniques of Communism by claiming that a belief in God is the best antidote for Communism.[4] This actually pinpoints a key to the decoder ring. That is, look at how the speaker/writer respects the Bill of Rights. If the thrust of the message is to restrict your speech, right to assemble, right to worship, and right to defense, the speaker/writer is a Marxist. Suppressing individual rights is a goal of Marxism. It is not a goal of either progressivism or socialism – but it can be a byproduct.

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Another telltale is whether the scale of any social reform being agitated is equitable to the agitation being made. There is always room for enlightened discussion to improve the cohesion within society. Violence and force will disrupt cohesion and are hallmarks of Marxism.

[1] Communism and the Conscience of the West by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

The Techniques of Communism by Louis F. Budenz

The Philosophy of Communism by Charles J. McFadden

Color, Communism and Common Sense by Manning Johnson

[2] Budenz, L. F. (1954). The techniques of communism. Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery Company. pg. 328.

[3] Ibid. pg. 322.

[4] Ibid. pg. 330.


This article was originally authored published by Dennis Haugh and is reprinted by permission.
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