Anti-communism - the 20th Century Obsession.
( September 2001 )
The dominant philosophy of the 20th century was neither Capitalism nor Communism, it was Anti-Communism. Generation after generation of American political and economic leaders have pursued a foreign policy which had but one fundamental objective - the eradication of anything which in their eyes could be called Communism anywhere in the world.
The root of Anti-Communism is the belief that Capitalism is the natural order and that anything which would threaten Capitalism as a world order is so dangerous that it must be opposed by all and any means at our disposal. The words "democracy" and "freedom" have been semantically distorted until they are now presented as being synonymous with "capitalism". Capitalism equals democracy, therefore everything else is anti-democratic and totalitarian.
In other words, the status quo is the best of all possible worlds and anything which advocates change from that is a great evil.
It is an old point of view. Every ruling class in history has held it and every ruling class in history has imagined that it is the first to do so. The American Revolution was opposed by those who believed that the British version of civilisation was the pinnacle of achievement and that those who opposed it were anathema. The Romans believed likewise and destroyed the European Celts and any others who opposed it. When the Divine Right of monarchy was challenged in England and France, the result was civil war and revolution.
In the eyes of 20th century America, the belief was "What's good for business is good for America" and anyone who opposed the unbridled pursuit of profit was deemed to be not only anti-capitalist but anti-democratic and therefore Communist. The HUAC/McCarthy witch hunts would have been farce had the consequences not been so tragic. And the imperative towards corporate profit dominated not just the internal affairs of the USA but the foreign policy of the USA.
No action was too extreme, no proxy too unpalatable to be supported by the USA in support of making the world safe for corporate exploitation, i.e., "freedom and democracy". Any thug anywhere in the world could be guaranteed finance and military assistance provided they loudly proclaimed themselves to be Anti-Communist and eradicated any signs of trade unionist, socialist or communist organisation within their territories. The list of those the USA, or corporate interests in the USA, financed and supported for this reason is not exactly one to be proud of. From the German Nazis in the 1920s through to the Afghan Mujahedin in the 90s, it has provided money, military hardware, training and covert support to a long stream of tyrants, fascists and petty gangsters who violently suppressed all democratic activity and waged war on their own peoples. All in the pursuit of Anti-Communism.
When the USA rebuilt the economy of western Europe after World War 2 and basically turned much of it into client or puppet states, ideologically, economically and militarily dominated by the USA, this was called "assisting democracy". When the Soviet Union did exactly the same thing in eastern Europe, this was called "Communist expansion". The difference was that one was supporting the status quo, "the best of all possible worlds", and the other was not.
At the end of World War 2, the advancing Soviet and American armies met at the Elbe in Germany. The soldiers of both armies rushed to embrace each other as comrades in arms who had cooperated in defeating the greatest military threat the world had ever seen. Germany was occupied by Soviet, US, British and French armies while the negotiations went on at Potsdam as to how the allies should proceed in restoring civil government. The US, Britain and France flouted the agreement made that there would be an all-German election and forced an election in the territories they occupied resulting in the election of Konrad Adenaur and the de facto partition of Germany. Winston Churchill made his speech at Fulton in which he coined the term "Iron Curtain" and the belief that the German partition was the work of the Soviets became received wisdom. The Cold War had begun and our previous ally had been transformed into our deadliest enemy. Anti-Communism had triumphed and a unique opportunity had been lost to humanity.
The American people's instinct for democratic and free society was exploited by the characterisation of the Socialist countries as oppressive and totalitarian and America was ripe for the hysteria of the McCarthy era which shifted Anti-Communism from a political strategy into a mass obsession. People consumed with Anti-Communist paranoia who did not really have the faintest idea what Communism was, or what Communists believed, were implacably hostile and violent towards those they suspected might harbour "Communist" ideas. The very word "Communist" became synonymous with "Antichrist", "Traitor", "Evil person". And "Communist" meant "Soviet". By the time Reagan described the Soviet Union as an "Evil Empire", Anti-Communism so dominated the thinking of most Americans that few even questioned the basis for such a description - it was taken for granted that the Soviet Union represented everything evil and undemocratic in the world. And naturally anything which was so evil had to be opposed and stopped. When Kruschev made his statement, "We don't like Capitalism, you don't like Communism, there is only one solution - peaceful coexistence", it was ignored and went largely unreported in the west.
Post-revolutionary Cuba gained the lowest level of infant mortality in the entire continent and brought in an education programme of universal adult literacy - yet Anti-Communism dictated that they were less preferable than the pimps and gangsters who had previously run the place as an offshore brothel and gambling casino for the Mafia. The people of Cuba are no less free and have no less democracy than they had under Battista yet America attempted an invasion in the name of "restoring freedom and democracy" to reimpose the old system the Cuban people had just kicked out.
How many Americans have stopped to ask themselves, "Just what is it about Cuba today that is so appalling and vile that it would be better to restore the old murderous despotic regime where the only career opportunities for non-wealthy women were prostitution and domestic service, where a large chunk of the population was illiterate and where medical care was expensive and crude?" Anti-Communism does not allow for such analysis - Cuba has abandoned Capitalism and therefore, regardless of any benefits it might have brought its people, it is self-evidently evil and must be stopped.
Anti-Communism has led the USA into supporting unsavoury characters and actively engaging in conflict all around the globe - El Salvador, Iraq, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Chile, Afghanistan, the list goes on and on. Because those they sponsored were Anti-Communist and however vile they might be, however anti-democratic, however despotic, however many of their people they slaughtered and tortured and imprisoned, Anti-Communism regarded them as being by far the lesser of two evils. The mindset is revealed by the remark reportedly made by Kissinger after the CIA-sponsored coup in Chile, "I don't see why we should stand back and watch Chile go Communist through the stupidity of its people". I know of no definition of democracy which can include that philosophy.
Allende's Socialism, voted for by the Chilean people in a free and democratic election, was regarded as so dangerous that US intervention to support its overthrow by an unelected military dictatorship which murdered thousands of its citizens was deemed preferable.
And when the Soviet Union sent troops to assist the Afghan government resist the so-called Islamic extremism of the rebels there, the USA poured in billions in assistance and armaments to the rebels. The weaponry being used by the Taliban they largely have courtesy of Uncle Sam.
Were it fiction, people would laugh at it and say it was too far-fetched.
I haven't a clue who said this other than that it was an American strategic analyst but I think it should be etched into the brain of anyone who claims to be anything other than ultra-Right-wing -
"Our fear that Communism might some day take over most of the world blinds us to the fact that Anti-Communism already has."