"Communists" Versus "Loyal Members of the Communist Party"
isomin at gmu.edu
Tue Sep 12 11:43:18 PDT 2006
The key confusion here is that, while the CPUSA did publicly deny its
financial and espionage ties to the USSR, they never denied (and indeed
loudly proclaimed) their support for the Soviet system, and their view
that it was a model for the US to emulate. Perhaps some casual,
short-term members of the CPUSA might have been unaware of this
position, despited their repeated enunciation by the party leadership..
But committed, longterm members certainly were aware. Indeed, one could
not be a committed longterm member without endorsing such positions,
since failure to do so led to expulsion from the Party.
Howard Schweber wrote:
>> The confusion many have among members the Communist Party,
>> Communists, and for the matter, "all lefists" (as described in one
>> post) is a result of confusion intentionally sown over the years by
>> the Communist Party itself. The CPUSA, to get the sympathy of the
>> American left, portrayed itself as an innocent "socialist" movement
>> repressed by the U.S. government for the sole crime of supporting
>> radical ideas. Its leaders never acknowledged that it received both
>> most of its funding and all of its marching orders directly from the
>> USSR, nor, of course, that it engaged in a massive espionage campaign
>> in the 1930s and 40s on behalf of the USSR, using loyal CPUSA members
>> as spies.
> The problem with Prof. Bernstein's argument lies in the middle term of
> the syllogism. His argument goes like this:
> 1. Someone who supports Soviet tyranny cannot be a champion of free
> 2. All members of the CPUSA supported Soviet tyranny
> ergo 3. No member of the CPUSA can be a champion of free speech.
> I agree with the first proposition, subject to Mark Graber's cautions
> about the use of "champion" (I think we are using the term somewhat
> loosely, frankly.) The problem, of course, is that the middle
> statement is false, and all of Prof. Bernstein's evidence goes to a
> different proposition, which is "the CPUSA as an organization was
> committed to supporting Soviet tyranny." The very fact that the
> leaders of the CPUSA never acknowledged their ties to the Soviet Union
> is prima facie a reason *not* to accept the assumption that every
> member of the organization was aware of those ties!
> For the 1,000th time. No one is defending the CPUSA, what is being
> contested is the proposition that we do not need to engage in any kind
> of case-by-case review before deciding that the fact of membership in
> the CPUSA, at all points in history, translates into the rejection of
> a candidate for "champion" status. The absolute refusal of the
> counter-arguments to adress the actual point being made verges on the
> I note that now Prof. Bernstein has added a new, even more
> preposterous claim: that no one on the American Right ever advocated
> tyranny or the adoption of foreign models of anti-communism. From
> Father Coughlin and Charles Lindbergh to the KKK, Aryan Nation, and
> home-grown Christian ayatollahs like Pat Robertson, the American Right
> is loaded with people who have asserted the benefits of tyranny, often
> based on models imported from elsewhere (as in "we should do what they
> do in ___ with these commies/gays/Jews, line 'em up and shoot 'em").
> Prof. Bernstein is not unaware of these and many other similar
> characters, so he cannot mean what he says literally. What Prof.
> Bernstein means, I presume, is that "respectable members of the
> American Right with whom I would choose to be associated" made only
> tactical alliances with tyrants. Which I am sure is true, but is a
> very different claim.
> Howard Schweber
> Dept. of Political Science
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Assistant Professor of Law
George Mason University School of Law
3301 N. Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22201
e-mail: isomin at gmu.edu
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