The Poverty of Anti-Communism

The Poverty of Anti-Communism

Mini Teaser: American anti-Communists distorted and corrupted the domestic political scene with exaggerations of a threat that was never as strong--or worrisome--as they pretended it to be.

by Author(s): John Lukacs

Just as Communism came in many versions, so did anti-Communism. Anti-Communism, in practice, was simply hardheadedness and common sense as to just what was happening in Communist-ruled countries to political rights and the exercise of freedom of thought, resistance to the romanticization and glorification of Communism, awareness of the threat posed by the expansion of Communism. In the United States and Western Europe, anti-Communism was specifically a fight against the illusions that captured Edmund Wilson in 1935, and that he had outgrown by 1953. A good number of people, and particularly those who became the neoconservatives (who, Lukacs incorrectly writes, "had taken fifty years to discover that the Russians were anti-Semitic"), had known about Communism all along, and had no romantic illusions about it at all. They did not need Solzhenitsyn, as apparently French intellectuals did, to tell them about Soviet labor camps and the fate of political dissidents.

There may have been problems with antiCommunism, in some of its versions, but on the whole it performed a key intellectual task of the post-World War II world, and compared to the significance of that task its errors and excesses were venial.

Nathan Glazer is professor emeritus of education and sociology at Harvard University and co-editor of The Public Interest.

Essay Types: Essay