by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
Herbert A. Philbrick, in his penetrating book I Led Three Lives made a number of astute observations that it would behoove us to give some consideration to in our day.
He told us, for instance, by asking a question, when he said: “What was it that instilled such devotion into these Communists, to labor so hard for such a distorted cause. What was it that got into them? Was it sincere belief in the prattle of communism? Was it disillusionment and frustration that led them into these paths?” Actually what had gotten into them was a religious faith, though most of them would not have labeled it as that. It was a theological premise that Karl Marx was some sort of secular deity, possessed of the wisdom to right all the wrongs in the world.
Philbrick also told us, of public schools, that “The subject of Communism was seldom discussed, much less studied, in public school…I could not recall having seen a single textbook on the subject of communism. (Even today, very few public schools provide either courses or textbooks on communism.” The few books I had come across in the public library appeared to be mostly by apologists for communism; Walter Duranty (of the New York Times), Corliss Lamont; millionaire son of the multi-millionaire Thomas Lamont; or Rev. Hewlett Johnson, a clergyman high in the Church of England.” Lots of information in these few comments. Public schools of that era taught nothing about communism (not entirely an accident). I can remember, when I was in the sixth grade in public school, there were several books in the school library that gave glowing reports about the United Nations, which was fairly new at that time. It was presented as the last, best hope for mankind–something that has turned out to be a hollow shibboleth.
Public schools in our day seem to have reversed the non-teaching about Marxism or communism. We are now graduating students from them that prattle about how wonderful some sort of communism would be for our country and how “racist” and capitalist this country is and capitalism is listed as the cause of racism, so the two are intertwined with each other.
Note his comments about public libraries. No books in them except for those that apologized for communism. Makes you wonder who was running the libraries doesn’t it. It’s a little bit better in some instances today but you still have to be discerning about what you pull off the shelves to read on the subject of communism.
And after the kiddies get through their latest exercises on the class struggle in high school there is college. Philbrick mentioned a particular person in this regard and I will quote him. He said: “The young woman with the red hair was Dr. Hulda McGarvey. I had previously encountered Hulda in connection with the Sam Adams School for Social Studies, and regarded her as one of many misguided liberals enticed into teaching posts in the Communist-front training school. But I was shocked to see her here in the inner circle of the Communist party. A graduate of Smith College and Columbia University, a former instructor at Mount Holyoke College, and an assistant professor of psychology at Smith, she was a highly regarded academician, unknown for any intimate Communist party connections.” How many other professors in our day are like this woman? Although nowadays professors mostly don’t trouble to hide their Marxist proclivities.
I can remember, a few years after my high school years, a man in the church we attended at that time did not want his son to be taught by one of the English teachers I had had in high school. He was in the Air Force Reserve and had somewhere gotten the info that this teacher was a Communist and refused to have her teach his son. I can’t verify his concerns. This was all over 50 years ago now, but I recall he was quite vehement about this situation, and let’s just say it wouldn’t surprise me. Philbrick mentioned, on page 224 of his book “…a teachers’ (Communist) cell in the public schools,…”
Believe it or not, even the Unitarians came in for “honorable” mention in Philbrick’s book. He mentioned, on pages 71, 132, and 239 various Unitarians that were more than willing to aid the Communists in their endeavors.
Philbrick also mentioned, on page 155, Louis Budenz, who had been the managing director of the Communist Daily Worker newspaper. In 1945 Budenz broke with the Communists and returned to his Catholic faith, somewhat of a shock for the comrades at the time. Years later, I got to know a man who had talked with Budenz after he broke with the Communists and apparently Budenz gave him quite a bit of information as to how the Communists operated at that time.
But, to close this out, one more observation regarding Marxist theology–in regard to the indoctrination given to potential Marxists, Philbrick told us that: “Marxism teaches them to resign themselves to the collective future, to give up the shaping of their own personal destinies, and to accept the alleged inflexible laws of class warfare and ultimate victory for the proletariat. They can simply let themselves go and be carried along to a goal they think they cannot escape.” You can see where such a mindset can become a theological belief. And it is no different today. The belief in violent communist revolution in our day is still a theology. Maybe one of the questions we need to address today is–who is the devil using to direct this theology and how much are they spending to promote it?