The movers and shakers of today have little interest in digging for the truth. Who knows what one may come up with? You may start out with the communists, and end up with yourself.
— Vladimir Bukovsky, Judgement at Moscow, Chapter 1
In 2009, Vladimir Bukovsky delivered a striking speech setting forth his ideas about why it was the West did not win the Cold War. Some of these same ideas served as stepping stones in my own excursions in American Betrayal.
Among them, Bukovsky, a co-founder of the Soviet dissident movement incarcerated for many years in USSR labor camps, prisons and psychiatric hospitals, discussed the crucial failure of the West to render judgment on the evils of the Soviet system on its dissolution in 1991.
We were given a chance to win in 1991. To do it we needed a Nuremburg trial, but not a trial of people. In a country like the Soviet Union, if you tried to find all the guilty, you would end up with 19 million people, and who needs another Gulag? This isn’t about punishing individuals. It’s about judging the system.
I spent a lot of time trying to persuade the Yeltsin government to conduct such a trial. Yeltsin finally said, “No.” The reason he had to say no was the enormous pressure he felt from the West not to have such a trial. I’ve seen the cables he received from all over the world, mostly from Russian embassies, ex-plaining that local politicians and governments were vehemently against any trials or disclosure of crimes or opening of archives. Finally Yeltsin just gave in.
Because of documents I recovered, we now understand why the West was so against putting the communist system on trial. It is not only that the West was infiltrated by the Soviets much deeper than we ever thought, but also that there was ideological collaboration between left-wing parties in the West and the Soviet Union. This ideological collaboration ran very deep (emphasis added).
In large part, that “ideological collaboration” remains hidden and also well-guarded, as I learned the hard way when own efforts to expose it drew savage attacks, orchestrated, curiously enough, by ex-Communists-gone-Right who, one would think, would themselves know very much better — and not catcall “McCarthyism” (or, in my case, “McCarthy’s heiress,” “crackpot,” and all that) just as if they were still reading from the Daily Worker or Pravda. (See Bukovsky and his colleague Pavel Stroilov expand upon this “conservative” phenomenon here; more here.)
None of this is ancient history, by the way. It is in these same deep and still largely unexposed layers of “ideological collaboration” where our American story of Marxist subversion lies, and, with it, the knowledge we need to understand how covert ideological subversion works, whether it be international socialism or caliphatic Islam, or both, working together. This is why getting the first level of “McCarthyism” straightened out, which serves to halt further historical excavation, is so very crucial. So long as such debate and analysis are stoppable by cries of “McCarthyism”; so long as acting to protect the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic is blockable by “witch-hunt” hysterics, we remain incapable of learning to defend ourselves — which is precisely the underlying strategy.
I sent my most recent essay on the Pavlov’s-Daily-Worker cries of “McCarthyism!” by conservatives to Vladimir Bukovsky, who was kind enough to reply with his general thoughts on the phenomenon, which he wrote in 1993, and which I have posted below. They come from his book Judgement in Moscow, which, aside from Chapter 1 (appearing here as a bonus in the American Betrayal wars), has yet to appear in English. The reason, Bukovsky explains, is he would not rewrite it to make it “politically correct” to suit his American publisher.
In an essay preceding the chapter, Bukovsky and his co-author Pavel Stroilov make the following introductory points. (House Republicans, quaking in their wingtips over repealing Obamacare-socialism, listen up):
However, the Cold War was always much more than just a military conflict. It was an ideological war waged by the totalitarian utopia of Socialism against our civilization; and on that level, the most optimistic view of it is that it still goes on. The Soviet Union is gone, but Russia is still governed by a junta of Gestapo officers; China is still governed by the Communist Party; and the Western world is governed by closet Marxists and Mensheviks, imposing on us yet another version of the same socialist utopia. Those are facts of life, and whether or not you accept Mrs. West’s explanation of their historic causes, they do need some explanation. Surely, if the free world really won the Cold War against totalitarianism, we should have been in a better shape now.
The truth is that the Western Establishment surrendered to Socialism long, long ago.
Of course, the left was only glad to surrender: to them, the Soviets were no enemies, but allies pursuing the same goals, though perhaps somewhat mistaken about the tactics. Moreover, while the left surrendered enthusiastically, the right surrendered reluctantly–but they did surrender, too. The “conservatives” accepted socialism as the inevitable future of the world, which could, perhaps, be delayed, but could not be destroyed.
This is why, even at the better moments of the Cold War, their strategy was limited to “containment” of the communist expansion, but never went as far as “roll-back.” This is why, whenever a right-wing government succeeded a left-wing one, it always made a gloomy declaration that “you cannot unscramble the eggs,” and would not try to undo the damage caused by their predecessors. This is why, until the very last moment, anyone even mentioning the possibility of a collapse of the Soviet Union was considered a heretic, if not a lunatic. This is why the most conservative politicians of the West became loyal supporters of Comrade Gorbachev: if socialism as such was invincible, some moderate reforms of the system were the best you could hope for. And finally, this is why the downfall of Gorbachev’s regime came as a total surprise to the entire world–not as a long-awaited victory.
Vaclav Havel once complained that there were whole libraries written about the transition from capitalism to socialism, but not a single book about a transition from socialism to capitalism. Nobody thought that could ever happen. We had given up fighting long ago–and then, the Soviet monster suddenly died a natural death. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, socialism dies when it runs out of other people’s money. So it did in Russia, despite the entire world’s efforts to save it.
It was this capitulation that ultimately corrupted the Western world. To use Mrs. West’s controversial metaphor, it was a de facto Soviet occupation: government by quislings; demoralized, conformist population; desperate resistance from isolated groups of dissidents. Against the background of the “conventional” triumphalist mythology, the picture of “occupation” drawn in American Betrayal has of course caused some shock–and many denials. However, none of the critics have as yet offered a credible alternative explanation as to where it all went wrong.
This argument did not start yesterday, but it has been suppressed as rigorously as only the truth is ever suppressed. It has been a deliberate policy of the establishment to leave any discussion of the Cold War in the hands of the careful academics, to avoid debate, to stick to the consensus. Even sensational secret archives smuggled out of Russia would not be published in the West. Having spent many years in a desperate fight against that censorship, we appreciate what a major breakthrough American Betrayal is–and of course, we are not in the least surprised by the vehement campaign against the book. It is not simply a good book about history. It is one of those books which makes history.
For many years, we had been trying to explain that unless socialism is put on trial as Nazism was put on trial, unless we establish the full truth about the Cold War, we shall never free ourselves from the de facto Soviet occupation–we shall be governed by quislings and surrounded by conformists. In Vladimir’s case, he first made that prediction in early 1990s, even amidst the universal euphoria about the so-called end of the Cold War. Twenty years on, yet another version of the socialist utopia has been tried in the West and has failed, another messenger of truth has finally beaten the censorship–and yet, the establishment is still in denial and only tries to shoot the messenger.
Essentially, all we can contribute to this debate is exactly what we have been trying to say for all those years (emphasis added). …
Which now includes the following observations, circa 1993, in English for the first time below.
From Judgement at Moscow by Vladimir Bukovsky:
As it happened, American “intellectuals” of the 1940s and 1950s were leftists, a significant part of them were even pro-communist (although they had not yet managed to enslave all society, as happened later). The recently published memoirs of Stalin’s main butcher and super-spy general Sudoplatov, which elicited an outburst of dismay among the American establishment, provides ample evidence of this. The most amazing aspect of it is not so much the names of famous physicists — Oppenheimer, Fermi, Szilard and others – who willingly shared atomic secrets with Stalin, but rather the ease with which Soviet intelligence was able to operate in American leftist circles. Agents from their midst were not sought, but selected.
As for the physicists, then the current indignation of their colleagues I see as spurious: as if their pro-Soviet sympathies were not known before the general’s revelations. It is sufficient to recall that the entire Manhattan Project was their initiative: the possible fear that the atomic weapon could end up in Hitler’s hands worried them to such an extent that they, forgetting their pacifism, simply forced the American president to sanction the creation of the atom bomb. But the real news was that the weapon fell into Stalin’s hands did not concern them at all: on the contrary, from that moment they became pacifists again and “opponents of atomic weapons” —Western ones, of course.
However, despite all the evil they perpetrated, I am more disgusted by their current protectors than by Oppenheimer and company. The latter at least believed in what they did and were prepared to risk their lives for their convictions, while their protectors are simply preserving their cosy position in the “elite”, totally unashamed of bare-faced lies. They are certainly not concerned over the good name of their late colleagues, but the need to take responsibility for the common fault. The participation of American left intellectuals in Soviet atomic espionage is just one example of their complicity in the communists’ crimes. And to admit this would mean admitting that the anti-communist campaign of the late 1940s – early 1950s, popularly known as “McCarthyism” was no “witch hunt.” It is regrettable that like everything in America, it took on a hysterical nature, but in fact it is indisputable that it was fully justified.
The bogey of “McCarthyism”, shamelessly exploited by American leftist intellectuals for a good 50 years was the instrument whereby the self-proclaimed “elite” became the establishment, occupying a practically dictatorial position in American society. It was akin to emotional blackmail: they had suffered unfairly, so everyone now owed them. Nobody could dare to challenge them or even remind them of responsibility for the past: this would be declared renewed “persecution”, renewed “McCarthyism.” Everything was turned upside-down: being pro-Soviet, or even a communist, became respectable, if not to say mandatory; being an anti-communist was shameful and practically criminal.
So the present turmoil in the American establishment is not surprising: its very legitimacy of their supremacy came under question, the whole myth of their “unfair” suffering. And is that “suffering” not a myth? After all, at the time when their spiritual brothers were enslaving entire peoples, destroyed millions to the benefit of their common ideology, all they had to face were questions, moreover public ones, in the presence of their lawyers, the press, and with observance of all procedural formalities:
—Are you a member of any communist group?
That was all. I remember how glad I was in 1967 to finally say to my judges’ faces everything I thought of their political system thereby earning three years in the camps, I never thought of myself as a “sufferer.” They, however, faced no threat of camps, or torture, or destruction. At worst — a loss of their jobs. It is curious how the majority of them “broke” so shamefully, pointing fingers at their friends and neighbours and lied under oath. Only a few refused to speak. Suffering heroes indeed! But for a good forty years their “tragedy” features in the press, on television, the cinema. Dozens of Hollywood films were made on this subject, the last one as recently as 1990: “Guilty by Suspicion” starring Robert De Niro.
Not a word about the tragedy of hundreds of millions who really suffered under the communist yoke. Just look at the productions of this citadel of the American left — Hollywood — for the past forty years from this angle, and you will see that there has not been a single film that gave an honest and serious depiction of the main tragedy of our century. These are either open Soviet apologetics, or a more refined, sophisticated lie, relying on the ignorance of the general public. An historian forced to judge our times by Hollywood films will not understand anything. Most likely he will reach the conclusion that we spent the entire century under the permanent threat of fascism, or the threat of crazed American generals. And if communism existed in our world at all, it was very distant, as an innocuous background. Even the ageless James Bond does not fight the KGB, but most frequently in an alliance with the KGB, against some mythical super corporation headed, as a rule, by a lunatic capitalist.
There is no hint that communism itself could threaten mankind in any way — just our reaction to it. Not the opponent, but our resistance to the opponent.
As for the opponent – he only elicits sympathy. At the very least – compassion, fellow-suffering, as a “deluded idealist” (“Reds”). Even Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago”, the penalty for reading which meant imprisonment in the USSR, was turned into a sloppy tear-jerker. There is no sympathy for the millions of victims of these “idealists”, let alone remorse. Where it is impossible to avoid mentioning victims – there are not just lies, but monstrous lies. The best example of this is “The Killing Fields” – a film about the best-known communist crime in our time — in Cambodia. You cannot hide the skulls, but you can avoid explaining to viewers who were these “red killers” that killed a good half of their countrymen. So try and guess: where did they come from and why do they murder people? Throughout the entire film you cannot determine that they were simply communists, and seemingly even greater idealists than their Moscow (or Vietnamese) colleagues: at least those shamefacedly buried their victims in the ground, not display them for the entire world to see.
The whole purpose of the film is pure disinformation. Firstly, to justify the occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam. As though the fault does not lie in communism, because Vietnamese communists put an end to the slaughter in Cambodia. Rejoice and be glad. Secondly — to justify the treacherous role of the American left in this tragedy. So we have as the hero a left-liberal correspondent of a left-liberal press saving a Cambodian family. Forget that it was they who facilitated the victory of communism in South-East Asia by their hysterical anti-war campaign, which due to them three countries vanished off the face of the earth, and the “red killers” were able to create pyramids of human skulls. All this is negligible by comparison with a marvellous human feat — the rescue of one family. Tears cloud the eyes of viewers: what an honourable act! Even Goebbels would have shed a tear watching this film.
Having formed on the basis of lies and betrayal, and even raised on this propaganda, the American “elite” was a natural ally of the USSR long before “dйtente.” In the USA, as distinct from Europe, the basis was not merely ideological sympathies — the overwhelming majority of American “intellectuals” had no idea of what constituted communist ideology, even those who proudly proclaimed themselves to be Marxists, — but rather stemmed from “opposition” to their own government. The Vietnam War, which did not differ substantially from the Korean War one half to two decades earlier, served as the catalysts for such social attitudes. Paradoxical as it may sound, America was pro-Soviet at the end of the 1960s – beginning of the 1970s because it became anti-American: the anti-war hysteria blown out of proportion by the leftist “elite” to the degree of paranoia, divided the country, making anti-American sentiments more widespread than in Europe. But if the “elite” needed this hysteria for self-affirmation, for seizure of leading positions in society, millions of young Americans, like the Biblical herd of Gadarene swine possessed by devils, followed meekly in their wake out of simple conformity. Marijuana, rock, eternally open mouths, clear eyes shining with idiotic enthusiasm, and “protest.” “Rebellion” became the fashion, just as necessary for success, which later changed to jogging in the morning, the ecology and obsession with health.
For the rest of the world this was a catastrophe: not only was it left without a leader — which was neither here nor there — but it was betrayed by that leader.
6. Peaceful offensive
Naturally, all this did not occur without Soviet “help” and would not have escaped their attention. Both the war in South-East Asia and the anti-war hysteria were fanned and supported by Moscow, and success in both directions, the time had come for decisive action. The game of “dйtente” suggested by European social democrats came in very useful: there remained practically no obstacles in the path of the Soviet “peace offensive.” As Brezhnev said, launching his “Peace Program” at the XXIV Party Congress in March 1971:
“The balance of forces on the world arena has shifted to the side of socialism.”