Warning: This post contains nerdy content and may be unsuitable for non-nerds.
In my quest for ever-increasing knowledge & nerdiness, I have undertaken the task of trying to read one book for each letter of the alphabet, twice. I am doing the A-Z Author’s Challenge (one book for each letter of the alphabet, by author’s last name) and the A-Z Title Challenge (the same, but with the titles of the book instead). I am doing this in no particular order, and I’ve completed some of the letters of the author side & some of the letters on the title side. For my “I” titled book, I chose “In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage” by John Earl Haynes & Harvey Klehr. This book discusses the tendency of “revisionist” (read: radically left-wing) historians to downplay the role of Communism in American life before and during the Cold War, even in the face of damning evidence. They insist on the innocence of Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs, and other high-profile Americans who spied for the Soviet Union, fabricating wild scenarios that could not have happened, based on well-documented evidence and testimonies from other spies who defected or turned themselves in. They also insist that the Communist Part of the United States of America (CPUSA) was an independent agent that was not affiliated with or controlled by the Soviet Union, even though documents from the briefly-opened archives from Soviet Russia indicate that the USSR had considerable sway over the CPUSA and its members. They delude themselves (and, even worse, students, researchers, and others who rely on them to be accurate in their studies) with these fantasies because they sympathize with Communism. They WANT communism to work, even though it has not and cannot. They believe that the death of millions of people at Stalin’s hand were simply unfortunate collateral, necessary to bring about the Glorious Soviet Future, where workers of the world have united and are busy ruling the world via the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. They confuse what they WANT to be true with what is ACTUALLY true.
The book is a very interesting read (if you like history and are interested in the Cold War era – if these characteristics do not apply to you, you will find it mind-numbingly dull) – very informative, and makes many good points. I noticed, however, that Haynes and Klehr left out one rather ironic point. Under any dictatorship, Communist dictatorships included, the intellectuals are the first to be executed. Anyone who is educated enough to object to a rule of terror or political purges is immediately liquidated so they do not pose future problems. You can find this same story in every single Communist revolution that has happened during the Twentieth Century: Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao Tse-Tung’s China, Castro’s Cuba, & Pol Pot’s Cambodia – all of these dictators executed or exiled the intellectuals to prevent them from posing a threat to their newly established regime. My question, then, is this: Why would historians – intellectuals and teachers – SUPPORT the ideology of communism and the regimes that it has spawned, knowing that these regimes have, without exception, killed off the intellectual class? This seems like a literal death wish, and I cannot understand how a rational human being would defend and advocate for the same kind of government in their own nations. If anyone has the answer to this, please put it in the comments on this entry.