Red or Dead: How Stalin Re-Defined American Liberalism
The battle over Uncle Joe took the liberal out of American liberalism.
November 13, 2013 - 3:00 pm
In his book Disinformation, Ion Mihai Pacepa recounts the story of the Ukranian folk singers known as lirniki and banduristy. In the mid-1930s Stalin’s government announced the First All-Ukranian Congress of Lirniki and Banduristy. These folk singers, mostly blind men who wandered the countryside,
“…came to the Congress from all over the Ukraine, from tiny, forgotten villages. There were several hundred of them at the Congress, they say. It was a living museum, the country’s living history. All its songs, all its music and poetry. And they were almost all shot, almost all those pathetic blind men killed.”
Americans fail to grasp socialism because, to Americans, the political is simply one aspect of culture. To the socialist, however, the political defines culture. Everything is political. And that is why pro-Stalinist liberal American intellectuals justified rewriting history to defend Stalin, the ruthless murderer of millions including blind music men, as a revered left wing icon.
The American Liberal love affair with Marxism is rooted in the social justice movement of the late Victorian era. Turning to government to solve social and economic issues paved the way for welcoming socialism into the intellectual fold. According to early 20th century liberal intellectual Diana Trilling:
“If we can say, as I think we can, that before this century the source of all political idealism was (however remotely) religion, I think we can also say that in our own century the source of all political idealism has been socialism, and, since the Russian Revolution, specifically the socialism of the Soviet Union.”
Yet, even liberal progressives championing socialism from the safety of American shores could not fully weather the storm caused by Stalin’s Moscow Trials. One ice-axed Leon Trotsky later and the American socialist movement was up in arms, divided over Lenin versus Stalin, arguing that the Georgian dictator was perverting Marx’s perfect plan.