The Kremlin’s slogan during the Cold War was “a fish starts smelling from the head,” and we did everything we could to make the head of capitalist America stink. We portrayed President Harry Truman as the “capitalist butcher of Hiroshima,” painted President Dwight Eisenhower as a “capitalist shark” of the warmongering military-industrial complex; described President Kennedy as an arrogant millionaire who acted as if he owned the world; insinuated that President Lyndon Johnson was a capitalist Mafioso who killed his predecessor; and spread the word that Nixon was a capitalist crook, that Gerald Ford was an obtuse football player who became a dull-witted capitalist, and that Jimmy Carter was a hapless peanut farmer who metamorphosed into a capitalist. It worked. By 1978, when I broke with Communism, the Soviet bloc’s disinformation community had collected over 700 million signatures on various international appeals blaming the U.S. for all the evils of the world.
“Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today,” said Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez in a 2006 speech to the United Nations in New York. The “devil” was the American president. The New York Times compared this vitriolic attack with Khrushchev’s venomous demagoguery.[i]
Now the “devil” is the Republican candidate for the White House, Mitt Romney, and his denigrator is the president of the United States himself. “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” Senator Barack Obama told an electoral gathering in Missouri on October 30, 2008.[ii] Transforming “American capitalism” into a political invective is indeed a fundamental change in American politics and a first for an American president.
“There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own,” President Obama stated four years later, speaking in a fire station during a campaign rally in Roanoke. “You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to markets on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces that the rest of us paid for.”[iii]
This is the quintessence of the The Communist Manifesto.
We can only hope that President Obama will abandon his craving for Marx’s utopia. Fortunately, the United States is still run by We the People, and it still has free elections. On June 5, 2012, We the People in Wisconsin owerhelmingly endorsed the “Canaan of capitalism,” and Scott Walker became the first governor in U.S. history to win a recall.
On the day after Scott Walker’s victory, the United States celebrated the 68th anniversary of VE Day, commemorating the “Canaan of capitalism’s” triumph over another evil heresy, that of Nazism. By 1939, when WWII began, the military force of the U.S. was ranked number eighteen in the world, just ahead of Holland. The Great Depression had left no reserves to fund our defense. The U.S. army had only 325 tanks, while Hitler had more than 2,000. The Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the U.S. Air Force, had only 1,700 planes, mostly fighters and trainers, while Hitler’s Luftwaffe had nearly 8,500 fighters and bombers.[iv] Time magazine summed it up: “The U.S. Army looked like a few nice boys with BB guns.”[v]
A Congressional commission — whose legal counsel was Soviet spy Alger Hiss — proposed the nationalization of America’s military industry. Fortunately, President Roosevelt was a capitalist himself. He asked America’s “capitalist” industry to re-arm the country, and he appointed a “capitalist” as chairman of a “capitalist” commission charged with coordinating that immense task: William S. Knudsen, chairman of General Motors. “This country has been good to me, and I want to pay it back,” Knudsen said. He was an immigrant from Denmark.
Japanese admiral Yamamoto famously said he feared the attack on America at Pearl Harbor had “awakened a sleeping giant.”[vi] Yamamoto was right. In the following months America created the most powerful military industry on earth, producing two-thirds of all the Allied military equipment used in World War II. That included 96,000 tanks, 2.5 million trucks and a half million jeeps, 286,000 warplanes, 8,800 naval vessels, 5,600 merchant ships, 434 million tons of steel, 2.6 million machine guns, and 42 billion rounds of ammunition. That also included the nuclear bomb, which ended the war and brought the world into the nuclear age.[vii]
In November, the United States will face what may be the most important election in our history. The Democratic Party wants to present these elections to us as just a competition between people. Let us not fall into this trap. These elections will decide if the U.S. will remain a “Canaan of capitalism” or a utopian nightmare. There are many people in this country who know much better than I do how to convince the new generation of Americans who have not been taught real history why they should preserve our “Canaan of capitalism.” I once was the national adviser for science and technology to the Romanian president, so allow me to give you one simple yardstick for measuring the difference between capitalism and socialism. Over the last century, capitalism’s United States of America won a total of 331 Nobel Prizes; Marxism’s Russia got only 20.
Two worlds, light years apart.
[i] Warren Hoge, “A Speech That Khrushchev or Arafat Would Admire,” The New York Times, September 24, 2006.
[ii] Jim Geraghty, “Obama’s Position on Fundamental Change Changes Fundamentally,” National Review Online, April 14, 20121, http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/264719/obamas-position-fundamental-change-changes-fundamentally.
[iii] Toby Harnden, “And what do you know?: Business leaders hit back at Obama after he says the wealthy AREN’T responsible for their own success,” MailOnline, July 16, 2012.
[iv] Herman, Freedom’s Forge, pp. XI, 6, 7, 8
[v] Richard Holl, From the Boardroom to the War Room, (Rochester, NY: Rochester University Press, 2005), p. 41.
[vi] Arthur Herman, Freedom’s Forge: How American Business produced Victory In World War II, Random House, New York, 2012, p.XI.
[vii] Herman, Freedom’s Forge, p. IX.