We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Friday, December 25, 2015
The Grimmer Story Behind ‘Trumbo’
This is a review by the author of the recently released film, Trumbo, directed by Jay Roach. It is a decidedly liberal view of the persecution of leftists in Hollywood which was one aspect of a post-war right-wing coup that to a great extent successfully resulted in the purging of leftists from the entire society. This very little understood dark period in American history, like all of the other historical events that cast doubts about our capitalist ruling class, has been carefully excised from most American history books. DiEugenio does a fair job within the limits of a film review of including the wider historical context (from a liberal perspective) in which the persecution of Trumbo occurred.
An even deeper historical context should also include the 1930s, especially after the collapse of many economies in the Great Depression, when many Western capitalists were threatened with widespread opposition by people who were beginning to understand class conflict. Many of these capitalists wanted to dispense with their facades of "democratic" institutions in order to establish authoritarian governments, or naked capitalist class rule known as fascism. They were also terrified by the success of the Russian Revolution of 1917, and wanted the Soviet Union destroyed by the rising fascist forces in Europe.
In the US these capitalists hid under the more respectable label of "isolationists". To be sure, there were genuine isolationists, or principled anti-war people, but the latter were a minority. What was peculiar about most of these "isolationists" was that they included many capitalists who are normally notorious for supporting wars simply because they always reap huge profits from them. Also many capitalists, who didn't identify themselves as "isolationists", were very ambivalent against curbing the fascist forces that were overrunning Europe, especially after they turned eastward toward Russia. In the end the Soviet armies broke the back of the German army and then the Allies entered the war very seriously to insure that the newly merged Anglo-American alliance would rule in the post-war world. Thus one might argue that the Third Reich exists--except that it flies an American instead of a Nazi flag.
Instead of reporting this history, our masters as usual have written about the glories of a "good war", a simplified story of good guys (us) versus bad guys that they feed constantly to ordinary people.
After WWII these former fascist-friendly American capitalists came out of their "isolationist" closet; and they were clearly prepared to reverse the more friendly (to labor) social-democratic governance of the Roosevelt administration, to purge America of all these "rabid" leftists, to take back the many gains of labor unions that had occurred under FDR, and to gain right-wing control over every institution in America, especially institutions of indoctrination: media, education, and entertainment.
The more moderate wing of the capitalist ruling class merely stood by and watched as the fascist types hauled cultural artists like Trumbo before their inquisition, mostly the House Un-American Activities Committee, rolled back labor rights, made teachers swear loyalty oaths, and began their wars, both overt and subversive: against progressive movements and labor unions in Europe with the clandestine Gladio project, and with war against the revolutionary movement in Korea (read The Origins of the Korean War by Bruce Cumings). It was only after the lunatic Sen. Joseph McCarthy began to question the loyalty of members of the Armed Services that the moderate wing stepped in and put a halt to this inquisition.
However, once they accomplished the purge of domestic leftists, they went on from there to engage in all kinds of subversive and violent methods to overturn governments of foreign countries and their progressive movements which did not serve Empire interests in one country after another all over the world.