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03 February 2014

"The Naked Communist" by W Cleon Skousen - A Review

My attention was drawn to this book by a man I know well who is concerned about Communist infiltration into British, American and European governments. He is of the opinion that the goal of the European Union is to turn Europe into a Communist Collective.

I disagree fundamentally with this view, which appears to be a symptom of extreme right-wing paranoia, as well as being in complete contradiction to the reality on the ground.

"The Naked Communist" was cited as evidence to support his view, so I bought it and read it.

Scousen's aim was to strip away the deceitful clothing that hid the true face and body of Communism, hence the title.

The book (published 56 years ago) has some merit in providing a useful summary of the history of Communism and its "founding fathers", if I may use that term. It was interesting to learn that Karl Marx never did a day's work in his life and neglected his wife and children to a disgraceful degree. He appeared to have not a single person he could call his friend, with the possible exception of his co-theorist, Friedrich Engels.

Both the book and it's author Skousen were products of their time: the "Iron Curtain" had fallen across the middle of Europe and all the people to the east of it had been enslaved by a tyrannical dictatorship purporting to be the answer to the problems of mankind. Communism was being presented to the rest of the world as the only way to a truly happy society. It was, of course, nothing of the kind, since it militated against man's natural instincts and could only be maintained by ruthless suppression of natural aspirations, the imposition of fear, and the frequent use of mass executions.

It was in reality a vehicle for the maintenance of power by the few over the many. At the end of the 2nd World War, in which it had been expedient to join forces with Russia and its satellites to destroy the evil of Hitler's Nazis, we found ourselves faced with an equally evil empire in the shape of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) presided over by one Joseph Stalin.

It is difficult to decide which man was the most monstrous - Hitler or Stalin. Neither had any moral compass and would stoop to any degree of depravity and international diplomatic deceit to get their way. Both used similar methods to maintain their hold on power.

And yet, after 1945, intellectuals and others in the "West" were quite happy to accept Communism as a genuinely desirable aspiration. Communist cells successfully established themselves within the USA, the "mothership" of Capitalism. The Communists believed that Capitalism was doomed to fail, but the process should be speeded up by a policy of disruption and discontent so that people would rise up and destroy their governments. During the 25 years following the end of World War 2 the Communist Party of Britain grew in strength, the British Labour Party was infiltrated, and Communist agitators within the Trade Union movement all but destroyed the British car industry, and wreaked havoc with many other industries.

Skousen's book correctly indicated what had already happened in this regard, correctly summarised what was already happening, but failed to foresee one or two important developments. He cannot be blamed for this because none of us has an infallible crystal ball.

What he didn't, or couldn't see, was that it was Communism itself that contained the seeds of its own destruction. The manifest failure of the major Communist countries to feed their own people without external help, the manifest failure to produce goods that people wanted, and the manifest failure to produce the proletarian utopia promised by Marx and Engels led - albeit painfully slowly - to a growing sense of unease within the major Communist leaderships and the people oppressed by them. Yugoslavia's Tito successfully distanced himself from the USSR, there were uprisings in Hungary (ruthlessly put down), and the Communist leader of Czechoslovakia, Alexendar Dubcek, attempted to install a kind of humanitarian and democratic communism in his country. Predictably at the time, he failed, and his Russian masters replaced him unceremoniously after the Russian tanks had been sent in.

Most significantly, though, was the gradual dawning of reality on the communist mothership itself, with the succession of Mikhail Gorbachev to the leadership of the Party in the USSR. But by this time it was already too late for a top-down rejection of Communism; the people began to rise up against their communist oppressors, first in Poland, then in East Germany. The movement spread. In 1989 the infamous Berlin Wall was demolished whilst the leadership and the "People's Army" stood by in bemused passive support. The rest of the "Iron Curtain" duly melted away.

It's ironic that the "proletariat" who were supposed to be bring down capitalism brought down communism instead!

I am not saying that Communism is a dead duck, but there is only one major Communist Country left in the world, and that is North Korea. I don't think many people are going to cite North Korea as an example of proletarian Utopia. It's just another ruthlessly oppressed people under the yoke of a dictator and a powerful army. Even so-called Communist China has somehow found an accommodation with a kind of free enterprise within its own country. It is "communist" mainly by virtue of it still being a single-party State. The Party is not practising full Communism, but it is all-powerful nevertheless.

Communism as a worldwide aspiration has imploded.

I believe it is important to know a little about Cleon Skousen and the things that influenced his way of thinking. Having drawn our attention to the history and the methods of Communism, and warned us of the consequences of ignoring those methods, he goes on towards the end of his book by trying to instil his own philosophies into the life of the "American Student", strongly advising that rather than submitting to the deceit of communism we should be submitting to the certainties of the Bible. He advocates the enthusiastic study of the Bible, and he implies that atheists are three quarters along the way to being Communists.

It is at this point that I fundamentally disagree with him; his advocacy of religion in general, and of the Judeo-Christian religions in particular as being the only way forward detracts from the value of the earlier parts of his book. Since he wrote that book, the world has moved on somewhat. I accept many of the creditable aspects of some religions and their followers, but I (and many others) cannot accept that atheism = communism = evil

I would ask, are the following (to name but a few) either Communists or Evil? .. Albert Einstein, Richard Dawkins, Douglas Adams, Salman Rushdie, Billy Connolly, Bill Gates, Eddie Izzard, Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Hepburn, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, John Lennon, Barry Manilow, Ian McKellen, Terry Pratchett, Daniel Radcliffe, Alan Turing .. I could go on for pages, but I'll spare the reader.

Cleon Skousen was a far-right radical Conservative and a Mormon who worked for a short while with the FBI. He was later Chief of Police in Salt Lake City for 4 years. Mayor Bracken Lee said that although Skousen was an anti-communist he "ran the police department in exactly the same manner as the Communists in Russia operate their government."

Skousen disregarded all federal regulatory agencies and argued for the abolition of everything from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency. He also wanted to repeal the minimum wage, eliminate unions, nullify anti-discrimination laws, sell off public lands and national parks, end the direct election of Senators, eliminate income tax, and remove the separation between church and state.

Finally, the question .. is communism still infiltrating western society and is the goal of the European Union a Communist Collective?

Skousen sees no difference between Communism and Socialism ("except by their means of gaining power"). This is so way off the mark! Communism gains power by force, and retains power by force. Socialism gains power by majority vote and loses power by majority vote. To equate the two is sheer ignorance. In 1945 Britain elected a Socialist Government with a landslide majority. (I would say that was Britain's only Socialist Government). In 1951 that Socialist Government was dismissed by the British electorate. Subsequent successes by the British Labour Party were due to their abandoning socialism for a form of social democracy prepared to integrate with the idea of a free-market economy.

Whatever criticisms one can throw at the concept of the European Union - and there are many - the idea that it is working towards a Communist Collective is preposterous. Who could imagine that the people of Europe who for decades suffered either under the jackboot of Nazism, or the iron fist of Communism (in some cases one followed by the other) would countenance a return to something similar?

In Britain the Communist Party boasted 60,000 members after the War (still only about 0.1% of the population). It was disbanded in 1991. True, some ex-members went on to form other left-wing groups, most of which allied themselves to democracy rather than enforced one-party government. One such group is "Unlock Democracy" which is a left-leaning campaign group that works to promote participatory democracy across the political spectrum.

Communism is not the current threat to our way of life. The new threat is another -ism: militant Islamism.

If someone looks at Europe and sees Communism, then he fails to understand what Communism really is or was. Perhaps he should read Skousen's book? Oh damn! He already has!

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