Jim Higgins

Is Almond a Nut?

(Spring 1967)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.28, Spring 1967, p.30.
Transcribed by Mike Pearn.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

G.A. Almond
The Appeals of Communism
Princeton/OUP, 22s 6d

The Carnegie Corporation of New York is presumably some sort of charitable foundation. If not, without even trying it has got the NAB knocked into a cocked hat. For four years it provided the funds that enabled Professor Almond and his three assistants to ponder over and provide their answers to the questions: Why do people join the Communist Party? What happens after they join? Why do they leave?! The result is a fun riot from its soft front cover clear through its soggy pages to its soft conclusions.

In part one they construct a picture of The Communist Militant. The novelty of their method is breath-taking in its intellectual audacity. Using what they describe as qualitative and quantitative analysis they took every page of Left Wing Communism and every other page of What is to be Done? and the History of the CPSU(B), checking their conclusions by comparison by examination of Foundations of Leninism and State and Revolution. This it seems to me goes one better than the Seventh Day Adventists who have to read every word of every book of the Bible to prove something daft. But if the Carnegie Foundation would like to expend a few extra shillings in keeping me in the academic style to which I would like to become accustomed I am prepared to sleep on the Collected Works of Lenin and get my searching conclusions by osmosis.

Professor Almond and his team did not leave their research at the level of half-baked exegesis. One of the assistants (Herbert E. Krugman, author of The Interplay of Social and Psychological Factors in Political Deviance, and clearly not a man to be trifled with) earned his Carnegie handout by developing the interviewing schedules. The sociological and psychological interview guides are given in Appendix 2. Bedwetting, infant masturbation, pre-, post-, and extra-marital sex all feature in the guide. As one who always reads the back page first to see if there is a happy ending these items hit my eye as soon as I opened the book. My disappointment can be imagined when it turned out that there were no Kinsey-type tables by which I could measure my performance with those of the interviewees. There are however several case histories from all over Europe and America. Under the heading Neurotic Susceptibility they all seem for good reasons to have hated or despised their parents. The conclusion from all this is apparently that “the party makes it possible to dignify and ennoble these (anti-parent) hostile impulses ... and to direct them on other and safer targets ...” Now, big though my father is, I have never considered him to be in the same class for violence as a capitalist state (not even a small one) and for a soft option I will take on my old Dad any day.

The book is full of this sort of material and for those ex-Communists like myself with a formidable record of bed-wetting, infant onanism and kinky ideas about sex this is a must. Just drop me a line and I’ll lend it to you.


Last updated on 3.1.2008