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The Militant, 29 June 1946

M. Stein

Eastman Raises ‘Red Peril’ Bogey

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 26, 29 June 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Scripps-Howard syndicate, controlling some twenty daily papers across the length and breadth, of the land, has been In the van of the “get-tough-with-Russia” crowd. They recently hired Max Eastman and paid him handsomely to do three articles to help whip up their “Red-Peril” campaign. These articles were timed with the foreign ministers’ conference in Paris, and the atomic bomb maneuvers in the Pacific. They are obviously an integral part of the psychological war waged so determinedly by Wall Street against the Soviet Union.

The three articles which appeared prominently on the front pages of the New York World Telegram, June 12, 13 and 14, reveal that the author, Max Eastman, was not worthy of his hire.

These articles, intended as an exposé of Stalin’s policy, are in reality no exposé at all. They take as their text a quotation from Problems of Leninism, a book published more than twenty years ago, containing some speeches made by Stalin in 1924. Max Eastman takes a few quotations from Stalin of 22 years ago, when he still talked like a revolutionary and he repeats in dreary monotone that these quotations are representative of Stalinist thought and policy today. Any copy boy on the staff of the Telegram could have done as well, if not better.

A conscientious author would pose and try to answer the question: How did the dead letter of 22 years ago square with the living reality of Stalinist policy in action?

In his articles Eastman instead takes Stalin’s written word of decades ago as the gospel truth, without the least attempt to check it against the living reality. According to Eastman’s twisted logic, Stalinist policy is to be judged not by what Stalin does today, not by what he did years age – but by what he said in a book published more than two decades ago.

Words and Deeds

Words tell the truth only when they correspond to deeds. Words that do not correspond to the deed are only a means of deception. For example, the Atlantic Charter was the so-called program for which World War II was fought. Yet it was nothing but a deception in the light of the reality with which the peoples of the world are faced. Nobody in his right mind would say that the world is free from fear or free from want just because the Atlantic Charter says so.

To accept Eastman’s criterion one would have to live in a world of fairly tales. The Negro people in this country would be blind to Jim Crow because the Bill of Rights says that all men are born free and equal. The colonial peoples would be oblivious to their exploitation and oppression simply because the imperialist rulers clothe their despicable rule with libertarian phrases. Truman would be the greatest friend of labor, despite his strikebreaking deeds against the railroad workers, because he says so himself. Max Eastman would still be a revolutionist because some twenty years ago he was in the orbit of the communist movement and he had written and spoken in defense of the Soviet Union.

Eastman a Renegade

But Eastman is a renegade who long ago went over into the camp of imperialism and has devoted himself to a defense of capitalist abominations. As a matter of fact, this is precisely why the Scripps-Howard syndicate gave him this well paying assignment, They hope that his revolutionary past will give weight to his reactionary spoutings today.

The Daily Worker on June 13, immediately after the appearance of Eastman’s first article, jumped into print editorially with a denunciation of Eastman. But they are no doubt doing it with tongue in cheek. The American Stalinists emerged out of the war discredited among the best worker militants. Their super-patriotism, their avowed subservience to Wall Street, their strikebreaking actions have created such a stench in the nostrils of the American workers that the Stalinists had to dump their leader of fifteen years, Earl Browder, and blame him for all their crimes as a means of refurbishing their shattered reputation.

One of the by-products of Eastman’s articles, intended to scare the American Babbitts with the Red Bogey, is this: they, at the same time give credence to the Stalinist claims of a “left” turn and help bolster their prestige among socialist-minded workers.

Stalinists Falsify

While denouncing Eastman the Stalinists resort to a falsification which falls into the same pattern as Eastman’s falsification of Stalin’s role. They say: “Eastman, is a follower of the notorious Trotsky who made a deal with the Nazis to help overthrow the Soviet government.”

Many years ago while Eastman was in the communist orbit he held sympathies for Leon Trotsky. In addition he translated some of Trotsky’s works from Russian into English. But it is no more correct for the Stalinists to present Eastman as a Trotskyist than it is for Eastman to present Stalin as a revolutionist. In both cases it is nothing but deception. It contradicts the living reality.

As to the Daily Worker’s slanders about Trotsky making a deal with the Nazis to help overthrow the Soviet government, we refer the readers to the series of articles on this very question by Joseph Hansen on page 7 of The Militant. It is precisely this charge against Trotsky which emphasizes all the more Stalin’s counter-revolutionary role. The frameup and assassination of Leon Trotsky, the extermination of Lenin’s entire generation of Bolsheviks by Stalin’s firing squads – these are counter-revolutionary deeds that no amount of words written or spoken by Stalin in 1924 can cover up.

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