The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Bolshevik Subversive Conor Friedersdorf: Innocent ‘Liberal’ Dupe or Red Agent?

Posted on | February 2, 2013 | 13 Comments

“The Communists (we must give them credit for many things) are intelligent, are well disciplined, and take their orders direct from Moscow and are proud of it. . . .
“Not only is Soviet Russia trying to wipe out all forms of religion, but it is successful in doing it.”

Rep. Hamilton Fish (R-New York), “The Menace of Communism” (1931)

“Anyone who opposes the American communists . . . becomes the object of a systematic campaign of character assassination. This is easily understood because the basic tactics of the Communist Party are deceit and trickery. . . .
“The Communist propaganda technique is designed to promote emotional response with the hope that the victim will be attracted by what he is told the Communist way of life holds in store for him. The objective, of course, is to develop discontent and hasten the day when the Communists can gather sufficient support and following to overthrow the American way of life.
“Communist propaganda is always slanted in the hope that the Communist may be aligned with liberal progressive causes.”

J. Edgar Hoover, testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, March 26, 1947

One of the dangers of doomsaying prophecy is that if the predicted disaster does not happen immediately, and in exactly the way predicted, not only is the prophet discredited, but his failure will invariably be cited to dismiss any similar doomsday warning in the future. So if you predict that Dangerous Trend X will lead to Catastrophic Consequence Y, you can expect to be derided as a laughingstock if the actual result proves to be Unfortunate Outcome Z.

A certain modesty in regard to the future is therefore necessary when warning against potential dangers, because complex causation and the Law of Unintended Consequeces have a way of falsifying prophecies that are too detailed and specific. What sometimes happens is that a danger is foreseen, the alarm is sounded, measures are taken to prevent the danger and then — by a dishonest perversion of logic — cynics will claim that the danger successfully averted never really existed, and that those who warned against the danger were deceitful charlatans.

We ought to be wise to such tactics, especially when they are employed to rewrite history that we actually know. Barely two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, liberals would have us believe that the Red Menace never existed, that communism never posed a real danger to the American way of life, and that the courageous efforts of American anti-communists were therefore a comical farce.

Such is the effect (and one must assume, the purpose) of Conor Friederdorf’s article at The Atlantic, “Pornography ‘Weakens our Resistance to the Communist Masters of Deceit.'” Friedersdorf ridicules a 1961 documentary, Perversion for Profit, that warned against the evil influence of pornography. It probably won’t surprise you that the title of Friedersdorf’s article is taken out of context from the film’s script:

“The Military Chaplains Association of the United States, practically every major fraternal, civic and religious organization, the juvenile court judges, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, innumerable psychiatrists, sociologists and psychologists, attribute the moral decay among our people in very large part to the obscene and pornographic literature so prevalent in our society. This moral decay weakens our resistance to the communist masters of deceit.”

Facts are stated: Various organizations and individuals have warned that pornography contributes to “moral decay” — would anyone argue otherwise, even today? — and in turn, it is asserted, this decay undermines “resistance” to communism. That warning doesn’t strike me as particularly far-fetched, either: A nation of wankers, perverts and degenerates would be ill-positioned to oppose the disciplined forces of a totalitarian opponent.

Perhaps Friedersdorf is too young to understand the extent to which America’s resistance to communism was based in religious faith. Given the militant atheist ideology of Marxism and the knowledge that communist governments suppressed and persecuted Christians, it was always the case that anti-communism was most fervent and determined where religious belief was most devout. If pornography was an agent of moral corruption — which it most certainly was, and still is — wasn’t pornography therefore also a threat to religious faith and, in turn, a force that could do exactly what the film warned against, weakening resistance to “the communist masters of deceit”?

That particular phrase, incidentally, is from the title of a 1958 book by J. Edgar Hoover, Masters of Deceit: The Story of Communism and How to Fight It, and the question ought to be asked: Does Conor Friedersdorf think the threat of Soviet subversion was a figment of right-wing imagination? Is he mocking anti-communism? Does Friedersdorf mean to suggest that the demoralizing influence of pornography was misunderstood or exaggerated by the producers of the documentary, Perversion for Profit?

Here is the problem: If the documentary helped inspire patriotic Americans to oppose the dissemination of pornography, and if this opposition was effective to any significant degree — so that pornography was less available than it might otherwise have been — how can we say that the danger was exaggerated? Stipulate that nearly all anti-communist messages from the Cold War era now sound quaintly obsolete, and that this documentary in particular manifests a cornball “square” mentality that doesn’t translate well to the ironic disposition of 21st-century culture. Despite all such caveats, can anyone watch this 30-minute documentary and say, as Friedersdorf does, that it is ridiculous, absurd and impossible to take seriously?

Maybe among Friedersdorf and his friends, pornography is entirely commonplace and acceptable, so that any warning against it seems as ludicrous as being called a “Bolshevik subversive.” Or is it perhaps the case that, in the half-century since Perversion for Profit was produced, the Bolshevik subversives have been so diligent in undermining our nation’s morality that they have finally succeeded, even though the Soviet Union — the foreign menace that originally inspired their anti-American activities — crumbled into the ash-heap of history in 1991?

Thus is falsified the adage that the winners write the history books. The communists lost the Cold War, yet their sympathizers now dominate academia and publishing in America to such an extent that we must be lectured by Friedersdorf about the harmlessness of pornography, and about the supposed “asburdity” of moral degeneracy as a subversive weapon of the communist menace.

Friedersdorf continues to claim that he is a conservative, despite the observable fact that his entire journalistic career has been an incessant assault on the conservative movement and its leaders. It’s almost as if Friedersdorf’s “basic tactics . . . are deceit and trickery.”



  • Adjoran

    If enough people ignore him, he will go away. The Atlantic isn’t exactly breaking records.

    But the more his name gets mentioned, the happier he is. You can bet he’s reading this article one-handed.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Perhaps it might behoove[r] Conor Frieddick to read a history of Poland over the last century.

  • Mike G.

    Communism and Fabianism both have their roots in Marxism. The Communists haven’t lost so much as they have gone to ground to wait for the Fabians to do the dirty work. Fabianism was always about the long haul while Communism tried and failed through force. That’s my take, anyway.

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  • dad29

    communists lost the Cold War, yet their sympathizers now dominate academia and publishing

    What, exactly, makes you think that they are merely “sympathizers”? Did you read Witness??

  • maybetoday777

    Btw, what religion is Soviet Russia? Oh, that’s right its the eastern orthodox branch of Roman Catholicism. And, everything that is happening in America and the world was foretold over and over and over in a King James Bible. The Old Testament and history for that matter is how God deals with nations that abandon His words and then those said nations just happen to “accidently” magnify the satanic vaticanus and sinaiticus put out by Origen, Eusibius and Philo et al the Alexandria Scholars Union. In history (and the Book), ignorance and poverty are directly tied to Roman control. Any country that ever lifted up the AV of 1611 like England and the USA did in the past will see the fruits of their labor like those countries did in the PAST, and if any country dumps then like England and the USA have then you will see the rotten fruit it produces. This goes for ANY country.
    If any person ever got born again, then read the AV of 1611 thru once per year they would NEVER put up with 95% of what comes out of any pastor or preachers mouth today and it surely wouldn’t put up this government or the way we live. It is impossible because God would take care of it. And, if not then God will also take care of it (the opposite). It is YOUR choice. Blessing or cursing. Life or death. Light or lightning. Light rejected is lighting.

  • Wombat_socho

    I myself prefer the term “useful idiot”, or as they say in Holy Mother Russia, govnoed.

  • Wombat_socho

    Orthodoxy is not the Eastern branch of Catholicism, it is a schismatic Christian church not in union with Rome. I stopped reading your screed at that point, since if you got something that basic and widely known so badly wrong, everything based on it would be even more wrong.

  • bill in falls church

    You mean like this Robert Ryan?

  • bill in falls church
  • JDP

    Friedersdorf’s problem is that he defines conservatism in Burkean terms — well actually, this wouldn’t be a problem, except that liberals today seem to believe that Burkeanism = Fabian gradualism. i.e., conservatism can’t have any ideological content, it has to just amount to slow-motion liberalism and accepting the society we have, regardless of whether the underpinnings of said society are liberal.

    defining conservatism this way is as useless as saying Communist hardliners in the Gorbachev era were “conservative” because they were for the existing order.

    you notice we never see this sort of obfuscation with liberalism, “The Liberal Case for [Insert Conservative Policy Here]” or anything. Everyone knows what liberalism is. It’s just people (Friedersdorf, David Brooks, others) who, for whatever reason, have some kind of attachment to the conservative label but don’t actually advocate anything conservative, who want to redefine it in the vaguest sense possible.

  • jsn2

    J.Edgar may have worn a dress, but he knew the enemy.

    “Anyone who opposes the American communists Obama administration . . . becomes the object of a systematic campaign of character assassination. This is easily understood because the basic tactics of the Communist Party Progressives in Main Stream Media are deceit and trickery. . . . “The Communist Progressive Media propaganda technique is designed to promote emotional response with the hope that the victim will be attracted by what he is told the Communist Obama way of life holds in store for him. The objective, of course, is to develop discontent and hasten the day when the Communists Progressive Ideologues can
    gather sufficient support and following to overthrow the American way of life. “Communist MsnbcAbcCbsNbcNytCnn propaganda is always slanted in the hope that the Communist talking point of the day may be aligned with liberal progressive causes.”

  • Bob Belvedere

    Friedersdorf and Brooks do Edmund Burke a grave disservice by their false claims about his philosophy.