Communists WERE 'the good guys' (and women)...

Grover Furr (
Wed, 17 Apr 1996 12:57:09 -0400

In High School in 1960 I was in a debate on the question: "Resolved:
better dead than Red." I took the position that it was better to be
"red" -- so that one could continue to fight for freedom, of course (I
also lost -- that was not the patriotic position; or maybe I was just
a poor debater).

The _main_ thing I learned during the '60s was that -- to use a
phrase used by a recent poster here on 60s -- "Communists ARE the good

This is not to say that the USSR was "good" by the '60s. The
Chinese argued very tellingly during the Sino-Soviet dispute that the
Soviets had abandoned Communist, egalitarian goals by that time. And
the whole Cultural Revolution in China was a struggle begun because
those who took egalitarian communist ideas seriously saw how closely
China was coming to resemble the USSR. At Peking University, the place
where the GPCR really got going, it was over the fact that the sons
and daughters of the privileged were _still_ gaining privileged access
to higher education, even though it was 14 years after the Revolution
and the working class was supposed to be in control.

By the '60s the Communist movement worldwide was, _at best_, a
struggle for reforms and anti-imperialism. This was not enough, not by
a long shot; and some places it was not very effective even at that.
And the Soviets and pro-Soviet communists were either not doing this
or only intermittently doing it. It was the pro-Soviet French CP that
sold out the French strikes of 1968, after all.

However, _anti-communism_ is something else altogether. The
capitalist powers were, and are, _never_ for liberation from
exploitation -- naturally enough. They are the main forces for
enforcing exploitation.

For those of us who are interested in ending exploitation and the
attendant horrors of capitalism, the Communist movement, with all its
shortcomings AND all its successes, which were many, is our heritage.
The job of anti-communist propaganda was and is to blind us to this

At its best, the Communist movement was the best force the world
has ever seen in fighting for the working class and the exploited of
the world, and it was at its best in the '20s and '30s, with great
unevenness, to be sure, But at least that was its impulse and
intention, realized better sometimes than others, but gradually giving
way to reformism.

However, the US, England, France, Japan, Germany, etc. -- the
imperialist powers -- were on the other side altogether! President
Roosevelt, P.M. Chamberlain, Churchill, Daladier, to say nothing of
the fascists, were all trying very successfully to strengthen and
expand exploitation, misery and murder on a grand scale.

The fact is that Stalin did a thousand times more for human
freedom than all these people put together -- naturally, because the
USSR was at least on the right side. Anti-communism would have it
otherwise, would obscure this simple fact.

By the '60s the communist movements _at best_ were riddled with
contradictions. Like the Vietnamese movement -- was it for communism
and egalitarianism, or simply for another version of bourgeois
anti-imperialism (keeping in mind that even that was fought
murderously by the US and all the "West", i.e. the capitalist powers)?
There was a real struggle -- as there was in Cuba, over whether and
how far to follow the Soviet model, or to go it alone.

Well, we all have a lot of lessons to learn from the failures of
the communist movement. It would be good also to learn from its
SUCCESSES -- that capitalism CAN be overthrown; that reform is NO
solution to exploitation and misery for the earth's majority; that a
better world IS possible and WILL come to pass -- once we throw off
all the baggage of anti-communism, that is, which aims to teach us the
biggest lie of all, that "it can't be done." It can!

Grover C. Furr

English Department | Phone: (201) 655-7305
Montclair State University | email:
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043 |

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