Elia Kazan & the Ongoing Communist Whitewash
March 21, 2013
"To be a member of the Communist Party is to have a taste of the police state. " - ELIA KAZAN
"While Hollywood never seems to tire of movies that vilify the Nazis and, more recently, the Arabs and the Muslims, it is yet to produce anything [negative] about the Soviet bloc that begins to compare to the French movie, Est-Ouest (East-West), or the German movie, Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)." - Dave Martin
by Dave Martin
"Elia Kazan: American Hero"
(Abridged/edited by henrymakow.com)
What in the world is going on here? At the time that Kazan gave his testimony [in 1952,] we only knew a small part of the evils of Soviet Communism under Joseph Stalin. The Soviet historian Roy Medvedev hadn't published his exposÃ© of Stalin entitled Let History Judge. Most importantly, The Gulag Archipelago and the other great writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn were still in the distant future.
On the American political scene, the revelations of former Communists had just been published in the form of a book entitled The God That Failed three years before, in which the insidiousness of the Communist Party in the United States was put on full display.
Former Communist spies Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers had given their Congressional testimony, and one of the people Chambers accused of being a Soviet spy, Alger Hiss, had been convicted of perjury, but there were still a lot of people who believed that he, Lauchlin Currie, Owen Lattimore, and other high level Communists and Communist sympathizers were just victims of a witch hunt.
Allen Weinstein, previously a Hiss defender, had not yet written Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, showing to the satisfaction of almost everyone in the history community how right Chambers was about Hiss and the Communist infiltration of the government.
When it comes to the question of the principles involved, there is no better authority than Kazan himself. Here, in the full text of an advertisement he purchased in The New York Times on April 12, 1952:
In the past weeks intolerable rumors about my political position have been circulating in New York and Hollywood. I want to make my stand clear:
I believe that Communist activities confront the people of this country with an unprecedented and exceptionally tough problem. That is, how to protect ourselves from a dangerous and alien conspiracy and still keep the free, open, healthy way of life that gives us self-respect.
I believe that the American people can solve this problem wisely only if they have the facts about Communism. All the facts.
Now I believe that any American who is in possession of such facts has the obligation to make them known, either to the public or to the appropriate Government agency.
Whatever hysteria exists -- and there is some, particularly in Hollywood -- is inflamed by mystery, suspicion and secrecy. Hard and exact facts will cool it.
The facts I have are sixteen years out of date, but they supply a small piece of background to the graver picture of communism today.
I have placed these facts before the House Committee on Un-American Activities without reserve and I now place them before the public and before my co-workers in motion pictures and in the theater.
Seventeen and a half years ago I was a twenty-four-year old stage manager and bit actor, making $40 a week, when I worked.
At that time nearly all of us felt menaced by two things: The depression and the ever growing power of Hitler. The streets were full of unemployed and shaken men. I was taken in by the Hard Times version of what might be called the Communists' advertising or recruiting technique. They claimed to have a cure for depressions and a cure for Naziism and Fascism.
I joined the Communist Party late in the summer of 1934. I got out a year and a half later.
I have no spy stories to tell, because I saw no spies. Nor did I understand, at that time, any opposition between American and Russian national interest. It was not even clear to me in 1936, that the American Communist Party was abjectly taking its orders from the Kremlin.
What I learned was the minimum that anyone must learn who puts his head into the noose of party "discipline." The Communists automatically violated the daily practices of democracy to which I was accustomed. They attempted to control thought and to suppress personal opinion. They tried to dictate personal conduct. They habitually distorted and disregarded and violated the truth. All this was crudely opposite of their claims of "democracy" and "the scientific approach."
To be a member of the Communist Party is to have a taste of the police state. It is a diluted taste but it is bitter and unforgettable. It is diluted because you can walk out. I got out in the spring of 1936.
The question will be asked why I did not tell this story sooner. I was held back, primarily, by concern for the reputations and employment of people who may, like myself, have left the party many years ago.
I was held back by a piece of specious reasoning which has silenced many liberals. It goes like this: "You may hate the Communists, but you must not attack or expose them, because if you do you are attacking the right to hold unpopular opinions and you are joining the people who attack civil liberties."
I have thought soberly about this. It is, simply, a lie.
Secrecy serves the Communists. At the other pole, it serves those who are interested in silencing liberal voices. The employment of a lot of good liberals is threatened because they have allowed themselves to become associated with or silenced by the Communists.
Liberals must speak out.
I think it is useful that certain of us had this kind of experience with the Communists, for if we had not we should not know them so well. Today, when all the world fears war and they scream peace, we know how much their professions are worth. We know tomorrow they will have a new slogan.
Firsthand experience of dictatorship and thought control left me with an abiding hatred of these. It left me with an abiding hatred of Communist philosophy and methods and the conviction that these must be resisted always.
It also left me with the passionate conviction that we must never let the Communists get away with the pretense that they stand for the very things which they kill in their own countries.
I am talking about free speech, a free press, the rights of property, the rights of labor, racial equality and, above all, individual rights. I value these things. I take them seriously. I value peace, too, when it is not bought at the price of fundamental decencies.
I believe these things must be fought for wherever they are not fully honored and protected whenever they are threatened.
The motion pictures I have made and the plays I have chosen to direct represent my convictions.
I expect to continue to make the same kinds of pictures and to direct the same kinds of plays."
For anyone who might still believe that Kazan's attackers hold the moral high ground, I suggest that they just go back and read his statement again, perhaps a little more carefully the second time through. Who can honestly take issue with a single line in it? If that doesn't work, then watch this powerful scene in the Kazan-directed On the Waterfront. It is hardly noble or admirable, Kazan is telling us, to protect the secrets of murderous, power-lusting thugs in the name of loyalty to one's associates. And when it comes to murderousness and power lust, the mobsters who controlled the New York docks in the movie were very small timers compared to the controllers of those he informed on for HUAC. As he wrote in his autobiography, "On the Waterfront was my own story. Every day I worked on that film, I was telling the world where I stood and my critics to go **** themselves." (Elia Kazan: A Life, p. 529; quoted in Billingsley, p. 244).
"Of all the arts, the cinema is the most important," -Vladimir Lenin
Consonant with that dictum, burrowing into Hollywood and taking it over was as important to Stalin's Communist Party as controlling the docks was to the mob in On the Waterfront. And it was very successful. Contrary to the popular notion we might have now that one was taking great risks for his ideals to be a Communist, at the height of the party's influence, it was actually a career advantage in Hollywood:
For the cinema revolutionaries, wrote Eugene Lyons, Communism was "an intoxicated state of mind, a glow of inner virtue, and a sort of comradeship in super-charity," a way for the wealthy to posture as proletarian wage slaves.
On the other hand, the Party triumphalist mind-set, the notion that they automatically write better screenplays and belonged to the victorious army of the future, led some to use ideology as a substitute for talent or even effort.
According to Louis Berg, longtime Hollywood journalist Max Youngstein of Universal circulated a memo informing all personnel that being a Communist was no longer sufficient reason to be employed there, and that doing a bit of work would also be required.
Former Communist screenwriter Roy Huggins says that there were a number of "awful writers" who wouldn't have worked without their politics. For this type of person, Huggins said, becoming a member of the Communist Party "was just another way of being Sammy Glick," the hero of Budd Schulberg's novel, What Makes Sammy Run? (Billingsley, pp. 58-59) ...
As for "the industry," it was not up to admitting that it had played the role of what Lenin called "useful idiots," duped and bilked by militant Communists. Though it was the industry, not the government, that blacklisted writers and performers, the blacklist legend allowed the studios to pose as victims themselves, a cover-up too intoxicating to pass up. (Billingsley, pp. 272-273)
Had the movie moguls been really sincere in their newfound anti-Communism we would have seen them producing at least an occasional movie that reveals the truth about the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin and afterward. More than half a century has passed and we have not yet seen anything out of Hollywood that might counteract the impression they left with 1940s movies like Mission to Moscow, Song of Russia, and The North Star.
That has certainly not been for lack of good potential dramatic material. Solzhenitsyn alone, we know, has stories galore, but there have been lots of others like Eugenia Ginzburg's Journey into the Whirlwind or the sad stories of Americans in the Soviet Union like Thomas Sgovio, Victor Herman,* or Robert Robinson, whom we mention in our recent review of The Forsaken. While Hollywood never seems to tire of movies that vilify the Nazis and, more recently, the Arabs and the Muslims, it is yet to produce anything about the Soviet bloc that begins to compare to the French movie, Est-Ouest (East-West), or the German movie, Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others).
Rather, Hollywood still seems to prefer to romanticize Communism with movies like The Way We Were and Reds and to save its greatest opprobrium for those who called attention to the Communist subversion and infiltration problem. The most recent example of the latter that comes to mind is George Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck.
This negative focus upon the Hollywood blacklist in the one instance and upon Senator Joe McCarthy in the other suggests that what we are seeing in action here in both cases is nothing less than the Thirteenth of the Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression. Our opinion molders have successfully changed the subject by creating a distraction. So now, just as the story of Hollywood subversion by Communists begins with HUAC, the story that M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein recount with their new book Stalin's Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt's Government, as far as the dominant creators of national opinion are concerned, begins with Senator McCarthy's presumed overly vigorous inquiries into that highly successful subversion.
There is ample reason to feel a sense of indignation at this whole sorry episode of American history. If it must be directed at one particular American, it should be at the person responsible for consciously allowing Stalin's subversion to go as far as it did. Our previous writings have amply demonstrated who that person is. His profile can be found on the dime, and he is currently being worship fully portrayed by Asner in a one-man show. [FDR]
Makow comment - The whole story of Illuminati Jewish (Communist) subversion of America would make many great movies beginning with Whitaker Chamber's book Witness, which Dan mentions below. Of course, these movies never get made precisely because of that subversion. They don't want to alert the goyim to their fate. TV & movies provide the masses with a fantasy world.
Recently saw Dr Strangelove again and was amazed at the energy they spent ridiculing the idea of a Communist Conspiracy and the people who believe in it. The redneck general, Jack Ripper, is played by a real life Communist, Sterling Hayden.
First Comment by Dan
Ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers, left, described his discovery of a deeper agenda behind the New Deal in his autobiography, 'Witness'.
Chambers had been one of hundreds of Communists embedded in New Deal jobs in Washington D.C. in the 1930's. As a spy, he had taken the New Deal at face value - a program of liberal reform through government spending. Meanwhile, by 1937 Chambers became disillusioned with Communism to the extent he went to FDR's intelligence liaison, Adolf A. Berle Jr., outspoken anti-Communist, then Assistant Secretary of State, and informed him of the Communist spy network embedded in Washington. As weeks went by, Chambers realized that Berle wasn't going to do anything about it.. Only then did Chambers realize that the FDR's liberals weren't concerned about Communists. They were using them!
"I saw that the New Deal was only superficially a reform movement. I had to acknowledge the truth of what its more forthright protagonists, sometimes unwarily, sometimes defiantly, averred: The New Deal was a genuine revolution, whose deepest purpose was not simply reform within existing traditions, but a basic change in the social, and above all, the power relationships within the nation. ...the basic point of the revolution -- the shift of power from business to government -- the two kinds of revolutionists were at one; and they shared many other views and hopes. Thus men who sincerely abhorred the word Communism, in the pursuit of common ends found that they were unable to distinguish Communists from themselves".
Chambers or Kazan didn't testify out of fear of the government, but because they were among the few that had the intelligence to have realized they'd been 'had'. Lured by an ideology that spoke a great deal about social justice at the beginning, they realized they were useful idiots for a cynical elite as totalitarian and ruthless as the Nazis they thought they were fighting.
Unfortunately the testimony of the most brilliant minds with genuine conviction often goes right over the heads of the public they try to warn.
An ancient Greek maxim was "No one loves the messenger who brings bad news". The old saying "don't shoot the messenger" applies to Kazan.
Related - Another account by Michael Mills