The Corner

The Death of the Soviet Union Was Not the Death of Communism

With due respect, I think Charles Krauthammer had it badly wrong on Van Jones when he said (see post below), “I’m not even disturbed that this guy is a communist. It is not the first time we had a communist in the U.S. government. And anyway, with the death of communism, it is a kind of a pathetic intellectual anachronism to remain a communist.”

It should be apparent by now that Communism never died. The Soviet Union died. Being a Communist, or a neocommunist, is not an intellectual anachronism at all — it is quite the fashion in the academy and our other institutions. Does Charles not realize, for example, that Obama’s friend Bill Ayers – who proudly calls himself “a small ‘c’ communist” – was in 2008 elected vice president for curriculum of the American Education Research Association, the nation’s largest organization of education professors and researchers? (See Sol Stern’s profile of Ayers and education, here). I’m not sure “pathetic” is the right word, but what is a perilous intellectual anachronism is the belief that the communist threat ended 18 years ago.

The Jones incident, moreover, does not indicate that “we had a communist in the U.S. government.” To the contrary, as I argued last night, we have a U.S. government in which Van Jones was quite consciously selected because his views are representative of the president who made him the “green jobs czar.” Van Jones isn’t Alger Hiss. There’s nothing covert about him. He didn’t snooker Obama into bringing him aboard. He is who he is, and that’s why Obama wanted him. Having a Communist in that job was perfect since the “green jobs” initiative is an important part of the hard Left’s agenda to use environmentalism as an additional justification for usurping command of the economy.

In fact, the death of the Soviet Union has actually been a boon for neocommunists. Now, Obama and his fellow travelers like Jones, Ayers, Wright, Klonsky, and ACORN, can spout all the same totalitarian, anti-American, central-planning ideas the hard Left has always pushed, but in the abstract – under such mushy labels as “social justice” and “green jobs.” That is, they are liberated from having to defend the Soviet Empire, which, until 1991, was a living, breathing, concrete example of how horrific these ideas are when put in practice. 

David Horowitz nails this in his terrific book, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left (Regnery 2004):

Far from instilling humility in progressives …, the collapse of socialism has revived their self-righteousness and reenergized their assault on the democratic West.  The disappearance of the Soviet bloc has had only one consequence of note.  It has lifted the burden of having to defend … an indefensible regime.  Because the utopian vision is no longer anchored in the reality of an actually existing socialist state, the left can now indulge its nihilistic agendas without restraint.

For anyone with common sense and a willingness to look at what we were allowed to learn about Obama’s background and associations, nothing about Van Jones is the least bit surprising. Nothing about Obama’s penchant for government by radical, unaccountable czars is the least bit surprising. What is surprising is that smart people continue to treat these developments as if they were abberations that somehow happen independent of Obama, as if the president just needs to do a better job of vetting staffers. The selection of Van Jones is who Obama is and what he is about. Bad things are not happening to our president; our president is doing bad things — as we should have known he would.

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