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Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. Anti-communism was central to Adolf Hitler's rise to power and Nazism and fascism in general, with the NSDAP often warning of international (Jewish) Bolshevism and Marxism. It reached global dimensions during the Cold War, when America and the Soviet Union engaged in an intense rivalry.
Most modern anti-communists reject the concept of historical materialism, which is a central idea in Marxism. Anti-communists reject the Marxist belief that capitalism will be followed by socialism and communism, just as feudalism was followed by capitalism. Anti-communists question the validity of the Marxist claim that the socialist state will "wither away" when it becomes unnecessary in a true communist society. Anti-communists also accuse communists of having caused several famines that occurred in 20th-century communist states, such as the Russian Famine of 1921 and the much more severe famine in China during the Great Leap Forward.
Anti-communists argue that the repression in the early years of Bolshevik rule, while not as extreme as that during Joseph Stalin's rule, was still severe by reasonable standards, citing examples such as Felix Dzerzhinsky's Cheka secret police, which eliminated numerous political opponents by extrajudicial executions, and the brutal crushing of the Kronstadt rebellion and Tambov rebellion. Some anti-communists refer to both communism and fascism as totalitarianism, seeing similarity between the actions of communist and fascist governments.
Opponents argue that communist parties that have come to power have tended to be rigidly intolerant of political opposition. Communist governments have also been accused of creating a new ruling class (a Nomenklatura), with powers and privileges greater than those previously enjoyed by the upper classes in the non-communist regimes.
- 1 Anti-communist movements
- 2 Literature
- 3 Evasion of censorship
- 4 Anti-communism in different countries and regions
- 5 Violence against alleged communists
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Since the split of the Communist Parties from the socialist Second International to form the Communist Third International, democratic socialists and social democrats have been critical of Communism for its anti-democratic nature. Examples of left-wing critics of Communist states and parties are Boris Souveraine, Bayard Rustin, Irving Howe and Max Shachtman. The American Federation of Labor has always been strongly anti-Communist. The more leftist CIO purged its Communists in 1947 and has been staunchly anti-Communist ever since. In Britain, the Labour Party strenuously resisted Communist efforts to infiltrate its ranks and take control of locals in the 1930s. The Labour Party became anti-Communist.
Although some anarchists describe themselves as communists, all anarchists criticize authoritarian Communist parties and states. They argue that Marxist concepts such as dictatorship of the proletariat and state ownership of the means of production are anathema to anarchism. Some anarchists criticize communism from an individualist point of view.
The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin debated with Karl Marx in the First International, arguing that the Marxist state is another form of oppression. He loathed the idea of a vanguard party ruling the masses from above. Anarchists initially participated in, and rejoiced over, the 1917 revolution as an example of workers taking power for themselves. However, after the October revolution, it became evident that the Bolsheviks and the anarchists had very different ideas. Anarchist Emma Goldman, deported from the United States to Russia in 1919, was initially enthusiastic about the revolution, but was left sorely disappointed, and began to write her book My Disillusionment in Russia. Anarchist Peter Kropotkin, proffered trenchant criticism of the emergent Bolshevik bureaucracy in letters to Vladimir Lenin, noting in 1920: "[a party dictatorship] is positively harmful for the building of a new socialist system. What is needed is local construction by local forces … Russia has already become a Soviet Republic only in name." Many anarchists fought against Russian, Spanish and Greek Communists; many were killed by them, such as Lev Chernyi, Camillo Berneri and Constantinos Speras.
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx lays out a 10-point plan advising the redistribution of land and production, and Ludwig von Mises argues that the initial and ongoing forms of redistribution constitute direct coercion. Neither Marx's 10-point plan nor the rest of the manifesto say anything about who has the right to carry out the plan. Milton Friedman argued that the absence of voluntary economic activity makes it too easy for repressive political leaders to grant themselves coercive powers. Friedman's view was also shared by Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes, both of whom believed that capitalism is vital for freedom to survive and thrive.
Objectivists who follow Ayn Rand are strongly anti-Communist. They argue that wealth (or any other human value) is the creation of individual minds, that human nature requires motivation by personal incentive, and therefore, that only political and economic freedom are consistent with human prosperity. This is demonstrated, they believe, by the comparative prosperity of free market and socialist economies. Objectivist Ayn Rand writes that communist leaders typically claim to work for the common good, but many or all of them have been corrupt and totalitarian.
Many ex-communists have turned into anti-communists. Mikhail Gorbachev turned from a Communist into a social democrat. Milovan Đilas, was a former Yugoslav Communist official, who became a prominent dissident and critic of Communism. Leszek Kołakowski was a Polish Communist who became a famous anti-communist. He was best known for his critical analyses of Marxist thought, especially his acclaimed three-volume history, Main Currents of Marxism, which is "considered by some to be one of the most important books on political theory of the 20th century." The God That Failed is a 1949 book which collects together six essays with the testimonies of a number of famous ex-Communists, who were writers and journalists. The common theme of the essays is the authors' disillusionment with and abandonment of Communism. The promotional byline to the book is "Six famous men tell how they changed their minds about Communism." Another notable anti-communist was Whittaker Chambers, a former Soviet Union spy who testified against his fellow spies before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Other anti-communists who were once Marxists include the writers Max Eastman, John Dos Passos, James Burnham, Morrie Ryskind, Frank Meyer, Will Herberg, Sidney Hook, Louis Fischer, André Gide, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Stephen Spender, Peter Hitchens, Zita Seabra, Tajar Zavalani, and Richard Wright. Anti-communists who were once socialists, modern liberals, or social democrats include: John Chamberlain, Friedrich Hayek, Raymond Moley, Norman Podhoretz, and Irving Kristol.
Fascism and far-right politics
Fascism is often considered a reaction to communist and socialist uprisings in Europe. Italian fascism, founded and led by Benito Mussolini, took power after years of leftist unrest led many conservatives to fear that a communist revolution was inevitable. Historians Ian Kershaw and Joachim Fest argue that in the early 1920s the Nazis were only one of many nationalist and fascist political parties contending for the leadership of Germany's anti-communist movement. The Nazis came to dominance in the Great Depression, when they organized street battles against German Communist formations. When Hitler came to power in 1933 his propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels set up the "Anti-Komintern." It generated masses of anti-Bolshevik propaganda, with the goal of demonizing Bolshevism and the Soviet Union to a worldwide audience.
In Europe, numerous far right activists including some conservative intellectuals, capitalists and industrialists were vocal opponents of Communism. During the late 1930s and the 1940s, several other anti-communist regimes and groups supported fascism: the Falange in Spain; the Vichy regime and the Legion of French Volunteers against Bolshevism (Wehrmacht Infantry Regiment 638) in France; and, in South America, movements such as Brazilian Integralism.
Most exiled Russian aristocrats as well as exiled Russian liberals were actively anti-Communist in the 1920s and 1930s.
In Britain anticommunism was widespread among the British foreign policy elite in the 1930s with its strong upper-class connections. The upper class the Cliveden set was strongly anti-Communist in Britain.
Anti-semitic Anti-communism, also known as Judeo-Bolshevism, is a concept that Jews are responsible for most, if not all, Communist and Socialist movements as a means of world domination. Anti-semitic Anti-communism is pushed by multiple far-right groups both past and present including the NSDAP, the Ku Klux Klan, and the National Socialist Movement.
Thích Huyền Quang was a prominent Vietnamese Buddhist monk and anti-communist dissident. In 1977, Huyền Quang wrote a letter to Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng detailing counts of oppression by the Communist regime. For this, he and five other senior monks were arrested and detained. In 1982, Huyền Quang was arrested and subsequently put into permanent house arrest for opposition to government policy after publicly denouncing the establishment of the state-controlled Vietnam Buddhist Church. Thích Quảng Độ is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and anti-communist dissident. In January 2008, the Europe-based magazine A Different View chose Ven. Thích Quảng Độ as one of the 15 Champions of World Democracy.
The Catholic Church has a history of anti-communism. The most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The Catholic Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modern times with 'communism' or 'socialism.' … Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds … [Still,] reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended."
From 1945 onward the Australian Labor Party (ALP) leadership accepted the assistance of an anti-Communist Roman Catholic movement, led by B.A. Santamaria to oppose alleged communist subversion of Australian trade unions, of which Catholics were an important traditional support base. Bert Cremean, Deputy Leader of State Parliamentary Labor Party and Santamaria, met with Labor's political and industrial leaders to discuss the movements assisting their opposition to what they alleged was communist subversion of Australian trade unionism. To oppose communist infiltration of unions Industrial Groups were formed. The groups were active from 1945 to 1954, with the knowledge and support of the ALP leadership. until after Labor's loss of the 1954 election, when federal leader Dr H. V. Evatt, in the context of his response to the Petrov affair, blamed "subversive" activities of the "Groupers", for the defeat. After bitter public dispute many Groupers (including most members of the New South Wales and Victorian state executives and most Victorian Labor branches) were expelled from the ALP and formed the Democratic Labor Party (historical). In an attempt to force the ALP reform and remove alleged communist influence, with a view to then rejoining the "purged" ALP, the DLP preferenced (see Australian electoral system) the Liberal Party of Australia, enabling them to remain in power for over two decades. The strategy was unsuccessful, and after the Whitlam Government during the 1970s, the majority of the DLP decided to wind up the party in 1978, although a small Federal and State party continued based in Victoria (see Democratic Labour Party) with state parties reformed in NSW and Queensland in 2008.
After the Soviet occupation of Hungary during the final stages of the Second World War, many clerics were arrested. The case of the Archbishop József Mindszenty of Esztergom, head of the Catholic Church in Hungary was the most known. He was accused of treason to the communist ideas and was sent to trials and tortured during several years between 1949 and 1956. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against communism he was set free and after the failure of the movement he was forced to move to the United States' embassy on Budapest. There he lived until 1971 when the Vatican and the communist government of Hungary pacted his way out to Austria. In the following years Mindszenty travelled all over the world visiting the Hungarian colonies in Canada, United States, Germany, Austria, South Africa and Venezuela. He led a high critical campaign against the communist regime denouncing the atrocities committed by them against him and the Hungarian people. The communist government accused him and demanded that the Vatican remove him the title of Archbishop of Esztergom and forbid him to make public speeches against communism. The Vatican eventually annulled the excommunication imposed on his political opponents, and stripped him of his titles. The Pope, who declared the Archdiocese of Esztergom officially vacated, refused to fill the seat while Mindszenty was still alive.
Falun Gong practitioners are against the Communist Party of China's persecution of Falun Gong. In April 1999, over ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners gathered at Communist Party of China headquarters, Zhongnanhai, in a silent protest following an incident in Tianjin. Two months later the communist party banned the practice, initiated a security crackdown, and began a propaganda campaign against it. Since 1999, Falun Gong practitioners in China have been subject to torture, arbitrary imprisonment, beatings, forced labor, organ harvesting, and psychiatric abuses. Falun Gong responded with their own media campaign, and have emerged as a notable voice of dissent against the Communist Party of China, by founding organizations such as the Epoch Times, NTDTV and others that criticize the communist party.
In 2006, allegations emerged that a large number of Falun Gong practitioners had been killed to supply China's organ transplant industry. The Kilgour-Matas report found that "the source of 41,500 transplants for the six year period 2000 to 2005 is unexplained" and concluded that "there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners". Ethan Gutmann estimated that 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners were killed for their organs from 2000 to 2008.
George Orwell, a democratic socialist, wrote two of the most widely read and influential anti-totalitarian novels: Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, both of which featured allusions to the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. Later releases of "Animal Farm", however, contain a foreword by the author revealing his intent to comment on censorship in the West, particularly anti-communist censorship.
Also on the left wing, Arthur Koestler—a former member of the Communist Party—explored the ethics of revolution from an anti-communist perspective in a variety of works. His trilogy of early novels testified to Koestler's growing conviction that utopian ends do not justify the means often used by revolutionary governments. These novels are: The Gladiators (which explores the slave uprising led by Spartacus in the Roman Empire as an allegory for the Russian Revolution), Darkness at Noon (based on the Moscow Trials, this was a very widely read novel that made Koestler one of the most prominent anti-communist intellectuals of the period), and Arrival and Departure.
Whittaker Chambers—an American ex-communist who became famous for his cooperation with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), where he implicated Alger Hiss—published an influential anti-communist memoir, Witness, in 1952.
Boris Pasternak, a Russian writer, rose to international fame after his anti-communist novel Doctor Zhivago was smuggled out of the Soviet Union (where it was banned) and published in the West in 1957. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature, much to the chagrin of the Soviet authorities.
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, dramatist and historian. Through his writings—particularly The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, his two best-known works—he made the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system. For these efforts, Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, and was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974.
Herta Müller is a Romanian-born German novelist, poet and essayist noted for her works depicting the harsh conditions of life in Communist Romania under the repressive Nicolae Ceauşescu regime, the history of the Germans in the Banat (and more broadly, Transylvania), and the persecution of Romanian ethnic Germans by Stalinist Soviet occupying forces in Romania and the Soviet-imposed Communist regime of Romania. Müller has been an internationally-known author since the early 1990s, and her works have been translated into more than 20 languages. She has received over 20 awards, including the 1994 Kleist Prize, the 1995 Aristeion Prize, the 1998 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2009 Franz Werfel Human Rights Award and the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Richard Wurmbrand wrote about his experiences being tortured for his faith in Communist Romania. He ascribed Communism to a satanic conspiracy, and alluded to Karl Marx being demon-possessed.
Evasion of censorship
Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet-bloc; individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader, thus building a foundation for the successful resistance of the 1980s. This grassroots practice to evade officially imposed censorship was fraught with danger as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials. Vladimir Bukovsky defined it as follows: "I myself create it, edit it, censor it, publish it, distribute it, and get imprisoned for it."
During the Cold War, Western countries invested heavily in powerful transmitters which enabled broadcasters to be heard in the Eastern Bloc, despite attempts by authorities to jam such signals. In 1947, VOA started broadcasting in Russian with the intent to counter Soviet propaganda directed against American leaders and policies. These included Radio Free Europe (RFE), RIAS (Berlin) the Voice of America (VOA), Deutsche Welle, Radio France International and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The Soviet Union responded by attempting aggressive, electronic jamming of VOA (and some other Western) broadcasts in 1949. The BBC World Service similarly broadcast language-specific programming to countries behind the Iron Curtain.
In the People's Republic of China, people have to bypass the Chinese Internet censorship and other forms of censorship.
Anti-communism in different countries and regions
Council of Europe and European Union
Resolution 1481/2006 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), issued on January 25, 2006 during its winter session, "strongly condemns crimes of totalitarian communist regimes".
The European Parliament has proposed making 23 August a Europe-wide day of remembrance for 20th-century Nazi and communist crimes.
In the early years of the cold war, Midhat Frashëri tried to patch together a coalition of anti-communist opposition forces in Britain and the United States. The "Free Albania" National Committee was officially formed on 26 August 1949 in Paris. Mithat Frashëri was its chairman, with other members of the Directing Board: Nuçi Kotta, Albaz Kupi, Said Kryeziu, and Zef Pali. It was supported by the CIA, placed as member of National Committee for a Free Europe.
Albania has enacted the Law on Communist Genocide with the purpose of expediting the prosecution of the violations of the basic human rights and freedoms by the former communist governments of the Socialist People's Republic of Albania. The law has also been referred to in English as the "Genocide Law" and the "Law on Communist Genocide".
In February 1921 the left-wing nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) staged an uprising against the Bolshevik authorities of Armenia just three months after the disestablishment of the First Republic of Armenia and its Sovietization. The nationalists temporarily took power. Subsequently, the anti-communist rebels, led by the prominent nationalist leader Garegin Nzhdeh retreated to the mountainous region of Zangezur (Syunik) and established the Republic of Mountainous Armenia, which lasted until mid-1921.
The uprising in Plzeň was an anti-communist revolt by Czechoslovakian workers in 1953.
The Velvet Revolution or Gentle Revolution was a non-violent revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the Communist government. It is seen as one of the most important of the Revolutions of 1989.
On November 17, 1989, a Friday, riot police suppressed a peaceful student demonstration in Prague. That event sparked a series of popular demonstrations from November 19 to late December. By November 20 the number of peaceful protesters assembled in Prague had swollen from 200,000 the previous day to an estimated half-million. A two-hour general strike, involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia, was held on November 27. In June 1990 Czechoslovakia held its first democratic elections since 1946.
Hong Kong has had numerous anti-communist protests, supported by political parties of the Pan-democracy camp. Memorials for the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 are held every year in Hong Kong. Tens of thousands people have attended the candlelight vigil.
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a revolt against the government of the Hungarian People's Republic and its Stalinist policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. The revolt began as a student demonstration which attracted thousands as it marched through central Budapest to the Parliament building. A student delegation entering the radio building in an attempt to broadcast its demands was detained. When the delegation's release was demanded by the demonstrators outside, they were fired upon by the State Security Police (ÁVH) from within the building. The news spread quickly and disorder and violence erupted throughout the capital. The revolt spread quickly across Hungary, and the government fell. After announcing a willingness to negotiate a withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union changed its mind and moved to crush the revolution.
From October 1965 to the early months of 1966, an estimated 500,000-3,000,000 people were killed by the Indonesian military and allied militia in anti-communist purges which targeted members of the Communist Party of Indonesia and alleged sympathizers. Western governments colluded in the massacres, in particular the United States, which provided the Indonesian military weapons, money, equipment and lists containing the names of thousands of suspected communists.
People's Republic of China
The Chinese democracy movement is a loosely organized anti-communist movement in the People's Republic of China. The movement began during Beijing Spring in 1978 and played an important role in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. The 1959 Tibetan Rebellion had some anti-communist leanings. In the 1990s, the movement underwent a decline both within China and overseas; it is currently fragmented and most analysts do not consider it a serious threat to communist rule.
It declares a calling for greater freedom of expression and for free elections. It was published on 10 December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and its name is a reference to Charter 77, issued by dissidents in Czechoslovakia.
Lenin saw Poland as the bridge which the Red Army would have to cross in order to assist the other communist movements and help bring about other European revolutions. Poland was the first country which successfully stopped a communist military advance. Between February 1919 and March 1921, Poland's successful defence of its independence was known as the Polish–Soviet War. According to American sociologist Alexander Gella, "the Polish victory had gained twenty years of independence not only for Poland, but at least for an entire central part of Europe."
After the German and Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, the first Polish uprising during World War II was against the Soviets. The Czortków Uprising occurred during January 21–22, 1940, in the Soviet-occupied Podolia. Teenagers from local high schools stormed the local Red Army barracks and a prison, in order to release Polish soldiers who had been imprisoned there.
In the latter years of the war, there were increasing conflicts between Polish and Soviet partisans, and some groups continued to oppose the Soviets long after the war. Between 1944 and 1946, soldiers of the anti-communist armed groups, known as the cursed soldiers, made a series of attacks on communist prisons immediately following the end of World War II in Poland. The last of the cursed soldiers, members of the militant anti-communist resistance in Poland, was Józef Franczak, who was killed with a pistol in his hand by ZOMO in 1963.
The Polish 1970 protests (Polish: Grudzień 1970) were anti-Comintern protests which occurred in northern Poland in December 1970. The protests were sparked by a sudden increase in the prices of food and other everyday items. As a result of the riots, brutally put down by the Polish People's Army and the Citizen's Militia, at least 42 people were killed and more than 1,000 were wounded.
Solidarity was an anti-communist trade union in a Warsaw Pact country. In the 1980s, it constituted a broad anti-communist movement. The government attempted to destroy the union during the period of martial law in the early 1980s, and several years of repression, however, in the end, it had to start negotiating with the union. The Round Table Talks between the government and the Solidarity-led opposition led to semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August, a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed, and in December 1990, Wałęsa was elected President of Poland. Since then, it has become a more traditional trade union.
The Romanian anti-communist resistance movement lasted between 1948 and the early 1960s. Armed resistance was the first and most structured form of resistance against the communist regime. It was not until the overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu in late 1989 that details about what was called "anti-communist armed resistance" were made public. It was only then that the public learned about the numerous small groups of "haiducs" who had taken refuge in the Carpathian Mountains, where some resisted for ten years against the troops of the Securitate. The last "haiduc" was killed in the mountains of Banat in 1962. The Romanian resistance was one of the longest lasting armed movement in the former Soviet bloc.
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was a week-long series of increasingly violent riots and fighting in late December 1989 that overthrew the Government of Nicolae Ceauşescu. After a trial, Ceauşescu and his wife Elena were executed. Romania was the only Eastern Bloc country to overthrow its government violently or to execute its leaders.
During the 1970s, the right-wing military juntas of South America implemented Operation Condor, a campaign of political repression involving tens of thousands of political assassinations, illegal detentions, and tortures of communist sympathizers. The campaign was aimed at eradicating alleged communist and socialist influences in their respective countries, and control opposition against the government, which resulted in a large number of deaths. Participatory governments include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay, with limited support from the United States.
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The first major manifestation of anti-communism in the United States occurred in 1919 and 1920, during the First Red Scare, led by Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer. During the Red Scare, the Lusk Committee investigated those suspected of sedition, and many laws were passed in the US that sanctioned the firings of Communists. First came the Hatch Act of 1939 which was sponsored by Carl Hatch of New Mexico. This law attempted to drive Communism out of public work places. The Hatch Act outlawed the hiring of federal workers who advocated the "overthrow of our Constitutional form of government". This phrase was specifically directed at the Communist Party. Later in the spring of 1941 another anti-communist law, Public Law 135, was passed. This law sanctioned the investigation of any federal worker suspected of being communist and the firing of any communist worker.
Catholics often took the lead in fighting Communism in America. Pat Scanlan (1894-1983) was the managing editor (1917-1968) of the Brooklyn Tablet, the official paper of the Brooklyn diocese. He was a leader in the fight against the Ku Klux Klan, and in favor of the work of the National Legion of Decency in minimizing sexuality in Hollywood films. Historian Richard Powers says Scanlan emerged in the 1920s:
- as the leading spokesman for an especially pugnacious brand of militant Catholic anti-communism, that of Irish-Americans who, after suffering from 100 years of anti-Catholic prejudice in America, reacted to any criticism of the Church as a bigoted attack on their own hard-won status in American society....He combined a vivid writing style filled with Menckenesque invective, with an unbridled love of controversy. Under Scanlan, the Tablet became the national voice of Irish Catholic anti-communism – and a thorn in the side of New York's Protestants and Jews.
Following World War II and the rise of the Soviet Union, many anti-communists in the United States feared that Communism would triumph throughout the entire world and eventually be a direct threat to the U.S. There were fears that the Soviet Union and its allies such as People's Republic of China were using their power to forcibly take countries into Communist rule. Eastern Europe, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaya and Indonesia were seen as evidence of this. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO was a military alliance of Western Europe, led by the United States, to halt further Communist expansion in terms of the containment strategy.
The deepening of the Cold War in the 1950s saw a dramatic increase in anti-communism in the United States, including the anti-communist campaign known as McCarthyism. Thousands of Americans, such as the filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, were accused of being Communists or sympathizers, and many became the subject of aggressive investigations by government committees such as the House Committee on Un-American Activities. As a result of sometimes vastly exaggerated accusations, many of the accused lost their jobs and became blacklisted, although most of these verdicts were later overturned. This was also the period of the McCarran Internal Security Act and the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg trial. After the collapse of the Soviet Union many records were made public that in fact verified that many of those thought to be falsely accused for political purposes were in fact Communist spies or sympathizers (see Venona Project).
During the 1980s, the Ronald Reagan administration pursued an aggressive policy against the Soviet Union and its allies by building up weapons programs, including the Strategic Defense Initiative. The Reagan Doctrine was implemented to reduce the influence of the Soviet Union worldwide by providing aid to anti-Soviet resistance movements, including the Contras in Nicaragua and the Mujahideens in Afghanistan. The accidental downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 near Moneron Island by the Soviets on Sept. 1, 1983 contributed to the anti-communism sentiment of the 1980s. KAL 007 had been carrying 269 people, including a sitting U.S. Congressman, Larry McDonald.
The US government usually argued its anti-communist policies by citing the human rights record of communist states, most notably the Soviet Union during the Joseph Stalin era, Maoist China, North Korea, and the Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge government and the pro-Hanoi People's Republic of Kampuchea in Cambodia. During the 1980s, the Kirkpatrick Doctrine was particularly influential in American politics; it advocated US support of anti-communist governments around the world, including authoritarian regimes. In support of the Reagan Doctrine and other anti-communist foreign and defense policies, prominent U.S. and Western anti-communists warned that the U.S. needed to avoid repeating the West's perceived mistakes of appeasement of Nazi Germany.
In one of the most prominent anti-communist speeches of any U.S. President, Reagan labeled the Soviet Union an "evil empire" and anti-communist intellectuals prominently defended the label. In 1987, for instance, in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Michael Johns of the Heritage Foundation cited 208 perceived acts of evil by the Soviets since the revolution.
Anti-communism became significantly muted after the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc Communist governments in Europe between 1989 and 1991; the fear of a worldwide Communist takeover was no longer a serious concern. Remnants of anti-communism remain, however, in US foreign policy toward Cuba and North Korea. In the case of Cuba, the US only recently began to terminate its economic sanctions against the country. Tensions with North Korea have heightened as the result of reports that it is stockpiling nuclear weapons, and the assertion that it is willing to sell its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology to any group willing to pay a high enough price. Ideological restrictions on naturalization in U.S. law remain in effect, affecting prospective immigrants who were at one time members of a Communist party.
Since the September 11 attacks on the US and the subsequent Patriot Act, overwhelmingly passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law and strongly supported by President George W. Bush, some communist groups in the US have faced renewed anti-communism by the government. On September 24, 2010, over 70 FBI agents simultaneously raided homes and served subpoenas to prominent antiwar and international solidarity activists thought to be members of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) in Minneapolis, MN, Chicago, IL, and Grand Rapids, MI, and visited and attempted to question activists in Milwaukee, WI, Durham, NC, and San Jose, CA. The search warrants and subpoenas indicated that the FBI was looking for evidence related to the "material support of terrorism". In the process of raiding an activist's home, FBI agents accidentally left behind a file of secret FBI documents showing that the raids were aimed at people who were or were suspected of being members of the FRSO. The documents revealed a series of questions that agents would ask activists regarding their involvement in the FRSO and their international solidarity work related to Colombia and Palestine. Later, members of the newly formed Committee to Stop FBI Repression held a press conference in Minnesota revealing that the FBI had placed an informant inside the FRSO to gather information prior to the raids.
In Vietnam, anti-communist movements, including those from pro-democracy and pro-human rights groups, had largely been limited before the advent of the Internet. This was due to repression of dissidents as well as the Vietnamese government's efforts in censorship and propaganda regarding foreign and domestic policies, including examination of personal mails (especially those sent from overseas), and a heavy censorship of foreign media broadcasts.
Prior to the arrival of the Internet, much of the global anti-communist activities directed towards Vietnam were religious in nature. Clerical North American and European organizations voiced concerns about religious oppressions. Of particular robustness were the organizations of Monsignor Tran Van Hoai, the first Director of the Vatican's Center of Pastoral Apostolate for Overseas Vietnamese.
In recent years, there have been many Vietnamese bloggers who, with the aid of the World Wide Web, have disseminated information critical of Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese government's relations with the People's Republic of China, the most controversial of which are deals struck between the two communist countries' leaders, such as territorial claims of islands in the South China Sea. These have sparked intense nationalism and led to much outrage felt even on the part of many Vietnamese themselves. The culmination of the sentiments can be seen in many recent protests held in both former North Vietnam's capital Hanoi and former South Vietnam's capital Saigon.
Frequent arrests of some democracy advocates by the government have also led to activism among many Vietnamese who demand a release of all political dissidents as well as greater clarity in their trials. Recently, there have also been protests against the government blocking access to free networking and blogging services such as Facebook, WordPress, as well as calls for a unified effort in boycotting government sanctioned blogging services like the so-called "Yahoo! Việt Nam 360plus".
Anti-Communist organizations that are located outside Vietnam but also hold demonstrations in Vietnam are Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, Viet Tan, People's Action Party of Vietnam, Government of Free Vietnam, Montagnard Foundation, Inc., Vietnamese Constitutional Monarchist League and Nationalist Party of Greater Vietnam.
Violence against alleged communists
The events in Indonesia of 1965 and 1966, described as "one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century", constituted a long period of state-supported anti-communist massacres in Indonesia. Perhaps over a million people were savagely killed, hundreds of thousands ended up in jails or were exiled, and the PKI (Indonesian communist party) was effectively eliminated. No one was ever prosecuted.
- Anti-Stalinist left
- The Black Book of Communism
- Charter 08
- Chinese democracy movement
- Criticisms of communism
- Criticisms of Communist party rule
- Criticisms of socialism
- Criticisms of Marxism
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