You think communism is dead, but when you meet a communist and find
yourself in an argument with him, or in a war with him, you begin to
reconsider. You begin to realize there is something alive on the other side – something that pushes against you with religious fervor.
Today someone very real is pushing against capitalism and freedom in
South America. A Marxist insurgency is taking hold in Colombia. Ignore it
as you like – it is there, it is real. Last month Human Rights Watch
published a report about the largest communist guerrilla group in Colombia,
known as FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). According to
Human Rights Watch the FARC’s barbarity extends to attacking medical workers,
kidnapping and murdering civilians, recruiting children and terrorizing
How did the communist rebels respond to these charges?
Rebel leaders say that “bourgeois” rules of warfare represent “elite
interests,” and that is exactly what they are fighting against. Such is the
answer as given by Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries who fight for the
overthrow of capitalism. Forget about international law or “rules of
engagement.” The communist rule of engagement is to win the battle. Nothing
All of this reminds me of a Colombian Marxist I got to know in
graduate school. He was a serious young man, filled with indignant anger.
Of course, he never admitted to being a Marxist and always dodged the
question when put to him. But this is typical.
The first night I met him, he professed his disgust with all things
American. In fact, he spoke insultingly to all the Americans he happened to
come into contact with. Without recounting his exact words, he would say
something to the effect, “You all disgust me. I hate being here in this
Curiously, his American listeners seemed to react with sympathy. I
remember him standing there one day after class, telling a group of young
Americans how much he loathed them. “Then why are you here, in an American
university?” I asked. He looked at me with exasperation, as if I’d asked an
idiotic question. “Why don’t you just leave?” I suggested.
He bristled at these words.
I had many conversations with him. No doubt he held me in the utmost
contempt. One night I gave him a ride to his apartment. We got to talking
about criminals. He thought I was naive for thinking that killing and
robbing others had any bad psychological effects. “Back in Colombia, I
personally know people who kill for a living,” he told me. “They are happy
people, not at all filled with guilt.”
Later, in a political economy seminar, he spoke of trashing the world
market. “We should try and run the world without money,” he said. I
challenged this idea by noting that without money the world economy would
collapse. Such an experiment would condemn billions of human beings to death
by starvation. Not at all ignorant of economic reality, the young Colombian
snarled, “So what?”
The professor in charge of the seminar promptly cut short any
further discussion by announcing a break. But that wasn’t the end of the
discussion. Upon entering the men’s room I found my antagonist lecturing an
undergraduate on the virtues of a money-free economy. “It is a fresh idea, a
new idea that nobody has ever tried,” the young Colombian said with
“That’s not fresh or new,” I interjected while walking to one of the
stalls, “it’s as old as Plato.”
A few minutes later, when I was thirty paces from the men’s room I
heard rapid footsteps approaching from behind. I turned around and saw the
Colombian running directly toward me at full speed. I stood there as he came
to a halt directly in front of me, his face contorted with rage. Then he
screamed at the top of his lungs, “YOU’RE AN IDIOT!”
I encountered many Marxists and pseudo-Marxists at the University of
California. Some of these people would pretend to be moderate Democrats in
public, but in private they were seething Leninists. One professor, who wore
dirty old green jeans, believed that Mao Zedong was the greatest man of the
20th century. Yet another professor, who taught “Intro to Political
Science,” told his teaching assistants to “go out and make little Marxists”
out of the undergraduates.
All of this was going on, it seems, despite the fact that the
University of California required – in those days – its professors and
teaching assistants (i.e., graduate students) to swear an oath of allegiance
to the California and U.S. Constitutions.
I once asked two of my left-wing colleagues how they justified taking
this oath in the face of their anti-constitutional beliefs. “Oh,” they
replied, “nobody takes that silly oath seriously.”
Perhaps you wonder where all these people went now that communism is
dead and socialism discredited. Well, some of them are working for the
United States government. Some have security clearances at major defense
contractors. I once asked a professor about a graduate student with strong
communist beliefs who had gotten a job with Martin Marietta. “Did you hear
about Jack working at Martin?” I asked. “Yes,” the professor replied, “The
FBI was here in my office asking about him.”
“Did you tell them he’s a commie?”
“No,” the professor laughed.
After all, communism is dead. And if you repeat the phrase “communism
is dead” a hundred or a thousand times, it will become true. All the pundits
on television repeat this mantra, and they believe it. All the newspapers
give space to it.
Last year a friend of mine was dating a professor at Humboldt State
University. I asked her if he was a communist and she responded quite
firmly, “Oh no, he’s not a communist.” Curiosity got the better of me, so I
invited this professor to my house for dinner. He arrived a bit drunk, to my
surprise, and with little provocation he launched into an attack on fascist
dictators. He then proceeded to praise Chairman Mao, the founder of
Communist China and Fidel Castro.
I am always boggled by the letters I get from those who scold me for
believing that communism is still a threat. How could I be so out of step?
Why should I be so concerned with a meaningless communist insurgency in
Colombia? Come on, that’s just about drugs. There is no need to worry. If
we combat the drugs in Colombia the insurgency will burn out.
That’s the approach, in fact, of the United States government. We
don’t want our allies in Colombia to fight the communist rebels directly. We
urge them, instead, to fight the drug traffickers – the real bad guys.
I’m afraid that too many people in this country don’t realize the
inroads that Marxist ideology has made in this country. Communism has
entered our children’s thinking because it has been instilled into their
teachers. It has wormed its way into corporate boardrooms. It has entered
the FBI and CIA through moles like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen.
Communism is out there, full of hate, full of murderous revolutionary intent,
and ready to exploit the next great economic crisis of capitalism when it
The universities in this country are not communism’s last refuge, as
some have alleged. They are communism’s decisive point of infection.
Because of this infection, when the revolution in Colombia spreads and
engulfs other South American countries, Washington will be paralyzed. Our
nation will not be capable of acting decisively.
How could it be otherwise? The communists have tunneled us out until
we have become hollow. And all the while we imagine that these same
communists do not exist.
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