The “Hollywood Holocaust”

…and other Cold War myths. I agree with Glenn:

Leaving aside the obscenity of comparing out-of-work screenwriters with gassed Auschwitz inmates, there’s this: Communists are no better than Nazis. Refusing to hire Communists is on the same moral plane as refusing to hire Nazis. Which is to say: It’s a good and admirable thing, not a sin. Go broke and starve, commies. It’s what you deserve for being eager, willing servants of totalitarianism.

That it’s perfectly acceptable to be a communist, but not a Nazi, in society at all, let alone teaching students on campus, is morally disgusting. All children of Rousseau should be ostracized in a truly liberal democracy.

68 thoughts on “The “Hollywood Holocaust”

    1. DaveP.

      …except that Communists were regularly told that, if questioned about their connections with the CP, they should answer that they had “left it behind”, were “ex-members”, or similar comments. Read “Witness” by Whittaker Chambers and also the Mitrokhin Archives.

      1. Rand Simberg Post author

        Yes, it’s their version of Taquiyya. When your ideology includes the notion that ends justify means, lying about your ideology becomes a trivial thing.

    2. Edward Wright

      many of the people blacklisted were either ex-commies or people who had merely looked into communism.

      If you’re an ex-mafisio or merely looked into joining the mafia, you don’t get a pass unless you turn State’s evidence.

      So, if someone was an ex-Nazi and refused to divulge the names of other Nazis, you would have no problem with that?

    3. Edward Wright

      many of the people blacklisted were either ex-commies or people who had merely looked into communism.

      If you’re an ex-mafisio or merely looked into joining the mafia, you don’t get a pass unless you turn State’s evidence.

      So, if someone was an ex-Nazi and refused to divulge the names of other Nazis, you would have no problem with that?

  1. Michael Gersh

    Not so fast Chris. They had the chance to denounce communists and they refused. And, as the record shows, they kept on writing, it was merely their rate of pay that sufferred. The same thing happens today with conservatives, except that conservatives spare us from all the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  2. Godzilla

    They had the chance to denounce communists and they refused.

    Yeah they refused to participate in show trials and you think they are the ones in the wrong. That’s just great. Please sign up for the Inquisition. They probably have a spot for someone just like you.

    1. Michael Gersh

      You poor deluded bastard. You can’t even tell the difference between a show trial and a public congressional hearing. I know how hard those commies had it, not being able to fill up their swimming pools and all, but spare me that false comparison. Show trials, as our enemies did them, resulted in someone getting executes, not having to find another line of work. Plus, all of them were guilty here. In Stalin’s USSR or Mao’s China, lack of actual guilt was no impediment to punishment.

    2. DaveP.

      To quote from RAH:
      If I ask someone under oath if they’ve betrayed my country in order to support an ideology that wants to destroy me, my country, and everything I hold dear and they choose not to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate them- they’re not heroes, they’re traitors.

      1. Bilwick

        Now, now, I’m sure Godzilla would have the same attitude if the Fifties blacklists wwere against Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. You know, because otherwise he’s simply some party-line regurgitating left-winger. Whcih of course he clearly is not.

        1. Godzilla

          I’m not affiliated with any party in case you were wondering. Any country has a right to defend itself against foreign spies however that particular situation was very different. They were persecuting screenwriters. Heck if it turned out they didn’t like their output they even had censors back then.
          The same applies to Nazi sympathizers of course.

          1. DaveP.

            So screenwriters can’t be spies? Can’t work for the Bad Guys, paid or not?
            Go look up “Agent of Influence”. Also “Black propaganda” and “disinformation”.
            Hint: it isn’t jsut guys in black trench coats sneaking around to steal the new battleship plans…

  3. Der Schtumpy

    The amazing thing about that entire period is how many socialists / quasi-communists wound up right where the anti-communists said they would. Schools and places where they could slowly influence the general public, TV, newsrooms, movies, magazines.

    Not to mention how far toward the middle the Right has gone.. Or at least the public talking heads of the Right.

    It’s even crazier to see just how well of many of the socialists and quasi-communists are now. College professors make more than plumbers, and both of them for just moving crap. And the Hollywood, TV, TV News people make a lot of money, THEN complain about the plight of the poor.

    Or as they like to call them, Interns and Associate Producers.

  4. Jardinero1

    Freedom of association is one of the paramount features of a free society. Freedom of association also implies a freedom not to associate. If someone is a communist, or ex-communist or experimented as a youth, so be it. But nobody is duty bound to hire you or associate with you if they don’t approve of it.

    1. B Lewis

      Jardinero1, November 23, 2012, 2:23 pm:
      Freedom of association is one of the paramount features of a free society. Freedom of association also implies a freedom not to associate.

      WOOP WOOP WOOP RACISS ALERT

      “Freedom not to associate” be raciss!

      Bob-1… to the BobMobile!

      1. Andrew W

        Totalitarians come from across the political spectrum, persecuting this or that group because they’re totalitarians is a trick used by – totalitarians.

        1. Rand Simberg Post author

          Ah, the cheap convenience of false moral relativism.

          There are no totalitarians among true liberals and individualists. It’s a collectivist thing. And no one said that totalitarians should be “persecuted.” I said they should be ostracized.

        2. George Turner

          Which is an agrument that comes from the unrepentant Nazi party members who didn’t want to get persecuted, creating a line of trivially discreditable philosophical reasoning that got picked up by the French student protesters of ’68 and then spread throughout American liberalism.

          Whats unfortunate is that Hollywood never had a large Nazi presence, since their arguments and the communist Hollywood arguments would be hard to distinguish. People would eventually give up on telling them apart based on fine points of Marxist thought they disputed, and note that the communists wore brown and the Nazis wore gray.

    1. Leland

      So what’s wrong with being against something, Andrew? Not to play Godwin, but people in the early 40’s considered the Nazis baddies. Do you think there was something wrong with those people? The point Rand is making is Communist killed as many or more than Nazis, so why are they considered “goodies”, Andrew?

      1. Andrew W

        Nothing wrong with being against something, to me though there’s a big difference between disagreeing with others and using that difference as a justification for persecution.
        The point Rand is making is Communist killed as many or more than Nazis,

        Which Communists, which Muslims, which Nazi’s, which Capitalists? Each of these labels cover not one group of people but several, or even many groups, Capitalist people have owned slaves, capitalist countries have obliterated cities, doesn’t make capitalists baddies. Communist rank and file are much like the rank and file of any group, they’re idealists and don’t get what they think they’re getting (like members of the GOP).

        1. Rand Simberg Post author

          capitalist countries have obliterated cities, doesn’t make capitalists baddies.

          Not in the name of capitalism.

          “Capitalism” is a Marxist term, and is irrelevant to this discussion. I was talking about true liberalism, individualism and free markets, which are the opposite of totalitarianism, and liberate and enrich people by the millions, rather than kill them.

          1. Andrew W

            People have always been able to rationalize killing and persecuting others for their beliefs, and they always argue “us goodies – them baddies”, even libertarians manage it!

          2. Andrew W

            Maybe the difference in our points of view are a result of the different levels of confidence we have in our beliefs.

            I’m certain that given open discussion most people will find the free market system is better for them and their families, and because I’ve that confidence, I’m open to interacting with people of having those other views and beliefs. I’m confident they’ll be the ones whose perspectives will be changed by such interactions.

            Or maybe it’s just that you come across badly and know your interacting with those having other beliefs will just turn them further from your beliefs (I’ve met lots of Christians who have that effect).

          3. Rand Simberg Post author

            I’m certain that given open discussion most people will find the free market system is better for them and their families, and because I’ve that confidence, I’m open to interacting with people of having those other views and beliefs. I’m confident they’ll be the ones whose perspectives will be changed by such interactions.

            Before, you were merely guilty of a false moral relativism. You have now descended beyond that into complete and total industrial-strength bullshit.

            I have zero lack of confidence in my beliefs, or fear that they will be swayed by listening to moral monsters. I have no problem discussing the horrors of totalitarianism with anyone, including totalitarians. One can discuss things with people while also ostracizing them.

            Is your problem that you don’t understand the meaning of the word “ostracize”?

          4. Rand Simberg Post author

            Oh, and by the way, don’t give up your day job to try to become a psychotherapist. Though, maybe you’d be OK at it, given how much of that profession is also bullshit, and too few people recognize the BSers.

          5. Rand Simberg Post author

            People have always been able to rationalize killing and persecuting others for their beliefs, and they always argue “us goodies – them baddies”, even libertarians manage it!

            Really?

            Can you provide an example of a “libertarian” and classical liberal government that has wantonly slaughtered tens of millions of its own people?

            We’ll wait. But we won’t hold our breath.

          6. Andrew W

            Well, if you can interact with other people while simultaneously refusing to have contact with them, you are a clever bunny.

            Can you provide an example of a “libertarian” and classical liberal government that has wantonly slaughtered tens of millions of its own people?

            That would be a strawman. I was referring to people, not government, in fact no one before you has mentioned “government” in this discussion.

            And I’d argue that the US was run by what’s probably as close as we’ve ever seen to a classical liberal Government. and that still didn’t stop the killing of many of the people under its jurisdiction.

          7. George Turner

            So there are non-government communists, and of course they played no role in the killing of about a hundred million people, which was carried out by communist “governments”, governments that must’ve been run by uber-capitalists hiring capitalist mercenaries to carry out the killings.

            One of the problems communists always have to obfuscate is that their system kills about a couple thousand-fold more citizens than the capitalist systems they claim to supercede. They plan mass exterminations.

            Over Thanksgiving, one of the other dinner guests was a liberal who frequently visits China on business. Someone asked if they’re still rigidly enforcing their one-child policy and he explained that wealthy Chinese could pay the government a large fee for each extra child, and he presented it as a perfectly rational and just policy because each child costs the state resources and expenses to raise to the age of maturity, when the child can start paying back those expenses.

            I should’ve asked if it wouldn’t make more long-term financial sense to let each couple have as many children as they want and then let the state test the offspring at age two or three for fitness and intelligence, retaining only the fit offspring and burning the rest in powerplants.

          8. Rand Simberg Post author

            That would be a strawman. I was referring to people, not government, in fact no one before you has mentioned “government” in this discussion.

            Oh, please.

            If you believe that this discussion has been about anything other than governments, you’re an idiot.

            Governments are the only way in which totalitarianism can be implemented.

            With all of your dodging and pathetic attempts at word play, you continue to avoid the fundamental question raised by this post: why should self-declared communists be given any more societal respect in a liberal democracy than Nazis?

          9. Andrew W

            If you don’t believe that this discussion has been about anything other than governments, you’re an idiot.

            So when you agree with Glen saying: Communists are no better than Nazis. Refusing to hire Communists is on the same moral plane as refusing to hire Nazis. Which is to say: It’s a good and admirable thing, not a sin. Go broke and starve, commies. It’s what you deserve for being eager, willing servants of totalitarianism.

            And you yourself go on to say: “All children of Rousseau should be ostracized in a truly liberal democracy.”

            You’re saying these are measures that should be undertaken, not by individuals, but by government, and that communists should be literally thrown out of employment and forced into starvation and by government.

            “Liberal” my ass, what you advocate makes you to indistinguishable from Nazi’s.

          10. Andrew W

            Like I said before:
            Totalitarians come from across the political spectrum, persecuting this or that group because they’re totalitarians is a trick used by – totalitarians.

          11. Rand Simberg Post author

            You’re saying these are measures that should be undertaken, not by individuals, but by government

            No, I didn’t say that at all. Again, you apparently have no comprehension of the meaning of the word “ostracise.”

            Do you not have access to a dictionary?

            Like I said before:
            Totalitarians come from across the political spectrum, persecuting this or that group because they’re totalitarians is a trick used by – totalitarians

            You can write it as many times as you like. Endless repetition doesn’t render it relevant to the current discussion.

          12. Andrew W

            Maybe you should check the definition of “ostracise”, instead of taking your own infallibility for granted.
            ostracize – avoid speaking to or dealing with; “Ever since I spoke up, my colleagues ostracize me”

            You’ve made it clear you support Glenn’s position: Refusing to hire Communists is on the same moral plane as refusing to hire Nazis. Which is to say: It’s a good and admirable thing, not a sin. Go broke and starve, commies.

            You claim:If you believe that this discussion has been about anything other than governments, you’re an idiot.
            Well, is this discussion only about government actions or isn’t it? Or is it only sometimes about government action, that is, when Rand says it’s about government action?

            This whole advocating of actions to force commies to “Go broke and starve” stinks of Nazism, and while few Germans would have advocated the persecution of the Jews, plenty were willing to follow the leaders like sheep, as you appear to be happy to take Glenn’s lead.

            Maybe you’ll claim it wasn’t meant literally, but that’s how these hate campaigns always get started, pleading to authority that it was harmless fun, like bullying some little kid in the school yard, and them insisting to the teacher it was only play.

          13. Rand Simberg Post author

            All right, you continue to squirm.

            Once again, answer the question: Why should self-declared communists be given any more societal respect in a liberal democracy than Nazis?

            Answer it or retreat with tail between legs. Because that is what this post is about.

          14. Andrew W

            As someone with a lot of libertarianism in him, it’s always be central to my principles to treat people as individuals, I find stereotyping by people claiming to be libertarians paradoxical, (more like what I’d expect from collectivists) if not flat out irrational.

            Evolution has taught our primitive brain reflexes the instinct to chuck all individuals within a group into the same box, I try not to let ancient instinct win over reasoning in my thinking. Believe it or not, similar diversity exists within communist groups and other groups, as exists among Republicans, heck, even our judicial system recognizes peoples individuality.

          15. Andrew W

            I put the above comment up before reading your 10:28, nevertheless, It’ll do as a reply, treat people as individuals, I’m not into discrimination on the basis of what group you’re alleged to belong to.

          16. Rand Simberg Post author

            I always treat people as individuals. One of the ways I do so is to treat them as individuals who defend ideologies that have murdered tens of millions of people. And I deal with them on that basis, whether Nazi or (worse) communist.

            But you seem to want, for some reason, to give the latter a pass.

          17. Rand Simberg Post author

            I doubt Stalin is a poster child of US communists.

            In your doubt, you simply reveal your profound ignorance of the history of the Communist Party USA.

            So do we have to get more specific? Will you be happy if we merely ostracize Stalinists? Maoists? Pol Potians? Castrophiles?

            Should we give the Trots a pass? Which commies do you like? Which aren’t as bad as Hitler (perhaps only because they didn’t get sufficient power)? Which should we want to teach our impressionable youth?

            Please, enlighten us.

          18. Andrew W

            I don’t have a problem with any of them, nor Christians or Jews or Muslims or Buddhists or nudists or greenies or socialists or Chinese or Canadians, as long as we don’t have too many bigots amongst them.

          19. Michael Gersh

            While we try to ferret out the similarity and differences of communists and nazis, remember that their zeal for murdering masses of the most intelligent and accomplished in their midst is an impulse shared in the French Revolution and others earlier, notably by the early moslems. They all claim some sort of public agreement, but this is the agreement of two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner.

            There are only two possibilities for the future – reaction, or a return of the tyranny we had in the past, a centralized and analog, reactionary society, or a distributed, digital future with more choice and liberty. Making excuses for mass murderers obfuscates that their aims were/are shared by most democrats and republicans in (or seeking) power today. The rest of us are useful idiots, voting for one or the other, or, even stupider, wasting our votes with the (about) one percent who vote libertarian.

          20. Andrew W

            Most people just want to get on with living their own lives, it’s the ones who feel the need to persecute others for being different that are the dangerous fanatics (present company included).

          21. Rand Simberg Post author

            I don’t have a problem with any of them, nor Christians or Jews or Muslims or Buddhists or nudists or greenies or socialists or Chinese or Canadians, as long as we don’t have too many bigots amongst them.

            ??

            So it’s OK with you to advocate policies that have, and inevitably will result in the brutal deaths of millions, as long as it doesn’t arise from “bigotry”?

            Most people just want to get on with living their own lives, it’s the ones who feel the need to persecute others for being different that are the dangerous fanatics (present company included).

            This seems like a comment from bizarro world. We are, in fact, talking about people who don’t want others to lead their lives, but would insist that others lead the lives they want them to lead, and they’ll murder them wholesale if they refuse to do so. And you’re equating that with my desire to point out how vile their beliefs are?

            Are you nuts?

          22. Andrew W

            So it’s OK with you to advocate policies that have, and inevitably will result in the brutal deaths of millions

            I may not agree with your opinions but I’ll stand up for your right to have them and to express them.

            So Rand, since when have you been such an ardent advocate of suppressing free speech??

            We are, in fact, talking about people who don’t want others to lead their lives, but would insist that others lead the lives they want them to lead, and they’ll murder them wholesale if they refuse to do so.

            Really, maybe you could list all the people murdered by the Hollywood Communists in the name of Communism.

            Do you apply the same standards to you own beliefs? If some right wing Norwegian nut kills lots of people in the name of freedom, do you suddenly decide right wing people are all murderers? Just because powerful communists have killed lots of people, doesn’t mean modern day communists support killing lots of people especially when those past communist leaders have been condemned worldwide by modern communists?

          23. Andrew W

            And you’re equating that with my desire to point out how vile their beliefs are?

            No Rand, not your pointing out the faults you see in their beliefs, but with your supporting advocacy that measures be undertaken to force them to “Go broke and starve” are you including their children in that forced starvation, or would you be willing to spare the kids?

          24. Andrew W

            Rand, you claim you “always treat people as individuals” yet throughout this entire thread you seem to think it’s reasonably to blame people alive today for actions committed by others in the name of their ideology (by people not adhering to that ideology) before they were born. Do you plan to adopt the same standard for Christians?

          25. Rand Simberg Post author

            So Rand, since when have you been such an ardent advocate of suppressing free speech??

            Since never. Apparently you have a reading comprehension problem.

            Rand, you claim you “always treat people as individuals” yet throughout this entire thread you seem to think it’s reasonably to blame people alive today for actions committed by others in the name of their ideology (by people not adhering to that ideology) before they were born.

            No, again, you seem to have a reading comprehension problem.l

            No Rand, not your pointing out the faults you see in their beliefs, but with your supporting advocacy that measures be undertaken to force them to “Go broke and starve” are you including their children in that forced starvation, or would you be willing to spare the kids?

            You seem to be a little too literal.

            All we’re saying is that if you’re having trouble getting work because you hold vile beliefs, and refuse to renounce them, it’s your own damn fault, just as it would be if you were an unrepentent Nazi.

          26. Rand Simberg Post author

            Do you apply the same standards to you own beliefs? If some right wing Norwegian nut kills lots of people in the name of freedom, do you suddenly decide right wing people are all murderers?

            I didn’t know that he did it in the name of “freedom.” And I have no idea what it is about him that is “right wing.” Of course, I’m not “right wing,” either. Whenever someone uses the phrase “right wing” (or “neocon”) I know that I can safely not take them seriously.

          27. B Lewis

            Yeah, Mr. Simberg! Just because powerful Nazis have killed lots of people, doesn’t mean modern day Nazis support killing lots of people especially when those past Nazi leaders have been condemned worldwide by modern Nazis!

        2. cthulhu

          Mmmm…it would probably be easier to list the number of communist countries that haven’t committed large-scale atrocities against humanity. Wanna try?

          1. George Turner

            I’m having difficulty with that, as a list should include at least one member and I can’t come up with a communist country that hasn’t committed large-scale atrocities, or at least constant but routine atrocities. There are bound to be some somewhere, though, countries that merely jailed all the opposition or put them in labor camps instead of outright exterminations.

  5. Dave

    Here’s an interesting question for this particular crowd: Should Werner Von Braun have been ostracized and prevented from working for the American government based on the fact that he had joined the Nazi party and even accepted commissions in the Allgemeine-SS, doing research on weapon systems that used slave labor in its production?

    1. George Turner

      That’s an interesting question, but we hired worse and kept investigating many of them. For years the German rocket scientists were kept isolated and closely watched, including some of their strange contacts to parties unknown when they were being held in New Mexico. We certainly didn’t let any of them go to Hollywood and start churning out Nazi propaganda.

      If we had treated the Hollywood communists like the German rocket scientists, we’d have first rounded them up and treated them like POWs, then monitored their activities for years to make sure they were former communists and not actively believing communists.

      We have no qualms about former communists, many of whom are the most ardent anti-communists around, making even Reagan look wishy-washy on the subject. I’ll also note that many of the West Coast communists were former Nazi supporters. Berkeley used to have pro-Hitler, anti-lend lease protests right up until Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. That forced them to choose between their two heroes, and since Hitler had been the agressor they chose to support Stalin.

  6. Dave

    [W]e’d have first rounded them up and treated them like POWs, then monitored their activities for years to make sure they were former communists and not actively believing communists.

    This says everything I need to know about your commitment to freedom in this country.

    BTW, please provide some references to all these West Coast communists who were former Nazi supporters. I’d love to see where you’re getting this information.

    1. George Turner

      From the pictures of the Berkeley protests and a long history of the origins of the American left and Pacifica Radio. Do you find it somehow shocking that socialists supported socialism, or that people who blame Anglo-American exploitive capitalism for the world’s ills would support a group that claimed it was the cure?

      If you’d bother to read Nazi propaganda you’d find that the left would agree with most all of its anti-capitalist and class arguments, at least ones that didn’t involve racial theories or Aryan superiority. When the Germans broke the Hitler-Stalin pact and invaded, the American radical left had to have meetings to decide which one to continue to support. They went with Stalin, but many continued their active opposition to the US war effort, claiming we were fighting the Japanese for the interests of Royal Dutch Shell, etc. Years later the Stalinists were purged from the California airwaves by the Maoists, which is why all the hippies waved around his little red book.

      1. Dave

        From the pictures of the Berkeley protests and a long history of the origins of the American left and Pacifica Radio.

        Cite a reference, please. We’re on the internet after all.

        If you’d bother to read Nazi propaganda you’d find that the left would agree with most all of its anti-capitalist and class arguments

        You can’t take Nazi propaganda at its word — if you do, you’re a fool. I’ve read a good amount of source materials in both German and English, but I’ve also read many histories of the era, which tell a very different story of actual nazi policies. Whatever sop the nazis threw to the German working class to get them to vote Hitler (before he actually came to power), the nazis were neither anti-capitalist nor egalitarians when it came to ruling.

        When the Germans broke the Hitler-Stalin pact and invaded, the American radical left had to have meetings to decide which one to continue to support.

        I contend this is utter bullshit — especially without any references cited in support. Who is this monolithic “American radical left” you’re talking about? Even if you mean the CPUSA — hardly representative of the American left, but let’s go with that for a second — American communists saw the movement as a bulwark against fascism. With the announcement of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact leftists abandoned the party out of disgust and recruitment went down.

  7. Andrew W

    Not many Stalinists, (or Maoist for that matter) around these days.

    Modern Communists are idealists, some people may want to believe they somehow support the atrocities committed under communism, but I doubt any of the Hollywood communists would have condoned those actions. Today’s communists still believe the original ideals of communism are possible, however unrealistic that is.
    Modern Nazi’s are I think a different case, Nazism has been and still is about elitism and discrimination against other peoples, to be a Nazi, when Nazism is known for only that, probably means a belief in that philosophy.

  8. Rand Simberg Post author

    Not many Stalinists, (or Maoist for that matter) around these days.

    They continue to infest the universities. They just don’t always call themselves that.

    There is a stupefying amount of historical ignorance about the nature of the left on display in this thread.

  9. Bilwick

    Now, now, Rand Now, now, I’m sure Andrew W would have the same attitude if the Fifties blacklists wwere against Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. You know, because otherwise he’s simply some party-line regurgitating left-winger. Whcih of course he clearly is not.

    1. Edward Wright

      Let’s not forget that the blacklist was invented by the left and employed against anti-Communists like Morrie Ryskind. It was only when the technique was turned against them that it became reprehensible.

      And it was just last year that the National Academy of Sciences blacklisted scientists as as Frank Tipler and Freeman Dyson for their views on global warming. I missed the uproar over that.

  10. DaveP.

    One of the biggest steps in my movement to the Right was the realization of how the American (and international, for that matter) Left would fall all over themselves to gloss over the most horrible atrocities the world has yet seen- as long as it was a Leftist hand performing them. I simply couldn’t stomach being around someone who would blow off or equivocate about the Communist Wind in China or the Soviet death camps because the perpetrators were “for the people”, whatever that meant. If Nazi apologists were the scum of the earth, why weren’t the CP-USA and various Fellow Travelers just as foul?

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