Eugene Lyons, 1930s commie-hunter
I was alerted to the incredible and impressive anti-communist journalistic career of Eugene Lyons only recently. I was doing my usual trolling through the conservative websites when I came upon a review of an ancient (well, 78 years old) book, The Red Decade, written by Eugene Lyons, a review by Harry Stein at City Journal. Mr. Stein, doing his job as a reviewer, said:
It may be that the best book that will ever be written about today's progressive mind-set was published in 1941. That in The Red Decade author Eugene Lyons was, in fact, describing the Communist-dominated American Left of the Depression-wracked 1930s and 1940s makes his observations even more meaningful, for it is sobering to be confronted with how little has been gained by hard experience.
I am a sucker for a good book, and I read Mr. Eugene Lyons's book, The Red Decade. I am transfixed by his erudition, his capacity to capture the nature of the subject, and his devotion to a detailed description of the communist infiltration of the United States in the 1930s.
Mr. Lyons, a journalist who was, early on, a socialist, was assigned by the United Press International to cover Russia in the early '30s, learned the realities, and brought his knowledge back to the United States to expose the commies. His book Assignment in Utopia (1937) (still available) described the Stalin horrors and pogroms/purges/assassinations/famines, systematic killing, when he returned to the U.S.
After returning to the U.S., he turned his eye to the domestic communist political project under the direction of Stalin and Moscow. His investigations and analysis result in the book that is the focus of my review, released in 1941 (still available, republished in 1970), that details the commie infiltration of the U.S. under Stalinist control, the creation of front organizations, union infiltrations, academic and media influence, political and social takeovers. The magnitude of what Mr. Lyons documents is stunning and overwhelming.
In 400 pages, with an ample index of references, Mr. Lyons tells the tale of communist infiltration and espionage of a magnitude that is alarming, from their infiltration of union, academic, social, political, media, entertainment sectors to their attempts to influence politics with various multifarious political advocacy organizations.
Mr. Lyons takes the time to also tell of the international communist strategic projects that are complex and were surprisingly successful, partially due to American docility and social/political naïveté. The story is horrifying and frightening, but more important, informative on the long standing and effective techniques and strategies of the communists.
Read it and weep for our nation, but also consider what you read about as the nature of the enemy afoot in this nation right now in the form of aggressive socialist political action. It is certainly a concern and sobering to see a 50-year-old communist strategy of vilification of political enemies being perpetrated effectively with the complicity of the media in the present times. We need to consider and confront what the present-day leftists are pushing compared to the recent and more distant past — for example, the emphasis of feeling over reason, the decay of morality, the hatred and antagonism for tradition and mores, the revisionist history and ideological totalitarianism, the dominance of political correct thought totalitarianism. Lyons shows that such things are not new; they were and remain standard operating procedure for the commies.
Lyons is a superlative writer and a gifted reporter, courageous for sure, and determined. His story of the spell cast by Stalinist-tinged social justice activism over that day's purported best and brightest — literary titans, Hollywood celebrities, leading academics, religious leaders, media heavies, economic and business giants — the whole thing would be jaw-dropping if it weren't so eerily familiar in the current environment.
Read Mr. Lyons and consider his analysis and warnings. I bought the book, cheap, and now I have it to keep.
John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D. is a physician and inactive attorney in Brownwood, Texas.
Graphic credit: Amazon.com.