The phenomenon made famous by Joseph McCarthy is to disparage and neutralize any manifestation of the left. The subterfuge they use is that it will be communism.
By Rafael Rojas (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – At the Republican Party’s National Convention during the entire week of August 24-27, we heard a reiterated accusation. Speakers repeated that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the Democrats will lead the nation to Communism if they arrive at the White House. The anti-Communism of the US right manages to surmount the fall of the Berlin Wall and the new century. Never since 1989 has that anachronistic ideological tendency been so strong.
Trumpism has breathed new life into anti-Communism in the United States. We heard it from all kinds of speakers that week. From professional politicians, to former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, to Vice President Mike Pence. Likewise from Trump’s children and from Cuban-American businessmen and politicians such as Maximo Alvarez and Jeanette Nunez. All of them used indiscriminately the terms “socialism”, “Marxism”, and “Communism”. When they alluded to the first or the second, the third term was the one they had in mind.
Confusion over Socialism and Communism
This confusion between Socialism and Communism is widespread among right-wing conservatives in the United States. There’s a historic explanation for this, having to do with the weakness of the Socialist organizations in that country. The left has traditionally been hegemonized as liberalism in the Democratic Party. The error, or more accurately, the deliberate identification of social democracy and democratic socialism with Communism has its origins in the McCarthy phenomenon.
Anticommunism gave form to a doctrine of national security that justified the repression of any leftist movement. This doctrine flourished not only in the 50s when Joseph McCarthy set up his witch hunts. It also took hold in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. According to this view of national security, any leftist movement could eventually become Communism. Applied to the United States foreign policy in Latin America, the doctrine wrought havoc. Under that doctrine, the US supported coup d’etats like the ones that overthrew Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, Joao Goulart in Brazil, and Salvador Allende in Chile. It also translated into backing military dictatorships, like the ones in the Southern Cone, the Andean region, and Central America.
The essence of McCarthyism is discrediting and, in the worse cases, the neutralization of any manifestation of the left. This takes place under the excuse that it will inevitably lead to Communism. That Communism that the left might propitiate is nothing other than the so-called “real Socialism” of Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union and in the Eastern European countries after the Second World War.
Lumping all opponents together
According to the McCarthy tradition that Trump has now revived, Communism is a version of political evil in which liberals, populists, social democrats and anarchists are all lumped together. All the currents of the Democratic party are Communist according to the new McCarthyism. From the democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the moderate liberalism of Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke or Joe Biden, all of them are labeled Communist.
Never, not even during the McCarthy era, did they reach the extreme of defining all liberalism as Communism. The difference resides in that during the years of the Cold War the USSR and the Soviet bloc still existed. Communism was something real. Now it’s once again a phantom, as Marx said. As such, it lends itself more easily to the alterations of truth that Trumpism practices daily.
The new McCarthyism isn’t of course, a phenomenon exclusive to the United States. We see it in Italy with Salvini, in Spain with Avascal, in Brazil with Bolsonaro, in Bolivia with Anez, and in El Salvador with Bukele. It sometimes raises its head in Mexico through sectors of the right. These who erroneously label the populism of the left, or revolutionary nationalism in Mexico as “Communist”. Such distortions show how little they know about the history of the many frictions between the Cardenas factions and Communist parties within the Mexican left in the twentieth century.