Driven to Despair: The Return of American Socialism

by Daniel Mallock (December 2018)

Memorial to the Victims of Communism, Prague, CR. In this memorial, individuals fade away to nothing.






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The Right/Left divide is not what it seems. American politics is now about philosophy and not at all about policy. Politics has become philosophy “by other means” (to shamelessly paraphrase von Clausewitz).


The more accurate term to describe the majority of those who oppose those of the Left is this: Centrist Constitutionalists.


There is no Right/Left conflict any more in the United States per se. These old terms are obsolete and confusing. The political conflict in the United States has two opposing viewpoints best represented by a new lexicon: Centrist-Constitutionalists and Socialist-Communists.


In the United States and parts of Europe we’re all in a grotesquely recycled time.


According to a recent poll “Of the Democrats who responded to the questionnaire, 57 percent view socialism positively while 47 percent view capitalism positively.” Younger Americans are more likely to support utopian solutions than their elders: “Socialism was most popular with the 18-29 age group, with 51 percent saying they held a positive view, while only 28 percent of the 65+ crowd support the concept.” Other polls show similar results.


There is a philosophical conflict in our country—those who support the Constitution and national sovereignty versus globalist, utopian, socialist-communists.


While this might appear stark the ugly truth is clear to all who will sift through the muckery of confusion, conflict, rigidity, and falsehoods heaped upon the heads of the people by the media, entertainers, academics, and dangerously confused socialist-communist politicians.




The utopian view is that through perfected systems and structures and institutions that surpass any limitations of the failed (in their view) nation-state concept, the perfectible humans will thrive and the greatest local, national, and global problems resolved. Such a viewpoint is founded upon often unspoken and unchallenged assumptions that are false, and a denial of history that shows again and again and again that such thinking is impractical, fantastical, fraudulent, and dangerous.


We can dedicate ourselves to upholding our foundational laws, improving the institutions that support them, both some two hundred years old that provide the hope of the world by ensuring the ongoing safety of individual freedoms and economic opportunity. This structure of freedom is built upon a foundation of independence, justice, national identity, and self-government.



The youngest ever new member of Congress, a Democrat from New York City, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a proud, vocal socialist, was endorsed by former president Obama. Former Democrat presidential candidate Sanders of Vermont is widely known for his socialist views.


Democrat Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio said on November 19, 2018:


—Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio


Socialism is a political theory/system that does not work. There are numerous examples to cite—Venezuela being the most obvious. Disturbingly, socialism and socialist concepts are fueling the American left—now most accurately described as “socialist-communist.” 


Utopians commit the worst crimes, justify the worst horrors, ignore the most obvious counter-arguments, and demonize those who oppose them with bitter intolerance and brutality. Utopians are among the most dangerous people on the face of the earth, wherever and whenever in history they are found.


[3] The utopian philosophical elements are missing; no definition of socialism without them is accurate.


Lenin, quoting Marx, described the first phase of communist society as socialism.[4]



The purpose of socialism is the destruction of the individual and to convert persons to servants/slaves of the utopian state authority. Socialism is tyranny and antithetical to American concepts of freedom and justice. Adolf Hitler, one of the leading socialists of the catastrophic 20th century, stated the matter quite clearly.


Here you see the difference between the former age of individualism and the socialism that is on the horizon. In the past—that is, for most people it is still the present—the individual is everything, everything is directed at maintaining his life and improving his existence. Everything focuses on him. He is the center. Everyone is a central figure, as is officially acknowledged in his vested human rights.

In the socialism of the future, on the other hand, what counts is the whole, the community of the Volk. The individual and his life play only a subsidiary role. He can be sacrificed—he is prepared to sacrifice himself should the whole demand it, should the commonweal call for it.
—Adolf Hitler, February or March, 1930




Such is the origin and the path of the American socialist-communist left.


It is a sad and discordant thing when a large block of people, frustrated, propagandized, blinkered, and embittered, embrace the ideology of the enemy because they have run out of patience, have no solutions, and have lost hope and faith.


Howard Fast, one-time American Communist party member and author of Spartacus, realized the ugly truth about his and its utopianism, and wrote his view of the communist utopian imperative: “. . . A fanatical worship of dogmatized means and an increasing inability to comprehend the ultimate end. Perhaps the best definition of a fanatic is one who, having lost sight of the end, dedicates himself to the means.” [6]


The United States is not a utopia—the founders had no intention whatever of trying to create a utopia.


One of the many beauties and strengths of the open society is the ability to challenge existing orthodoxy and accepted beliefs. There are always pressures against the status quo, this is unavoidable. When manipulated and not vigorously challenged this consistent pressure can have negative consequences.


Also important is the fact that revisionism is built into modern intellectual life, which puts a premium on discovery and invention. Ambitious young scholars are impelled to take issue with their elders—for if they merely agree with those who have gone before, how can they make their mark? In this prevailing atmosphere, saying or doing something new is more richly rewarded than being right. [7]

—Richard Pipes, Three “Whys” of the Russian Revolution


It’s clear that challenging the status quo is a way to make one’s mark. There seems little glamour in defending what already exists, little profit for the agitator and the change agent in elegant defenses of institutions and concepts fought for and won by generations of the past—now unknown or ignored and disregarded by the new revolutionaries.


In a society in which the past is a dark place where light rarely penetrates, the apparatuses of freedom and the men and women who built and defended them now seem, to too many, as relevant as the dinosaurs.


The United States was founded on the concept of the great value of the individual. The individual is provided freedom, opportunity, safety, and a just system of laws and governance (including the redress of grievances) in exchange for loyalty and participation. The individual is the foundation cornerstone of the American experiment. Now, the socialist-communist element in American politics rejects this fundamental worldview—how can this be?


As it is accepted by all from the very start that the United States is not and was never intended to be a utopia, why are so many losing faith in a tried and true system of government such as ours? Certainly, one form of validation is the influx of millions of immigrants, legal and illegal, who want to enjoy the freedoms and opportunity created and sustained by the American experiment in open society and democracy. But success is never enough, and freedoms have their own negations.


Sooner or later, one of my good friends is sure to ask me: How did it happen that a man like you became a Communist? Each time I wince, not at the personal question, but at the failure to grasp the fact that a man does not, as a rule, become a Communist because he is attracted to Communism, but because he is driven to despair by the crisis of history through which the world is passing.

I force myself to answer: In the West, all intellectuals become Communists because they are seeking the answer to one of two problems: the problem of war or the problem of economic crises.


For the revolution is never stronger than the failure of civilization. Communism is never stronger than the failure of other faiths.
—Whittaker Chambers[8]


It is an ugly truth about humanity that lengthy periods of peace, times in which the focus of national life is internal rather than on external challenges, can lead to entropy. This is not to say that the United States is at peace, we’re not. We haven’t been at peace since September 11, 2001. This current conflict is a large one in time, scope, and space.


But ours is not a war economy nor a war society. The fighting is far from our shores and daily life continues here as before, though with increased security, infrequent attacks, increased nervousness, and internal conflicts let loose in part because of the ongoing military/ideological conflict at home and abroad. Only when the enemy makes their way through our defenses, and commits atrocities against us or our friends, are we reminded that we are in a state of war. Some leaders have suggested that these atrocities, now seared into the hearts and minds of all Americans, are the “new normal.” Yet, we are a forward-looking set and continue on.


The essential problem of being forward-looking is that we fail to learn from the recent and distant past.




Robert Kaplan, in his insightful observation above, published in 2000, could not have foreseen the atrocity of 9/11 and the subsequent, still ongoing, global conflict that it created. That this is an existential struggle is not lost on most reasonable people, though its domestic impact has been purposefully minimized specifically so that “normal life” can continue wherever and whenever possible.

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Therefore, Kaplan’s idea that an environment of extended peace (though now occasionally breached by war news, terror attacks, heightened security, homeward bound casualties, etc.) is applicable, though slightly counter-intuitive. Entertainment companies have certainly taken a lead role in the public mind, and “crude dispersion of facts untampered by context” is an important element of “fake news.”


Perhaps it is a testament, in a way, to our love of freedom that the domestic life of our country has, at least, the illusion of peace. However, within this world of denialism and illusion that we have created around ourselves, in which we so desperately appear to want to go on “as normal,” the stresses of the war are directed inward rather than toward the enemy. These stresses build until domestic peace is replaced by domestic upheaval, which is precisely where we find ourselves.


For some, ours is a domestic national life of credulity and the inability to discern opinion from fact—it is the perfect pallet for the dystopian socialist-communist utopians to paint. This is the world of fake news and activist fake “journalists,” social justice excesses and anti-intellectualism in the universities, and grotesque partisanship and lies in daily and nightly fake entertainments.


In a world within which history is a dark unknown country it is easy to see how so many otherwise decent people could be so readily blinkered. It is not only that we fail at learning from history, what is worse is that we know almost nothing of it at all.


Ours is an exceptionally challenging time with issues both foreign and domestic worthy of honest debate and discussion—so that solutions can be investigated and agreed upon. The strength of this country has long been in its open society and appreciation of the freedom of ideas and discourse, that is a tolerance for opinions not one’s own—no longer.


This is an American period of culminations and intersections . . . It is a time of loss of faith, and many are falling.


In similar fashion to Howard Fast, Whittaker Chambers became an American Communist in the 1920s. Over time, he became an important operative in the Soviet military spy network in the US. He eventually realized that Communism was evil, and abandoned it. He then went underground and fought against the very same traitorous criminals and clandestine foreign agents with whom he had once worked to destroy the United States.


Chambers’s allegations against Alger Hiss, a high-ranking US government state department official formed the basis for the massive legal case that would be called the Hiss-Chambers case in post WW2 America. This was an essential event during the Cold War. Chambers is an American hero, and his book Witness an extraordinary classic of American political, historical, and literary history.


Thus men who sincerely abhorred the word Communism, in the pursuit of common ends found that they were unable to distinguish Communists from themselves, except that it was just the Communists who were likely to be most forthright and most dedicated in the common cause. This political colorblindness was all the more dogged because it was completely honest. For men who could not see that what they firmly believed was liberalism added up to socialism could scarcely be expected to see what added up to Communism. Any charge of Communism enraged them precisely because they could not grasp the differences between themselves and those against whom it was made. Conscious of their own political innocence, they suspected that it was merely mischievous, and was aimed, from motives of political malice, at themselves. But as the struggle was really for revolutionary power, which in our age is always a struggle for control of the masses, that was the point at which they always betrayed their real character, for they reacted not like liberals, but with the fierceness of revolutionists whenever that power was at issue.
—Whittaker Chambers[10]


When the country was founded there was a short period of unity and celebration. There were no political parties after 1776 but the American party—citizens and survivors of the revolutionary war were happy to be living in freedom outside the reach of kings and oligarchs. By 1826, when John Adams died on July 4, the general unity of the early years of the country had largely been replaced by a virulent, party partisanship. Regardless, Adams, in one of his last public statements made it known to the organizers of the July 4th celebration for the 50th anniversary of the country in the city of Quincy, Massachusetts, that his celebratory greetings to the citizens on that occasion should be “Independence Forever!”


It was understood by the founding generation and many who followed that American unity was the foundational cornerstone of American independence into the future. It was understood that the American future depended on a single unifying political and cultural identity: American. This message of unity, of the concept that no identity groups were of any great moment but one, “American,” was a consistent theme of leaders in government, business, and culture across the generations, until the Obama presidency. That President Trump has taken up once again this theme of the great importance of a unifying national American identity, soveriegnty, and power, is one of the central reasons why the socialist-communists of the American left oppose him and so sharply criticize and insult him at every turn. Unified countries do not surrender their independence and freedoms so readily. 


Three days before his death on January 6, 1919, Theodore Roosevelt wrote the following in a letter to the American Defense Society. On January 5th, it was read aloud to the society. This, therefore is considered his last public statement:




The current occupant of the White House stresses American unity, American power, American sovereignty, identity, and pride. These are the same messages that have been stressed by American leaders since the founding with but one presidential exception. These ideas, built around support for the Constitution and Americanism places President Trump in the center of American political tradition and ideas. His supporters think along similar lines.


President Trump and his supporters are centrist constitutionalists and should be described as such.


In this new political environment of ignorance and intolerance in which old language fails, and once trusted and revered knowledge has been widely denounced or lost utopianism now has a socialist-communist face. During the Cold War socialism and communism were seen as negative terms that described dangerous, failed, murderous, enemy totalitarian systems. Not anymore.


Washington, in his 1796 farewell address, warned future generations against both “innovations” and partisanship as two of the greatest challenges to the continuance of the government. The American left is now driven by love of “innovations” and a loss of faith in American traditions and institutions. What they would see as an innovation, an improvement, is rather a great hammer poised against the edifice of the democracy.


Towards the preservation of your Government and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts . . .


I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to founding them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you, in the most solemn manner, against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.





Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essentially that public opinion should be enlightened . . .
—Washington’s Farewell Address


Whittaker Chambers, like Howard Fast and many others in this country, became strong communists and worked hard for the utopian workers’ paradise that communism promised—until they didn’t. They realized that the utopian solution they had embraced was a great fraud, and evil. 


The errors of the past are flooding upon us, the friends of the constitution and of the country are stunned by the shift. The strident loss of faith by a large cohort of the country brings us all to a new crisis. The unity of the country is chipped away and in the residue the seeds of hatred, intolerance, and despair are planted.


Few men are so dull that they do not know that the crisis exists and that it threatens their lives at every point. It is popular to call it a social crisis. It is in fact a total crisis—religious, moral, intellectual, social, political, economic. It is popular to call it a crisis of the Western world. It is in fact a crisis of the whole world. Communism, which claims to be a solution to the crisis, is itself a symptom and an irritant of the crisis.
—Whittaker Chambers, Witness[12]


The United States is no utopia and was never meant nor designed to be such. Thomas Paine, in his pamphlet of the American Revolution, Common Sense (1776) wrote:



The philosophical crisis in the United States is based upon a simple dichotomy: the idea that government is a necessary evil to be improved over time versus the belief that government is a necessary and benevolent good, and the only structure powerful enough to solve the problems of humanity and of society. One position is American and valid, the other is alien and a fraud.


One position is built on the essential value of the individual, and the fears of power and its abuse that prompt the people to keep the government in check.


The other position seeks to empower the state because power is not to be feared, but used to solve great problems for the benefit of humanity. To meet the requirements of this fundamentally anti-individual philosophy people must be converted from citizens to apparatchiks and slaves in service to the government and its ruling class. Supporters of this approach believe that only in this way can the great problems of the world be solved. That the cost of socialism is freedom is lost upon the utopians of the socialist-communist left. 



[2] John Adams, Letter to Massachusetts Militia, October 11, 1798.

[4] V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution, 1917. “But the scientific distinction between socialism and communism is clear. What is usually called socialism was termed by Marx the ‘first’, or lower, phase of communist society.”




Daniel Mallock is a historian of the Founding generation and of the Civil War and is the author of The New York Times Bestseller, Agony and Eloquence: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and a World of Revolution. He is a Contributing Editor at New English Review.

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