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WAS LENIN A COMMUNIST? | 2005-04-23

In order for a case to reach the courts, a judge has to be willing to accept that it makes some sense.

In the 1970s a woman constantly referred to herself as a "Marxist-Leninist." Someone called her a "Communist" and she sued him. I don't know whether she won or not, but it went to court in a serious civil case.

Marx, author of "The Communist Manifesto," would have been astonished to hear that he was not a Communist. Lenin would also have considered anyone who did not consider him to be a Communist to be a lunatic.

I repeat, the judge took the case.

There was no doubt in anybody's mind that a Marxist-Leninist was a Communist. The suit was about the right of a person to say so.

There was a TV movie some years ago about Robert Oppenheimer. Robert Oppenheimer was a leftist who was in on the development of the atomic bomb during World War II from the get-go. The whole point of the movie was to show that, while practically everybody Oppenheimer associated with was openly a Communist, Oppenheimer himself was not.

One scene showed a friend of Oppenheimer's going to a picnic with his fellow Communists in a bus marked, "Communist Jewish League." Some people stopped the bus and started shouting. Finally someone said something that started the fight. He called them "Commie Jews!"

This bigot was the villain of the piece.

Everybody watching the movie understood that a group of Communist Jews had the right to ride in a bus with the words "Communist-Jewish League" emblazoned on both sides, but no non-Communist gentile had any right calling them Communist Jews.

Those were fighting words. Please remember, EVERYBODY watching the movie was expected to understand that.

For many years it was considered extreme right-wing propaganda to call Fidel Castro a Communist. In 1957, while Castro was still a little-known guerilla in the Cuban hills, National Review announced he was an avowed Communist, from his own words.

The media, Republican moderates and many conservatives not only denied this statement, they ridiculed it.

In 1958, before Castro took power on January 1, 1959, the John Birch Society announced he was a Communist. For a couple of years after Castro took power in Cuba, saying he was a Communist was a strictly right-wing thing.

Then, in 1960, Castro announced that he was and always had been a Marxist-Leninist. Most of the media did what they always do. When the truth came out, they simply forgot that they had ever denied it and so did any conservative who ever wanted to be part of the national media.

But some in the liberal media held out. They insisted that when Castro said he had always been a "Marxist-Leninist" it did not mean they had been wrong. They argued at some length that a Marxist-Leninist was not necessarily a Communist.