By Faiz Ahmed
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
By Faiz Ahmed
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Sunday, September 18, 2011
The current global economic system is fragile, threating a most basic need: food. Eric Holt Gimenez, author of ‘From Food Crisis to Food Sovereignty’ mentions that in the summer of 2008, there was massive starvation and hunger world over, despite “record harvests and record profits for the world’s major agro-food corporations.” He cites World Bank records of price hikes in food which amounted to “83%” over a period of “three years” and according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, food price hikes amounted to “45%” in just over a period of nine months. The author mentions that this caused riots. “Protests in Mexico, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Yemen, Egypt, Haiti and twenty other countries were sparked by skyrocketing food prices.” The author also mentions that according to the FAO, “There was more than enough food in the word to feed everyone in 2008 – at least 1.5 times the current demand”, and that the only problem was that “90% of the world’s hungry are simply too poor to buy enough food” (143-144).
What’s the worst that can happen?
If the worst happens, communities could be plunged into lawlessness and chaos because nations and communities alike have abandoned independent and self-reliant systems for macro-systems of global dependence for their most basic necessities. There is no quick way to change thousands of years of social and economic evolution, but the damage may be curtailed if communities such as cities and towns can increase food sovereignty – that is, the ability to feed their own people. Some argue that this concern is not real and that nothing will happen to the economy. However, in this year, 2011, the world has witnessed riots, protests, revolutions, and economic disasters, the kind which could paralyze the economy including agro-food processors. In such a situation, since communities are not independent in their food, energy or in the production of their basic necessities, crime could skyrocket causing cities to become no-go zones, just because of the city’s lack of self-reliance. This could worsen the economic, social, political and judicial problems of the country.
Prevention is better than cure, and as such, safeguarding food production, distribution and supplies locally is the best way to limit the damage caused by rising food prices and rising gas prices through these uncertain times.
In this age of globalization, the ‘community’ system has disappeared. With the emergence of large metropolises, people are no longer community-oriented. Throughout history, communities have thrived and flourished in relative semi-isolation, independent in their food production, independent in their energy needs, independent in their security and independent in their education. They did not rely on industries or federal governments to provide them with jobs. They were self-sufficient to the extent that all food, employment, energy and educational needs of the community were met locally. All the surplus production which was not consumed by the members of the community was exported to other communities for the purposes of trade.
If there is an economic collapse followed by or comprising of inflation due to increase in interest rates and/or massive unemployment it will increase prices on almost everything. The hardest blow to the citizenry would be the rise in costs of food, gas, and energy.
DIY Food Production
The solution proposed by many parts of society is to gain independence in food production and to make the food supply system from producer to consumer without any go-betweens. This independence in food-related activities is termed as ‘food sovereignty’. The authors Annette Aurelie Desmarias, Nettie Wiebe and Hannah Wittman in their article titled ‘Sovereignty Now! In the Midst of Economic and Environmental Crises, People are Taking Control of our Food Systems’ mention that “food sovereignty is broadly defined as the right of nations and peoples to control their own food systems, including their own markets, production modes, food cultures and environments”. It is a community-controlled democratic form of a food system (18).
This idea of food sovereignty is not a new idea. It used to be the norm historically but it has also been implemented in current times. On a national level, Venezuela is an example of a country that is trying to achieve food sovereignty. Alan Broughton, in his article, ‘Venezuela’s Chocolate Solution’, mentions that Venezuelan agricultural policies promote ‘food sovereignty’. It is also in the Venezuelan constitution. He mentions that since the promotion of food sovereignty, cocoa farmers have had their standards of living increase (20).
A Gathering of Independent Food Communities
On an international level, Terra Madre, a global network of sustainable food communities has emerged in opposition to macro food systems and to champion the cause of food sovereignty. In Carlos Petrini’s book ‘Terra Madre’, he mentions that Terra Madre was “world meeting of food communities” and that it was attended by 7000 delegates from 153 countries, representing around 1600 different food communities.” Those who attended were “farmers, fishermen, artisans, nomad shepherds … musicians, cooks and academics”. He also mentions that in the meeting, they had “inaugural speeches”, “workshops, meetings, forums, talks, and celebrations”. The workshops that Terra Madre holds theorizes the concept of independence and self-reliance of food communities, educates the participants about issues like “seed patents, monopolies and privatization”, virtues of “de- industrializing food”, methods of “recycling and reuse” and “biodiversity”. It also educates participants about the “advantages of local economy”. If it is a viable option for Venezuela and if it is a viable option for 1600 different food communities, it can be tweaked to make it a viable option for America. If not for America then at least for Detroit or other impoverished communities.
If we use Detroit as an example, the same template of revival can be used for other cities as well. Detroit was once a bustling industrial city, however today it may be counted as one of the most impoverished communities, an urban jungle, a ‘food desert’. Nora Goldstein, author of ‘Vacant Lots Sprout Urban Farms’ explains the concept of a “food desert” as an area where there are very few viable sources of healthy food like “grocery stores” and the only food sources in the area are unhealthy “fast food” joints (24).
Get Set Detroit
There are vacant dilapidated buildings all over and the population of the city is on a negative downward linear. Although some may say this is a bad thing, the argument could be made that this is a window of opportunity. The more vacant land there is the better. There are a few people and organizations that recognize the potential and have been trying to take advantage of this window of opportunity. The problem with Detroit can be summed up as a loss of capital which comprises of human resource capital, financial or fiscal capital, educational capital and industrial capital. These are basically the building blocks of an industrialized and modern economy which are leaving Detroit. The best and most viable option for Detroit in this situation would be to return to an agrarian economy. If it is a lack of industrial capital that is causing the major bulk of problems, then it would be a better choice to change the direction of the community, from trying fruitlessly to compete to gain recognition in a system that has turned its back on the city towards a more fruitful direction of growing food.
The potential of growing urban farms in Detroit is being turned into reality already. Businesses, neighborhoods and community organizations are investing their time, effort and money in establishing urban farms in Detroit. In an article written by Mike Score, titled ‘Farming on Urban Land’, Hantz Farms LLC is one such organization. Hants Corporation is the brainchild of John Hantz, “a successful entrepreneur” and a resident of Detroit. In collaboration with Michigan State University and Kellogg Foundation, Hantz Farms developed a “business plan” that investigated “the variability of urban soils, potential soil contamination issues associated with urban environments, the need to fit farms between the remaining urban residences, and the realities of producing farm goods using methods that allow the urban infrastructure to remain in place” (14). The return on investment may not be large, as the business plans proposed a very modest rate. The author states, “These models consistently suggest that once the startup cost is accounted for, a Detroit farm venture should provide a modest 2 to 5 percent return on equity” (14). However, the return on investment may not necessarily be the driving force of this venture. In regards to the motivation behind the project, Score mentions that in business terms, this level of return is very modest. It certainly is not investment grade. However, Hantz’s interest in contributing to the revitalization of Detroit’s economy, making neighborhoods more livable, and exploring innovation through involvement in a new industry have allowed him, and the 600 employees of the Hantz group, to defy conventional business decision-making processes and pursue this vision (14).
Although Hantz Farms LLC is a corporation, urban farming remains a good venture even for individual and family farmers and in other cities. However Score implies that the production has not started yet when he says, “More than 90 percent of area residents directly affected by the proposed farms have signed petitions for city leaders to allow the farm to move ahead” (15). There are certain laws and city ordinances that need to be modified regarding large scale production and negotiations with lawmakers are underway. Goldstein mentions a similar project in Cleveland, and Toledo cities in the state of Ohio. These projects in have been very successful. She also mentions The Food Project, an organization in Lincoln Massachusetts as “having a long history of remediating vacant lots with contaminated soils into urban farms and gardens” (24-26).
Urban Farming: The Benefits
The benefits of urban farming are many. Garnett in making a case for urban farming in Britain states, “It could reduce the amount of food-related transport in Britain which at present accounts for one quarter of all journeys in Britain and some 12 percent of Britain’s fuel consumption” (299+). The author mentions that “locally grown food, reduces the need to travel, to distribute it and to buy it, while local employment in food production reduces the need to travel to work” (299+).
Another benefit of urban farming and food sovereignty is that it can reduce wastage and packaging. As the produce is sold relatively soon, it does not need plastic bag packaging, it does not need refrigeration. In fact, alternate industries can flourish for making bags and sacs made of fibers obtained from these farms. Even paper industries can flourish from the production of the hemp that was used to detoxify the lead contaminated soil (299+).
A major problem that could be solved through urban farming could be crime. Although there are many people who get involved in criminal activities because of the money, there are many who do this out of desperation because of a lack of jobs. If agriculture can create sufficient jobs to offer those who fall into illegal and unethical trades out of desperation, then quite a large portion of the problem of urban crime is also solved.
Yet another major merit of urban farming is the sense of accomplishment that it can provide to people. Accomplishment and self-respect always go hand in hand. A community can only respect itself based on what it has achieved. Food production raises the collective self-respect and the dignity that mankind deserves.
From a personal interview with Baraka Johnson, a community activist in Detroit and an employee of Community Legal Resource, it became clear there is an “Adopt a Lot Program”, initiated by the city of Detroit which helps individuals to take temporary possession of city land for the sole purpose of gardening or landscaping. He also said that “the city cannot disallow its residents from growing food and also raising livestock (on private property). However the city has also come to the agreement with others (those interested in urban farming) that large amounts of livestock cannot be raised in an urban setting.” The legal limitations are mainly in the form of zoning issues.
Urban Farming: Expected Challenges
A major limitation for this project is contaminated soil. Contamination of soil is mostly because of lead from roads, buildings, paints and air pollution. Tara Garnett, author of a journal article titled ‘Farming the City: The Potential of Urban Agriculture’ mentions that in order to avoid the ill effects of lead contamination of soil, some farmers “avoid” the entire ordeal of expensive soil testing by “bringing in soil or compost and by cultivating in raised beds” (299+). Other farmers, the author mentions, who do not wish to spend too much money on expensive decontamination of soils “can grow a non-food crop such as hemp, which has a variety of uses (cloth and paper making for instance) could be grown” and food could be “grown on the site a few seasons later”. (299+).
With regards to the second major limitation, that is the weather being unsuitable for food cultivation in northern cities like Detroit in the winter season, there is a remedy for that as well. Methods for winter farming which are not energy intensive and inexpensive are also being developed so that small business owners can also start profitable ventures. An article titled ‘Farming in the Dead of Winter on the Rise’, authored by Susan Keese of WNPR News, brings to light the methods used for winter farming, even in sub-freezing temperatures. The easiest method used is to create “winter greenhouses” also called as “high tunnels.” The winter greenhouse is a long arching structure that looks like a tunnel. The ceiling is a covering of “spun polyester blankets that let in light and trap the heat.” The author says, “It’s about 12 degrees outside, but inside it’s a balmy 60.” Of course winter foods have to be different from summer produce, as such the best suites produce for winter months are vegetables like spinach, carrots, potatoes, mustard greens, lettuce, turnips, broccoli, leeks, Bok choi, kale and Swiss chard are good for the winter whereas tomatoes and the like are good for summer. The winter greenhouses are completely unheated by any other means apart from the sun (Keese).
An Example to Follow
The rural lifestyle serves as the best model for communities that are self-reliant in their food, energy, security and educational systems. A prime model of this lifestyle are the Amish communities. Although Amish communities shun technology, and urban luxuries, they are better prepared to cope with rising prices and food shortages. On the other hand, communities like Detroit that are not independent in food systems have suffered. Goldstein mentions that a congresswoman from Ohio said that “only 2 percent of the food consumed by Ohio families is actually grown” in that state (25). It would be wise for communities, cities, states and nations to become independent in their basic necessities.
Images taken from Google Images Database
First Published in East West Link News - www.ewlnews.com
Monday, August 29, 2011
Meat from large factory line food industries must be avoided. First, large corporations destroy the way of life for the rural farming communities, by running small family farming businesses into the ground because they can afford to sell meat at a lower price. Second, the meat that they do provide is associated with many health problems. Third, the industrial farming method is energy intensive and contributes in a large way to the contamination and pollution of our environment in ways that organic and natural farming does not. Fourth, employees suffer health risks because of the factory system and the fumes, usually are underpaid and do not have benefits. Fifth, the animals themselves are treated in very unethical ways. The meat that consumers get looks good but is in antagonism to their needs, ethics, health and the environment. Meat that is accessible in the supermarkets or restaurants should be avoided at all cost, rather the meat that we must consume should be purchased from local farmers whose priority is to provide meat that is healthy rather than cheap so as to bypass factory farmed meat.
Horrigan, Leo, Robert S. Lawrence and Polly Walker. “How Sustainable Agriculture can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture.” Environmental Health Perspectives110.5 (2002): 445-456. JSTOR. Web. 25 July 2011.
Jolley, Chuck. “Meat Safety Under the Microscope: The Initial Bull Market for Beef Created Huge Trade for Meat. But it also Opened the Door to Major Health Issues.”Food Processing 66.5 (2005): 21+. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 July 2011.
Koneswaran, Gowri and Danielli Nierenberg. “Global Farm Animal Production and Global Warming: Impacting and Mitigating Climate Change.” Environmental Health Perspectives 116.5 (2008): 578-582. JSTOR. Web. 27 July 2011
Petrini, Carlo. Terra Madre: Forging a new Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing. 2009. PrintPotts, Monica. “The Serfs of Arkansas: Immigrant Farmers are Flocking to the Poultry Industry—Only to Become 21st -Century Share Croppers for Companies Like Tyson.” The American Prospect 22.3(2011): 23+. Academic OneFile. Web
Monday, June 13, 2011
By Faiz Ahmed
Rarely, has the world ever seen so many world changing and tumultuous events taking place in such a short period of time. From the start of the year 2011 the world has seen massive revolutions and protests across the globe especially in the Arab world however not limited to it.
Europe has had its own protests’, USA has had its protests, nuclear disasters and earthquakes in Japan, tornadoes in USA. This leads me to think, that we are living in monumental times when wars, revolutions, poverty and destitution and natural disasters are all coming about at the same time. All these are culminating at the same time. Is this all by chance or is the world, in its political, economic and in its cosmic and ultra cosmic realities shifting? Is the world reaching the climax of this era?
Last month, the USA, went into Pakistan and supposedly killed Osama Bin Laden, its arch nemesis.
In the eyes of the Pakistani people, the USA invaded Pakistan, killed an old man and dumped his body into the ocean.
Whether the man was Bin Laden or not, whether Bin Laden, who was the prime “SUSPECT” of the 911 atrocities was guilty of that monumental crime or not, the question to ask is what implication will this have on international politics.
Since the USA invaded Pakistan and killed a man inside Pakistani territory, the people of Pakistan have taken offence to their territorial sovereignty being compromised.
Having kept a keen eye out on the news, I think it would be safe to say, that the alleged killing of Bin Laden has brought a few political dividends to the world’s political elite, namely the USA, Israel and their allies.
First, it has lead to a hike in President Obama’s favorability in the USA. Second, it was a successful test run to see that if Pakistan were to ever fall into civil war, would it be easy for the US army or the UN army or NATO, to move in and dismantle or remove Pakistan’s nuclear weaponry.
The third political dividend is to get a civil war or a revolution started inside Pakistan, to create such conditions so as to justifiably invade Pakistan and do just that, that is, to remove or dismantle Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, of course for the safety of the ‘free’ world so that the weapons may not by any chance fall into the hands of the “islamist” revolutionaries.
A point to remember is that under Musharraf’s regime, the USA had agreed to help safeguard Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
Pakistan then having lost its nuclear arsenal, and in a moment of internal chaos, will be easy to break up into smaller states probably un.der the control of India. Part of Pakistan may assimilate into greater Afghanistan.
What consequence will this have on the Arab uprisings, and the Arab revolutionaries? Will they remain quite? Or will they try to organize and take on Israel.
Egypt has already opened up its borders to Gaza through the Rafah crossing. The Hamas and Fattah factions have united, along with the Palestinian people living inside of Israel’s territorial boundaries. The call for the third Intifada has gone out on facebook and every time facebook shuts the page down, five new ones pop up and get millions of supporters within hours.
American and Israeli allies in the region have lost their control over their own governments, Egypt, Jordan etc. Turkey which has traditionally been an ally of Israel has now allied itself with Iran. It must also be noted that Israel had sent in crowd control weaponry to Hosni Mubarak to try to quell the Egyptian uprising.
The world which has been pressurizing Israel by way of flotillas and United Nations resolutions, now is forcing Israel to accept a Palestinian state. The pressure on Israel is indeed rising not to mention that Israel is fast running out of water resources.
The USA is already involved in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and the US economy is collapsing because of excessive spending on the part of the Bush and Obama administration.
If the Arab youth, angered by the loss of the only Muslim nuclear power, try to take on Israel, backed by Iran and Turkey or if Israel starts something preemptively, it may usher a new and devastating war in which the Arabs being heavily under-armed will most likely loose.
The anger has also been building up because of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo scandals, Islamophobia, poverty, and occupation.
Professor Norman Finkelstein has been active in saying the Israel is preparing itself for a big war which may encompass the entire middle east.
Is this the near future, will the Arab world be transformed into a massive Gaza strip? If the USA enters into that war, what will happen to its economy? Will there be internal chaos in the USA at the hands of the Tea Party and the right wing militias? What will be the fate of the minorities living in the USA is such a time of chaos? Just like how in WW2, Britain the ruling state in the world, gave way to the USA to be the next ruling state in the world, will this next war make the USA which is the current ruling state in the world, give way to Israel, then next new ruling state in the world?
Monday, March 14, 2011
---“The domestic anti-communist crusade of the 1940s and 1950s was essential during a time of great peril. American communists posed a legitimate threat to national security and the American way of life. Indeed, many American communists were spies and traitors. Although it is possible that some innocent people suffered, that was a relatively small and necessary price to pay to defend American freedoms. Those who fought communism at home deserve our nation’s highest praise”----
McCarthyism was a phenomenon in the history of the United States at the time of the Cold War, when elected officials used extremely exaggerated fear mongering tactics to marginalize Socialists, Communists, Leftists and even Liberals. Many patriotic Leftist, centrist and even conservative people suffered because of the actions of a few members of the communist party.
McCarthyism brought about a lot of repression and many of the constitutional rights of people were trampled upon.
Senator Joe McCarthy is the namesake of the phenomenon of McCarthyism. It was because of his eccentric and dramatized behavior and allegations that people today look at the period in history as something unpleasant.
What McCarthyism did was that it made the allegation of Communism, the ultimate allegation against a person. Even if a person was a Communist because of their leftist ideology and was still loyal to the United States, it was assumed that their loyalty was with the USSR.
The notion that American Communists posed a legitimate threat to the nation is true. There were many members of the Communist party who were spies for the USSR. However to say that those Americans who fought Communism at home deserve the nation’s highest praise is not something I can digest because in trying to fight Communism, many of these heroes, descended to the level of authoritarianism and betrayed the Constitution of the USA and betrayed the universal principles of justice and of personal privacy.
Every organization has more than one level of hierarchy. There is the intellectual leadership and there is the rank and file membership.
The rank and file membership of the Communist party were made up of many good hearted, law abiding citizens. For instance the narrative of Howard Johnson in Ellen Schrecker’s ‘The Age of McCarthyism’ mentions that, “Most of the black intellectuals joined the party because they were attracted to it for the same reasons I was. It was an organization that was really doing something, that was there. That was picketing, that was demonstrating, that was getting jobs for blacks in this union and that union…” (Schrecker 111)
The Communist party invited many people who were struggling for civil rights. This was a local focus that the communist party had. These were people who were loyal to the USA.
David Friedman’s narrative also shows that he joined the party because of the local impact that the party had. The communist party was involved heavily in the rejuvenation of the educational system and the restoration of businesses and shops. This was also a local focus on trying to revive the community. He also was pretty incensed by certain things done by big businesses like “burning wheat and spilling milk in order to keep the prices from going too low … creating an artificial scarcity.”(Schrecker 114)
The Communist party also was an anti-Nazi, anti-fascist hub of political organization and activity. This also brought many people to join the Communist party. (Schrecker 114)
However the intellectual leadership of the Communist party changed its party line after the WW2. The speeches of William Foster, fostered a lot of anti-American and pro-Soviet feelings in the Communist party membership. An example of this is in Foster’s speech after WW2, “Besides this economic fear, the big American capitalists also have profound political fear. They view with the greatest fear, the alarming democratic tide throughout Europe and the world, and they know that the USSR is the main bulwark of this new world democracy.” (Schrecker pg 121)
The Communist movement did pose some threats such as espionage and spying. Delivering or the intent to deliver nuclear and military secrets to the USSR were some of the glaringly obvious signs of anti-Americanism and betrayal of the USA by the hands of some American Communists.
Covert operations and espionage were carried out by both sides and both sides had the right to punish their traitors. The Americans went after their traitors which was natural. Some of the most prominent cases were that of Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss. Hiss was an employee of the state department. Chambers was the transmitter of information to the soviets. Chambers provided evidence of secret documents that Hiss had given him from the state department to transmit to the Soviets. (Schrecker 148-151)
The other case was of Klaus Fuchs who was a physicist who was involved in providing the USSR with information regarding the atomic bomb. (157-158)
There was also the long roster of names of government employees who spied on the USA for the USSR. The list was furnished by Elizabeth Bentley who was a spy and divulged names. This was how Chambers was apprehended and through him Hiss. (Schrecker 138-139)
The fact is that there were many people who were spying on the government for the USSR who were members of the Communist party. This in effect lent legitimacy to the anti-Communist witch hunt. It legitimized the repression against the Communist party.
However there were many instances of injustice carried out by the Congress, the Supreme Court and the House committees, and even unofficially government sponsored harassment that citizens suffered.
The Rosenberg case was the most intense case. Julius Rosenberg was accused of having given nuclear and military secrets to the Soviets and his wife Ethel was accused of having supported him. They were both sentenced to death. (Schrecker 156, 168)
The problem here is that in the official memorandum from J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI to the Attorney General, it is apparent that they both knew that Ethel Rosenberg was innocent. They decided to use Ethel Rosenberg as “leverage” to get Julius Rosenberg to confess and since he did not confess, they were sentenced to death.(Schrecker 164,165)
Another issue that came up was the federal loyalty security program. Federal employees were required to go through a political screening process and the investigators and interrogators exceeded their limits by intruding into the private lives of those being interrogated. (Schrecker 177-178)
A good example of this is the case of a substitute postal employee. The employee was a member of a union which was linked to another organization which was communist-dominated. The particular employee moved his union away from communist infiltrated organization, quit his position and then joined the federal government as an employee. Despite his loyalty, the employee was accused repeatedly and brought before the federal loyalty committee repeatedly and finally even lost his job. (Schrecker 178-182)
There was another case of a meat inspector who was fired from his job. Character witnesses all said that he was either democrat or republican or even centrist in his political outlook. Yet the man lost his job. (Schrecker 183-187)
The repression became more intense when the Attorney General’s office created a list of numerous organizations that the attorney general’s office ‘felt’ were against the USA and were working from within to destabilize the country. This list was huge and comprised of all types of organizations. (Schrecker 191-196)
There was also the case of the Hollywood ten. These were members of the movie industry who were brought before the HUAC committee (Congressional committee), “they argued with the committee”, they were charged with contempt of congress, and they served short prison sentences and were “blacklisted by the movie studios”. So much for the first amendment. (Schrecker 229-230)
Many people in the entertainment business also suffered because of the unofficial blacklisting for reasons of political expediency on part of production houses and advertising agencies. Advertising agencies took special precautions to protect themselves. According to David Susskind’s and Mark Goodson’s testimonies, it was becoming increasingly difficult to hire talent which was politically clear of the taint of Communism. Goodson describes the problem in his testimony in the Faulk vs. AWARE litigation. Goodson said, “… All I can say is there were no differentiations made between Communists, Communist sympathizers, those who had lunch with Communist sympathizers, those who knew somebody who had lunch with Communist sympathizers, and so forth, but there was an overall list and the differentiation was not made for us … sponsors and their agencies wanted to keep out of trouble with the public and, therefore, wanted to eliminate anybody that might be accused of anything which could involve the sponsor in controversy.” (Schrecker 250-254)
There was another instance where 11 top leaders of the Communist party were dragged into court and were accused of trying to overthrow the government by subscribing to the Marxist-Leninist philosophy. The court used the Leninist concept of ‘Aesopianism’, the art of “writing in a roundabout, protective language”, to point out that the American communist party was using Aesopian language and that even if they swore loyalty to the USA they were secretly planning to try and bring about violent revolution. (Schrecker 204-205)
There was a fundamental problem with the court using the excuse of ‘Aesopian language’, because “Aesopian language is a way of making revolutionary and political statements by way of hints”. America was not an authoritarian government, at least before this court case. American society spoke about giving freedom of speech and did not clamp down in its citizens for voicing alternate political philosophies at least in principle until then, so in all practicality, the Communist party did not need to resort to Aesopian language, because they did not have to fear censorship. (Schrecker 205)
However Edgar Hoover in his testimony to the HUAC, a few years before, spoke of this same Aesopian language and charged that “Lenin used it for the purpose of avoiding censorship, Communists today use it to mislead the public.”(Schrecker 129-130)
However, in all of the speeches and testimonies of the Communist leaders, they were pretty much plain and straightforward and made it clear that they did not like capitalism and they intended to try to change the system of government by legal and constitutional means.
Another of Lenin’s statement that was commonly expounded by the anti-communist leaders such as Sydney Hook and J. Edgar Hoover was Lenin’s call to “resort to all sorts of devices, maneuvers and illegal methods, to evasion and subterfuge”, “to penetrate the trade unions, to remain in them and to carry on communist work in them at all costs”. (Schrecker 130,265)
In the narrative provided by David Freidman he mentions that, “People would reveal themselves [as Communists] when they saw that I was an active union member … I realized that the people that I later found out and subsequently or almost immediately found out were party people, certainly sympathetic to the party, were the most active and the most dedicated…”(Schrecker 113)
This narrative could give some credibility to the concerns that the Communists were trying to infiltrate the unions secretly.
However the top leadership of the American Communist party, who were tried in 1949 Smith Act Trial, always maintained their adherence to peaceful and constitutional methods, and were never accused of anything illegal or even of promoting violent revolutionary ideas. Rather, they were accused of following the Marxist-Leninist ideology that promoted violent revolution.(Schrecker 197)
Therefore the first part of my starting statement stands true, that “The domestic anti-Communist crusade of the 1940s and 1950s was essential during a time of great peril. American Communists posed a legitimate threat to national security and the American way of life. Indeed, many American Communists were spies and traitors.”