Review of “Masters of Deceit” by J. Edgar Hoover

by Foseti

Communism in the US has a long history. Let’s set aside the earliest bits and focus on the two most recent periods. These periods are the US-Russian Alliance period and the modern progressive period.

The US-Russian Alliance period was characterized by – unsurprisingly – an alliance between American Communists and Russian ones. This story is relatively well documented, if still not exactly well known.

It’s hard to avoid sounding like a nut job to mainstream ears when talking about this period, but it’s very difficult to overstate the ties between the Soviets and high-level officials in the US government. The Soviets, for example, didn’t counterfeit US dollars, they just printed them from original plates taken directly from the Treasury Department. At least, they didn’t control the US military . . . unless, of course, they did.

(Then, of course, there’s our allies . . .).

Hoover’s book is a decent place to start for analysis of this phase of Communism. However, this phase is ending as Hoover is writing the book. Focusing on it misses the bigger picture of the break between US and Russian Communists.

This break, brings us to the second (and most recent) phase of Communism, modern progressivism.

During the US-Russian Alliance, Communists took control of the governing institutions of the US. I use the term “Cathedral” (courtesy of Mencius Moldbug) to describe these institutions. Generally, the term refers to the institutions that run the country. Specifically it refers to the media, bureaucracy and elite universities.

A nice way to illustrate the fact that the Communists controlled these organizations is to look at the career of any known Communist agent. Let’s take one of the best known, Alger Hiss. Hiss’s career (including after he was accused of being a spy and after being in jail) included stints at: the State Department, the United Nations, clerking for Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, the Justice Department, some Senate Committees, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and – naturally – Harvard Law.

If you don’t know what I mean by the term Cathedral, it’s basically that list. Really, the only way it could be better is if he’d worked at the New York Times.

Given the reaction of these groups to Hiss’s trial, there’s no doubt that if Hiss had managed to avoid jail, many of these places would have re-hired him.

I rest my case that Communists, at one point, took over the governing apparatus of the US.

If you’d like to argue that Communists no longer control the governing apparatus of the US, you have two choices. First, you could argue that some other group eventually threw out the Communists and took the governing apparatus over. I know of no such argument.

Second, you could argue that the ruling group converted away from Communism. I think this happened . . . sort of. This conversion marks the start of the modern progressive phase of Communism.

This conversion is hard to explain. If you want to understand it, the best way to begin to try is to read this book (my favorite from the period).

The book is the memoirs of Elizabeth Bentley, a Soviet spy who broke with the Soviets but never repudiated any of her original, fundamental political ideas. Essentially, she just realized that the Russians were working for the Russians and not for Communism as she had always understood it. It’s faster to quote my self than to type:

Note that [Bentley] doesn’t ever repudiate her original ideas (hence unlike Whitaker Chambers, she is not a conservative icon) – in fact, she breaks with the Soviets because she believes that they do not actually agree with Communist ideas. Bentley’s break (and the Cold War) are best understood as a war between rival branches of the same original ideology.

And so, with this break, we got a ruling party that didn’t change ideologies, but that did change allegiances. The result has been the slow creeping increase in progressive ideas and policies that we see all around us.

Anyway, I didn’t say much about Hoover’s book. It will help you understand how the US-Russian alliance worked. However, don’t let that blind you to the later, more interesting phases of the ideology under discussion.

8 responses to “Review of “Masters of Deceit” by J. Edgar Hoover

  1. There were always many anti Communists in the American govenrment – even during the New Deal period (after all the anti Communist FBI Director Hoover continued – indeed he did right from the 1920s to 1972, the longest period an anti Communist has been in a key position in any country in the world). And President Franklin Roosevelt himself was not a Communist (he seems to have had no political philosophy at all – other than a desire to be President and stay President, for life…..).

    The Progressives go back a long way (long before the word “Progressive” was actually used), for example the most popular collectivist novel in the 19th century was a American – “Looking Backward” written by the “National Socialist” (his term) Edward Bellamy in 1887.

    But vaguer collectivism goes back long before this – to people such as H. Mann (the “father of the American Public School system”) back in the early 19th century, and others.

    Actual collectivist takeover of academia and so on is very late 19th century thing – with the rise of the Progressive movement led by people like Richard Ely (the mentor of both Woodrow Wilson and T. Roosevelt) and other German “Historical School” educated types.

    Interestingly – those Americans who were educated in France in the late 19th century, rather than Germany, tended to be anti collectivist (this might surprise modern Americans).

    When did the Progressive movement become Marxist?

    Well in some ways it never did.

    For example, for Hillary Clinton (long regarded as the mainstream of American Progressivism) is “more Methodist than Marxist” (as people used to say of the British Labour party), in spite of being offered the number two spot in the Chicago movement by Saul Alinsky himself (Hillary turned him down to go to Yale Law, and unlike Comrade Barack who came back after Harvard Law Hillary did not come back to Chicago to serve, – some people say the Chicago Comrades never fully forgave her for this insult).

    However, many American Progressives did become Marxists – or, at least, “fellow travellers” under the “no enemies on the left” principle.

    The best books on the poltiical and cultural mess are (I believe) – M, Stanton Evens “Blacklisted By History”, how Senator Joseph McCarthy took on pro Communists in the American government, having been fed information by the FBI and others, and how the establishment eventurally destroyed McCarthy – abandoned by the very people who had sent him into the fight, because they did not want to risk their own positions.

    In this Eisenhower must take the chief blame (he was President after all), an anti Communist himself he still did not want to cause a fuss (much better for the Communists to quietly resign and be forgotten). Ike lived long enough (till 1969) to find out that the Communist movement was not busted flush he thought it was – and that his cooperation in the destruction of McCarthy (in order. partly, to please the “good families” that so many Communists came from) had been a dreadful mistake. But there was never a word of apology from the man.

    And Jack Cashill’s “Hoodwinked” – on the general collapse of the culture (with both academia and the media being basically just transmission systems for every far left fad).

    Can a culture this worm eaten survive?

    Does it even deserve to survive?

  2. To balance the attacks on Progressives – honourable mention should be made of the A.G. Palmer (demonised by the left for the “Palmer raids”).

    A moderate Progressive (a man whose politics are very different from mine) he still reacted with great energy to the terrorist campaign after the First World War – a campaign the left have managed to airbrush from history.

    Many bombings – people with their hands, or their faces blown off, people killed. And all the left care about is that Palmer rounded up immigrant radicals and kicked them out of the country.

    “But they were a different faction” – not at all, even back then the Black Flag “anarchists” were working with their supposed enemies the Red Flag Marxists (as Bill Ayers was to say many decades later “I am as much an Anarchist as I am a Marxist” – to these people attacking private property is what is important, the exact sort of society that should replace “capitalism” is not something the bother their heads about too much).

    For example when two “anarchists” murdered Alessandro Berardelli in 1920 (he was on his knees begging for his life – but he was a security guard, like the man Comrade Barack’s friends “The Weathermen” murdered in 1981, so he was a “legitimate target” being a servant of the “capitalist exploiters). Who jumped to defend the two “anarchists”?

    The Communists did.

    Privately they sneered at Nichola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti as “a couple of whops in a jam” – but soon the Willi Munzenberg operation came into play. The leftist lawyer Fred Moore started it (to try and get his GUILTY clients off) – but Willi Munzenberg (and the Soviet machine) soon took over.

    A vast international Marxist machine went into operation to try and show that the (guilty) Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent victims of “capitalist America”.

    And the “Progressives” and “liberals” (the word “liberal” was just being stolen by the socialists in the 1920s) joined the campaign also (with a few exceptions – see above).

    The difference between “Anarchists”, “Marxists” and “Progressives – Liberals” proved to be of no practical importance.

    What was important for all of them was to fight the “capitalists” and the “henchmen of the capitalists” (like the security guard shot dead whilst on his knees – begging for his life).

    “Yes but only Communists were involved in the campaign” – not at all.

    Harvard Professor Felix Frankfurter (later a Surpreme Court judge) was part of the disinformation campaign.

    True there was a special reason he was involved (his demented wife Marion – see Cashill “Hoodwinked” page 24), but plenty of people like him were involved in the disinformation campaign – without having demented wives.

    After all what did Alessandro Berandelli matter – he was just a security guard (a servant of the capitalists).

    He did not matter (to rich “liberals”) any more than the servants who had their faces blown off in the boming campaigns mattered. The bombings were fine – only the “Palmer Raids” were bad.

    What mattered was the Progressive cause – the struggle against the “capitalists”.

    The fashionable pose.

    What Tom Wolfe was later to try and explain.

    And now the Palmers and the Hoovers (with all their faults) are gone – and the sort of people they faught (the sort of people that Tom Wolfe wrote about from the 1960s onwards) have taken over.

    For example, who are you going to go to if the (Marxist) New Black Panther party is after you?

    The Federal Justice Department ?(which the FBI answers to now).

    Good luck with that.

    The AG these days is a man called Mr Holder…….

    The Federal government was always bad (both Palmer and Hoover did any bad things), but it could be argued that it was less bad than the alternative.

    Now that “alternative” has taken over – the radicals (the Black Flag types the Red Flag types – whatever) ARE the Federal government.

    It is not people “whispering in the President’s ear” (as in the time of Franklin Roosevelt) – now it is the President himself, and the AG and…..

    “Bottom up [riots and so on – Kevins on the loose], “Top Down ” [government action to “stop the chaos”] and “Inside Out” – the “Fundemental Transformation”.

    As with Eastern Europe after World War II.

    I believe the position (at the Federal level at least) is hopeless.

  3. The John Birch Society described Eisenhower as a fully conscious agent of the international Communist Conspiracy. Looking at his performance during Suez and Hungary in 1956, this may seem less far-fetched.


    • Tony, the stab in the back at Suez had nothing to to with communist sympathies, and everything to do with American anglophobia. It has been a main objective of American foreign policy since about 1916 to destroy England. If every hotel in Cairo had been stuffed with Soviet advisers back in 1956, the Americans would still have done us over. Even the Jewish lobby was powerless to help Israel when it was allied with England.

  4. James Jesus Angleton (the legendary chied of CIA Counter-Intelligence) wondered if McCarthy might have been a KGB “plant” serving to discredit anti-Communism by excess…


  5. Eisenhower was not a Communist – but he did think that American Communism was a busted flush (so it was silly to get upset by it – and, anyway, many of the Communists were from “good families” and so it would cause a mess to expose them……)

    Of course Eisenhower lived into the 1960s – long enough to see the the “defeated” Communist forces openly take over most of the major universities in the country (and have their crimes, such as threatening lecturers with firearms, covered up by the media).

    Joe McCarthy – his “excesses” are mostly myths, For the true story see the book I cited – “Blacklisted By History”.

    However, his judgement was poor – for example promoting the Jewish homosexual Roy Cohn showed great tolerance, but terrible judgement.

    Cohn was emotional man and he messed up the army hearings, and more impotantly, promoting a homosexual (and a Jew) earned McCarthy the fantical hated of Republican Senator Flanders of Vermont (I wonder if the character in “The Simpsons” is based upon him?). Of course Senator Flanders was led in anti McCarthy direction by various establishment firgures (McCarthy had many enemies among the WASP establishment – Country Club Republicans had never been comfortable with him) – as well as by his latent dislike of a hard drinking Irish Catholic.

    Also (and perhaps of most importance of all) the alternative candidate for the position that Roy Cohn got was the young Robert Kennedy.

    Not appointing Robert offended the Kennedy family.

    To be fair to them they did not become hostile to McCarthy (of course Jack Kennedy was the only Democrat in the Senate not to vote against McCarthy) – but they did not protect him (as they could have) either.

  6. Suez is interesting. Nasser had been a socialist from the start (for example his fanatical hostlity to large scale private farming was similar to that of Kevin Carson), but the Americans were (at first) in one of their “support the non Marxist socailists – as an alternative to the Marxists…..” fits. But that had worn off a bit by 1956.

    Years later Dulles asked Eden “why did you not go on?” – much to Eden’s bafflement as he had been led to believe the American government was totally opposed to the operation (forgetting that the American government was actually made up of various factions……)

    Of course Dulles was ill during Suez and (unlike Eden) he was not in the office – Herbert Hoover Jr (like his more famous namesake) was a bit of an Anglophobe.

    However, had Britain carried on the Americans would not have done anything – Ike was playing both sides (as he always did), allowing Britain to be denounced at the United Nations, whilst saying different things to different people.

    As for “first in – first out” Harold M.

    He supported going in to Suez and then……..

    “The sky is falling – the Americans will not support the Pound…..”

    And why should the exchange rate be rigged anyway?

    Rab Butler had suggested ending the rigging of the exchange rate – even before Suez.

    People say “if Eden had not been ill he would not have gone into Suez”.

    I hold no candle for Eden (it was his stupid idea to withdraw the military from Suez back in 1954 – for which Churchill cursed him as a fool). However…..

    I like to think that had Eden not been ill he would have understood that “Suprmac’s” the-sky-is-falling panic, was actually a squalid tactic to try and make himself Prime Minister.

    If Suez fails – Eden goes, and RAB is undermined also (as Deputy), whereas I……..

    Undermining your own nation’s cause (during a military operation – and Harold M. had personal experience of war, he understood what he was doing) simply out of a desire for personal advancement – that is nasty (deeply nasty).

    By the way, on a lighter note, on Sean’s habit of saying “England” when he means United Kingdom.

    Would Sean (for example) describe the Ulster Division on the Somme as “English” troops?

    Perhaps Mr Thomas was an “English” poet – and so on.

    Learn to say “British” – it is not hard.

  7. “It has been a main objective of American foreign policy, since about 1916, to destroy England”

    A statement that is obviously not true. Some American politicians have been anti British and some have been pro British – and many have had no real interest in Britain at all.

    “Let Ahab beware Ahab”.

    The true enemy of Sean Gabb – is Sean Gabb.