Paper on The Ruthless Enemy

Like all advocates of social change the agitator finds the enemy responsible
for his followers’ sufferings. But while in other movements defeat
of the enemy is a means to an end (a new society or a reformed society
of one sort or another), in agitation it is an end in itself. The enemy is
conceived of not as a group that stands in the way of achieving a certain
objective, but as a super-oppressor, a quasi-biological archdevil of absolute
evil and destructiveness. He is irreconcilable, an alien body in society
which has no useful productive function. Not even in theory is he amenable
to persuasion. There is no bridge which the enemy can cross for
repentance. He is there—forever, evil for the sake of evil.
The agitator finds the raw material for such a portrait in the existing
stereotypes of hostility. His targets are innumerable. After naming them
as the “communists,” “the Nazis, the Fascists and the Japs,” “the (socalled)
Friends of Democracy,” “the Internationalists,” “The New Deal
Bureaucrats,” “Walter Winchell,” and “Communist and pro-Communist
journals,” he remarks that “The above list does not include all of our
enemies. We could name one hundred more classifications of foes, but
the ones listed indicate the type of opposition we face. WE ARE PROUD
PERSONS AND ORGANIZATIONS?’1 However, the agitator makes an
effort to integrate the diffuse hostilities of his audience into a definite
image, which we shall now try to define.
For purposes of analysis, the agitator’s portrait of the enemy is divided
into three parts: the political appearance, the psychological substratum,
and the pseudo-reality reference, the Jew. Chapters IV, V and VI discuss
each of these versions.
The agitator makes use of all the familiar antiradical stereotypes. He
speaks of the “beast of Bolshevism, the desecrator of the divine, the killer
of Christians”;2 and warns his audience that
Like a Bubonic plague, Bolshevism moves across the face of the earth,
burning churches, slaughtering the ministers of Cod, ridiculing the things we
hold sacred, referring to religion as the opiate of the people, breeding
discontent. 8
Yet the agitator’s position as one who wishes to produce the impression
of being the most vocal enemy of revolution is not without ambiguity.
For the radicals are not merely his enemies, they are also his competitors.
Like them he aims at enlisting mass support, and like them he promises,
not the partial palliatives of the reformist, but a definitive solution of the
problems that harass his audience.
The agitator must therefore establish the inferiority and unreliability of
his radical rivals, while simultaneously reassuring the earth’s mighty that
the passion aroused by his invective will not be turned against them, That
is why his denunciations of communism are so virulent: he must show
that he hates the enemies of private prpperty more than do its wealthiest
Whenever he can the agitator uses the language and ideas of what is
currently respectable to show that he is a loyal and trustworthy citizen.
No better example of this can be seen than in the way he seizes on the
prevalent fear of communism to twist it for his own purposes. Many of
his statements about the “reds” are indistinguishable from what a bona
fide conservative, or even liberal, might say about communism. But
when they are examined in the context of the agitator’s total output, they
are seen as utilized by him in a unique approach. This approach is
marked by three features.
1. For the agitator, the revolution mag come tomorrow: He never discusses
or analyzes the particular stage of development at which the
radical movement may be at any given time; he makes no effort to
distinguish between various kinds of radical movements, revolutionary
or reformist, extreme or mild; he does not differentiate between the different
tactics used by these radical movements. All are lumped together
into an undifferentiated revolutionary threat. This threat is not located
in any specific movement or event or possible development; it is simply
reduced to the danger of immediate revolutionary violence. His imagery
of communism is drawn from civil war situations—violent seizure of
power by armed minorities amidst an orgy of blood and violence. In fact,
the revolution may happen any minute:
Only hope is for Congress to awaken in time. Present Judeo-Red inspireddirected-
financed strikes are part of Bolshevik revolutionary technique to
sabotage our economy and facilitate Reign of Terror co-incident with outbreak
of World War III.
The agitator’s concept of communism is infinitely extendable. Adopting
the air of someone “in the know,” the agitator tells his listeners that
groups holding actual political or economic power are linked to communism.
At the same time its threat is used to satisfy a craving for fantastic
and gruesome stories. The agitator suggests a principle of systematization
for an almost paranoiac state of mind: “Confusion out of
mouths of columnists, ambassadors, bishops, courts, politicians, yet same
RED THREAD tieing all together.. .”
The extent of this danger can be seen when it is .realized that “with
Communists drinking tea in the White House and 2,850 of them on the
payroll of the United States . . . the time has come for America to wake
up and act.”6 Under such circumstances, suggests the agitator, it seems
almost impossible to expect the gvemment to act and no other way is
available but the spontaneous rising of the people.
2. He blurs the specific nature of the communist threat by identifying
it with general forebodings of impending doom: Behind communism are
“international outfits” and whether they plan a revolution or a world
union, the same force is at work: “Certain international outfits attempting
to rob us of our national sovereignty, promote us into supergovernment,
or make us part of an international Communist revolution, or take us
back into the British Empire.”7
The agitator blurs the distinction between communism and other ideologies
distasteful to him by denying the very reality of communism:
“There is no ‘Communism’ in the world and none is intended now or at
any time iii the futhre. It is a vast dupery. •”8 It is as though “front”
organizations are the dupes of communism and communism itself is also
a “front” for something else. This stigmatization of communism as a kind
of dupery divests it of any ideological significance and extends its
meaning to the point where it is completely vague. For the agitator
such an extension is a powerful device: it enables him to suggest that
communism is merely a label to conceal sordid activities . . . and that
consequently anyone whom the agitator considers sordid may be called
a communist.
3. He associates the communists with the Jews: “Those who support
• . Communism will not escape our opposition even though they seek
sanctuary under the banner of their advertised race or religion and cry
aloud that they are the objects of unjust attack.”9
The identification of the communist with the Jew is well known, but
the use to which this identification is put by the agitator is not. When
the agitator describes communists as Jews, he transforms them from a
group of people who might presumably be converted to his side into a
group forever irreconcilable.
He also introduces the connotation that the enemy is weak. To fight

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