Thursday, November 26, 2015

Flacking for Stalin; flacking for Hitler and Stalin; but flacking for Stalin mostly.


//Trumbo was no defender of free speech. He was a serious Communist and a defender of Stalin and the Soviet Union. Trumbo used his power in the film community to prevent proposed anti-Communist films from being made. “Whenever a book or play or film is produced which is harmful to the best interests of the working class,” Trumbo wrote to another blacklisted writer, “that work and its author should and must be attacked in the sharpest possible terms.” Calling Stalin “one of the democratic leaders of the world,” Trumbo moved to prevent a film being made that was to be based on Leon Trotsky’s biography of the Soviet leader. He also claimed to have stopped movies being made by anti-Communist authors such as James T. Farrell, Victor Kravchenko and Arthur Koestler, whose works he called “untrue and reactionary.”

He could not have claimed innocence of Stalin’s crimes. In 1956, after Nikita Khrushchev’s speech about Stalin to a Party Congress, he told an old friend of his that he was not surprised, because he had read George Orwell, Koestler, James Burnham, Eugene Lyons and Isaac Don Levine, authors who told the truth about Soviet totalitarianism. In other words, Trumbo supported Stalin while knowing at the time that “Uncle Joe” was a monster and murderer.

In the movie, there are many scenes of the Hollywood Ten meeting and planning what to do when they received subpoenas to testify before HUAC. They decide that the only honest course was to invoke the First Amendment, which would allow them to hoodwink the liberal community about their actual beliefs, while appearing as defenders of America’s basic principle of free speech.

One of the ten, the director Edward Dmytryk, later broke with his comrades and appeared as a friendly witness before the Committee, and as he recounts in his book Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Blacklist, the Communist Party controlled the entire strategy employed before the Committee. Instead of a free speech defense, the Communist Party dictated that they should not answer the Committee’s questions, never reveal their true affiliations to anyone, and appear rowdy and contemptuous at their testimony.

Even the left-leaning historian Larry Ceplair, writing with Steven Englund in their book The Inquisition in Hollywood, could not help but acknowledge the truth. The Hollywood Communists, they wrote, “defended the Stalinist regime, accepted the Comintern’s policies and about-faces, and criticized enemies and allies alike with infuriating self-righteousness, superiority, and selective memory which eventually alienated all but the staunchest fellow travelers.” It should not be a surprise that you don’t learn this from watching Trumbo.

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