Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What Is Communism?


This hilarious propaganda film was a semi-regular feature at B-Fest for awhile. I saw it twice within the first three years I attended B-Fest, but not since. The official word is that the print of WHAT IS COMMUNISM? has disappeared, but considering how livid it made the more politically conservative B-Festers whenever it was shown and appropriately mocked, my theory is that the print fell off the back of a truck someplace.

WHAT IS COMMUNISM? was made in the early-to-mid-1950s. The man you see in the still above is its host, Herbert A. Philbrick, who was famous then for his book I LED THREE LIVES. Philbrick was a salesman who was recruited by the FBI to infiltrate the Communist Party and report back to J. Edgar Hoover. After the FBI pulled him out in the late '40s so he could testify in a Smith Act trial (the verdicts of many of which were later deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court), Philbrick wrote a book about his experiences hunting Commies. The book was adapted as a syndicated television series with popular B-actor Richard Carlson (IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE) playing Philbrick.

In WHAT IS COMMUNISM?, Philbrick answers with the "three...six...nine words" you see above, and in just over ten minutes, explains his reasoning. What is really scary/funny about the film is that you could substitute the word "Republican" for "Communist," and the movie would be more accurate. For instance,
  • Lying. Well, we have recently lost over 3000 American lives in Iraq as a direct result of Republican lies.
  • Dirty. Communists are "dirty" because they slander prominent Americans. Sorta like how the Republican Party "swift boated" John Kerry in the last election.
  • Shrewd. Because the Commie Party gives their causes carefully selected names that people won't understand mean the complete opposite of what the group actually is. Like the Patriot Act.
  • Godless. Republicans claim to believe in God. They just don't act like they do.
  • Murderous. Such as sending soldiers to fight in Iraq, but not providing them with reliable weapons and body armor.
  • Determined. If you don't mean "determined to pass legislation designed to make life easier for the American people," that is.
  • International Criminal Conspiracy. Halliburton? FEMA? Illegal wiretaps?
Besides the sweaty paranoia and desperate rhetoric of Philbrick's narration, the really funny aspect of WHAT IS COMMUNISM? is the way in which he worships J. Edgar Hoover, implying that if Hoover says it, it must be true. As we now know, Hoover was perhaps the most dishonest figure in the history of U.S. law enforcement (not that John Mitchell and Alberto "American citizens do not have the right of habeas corpus" Gonzales aren't making a run for the [dis]honor).

See WHAT IS COMMUNISM? for yourself on DVD. It's part of TARGET YOU: COLD WAR EDUCATIONAL FILMS FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOMELAND SECURITY, along with eight other Cold War pieces. Move it to the top of your Netflix queue, and while you're at it, click on THE EDUCATIONAL ARCHIVES, VOL. 5: PATRIOTISM. That one has an amazing 1945 short comparing democracy to a despotic government that looks a helluva lot like the current Bush administration (such as all industry being owned by a handful of companies and a press that simply parrots the official government stance), as well as the classic RED NIGHTMARE, a kneeslapper narrated by uptight DRAGNET creator Jack Webb, a film even funnier than WHAT IS COMMUNISM?

10 comments:

kool mo p said...

HUUUUUGGGGEEE stretch there McKee. I think we spoke about this before. Why didn't you refer to your hero, Bill Clinton? He fits the bill (no pun intended) pretty well.

Lying: Directly and to everyone.
Dirty: Adultery, rape, Whitewater,etc.
Shrewd: Surprise visits to his enemies by the IRS.
Godless: Church is only for publicity.
Murderous: Just ask Vince Foster. Oh, wait.

etc.

Marty McKee said...

I bet Ken Starr wishes he had access to your psychic powers. He spent $50 million of taxpayer money investigating rape and Whitewater allegations and found nothing. Except that Clinton cheated on his wife. That's a return-on-investment only a free-spending Republican could love.

Z-man said...

United States casualties of war:
World War I 116,516
World War II 405,399
Korean War 33,740
Vietnam War 58,151

When all of these wars started there was a democrat in the White House.

If Kerry was slandered why didn't he take them to court?

Welfare = Totally dependent on the government for your needs

Anyone who is against "One nation under God." would be godless. Where do the Nancy and Harry line up on that?

When you write "determined to pass legislation designed to make life easier for the American people," do you mean tax the shit out of the rich and give to the poor?

Ask a vet of Vietnam about being Ill-equipped to fight a war. Which weapons in the U.S. arsenal are unreliable?

International Criminal Conspiracy. Halliburton? FEMA? Illegal wiretaps?

Do you even know what Halliburton is? Why would FEMA be a international conspiracy? The wiretaps were not illegal.

I think you write one of these every once in a while just to get some activity on your blog.

Neil said...

I can't see the stretch at all.

Ok, FEMA probably belongs under willful incompetence, which sadly is a fault that runs strong in these modern Republican that wasn't of most Soviet Communists.

In general, I'm can no longer find much of anything to give the Bush administration the moral high ground on. Yes, even over Soviet Communists.

This may sound like traditional partisan sniping, but it's not. I'm deeply saddened and ashamed that I can't give the president of the United States of America moral high ground over Soviet Communists on any but a tiny number of points.

I am an American. I believe in strong disagreements between sides of people who believe in the values that have made America great. And, I believe, that the vast majority of member of both parties have traditionally represented that, although often with varying degrees of greed and corruption that occurs regularly on both sides of the aisle.

I am distressed that extremists on the Left, including, in my younger days, me, abused these comparisons with hyperbole, in comparing previous conservative leaders to Fascists and such. It has made the sickeningly accurate comparisons of today easy to dismiss.

But they are no longer hyperbole.

Anyone who supports, votes for, agrees with or even ignores the elimination of all Habeas corpus protections for anyone at all, no matter what they are accused of, has ceded the ability to call themselves a lover of freedom or justice. They are no longer respectable opposing forces, building a great nation through compromise, listening and struggling. They are just Bloody Communists, in the only way my heart and soul really understand the term.

kool mo p said...

Z-Man just served the crap out of you, McKee.

Neil said...

Ummm... I don't really see how he was "served". Do you really, in your wildest imagination, believe that or are you just rooting up your side? Most of his points are incorrect, the rest are hopelessly oversimplified.

I mean, "Anyone who is against 'One nation under God.' would be godless. Where do the Nancy and Harry line up on that?

That may be the worst attempt at a point ever made. It is, as best, hopelessly naïve.

The casualty counts skew heavily toward the world wars. Are we to infer that the decisions to enter those wars, entered into through congressional declaration of war, according to the Constitution's mandates, were wrong?

And when to we stop counting? Because a Republican president started a war before those with more American casualties than all of those combined.

But, of course, proving that various Democrats, or even a plurality of Democrats, are useless, corrupt or wrong, in one manner or another, makes no traction at all in proving that these Republicans in office now aren't Bloody Communists. It merely proves that many useless people manage political office and that power corrupts.

These things I'll concede.

And those are the exact reasons the unconstitutional powers claimed by President Bush are so frightening.

More frightening is how unquestioning and unwavering the support of his base is. I've never met a Democrat or a person inclined toward the left in political matters who demonstrated that.

I suppose its why you think attacking specific Democratic politicians, their actions or their policies breaks our arguments. It's not just a different set of beliefs, it's an entirely different mindset.

I see most Democrats as people I agree with on more policies than I disagree with them on, but I don't see them as infallible. I question their judgment on many issues. In fact, I demand that of myself, for the sake of my own credibility and integrity.

Marty McKee said...

Panno = served

Tolemite said...

Dammit, I came here to serve Z-man and Panno, and it appears Neil has gone and done all the work for me.

Martin, Neil, i hope you guys were standing in a free-speech zone when you wrote your blatantly un-american posts. You're either with us or you're against us, you know.

Robert said...

I've long suspected that McKee is secretly a Canadian posing as an American. Like Jack Bauer or William Shatner.

I suppose the next thing we'll find out is that he's always liked donuts, too.

A. Hippo said...

"United States casualties of war:
World War I 116,516
World War II 405,399
Korean War 33,740
Vietnam War 58,151

When all of these wars started there was a democrat in the White House."

Indeed. The important fact that you fail to mention is that the United States didn't start any of those wars.