Monday, February 4, 2019

Propaganda Review — "Is This Tomorrow: America Under Communism!" (1947)

Just two years after the end of World War II, a Catholic special interests group made a comic book about how communist infiltrators could enslave the United States — and in today’s democratic socialism-baiting political milieu, the paranoid ravings of 75 years ago all of a sudden don’t seem as absurd anymore.

By: Jimbo X

I’ll level with you folks. One of my biggest epistemological  blind spots is Catholicism — quite frankly, outside of what they showed in The Exorcist and The Omen, that’s pretty much all I know about the world’s largest religion.

Growing up in a Southern Baptist family (or whatever you call the flavor of Christianity where you show up to church hungover and half an hour late each week), my kind never really considered Catholics to be “real” Christians, mostly on account of all that idol worship of the Pope. I mean, with all of those saints and elaborate ceremonies where they tell you to LITERALLY eat another dude’s skin and drink his blood, it’s not like their criticisms weren’t without some merit — from a strictly objective standpoint, a lot of the tenants of Catholicism are downright creepy. And hell, that’s before we even get into all that unfortunate stuff involving all them priests and choir boys … yikes.

But that’s an aside, really. We’re not here to judge Catholics for their spooky ass rituals and occasional sodomizations, we’re here to judge them for their 72-year-old comic books. Enter this long defunct organization called the Catechetical Guild Educational Society out of Minnesota.

From the mid-1940s until the mid-1960s, the Society published hundreds of comics, most of which are the expected rehashes of old bible stories and sacraments featuring the likes of  St. Vincent de Paul and Pope Pius XII. Every now and then, though, they’d take a step outside of their religious wheelhouse of material like “The Truth Behind The Trial of Cardinal Mindszenty” to publish comic books on such riveting subjects as labor movements and, uh, Canadian mounties, I take it? Alas, despite boasting covers that promise full-color yarns of bishops beating up indigenous brown people for some inexplicable reason, most of the Society’s offerings were rather unremarkable.

Save a particular one-shot comic from 1947, titled rather ominously “Is This Tomorrow: America Under Communism!” You might not something about the publication date, because when most people think “Red Scare” they tend to think mid-to-late 1950s. Most ‘Mericans these days don’t even KNOW there was an earlier torrent of anti-commie paranoia right around World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution, and really, as soon as WWII was over and done with the antipathy of the Reds was already widespread throughout the country. So while this may seem like a somewhat prescient little comic, the fact of the matter is that Americans were suspicious and scared shitless of commies since Karl Marx drummed up the idea of the political ideology — and for some reason, the Catholics were especially resentful and frightened by the auguries of the hammer and the sickle.

Then again, considering how much the Communist bloc loathed Catholics, perhaps their concerns weren’t exactly unwarranted, either. Indeed, the historical numbers seem to suggest that just as many Catholics perished under communism as Jews did under National Socialism — if not substantially more, depending on whose integers you believe. So with that in mind, you at least have a little bit of historical context behind you heading into “Is This Tomorrow,” so you can understand from the get-go that it’s a little bit more nuanced than your rank-and-file anti-communist pop cultural rhetoric from the epoch.

Leftist regimes colluding with the media to leverage their ideological political power? Preposterous!

So let’s take it from the top, why don’t we? Following a stern warning from the Guild that “approximately 85,000” official Communist Party members had already infiltrated the country, we cut to farmers in the Midwest dealing with a severe drought. Meanwhile, in New York (where else?), a whole buncha’ godless Reds begin making their move to takeover the government, as first name-less Kremlin puppet “Jones” starts monologuing about that old time-tested commie technique, the “front” approach.

“A few of our boys start a ‘front’ to oppose fascism or intolerance or something else that is unpopular,” he says. “They get a few big names to back them … after we get those names, we are ready to go. We  get prominent left wing speakers and give ourselves plenty of publicity.”

Continuing, Jones talks about how the communists have cajoled the media to promote their party line for years, and from there, it’s simply a matter of stoking religious strife and class warfare like a motherfucker. “The breakdown of bourgeois morals have been handled very well by our people in Hollywood,” Jones ominously declares. “People are giving up their silly ideas about the ‘sacredness’ of life.”

Remember kids — this thing was published a mere 30 years before Roe v. Wade was even a thing. Just … something I wanted to call to your attention.

Then Jones starts talking about the commies’ plans to infiltrate the armed forces and royally fuck up entire industries by manufacturing labor disputes. And with the economy intentionally all fouled up and major union heads actually communist infiltrators — whom managed to enact their organizational  policies simply by dragging out meetings until everybody left and the only people left to vote on said policies where their own ideological comrades — then it’s time to make the common people turn against one another.

That means pitting labor against capital, the Protestants against the Catholics, the Gentiles against the Jews and the white man against the black man — largely via constant reinforcement of politically-anchored animosities from the media powers-that-be. Boy, isn’t that an absurd musing … that ideologically-motivated people of power in the mass communications industries would intentionally create dissent amongst different ethno-racial groups to achieve their own political ends! Har har har, next thing you know this comic will be warning us about race riots breaking out and widespread antipathy of the police becoming en vogue!

Which … uh … this comic actually predicted happening 60 years before anybody knew what the fuck “Ferguson, Missouri” was on the very next page.

So anyway, if this comic were an unfunny meme posted on 4Chan, this is the part where there would be a big arrow sticking out saying “YOU ARE CURRENTLY HERE.” We start to really hit the accelerator on the next page, though, when a commie insider kills the Prez and the V.P. with a hand grenade during a routine parade (again, kids — this thing came out nearly 20 years before JFK was assassinated.) This leads to a constitutional crisis in which Jones gets the House and Senate to appoint him “emergency powers” a’la old Adolf in the Reichstag, which results in the federal government taking over national food distribution system. But there’s still the problem of too much food existing in the U.S., so the commies stage a whole buncha’ false flag operations to burn as much as much produce as possible, and that facilitates a widespread pogrom against anti-communists, whom the feds peg as the ones who “really” torched the national grain supply.

So the U.S. basically goes full Venezuela and with food in (artificially) limited supply, a national ration card program is implemented to decide who gets food and how much of it (naturally, communist loyalists get a reasonable amount while everybody else is practically starved out of the chain, Holodomor-style.)

Yep ... it's already happening on U.S. campuses, unsurprisingly.
Then Jones goes full Stalin, ordering all of the high-ranking, dissenting military leaders to be executed and clamping down on the Free Press so hard, you’d think his surname was actually Lincoln or Roosevelt. From there, preachers start getting rounded up and killed and the country’s telephone infrastructure gets nationalized. Meanwhile, the public school system becomes a literal indoctrination factory, teaching kids to worship the State and turn in their own parents for thoughtcrimes. And — again — I must remind you this comic beat 1984 to the printers by a full year, amigos.

Then universities start holding book burnings — which, surprise, is already becoming fashionable again in contemporary American academia — and citizens are barred from owning guns and the federal government orders all the Catholic churches to close and people start eating horses and old ladies begin dying of starvation on park benches and the feds enact a “Great Leap Forward” type-program (which actually PREDATES the real “Great Leap Forward” and even Communist China by two years, if you can believe it) which, yeah, is really just a gigantic concentration camp ploy, complete with laborers getting strung up and whipped fleshless, Kunta Kinte-style.

Then the feds tell some subsistence farmers that all their food are belong to them (which, actually, does have a historical antecedent under the FDR regime) and this one kid rats on his parents for having a short-wave radio and Jesus iconography and the whole thing concludes with the commies having this big banquet in D.C., where all of a sudden Jones the Dictator keels over dead from a heart attack … only for this hitherto-unmentioned underling to declare “I will take over where Jones left off. Communism does not depend on any one man — it is an idea of government which plans to rule the world.”

And from there the Guild breaks the Fourth Wall to remind readers that, as outlandish as the comic may have been, the fact of the matter is that the exact same thing did indeed happen in Russia in 1917, and that was with fewer commie loyalists than in (then-contemporary) America! Which leads to this fairly level-headed concluding paragraph, which I reckon is well worth reprinting in full:

“You are the one with whom the Communist is struggling right now. His aim is to make you hate your fellow man and keep you blind to the important things in life. He wants to make you forget the importance of your right to vote as you please — to say what you please — to go where you please — to worship as you please. The Communist really wants you to forget all your rights to individual freedom and liberty.

But you cannot assume your individual rights without assuming individual responsibility. If you want to keep on living in freedom, you must know who the Communists are — and their methods of working. You must recognize the Communist Party line in action and separate Communist propaganda from the factual news of the day.

You are on the defensive in this battle. You owe it to yourself to know all about the invader. He knows more about you than you suspect.”

Nope. Nothing relevant there pertaining to the state of cultural and civil affairs in modern America, whatsoever. And as the big, bright ribbon on a the gift bag of anti-commie rhetoric, we get the following ten point plan for rejecting, rebuffing and resisting the Communist Agenda (™)  — which, regardless of one’s preferred brand of ideological identitarianism, sounds to me like some pretty sage words to live by:

...but where's the bylaw forcing me to feel bad about being born white, though?

You know, back in the Obama era, I often found myself siding with the liberals when it came to issues like health care and gun control, and there’s more than one article on this here site in which I actually defended the Barack administration against criticisms from the far right accusing his policymaking of being lite communism. Back then I saw the rantings and ravings of the Tea Party as nothing more than mass hysterics of unabashed racists miffed at having a half-colored in the Oval Office; and compared to the shortlist of Democratic challengers on the docket for 2020, Barry “Gotta’ have them ribs and pussy too” Obama may indeed be the last truly moderate liberal to ever attain the office of POTUS.

As over-the-top and cartoonish as “Is This Tomorrow” may be, its core message is hardly any different than something like “The Road to Serfdom,” in that it’s a stern — if not wholly convincing — warning about the dire consequences of centralized economic planning. A mere 20 years ago, I probably would’ve wrote “America Under Communism!” off as nothing more than a hysterical piece of archaic, post-war agitprop. But today  — in a cultural climate where candidates who want to establish a marginal tax rate of 70 percent, literally abolish the private health insurance market and advocate post-birth abortion aren’t just lunatics on the fringe but bona-fide presidential frontrunners — all of a sudden, “Is This Tomorrow” takes on a far more somber, far more starker and far more revelatory tone.

Aye, in a world where ACTUAL presidential contenders have no idea how the Laffer Curve works and half of Democratic voters say they’re in favor of eliminating the First Amendment, the grandiloquent hellscape painted in “Is This Tomorrow” isn’t so unbelievable these days.

In fact, a couple of years down the road, the nightmarish negative socialist utopia depicted in this old-ass comic might be a lot closer to the reality at hand than paranoid fantasy. And in that? You can’t say the Catholics didn’t try to warn us, all the way back when


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