Come the Revolution, the libraries would be first target


The Authentic History Center website has scanned several issues of Treasure Chest, a monthly comic book published by the Catholic Guild. In 1961, they ran a 10-issue series called, "This Godless Communism." The first issue shows what would become of the United States if it became a communist country (for one thing, the government would be moved to Chicago).

So what does this have to do with libraries? Check out the first two panels on this page (or see the transcript below):The Reds have another powerful weapon. Almost every country in the world has a Communist Party which takes its orders from Moscow. The smallest group in the Party is called a "cell" which holds regular meetings.
- "Our latest directive from our superiors is to steal all anti-communist books from our American city libraries."

Cell members come from all walks of life.
- "Since I am a public librarian that should be easy."
- "As a university teacher, it will be easy to take care of the library there."
- "I'll take care of my labor-union library!"



This comes as no surprise, especially to historians. Looking back on almost any civilization; whenever a new and radical party comes to power, the first people to suffer are the intellectuals.

After all, they're the first people to question authority.

huh? in that panel isn't it the 'intellectuals' who are making the public suffer by pulling books?

You're right! First time I saw the comic, I just glanced at it. So yeah, looks like we're all supposedly in cahoots with the Commies.

I can see a couple things behind this. First off, the Catholic Church has long held intellectuals and literati suspect because we not only produce, but actually save, "dirty books." (Stuff like On the Origin of the Species and De Revolutionibus are two very nasty tomes indeed.) The second, and lesser known item is that Mao Zedong previously worked as a librarian before becoming a Communist revolutionary. And we're not talking small time backwater village in Qinghai Province. He worked as an assistant to the Head Librarian of the University of Peking.

According to the story, he was passed up for a promotion too many times and decided to change careers...

Let that be a lesson to all you library managers out there.

Good point, though I think GWD is right in terms of the historic treatment of intellectuals under totalitarian regimes - just think of the Cultural Revolution or Cambodia under Pol Pot or Nazi Germany...

btw, the whole comic is worth reading - the first panel is quite hiarious (apparently, Tsarist Russia was a 'representative government', taken over by Communists, and the poor Russians lost their freedoms (as if they had any under the Tsar). No mention of any reasons for the Revolution...

. . . looks like we're all supposedly in cahoots with the Commies.

Well, there are disaffected intellectuals, too. Not to mention some who are downright deluded.

But, then, look at Kim Philby and his cabal. Most people would call him a traitor for supporting the communist cause, but there is no indication that he ever wanted to overthrow the government of Britain. He simply believed that a communist system of government was the best one for the country. Intellectuals can make bad judgement calls as much as anybody, and communism was founded upon a high ideal. As usual it was grubby-minded, megalomaniac twits who screwed up everything in Soviet Russia.

I wonder if Marx wrote anything anti-religion in the Communist Manifesto; must look it up. I can understand why Stalin and that bunch would try to stamp out religion, they wouldn't want any divided loyalties.

Oh my, yes, there was plenty of anti-religous rhetoric in the Communist Manifesto. Some juicy tidbits:

  • Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.
  • The charges against Communism made from a religious, a
    philosophical, and, generally, from an ideological standpoint,
    are not deserving of serious examination.

Of course, there's more to Marx than the Manifesto. Here's a few other quotes:

  • Religion is the opiate of the masses.
  • Religion is the sigh of the oppressed.

Finally, I can find any attribution to the fact, but I seem to remember a professor of mine stating another quote along the lines of "Christianity is the barking dog of capitalism." Now that may not be Marx, but it'd be a sympathizer.

No kidding! Especially ure_chest/v17_18_13.html
is a quite accurate description of the chain of events in Cuba, 1960 forward. For more on this theme, I recommend "What to do when the Russians come : a survivor's guide," by Robert Conquest and Jon Manchip White, appropriately published in 1984 (New York: Stein & Day).

"communism was founded upon a high ideal. As usual it was grubby-minded, megalomaniac twits who screwed up everything in Soviet Russia [sic]."

Yes, and in China and Cuba and North Korea and Eastern Europe--they are known as Communists. . . if it quacks like a duck, etc.

Good points. In my view, though, communism is founded less on high ideals than on a particular view of human nature, and one that in my view has been contradicted by history. Communism is doomed to failure if, as I believe, human nature is not fundamentally good (at least not in its present state). You may not have to believe in the perfectability (by secular means, at least) of human nature to be a communist, but you must at least believe that it is essentially good and able to be substantially improved by secular means.

Keith Burgess-Jackson, a professor of philosophy who blogs as the Anal Philosopher, addresses this question in a Tech Central Station column. Burgess-Jackson is an atheist, so his pessimism concerning human nature is grounded in very different fundamental beliefs than is my pessimism--I take more of an Augustinian view of human nature.

While I do not think that the United States as founded was a Christian polity, one good thing the Founders took from Christianity was an understanding of human depravity--best to limit the power of the state concentrated in the depraved hands of a few; best to guard the rights of minorities through republican representation and constitution rather than through direct democracy (little-r and little-d). Given the problematic character of human nature, the fatal flaw of socialistic and communistic systems is the great concentration of power in the hands of the state entailed in central economic planning.

Subscribe to Comments for "Come the Revolution, the libraries would be first target"