This article, transcribed from the Hanover College Triangle, is part of a collection of primary sources on the re-integration of Hanover College in the 1950s and 1960s. The original Triangles are available at the Duggan Library Archives, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).
For other articles and oral history transcripts, see the Table of Contents.
For more on the people, places, and events discussed in them, see the Guide.
Walt Lafeber, "What the English Think of Communism," Hanover College Triangle, 29 Aug. 1954, p. 2.
An American tourist or student who is traveling in a foreign country is often left almost senseless after some startling revelation about a thing which this misplaced American perhaps never thought of before.
The closest I came to this state of consciousness (or unconsciousness, you might call it), was one summer evening when a young and brilliant English student named Steve Williamson came into my room, and we began talking about American politics. The course of the conversation turned to Communism and Steve let loose with a verbal blast at the United States. He said, "I believe that if the United States ever goes through a depression as serious as that depression of 1929, the United States will then go Communistic."
I seriously thought I hadn't heard right. This was even more startling than the time the old Negro asked me what I would do if I was judged by a Negro Almighty God before I could enter the Gates of Heaven. I was speechless that time too, needless to say. Steve and I got into quite an argument. Steve based his argument on the fact that we in America have no real left-wing political party to absorb the many radicals who would, no doubt, arise out of such economic chaos. I told him of the Democratic Party which, while not socialistic by a long way, fulfilled many of the ideas and aspirations of some of the more leftist members of the American community. Steve got the point.
But it is interesting that such a thought could ever enter the head of an English boy who possessed one of the finest minds in the political field I encountered all summer. It is also interesting to note that the British are not worried about Communism. Much can be said of this.
Britain has had several bad "red scares." The first was over the leakage of atomic bomb secrets, the second over a communist government taking control in British Guiana. In the latter case, the English moved in with force and put the colony under military rule for a time. Many British are still criticizing this move. They do not believe that rule by force destroys Communist infiltration or ideals.
One English man defined the British Communists as "A group of fools who have been led astray." The English had fought the Russian menace with tradition, ideas, and education in past years and evidently have now won. They have not had to revert to outlawing political ideas. Perhaps this is impossible in America, but we must admit that Britain has made it work. The English Communist can say anything he likes in Britain, but he hasn't gotten very far and probably won't.
A prominent member of the British Labour Party, R. H. M. Crossman told us in an informal group, that statistics show that approximately 25% of the British Communist Party leave the Party ranks every year. They leave on their own will, "seeing the light" as it were. The British do not believe in giving these "Pinks" anything to fight for or argue about. They just leave them alone and they cause little or no trouble.
I mentioned before that the English do not believe that Communism can be destroyed by force. We could jokingly say that small Great Britain doesn't have the force to do the job anyway, so they don't have a lot of choice. But to many people their attitude makes some sense. We could bomb Russia off the map, but there will still be Communists who are so indoctrinated that they could start the Party and the ideal all over again. But kill the idea, educate the people to know better, get the head out of the sand and face the facts on Communism (many of which aren't so bad as at face value), and Marxism dies a natural death.
This is the English point of view. It's interesting to think about.