The 6 Worst Defenses of Communism Published By the NY Times This Year

Posters of Lenin and Stalin in Red Square, 1947 / Getty Images
Posters of Lenin and Stalin in Red Square, 1947 / Getty Images
• August 24, 2017 12:24 pm


The New York Times has published several op-eds in 2017 as part of its "Red Century" series commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

Many of the pieces have noted atrocities the Soviets carried out. A number of the editorials, however, have also offered defenses for or praise of aspects of communism. Among them:

Women had better sex under communism

"Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism," argued Kristen R. Ghodsee, a professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

"Some might remember that Eastern bloc women enjoyed many rights and privileges unknown in liberal democracies at the time," she wrote. "But there's one advantage that has received little attention: Women under communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure."

Stalinism inspired Americans

"When Communism Inspired Americans," from left-wing Times journalist Vivian Gornick, is a retelling of her childhood spent in a radical Bronx family during the age of Josef Stalin.

"It is perhaps hard to understand now, but at that time, in this place, the Marxist vision of world solidarity as translated by the Communist Party induced in the most ordinary of men and women a sense of one's own humanity that ran deep, made life feel large; large and clarified," she wrote.

"‘America was fortunate to have had the communists here,'" Gornick quoted her mother as saying. "‘They, more than most, prodded the country into becoming the democracy it always said it was.'"

The Bolsheviks were romantics deep down

University of California, Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine penned a story on "The Love Lives of Bolsheviks," an account of how a belief in communism spurred Bolshevik leaders toward passionate love affairs.

The romanticism Slezkine described dimmed a bit when he revealed one of the star-crossed lovers "unleashed the Red Terror [and] ordered the execution of the czar and his family," and another became "a leading advocate of forced labor in the countryside."

Lenin was a conservationist

Yale senior lecturer Fred Strebeigh authored "Lenin's Eco-Warriors," a piece highlighting how Vladimir Lenin, "a longtime enthusiast for hiking and camping," passed reforms to protect Russia's environment.

"For now, at least, Lenin's legacy is preserved and Russia remains the world leader, ahead of Brazil and Australia, in protecting the most land at the highest level," Strebeigh wrote.

The Soviets supported the Harlem Renaissance

"When the Harlem Renaissance Went to Communist Moscow," wrote the University of Pennsylvania's Jennifer Williams. Williams chronicled how black artists in the 1930's thought there was greater opportunity in Moscow, arguing at the time, "the American Negro stands very little chance of achieving true representation" in Hollywood.

"In the Soviet Union, racial equality was not merely incidental but a state project," Williams wrote, detailing how the Soviets recruited Harlem artists for a propaganda film about race relations in America.

Unfortunately for the artists, the USSR's support for the film project was yanked once it achieved its true objective: diplomatic recognition from the U.S. government.

Without the Soviets, we would not have "Star Trek"

Counterculture writer A. M. Gittlitz argued in "‘Make It So': ‘Star Trek' and Its Debt to Revolutionary Socialism," that the sci-fi series "Star Trek" owed its genesis to Russian Revolution principles.

Gittlitz cited the novel Red Star, a book about a utopian colony on Mars that adheres to communism. That book helped spark Russian "Cosmism," a belief that the future of communism rested in technology and mastering space.

Gittlitz argued "Star Trek" was particularly inspired by Argentine Trotskyist leader J. Posadas. As a leader of Argentina's socialist movement, Posadas argued alien visitors would be socialists and would help "free Earth from the grip of Yankee imperialism and the bureaucratic workers' states."

Published under: Communism, The New York Times