Gitlow: American Communists Born Out Of Fanaticism

Selected Quotes on Marxism

Benjamim Gitlow: The Whole Of Their Lives, American Communists Born Out Of Fanaticism

Here is what Benjamin Gitlow writes of the American Communist Movement’s fanaticism born out of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917:

Out of this fanaticism [a result of Lenin coming to power in 1917] the American communist movement was born–a movement which turned the American radicals who joined it into intolerant zealots. American radicals discarded their idealism, their devotion to humanity, for the rituals of communist bigotry. In less than two years communism succeeded in tearing down the old structure of American radicalism by firmly establishing the communist hegemony over the radical scene.

The radicals who became communists, went through a personal metamorphosis so complete that they were mentally and morally changed into different human beings. The men and women who took the road to communism became the voluntary victims of a conditioning process which subjugated the will of the individual to the will of the organization. Converts had to prostrate themselves before the supreme revolutionary authority of the communist organization. Honest idealists became knaves. Men abandoned families on party orders, to live with woman communists. Patriotic soldiers became traitors and spies.

Dreamers and visionaries, the timid souls among the radicals, were transformed into Machiavellian political tricksters and hardened conspirators. Men and women imbued with a compassionate tenderness for others became sadistic gangsters. Intellectuals deserted the truth to become communist artists in uniform,
prostituting their abilities in order to serve the party line and pollute the cultural life of America.

Chicanery, intrigue, conceit, tricks of the sycophants and double-dealers–the black attributes of Satan and his fallen angels–constitute the stock and trade of the communists not only in dealing with their enemies but also in their relations with each other and with their friends. The fact that the communists are caught in the mesh of their own Mephistophelian system explains why the history of American communism is, in addition to its other aspects, a story of personalities and events taken from the handbook of crime.


Gitlow, Benjamin. “The Romantic Period.” The Whole of Their Lives: Communism in America : A Personal History and Intimate Portrayal of Its Leaders. Belmont, Mass. : Sudbury, Suffolk: Western Islands ; [Distributed By] Bloomfield, 1965. 2-3. Print.



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