Red Hunting in the Promised Land, by Joel Kovel
In 1988, Joel Kovel, the Alger Hiss Professor of Social Studies at Bard College and a well-known practitioner of “psycho-history,” helped to orchestrate a conference at Harvard University that attracted 1,000 academics, community activists, and students. Dedicated to the proposition that anti-Communism had deformed American political, cultural, and social life, the conference alternated between blaming anti-Communism for all the evil in the world and hailing its imminent collapse before the triumphant march of the forces of progress and light.
It was, instead, the Communist world that fell apart within three years. Yet Kovel, only briefly daunted, has now set out to repudiate in theory a set of ideas—anti-Communism—that has been vindicated in practice. Red Hunting in the Promised Land offers a breathtaking, even lunatic, reinterpretation of American history in which anti-Communism emerges as the defining American character deformation as well as the founding principle of a corrupt American order. (Kovel spells it “anticommunism” throughout to distinguish it from “anti-Communism,” which he pretends to concede is a “more or less objective dislike of Communism”; but since he never identifies a single “anti-Communist” in that sense, it is a distinction without a difference.)
About the Author
Harvey Klehr is Andrew W. Mellon professor of politics and history at Emory University.