Analytical Review – Marla Stone & Giuliana Chamedes – Naming the Enemy

In 1982, Ronald Reagan, in a speech before the British Parliament, said, “What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term—the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.” This quote encapsulates the anti-communist sentiment prevalent in the US during the Cold War. Marla Stone and Giuliana Chamdes, in their academic article, ‘Naming the Enemy: Anti-communism in Transnational Perspective,’ trace the historical emergence of anti-communist ideology worldwide. Published in 2018, ‘Naming the Enemy’ aims to further academic research within the discrete ideology of anti-communism while also appealing to a broad audience aroused by the history and emergence of anti-communism. ‘Naming the Enemy’ builds upon Stone’s research in political history and Giulanana’s focus on internationalist movements. It focuses on the diverse actors, ideologies, and motivations involved in anti-communist activities across different historical periods and geographical contexts that contribute to the development and impact of anti-communism as a global phenomenon. The unequal and asymmetrical relation between the communism/anti-communism binary is at the crux of the article. They promulgate a transnational approach by examining motivations of driving actions to highlight the multifaceted nature of anti-communism and its use to legitimise government measures in the 20th century. Thus, Garnering a range of locations enclosing colonised India, Italy, France, Britain, the United States and Colonial Madagascar, Stone analyses different articles to showcase the use of the ideology for furthering political agenda in the West. ‘Naming the Enemy’ states, “1945 was an important turning point” for the trajectory of anti-communism, yet, it does not delve further into it. The author’s primary focus on the interwar period poses methodological limits as it restricts the analysis of economic, political and social influence after the interwar period upon anti-communism. Thus it fell short in exploring further augmentation between the binary of communism/anti-communism. This paper will highlight how further analysis of anti-communism during the cold war is necessary to access the anti-communism/communism binary. 

The authors use the works of Michele Terretta, Colleen Woods and Michele Louro to portray further how France, the UK and the US used anti-communism as a means to cease the dissemination of communism in their colonies by prescribing communism to be the “enemy”. ‘Naming the Enemy’ showcases the political dismissal of communist ideology within colonies. Western powers legitimised using acts of violence, criminalisation and surveillance systems to dismiss anti-colonial movements. Thus furthering their hypothesis of the unequal weightage given to anti-communism over communism in the West. The interlocked fear of prevalent overlap between communism and anti-imperialism became the cornerstone for the prescription of the criminalisation of communism. Madagascar, the Philippines (the US refused to call it colonial),  and India were all key exporters of raw materials and agriculturally exploited by the Western powers. However, the article takes a Western perspective. It talks about colonial interventionism but fails to showcase the view of the colonised on communism. The sentiment of the colonised could have further aided in showcasing the binary between the ideologies. The question of Madagascar showcases this Western perspective. Didier Ratsiraka (earlier popular and then turned unpopular) came to power in Madagascar (1975) and introduced socialist policies aligned with the Soviet Union. Similarly, Jay Dee, in his paper, describes the importance of the influence of communism over the masses. Many African countries, such as Ghana, influenced by social justice and anti-colonial ideology, were suppressed by interventionist forces such as the US and France. During the cold war period, they aligned with the Soviets upon the link between imperialism and capitalism. This example shows that elements of communist thought initially appealed to the masses. The uprisings in sub-Saharan Africa were crushed due to the threat of growing communist influence. Parallely, in India, influenced by communism, emerged the Communist Party of India. During the cold war, during the non-alignment movement, India had stronger economic ties with the Soviet Union than the US or the UK. Thus, assuming a Western perspective compromises the further understanding of the binary within the two ideologies. 

Political agenda and economic incentives are inherently interconnected and provided the foundation upon which anti-communism was purported in the 20th century. The colonial excursions in these places were seen as ‘civilising missions’ and thus were legitimised. However, one of the primary reasons for the colonisation of these areas was their perceived economic advantages. Propertied classes viewed communism as a threat to their liberty. Using the work of Kathryn Olmsted, the article highlights the emergence of private intelligence organisations countering communism. The New Deal was widely rejected as it was perceived as socialist. The paper’s timeline limits it from exploring the relationship between anti-communism and economic ideologies. The Western economy was underlined with Fordism and saw a shift from Keynesian economics to integrating varying neo-liberal ideologies between 1930-1980. The welfare state led by market capitalism purported to assign anti-communism with freedom and higher living standards. Economic supremacy became the core of the Western ideology of anti-communism, centred around the Marshal Plan and Truman doctrine. This is seen in the case of Yugoslavia, whose economy improved with Western aid after breaking away from the Soviet Union. Hence, further analysis of the interrelation between anti-communism and economic ideologies proves a necessary backdrop to understanding the transnational popularity and acceptance of anti-communism. 

A thought-provoking assertion of the article was its examination of the emergence of right-wing politics (Fascism, Nazism) due to shared allegiance against communism. It describes the end of World War II as a turning point in the ideology of anti-communism due to the break in the link between Global Jewry and communism. Carl Schmitt’s friend/enemy binary reconciles enmity as politics-inducing and helps mobilise society. This view was also seen in Greece during 1944, as anyone not supporting the EAM was seen as the enemy. However, it is imperative to point out the limitation of this view. The aftermath of the apartheid saw reconciliation and racial inclusivity under Nelson Mandela. Enmity was not the sole constructer of political strategy at the time, even though widely utilised. 

Owing to its transnational nature, the adoption of anti-communism was different in every geo-political area. The UK did not have an analogue to US McCarthyism. Jennifer Luff largely annotates this upon the view of communism as a democratic threat in the US as opposed to the protection of civil liberties after World War II in the UK. Yet, despite the US’s apparent stance on anti-communism, it had cordial relations with communist politicians in France and Italy. Thus revealing the fluidity of adherence to the ideology based on its perceived advantage. Only after public and political right-wing pressure did the US take a strong view against it. This is parallel to the fluid nature of Fascism by Mussolini and Communism by Stalin to purport their propaganda. However, the stark difference is the favoured perception and acceptance of anti-communism. 

Stone and Giuliana have provided an ontologically explained ideological development and advancement of anti-communism. Their transnational perception and communication of anti-communist rhetoric are convenient in its historical context to show the binary. However, due to its methodological limitations, ‘Naming the Enemy’ avoids the gridlocks posed by the rise of new economic and social models (Truman Doctrine, Neo-Liberalism, etc) which mobilise society and are deep-rooted in understanding the political and cultural implications of the ideology. This also limits the authors from exploring a more non-western perspective to further highlight the binary prevalent between communism and anti-communism.

– Ananya Goyal

Author’s Note

The article does not focus on the definition of communism or anti-communism but on the binary between the two. Anti-communist ideology in the paper is portrayed to be based on being the saviour from communism. Hence, the paper does not define the two ideologies and focuses on analysing the binary by going beyond what is written in the article. 


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