LTRP Note: Color, Communism, and Common Sense was first released in 1958 and written by Manning Johnson, who spent ten years in the U.S. Communist Party because he believed the “red” party would help improve conditions for black people. When he finally came to realize that the opposite was true, he rejected communism. The following is chapter 1 of his book. We referenced Johnson in our recent booklet on Critical Race Theory and the Southern Baptist Convention because of the shocking similarities between his story and what is happening in the U.S. today. (Note: In Johnson’s book, he uses the term “Negro,” which was the term used in the 50s and 60s for black people and was not considered a disrespectful term at that time. We have maintained Johnson’s writing just as he wrote it.)
You may read Manning Johnson’s entire book online at www.manningjohnson.org. Also check out the video below, an interview with Rev. Stephen Craft titled, “Communists Exploiting Black Americans.”
By Manning Johnson
Ten years I labored in the cause of Communism. I was a dedicated “comrade.” All my talents and efforts were zealously used to bring about the triumph of Communism in America and throughout the world. To me, the end of capitalism would mark the beginning of an interminable period of plenty, peace, prosperity, and universal comradeship. All racial and class differences and conflicts would end forever after the liquidation of the capitalists, their government, and their supporters. A world union of Soviet States under the hegemony of Russia would free and lead mankind on to Utopia.
Being an idealist, I was sold this “bill of goods” by a Negro graduate of the Lenin Institute in Moscow.
The color of one’s skin is no bar to a young man or woman dreaming of making a better world. Like other Negroes, I experienced and saw many injustices and inequities around me based upon color, not ability. I was told that “the decadent capitalist system is responsible,” that “mass pressure” could force concessions but “that just prolongs the life of capitalism”; that I must unite and work with all those who more or less agree that capitalism must go.
Little did I realize until I was deeply enmeshed in the Red Conspiracy, that just and seeming grievances are exploited to transform idealism into a cold and ruthless weapon against the capitalist system—that this is the end toward which all the communist efforts among Negroes are directed.
Indeed, I had entered the red conspiracy in the vain belief that it was the way to a “new, better and superior” world system of society. Ten years later, thoroughly disillusioned, I abandoned communism. The experiences of those years in “outer darkness” are like a horrible nightmare. I saw communism in all its naked cruelty, ruthlessness, and utter contempt of Christian attributes and passions. And, too, I saw the low value placed upon human life, the total lack of respect for the dignity of man, the betrayal of trust, the terror of the Secret Police, and the bloody hand of the assassin, during and since, those fateful years when I embraced communism.
I was lured into the red movement by way of the American Negro Labor Congress, one of the many “front organizations” set up by the communists to trap naïve, unwary, unsuspecting, and idealistic Negroes. The use of such attractive and appealing fronts as a means of entrapment is a most important serpentine method of the reds.
After two years of practical training in organizing street demonstrations, inciting mob violence, how to fight the police, and how to politically “throw a brick and hide,” I was ready, in the opinion of my leaders, for a top communist school.
At a secret national training school in New York City, I was given an extensive and intensive course in the theory and practice of red political warfare. As a result, I was appointed District Organizer by the Political Bureau of the Communist Party in the Buffalo, New York area, one of the vital industrial sections of our country. It was in the position of District Organizer that I learned to use secret codes, “mail drops,” organize clandestine meetings, “shake police shadows,” and other underground activities. At the same time, I became acquainted with the nature of communist sabotage and espionage.
My zeal, training—both theoretical and practical—combined with loyalty and willingness to sacrifice, changed me from a novice into a dedicated red—a professional revolutionist. Consequently, I climbed rapidly to the National Committee, the highest governing body of the Communist Party in America.
Being a Negro top communist, I was placed on the National Negro Commission, an important sub-committee of the National Committee of the Communist Party. On this Commission, which was created on direct orders from Moscow to facilitate the subversion of the Negroes, I began to realize the full implications of how the Negro is used as a political dupe by the Kremlin hierarchy. Under the guise of “unity of black and white in the struggle,” several top white communists, such as James S. Allen, Elizabeth Lawson, the late Robert “Bob” Minor, and George Blake Charney were placed on the National Negro Commission. These white communists wielded more power than the nominal Negro heads of the Commission. In a word, they are like white overseers. Every Negro member was aware of the fact that these white overseers constituted the eyes, the ears and the voice of the Kremlin. Moreover, these white overseers are the surest functional guarantee of the maintenance of the hierarchial authoritarian control of the Kremlin over their Negro lick spittles directing the conspiracy among Negroes in America.
Indeed, it is the white group on the National Negro Commission that holds full sway. They flatter one or two top Negroes by making them feel they are actually participating in the formulation of policy by consulting with them prior to meetings of the Commission. Then these two Negroes are assigned to lay down the line to the other Negroes on the Commission. The white members check to make sure they do. Their opinion of what a Negro member says at a meeting can either make or break him. Usually, the Negro who is broken is accused of “petty bourgeois nationalism,” that is, placing the interests of the Negro above the interests of the Communist Party.
In this connection, I observed how white women communists are used as political prostitutes, cohabiting with high-level Negro communists in order to spy on them. Through such intimate relations, these white women communists are able to elicit information pertaining to family background, sources of income, marital difficulties, arrests, convictions, opinions on communist policy and communist leadership. This information is invaluable to the red hierarchy in their relations with their Negro lickspittles. In top red circles, this is known as “bedroom politics.”
White communist women are also used to maneuver top Negro reds into compromising positions that, if revealed, would result in public scandal or disgrace. In this way, the reds make these Negroes permanently subject to blackmail if they ever consider leaving the red movement. Moreover, this information is used to destroy the credibility of the defectee, should he decide to fight the red conspiracy.
The highest position I attained was candidate for the Political Bureau (Politburo) of the Communist Party. The Politburo is a small, close-knit body, carefully selected by the Kremlin hierarchy. Each member holds his position solely on the approval of the reactionary, rapacious despoilers in the Kremlin. This is the real governing body of the entire red conspiracy in America. A candidate is invited to sit in on deliberations with voice but no vote. Usually, a representative of the Kremlin participates in all meetings and deliberations of the Politburo. This writer sat in such meetings when Gerhard Eisler, alias Edwards, Brown, Hans Berger, etc., was the Kremlin representative. Eisler later jumped bail and fled the United States on the red Poish liner “Batory” after he was exposed and convicted of passport fraud.
The assignment of political commissars to the red movement in America is not limited solely to America, but is an established Kremlin policy in relation to all communist parties in countries outside the “Iron Curtain.” Kremlin agents, such as Eisler, exercise an awesome power over the white, as well as black lickspittles, comprising the leadership. When Eisler spoke, one could hear a pin fall. Each leader sat in rapt attention, hanging on to every word Eisler uttered as if it were, indeed, a pronouncement from the “Holy of Holies.” On several occasions, he expressed the grave dissatisfaction of the Kremlin because of the failure of the party to take advantage of the broad “people’s front movement” to build “progressive groups” in participating organizations such as the N.A.A.C.P., youth, religious, fraternal, labor, etc. These “progressive groups”, he said, “was the only guarantee that the decisions we make with leaders will be brought down to and carried out by the membership.”
Significantly, Eisler emphasized that the “people’s front” or “democratic front” is “a maneuver only” to lay the basis for firm communist direction and control of masses. And, too, that the leaders of non-communist organizations are drawn into joint movements with the communists “only to facilitate the infiltration, ideological and organizational penetration of their respective organizations.” After all, this is a fight for leadership to determine “who shall lead the masses, the communists or Negro reformists.” The “progressive groups,” consisting of communists, fellow-travellers, sympathizers, liberals, etc., constitute the vehicle on which the reds pin their present hope of victory.
Never once were we allowed to forget the vacillating, uncertain, untrustworthy character of the Negro intellectual, the Negro minister, the Negro petty bourgeois, the Negro reformist and the white socio-liberal, philanthropic, humanitarian supporter. They are accused, on the basis of experience, of “running frantically from one camp (red) to the other (capitalist) when the going gets tough.” So that when communists unite with and support them today, it is necessary to keep in mind that “it may be necessary to denounce them tomorrow and the day after tomorrow hang them.”
Thus, as a participant on the highest level of the communist conspiracy in America, I observed the cold, calculating, ruthless nature of red power politics and political warfare, stripped of all its illusory propaganda and idealistic cover. Click here to read other chapters.