“What influenced you to join the Communist Party”?

Today’s relevant—to the American Presidential election—excerpts from Whittaker Chambers’ Witness, 1952.

From page 616, Chambers’ boss at Time, Henry R. Luce, wondered out-loud about, “the implacable clamor of the most enlightened people against [Chambers]”. Luce speaking to a European dinner guest named “Smetana”:

“By any Marxian pattern of how classes behave … the upper class should be for you and the lower classes should be against you. But it is the upper class that is most violent against you. How do you explain that?”
“You don’t understand the class structure of American society,” said Smetana, “or you would not ask such a question. In the United States, the working class are Democrats. The middle class are Republicans. The upper class are Communists.”

From page 617:

“The Communist conspiracy, ” [Smetana] said, “is unlike any ever known before. In the past, conspiracy has always meant secrecy, concealment. The peculiarity of Communism is that everybody really knows who these people are and what the conspiracy is and how it works. But everybody connives at it because nobody wants to believe his own eyes. It is something new under the sun. It is conspiracy in the open.”

Next; pages 692-3, from August 25, 1948 hearing of House Committee on Un-American Activities:

THE CHAIRMAN [Thomas]: What influenced you to join the Communist Party originally?
MR. CHAMBERS: It is a very difficult question. As a student, I went to Europe. It was then shortly after the First World War. I found Germany in chaos, and partly occupied; northern France, and parts of Belgium were smashed to pieces. It seemed to me that a crisis had been reached in western civilization which society was not able to solve by the usual means. I then began to look around for the unusual means. I first studied for a considerable time British Fabian socialism, and rejected it as unworkable in practice. I was then very much influenced by a book called Reflections on Violence, by Georges Sorel, a syndicalist, and shortly thereafter I came to the writings of Marx and Lenin. They seemed to me to explain the nature of the crisis, and what to do about it.
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