Tonight Showtime will premiere Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States which reflects the view Stone expressed in 2010 that the Soviet Union’s leader in the 1930s and ’40s, Joseph Stalin, has “been vilified pretty thoroughly by history,” so what is needed is a program allowing viewers to walk in both his and Hitler’s shoes “to understand their point of view.”
Ronald Radosh writes today, an article titled, A Story Told Before, in The Weekly Standard that, “An examination of the first four episodes reveals them to offer not an untold story, but the all-too-familiar Communist and Soviet line on America’s past as it developed in the early years of the Cold War.”
Ronald Radosh is well positioned to critique the claims of Oliver Stone that some sort of untold story of American history is being offered for the first time. Mr. Radosh made his own personal journey through Marxism, Communism and the Left when he was a young man. Much like Arthur Koestler before him who became disillusioned with radical politics, Mr. Radosh found Marxist-Communist philosophy to be The God That Failed.
His personal travels through the Cold War culture of the Left means that he knows first hand what actually happened, exactly what most of the players thought, said and did, so that he cannot be fooled by any Oliver Stone revisionism. On the “untold” nature of Stone’s thesis, he says:
But half a century ago, when I was in high school, the late Carl Marzani told this very story in We Can Be Friends. A secret member of the American Communist party who had worked during the war in the OSS, Marzani later was proved by evidence from Soviet archives and Venona decryptions to have been a KGB (then the NKVD) operative. His book was published privately by his own Soviet-subsidized firm. It was the first example of what came to be called “Cold War revisionism.” Quoting the memoirs of figures from the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, as well as newspaper stories and magazine articles, Marzani aimed to show that the Cold War had been started by the Truman administration with the intent of destroying a peaceful alliance with the Soviet Union and gaining American hegemony throughout the world.
As it happens, Marzani could have provided Stone’s interpretation of how the Cold War began. Over and over, Stone uses the same quotations, the same arrangements of material, and the same arguments as Marzani. This is not to accuse Stone of plagiarism, only to point out that the case he now offers as new was argued in exactly the same terms by an American Communist and Soviet agent in 1952.
The main hero of the first four episodes is FDR’s secretary of agriculture, then vice president, Henry A. Wallace, who is described in the series as a New Deal “visionary” on domestic policy and a farsighted, anti-imperialist representative of the “common man” on foreign policy. Wallace was not the domestic policy radical that Stone depicts him to be, but he was a dupe of Stalin on foreign policy. He advocated an alliance between Democrats and the Soviet Union as a vehicle to expand FDR’s social welfare agenda. Radosh says, “These were the views that endear Wallace to Stone.”
Mr. Radosh ends with this:
There was only one reason the Communists created the Progressive party: Stalin had instructed Western parties to ready themselves for war with the United States, and he demanded that old coalitions be split—including alliances with the left-wing CIO unions—unless those in them favored and supported Stalin’s adventurist foreign policy and opposed the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. Stone tells his viewers that Wallace had the support of true New Dealers like Eleanor Roosevelt. Stone never mentions that, as Wallace revealed himself to be a dupe of the Communists, Mrs. Roosevelt publicly rebuked him, correctly pointing out, “The American Communists will be the nucleus of Mr. Wallace’s third party.” Other anti-Communist liberal Democrats issued a public statement charging that Wallace had “lined up unashamedly with the forces of Soviet totalitarianism.”
No one put the truth about Wallace better than Dwight Macdonald, who wrote in his delightfully wicked 1948 exegesis Henry Wallace: The Man and the Myth that Wallaceland was “a region of perpetual fogs, caused by the warm winds of the liberal Gulf Stream coming in contact with the Soviet glacier.” In the 21st century, Oliver Stone still lives in that perpetual fog.
Anyone contemplating watching Oliver Stone’s shameless communist propaganda of historical revisionism should also read Ronald Radosh’s A Story Told Before.