Childs at Play
The FBI’s Cold War triumph.
The Childs brothers’ reports made it clear that the American Communist party was at all times beholden entirely to the Soviets, both in its politics and finances. In one 1958 report, top Soviet Communist leaders told Morris Childs that the American CP had to consider itself “a revolutionary party” and that it had to “get rid of anyone who says anything to the contrary.” Moreover, Childs was told to instruct the comrades that the CPUSA “has to have as its final aim the overthrow of the bourgeois(ie) and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.” They added that party members had to “accept this principle even though it may be disguised when it is incorporated in the party program.” These instructions came at a time of ferment in the American party’s ranks, as the Soviet invasion of Hungary had produced a group of dissidents and a new group of “revisionists” led by John Gates who sought to reform the CP and make it into a democratic socialist vehicle, ditching Leninist doctrine in the process.
In the fall of 1960, KGB agent Vladimir Barkovsky complained to Morris Childs that someone reading the Worker might think they were reading Pravda. The CPUSA press reflected the positions of Moscow so well that a Soviet reader could not detect any difference in it from his own country’s propaganda organs. Morris Childs, hearing Barkovsky’s words, no doubt smiled to himself.
Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes are coauthors of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America. Ronald Radosh, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, is coauthor of The Rosenberg File.