Is this list of “Communist Rules for Revolution” real?
A list of “Communist Rules for Revolution” was discovered by Allied forces in Germany in 1919.
For several decades, a list of supposed “communist rules for revolution” has been trotted out as evidence that the current political climate is setting us all down a path to ruin:
Communist Rules for the Revolution
In May 1919, the Allies discovered a copy of these “rules” in Düsseldorf, Germany. They were first printed in the United States in the same year, 1919, in the Bartlesville (Oklahoma) Examiner-Enterprise.
Almost 20 years later, in 1946, the Florida Attorney General received it from a well-known Communist Party member who admitted that the “rules” were still part of the communist program for the United States at the time.
1. Corrupting the youth, taking them away from religion. Are you interested in sex. Make them superficial. Destroy their toughness.
2. Get control of all promotional materials.
3. Distracting people from their government by turning their attention to sports, sexy books, and other trivia.
4. Divide people into hostile groups by constantly harping on controversial matters of no importance.
5. Destroy people’s trust in their natural leaders by exposing them to contempt, ridicule, and slander.
6. Always preach true democracy, but seize power as quickly and ruthlessly as possible.
7. By encouraging government extravagance, you destroy its credit and create inflationary fears with rising prices and general discontent.
8. Foster unnecessary strikes in vital industries, encourage civil unrest, and encourage a lenient and soft attitude on the part of the government towards such unrest.
9. Bring about the collapse of the old moral virtues, honesty, sobriety, temperance, faith in the promised word, robustness, through bogus arguments.
10. Cause the registration of all firearms under any pretext in order to confiscate them and leave the population helpless.
Now stop and think – how many of these rules are being implemented in this nation today? I don’t understand how any thinking person can honestly say that the communists have no part in the chaos that is shaking our nation. Or is it just a big coincidence? I doubt it.
A time-honored trick in the political arena was to discredit your opponents (and their ideas) by demonizing them, by associating them with… well, demons. In modern times, this usually meant claiming that the ideas your opponents advocated were implemented by Nazis or Communists, or accepted by them as a means of “softening up” a country and making it ripe for a totalitarian takeover. For example, if you think that the film industry should be more regulated to prevent it from corrupting our youth, simply refer to a putative historical document in which communists proclaim that they were able to take power in Russia because the previous government allowed unsuspecting youth to waste their time watching “immoral films,” and your point is irrefutably made.
As given in the example above, a purportedly genuine document of this type is a list of “Communist Rules for Revolution” typically claimed to have been “discovered in May 1919 at Dusseldorf, Germany by Allied forces” and “first printed”. “ became the United States” in Bartlesville, Oklahoma auditor company. Besides that the auditor company is a real newspaper, none of it is true. The language of getting youth “interested in sex” and turning their attention to “sexy books” and fretting over the “registration of all firearms” sounds out of place for 1919 (like this Ngram chart shows, “sexy” is a word much more likely to be encountered in post-WWII America than it was in 1919), and unsurprisingly no one has ever managed to uncover the mysterious subject auditor company who are said to have printed this list.
When columnist Bob Greene reviewed the “Communist Rules for Revolution” with Russian specialists at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University in the mid-1980s, they said the list was “a total fraud,” “a blatant fabrication” and ” an implausible concoction of American fears and phobias.” Greene also noted, “I always wanted to meet a communist who would carry the list around so I could ask him what ‘Obloquy’ meant.”
If The New York Times published an article on the “Communist Rules of the Revolution” in 1970, it had already been circulating for about twenty-five years. The Just reported that neither the National Archives, the Library of Congress, nor the university libraries held a copy of such a document. When Montana Senator Lee Metcalf was dealing with the issue at the time, he made inquiries with the FBI, the CIA, and the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee. He noted that “exhaustive research” had proven the rules “completely wrong,” and he explained that “even the extreme right follows rules, one of which is making maximum use of false, misleading, and fear-inducing quotations.” .
Nonetheless, numerous congressmen over the years have obtained copies of the list of communist “rules” from alarmed voters and included them in the congressional transcript, assuming no one else knew about them. This list has also been reproduced in many Newspaper columns and letters to the editor.
The earliest known publication of these “Communist Rules for Revolution” dates from February 1946, and it is significant that the publication coincided with events such as Winston Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain‘ Speech in which he warned citizens of the United States that ‘Communist parties pose a growing challenge and danger to Christian civilization.’ The timing suggests that this list is much more likely to have been made by Americans in 1946 than by Russians in 1919 was compiled.
Circulation of this list picked up during the height of the Cold War in 1954, the same year a military defeat by the Viet Minh Communists forced the French out of Indochina, and Senator Joseph McCarthy accused Communists of infiltrating the CIA and nuclear weapons , right ride on industry. That year, Florida Attorney George A. Brautigam certified the document as genuine, and many years later, printed versions of the list included Brautigam’s statement of authenticity and reproduced his signature at the end.
Even though the Soviet Union has long since ceased to exist and the number of communist countries left in the world can be counted on one hand, the “Communist Rules of Revolution” are still anachronistically invoked as proof that America’s morality experienced and political decay promoted by outside forces. As folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand wrote of this piece in 1986:
The rules have to do with dividing people into hostile groups, encouraging government extravagance and fomenting “unnecessary” strikes in vital industries. What we have lost, the list goes, is a world without dissent, budget deficits, inflation and labor unrest.
I just can’t remember such a golden age.