Not So Much A "Cold" As A "Deep-Frozen" Warrior: New Zealand's most industrious anti-communist, Trevor Loudon, would have been much happier peddling his red-baiting wares back in the days of US Senator Joseph McCarthy and his local franchisee, National’s first prime minister, Sid Holland. At least back then there was a market for left-wing names, addresses and meticulously-recorded red rendezvous.
IT’S HARD NOT TO FEEL just a little bit proud of New Zealand-born businessman, Chris Liddell. To have a Kiwi in the West Wing of the White House – as Director of Strategic Initiatives, no less – is a pretty big deal.
Another Kiwi making waves in Donald Trump’s America is a lot harder to like.
In her coverage of the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in Washington DC, Rolling Stone journalist, Sarah Posner, name-checked our very own Trevor Loudon.
Describing the Christchurch-born anti-communist as: “a conspiracy theorist who appeared on a panel moderated by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas”, Posner offered Loudon’s outlandish conspiracism as proof of the Republican Party’s “willingness to look the other way as the movement mutates from 20th century conservatism to a Trump-Alt-Right-white-nationalism.”
What caught Posner’s attention were the startling claims contained in Loudon’s 23-minute video America Under Siege: Civil War 2017. Decrying the very idea that the Russians intervened in last year’s US Presidential Election on Trump’s behalf, Loudon advances the novel theory that Vladimir Putin is, in fact, the principal funder and director of Donald Trump’s enemies.
New Zealand Leftists of a certain age, especially those who belonged to the gaggle of tiny communist groups that once clung like limpets to the broader labour movement, will have little difficulty recalling Loudon. I certainly remember his NewZeal blog and its ferocious dedication to tracking down and monitoring the membership and minutiae of every Marxist-Leninist group that ever published a pamphlet or stood on a picket line. Verily, wherever three or more of them were gathered in Marx’s name, it seemed that Trevor was with them also.
To be honest, I felt sorry for him. Like so many others who found themselves swept up in revolutionary politics in the 1980s and 90s, Loudon was born too late. How much happier and more gainfully employed he would have been had he been able to peddle his anti-communist wares back in the days of US Senator Joseph McCarthy and his local franchisee, National’s first prime minister, Sid Holland. At least back then there was a market for left-wing names, addresses and meticulously-recorded red rendezvous.
But Loudon’s influence, both here and in his spiritual home, the United States, grew out of the Internet. There is considerable irony here, because by the time New Zealanders started connecting themselves to the Internet and starting up blogs, Loudon’s great fountainhead of subversion and sedition, the Soviet Union, had suddenly and irrevocably blipped-off History’s computer-screen.
Not that Loudon was about to let a little thing like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of what used to be called “actually existing socialism” get in the way of his Manichean conviction that the future of the entire world turned upon the never-ending twilight struggle between the Children of Darkness and the Children of Light.
Nevertheless, the collapse of the Soviet Union in August 1991, did leave Loudon prey to the same deadening realisation that had demoralised its loyal disciples all over the world. Without so much as a bang, indeed, with barely a whimper, all the patiently collected literature and memorabilia of Soviet-style communism – along with all the bulging files detailing its collectors’ every move – were reduced to piles of worthless junk. Like those Russian warehouses filled with unwanted busts of Lenin and Stalin, Loudon’s vast archive of red subversion in Godzone no longer had any serious buyers.
Luckily for Loudon, the USA remains the one place where comically unserious people can still be taken very seriously indeed. While their more adaptable comrades made the necessary Manicheist transition from the evils of Soviet Communism to the evils of Radical Islam (assisted admirably by the terrorism of Osama Bin Laden) dyed-in-the-wool anti-communists like Loudon (now based in the United States) doggedly insisted that the Red Menace was still very much alive.
Putin and his “puppet masters”, says Loudon, have been “guiding the chaos unfolding on America’s streets”. Still inspired by the doctrines of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, these shadowy string-pullers have been “organizing protests and riots in the United States from the Vietnam War to Ferguson, Missouri.”
The CPAC crowd lapped-up Loudon’s Cold War retro paranoia like gravy. Instead of being hailed as Trump’s best friend, Putin was, very helpfully, being recast as America’s old adversary.
As strategic initiatives go – it’s a beauty.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 3 March 2017.