Hey Ben Shapiro: Why Not a Series on American Communism?

February 15, 2021 Updated: February 16, 2021


I have a pitch for Ben Shapiro. Shapiro just rescued movie star Gina Carano after Carano, who had been starring in a Star Wars series, was cancelled by the leftist mob. She and Shapiro have joined forces to make a new film.

That’s great news, and hopefully just the beginning. Shapiro should make a full Netflix-style drama about the history and influence of communism in the United States.

The story of communism in America would provide everything a great series should: compelling history, action, suspense, fascinating characters, and a fresh storyline. There’s no shortage of films about Nazis, and Hollywood loves to go back in time and address racism and sexism, a phenomenon I call retroactive repression. A series based not on perceived Russian meddling in an election but on the genuine attempts during the Cold War by the Soviet Union to destroy the United States, all the while abetted by traitors in America herself, would be something new. You could start with 1917 and end with Antifa.

Just take the story of Whittaker Chambers, which incredibly has never been committed to film. Chambers was born in 1901 in Philadelphia and raised on Long Island. He was brought up in a household full of dysfunction, alcoholism, depression and personal pain, and at a time of great geopolitical struggle. His bi-sexual father was absent, his mother a frustrated former actress, and his brother an alcoholic who committed suicide. As a young man in 1923, Chambers traveled to Europe and witnessed the devastation caused by World War I. Between the trauma of his family life and what appeared to be a collapse of civilization, he reached out for a “totalizing” solution to the problem of societal collapse and personal pain. He became a communist.

After years in the underground, Chambers defected. On Aug. 3, 1948, he testified that Alger Hiss, a former high-ranking State Department official and president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was a communist and Soviet agent who had passed secrets to Moscow. Hiss denied the charge and sued Chambers for libel, and the resulting trials and media circus became a sensation in America.

At the time and for decades afterward, the left argued that Alger Hiss was innocent. It was the first confrontation in what would become the culture war.

Like the left today, liberals back then tried to destroy a person who dared to disagree with them. Chambers was called crazy, a liar, a homosexual, and a psychopath. Chambers himself understood the reaction: “The simple fact is that when I took up my little sling and aimed at Communism, I also hit something else. What I hit was the forces of that great socialist revolution, which, in the name of liberalism, spasmodically, incompletely, somewhat formlessly, but always in the same direction, has been inching its ice cap over the nation for two decades.”

One of the best examinations of Chambers is the book “The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books that Shaped the Cold War” by retired Princeton professor John V. Fleming. Fleming notes the irony of Chambers being a conservative icon in America when he had “a classical liberal education,” could speak other languages (including German fluently), and was heavily influenced by European literature. Chambers, notes Fleming, “was a genuine internationalist who worked for an international criminal conspiracy.” Fleming persuasively argues that four European classics “left formal traces” on Chambers’ own book “Witness”: “The Confessions” of both Augustine and Rousseau, Goethe’s “Wahrheit und Dichtung,” and John Henry Newman’s “Apologia Pro Vita Sua.”

Chambers’s theology was more Dante, Dostoevsky, and Reinhold Niebuhr than Billy Graham. In one section, Fleming compares the journey of Chambers to the conversion of St. Augustine. When Chambers was contemplating communism in the early 1920s, he read a lot of dry theory about socialism, books by people such as G.D.H. Cole and Christian socialist R.H. Tawney. It wasn’t until he came across Lenin’s “A Soviet at Work” that communism came alive—“The reek of life was on [‘A Soviet at Work’],” Chambers wrote. “This was socialism in practice. This was the thing itself.” Similarly, Augustine had read many Platonic descriptions of God, but it was only when he came across the gospels and that claim that “the Word was made flesh” did he convert.

Ronald Reagan once said that “as long as humanity speaks of virtue and dreams of freedom, the life and writings of Whittaker Chambers will ennoble and inspire.” It’s a perfect time to reintroduce this crucial story to the world. Shapiro, already a hero for signing up Gina Carano, should do this.

Mark Judge is a journalist in Washington, D.C. He is the author of “Damn Senators,” “A Tremor of Bliss,” and “God and Man at Georgetown Prep.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.