On this edition of Parallax Views, Aaron J. Leonard joins us to discuss the new revised and updated edition of his and Conor A. Gallagher book Heavy Radicals: The FBI’s Secret War on America’s Maoists: The Revolutionary Union/Revolutionary Communist Part 1968-1980. We delve into the radical left-wing politics of the late 1960s into the 1970s and the influence of Mao Tse-Tung’s variant on communist thought on American radicals as well as how revolutionary groups in the U.S. applied theory and praxis in their operations at the time. This leads us into discussions of figures like H. Bruce Franklin as well as the infamous Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP). It is well-known that the post-WWII era saw the intelligence community become very concerned about radical left-wing politics, specifically the activities of communist groups, in the U.S. during the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Much has been made of J. Edgar Hoover, the House on Un-American Activities Committee, and COINTELPRO in this regard. But Aaron specifically focuses on the FBI’s counterintelligence operations against Maoist groups. We discuss the “dirty tricks” that were used against these groups by the FBI at this time. We discuss FBI informant recruiting in the time as well as the specific players involved in activities against U.S.-based Maoist groups. Aaron names names and gives insight into FBI actions against left-wing radical groups in the United States post-Hoover.
Additionally Aaron and I discuss the Black Panthers, the media vs. radical activities, the labor movement, conspiracy theories vs. systemic analysis, the evangelical couple that sought to help the FBI by infiltrating the Revolutionary Union, W. Mark Felt (the man who confessed to being “Deep Throat” in the Nixon-era Watergate saga in 2005), the FBI report that referred to the RCP as a “threat of the first magnitude” to the U.S., the concept of the deep state and why Aaron believes there is just the State rather than deep state, the JFK Records Act and how the files released from that has value beyond the questions surrounding the Kennedy assassination itself (ie: files on Fred Hampton, Bob Dylan, etc.), how do you read and evaluate FBI files?, the Fair Play for Cuba Committe, the CIA and Richard Gibson (Codename: Sugar), Donald Wright, why is Maoism neglected when looking at the history of the New Left?, COINTELPRO and the Ad Hoc Commitee, the FBI’s war against radical folk musicians and Aaron’s latest books Whole World in an Uproar: Music, Rebellion and Repression – 1955-1972 and The Folk Singers and the Bureau: The FBI, the Folk Artists and the Suppression of the Communist Party, USA-1939-1956, Pete Seeger and the radical nature of much 20th century folk music, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and what Aaron refers to as the “soft revocation” of FOIA, and more.