The Problems With Communism and Islam in the West

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Hard Times Create Strong Men" by Stefan Aarnio. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What would happen if communism and Islam took over the West? Are they on the verge of destroying Western society?

In Stefan Aarino’s book Hard Times Create Strong Men, he claims that communism and Islam are spreading to the US and that they will destroy American values. This is because modern Christian men are becoming too tolerant and will be pushed aside.

Keep reading to learn about the problems with communism and Islam, according to Aarnio.

How Communism Might Destroy Western Society

Citing an interview with Yuri Bezmenov, an ex-KGB agent who revealed Soviet spy secrets, Aarnio argues that Marxist powers like Russia are currently deep into a campaign to “subvert” or destroy modern Western culture and install communism instead. The problem with communism is that people die in Communist societies; The Black Book of Communism suggests that the death toll of the ideology is nearly 100 million. (Shortform note: Two of the authors of The Black Book of Communism have since disputed this figure, claiming that the book’s editor falsified these numbers.)

According to Bezmenov, the first two stages of this campaign were: 1) a systematic effort to destroy the morals, values, and beliefs of American society by promoting ideas that contradicted these values, and 2) getting these ideas promoted in institutions. Aarnio argues that both stages were successful. As evidence, he points to the fact that Americans have largely stopped practicing Judeo-Christian values and now instead worship the “new gods,” or false gods, of money, science, and atheism.

Money used to be backed by gold and so inherently valuable; now, it’s a false god because the US no longer runs on the gold standard. In 1968, when the US still had the gold standard, you had to work about 32 hours on minimum wage to earn an ounce of gold; in 2018, you must work nearly 175 hours to earn an ounce of gold. In this way, taking the US off the gold standard helped destroy traditional family values because it ensured that women have to work to survive in the modern world. 

Understanding the Gold Standard

Several factors lead some economic experts to prefer staying off the gold standard. For one, although societies worldwide agree that gold is valuable, it’s not inherently valuable; gold is valuable because we say it is. Additionally, the price of gold is different between 1968 and 2018 in part because previously, world governments, which controlled the gold and thus the currency, had total control over its price despite the power of other market forces. 

That said, experts do agree that many women were forced into the workforce in the 1970s after an economic downturn—although they don’t necessarily suggest that this downturn occurred because of the reversal of the gold standard—and that women’s increased participation in the workplace began the trend of many women prioritizing their careers over marriage and family. 

Additionally, Aarnio argues that science—or what we can learn based on what we observe—is also a false god. The science that universities teach does not reflect a genuine quest for knowledge. Rather, universities only teach supposedly scientific ideas that they can use to support their Marxist ideals. Moreover, so-called science is not even economically useful to university students—cutting-edge science takes so long to be published that it’s outdated by the time it reaches the students, and so it doesn’t help them get lucrative jobs in emergent fields and leaves them economically disadvantaged. 

(Shortform note: One recent exception to universities’ reluctance to teach cutting-edge science is how rapidly many schools have embraced the AI revolution. Since the release of ChatGPT in 2022, several universities have invested in hiring AI experts so they can teach their students effectively and help them get lucrative AI-related jobs.)

Aarnio also argues that we are currently in what Bezmenov identifies as the third stage of subversion: crisis. As is typical of this stage, the United States is currently experiencing a period of intense turmoil, with violence, protests, and political unrest. Many people want a socialist-style government to solve society’s current problems. This will inevitably lead to either civil war or invasion.

What Others Say About Bezmenov’s Ideas

Bezmenov published a book in 1984 on what’s now known as the “Soviet subversion model,” but he didn’t live long enough to see the impact his ideas would have: Bezmenov passed in 1993, and his ideas gained attention in 2013 when a video interview he did was published on YouTube. 

Bezmenov’s work remains controversial today. Academics often use his model to analyze disinformation campaigns. Some experts argue that Bezmenov’s contention that universities are influenced by Marxism and tend to teach ideologies rather than facts is merely a coincidence and not the result of a long-term Soviet brainwashing campaign. Others criticize his promotion of religion as the ideal method for protecting against subversion, and still others question whether Bezmenov could have known intimate characteristics of Russian operations due to his low rank in the KGB. 

It’s also possible that Bezmenov himself would argue against Aarnio’s characterizations of his ideas. Bezmenov argued that generally, the first stage takes 15-20 years, the second stage takes two to five years, and the third stage takes two to six months. Since Bezmenov argued that the US had already been in demoralization for over 20 years in the 1980s, by Bezmenov’s calculations, we should have passed into normalization in the 1990s.
However, the evidence suggests that the United States still has all the hallmarks of being in the third stage (crisis): A 2022 report found that violent crime exceeds pre-pandemic levels. The Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 drew more attendees than usual. An increasing number of people believe that violence is sometimes necessary to further their political agendas, and nearly 40% of Americans believe that the country will face civil war within a decade. That said, Americans may not be as pro-socialist a government as Aarnio fears. In 2022, a survey found that the number of pro-socialist Americans had dropped since 2019.

How Islam Might Destroy Western Society

It’s not just Communism; Aarnio suggests that the strong men of non-Western societies may also destroy Western societies. This is because modern Western Christians have grown tolerant (and therefore weak) and are as such vulnerable to attack by strong, intolerant groups—in particular, Muslims.

Aarnio explains that Christians are weaker than Muslims because Christianity is 500 years older than Islam. 500 years ago, Christians were just as strong and intolerant as Muslims are today. But in the past 500 years, Christians have evolved past this intolerance and grown more tolerant and thus weaker. As a result, they’re vulnerable to attack by strong, intolerant groups—like those who practice Islam. Being attacked by Muslims would be problematic because Islamic values are incompatible with modern-day Christian values.

(Shortform note: Experts are divided on whether Muslims are intolerant (and therefore strong, as Aarnio argues) and whether Islamic values are compatible with modern-day Christian values. Some argue that tolerance is a key feature of Islam. Others argue that while earlier verses of the Quran (the sacred book of Islam) preach tolerance, later verses preach intolerance—and the later verses should be prioritized over the earlier ones. Similarly, some experts contend that different religions are generally incompatible, while others argue that Christianity and Islam are generally compatible because they’re both Abrahamic religions that believe in one god.)

Aarnio proposes that the Islamic ideology may take over Western society and replace our Judeo-Christian values in one of two ways. First, this may occur via the increase in the Muslim population. Muslim immigrants to Western countries are having more babies than Judeo-Christian citizens. These babies may grow up to vote in Islamic values that are incompatible with Western ideals and so transform the United States into a Muslim country. 

(Shortform note: History suggests that Muslim immigrants and their kids may not necessarily grow up to vote Islamic values into law that are incompatible with Western ideals. After the US invaded Iraq under President George W. Bush, many American Muslims switched party affiliations and became Democrats. That change in political party precipitated a shift in social perspectives; notably, the percentage of American Muslims supporting LGBTQ rights increased from 27% to 52% in just 10 years despite the existence of some Islamic texts that condemn homosexuality.) 

Alternatively, the third-world Islamic powers of the Middle East or Africa may invade the United States—just as groups that lack wealth have invaded groups that have wealth throughout history. To illustrate the likelihood of this happening, Aarnio compares the fall of Rome with the modern-day West. Rome’s wealth led it to dismiss Germanic tribes as too weak to conquer them and focus their energies instead on indulging their vices—such as binge-eating and having orgies—thus becoming more tolerant and weaker. 

Similarly, America is ignoring its real problems—like a lack of strong men—in favor of trivial issues, like whether trans women should be permitted to play in women’s sports leagues. Eventually, the Islamic countries we dismiss as a threat will invade the United States, just as Germanic peoples invaded Rome. 

Is America at Risk of Falling?

Scholars generally agree that Rome fell due to invasion by Germanic tribes and increased corruption within its government. However, they point out several other factors that led to the fall of Rome that aren’t reflected in modern-day America. Notably, Rome faced an economic crisis that contributed to its downfall not because its citizens focused on meaningless issues but because the empire lost its supply of free slave labor after it stopped expanding its borders. Additionally, Rome’s leaders couldn’t effectively defend the empire’s borders from outside forces because the empire was so big that they couldn’t communicate efficiently with their troops. 

Since America doesn’t face these issues, it may have a better chance of defending itself than Rome did against a potential invasion from Islamic countries.
The Problems With Communism and Islam in the West

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Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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