Reds Under The Bed

In the United States, during the 1950s, people often found Communists hiding under their beds. That this was a common phenomenon is clear from the historical record. There are numerous contemporary accounts, of which the following is a typical example. It comes from a letter written to his local newspaper by a solid citizen in one of the Midwestern states.

One day last week, just after turning in for the night and settling down to sleep, I became aware of a rustling noise under my bed. I was far too tired to get up, so, taking my torch from the bedside table, I leaned right over and, with my head upside down, shone the torch under the bed. I was startled to see, lying on the floor, an urbane and stylishly-dressed man who had about him something of the air of an important State Department diplomat. He was faffing about with bits of microfilm.

Who the hell are you and what are you doing hiding under my bed?” I cried.

Oh, good evening,” he replied, in the cultured voice of an East Coast Mandarin, “I’m so sorry to disturb you. Allow me to introduce myself. Hiss, Alger Hiss. This is a fine piece of carpet, by the way, very comfortable.”

While he was saying this, he was hurriedly stuffing the bits of microfilm into the pockets of his expensive jacket to conceal them.

I’m pleased you like my carpet,” I said, “But you haven’t explained what you are doing under my bed.”

Alger Hiss ignored my question and took from an inside pocket of his expensive jacket a pamphlet, which he thrust at me.

I wonder if I might interest you in this pamphlet,” he said, “It gives a Marxist-Leninist perspective on the current crisis and is well worth reading, should you wish to remove the imperialist blinkers from your eyes.”

I’m not one for bookish learning,” I said.

Well, it’s a pamphlet rather than a book. Perhaps you could leave it on your bedside table and pick it up later.”

Perhaps,” I said, but at that point Alger Hiss unleashed upon me a strange bright-eyed gaze of fiendish Communist hypnotic power, and I promptly fell into a deep, deep, and troubled sleep. When I woke up, he was gone, and there was no sign he had ever been there, save for the pamphlet on the bedside table, which I handed over to my local FBI agent for analysis.

Although we have many similar accounts, what has been lacking to date is counter testimony from Communists themselves, explaining what they hoped to achieve by hiding under beds. All the more welcome, then, is a new book by the pseudonymous “Agent X”. It is entitled Why I Spent Much Of The 1950s Hiding Under The Beds Of Solid Citizens, and is a rollicking good read, or at least it would be were it not padded out with lengthy passages of indigestible Marxist dialectic and incoherent socio-economic blathering. I have extracted the key passage so you do not need to read the whole thing.

I received instructions from Yuri, my Moscow handler, that I was to be a “sleeper”. Unfortunately, the microfilm bearing his message was damaged by pigeons, and it was not entirely clear to me how I was to proceed. Sleeping seemed to be the gist of it, however, and my faith in the Party was unshakeable, so I did not question how useful this would be in fomenting the great proletarian revolution and bringing the hated capitalist United States to its knees. Instead, I found a darkened room with a bed in it and lay me down to sleep.

But something was not right, and I soon realised what it was. The bourgeois comforts of mattresses and pillows and blankets were a terrible distraction, classic techniques of the degenerate system to lull me into false consciousness – or, in this case, false unconsciousness. I eschewed them, and lay down instead in the dark, on the floor, under the bed. Soon enough, word got out among my fellow spies, and we were all at it. Happy days!

Some of these “sleepers” were so fanatical, and so devoted to the cause, that a quarter of a century after the fall of the Soviet empire there are still thought to be several Communists hiding under beds in the American Midwest. Solid citizens, be on your guard!

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