Fuck Communism


Fuck Communism


Anti-Communism and Irreverent Obscenity


In 1963, Paul Krasner and John Francis Putnam collaborated to produce this satirical poster and distributed it through the free-thought magazine, The Realist. The poster pokes fun at anti-communist fervor, combined with the politics of obscenity, which were an integral part of the era. Typography for the poster was done by Putnam, who also wrote a regular column for the magazine, "Modest Proposals." Krasner was the founder and publisher of the magazine.

American author, Kurt Vonnegut, wrote a brief reflection on the poster:

by Kurt Vonnegut

Paul Krassner, 63 at this writing (1996), old enough to be my baby brother, in 1963 created a miracle of compressed intelligence nearly as admirable for potent simplicity, in my opinion, as Einstein's e=mc2. With the Vietnam War going on, and with its critics discounted and scorned by the government and the mass media, Krassner put on sale a red, white and blue poster that said FUCK COMMUNISM.

At the beginning of the 1960s, FUCK was believed to be so full of bad magic as to be unprintable. In the most humanely influential American novel of this half century, "The Catcher in the Rye," Holden Caulfield, it will be remembered, was shocked to see that word on a subway-station wall. He wondered what seeing it might do to the mind of a little kid. COMMUNISM was to millions the name of the most loathsome evil imaginable. To call an American a communist was like calling somebody a Jew in Nazi Germany. By having FUCK and COMMUNISM fight it out in a single sentence, Krassner wasn┬╣t merely being funny as heck. He was demonstrating how preposterous it was for so many people to be responding to both words with such cockamamie Pavlovian fear and alarm.

What hasn't been said about that poster, and surely not by Krassner, is that its author was behaving harmoniously with most of the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States and the Sermon on the Mount. So, too, were his now-dead friends Lenny Bruce and Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, roundly denounced and even arrested for bad manners and impudence, and now mourned and celebrated as heroes, which indeed they were, in this important book. They were prophets, too, at the service of humanity in jeering, like the prophets of old, at mean-spirited hypocrisies and stupidities and worse that were making their society a hell, whether there
was a God or not.

And this book is emphatically not nostalgic, but raffishly responsive to the here and now. Nor are decades like chains of knockwursts, sutured off from one another at either end. To think of them as such, the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s and so on, is merely a mnemonic device. The only 1960s people are those who died back then. Everyone alive today has no choice but to be, like Paul Krassner, a 1990s person. Krassner does a good job of that. So should we all.

I told Krassner one time that his writings made me hopeful. He found this an odd compliment to offer a satirist. I explained that he made supposedly serious matters seem ridiculous, and that this inspired many of his readers to decide for themselves what was ridiculous and what was not. Knowing that there were people doing that, better late than never, made me optimistic.


Paul Krasner and John Francis Putnam


Roz Payne


Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln






Paul Krasner and John Francis Putnam, “Fuck Communism,” Roz Payne Sixties Archive, accessed June 18, 2024, https://rozsixties.unl.edu/items/show/106.

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