I suppose Reason Magazine intended that subhead to be ironic, rather than the unintentional set up to the obvious (and unfunny) punchline, “So what’s your point…?”
Anyhow, Matthew Harwood writes:
At the outset of the book, Baldwin admitted that the “bourgeois western ideas of civil liberty” cannot exist under Communism. “In the Communist philosophy, from the days of Karl Marx to the present, there is no room for the ideas of freedom of speech, press and assemblage, or liberty of individual conscience, except as they represent liberties for the working class and the poor peasants,” he wrote. The freedom he sought in the Soviet Union was primarily “economic.” By redefining liberty that way, he felt he could look past the crimes against humanity that he documented in the second half of the book. And by doing so, he became one of the Soviet Union’s most prominent American apologists. (…)
Goldman and her former lover Alexander Berkman had been deported to Russia in 1919, during the anti-radical Palmer Raids. Goldman had been hopeful about the Soviet experiment, but two years in the country convinced her that the Bolsheviks were thugs bent on absolute power. “Those familiar with the real situation in Russia and who are not under the mesmeric influence of the Bolshevik superstition or in the employ of the Communists will bear me out that I have given a true picture,” she recounted in her 1923 book My Disillusionment in Russia. “The rest of the world will learn in due time.”
It was a lesson she couldn’t teach Baldwin. In March 1924, Goldman wrote to the ACLU chief, calling Lenin “the modern inquisitor” and inquiring whether he agreed that “the silence of the American liberals in the face of such horror [is] the most damnable thing.”
It’s easy now to complain about anarchists and vilify Goldman et al., but in those days (and even within living memory), they were staunchly (and thanklessly) anti-communist as well as anti-capitalist.