In the case of a subject of such immense practical importance as communism it would, I think, be wrong to omit all reference to practical problems, where the answer to the latter springs directly from the historical account. I wish to conclude with two such references.
In the first place, we have noted how it is the innermost meaning of Leninism-Stalinism to segregate a small élite from the masses. This élite alone knows the real meaning of the whole movement, and in consequence the real meaning of its tactical moves. It is only a logical development from this starting-point that the élite, more and more, hides first its aims and then also its personnel.
Every attempt to grasp the practical implications of this insight leads straightaway into the much debated question of the legal situation of communist parties. Should they be prohibited or permitted? It is clear that a prohibition of the communist parties will not only constitute a serious problem in terms of the democratic freedom of opinion, but will also operate along lines which the communist élite itself is following. It is possible to visualize an 'ideal' final stage of communism, where no overt communist movement would exist at all, where the communists would operate in deepest secrecy, and where the mass movements directed by them would be devoid of all tangible communist affiliation. To prohibit a communist party clearly helps it on its way to this goal. We were able to describe the overt communist parties, as they exist at present, as remnants of an earlier stage, and as mere façades for the only important communist organizations, the underground groups: it is fairly clear then that any sharp new turn of the line must lead to the official disbandment of the communist parties, to the generalization of such action as was taken by the American communist party during the war.
It is, of course, true that a legal prohibition will help the authorities to prosecute communist activities, overt or underground, which were previously unassailable. But it is doubtful how far this could succeed in practice, once a communist party were 'genuinely' dissolved, confronting the courts with the almost insoluble problem