The countersubversive imagination is not a new subject in American historiography. But efforts to comprehend the meaning of American political demonology suffer from a split that echoes the splitting mechanism in countersubversion itself, namely the bifurcation between the symbol and the real. There are two schools of thought about American political demonology. Realist scholars point to the rational purposes or descriptive accuracy of demonological images. They view such images as ways either of mobilizing support against political enemies or of focusing attention on the genuinely threatening character of the targeted group. American anti-Communism, for example, is reduced (from one political perspective) to a method of protecting dominant social interests and (from another) to a realistic depiction of the actual character of international Communism. Neither of these views is wholly false. But scholars in the realist tradition, having satisfied themselves that an image has a purpose or referent, avoid investigating its internal meaning and distorting power. By contrast, symbolists, as I shall call the second group of scholars, rightly see the fantastic character of the demons, but they avert their eyes from the material sources of political demonology in genuine social conflicts and deeply opposed worldviews. Both realists and symbolists distance themselves from the countersubversive imagination, the former by minimizing its symbolic power, the latter sundering countersubversion from dominant American interests and values. 1