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VOLUME 1, NUMBER 3, NOVEMBER 1961 - Ralph Raico, New Individualist Review 
New Individualist Review, editor-in-chief Ralph Raico, introduction by Milton Friedman (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981).
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VOLUME 1, NUMBER 3, NOVEMBER 1961
“NATIONAL REVIEW”: CRITICISM AND REPLY
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, Jr.
AYN RAND’S “FOR THE NEW INTELLECTUAL”
JOHN COURTNEY MURRAY AND THE AMERICAN PROPOSITION
JOHN P. McCARTHY
F. A. HAYEK
RICHARD M. WEAVER
NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW is published bimonthly (January, March, May, Summer, November) by the University of Chicago chapter of the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, Ida Noyes Hall, the University of Chicago, Chicago 37, Illinois. Second class mailing permit pending at the Chicago, Illinois post office.
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Copyright 1961 by NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW Chicago, Illinois
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“I am most grateful for . . . your excellent new magazine.”
—William F. Buckley, Jr., Editor “National Review”
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—Eugene Davidson, Editor “Modern Age”
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—Leonard Read, President The Foundation For Economic Education
“I am sure you are acquainted with my belief that we must do everything we can to develop and direct the rising tide of conservatism on the college campuses and throughout the country. I think that your new publication will be a great help in this all-important endeavor. There is a great need for dissemination of well-thought-out conservative arguments and it is, I believe, a true sign of the times that the University of Chicago should become the source of such activity.”
—Barry Goldwater United States Senator
“National Review”: Criticism and Reply
The following articles are presented as a contribution to the continuing debate among libertarians and conservatives. The opinions expressed are the authors’ and do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the Editorial Board of the “New Individualist Review.”
SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN 1955, National Review has gradually assumed the leadership of the Right in America until today it stands practically unopposed as the intellectual spokesman of conservatism throughout the country. It boasts a staff of sophisticated and witty editors, the chief of whom is William F. Buckley, who has, in fact, achieved the status of national celebrity. Well-educated and self-assured, he has, in his countless appearances on television, at public lectures, and on dozens of college campuses including his own beloved Yale, impressed the general public with the fact that conservatives do not fall into the category of what H. L. Mencken used to call “yahoos.”
So much is Mr. Buckley identified with everything intelligent on the Right that if in the common image of modern conservatism Senator Goldwater can justly be portrayed as the sword, William Buckley is, without doubt, the pen. Given this phenomenon of Buckley as one of the directors of the Right, it becomes incumbent on all those who would attach themselves to this movement to carefully investigate the policies which he and his group espouse and to answer the crucial question of just where they are leading us. Nor should we be drawn away from this task by loud cries for “unity.” It is the duty of all thinking men to reflect and examine before falling into step behind any leader. Indeed, it has always been an unfortunate disposition of most Right-wingers uncritically to follow the man and not the principle.
It is the contention of this article that William Buckley and National Review are, in fact, leading true believers in freedom and individual liberty down a disastrous path and that in so doing they are causing the Right increasingly to betray its own traditions and principles.
Better to see how far the Conservative movement has been straying under National Review guidance, let us briefly examine its genesis. The modern American “Right” was, in essence, a much-needed and healthy reaction against the New Deal, that revolution in domestic and foreign affairs wrought by Franklin D. Roosevelt which aimed at the radical transformation of the role of the State in American life and whose goal was the aggrandizement of government power at the expense of the individual. This modern Right represented the emerging opposition to such a shift and was, therefore, a movement stressing individual freedom. Domestically, the corollary of individual liberty was a call for free enterprise as against the socialist tendencies of the State; in foreign affairs, it stood for peace, neutrality, and isolationism as opposed to the Rooseveltian drive towards collective security, foreign entanglement, and war.
At a time when the Left had a virtual monopoly on all intellectual activity, during the early 40’s, a small but ever-growing libertarian movement began to emerge. Its leaders were such eminent publicists and political thinkers as Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, Garet Garrett, Albert Jay Nock, and Frank Chodorov. Philosophically, it was firmly dedicated to individual liberty, and consequently embraced free enterprise in economics, a strict adherence to the civil liberties of the individual, and peace. Historically, it ranked among its heroes JeffersoN, Tom Paine, Thoreau, and Herbert Spencer.
Six years ago, however, a revolution took place “within the form,” as Garet Garrett once wrote of the New Deal. The articulate publicists of National Review, founded at that time, have succeeded in remoulding the American Right until it travesties the intent of its original founders. Mr. Buckley and his staff have been able to achieve this transformation with such apparent ease simply because there has been no journal of opinion to oppose it, or even to call attention to the surgery that has been committed on the American Conservative movement.
How far this revolution within the form has gone may be gauged, for example, by the current conservative attitude towards Mr. Justice Frankfurter. Fifteen years ago, Justice Frankfurter was generally regarded by the Right as the personification of collectivist jurisprudence, as a destroyer of the Constitutional guarantees of liberty against the State. Today, he is considered to have become part of the Conservative movement and his name has actually been cheered by groups of conservative youth. To those who would take the trouble of investigating the judicial philosophy of Mr. Frankfurter, however, it immediately becomes apparent that his position remains unchanged. He is guided solely by the principle that the courts must legitimize nearly every power the government decides to exercise. He is, and has always been, a thorough Statist. But now he is hailed by the Right because his most publicized decisions, especially in the Wilkinson and Uphaus cases, show him trampling upon the civil liberties of Leftists. His continued willingness to compromise with property rights is totally ignored by those who now reserve their zeal for the coercing of as many Communists and Communist sympathizers as they can lay their hands on. It is not Justice Frankfurter’s position which has shifted, but that of the American Right.
And in this shift the lead has been taken by Mr. Buckley and his colleagues. National Review has time and again exerted its considerable intellectual influence against individual liberty. Through issue after issue of the journal we read of the “rights of the community,” of five thousand years of conservative tradition, of authority and order, of the duty of the West to uplift the Negro with Bible and bullwhip, of the sacred obligation all free men have to coerce Communists at home and slaughter them abroad. Where once the Right was fervently devoted to the freedoms propounded in the Bill of Rights, it now believes that civil liberties are the work of Russian agents. Where once it stood for the strict separation of Church and State, it now speaks of the obligation of the community to preserve a Christian America through a variety of Blue Laws and other schemes for integrating government and religion. Where once the Right was, above all, dedicated to peace and opposed to foreign entanglements, it now is concerned with preparing for war and giving all-out aid to any dictator, Socialist or otherwise, who proclaims his unbending “anti-Communism.” Where once the Right wanted America to exert its moral effect upon the world by being a beacon-light of freedom, it now wants to turn America into an armed camp to crush Communism wherever it appears. Can it be less than fifteen years ago that the right-wing members of Congress voted against NATO and aid to Greece and Turkey? Can it be only a decade ago when Joseph Kennedy and Herbert Hoover were calling for withdrawal of our armies to our shores and when Howard Buffett, Taft’s mid-west campaign manager, denounced this country’s military bases abroad and the growing militarism in America?
It is not only on the Communist issue that the Right has abandoned its libertarian principles. All foreign policy questions are considered solely from the point of view of “historic traditions” or “American national interest.” National Review’s applause for the British-French-Israeli invasion of Suez is typical: for here was a situation where it could blend its fanatical opposition to anyone considered pro-Communist with its contempt for non-European and non-Christian peoples. The foreign policy position of the libertarian Right was essentially that held by Cobden and Bright in the nineteenth century: opposition to aggression, to imperialism, and to war. The foreign policy position of the new Right is that of Colonel Blimp and Rudyard Kipling, the pseudo-aristocratic outlook of “cane the bloody wogs” and “send the marines,” coupled with the ever-present background mutterings of retired Generals and Admirals of “what they need is a whiff of grape.”
These differences concerning foreign policy are of much greater importance than might first be realized, for they call into question the philosophic problem of moral principle. One of the outstanding features of National Review is its pretension of moral superiority, its insistence that it alone represents the conservator of two thousand years of Western Civilization and Christianity. But surely one who believes in natural law must hold that it be eternal and fixed, and that the natural rights of the individual apply at any time, for any place. Yet the position that National Review holds grants rights only, and then begrudgingly, to Anglo-Saxons. Spain must respect its heritage of the dictatorial Caudillo; Central Europe must revert to the divinely-inspired Crown of St. Stephen; British colonies must be subjugated to the Mother Country; France’s historical role is to be governed by a clique of fascist generals whose function it must be to hurl still more conscripts into the sacred task of crushing Moslems in Algeria. Surely there is no appreciable difference between this system of double morality and the contention often heard on the Left, when asked how they can reconcile a demand for civil liberties at home with support of such dictators as Nkrumah and Toure in modern Africa, that “the same standards cannot apply to the developing countries,” and that “the African must be studied as a part of his cultural milieu.”
The great moral principle of individual liberty has been superceded by the arrogance of the pseudo-aristocrat who preserves his civilized airs by exploiting the serf labor of “inferior” people; the libertarian principle of peace and non-intervention has been replaced by the heroics of a barroom drunk who proudly boasts that “he can lick anybody in the room.” This posture is rendered tragic by the fact that the National Review group who proclaim “give me liberty or give me death” are willing to cremate countless millions of innocent persons whom they give no opportunity to make a choice.
Another touchstone of how far the Right has travelled is its position on conscription. Before and after World War II it fought the draft as unconstitutional, as slavery, and as the ultimate aggrandizement of the State. To the current conservative, anyone who dares to raise a principled voice against conscription is labeled a Communist or Communist dupe. The same libertarians who during the Second World War were accused by the Left of being “mouthpieces of the Goebbels line,” are now accused, this time by the Right, of “doing the work of the Communists.” One would expect libertarians to be reviled and slandered by the apologists of the State. It is, in fact, both noble and honorable to have such enemies. But that National Review should take the lead in this slander can mean only one thing: that the Right, under the aegis of National Review has itself become a leading minion of the State. From an advocate of individual liberty against the State, the Conservative movement has now become a champion of the State against individual liberty. The entire concept of “right-winger,” as it has been understood in America since the 1930’s, has been taken by the Buckley group and, like the old word “liberal” at the hands of the Left, has been transformed into its very opposite.
We are left with one significant area: the economic. And even here, modern conservatism fares no better. It is true that there is still much talk about the free market, but a careful study of the literature of the Right today makes it quite clear that it is engaged in beating a steady, persistent retreat from libertarianism even in the economic sphere. One searches in vain, for example, in the concrete political programs of the Young Americans for Freedom, whose organizational meeting was held at Mr. Buckley’s estate in Sharon, Conn., for any clear statement on the reduction of the economic intervention of the State. Nowhere, any longer, does a rollback or repeal of the New Deal seem to be seriously contemplated. The only real goal of the National Review Right is to keep the Federal government from advancing much further down the socialist road—a goal in itself contradicted by the war economy that it desires. And one is at a loss to find any genuine attempt on its part to examine the relationship between an ever-increasing military establishment and government interference in the economic affairs of the country. At no time has a disarmament agreement with Russia been given as serious consideration as it deserves nor has it been viewed as a welcome possibility. Rather, editors of National Review proceed to look on increased government spending not only as permissible but as desirable if it is earmarked for the production of bombs and other paraphernalia of death. On such questions the libertarian is almost forced to stand with the Leftists. If government spending is to be kept at such a high level, better that it be used to build roads, schools, playgrounds, and other things which have some value, no matter how small, rather than be employed to manufacture a new and better type of H-bomb or rocket-launching satellite or used to finance some new inquisitorial government investigatory committee. A return to the free market is indeed hardly a burning issue on the Right today.
The new American Right would seem to reserve its real passion for such causes as giving Khrushchev bi-weekly ultimatums and suppressing civil liberties at home. Mr. Buckley himself has begun, of late, to show increasing asperity towards those misguided souls who still cling to individual liberty as their main political preoccupation by chiding us that social security is, after all, here to stay and really isn’t so bad and by denouncing those libertarian “extremists” for cleaving to consistency and truth in speaking against government monopoly control of the roads and post-office. It seems that the desired unity behind our self-appointed leaders is being threatened by the tiny minority who have remained true to those very ideals of individual freedom which led them to become Right-wingers in the first place.
Just what is the direction in which National Review is leading the Right and would lead America? There is, of course, an inevitable diversity among the luminaries of that august journal. Willmoore Kendall believes that the Greek “community” had the duty, a fortiori the right, to murder Socrates. Frank S. Meyer finds the vision of a total nuclear holocaust not entirely unappealing. Garry Wills finds his pet peeve in capitalism. Frederick Wilhelmsen desires above all other earthly things that we venerate the Crown of St. Stephen. Hugh Kenner finds solace not only in the poetry but in the economics of Ezra Pound. But underneath this collection of attitudes there are manifested certain features that generally characterize them all. They may be summed up as: (1) a belligerent foreign policy likely to result in war; (2) a suppression of civil liberties at home; (3) a devotion to imperialism and to a polite form of white supremacy; (4) a tendency towards the union of Church and State; (5) the conviction that the community is superior to the individual and that historic tradition is a far better guide than reason; and (6) a rather lukewarm support of the free economy. They wish, in gist, to substitute one group of masters (themselves) for another. They do not desire so much to limit the State as to control it. One would tend to describe this devotion to a hierarchial, warlike statism and this fundamental opposition to human reason and individual liberty as a species of corporativism suggestive of Mussolini or Franco, but let us be content with calling it “old-time conservatism,” the conservatism not of the heroic band of libertarians who founded the anti-New-Deal Right, but the traditional conservatism that has always been the enemy of true liberalism;* the conservatism of Pharonic Egypt, of Medieval Europe, of the Inquisition; the conservatism of Metternich and the Tsar, of James II and Louis XVI, of the rack, the thumbscrew, the whip, and the firing squad. I, for one, do not very much mind that a philosophy which has for centuries dedicated itself to trampling upon the rights of the individual and glorifying the State should have its old name back.
Three Drafts of an Answer to Mr. Hamowy
Dear me, thumbscrews, whips, firing squads, war, colonialism, repression, white supremacy, fascism—what a lot of things for National Review to have foisted upon the Right in a mere six years! There was a time when Associate Imperialist Henry Hazlitt, who appears on our masthead, was interested in personal liberty: now he wants war and white supremacy. Associate Torturer Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, a founder of the neo-Liberal movement in Europe, and author of Liberty or Equality, has abandoned his views, to go authoritarian, along with National Review. “[What] a tremendous relief to read your periodical at a moment when we can only say, with Frederick the Great, ‘Toute la boutique va au diable’.” wrote Wilhelm Roepke, author of Civitas Humana, teacher of Ludwig Erhard, president of Mt. Pelerin Society, in a letter to National Review a week ago—how sad, to turn one’s back on freedom, after so noble a lifetime spent in pursuit of it. (Contributing Torturer Kirk—what would you expect?—writes admiringly about Roepke in the current issue of National Review* .) Senior Warmonger Frank Meyer argues that freedom is the meaning of life, that without freedom there is no life, that indeed that is why he would rather be dead than Red. He does not know that to be a true libertarian you must love freedom, but not that much—you must prefer to be Red than dead, or you cannot be in the libertarian tradition. Sad, is it not, to see Contributing Executioner John Chamberlain, who opposes the income tax, become a part of a statist movement: and Senior Suppressor James Burnham, who has written that the government has no business regulating the use of fireworks, end up trampling upon the rights of the individual and glorifying the State. And Associate Colonialist Frank Chodorov cracking the whip: “Call me Massa Frank,” he growls at all black men, yellow men, and non-Christians, from the poop-deck of National Review. “Six of the best for the next man who says Uhuru,” echoes Associate Racist Morrie Ryskind . . .
1. The editorial section of the current issue of National Review includes: a) an analysis of the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve, deploring the state’s bureaucratic impositions on business; b) a joyful run-down on the accomplishments of the European Common Market, made possible by the dissipation of statist-enforced economic boundaries; c) a pat on the back for the government of Portugal for its phased increase of self-government in Angola and Mozambique, including extended programs for multiracial integration (a traditional Portuguese policy); d) an account of a poll by the Council for the Advancement of Small Colleges, yielding the happy news that two-thirds of the student leaders of the small colleges are unsympathetic to “the current trend of the federal government to increase its influence in all areas”; e) an analysis of the shifty leg-work of the National Labor Relations Board which has the effect of circumventing the state right-to-work laws by the evasion of the agency shop, which requires a non-union member to contribute to the union’s kitty; f) a report on the creeping sanity of Professor Paul Samuelson, who in the last five editions of his famous book on economics has reduced from 5 per cent to 1½ per cent the tolerable annual inflation; g) an appreciative obituary account for two men who had battled the overweening state for years; and h) renewed support for Editor William F. Rickenbacker’s refusal to sign the Census Department’s prurient questionnaire . . .
2. The Sharon (Charter) Statement of the Young Americans for Freedom includes the following asseverations: “political freedom cannot long exist without economic freedom . . . the purposes of government are to protect . . . freedoms through the preservation of internal order, the provision of national defense, and the administration of justice . . . when government ventures beyond these rightful functions, it accumulates power which tends to diminish order and liberty . . . the market economy, allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand, is the single economic system compatible with the requirements of personal freedom . . . when government interferes with the work of the market economy, it tends to reduce the moral and physical strength of the nation; when it takes from one man to bestow on another, it diminishes the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second, and the moral autonomy of both . . .”
3. The last paragraph of the most recent address I have delivered is (in part): “. . . the direct problems that face the world are the making of governments in action; for only government can exercise the leverage necessary to transform individual vices into universal afflictions. It took government to translate Mein Kampf into concentration camps; it takes positive action by government to preserve many of the imbalances in our economic system; only government, with its monopoly of force, can perpetuate injustice that individuals, given the freedom to do so, might redress. It was long ago understood, in the evolution of political theory, that just about the only intolerable answer to big government is no government. Government there must be, this side of paradise, so that the challenge is, and always will be, how to restrain and direct that government without which we cannot get on. The facile answer of the 19th century, when the body of the world’s progressive social theorists seized intoxicatingly upon literacy and self-rule as the solvents of the enlightened and domesticated state, has proved naive. The insufficiency of democracy as a sole guarantor of enlightened public action is now perceptible. The only defense against the shortcomings and abuses of collective action by the state is concerted resistance by individuals. That resistance can only issue from an undamaged critical faculty and moral sense. If the entire thinking class indulges itself in the suppression of the intellect and the conscience, anything can happen: wars that should not be fought, are fought; and wars that should be fought are not fought; and human impulses that should be restrained are not restrained, and human impulses that should not be restrained, are restrained; and great nations are humbled.”
Dear Mr. Hamowy:
Your article contains a number of factual errors (when on earth did National Review ever celebrate the existence of Felix Frankfurter? We have merely applauded his position on certain issues, as we applaud the position on certain issues of Sidney Hook or Paul Douglas or Lucifer); and, of course, your article seeks to make its points by caricature, which is okay by me, although by so doing, you impose upon me the responsibility of deciding where you are being merely playful, and where you mean to be taken seriously.
Putting aside the thumbscrews, I judge that your criticisms revolve around two central assumptions of National Review, which I herewith state, and attempt briefly to show why I judge that they come naturally to American conservatives. The first assumption is that freedom can only be defended in our time by the active use of one’s strategic intelligence; and this calls for understanding the position of the Soviet Union in world affairs.
Among the corollaries of this assumption are: 1) it becomes necessary to forfeit a part of the freedom one might ideally exercise, in order to secure the greater part of our freedom; and corollary 2) our nation’s role in world affairs, to the extent it is the state’s responsibility to enact it, should turn on and be confined to the question of the national security.
The national security is a proper concern for the libertarian because without it he stands to lose—in this case—all his freedom. The conservative, who is a libertarian but other things, too, supports the large national effort that aims at neutralizing the Communist threat, because a conservative must be prepared to face reality. A conservative is not one of those pure and seraphic intellectualists Bishop Parker spoke about who, forsooth, despise all sensible knowledge as too gross and material for their nice and curious faculties. We conservatives are all for paradigmatic self-examinations from time to time, that aim at drawing attention to all those freedoms we do not have: but we never lose sight of the value of what we do have, and the reason why we have it, namely, because we have a formidable military machine which keeps the Soviet Union from doing to us what it did to the Hungarians, and the Cubans. There is room in any society for those whose only concern is for tablet-keeping; but let them realize that it is only because of the conservatives’ disposition to sacrifice in order to withstand the enemy, that they are able to enjoy their monasticism, and pursue their busy little seminars on whether or not to demunicipalize the garbage collectors.
* * * *
And the second assumption shared by the editors of National Review is that an approach to any human problem that calls for the ruthless imposition of any social schematic, whether Marxist or Benthamite, is self-defeating, for the reason that ideology can never replace philosophy. While it is true that freedom is good, it is not true that freedom can be promulgated in any given country simply by saying, Ready, Set, Be Free. The count-down is much longer. Sometimes it takes centuries. A conservative will argue for that system in a given country which will maximize freedom. But that system is not necessarily one that is based on one man, one vote; or even, necessarily, on the right of self-rule. We cannot, merely by renouncing colonialism instantly, write a script that will bring eudemonia to Upper Volta.
The American conservative needs to proceed within the knowledge of history and anthropology and psychology; we must live in our time. We must indeed continue to cherish our resentments against such institutionalized impositions upon our prerogatives (see my books) as social security. But we must not, if we are to pass for sane in this tormented world, equate as problems of equal urgency, the repeal of the social security law, and the containment of the Soviet threat. The problem of assigning priorities to the two objectives is not merely a problem of intellectual discrimination, but of moral balance. Mr. Hamowy should examine the processes of thought even among his associates on the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, which I am informed he has recently joined. I hope he will find there still is a difference between him and the moral and intellectual emasculates among whom he mingles; I hope the difference is still discernible; I, and I am sure all conservatives, hope that.
—William F. Buckley, Jr.
A Rejoinder to Mr. Buckley in One Draft
It is always enjoyable to hear from Mr. Buckley; his style and wit make for relaxing reading. However, it is a fact of life which Mr. Buckley appears to ignore, that an abundance of charm coupled with good intentions is an inadequate substitute for cogency of thought. Had he dealt with my arguments, my task in defending them would have been simpler. As it stands, I can find few points worthy of serious reply. Therefore, I dismiss Mr. Buckley’s First Draft with the admission that all those whose names appear on National Review’s masthead are not, in any sense, consistent conservatives in the Buckley tradition and that, in particular, Henry Hazlitt and Frank Chodorov share few, if any, of the sentiments with which my article deals. Just one point more. Pray, of what neo-Liberal movement in Europe is Mr. Kuehnelt-Leddihn a founder? Does Mr. Buckley regard an intellectual attachment to enlightened despotism in Central Europe as in the tradition of Cobden and Bright?
Concerning the Second Draft. (1) The current issue of National Review also contains, (a) plaudits for the Supreme Court ruling on the registration of the Communist Party with the Justice Department. We are told that this is “a bright day for freedom.” Someone or something (it is not indicated who or what) is “resourceful enough to bear down upon the unassimilable political minority for whom the normal rules cannot apply”; (b) an essay by James Burnham to the effect that one can either be for peace or against Communism but that to hold strongly to both positions is “a source of trouble”; (c) a defense of Franco Spain by Lev Ladnek. Mr. Ladnek feels that it is unrealistic to suppose that when idealists call for freedom they are not confining that freedom to just one group in Spanish society at the expense of another. He goes on to say that to champion freedom of expression and free elections is to invite civil war; (d) a report on the Mt. Pelerin Society by Russell Kirk in which he gleefully reports that Liberalism is slowly passing out of fashion as the new Conservatism sweeps all before it. We are informed that some old 19th-century individualists detracted from Kirk’s enjoyment of the meeting but that on careful consideration “the moral and political doctrines of Bentham ‘the great subversive’ are fallen from favor nowadays, except in their reductio ad absurdum, Marxism.”
(2) Despite the high-sounding phrases of the Sharon Statement, no concrete political program of the Young Americans for Freedom has concerned itself with a call for the reduction of the economic intervention of the State. Instead, they have devoted their time and energy to picketing in support of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the American government’s invasion of Cuba and against negotiations on Berlin. A charter member of this organization informs me that its Policy Committee has voted to decline to take a stand against the John Birch Society and State segregation laws. That they pay lip-service to freedom indicates nothing.
(3) Mr. Buckley’s speech indeed expresses a noble sentiment. However, it bears no relevance to the arguments I present in my article.
The Third Draft presents 2 arguments, the first, that the external threat of Communism is of such magnitude that internal freedom becomes of minor importance. To this is added a sub-argument that it is ony thanks to people like Buckley sacrificing themselves “in order to withstand the enemy,” that “tablet-keepers” like me might “enjoy their monasticism and pursue their busy little seminars on whether or not to demunicipalize the garbage collectors.”
It might appear ungrateful of me, but I must decline to thank Mr. Buckley for saving my life. It is, further, my belief that if his view-point prevails and that if he persists in his unsolicited aid the result will almost certainly be either my death (and that of tens of millions of others) in nuclear war or my imminent imprisonment as an “un-American.”
Mr. Buckley would seem to imply that my position rests on a personal fear of death, and if this is the case, it indicates a total misreading of the facts. I hold strongly to my personal liberty and it is precisely because of this that I insist that no one has the right to force his decisions on another. Mr. Buckley chooses to be dead rather than Red. So do I. But I insist that all men be allowed to make that decision for themselves. A nuclear holocaust will make it for them.
The second argument has as its underlying premise that “freedom cannot be promulgated . . . by saying, Ready, Set, Be Free,” that it is something which is earned and often takes centuries to achieve. Promulgated by whom? Earned? Who is the paymaster? No one gives anyone else his freedom nor is anyone indebted to others for it. Mr. Buckley either rejects or is unfamiliar with the premises of political philosophy upon which our nation was founded. Namely, that freedom is, in fact, not earned, but the right of each human being. Mr. Buckley, I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
TO MR. CHESTER BOWLES, ci-devant advertising man, sometime ambassador to India, President Kennedy has issued letters of marque. Surveying, and perhaps helping to intensify, the problems of Ruanda-Urundi or Kashmir, Mr. Bowles is to scurry over the face of the world, scattering broadcast American optimism and good-will. Having been engaged in this scurrying for some years, between periods of lecturing and platform-writing in these United States, Ambassador Bowles may be counted upon to utter platitudes in fifty nations, and then write a new book repeating those platitudes for Americans. And his are illusory platitudes. They are the slogans and shallow understandings which have produced, for instance, the devastation and anarchy in the Congo today.
It was Professor Sidney Hook, I believe, who coined the term “ritualistic liberalism” to describe the condition into which much of American “liberal” opinion is fallen nowadays: an infatuation with old liberal slogans untempered by any prudential examination of the exigencies of our hour, an ideological fidelity to the liberal letter that forgets the liberal spirit. Mr. Hook was referring principally to the attitude that many American liberals take toward the Communist movement. A similar ritualism, I suggest—a like attitude that the mere repetition of liberal formulas and evocation of god-terms can suffice in dealing with our present discontents—may be discerned in the concept of American foreign policy entertained by many liberals.
Of such gentlemen, Mr. Bowles is an eminent representative; he is, indeed, the principal darling, more dear even than Mr. Adlai Stevenson, of the unreconstructed ritualistic liberals of Southern California. His popular and repetitious books—Ambassador’s Report, The New Dimensions of Peace, Ideas, People and Peace—have exerted some influence, although not a power sufficient to get Mr. Bowles into the Senate, obtain him the presidential or vice-presidential nomination, or even to secure him a cabinet post. But these hasty works have secured him some national following and a good deal of attention in the press. The acerbic demolition of Mr. Bowles’ notions about foreign policy by scholars such as Professor Hans Morgenthau may have caused responsible politicians to shy away from the Ambassador; but, curiously enough, these criticisms have not much affected Mr. Bowles’ credit in certain quarters of the Academy.
Five years ago, Mr. Bowles seemed to be taken as a serious authority on foreign affairs in some of our leading universities. In 1956, he delivered both the Godkin Lectures at Harvard (named for E. L. Godkin of The Nation) and a somewhat similar series at the University of California; these soon were published under the respective titles of American Politics in a Revolutionary World and Africa’s Challenge to America. That lectures so superficial should be heard respectfully by famous universities, and published by university presses, may suggest how far ritualistic liberalism still affects the higher learning in this country. For statecraft, professors of arts and sciences turn to an advertising-promoter.
Now that Mr. Bowles is lecturing to lesser breeds without the law on the way to peace and freedom, with the grand sanction of the American government, it may be worth while to glance again at these two slim books, presumably his most serious works, since they originated as university lectures. I do not find that they improve with time, or that Mr. Bowles was a true prophet. What a commonsensical liberal like old E. L. Godkin would have said to Bowles’ band of liberalism, I think I know.
CHESTER BOWLES IS a thoroughgoing utilitarian and political universalist, convinced that all societies ought to be reconstituted in our American image, and that we ought to pay for the process. By an American-sponsored industrialization of “underdeveloped regions,” under forced draft, he would have Americans out-materialize the Soviet materialists. (He sounds, indeed, oddly like Khrushchev, here and there—reminiscent, for instance, of Khrushchev’s scowling admonition to the Javanese that they ought to abolish their handicrafts and turn to standardized industrial production.) The world is to become one immense copy of American society, repeating the campaign phrases of Jefferson and F.D.R., copying American technology, adopting our manners and institutions, and presumably inheriting all our problems and afflictions. Mr. Bowles’ brand of One-Hundred-Per-Cent-Americanism—so the argument runs—may be imposed quite simply, with equal facility, upon the ancient civilizations of India and the primitive peoples of central Africa.
Such is Mr. Bowles’ variety of liberalism, inherited (though possibly Mr. Bowles does not know it) from Bentham and James Mill. Whatever things are established—except, of course, the American liberal ideology—are anathema to Ambassador Bowles. There comes to my mind Ambrose Bierce’s definition of the word conservative, in The Devil’s Dictionary. “Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of old evils, as contrasted with the liberal, who would replace them with new.” Now Mr. Bowles is precisely that sort of liberal innovator; and nowhere does he reveal much awareness that we Americans possess the talent for distributing evils, as well as benefits.
I interject here a general proposition having some relation to American foreign policy. It seems to be a law governing all life, from the unicellular inanimate forms to Socrates and Gautama, that every living organism endeavors, above all else, to preserve its identity. Whatever lives, tries to make itself the center of the universe; and it resists with the whole of its power the endeavors of competing forms of life to assimilate it to their substance and mode. Every living thing prefers even death, as an individual, to extinction as a distinct species. Now if the lowliest alga struggles to the death against a threat to its peculiar identity, we ought not to be surprised that men and nations resist desperately and even unreasoningly any endeavor to assimilate their character to that of some other social body. This resistance is the first law of their being, extending deep below the level of consciousness. There is one sure way to make a deadly enemy, and that is to propose seriously to anyone, “Submit yourself to me, and I will improve your condition by relieving you from the burden of your own identity and reconstituting your personality in my image.”
Yet this is just what Mr. Chester Bowles, with wondrous good will and innocence, proclaims as a rallying-cry for American policy makers in a revolutionary world. Mr. Bowles, to be sure, does not use precisely these phrases, and really seems to be unaware of the grand assumption behind his own humanitarian projects; but our author’s naivete does not alter the nature of the first principles upon which his scheme is erected.
“The most powerful ideas and principles in the history of man are closely linked with the evolution of American democracy,” Mr. Bowles writes in American Politics. “Today it is our revolution for self-determination, for human dignity, and for expanding economic opportunities which is alive and marching in Burma, India, and the Philippines, in Nigeria, the Sudan, and Tunisia, indeed throughout the non-communist world.”
In both these books, as in his earlier writings, he implies repeatedly that modern revolutionary movements—Soviet movements excepted—have been directly inspired by knowledge of the American Revolution. Africa’s Challenge concludes with “the fervent hope that we shall soon come to view the Soviet challenge not negatively as a mortal danger, but positively as an opportunity for which the continuing political, social, and industrial revolution of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Henry Ford has equipped us as no other people on earth.” Revolutions are made, he informs us, out of devotion to the writings of “Locke, Rousseau, and Jefferson.” A Revolution of Rising Expectations, in imitation of American theory and experience, “shapes the attitudes and aspirations of the one and a half billion people of India, Africa, and South America,” and its objectives are “freedom from foreign domination, political or economic; a full measure of human dignity regardless of race, religion or color; and increased economic opportunities, broadly shared.”
Liberal democracy is the passion of these rebels against things established: “The national revolutions in Europe and South America in the last century, the reform movements under the Tsar in Russia, Sun Yat-Sen’s struggles in China, the Congress party effort in India, the beginnings of the independence movements in Africa, were all taken in the name of liberal democracy.”
Well! Is this sort of breathless recitation of historical error and partisan cliche taken for political philosophy at Harvard and California nowadays? Mr. Bowles’ phrases might have been written by one of the schoolboys in the first chapter of Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay, cribbed from a “liberal” ideologue’s dull textbook. To pick his thesis to pieces is to break a butterfly on the wheel, but if this manner of reasoning and proof is taken seriously at American universities, someone has to plumb the depths of Mr. Bowles’ ignorance.
Even a hasty reading of a book such as Professor D. M. Brogan’s The Price of Revolution ought to inform any undergraduate of Mr. Bowles’ thorough incompetence as historian and political theorist. The revolutions of the twentieth century were made not in imitation of the American Revolution, but out of very different circumstances and materials; and so far as they were conscious imitations of any earlier revolution, it was the French Revolution. What lip-service these latter-day revolutionaries have paid to the American experience has come after the fact of their own revolutionary triumph. Mr. Bowles repeatedly confounds the concept of liberty with the concept of democracy, and the idea of nationalism with the idea of the dignity of man. Sun Yat-Sen took his principles from Marx, not from Jefferson and Adams; the Indian and African revolts against British dominion owed much more to the London School of Economics than they did to the Declaration of Independence; and we ascend into a Cloud Cuckoo Land of political fantasy if we pretend that American constitutionalism is the inspiration of the Westernized socialist regime in Burma, of the Sudanese tribes, and of the nationalists in Tunis.
THIS INDIFFERENCE to historical fact dominates the proofs for Mr. Bowles’ thesis, as well as the general argument itself. The blunders are so numerous and obvious in both books that it is embarrassing to touch upon them. In Africa’s Challenge, for instance, Mr. Bowles informs us that John Adams believed “the development of American democracy” to be “the ‘opening of a grand scene and design of Providence for the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth’.” Then, in American Politics, he undoes himself by quoting Adams correctly. Adams did not write “American democracy,” but “the settlement of America,” which is a different thing. Of the Abyssinians, he writes in Africa’s Challenge, “Their religion is Orthodox of the same strain as the Coptic Christian Church of Egypt.” Neither Coptic nor Abyssinian churches are Orthodox, in plain fact; they are Monophysite. (This is one of the few instances in which Mr. Bowles touches at all upon religious opinion.) One may excuse a hasty traveller like Mr. Bowles, flying excitedly from celebrity to celebrity in Asia and Africa, for such slips; but when that hurried globe-trotter turns political pontiff. . . . He writes of “the Cambridge-Oxford liberal-arts system” with the presumption and the ignorance of a high-school debater. But we sink into bathos.
Thus the ideologue fits facts to his Procrustean bed. Charismatic phrases, god-terms, are everything to a gentleman of Mr. Bowles’ cast of mind; history and prudence are next to nothing. One of the phrases which especially fascinates Mr. Bowles is “self-determination.” This is an end in itself, because Woodrow Wilson employed it, and Woodrow Wilson belonged to Mr. Bowles’ party, and was Liberal and Progressive—Mr. Bowles thinks. Nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of immediate Self-Determination everywhere. Full speed ahead, and damn the consequences. “When harried American policy-makers suggest that under present-day conditions such principles as self-determination are valid in some years and not in others, or that they apply to white Poles but not to dark-skinned Africans, the disillusionment of the people in Asia, Africa, and indeed throughout most of the world, is profound.”
Mr. Bowles displays not the slightest awareness of how destructive a force fanatical insistence upon “self-determination,” down to the tiniest “cultural group,” has been in our century; nor how this has been employed most advantageously by the tyrants of our age. In his scheme, there is no room at all for political prudence, nor for dull considerations of practical differences and limitations. The world must become one vast America—plus the Welfare State—before the decade is out. (The Welfare State, Mr. Bowles writes, also is of American origin!)
Although American society and the American economy, and a peculiar ideology of Americanism, are Mr. Bowles’ pattern for a universal order, Mr. Bowles has singularly little appreciation of practical American political achievement and singularly small knowledge of American political thought. There is next to nothing about Order and Justice in Mr. Bowles’ books; and by Freedom he usually means national Self-Determination, not private rights. What he seeks is not Order and Justice and Freedom, but conformity to an abstraction he calls Liberal Democracy, equalitarian and industrialized. And this Liberal Democracy does not seem to mean to Mr. Bowles the historical reality which we have known for the past century. His Liberal Democracy exists in a Utopian future. He feels some contempt for Britain and France, in their present difficulties with liberal democracy and the welfare state, and waxes impatient with America because of her stubborn attachment to prudence in politics. Where, then, are we to find our models for Liberal Democracy? This is what Mr. Bowles tells us on page 87 of American Politics: “In other democracies—Germany, India, Israel, Burma—where there is basic agreement upon a worthy national purpose yet to be achieved, there is no failure to mobilize the necessary energies and resources through the mechanisms of democracy.”
So these are our models: Germany, with a pattern of government imposed by her conquerors and scarcely fifteen years old; India, dominated by a single party; Israel, the garrison-state complete; Burma, clawing at the brink of anarchy. It really would be entertaining to conjure Edwin Lawrence Godkin out of his grave and let him write a Nation editorial on Mr. Chester Bowles.
“Some insist that we can afford to put up with this political sloganizing in foreign policy,” Mr. Bowles himself writes in American Politics. “After all, they say, the Republic has thus far survived similar sloganizing on domestic policy questions. . . . Foreigners, however, cannot reasonably be expected to play by American ground rules, and in foreign policy, we deal with foreigners. These calculated phrases, in my judgment, have cost us dear throughout the world—far more than we can easily afford.” These are wise words—perhaps the only wise words in Mr. Bowles’ two books. The Ambassador is referring, of course, to phrases employed by Mr. Dulles and other gentlemen who did not have the good sense to belong to Mr. Bowles’ faction of Mr. Bowles’ party.
True enough, there had been considerable sloganizing by members of Mr. Eisenhower’s administration. To repeat political tags is so pleasant and easy—to murmur ideological cliches as if they were incantations; it is so very painful to think seriously. And then Mr. Bowles, after this grave exhortation, proceeds to deluge his hearers and readers with as shallow and shopworn a set of slogans and god-terms as ever was employed by anyone discussing American foreign policy—which is no mean feat.
If the United States should wish to make her influence detested throughout the world, her surest methods to attain this consummation would be to dispatch a naive liberal ideologue—a Wendell Willkie of the Democratic Party—globetrotting, bestowing gratuitous counsel among the nations. Let this person tell every people to submit themselves to a recasting in the American image—that is, in F.D.R.’s concept of the American image; let him patronize and cajole revolutionary nationalists in every remote land where order is shaken; let him serve as a representative of American political authority. Let him be, in fine, Mr. Mennen Williams, or Mr. Chester Bowles. Let him talk vaguely but loudly about Liberal Democracy and Progress and Welfare States. “In this Nuclear Age,” says Mr. Bowles, “without such a vision—the people perish.” Without such a vision, Ambassador? Or because of it?
New Individualist Review welcomes contributions for publication from its readers. Essays should not exceed 3,000 words, and should be type-written. All manuscripts will receive careful consideration.
Ayn Rand’s “For the New Intellectual”
SURELY ONE OF the singularly most exciting intellectual occurrences of the last few years is that libertarianism has found a dynamic spokesman, a philosopher who seeks to discover the key to man’s survival in the undeniable truth that A is A, an economist who seeks to demonstrate the superiority of capitalism by deducing it from that same truth, a moralist who defines the path to virtue as following from a single axiom—existence exists, and, in addition to all this, a novelist who makes the best-seller list of the New York Times. Her influence, especially on the college campus, cannot be denied, even by those who, whether on the left or the right, regard her as a knot on the tree of knowledge. Ayn Rand is unquestionably a figure to be reckoned with Though her novels have contained philosophical passages, it has not been altogether easy to see how the various threads join. Now, her latest publication, For the New Intellectual, offers a selection of those passages, with an overtly philosophical introduction which places the rest of the system in perspective. At last the eager student can get some sort of overview of the intellectual edifice which is presented for his acceptance. I must say at the outset that I have not found the offering very palatable. Not, let me hasten to add, because I disagree with the conclusions—free trade, a minimum of governmental interference in the economy, the immorality of altruism, are, I think, eminently justifiable intellectual positions. Rather it is the paucity of rational arguments, the frequency with which nonsense is offered as self-evident truth, the hysterical ranting against opponents who have had their views distorted beyond recognition, the amateurish psychologizing—in a word, the sloppiness of the whole thing, which forces me to regard it as a paradigm of philosophical incompetence. The temptation is to see it as a huge joke, a farce by means of which its creator can laugh at the gullible. But at the risk of being taken in I shall treat this book seriously, with perhaps only the popularity of the doctrine to justify the enterprise. My method shall be the following—I shall quote, sometimes at length, from the book, and then comment on the material presented.
The following passage contains, in an important sense, the core of Ayn Rand’s “theory of man,” i.e., a statement of the characteristics by virtue of which man is a moral agent. It is on the basis of this theory, together with certain other epistemological “truths” (which I shall consider later) that she hopes to construct a system of morality. For this reason, what Miss Rand says on this matter seems to me to deserve careful examination.
Man’s consciousness shares with animals the first two stages of its development: sensations and perceptions; but it is the third stage, conceptions, that make him man. Sensations are integrated into perceptions automatically, by the brain of a man or of an animal. But to integrate perceptions into conceptions by a process of abstraction, is a feat that man alone has the power to perform—and he has to perform it by choice. The process of abstraction and of concept-formation is a process of reason, of thought; it is not automatic nor instinctive nor involuntary nor infallible. Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its results. The pre-conceptual level of consciousness is non-volitional; volition begins with the first syllogism.1
In the first place, what are sensations and perceptions as the expressions are used here? On p. 153 the author says that “reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by [man’s] senses.” But if perception is a function of reason then presumably if animals share with man the ability to perceive they too must be possessed of that faculty. Or does reason perform the perceptual function with regard to the material provided by an entity’s senses if and only if that entity is a man? In this case it would seem that human and animal perception are significantly different since the former is rational while the latter is not. If this is so, then in what way are they similar? Is the similarity sufficient to call them a single stage which both animals and men go through? Briefly, either perception is a single stage which both men and animals go through or it is not. If it is then it is either rational or not. If it is a single stage which they go through and it is rational then animals are (to an extent which Ayn Rand would certainly be unwilling to admit) rational. On the other hand if it is a single stage and is not rational then the statement on p. 153 is false. Finally, if it is not a single stage (the only way out of the above dilemma) then it is not a stage which men and animals share, and the first sentence I have quoted from p. 9 is false.
A similar problem arises with the second sentence from p. 9. There it is held that sensations are integrated into perceptions automatically. But if reason is necessary for perception then reason is an automatic process (something the author repeatedly denies). However, if reason is not an automatic process and sensations are integrated into perceptions automatically then reason does not enter and again the statement on p. 153 which says it does is false.
Perhaps we can get Miss Rand out of this muddle by a terminological adjustment, using the paragraph on p. 9 to provide the clue. There it is said that reason (abstraction) enters when perceptions are integrated into conceptions. If we now identify the conceptions of p. 9 with the perceptions of p. 153 and regard “perception” on p. 9 as referring to something else entirely, the internal contradiction in Miss Rand’s psychological theory (sic) is no more. With the hope that my house-cleaning has been of some help I let this matter rest.
Abstraction, we are told, is a process of thought which must be initiated by man. I take this to mean that an act of abstraction is volitionally produced. Since volition begins with the first syllogism it should be safe to assume that until one has gone through one’s first syllogism one cannot abstract. This conclusion, I submit, is downright stupid. Often children are not able to see how the conclusion of a syllogism follows from its premisses and, as anyone who has taught logic in college knows, some very mature students are not able to reason syllogistically at all. Are we to say that these latter are unable to abstract? Or even more absurdly, that they have no power of volition? As if this were not enough the author refers, on p. 152, to the first ray of light that one perceives (conceives) at the start of one’s life as part of one’s knowledge. Presumably what is meant is conceptual knowledge since the passage indicates that the first ray of light is regarded as on a continuum with the widest erudition one acquires in a lifetime. But how could it be conceptual knowledge? This is volitional and surely new-born infants cannot reason syllogistically. Apparently we must say either that babies can reason syllogistically or that the first ray of light one perceives at the start of one’s life is not part of one’s knowledge, in which case the statement on p. 152 is false. The choice between these two alternatives I leave as an exercise for the reader.
Miss Rand informs us that one has to choose to abstract. But on her own showing it should be impossible to do this. How can one choose to abstract if prior to abstracting one is not even able to form a single concept? In this pre-conceptual stage of development what reasons could there be either for abstracting or for abstaining from abstracting? Clearly there could be none. Reasons cannot be weighed by an entity which is not possessed of any concepts at all. What factors are involved in a person’s choosing to abstract? Does he engage in a mental monologue like “Abstracting is really more rational than not abstracting, therefore I’ll abstract”? But this is preposterous. Such a train of thought is inconceivable in an entity which does not already possess the power to abstract. The following should be patently obvious. One cannot choose to do anything until one has some notion of what it is that one is choosing to do. But such a notion could not be formed unless one could already form general concepts, i.e., until one has the ability to abstract. Apparently then, one must think (abstract) before one chooses to think and the prior act of thinking cannot (logically) be the product of a choice. From this dialectical mess I see no escape.
My detailed examination of this paragraph has not been without point. I hope to have illustrated, at least in part, the sloppy use of (undefined) technical terms, the lack of even a semblance of consistency, and above all, the shoddy reasoning that characterizes the writings of this lady. How ghastly must a philosophy be which is based in large measure on a paragraph such as this of which not a single sentence, not even a phrase, is true.
Miss Rand conceives herself to be warring against almost every philosophical system, past and present—and indeed she is. The enemy she regards as essentially two, designated with a dashing insight reminiscent of Harry Golden, as Attila and the Witch Doctor.2 The former is
the man who rules by brute force, acts on the range of the moment, is concerned with nothing but the physical reality immediately before him, respects nothing but man’s muscles, and regards a fist, a club or a gun as the only answer to any problem.3
The latter is
the man who dreads physical reality, dreads the necessity of practical action, and escapes into his emotions, into visions of some mystic realm where his wishes enjoy a supernatural power unlimited by the absolute of nature.4
Employing these “concepts” Miss Rand surveys a bit of history and the history of philosophy with an abandon and lack of concern for truth that is embarrassing. A few examples will serve to indicate what I mean.
Plato’s system was a monument to the Witch Doctor’s metaphysics—with its two realities, with the physical world as a semi-illusory, imperfect, inferior realm, subordinated to a realm of abstractions (which means in fact, though not in Plato’s statement: subordinated to man’s consciousness) . . .5
Without condescending to discuss the relationship between Plato and Miss Rand’s Witch Doctor, let us merely ask why, if the physical world is subordinated to the world of Forms (abstractions) does it follow that it is subordinated to man’s consciousness. What is the justification for this statement which Miss Rand cavalierly tosses off with her characteristic disdain for logical argument? Suppose I say (and this is certainly part of what Plato meant) that the physical world is inferior to the world of abstractions in the sense that in order to understand the nature of any physical entity one must subsume it under a universal concept. In order to understand what this object before me is I must subsume it under the general concept “table,” a concept which applies not only to this object but to all other tables as well. (This, by the way, is an important part of the epistemology of Miss Rand’s beloved Aristotle, whom she seems to understand no better than any of the other philosophers with whom she deals). In this sense then, the physical object, the table, is subordinated to the concept “table.” Does it follow then that it is subordinated to human consciousness (an expression I take to mean dependent for its existence on some human beings perceiving it)? How does one get to the conclusion Miss Rand has drawn? I must confess that the connection remains a mystery to me. Perhaps it was an oversight, a slip, a free association . . . but I move on.
Philosophy (in the Middle Ages) existed as a “handmaiden of theology,” and the dominant influence was, appropriately, Plato’s in the form of Plotinus and Augustine. Aristotle’s works were lost to the scholars of Europe for centuries. The prelude to the Renaissance was the return of Aristotle via Thomas Aquinas.6
Miss Rand is either misinformed or else has allowed the demands of simplicity to take precedence over those of truth. The passage I have quoted gives the impression that Aristotle was unknown to or at least had no influence on medieval philosophers before St. Thomas. The slightest acquaintance with the writings of Boethius or Abelard or St. Thomas’ teacher Albertus Magnus, would be sufficient to convince one of the falsity of Miss Rand’s historical reporting. Again, she seems to attribute the doctrine that philosophy is the handmaiden of theology to the influence of Plato. But St. Thomas, in whom the influence of Aristotle was certainly greater than that of Plato, preached precisely this doctrine. As an historian I am admittedly a layman, but even my unpracticed eye can detect that Miss Rand’s historical writing is, not to be unkind, in need of improvement.
I pass over the offensive attack on Descartes with its irritating equivocations and groundless conclusions. Miss Rand’s technique of vilification is most apparent when she turns to Hume, who is dismissed, without any rational argument at all, in two malicious paragraphs. A sample:
When Hume declared that the apparent existence of an object did not guarantee that it would not vanish spontaneously next moment, and the sunrise of today did not prove that the sun would rise tomorrow . . . what men were hearing was the manifesto of a philosophical movement that can be designated only as Attila-ism.7
Does Miss Rand think that the apparent existence of an object guarantees that it will not vanish in the next moment? Does the fact that there is apparently a pink rat in the path of a drunkard guarantee that there will continue to be a pink rat in that path? Not only Hume but every sane person would answer this question negatively. And yet Miss Rand regards this as part of the manifesto of Attila-ism. And yet perhaps not. I do want to be fair to this lady. There seems to be, in the next phrase, a way out of the absurdity at which we have just arrived. Suppose we attribute the argument about apparent existence to sloppy formulation or something of the sort. The remark about the sunrise seems to be of sterner stuff so let us remain a moment with it. The problem toward which Miss Rand seems to be fumbling is the traditional philosophical problem of induction and it is Hume’s view on this problem that she regards as evil. What is his view? Briefly, without introducing too much technical philosophical terminology, it is this. Hume distinguished between two sorts of propositions, those which express relations of ideas and those which express matters of fact. An example of the former is “A bachelor is an unmarried man.” Such a statement cannot possibly be false. As soon as one understands the meaning of the constituent expressions one understands that the statement is necessarily true. Its truth is absolutely certain. On the other hand, a statement expressing a matter of fact, such as “There is a table in the next room” can never be known with absolute certainty. (What I have just said is not a completely accurate rendering of Hume’s view—of his distinction between philosophical and unphilosophical probability—but it will suffice here.) What Hume means by saying that propositions expressing matters of fact can never be known with absolute certainty is that their denial is not self-contradictory. There is no contradiction in either affirming or denying the statement “There is a table in the next room” while there is in affirming “A bachelor is a married man.” Now he asks, is there a contradiction involved in saying “The sun rose today but it will not rise tomorrow.” Since there is none, the fact that the sun rose today does not entail that it will rise tomorrow. Consider: A. The sun rose today; B. The sun will rise tomorrow. The first could be true while the second is false—therefore the truth of the first does not prove the truth of the second. Whatever one thinks of this argument, and I personally do not think it is correct, it is certainly not morally evil. But even further—and this is what irritates—what reasons does Miss Rand bring forth to persuade the reader that Hume is wrong? Not a one. Instead we are treated to still another of her nasty snears: “If it were possible for an animal to describe the content of his consciousness the result would be a transcript of Hume’s philosophy.”8 This is indeed the very zenith of intellectual putrefaction. It might be worthwhile at this point to contrast Miss Rand’s opinion of the great Scottish philosopher with that of a man who does occupy an important place in the libertarian tradition. Adam Smith, the philosopher’s great friend, said this of him after his death: “Upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his lifetime, and since his death, as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will admit.”9
Miss Rand’s discussion of Kant is too puerile to be worthy of much discussion. The following is characteristic:
His argument, in essence, ran as follows: man is limited to a consciousness of a specific nature, which perceives by specific means and no others, therefore, his consciousness is not valid; man is blind, because he has eyes—deaf, because he has ears—deluded, because he has a mind—and the things he perceives do not exist, because he perceives them.10
Where is the support for this sickening display of ill-concealed fabrication? Where did this hate blinded woman find Kant saying anything like what she attributes to him? One can only conclude that she either has never read Kant or else is deliberately misrepresenting him for her own ends. Again and again, in reading Ayn Rand, suffocating in her invective, one feels like crying out “Disagree if you want to, if you must, disagree even if you don’t understand—but be honest!”
Again, in discussing Kant’s morality Miss Rand is guilty of misinterpretation. She argues that, according to Kant, an action is moral only if one has no desire to perform it. This is simply false, though it must be admitted here that even some philosophers have made the same mistake Miss Rand makes (although none, I should add, have made it in quite so nasty a way).11
Hegel, Marx, Comte, Spencer, Nietzsche, and Bentham share similar fates at Miss Rand’s hands. (If ever I felt sympathetic to Marx it was when I read her account of his philosophy—no one, not even Marx, deserves this.) Finally we come to “the combined neo-mystic Witch-Doctory and Attila-ism of the Logical Positivists.”12 One turns the page expecting to find another victim in the tragical-comical-historical-pastoral existentialists but no such luck. The mood has changed and we are now instructed as eager aspirants to the club of New Intellectuals as to what to do to overcome the legacy of our wretched past, whose ills have been paraded before us.
I WANT TO TURN my attention now from the introduction to the last hundred pages of For the New Intellectual which, Miss Rand indicates, contain the essentials of her philosophy. Here, one hopes, will be a reasonably integrated set of arguments. But again the expectant reader is disappointed, for this section of the book, too, is filled with the same sort of fustian tirades against the enemy concerning which I have already commented. Here though, it must be admitted, it is decidedly more difficult to prove that the author is guilty of distortion, for while the introduction at least contained proper names which made Miss Rand’s errors apparent, the enemy here remains anonymous. The mention of alien doctrines is generally prefaced by “you are told” or “they proclaim,” the “they’s” being “cheap little hypocrites” (p. 175), “college professors” (p. 196), “grotesque little atavists” (p. 208), “mystics” (two varieties—muscle and spirit passim.), “parasites” (p. 202), “sniveling neurotics” (p. 180), and “zero-worshippers” (p. 166). On occasion, though, there are clues as to who “they” really are and the interested reader might hazard a guess here and there.13 If this exercise fails to make the arguments any more cogent it does provide a bit of much needed diversion.
For the present I want to ignore the assault on the enemy and examine very briefly selected doctrines which Miss Rand regards as essential ingredients in her own philosophy. An important word of qualification is necessary. The section of For the New Intellectual under consideration here is excerpted from Miss Rand’s most recent novel Atlas Shrugged. With this in mind it is difficult for a reviewer to decide on the proper standards to employ in its criticism. On the one hand one may acknowledge that it is, after all, from a novel and regard it as a kind of literary exercise, a bit of mals-lettres. On the other hand, it is explicitly represented by its author as a presentation of her philosophy. Viewing it in this light would necessitate a critique employing the same standards which are proper to the examination of any other work of philosophy. I have chosen the latter alternative.
Man’s life is the standard of morality, but your own life is its purpose. . . . every man is an end in itself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.
It is for the purpose of self-preservation that man needs a code of morality.
His own happiness is man’s only moral purpose . . .14
What is one to conclude from these four statements? The first and third tell us that life (self-preservation) is the purpose of morality, while the second and fourth tell us that man’s happiness is. Perhaps the contradiction has only an apparent existence and we can make it vanish semi-spontaneously by saying that life and happiness are the same thing. But this cannot be, for on p. 161 the author states that “happiness is the goal and the reward of life.” Happiness and life then are different. Which is the purpose of morality? Are they both? This would be consistent with the statement from p. 150 which says only that happiness is the highest moral purpose. Certainly it could be the highest moral purpose with life playing the role of a secondary, lower order purpose. But this won’t do, since the statement on p. 161 expresses the “truth” that happiness is man’s only moral purpose. One final attempt. Perhaps happiness is man’s only moral purpose and life is morality’s purpose. But this would be at best a sophistical solution. Surely to say that morality has a purpose is only an elliptical way of saying what human purposes morality serves. Morality is not the name of an entity which has purposes of its own. But if the purpose of morality is to keep people alive then presumably the purpose of a human being in being moral is life, which may lead to, but is certainly a different thing from, happiness. I cannot but regard Ayn Rand’s pronouncements on the purpose of morality as hopelessly muddled. A parenthetical remark—generally when one says that a given thing is the highest of its type there are other things of that type which have a lower status. But if happiness is man’s only moral purpose how can it also be man’s highest moral purpose?
The root of Ayn Rand’s moral code is to be found on p. 152. It is “the axiom that existence exists.” How a moral code can rest on this “axiom” must surely be one of the sublimer truths of nature. This statement, unlike most of the others in the book, does not even have the merit of being false for, like “The Nothing noughts” of Heidegger fame, it is a patent piece of nonsense. Tables exist, people exist, but what sense does it make to say that existence exists? Is existence another thing, like tables and people which exists in its own right in addition to them? To say that existence exists is like saying that length is long or that circularity is round or that the truth is true.15 The expression “existence exists” is a meaningless piece of verbiage which cannot be the root of anything. Yet this is what we are offered as the foundation of a moral code, this is what justified the spiteful insults hurled at Hume and Kant—but I must hold my tongue.
Even with all the irrationality contained in these pages it is, I think, most depressing of all when Miss Rand sets up a straw-man and then, by her ignorance of the most elementary logical principles, fails even to damage the caricature she has constructed.
If you search your code for guidance, for an answer to the question: “What is the good?”—the only answer you will find is “The good of others.” . . . Your standard of virtue is not an object, not an act, not a principle, but an intention. You need no proof, no reasons, no success, you need not achieve in fact the good of others,—all you need to know is that your motive was the good of others, not your own. Your only definition of the good is a negation the good is the “non-good for me.”16
Miss Rand has transformed the principle “The good of others” which is itself hardly an accurate rendering of the utilitarian principle, into the non-good for me. These two expressions are not at all synonymous nor are they logically equivalent. “X is good for non-me” does not mean the same as “X is non-good for me.” The first doesn’t even imply the second. Isn’t it obvious that something can be both good for non-me and good for me—a free enterprise economy for example.
The rest of these hundred pages contains more of the same. I say in all honesty that I have never read a book (and I am not excluding The Affluent Society) which contained more contradictions and misstatements than this one. “Accept the fact that you are not omniscient . . . that your mind is fallible . . .” “Discard that unlimited license to evil which consists of claiming that man is imperfect.”17 Here I need only assure the doubters that Ayn Rand does indeed recommend both of these courses of action.
For the New Intellectual is an intolerably bad book. More than that it is a silly book; street corner rabble rousing can affect only the vulgar. That it should have come from the pen of the author of The Fountainhead, which is a genuinely fine novel, is not a little surprising. But as unfortunate as this book is, it would be even more unfortunate if it came to be regarded by anybody as a representative sample of libertarian thought. How easily the Left could shatter capitalism if this were its only defense! Fortuneately the superiority of free-enterprise can be demonstrated. But while von Mises, Hayek, and Friedman, to name only a few, make for more difficult reading and demand greater attentiveness than does Ayn Rand, the reward justifies the effort.
It is not difficult to understand the attraction Ayn Rand has for the uninstructed. She appears, I suppose, to be the spokesman for freedom, for self-esteem, and other equally noble ideals. However, patient examination reveals her pronouncements to be but a shroud beneath which lies the corpse of illogic. Those who are concerned with discovering the principles of a sound social philosophy can read and study libertarian thought at its best. The ludicrously mistitled “philosophy of Ayn Rand” is a sham. To those who are travelling her road I can only suggest its abandonment—for that way madness lies.
To those Hungarian students who gave their lives in the cause of liberty.
Herbert Butterfield: Christian Historian as Creative Critic
HERBERT BUTTERFIELD, Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge, is generally recognized as the leading British historian whose writings reflect a Christian attitude. While Butterfield’s application of such an attitude to the methodology of history and to the writing of British political history is familar, its application to international relations and to the history of diplomacy remains unknown to historians and to the educated public. Butterfield’s views are scattered throughout his books on a variety of historical subjects, but, within his works certain topics and themes recur, allowing for the present investigation of his position on these questions.
Professor Butterfield has devoted much of his career to the study of historiography. This has led him to criticize what he refers to as “official history,” the interpretation of foreign relations in a sense which would be favorable to a particular government and the interpretation of internal developments in a sense which would be favorable to the dominant world-view within one’s society. Official history has its roots in “the arrogance of the modern pagan mythology of righteousness.” The modern state and its historians have reverted to the legalism and Pharisaism which assumes “the primeval thesis: ‘We are the righteous ones and the enemy are wicked’.” Official history imagines that
masses of men on the one side have freely opted for wickedness, while on the other side there is a completely righteous party, whose virtue is superior to conditioning circumstances. The reasons for suspecting such a diagram of the situation are greatly multiplied if the ethical judgment is entangled with a political one—if, for example, the wickedness is charged against a rival political party, or imputed to another nation just at the moment when, for reasons of power politics, that nation is due to stand as the potential enemy in any case.”
Lacking the urbanity and the charity of Christianity, official history plunges into the pseudo-moral judgments which the modern state, by its nature, passes upon other states and which the dominant intellectual position passes upon what lies outside the mainstream. “In any case, in the world of pseudo-moral judgments there is generally a tendency on the one hand to avoid the higher regions of moral reflection and on the other hand to make moral issues out of what are not really moral issues at all.” Interacting with this myth-making has been what Butterfield refers to as an attitude of fear and suspicion. They are “not merely facts in the story, standing on a level with a lot of other factors. They give a certain quality to human life in general, condition the nature of politics, and imprint their character on diplomacy and foreign policy.”
Butterfield indicates that the historian who is a Christian is obliged to assume a position in sharp contrast to the “pagan righteousness-myth” which is basic to official history. Not only may the Christian not judge others, but he must also make a special effort to appreciate and understand the positions of other peoples and other governments or of elements which stand outside the intellectually dominant framework. Thus, “the proper study of history requires a certain giving of ourselves—requires, in fact, that we shall do something with our personalities. What society needs is every possible variation and extension of the art of putting one’s self—actually feeling one’s self—in the other person’s place.” Further, the Christian, since he is obliged to be aware of his own personality, must be made conscious of the role of fear in human activity, which it is so natural to overlook, and must “recapture the fear, and the attendant high pressure, which so greatly affect the actions of men and the policy of governments.” “Yet . . . the historian, surveying the past (like the statesman surveying rival powers in his own contemporary world), is apt to do less than justice to the part played by fear in politics, at any rate so far as concerns governments other than his own.” In the face of the complete development in the twentieth century of the righteousness-myth and the domination of fear, the historian who is a Christian must make a creative response to “the real test of moral courage: namely, the exposure and the condemnation of our own sins as a nation and an empire.”
The strength of official history lies in three sources: the increasing influence of governments, the uncritical acceptance of authorities, and the nature of historical writing itself. The official historians are not merely the historians who work directly for the government or for a political interest, or even “that new class of so-called ‘independent historians’ who have first to submit their scripts to the check or censorship,” directly or indirectly, of some government agent. There are also those historians who are connected with government or party through friendships and similar backgrounds. Butterfield believes “that nothing could be more subtle than the influence upon historians of admission to the charmed circle,” within which a certain “auto-censorship” occurs. Even beyond that circle “a well-run State needs no heavy-handed censorship, for it binds the historian with soft charms and with subtle, comfortable chains.” Since “the relations of a government with historical study are on a different footing from those which exist in the case of any of the other sciences, it is necessary for the outside student, therefore, always to be on his guard.” Where freedom in the expression of thought exists, an independent science of history, an academic history, should develop standing over against the dominant political or intellectual position, but “such an independent science of history would always tend to find the dice loaded against it for the time being.”
Butterfield feels that the purposes of official history are served by the tendency that “the reading of history has become less critical than it once was, the reviewing of books less scientific, and the faith in accepted ‘authorities’ more unthinking.” Specialization has narrowed the range from which effective criticism can emerge and might result in the formation of a compact body of major historians who, from the nature of the situation, would become the official historians. Butterfield states
The tendency to look for an historian who will serve as an “authority” is one which seems to have increased during my lifetime, though history is a realm in which trust is the enemy of truth . . . I am not sure that the professionalizing of history has not resulted in the unconscious development of authoritarian prejudices among the professionals themselves; and it could happen that by 1984, if readers are not their own critics, a whole field of study might become the monopoly of a group or party, all reviewing one another and standing shoulder to shoulder in order to stifle the discrepant idea, the new intellectual system, or the warning voice of the skeptic.
Unlike mathematics which begins with the simplest things and proceeds in turn to the more complex, history starts with the studying of the most complex things, of broad generalizations, with the result that “the mere reading of history, the mere process of accumulating more information in this field, does not necessarily give training to a mind that was initially diffuse.” Rather, it initiates “all kinds of generalizations, formulas, nicknames and analogies which answer to men’s wishful thinking; and these come into currency without having to be submitted to any very methodical kind of test.” These broad generalizations are the result of the abridgment of history which the necessities of teaching or of simple expression in conversation and in writing often seem to require. Butterfield does not think that it is a coincidence that this abridgment has worked to the advantage of official history, since “the total result of this method is to impose a certain form upon the whole historical story, and to produce a scheme of general history which is bound to converge beautifully upon the present—all demonstrating throughout the ages the working of an obvious principle of progress.” Abridgment tends to make our present political system or our country an absolute and imparts an impression of the inevitability of the existing system or of a war, since it neglects the alternatives which exist at each point and which indicate the relativity of the existing political system or the foreign policy of our country.
BUTTERFIELD SUGGESTS that modern international relations represents the “tragic element in human conflict,” in which the central fact “is a certain predicament, a certain situation that contains the elements of conflict irrespective of any special wickedness in any of the parties concerned.” “What is required,” he goes on, “is that we should stretch our imagination to the point of envisaging this particular international predicament in a purer form than either it or anything else ever exists in history.” Such an abstraction of the irreducible dilemma would postulate two groups of states each locked inside its system of righteousness, each moved by reasonable national self-interest, each desirous of avoiding a war, but each fearful, each desperately unsure about the intentions of the other party.
Suppose you have such a situation, and then one party to the predicament becomes over-exasperated and makes too willful a decision; suppose in particular that he does it because he thinks that somebody must take a strong line at last; and we will say that he even intends to bluff, but the bluff does not come off and so a greater war is brought about.
The origin lies in the predicament and not in the action of the man. Because the predicament is irreducible, the mind seeks an answer elsewhere, such as charges that the enemy is unrighteous. The diplomacy of righteousness says that this predicament does not exist, or, which is to them the same thing, that it should not exist. But the fundamental problem exists irrespective of the morality or ideology of each side.
In the midst of the predicament which Butterfield describes, it is difficult for people to conceive how two mutually hostile systems can achieve a relaxation of tension. It appears outside the range of possibility. But, Butterfield tells us, it would be wrong to rule out this possibility in advance because there have been similar irreducible conflicts in the past where it was possible to achieve a relaxation of absolute deadlocks. A function of the historian in such a period of crisis is to methodically analyze other periods of history which have achieved a relaxation of tension—a detente. Butterfield believes that the wars of religion “provide perhaps the closest analogy to the conflicts of the twentieth century,” and that the Reformation period “presents the classical example of extreme tension followed by ultimate detente.” He recalls that the conflict of that period seems strange to us because its underlying assumptions are not understood today, having lost their importance in the face of the tensions which the assumptions produced. The possibility of religious toleration was not realized, and “above all, it was unthinkable that two forms of the Christian religion could co-exist within a given country.” But, once the positions of stability which arose from the predicament were achieved, there was a tendency for people to actively desire its continuation. People began to work at those elements which would maintain that stability—acceptance of the principle of toleration which would transpose the conflict into the realm of persuasion, and the conduct of international relations in a way conducive to international order.
Butterfield is convinced that the historian who is a Christian is especially able to contribute to the analysis and understanding of international relations because he is “more interested in the processes and patterns of long-term history, in the principles that underlie foreign policy, in the ethical issues involved (particularly as they concern the Christian), and in the role of Christianity during an epoch of global revolution.” In the first place, the role of the Christian in studying international affairs is enhanced by the fact that a certain amount of worldly wisdom has gathered around the Christian tradition and stands as a part of European civilization, especially of the tradition of European diplomacy. Since much of this wisdom has been secularized in its absorption into European civilization, there has been a tendency to lose sight of some of the Christian attitudes upon which they are based. As a result, the Christian can serve as a guardian of the elements of continuity in Western civilization and can prevent inflexible interpretations of them by the secular world which is unfamiliar with the underlying Christian attitudes. Since “Christianity in its essence is a risky religion, packed with the kind of ethical implications that are dangerous to status quo’s, established regimes, and reigning systems,” these Christian attitudes are capable of contributing to a breakthrough of the conventional framework of contemporary thinking on foreign affairs. The truths of Christianity are conducive to independence in thought and place the Christian in a position to achieve new perspectives and, by “not turning any mundane programme or temporal ideal into the absolute of absolutes—the Christian has it in his power to be more flexible in respect to all subordinate matters.” The realization that Christ “calls men to constant self-criticism” and that Christians must confess themselves to be sinners requires Christians not to “assume too easily that their morality is identical with that of the political world in general.” The Christian has principles—“the treatment of love, the insistence on humility, the attitude to human personality and the doctrine of sin . . . which can rescue him from the blindness of mere partisanship” and can give him a genuine understanding of the views of another person, group or country. Butterfield considers the Christian capable of contributing to international relations “those forms of intellectual explorations which are accessible only to men in a certain frame of mind, to human beings in love, human beings willing to make fools of themselves for love.”
THE CHRISTIAN is alive to the failure of pacifism, militarism, the maintenance of the status quo or world government to solve the tragic predicament, and is able to move in directions which will be immediately more productive. While Butterfield agrees “that passive suffering and the willingness to be a martyr seem ultimately to move the world more than the resolution which meets force with force,” and that eventually “the voluntary suffering of the pacifist might be the only lantern for the re-discovery of even the things which we call human values,” he disagrees with those who withdraw their country from international affairs through complete unilateral disarmament. It would be wrong for pacifists to seek to impose such a disarmament on their fellow-citizens so long as those citizens do not impose on them contributions to armaments expenditures. In any case, whenever true pacifism emerges, Butterfield presumes “that Christians would protect it in vindication of conscience, and guard it as the kind of treasure which keeps its value when all prudential caluculations fail.” Butterfield suggests that the best way in which a Christian can mitigate the effectiveness of power and limit its role in history is by that spiritual and intellectual influence which, “quietly penetrating free minds, acts as the leaven which leavens the whole lump.”
Self-satisfied reliance upon a strong defense posture is not conducive to peace. Fear of our weapons by a prospective enemy will not maintain peace because “it is fear more than anything else which is the cause of war. Until very recently we ourselves had not lost the realization of the fact that mounting armaments, because they intensified fear and poisoned human relations, operated rather to provoke war than to prevent it.” Much thought must be placed upon matters over and above the question of self-defense, which is something which may be pushed too far, as Butterfield indicates a supreme leader of Christianity has suggested. The paganism at the root of the “war for righteousness” has led to the psychology of total war. “The Christian doctrine of love, however, does have one important consequence which goes to the root of this type of superstition; for it carries the implication that war as a mere holocaust—war as a useless demonstration against sin—would be absolutely inexcusable.”
In relation to those who would use the hydrogen bomb to secure justice, extend liberty or preserve Western civilization, Butterfield thinks that it should be clear that “the destructiveness which some people are now prepared to contemplate is not to be justified for the sake of any conceivable mundane object, any purported religious claim or supramundane purpose, or any virtue that one system of organization can possess against another.” When faced with
a question of a war which would destroy mankind, or in which the effects of victory would be the same as the effects of defeat—then those people who argue that even such a war must be fought, that mankind must put itself on the altar, that we must destroy everything for a so-called righteousness of this particular sort, are not following either Christian charity or the ordinances of Providence. What they are following is a pagan myth of righteousness; they are sacrificing mankind to the daemonic forces. In fact, there is an essential conflict, as there was in the Gospels, between Christian charity and another view of righteousness which survives from ancient dark mythologies.
The contemporary confusion of Christian with pagan elements has resulted in “a more high-powered mischief than either of the attitudes when taken separately; the corruption of the best becomes worse than anything else.” Butterfield proposes that the countries who stand in direct descent from Christian civilization should take the initiative to resolve not to use or further manufacture such weapons, notwithstanding that this resolution will not be believed.
There is so great risk in having the hydrogen bomb that there can hardly be greater risk if we unplug the whole system, and if our governments refuse to have anything to do with the weapon. Even if there were, the radical difference in the quality of these risks would cancel it.
Since 1919, when the victorious Western powers systematized the international situation in such a way that any act to revise it or re-establish just relationships could be characterized as “aggression,” the defense of the status quo has become the major means of increasing the role and scope of war. The flexibility which should be natural to the Christian in relation to mere temporal arrangements has special reference to the problems arising from the territorial and imperial status quo. Butterfield thinks that it is encumbent upon Christians that they realize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, one may share a partial responsibility for what may seem like the sins of others.
There are a number of ways in which we ourselves may provide aggression, or may so behave that we give occasion for sin. As defenders of the existing order of things, we may be committing a crime if we disdain protests and appeals from states which at the moment are not backed by power.
Dr. Butterfield indicates that in the nineteenth century statesmen recognized that responsibility for desperate resorts to violence must be attached to those who, allowing no real means of redress, strongly defend the status quo, and the great Western powers especially objected even to the use of international machinery to interfere with the revision of treaties or with revolutions. But, although the formation of international organizations since 1919 has given the appearance of the establishment of machinery to achieve equal justice, the real result has been “that we have devised no satisfactory machinery for the peaceful revision of the status quo. The new machinery tended to freeze this more definitely than the old had been able to do.” The tendency of these international organizations has been the idealistic attempt to remove the unpleasant aspects of power politics, while the great powers continue to enjoy, unidealistically, the benefits acquired in the past centuries by power politics. These unjust benefits have been covered with the same cloak of international law which is supposed to bring harmony to international relations. Since the justice of revisionist demands can be screened by legalisms, “it is easier for some governments to be virtuous than for others, because the course of virtue happens to coincide with the requirements of self-interest.”
AT THE BASIS of this recent situation has been the growth of legalism in international affairs and the increase of lawyers in international negotiations. This development is not without relation to the fact that recent international relations have been characterized by a legalistic mood of righteousness, and it is dangerous because “the legal mind is liable to be too rigid in the acts of judgment required.” “Because there has been a tendency to take refuge in legalism, it would seem that those who desire revision can always be made to appear as aggressors.” But, as Butterfield indicates, the so-called aggressor “may only be conscious of protesting against established injustices such as the other powers (and, even in recent decades, the League of Nations itself) had often been prepared to leave untouched, out of regard for vested interests.”
Under these circumstances, Butterfield thinks that it is necessary to recall the role which violence and the threat of violence played in traditional diplomacy: “to produce those marginal rectifications in the system which the system had been unable to achieve by its own automatic apparatus.” In the twentieth century, the system has become even less automatic, much more frozen. “In the imperfect state of our international order, it is clear that it requires an act of violence to secure that a topic is in any effective sense put on the agenda at all.” Even readiness to negotiate on the part of the possessing powers does not exclude the necessity of using those acts which we have associated with force and aggression, because once a topic is on the agenda there is no reason to concede anything in negotiations. Thus, “force is needed to jerk our attention (or the attention of the world) to the need for change in the status quo.”
If, therefore, the Western powers have had to retreat after a violent demonstration or before the threat of violence, we ought not to regard this as necessarily a reverse or a cause of shame. It is rather a proof that, once we have been stung to attention, we are ready to listen to justice or make a concession to reasonableness.
Butterfield rejects the view that international organizations or a world government are the solution to the tragic predicament. Reference to an international conference does not solve the problem, it merely changes its position.
Where the conflict is really a cutthroat one it seems to me that the conference method does not put an end to the predicament but merely changes the locality and the setting of it. The whole method is liable to break down if either the Communists or the non-Communists can be fairly sure in advance that on critical issues the other party is going to have the majority.
Even neglecting the fact that the long-run tendency of world government would be to become frozen and to limit human freedom or that its misjudgment could universalize the disaster, such a system cannot make the world immune from total war. Butterfield recalls that the most terrible instance of such a war before 1914 was a conflict between one half of the United States and the other. Even should we have a world-state, civil wars would still be possibilities. Attempting to control and conceal conflicts, rather than to relax them, a world government is most likely to become an agency for aggrandizement of one set of interests against another.
In the realm of persuasion which can replace the predicament of conflict, the role of the Christian will increase in importance. In such a period, the missionary spirit of Christianity will be a vital counter-balance to the missionary spirit of Marxism. Under such conditions Butterfield suggests that it is important for Christians to realize what it is that they are confronting. Much of the ideological impact which Communism can make derives from elements which are essentially Western. Just as its anti-religious elements comes from the West so also do the more productive elements. The essentially Western character of Marxism means that it is performing a service of Westernizing large portions of the world “more radically in a few decades than Western Europe has managed to do in the course of centuries.” Butterfield emphasizes the importance of knowing to what degree the evils which we face at the present time are due to heresies from an original liberalism which characterizes both the Marxist and the democratic systems. He wonders if Communism, due to its Western origins,
does not possess colossal potentialities for future liberty—a liberty that we must not expect to be achieved before an international detente has made it more possible to have a relaxation at home. . . . all systems are going to move in the direction of liberty, if only somebody will open a window so that the world can breathe a more relaxed air and we can end the dominion of fear. If, however, we are unable to achieve this, the very measures which we are taking to preserve liberty in the world are bound to lead to the loss of liberty even in the regions that most prize it. They are bound—if we go on intensifying them—to make us become, in fact, more and more like the thing we are opposing.
It may be a prejudice of mine, but I wonder whether Christians, if they could disentangle their minds from the conventional mundane systems that constrict them, might not within a decade contribute something creative to this deeper cause of human understanding.
One may conclude by wondering whether Butterfield has not gone far in fulfilling his own “prejudice.”
The works of Herbert Butterfield which relate most directly to the topics dicussed in this article are: Christianity and History, (1949); History and Human Relations, (1951); Christianity in European History, (1952); Christianity, Diplomacy and War, (1953); International Conflict in the Twentieth Century, a Christian View, (1960).
An Approach for Conservatives
THE CONSERVATIVE magazine published at the University of Wisconsin, Insight and Outlook, carries a monthly feature, The Nature of the Struggle, of which I am in charge. Much of this feature is devoted to discussion as to how we may best conduct ourselves in the war of ideas. The result of my analysis of conservative methodology will constitute the subject of this brief essay; I want to discuss methods that can and will work, and I will discuss some which can never work. But first, the problem.
Our problem, both domestic and foreign, was thrust clearly into focus on that day nine months ago when Presidential Assistant Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., stated that “the best defense against Communism is the Welfare State.” The problem was examined closely in the lead editorial of the March issue of Insight and Outlook.
Editor Gale Pfund wrote: “The Soviet Union is scoring victory after victory in the cold war, quite basically because of our own moral indecision, which prevents our taking a firm stand against the demands of Mr. Khrushchev. We, as a nation, have not firmly decided which system, capitalism or communism, ought to prevail. Ostensibly, we brandish our swords against an enemy whose avowed methods and purposes represent everything we abhor, but in reality we pursue policies more closely akin to his ideal than our own. We have overburdened private property and private ownership of the means of production with government regulations and controls. We have convinced ourselves of the equitability of the progressive income tax (which in the U.S.S.R. isn’t nearly as graduated as our own), the advisability of government handouts, the morality of federal social control, and the expediency of government intervention in the economy and federal manipulation of the money supply. All of which is closer to Karl Marx than Adam Smith.
“Although we do not necessarily hold the philosophical assumptions of historical and dialectical materialism, we nevertheless pattern our social and economic behavior directly upon the collectivist ideal. How can a nation, whose compromise with welfarism is more in sympathy with the communist ideal than the American, make a firm moral resolve that Western institutions ought to prevail and are ultimately worth fighting for? How can the United States stand up against a government whose strength and determination are unparalleled in the history of the world?
“In my time, it hasn’t been able to do either. The moral irresolve of the West is pitted against the maniacal fanaticism of those in the Kremlin who labor day and night under the absolute conviction that communism is the only proper system of political, social, and economic organization.
“We are asking the Free World to join us in a cause, the merits of which we are still not firmly convinced. The Soviets, on the other hand, profess their beliefs with admirable solidarity and firmness, and with an unwavering ideological consistency even more appealing to some nations than free American dollars.”
This, then, is the problem; this is what Lenin foresaw 38 years ago when he wrote that they would never have to attack the U. S. . . . it would fall like an overripe fruit into their hands. He foresaw the day when our Republic would abound with active anti-communists who would, at the same time, fall for such subtle claptrap as the multitudinous government planning schemes for full employment, protectionism in the tariff field, minimum wage laws, support of small business, and “cradle-to-grave” social security.
What I want to do is to tell something about what a small group of students at the University of Wisconsin is doing about this dilemma. We have found a way, and I shall attempt to convince you that it is the best way.
Ever since Time and the AP mentioned our activities I have been deluged with letters asking the same question. “How do we escape being flunked for our political activity?” Although this is a bit strong, what they really mean is, “How do we, in a hotbed of ‘liberalism,’ escape adverse comment and reprisal for our activity?” To wit, how do we escape being called “neanderthals,” “extremists,” and “reactionary know-nothings?” My answer to them is this:
Ever since the Conservative Club was formed, we have bent every effort to keep it on the highest possible intellectual plane. Our magazine is scholarly and educational; it does not rant and bait. Our speakers are the best that intellectual conservatism can produce; we have not brought a single soapbox orator whose mission would be to pour fire and hell on the leftists. Our library contains the great works of conservative scholars; we keep the inflammatory pamphlets out.
What is the result of an approach of this sort? Well, when we were first organized, I knew what was running through the minds of many of the left-wing faculty. They thought that within a few years we would die out. Or, they expected that we would hop on every extreme movement that happened along, whereupon they would be able to laugh us handily out of existence. Neither came true. Serious students of political science admired our studied approach to this new and unpopular conservatism. The more timorous came forward because we were eminently respectable. The professors were silenced because we demonstrated more regard for the true meaning of academic freedom than they did. In fact, many of them were badly shaken because they could see clearly the viability of our approach to the war of ideas.
Here is another result of this tack: the best way to win any argument is to know more about your opponent’s subject than he himself does. From my own experience, I have found that it pays to know more about socialism than most socialists; it pays to know more about Communism than any left-winger I’ve met; it pays to have learned one’s anti-communism, not from lurid depictions of internal conspiracies, but from long hours spent pouring over the works of Marx and Lenin. In short, we have done the impossible. We have restored the conservative point-of-view to respectability. And if any of you have any hopes of our cause catching on solidly across the nation, you will have to demonstrate more regard for the intellectuals than many conservatives have been willing to do thus far.
At this point you may be wondering: how can I be so positive that this method is best? Before I answer that, I will tender my thumbnail definition of a conservative, and point out its application here. The conservative holds each new innovation up against a yardstick composed of that which has proven worthwhile, viable and moral in the history and traditions of western civilization. In the adjacent sense, the conservative strives to keep what is good and workable and moral while striving to repeal and throw out what is proving to be harmful—by that same yardstick.
Now then, the intellectual approach to the promulgation of an ideology has given us a perfect example. As a matter of fact, it is more than a mere example; it, because of its success, is a conservative’s roadmap—it is a mandate that we heed the oft-quoted aphorism that “History provides the lamp of experience for guidance in the present.”
ON SEPTEMBER 12TH, 1905, ten men met at a Peck’s restaurant in New York City. Upton Sinclair made a statement to that group the importance of which is incalculable. He declared, “I decided that since the professors would not educate the students, it was up to the students to educate the professors.”
At that meeting, the Intercollegiate Society of Socialists was born. The I.S.S. started small. Jack London was the first president, and he was met with wisecracks and abuse. Feeling that education was too slow, and being dissatisfied with the conservatism of both major parties, the leftists of the time joked that “the aim of the society [was] to swat wage slavery with diplomas or smother it with degrees or something.” (That same year, 1905, a young man graduated magna cum laude from Princeton . . . his name was Norman Thomas.)
The tiny I.S.S. began to make headway in the next few years. In 1910, a petition of 300 students for a course in socialism was successful at Harvard. The president of the Harvard I.S.S., Walter Lippmann, declared: “Our object was to make reactionaries, standpatters; standpatters, conservatives; liberals, radicals; and radicals, socialists. In other words, we tried to move everyone up a peg.” About this time, the publication The Intercollegiate Socialist was formed. Among the contributors was Paul H. Douglas, who in 1915 became president of the Columbia I.S.S. By 1912, the Society could fill Carnegie Hall. Then, with its first blush of glory abated, the Society settled down to twenty years of slow arduous work. Its purpose during these years is easily discernible. The organization stressed that it was educational in nature. Its aims were, “to acquaint collegians not only with socialist doctrines, writings and theories, but also to influence college-bred men and women [who were] rapidly assuming a growing part in the weightiest affairs of the nation.”
In 1921, the Society changed its name to the Student League for Industrial Democracy. S.L.I.D. chapters were now spread over hundreds of campuses, and they continued in their avocations of leftism to the thousands of young intellectuals who were passing through the colleges. Whereas “socialism” had been a scare-word in 1905, the S.L.I.D. now claimed as national advisers such men as Clarence Darrow, Thorstein Veblen, Morris Ernst, and Paul Blanshard. On the whole, however, things remained quiet until 1932 when (as we all know) all-the-devil broke loose. Here I would stress a most significant point. How fitting it was that, upon election, Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned not to a team of political hacks, but to a “braintrust” of intellectuals. In addition, the early New Deal found S.L.I.D. graduates beginning to answer loudly the last charge that had been leveled against the effectiveness of the intellectual approach—they began to reach the grass roots. A Wayne University S.L.I.D. member, Walter Reuther, began to stir up labor; John Dewey, a League president of the 30’s, sprouted as an “authority” on education; Reinhold Niebuhr, former president of the New York League, was to become a force in the field of religion. Think of the influence exerted upon the “grass roots” by the mass media; then look at these S.L.I.D. graduates: James Wechsler, editor of the New York Post; Columnist Murray Kempton; Columnist Walter Lippmann; Columnist Max Lerner; USIA Chief Ed Murrow—the list is endless. Leaf through the S.L.I.D. and you will see that it lists hundreds of these people in positions of influence—our whole society is riddled with them! And this is not the result of a multifarious conspiracy, but of education. Now who will venture to say that this movement couldn’t reach the “grass roots”?
Nothing could be clearer than the fact that, in the last forty years, it has been the intellectuals who have steered America on a leftward bent. And I would emphasize again: the gospel of piecemeal socialism and appeasement of international communism which these men now preach from powerful positions was taught them when they were young, when they were in college. The force generated by those ten men fifty years ago has prevailed; those ten men proved conclusively what Prof. Richard Weaver has told conservatives for years . . . Ideas have consequences. Actions can be defended, but it is ideas that shape the destinies of nations.
Now then, in view of what I have just said, the answer to the problem is clear. The hopes for a conservative revival depend on the rapid formation of a new corps of conservative scholars and writers—a new leadership for what Senator Goldwater calls “the Forgotten American,” and, as you’ve seen in the newspapers, it is already on the march. For 5 years we have had an intellectual journal of conservative opinion, National Review. A nation-wide conservative group, Young Americans for Freedom, was born just last fall in the East; last month it filled Manhattan Center in New York. The rising tide of youthful conservatism is already beginning to prove that this is the best way. This is the counter-thrust which, in time, will bail out the ship of state.
WE MUST NOW carefully define the direction we are to take in this war of ideas. We do not have the three decades that it took the left. There is little doubt in my mind but that another thirty years of the current economic nonsense will preclude any worry about Communism in the United States. The problem will then be theirs—how will they raise enough capital to make the remaining hulk of the U. S. into something they would even want as a satellite? Make no mistake about it. History abounds with evidence to prove this point. A monetary collapse, for instance, would do quite as well as a hail of I.C.B.M.’s to sink America. Therefore, we must make haste. A respectable, responsible conservatism must emerge to influence the economic policies of America. This is the rule against which we must measure the vagaries of contemporary rightist philosophy. If any short-range movement, no matter how well-intentioned, impedes the development and progress of this program by casting aspersion upon the respectability or responsibility of contemporary conservatism, it has a net effect of harm! And this applies to the anti-intellectual machinations of any elements which are ideologically obsessed with domestically-rooted conspiracies and disreputable modes of combatting them.
Frank Chodorov has said, “You can’t clean the Communists out of government—they grow there.” If you root out one, he’ll be replaced in a very short time; the idea is what we must fight—fight the “-ism” not the “-ist.” William Buckley has said, “I’m sure that we can withstand the pressures emanating from the Kremlin; I am not so sure, however, that we can continue to resist the pressures emanating from Harvard University.” This pressure is, of course, modern left-liberalism. In other words, the threat of communism could be checked and the tide of socialism rolled back if it were not for the ideological millstone that statist-liberalism has placed around our necks. We could deal with Socialism-Communism with master strokes if it were not for the flock of “liberals” that jump in to the benefit of the foe.
Fighting the minions of collectivism with activist methods, albeit questionable ones, can only frustrate us. Fighting the idea can marshal the lessons of history to our cause. A thought worth remembering—what good does it do to assail the latest left-wing front group with white-hot pokers when all the while universities are turning out the Lippmanns, the Murrows, the Reuthers, and the Wechslers of tomorrow? This is the nature of the struggle!
John Courtney Murray and The American Proposition
THE GROWING right-wing sentiment in American intellectual circles is caused almost certainly, by the awareness of the decline of liberty within the nation and of our inadequate strategy of defense against the external menace of communism. Too often, however, this awareness is simply a vague intuition rather than a precise understanding of our dilemma, and, as a result, many of the new rightists offer solutions that are unrealistic and self-defeating.
A man who appears to come to grips with the nature of the challenge to liberty, and from whom the American right can learn much, is the Jesuit theologian, John Courtney Murray. In his book We Hold These Truths, (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960) he identifies as the substance of democracy the admission of “an order of rights antecedent to the state . . . (and) of another order . . . also antecedent to the state and regulative of its public action as a state . . . the order of justice.” These are the self-evident truths, or, as he calls them, the proposition to which the founding fathers dedicated our nation, and the challenge to liberty is the result of the abandonment of this proposition as the basis of our public philosophy.
This might impress some as simply an attempt to impose Catholic “Natural Law” as the public philosophy of America. A careful reading, however, will show that it is more essentially an appeal for return to the philosophy or consensus of the founders of the nation; a philosophy considerably closer to the Western tradition deriving from Medieval times than to much of what goes by the name of modern liberalism.
The essential Medieval contribution to the cause of liberty was the concept of the “freedom of the church,” which asserted the right of the church to fulfill her spiritual duties of teaching, ruling, and sanctifying, as well as the freedom of the Christian people to live a Christian life. This meant that certain temporal things such as family life, various human relationships, and intellectual truths, were beyond the limits of political order and free “from profanation by the power of the state and other secular powers.” “Freedom of the church,” insofar as it was granted, served as a constitutional limitation on governmental sovereignty, as an instrument for judging the government according to a prior and higher standard, and as a means of insuring that the King would “fight for justice and the freedom of the people.”
Modern politics would substitute the individual human conscience acting through free political institutions for the freedom of the church as a method for achieving the same ends. Philosophical rationalism asserted the autonomy of human reasons, which necessarily implied that all values are man-made. These rationalists conceived of the state simply as a construction of human reason designed to serve man’s wants and interests. The notion of a higher and external standard from which to limit and judge the government’s powers and actions was abandoned. The only standard for political power was an internal one—adherence to the democratic procedure. Once this was complied with, there was no limit to the sovereignty of political power over all human activity. This monistic system resisted the claim of other authorities to speak on human affairs, for it admitted no standard outside of the democratic political process itself.
The libertarians in the Locke tradition sought at least to make the end of their activities the limitation of governmental interference with man’s free direction of his own affairs. While this view did not consider the corporate nature of society, and the demands of justice arising from it, it did serve liberty. While the libertarian concerns himself with extending freedom, he cannot conceive of justice as demanding action by the state for ends other than the extension and protection of freedom. It is on this point that the Catholic and the libertarian necessarily differ, for the Catholic insists that justice can demand positive action by the state for attaining and distributing certain human needs. Both, however, are united in their opposition to the theories of our contemporary social engineers, which Murray labels “evolutionary scientific humanism.”
This is the latest step in the monistic development of modern political thought. It is rationalist and insists on the complete independence of human reason, but differs from the old rationalism in that it is evolutionary. It does not conceive of a static law of nature waiting to be discovered. Rather, nature evolves, and the goal according to them then becomes the advancement of the evolutionary process by increasing the fullness of life. The necessary steps are determined by scientific examination. The total resources of government are devoted to the task of furthering the evolutionary process and forming the new citizen. Philosophies concerning a juridical order with limitations on government or standards to which the government must conform are simply dismissed as the aims or ideals of a particular society, lacking any necessary relationship to the real order.
We have come the full course from the Whig attempt to regard government as man’s instrument for protecting his freedom and property to an attitude towards the state as an end in itself from which man receives the interpretation of his own nature and guidance towards his destiny. “The state creates the ethos of society, embodies it, imparts it to its citizens, and sanctions its observance with rewards and punishments.” Any source of authority which attempts to judge society other than the democratic process itself is viewed with distrust, for no standard is recognized other than that set by the democratic state itself. Such an attitude is the height of absolutism: the political process itself is deified.
This philosophy, or democratic religion, is most pronounced in the field of education, where the ideal is to mold a future citizen who will fit the pattern of social desirability as determined by the democratic process. This contrasts with the former ideal of educating a free citizen conscious of both his own liberty and the order of justice which the state must serve. This accounts for the violent objections of extremists of the scientific humanist camp to private religious education. They cannot help but regard as devisive a system of education which gives men an understanding of their own nature, as well as a higher standard on which to judge the actions of the state that conformity to the democratic process itself. The standard offered in the place of conformity is how well the state protects and advances liberty and justice.
Reflection on these matters suggests that American Catholicism, with its strong commitment to natural law may yet be one of the strongholds of the cause of liberty in America. The political philosophy of the founding fathers—the American consensus—finds one of its few and strongest modern sources of support in American Catholicism. This goes a long way towards explaining the basic compatibility, which history has demonstrated, between Catholicism and American democracy. Our public philosophy at its inception asserted the same principle as the medieval “freedom of the church” theory: that the government is limited and is subject to direction from standards outside of itself. The first amendment to the Constitution provides all that the church need demand from the state, namely, limitation of the state’s powers and the exemption of certain realms of human life—especially those pertaining to moral and religious matters—from the political sphere. This guarantees the church just what the medieval notion guaranteed: freedom to fulfill its mission, and the freedom of Christian people to live as Christians.
This contrasts with the juridical omnipotence claimed for the state by the Jacobin liberals, who tolerate religion so long as it remains a purely individual matter and does not act as an authority for collective attitudes in opposition to the state’s dictates. The American separation of church and state is a pragmatic arrangement devised to further the peace and common good of our pluralistic nation, not an institutional pronouncement of the irrelevance of religion as a guide for man and society.
For this reason the American system did not incur Papal condemnation as did continental liberalism, which asserted the thesis of the juridical omnipotence and omnicompetence of the state, and predicated freedom of religion and separation of church and state on this thesis.
* * *
In the light of these conclusions, Dr. Murray devotes a major segment of the book to an analysis of our struggle with Communism, and to a plea for the development of some sort of doctrine on the use of force. He examines the Soviet Union in its four unique aspects: first, as a state or power; secondly, as an imperium “organized and guided in accordance with a revolutionary doctrine”; thirdly, as an empire “mastering the older imperialistic techniques of military conquest, political puppetry, etc.”; and lastly, as the “legate of a longer history . . . as the inheritor both of Tsarist imperialism and of mystical panslavist messianism.” The Soviet Union can not be understood unless all these aspects are taken into consideration, and the Cold War is especially unintelligible unless the second aspect, the revolutionary doctrine, is considered. Without that doctrine the Soviet Union would not be a threat to the United States. Naturally the notion of a nation guided in its action by a strict doctrine is incomprehensible to the pragmatic American mind, and this accounts for much of our failure in the Cold War.
Professor Murray draws certain conclusions with regard to our cold war strategy from his understanding of the Soviet doctrine. These conclusions eliminate the need of relying solely on the resources of improvisation or practical wisdom in dealing with the Soviet moves, since they enable us to base our actions on certain expectations, for instance, that “communist leadership will yield only to calculations of power and success.” Consequently, we should “put an end . . . to the Wilsonian era of diplomacy with its exaggerated trust in world assemblies,” and rely on direct negotiations with the Soviets. Furthermore, we should negotiate to achieve certain policy objectives, rather than base our policies on negotiations. We should cease to enter negotiations with “sincerity” as the only guiding principle, and realize that the search for Soviet “sincerity” is a total waste of time.
This approach will rule out “disengagement,” for, given the inherent aggressiveness of Soviet doctrine, the Soviet Union “continually probes for every vacuum of power and for every soft spot of purpose.” Disengagement would “heighten the danger of war, most probably by permitting the creation of situations that we could not possible accept.”
Soviet doctrine dictates a strategy of maximum security and minimum risk. Their first consideration is to take no action which will endanger the gains of Socialism. Since the Soviet Union acts under an internal dynamism, it will not be provoked into taking actions exceeding the minimum risk. We have also been following the same policy of maximum security and minimum risk, but this is disastrous for us since it inhibits us from blocking any aggressive thrust. It puts us in the position of taking decisive action only when the question is a matter of our survival, in contrast to the Soviets who use force for limited goals and seek to avoid being in the dilemma of having to use force as a matter of survival.
Realizing this situation, we should reverse our strategy and seek to create situations of risk for the Soviet Union, risks which they would wish to avoid. Only in this way can we seize the initiative in world affairs and reverse the pattern of Communist advances.
Murray goes on to examine the moral question of the use of force by the state. He criticizes the two common approaches in American thought, that of near-pacifism, which would seek to apply the beatitudes to the state, and that of moral ambiguism, which would have us avoid making moral decisions. The tradition of reason demonstrates that the nature of the state demands the exercise of force for the purpose of advancing and protecting liberty and justice. There are certain moral principles regulating the use of force, but the very exercise of force is not in itself immoral.
We Hold These Truths is a significant and insightful contribution to the appreciation of the present moral crisis, both in the philosophical realm and in the field of practical politics and diplomacy. It is a book to be recommended to all thoughtful readers anxious for a dispassionate analysis of the American philosophy.
NEW BOOKS AND ARTICLES
THE FOLLOWING IS A SELECT LIST OF BOOKS AND ARTICLES WHICH, IN THE OPINION OF THE EDITORS, MAY BE OF INTEREST TO OUR READERS.
for the advancement of conservative thought on the campus
“. . . Much of the stir on the campus is due to a mushrooming national organization called the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists . . . ISI puts some remarkably high grade material into the hands of students through “The Individualist,” a news-letter publication . . .”
—Wall Street Journal
“. . . There is a growing undercurrent of conservative conviction among students . . . and there emerges the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists with a firm foothold in both the East and the Midwest . . .”
—St. Petersburg Independent
“. . . Today, America’s ‘angry young men’ seem to be angry at a system which does TOO MUCH for the individual and does not allow him to do enough for himself . . . The principal spark plug of this revolt has been the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists . . .”
—American Economic Foundation
“. . . (The) Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, founded in 1953 to combat campus socialists, now has a national mailing list of 12,000 confirmed conservatives for its literate newsletter the INDIVIDUALIST . . .”
“. . . The spearhead of this ‘new radicalism’ is an organization known as the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, which for seven years has preached the philosophy of freedom on college campuses . . . it will take the continuing effort of its adherents to demonstrate that the object of conservatism is solely to extend the area of individual freedom and arrest the spread of socialism. The ISI offers an outstanding example of how the job is done . . .”
—The Arizona Republic
INTERCOLLEGIATE SOCIETY OF INDIVIDUALISTS, INC.
National Headquarters: 410 LAFAYETTE BUILDING, PHILADELPHIA 6
Midwest Office: 1014 LEMCKE BUILDING, INDIANAPOLIS 4
[* ] Ronald Hamowy is an Associate Editor of New Individualist Review.
William F. Buckley, Jr., the Editor-in-Chief of National Review, is widely known as a writer and lecturer. His published works include God and Man at Yale and Up From Liberalism.
[* ] I use the term “liberalism” as it was employed in the 19th century in the hope that the dedicated libertarian might one day have his historic name again.
[* ] October 21, 1961
[* ] Russell Kirk, Research Professor of Political Science at C. W. Post College is the Editor of The University Bookman and is contributing Editor of National Review. He is the author of many books on conservative thought, including The Conservative Mind, Academic Freedom and Prospects for Conservatives.
[* ] Bruce Goldberg received his B.A. from the City College of New York and is currently doing graduate work in philosophy at Princeton University, where he holds the Proctor Fellowship.
[1 ] p. 9. In this, and all succeeding quotations, the italics are in the text.
[2 ] In all fairness I must bring to the attention of the reader the fact that Miss Rand is not to be held responsible for thinking of these titles, only for accepting them. She tells us in a footnote that their author is Nathaniel Branden.
[3 ] p. 8.
[4 ] pp. 8-9.
[5 ] pp. 19-20.
[6 ] p. 21.
[7 ] pp. 29-30. A few other doctrines are also held to be Hume’s but their attribution to him is too silly to be worth comment.
[8 ] p. 30.
[9 ] Letter from Adam Smith to William Strahan. The entire text of the letter may be found in the Open Court Publishing Co. edition of Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding or on p. 604 of Ernest Campbell Mossner’s The Life of David Hume (Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1954).
[10 ] p. 33.
[11 ] For those who are interested in what Kant really said, a scholarly and highly critical account is contained in H. J. Paton’s The Categorical Imperative (Hutchinson’s University Library, 1946). Paton discusses Miss Rand’s error (though not, of course, with reference to the fact that she made it) on pp. 48-50.
[12 ] p. 36.
[13 ] I suggest as a start that the reader identify the mystics of muscle in this section with the Attila-people of the introduction and the mystics of the spirit with the Witch Doctors. If this results in no increase in clarity it might be tried the other way round.
[14 ] pp. 149, 150, 151, 161.
[15 ] Indeed, on p. 216 Miss Rand assures us that the truth is true.
[16 ] pp. 176-78. “Your code” here is utilitarianism, my evidence being the last sentence of the preceding paragraph in which the author speaks of a code whose major principle is the greatest good for the greatest number.
[17 ] Both of these statements occur on page 224.
[* ] Leonard Liggio is an historian living in New York City.
[* ] Roger Claus is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin where he was President of the Conservative Club and an Associate Editor of its publication, Insight and Outlook. The above article was adapted by him from a speech delivered to a conservative meeting in Chicago.
[* ] John P. McCarthy is an Associate Editor of New Individualist Review.