Revisionism and the Historical Blackout - Henry Elmer Barnes

Global Crusading and the Historical Blackout are Undermining Historical Integrity

The revisionist position bearing on the second World War is more firmly established factually, even on the basis of the materials which revisionist scholars are permitted to examine, than the Revisionism of the 1920 was by the revelations produced after 1918. But the effective presentation of revisionist contentions is frustrated, so far as any substantial influence is concerned, over any predictable future.

Certain revisionist scholars, led by the late Charles Austin Beard, have justly protested the fact that they are not permitted anything like the same access to the relevant documents as is the case with the so-called "court historians."

This is true and deplorable, but it is not a consideration of major importance with respect to Revisionism today. Revisionists already have plenty of facts. It may be safely assumed that any further revelations will only more firmly establish the revisionist position. Otherwise, all the archives and other still-secret materials would, long since, have been made available to reputable scholars, so that President Roosevelt and his administration might be cleared of unfair and inaccurate charges, founded upon limited and unreliable information. If there were nothing to hide, then, there would, obviously, be no reason for denying access to the documents.

In short, the revisionist position is not likely to be shattered by any future documentary revelations. There is every prospect that it will be notably strengthened thereby, and this assumption is confirmed by some recently edited documents on the Far Eastern situation in 1937. These show that China and Japan were growing tired of friction and conflict and were about to agree that they should get together and oppose the Communists as the chief common enemy. But the American authorities looked askance at this. Instead, they encouraged and made possible the resumption of war between China and Japan.

The development of Revisionism in connection with the second World War is placed in jeopardy mainly by the hostile attitude which exists on the part of both the general public and the historical profession toward accepting the facts and their implications with respect to world events and American policies during the last fifteen years.

The attitude and emotions of the public during wartime have been maintained without notable change by means of persistent propaganda. There has been no such disillusionment and reversal of attitude since 1945 as took place rather rapidly after 1918. The United States seems all too likely to undertake a third bloody crusade before it is fully aware of the real causes and disastrous results of the second.

The factual justification for a reversal of public attitudes and emotions is far more extensive and impressive than was the case following the first World War. But the party which was in power during the war continued to hold office until 1953, and the potency and scope of propaganda have so increased that the emotions and convictions of wartime have been perpetuated for more than a decade after Pearl Harbor. Incidentally, this is ominous evidence of our susceptibility to propaganda as we approach the "Nineteen Eighty-Four" way of life.

The historical profession is, perhaps, even less tolerant of Revisionism than is the general public. Most of those who had been leading revisionists during the 1920's espoused our second crusade, even before it exploded into war at the time of Pearl Harbor. Great numbers of historians entered into war propaganda work of one kind or another after Pearl Harbor and thus have a vested interest in perpetuating the myth of the nobility of the cause which enlisted their services. Therefore, the historical profession is oriented and powerfully fortified against any acceptance of revisionist scholarship. A number of the leading revisionists of the 1920's have now become court historians, and most of the other erstwhile revisionists refuse to admit that we were as thoroughly misled by the second crusade as by the first.

As a result of all this and numerous other factors and forces hostile to Revisionism, the situation is not encouraging to any historians who might otherwise be inclined to undertake honest research in the field. To do so would mean departmental antagonism, loss of promotion, and possibly discharge from their posts. Those not dissuaded by such considerations have to face irresponsible smearing. The very idea or concept of Revisionism is now anathema and is actually under fire at the hands of a number of prominent historians.

In case a few historians are not discouraged or intimidated by professional hostility or the prospect of irresponsible smearing, and remain determined to do substantial work on the actual causes and merits of the second World War, there is every likelihood that their efforts will prove futile so far as publication is concerned. Forthright revisionist material, however scholarly, is, for all practical purposes, excluded from publication in the great majority of our newspapers and periodicals. Only two small publishing houses in the United States have been willing to publish books embodying revisionist facts and conclusions, and they often require subsidies beyond the resources of the average private scholar. Few historians are going to be lured by the prospect of devoting years of research to a project and then be compelled to store away their completed manuscripts in a filing cabinet. They are more likely to be "practical" and fall in line with the court historians, which is the path to professional prestige and prosperity today.

When any scholar defies professional hostility and successfully gambles upon the slight prospect of publication for the results of his labors, there is little likelihood that his book will have anything like the same influence on the modification of public opinion as did the outstanding revisionist volumes of the 1920's and early 1930's. The probability is that any substantial and meritorious revisionist volume will be given the silent treatment—that is, it will not be reviewed at all in the majority of newspapers and periodicals.

When a newspaper or a periodical decides actually to review a revisionist book, it has available, as we have noted, a large corps of hatchet men, both on its own staff and drawn from eager academicians, who can be relied upon to attack and smear revisionist volumes and to eulogize the works of court historians who seek to perpetuate the traditional mythology.

There is, thus, very little probability that even the most substantial and voluminous revisionist writing on the second World War can have any decisive impact upon public opinion for years to come. One only needs to contrast the enthusiastic reception accorded to Walter Millis's The Road to War in 1935 with the general ignoring or smearing of the much more substantial and meritorious volume by William Henry Chamberlin, America's Second Crusade, in 1950.

The probability is that Revisionism, in relation to the second World War, will never be widely accepted directly on the basis of its factual merit. It will only become palatable, if ever, after we have suffered some devastating economic or political disaster which causes the American public to reverse its attitudes and policies on world affairs and to seek an ideological justification through espousing revisionist contentions. But it is obvious that it will probably require a tremendous shock—a veritable military and political catastrophe—to bring about the degree of disillusionment and realism required to produce any such result.

There is infinitely greater cause for a reversal of public attitudes today than there was in 1923, when Woodrow Wilson remarked to James Kerney: "I should like to see Germany clean up France, and I should like to see Jusserand [the French ambassador] and tell him so to his face." But, as indicated above, this ample factual basis for a comparable revision of public opinion has produced no substantial public or historical disillusionment with respect to our second crusade. Disillusionment has not even gone far enough to produce tolerance toward those who seek to explain realistically the historical basis of the transformation of Stalin from the "noble ally" of a decade ago into the current incarnation of Satan himself.

As is implied above, even though the tenets of Revisionism, with respect to the second World War, may at some distant time achieve popular acceptance in the wake of overwhelming national disaster, this will not necessarily mean any reinstatement of objective historical scholarship. The probability is that any such future period may also be one in which we will have completed the transition into "Nineteen Eighty-Four" society, which will crush out all semblance of historical freedom and objectivity. As we shall point out in a moment, ominous trends in this direction have already set in.

What we may conclude from all this is that both the public and the historians seem quite likely to be effectively protected against any immediate ravages at the hands of Revisionism. But what they will pay for this "protection" may be the greatest disaster which historical science has ever encountered since the era of the cave paintings of the Stone Age.

However much we may recoil from the prospect, there seems a strong probability that we are now entering the twilight of historical science. This is the penalty which has been exacted, so far as history and historians are concerned, for ballyhooing and defending crusades rather than seeking the truth. History has been an intellectual casualty in both World Wars, and there is much doubt that it can be rehabilitated during the second half of the century. Indeed, there is every prospect that it will become more and more an instrument and adjunct of official propaganda—a supine instrument of our "Ministry of Truth."

Many will counter these assertions by contending that the elaborate development of the methodology of historical research and exposition in our day is an adequate safeguard against the eclipse of historical integrity, prestige, and independence. But technical methodology is of little significance if those who utilize it are dominated by intense emotions or personal ambition rather than by a desire to ascertain the facts. Ample footnotes are no guarantee of accuracy or objectivity. They may only document falsehood. Formal compliance with technical methodology may only enable an historian to distort or falsify material in more complicated and ostensibly impressive fashion. If one does not wish to ascertain or state the facts, then the most effective methods of locating, classifying, and expounding the facts are nullified and of no avail.

Only a generation or so ago it was believed by most thoughtful historians that nationalism and militarism were the chief obstacle and menace to historical objectivity. It was assumed that an international outlook would make for truth and tolerance. It was held that, if we understood the extensive and complicated international contributions to all national cultures, most forms of hatred and bias would disappear. Internationalists then stressed the blessings of peace. The great majority of them were pacifists, admired peace, meant peace when they said peace, and repudiated all thought of military crusades for peace.

Had internationalism retained the same traits that it possessed even as late at the mid-30's, these assumptions as to the beneficent impact of internationalism upon historical writing might have been borne out in fact. But, during the years since 1937, the older pacific internationalism has been virtually extinguished, and internationalism has itself been conquered by militarism and aggressive globaloney.

Militarism was, formerly, closely linked to national arrogance. Today, it stalks behind the semantic disguise of internationalism, which has become a cloak for national aggrandizement and imperialism. Programs of world domination by great powers that would have left Napoleon, or even Hitler, aghast are now presented with a straight face as international crusades for freedom, peace, sweetness and light. Peace is to be promoted and ultimately realized through bigger and more frequent wars. The obvious slogan of the internationalists of our day, who dominate the historical profession as well as the political scene, is "perpetual war for perpetual peace." This, it may be noted, is also the ideological core of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" society.

Borne along by an irresistible tide of crusading fervor for over a decade and a half, most historians have fallen in line with this ominous revolution in the nature, influence, and goals of internationalism. Among well-known historians, this transition is probably most perfectly exemplified by the ideological shift in the thinking and writings of Carlton J.H. Hayes, once an able and eloquent critic of militarism, imperialism, and international meddling. The majority of our historians now support international crusades—the "saviour with the sword" complex—with far more vehemence, obsession, and intolerance than were exhibited by the most ardent nationalistic historians of the past. In my opinion, Droysen, Treitschke, Lamartine, Michelet, Macaulay, and Bancroft were calm scholars and pacific publicists compared to our present-day historical incitors to global crusades such as James Thomson Shotwell, Edward Mead Earle, Thomas A. Bailey, Samuel Flagg Bemis, Henry Steele Commager, Allan Nevins, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and the like. To resist the saviour-with-the-sword program today is akin to treason, politically, and professionally suicidal for any historian. He is immediately smeared as an "isolationist," which is today a far worse crime before the bar of historical judgment than overt forgery of documents.

Some historians admit that this crusading by the nationalistic and militaristic wolf in the sheep's clothing of internationalism and its global wars for peace may eliminate objectivity from the history of recent events. But they contend that historical serenity may, nevertheless, survive when treating more remote eras and personalities. This is unlikely, because the emotions that have nullified historical objectivity in dealing with the history of the last twenty years are projected back into our portrayal and interpretations of the more distant past.

Germans from Arminius onward are now interesting chiefly as precursors of Hitler in one way or another. Since Hitler was a neurotic, and perhaps a paranoid, all German history is portrayed as a product of paranoia, and the only real solution is the elimination of all Germans. Paul Winkler has written about a "thousand-year conspiracy" of the Germans to incite wars against civilization, and Lord Robert Vansittart would, according to his Lessons of My Life, extend the period of plotting to nearly two thousand years. William M. McGovern, in his book From Luther to Hitler, has already implied that everything in German history since Luther is mainly significant as preparing the way for Hitler. Bishop Bossuet, actually the great ideological apologist for paternalistic absolutism, becomes the first French fascist because his doctrines were the chief political inspiration of Marshal Petain. Proudhon, about whom historians long wrangled as to whether he is to be most accurately classified as an anarchist or as a socialist, is now revealed by J. Salwyn Schapiro to be a father of French Fascism. At present it seems impossible to write a biography of Ivan the Terrible without indicating the deep similarity between Ivan and Stalin, and devoting as much attention to the latter as to the former. The menace of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane has become historically important mainly as a warning against the current challenge of the Kremlin. Serious scholars have even sought to interpret Socrates, long supposed to have been the first martyr to the freedom of thought and expression, as the father of Fascism. Plato, of late, has frequently been described as the outstanding Greek fascist. Even the great warriors of mid-Eastern antiquity are portrayed as prototypes of Hitler and Stalin. The conquering heroes of the Sung, Tang, Ming, and Manchu dynasties of China only prepared the way for Mao Tse-tung. Indeed, Richard Match, in the New York Times, December 30, 1951, suggested that the vicissitudes of Jade Star, the favorite concubine of Kublai Khan, hold many lessons "for troubled China today."

Some concede the current dangers to historical science which lie in the factors briefly described above. But they gain solace and reassurance from the assumption that the strong emotions which have gripped historical science for several decades will soon subside and that the objectivity and tolerance that preceded the first World War will ultimately reassert themselves.

Unfortunately, all the main political, social, and cultural trends of our time point ominously in the opposite direction. The discovery of politicans that the "giddy-minds-and-foreign-quarrels" strategy is the most certain key to political success and extended tenure of office is rapidly forcing the world into the pattern of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" society, if, indeed, this has not already been achieved. Historical writing and interpretation are rapidly being brought into line with the needs and mental attitudes of such a political regime.

The rhetorical basis of the global crusades of our day—"perpetual war for perpetual peace—is the most gigantic and ominous example in all history of the "Newspeak" and "doublethink" of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" semantics. We have already pointed out that it is also the cornerstone of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" ideology. The security measures alleged to be necessary to promote and execute global crusades are rapidly bringing about the police state in hitherto free nations, including our own. Any amount of arbitrary control over political and economic life, the most extensive invasions of civil liberties, the most extreme witch-hunting, and the most lavish expenditures, can all be demanded and justified on the basis of alleged "defense" requirements, without even examining the validity of the need for such defensive measures. This is precisely the psychological attitude and procedural policy which dominates "Nineteen Eighty-Four" society.

The emotional tensions essential to the support of perpetual global crusading have facilitated the dominion of propaganda over almost every phase of intellectual and public life. The books by James Burnham, The Managerial Revolution, The Machiavellians, The Struggle for the World, The Coming Defeat of Communism, and Containment or Liberation? have helped to prepare us ideologically for the reception of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" institutions, political techniques, and mental attitudes. They "soften us up" for the more willing reception of a system of military managerialism.

The hysterical reaction following Orson Welles' bogus radio broadcast on October 30, 1938, depicting an invasion from Mars, emphasizes the American capacity for credulity and shows how wartime propaganda in the next war, whether cold, hot, or phony, can readily duplicate anything of the kind portrayed in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Those who are skeptical on this point will do well to read Hadley Cantrirs book, The Invasion from Mars.

The fact that our propaganda agencies have been able to hold public opinion fairly well within the confines of the illusions of wartime for over eight years is sufficient evidence that our propaganda machinery is equal to all the emergencies and responsibilities likely to be imposed upon it by "Nineteen Eighty-Four" conditions. From five to seven years is as long as Oceania can maintain fever hatred of either Eurasia or Eastasia in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

We have already richly developed the "Newspeak" and the "doublethink" semantics of Nineteen Eighty-Four where the War Department is known as the "Ministry of Peace," the propaganda and public lying are conducted by the "Ministry of Truth," the espionage system and torture chambers are administered by the "Ministry of Love," and the department which is entrusted with the problem of keeping the masses subdued by attributing their drab life and grinding poverty to the need for defense is known as the "Ministry of Plenty."

Thomas A. Bailey approvingly warns us that, unless we wish to have greater deception of the public by the executive department of the Federal government, we must free the Executive of hampering congressional control in foreign affairs: "Deception of the people may, in fact, become increasingly necessary, unless we are willing to give our leaders in Washington a freer hand." We appear likely to get both greater deception and more executive irresponsibility.

These ominous trends have their clear implications for the future of historical science. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell portrays it as necessary to intimidate and hire servile bureaucrats to falsify current history. This may not be necessary for a time, as we ourselves enter the "Nineteen Eighty-Four" way of life. Indeed, the writings and intrigues of our interventionist and war-minded historians have been a powerful force propelling us in this direction. In the opinion of the writer, James Thomson Shotwell, who has been the most influential of our interventionist historians for more than a third of a century, has done more than any other American intellectual figure to speed us on our way into the "Nineteen Eighty-Four" pattern of public life. Edward Mead Earle, Henry Steele Commager, Allan Nevins, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and a host of younger men are now following enthusiastically in his footsteps.

Among other things, Shotwell was one of the chief inventors of the myth and fantasy of an "aggressive nation" and "aggressive war," which have become a basic semantic fiction and instrument of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" international jargon, policy, and procedure. It has been adopted enthusiastically by Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. This phraseology has now lost all semblance of ethics, realism, logic, and consistency, however effective it may be in international propaganda. Indeed, as Henry W. Lawrence pointed out nearly twenty years ago, the concept of "aggressive war" never possessed any historical realism:

The harmonizing of national policies must deal with fundamentals; with the things that commonly have caused wars.

The moral right to keep on possessing the best regions of the earth is directly balanced by the right to fight and capture them. It is amazing that so few people will admit this axiom of international morality. Popular opinion is widely befogged in the more comfortable countries by the childish notion that an aggressive war is wicked but a defensive war is righteous. They are, of course, precisely equal in moral quality, as long as war is the only adequate instrument by which vested wrongs can be righted and national needs supplied. The next rational step toward a tolerable world peace would be the broadcasting of this truth throughout Great Britain, France, and the United States. It is already familiar to the peoples of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Since 1929, and especially since 1937, the "aggressor myth" has been made the basis of the unrealistic and hypocritical international ethics and jurisprudence associated invariably with "Nineteen Eighty-Four" semantics and propaganda in which the enemy is always an aggressor and wars are fought to stop aggression. Since the second World War the "aggressor" has become the nation or coalition that is defeated in war, whatever the responsibility for starting hostilities. Being defeated, it must be punished and its leaders exterminated. Driven home by the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, this subterfuge has given advance notice to leaders in any future wars that they must not take the risk of being defeated, no matter what horrors they have to unleash to assure victory. In this way the internationalists who falsely pose as protagonists of peace have not only produced a condition of more or less permanent war but have also made it certain that future wars will become ever more savage and devastating. No possible means of destruction can be spared to assure victory.

The majority of the writings of our historians on recent world history during the last decade and a half could be warmly accepted by an American "Ministry of Truth." The presidential address of Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, given before the American Historical Association at Chicago on December 29, 1950, with its eulogy of war and the myth-mongers, could easily have been an official assignment executed for such a Ministry. He even preferred to provide a picture of himself in a naval uniform to be used for the program rather than to have himself portrayed in the lowly and pacific garb of a scholar. One of the most eminent of our diplomatic historians has actually proclaimed that the most commendable result of the second World War was that it provided us with a new and stronger opponent after Hitler had been overthrown. Even our court historians work without compulsion.

Few historians have been critical of the trend toward the "Nineteen Eighty-Four" patterns, and probably many of them, suffering from autointoxication with globaloney, have not even recognized the trend. Some who do recognize it are so obsessed that they eulogize it. Such is the case with Henry Steele Commager in his article, "The Lessons of April 6, 1917," appearing in the New York Times Magazine of April 6, 1952; and with Waldo G. Leland, who proudly details the services of American historians in our "Ministry of Truth" from the first World War to the present time in an article on "The Historians and the Public in the United States" in the Revista de Histori a de America, June, 1952. Those who have sought to spread the alarm have been slapped down and smeared.

The impact of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" pressures on our historical writing now appears to have become more rapid and impressive than was apparent in the years immediately following the war. The newspapers on January 14, 1951, announced that President Truman was establishing a corps of court historians to prepare an acceptable official history of world events and American policy. 52 The avowed purpose was to protect American citizens from the lies to be found in historical works written by "Communist imperialist historians." It was implied that Admiral Morison would have general direction of the group. They would operate in conjunction with the official historians already at work within the Armed Services and the State Department. It may fairly be assumed that any historians who differ with the official texts and interpretations will be regarded as agents of "Communist imperialism," whatever their prior record of hostility to the communist way of life. It is only a step from this to the rewriting of the newspapers, which was the task of Winston Smith, the central figure in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

There is, of course, an element of sardonic humor in all this. Actually, the "Communist imperialist historians" of Soviet Russia are almost fanatical partisans of the Roosevelt foreign policy which brought us into the second World War to aid Russia. Hence, if any American historians might be suspected of "Communist imperialist" attitudes and tendencies, it is the interventionist group who operate the blackout and oppose Revisionism.

Though this program and trend constitute probably the greatest threat to freedom and objectivity in historical writing in modern times, there has been no evidence of any alarm or protest on the part of the leading American historians. Indeed, on January 29, 1951, the New York Herald Tribune announced that some 875 historians and other social scientists had joined in a public statement warmly endorsing the cold war and Secretary Acheson's policy:

"We support the present policy and insist that it be continued and developed without flinching. Actually, it is neither more nor less than the world-wide application of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and the other basic policy declarations."

This statement not only points up the apathy of historians to the threat to their professional independence but also emphasizes their levity in regard to historical accuracy. The authors of the Declaration of Independence and of the Gettysburg Address were both inveterate opponents of our being involved in "foreign entanglements."

The statement also serves potently to illustrate the transformation of the mental attitude of the members of the American Historical Association who listened with respect and warm approval, in 1916, to the noble address of its president, George Lincoln Burr, on "The Freedom of History." Indeed, there is a well-founded rumor that the idea of creating an official corps of court historians did not originate with President Truman but was passed on to him by influential anti-revisionist historians who envisaged the program as an effective way to check and intimidate revisionist scholars. That some English historians are aware of the danger is evident from the recent book of Herbert Butterfield, History and Human Relations, in which he criticizes the "independent" historians who are hired by the Foreign Office and other governmental departments but claim to set forth the record with complete detachment.

It is quite apparent that what our officialdom fears are not the lies of "Communist imperialist historians," which could scarcely reach, much less influence, the mass of American citizens, but the truth that might be told by native American historians of long lineage, the highest patriotic motives, and complete loyalty to the American way of life as it existed before 1937. Incidentally, this trend also means that, whereas Revisionism after the second World War is difficult and frustrated, it may be nonexistent and outlawed after the third world war.

That the new policy started bearing fruit immediately was amply demonstrated at the meeting of the American Historical Association in New York City in December, 1951. The official historians were present in large numbers and some fourteen of them were on the program. The Army historians were the most conspicuous, with eleven men on the program as compared with two for the State Department and one for the Navy. This was in addition to the quasi-official court historians, and the blackout contingent among the civilian historians, who dominated most of the programs devoted to diplomatic history.

Not only is there to be an official history of the United States and its foreign policy, conceived in terms of the wisdom and necessity of current "Nineteen Eighty-Four" trends, but there is also planned a history of all mankind along similar lines for "Oceania" (the United States, the Atlantic Pact Nations, and Latin America). The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recently announced the plan to prepare a six-volume history of mankind at a cost of $400,000, to be directed by Julian Huxley and edited by Ralph E. Turner. There can be no doubt from the prospectus that the gigantic work will have an international slant. Such an historical treatise might well be a great contribution to human knowledge and international understanding. But the auspices and sources of support will create great difficulties for Huxley, Turner, and their associates in preventing the book from falling into a frame of reference designed to show that mankind has been moving ahead from the days of Pithecanthropus erectus in order to evolve the form of the world policy which is hastening us into the "Nineteen Eighty-Four" system of life.

Occasionally, if very rarely, the ghost of Charles Austin Beard comes forth to stalk through the historical council chambers and to rebuke historians for their voluntary servitude in the "Ministry of Truth." A notable example was the paper read by Professor Howard K. Beale before the American Historical Association in Washington on December 28, 1952, on "The Professional Historian: His Theory and His Practice."

It is obvious that our historians, even those today most congenial to the global crusading which is leading us into the "Nineteen Eighty-Four" setup, may well take warning. If the transition is followed by severe disillusionment and a reversal of existing public attitudes, the now popular trends in historical writing may be sharply curtailed or even become the vestibule to torture chambers.

Even though current trends in our world policy continue during the early stages of our entry into the "Nineteen Eighty-Four" regime, our historians who now warmly embrace militarism, the crusading spirit, and war hysteria, may be over-confident. In a harsh, totalitarian society, even slight ideological deviations become heresies punishable by liquidation. General sympathy with the system does not assure safety. One has only to recall Hitler's purge of June and July, 1934, and Stalin's purges of Trotskyites and his later purges even of Stalinites who did not become sufficiently aware in time of the latest interpretations of Soviet philosophy and strategy.

Henry Steele Commager, one of our most ardent interventionist historians, and, hence, one of the profession most responsible for the current intellectual atmosphere of this country, has recently protested against the growing intellectual intolerance and witch-hunting, especially in the field of education. Commager may well be reminded that such a protest may furnish the basis for his liquidation. In a totalitarian society one cannot pick and choose which elements of totalitarianism he will accept and which he will reject. All phases must be accepted with enthusiasm and without protest.

Another important fact to remember is that the mature "Nineteen Eighty-Four" society is highly hostile to the very conception of history. The public must be cut off from the past so that there will be no feeling of nostalgia for the happier times of previous eras. Our first stage of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" experience may only extinguish honest historical writing, but the fully developed "Nineteen Eighty-Four" regime will obliterate history entirely.

Many will doubtless regard the prediction of any imminence of our entry into "Nineteen Eighty-Four" patterns as completely fantastic, somewhat akin to astrological forecasts. The fact is, however, that, in many basic essentials, we have already arrived. With a third world war we shall be there completely and inescapably. Even the fear of a third world war may suffice. As Lewis Mumford well warned us in Air Affairs, March, 1947, the fear of atomic warfare may suffice to impose on us a military regime more obstructive to freedom of thought and action than either World War was able to create. By 1953 we seemed to have arrived, earlier than anticipated by most, at the precise condition that Mumford predicted. The only way of averting such a calamity both to all human decencies and to the very existence of historical science, is to reveal the facts before the chains are fastened on us and the lock is closed.

This is only another way of stating that a robust Revisionism is our only hope of deliverance, if there be one, at this late date. For this reason one may safely maintain that Revisionism is not only the major issue in the field of historical writing today but also the supreme moral and intellectual concern of our era. Those who oppose it, whether historians or others, are only hastening and assuring their own destruction.

But I believe that few revisionists could be so devoid of decent sentiments that they would welcome vindication at the hands of the ruthless bureaucrats of a "Nineteen Eighty-Four" regime. Most of them would prefer timely repentance on the part of the blackout boys and the global crusaders rather than a form of vindication which would seal their own doom as well as that of their current opponents.