Chickens of the Interventionist Liberals - Henry Elmer Barnes

The Educational Inquisition

We have noted that our totalitarian and interventionist liberals are now much agitated over the recent alleged inquisition as applied to educators. What they have in mind, chiefly, is the interrogation and dismissal of professors suspected of Communistic leanings. There have been relatively few of these—estimated to have been about 100 altogether—and not many of them have been scholars or teachers of great distinction.

The wisdom of this alleged inquisition can legitimately be debated. But, even if one took the most critical view of the procedure, the evil therein is both quantitatively and qualitatively trivial compared to the intellectual tyranny exerted by interventionist and totalitarian-liberal professors and academic administrators, especially in the fields of history, international relations, and political science, over the last fifteen years. It is no exaggeration to state that, today, it is extremely difficult for any man or woman to obtain or retain a teaching post in these fields in the great majority of American colleges and universities if he or she holds the opinions that were characteristic of sound liberalism, say, in 1930; that is, if it is known that such opinions are held. To be secure in tenure during the last decade or more, such a person has been compelled to conceal any dissent from the prevailing internationalism and interventionism. To have revealed any deviation therefrom would have been more menacing to tenure and promotion than Communist leanings or fellow-travelling tendencies.

As a result of this situation, hundreds of the most intelligent men in the fields of history, international relations, and political science have been compelled to live under a veritable "reign of terror" since long before Senator McCarthy ever entered public life. This involuntary intellectual servitude of many hundreds or thousands of honest and capable men is a far greater invasion of academic freedom than the firing of a baker's dozen of those suspected of ultra-radical leanings. This fact was pointed out years ago by Professor Edward A. Ross in one of the most searching discussions of freedom ever delivered. President Nicholas Murray Butler of Columbia University virtually ordered his faculty to declare war on Germany after the Germans invaded the Lowlands and France in May, 1940. Those who continued any criticism of interventionism were roughly dealt with. Friends of mine in a number of leading universities have detailed to me the terrific pressure put on them to sign the academic manifesto of January, 1951, supporting the foreign policy of Secretary Acheson. This academic inquisition and the censorship of professors who do not subscribe to the globaloney of the interventionist liberals extend even to text-books. Those which stray notably from the prescribed internationalist path are quickly smeared out of use.

To revert briefly to the matter of the so-called inquisition of educators now being denounced by our totalitarian liberals, it is a patent fact that these interventionist liberals, by doing all in their power to get us into the second World War and by supporting the Cold War and the Korean War, have been responsible, so far as they were able to influence events, for the very inquisition which they now so furiously or plaintively decry. Yet, so far as I have noticed, not one of them has confessed to this fact, repented, and pointed to the only logical remedy: the renunciation of the interventionist policies which have created the very intellectual atmosphere in which witch hunting can thrive. Despite their obviously fatal effects on liberalism and intellectual freedom, the totalitarian liberal educators go on fervently advocating the global interventionism and perpetual war for perpetual peace which have brought upon them all their woes.

This double-thinking tendency was illustrated on a great scale in the papers, credos, and resolutions at the meeting of the American Association of University Professors in Chicago in March, 1953, to which reference has already been made. There were repeated liberal groans about the utter depravity of universities which had knuckled down before the "witch hunts" and "witch hunters." But the interventionism, globaloney, and international fantasies which have produced all the intolerance were praised, while neutralism and international amity, the only avenue of escape from the predicament of the liberals, were denounced with as great intolerance as in wartime. This attitude was especially notable in the address of welcome by Professor Quincy Wright. Amusingly enough, Wright stated that "A professor who has become anybody's Charley McCarthy has no reason for existence." With this sentiment, I would heartily agree. At the same time, I can think of only one other professor in the United States who has been as consistent and faithful a "Charley McCarthy" of globaloney.

The Clergy and Globaloney

The American clergy have recently been enraged, perhaps justly, by the attack of J. B. Matthews on the Protestant clergy in the American Mercury, July 1953, as allegedly "fronting" for the Communists in the United States. While the clergy had a far better record than the professors during the second World War in the way of refraining from passionate war-mongering—there was no such violent fanning of hatreds as that described by Ray H. Abrams in his Preachers Present Arms (1933), the classic account of clerical hate-mongering during the first World War—the clergy do have their share of responsibility for the more recent developments which have led to such things as the Matthews attack. Although they had a reasonably good record for sanity during the war, the majority of the clergy have supported collective security, globaloney, interventionism, the United Nations, and the like, since 1945. And these forces, policies and agencies are precisely what have led to the Cold War, the Korean War, and the resulting growth of ideological hatreds and public intolerance.

Theological liberalism appears to be no safeguard against falling victim to interventionism and anti-Revisionism. The Christian Register, published in Boston, is the chief organ of the liberal American Unitarians. It is interlocked with the Beacon Press which published the vigorous attacks of Paul Blanshard on Catholic political policies. Yet, apparently fearing that no Protestant reviewer could be trusted to smear sufficiently Professor's Tansill's great book on the origins of the second World War, the editor of the Christian Register reprinted the bitter attack on the book by a Catholic reviewer in America, the chief political publication of American [Jesuit] Catholics. The Register has amply attested to the validity of Orwell's concept of "double-think" by simultaneously publishing vehement attacks on the growing intolerance and articles giving equally vigorous support to the globaloney which has brought about this intolerance. The editors do not seem to realize that the Orwellian regime into which the foreign policy they support is inevitably leading us would be far more menacing to Unitarianism than a revival of the Spanish Inquisition in the United States. Even the Christian Century under Paul Hutchinson's editorship has shown no such realism and courage as it did after the first World War when it was edited by Charles Clayton Morrison, who published my comprehensive series of articles in the autumn of 1925 on the responsibility for the first World War.

Classifying Subversive Organizations

The totalitarian liberals have been wailing of late over the listing and classification of subversive organizations, especially since these lists have recently been periodically expanded. In the New York Times, August 28, 1953, it was announced that Attorney-General Herbert Brownell was about to add to the list of subversive organizations the National Lawyers Guild, one of the leading founders of which was that valiant defender of civil liberties, the confidant of President Roosevelt, and a prominent member of President Truman's Committee on Civil Rights, Morris L. Ernst. As a matter of fact, it was precisely the totalitarian liberals who helped to create the favorable atmosphere in which President Truman and Attorney-General Clark believed it both possible and expedient to launch this program when they were pressed by the conservatives. This state of mind was greatly aided by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Henry Steele Commager, Harry D. Gideonse, and the like, when they began to attack Leftish organizations and individuals who did not charm them. Examples of such writing were Schlesinger's The Vital Center (1949), and his Public Affairs Pamphlet "What About Communism?" (1950). He was very harsh on Henry Wallace and the Progressives who did not go along with the liberal globaloney in 1948, as Wallace had so fiercely done in 1940 when it was directed against Hitler. All this liberal smearing may have been done for self-protection, but at any rate it encouraged the first Truman moves against so-called subversive organizations.

It is likely that the totalitarian liberals did not at first foresee the extremes to which this would lead. They probably did not realize the extent to which their fellow totalitarian liberals had sponsored various "front" organizations during the honeymoon with Stalin from 1941 to 1945. It is certain that they expected no such blast as A. A. Zoll's "Red-ucators at Harvard," which listed 76 professors with 124 "fronts." There was little excitement until the Hiss and Lattimore cases and that of the Eleven Communist leaders all seemed to burst out at once. Then the feathers began to fly. But, when the totalitarian-liberal tribe sought to shut off the water, they found that the washer in the faucet had rusted and clogged to an extent which they had not anticipated. They have been uttering anguished bleats about the situation ever since. Perhaps the best explanation of the predicament which they let themselves in for is that they had never read and properly reflected upon Orwell's great treatise and learned in advance about the type of mental attitudes that are required to sustain globaloney and perpetual war for perpetual peace.

The resistance to accepting the relevance of the Orwellian analysis for understanding the basic trends of our time, or the sheer inability to discern its significance, was well illustrated in the early autumn of 1953. One of the most striking events in the opening of the Television season was a production of Nineteen Eighty-four which proved a brilliant technical and dramatic triumph. But, so far as I could discover, not one comment in the press or over the radio showed the slightest comprehension of Orwell's fundamental contention that deliberately planned cold war and war scares are the sole cause of the regimentation, intellectual tyranny, tortures, and the like, which the book so poignantly describes. So far as providing any cogent guidance for public policy in our day is concerned, the studio might just as well have been putting on a performance of Pilgrim's Progress. Even social philosophers show the same aversion to realism. In the Humanist, September, 1953, Sidney Hook denied that I had any intellectual or moral right "to invoke Orwell" in explaining and interpreting the current world situation.