From New International, Vol.19 No.4, July-August 1953, pp.184-227.
Marked up up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Is there a witch-hunt on in America today? Or, to put it in terms which are less figurative and more precise, is there in this country an attack, governmental and extra-governmental, legal and extra-legal on the body of civil liberties and freedoms which in their sum total make up what is commonly understood as “democracy”?
Why should such a question need to be discussed, at least in a magazine which is directed to the socialist and liberal sectors of our society? Every day the papers are full of news about the expulsion of teachers from their jobs because of their real or alleged political affiliations. Hundreds of books have been thrown out of the government’s overseas libraries because their authors are suspect of pro-Stalinism, or other “controversial” ideas. In one state after another laws have been passed which make membership in the Communist Party, or other “subversive” organizations subject to legal disabilities and penalties. In fact, the list is endless. What, then, is there to discuss or to demonstrate?
It needs to be discussed because there is a danger that the very idea of civil liberties and democracy in all its variety of forms is being wrenched and distorted to fit the conveniences of the cold war. If this degradation of the idea of democracy were solely the work of the Westbrook Peglers and Walter Winchells, of the Hearst Press and of Senator McCarthy, there would be little need for the New International to argue against it, except in the same way in which we attack all openly reactionary ideology. But to the voices of the far right which demand the suppression of all “un-American” ideas, organizations and individuals, there are now added voices from within the liberal camp. Of course, these do not cry for the destruction of our civil liberties, or at least, they would strictly limit this destruction to a select group of Stalinists whom they arbitrarily designate as “conspirators.” Of course, they abhor whatever excesses may have been committed by the government or its agencies, and deplore the existence of “cultural vigilantism” at the hands of private patrioteers. But from beginning to end they insist that in fact there is no witch-hunt on in America today, that our civil liberties are under no greater attack than they have been at any time during the past thirty years, and to cap it all, that anyone who disagrees with them and claims that civil liberties are under attack is either simply parroting the Stalinist Party line, or at best is outrageously falsifying the picture of American democracy.
The loudest and most persistent of these voices has been that of Sidney Hook, chairman of the Department of Philosophy at New York University. And it has been far from a voice crying in the wilderness. His reputation as a former Marxist, a Deweyan liberal and an anti-Communist confer on his arguments an authority which is widely respected among all those liberals who are anxiously looking for a rationale with which to justify their abandonment of the struggle for civil liberties in the interest of their desire to support America’s struggle in the cold war.
Here is the most concentrated dose of what Sidney Hook has to say about the question. The reader will forgive the length of the quotation, for it is only in its entirety that its full significance can be grasped.
Barely a few months after Mr. Russell [Bertrand Russell] proclaimed to the entire world, and to the delight of neutralists and Communists, that the United States was being swept by a “reign of terror,” the American Civil Liberties Union as well as the American Jewish Committee made public reports on the state of civil rights in America in connection with the celebration of the 161st anniversary of the Bill of Rights Day. Neither organization is inclined to easy optimism and they have consistently and properly played the role of Cassandra in discussing threats to freedom. Although it is admitted that the record is far from shining, both organizations express some satisfaction with the rate of progress, and a moderate optimism for the future progress of civil rights in various fields of American life. Indeed, the report of the American Jewish Committee states that especially in the field of racial relations unprecedented progress in maintaining and extending civil rights has been achieved in the five-year period from 1948 to 1953 – a period which roughly covers the cold war. (New York Times, Dec. 15, 1952.) Neither report, it is almost gratuitous to add, received any notice abroad.
I believe a case can be made out for the view, on Mr. Russell’s own criteria, that the state of freedom when he was last domiciled in this country was not too unlike that of today. He was the victim of an outrage, first at CCNY and then at the Barnes Institute. In 1940 over forty teachers were dismissed for membership in the Communist Party for refusing to testify concerning their membership. The Sedition Trials against members of domestic Fascist groups were begun, and the eighteen members of the Trotskyist group were convicted under the Smith Act. But Mr. Russell never even dreamed of characterizing this complex of events as a “reign of terror.”
Mr. Russell as a visitor may not have experienced a representative side of American life. But what shall we say of the following remark of Mr. Robert M. Hutchins: “Everywhere in the US university professors, whether or not they have tenure, are silenced by the general atmosphere of repression that now prevails.” And this at a time when professors have actually been more outspoken than ever in the past against arbitrary actions by university and state authorities as was clearly evidenced in the universities of Ohio, Chicago and California. Aside from a few members of the Communist Party, whose case is discussed below, the facts are that no professor who was in the habit of speaking up five years ago has been silenced, many who were silent five years ago are speaking up, while those who were silent five, ten, fifteen years ago and are still silent cannot be regarded as victims of a reign of terror. It is not necessary to picture the situation as ideal – or to deny the episodic outbreaks of intolerance towards professors with unpopular views (when was the US free of them?) to recognize Mr. Hutchins’ statement as a fantastic exaggeration, and no more accurate in its description of the situation than a characterization of the state of academic freedom at the University of Chicago under Mr. Hutchins would be if it were based only on Mr. Hutchins’ outrageous dismissal of Mr. Couch. Why, it was not so many years ago that college professors were regarded by visitors from abroad as “the third sex” in American life. Today as a group they are as intellectually bold as any profession in the nation. The number of attempts to impose tests for loyalty has undoubtedly risen but whereas in the past such tests Would have been accepted supinely either with equanimity or without protest, today there is more vigorous opposition on the part of teachers to arbitrary action by legislatures and boards of trustees than ever before in the history of American education.
Now and again other individuals, some even in official posts, take up Mr. Hut-chins’ cry and assert that American college, teachers are petrified with fear, unwilling to discuss controversial issues or to protest measures of which they disapprove. Many different things are here confused. It is true that the number of criticisms and attacks on the schools has increased, and here and there some fantastic things have occurred like the dismissal from a rural college in the West of a temporary teacher on a one-year appointment because he signed a petition to the President asking for amnesty for the defendants convicted under the Smith Act. But it is just as true that college teachers have never fought back so unitedly, spiritedly, and so successfully as today. They won on the key point in the University of California case; they helped put to route the House Committee on Un-American Activities when it sought to check on textbooks; they are slowly turning the tide against loyalty oaths; they have condemned investigations by Congressional committees often and vigorously.
To circulate the myth that “everywhere in the US university professors” have been cowed or silenced by Senators McCarthy and McCarran or whoever else is identified with the spirit of repression is not only to circulate an untruth but may, if given credence, actually contribute to bringing about such a state of affairs. It is to discourage teachers from continuing their role as active defenders of academic freedom. My own impression is that teachers today are more aroused and more active in behalf of academic freedom than they have ever been in my thirty-five years of experience as college student and teacher.
TO DISCUSS WHETHER OR NOT Bertrand Russell is right in describing the state of affairs which exists in the United States as a “reign of terror” is, at best, to engage in a semantic argument. We do not favor exaggerated statements about the degree to which the intimidation of public expression and organization has developed in this country, because we agree with Hook that people can act most intelligently when they understand the actual situation and not when all states and degrees of reaction are lumped under the single phrase “fascism” or “police state.”
But Hook’s own argumentation is not just a matter of exaggeration, this time in the direction of understating the assault on our civil liberties. He baldly proclaims that because some courageous teachers and others have refused to be intimidated, are resisting ,the assault on their own particular professional freedoms, the assault itself can be said hardly to exist at all.
For the moment, let us confine ourselves to the problem of civil liberties as it relates specifically to the narrow field of the schools in America. To start with, it is interesting, though not decisive, to note that the “other individuals” who agree with Hutchins comprise an important section of the experts in the field, i.e., professors, deans and school administrators.
In a recent article (June 29) the New York Times records that the National Education Association has made a study of 522 school systems, covering every section of the United States, and finds that American school teachers are reluctant to consider controversial issues in the classroom. The subjects considered most controversial by school superintendents are: religious education, sex education, communism, socialized medicine, local politics, race relations, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the United Nations. The report notes that criticism of teachers and of schools has become more common than usual and that subjects previously considered dispassionately have become debatable issues.
Dr. Ernest O. Melby, Dean of New York University’s School of Education, told 600 teachers at a conference in Columbus, Ohio, that: “I wish I could be prouder than I am of the way in which our profession has fought the battle of freedom.” He said that schools are open to criticism, but that recent attacks are
“... so ill-founded and unsound in terms of our historic tradition that we can be certain that these recent years will constitute one of the strategic battles for public education in the history of this country. Nowhere in the free world is there a fear and hysteria comparable to that which we evidence in this country.” (New York Herald Tribune, March 28, 1953.)
On March 15th of this year the chapter of the American Association of University Professors at Princeton University adopted a statement which warned against “inquisitorial procedures” to determine “fitness to teach.” “We deplore,” said the Princeton AAUP, “the failure of many of our educational, religious and political leaders to define the true nature of this growing threat to our intellectual and spiritual heritage and to protest against it ...”
“... Political misuse of legal processes,” the statement continued, “the stifling of controversy, the suppression of dissent, the banning and censorship of books either because “of their ideas or because of what their authors believe, the boycotting of the creative mind – these and other methods of control are the most dangerous enemies of a free society.”
Statements from eminent individuals and organizations in the field of education along similar lines could be reproduced by the dozens. Are all these people guilty of “fantastic exaggeration,” have they all chosen to go out of their way to “delight the neutralists and Communists” by expressing their conviction that large sections of the teaching profession are being intimidated, and that controversy and dissent are being suppressed?
It may be objected that it will not do, in such matters, to argue from authority, even if that authority be that of people most intimately connected with the defense of academic freedom. But a simple listing of cases in which academic freedom has been under attack during the past few years would take up more space than we can afford to give it. A few items may be sketched, however, simply to refresh the reader’s memory on the matter:
Item: Academic freedom in California. Hook says that the professors “won the key point in the University of California case.” Far from true. They conceded the key point before the battle was fully joined, namely, the right of people to teach based on their competence rather than their political views or affiliations. As the fight developed, this basic tenet of academic freedom was abandoned and the struggle began to revolve around issues of university administration and the efficacy of loyalty oaths. The final result: under the Levering Act all California employees now have to take an oath of the kind which the faculty at the University of California found offensive in the first place. What a victory!
But that is not all. Senator Jenner claims that more than twenty colleges and universities in California are cooperating in a blacklisting program under which about 100 members of their faculties have been removed, “and at least as many had been rejected for teaching posts since last June 24th, when the plan was put into effect.” According to testimony before the House Un-American Committee by an expert (Richard E. Combs, for 14 years chief counsel of the California Senate Committee on Un-American Activities)
“some schools ... had retained full-time investigators with FBI, naval intelligence or military intelligence service or men trained in counter-communistic activities. These investigators worked in the classroom and on the campuses ...” (New York Times, May 18, 1953.)
We do not pretend to know how many of the 100 men fired and the “at least a hundred” not hired were members or close sympathizers of the Communist party. From the point of view of freedom on the campus, the question is irrelevant though it might be relevant to other considerations, such as intimidating anyone whose intellectual development has led him to pro-Stalinist conclusions from following his convictions ... if he ever wants to teach in California. Can anyone seriously doubt that the presence of these ex-FBI men and their colleagues on the campuses of California and other states endanger academic freedom?
Item: New York City Superintendent of schools Jansen has stated that 81 teachers in the city schools have resigned, retired or been removed while under investigation since 1950. As of March 27th of this year, 180 teachers in the city school system are under investigation.
The method employed in this purge of the city school system has become notorious and is now in the process of being imitated in many cities and states across the nation. By one means or another the school officials come to suspect a teacher of Stalinist affiliations. He is called before a special examiner, and asked whether he is or ever has been a member of the CP. He refuses to answer, and is then automatically suspended and eventually fired. The same fate befalls anyone who is called before a Congressional committee and avails himself of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution in refusing to say whether he is or has been a Stalinist.
We are not concerned at this point with the legal technicalities or hairsplitting argumentation as to whether a teacher is entitled to invoke the Fifth Amendment and retain his job. The country is fairly inundated with magazine articles which deal with this question, and the American Civil Liberties Union has found it so complicated that its officers have been pondering the problem for several months.
At the moment we are concerned only with the question: does the procedure employed by the New York schools outlined above enhance academic freedom in New York schools, or threaten it? In answering this question it will simply not do to point to the fact that “in 1940 over forty teachers were dismissed for membership in the Communist Party or refusing to testify concerning their membership,” as though that in some way lessens the impact of what is happening now. The Rapp-Coudert firings were a blow to academic freedom, and the extension of the techniques and ideology which motivated them to an accepted standard of national procedure constitutes a far heavier blow.
It should be noted that the authorities showed not the slightest interest in the competence of the teachers discharged, their relationships to their students and other faculty members, their reputations in the community, or any other factor which one might think has bearing on a person’s fitness to teach. In no case was the claim made before the Board of Education that any of the teachers had used their classrooms as arenas of indoctrination. As a matter of fact, no effort was made to prove that most of them were members of the Communist Party. They were fired on what amounts to a charge of insubordination because they refused to tell investigators whether or not they were or are members.
What effect have these firings, along with much else which is going on in the country, had on the teaching of “controversial subjects” in the city schools? It is obviously impossible to document the answer to such a question. But it is riot without significance that following on the heels of these proceedings officials of the New York school system found themselves constrained to publish a document urging teachers to handle controversial subjects in their classrooms. While preserving one’s sense of proportion, is this not reminiscent of the constant stream of exhortations issued by the top bureaucrats in Russia to their cowed and quaking subordinates to “exercize initiative,” to “boldly criticize shortcomings?” Unless teachers have been reluctant to handle controversial matters, why should it be necessary for their administrative officers to urge them to do so?
Item: Dean Carl W. Ackerman, head of the Columbia University School of Journalism recently wrote an article in the bulletin of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in which he stated that he will no longer cooperate with the FBI, Central Intel-legence, the Secret-Service and Civil Service investigators in giving information on students. He wrote:
Students are “tried” secretly without their knowledge and without an opportunity of explaining and defending their records ...
Today the vast majority of teachers in all fields of instruction have learned that promotion and security depend on conformity to the prevailing community or national concept of devotion to the public welfare ...
The practical problem which confronts deans, professors, school teachers and students today is political freedom to discuss public affairs in classrooms or at lunch or during “bull” sessions without fear that someone may make a record which may be investigated secretly, either by a governmental official or a prospective employer.
Let no one think that the FBI and the other agencies named by Dean Ackerman are interested only in students who are suspected of membership in the Stalinist movement. Universities are asked to keep data on all radical students and to turn them over to the government. These then become part of the permanent file of the student; they are part of the “raw material” of the “unevaluated” derogatory information which is designed to dog him the rest of his life.
It is not only the official police net which is laid to trap the student. He must be careful not to give utterance to unorthodox views even while in high school, or he may never get to college at all! The most eloquent testimony for this comes from an ardent supporter of Sidney Hook’s views. A letter to the New Leader for April 20th of this year starts with several sentences in which the writer praises Hook’s article Freedom in American Culture which had appeared in an earlier issue of the same magazine. The letter continues:
Recently, however, in a discussion of this very issue, a student gave me an answer which left me almost ready to accept the position of alarm I had so long fought. I felt very strongly that those who did not agree that Communism was a conspiracy could never be brought to see the truth unless they could be shaken from the Communist-line hysteria about terror and intimidation. But this student quoted an important official of the school to substantiate her claim that there is unjustifiable intimidation going on. Enough other girls supported her with similar stories to make me realize that they were faced with a widespread policy.
These girls, bright, hopeful, idealistic and intellectually curious, have been told to watch what they say or they will not be recommended for college. Now I do not hold with the fatuous theory that all intelligent adolescents must have a Communist or radical “phase,” but certainly those who do fall for the errors Professor Hook and others have attacked are not forever lost souls. How can I answer their we-are-as-bad-as-they-are argument except by saying, “Don’t be ridiculous; you are free here; you can investigate ideas”? But these students have been told to be quiet, in class and out.
Most of the students warned were not in any way Communist. Some were censured for wearing Stevenson buttons, for example, or for doing volunteer work in his campaign. They were told, in effect, that it was too noisy or undignified to give out leaflets, attend rallies or address envelopes. (All of this, be it noted, was done outside school.)
It is common for responsible teachers to advise students not to be friendly with girls “of bad reputation.” This is a current euphemism for “Communistic,” but such a phrase on a college form could easily be interpreted in other ways. One teacher said, “I cannot recommend you because you go around with so-and-so.” College recommendations prepared by these teachers include references to “defiant attitude,” for example, and in today’s tight market for college admission and scholarships the high-school personality summary often makes all the difference for the applicant.
These teachers say, I know, that they wish to preserve the schools’ reputation for the sake of future college applicants. But our wised-up students who “keep quiet” in order to get into college will carry to college and beyond it a sad vulnerability to Communist propaganda about America’s “lip service” to freedom. Although it seems clear to me that these teachers and advisers are doing a disservice to democracy through fear or ignorance or bigotry, I feel a responsibility to my students who do want to get into the college of their choice.
Shall I tell them, “Yes, you should listen and be quiet”? Or shall I say, “Take a chance that the colleges will overlook these statements or evaluate them for what they are, and stick to your own principles of integrity now”?
If I tell them to be quiet, I will find myself paradoxically on the side of some other teachers whose political beliefs I would characterize as dangerously or foolishly Communist-line. These “liberal” teachers do say, “Be quiet, don’t get into trouble,” thus confirming the students in a distrust of American society. I really do not know which advice to give. I intend to show some of my troubled students your supplement, but I do not think it answers this particular problem for them. My heart goes out to these youngsters who are, I believe, the real victims of today’s civil-rights turmoil. They are subject to real reprisal or repression. At best, we will make seventeen-year-old cynics of them. (Emphasis in original throughout.)
Our own hearts may go out to this victim of confusion who bravely continues to insist that there is no witchhunt on today, that it is hysterical to think there is, but who prudently conceals his or her identity under the anonymous signature “High School Teacher” in a letter to The New Leader! The students are learning the facts of life all too quickly. They haven’t been cleared up by Hook’s articles yet. But confronted with these same facts of life, their teachers can do no better than wail about the “civil-rights turmoil” which, of course, has nothing to do with “terror or intimidation.”
If Hook’s articles have failed to provide the necessary most recent book performed this service? Let us see.
PROFESSOR SIDNEY HOOK has written an important book, Heresy YES Conspiracy No.  The importance of the book lies in the fact that it is a smoothly written compendium of the arguments and rationalizations of a new school of authoritarian liberalism which has come of age in the United States in but five brief years. It is a book which for the incautious reader has an impressive air of reasonableness about it; its logical constructions seem to be unassailable – that is, if one accepts Hook’s assumptions and does not investigate his reasoning too closely.
Hook’s defense of the basic legitimacy of the Smith Act, his repudiation, in effect, of the need to establish personal guilt, his denial of the existence of a witch-hunt of major proportions, his denial of the right of a Communist Party member to teach are views which, not so long ago, would have elicited a wave of indignant protest. Such protest is now barely audible, for two reasons: first, many individuals who maintain their liberal principles are simply afraid to challenge publicly the present reaction; second, and perhaps more disturbing, many of the liberals of yesteryear have come to accept the anti-liberal values of Hook. Hook’s approach to academic freedom and civil liberties, in general, has a genuine appeal for those who would like to be considered liberals and even non-conformists, but who are incapable of withstanding the psychological and social pressures of the cold war. In the name of liberalism, Hook has developed a sanctimonius conservatism.
Before discussing the Communist Party in terms of Hook’s own definition, the all important point must be made that his whole manner of discussing the Stalinist movement is completely arid. There is no social analysis, merely a series of loose definitions rigidly applied, efforts to make the Communist Party fit these definitions and then drawing what he thinks are the necessary conclusions about our responsibilities toward the Party and its members. Hook is playing a game of cops and robbers, good men and bad men, cowboys and Indians. Stalinism is evil, Stalinists are conspirators and therefore, we’ve got to lick ‘em. What are the social dynamics of the Stalinist movement? How does it operate in real life? What is the attraction Stalinism holds for millions? The problems are virtually untouched in the book. It is politically and psychologically significant to study the analogies which Hook makes, for nothing so clearly demonstrates the vacuity of his understanding of Stalinism in this book. He constantly compares our responsibilities toward a Stalinist Party member with our attitude to an assassin or thief. Just one example from his section dealing with Communist Party teachers:
... the argument for a policy of exclusion of Communist Party teachers rests not only on the specific behavior of this specific Communist here and now but on the weights we should give to various kinds of evidence we possess about the clearly expressed intentions of this party and its related activities – past and threatened. A man who joins a group of assassins is not always an assassin. But if I know he is a member of such a group and know the purposes of the group, am I not justified in denying him – I do not say his freedom or his life – but access to a position in which he has a good chance to kill me? One may be killed by an imperfect assassin.
In an unsuccessful attempt to justify a misleading analogy and succeeding only in confessing its weakness, he follows with:
This is not, of course, to accuse members of the Communist Party who are not a part of its underground liquidation squads with being assassins, or of planning assassinations. I make the comparison that one can be dangerous, sometimes lethal, even if imperfect.
Hook’s analogy is preposterous. He writes as if there were no relationship between the punishments that would be meted out to a would-be assassin and a Stalinist. If the assassin is to be fired, why not the Stalinist teacher, he asks. If all he is trying to demonstrate is the perfectability or imperfectability of individuals toward their own commitments, that could be easily demonstrated and in less prejudicial terms than “assassin”; or as he does elsewhere, with thieves hired as valets who should be fired and men who come to cheat in a game of cards who should be exposed. The type of analogy is interesting because it reveals the vein of Hook’s thinking on Stalinism. For him, it is comparable though not identical to a bunch of crooks, assassins, and card sharps. But, obviously, Hook is not only interested in demonstrating the imperfectability of a man in specific walks of life, be it cardcheating, murder, thievery or – Stalinist politics. He states that the Communist Party teacher has no right to teach not merely because of acts he may have committed but because of the “evidence we possess about the clearly expressed intentions of this party ...” Thus, if we fire a would-be assassin, why not fire a Stalinist teacher who would like to corrupt his pupils? But it is precisely because there exists the qualitative difference between the teacher who is a member of a complex, reactionary social movement and the assassin, that our operational approach toward the one is different from our approach toward the other. The legitimate firing of an individual who has proved intentions to murder is no substantiation at all for a view which calls for the punishment of a Stalinist teacher who intends to indoctrinate students. The would-be assassin is obviously a “clear and present danger” to his unfortunate employer and chosen victim. To compare him on any level with a Stalinist is not only foolish, but dangerous.
We have deviated to a discussion of this analogy only to demonstrate the total bankruptcy of Hook’s book as an explanation of the phenomenon of Stalinism. The analogies are more suitable to the stock and trade of the street corner rabble rouser than to the serious writer and scholar. But this failure of Hook’s is not unrelated to his basic thesis that the Communist Party is a conspiracy. His “logical” approach is extremely simplistic and to discuss the complexities of American or world Stalinism either accurately or intelligently, might not tax Hook so much as it would the case he is attempting to construct against the rights of Communist Party teachers, and on civil liberties as a whole.
We have sought, at the outset, to discuss Hook’s method of argumentation because unless this is grasped it is Impossible to deal with the content of his argument. As in the case with men of less pretensions to logical consistency and rigorous thought, the method and the content are intimately related. The sleight-of-pen involved in the “assassin” analogy should make the reader aware that he is in the presence of a master. There is much more to come. And it is not to be attributed to some disastrous deterioration in Hook’s faculties, but rather to the application of them to the demonstration of a thesis which is itself false to the core. We now proceed to the content of the argument.
THE FOUNDATION OF HOOK’S VIEWS is implicitly stated in the title, Heresy YES Conspiracy No. Our attitude toward the heretic, no matter how repugnant his heresy, should be tolerant, while toward the conspirator, society has no moral responsibility to either protect or tolerate. An individual with Communist ideas is a heretic, while an individual who is a member of the Communist Party is a conspirator. In Hook’s words:
Communist ideas are heresies, and liberals need have no fear of them when they are freely and openly discussed. They should be studied and evaluated in the light of all the relevant evidence. No one should be punished because he holds them. The Communist movement, however, is something quite different from a mere heresy, for wherever it exists it operates along the lines laid down by Lenin as guides to Communists of all countries, and perfected in great detail since then.
Preceding this, Hook writes:
A heresy does not shrink from publicity. It welcomes it. Not so a conspiracy. The signs of a conspiracy are secrecy, anonymity, the use of false names and labels, and the calculated lie ... There is political conspiracy, which is the concern of the state; but there may also be the conspiracy against a labor union, a cultural or professional association, or an educational institution which is not primarily the concern of the state but of its own members. In general whoever subverts the rules of a democratic organization and seeks to win by chicanery what cannot be fairly won in the process of free discussion is a conspirator. (Emphasis ours.)
Thank heavens Hook is a mere professor of philosophy and not a policeman, a judge or a lawmaker. For with his definition of a conspirator he might be placed in the awkward position of indicting, arresting, sentencing or illegalizing most of his new found friends in the conservative bourgeois and Social Democratic worlds. How many of our top legislators and other elected – not to mention appointed – officials have achieved status through subverting “the rules of a democratic organization”, and have utilized chicanery for fear of freely discussing their real views and intentions? And how many of Hook’s co-thinkers in the leadership of the trade union movement have resorted to undemocratic control of a rebellious or apathetic membership? How many secondary politicians, labor leaders and men of culture whom Hook knows and respects have managed to maintain their influence over their constituencies and followers through cheating, dishonesty, chicanery and subverting every democratic rule in the book. If Hook’s definition of a conspirator “in general” were to be taken seriously, our court calendars and jails would be filled with leading Republicans and Democrats, trade union leaders – and even Hook would be far from safe.
We have seen Hook’s definition of an individual conspirator. We know the signs of a conspiracy (“secrecy, anonymity, false names and labels, ... calculated lies”). Now for the definition of a conspiratorial movement.
A conspiracy, as distinct from a heresy, is a secret or underground movement which seeks to attain its ends not by normal political or educational processes but by playing outside the rules of the game. Because it undermines the conditions which are required in order that doctrines may freely compete for acceptance, because where successful it ruthlessly destroys all heretics and dissenters, a conspiracy cannot be tolerated without self-stultification in a liberal society.
Hook has now given us one definition of a conspirator, in general, the signs of a conspiracy and the definition of a conspiratorial organization.
From these definitions and assumptions follows, for Hook: the Communist Party is a conspiracy and the Communist Party member is a conspirator and neither the organization nor the individual is entitled to the same rights extended to more law-abiding individuals and organizations, willing to, in Hook’s opinion, play within “the rules of the game.”
There is an aspect of the Stalinist movement which can legitimately be labelled a conspiracy in the most derogatory sense in which the word can be understood. That aspect of the movement we will discuss later. But in order to make sense of his argument, Hook has lumped all aspects of the movement under the one label, and all its members under the label of “conspirators.” What is important for us to understand is that Stalinism is, in addition to other things, an ideological movement. It has an enormous appeal for millions of people on the basis of its ideas and avowed intentions. To substitute semantics for a political analysis of Stalinism is dangerous. To work out a “clever” definition of conspiracy and conspirators, then to pin these labels on the party and individuals is at best a word game, and at worst, leads to a reactionary conclusions, some of which are accepted by Hook, and others (up to this moment) inconsistently rejected by him.
How Hook Prosecutes the Main Conspirator ...
Hook is out to prove that the Stalinist conspiracy originates with Lenin’s organizational and political concepts which were merely adopted, refined and intensified by Stalin. Following is one of several quotations from Lenin by Hook meant to prove the conspiratorial nature of Leninism. Following this quote and others, we will provide the reader with the quotations from Lenin directly. The reader must bear in mind that at this point of the book, Hook is trying to prove that Lenin approved of conspiracies in principle. “There may be,” says Hook, “some justification for conspiratorial activity in undemocratic countries where heresies are proscribed, but Lenin, as we have seen, makes no exceptions.” (Emphasis Ours.)
Hook quotes Lenin:
“It is necessary (so Lenin instructs all Communists – S.H.) ... to agree to any and every sacrifice and even – if need be – resort to all sorts of strategems, manoeuvers, and illegal methods, to evasions and subterfuges ... in order to carry on Communist work in them (trade unions) at all costs.”
Here is what Lenin wrote:
Undoubtedly, messieurs the ‘leaders’ of opportunism will resort to every trick of bourgeois diplomacy, to the aid of bourgeois governments, the priests, the police and the courts, in order to prevent Communists from getting into the trade unions, to force them out by every means, to make their work in the trade unions as unpleasant as possible, to insult, to bait and to persecute them. It is necessary to be able to withstand all this, to agree to any and every sacrifice, and even – if need be – to resort to all sorts of strategems, manoeuvres and illegal methods, to evasions and subterfuges in order to penetrate the trade unions, to remain in them and carry on Communist work at all costs. (Emphasis ours.)
Note our italicized sections. Hook leaves out the words “to be able to withstand all this” because the reader might then ask: withstand what? And the answer would be found in the sentence preceding the quotation presented by Hook which makes it clear that Lenin is talking about using subterfuge when the trade union leaders proscribe the democratic rights of the Communist worker to enter the trade union. And Hook, we have seen, does not find anything necessarily wrong with a political movement resorting to such conspiratorial tactics “in undemocratic countries where heresies are proscribed.” If such tactics can be used in an undemocratic country, why not in an undemocratic union?
Let us start at the elementary component of the movement, the role of the individual Stalinist, his relationship to his party and to society as a whole.
Starting here, at the very foundation of Hook’s argument there is a glaring error. The dichotomy Hook assumes exists between a conspirator and a heretic is false. It exists for his convenience alone. Why is it excluded that a man can be both heretic and conspirator at the same time, as Hook so cavalierly assumes is the case. A heretic is simply an individual who rejects commonly accepted doctrine or dogma. There is nothing in political literature (outside of Hook’s work) leading to the conclusion that a heretic or a heresy by definition “does not shrink from publicity.” Why not? A heretic can attempt to avoid publicity for any number of reasons, ranging from a distressing personal quirk to keep his views to himself and his chosen friends, to fear of reprisals. Why is it only a conspiracy which “does not offer its wares openly”, and never a true heresy? Again, the distinction is Hook’s own. It sounds good, an important but very fine point which provides us with the key to the vault hiding the heretofore undisclosed nature of Stalinism.
After all is said and done by Hook to mesmerize his audience with his refined and largely contrived distinctions, not one of his thoughts or arguments contradicts the fact that a member of the American Communist Party is a heretic. He is a heretic because he repudiates many of the values of existing bourgeois society for the values of Stalinism. His values are corrupt, his thought processes corrupted, his methods reprehensible, but they are his values, his thought processes, his methods, and all three characteristics often run counter to capitalist society. He may be a conspirator as well, though as Hook discusses the problem, this label has no meaning. But one thing is certain: he is nevertheless a heretic.
Because the views held by a Stalinist are his views, does that mean they were arrived at as a result of his own, free, unprejudiced thought processes? Hardly. The policies of world Stalinism are dictated by the needs and interests of the Kremlin bureaucracy, and all its parties and individuals in these parties must step into line or face the consequences. All that this well known fact establishes, however, is that the Stalinist heretic is not notorious for his independent thinking, fine character or intellectual honesty. But not until Hook arrived on the scene were these virtues essential characteristics of the heretic.
Though the line is dictated by the Kremlin, it is nevertheless accepted by the individual Stalinist. It is accepted on different levels and through various mechanisms, both political and pathological but, nevertheless, as a rule, accepted. The ability of the individual Stalinist to rationalize is infinite. One day he will eulogize Tito, and the next he will proclaim to the world that Tito is now, and has always been a fascist. These political gyrations of the Stalinist movement are in greater measure accepted by the individual who remains in the party. He learns to adopt the specious reasoning of the party; he is convinced that each reversal of line was justified by “new conditions” or “tactical considerations.” For an utterly reasonable man like Hook, it is impossible to accept this weird political-psychological phenomenon: how can a man call white white on Monday and on Tuesday claim that white is black? Obviously, for Hook, these are
not heretics – who must be reasonable men; they must be something else – conspirators, let us say.
The Stalinist who is at all sensitive, whose critical faculties are simply dulled, not dead, who has some strength of character, frequently does not fully accept the change of line. A new change of line will aggravate some gnawing doubts about his heresy instilled by an earlier change, or the effectiveness of a counter-argument or revelation of new facts. What invariably happens to these “conspirators” is that they find it increasingly difficult to accept the rationalizations, and they eventually reach the breaking point with the party. This isn’t conjecture; it is precisely what has happened to hundreds of thousands of Hook’s former “conspirators.”
Once more Hook quotes from the same volume of Lenin (p.169):
“In all organizations without exception ... (political, industrial, military, cooperative, educational, sports), groups or nuclei of Communists should be formed ... mainly open groups but also secret groups.”
Here is what Lenin wrote:
In all organizations without exception – unions and associations primarily proletarian, and also organizations of the non-proletarian, toiling and exploited masses (political, industrial, military, cooperative, educational sports, etc., etc.) groups or nuclei of Communists should be formed – mainly open groups, but also secret groups, which should be obligatory in every ease when their suppression, or the arrest or deportation of their members by the bourgeoisie may be expected ... (Emphasis ours.)
Hook ends his quote with a period as though it were a completed thought! But Lenin has a comma following the word “groups,” for he makes it clear immediately that he is agitating for secrecy as a means of self-defense against efforts to suppress, persecute, arrest and deport Communists. These are certainly proscriptions of democratic rights, and Hook is not arguing that these proscriptions did not exist for the Communist movement in 1920. But even if Lenin manufactured such proscriptions, it would be irrelevant to the point that Hook is making. He is attempting to establish that in principle Lenin advocated conspiracy – it was a way of life, you see. To prove it, he takes the first part of a quotation, makes a textual change and conveniently omits those conditioning clauses which prove Lenin to be perfectly consistent with Hook’s generous permissiveness on the propriety of using “conspiratorial activity in undemocratic countries where heresies are proscribed ...” Hook evidently believes in the double standard: when Stalinists use the “calculated lie” it is a sign of conspiracy, when Hook uses the calculated distortion it is a sign of patriotism and scholarship.
A distinction must be made between voluntary membership in the Communist Party in a bourgeois country, and enforced membership in a Stalinist-dominated nation. In the latter instance, membership may be dictated not by any agreement whatsoever, but merely by the powerful instinct of self-preservation. In the United States, however, where the party does not even offer the possibilities for social advancement today, as in Europe or Asia, membership is not and cannot be enforced by the party. The party can exert certain social and psychological pressures to retain its members, but this is seldom durable and cannot provide the basis for the maintenance of the organization. The American Communist Party can, in the final analysis, keep itself going as an organization with a membership other than FBI agents, because it has convinced its dupes that its ideas are politically correct and provide the solution to the ills of bourgeois society.
But, it may be objected, even though it is clear that in the United States and the rest of the capitalist world Stalinists are indeed heretics, is it not true that they are also conspirators? Even if the dichotomy Hook creates is false, is this not more a blunder in his exposition than a failure .in assessing the real social role of the Stalinist movement? Are not all conspirators also in a sense heretics (even our old acquaintances, the assassins)? And if heretics also become conspirators in a democratic society, is it not the right and duty of that society to take the necessary repressive measures to protect itself against them?
These questions are perfectly legitimate. In them is at least contained a grasp of the complexity of Stalinism and hence of the problems which this unique movement presents to those who would defeat it without at the same time destroying democracy. Their answer can only be found in a real social and political analysis of the Stalinist movement, of the sources of its appeal in our society, of the relationship between its leaders, both here and abroad, and the mass of its followers.
Hook finds k possible, even, we must add, necessary, to solve these complex problems by a simple rule-of-thumb method. An investigation of the sociological dynamics of the Stalinist movement he finds totally unnecessary. All he needs to determine that the mass of the members of the Stalinist movement are in fact conspirators is a relatively simple social tool: a calendar, and an even simpler homiletical device: a vigorous assertion.
IN HOOK’S OPINION, every member of the Communist Party of more than a couple of years standing is a conspirator, and a hardened one at that. He writes in most sanguine fashion: “Whatever may have been the case in the past, a man does not today som-nambulistically stumble into the Communist Party. If he remains a member, this is prima facie evidence that he is a hardened conspirator and that he accepts its orders and directives.” Now, our good professor has the perfect right to construct any philosophical system he desires, he can devise all the definitions for classes he feels necessary, he can, if he feels it essential, utilize word symbols now in operation and invest them with other than accepted meanings; but he has no political or moral right to pretend that his singular definition of a conspiracy or a conspirator provides a clue as to attitudes a democrat should adopt toward Stalinism and Stalinists.
Hook’s qualifying phrase at the beginning of the last cited quotation, “Whatever may have been the case in the past ...” raises an interesting problem. It creates the impression that “in the past” a man who either joined with his eyes open, or even somnambulistically stumbled into the Communist Party, there to remain for some indefinite length of time was not a “hardened conspirator.” At what point did this state of affairs change? Was one simply a heretic and not a conspirator if only he left on that date when Hook ended his own flirtation with the Communist Party? Or is Hook more magnanimous? Does he allow a later cut-off date? Was it perhaps the Moscow trials that ended the era? the Stalin-Hitler Pact? No, surely it must have been later than that, for what of the thousands who joined the “benevolent” Communist Political Association during World War II because Russia was America’s wartime ally? Were they, too, after membership of “more than a couple of years standing” “hardened conspirators”?
“Anyone,” Hook writes, “acquainted with the official instructions under which members of the Communist Party operate will recognize that they are a conspiratorial group.” Here, there is no qualifying temporal phrase. We can assume then, that this has always been true, with the exception of the fact that the “official instructions” today are more rigorously applied to guard against the entrance of FBI agents, and weed them out where they have managed to join. Why then, in Hook’s view, should a CP member during the period of social fascism” have been any less a conspirator? Or one who managed to follow the convolutions of the CP line through the “Popular Front,” the Moscow Trials, the Stalin-Hitler Pact, and World War II, be any more a heretic? The “official instructions” of the Communist Party have been in effect for many a year. The content has changed depending on the line being dictated at the moment by Russia’s needs. Is Hook saying that anyone who has remained a member of the CP for more than a couple of years at any time was a conspirator? Logic would seem to dictate from his point of view that that be his attitude.
If that is so, then aside from the approximate 30,000 conspirators claimed as members of the Communist Party today, there have perhaps been as many as a million conspirators in this country since the end of the first World War. In the Communist and Stalinist movements alone there must have been a turnover in membership of three-fourths of this figure. Can one imagine a “conspiracy” where hundreds of thousands of “hardened” conspirators move in and out as though through a revolving door. Hook’s indiscriminate and flabby label is purely literary, but literary license is out of place in a book which pretends to a sober and realistic evaluation of conspiracies and conspirators.
Hook has a third quotation from Lenin to prove his diabolical and utter devotion to conspiratorial methods as a way of life. It is an utter misquotation, of course, one that we might call The Case of the Three Harmless Specks. For Hook uses three innocent looking specks in his quotation, which dots actually cover about two hundred words in Lenin’s statement and completely negate the impression that Hook is attempting to convey. It is the now notorious Shub method which Hook has adopted.
Here is Lenin à la Hook:
“In all countries, even the freest, ‘legal’ and ‘peaceful’ in the sense that the class struggle is least acute in them, the time has fully matured when it is absolutely necessary for every Communist Party systematically to combine legal with illegal work, legal and illegal orgnizations ... Illegal work is particularly necessary in the army, the navy, and police.’” (pp.172-73)
Here is what Lenin wrote:
“In all countries even the freest, ‘legal’ and ‘peaceful’ in the sense that the class struggle is least acute in them, the time has fully matured when it is absolutely necessary for every Communist Party systematically to combine legal with illegal work, legal with illegal organization. For in the most enlightened and free countries, those with the most ‘stable’ bourgeois-democratic system, the governments already, notwithstanding their false and hypocritical declarations, systematically resort to secret blacklists of Communists, to endless violations of their own constitutions in order to render semi-secret and secret support to the White Guards and to assassinations of Communists in all countries, to secret preparations for the arrest of Communists, to placing provocateurs among the Communists, etc., etc. Only the most reactionary Philistinism no matter what beautiful ‘democratic’ and pacifist phrases it may be cloaked in, can deny this fact, or the imperative conclusion that follows from it, viz., that it is necessary, immediately, for all legal Communist Parties to form illegal organizations for the purpose of systematically carrying on illegal work, and of fully preparing for the moment when the bourgeoisie resorts to persecution. Illegal work is particularly necessary in the army, the navy and police; for after the great imperialist butchery all the governments in the world began to fear a people’s army which is open to the workers and peasants, and began secretly to resort to all possible methods of forming military units especially picked from the ranks of the bourgeoisie and especially supplied with all technical improvements.” (Emphasis ours.)
Just a quick reading of the omitted sections from Lenin in Hook’s version should suffice to demonstrate Hook’s dishonesty.
But as if such significant omissions were not enough Hook decides to take another crack at repunctuating Lenin (see Exhibit B for his first attempt). Hook ends his quotation on a period, again, as if it were a completed thought. Lenin actually has a semi-colon followed by a long explanatory clause. Hook obviously wants to paint Lenin in as frightening a manner as possible. Thus he chooses to end Lenin’s remark on illegal work in the military at such a point as to straighten the hair on even an egg. If he quoted Lenin accurately, however, the democratic references to a people’s army and his (Lenin’s) opposition to the secrecy employed by the bourgeoisie in organizing the army might cushion the blow of a crooked portrayal of Lenin as a conspirator by profession.
Yet there is always that qualifying phrase: “Whatever may have been the case in the past ...” It indicates that for Hook at some point the heretic turned conspirator. A process of elimination of the twists and turns of the CP line results in the conclusion that the heretic turned conspirator with the outbreak of the cold war. Given his increasingly uncritical acceptance of American capitalism and its policies, we can see that Hook’s temporal qualification is purely political in nature, stemming not from any principle, but from the pressures of the present world conflict between Stalinism and American capitalism. This is further buttressed by the fact that although he has written much in past years about the Stalinist movement, his theory of the conspiratorial nature of the Communist Party was never aired previously. It awaited the politically expedient moment.
Hook is not satisfied with “demonstrating” that a Stalinist of a few years standing is objectively a conspirator. To clinch his case, he uses intellectual sleight of hand to show that Stalinists even think of themselves as conspirators. Hook writes:
These instructions [to infiltrate sensitive governmental posts] ... indicate that members of the Communist Party are not so much heretics as conspirators and in actual practice regard themselves as such. (Emphasis ours.)
In a political conspiracy it is hardly likely that a conspirator should not have a conscious awareness of his role for, as a rule, political conspirators know that they are conspiring. To show that thousands upon thousands of Stalinist party members are no exceptions to the rule, Hook has devised the tricky formulation “in actual practice regard themselves as such.” But even from his point of view, what does the phrase “in actual practice” have to do with “regard themselves as such.” The first phrase is objective in nature, referring to what they do; the latter phrase is subjective, referring to consciousness or self-awareness. Now according to what rule of logic, politics or psychology can Hook assume that because the Stalinists do things, they know what they are doing?
In “actual practice” Stalinist rank and file workers in the trade union movement disorient, dislocate and even destroy unions which they cannot control. Does this mean that they “regard themselves” as disrupters of the trade union movement? What Hook conveniently overlooks is the contradiction between idea and reality in the Stalinist movement. The dynamism of Stalinism resides in large measure in its ability to convince its members to regard their actions which are monstrously reactionary, as being consistent with the most noble aspects of progressive and enlightened democratic and socialist thought.
But even if there are all kinds of uncertainties, doubts, confusions and inconsistencies in the minds of members of the Stalinist movement, is it not true that they all act like conspirators, i.e., in a conspiratorial fashion? After all, even though professors of philosophy may speculate about the consciousness of Stalinists, a society in danger cannot be expected to be too concerned with what is in the minds of its opponents. Must not the defenders of democracy in America guide themselves by the way in which the Stalinists act, by the conduct of their organization? And in a free, democratic society should not people who choose to act as conspirators rather than to present themselves and their ideas in open conflict in the free market place of ideas be sought out, exposed, and removed from any social arena in which they can implement their nefarious conspiracy?
Here again, the questions are quite proper and to the point; but only it the point is understood, and the answer framed not in vacuous abstraction, but in the light of the social reality of American society. The joker lies in identifying the present situation in the United States for anyone who holds Stalinist ideas (or even socialist ones, for that matter) with that of a really free and democratic society or of an open market of ideas. We share Hook’s aversion for card sharps, and hence we object to his attempt to pass off this joker as the ace of spades.
HOOK CANNOT ACKNOWLEDGE THE EXISTENCE of a major witchhunt at home for it would weaken his stand on Communist teachers and civil liberties. He is intent on proving that the Communist Party is a vast conspiracy and nothing must be allowed to interfere; neither facts nor discriminating analysis.
The signs of a conspiracy, Hook informed us, are “secrecy, anonymity, the use of false names and labels and the calculated lie.” Hook realizes that this is not a meaningful statement unless it can be established that the organization which functions in such underhanded fashion is afforded the opportunity to operate in a perfectly free and legal manner. If a movement’s activities are circumscribed or illegalized by an undemocratic society, one cannot place moral strictures on the opposition movement for operating in a secretive manner. That would be an example of moralistic absolutism which Hook finds so offensive in other writings. Thus, he be-grudgingly admits that
“There may be some justification for conspiratorial activity in undemocratic countries where heresies are proscribed ...”
It is impossible for Hook, given his scientific method to morally condemn the secrecy and semi-underground character of the Communist Party today unless he can show that this conspiratorial character is self-imposed, i.e., that its secrecy bears no causal relationship at all to an “alleged” witchhunt. And this is just what Hook proceeds to do. He attempts to prove the impossible by asserting the absurd. There is no witchhunt in this country, asserts Hook. There are injustices, to be sure, but they are primarily the malevolent doings of a small number of “private citizens” and “some legislators.” Also
“Zealous individuals and groups, expressing themselves with anger and unrestraint on the shortcomings of national policy and leadership, have been guilty of ‘cultural vigilantism’.”
“It is merely hypocritical pretense, we often hear it declared,” Hook writes with bitterness, “to regard America as a champion of the free way of life.”
Thus, America is in Hook’s eyes a champion of the free way of life and to see an enormous grey cloud of reaction dimming this beacon of freedom is virtually playing the Stalinist game:
It is true, however, that in some respects governmental measures have fallen short of proper standards of justice. The loyalty program should be rethought and more selectively applied. The list of subversive organizations issued by the Attorney General’s office was not properly drawn up; nor were proper procedures followed in reaching decisions. Visa and passport regulations should be more intelligently administered under a thoroughly revised immigration law drafted by others than Senator McCarran. But it is emphatically not true that the Government has created the anti-Communist mood of the country or that it is prosecuting heresies rather than conspiracies. (Emphasis ours.)
Hook’s wrath is unbounded when polemizing against “ritualistic liberals” who “have become convinced that the processes of American freedom no longer function as in the past, that the critical safeguards and mechanisms by which American democracy has remedied abuses and evils in its body politic have been undermined, if not destroyed, by an hysterical anti-Communist fever. Even many Americans who are non-Communists have been repeating this line.” His vulgarity knows as few bounds as his wrath:
Recently a professional liberal figure appeared on a television program on the state of civil liberties in America. At the moment when the cameras brought him so close that one could almost look down his throat, he was shouting: “It’s getting so that a man can’t open his mouth in this country.” Whether the thousands of people who got a glimpse of his tonsils appreciated the irony of the situation is doubtful.
It is apparent from these few quotations – and there are chapters full of the same – that Hook either cannot or will not recognize that the whole structure and atmosphere of political life in America has been poisoned. Is it possible for a teacher to have his Fulbright scholarship revoked because of guilt by family association , for books to be burned (only a few) by the State Department, loyalty oaths and purges made widespread, the McCarran Internal Security Act passed, for a hooligan-like Senator McCarthy to wield such enormous power, etc., etc., etc., and at the same time be maintained that the “processes of American freedom” continue to “function as in the past”?
The Communist Party and the world Stalinist movement is the party and movement of the Big Lie. It has been able to achieve enormous popularity in Europe and Asia through its deceptions, lies, intrigues, etc. Parading under the banner of socialism, claiming as its own the most noble traditions of past struggles for emancipation, often utilizing the language of socialism, and capitalizing on the existing misery and the bankrupt policies of the bourgeois world, the Stalinists have employed all these techniques for facilitating the most monstrous perversion of revolutionary aspirations toward the end of establishing a dictatorship which annihilates the legitimate grievances of those they influence. The difference between the avowed and ulterior aims of the world Stalinist movement is only part of the reason for their devotion to secrecy, anonymity and false labels. Hook’s refusal to recognize that a good deal of the secrecy, anonymity, false labels and even some of the calculated lies resorted to by the Communist Party are defensive moves against the witchhunt is based on his belabored reasoning that no witch-hunt exists. How explain the fact that the mass Communist parties of Europe function with relative openness if conspiratorial functioning is so fundamentally and totally a characteristic of Stalinism. The French and Italian Communist parties utilize deception and front techniques no less than their American counterpart, but they also have open meetings carried on under their own names, their leaders and the vast majority of their members are known by their real names. Is it the Latin temperament which predisposes the French and Italian Communist parties to more public operation? The incontrovertible fact is that the American CP resorts to ultra secrecy today because that is the only way it can continue to function in the face of persecution.
There is a section of the Stalinist movement which is a conspiracy in the full sense of the word – that part of the movement whose activities are carried on in secrecy, the spy apparatus. If Hook’s remarks were devoted to this aspect of the Stalinist movement, our quarrel with him would be relatively trivial. Our concern is not with the murderers, spies and assassins operating under Kremlin supervision. But this is a fine distinction to Hook. The class of conspirators is made to include not only those presently conspiring, but potential conspirators and dupes, as well. The Stalinist spy apparatus is different and apart from the Communist Party. As a matter of fact, it is the devout Whittaker Chambers who made the noteworthy point that the Party membership and the spy apparatus are distinctly different movements and that there is a growing differentiation between the two, instead of a synthesis. It should be apparent to anyone who reads newspapers and an occasional book on the subject that the spy ring and the Communist Party are not to be treated as synonymous or even similar phenomena and cannot be placed in the same class in any meaningful sense.
1. Heresy Yes Conspiracy No, by Sidney Hook, John Day, 283 pp. $3.75.
2. Naphtali Lewis, Assistant Professor at Brooklyn College, had his Fulbright Scholarship revoked when be would not give testimony as to his wife’s political affiliations. Professor Lewis denied membership at any time in the Communist Party.
Last updated on 3.10.2005