October 29, 2013

"How the Alger Hiss Case Explains the Tea Party."

By Cass Sunstein.
Most of those who have carefully studied the case, and who have explored evidence emerging long after the trial itself, have concluded that [Whittaker] Chambers was telling the truth and that Hiss did indeed perjure himself....

Chambers’ broader charge -- that liberalism was a species of socialism, “inching its ice cap over the nation” -- polarized the nation. His attack on the patriotism of the Ivy League elite reflected an important strand in American culture, and it helped to initiate suspicions that persist to this day.
Rush Limbaugh was just talking about Alger Hiss last month:
The Democrat Party and the left of the day loved Alger Hiss, and they hated Nixon for exposing him.  To this day, Nixon is hated for having exposed -- successfully exposed -- Alger Hiss as a communist spy working in the State Department.  He was at the high levels, and Nixon got him, and they hated Nixon for it....

128 comments:

jr565 said...

Chambers’ broader charge -- that liberalism was a species of socialism, “inching its ice cap over the nation


The funny thing is that there was protestation over its veracity. It would be like him arguing that water is wet and then getting an argument over it.
The left was socialistic. Socialism replaced classical liberalism and now the left is socialist through and through. Even if they don't recognize it as socialism.

Carnifex said...

I would rather go blind than read anything ever written by Cass Sustein. And I mean that literally.

He should be shot then hanged for treason. You can have a trial later on if it'll make you feel better.

Sustein is one of the few people I truly wish would just die so our joint misery would end.

Michael K said...

The political left has never forgiven Nixon or McCarthy and will never do so. McCarthy was a phony and a charlatan but he had a sense that he was right and, in many ways, he was. Was what he aid that much less truthful than what Obama has been saying ?

paul a'barge said...

Cass Sunstein is a socialist.

paul a'barge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

I have always believed the liberals hated Nixon because he proved that Hiss was a Communist.

JFK and Nixon were on fairly good terms because they both recognized the threat that the Communists posed.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seeing Red said...

The Tea Party is right?

Carl Pham said...

Yes, but what dysfunctional experience in his youth -- or mutation in his DNA -- explains Cass Sunstein, and his faith that his ideological opponents are merely pre-programmed robots -- that only he arrives at his intellectual conclusions using facts and rationality free of the slightest tint of prejudice or wishful thinking? Was he bottle-fed? Picked on during kindergarten recess? Did he imbibe intellectual Stalinism with his mother's milk, because his paternal great-grandfather was once horsewhipped by a Cossack?

I look forward to the day when everyone can be explained by his DNA, ancestry, events in the 18th century, and rearing, in the way the modern Left explains its opponents. Life will be so much simpler! There will probably be a convenient app that lets you type in some kind of personality code and predict whether the boss will give you a raise, the girl will sleep with you, and your mother-in-law stop nagging you about your cooking. Sweet!

traditionalguy said...

Socialism is redistribution.

And it works until there is nothing left to "take/tax" and then all except The Party of the Tyrant go into a harsh and usually short survival mode at the orders of the State Police which also fears the Party of the Tyrant.

The only way out of socialism is a war that if won only extends the final date of having nothing left by using stolen things from the loser, or a war that is lost so the State Police can safely surrender too.

Henry said...

The pendantic refuge of the liberal elite is to adhere to a literal definition of socialism. "We cannot be socialists because we don't believe that the state should control the means of production."

Yet there is no question that modern liberalism is opposed to liberty. It's not socialism. It's technocracy. The goal of liberalism -- a powerful regulatory state -- is to be accomplished by profoundly undemocratic means: local governments are to defer to the states; state governments are to defer to Washington D.C.; Congress is to transfer its powers to anonymous and unelected bureaucrats via open-ended, never-ending regulatory schemes.

So no, liberals aren't socialists. They are technocrats, oligarchs, mandarins. In a way they loathe politics. Politics is messy, dirty, uncertain. All their impulses point to disallowing dissent, controlling free speech, funneling power upward and away from representatives.

jr565 said...

And if we go further and acknowledge that there were communist spies in the state dept, then let's defend McCarthy too.
The left at the time was engaged in political theater denouncing him for his witch hunt. But he, in fact was right. He may not have been right in every claim he made, but he was right about the big picture.

And all the caterwauling over Algier hiss or, say, the Rosenbergs was in fact just political theater; socialists trying to cover socialists.

It's not a witch hunt if there are actual witches.(well, it still is a wicth hunt, but witch hunt isn't a bad thing if the threat is legitimate)

chuck said...

I like the way Ol' Cass drops in the Tea Party at the end. And, of course, he knows nothing about it. The main knock on academe these days is not just their totalitarian tendency, but their ignorance and bigotry. Cass is exhibit one.

jr565 said...
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jr565 said...

Michael K wrote:
Was what he aid that much less truthful than what Obama has been saying ?

There WERE communists in the state dept. You probably will not be able to keep your insurance if you want to.

Marshal said...

Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor.

Revealingly he didn't list these "positions they abhor".

jr565 said...

The Venona project, proving once and for all that the anti communists were not being paranoid:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venona_project

And it wasn't just Alger Hiss. Harry Dexter White, The Rosenbergs,Guy Burgess. etc.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Yet there is no question that modern liberalism is opposed to liberty. It's not socialism. It's technocracy.

No different that 'progressivism', which applies to all on the left side of the spectrum. Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson didn't think it through to its end, but Lenin and Stalin sure did. The oh-so-smart 'progressives' (indistinguishable from self-appointed Huxleyan 'alphas') will rule the masses, guided by unerring 'Science' and a flawless Party... and ultimately fetch up in Detroit.

Michael K said...

"So no, liberals aren't socialists. They are technocrats, oligarchs, mandarins. In a way they loathe politics. Politics is messy, dirty, uncertain. All their impulses point to disallowing dissent, controlling free speech, funneling power upward and away from representatives."

It's actually fascism but that word has too many negative vibrations.

Paco Wové said...

Funny, I thought the tea party had something to do with excessive federal spending and taxation.

wildswan said...

Yet there is no question that modern liberalism is opposed to liberty. It's not socialism. It's technocracy.

In England where "modern liberalism" has been going on since the end of WW II we can see where we will end up if the 'crats get their way. And what's interesting is that supporters of "modern liberalism" are totally disillusioned. Read The Meritocracy by Michael Young or The Disinherited by Margaret Simey. This last is by a woman who spent her life (94 years) working for socialism in Liverpool but her final reflection was that the aristocracy had been replaced by the bureaucracy and that the poor were more disinherited than ever. She had a few ideas on what went wrong and they have Tea Party flavor. She thought regulation and bureaucracy had not proved to be the equalizers she had hoped for. She thought government needed to listen and stop talking.

William said...

I've always wondered why people on the left don't feel betrayed by people like Sacco, Hiss, and the Rosenbergs. These people lied, and the left compromised their own reputations in defending these liars.......Perhaps the left feels that they weren't lying to them but only to people on the right. The right deserves to be lied to because they're not good people. They're are higher ideals than honesty when great causes need to be advanced.. In like way, no one on the left will be more than transiently ruffled by Obama's mendacity in support of the ACA.

Big Mike said...

Strange article. It seemed to me as though the writer was setting the stage for something he really wanted to get across, then the article simply stops.

cubanbob said...

Sunstein who is allegedly brilliant can't understand that millions of people who are taxed enough already are opposed to expanding liberal policies and programs?

John Lynch said...

What Big Mike said- there's an intro, but no body or conclusion.

Terry said...

Sunstein wrote:
Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor.

Sunstein gives no examples of these 'positions that they abhor'. I suspect that this is because they hold these positions rather than abhor them. Award status and money based on race? Yes. Celebrate totalitarians? Yes. Dislike America? Yes. Oppose the constitution? Yes. Dislike the traditional family? Yes. Despise free-market capitalism? Yes.

Terry said...

I see Marshall noticed, too, that Sunstein didn't list these 'positions they abhor'.
Sunstein stopped writing there because, I suppose, he reflected on what he was writing and realized that, in fact, liberals do hold all of the positions that conservatives accuse them of holding. My God, they celebrate abortion!

MadisonMan said...

He was tall, handsome, elegant, gracious, even dashing

I see he plucked his description about Obama and put it in this article about Hiss.

(Relevance to anything? None. Par for the course)

n.n said...

The supreme irony is that the Left prefers intelligent (i.e. coordinated or directed) design. Perhaps that is why they are so opposed to traditional religion (i.e. moral philosophy). It is difficult for them to accept an organic, adaptive society; and there are many men and women who are prepared to exploit that immaturity.

From Inwood said...

I think that the following review I made of one of my favorite authors is only a slight sidebar here.

If not, please indulge me.

The Studs Lonigan trilogy & the Danny O’Neill quintet, Farrell 1932-1946.

Studs, clearly a product of neighborhood-as-parish, is beloved by all Irish-Catholic bashers, especially the Cradle-Catholic-but-no-more-a-Catholic, since he personifies what snarkly is referred to as “the crippling parochialism of … Irish Catholicism, the suffocating middle-class pieties of the relat-ives who raised him”.

What struck me [and which I suggest is relevant to this thread] is that despite Farrell’s romance with communism & determinism, he carefully portrays Studs as the victim of the poor choices that he, Studs, made during his nasty, brutish, & short life. Otherwise Farrell would have written agitprop or party-line pap rather than a work of art & what amounts to a history of some Irish-American RCs in the early 20th Century. But, more important, the bashers ignore Danny who escaped the “spiritual poverty” of his parish/neighborhood. Which escape RC bashers shouldn’t ignore since Farrell believes, like them that Danny’s (& his own) escape came through Chicago’s liberal, socialistic culture of democracy.

As Farrell grew older he never quite acknowledged that democratic capitalism works whereas socialism doesn't, but he did realize the failure & evil of communism. And for that he suffered loss of stature as a writer & thinker & financial loss. In short, he was “Blacklisted” before there was a “Blacklist”.

And yet he continued to write & wrote still great, but less tendentious, stories of ordinary Irish-Americans, which were, not surprisingly, utterly ignored by the critics, who said, among other things that he wrote too many words, despite the fact that the Studs & Danny books suffered equally from verborrhea.

Albert Matz, one of the Hollywood Ten – none dare call them communists – would famously declare that he did not want to face Farrell’s fate, expulsion from the party & being forced to “walk alone”.

n.n said...

traditionalguy:

Socialism is in principle a voluntary redistribution or equalization scheme. Unfortunately, in practice it is a scheme by a minority to consolidate capital and control.

Insufficiently Sensitive:

There is a material difference between classical progressives and their generational derivatives. Most notably, the latter adhere to selective or ambiguous principles. This is the same problem evident with generational liberals.

Hagar said...

I think I have said before that Barack Obama rather reminds me of Alger Hiss as I have read and seen film clips about him.

And thesee people were not "communists," since they thought all that killing and violence was rather crude and barbaric, but they most certainly sympathized with the basic premises of the communist revolution. and worked to promote it - without the crudeness, of course.

n.n said...

re: classical progressives

Unfortunately, they exhibit a greater correlation to their generational peers than their classical roots.

Terry said...

In his book on liberal fascism, Jonah Goldberg made the point that fascism looked different in different nations. German fascism looked different than Italian fascism, which looked different than Spanish fascism. This makes sense, since fascism is based on national identity.
Communism looks the same everywhere. Stalin's Russia looks like Castro's Cuba looks like Pol Pot's Cambodia looks like Tito's Yugoslavia looks like Mao's China. If Hiss had had his way, We would have had political prisoners and death camps, rationing of basic foodstuffs, midnight knocks on the door and bullets to the back of the head, all of the squalid paraphernalia of the 20th century totalitarian communist state.
Good riddance, send all those commies to live in a commie country, if there are any left.

Freeman Hunt said...

An education that lacks the classics is not elite.

n.n said...

Hagar:

The crudeness has been repackaged. They cannot afford to express their interests overtly other than in short gasps. Unlike the communists in Russia, a large minority, and perhaps a majority, of Americans would oppose them. Also, unlike the majority of Russians, the majority of Americans have the means and incentive to oppose them. Furthermore, America has a suitable compromise (e.g. promote the general Welfare), which the Russian empire did not offer, and the communists cannot generally exploit.

eddie willers said...

Strange article. It seemed to me as though the writer was setting the stage for something he really wanted to get across, then the article simply stops.

Had I not seen the author's name, I might conclude that the missing final sentence was: "Perhaps the Tea Party is as correct as Chambers was".

MadisonMan said...

Strange article. It seemed to me as though the writer was setting the stage for something he really wanted to get across, then the article simply stops.

Now that I've read to the abrupt ending, yes. You are completely correct.

Very odd.

There's a summary of historical fact, then a premise for the present. But that's about it.

William Chadwick said...

I would say that anyone who values personal liberty and wishes to limit the power of the State is still justified in being supicious of "Ivy League elites." And of State-shtuppers such as Cass Sunstein.

chrisnavin.com said...

I remember Sunstein clarifying his 'means' paternalism from the 'ends' paternalism of some real Lefty totalitarian riding his coattails.

Behavioral economics shouldn't be used to perfect people with the power of the State and policy, instead it's ripe for the picking to become the epistemological garden our elected officials harvest in order to 'Nudge' people and their choices by framing policy and law.

Thanks so much, Cass. I look forward to climbing through the chutes and ladders my newly informed elected officials and judges so rationally design by understanding the fundamental irrationality of my decision-making.

Progress!

Rockport Conservative said...

I agree with Big Mike. Did this get published because of the name of the author? It seems as if a part of the manuscript, the end, got left off. Did the dog eat his homework?

AJ Lynch said...

I am with Mad Man and others-Sunstein seems to have conked out .... in mid thought. The connection to the Tea Party was a snooze- maybe he fell asleep when he was writing it?

David said...

What difference, at this point, does it make.

Seriously.

Terry said...

There seems to be a belief on the Left that there was some kind of 'homegrown' socialist/communist movement in the US in the 1930s.
There was not. Socialists in the US were controlled by the Politburo in Moscow, beginning in the 1920s, up until, at least, 1939, when Hitler and Stalin partitioned Poland.
This is not 'secret history'. It's right out in the open.

Phaedrus said...

Ms Althouse understands the ivory tower that Sunstein lives in and writes from so perhaps she can illuminate us on how Hiss is related to the Tea Party.

Ironinc that McCarthy was from now liberal Wisconsin.

Lydia said...

JFK and Nixon were on fairly good terms because they both recognized the threat that the Communists posed.

Heck, RFK even worked for Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Marshal said...

eddie willers said...
Had I not seen the author's name, I might conclude that the missing final sentence was: "Perhaps the Tea Party is as correct as Chambers was".


Ha - I had the same thought. But I suspect his ending was:

They hate us because they still believe we support communism.

Either he or the editors cut it because it's so obviously not responsive to the Tea Party positions it comes off as a pathetic effort to dodge the issues.

Scott M said...

if there are any left

Irony. They're all left.

Shouting Thomas said...

All disagreement with a leftist is proof of some sort of pathology, be it racism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc.

Nobody has actually had a substantive, legitimate disagreement with a leftist in my lifetime.

Saint Croix said...

That's an interesting history but Sunstein's thesis is silly. Populists despise the Ivy League because they suspect that the powerful will rewrite our Constitution for their own political purposes. You don't need to know anything about Alger Hiss to recognize that Sunstein has no respect for democratic norms. He's fairly typical for the progressive left.

Not everybody in the Ivy League is like this. Akhil Amar is quite liberal but he's awesome. He's the Hugo Black of Yale.

Unknown said...

I am REALLY confused; I read in the essay the implication that the Tea Party is a reaction to lying, elitist socialists masquerading as Americans. The comment threads doesn't square with that perspective; where am I wrong?

Illuninati said...

"Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor."

I wish Sunstein had elaborated. Exactly which positions which Hiss and the other Marxists supported do the modern left abhor? It was my impression that the left supported Communism including Stalin for years. They minimized the Holodomor. After all it is necessary to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Now that the Soviet Union has fallen and the archives have been opened the modern left claim that they abhor Marxism. Exactly what is it about the Communists that the left abhors? Modern leftists share the Marxists' hatred for traditional Christianity and their rejection of traditional moral mores. They also share the Marxists' lust for power and hatred for the parts of the private sector which they do not directly control. Without any objective moral standard the left has no moral limits.

Peter said...

'William' said, "I've always wondered why people on the left don't feel betrayed by people like Sacco, Hiss, and the Rosenbergs. These people lied, and the left compromised their own reputations in defending these liars.."

I think they are defended (admired, even) because they were idealists. Perhaps they were naive idealists, but they shared a belief in the Big Beautiful Ideas.

For all their faults, those leaning to the Right at least recognize that our species is deeply flawed, and as a result understand that attempts to bring about a heaven on Earth will invariably bring about the opposite.

And if I might say so, the PoV of the Founders was much closer to that of the Right than of the Left here- for they, too, well understood the limitations of our species.

Pettifogger said...

Henry said: "The pendantic refuge of the liberal elite is to adhere to a literal definition of socialism. 'We cannot be socialists because we don't believe that the state should control the means of production.'"

People, myself included, tend to use "socialist," though I recognize it is imprecise. The precise term for so-called progressives is "dirigiste." But that just doesn't slide off the tongue as well as "socialist."

William Chadwick said...

Illuninati, I'm probably older than most people who post here, and I remember the Sixties and Seventies. At the time I attended an East Coast college that was a hub of "progressive" thought, and whose faculty--with some notable exceptions--pretty lockstep in following the party line du jour. And if they harbored any "abhorrence" of Communism, they managed to keep it well hidden. Some were sincerely anti-Soviet, but expressing a true abhorrance of Communism was the sign of a yokel, a Catholic or some other undesirable, in that crowd.

Also, Sunstein fails to mention that the bouillabaise of voodoo economics, "ressentiment" and State-worship that passes for "liberalism" today was originally socialism, remarketed in the 1930s under the more warm-and-fuzzy label "liberalism" to make it more saleable to the rubes.

"I remember when 'liberal' meant being generous with your own money."--Will Rogers.

cubanbob said...



Pettifogger said...
Henry said: "The pendantic refuge of the liberal elite is to adhere to a literal definition of socialism. 'We cannot be socialists because we don't believe that the state should control the means of production.'"

People, myself included, tend to use "socialist," though I recognize it is imprecise. The precise term for so-called progressives is "dirigiste." But that just doesn't slide off the tongue as well as "socialist."
10/29/13, 2:02 PM

True dat. Still its really a distinction without much of a difference.

By the way isn't he married to that nut-job Samantha Power?

Crazy Jane said...

Sunstein himself is said to be brilliant but lacking emotional intelligence and, frankly, a personality.

After being told all his life that he is the smartest guy in the universe, it may be that he views anyone who disagrees with him as stupid, irrational and just plain wrong.

I believe one of our politicians said long ago, "These are issues on which reasonable people may disagree." No one seems to believe this anymore.

Strelnikov said...

Yes, because the basis for any rage against the fed government is perceptions from a decades old legal case, not actual problems as they exist. Very insightful, Cass.

Bruce Hayden said...

JFK and Nixon were on fairly good terms because they both recognized the threat that the Communists posed.

Apparently more than that - they met during the war, both being Naval officers in the Pacific, and apparently struck up a friendship, that continued after the war, esp when both were in the Senate together. May have been why Nixon didn't fight the vote, esp. in Illinois, which was bought and paid for by Kennedy's father.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The funny thing is that Richard Nixon was a liberal Republican, anti-communist to be sure, but the sort of Republican that today would be pilloried by Rush Limbaugh for being a RINO and primaried by the Tea Party.

"Lee and Jackson did not fully comprehend what they were fighting. Had this really been a 'Civil' War, rather than a secession, they would and could have easily seized Washington after Manassas and hanged our first Communist President and the other war criminals."

"So, again, the Republican Party did not 'go wrong.' It was rotten from the start. It has never been anything but red. The characterization of Republican states as 'red states' is quite appropriate.

"This is Alan Stang, think about it."

Strelnikov said...

If you want a verifiable look into the heart of American Communism read David Horowitz' autobiography, "Radical Son". Everything you've been taught to believe about Communist penetration into this country is false. Everything you've feared it to be is true.

Saint Croix said...

Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor.

Socialists have to re-brand when their ideas become reality.

Greens are the new Commies.

What's really shocking is Peter Singer. He's not just a socialist. He's singling out inferiors and talking about the state killing them at birth. He's a national socialist.

Bruce Hayden said...

Above in the discussion about fascism, what was missed was the discussion about it from an economics point of view, and that is likely because it was closer to what is being practiced here than communism or other forms of socialism. Maybe a better description of it would be crony capitalism socialism. The biggest companies did what the government wanted, and, in return, got special favors - notably in Germany, they got access to low priced or free labor from the concentration camps. Think of it as a public/private partnership, where the big companies do what the government wants, and the government protects them from competition, and gives them special perks and privileges. Works better than the communist brand of socialism because the government is not actually running the businesses, just nudging them in the proper direction. And, thus, there are some price signals, wherein in pure socialism/communism there are essentially none.

But, I wouldn't really call Sunstein a socialist, and esp. not either a fascist or communist type socialist, but rather, a technocrat style socialist. Someone who truly believes that government can work well if only the best and brightest were in charge (including himself, of course). This was the guy in charge of regulations, or something like that. He went into the Administration apparently believing in government transparency, and when he ultimately found that this was the least transparent Administration in our memories, he bailed back to academia.

RichardS said...

Well. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. did write, "There seems no inherent obstacle to the gradual advance of socialism in the United States through a series of New Deals."
http://www.claremont.org/publications/crb/id.1974/article_detail.asp

Michael K said...

"the sort of Republican that today would be pilloried by Rush Limbaugh for being a RINO and primaried by the Tea Party."

And rightly so. Where do you think wage and price controls, detente and he EPA came from, along with affirmative action ?

The traditional Democrats like Kennedy were anticommunist. Kennedy was probably more conservative on economics than Nixon.

Saint Croix said...

The funny thing is that Richard Nixon was a liberal Republican, anti-communist to be sure, but the sort of Republican that today would be pilloried by Rush Limbaugh for being a RINO and primaried by the Tea Party.

Yes! He's a total RINO. Commie-kissing wage-and-price control fascist freak.

Obama/Nixon Morph

Bob Ellison said...

I enjoy speculating on the differences between rightists and leftists and the differing (and sometimes similar) motivations that drive their politics.

However, I have concluded that rightists really can't understand leftists, and vice versa. This Sunstein article shows why. When leftists try to explain rightists, they tend strongly to project and to blame right-thinking on evil, stupidity, and psychological problems.

I really don't think rightists suffer quite as much from such woolly-headed analysis when explaining leftists, but they (and I) do tend that way. We call lefties stupid, foolish, unwise, etc.

The "reasonable minds can differ" attitude is at a low ebb these days.

Henry said...

I don't think it's accurate to use the term fascism except when a movement celebrates violence as a means of political expression. There are many varieties of authoritarianism in history. Fascism is a very specific one.

Pettifogger's reference to dirigiste is much better.

Andy Freeman said...

> Cass Sunstein is a socialist.

He just needs to be nudged, Mencken-style.

Larry J said...

You raise some valid points, Bob. However, there is a difference. We conservatives see and hear liberals all of the time. They're the overwhelmingly dominant side of higher education. They make up the majority of the news media in all forms except talk radio. They are the majority of mass entertainment from movies through TV, music and books. It isn't hard to hear liberals proclaiming what they believe.

On the other hand, it's quite easy for liberals to avoid contact with conservatives. They can avoid talk radio and Fox News. It's funny listening to a liberal when he claims to know what conservatives think and believe. It's a caricature and more likely projection on their part.

Studies have shown that conservatives know far more about what liberals believe than the converse. It isn't hard to understand why. So, do I think a lot of liberals are ignorant? Yes, yes I do. They’re ignorant of history, human nature, economics and science, to start with.

Scott M said...

He just needs to be nudged, Mencken-style.

Can't he be nudged, Death Becomes Her style?

Larry J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beldar said...

Prof. Althouse, you may wish to modify your post to include an Amazon link to Whitaker Chambers' classic 1952 book, "Witness." I read it for the first time last year, and found it still quite fresh and relevant, as well as insightful. And of course it's the rare history book that is itself a genuinely historic book.

SGT Ted said...

The left has always hated the anti-Communists that were in both the GOP and the Democrat Party.

Greg said...

It's worth pointing out that the Left tried to discredit Chambers by dredging up his homosexual past.

n.n said...

We would do well to set aside the various labels and the associations which have been attributed to them. Each philosophy (e.g. religion) should be judged by the principles it engenders and its potential to reconcile with reality.

There is a reason to oppose coerced redistribution of wealth. There is a reason to respect individual dignity. There is a reason to recognize the intrinsic (i.e. unearned) value of human life. There is a reason to promote the general Welfare. For one, liberty is only suitable and possible for individuals capable of self-moderating, responsible behavior.

Terry said...

Authoritarian communism looks forward to a utopian future while fascism looks backward to an atavistic past.

n.n said...

Greg:

As a man, he should be judged as an individual. As a couplet, he can be judged by his dysfunctional behavior. However, when the latter is not normalized, then his behavior is not invasive or corrosive, and can therefore be reasonably tolerated as a minority behavior. The man, however, is judged by his words and deeds, or the "content of his character".

n.n said...

Terry:

They are equal in practice. A minority seeks to consolidate capital and control through real and perceived authority. Both are monopolies of a kind, which are established and retained through force.

The problem is that corruption is progressive and we lack the skill to predict who will succumb to dreams of material, physical, or ego instant or immediate gratification. Therefore neither communism nor socialism nor fascism are desirable, nor is democracy. In practice, neither minority nor majority rule is desirable.

Terry said...

I agree, n.n., but my definition -- and I think poli-sci types use a similar definition -- is value neutral and shows how fascism and communism are fundamentally different.
Put another way, fascist regimes declare war on the world, while communist regimes declare war on their own people.

The Godfather said...

In 1962, when Nixon lost the election for Governor of California, the Harvard Crimson (the student newspaper) published a piece that included statements by Alger Hiss that mocked Nixon for his loss and his post-loss behavior. I was appalled that the Crimson would publish such a commentary by a criminal, convicted at least in part because of Nixon's efforts, aimed at a former Vice President of the United States. I wanted to write a letter to the editor expressing those feelings.

However, I realized that I didn't know enough about the Hiss case to write such a letter. So I cracked the books and immersed myself in the Hiss and Chambers case for a couple of days, until I knew enough to frame my letter.

After I wrote the letter to the editor, and was about to walk it down to the Crimson office, a friend asked me if I knew that Alger Hiss's son was an editor of the Crimson. I didn't. I hadn't really thought of Hiss as having a family, and I didn't like the idea of criticizing someone in front of his child (but then the fact that Nixon had children didn't stop Hiss from criticizing him). I wondered if I would run into an angry Hiss son when I turned in the letter. So I dropped the letter in the appropriate in-box and beat it out of the Crimson office as fast as I could.

And to give them credit, they published it. As I recall, they published a response to my letter that was two or three times as long. So I thought I'd won.

Alex said...

Why would you be angry about Nixon exposing Alger Hiss if you weren't/aren't a Communist? Really I'd like to know.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

If Goldberg says this:

Communism looks the same everywhere. Stalin's Russia looks like Castro's Cuba looks like Pol Pot's Cambodia looks like Tito's Yugoslavia looks like Mao's China.

then he's taking factual liberties. (I haven't read the book, mainly because it's embarrassing to buy something whose cover is a smiley face with a Hitler mustache.) Pol Pot's plan for Cambodia is unlike that of any other Communist regime I can think of, apart of course from the "enslaving the entire population" and the "lots and lots of dead people" parts. Were there any other Communist regimes that thought cities were evil, and the entire populace needed to be purified by life in the country?

William said...

It's worth noting that Chambers thought that Communism would eventually win. Schumpeter and Hayek also shared that belief. So take heart. Everything doesn't always happen for the worst in this worst of all possible worlds.......It's interesting to note the pretzels that liberals twisted themselves into in their defense of Hiss. It was claimed that the FBI forged not just the documents but the very typewriter that Hiss used to type those documents. At the end of his life, Hiss had his reputation restored. He gave paid lectures at Harvard and was given standing ovations at the end of them.....I believe nowadays liberals prefer to maintain a tactful silence on the case, but there can be no doubt that his posthumous reputation is higher than that of Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover.....Liberals praise themselves for their skepticism and nuance, but these qualities are not much in evidence in their handling of the Hiss case. Before I die, I would like to see one dramatization of the Sacco, Hiss, or Rosenberg case where the protagonists are presented as manipulative liars who leave their family and followers a legacy of mendacity.

Rusty said...

China.

William said...

Stalin thought that Hitler was plotting with high ranking Soviet Jews to depose him. Hence the show trials (where all but one of the defendants was Jewish). Stalin thought that the Polish minority in the USSR was plotting with the Polish government to depose him. There were about three thousand Polish names in the Leningrad telephone directory. The men were rounded up and executed. Their families were told that the men had been sentenced to ten years in prison without correspondence privileges.....As we can see from these examples Stalin was, in his own way, as batshit crazy as Pol Pot. As was Mao and Tito and Hoxha and Cousecau and Kim Jung. Just as a Mafia boss has a good chance of having criminal inclinations, Communist leaders have a good chance of being mass murderers.

Michael K said...

"Were there any other Communist regimes that thought cities were evil, and the entire populace needed to be purified by life in the country?"

China.

Gahrie said...

Were there any other Communist regimes that thought cities were evil, and the entire populace needed to be purified by life in the country?

Mao sent much of China's intellegensa out to the villages.....it's about culling those smart enough to plot against you, and cowing everyone else.

dbp said...

Sunstein seems to be blaming the right for polarizing the nation.

What happened is that the left defended a man who turned out to be pretty unequivocally guilty of exactly what the right accused him of. How odd that their reputations should be tarnished by this and that they should be associated with Communists.

Gahrie said...

Put another way, fascist regimes declare war on the world, while communist regimes declare war on their own people

Tell that to Eastern Europe, South Korea, much of Africa, Tibet, Indochina and Afghanistan.

jr565 said...

Michelle wrote;
then he's taking factual liberties. (I haven't read the book, mainly because it's embarrassing to buy something whose cover is a smiley face with a Hitler mustache.) Pol Pot's plan for Cambodia is unlike that of any other Communist regime I can think of, apart of course from the "enslaving the entire population" and the "lots and lots of dead people" parts. Were there any other Communist regimes that thought cities were evil, and the entire populace needed to be purified by life in the country?


I don't think he in fact did say all communism were the same. Trotsky and Stalin and lenin were all commies and diverged sharply. And they were all Russian communists.

jr565 said...

"Put another way, fascist regimes declare war on the world, while communist regimes declare war on their own people"

Actually communist countries also declare war on the world and fascists also declare war on their own people.

jr565 said...

Communism is supposedly not nationalist. Yet Stalin used nationalism when it suited him to galvanize the Russians during war time.

jr565 said...

Mao sent much of China's intellegensa out to the villages.....it's about culling those smart enough to plot against you, and cowing everyone else.

As did Pol Pot.

jr565 said...

Michael K wrote:
It's actually fascism but that word has too many negative vibrations.

You call them fascists, I'd call htem socialists. But isn't that the whole point. The difference between the two is minute. both are counsins of one another. Are the progressives fasicsts or socialists. Is there really a big difference?

hombre said...

It was a typical liberal vs. conservative confrontation. The liberal lied and the conservative told the truth and was vilified for it.

In that sense, Sunstein is correct. The relationship between today's left and the Tea Party is history repeating itself.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

jr565,

But Mao didn't empty the cities, as Pol Pot did.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Rusty, Michael K, Gahrie,

I don't know that China is comparable. Sending the "intelligentsia" out into the countryside isn't quite like emptying the cities altogether. And I don't think it was the "intelligentsia" who died of famine in the Great Leap Forward, though I bet a lot of them didn't get through the Cultural Revolution alive.

But, yes, China is closest to Cambodia in how the story unfolds. Soviet collectivization was more brutal from the get-go. Just get rid of the kulaks in Ukraine -- deport them, starve them, whatever. In China and Cambodia, the scary part is that some people implementing two of the last centuries more horrific genocides (and it's frightening to think that it needs to be qualified like that) actually thought they were doing good.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

*"century's" -- sorry

Vernon said...

In this instance, Sunstein is on the green with his iron shot. No less than our old friend, the NY Times, recently has a story that Whittaker Chambers identified, in addition to Alger Hiss, the mother of Bill de Blasio, soon to be mayor of NY City, as a communist with him when they both worked at Time Inc. Both de Blasio's parents were run out of Washington as security risks in the early 1950s.

Joe McCarthy was the godfather of RFK's first child and dated two of the Kennedy sisters. RFK defended old Joe until the end.

jr565 said...

Michelle wrote:
In China and Cambodia, the scary part is that some people implementing two of the last centuries more horrific genocides (and it's frightening to think that it needs to be qualified like that) actually thought they were doing good.

as did the nazis. The Jews were vermin. And were weakening the purity of the nazi superman by existing. So too with th old and infirm and cripple. You and I recognize them as evil, but its not like they saw themselves that way. When the Taliban kill women for dressing improperly that's righteous to them

MadisonMan said...

Why would you be angry about Nixon exposing Alger Hiss if you weren't/aren't a Communist? Really I'd like to know.

People are always angry when politicians tell the truth. It upsets preconceived notions.

jr565 said...

Great news Vernon. I knew de blasio was a socialist/communist. He's got the whole demagogue the rich shtick down pat. As do his insufferable kids.
I happen to live in NYC so see those commercials every day. The daughter asks "who will make the rich pay their fair share to fund the after school programs?"
He rich pay their fair share? Where have I heard that before? Just as the socialists destroyed Detroit and are destroying Cali, now New York will follow.
I have to move

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Hugh Hewitt had Karen Finnery or something from MSNBC on. She hung up after Hewitt pressed her regarding Hiss. She would concede nothing. Not a damn thing.

This was about a month ago.

I would liink but my Ipad won't let me without a struggle which bores me.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

This representation of the liberal view is so hackneyed as to be laughable. Never mind that Hiss actually was a Soviet spy, the important thing is that the case gave grist to the conservatives' mill. So Chambers polarized American politics, did he? Let me remind Mr. Sunstein that it takes two poles to polarize. If American liberals hadn't been working hand in glove with their Soviet masters, there never would have been a Whittaker Chambers.

K. Pablo said...

What, exactly, was "explained", here? Long on citation, short on analysis.

K. Pablo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry said...


Michelle Dulak Thompson wrote:
Were there any other Communist regimes that thought cities were evil, and the entire populace needed to be purified by life in the country?
Probably. The point was, however, that commies like to move people around, uproot villages, etc. The idea is to break off the attachment to whatever old thinking people had. Peasants were bad, workers were good, so you moved peasants hundreds of miles from there ancestral homes and made them ag workers. Same deal with city dwellers in Cambodia. Their class had to be destroyed.
In Poland, after Stalin took his part of it, the commies killed off the intelligentsia because Stalin wanted no core Polish identity to exist.

K. Pablo said...

This is a surprisingly incoherent argument from someone who should be noddingly familiar with rhetoric. How, exactly, does a review Hiss v. Chambers explain anything about the Tea Party? The Tea Party is defined by its affirmative advocacy of limited constitutional government, not by its opposition to Marxism. It is not defined by a populist vs. elitist conflict, as Sunstein attempts to promote. Yes, Hiss played a sleek Ivy Leaguer to Chambers' rumpled and tortured man of conscience, but the connection to the contemporary Tea Party movement is tenuous. What purpose is served in framing the debate in these terms? One always need s to consider Sunstein's motives, but here his execution seems inexplicably clumsy.

Illuninati said...

At its core the left is totalitarian. The reason the left hates Christianity so much is because the teachings of the Bible stand in the way of total control over the minds and bodies of other people. Since the fall of the Soviet Communists the left has been searching for another totalitarian movement to champion. They have it, Islam.

When David Livingstone went into Africa the Muslims were conducting massive slave raids into Africa, burning villages, and enslaving women, children and some men. They did this as part of their Jihad against the native African religions. For the past 100 years the Christian West has protected Africans from the Muslim slaughter. Now that the left has sided with Islam the US has withdrawn the protection and the slaughter of Africans has resumed. Right now Nigeria is once more a Muslim killing field with the implicit support of the American left.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Terry,

Yes, what is it with Poland, anyway, that so many people over so many centuries were determined to stamp out Polish nationalism? The only comparable instances I can think of in modern history are Ireland and (of course) Israel; or, rather, the idea that there is a "Jewish nation," whether it had a homeland or not.

England tried forever to subjugate the Irish nation, and managed to retain a bit of it. Prussia and Russia and various other even less savory parties did their best to get rid of Poland, but it's still there. And so is the nation of Israel, despite what I think we can agree have been repeated and determined efforts to wipe it out.

Fûz said...

"Cass Sunstein['s] faith . . . that only he arrives at his intellectual conclusions using facts and rationality free of the slightest tint of prejudice"
do read Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow where Sunstein is mentioned, toward the end of the book. His argument that Betters should be correcting the errors of proles' Type I thinking falls apart when you remember that Kahneman proved even the plebeians rely too heavily on Type I thinking.

Fûz said...

"Cass Sunstein['s] faith . . . that only he arrives at his intellectual conclusions using facts and rationality free of the slightest tint of prejudice"
do read Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow where Sunstein is mentioned, toward the end of the book. His argument that Betters should be correcting the errors of proles' Type I thinking falls apart when you remember that Kahneman proved even the plebeians rely too heavily on Type I thinking.

Brennan said...

I suppose if protected well, President Obama can be worse then Nixon, but not really know it if his aides don't inform him.

Brennan said...

Hugh Hewitt had Karen Finnery or something from MSNBC on. She hung up after Hewitt pressed her regarding Hiss. She would concede nothing. Not a damn thing.

This was about a month ago.

I would liink but my Ipad won't let me without a struggle which bores me.


Karen Finney. And Hugh did this again yesterday by asking Clarence Page(Hugh says he's asking all the MSNBC paid speakers this question) the same question. Clarence said that Hiss was a spy and that Clarence reads history.

Terry said...

Michelle Dulak Thompson wrote:
Yes, what is it with Poland, anyway, that so many people over so many centuries were determined to stamp out Polish nationalism?
I don't know for sure -- other than that were at a 'crossroads of empire'. They also were a bit "neither-fish-nor-fowl". Slavs, but Catholic, and using the Roman alphabet. Poland always considered itself the most civilized Slavic nation. When Stalin moved Russian peasants into Poland, the Poles were, supposedly, appalled at their backwardness and barbarity. There was a joke about Russian peasants using brassieres as ear muffs . . .

NotquiteunBuckley said...

The outrage is where it has always been: too great for one man, we look to numerous women.

Rounding the curve of elections-luxury stupidly missed by myself foremost front-in-line for today-is Buckley.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"Where is the outrage?"

National Review.

Same place it was through Nixon. WFB held more respect for Hugh Hefner than Richard Nixon.

Christ, don't get me started on Weicker.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Just think of how great Bob Dole thought himself.

Unlike Reagan circa 195x through 199x, Dole was too great to incorporate Buckley circa 1994.

Thanks Bob.

Those fucking cunt conservatives was/are/will be the only problem to overcome.

Kim said...

People like Sunstein still aren't aware that socialism has three major (and fatal) flaws:
1) flawed foundational theory (history is a class struggle, capital is finite etc),
2) hopeless execution (e.g. ObamaCare, Lenin's 5-year plans etc) and
3) outcome (100 million dead, and counting).
Apart from all that, it's a great philosophy.

zefal said...

Chambers' book Witness has a fair amount of both the public hearings and private depositions of Hiss & Chambers. Nixon asks very pedantic questions and always in a sober and polite way. Funny how the media never shows the recorded hearings and Nixon's questioning. They show the same clip of the congressman asking someone (not Hiss) brusquely, "Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?" Of course he did this because the guy was just stonewalling and obfuscating the whole time.

Chambers writes of his being on Meet The Press when it was still on radio and the viscousness with which the reporters, save one, attacked him. The media back then was the democrats' fox protecting the hen house, so nothing has changed. I've looked for that show with no luck.

I actually found in wapo archives one story Chambers tells of a painter with the same name as treasury official Harry White. The Soviet Embassy sent this guy caviar and such and he went to the paper to tell his story of this and the paper was able to figure that they meant to send it to Harry White the Treasury official.

Harry graciously said Harry the painter could keep half and send the other half to him. The painter was just going to send it all to the rightful recipient but figured Harry Dexter White would just think he kept half of it anyway so he kept half. Chambers comments on the logic of the painter which I don't agree with. Of course the painter could have sent a note along with the goodies thanking him for the offer but that the goodies were rightfully all his.

Howard Roark said...

FYI for revisionist Liberals and Progressives who will claim McCarthy was bad and Kennedy pure...

JFK and RFK were anti-Communists though liberals. The Kennedys and McCarthy were friends.

When JFK was elected to Congress RFK became a staff lawyer for McCarthy's Senate committee.

Chris Breisch said...

Sunstein makes this bizarre comment towards the end of the piece:

"Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor."

The positions they abhor and the accusations of same are never mentioned in the piece, though. So, there's no way we can determine if such a claim is true or justified.

Larry J said...

K. Pablo said...
This is a surprisingly incoherent argument from someone who should be noddingly familiar with rhetoric. How, exactly, does a review Hiss v. Chambers explain anything about the Tea Party?


I had an online argument last year with a liberal who believed the Tea Parties were nothing more than a modern-day incarnation of the John Birch Society. Perhaps Sustein believes the same idiotic thing.

Drago said...

Brennan said: "Hugh Hewitt had Karen Finnery or something from MSNBC on. She hung up after Hewitt pressed her regarding Hiss. She would concede nothing. Not a damn thing"

Hewitt is asking the MSNBC talking heads this question since the left throws around the term "McCarthyite tactics" so much and Hugh, naturally, is curious to see if any of these leftists actually knows AND is willing to admit that McCarthy was actually....wait for it....correct...in his charges of communist infiltration of democrat administrations.

Finney would not, even at this late date and with overwhelming evidence, admit that one of the lefts heroes for decades was in fact a Soviet spy.

Which makes her a typically perfect leftist.

Number Six said...

In the former USSR, Scientific Socialism collapsed without a civil war. But that may be only because the Soviet military refused to shoot their countrymen.

In the former USSR, what happened to all the Party Leaders and their families? Where did they go? What are they doing now? It's only been 25 years.

Did they all retire to Switzerland with stolen wealth? Did the former Party leaders start over as the leaders of crime rings and Russian mobs?

Why haven't we seen this on the History Channel?

Meade said...

Chris Breisch said…
Sunstein makes this bizarre comment towards the end of the piece:

"Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor."

The positions they abhor and the accusations of same are never mentioned in the piece, though. So, there's no way we can determine if such a claim is true or justified.


That's because the claim isn't true and is wholly unjustified. Liberals in fact wrongly object to those accusations because they do in fact hold those positions.

The truth that Sunstein elides is this:

Just as Alger Hiss lied about being a communist and a spy for the USSR, American liberal elites, progressives, social democrats, socialists, and others on the left (with "good" intentions), whenever forced to choose, will always choose disingenuous nuance, deceit, fabrication, and perjury before admitting that their primary loyalty is to an abhorrent anti-American ideology of higher taxation, mandated redistribution, slavery, and an expanding central government power hostile to free markets, free minds, and free people.

In America, in 1773, there were Loyalists - Tories, Royalists, King's Men - and Patriots. The Loyalists had power but lost a war for independence to the more populous rebelling Patriots whose legacy of seeking liberty and self-government can be traced through the Thomas Paine abolitionists, Whittaker Chambers testifiers, Richard Nixon republicans, Ronald Reagan democrats, Rush Limbaugh conservatives, to Ted Cruz and the modern Tea Party movement.

The legacy is one of refusing to trade individual human liberty and dignity for the false security and comforts of tyranny.

JamesB.BKK said...

Contra the mendacity of the press regarding the latest debt ceiling "default" show, the US has several times outright defaulted on its debt (in addition to the ongoing hidden default of massive currency debasement). Most recently, it was Nixon that defaulted on the Treasury's obligation to settle dollar debts in gold. Roosevelt did it first to his own people after confiscating the gold holdings of the people. But Nixon did it to foreigners, unlocking the Federal Reserve's ability to act as central planner extraordinaire and of course friend of the big banks and spendthrift Federal Government. Agree with the left that he was a truly awful president but not for the reasons they have. We still have not reaped the whirlwind of his failures and bad ideas.