May 22, 2010

What is past is prologue - Whittaker Chambers

A very nice introduction to Whittaker Chambers from Alan Snyder over at Breitbart's Big Government:

Whittaker Chambers: The New Deal as Revolution
Whittaker Chambers had a secret. He had worked in the American Communist underground for most of the 1930s. His break from that underground had been hazardous; he hid his family for quite some time before surfacing. When he did, his unique writing talent earned him a place at Time magazine, where he eventually rose to be one of its senior editors.

In 1939, with the outbreak of WWII, Chambers decided he needed to inform the FDR administration of what he knew about those currently working in the underground. Through an intermediary, he obtained an interview with Adolf Berle, the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of security. During his evening with Berle, Chambers disclosed a long list of individuals who could be threats to the country during a war that he sensed the U.S. would eventually have to enter.

Berle seemed alarmed by the revelations. Chambers was relieved that now the truth would come out. Yet when Berle took this information to FDR, he was rudely dismissed—FDR didn’t care.

When Chambers finally realized the administration was apathetic to the traitors in its midst, he had to reassess what he knew of FDR and his policies. In his classic autobiography, Witness, he describes how this rebuff affected him:
And with astonishment I took my first hard look at the New Deal. . . . All the New Dealers I had known were Communists or near-Communists. None of them took the New Deal seriously as an end in itself. They regarded it as an instrument for gaining their own revolutionary ends. I myself thought of the New Deal as a reform movement that, in social and labor legislation, was belatedly bringing the United States abreast of Britain or Scandinavia.
What shocked Chambers was that he recognized for the first time that the New Deal was far more than a reform movement. It was ”a genuine revolution, whose deepest purpose was not simply reform within existing traditions, but a basic change in the social, and, above all, the power relationships within the nation.”

This “revolution” was not taking the same form as the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, but its effect was just as sinister:
It was not a revolution by violence. It was a revolution by bookkeeping and lawmaking. In so far as it was successful, the power of politics had replaced the power of business. This is the basic power shift of all the revolutions of our time. This shift was the revolution.
Chambers was quite prescient in this analysis. American historians have long noted that in the last half of the nineteenth century, presidents played second fiddle to business leaders. This never sat well with progressives. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson made strides in the shift to power politics, but they suffered a setback in the 1920s under Harding and Coolidge, who were ingrained with the principles of self-government and sanctity of private property.

Read the rest of Alan's article — the parallels with today are chilling to say the least. Going to have to dig up a copy of Witness. In the 200+ comments, someone also recommended Alexander Solzhenitsyn's “Warning to the West”.

Posted by DaveH at May 22, 2010 09:33 PM | TrackBack
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