Several years ago a friend recommended that I read Witness, Whittaker Chambers’ account of his life as a member of the Communist Party, his subsequent break with the Communist Party, and his part as a key witness in the Alger Hiss Trial in 1949 and 1950. First published in 1952, just two years after the Hiss Trial, the book is a fascinating 799 pages and provides a glimpse into American history that has been entirely rewritten by the liberal progressive agenda.
This book should be required study in every high school in America for the perspective that it offers on the New Deal, widely acclaimed as the most benevolent presidential accomplishment in American history.
Mr. Chambers details a meeting at the home of Assistant Secretary of State, Adolf Berle in 1939 where he informed Berle of the Communist activities taking place within the U.S. Government. Berle took the information to President Franklin Roosevelt immediately, and was “told … to ‘go jump in the lake’”
The failure of the meeting with Berle caused Chambers to take a hard look at the New Deal. The following excerpt verified what I have long believed about the New Deal and those who supported it then and support it now – including Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is a passage that I have read through many times, especially as I see American citizens who seem to be intent on embracing an all encompassing government with the power to control every aspect of their lives in exchange for a the moral equivalent of a few trinkets.
I urge you to read the following passage and if you have not already done so, obtain a copy of Witness for yourself and others. Our challenge today is not a new one, merely new players on the same stage; it is up to us to recognize the opposition and their revolutionary intent. Whether it be the Marxists, Socialists, Communists, or radical Islamists including the Muslim Brotherhood, we must stand ready to speak up for what is right and ensure that these outliers can never establish a permanent foothold in the United States of America.
Now, Mr. Chambers:
It is surprising how little I knew about the New Deal, although it had been all around me during my years in Washington. But 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.
I had noticed it obvious features – its coalition of divergent interests, some of them diametrically opposed to the others, its divided counsels, its makeshift strategy, its permanently shifting executive personnel whose sole consistency seemed to be that the more it changed, the more it remained the most incongruously headed hybrid since the hydra. Now with a curiosity newborn of Berle, I saw how misleading those surface manifestations were, and tactically how advantageous, for they concealed the inner drift of this great movement. That drift was prevailingly toward socialism, though the mass of those who, in part directed, in part were carried along by it, sincerely supposed that they were liberals.
I saw that the New Deal was only superficially a reform movement. I had to acknowledge the truth of what it’s more forthright protagonists, sometimes unwarily, sometimes defiantly, averred: the New Deal was a genuine revolution, whose deepest purpose was not simply reform from within existing traditions, but a basic change in the social, and above all, the power relationships within the nation. 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. It was only of incidental interest that the revolution was not complete, that it was made not by tanks and machine guns, but by acts of Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, or that many of the revolutionists did not know what they were or denied it. But revolution is always an affair of force, whatever forms the force disguises itself in. Whether the revolutionists prefer to call themselves Fabians, who seek power by the inevitability of gradualism, or Bolsheviks, who seek power by the dictatorship of the proletariat, the struggle is for power.
Now I thought I understood much better something that in the past had vaguely nibbled at my mind, but never nibbled to a conclusion – namely, how it happened that so many concealed Communists were clustered in Government, and how it was possible for them to operate so freely with so little fear of detection. For as between revolutionists who only half know what they are doing and revolutionists who know exactly what they are doing the latter are in a superb maneuvering position. At the basic point of the revolution – the shift of power from business to government – the two kinds of revolutionists were at one; and they shared many other views and hopes. Thus men who sincerely abhorred the word Communism, in the pursuit of common ends found that they were unable to distinguish Communists from themselves, except that it was just the Communists who were likely to be the most forthright and most dedicated to the common cause. This political color blindness was all the more dogged because it was completely honest. For men who could not see that what they firmly believed was liberalism added up to socialism could scarcely be expected to see what added up to Communism. Any charge of Communism enraged them precisely because they could not grasp the difference between themselves and those against whom it was made. Conscious of their own political innocence, they suspected that it was merely mischievous, and was aimed, from motives of political malice, at themselves. But as the struggle was really for revolutionary power, which in our age is always a struggle for control of the masses, that was the point at which they always betrayed their real character, for they reacted not like liberals, but with the fierceness of revolutionists whenever that power was at issue.
I believed that the Communists were much more firmly embedded in Government than I had supposed, and that any attempt to disclose or dislodge them was enormously complicated by the political situation in which they were parasitic. Every move against the Communists was felt by the liberals as a move against themselves. If only for the sake of their public health record, the liberals, to protect their power, must seek as long as possible to conceal from themselves and everybody else the fact that the Government had been Communist-penetrated. Unlike the liberals, the Communists were fully aware of their superior tactical position, and knew that they had only to shout their innocence and cry: “Witch hunt!” for the liberals to rally in all innocence to their defense. I felt too, that a persistent effort by any man to expose the Communists in Government was much less likely to lead to their exposure than to reprisals against him. That fact must be borne constantly in mind in understanding what I did and did not do in the next nine years, and indeed throughout the Hiss Case, which was to prove on a vast scale how well-founded my fears had been.
One of my close friends, himself an ardent New Dealer, who knew my story in full detail, summed up the situation tersely. “I see,” he said one day, “why it might not pay the Communists to kill you at this point. But I don’t see how the Administration dares to leave you alive.”