Decline of the Old Right Chapter 11 of The Betrayal of the American Right

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After
the death of Taft and as the Eisenhower foreign policy began to
take on the frozen Dullesian lineaments of permanent mass armament
and the threat of "massive nuclear retaliation" throughout
the globe, I began to notice isolationist sentiment starting to
fade away, even among old libertarian and isolationist compatriots
who should have known better. Old friends who used to scoff at the
"Russian threat" and had declared The Enemy to be Washington,
D.C. now began to mutter about the "international Communist
conspiracy." I noticed that young libertarians coming into
the ranks were increasingly infected with the Cold War mentality
and had never even heard of the isolationist alternative. Young
libertarians wondered how it was that I upheld a "Communist
foreign policy."

In this emerging
atmosphere, novelist Louis Bromfield's nonfiction work of 1954,
A New Pattern for a Tired World,1 a hard-hitting
tract on behalf of free-market capitalism and a peaceful foreign
policy, began to seem anachronistic and had almost no impact on
the right wing of the day.

Bromfield charged:

Aside from
the tragic drain on our youth, whether drafted for two of the
best years of their lives or maimed or killed or imprisoned, the
grandiose "containment" policy means an immense and
constant drain in terms of money. . . .

And further:

One of the
great failures of our foreign policy throughout the world arises
from the fact that we have permitted ourselves to be identified
everywhere with the old, doomed and rotting colonial-imperialist
small European nations which once imposed upon so much of the
world the pattern of exploitation and economic and political domination.
This fact lies at the core of our failure to win the support and
trust of the once-exploited nations and peoples who are now in
rebellion and revolution in all parts of the world but especially
in Asia. We have not given these peoples a real choice between
the practices of Russian Communist imperialism or Communism and
those of a truly democratic world in which individualism, American
capitalism and free enterprise are the very pillars of independence,
solid economics, liberty and good living standards. We have appeared
to these peoples themselves . . . in the role of colonial imperialists
. . . and of supporters in almost every case of the rotting old
European empires. . . .

None of these
rebellious, awakening peoples will, in their hearts or even superficially,
trust us or cooperate in any way so long as we remain identified
with the economic colonial system of Europe; which represents,
even in its capitalist pattern, the last remnants of feudalism.
. . . We cannot appear to these Asiatic peoples in the role of
friend and benefactor while we are at the same time financing,
attempting to restore to power and even providing arms to the
very forces of the dying colonial empires, against which they
are in rebellion.

This is exactly
what we are doing in Indo-China and in Hong Kong and elsewhere
in the world under a confused policy based upon the doomed past
rather than upon the inevitable dynamic pattern of the future.
We leave these awakening peoples with no choice but to turn to
Russian and Communist comfort and promises of Utopia. We make
it possible everywhere . . . for the Communists . . . to create
the impression that what in fact is merely an intense assertion
of nationalism is really a Communist liberation, planned and carried
out by Communist influence. . . .

We are playing
the politics of a vanished world, blindly and stupidly attempting
to surround and contain what can not be contained, blocking the
free exchange of goods and keeping the world in a constant uproar
by making alliances and setting up military installations everywhere.
It is an antique pattern of power politics.2

Again on Asia:

The battle
in Indo-China engages . . . countless Indo-Chinese . . . who hate
French domination. . . . Yet there are even those, principally
in armed forces of the U.S., who would, if they dared, advocate
drafting American boys from Ohio, Iowa, Kansas and elsewhere and
sending them into this struggle where they or the nation itself
have no proper place and where our intervention can only serve
to do us tragic harm in the long run. . . .

[Korea] may
well prove to be not the martyred heroic nation which the sentimental
have made of her, but merely the albatross around our neck which
can carry us deeper and deeper into tragic complications and future
wars. Because we have no real reason to be in Korea, unless, as
every Asiatic suspects, for reasons of power and exploitation.
To say that a country so remote and insignificant as Korea is
our first line of defense is to say that every nation in every
part of the world is also our "first line of defense"
– a conception which is obviously fantastic and grotesque
to the borders of megalomania. . . .

Our permanent
occupation of Korea in order to maintain her economic and political
independence artificially is an act against the whole trend of
world revolution and the irresistible forces of our times. . .
. We must stay in Korea indefinitely and eventually retire and
accept defeat or involve ourselves and the world in a war which
may well be for us and will be certainly for all Europe the end
of the road. . . . The Korean situation . . . will not be settled
until we withdraw entirely from an area in which we have no right
to be and leave the peoples of that area to work out their own
problems.3

Bromfield concluded
that the whole of our foreign policy was not "worth the torture
or the life of one unwilling conscript, even if it were not the
most dangerous and destructive of policies to the peace and welfare
of the world."4

In this period
of slippage of devotion to peace, in a right wing on which the Bromfield
book made little impact, I determined to try to reaffirm the older
foreign policy tradition in the conservative-libertarian movement.
In April 1954, William Johnson put together an all-isolationist,
all-peace issue of Faith and Freedom that was one of the
last intellectual gasps of the isolationist-libertarian Right. The
issue included an article by Garet Garrett, "The Suicidal Impulse,"
which continued his analysis of "The Rise of Empire."
Garrett declared that the American Empire had built up "the
most terrible killing machine mankind had ever known," that
we were brandishing our "immense stock of atomic bombs,"
that there were American troops and air bases throughout the globe,
and that there was "from time to time a statement from an eminent
American military person saying the American Air Force is prepared
to drop bombs in Russia with the greatest of ease, on targets already
selected." Garrett concluded that the "allure of world
leadership weaves a fatal spell. The idea of imposing universal
peace on the world by force is a barbarian fantasy."5

Also included
in the Faith and Freedom issue was Ernest T. Weir, the right-wing
union-busting industrialist of the 1930s, World War II isolationist,
and head of the National Steel Corporation of Pittsburgh. Weir,
the Cyrus Eaton of the 1950s, had been stumping the country and
publishing pamphlets calling for a negotiated peace with the Soviet
Union and Communist China and an end to the Cold War. In his article,
"Leaving Emotions Out of Foreign Policy," Weir declared
that

we have to
accept the fact that it is not the mission of the United States
to go charging about the world to free it from bad nations and
bad systems of government. We must reconcile ourselves to the
fact that there will always be bad nations and bad systems and
that our task is to contrive some basis other than warfare on
which we can live in the world.6

My own contribution
to the issue was "The Real Aggressor," under the nom
de plume of "Aubrey Herbert," in which I tried to
establish a libertarian basis for an isolationist and peaceful foreign
policy, and called for peaceful coexistence, joint disarmament,
withdrawal from NATO and the UN, and recognition of Communist China,
as well as free trade with all countries.

For our pains,
both Mr. Weir and I were red-baited in the Social Democratic New
Leader by William Henry Chamberlin. The fact of Chamberlin's
growing influence on the intellectual Right was symptomatic of its
accelerating decay. A former Communist fellow-traveler in the 1930s,
Chamberlin seemed able to shift his principles at will, writing
assiduously for both the Wall Street Journal and the New
Leader, supporting free-market economics in the former publication
and statism in the latter. He was also capable of writing a book7
praising isolationism and the Munich pact for World War II,
while at the same time denouncing present-day isolationists and
opponents of the Cold War as "appeasers" and proponents
of "another Munich." But in one sense this new Chamberlin
was consistent; for he was one of that growing legion of ex-Communist
and ex-fellow traveler journalists who spearheaded the ideological
front for the Cold War and the world anti-Communist crusade. In
his article "Appeasement on the Right,"8 Chamberlin
charged that Weir's article "could have appeared in the Nation,
perhaps even in Masses and Mainstream"; as for my article,
I had laid "down a blueprint for America policy tailor-made
to the specifications of the Kremlin."

It was the
first time that I had ever been red-baited, though it was not to
be the last, and to a professed "extreme right winger"
this charge was something of a shock. When I replied in the New
Leader and noted that Chamberlin himself had hailed appeasement
and Munich a short while before, Chamberlin responded in characteristic
fashion: that Ernest Weir had been recently hailed in the Warsaw
Trybuna Ludu, and that perhaps I would soon "receive
[my] appropriate recognition from the same or a similar source."9

Soon afterward,
I signed on to replace Chodorov as monthly Washington columnist
of Faith and Freedom, and month in and month out, until the
end of 1956, I hammered away at the statism of the Eisenhower administration.
Troubled at the growing adherence to militarism and the Cold War
on the right wing, I particularly blasted away at these trends.
While calling for withdrawal from the United Nations, I urged that
it recognize reality and admit China to membership; calling for
neutralism and isolationism, I expressed the hope for neutralism
abroad and a neutralist and peacefully reunified Germany; attacking
permanent expansion of the United States beyond our shores, I called
for granting Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico their independence
instead of incorporating them as permanent states. In early 1956,
I attacked the Eisenhower administration for torpedoing the second
Geneva conference and its hopes for détente and disarmament:
first, by presenting a demand for German reunification under NATO
as our prime demand at the conference; and second, by withdrawing
our longstanding demand for simultaneous disarmament and inspection
as soon as the Russians had agreed to our own position, and later
substituting instead Ike's demagogic proposal for "open skies."
A few months later, I sharply criticized the Right for springing
to the defense of the Marine drill instructor who brutally ordered
six men to watery graves in a senseless death march at Parris Island.
How is it, I asked, that only the left-liberals had risen to champion
freedom against brutality and militarism?

My most severe
tangle with the pro-war Right came in a series of debates in early
1955 on whether or not to fight for Formosa, a question which loomed
large in that year.

In my March
column I called for withdrawal from Formosa, attacked the manic
logic which demanded an endless series of bases to "protect
our previous bases," and asked how we would feel if
the Chinese were occupying and fortifying an island three miles
off our coast? Furthermore, I hailed the call for peace recently
delivered by the hero of the war right, Douglas MacArthur, and also
praised Rep. Eugene R. Siler (R., Ky.) for picking up the old isolationist
baton and voting against the blank-check congressional resolution
of January 29 on Formosa because he had promised his constituents
that he would never help to "engage their boys in war on foreign
soil."

This article
precipitated a debate with a fellow columnist on Faith and Freedom,
William S. Schlamm, another leader of the new trends on the right
wing, and formerly book review editor of the then-major intellectual
right-wing magazine, the Freeman. Schlamm was typical of
the New Rightist: formerly a leading German Communist and editor
of Die Rote Fahne, Schlamm was now dedicating his career
to whipping up enthusiasm for the crushing of his old comrades,
at home and abroad. In his zeal for the world anti-Communist crusade,
I could never – and still cannot – detect one iota of
devotion to freedom in Schlamm's worldview. What was he doing on
Faith and Freedom to begin with? When National Review
was founded in late 1955, Schlamm became its book review editor
and, for a while, its chief theoretician; later he was to return
to Germany and gain a large popular following for an ultra-hardline
foreign policy against the East.

Schlamm and
I had a series of two debates – "Fight for Formosa –
or Not?" – in the May and June issues of Faith and
Freedom. I accused him of advocating preventive war, and reminded
our readers that we had not been attacked by either Russia or China,
and that a world war would mean the total destruction of civilization.
And why, I asked, as I had before in those columns, do the pro-war
conservatives, supposedly dedicated to the superiority of capitalism
over Communism, by thirsting for an immediate showdown, implicitly
grant that time is on the side of the Communist system? I then reaffirmed
that surely any libertarian must hold "the enemy" to be
not Russian Communism but any invasion of our liberty by the State;
to give up our freedom in order to "preserve" it is only
succumbing to the Orwellian dialectic that "freedom is slavery."
As for Schlamm's position that we had already been "attacked"
by Communism, I pointed out the crucial distinction between military
and "ideological" attack, a distinction to which the
libertarian, with his entire philosophy resting on the difference
between violent aggression and nonviolent persuasion, should be
particularly attuned. My puzzlement should have been solved by realizing
that Mr. Schlamm was the furthest thing from a "libertarian."
I also called for realistic negotiations with the Communist world,
which would result in mutual atomic and bacteriological disarmament.

More important
in trying to stem the efforts of the war crowd to take over the
Right was the redoubtable Frank Chodorov. It turned out to be a
tragedy for the libertarian cause that Frank had liquidated his
magnificent analysis in the early 1950s and merged it into
Human Events, where he then served as an associate editor.
Frank was also my predecessor as Washington columnist of Faith
and Freedom. In the summer of 1954, Frank took up the editorship
of the Freeman, the leading organ of the intellectual Right,
previously a weekly and by this time reduced to a monthly issued
by the Foundation for Economic Education. In his September Freeman
editorial ("The Return of 1940?") Chodorov proclaimed
that the old isolationist-interventionist split among conservatives
and libertarians was once again coming into play. "Already
the libertarians are debating among themselves on the need of putting
off the struggle for freedom until after the threat of communism,
Moscow style, shall have been removed, even by war." Frank
pointed out the consequences of our entry into World War II: a massive
debt burden, a gigantic tax structure, a permanent incubus of conscription,
an enormous federal bureaucracy, the loss of our sense of personal
freedom and independence. "All this," Frank concluded,

the "isolationists"
of 1940 foresaw. Not because they were endowed with any gift of
prevision, but because they knew history and would not deny its
lesson: that during war the State acquires power at the expense
of freedom, and that because of its insatiable lust for power
the State is incapable of giving up any of it. The State never
abdicates.10

Any further
war would be infinitely worse, and perhaps destroy the world in
the process.

Chodorov's
editorial drew a rebuttal from the indefatigable Willi Schlamm,
and the two debated the war question in the pages of the November
1954 Freeman. Chodorov's rebuttal, "A War to Communize
America," was his last great reaffirmation of the isolationist
Old Right position. Chodorov began,

We are again
being told to be afraid. As it was before the two world wars so
it is now; politicians talk in frightening terms, journalists
invent scare-lines, and even next-door neighbors are taking up
the cry: the enemy is at the city gates; we must gird for battle.
In case you don't know, the enemy this time is the U.S.S.R.11

Chodorov centered
on the question of conscription, since "to fight a war with
Russia on foreign soil," the interventionists conceded, required
this form of slavery. "I don't think a single division could
have been raised by the volunteer system for the Korean adventure."
And if the American people do not want to fight in such wars, by
what right are they to be "compelled to fight them?" And:
"We are told that we must fear the Russians. I am more afraid
of those who, like their forebears, would compel us against our
will to fight the Russians. They have the dictator complex."12
Chodorov then reiterated that any further war would end whatever
liberty we had, that slavery to an American master was no better
than slavery to some foreign master: "Why go to war for [the]
privilege" of choosing one or the other? As for ourselves being
invaded, there was no real possibility of such a thing happening.
The only thing we had to fear in the current situation was "the
hysteria of fear" itself. The only way to remove this fear
on both sides, Chodorov concluded, was for us to "abandon our
global military commitments" and return home.

As for the
alleged Russian threat to Western Europe if we should withdraw,
"it would be hard on the Europeans if they fell into Soviet
hands; but not any worse than if we precipitated a war in which
their homes became the battlefield."13 And if these
countries do, in fact, desire communism, then "our presence
in Europe is an impertinent interference with the internal affairs
of these countries; let them go communist if they want to."14

Unfortunately,
shortly afterward Chodorov was ousted as editor; a man of stubborn
independence and integrity, Chodorov would not submit to any form
of mental castration. With Chodorov gone, Leonard Read could return
to his long-standing policy of never engaging in direct political
or ideological controversy, and the Freeman proceeded to
sink into the slough of innocuous desuetude in which it remains
today. Chodorov was now deprived of a libertarian outlet, his great
voice was stilled; and this loss was made final by the tragic illness
that struck in 1961 and in which Frank spent the last years of his
life. Aggravating the tragedy was his ideological betrayal by close
friends such as young William F. Buckley, whom Frank had discovered
as a writer while editing Human Events (and who in a recent
"Firing Line" exchange with Karl Hess dared to bring up
the name of the dead Chodorov as a libertarian sanction for his
own pro-war stance). Even more poignant is the history of the Intercollegiate
Society of Individualists, which Frank had founded in 1952 as a
"fifty-year project" to win the college campuses away
from statism and toward individualism. In 1956, ISI left FEE's offices
to take up headquarters in Philadelphia. Frank's selection to succeed
him as head of ISI, E. Victor Milione, has since taken ISI squarely
into the traditionalist-conservative camp, even to the extent –
at about the time of Frank's death in late 1966 – of changing
the name of Chodorov's brainchild to the "Intercollegiate Studies
Institute." It seems that the name "individualist"
was upsetting conservative businessmen, to whom it conjured up visions
of the rebels of the New Left. Oh, liberty! What crimes are committed
in thy name!15

Another grave
blow to isolationism and the Old Right was the loss of Human
Events. From the beginning, the three owners of Human Events
had been Felix Morley, the theoretician; Frank Hanighen, the
journalist; and Henry Regnery, the financial supporter. Before and
during World War II, all had been isolationists, but after the war
Hanighen, followed by Regnery, began to jump on the anti-Communist
and pro-interventionist bandwagon, much to the resistance of Morley.
Morley, who in his autobiography paid high tribute to the influence
of Nock, scoffed at his colleagues' emphasis on the Hiss case. Once
Franklin Roosevelt, guided by Harry Hopkins, had brought about a
"Communist victory," declared Morley, "it seemed
silly to bother about the hole-andcorner machinations of a few fellow-travelers
as accused communist turncoats." In addition to ideology, Hanighen
was particularly motivated by moolah: Hanighen

believed
that the Hiss case would prove sensational, as indeed it did,
and that we could greatly increase our circulation by exploiting
it, as also Senator McCarthy's sweeping charges. He was probably
right, since after I left it the little publication grew rapidly
by climbing aboard the anti-Communist bandwagon.16

Finally, the
split came in February 1950, over Hanighen's insistence that Human
Events go all-out in support of American intervention in behalf
of Chiang Kai-shek's regime now holed up in Taiwan. Regnery sided
with Hanighen, and so Morley was bought out by his partners. Looking
back on this forced separation Morley concluded:

In retrospect
I see this episode as symptomatic of that which has come to divide
the conservative movement in the United States. Frank and Henry,
in their separate ways, moved on to associate with the far Right
in the Republican Party. My position remained essentially "Libertarian,"
though it is with great reluctance that I yield the old terminology
of "liberal" to the socialists. I was, and continue
to be, strongly opposed to centralization of political power,
thinking that this process will eventually destroy our federal
republic, if it has not already done so. The vestment of power
in HEW [the Department of Health, Education and Welfare] is demonstrably
bad, but its concentration in the Pentagon and CIA is worse because
the authority is often concealed and covertly exercised. Failure
to check either extreme means continuous deficit financing and
consequent inflation which in time can be fatal to the free enterprise
system.17

Morley, a friend
of Bob Taft, had been slated for a high appointment in the State
Department if Taft had become President in 1953; but it was not
to be.

But by the
mid-1950s the battle for Old Right isolationism had not yet been
completely lost. Thus, at the end of 1955, For America, a leading
right-wing political action group headed by Notre Dame Law School
Dean Clarence Manion, issued its political platform. Two of its
major foreign policy planks were "Abolish Conscription"
and "Enter No Foreign Wars unless the safety of the United
States is directly threatened." Not a word about liberating
Communist countries, or about stopping Communism all over the world.
As for our small libertarian group, right-wing anarchists Robert
LeFevre and Thaddeus Ashby were able to gain control, for a short
but glorious time, of the right-wing Congress of Freedom, headed
by Washingtonian Arnold Kruckman. On April 24, 1954, LeFevre and
Ashby managed to push through the Congress a libertarian platform,
specifically calling for the abolition of conscription, the "severing
our entangling alliance with foreign nations," and the abolition
of all foreign aid. The platform declared: "We decry the war
we have lost in Korea and we will oppose American intervention in
the war in Indochina." More orthodox rightists, however, managed
to regain control of the Congress the following year.

The last great
political gasp of the isolationist Right came in the fight for the
Bricker Amendment, the major foreign-policy plan of the conservative
Republicans during the first Eisenhower term. Senator John W. Bricker
(R., Ohio) had been the ill-fated right-wing candidate for president
in 1948, and was Taft's natural successor after the death of his
fellow Ohioan. The Bricker Amendment to the Constitution was designed
to prevent the threat of international treaties and executive agreements
becoming the supreme law of the land and overriding previous internal
law or provisions of the Constitution. It provided that no treaty
or executive agreement conflicting with, or not made in pursuance
of, the Constitution, shall have any force; and that no such treaty
or executive agreement shall become effective as internal law except
by domestic legislation that would have been valid in the absence
of the agreement. Favoring the Amendment were a battery of right-wing
groups: veterans and patriotic organizations, the American Farm
Bureau Federation, the Chamber of Commerce, Pro America, the National
Small Business Association, the Conference of Small Business Organizations,
Merwin K. Hart's National Economic Council, the Committee for Constitutional
Government, Rev. Fifield's Freedom Clubs, Inc., and large chunks
of the American Bar Association. The major opponent of the Amendment
was the Eisenhower administration, in particular Secretary of State
Dulles and Attorney General Herbert Brownell, ably seconded by the
forces of organized liberalism: the Americans for Democratic Action,
the AFL, B'nai B'rith, the American Jewish Congress, the American
Association for the United Nations, and the United World Federalists.

The climactic
vote on the Bricker Amendment came in the U.S. Senate in February
1954, the Amendment going down to a severe defeat. While the overwhelming
majority of right-wing Republicans voted for the Amendment, there
were some significant defections, including William Knowland and
Alexander Wiley (R., Wis.), a former isolationist who was playing
the iniquitous "Vandenberg role" as Chairman of the Foreign
Relations Committee in what might well have been the last Republican-controlled
Senate.18

It is indicative
of the later decline of the Old Right that the Bricker Amendment
was to race away and disappear totally in right-wing councils, never
to be heard from again. In particular, the New Right, which began
to emerge in force after 1955, was able to bury the Bricker Amendment,
as well as the isolationist sentiment that it embodied, in some
form of Orwellian "memory hole."

If the Bricker
Amendment was the last isolationist pressure campaign of the Old
Right, the third-party ticket of 1956 was its last direct political
embodiment. I had been yearning for an Old Right third party ever
since the disgraceful Republican convention of 1952, and some Taftites
tried to launch a Constitution Party, nominating Douglas MacArthur
that very fall, only to lament that there was not enough time, and
that 1956 would be the Year. Third-party discussions and movements
by disgruntled Old Rightists began in late 1955, and numerous conservative,
Constitution, and "New" Parties sprang up in various states.
But there was precious little organization or money or political
savvy in these attempts, and none of the top right-wing leaders
endorsed their efforts.

I myself was
involved in two third-party attempts in New York, a minuscule Constitution
Party and a larger Independent Party, headed by an elderly man named
Dan Sawyer. I vividly remember a good-sized rally held by the Independents
in early 1956. One featured speaker was Kent Courtney of New Orleans,
who with his wife, Phoebe, was the main founder of the new party.
A particular feature was a colorful old gent, whose name escapes
me, looking like a stereotyped Kentucky colonel, who limped his
way to the stand. The Colonel, for such I believe he was, though
from Texas, proclaimed that he was an unsung founder of the science
of public opinion polling, and that he had been President Coolidge's
opinion poll adviser. (And had Hoover only listened to him! . .
.) At any rate, the Colonel assured us, from the very depths of
his public opinion know-how, that any Democrat was certain
to defeat Eisenhower in the 1956 election. Such was the acumen of
the third-party leadership. Unsurprisingly, the Independent Party
of New York held no further meetings.

The Constitution
Party of New York was even shorter lived. Again, I attended only
one "mass" meeting, presided over by a young lawyer named
Ed Scharfenberger in a tiny Manhattan restaurant. Scharfenberger
gave me to understand that I could help write the platform of the
party, but something told me that the party was not long for this
world. The Constitution Party's great talking point was its connection
with a mini-network of Constitution groups headed by the party in
Texas, which actually got on the ballot and ran some candidates.

My own personal
candidate for president in 1956 was Governor Bracken Lee of Utah,
who was certainly the closest thing to a libertarian in political
life. There were indeed few other governors who advocated repeal
of the income tax, sold state colleges to private enterprise, refused
Federal grants-in-aid for highways, denounced social security, urged
withdrawal from the UN, or proclaimed foreign aid to be unconstitutional.

In fact, a
third party did get underway, but once again it began very late,
in mid-September of the election year, and so could get on the ballot
in only a few states. The New Party, in a States' Rights Convention,
nominated T. Coleman Andrews of Virginia for president, and former
Representative Thomas H. Werdel (R., Calif.) for vice president.
Andrews had made himself an antitax hero by serving for several
years as Eisenhower's Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and then
resigning to stump the country for repeal of the Sixteenth (income
tax) Amendment. I firmly supported the Andrews-Werdel ticket, not
the least of whose charms was the absence of any call for a worldwide
anti-Communist crusade. The Bricker Amendment, opposition to foreign
aid, and withdrawal from the UN was the extent of their foreign
affairs program, and the same in fact could be said about the Constitution
parties. Andrews-Werdel reached their peak in Virginia and Louisiana,
where they polled about 7 percent of the vote, carrying one county
– Prince Edward in Virginia – while J. Bracken Lee collected
over 100,000 votes in Utah in an independent race for president
in his home state.

While I supported
Andrews-Werdel, I made clear to my Faith and Freedom readers
that between the two major candidates I favored Adlai Stevenson.
The major motive was not, as in 1952, to punish the left Republicans
for taking over the party. Presaging my later political career,
my major reason was the decidedly more pro-peace stand that Stevenson
was taking: specifically in his call for abolition of testing of
H-bombs as well as his suggestion that we abolish the draft. This
was enough to push me in a Stevensonian direction.

Soon after
the election, Bill Johnson, who had always commended my columns,
flew East to inform me that I was being dumped as Washington columnist.
Why? Because his Protestant minister readership had come to the
conclusion that I was a "Communist." Red-baiting again,
and this time from "libertarians"! I protested that, month
in and month out, I had consistently attacked government and defended
the individual; how could this possibly be "Communist"?
The lines were tightening. Faith and Freedom itself collapsed
shortly thereafter (not, I must hasten to add, because of
my dismissal). Bill Johnson went on to join Dick Cornuelle in the
Volker Fund operation.

The demise
of Faith and Freedom, and of its controlling organization,
Spiritual Mobilization (SM), was symptomatic of the grievous decline
of the libertarian wing of the Old Right in the latter half of the
1950s. In the midst of libertarianism's – and the Old Right's
– gravest crisis since World War II, Spiritual Mobilization,
instead of providing leadership in these stormy times, turned toward
what can only be called neo-Buddhist mystical gabble. In the mid-1950s,
the Reverend Fifield had turned over day-to-day operation of SM
to Jim Ingebretsen, a libertarian and old friend of Leonard Read
who had been an official with the Chamber of Commerce. No sooner
did he assume the reins of SM, however, than he – and the rest
of the influential SM group – fell under the charismatic influence
of the gnomic English neo-Buddhist mystic, Gerald Heard. Heard,
who liked to think of his murky lucubrations as the requirements
of "science," had already converted Aldous Huxley and
Christopher Isherwood to Heardian mysticism (it was Heard who had
provided the model for the guru who converted Huxley's sophisticated
hero to mysticism in Eyeless in Gaza). Heard had set up shop
in a retreat provided by a businessman patron in an estate called
Idyllwild in the Los Angeles area; and there he organized retreats
for all the once-active libertarian Old Right businessmen. In particular,
Heard, blathering about the "Growing Edge" and the paranormal,
organized mystical sessions which included experiments in hallucinogenic
"mad mushrooms" and even LSD. It is fascinating that Heard
and his crew were proto-Timothy Leary types – an incongruous
leap into a genteel but highly debilitating form of right-wing "counter-culture."
One thing that plunging into this nonsense accomplished, of course,
was to convince the participants that liberty, statism, economics,
politics, and even ethics were not really important; that the only
thing that really counted was advances in personal spiritual "awareness."

Even though
presumably not designed for that purpose, this was a beautiful way
to destroy an active ideological movement. All the participants
became tainted in one way or another. Thaddeus Ashby, who had become
assistant editor of Faith and Freedom, influenced Johnson,
and Gerald Heard obtained a regular column there, every month issuing
incomprehensible Confucius-like pronouncements. (A typical column
began: "People ask me, Mr. Heard, will there be war? And I
answer: u2018Have you read Maeterlinck's The Life of the Bee'?"
– I am sure a most useful answer to the burning foreign policy
question.) Ashby ended up dropping out of libertarian ideology altogether,
and pursuing the mad mushroom in Mexico and the bizarre path of
Tantric Yoga. Bill Mullendore's enthusiasm for liberty weakened.
And Ingebretsen was so influenced as to go virtually on permanent
retreat. Business contributions fell off drastically, despite a
last-minute desperate attempt to transform Faith and Freedom
into an exclusively antiunion organ, and the Rev. Fifield, who
had run SM since the 1930s, resigned in 1959, thus sounding the
death knell for a once active and important organization.19

Even Leonard
Read was affected, and Read's flirtation on the fringes of the Growing
Edge group could only accelerate the steady deterioration of FEE.
Leonard had always had a mystical streak; thus, he treated every
newcomer to FEE to a one-hour monologue to the effect that "scientists
tell me that if you could blow up an atom to the size of this room,
and then step inside it, you would hear beautiful music." (I
forbore to ask him whether it would be Bach or Beethoven.) Apparently,
this nonsense went over well with many FEE devotees. It, of course,
could not go over at all with Frank Chodorov, a down-to-earth type
who enjoyed discussing real ideas and issues. It's no wonder that
Chodorov lasted for such a short time in such an intellectually
stultifying atmosphere.

In the meanwhile,
libertarian social life in New York City had been a lowly
business. There were no young libertarians in New York after Dick
Cornuelle moved West, and what few there were – who included
no anarchists – clustered around the Mises Seminar at New York
University. A path out of the wilderness came in late 1953, when
I met at the seminar a brilliant group of young and budding libertarians;
most were then seniors in high school, and one, Leonard Liggio,
was a sophomore at Georgetown. Some of this group had formed a Cobden
Club at the Bronx High School of Science and the group as a whole
had met as activists in the Youth for Taft campaign in 1952. The
conversion of this group to anarchism was a simple matter of libertarian
logic, and we all became fast friends, forming ourselves into a
highly informal group called the Circle Bastiat, after the nineteenth-century
French laissez-faire economist. We had endless discussions
of libertarian political theory and current events, we sang and
composed songs, joked about how we would be treated by "future
historians," toasted the day of future victory, and played
board games until the wee hours. Those were truly joyous times.

When I first
met them, the Circle had, after the Taft defeat, formed the libertarian
wing of a conservative-libertarian coalition that had constituted
the Students for America; in fact the Circle kids totally controlled
the Eastern branch of the SFA, while its president, Bob Munger,
a conservative with rightist political connections, controlled the
West. Unfortunately, however, only Munger had access to the financing,
and when he was drafted shortly thereafter, SFA fell apart. From
then on, we continued throughout the 1950s as an isolated though
rollicking group in New York.

By the mid-1950s,
the Old Right was demoralized politically with Taft dead, the Bricker
Amendment defeated, and Eisenhower Republicanism triumphant, while
intellectually the fading of the Old Right left a vacuum: the Freeman
was to all intents and purposes finished, FEE was declining,
Chodorov was incapacitated, Garrett dead, and Felix Morley, for
persistent isolationism, was ousted from the Human Events that
he had helped to found. Faith and Freedom and Spiritual Mobilization
were likewise dead.

Finally, the
death of Colonel McCormick in April 1955 deprived isolationism and
its Middle-Western base of its most important and dedicated voice,
as the publisher molding the Chicago Tribune. There were
by now literally no libertarian or isolationist publishing outlets
available. The time was ripe for the filling of the vacuum, for
the seizure of this lost continent and lost army, and for their
mobilization by a man and a group that could supply intelligence,
glibness, erudition, money, and political knowhow to capture the
right wing for a very different cause and for a very different drummer.
The time had come for Bill Buckley and National Review.

  1. (New York:
    Harper and Bros., 1954).
  2. Louis Bromfield,
    A New Pattern for a Tired World (New York: Harper and Bros.,
    1954), pp. 49–55.
  3. Ibid., pp.
    60–63.
  4. Ibid., p.
    75.
  5. Garet Garrett,
    "The Suicidal Impulse," Faith and Freedom 5,
    no. 8 (April 1954): 6.
  6. Ernest T.
    Weir, "Leaving Emotions Out of Our Foreign Policy,"
    ibid., p. 8.
  7. William
    Henry Chamberlin, America's Second Crusade (Chicago: Henry
    Regnery, 1950).
  8. William
    Henry Chamberlin, "Appeasement on the Right," New
    Leader (May 17, 1954).
  9. Ibid., p.
    21; letter from Aubrey Herbert and reply by Chamberlin, ibid.,
    June 21, 1954, p. 29. As far as I know, the Polish accolade never
    came. As for the demoralized and bleeding domestic Left, one of
    the few pieces of recognition of the anti-imperialist Right was
    in the New York Compass of January 2, 1952, seconded by
    the National Guardian of January 9, 1953, both of which
    praised an excellent article by Garet Garrett in the Wall Street
    Journal. Garrett had attacked the bipartisan imperialist foreign
    policy and denounced all the presidential candidates, including
    Taft, for supporting it.
  10. Frank Chodorov,
    "The Return of 1940?" Freeman (September 1954):
    81.
  11. Frank Chodorov,
    "A War to Communize America," Freeman (November
    1954): 171.
  12. Ibid., p.
    172.
  13. Ibid., p.
    174.
  14. Ibid., p.
    173
  15. The idea
    of the name change originated in the fall of 1960 with Bill Buckley,
    but Chodorov never accepted the change. It took until near the
    point of Chodorov's death that Milione was willing to make the
    break, and thereby symbolize another takeover by the Buckleyite
    New Right. George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement
    in America Since 1945 (New York: Basic Books, 1976), p. 390.
  16. Felix Morley,
    For the Record (South Bend, Ind.: Regnery Gateway, 1979),
    p. 430. In a rather sharper and less mellow account of the break
    written for a 30th-anniversary celebration of Human Events,
    Morley wrote that Hanighen was beginning to consider him "soft
    on Communism." Felix Morley, "The Early Days of Human
    Events," Human Events (April 27, 1974): 26, 28,
    31. Cited in Nash, Conservative Intellectual Movement,
    pp. 124–25.
  17. Morley,
    For the Record, p. 437. Morley pays tribute to the fact
    that Regnery, despite these criticisms, was happy to publish his
    book.
  18. On the Bricker
    Amendment struggle, see Frank E. Holman, Story of the "Bricker"
    Amendment (The First Phase) (New York: Committee for Constitutional
    Government, 1954). Holman, a past president of the American Bar
    Association, was a leader in the forces for the amendment. Included
    as appendices to the book were pro-Bricker Amendment statements
    by the veteran individualist and isolationist Samuel Pettingill,
    Clarence Manion, Garet Garrett, and Frank Chodorov.
  19. For an illuminating
    discussion of the mysticism that laid Spiritual Mobilization low
    in the late 1950s, see Eckard Vance Toy, Jr., "Ideology and
    Conflict in American Ultraconservatism, 1945–1960" (Ph.D.
    diss., University of Oregon, 1965), pp. 156–90.

Table
of Contents: The Betrayal of the American Right

Murray
Rothbard Archives

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