by Murray N. Rothbard by Murray N. Rothbard
First published as u201CHarry Elmer Barnes as Revisionist of the Cold Waru201D in Harry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader, Arthur Goddard, ed., Colorado Springs: Ralph Myles, 1968.
I. The War State and the Court Intellectuals
Americans like to think of themselves as a progressive people living in a progressive age. And yet the twentieth century — whatever its marvels — has been above all the century of total war. Despite the fact that technological advance has made total war increasingly absurd and grotesque in an era of nuclear warfare; despite the progress of preceding centuries in civilizing and limiting warfare, and in keeping civilians out of harm's way; war to the death has returned in full flower. Herbert Spencer brilliantly realized that the advance of mankind from barbarism to civilization could be summed up as a shift from u201Cmilitaryu201D to u201Cindustrialu201D society. Yet, in the twentieth century, we have starkly reverted to the military way; in so doing, we have repudiated the very humanism, the very principles of peace and freedom, upon which a modern industrial system ineluctably rests. This has truly been, in the words of Harry Elmer Barnes' friend and revisionist colleague, F. J. P. Veale, an u201Cadvance to barbarism.u201D
The contemporary reversion to the savagery of a Genghis Khan — to a garrison state, to military conformity, to mass murder of civilians, to scorched earth and unconditional surrender, has been achieved through the quest for power and its perquisites by the ruling groups, the u201Cpower elites,u201D of the various States. These consist of the full-time members and rulers of the State apparati, as well as those groups in society (e. g., arms contractors, labor-union leaders) who benefit from the military and warfare systems. In particular, this reversion has been made possible by the reappearance on a large scale of the u201CCourt Intellectualu201D — the intellectual who spins the apologia for the new dispensation in return for wealth, power, and prestige at the hands of the State and its allied u201CEstablishment.u201D [i] There have been, after all, but two mutually exclusive roles that the intellectual can play and has played through history: either independent truth-seeker, or kept favorite of the Court. Certainly, the historical norm of the old and dead civilizations was Oriental despotism, in which serving as apologist and u201Cintellectual bodyguardu201D of the ruling elite was the intellectual's major function. But it was the glory of Western civilization before this century to develop a class of intellectuals truly independent of the power structure of the State. Now this, too, has been largely lost.
It is to the everlasting honor of Harry Elmer Barnes that when the records are in and the accounts are drawn, it will never be said of him that he was a Court Intellectual. Absolute fearlessness, absolute honesty, absolute independence have been his guiding stars. He has, therefore, been nothing if not u201Canti-Establishmentarianu201D in a world where such a quality has been so desperately needed. And his presence has been particularly vital precisely in leading the opposition to the great barbarity of our day — the war system and its manifold intellectual myths.
In the face of the two great wars of this century, and of the enormous pressures to fall into step behind them, Barnes has intrepidly led the revisionist movements in analyzing the causes, the nature, and the consequences of both wars. Revisionism, of course, means penetrating beneath the official propaganda myths spawned by war and the war-making state, and analyzing war independently of court pressures and court emoluments. But it also means more — and one of the problems in Revisionism has been the inability of many of its former followers to penetrate to its true nature and to understand its major implications.
II. The Two Schools of Revisionism
In drawing the lessons of the Revisionism of World Wars I and II, the Barnesians may be separated into two groups, which we may call the narrow Revisionists and the broad Revisionists. The narrow Revisionists, who form, unfortunately, the large majority, have reasoned somewhat as follows: The chief lesson of World War I is the injustice heaped upon Germany — first, in launching the war against her, and then in coercing a confession of sole guilt in the brutal and disastrous Treaty of Versailles. The same focus on an injured Germany then blends into the analysis of World War II, caused essentially by continually repeated obstructions by the Allies of any peaceful revision of a Versaillesdiktat which they themselves admitted to be gravely unjust to Germany.
What lesson, then, does the narrow Revisionist draw for the postwar period? Since his concentration is narrowly upon the wrongs suffered by Germany, his conclusion then follows that these wrongs must be put right as quickly as possible: which, in the current context, becomes a compulsory unification of West and East (or, for the Revisionist, Middle) Germany, on Western terms, and a return of the lands beyond the Oder-Neisse from Poland. In short, the narrow Revisionist ends, ironically, by yearning for the very sort of unilateral diktat and blind revanche which he so properly deplored when Germany suffered from their evils. Finally, in his current preoccupation with World War II and the German problem, the narrow Revisionist carries over the old anti-Comintern spirit, or what is now called u201Chard anti-Communism,u201D into an entirely different era. In joining, or even leading, the militant prosecution of the Cold War — and even on up to a hot war — the narrow Revisionist can feel that, as he gains unwonted respectability, he is turning the tables on the Establishment by continuing the foreign policy line of the u201Chardestu201D anti-Communists of them all (Germany of the Third Reich.) But, in so doing, the narrow Revisionists fail to see the irony: that they have now unwittingly joined the ranks of the Court Intellectuals of the present day.
The narrow Revisionist, through his overriding concern with the German tragedy, has therefore gotten himself enmeshed in a veritable tangle of contradictions. Beginning in a dedication to peace, he has become a virtual advocate of total war (against the Soviet Union); beginning as a champion of u201Cneutralityu201D (before the two world wars), he has become a reviler of u201Cneutralismu201D (since World War II); beginning as a keen critic of u201Ccollective security,u201D he now calls for American u201Cliberationu201D of every country on the face of the globe that is or might possibly become Communist; beginning as an opponent of foreign wars, intervention, u201Cglobaloney,u201D imperialism, conscription, and the garrison state, he now advocates every one of these as part of the war against Communism; beginning as a keen, independent critic of the Establishment and of what President Eisenhower has called the u201Cmilitary-industrial complex,u201D he now cheerfully joins their various u201Cstrategyu201D institutes; beginning as an opponent of the two Great Crusades, he is the first to sound the trumpet for the third, Greatest, and unquestionably the Last. The very men who once assailed American intervention in conflicts overseas now consider it treasonable not to intervene in every corner of the world, no matter how barren or remote. The very men who used to say u201Cwhy die for Danzig?u201D are prepared to die — and, more importantly, to kill — for far more preposterous causes. And the narrow Revisionist of today who truculently asks such questions as u201CWhy did we lose China?u201D would, twenty-five years ago, have considered the very posing of such absurd queries as a joke in questionable taste.
Thus, the narrow Revisionist, in the course of distorting the focus of his concerns, has ended by essentially abandoning Revisionism altogether. Precisely the opposite course has been taken by the broad Revisionist. While accepting the same starting-point, the broad Revisionist has always understood that the main problem has been war and peace, and that his main concern was not to weep over Germany, but to oppose a world-wide escalation of war. In particular, to oppose American intervention in wars, at the behest of the propaganda myth that these orgies of mass murder, to extirpate some diabolic Enemy, could be sanctified by grandiose rhetoric and would, each in its turn, usher in the Millennium. The broad Revisionists saw with horror that modem total wars mobilize the masses into a regimented fighting machine, trained to hate a supposedly nonhuman, diabolic Enemy against whom any and all measures are right and moral.
In the war mythology, the Enemy is never hesitant, never confused, never human, never fearful of us attacking him or of precipitating destructive war, and above all never ready to negotiate honestly to try to lessen tensions or to work out mutually satisfactory means of living in peace. The Enemy is always Luciferian, preternaturally cunning and evil, driven only and always by his predetermined goal to u201Cconquer the worldu201D at all costs, never honestly willing to make mutually satisfactory agreements. And yet this same superhuman Enemy, according to the myth, can be stopped from his ever fermenting aggression in one and only one way: by force majeure, by the u201Chardestu201D of hard lines, by ever sterner ultimata delivered by the divinely appointed champion of the u201Cdemocraciesu201D or the u201Cfree world,u201D the good old U.S.A. And if, by some chance, the Enemy should then not really turn out to be a craven coward, and total war should break out, why then this only proves that war is the only answer and came none too soon. The lesson is then drawn that only extermination and unconditional surrender can suffice in dealing with the Enemy.
All this, of course, is a beautiful way of vindicating a u201Chard-lineu201D policy against the Enemy regardless of what actually happens. Two particularly neat examples are the policy of Finland toward Russia in 1940, and of Poland toward Germany and Russia in 1939. The Finns (Poles) insisted up to the moment of outbreak of a war that could only be disastrous for them that the Russians (Germans) were only u201Cbluffing,u201D and that a rigid, inflexible, hard-line, no-negotiation policy would force Russia (Germany) to back down and cease their demands. After adamantly proclaiming this view throughout, the ruling Finnish (Polish) hard-liners suddenly found that the reverse had happened, that the Enemy had not been u201Cbluffing,u201D and that war had indeed broken out. Was their reaction an abject admission of error and a turn toward peace and negotiation? Certainly not; on the contrary, the hard-liners immediately proclaimed that no negotiations were now possible until every single Russian (German) soldier had been driven off every square inch of holy Finnish (Polish) soil. The rest is history; the difference in ultimate outcome is only due to Finland's having the luck to find leaders willing to abandon a hard-line policy before it was too late.
To the broad Revisionist, then, peaceful revision and peaceful negotiation are not ideals solely applicable to Germany from 1914 to 1941. On the contrary, they are applicable to all times and places, and therefore to the postwar world as well. The broad Revisionist knows that the Enemy is not a science-fictional Thing from Outer Space, but a human being capable of reason, and therefore of concluding mutually satisfactory arrangements. He knows, furthermore, that there is never a single personified Enemy, but instead that mass murder and tyranny are the major enemies of man, and that global war is the great source of both. He knows also the fallacy of the pernicious Wilsonian myth that dictatorships are automatically war-bent and democracies automatically peace-loving. He knows only too well that democracies can be just as or more aggressive and imperialistic — the chief difference being that democratic governments must engage in more hypocritical and intense propaganda to drug and deceive the voters into joining the war drive. To the broad Revisionist the great lesson of the two World Wars is precisely to avoid as a very plague any further Great Crusade, and to maintain — if we value the lives and liberties of the American people — a steadfast policy of peaceful coexistence and abstinence from foreign meddling. Only such a policy can avoid the mass annihilation of America and perhaps of civilization itself, as well as the peacetime totalitarian trappings of a garrison Leviathan. This, to the broad Revisionist, is the true meaning and lesson of Revisionism; and it is a conclusion in almost diametric opposition to the views of his old narrow-Revisionist colleague.
How is it, then, that this highly important split among Revisionists has gone largely unrecognized? I think the reasons are threefold. For one thing, the largest proportion of Revisionists have taken the narrow path, and have joined the Cold-to-Hot War camp. Secondly, the gallant remnant of broad Revisionists have largely devoted themselves to World War II historiography, and have not done very much work on the Cold War, where Revisionism is so desperately needed. And finally, there is a natural tendency of old friends and colleagues on both sides to avoid a public split, and this tendency reinforces the desire of broad Revisionists to confine themselves to World War II concerns in which unity may be preserved. While study of World War II can, of course, never be called antiquarian, I must confess to a certain impatience with many of the broad Revisionists; for there can be no more important task in today's world than making the broad lessons of Revisionism crystal-clear, and applying them to the vital problems of today — specifically to the Cold War. For this time, we cannot afford the u201Ccultural lagu201D of historiographically facing the next war with only an analysis of the last. The next war must be prevented, for there will be no historians to argue over its lessons. And if this can only be done by bringing the inherent split in Revisionism squarely into the open — well, there are worse things that can, and will, happen in the world.
III. Barnes and Broad Revisionism
It should occasion no surprise that the great leader of Revisionsm has understood and firmly adopted the broad view of its nature and implications. Harry Elmer Barnes, since its publication, has been greatly impressed by George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, and is unique in having penetrated to the real lesson that the book holds for the modern world. For it is particularly ironic that Nineteen Eighty-Four was seized upon by the Cold War Establishment as another stick with which to belabor Soviet Russia. Many conservatives extended the frightening vision of 1984 to socialism as well. But Barnes, almost alone, realized that the true forerunners of 1984 were not simply Russia or Britain but ourselves as well; for the monstrous and deadening dominion of 1984 society was being imposed upon all the world power-blocs through the excuse of perpetually cold and minor hot wars. Through ever-shifting coalitions, the rulers of the great countries were able to manipulate Enemies and stir up u201Cemergenciesu201D so as to befuddle the public into accepting the tyrannical regimes. Nineteen Eighty-Four was not simply a jeremiad against socialism, still less against the Communist wing of socialism; it was a prophetic attack on the collectivist despotism made possible everywhere by war, foreign intervention, and the garrison state.
The Orwell theme has been dominant in Barnes' writings on the Cold War. In his most recent book on foreign affairs, Barnes wrote:
In his devastatingly prophetic book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell points out that one reason why it is possible for those in authority to maintain the barbarities of the police state is that nobody is able to recall the many blessings of the period which preceded….The great majority of [Western people today] have known only a world ravaged by war, depressions, international intrigues and meddling, vast debts and crushing taxation, the encroachments of the police state, and the control of public opinion by ruthless and irresponsible propaganda.
Military state capitalism is engulfing both democracy and liberty in countries which have not succumbed to Communism…. During the years since 1937, the older pacific internationalism has been virtually extinguished, and internationalism has itself been conquered by militarism and aggressive globaloney. Militarism was, formerly, closely linked to national arrogance. Today, it stalks behind the semantic disguise of internationalism, which has become a cloak for national aggrandizement and imperialism…. The obvious slogan of the internationalists of our day, who dominate the historical profession as well as the political scene, is u201Cperpetual war for perpetual peace.u201D This, it may be noted, is also the ideological core of u201CNineteen Eighty-Fouru201D society.
The security measures alleged to be necessary to promote and execute global crusades are rapidly bringing about the police state in hitherto free nations, including our own. Any amount of arbitrary control over political and economic life, the most extensive invasions of civil liberties, the most extreme witch-hunting, and the most lavish expenditures, can all be demanded and justified on the basis of alleged u201Cdefenseu201D requirements…. This is precisely the psychological attitude and procedural policy which dominate u201CNineteen Eighty-Fouru201D society. [ii]
Barnes went on to detail the ways in which current history has become Court History, in Orwellian fashion, as well as the isolated opposition to this trend by such eminent historians as Herbert Butterfield and Howard K. Beale. He pointed to a corps of official historians working with the Armed Services and State Department; to the pernicious historiographical role of such as Admiral Professor Samuel Eliot Morison, and to the closing of ranks, in January, 1951, of almost nine hundred historians and social scientists, who declared their public endorsement of the Truman-Acheson Cold War policy. Barnes also trenchantly pointed out the role of the works of James Burnham in preparing u201Cus ideologically for… military managerialism [for] u2018Nineteen Eighty-Four' institutions, political techniques, and mental attitudes.u201D With true foresight, Barnes also noted the increasing role of the RAND Corporation as u201Cone of the most conspicuous examples of the entry of historians and other social scientists into the u2018Ministry of Truth.' [iii] Its basic ideology, u201Cthe diplomacy of violence,u201D is most thoroughly expounded in Arms and Influence (1966) by Professor Thomas C. Schelling, who was appointed Undersecretary of State for Administration in April, 1967.
On the other hand, Barnes praised the anti-Cold War writings of Lewis Mumford, who had returned to anti-intervention, and of Garet Garrett in The People's Pottage. For his policy recommendations, Barnes recalled. u201Cthe traditional American foreign policy of benign neutrality, and the wise exhortations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, and Henry Clay to avoid entangling alliances and to shun foreign quarrels,u201D and advocated a return to a u201Csane foreign policy, based on Continentalism, national interest, ideological coexistence, international urbanity, and rational co-operation in world affairs.u201D [iv]
Two of the essays in Perpetual War, both praised by Barnes, dealt in whole or in part with the Cold War. Professor William L. Neumann wrote critically of Truman's foreign-aid program, including the Greek-Turkish loan, and Professor George A. Lundberg pointed in alarm to the far-flung global military commitments of the Truman Administration. Lundberg commented trenchantly:
It is solemnly affirmed that these provisions are for defense only, and any person, party, or foreign nation that fails to take our word for this intent is roundly abused and is accused of aggressive designs upon us…. The feeling seems to be that our pacific intentions are self-evident or that, in any event, our past record and present reputation should be sufficient guarantee of the purely defensive nature of our policies…. Unfortunately, the historical record and the reputation support precisely the contrary thesis — a fact that may be regrettable but which must, nevertheless, be conceded by anyone not hopelessly in the toils of ethnocentric delusions…. At the very least, foreign nations cannot help but note that twice within the last thirty-five years the United States has invaded both Europe and Asia with military expeditions that could not, except by the wildest stretch of the imagination, be termed defensive. [v]
Barnes prefaced his concluding essay in the volume with a stirring quotation on the war drive from the eminent conservative journalist, William R. Mathews: u201CAfter fighting two world wars within a generation to defend democracy and freedom, with no result other than to see those ideals recede throughout the world, we shall be blind if we do not understand that a third such war… will end in one of the great catastrophes of history.u201D
IV. Barnes' Critique of the Cold War and the Age of Evasion
A fuller expression of Barnes' viewpoint on the Cold War, however, was revealed in what had been scheduled to be another chapter of Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace. Unfortunately available only in proof sheets, this unpublished chapter deserves to be considered at length. [vi] Barnes began his discussion by pointing out that postwar economic prosperity in America has been grounded on the artificiality of armament spending and a war economy. The economy, wrote Barnes, has been taken out of the hands of private business and the market and has been tragically politicalized: u201CToday, partisan political strategy overrides business independence and sagacity, and the manner in which we shall utilize our technology is keyed more to vote-getting and the associated military program than to producing goods and services and assuring human well-being.u201D In this program, the politicians u201Care aided and abetted by military leaders [who seek]… to put the Pentagon group in a position of greater prestige and power than was ever enjoyed by the Prussian military caste in Imperial Germany.u201D Also supporting this policy are the oil interests, for whom John Foster Dulles (Rockefeller) was the leading spokesman. They wished u201Cto protect their far-flung interests and possessions.u201D Above all, u201Cwars must be… made perpetual… so as to assure full employment and facilitate the propaganda of fear and terrorism upon which the maintenance of the rgime depends.u201D Barnes concluded that it is futile to battle against the by-products of the war system, such as economic controls or depredations on civil liberties; instead, the core of the system itself must be challenged.
Barnes then went on to detail the prevalence ofu201D u2018Nineteen Eighty-Four' Trendsu201D in American life. They included, first, the war economy — with Sumner Slichter and David Lawrence quoted on the cold-war-based nature of American u201Cprosperity.u201D Secondly, they included the pervasive use of national defense against the enemy to justify u201Cmilitary outlays, propaganda programs, intimidation, witch-hunting forays, or oppression of the masses….u201D Indeed, semantically, the u201CWar Departmentu201D had already been transformed into the u201CDepartment of Defense.u201D
Thirdly, Soviet Russia has suddenly become the Enemy, even though its character had not changed one iota since it had officially been proclaimed a noble ally in a global struggle for democracy. Barnes added that an Orwellian u201Chate campaign… is well under way against Soviet Russia, Communist China, and the u2018Reds' generally.u201D
Barnes particularly directed his fire at the increased invasion of civil liberties built upon the launching of the Cold War. He especially noted two Supreme Court decisions gravely invading personal freedom against search and seizure: Harris v. U. S. (1947) and U. S. v. Rabinowitz (1950), and he keenly pointed out that erstwhile ardently New Deal judges such as Sherman Minton and, in the next lower court, Learned Hand, were in the forefront of these despotic decisions. And perhaps worst of all was the Smith Act, which u201Crepudiated the fundamental principles on which our nation was founded…. Though the Smith Act is now being used to suppress the vending of unpopular Communist opinions, it could readily be turned against the very conservative groups that have sponsored the law…u201D Barnes added that, when first enacted, the Smith Act had gleefully been used by Communists and u201Ctotalitarian liberalsu201D against alleged u201Cfascists.u201D On the growing repression of civil liberties, Barnes recommended recent books by Walter Gelthorn, Max Lowenthal, Carey McWilliams, and Francis Biddle.
Barnes proceeded to decry the widespread but largely mythical fear of armed Russian aggression against the West. He cited Garet Garrett's alarm at this predominant fear, and noted that u201Ceven leading Russophobes like Eugene Lyons frankly admit that there is every reason to expect that Russia will not start a war.u201D Barnes pointed to the contradictions, or u201Cdoublethink,u201D in such testimony as General Gruenther's in March, 1952. Gruenther had u201Cargued vigorously that American billions must be spent in Europe for protection against Russia, but… conceded that he did not believe that the Russians will start a war, now or at any time.u201D Barnes concluded that u201Csuch material reveals… that the Cold War of today is even more phony and syntheticu201D than the war in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and added that this is confirmed by the continual official ridicule of Russian attempts to engage in peaceful negotiations.
For Orwellian intellectual trends, Barnes noted the prominence in the Cold War of such u201Ctotalitarian liberalsu201D as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Senator Paul Douglas, Freedom House, The Committee on the Present Danger, and the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. As for previous examples of pervasive Orwellian semantics and u201Cdoublethink,u201D Barnes trenchantly noted such slogans as: u201CDouble prices and we double national income…. Our great national debt is a blessing in disguise, because we owe it to ourselves…. Cold war is peace. A u2018free nation' is any nation — whether liberal and democratic, socialist, fascist, or anti-Kremlin communist — which will join the anti-Russian crusade. Aiding socialist nations of Europe under the Marshall Plan is a bold stroke to promote free enterprise abroad…. Launching an atom bomb race will assure peace and security.u201D
The Korean War, with its prolonged minuet of attrition, appeared to Barnes as important evidence for Orwell's prophecies. He noted acidly that u201Cnewsmen had been barred from the mass executions which featured the return of Syngman Rhee to his beloved native land so as to reinstate democracy there. Rhee, who… was repudiated in the popular elections months before the outbreak of the Korean war, and had maintained his tenure by totalitarian methods, has been widely proclaimed u2018the George Washington of Korea.'u201D [vii]
As to the origins of the Cold War, Barnes concluded that it was initiated by Truman and Churchill, largely for domestic political reasons, and since then has been used by each of the various governments to cement its rule over its subjects. At home, many classes became wedded to the Cold War: Democrats and Republicans, businessmen (oblivious of the u201Cfact the cold … war is… bringing on drastic and rigorous military state capitalism with all its elaborate state controls over industry…u201D), intellectuals, and labor (u201Cenjoying its u2018cut' in… the Cold War and the… armament program.u201D) Yet, concluded Barnes, it is vital for the United States to u201Creturn to neutrality… combined [with] every possible effort to limit warfare, and to encourage better international understanding…u201D Instead of scoffing at every Russian proposal for u201Cpeace, trade, or the adjustment of disputes,u201D we should u201Cat least… put Russia on the spot each time she makes a peace proposal and compel her to demonstrate its authenticity and good faith….u201D
Turning specifically to Communism, Barnes cut straight to the heart of the matter: military attack by the Soviet Union on the United States was most unlikely (unless u201Cprovoked as a measure of preventive waru201D), because u201Cthe Soviet program for communizing the world is not based on a plan of military conquest. It is founded upon propaganda, infiltration, and intrigue.u201D Such ideological revolutions have never yet been extirpated by military force. The true answer to Communism, then, is to strengthen American ideology and institutions: to maintain American freedom and prosperity. Engaging in Cold War regimentation, suppression of liberty, huge military budgets and crippling taxation, is to do just the reverse — to undermine the very American liberty that distinguishes us from Communism. Here Barnes quoted from the brilliant pamphlet of F. A. Harper, In Search of Peace:
Russia is supposed to be the enemy. Why? We are told that it is because Russia is communistic…
But if it is necessary for us to embrace extensive socialist or communist measures in order to fight a nation which has adopted them why fight them?
There is no sense in our conjuring up in our minds a violent hatred against people who are the victims of communism in some foreign nation, when the same governmental shackles are making us servile to the illiberal forces at home. [viii]
At a time when anti-Communist (especially ex-Communist) u201Cexpertsu201D were arrogantly pontificating on the Communist u201Cmonolith,u201D Harry Barnes was perceptively forecasting the split between Communist China and the Soviet Union. He warned that lining up the rest of the world u201Cas a military threat to Communism… only binds the Communists together… only served to drive China into the arms of the Kremlin…u201D Furthermore, American postwar foreign policy has gravely alienated the undeveloped nations: u201CIt has helped to align the great revolutionary trends in Asia and Africa with Russia, since the United States has assumed leadership of … the status quo in the Old World.u201D
While the unpublished chapter of Perpetual War was Barnes' most extensive discussion of the Cold War, the essentials of the chapter are ably condensed in pages 1324–1332 of the 1965 (Dover) edition of his Intellectual and Cultural History of the Western World. Brief statements can also be found in his u201CHistorical Writing and Historical Scienceu201D [ix] and in his long brochure The Chickens of the Interventionist Liberals Have Come Home to Roost.
After five years of relative quiescence on foreign affairs, Barnes returned to the attack, as he spelled out the meaning of Revisionism for a new generation of the peace-minded, in his u201CRevisionism and the Promotion of Peaceu201D (Liberation, Summer, 1958). Again the Cold War continuation of foreign meddling and Orwellian statism was shown to be, in essence, a continuation of the interventionism of World War II. In addition, Barnes pointed to a very important fact: that the eagerness for Revisionism among conservatives in the early postwar years had withered, as these ex-u201Cisolationistsu201D signed up in the Cold War crusade.
In his 1958 article in Liberation, Barnes singled out for reference the Select Bibliography of Revisionist Books (Oxnard [Calif.] Press-Courier), of which he was the major compiler. This annotated bibliography commended the following revisionist works on the Cold War: Kenneth Ingram's highly critical History of the Cold War (1955), C. Wright Mills' acid analysis of the military-industrial complex in The Power Elite (1956), Arthur A. Ekirch's brilliant work The Civilian and the Military (1956), and I. F. Stone's The Hidden History of the Korean War (1952). The Ekirch volume is particularly interesting as an example of a revisionist outlook on all three great wars of the twentieth century.
The Liberation article stirred up a good deal of lively and intelligent discussion, here and abroad, and was reprinted to significant effect in the English Peace News. The following year, Barnes concluded his discussion in Liberation (u201CRevisionism Revisited,u201D Liberation, Summer, 1959.) Here he added another important point, linking Revisionism in World War II and in the Cold War. Barnes dismissed his own past criticism of the World War II unconditional surrender policy as valid but superficial; for he had learned from General Albert C. Wedemeyer's book that the murder of Germans and Japanese was the overriding aim of World War II — virtually an Anglo-American scalping party. If maximum murder of the enemy is the sole aim of a war, then a call for unconditional surrender is only the logical conclusion of a conflict in which u201Cthere were no actual peace aims or programs…. The Allies won just exactly what they fought for — and all they fought for: an astronomical number of enemy scalps and incredible physical destruction of enemy property and homes…u201D Following out this line of thought, Barnes made his first frontal attack on the customary generalization made by Interventionists, Cold Warriors, and Revisionists, including himself, namely, that the Allies u201Cwon the War but lost the Peace.u201D Never having really fought for peace, despite that fictitious hoax, the Atlantic Charter, they could hardly have lost it in the victory that followed the war. Turning to the Cold War, Barnes then added:
In the second World War, it was only a matter of killing Germans and Japanese; today, we are confronted with the threat of killing everybody on the planet with no basic plans or motives other than a u2018massive surprise attack,' to be followed by the mopping up of survivors through a u2018massive retaliation.'
The origins and motives of -the Cold War were as sordid and ethically bankrupt as those of the Second World War: Stalin's determination to hold his illicit gains, the British effort to regain their balance of power position which they had lost in the war which was designed to preserve it, and the effort of Truman and Clark Clifford to pull [up] Democratic political prospect… in late February 1947…. The world was soon consigned to the Orwellian pattern of linking up bogus economic prosperity and political tenure with cold and phony war, from which the only relief may well be devastating nuclear warfare, set off by design or accident….
One of Barnes' most important contributions to Cold War Revisionism came in the spring of 1958, when he published what is still the best single article on what might be called u201CHiroshima Revisionismu201D — the real reasons for dropping the A-bombs on Japan. [x] Barnes was here the only writer — and, remarkably, remains the only writer to this day — to make use of the highly significant MacArthur memorandum to F.D.R. of January 20, 1945. This forty-page memorandum explicitly set forth the terms of an authentic Japanese peace offer which were virtually identical with the final surrender terms that we accepted from the Japanese seven months later — at the cost of countless needlessly expended lives, Japanese and American alike. The proffered terms included: complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms; occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction; Japanese relinquishment of all territory gained during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea, and Formosa; regulation of Japanese industry to prohibit any production of war implements; release of all prisoners of war and surrender of any war criminals so designated by the United States.
This MacArthur memorandum, the details of which were later fully confirmed by the general, was leaked in strict confidence to Walter Trohan of the Chicago Tribune by Admiral William D. Leahy, chief of staff to the President, who was alarmed lest Roosevelt might fail to follow through on the Japanese proposal, which proved to be the case. As soon as the war with Japan was ended, Trohan was free to publish these revelations, which completely established the American knowledge of what were later to be fully acceptable Japanese peace terms. And yet, apart from Harry Barnes, no Hiroshima Revisionist to date has made use of them. [xi] They are equally indispensable to those who have presumed to write on the last year of the war between the United States and Japan and on Roosevelt's conduct at the Yalta Conference, but they have been ignored by all such writers to the present time. Nothing has annoyed Barnes more than the timidity or dull-wittedness of those historians who call themselves Revisionists but have consistently and deliberately refused to make use of the MacArthur memorandum after Barnes had not only repeatedly called their attention to it but had also furnished several of them with copies and all the related documentation required fully to authenticate it.
Barnes also disclosed, for the first time, the personal testimony of Herbert Hoover that President Truman, by early May, 1945, informed him that he knew of the extensive Japanese peace offers and admitted then that further fighting with the Japanese was really unnecessary. But, Truman also disclosed to Hoover, he did not feel strong enough to challenge Secretary Stimson and the Pentagon. Yet neither of these confirmatory revelations have been picked up by Alperovitz and the other recent expositors of Hiroshima Revisionism. In his article, Barnes also supported the P. M. S. Blackett thesis, since adopted by Alperovitz, that the major reason for dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a sabre-rattling gesture to the Russians against whom we were already preparing the Cold War. Indeed, Barnes concludes that u201Cmany date the origins of the Cold War from the time he [Stalin] received news of the [atom] bombing shortly after the Potsdam Conference.u201D
In the summer of 1959, Barnes wrote a thoughtful article on America's basic position today. [xii] He commented very cogently on the use of foreign scares and quarrels, in the current u201Cage of evasion,u201D to evade meeting and solving fundamental domestic problems. To u201Cglobaloneyu201D had now been added the u201Castrobaloneyu201D of concentration upon outer space. Barnes was later on impressed by the very well informed article of Philip Abelson, u201CAre the Tame Cats in Charge: Omens of Orwell,u201D in the Saturday Review, January 1, 1966, which indicated how the diversion of an increasing number of our best scientists to space age and nuclear war problems is linking up science with Orwellianism and the Cold War, thus giving us a military-industrial-scientific complex. [xiii]
Let us, Barnes warned, concentrate on such issues as the rule of law, racketeering, organized crime, intellectual freedom, etc., at home instead of vainly and quixotically trying to impose our institutions all over the world. In sum, u201Cwhen we are unable to enforce the law in Little Rock without upsetting the nation, it is proposed that we enforce the law in Saigon, Bangkok, Rangoon, and Nairobi.u201D With the United States overrun with crime, both adult and juvenile, and the leaders of organized crime seemingly beyond the reach of law, we proclaim our goal to be extending the rule of law over the whole planet.
Barnes pointed out the contradictions in both the conservative and the liberal supporters of the Cold War. On the one hand, the conservatives have abandoned the principle of neutrality to adopt an hysterical anti-Communism that sees dire threats in the most distant lands. Barnes adds relevantly that:
As a result, the conservatives overlook entirely the fact that this very globalism and spatial fantasy, with the astronomical expenditures involved, are the main cause of the growing statism, debt burden, inflation… which are destroying the free economy that they abstractly worship.
The building of a public dam costing some millions is denounced as u2018pure socialism,' while a rigidly State-controlled armament economy costing forty or more [now over seventy] billions each year is hailed as the chief bulwark of free enterprise.
Furthermore, u201Cprominent conservatives, who twenty years ago bravely led in the struggle against involving the United States in World War II, are now the most fanatical shock troops in the propaganda crusade which is likely to involve us in a third world war that will make… 1939–1945 seem only a mere skirmish.u201D
The liberals and progressives, for their part, are caught in dire contradictions of their own:
They pretend intense devotion to a welfare state, but at the same time warmly uphold the allocation of over three-fourths of our national budget to armament and to war….
The liberals exhibit great agitation concerning alleged threats to our civil liberties, but most of them support the u2018Cold War,' which is far and away the chief cause of the more serious invasions of civil liberties and intellectual freedom.
In the revised, 1962, edition of his History of Historical Writing, Barnes briefly criticizes Cold War historiography. The English Revisionist historian A. J. P. Taylor is quoted in a bitter, justly deserved, blast at Court historians. Writing in the Manchester Guardian, January 19, 1961, Taylor declared that: u201CThe academic historians of the West may assert their scholarly independence even when they are employed by a government department; but they are as much u2018engaged' as though they wore the handsome uniforms designed for German professors by Dr. Goebbels.u201D Barnes asserts that the Cold War is responsible for the lack of sufficiently objective history, after World War II, to permit the Russians to win a fair hearing. u201CThe animus of the historians was quickly extended from Germany and Italy to Russia, China, and other Communist nations.u201D Furthermore, in his copious historiographical references, Barnes lists just one book on the Cold War, and that is the monumental work by D. F. Fleming, The Cold War and Its Origins (2 vols., 1961). [xiv]
Barnes returned to a full discussion of the Cold War in the revised (1965) edition of his Intellectual and Cultural History of the Western World, first published in 1937. While placing the blame for maintaining the dangerous Cold War on each of the Great Powers, Barnes notes a u201Cmore conciliatory attitudeu201D by Khrushchev and the later successors to Stalin, as well as subsequent demands by some of the powers of Western Europe for a slackening to the Cold War. Hence, Barnes notes that:
It does not seem unreasonable to assume that Russia is today more agreeable to mitigating the Cold War than the United States, for practical rather than idealistic reasons. Russia is less able to bear the great armament burden involved; she does not need armament industry to make her economy work…. Short of diverting major public expenditures from armament to welfare-state activities, which is obviously not possible in the present temper of the country, there are no comparable incentives to induce the United States to wish to taper off the Cold War pattern. [xv]
Barnes keenly sees the political economy of the United States since the New Deal as u201Cstate capitalism,u201D the extreme examples of which have been Fascism in Italy and National Socialism in Germany. Since World War II, this system has become u201Cmilitary state capitalism,u201D which the Cold War has u201Cfixed… as a permanent pattern of economic life, for an unpredictable period.u201D The prosperity of the American economy now depends on military spending, even though the siphoning of resources for the Cold War obviously places a great burden on the civilian economy. Barnes attributes the 1959 recession largely to a preceding slight cutback in military aviation, a harbinger of what would happen should the United States try to abandon the military treadmill. [xvi]
Barnes finds an acceleration of the Orwellian trend in American life, and he cites C. Wright Mills' The Power Elite as providing u201Cthe best description of the progress made toward a Nineteen Eighty-Four social order in the United States.u201D He notes also the warning directed by President Eisenhower at the end of his term against the military-industrial complex consisting of the coalescing of power in u201Ccorporation executives, Pentagon chiefs and top defense executives, leading military technicians and scientists, and advertising mogulsu201D all increasingly running our society. It was pointed out earlier that Barnes was greatly impressed by the facts presented by Philip Abelson in the Saturday Review, January 1, 1966, who warned in his article on u201CAre the Tame Cats in Charge: Omens of Orwell,u201D that the space age and nuclear war aspects of the Cold War are increasingly diverting a dangerously large sector of our best scientists to the service of the military-industrial complex, a very alarming symptom of growing Orwellian trends within the Cold War system. More recently, Barnes has been much impressed by another thoughtful article by a scientist, the authority on nuclear physics, Hans Trilling, in the Saturday Review for October 28, 1967, entitled u201CCan a Scientist be an Optimist?u201D for he contends with impressive evidence that Revisionism offers the only reasonable hope of ending the Cold War and preserving civilization.
Ominous Orwellian trends are also found in the deliberate whipping up by the government of the public's fear of the enemy; indeed, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles frankly admitted that the American citizenry needed to be u201Cartificially alarmed,u201D to avoid any possible relaxation of public fears. An especially menacing example of Orwellian u201Cnewspeaku201D is such a concept as u201Coverkill,u201D under which America piles up enough nuclear weapons to destroy all human life many times over, and yet presses on with more weapons. u201CThe most clearly Orwellian aspect of the matter is that the demonstration of and boasting about this ability to overkill was followed by the offering and approval of the most extensive budget in the whole history of the Cold War.u201D [xvii]
For this final chapter of the revised edition of his Intellectual and Cultural History of the Western World, Barnes' suggested readings include additional books then available which were critical of the Cold War. In addition to Fleming and Ingram cited above, these include John Lukacs, A History of the Cold War (1961), Walter Millis and James Real, The Abolition of War (1963), Frederick L. Schuman, The Cold War (1962), and Seymour Melman, ed., Disarmament: Its Politics and Economics (1963). Looking over this list more recently, Barnes has observed that he might well have added N. A. Graebner, Cold War Diplomacy, 1945–1960 (1962); R. N. Stromberg, Collective Security and American Foreign Policy (1963); and W. A. Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1962). The first two of these books were substantial historical works and among the first to offer mildly critical observations on our Cold War foreign policy. Williams' book was a vigorous and probably the most influential criticism of this policy.
A more recent expression of Barnes' views on Revisionism can be found in a special Revisionism issue of the Rampart Journal, an issue that Barnes helped edit and organize. Barnes' article, u201CRevisionism: A Key to Peaceu201D provides a complete and up-to-date summary of his views on Revisionism in general, and World War II Revisionism in particular. [xviii] In the article, Barnes notes as an example of Cold War Orwellian thinking the inclusion within the u201Cfree nationsu201D of the rankest totalitarian regimes, provided they line up on the side of the United States in world affairs. But Barnes also trenchantly points out that the neglect of World War II Revisionism since the war may be accounted for by the deadening intellectual conformity imposed by the Cold War system. In contrast to the courageous and independent thought pervading America during the 1920's, Barnes writes, u201CAfter 1945, we ran into a period of intellectual conformity perhaps unsurpassed since the supreme power and unity of the Catholic Church at the height of the Middle Ages. Between the pressures exerted by the military aspects of the Orwellian cold-war system and those which were equally powerful in the civilian or commercial world, intellectual individuality and independence all but disappeared.u201D The Cold War has had an equal impact on the world of education:
In this era of Nineteen Eighty-Four, u201CThe Organization Men,u201D u201CThe Man in the Grey Flannel Suit,u201D the u201CHidden Persuaders,u201D and u201CMadison Avenue,u201D even the average American college graduate became little more inclined to independent thinking than was a Catholic peasant during the papacy of Innocent III. As Irving Howell pointed out in the Atlantic of November, 1965, American higher education conformed to the Orwellian cold-war system about as conveniently as the Pentagon or American business. When, in the mid-1960's, a small minority of students began to show signs of restlessness, this caused widespread surprise and alarm, and public leaders like Senator Thomas I. Dodd of Connecticut suggested procedures which would have won them kudos from Hitler. [xix]
In this article, Barnes pays his respects to the developing series of local hot wars that have now become a basic part of the cold-war system: the u201Cseries of lesser tactical or revolutionary u2018hot wars' in Korea, South Vietnam, the Congo, and elsewhere, which are so needed to stoke the fires of our military state capitalist economy. Indeed, in Time of September 25, 1965, it was suggested in a lengthy and factual editorial that we might as well get adjusted to this situation of worldwide non-nuclear war as permanent until the final nuclear overkill comes along.u201D [xx]
According to Barnes, a very forceful presentation of the conception that the United States, and much of the world, is not only operating on a military economy but is based on a social order which is tied in thoroughly with a military frame of reference and pattern of life, appeared in the late autumn of 1967. It was entitled Report from Iron Mountain (Dial Press), and purported to be the report of a Special Study Group u201COn the Possibility and Desirability of Peace.u201D It is as yet an anonymous work only vouched for by a reputable journalist, Leonard C. Lewin, who suggests that it may have governmental inspiration and early sponsorship. A large, diversified and almost ideal group of experts are represented as the authors of the study. Whatever the authorship, and whether intended as a sober work or an informed satire, Barnes regards it as far the most impressive statement of the domination of our society by the military-scientific-technological-industrial-economic-political complex that has thus far reached print. It is really Orwell, far better informed, brought down to date and applied to the United States and the world two decades after Orwell wrote.
Following the books of the early 1960's there have been a number devoted to the history of our Cold War policy, many of them highly critical. Gar Alperowitz's Atomic Diplomacy (1965) is a critical analysis of the exploitation of American atomic superiority to launch the Cold War. David Horowitz's The Free World Colossus (1965) is the most forthright criticism of American Cold War operations since the publication of the Fleming book. Horowitz has also recently edited a symposium, entitled Containment and Revolution, which includes contributions covering most aspects of broad Revisionism. Ronald Radosh has dealt with an important phase of the impact of the Vietnam War on American academic life in his Teach-ins, USA: Reports, Opinions, Documents (1967) which indicates the type of material presented in describing and criticizing American intervention in Vietnam.
Barnes' determined opposition to America's war in Vietnam is expressed in a letter commending columnist Emmet I. Hughes for his articles in Newsweek critical of the war. [xxi] In the letter, Barnes stresses the historical filiation of the Vietnam war from Henry L. Stimson's u201Cnonsenseu201D about u201Caggressionu201D and u201Caggressorsu201D down to Stimson's worshipful disciple McGeorge Bundy, whose father u201Cused to take him by the hand as a child on his visits to the great man.u201D Barnes notes that the basic leitmotif of war from Stimson through Bundy has u201Cbeen overlooked in all the comments of the Vietnam scandal that I have seen.u201D He also points to the role of Dean Rusk as the Establishment representative of the u201CEastern seaboard oil, mineral, and banking cartels which are consecrated to keeping us involved all over the world in the name of u2018protecting the free nations.'u201D He has stated that he believes that the Eastern Establishment is veritably Rusk's u201Cchurch,u201D and that he serves it with a truly religious devotion. His theology has been refurbished by Walt W. Rostow and Bundy. Barnes regards Rusk as an honest and sincere Cold War Fundamentalist. His u201CSermon on the Mountu201D was delivered in his uncompromising press conference on October 12, 1967, which Walter Lippmann, in Barnes' phrase, took apart in Newsweek of November 6th in a manner reminiscent of Darrow's handling of Bryan in the Scopes Trial.
Barnes concludes the revised edition of his Intellectual and Cultural History of the Western World on an understandably pessimistic note, considering the pervasiveness of war and the war mentality in the present-day world. He properly points out how liberals and many socialists, ideologically in the forefront of the opposition to war, have led or quickly capitulated to the war parade in all the great wars of the present century; indeed, in all the wars of America's history except for the Mexican War landgrab. In the United States, indeed, World Wars I and II and the Korean War were pre-eminently liberal wars.
In the last year, Barnes has optimistically noted that, for the first time in this century, great numbers of liberals, especially of the younger generation, were reacting vehemently against an American war overseas, and even intensifying their opposition as the Vietnam war continues and deepens. Increasingly, the youthful members of the u201CNew Leftu201D are beginning to realize that the war liberalism of their elders has been, in Barnes' trenchant phrase, u201Ctotalitarian liberalism.u201D As Barnes wrote in the title of a brochure written after World War II: The Chickens of the Interventionist Liberals Have Come Home to Roost, and, increasingly, the younger generation is actively rejecting, root and branch, the bitter legacy of the war society. Characteristic of this New Left approach to American foreign policy is Containment and Change (1967) by Carl Oglesby and Richard Shaull, which presents the futility of the Cold War policy in dealing with the revolutionary trends of the post-war era, and calls for a new alignment of such representatives of the Old Right as have retained their anti-interventionism with those of the New Left who have repudiated interventionism and the Cold War.
An able political scientist who has been very active and consistent in opposing the Cold War and supporting broad Revisionism is Neal D. Houghton of the University of Arizona, who has been engaged in this work for a decade. [xxii] He has written and lectured extensively and has organized impressive conferences of outstanding authorities to deal with the world situation. Houghton has been most concerned with demonstrating the comprehensively revolutionary character of the postwar era and the utter futility of imagining that Cold War strategy or frenzy can deal effectively with the problems of the most fluid and dynamic period in human history. The essentials of his position, set forth in numerous articles, will be brought together in a symposium he has edited and will appear in May, 1968. It is very appropriately entitled The Struggle Against History: American Foreign Policy in an Age of Revolution.
Another instructive example of opposition to the Cold War appeared in the books of the eminent critic and publicist, Edmund Wilson, who came out foursquare for broad Revisionism in his Patriotic Gore and The Cold War and the Income Tax. [xxiii] A significant breakthrough for Cold War Revisionism appeared recently in the august pages of the New York Times Sunday Magazine. There the young historian, Christopher Lasch, devastatingly riddled the Cold War apologetics of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and hailed William Appleman Williams as the outstanding Revisionist of the Cold War, contending that Williams' anti-imperialist critique of American foreign policy is becoming increasingly vindicated. [xxiv]
V. Barnes and the Ideological Spectrum
In the light of Harry Elmer Barnes' thoroughgoing Revisionism, where may he be said to fit in the ideological spectrum of foreign affairs? Albert Jay Nock once wrote of his wry amusement at being damned as a u201Cradicalu201D in the 1920's, and then as a u201Creactionaryu201D in the 1930's even though his political philosophy had not changed one bit. Something similar has happened to Barnes. All his life he has remained the resolute and unbowed champion of peace and reason. For this he was considered a u201Cleft liberalu201D in the 1920's and early 1930's, and a u201Creactionary isolationistu201D in the late 1930's and 1940's. If it was largely the Left who became his allies in the former period, and the Right in the latter, this was because they kept veering and tacking, and not Barnes.
Barnes has had to endure mass desertions from principle by his friends and colleagues twice in his life. If he had but chosen, like them, to u201Cflipflopu201D for war around 1940 — or at the least to keep silent — he would undoubtedly still be receiving all the honors and prestige that our society can bestow. Never again, undoubtedly, will Barnes' books be reviewed on the coveted Page One of the New York Sunday Times Book Review. But Barnes knew well that there are things in this world more important than tinsel honors; for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? It shall always be said of Harry Elmer Barnes that his soul was his own, that never did he crook the knee to Power; and that rare and precious spirit, that high courage, shall be honored whenever and wherever men prize and salute the best that man has within him.
By the end of the 1930's, Barnes' allies for peace and neutrality were mainly the Right wing, and this continued down to the early 1950's. How many people now remember that it was not the Left, but the u201Cextreme Right-wingu201D Republicans who opposed conscription, Greek-Turkish aid, NATO, and even the Korean War? In short, that the outstanding opponents of the Cold War were the men of the Right? The Korean War, for example, mobilized the ardent support of even long-time fellow-travelers on the Left (with such honorable exceptions as I. F. Stone) — in the sacred name of the UN and u201Ccollective security against aggression.u201D Only the u201Cisolationistsu201D of the Right stood fast in opposition. But soon this alignment changed sharply too, and the Right wing shifted en masse, and almost unwittingly, to an extreme Cold War stance.
It is obvious that no simple labels of u201CRightu201D or u201CLeftu201D can be pinned on Barnes; indeed, recent realignments have rendered these categories misleading and obsolete — a veritable cultural lag. With many of the Left and most of the Right joined in the Cold War, a countermovement has recently begun. Emerging since about 1959, this movement holds out the prospect of a basic realignment for peace, a regrouping transcending completely the old u201CRightu201D and u201CLeftu201D stereotypes. On the Left, there has emerged the broad and youthful anti-war movement of the New Left, while on the Right, sharp and basic criticisms of the war drive have been expressed by such able writers as the late Howard Buffett, William R. Mathews, Felix Morley, Ronald Hamowy, Robert LeFevre, and, to a more limited extent, by such public figures as Hamilton Fish, Marriner S. Eccles. and the late Bruce Barton.
Whenever a man stands up for peace, he will be accused by his more frenzied opponents of being a u201Cdupeu201D or an u201Cagentu201D of the dread Enemy. Throughout his life, Harry Elmer Barnes has undoubtedly been successively accused of being a tool of the Prussian General Staff, u201Cpro-Hitler,u201D and now perhaps u201Cpro-Communistu201D to boot. The absurdity of the latter charge may be seen in the following passage from his most recent chapter on Orwell and the Cold War:
Stalin and his successors were content with the Cold War because war scares and the alleged threat of capitalistic attack enabled the Politburo to maintain unity and prevent any threat of civil war in Soviet Russia, despite much slave labor and low living standards….
The antagonism of the Western Powers and the Korean War aided [the Chinese Communists] in instituting a reign of terror at home and eliminating their enemies under the guise of the needs of defense and national security.
It is most meet and proper that we honor Harry Elmer Barnes in this Festschrift. Throughout his life, whether surrounded by the leading lights of his day or battling alone, whether heaped with laurels or with abuse, Harry Barnes has fought uncompromisingly for truth and justice, for reason and peace. In a century of craven u201Cother-direction,u201D he has always been his own man. If he cannot be fairly accused of being u201Cpro-Naziu201D or u201Cpro-Communist,u201D u201Cpro-Germanu201D or u201Cpro-Russian,u201D perhaps some might charge that he has, throughout, been u201Canti-American,u201D for he has indeed had the great courage to oppose some of America's most cherished foreign policies of the present century. But this is, perhaps, the greatest slander of them all. For Barnes knows, as did that noble spirit, Randolph Bourne, there are two Americas, and that the record of foreign affairs has been a continuing struggle between them. Himself a virtual martyr to America's First Crusade, Bourne's last immortal words were these:
Country is a concept of peace, of tolerance, of living and letting live. But State is essentially a concept of power… it signifies a group in its aggressive aspects….
The history of America as a country is quite different from that of America as a State. In one case it is the drama of the pioneering conquest of the land, of the growth of wealth, and the carrying out of spiritual ideals…. But as a State, its history is that of playing a part in the world, making war, obstructing international trade… punishing those citizens who society agrees are offensive, and collecting money to pay for all… [xxv]
We are here gathered together to honor Harry Elmer Barnes, a worthy embodiment of the better, and let us hope, the truer America.
Editorial Note (By Arthur Goddard):
Dr. Rothbard's account of Barnes as a Cold War Revisionist is logically devoted to a clear presentation of the nature of broad Revisionism and the manner in which Barnes' writings illustrate his alignment with all phases of broad Revisionism. The prime importance of broad Revisionism today, especially since the outbreak and escalation the Vietnam War, requires some elaboration of this theme, which goes beyond Dr. Rothbard's assignment and would throw his treatment out of balance if contained therein. Hence, some of the more important items of current significance are set forth in the brief treatment which follows. Barnes has been closely associated with most of these and with many of the writers who will be mentioned.
It is desirable to recall here just what attitudes and policies are included in broad Revisionism. These are: opposition to war of any kind, except those which are obviously in self-defense, as a menace to humanity and public welfare, and to the Cold War with Russia, which was formalized by the Truman Doctrine of March, 1947; the Orwellian critique of war in general, and of the Cold War, which Orwell anticipated before the adoption of the Truman doctrine; Hiroshima Revisionism, and opposition to the Vietnam War. The writers who will be briefly mentioned qualify under one or another of the above phases of broad Revisionism, and some have adhered to nearly all of its tenets.
Unquestionably, the expatriate Anglo-American, Francis Neilson, has been the outstanding figure in American broad Revisionism. A member of Parliament when war broke out in 1914, Neilson, a pacifist in the tradition of his associate, the famed and devoted E. D. Morel, resigned his seat when the British government decided on war, and in 1914 wrote his How Diplomats Make War, the first contribution to World War I Revisionism. Coming to the United States and becoming an American citizen in 1921, he devoted much of his writing and energy to opposition to war in both principle and practice. When the European war broke out in 1939, Neilson started a day-by-day diary of comments on every phase of the second World War and its causes. In five large volumes, entitled The Tragedy of Europe (1946), it is a veritable treasure house of Revisionism for the study of nearly every aspect of broad Revisionism in the twentieth century, although, naturally, he did not deal specifically with Orwellianism or the Vietnam War. His Makers of War (1950), gleaned largely from the Tragedy of Europe, is a classic of broad Revisionism. It is very unfortunate that he did not publish the greatly improved revision of this book that Professor James J. Martin prepared at Neilson's request.
Far and away the most profuse writer in the field of broad Revisionism in the United States has been the eminent banker and publicist, James Paul Warburg, who began his writing against war long before 1939. While he made an exception of the second World War, he soon resumed his crusade by advocating policies which were designed to prevent our losing the peace after winning the war. He has been a persistent critic of the Cold War, notably in such books as How to Coexist (1952); Turning Point Toward Peace (1955); Peace Through Disengagement (1957); Disarmament: the Challenge of the 1960's (1961), and Toward a Strategy of Peace (1964). His opposition to the Cold War is best summarized in his most recent book, The United States in the Post War World (1966).
The two most distinguished and best known of American critics of the Cold War have been the famed political scientist, Hans Morgenthau of the University of Chicago, and George Frost Kennan, diplomat and more recently professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University.
Morgenthau is by far the most widely-learned and experienced political scientist who has espoused Cold War Revisionism in the United States. He regards it as contrary to national interest, thus being in harmony with Charles A. Beard's basis for judging wise foreign policy, although their views diverge widely in details, and Beard died before the Cold War was well under way. Morgenthau entered extensively into public discussion of the Cold War, not fearing to dissent very forcibly and effectively. He vigorously opposed American policy in the Vietnam War, and even lent his presence and prestige to some of the u201Cteach-insu201D that attacked the validity of the conflict. His more relevant books in relation to the Cold War and the Vietnam War are In Defense of the National Interest (1951); The Purpose of American Politics (1960), and Vietnam and the United States (1967).
Kennan has criticized American foreign policy because of its somewhat arrogant moral-legalistic approach to international relations, in disregard of realities, thus providing a sort of back-handed defense of national interest. He also condemns the unwillingness of the United States to learn from its past mistakes in foreign policy: u201CA nation which excuses its own failures by the sacred untouchableness of its own habits can excuse itself into complete disaster.u201D He has been attacked by some of the New Left Cold War Revisionists as the author of the famous u201Ccontainmentu201D policy toward Russia and because he has remained critical of the Soviet system of society. His reply has been that his containment doctrine rejected the crude Cold War policy of Truman and Acheson, and he has insisted that, as a democratic society, we should oppose Russia in an institutional and educational manner, which has also been the core of liberal doctrine. He has not entered as actively into opposition to the Vietnam War as has Morgenthau. His mo-re relevant books for Cold War Revisionism have been On Dealing with the Communist World (1964); Memoirs, 1925–1950 (1967), and American Diplomacy, 1900–1950 (1951), especially Part II. It is rather generally believed that leadership against the Cold War among academic political scientists will ultimately be taken over by Professor Neal D. Houghton of the University of Arizona whose work has been described by Dr. Rothbard.
Perhaps the most important book related to Vietnam Revisionism by a public figure is Crisis Now (1968) by General James Gavin, military authority and diplomat. He calls for immediate dc-escalation of the Vietnam War, adoption of the enclave strategy in our holding policy, and concentration on a diplomatic settlement of the War, all of this being essential to getting after the appalling problems that face us on the domestic scene.
Among the American historians who have criticized the Vietnam War, probably the most active has been Professor Henry Steele Commager of Amherst College, who was an ardent interventionist and anti-Revisionist in the second World War. His numerous articles, especially in the Saturday Review, have stimulated public interest and enlightenment and have strengthened broad Revisionism in its more recent applications. Professor James J. Martin set forth a very effective line of attack on the Cold War in the revisionist issue of the Rampart Journal (Spring, 1966). Better than any other historian, Martin has demonstrated how the narrow Revisionists of the Right have performed the same type of u201Cflip-flopu201D that the liberal Left did in the period from 1931 to 1941, the trend that he so fully and effectively illustrated in his monumental work, American Liberalism and World Politics, 1931–1941 (1964) He also exhibited high courage in accepting the invitation to present a critical view of the Cold War in October, 1966, before the Philadelphia Society, which is the supreme u201Csovietu201D of the intellectually elite Cold Warriors in the United States. A considerable number of academic historians were active in organizing the various u201Cteach-insu201D critical of the Cold War and the Vietnam War in 1966 and 1967.
The liberal magazines, notably the Saturday Review, the Progressive, Harpers, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker (through its many excellent articles by Richard Rovere) have taken a critical attitude toward the Vietnam War; of the mass-circulation weeklies, Newsweek, especially in its editorials by Emmet J. Hughes and Walter Lippmann, has handled the Vietnam War with informed skepticism. Even the Luce magazines, Time and Life, have dealt with the Vietnam War realistically, notably since the famous Life editorial of October 20, 1967.
Dr. Rothbard listed the chief books critical of the Cold War and the Vietnam War down through 1962. Such books have appeared with increased profusion in the last few years, thus indicating the increasing popularity and repute of Cold War Revisionism. Good historical surveys, with critical implications, are C. O. Lerche, The Cold War and After (1965); M. F. Hertz, Beginnings of the Cold War (1966); L. J. Halle, The Cold War as History (1967), and D. W. Brogan, Worlds in Conflict (1967). R. D. Masters' The Nation is Burdened (1967) presents a forceful argument for basing American foreign policy on national interest in line with the ideas of Beard and Morgenthau. Theodore Draper's The Abuse of Power (1967) criticizes the intrusion of military patterns and considerations in the direction of American foreign policy, with special relation to Vietnam. Rolland Steel's Pax Americana (1967) provides the most vigorous liberal criticism of American efforts to impose its interventionist policies on the world. Walter LeFebre's America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945–1966 (1967) applies the Beard thesis of the importance of domestic economic forces in shaping American foreign policy and producing the Cold War. The New Left assault on the disastrous futility of the Cold War and the Vietnam War as a method of handling the dynamic and fluid problems of a revolutionary era is well presented by Carl Oglesby and Richard Schaull in their Containment and Change (1967). The much discussed u201Ccredibility gapu201D in Johnson's policy toward the Vietnam War is handled by Bruce Ladd in his Crisis in Credibility (1968). It is highly critical of Johnson, to the relative neglect of the far greater credibility gap in the Roosevelt era, so well revealed by T. R. Fehrenbach in his F.D.R.'s Undeclared War, 1939–1941 (1967). u201CA Vietnam Bibliography,u201D by M. E. Gettleman and S. L. Silverman, in Left and Right (Autumn, 1967), pp. 45–59, is the most complete work on the subject to date. LeFebre's book also provides a good bibliography of Cold War Revisionism.
The contention that the United States has failed in. its political and ideological program in Vietnam, as well as in its military strategy, is well presented by Robert Shaplen in The Lost Revolution (1966). Douglas Pike's Viet Cong (1966) provides the most competent and illuminating account of the Liberation Front in South Vietnam. The revulsion of American religious leaders over American conduct in Vietnam is best set forth in, In the Name of America: A Study Commissioned and Published by Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam (1968), a well-documented indictment of the legal and moral crimes perpetrated by the United States in the course of the Vietnam War. It is nearly as devastating as the findings of the Bertrand Russell International War Crimes Tribunal that sat in Stockholm in 1967 and are discussed by the eminent British critic, Kenneth Tynan, in his u201COpen Letteru201D to Americans that appeared in Playboy, March, 1968. Especially caustic and realistic in describing American attitudes, assumptions and operations in Vietnam is D. D. Duncan's I Protest (1968), the work of an able journalist and a Marine colonel in. the Korean War. Richard Rovere's critical reflections on the Vietnam War are assembled in his Waist Deep in the Big Muddy (1968). W. L. Lederer's Our Own Worst Enemy (1968) is a shocking exposure of the graft and corruption in the South Vietnamese u201Cestablishment.u201D W. R. Corson's The Betrayal (1968) is perhaps the most inclusive critique of American policy and military strategy in Vietnam. Jonathan Schnell's The Military Half (1968) stresses the foolhardy nature of American military operations in Vietnam and their appalling toll of civilian lives. The institution of peace negotiations in May, 1968, forecast an even greater profusion of revisionist books on Vietnam. (The first of these, The Secret Search for Peace in Vietnam (1968), by David Kraslow and S. H. Loory, reveals how official American duplicity, stupidity and lethargy delayed substantial peace negotiations for at least two years.)
American broad Revisionism was paralleled by comparable work in Britain, notably George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four (1949). Much of the British concern with broad Revisionism received its initial inspiration from the veteran pacifist, E. D. Morel. G. Lowes Dickinson used his excellent World War I Revisionism as the prelude to broad Revisionism. Emrys Hughes is probably the most complete example of broad Revisionism in Britain, qualifying under every facet of Rothbard's categories of broad Revisionism. Lord Hankey was its most distinguished representative, most notably in his Politics: Trials and Errors (1950). His disciples, Montgomery Belgion and F. J. P. Veale, attacked the Nuremburg Trials scandal, and Veale's Advance to Barbarism (1953, new edition, 1968) underlined the increasing barbarism of war, but not even he could have anticipated its degradation in the Vietnam War. Victor Gollancz, in his In Darkest Germany (1947) and Our Threatened Values (1948), courageously attacked the menace of war by revealing its barbarisms in post-War Germany. Captain Russell Grenfell, in his Unconditional Hatred, demonstrated that total victory and unconditional surrender are no guarantee of world peace. In Captain B. H. Liddell Hart and General J. F. C. Fuller, Britain produced the two leading broad Revisionists among military writers. The outstanding French book on Cold War Revisionism is Andre Fontaine, History of the Cold War (2 vols., 1968), and the best work on the Vietnam Wars, French and American, is Bernard Fall, The Two Vietnams (1967).
[i] The concept of the u201CCourt Intellectualu201D is a ready extension of Barnes' repeated emphasis on the role of the u201CCourt Historian.u201D Cf. Murray N. Rothbard, u201CThe Anatomy of the State,u201D Rampart Journal (Summer, 1965), pp. 5–11.
Mr. Marcus Raskin, formerly a staff member of the National Security Council, has come to the considered conclusion, on the professional strategists of the Cold War military agencies, u201Cthat their most important function is to justify and extend the existence of their employers…. In order to justify the continued large-scale production of these [thermonuclear] bombs and missiles, military and industrial leaders needed some kind of theory to rationalize their use…. This became particularly urgent during the late 1950's, when economy-minded members of the Eisenhower Administration began to wonder why so much money, thought, and resources were being spent on weapons if their use could not be justified. And so began a series of rationalizations by the u2018defense intellectuals' in and out of the universities…. Military procurement will continue to flourish, and they will continue to demonstrate why it must. In this respect they are no different from the great majority of modern specialists who accept the assumptions of the organizations which employ them because of the rewards in money and power and prestige…. They know enough not to question their employers' right to exist.u201D Marcus Raskin, u201CThe Megadeath Intellectuals,u201D The New York Review of Books (November 14, 1963), pp. 6–7. Also see Martin Nicolaus, u201CThe Professor, the Policeman and the Peasant,u201D Viet-Report (June-July, 1966), pp. 15–19.
[ii] Harry Elmer Barnes, u201CRevisionism and the Historical Blackout,u201D in Barnes, ed., Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (Caldwell, Id.: Caxton Printers, 1953), pp. 4ff., 59ff. Barnes first pointed out the dangers in a Cold War with Russia in a debate with Morris H. Rubin in the Progressive for July 30, 1945, a few weeks before the second World War ended.
[iii] Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, pp. 6 1–74. See also New Yorker magazine, October 8, 1966, pp. 98ff.; February 15, 1968, pp. 127ff.
[iv] Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, pp. viii, 4.
[v] George A. Lundberg, u201CAmerican Foreign Policy in the Light of National Interest at the Mid-Century,u201D in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, pp. 566–568.
[vi] Barnes, u201CHow u2018Ninety Eighty-Four' Trends Threaten Peace, Freedom, and Prosperityu201D (unpublished manuscript, 1952. It was intended to be Chapter 10 of Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace but was discarded under pressure in proofs).
[ix] In Joseph S. Roucek, ed., Twentieth Century American (New York: Philosophical Library, 1948). Also see Barnes' contribution to the symposium on u201CWorld-Meddling,u201D in The Humanist (July–August, 1953), pp. 145ff., and foreword to D.D. Runes, The Soviet Impact on Society (New York: Philosophical Library, 1953).
[x] Barnes, u201CHiroshima: Assault on a Beaten Foe,u201D National Review (May 10, 1958).
[xi] Walter Trohan originally published his disclosures in the Chicago Tribune of August 19, 1945. Trohan's most recent article, setting forth the latest knowledge on his and other disclosures of Japanese peace feelers, may be found in the Chicago Tribune, August 14, 1965. Barnes is understandably incensed that such left-wing writers as Gar Alperovitz, in his otherwise definitive revisionist book, Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965), totally failed to use the Trohan material — an obvious example of leftists parochially refusing to pay heed to u201CRight-wingu201D sources. Consequently, Alperovitz unnecessarily weakens his own case by asserting that u201Cthe real effort to end the war [by Japan] began in the spring of 1945.u201D ibid., p. 107. In some cases of failure to use the Leaiiy-Trohan revelations, Barnes had personally made sure that the historian had been sent copies of the material.
[xii] Barnes, u201CU. S. Responsibilities Begin at Home,u201D New Bedford (Mass.) Sunday Standard-Times, August 9, 1959. Rewritten and published in greatly expanded form in the Hartwick Review, Spring, 1967, pp. 24–28.
[xiii] Barnes has increasingly come to view u201Castrobaloney and the Space Raceu201D as the most inane, wasteful, and evasive aspect of the Cold War. He sees the wildly expensive and demagogic u201Clunar fantasyu201D of the Race to the Moon as but an early example of a potentially unending threat for the future. See below, pp. 567ff.
[xv] Barnes, An Intellectual and Cultural History of the Western World (3rd rev. ed., New York: Dover Publishers, 1965), p. 1329.
[xvi] Ibid., p. 1340. Also see ibid., pp. 1094, 1339.
[xvii] Ibid., p. 1330. Also see ibid., p. 1328.
[xviii] Barnes, u201CRevisionism: A Key to Peace,u201D Rampart Journal (Spring, 1966), pp. 8–74.
[xix] Ibid., pp. 36–37.
[xx] Ibid., p. 67. In the same issue of the Rampart Journal, Prof. James J. Martin points out that the Cold War u201Cwas a logical extension of the politics of the Second World War,u201D with propaganda u201Credressing the u2018Hitler-is-trying-to-conquer-the-World' pronouncements in the accouterments called for by casting Stalin and the Russians in this role now.u201D He also maintains that the Cold War really began as early as November, 1944, when Churchill moved into Greece to repress a Communist triumph there. James J. Martin, u201CRevisionism and the Cold War, 1946–1966,u201D Rampart Journal (Spring, 1966), pp. 91, 96, 101.
[xxi] Barnes to Emmet John Hughes, March 8, 1966.
[xxii] Houghton's writings, in particular, have been unduly neglected. See especially, Neal D. Houghton, u201CPerspective for Foreign Policy Objectives in Areas — and in an Era — of Rapid Social Change,u201D Western Political Quarterly (December, 1963), pp. 844–884.
[xxiii] Edmund Wilson, Patriotic Gore (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962); and Wilson, The Cold War and the Income Tax (New York: Farrar, Straus and Co., 1963). One puzzled reviewer could only see in Wilson's position a u201Cunion of the extreme Right and extreme Left.u201D
[xxiv] Lasch, u201CThe Cold War Revisited and Revisioned,u201D New York Times Sunday Magazine, January 14, 1968.
[xxv] Randolph Bourne, u201CUnfinished Fragment on the State,u201D Untimely Papers (New York: B. W. Huebsch, 1919), pp. 229–230.
Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995) was the author of Man, Economy, and State, Conceived in Liberty, What Has Government Done to Our Money, For a New Liberty, The Case Against the Fed, and many other books and articles. He was also the editor – with Lew Rockwell – of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report.