Harry Elmer Barnes as Revisionist of the Cold War
article first appeared in Arthur Goddard, ed., Harry
Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader (Colorado Springs: Ralph Myles,
Publisher, Inc., 1968).
I. The War
State and the Court Intellectuals
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 "military" to "industrial" 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 "advance to barbarism."
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 "power
elites," 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 "Court lntellectual" 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 "Establishment." 1 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 "intellectual bodyguard" 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 "anti-Establishmentarian" 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.
Two Schools of Revisionism
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.
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
"hard anti-Communism," 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 "hardest" 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.
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 "neutrality" (before the two world wars), he has become
a reviler of "neutralism" (since World War II); beginning
as a keen critic of "collective security," he now calls
for American "liberation" of every country on the face
of the globe that is or might possibly become Communist; beginning
as an opponent of foreign wars, intervention, "globaloney,"
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 "military-industrial complex,"
he now cheerfully joins their various "strategy" 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 "why die for Danzig?" 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 "Why did we lose China?"
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 modern 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 "conquer the world" 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 “hardest" of hard lines, by ever sterner ultimata delivered
by the divinely appointed champion of the "democracies"
or the "free World," 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 "hard-line"
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
"bluffing," 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 "bluffing," 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 "cultural lag"
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.
Barnes and Broad Revisionism
It should occasion
no surprise that the great leader of Revisionism 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 "emergencies" 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.
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. . . .
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 "perpetual
war for perpetual peace." This, it may be noted, is also
the ideological core of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" society.
. . .
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 "defense" requirements. . . . This
is precisely the psychological attitude and procedural policy
which dominate "Nineteen Eighty-Four" society.2
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 "us ideologically for. . . military managerialism
. . . [for] 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' institutions, political techniques,
and mental attitudes." With true foresight, Barnes also noted
the increasing role of the RAND Corporation as "one of the
most conspicuous examples of the entry of historians and other social
scientists into the 'Ministry of Truth.' "3 Its basic ideology, "the diplomacy
of violence," is most thoroughly expounded in Arms
and Influence (1966) by Professor Thomas C. Schelling, who
was appointed Undersecretary of State for Administration in April,
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 "the 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," and advocated a return
to a "sane foreign policy, based on Continentalism, national
interest, ideological coexistence, international urbanity, and rational
co-operation in world affairs."4
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. . . .
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.5
his concluding essay in the volume with a stirring quotation on
the war drive from the eminent conservative journalist William R.
Mathews: "After 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."
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.6 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: "Today,
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."
In this program, the politicians "are 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." Also supporting this policy
are the oil interests, for whom John Foster Dulles (Rockefeller)
was the leading spokesman. They wished "to protect their far-flung
interests and possessions." Above all, "wars must be .
. . made perpetual. . . so as to assure full employment and facilitate
the propaganda of fear and terrorism upon which the maintenance
of the regime depends." 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.
went on to detail the prevalence of " 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'
Trends" in American life. They included, first, the war economy
with Sumner Slichter and David Lawrence quoted on the cold-war-based
nature of American "prosperity." Secondly, they included
the pervasive use of national defense against the enemy to justify
"military outlays, propaganda programs, intimidation, witch-hunting
forays, or oppression of the masses. . ." Indeed, semantically,
the "War Department" had already been transformed into
the "Department of Defense." 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
"hate campaign. . . is well under way against Soviet Russia,
Communist China, and the 'Reds' generally."
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 "repudiated 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. . ." Barnes added that,
when first enacted, the Smith Act had gleefully been used by Communists
and "totalitarian liberals" against alleged "fascists."
On the growing repression of civil liberties, Barnes recommended
recent books by Walter Gellhorn, Max Lowenthal, Carey McWilliams,
and Francis Biddle.
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 "even leading Russophobes
like Eugene Lyons frankly admit that there is every reason to expect
that Russia will not start a war." Barnes pointed to the contradictions,
or "doublethink," in such testimony as General Gruenther’s
in March, 1952. Gruenther had "argued 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." Barnes concluded that "such
material reveals. . . that the Cold War of today is even more phony
and synthetic" 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.
intellectual trends, Barnes noted the prominence in the Cold War
of such "totalitarian liberals" as Arthur M. Schlesinger
Jr., Senator Paul Douglas, Freedom House, The Committee on the Present
Danger, and the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. As previous
examples of pervasive Orwellian semantics and "doublethink”,
Barnes trenchantly noted such slogans as: "Double prices and
we double national income. . . . Our great national debt is a blessing
disguise, because we owe it to ourselves. . . . Cold war is peace.
. . . A 'free 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
War, with its prolonged minuet of attrition, appeared to Barnes
as important evidence for Orwell's prophecies. He noted acidly that
"newsmen 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 'the
George Washington of Korea.' "7
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 "fact the cold. . . war is . . . bringing on drastic
and rigorous military state capitalism with all its elaborate state
controls over industry. . ."), intellectuals, and labor ("enjoying
its 'cut' in. . . the Cold War and the. . . armament program.")
Yet, concluded Barnes, it is vital for the United States to "return
to neutrality. . . combined [with] every possible effort to limit
warfare, and to encourage better international understanding. .
." Instead of scoffing at every Russian proposal for "peace,
trade, or the adjustment of disputes,” we should "at least.
. . put Russia on the spot each time she makes a peace proposal
and compel her to demonstrate its authenticity and good faith. .
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 "provoked as a measure of preventive war" ), because
"the Soviet program for communizing the world is not based
on a plan of military conquest. It is founded upon propaganda, infiltration,
and intrigue." 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:
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? . . .
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.8
At a time when
anti-Communist (especially ex-Communist) "experts" were
arrogantly pontificating on the Communist "monolith,"
Harry Barnes was perceptively forecasting the split between Communist
China and the Soviet Union. He warned that lining up the rest of
the world ''as a military threat to Communism. . . only binds the
Communists together. . . only served to drive China into the arms
of the Kremlin. . ." Furthermore, American postwar foreign
policy has gravely alienated the undeveloped nations: "It 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."
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 "Historical Writing and Historical
in his long brochure The
Chickens of the Interventionist Liberals Have Come Home to Roost.
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 "Revisionism and
the Promotion of Peace" (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-"isolationists"
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.
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 ("Revisionism Revisited,"
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 "there
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..." 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 "won
the War but lost the Peace.” 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 'massive
surprise attack,' to be followed by the mopping up of survivors
through a 'massive retaliation.'
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 prospects. . . 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 "Hiroshima Revisionism"
the real reasons for dropping the A-bombs on Japan.10
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.
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.11
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.
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 "many date the origins of the Cold War from
the time he [Stalin] received news of the [atom] bombing shortly
after the Potsdam Conference."
In the summer
of 1959, Barnes wrote a thoughtful article on America's basic position
today.12 He commented
very cogently on the use of foreign scares and quarrels, in the
current "age of evasion," to evade meeting and solving
fundamental domestic problems. To "globaloney" had now
been added the "astrobaloney" of concentration upon outer
space. Barnes was later on impressed by the very well-informed article
of Philip Abelson, "Are the Tame Cats in Charge: Omens of Orwell,"
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
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, "when 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."
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
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
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. . . .
of a public dam costing some millions is denounced as "pure
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.
"prominent 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.
. . 19391945 seem only a mere skirmish."
and, progressives, for their part, are caught in dire contradictions
of their own:
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. . . .
exhibit great agitation concerning alleged threats to our civil
liberties, but most of them support the 'Cold 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: "The academic historians
of the West may assert their scholarly independence even when they
are employed by a government department; but they are as much 'engaged'
as though they wore the handsome uniforms designed for German professors
by Dr. Goebbels." 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. "The animus
of the historians was quickly extended from Germany and Italy to
Russia, China, and other Communist nations." 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,
Cold War and Its Origins (2 vols., 1961).14
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 "more
conciliatory attitude" 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
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.15
sees the political economy of the United States since the New Deal
as "state capitalism," the extreme examples of which have
been Fascism in Italy and National Socialism in Germany. Since World
War II, this system has become "military state capitalism,"
which the Cold War has “fixed...as a permanent pattern of economic
life for an unpredictable period." 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
an acceleration of the Orwellian trend in American life, and he
cites C. Wright Mills' The Power Elite as providing "the
best description of the progress made toward a Nineteen Eighty-Four
social order in the United States." 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 "corporation executives, Pentagon chiefs and top defense
executives, leading military technicians and scientists, and advertising
moguls" 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 "Are the Tame Cats in Charge:
Omens of Orwell," 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 "Can a Scientist be an Optimist?" for
he contends with impressive evidence that Revisionism offers the
only reasonable hope of ending the Cold War and preserving civilization.
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 "artificially alarmed," to avoid any possible relaxation
of public fears. An especially menacing example of Orwellian "newspeak"
is such a concept as "overkill," under which America piles
up enough nuclear weapons to destroy all human life many times over,
and yet presses on with more weapons. "The 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."17
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
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.
War Diplomacy, 1945-1960 (1962); R.N. Stromberg, Collective
Security and American Foreign Policy (1963); and W.A. Williams,
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, "Revisionism: A
Key to Peace" provides a complete and up-to-date summary of
his views on Revisionism in general, and World War II Revisionism
in particular.18 In the article, Barnes notes as an example
of Cold War Orwellian thinking the inclusion within the "free
nations" 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, "After 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."
The Cold War has had an equal impact on the world of education:
In this era
of Nineteen Eighty-Four, "The Organization Men,"
"The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit," the "Hidden
Persuaders," and "Madison Avenue," 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 J. Dodd of Connecticut
suggested procedures which would have won them kudos from Hitler.19
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 "series
of lesser tactical or revolutionary 'hot 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
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 "On the Possibility and Desirability
of Peace." 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 by far
the most impressive statement of the domination of our society by
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.
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
Diplomacy (1965) is a critical analysis of the exploitation
of American atomic superiority to launch the Cold War. David Horowitz's
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.
opposition to America's war in Vietnam is expressed in a letter
commending columnist Emmet J. Hughes for his articles in Newsweek
critical of the war.21 In the letter, Barnes stresses the historical
filiation of the Vietnam war from Henry L. Stimson's "nonsense"
about "aggression" and "aggressors" down to
Stimson's worshipful disciple McGeorge Bundy, whose father "used
to take him by the hand as a child on his visits to the great man."
Barnes notes that the basic leitmotif of war from Stimson
through Bundy has "been overlooked in all the comments of the
Vietnam scandal that I have seen." He also points to the role
of Dean Rusk as the Establishment representative of the "Eastern
seaboard oil, mineral, and banking cartels which are consecrated
to keeping us involved all over the world in the name of 'protecting
the free nations.'" He has stated that he believes that the
Eastern Establishment is veritably Rusk's "church," 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 "Sermon
on the Mount" 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
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
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 "New
Left" are beginning to realize that the war liberalism of their
elders has been, in Barnes' trenchant phrase, "totalitarian
liberalism." 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.22 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 post-war 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.
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.23
A significant break-through 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.24
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 "radical"
in the 1920's, and then as a "reactionary" 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 "left liberal" in the 1920's and early 1930's,
and a "reactionary isolationist" 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.
had to endure mass desertions from principle by his friends and
colleagues twice in his life. If he had but chosen, like them, to
"flip-flop" 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 "extreme
Right-wing" 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 "collective
security against aggression." Only the "isolationists"
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 "Right" or "Left" 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 counter-movement 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 "Right"
and "Left" 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.
man stands up for peace, he will be accused by his more frenzied
opponents of being a "dupe" or an "agent" of
the dread Enemy. Throughout his life, Harry Elmer Barnes has undoubtedly
been successively accused of being a tool of the Prussian General
Staff, "pro-Hitler," and now perhaps "pro-Communist"
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:
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. . .
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 "other-direction,"
he has always been his own man. If he cannot be fairly accused of
being "pro-Nazi" or "pro-Communist," "pro-German"
or "pro-Russian," perhaps some might charge that he has,
throughout, been "anti-American," 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, that 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:
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. . . .
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..25
We are here
gathered together to honor Harry Elmer Barnes, a worthy embodiment
of the better, and let us hope, the truer America.
1 The concept of the "Court Intellectual"
is a ready extension of Barnes' repeated emphasis on the role
of the "Court Historian." Cf. Murray N. Rothbard, "The
Anatomy of the State," Rampart Journal (Summer, 1965),
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, "that 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 'defense 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." Marcus Raskin, "The Megadeath Intellectuals,"
The New York Review of
Books (November 14, 1963), pp. 67. Also see Martin
Nicolaus, "The Professor, the Policeman and the Peasant,"
Viet-Report (June-July, 1966), pp. 1519.
2 Harry Elmer Barnes, "Revisionism and the Historical
Blackout,” 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.
Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, pp. 61-74. See also
New Yorker magazine, October 8, 1966, pp. 98 ff.; February 15, 1968, pp. 127ff.
4 Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, pp. viii,
5 George A. Lundberg, "American Foreign Policy
in the Light of National Interest at the Mid-Century," in
Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, pp. 566-568.
6 Barnes, “How ‘Ninety Eighty-Four’ Trends Threaten
Peace, Freedom, and Prosperity” (unpublished MS., 1952. It was
intended to be Chapter 10 of Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace
but was discarded under pressure in proofs).
7 For a further Orwellian analysis of the Korean War,
see the excerpt from Barnes in F.J.P. Veale, Advance
to Barbarism (Appleton, Wisc.: C.C. Nelson Pub. Co., 1953),
8 F.A. Harper, In Search of Peace (Irvington-On-Hudson:
Foundation for Economic Education, 1951), pp. 3537.
9 In Joseph S Roucek, ed., Twentieth Century America
(New York; Philosophical Library, 1948). Also see Barnes’ contribution
to the symposium on “World-Meddling,” in The Humanist (July-August,
1953), pp. 145 ff, and foreword to D.D. Runes, The
Soviet Impact on Society (New York: Philosophical Library,
10 Barnes, "Hiroshima: Assault on a Beaten Foe,"
National Review (May 10, 1958).
11 Walter Trohan originally published his disclosures
in the Chicago Tribune of August 19, 1945. Trohan's most recent
article, setting 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 "Right-wing"
sources. Consequently, Alperovitz unnecessarily weakens his own
case by asserting that "the real effort to end the war [by
Japan] began in the spring of 1945." Ibid., p. 107.
In some cases of failure to use the Leahy-Trohan revelations,
Barnes had personally made sure that the historian been sent copies
of the material.
12 Barnes, "U. S. Responsibilities Begin at Home,"
New Bedford (Mass.) Sunday Standard-Times,
August 9, 1959.
Rewritten and published in greatly expanded form in the Hartwick
Review, Spring, 1967, pp. 2428.
13 Barnes has increasingly come to view "astrobaloney
and the Space Race" as the most inane, wasteful, and evasive
aspect of the Cold War. He sees the wildly expensive and demagogic
"lunar fantasy" of the Race to the Moon as but an early
example of a potentially unending threat for the future. See below,
Barnes, A History of Historical Writing (2nd ed., New
York: Dover Pubs., 1962) pp. 290, 397 ff.
15 Barnes, An Intellectual and Cultural History
of the Western World (3rd rev. ed., New York:
Dover Pub., 1965), p. 1329
16 Ibid., p. 1340. Also see Ibid., pp.
17 Ibid., p. 1330. Also see ibid., p.
18 Barnes, "Revisionism: A Key to Peace,"
Rampart Journal (Spring, 1966), pp. 874.
Ibid., p. 67. In the same issue of the Rampart Journal,
Prof. James J. Martin points out that the Cold War "was a
logical extension of the politics of the Second World War,"
with propaganda "redressing the 'Hitler-is-trying-to-conquer-the-world'
pronouncements in the accouterments called for by casting Stalin
and the Russians in this role now." 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, "Revisionism and the Cold War, 19461966,"
Rampart Journal (Spring, 1966), pp. 91, 96, 101.
21 Barnes to Emmet John Hughes, March
22 Houghton's writings, in particular, have been unduly
neglected. See especially, Neal D. Houghton, "Perspective
for Foreign Policy Objectives in Areas and in an Era
of Rapid Social Change," Western Political Quarterly (December,
1963), pp. 844884.
23 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 "union
of the extreme Right and extreme Left.”
24 Lasch, "The Cold War Revisited and Revisioned,"
New York Times Sunday Magazine, January
25 Randolph Bourne, "Unfinished Fragment on the
State," Untimely Papers (New York: B. W. Huebsch,
© 1968 by Murray N. Rothbard
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