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Author Topic: Witness
Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Witness
on: March 21, 2018, 15:47
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I am having constant problems trying to post this piece under Anniel's review of Whittaker Chamber's book, "Witness." I will try here.

I finished “Witness” last night. Like Anniel, I found the book an excellent read, even the pages of HUAC and Grand Jury testimony. It is in such places that one most often finds the truth as to what is going on in and around government.

In my reading, “Witness” is first a book about a religious pilgrimage. It takes the reader through a very explicit journey of a man who was clearly searching for the meaning of life. The journey is, at times, not pleasant and it is never easy. That the writer is willing to bare his life and soul in such a way is perhaps disturbing, but given his intent, I believe necessary.

That intent is to rip away all pretense, disperse all fog and destroy all the lies about the great modern struggle. Most of us know it as the struggle between Communism and Free Market Capitalism, but Chambers will have none of that. In his mind, and I must agree with him, it is a struggle between the forces of Almighty God and Almighty Man. Chambers, through personal experience, knew long before we did that Communism is faith, which replaces the loss of other faiths.

He wrote;

Communism is never stronger than the failure of other faiths or failure of civilization

I believe this agrees with our contention that Communism is foisted upon the rest of us by those alienated from their own traditions. They must spread their despair in order to destroy the hopes and beliefs of others. Once this is done, they try to substitute the third-rate God of history and the perfectibility of mankind. This is a poor substitute for the God of Christianity, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.

Chamber’s childhood and youth were a mess. His parents would appear to have been completely self-absorbed people who should not have had children. A young loner, he felt out of place, which seems to be a common trait among disaffected Western intellectuals. After graduating from high school, he left home and tried to become part of the great unwashed. He worked on road gangs in Washington D.C. Later, he drifted to New Orleans where he associated with people of about the lowest class one could imagine. This experience later gave him a type of bone fides when he joined the Communist Party. Most of the other Communists he eventually associated with were the typical intellectual type who were great on theory, but weren’t part of the proletariat.

I would say that Chambers was a romantic at heart. Like many an intellectual, he was unwilling or unable to accept things as they are. This frustration could not be assuaged by religion as it had played little part in his youth. After he had completely lost his faith in God, he had to look elsewhere and found a new faith in Communism.

A person of good will, he believed that others acted out of a similar impulse. He says;

“Western intellectuals become Communists because they are seeking the answers to the problems of war or economics.”

And strangely, he writes;

The appeal of Communism was “hope in a desperate dying world.” Communism was there to “save the West.”

This type of naivety is found throughout the book.

If any more proof is needed of the religious nature of the Communist Creed one need only listen to Chambers’ line about how Communism;

“Demanded courage, poverty, self-sacrifice, discipline, intelligence, my life and, if need be, my death.”

Sounds like the motto of the Jesuits to me.

Chambers uses the term, “Militant compassion” when describing one of the prominent female Communists he met when he first started attending party meetings. I love the phrase. It brings to mind the thought of “We are going to help you even if we have to kill you doing it.” I think that sums up much of Communist theology and action.

After several years in the open Communist Party, and almost ten as an underground agent of the Soviets, Chambers decided to part ways from Communism. One of the main reasons he left was his hearing of the Great Purge and the assassination of the spy Ignatz Reiss, who had resigned from the Party. He finally understood that Soviet Communism was Fascism and wanted to have nothing more to do with it. He knew this would be dangerous and was very careful of his and his family’s safety for a couple of years. He basically disappeared.

When he later heard of Stalin’s secret negotiations with Hitler, he decided to act. In 1939, Chambers made a full statement to the Assistant Secretary of State, A.A. Berle, regarding Communist infiltration of the U.S. Government. Berle mentioned the same to FDR. FDR, SOB that he was, refused to take any action. Berle put the information away. I doubt that I am the only one to find it disgusting to note that the probable treason of Hiss and many others was known by the US government by 1939.

Unlike most historians read today, Chambers understood, and declares, that Stalin was responsible for the start of WWII. For anyone who doubts Stalin’s culpability, they only need to consider that Stalin was negotiating a secret treaty with Hitler for sometime before the outbreak of WWII. Part of that treaty dealt with the partition of Poland by Nazi Germany and the U.S.S.R., once Germany invaded Poland. Thus Stalin not only pledged to Hitler not to interfere with any German invasion of Poland, he actively encouraged the invasion and took part in it as well. Had Stalin not signed the treaty, there is little chance Hitler would have invaded Poland at that time.

What is worse, during the Hiss Case, that bigger SOB Truman called the accusations against Hiss a “red-herring” saying they were made to keep him from winning the election. Berle, who also worked for Truman, even tried to put a less-than-honest-slant on his notes, attempting to do some damage to Chambers.

For anyone who doubts Hiss’ guilt, I recommend they read the transcripts of the hearing of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Grand Jury which indicted Hiss. Hiss’ answers were unclear, evasive, rude, condescending, vague and in the end false. To read these transcripts and think otherwise would indicate either a low comprehension of the English language or bias for Hiss beyond the bounds of reason.

An added bonus of reading “Witness” is what one learns about Richard M. Nixon. If anyone wonders why Richard Nixon was hounded by the media throughout his political career, they need look no further than the fact that he was the driving force behind the HCUAA, which tore the vale off the vast treasonous conspiracy taking place in and around the U.S. Government. This included Alger Hiss and many others. The Left never forgot.

Some of the important ideas which the books contained follow.

An old Communist colleague of Chambers’ who also left the party saw the fight against Communism as a “revolution and counter-revolution” Both understood the ferocity and implacability of the Communists and that there could be no middle ground between those for or against Communism.

Chambers’ writes;

“Counterrevolution and conservatism have little in common. In the struggle against Communism the conservative is all but helpless. For that struggle cannot be fought, much less won, or even understood, except in terms of total sacrifice. And the conservative is suspicious of sacrifice; he wishes first to conserve, above all what he is and what he has. You cannot fight against revolutions so.”

Understand that and you will understand why conservatives are losing and why trying to see the other guy’s point of view will only lead to defeat. Chambers understood this all too well. He writes:

“...the force of words alone was not enough against the treason of ideas. Acts were also required of a man if there was something in him that enabled him to act.”

This is why Chambers decided to act. It should be reason enough for us to also do more than simply write.

If one wonders why the attacks against Chambers and others who try to expose Communists and ultra-leftists are so vicious and widespread, Chambers writes:

“Every more against the Communists (in government) was felt by the liberals as a move against themselves.”

The Communists and their friends went to the same schools and came from the same background. Harvard was then as it is now, a breeding ground of the Left.

For anyone wishing to understand more about the origins of the Left in America and how a man could go from faith in man to faith in God, I recommend “Witness.”

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Witness
on: March 22, 2018, 08:32
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If any more proof is needed of the religious nature of the Communist Creed one need only listen to Chambers’ line about how Communism;

“Demanded courage, poverty, self-sacrifice, discipline, intelligence, my life and, if need be, my death.”

Sounds like the motto of the Jesuits to me.

Me thinks modern-day Jesuits might be proud of that similarity.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Witness
on: March 22, 2018, 08:47
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Chambers’ writes;
“Counterrevolution and conservatism have little in common. In the struggle against Communism the conservative is all but helpless. For that struggle cannot be fought, much less won, or even understood, except in terms of total sacrifice. And the conservative is suspicious of sacrifice; he wishes first to conserve, above all what he is and what he has. You cannot fight against revolutions so.”

That may be. What we at least have, in practice, is conservatives picking up ideas from the Communists (Leftists/Progressives) like second-hand smoke.

The core problem is that white European (usually at least vaguelly Christian) men account for 90% of the traditional ideas and things that conservatives wish to preserve. The Communists have declared that because women and non-whites were left out, the old order is illegitimate. Conservatives have done little more than verify this, if only by not challenging the feminist/racial orthodoxy of the Left.

I haven’t read this book. But I think a legitimate concern is white-washing. You note that Chambers is upfront about his life. I’ll take that as a given in this case. But too often we have people after-the-fact writing tell-all books and they are shocked, shocked that the trashy, angry, and often violent people they have been palling around with aren’t who they thought they were.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Witness
on: March 22, 2018, 09:25
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But too often we have people after-the-fact writing tell-all books and they are shocked, shocked that the trashy, angry, and often violent people they have been palling around with aren’t who they thought they were.

One of the things which I found irritating about Chambers' actions is that he, apparently, could never draw the logical conclusions of them. He couldn't foresee the corruption and immorality of Communism when he joined the party and later went underground. He then couldn't see that it would be impossible to protect all those who had spied on the U.S. once he decided to stand up and let the government know what was happening. It was like he couldn't accept reality either way.

On the other hand, he certainly makes some very acute observations. When talking about religion and man's belief in man. He writes;

Against liberalism's social optimism (progress by reform) and the social optimism of the revolutionary left (progress by force), Dostoyevsky asserted the eternal necessity of the soul to be itself.

or a quote from Karl Barth;

Man cannot define God by talking about man, in however loud a voice. God is wholly different."

And Chambers then makes a very sharp observation;

Religion is not ethics or social reform.

Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: Witness
on: March 22, 2018, 09:26
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Chambers left National Review, telling Buckley that Buckley was a conservative whereas Chambers was a man of the right. A conservative believes in caution about change, whereas a rightist has a specific ideology.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Witness
on: March 22, 2018, 09:44
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I didn’t read the book. I’ll bow to Mr. Kung’s (and your….I assume you’ve read it) superior knowledge of the specific case.

But I’m just not a huge fan of these tell-all books. These men (almost always men) were looking for something. Most likely they were looking for prestige and power and/or to sate their many grievances. They can later retell the story that it was about this or that, but most stories of the kind are simply about climbing the greasy pole. Having an affinity for “Big ideas” means simply they had a big and/or wounded ego. They wanted to “be someone,” and not by earning it but by tearing down those around them who stood taller. They could rationalize it as tearing down "the system." Again, if there is any commonality to the type it is the externalization of what are internal wounds. Fix your damn self first, then we'll talk about a revolution.

You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Witness
on: March 22, 2018, 10:02
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One of the things which I found irritating about Chambers' actions is that he, apparently, could never draw the logical conclusions of them. He couldn't foresee the corruption and immorality of Communism when he joined the party and later went underground. He then couldn't see that it would be impossible to protect all those who had spied on the U.S. once he decided to stand up and let the government know what was happening. It was like he couldn't accept reality either way.

Mr. Kung, you taught me to be the cynic that I am. 🙂 So don’t hit me when I express my opinion that I’m sure to hell am glad when Communists are outed, no matter the reason. But I still see this as a continuation by Chambers to win, to climb that greasy pole.

One thing I have tried to do regarding this site is not to mirror that kind of greasy-pole climbing. I didn’t want to “be someone.” I wanted a place to write what I wanted to write, and let the chips fall where they may. The world is (as Billy Joel notes) always full of angry young men:

There's a place in the world for the angry young man
With his working class ties and his radical plans
He refuses to bend, he refuses to crawl
He's always at home with his back to the wall
And he's proud of his scars and the battles he's lost
And he struggles and bleeds as he hangs on the cross
And he likes to be known as the angry young man

The first stage of maturity is realizing the sun doesn’t shine out of one’s own ass, that the world doesn’t revolve around you, that there is in fact much the world has to teach you, that the world doesn’t owe you X, Y, and Z just because you are clever in your rationalizations or overly emotional about it. So, in essence, all Communists of one stripe or another (other than the sociopaths empowered by such systems, which is always the case) are people who need to grow up in one way or another.

That’s not to say that there aren’t wrongs that need to be addressed. But Communism/Leftism is about punishing others, not correcting anything.

And Chambers then makes a very sharp observation;
Religion is not ethics or social reform.

With all due respect, Mr. Kung (and remembering my new-found cynicism), that all just sounds like more word salad to me. Religion is most certainly about ethics and it can be about social reform. It’s all a question of what kind of ethics and what kind of reform. All Christian reform, for instance, starts with the sinner reaching out to the Creator in humility. That is, in the true Christian ethic, the first and most important reform is always of oneself, not some amorphous idea of “society.”

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Witness
on: March 22, 2018, 10:16
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Life is a competitive game. What Communists/Leftists are ultimately trying to do is re-define the rules of the game to favor them. A *lot* of ideological word salad goes on top of that to obscure it or rationalize it. And, of course, as with any enterprise, there are various motivations and interests. People may join up simply for the opportunity for power, to get girls, or whatever.

This is why all such terms as “fairness,” “equality,” or “tolerance” are, at best, cynical. And they are ever and always highly contradictory in use. And that is because Communism/Leftism is not about “fairness” but rigging the rules in their favor. Ever and always. This is the central reason it is a corrupt ideology, for it is a lie, coming and going. That many people fall for this lie and then do a mea culpa I suppose is better than nothing.

Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: Witness
on: March 22, 2018, 10:49
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The goal is always total power, and control of language is merely one of their tactics. Note that the goal of the original Newspeak was to make it impossible to think anything not approved by the Party (Ingsoc). Leftist Newspeak basically works the same way, for the same purpose.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Witness
on: March 22, 2018, 10:58
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These men (almost always men) were looking for something. Most likely they were looking for prestige and power and/or to sate their many grievances.

I think it might well be possible that prestige and grievance played a part in Chambers' joining the Communist Party. But as you know, I think people are often moved by multiple motives when they do something. So, I also suppose, Chambers was in despair at the world and was looking for something that might give him hope, strength and a reason to live. At that moment, religion was out. He was of the generation that grew up during the idiot venture called WWI. And his brother did commit suicide around the time Chambers joined the party.

Personally, I would have happy just to read about his time with the party, how he left it and how he tried to correct the wrongs he had committed. But my supposition is that by going into such detail of his life, he was trying to show how someone could get involved with Communism and then learn of one's mistake. It is a valid approach, especially for those who are questioning their beliefs and meaning of their lives. Those who have the religious impulse. He shows he was a weak and emotional man. I wouldn't write such a book, but I can understand his thinking. (At least I believe I can)

Religion is most certainly about ethics and it can be about social reform.

I must disagree with you, particularly about Christianity. Perhaps I am parsing words, but religion is about individual salvation through belief in Jesus Christ. What comes out of that is supposed to be ethical behavior and perhaps social reform, but they are secondary. The Christian's first concern is to believe in and honor God.

Of course, if one sees religion as I, and I suspect you, see it, its purpose is to improve ethics and reform society, but we are not Christians. We see religion as a man made institution which is useful for organizing a stable society and moral culture. That is not how Chambers saw things. If I were a Christian, I would also not see things that way.

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