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.
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.
“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.”