His show trials commission and Sidney Hook. Also: Ben Stein and Obama’s latest war. Pawlenty and Franken. Plus more.
DEWEY OUT OF STEP
Re: Paul Kengor’s Dewey’s Disciples: From Madison to Maryland and Beyond:
Paul Kengor’s article is perceptive as always.. But
in all fairness to John Dewey, he should have mentioned that while
Dewey was pro-Soviet in the 1920s, in the 1930s he chaired the
Dewey Commission (“Committee of Inquiry into Charges Made Against
Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials”), which published a 400 page
book, Not Guilty, exonerating Trotsky of all the charges
made against him by the Soviet regime, and exposing the Moscow
Trials as a farce and an outrage. Today it’s hard to imagine how
any sane person could defend the Moscow Trials, but in the late
1930s the argument was that if you criticized the Trials, you
became anti-Stalin, and therefore pro-Hitler. This argument was
advanced, for example, by Will Herberg (who went on to become a
distinguished conservative thinker and contributor to National
Review), who maintained that even if Trotsky didn’t actually
collaborate with Hitler, his ideas pointed in that direction, so he
was “objectively” guilty as charged! Of course, once Dewey came out
in defense of Trotsky, the entire communist propaganda machine was
turned against him. This incredible story is brilliantly told in
Sidney Hook’s memoir, Out of Step. (Sidney was the world’s
most vigorous anti-Stalinist, but he was also a devoted follower of
John Dewey; indeed, he was called “Dewey’s bulldog.”)
— Joseph Shattan
I’m honored to get a response from Joe Shattan, whose excellent book, Architects of Victory: Six Heroes of the Cold War, I’ve used in my classes at Grove City College.
Yes, Dewey did considerably better when it came to the Trotsky trials, which is a complicated subject, and didn’t necessarily put Dewey in the camp of stalwart anti-communist — though it did make Dewey anti-Stalin. The professor’s actions were more in protest of Stalin rather than communism in general. Where Dewey stood on communism by the end of his life is another of those maddening aspects of Dewey and his writings that’s exasperatingly difficult to pin down.
In April 1934, Dewey produced an essay titled, “Why I Am Not a Communist,” published in Modern Monthly, and quickly thereafter (same year) reprinted in hardcover in a printed symposium edited by Sidney Hook. Dewey actually wrote the piece in 1933, and said it was the culmination of “reservations” that had begun to swirl in his mind back in 1931. Yet, it was clear from the essay that Dewey’s problems were not so much with “communism” as a philosophy as much as official “Communism” as it was being pursued by Communist regimes at the time — a reference to Stalin’s current Russia. As the professor put it, he objected to “Communism, official Communism, spelt with a capital letter.” It was not so much the ideology as the ideology being put into practice.
In fact, Dewey is such a remarkable story, requiring so much detail, that I went through this full history in my book, Dupes. There, I did three chapters on Dewey, after initially thinking I would need only one.
That said, none of this takes away from the central point in my article, which is that Dewey and the Bolsheviks formed a mutual admiration society in the 1920s, and specifically on educational policy, and his educational ideas in particular. They loved his work, and he was flattered by their appreciation. That both sides saw such a perfect fit is not good news for our educators who have been busy implementing Dewey in America for 100 years now — or, at least, it wouldn’t be good news if they actually knew about it.
Re: Roger Kaplan’s Moving On With Moammar:
My contribution of March 21 mentioned an Algerian
political figure, Ahmed Benbitour, born 1946, whom I described as a
former prime minister and a leader of the new Alliance for
Change. I should have added that although he hails from
Ghardaia in the northern Sahara (sometimes described as the
beginning of the Algerian south), a preponderance of whose
inhabitants are Berbers of the Mozabite sect, Benbitour himself is
neither a Mozabite nor a Berber, but rather a member of the
Chaambas, who are an Arab tribe. I thank the editors for inserting
this detail. Relations between Chaambas and Mozabites are at best
fraught, and there were eruptions of violence in the city of
Berriane, a major center in Ghardaia, in 2008 and 2009.
— Roger Kaplan
Re: Grover Norquist’s The Battle Moves to the States:
A great article today, but remember that it won’t just be
the entrepreneurs that Texas attracts. Parasites need healthy
hosts. Eventually the hangers-on will follow the productive class
to the more prosperous states as well, but will bring their old
thinking with them and change the voting demographic. The states
with Republican majorities need to act now to institutionalize
their productivity. Governor Walker is a good example of this, but
even a state like Texas should lock in its small government now via
its state constitution. Don’t just assume that an enlightened
electorate is the only safeguard you need.
— David Barnes
THE SMALLEY FACTOR
Re: Nicole Russell’s Sam’s Club President:
Pawlenty is a gutless piece of crap who either ran away from the Dems when they engineered their putsch back in Nov. ‘08 giving us Senator Stuart Smalley and in essence guaranteed Obamacare, or if you prefer, was Pontius Pilate washing his hands while American patriot Norm Coleman got crucified AFTER WINNING that election. Heck, this little Timid Timmy has NEVER addressed the subject of his cowardice, not even in his self-serving book, and yet you and others buy the myth this RINO is churning out about being a “Conservative.”
Pawlenty is a coward and a liar, just like Obama. Difference is, we know what we’re getting with Barry Boy. We don’t know how Timid Timmy will hold up…if he couldn’t stand firm and resolute in 11/08 how do we know he’ll be any different in the Oval Office?
No thanks, Timmy. Go back to being a wimp and washing your
hands like a good little boy. And American Spectator,
please don’t give him any more publicity. Thank
— Alan Rockman
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?