Tag: Whittaker Chambers

Quote of the Day: The Thirty Year Book


Some thirty years ago I joined the Conservative Book Club. As a premium, I received some books for a cut-rate (you remember: five books for a dollar, or a penny, or some such). Among them was Witness by Whittaker Chambers. I am proud to announce that on February 1, 2020, I finished reading Witness. The first half of the book took thirty years. The second half, two weeks.

The turning point (which, it turns out, is the name of the chapter in which it appears) for me was this:

Quote of the Day: Whittaker Chambers on Evil


“I did not know what had happened to me. I denied the very existence of a soul. But I said: ‘This is evil, absolute evil. Of this evil I am a part.'” — Whittaker Chambers

To paraphrase Jordan Peterson, it amazes me that modern intellectuals don’t believe in evil anymore. The 20th century made evil so bloody obvious. Dennis Prager also has a nice line about evil: “Those who don’t fight the greatest evils will fight lesser evils or make-believe evils.”

Alarm Over Russian Interference Is Beyond Silly


Of course, the Russians (and Chinese and others) tried to interfere with our elections. They have been doing it since the origination of the KGB in 1954. In his seminal book on the history of Russian intelligence, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and The Secret History of the KGB (1999), Christopher Andrew sites dozens of examples of KGB interference including some fun tidbits about KGB covert operations against former President Ronald Reagan, which began five years before he became president.

What has happened to our educated classes in America? As kids, we learned in Mr. Lafontaine’s 6th grade Social Studies class that the Russians were causing street demonstrations, placing false op-eds, and buying off journalists to try to get Richard Nixon elected because Kennedy was touting the Missile Gap, back in 1960.

We had to read The Ugly American by Lederer Burdick, which was filled with countless stories of the Russians using disinformation (we’d send wheat to some African nation, and upon its arrival, the Russian bureaucrats would stamp the bags “A gift from Russia,” before distributing them). These tales are etched in our brains.

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At heart, the Great Case was this critical conflict of faiths; that is why it was a great case. On a scale personal enough to be felt by all, but big enough to be symbolic, the two irreconcilable faiths of our time — Communism and Freedom — came to grips in the persons of two […]

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Confessions of a Reluctant Trumper


despairHaving exuberantly joined the Communist Party of the United States in 1925, Whittaker Chambers became dismayed both with Stalin’s show trials and purges as well as with the hideous realities of collectivism before finally breaking faith in 1938. “I know that I’m leaving the winning side for the losing side,” he wrote of his decision to join with the West, to which he would later add, in a letter to his friend Ralph de Toledano:

It’s the realization … that this side is in its plight because of its stupidity, and cannot get out it because of its stupidity, and cannot help anybody … because of its stupidity — it’s that that’s killing us. And the stupidity of well-meaning friends is far more destructive than the malicious mischief of outright enemies. When you have to face the fact that they cannot, simply are unable, to act like grownups, then you know that it’s hopeless and all that we have tried to do is for nothing.

“So we’re doomed,” the antagonist might ask, “because too many of our fellow citizens can recite the names of all 15 American Idol winners but can’t name three people who signed the Declaration of Independence, and wouldn’t know the Federalist Papers from Federal Express?” Well, yes, there’s that part of it to be sure, but Chambers was reaching for a deeper point, as K. Alan Snyder observed several years ago over at First Principles. “He seems to have taken to heart the Christian doctrine of man’s depravity,” writes Snyder. Or, as Tolenado himself observed, “the struggle was no longer between Communism and Western civilization, but one in which Western civilization was destroying itself by betraying its heritage.”