A Protest and Reply Editors:

The Congress for Cultural Freedom protests an implication in Paul Goodman’s interesting article, “The Devolution of Democracy.”

It denies the implication of being anybody’s “instrument.” Its activities (and publications) are the result of precisely the kind of free exchange of ideas and free decisions by small groups, “experimental, self-improving units,” which Mr. Goodman admires.


I am surprised at Mr. Nabokov’s letter. In my sentence on the CIA, I spoke in capital-letter generalities about Cultural Freedom and the Encounter of ideas, because I could not be more particular without embarrassing friends of the Farfield Foundation, etc. Since Mr. Nabokov brings it up, however, I think it would be a service to the intellectual community if the Congress would describe the financing of its many activities, publications, conferences, travel, etc., over the many years.

Of course, nothing would logically follow from such an accounting. One cannot judge the truth of propositions by their underwriting. Yet we may assume that an underwriter, also has his purposes. For instance, Esquire magazine has used me as an “instrument,” a kind of jester to manufacture conversation-pieces, while I was nevertheless expressing my “free” ideas and decisions and hoping that a few of the many hundred thousand readers would take them seriously. But in such a case it is clear to the readers that the ads sustain the magazine, for they are in bright colors. In the case of Congress—and in this I agree with Dwight Macdonald, who worked a spell for Encounter—a frank public statement of financing by Mr. Nabokov would enable the intellectual world similarly to size up the situation for itself. Perhaps he will write DISSENT another letter to this effect.