Notebook: On the Committee for Cultural Freedom

Notebook: On the Committee for Cultural Freedom

In practice the ACCF has fallen behind Sidney Hook’s views on civil liberties. Without implying any “conspiracy” theory of history (or even of intellectual intrigue), one may safely say that it is Hook who has molded the decisive ACCF policies. His Heresy Yes, Conspiracy No articles were widely circulated by the Committee, which meant that in effect it endorsed his systematic, explicit efforts to minimize the threat to civil liberties and to attack those European intellectuals who, whatever their own political or intellectual deficiencies, took a dim view of American developments. Under the guidance of Hook and the leadership of Irving Kristol, who supported Hook’s general outlook, the American Committee cast its weight not so much in defense of those civil liberties which were steadily being nibbled away, but rather against those few remaining fellow-travelers who tried to exploit the civil liberties issue.

At times this had an almost comic aspect. When Irving Kristol was executive secretary of the ACCF, one learned to expect from him silence on those issues that were agitating the whole intellectual and academic world, and enraged communiques on the outrages performed by people like Arthur Miller or Bertrand Russell in exaggerating the danger to civil liberties in the U.S.

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Wurgraft | University of California Press Lima