The Age of the Informer

The Age of the Informer

Such is the nature of the operations of the Communist party that all evidence about its key work must necessarily come from informers—that is, from those who have seen it from the inside. As Burnham points out, the pejorative connotations of that word, much exploited by the Communists, are completely inappropriate in this case. The highly dangerous Communist conspiracy is “neither a loyal company of Robin Hood nor a cheap gang of petty crooks.” Yet, those most opposed to “informers” are often intellectuals whose profession it is to inform and be informed, and who fight for freedom of inquiry in every direction but this.

—Robert Gorham Davis in The New Leader, May 10, 1954.

It shall be the duty of every member of the armed forces, to report to his commanding officer any information, coming to his attention which indicates that the retention of any member of the armed forces is not consistent with the interest of national security.

—New “loyalty regulations” just announced by Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson.

Few governments have dispensed with the services of spies and stool pigeons. No system of police has ever functioned without the aid of informers. The Mogul emperors reinforced their system of rule with an army of informers who entered the houses of citizens twice daily in the guise of scavengers. It may be doubted whether Napoleon’s rule could have been maintained without...

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