The Marginalist

The Marginalist

UNACKNOWLEDGED LEGISLATION: WRITERS IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE by Christopher Hitchens Verso, 2000, 358 pp $25

0N THE FIFTH floor of Harvard’s Lamont Library, near the men’s room, there is an old, well-thumbed volume of
Dwight Macdonald’s Memoirs of a Revolutionist. Halfway down page 39, in a 1945 essay called “The Responsibility of Peoples,” Macdonald argues that the Nazi death camps were uniquely anti-human. In the right margin, someone has commented, sniffily: “Fellow traveler McDonald neatly overlooks Comrade Stalin’s purges, where 2 x 10′ peopledied.”Your reviewer unsheathed his pen upon seeing this, but then read further down the margin, where a knotty, penciled hand had done good work. “Fellow traveler McDonald,” it said, “had been denouncing Stalin for over a decade.” “Fellow traveler ‘McDonald,'” yet another student had added beneath this, “is spelled wrong.”

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