The Professor as Informer

The Professor as Informer

IN EARLY July 1956 James Burnham made his appearance as a government witness at a Department of Justice hearing held as the climax to a six -year-long effort by the Independent Socialist League to have its name removed from the Attorney General’s “subversive list.”

James Burnham had been a member of that organization once, when it was known as the Workers Party. In May 1940 he had resigned from the group, in a letter notable for a certain friendliness of tone, as if he were writing to people with whom he disagreed but nonetheless recognized as, in some sense, his intellectual kin. The final paragraph of that letter reads:

“Believing as I do, I cannot wish success to the Workers Party; but I can and do wish its members well. To the extent that each of us, in his own way and arena, preserves the values of truth and freedom, I hope that we shall continue to regard ourselves as comrades, whatever names we use and whatever labels may be tied around our necks.”

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