American Editor, Journalist and Writer
Whittaker Chambers, born Jay Vivian Chambers, aka Jay David Whittaker Chambers
American Editor, Journalist and Writer
All children are afraid of the night; when they grow up, they are still afraid, but more afraid of admitting it.
It is in fact no exaggeration to say that we live in terror that Senator McCarthy will one day make some irreparable blunder that will play directly into the hands of our common enemy and discredit the whole anti-Communist effort for a long while to come.
Other ages have had their individual traitors -- men who from faint-heartedness or hope of gain sold out their causes. But in the 20th century, for the first time, man banded together by millions, in movements like Fascism and Communism, dedicated to the purpose of betraying the institutions they lived under. In the 20th century, treason became a vocation whose modern form was specifically the treason of ideas.
The reality cuts across our minds like a wound whose edges crave to heal, but cannot. Thus, one of the great sins, perhaps the great sin, is to say: It will heal; it has healed; there is no wound. There is nothing more important than this wound.
What I had been fell from me like dirty rags. The rags that fell from me were not only Communism. What fell was the whole web of the materialist modern mind—the luminous shroud which it has spun about the spirit of man, paralyzing in the name of rationalism the instinct of his soul for God, denying in the name of knowledge the reality of the soul and its birthright in that mystery on which mere knowledge falters and shatters at every step.
As I struggled to control my feeling, slowly and deliberately, I heard myself saying, rather than said: “The story has spread that in testifying against Mr. Hiss I am working out some old grudge, or motives of revenge or hatred. I do not hate Mr. Hiss. We were close friends, but we are caught in a tragedy of history. Mr. Hiss represents the concealed enemy against which we are all fighting, and I am fighting. I have testified against him with remorse and pity, but in a moment of history in which this Nation now stands, so help me God, I could not do otherwise.” In the completely silent room, I fought to control my voice.
I am a man who, reluctantly, grudgingly, step by step, is destroying himself that this country and the faith by which it lives may continue to exist.
It is part of the failure of the West to understand that it is at grips with an enemy having no moral viewpoint in common with itself, that two irreconcilable viewpoints and standards of judgment, two irreconcilable moralities, proceeding from two irreconcilable readings of man’s fate and future are involved, and, hence, their conflict is irrepressible.
Out of that vision of Almighty Man that we call Communism and that agony of souls and bodies that we call the revolution of the 20th century was left that pinch of irreducible dust: “Who pays is boss, and who takes money must also give something.” It might stand as the motto of every welfare philosophy.
The rub is that the pursuit of happiness, as an end in itself, tends automatically, and widely, to be replaced by the pursuit of pleasure with a consequent general softening of the fibers of will, intelligence, spirit.
What statesmanship! What vision! What power! We have known nothing like it since my ancestor, Peter the Great, broke a window into Europe by overrunning the Baltic states in the 18th Century. Stalin has made Russia great again!
At issue in the Hiss Case was the question whether this sick society, which we call Western civilization, could in its extremity still cast up a man whose faith in it was so great that he would voluntarily abandon those things which men hold good, including life, to defend it.
It is popular to call it a crisis of the Western world. It is in fact a crisis of the whole world. Communism, which claims to be a solution of the crisis, is itself a symptom and an irritant of the crisis.
Political freedom is a political reading of the Bible.
The satellite revolt was not sparked from the West. It was sparked by Communism itself.
When the train of history makes a sharp turn, said Lenin, the passengers who do not have a good grip on their seats are thrown off. Last week the Communist Limited had just about completed the dizzy turn from the Communazi Pact to the Battle of Britain, and U. S. literary liberals were splattered all over the right of way.
At issue was the question whether this man's faith could prevail against a man whose equal faith it was that this society is sick beyond saving, and that mercy itself pleads for its swift extinction and replacement by another.
I cannot ever inform against anyone without feeling something die within me. I inform without pleasure because it is necessary.
It is surprising how little I knew about the New Deal, although it had been all around me during my years in Washington. But all the New Dealers I had known were Communists or near-Communists. None of them took the New Deal seriously as an end in itself. They regarded it as an instrument for gaining their own revolutionary ends.
Reinhold Niebuhr's new orthodoxy is the old-time religion put through the intellectual wringer. It is a re-examination of orthodoxy for an age dominated by such trends as rationalism, liberalism, Marxism, fascism, idealism and the idea of progress.
The simple fact is that when I took up my little sling and aimed at Communism, I also hit something else. What I hit was the forces of that great socialist revolution, which, in the name of liberalism, spasmodically, incompletely, somewhat formlessly, always in the same direction, has been inching its ice cap over the nation for two decades... Though I knew it existed, I still had no adequate idea of its extent, the depth of its penetration or the fierce vindictiveness of its revolutionary temper, which is a reflex of it struggle to keep and advance its political power.
When you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman and child on earth, you will be wiser.