The Liberal Mind
By William F. Buckley, Jr.
William F. Buckley, Jr., author of t.ntl and Man nt Yule, co-authored with
I.. Brent BoxeU the widely-discussed book McCarthy and His Enemies.
Buckley, ■ Ix>.>0 Yale graduate, ii- a lecturer and regular panelist on Facts
Forum's WSWLKS FOR AMERICANS. Buckley has projected a new magazine, National Weekly, which, according to Nemweek, is slated to begin
publication in September.
Ix recent years, a number of important
hook.- anil articles 1 e;ix.■ been written,
and important things thought and said
about the Communist. Whal is he like?
What goes on in his mind? What i- lie
afraid of? How can we- move him? How
does In- operate? Whal i- he likely lo do
in ihi- situation, or that one? How can
we vanquish him here, contain him
I lure, coexist wilh him over then? \\ e
haven't mastered the Communisl temperament, or the Communisl mind, true:
much of the Communisl remains inscrutable. But the progress we have
meiele- is veist. We have' learned so much
aboul this man. and aboul his movemenl
that. I think il is safe to -eev. the Communist emerge- ei> the- most predictable
political animal alive emd active today.
One would ihink that, in this case.
knowing the enemy is nine-tenths of the
battle, \fter all. we are physically
stronger than the Communists, emd we
firmly believe thai our values are inherently superior to theirs.
Yel year in and year nut wc mil only
come in second in every hip of oni
mortal race vvilh lhe Communists, we a rr
made lo look as though we had elected
l.e race wilh halls and chains lied to our
ankles, ami blindfolds over our eyes.
Could it he' thai we have fundamentally misunderstood the Communists,
wilh lhe result that, like the mem with
the -lull game, they are able lo fool us
every lime? Hid we lose North Korea
because the Communists upset all our
careful calculations hy acting atypi-
rallv? Diel we- lose Indochina because
the Communists pulled something out of
tin- bag thai no reasonable Westernei
could possibly have- anticipated? Do lhe
Communists continue lo have- sucl
strength in Italy emd France because of
an inventiveness so diabolically ingenious ;i- te. incapacitate ihe Western strategist? I believe not. V- I -eiv. I believe
th-- Communisl i^ a highly predictable
creatine-. I believe thai ;i> the result of
our tortuous journey into the' recesses
of lhe Communisl mind, we have come
close I., understanding him.
Bul we .lo not understand lhe people
charged vvilh coping with the Commu-
nists, ami they, quite evidently, ilo not
understand the Communists. I believe
that our mosl immediate challenge is to
understand our leaders; and having
understood them we musl either dispossess them ol power, or make them
understand, or prepare- to die. For our
leaders, call them what vou will -.>e i.el
democrats, Fabians, progressive moderates; I eedl them Liberals, and I -pell
lhal word wilh ei capital "L" are the
unknown in the great equation.
1 think il i> eei-v lo demonstrate lhal
we- know more about lhe workings ..I
lhe mind of Nikolai Bulganin than we
know about lhe workings of lhe mind of
Dwight Eisenhower. I'm-, while compared io one another with reference to
almost einv acceptable standard, one i-
ei si■Dunilrel emd one relatively ei saint
the life of Bulganin makes sense- in a
way thai the life of Eisenhower does not.
A reviewer of mv lasl la>e>k charged
lhal in using the word Liberal I could
onlv bene in mind the' clientele of
Nation magazine. I have- lain careful
in lhe- past, and will continue lo he. lo
he precise enough to defend myself
easily against such ei charge: so that
when I talk about Liberals il i- 'lien
lhat I am nol referring only lo those
frenzied malcontents who support the
Nation, I heivc in mind the pleasant eunl
pensive man who owns vour local bookstore emd fills his window full of lhe
collected complaints of E. 15. While.
James Wechsler. and Elmer Davis, iheil
good and lovable lady who regularly deserts her housewifely duties in the spring
lo help raise money for the- 1 nited
World Federalists, and the ambitious
and orderly young man who works for
a Wall Slreel broker and maps programs
emd dreiws up manifestoes for lhe ^ oung
Republican Club lamenting our age of
suspicion. I don't mean to imply thai
there is no such thing as lhe sinister, lhe
guileful, or lhe treacherous Liberal;
there are many; hut the majority are in
most respects good emd amiable and
So I eun nol talking aboul an inirulv
little eddy. When I talk about modern
Liberalism I am teelkiiiL' aboul lhe main-
stream of contemporary political and
philosophical thought, the swollen and
irrepressible stream fed lor so many
years hy the water- ol rationalism, positivism. Marxism, eunl utopianism.
\- regards contemporary American
controversies, lhe Liberal i> likely lo feel
lhal Owen Lattimore has been unjustly
persecuted eunl lhal our loyallv program
lias become em instrument ol right-wing
conformity. He tends to believe lhal th*
Bricker Amendment i> ei reactionary pi"1
to immobilize lhe executive branch °'
government. He is easily persuaded tha'
Senator McCarthy represents lodeev th*
same kiml of threat thai \dolf Hitlf
held out to the Germans Iwenlv year*
ago. \nil whatever litile- disagreement*
thej heive' in their own ranks, thc li'1
erals unite to honor their heroes, lu h'vl
il is Oliver Wendell Holmes; in education and philosophy il is John Dewey!
in politics it i- Franklin Roosevelt.
The pi.lure I have drawn of lhe Li'1'
ei nl is. of course, fragmentary and '"'
conclusive, ll has onlv the purpose "'
iriviiiL- ;i general idea of ju>i who ii *
I am talking about, of dispelling tDj
notion lhal when I talk ahemt ei Liber*
I could onlv be referring to ment8
spastics such as Nye Bevan or \gn*"*
PERILS OF THE LIBERAL MIND
Then we cannol survive unless "
understand our own leaders the >'i>'
ing elite of the Western world lll('
I urge therefore theii those who :"'
competent to do so sel oul. as ;i tne'"'
of urgent concern to us all, to explore to
Liberal mind. I myself have neither I'1
patience, the -kill-, nor the tiephleit""
in embark upon so frightening an •"
venture. \- of ihis moment I am met*
reporting on what I can see- from he'1'
aware theii the distance that -epareil'
me eunl mv target mav resull in '"'
(Continued nn Puff
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