Hardy Burt (left), and Max Eastman
I ell us something about your experiences there, Mr. Eastman,
that is, when your disillusion men! started—lhe firsl experience of disillusionment?
li -Luted in 1924 jusl before I left. I came to Russia
at the time righl alter the New Economic Policy when
things were at their best. \nd I was more appalled al
the kind of scholastic, theological belief in Marxism as
a revealed religion. 1 was more troubled by that than
anv oilier feature there.
I spenl mosl of my time working towards this hook.
Marxism: ts ii a Science? So, in thai respeel. theoretically, I was againsl il all right from the star! -that is.
the metaphysics of Marxism. Bul I was for tbe social
I was close enough to the Bolsheviks so that I go! an
invitation to attend two Congresses of the Russian Communisl party. And the lasl one. jusl before I left in 1924.
was the one in winch Stalin and his [wo lieutenants ami
all the up and coming Communists, having got past the
Congress, pul an end to Trotsky's influence in the party.
I was sitting there and watched Stalin pull lhal off. From
I hen on I watched him ascend lo the position ol an
absolute totalitarian dictator. Al first, I thoughl of him
as an enemy of lhe experiment, bul I very gradual!)
realized thai he was to be regarded as a result of the
''<> you consider communism a religion?
^- es. il's a godless religion.
"hai would you sav is the difference between Christianity
•■ a religion and communism as a religion?
I he principle outstanding difference is thai Christianity looks to the salvation <>f man by his being good.
Communism looks to the salvation of societ) by adopting
the ethics of war iii peacetime by being had.
'" win think lhal there*- any chance for a peaceful CO-
''-Msteiiec wilh communism?
' don't ihink there wjjl ever be peace in the world until
'lie Marxists are dethroned in Moscow and elsewhere.
i ''i spoke id' danger of socialism itself in our country. What
" you think should he done aboul thai danger, Mr. Eastman?
Just whal you and I are doing talking aboul the subject,
•M'o-e it so that the public as a whole will know aboul It?
lea, it's an educative thing. I ihink whal ihis countr)
"lo-t need- now i- a magazine, a journal ol letters which
uonld discuss all phases of life, bul recognize thai the
"Klin evil and lhe main danger to mir way of life is
'- Eastman, is it your analysis thai the Socialists in America
,lr'' inclined lo feel sympathy, some sorl of subconscious
.^"'piithy. even with socialism in Russia? Of course most of
"'"i certainl) blasl Soviel communism in puhlic statements,
' es, il isn't so much lhal thej led sympath) with
'"mmunism because they don't. They're violentl) against
uhat the> 'all lln- methods of the Communists. I nfor-
[unately. these arc the methods which history chose to
bring aboul a state owned economy. The Socialists are in
ihe weak position of believing in the results hut saying,
"Oh. no. thai isn't the right way lo do it." w hit h is
certainly not a strong position politically.
I notice lhat Chapter Seven in your hook is entitled, "Whal
To (lull Yourself." Mow this is a complex problem for main
people in America today, because the political terms have
become awfidly confusing*)
Conservatives repard themselves as liberals and say thai
the liberals have stolen their word conservative—liberal from
them. .And some liberals tike to say they're progressive, and
nnddle-of-the-loaders like lo say they are progressive moderates or liberal conservatives. Whatever that would be—I
haven't the slightest idea!
\\ hal do you think that a person of left-wing persuasions
should call himself, and what ilo you think a person of so-
called rijiht-wiiif; persuasions should call himself?
Nobody has stolen anv name. It's an evolution in ihr
language. Thc word liberal when it originated and also
thc word left meanl extreme advocates of indi\ idual
freedom as against state control. And gradually the
opinions of the intellectuals, who called themselves liberal, have shifted around from an interest in freedom to
an interest in social welfare a sorl of approximation
lo equality rather than freedom. And lhe word has gone
along with them.
Ihcv have now arrived to a poinl where they're so
strong for the kind of economic social justice, as they
call ii. that the) an- even not disposed to he very harsh
aboul lhe Soviel I nion. and they're not in the least
opposed io motions in lln- direction of state control al
home. Therefore, the word liberal lias really come to
mean a person who is for more -late control, whereas
originally il was a person who wouldn't stand for any
state control at all.
What does the word conservative mean?
The word conservative fortunately has kind ol preserved its meaning, ll means, primarily, to conserve the
have. I call mvself a radical conservative.
ACTS FORUM NEWS, June, 1955
Isn't the conservative more inclined lo bo (he builder I ban
the liberal in present day terms?
Well, I don'l know whether that's so good they re
both trying to build, but the liberals—the left liberals
are hui Id ing lhe wrong thing, 1 ihink. and the conservatives are building the right thing.
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