“Freedom to Think”
I have read with great interest and general approval Zeehariah Chafee’s article, “Freedom to Think” (January Atlantic). His title, however, seems a little misleading. There is plenty of freedom to think. It is freedom to talk that we want.
Since Professor Chafee has referred to my classes at Harvard as a “most fertile nursery of Socialists” and to me as “a conservative of the toughest fiber,” I hope that I may be permitted to say something.
I may be a conservative of a sort; at least I am against Communism and its less warlike brother, Socialism; but one of my most cherished possessions is a letter from the late Justice Holmes completely endorsing one of my books. I also remember quite vividly the time when Dr. Harold J. Laski stopped me on the street and said, “Professor Carver, you are the fairest member of the Department of Economics.”
Professor Chafee also states that the reaction against my teaching “produced the flourishing Harvard Socialist Club around 1910. One of its members, John Reed, is buried in the walls of the Kremlin. Another Socialist Club member was Walter Lippmann.” I cannot remember ever having met John Reed. I believe that most of its members were Socialists before they took my courses — if they did. The story as told to me at the time was that I was making Socialism so unattractive that the Club was formed to combat my influence. I believe that to be the truth of my part in starting the Harvard Socialist Club.
The longer-lived and more influential Harvard Liberal Club started with a group which was formed to study, under my direction, the problems growing out of World War I.
There were those, however, who accused me of making Socialists, but not in the manner Professor Chafee implies. They considered that I was too tolerant toward Socialist theories because I presented the Socialist side of the question too well, because I assigned considerable portions of Das Kapital as required reading, and because I invited leading Socialists and single-taxers to address my classes.
The opposite theory was invented by the notoriously creative mind of Dr. Laski, whose ardor for me had definitely cooled with the years. Professor Chafee has chosen to believe his story.
T. N CARVER
Santa Monica, Calif.
If I reach the verge of ninety years, I hope it may be granted to me to write with the vigorousness and incisiveness of Professor Carver’s letter. I have always regretted that going to college elsewhere prevented me from ever being his student. Before teaching at Harvard, I wrote an appreciative paper about some of his books, entitled “A Prophet Among the Professors.” Although not always in agreement with him, my views were and are much closer to his than to those of the Harvard Socialist Club. The reference to him in my article as “a conservative of the toughest fiber” was intended to express admiration for the strength and integrity of his reasoning.
The purpose of the whole passage from which he quotes was to combat the common notion which now makes many citizens scared of radical teachers: “They think that students believe what they were told in college.” My point was that no such blind acceptance is given to teachers, whatever their views. In order to drive this point home, I intended to describe what Mr. Carver says in his letter: that he was making Socialism so unattractive that the Socialist Club was formed to combat his influence. To a large extent, this incident of long ago illustrates the opening sentence of my paragraph: “Undergraduates do not believe all that their professors tell them, even if it happens to be right.”
— ZECHARIAH CHAFEE, JR.
Since it is not a little presumptuous of just another 1915 Harvard Law School grad even to suggest any possibility of error in an article containing so much of merit as “Freedom to Think,” I write this with some hesitation.
Professor Thomas Nixon Carver’s fame as one of the few original thinkers of this century in the fields of economics and sociology is too well established, and the love and admiration of thousands of his former students too deep and lasting, to be affected by a non sequitur, which even a Harvard Law School teacher and aut hor of such standing as Harvard University Professor Zeehariah Chafee, Jr., has apparently permitted himself to indulge in without any real necessity and to no good end.
I refer to the second paragraph on page 28 of the article. Since Professor Chafee mentions only two names — John Reed and Waller Lippmann — I shall call up only two of the thousands of fine, intelligent, patriotic, and more or less prominent citizens who benefited — some more, some less — by the honest, sound, sane, and logical principles and reasoning of Dr. Carver: namely, Robert Gross, Chairman of the Board of Lockheed Aircraft, and Clarence B. Randall, Chairman of the Board of Inland Steel, Chairman of the Randall Commission, and author of a trilogy (rather remote from Socialism) entitled A Creed for Free Enterprise, Freedom’s Faith, and An Economic Policy for the United States.
DAVID R. RUBIN
Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
Medicine and Missionaries
Far be it from me, a layman in medicine, to argue with Capt. Oskar P. Friedlieb, M.C., U.S. Army Hospital, Fort Dix, New Jersey, about the medical implications of Pearl Buck’s recent, much commented upon article. But it is the good medical captain who goes entirely too far in indicating all missionaries with his statement: “That the missionary, medical or otherwise, has not on the whole distinguished himself in China or elsewhere is a matter of record” (January “Atlantic Repartee”). May I respectfully ask, Where is the record which Dr. Friedlieb invokes?
My own experience in Africa and in China belies the assumption of Captain Friedlieb. The achievements of missionaries in works of medicine, education, and religion have been hailed by numerous military and civilian authorities — American, British, French, Chinese, Japanese, and others — and this fact, I believe, is a part of the record. Dr. Albert Schweitzer is not an exception but a type of those thousands of generous souls who give up their homeland in order to minister to souls and bodies abroad.
MSGR. MARTIN T. GILLIGAN
I Personally —
There never was such a poker player as Billingsley (“Portrait of a Poker Player,” Atlantic, December, 1954); if he existed, he would by this time have won all the money in Houston — not to mention Dallas and Fort Worth — and a new university would have been endowed, perhaps located in Amarillo, where Billingsley would consent to pass on to some favored few the secrets that he had learned.
Mr. Anderson has given us a composite portrait, selecting the outstanding characteristics of several excellent players. I rather suspect that Mr. Anderson has included himself in the portrait; it is hard not to believe that Dillon Anderson draws two cards to a flush. I do not intend or mean my comments, invidious as they may seem, to be taken as expressing a small or carping point of view. The portrait drawn is one that none can help admiring — we look on it enviously and with a hope that there couldn’t be any one that good, else the rest of us mortals needs must throw in the sponge here and now.
GEORGE O. PRATT
Please allow me to say that John Masefield’s “A Festival Theater” (January Atlantic) disturbs me. Docs not his topic almost dictate that he take into account the theaters in existence which fulfill his specifications?
There is, for instance, the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, which presented consummate performances in the very kind of theater Mr. Masefield’s London has not got around to building yet. James Mason starred in Measure for Measure and Oedipus Rex, and the principals were mostly Canadian. Tyrone Guthrie (for whom we are grateful to England) directs. And so, while Mr. Masefield considers that his hypothetical company tour the Dominions, he might also consider having a Dominion company tour England.
Although I have not fully digested the article, I would suggest that it is not nearly comprehensive enough in its scope and scarcely worthy either of England’s poet laureate or the Atlantic. Why not, as a sequel, an article on the dramatic festivals of North America?
Cardinal, Ont., Canada
Lest anyone in this proud country think only British doctors are on their toes (when well) or fiat on their backs in their four-posters (when ill with a cold), let me state that we, too, use a variety of the boltleof-wh iskey-old-hat-on-t hebedpost remedy.
The colonial version of this popular therapy requires the incipient snuffler to take to his four-poster and hang his hat on either post. He then takes liberally of the spirits until he sees two hats — one on each post — whereupon he may fall off to sleep with every expectation of awakening without the “sang-froid.”
The claimed superiority for the double-hat method is based on the scientific fact that double vision, or diplopia as it is commonly not called, requires an ounce or so more whiskey than is required in the British lethargyproducing method.
This is the first time I have contributed to Repartee, but if I were to receive the slightest nod or hint by way of suggestion that my views are welcome, I am prepared lo furnish further comments on world events, the future of Asia, and even DixonYates.
WILLIAM D. LOESER, M.D.
When did all you people fall asleep and allow Mallarme to declare (sic) that “perfumes, colors and sounds correspond to each other”? This incredible hull is on page 37 of George Copeland’s article (“Debussy, The Man I Knew,” January Atlantic). You can only make it up to Baudelaire by quoting at least a quatrain: —
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vastc comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les contents et les sons se repondent.
CHANGES OF ADDRESS
Five weeks’ notice is necessary to effect changes of address. Please give old as well as new address, preferably supplying actual address label from your copy. Send all changes to THE ATLANTIC, 8 Arlington Street, Boston 16, Mass.