Continuing with Witness, I want to cite some of the reasons that Whittaker Chambers cites for the enormous vituperation and calumny that fell on him from all sectors of the American intelligentsia for his denunciation of Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy. My fascination with this case rests upon my belief that, if anyone sufficiently on the inside of the global warming catastrophist conspiracy, published a book saying, in effect, ‘here was where we doctored the evidence, and these were the climate scientists who did it, and this was what we intended to accomplish’, that man would be denounced and vilified in terms akin to the well-organized outrage that greeted Whittaker Chambers in 1948-1950.
Chambers cites two sources of this outrage: snobbery and psychiatry.
In accusing Hiss of Communism, I had attacked an architect of the UN, and the partisans of peace fell on me like combat troops. I had attacked an intellectual and a ‘liberal’. A whole generation felt itself to be on trial – with pretty good reason too, for its fears probably did not far outrun its guilt….The “conspiracy of the gentlemen” closed its retaliatory ranks against me. Hence that musk of snobbism that lay rank and discrepant over the pro-Hiss faction.”
There was another, less tangible bond between those circles, which, together, accounted for a large part of the articulate American middle class. Both groups lived fairly constantly in the psychoanalysts’ permanent shadow, and few articles of furniture were less dispensable to them than a couch. And they shared a common necessity. Since my charge against Alger Hiss was that he had been a Communist and a Soviet agent, and there was besides, the Grand Jury’s perjury indictment, a good deal of clear and simple evidence that he had been, something, anything at all must be believed rather than the common-sense conclusion. The old masters -Freud and the author of Psychopathia Sexualis – were conned again. No depravity was too bizarre to ‘explain’ Chambers’ motives for calling Hiss a Communist. No hypothesis was too preposterous, no speculation too fantastic, to “explain” how all those State department documents came to be copied n Hiss’s Woodstock typewriter. Only the truth became too preposterous to entertain.” (p. 698)
Only the truth became too preposterous to entertain.
When a whole generation commits itself to an error of this monstrous kind, such as Communism was and global climate catastrophism is, you may be sure that it will defend itself against self-knowledge by any means possible.
In the book, Chambers discusses an evening spent with a Czech exile after the Second World War, in which American politics was the subject. The Czech exile disagreed with his American host on something, and had occasion to say the following. [I paraphrase]
“Ah! but you have it wrong. The reason for this is that the American working class is Democratic, and the American middle class leans Republican, but the American upper class is Communist”.
An exaggeration, but not by much. There is something about $100,000 or more in a trust fund that causes its beneficiaries to go totally soft in the head. I know of no surer method to make someone ideologically leftist than inherited wealth, which so often engenders feelings that one “owes” society something more than one’s own good behaviour. From those to whom much is given, much is owed – and all that privileged background stuff. It reliably produces a vain self -importance which is dangerous to society in general.
It also leads to the betrayal of that society for its failure to live up to the absurd demands of over-privileged snowflakes.
In the 1920s and 30s the number of people benefiting from unearned wealth were few; nowadays it seems that the leftism which used to be a preserve of the truly wealthy has become a mass middle-class phenomenon.