Thank you for your special edition on revisionism [February]. The general Marxist attitude equates revisionism with heresy while in some European and American historical writings a rather infantile or odd series of theses have arisen out of the desire to "revise" traditional accounts of events, often for the sake of revision itself. Your selections, however, were refreshing as they focused on the need for in-depth inquiry, the connective with the past and a gentle reviewing or revising data without distortion, i.e., exploding a myth but not creating a new one.
James J. Martin's thorough account of "The Framing of Tokyo Rose" is revisionism at its best, in my opinion. The Wall Street Journal's editorialist, Edwin McDowell, commented on February 6, 1976, that Iva Toguri "…was not a turncoat but a scapegoat—a victim of post-war hysteria who in this Bicentennial year deserves a pardon. Moreover, a lengthy review of her case strongly suggests that Mrs. Toguri D'Aquino's defenders may well be right."
The Japanese American Citizens League has recently issued a booklet called "The Case of Tokyo Rose," and readers of REASON are encouraged to write the National Committee for Iva Toguri, Japanese American Citizens League, 1765 Sutter Street, San Francisco, 94115, for a free copy. In essence, the committee notes the dilemma of an American citizen who was considered an enemy alien in Japan and a disloyal citizen in the United States.
Robert Akers Martin
Calif. State University
For the first time in your publishing history you produced a product which kept me all night reading cover-to-cover. I refer to your Revisionist issue of February 1976. Though all except Martin's new breakthrough has been said elsewhere before, I especially liked the way you integrated the issue, something previously tried only in NLN, to my knowledge. Furthermore, Gary North's mention of LeFevre's Rampart Journal (as an excellent example)—which began the idea of a special "Revisionist Issue" and where I got the idea—corrects what I have long criticized as your worst weakness: a lack of Movement consciousness and what has been called in your magazine, I believe, a "Columbus complex."
Such improvement deserves recognition from your publishing peers. And as such a colleague, perhaps you will allow me a quick "independent audit" of your Reader Survey results printed in this issue. Three of the figures are highly misleading (perhaps more) to the casual reader. Your classifieds have long been a favorite of those who had felt your dry presentation needed leavening, something Rollins and others may be accomplishing. Methinks many felt embarrassed to mention the kick they got out of your hilarious personals which are usually satirized: "Well Hung Objectivist in Podunk looking for Dagny of his dreams…" Second, the relatively low rating for John J. Pierce's superb SF column may reflect the vituperative campaign against this high conceptual art form by Dr. Rothbard and Jim Davidson, combined with the high mean age of your readers, raised in an era notably bigoted against that "Buck Rogers" stuff. Rather than cut back on this excellent feature, may I suggest you alternate John's column with a more fannish writer (one with more flair and style, to complement John's erudition), such as Richard Geis. With two coordinates, you might at least get a projection of this multi-dimensional field. Also, you might temper this poll result with the realization that "fan" came from "fanatic," and SF (never Sci-Fi) fans are indeed fervent and should weight the results accordingly. Third, and perhaps less important, I feel the "Viewpoint" has been highly variable with three rotating writers, and I feel you should have taken the chance of "hurt feelings" and separated them for a more useful market survey.
Alas, you did not ask about the reader's reaction to that godawful "ragged right" margin on many of your columns; perhaps they would not have been able to articulate their unease in any case so let me, as a part-time typesetter, act as their ombudsman. It is not "warmer and more personal," it is pretentious and arty. However, don't fire your graphics department yet; it is easily correctable and the rest of the layout is superb.
Alas, the only nice thing I can say about your new "Frontlines" is that perhaps you expected better from an old Movement hand such as Joe Cobb. His pathetic belief that the "Frontlines" of the Movement lie with pro-LP, uncritical, campaign puffery simply fails to square with the judgment of the keen, analytic mind possessed by the editor of the New Individualist Review of the 1960's.
But then if REASON had up-to-the-minute coverage of all the multi-faceted activities of this wonderfully pluralistic movement of ours, where would my market be?
I hope you maintain the gains you made with this issue and even surpass them. You may yet deserve your logo.
Samuel Edward Konkin III
Editor, New Libertarian Weekly
As one of the "libertarian revisionist historians," I should like to respond to the February "Viewpoint" column of Tibor R. Machan.
That the American record on imperialism may be relatively better than that of some nations, over the long haul, is really not the issue. The aggressions of the Nazis and the Soviets, as well as the internal terror, is well documented. I should imagine, however, that libertarians would find no state, including our own, as the "embodiment of virtue," or see any of them as "worthy of emulation" in our actions as individuals.
Except for the efforts of revisionist historians, led years ago by some men of the Old Right, the growth of an American empire has received little attention from historians. Thus a number of Americans believe this nation has not engaged in imperialist actions, instead of recognizing that we are dealing with a question of relative imperialisms. Finally, it is a sobering fact that since World War Two the image of the United States as an anti-imperialist nation has faded among a large portion of the world's peoples.
The real question for the revisionist historian, as an informed American, is what ought he to do about this organic growth of an American empire?
Our leaders have told us to keep silent about the growth of an American empire—never mind about ethics, or earlier critics of an American empire such as J.Q. Adams and Carl Schurz—we must present a united front against Communism. Well, that posture is deeply corrupting, and it has even grown to be a bit stale, much like the little boy who kept crying "wolf!" In the wake of their blunder in Vietnam, American policy makers have sought to blame everyone but themselves for the bitter sense of disillusionment that has set in among many Americans.
This leads to another comment of Machan's, that he has "never found a careful, well defended definition" of imperialism in the revisionist literature. I would agree that it is a difficult term with which to deal. Parker T. Moon's study, cited in the essay by Alan Fairgate, mentions, as I recall, many different definitions of the term, and Richard Koebner, who wrote an entire volume on the word, exclaimed "Imperialism is no term for scholars!" But we cannot dismiss such an important phenomenon as imperialism simply because it is complex; for that is all the more reason to attempt to clarify it.
It may be that Machan did not consider it "careful," or "well defended," but I did offer an historical definition of the way in which Americans of the 1890's differentiated between expansionism and imperialism. The broadest agreement in the protest against empire was a definition of imperialism as synonymous with colonialism; that the policy of the administration was employing force in an aggressive effort to deprive the Filipinos of the right of self-determination. Without exploring the other, more complex examples of possible imperialism such as in the little story recounted by Machan, it is sufficient to say that if Americans can no longer recognize that extreme form of interventionism into the affairs of other peoples as a case of imperialism, then the American Revolution has little relevance for Americans as we approach the bicentennial of that event.
There is not space to comment in detail upon Machan's example as demonstrating "at least some cases of imperialism," except to say that it is shot through with statist interventionism of one sort or another. It is true that "Some libertarian revisionists…think…[one aspect of] imperialism is explainable by reference to American economic interests," but to say that is not to "hold that imperialism came about because our businessm[e]n wanted to make a buck."
My own interpretation of the adventure in the Philippines stressed the role of policy makers and the statist bureaucracy. I would agree with Benjamin Cohen's The Question of Imperialism that such groups often invoke an economic rhetoric precisely because they appreciate that most people understand that profits can be made even without such interventionism, and are unwilling to die for the benefit of the politicians. Some of the theories of imperialism mentioned by Alan Fairgate, especially that of Schumpeter, do stress the role of less-efficient, or state involved, social and economic interests which may promote imperialism in an effort to retain some of the power they are losing because of the expansion of the market.
Menlo Park, CA
I used to be more than a little skeptical of the rantings about U.S. Imperialism which ceaselessly echo throughout the deranged corridors of the Left, until I read your special issue on Revisionist History. By the time I reached the final Revisionist article I had been fully converted to the view that the United States is a bloodthirsty, ruthless exploiter of Third World innocents, exactly as I'd read in Pravda and in The Village Voice, except that I now knew that this imperialism occurs in spite of, not because of, America's capitalist economy. I then reached the editorial on page 54, which deplored the growing Third World demands for a redistribution of American wealth as a matter of right, and I asked myself, "What is wrong with that?" The previous fifty-three pages established beyond any doubt that the United States has throughout its history been such a menace to world peace, security, and economic development that it seemed to me the perennial have-nots were exercising the greatest restraint by demanding the immediate redistribution of a mere 0.7 percent of our bloated Imperialist GNP.
Tibor Machan's sober words on Revisionism (p. 56) should be carefully heeded by those libertarians who seem to have completely lost touch with the tragic global realities of our age. Re-write the history texts, to be sure, in those areas where revision is necessary, but let us resist the temptation to create a new Catechism of Revisionism which may well turn out to be even more absurd than that which presently passes for history. It would be a serious mistake to make radical pacifism part and parcel of the libertarian position (and it is for this reason that I am not supporting the MacBride candidacy). While I detest war as much as anyone, and agree with the Revisionists that U.S. participation in World War I was a tragic mistake, recent events in Southeast Asia and Angola clearly show that the longterm survival of human liberty cannot be secured by a libertarian-flavored version of isolationism which in reality is nothing more than McGovernism warmed over. Ayn Rand suffers from no illusions about the "peaceful" intentions of those who built the Berlin Wall and turned their military might against East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South Korea, and now Angola. Have we forgotten that hatred of capitalism (read-individualism) was and remains the prime force behind this aggression? If resisting the gradual but systematic totalitarian enslavement of humanity constitutes "Imperialism," let us make the most of it. Harry Browne writes that he doesn't care what new restrictions the government imposes on all of us—he'll find some way around them. Let him tell that to the Peoples' Commisar appointed to purge the newly-created Socialist Republic of America of counterrevolutionary traitors and revisionists(!).
By all means let us read these revisionist books, for they may indeed contain many valuable new ideas. But let us also pay close attention to the works of another revisionist historian by the name of Solzhenitsyn, who has gained worldwide attention for his historical works which skillfully demolish many widely-accepted "truths." In these revisionist books (which are banned in all progressive Socialist countries), one finds that very little of the misery, murder, and exploitation which they depict can in any way be attributed to the sinister bogeyman of U.S. Imperialism.
THE SIX MILLION
To be relevant, historical research must be scholarly, in the sense of familiarity with the work of other historians and careful attention to the reliability of one's sources. Gary North betrays his attitude toward the requirements of scholarship on page 39 of the February issue, where he states that "the anonymous author of The Myth of the Six Million has presented a solid case against the Establishment's favorite horror story—the supposed moral justification of our entry into the War.…A recent and very inexpensive book in magazine form, Did Six Million Really Die, appeared in 1973, written by Richard Harwood…" Had North been familiar with current Revisionist scholarship, he would have known that the National Socialist genocide could not have been used as a moral justification of American policy at the time of our entry into the war, for the simple reason that it had not yet begun. Raul Hilberg, in The Destruction of the European Jews (New Viewpoints, 1973) has shown that the Nazis initially intended to expel the Jews from Europe, and did not change their policy to genocide until 1942, after the entry of the U.S. and the USSR into the war eliminated the possibility of mass emigration. Elsewhere (Reed, Libertarian Review, in press) I discuss the evidence for the hypothesis that the Allied governments deliberately encouraged and exacerbated the Nazi genocide, in order to manufacture an ideological justification for post-war imperialism. It is shocking to see a writer in REASON ignore Hilberg's exemplary work while referring to an anonymous pamphlet's "solid case." Since Harwood's book is essentially a re-statement of the earlier pamphlet, I will refer to Harwood's slightly more accurate arithmetic from this point on.
Harwood begins his argument by establishing 6,500,000 as the number of Jews living in pre-war Europe. This number was assembled by the staff of Chambers Encyclopedia from census records of the number of persons identifying themselves as Jewish, plus membership figures of Jewish congregations in countries which did not conduct an official religious census. Harwood then subtracts from this number an estimate of deaths from natural causes, the number of survivors in previously occupied Europe after the war, and estimates of the number of those who managed to escape to various unoccupied countries. The latter include 1,550,000 Western-European Jews who escaped into the Soviet Union, and 2,000,000 Jews from western USSR supposedly evacuated into the unoccupied interior of Russia. The subtraction leaves a remainder of 300,000. This, according to Harwood, is the total number of murdered victims.
There are three holes in Harwood's "solid" argument. First, the Nazis classified people as "Jews" on the basis of ancestry rather than religion. Many of the victims were children and grandchildren of converts to Christianity, or atheists; people who would have never thought of identifying themselves as Jewish on census forms, much less belonging to a Jewish congregation. The Nazis even discovered that many prominent Polish antisemites, including the notorious Colonel Jozef Szerynski, were of Jewish origin, and incarcerated them in Ghettos together with other "Jews." The actual number of people classified as "Jews" in occupied Europe was about 8,861,800 (Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews; Holt, Rinehart, and Winston; 1975, p. 403). Secondly, almost all the Western- and Central-European Jews who escaped to the Soviet Union were rounded up in 1940 and deported to Nazi-occupied territory. Their inclusion in the "escaped" column is difficult to reconcile with Harwood's later reference to Margarete Buber's Under Two Dictators, which related the deportations. (In her account of her own deportation, directly to Ravensbruck, Buber writes that the Nazi camps were less harsh than the Russian ones.) Finally, the mass evacuation of two million Jews into the interior of Russia was invented by Stalin's propaganda apparatus, as a means of influencing Jewish opinion abroad in favor of Russian relief. It is common knowledge throughout Eastern Europe that no such evacuation ever took place. Some Jewish communists were evacuated together with other party members, but most ordinary Jews were left behind, to be murdered at Babi Yar and similar places. To protect his propaganda line, Stalin forbade all mention of Babi Yar, a prohibition that remained in force until after his death. Harwood's "authority" for the evacuation story consists of two propaganda handouts, one from Moscow in 1943, the other in 1946 from Stalin's "American Jewish Council for Russian Relief." With the usual assumption of 10 percent party membership, the number of evacuated Jews was probably closer to 200,000 than 2,000,000. In sum, Harwood underestimates the number of "Jews" in Europe by about 2,300,000; and overestimates the number of escapees by about 3,300,000. When these corrections are added to Harwood's remainder of 300,000 the result is 5,900,000—very close to the estimates of other historians.
If The Myth of the Six Million is "solid," it is only in comparison to Rassinier, also cited by North. Rassinier habitually invents "evidence" when he cannot find it, often crediting it to reputable historians in the hope that the reader won't check the "source." Harwood quotes Rassinier's "quote" from Raul Hilberg, to the effect that the total number of Jews murdered by the Nazis was 896,892. In fact, no such figure appears anywhere in Hilberg's work; in fact, Hilberg writes (op. cit. p. 639) that the Nazis killed at least five million Jews—a figure arrived at solely from German sources. The appearance of North's statements in REASON is disturbing not only as evidence of inexcusably poor scholarship, but also because it tends to obscure a fact of crucial importance to individual Libertarians today. Every consistently statist regime must try to eliminate inconvenient people—by exile or imprisonment if possible, by murder otherwise. History is ignored, or distorted, at one's own peril.
Dr. Adam V. Reed
Mathematical Psychology Laboratory
DR. NORTH REPLIES:
Dr. Reed is quite correct when he states that the genocide itself was not used to defend our entry into the war at the time we entered; it has been so used since 1942. Persecution of Jews by the Nazis was one justification used in the pre-war years. No one denies the existence of such persecution; the question remains, however, as to whether such persecution did, in fact, justify our entry into the war, or whether genocide would have justified it.
The second point, that about 6 million Jews really did die in the concentration camps, is one that will be open until the records of the period become fully available. I am not convinced yet, one way or the other. I am happy to have Dr. Reed's interpretation of the data, but until the publishing companies and academic guild encourage the re-examination of the data, I shall continue to recommend that those interested in revisionist questions read The Myth of the Six Million and Did Six Million Really Die? as reasonable (though not necessarily irrefutable) pieces of historical revisionism. If a person can't make up his mind, he should do some more reading. —G.N.
The intense, convoluted arguments which surround the whole MacBride/Trotter/Vernon brouhaha ignore a fundamental fact of the nature of libertarians. Mr. MacBride, apparently, objects to illegal acts, not per se, but because they will give the media an excuse to turn his campaign into a one issue campaign.
Bah, humbug. I don't know about you, but I'm proud of my illegal acts, and will defend them publicly. Find me a libertarian who doesn't have some illegal acts in his background, and I'll show you a moral marshmallow. No, you don't have to commit illegal acts to be a libertarian, but you can't be a libertarian for long without doing something illegal. It's not in the nature of libertarianism; it's in the nature of the legal structure of this government. Is there nothing in Roger MacBride's background which, if publicized, would have the same effect that he thinks a record of gold smuggling would have? Mr. Bergland?
Furthermore, I suspect that MacBride's efforts to avoid a one-issue campaign have flopped miserably.
Los Angeles, CA
B.F. Skinner's real problem is that he wants to remake man in his own image.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".