Friday, August 11, 2006

Max Eastman to Corliss Lamont 1938: Truth and Lies

The final two paragraphs form Max Eastman's letter to Corliss Lamont. Eastman is writing about Lamont's defense of Stalin's purge trials,
As National Chairman of the Friends of Soviet Russia you are, and must be if you remain in office, on all basic issues an obedient adherent of the Stalin party line. You well know the “for us or against us” policy. You know that the unscrupulous vilification and destruction of critics is as essential a technic of the Monolithic Party as of the Totalitarian State. You know that your pose of detached intelligence is being used, and what it is being used for. Perhaps you will realize why I call the resulting state of consciousness Pharasaical, when I remind you that you have addressed these noble-sounding sentences to me, among others, and that they arrived in my hand just after I had been criminally advertised to the world by your colleagues and co-workers, on the basis of these same “confessions” whose credibility you are so eagerly advocating, as an “Agent of the British Secret Service”. You are hand in glove with the authors of that criminal libel. You are doing their work, the work of which it is an integral part. You know them to be, and have yourself named them “Lie Communists”. And yet you strike this pose, and make this plea against “vituperation”, and for a “sincere” disagreement about “the grave issues” etc. And you send the letter to me!

Corliss, the grave issue at the present moment is between truth and lies. It may seem to you that I am drawing moral issues rather fine against you here and now. But you will find that in your role of public defender of a deliberate policy of falsification, you will be impelled, and compelled, to more and more crude, more and more conscious, more and more debased and foul, and even as we see in Russia, murderous, tricks of public deceit and private knifing, until there is not a clear fibre left of the man who coined those words “Truth Communist” and “Lie Communist”, and who wrote that moving inscription in my copy of his book.

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