The Study of Man: Reviewing the Loyalty Controversy
Six years have passed since American hysteria over internal security measures reached a crescendo; in that rush of months in 1954 when sober men wondered when—and whether—our society would break free from the fratricidal conflict which had overtaken it. Today, as if to mock the grim reality of that moment, talk about loyalty programs stirs the blood only of Legionnaires and Civil Liberties Union buffs. In this current era of restored “Togetherness” and the “Great Thaw,” not even the recent Supreme Court rulings “tampering” with the Federal and industrial security programs have re-aroused the populace, despite a fevered outcry from the internal security elite in Congress.
If loyalty has ceased to be the stuff of politics and prosecutions, we are entering the period when it is to be part of the struggle for history. The literature on loyalty measures produced in the 1947-54 period already appears fragmentary and perspectiveless. By 1984, it will be used primarily for contemporary reaction, and in 2059, for the quaint lilt of mid-20th-century English, in the original spelling. Requiescant in pace: O. John Rogge, James Burnham, Sidney Hook, Alan Barth, Francis Biddle, Alastair Cooke, Ralph de Toledano, James Rorty, Henry Commager, Whittaker Chambers, Carey McWilliams, William Buckley, and Eleanor Bontecou, to name only some of those whose volumes are found in libraries under headings such as “Loyalty Programs,” “Internal Security,” “American Communism,” and “Loyalty Investigations.” The basic questions these writers asked—“Should we have loyalty programs?” “How are they working?” “What reforms are desirable?” and “What price may we be paying for loyalty tests?”—the questions of reporters and political activists, have been rendered moot by the march of events. We had loyalty programs, they took shape A under Truman and shape B under Eisenhower; now we are beginning to have available, as the pre-1954 authors never did, the data on which to measure the effectiveness and the social cost of these programs and the time to probe deeper aspects of loyalty-testing phenomena. As the gaping, unanswered questions in Senator Joe McCarthy make plain, the day of the reporter is done, even of as sensitive a reporter as Richard Rovere. For better or worse, and whatever its impact or lack of impact upon future political decisions on loyalty crises, the coming battle will be among the social scientists—the historians, political scientists, sociologists, and others who, unless they succumb to the lure of moral indignation, will write within the confines of their disciplines and make their contributions thereby.
The books which have appeared in the last three years may still be too close to events to indicate much about the verdict of history. And there is nothing to guarantee that these books are representative of their respective disciplines. But, since 1956, five books have been written specifically on the loyalty issue, one each by a historian, political scientist, sociologist, professor of law, and political theorist, as if to oblige the observer who wants an antipasto of the academy. Read together, they provide clues to the question: does social science have anything truly illuminating to contribute on this issue to our generation, which heard Senator McCarthy preside over a hearing and felt the chilling impact of the Alger Hiss case?
Harold Hyman, a professor of history at UCLA, took a useful nibble at the loyalty issue in his 1954 monograph, “Era of the Oath: Northern Loyalty Tests During the Civil War and Reconstruction.” The Fund for the Republic, a well-known agency which provides Diners’ Club credit cards for those with an appetite for civil liberty problems, enabled Hyman to sit down to a full-course historical meal. The result is To Try Men’s Souls: Loyalty Tests in American History (University of California Press, $6.00), published this fall. There has never been a book treating loyalty programs throughout American history, and nowhere has there ever been assembled such a wealth of detail as Hyman presents, from loyalty testing by the Virginia colonists of 1606 to the present.
During the 1947-54 period, it was standard for liberal writers to tick off a list of former conflicts over loyalty—the Alien and Sedition Laws, Reconstruction oaths, the Palmer raids, the Lusk investigation, and the Dies Committee of the 1930′s—and characterize these as departures from an American norm of reliance upon tests of deeds, rather than of thoughts and associations. The meaningful contribution of Hyman’s book is that he documents the pervasiveness of loyalty testing in America. (I am not sure this is what Hyman sought to demonstrate, but it flows inescapably from his account.) He shows that we were colonized by men who lived by loyalty oaths and their sharpest application; that we forged our independence under a system of loyalty testing and punishments promulgated by men like Washington and defended by Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine; that loyalty oaths were part of the crisis over states’ rights in the 1830′s, as in South Carolina; that Lincoln and Jefferson Davis both presided over, and approved, severe loyalty oaths and disloyalty imprisonments during the Civil War; that the ironclad oath of loyalty for former Confederates championed by the Radical Congress during Reconstruction prevailed over the milder version proposed by President Johnson, in Lincoln’s spirit; that loyalty tests and loyalty prosecutions, under applications of various statutes, brought thousands of persons to prosecution during World War I; that the Wilson administration gave an official connection with the Department of Justice to the often vigilantist American Protective League and the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen; that loyalty investigations and laws thrived at local levels too, from colonial days to the threat of the Anarchists in the 1880′s through the inter-World War period and down to the present.
Thus, Hyman demonstrates that Americans have lived under loyalty testing systems for more years than they have lived without them, if one begins from colonial days. And if one measures only from Independence, it is the fact that no serious crisis arose in the United States, domestic or foreign, without some form of loyalty system arising. While this does not give loyalty tests moral legitimacy, any more than the universality of slavery in ancient times sanctified that institution, it does indicate that a liberal society, growing ever more egalitarian and democratic, has yet to react to a crisis without feeling the need for loyalty instruments and disloyalty penalties. It also chastens those who see progress as inevitable, since a comparison of the record during the former high points described by Hyman with the record of prosecutions, silly loyalty laws, demagoguery, and social reprisal during the 1947-54 period will hardly show that our era was less severe or its measures more closely related to the actual danger of disloyalty than in previous generations.
At his best, the historian does more than answer the question: is this a unique or a repetitive event in our national life? He also looks for significant parallels of causation and development between the contemporary event and its predecessors. On this score, Hyman’s presentation is often fascinating.
Few readers other than Civil War specialists, for example, will have known much about Representative John F. Potter of Wisconsin. “In mid-July, 1861,” Hyman relates, “Potter proposed that the House form an investigating committee to unearth Federal employees who ‘are known to entertain sentiments of hostility to the government . . . and who have refused to take the oath to support the government.’” Selected as chairman of the committee, Potter began collecting his first list of suspected disloyal employees, ignoring “the fact that executive officers were already engaged in loyalty house cleanings in their own departments.” Potter paid no attention to the detail that “most of the names he listed represented men who were already, voluntarily or under protest, out of Federal employment.” Then, he “let it be known around Washington that he wanted information, and that he would protect all informants who provided his committee with leads to disloyal persons.” As confidential informants leaped to provide “cases” of disloyalty, Potter told the House of Representatives of his “astonishment at the number of well-authenticated cases of disloyalty to the government” that he had uncovered. Soon, Potter had a network of informants in the departments of “uncooperative” Federal officials, his hearings had become a “daily drama of disloyalty” tales; accusations were leveled against “generals and admirals . . . file clerks and auditors . . . janitors and jailors” and firings resulted by the brace.
Potter was challenged on the floor of Congress as to his right to run a Star Chamber. Patriotic persons, critics maintained, were being accused and often forced from government on the basis of innuendo and supposition. Potter replied with an emotional account of secession and the war, an attack upon his critics as Democrats or lukewarm Republicans (and the Democrats had planned twenty years of treason in the “very halls of Congress”), and defended the right of an investigating committee of Congress to use anonymous informers and to by-pass judicial safeguards, particularly because the Executive Branch was not to be trusted to root out the disloyal. The work of the Potter Committee, Hyman continues, “was a campaign weapon with which Republican orators and writers flayed the Democratic foe in the 1862 congressional campaign.” Soon Potter was calling for a censure of Secretary of War Cameron and Secretary of the Navy Welles for their failure to “cooperate” with the committee; the House did not go along, however. Even Lincoln became a target of Potters wrath when the President refused to cashier aides and clerks named by Potter.
According to Hyman, the fall of the Potter committee came when executive officers provided Potter’s “evidence” to the accused. This enabled the employees to refute false charges and discredit the committee, as well as making accusers think twice about coming forward. Potter was defeated for reelection, ironically on a railroad issue rather than a mandate about loyalty testing, and Congress never regained the loyalty-testing initiative from the Lincoln administration.
While Hyman is excellent in his chronicle of past episodes and adept at presenting meaningful parallels, the weak parts of his book are his description of events after 1918 and his analysis of the loyalty issue. The 1920′s, 1930′s, World War II loyalty programs, and the 1945-55 scene receive only 20 pages altogether in a 414-page book, and these pages feature only elementary and casual discussion; the book really ends, in terms of first-rate history, with the account of the Wilson administration. The last thirteen pages of the final chapter, titled, “Paths to the Patriotic Present,” consist of a set of abrupt “conclusions” about loyalty testing in the “light of history.” Here, Hyman states that loyalty tests have no “utility,” that Executive rather than Congressional control is desirable, that local tests should give way to a national monopoly, that there should really be no loyalty-security system at all, and that if there has to be one, it should be under a “plenary commission” rather than separate Executive agencies as at present.
These judgments are not drawn from the history which preceded their presentation. The positions are not argued but intoned, and the complex issues wrapped up in their deceptive simplicity are largely ignored. Even when, for example, Hyman draws on his chronicle for a good point, as in his observation that there has been, since Revolutionary days, a struggle between Congress and President for control of loyalty testing, Hyman does not follow up his observation by asking why this has been so; what political forces Congress represents and which the Executive; or why this has not been a party matter, but has featured Congressional critics attacking presidents of their own party. Nor does Hyman define the word “utility,” which is his touchstone of virtue in appraising loyalty tests.
What I am saying is that Professor Hyman’s conclusions are his deeply felt opinions, not something flowing from the history he has collected. In the hands of a Maitland, a Frederick Turner, or an Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., this history might have been carried to a level of synthesis which transcended chronicle. As it stands, Hyman’s book is a treasure house of suggestive data on the pre-1919 experience, and for this, all students of loyalty phenomenon in America are in his debt.
Morton Grodzins, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, opens his book, The Loyal and the Disloyal (University of Chicago Press, $4.00), with the statement that he intends to examine loyalty and disloyalty “in precisely the same way that observers of social life look at other social facts,” and to offer conclusions that will be “linked to scientific understanding.”
His opening chapters demonstrate the power which the social scientist can muster when he breaks with conventional patterns of discussion and sweeps across a broader canvas. Disloyalty, Grodzins shows, like loyalty, is not generally established by a rational process of individual commitment, but stems from larger social processes such as those which produce our marriage patterns, class strata, and party affiliations. In a series of provocative illustrations, Grodzins notes that many persons stumble into disloyalty because their “crowd” does so and they lack the individuality to disengage. Some persons become disloyal to a foreign occupying power, and later are resistance heroes, when their original motivation was to steal liquor or food. Accidents of history can make patriotism out of treason and vice versa; George Washington would have been hanged for treason and Benedict Arnold probably knighted if the Revolutionary War had ended differently. In the case of butchers during World War II who disobeyed rationing regulations rather than lose hard won customers, or defense industry magnates Who illegally hoarded steel, Grodzins shows that group economic interest can lead to disloyalty in the name of self-preservation or disregard of “bureaucratic” rules.
Thus, Grodzins maintains, from the solid citizen who has his traffic tickets fixed to the man who joins the Communist party, virtually every American finds himself at some time confronted by the “giant ambiguities” which democratic societies leave as to what is permissible deviation and what is disloyalty.
There are two main “routes” to disloyalty, Grodzins feels. One is the road of alienation from society (Richard Wright’s move to Communism as a segregated Negro or William Joyce’s fascist allegiance out of his isolation from both Irish and British society). The other is the road of allegiance to a competing ideology or social group (Sir Thomas More’s loyalty to Catholicism or Robert E. Lee’s loyalty to Virginia prevailing over his opposition to secession). The censure of society does not usually deter the person who is alienated or committed to a competing object of loyalty. If alienated, he rejects the society and revels in its disapproval; if committed to a deviant group, the person places his group loyalty above that of the state, as the history of religious and political martyrdom illustrates.
Out of such intriguing explorations, Grodzins offers a formula by which one can measure the disloyalty potential of various groups. The three factors to consider are the degree of “dissatisfaction” (whether there is a discrepancy between life-expectations and life-achievements); the “linkage to nation” (whether the nation is conceived as the source of the dissatisfaction or the cause is assigned elsewhere); and “alternatives to national loyalty” (Whether there are any concrete opportunities to express anti-state opposition).
When placed alongside Grodzins’s chapters comparing loyalty in Communist and fascist states with pluralist traditions in democratic societies, this analysis of the multi-causational character of loyalty choices stands out as a distinctive presentation. If the book had closed there, it would have been fine. What follows, however, are two chapters offering “Some Policy Conclusions,” and here Grodzins obviously intended to furnish the judgments which were “linked to scientific understanding.” First, there is a chapter on loyalty investigations of teachers, scientists, and civil servants in the United States—a chapter so lacking in detail and so far short of Grodzins’s previous literary quality that it reads like a long telegram of protest to his Chicago Congressman. The final chapter shifts to a resumé of criticisms of democracy made by such writers as Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, and modern dissidents such as C. Wright Mills, Sebastian deGrazia, and Willmoore Kendall. Against their strictures, Grodzins offers defenses of social and moral diversity, political disinterest, and plural loyalties. As the chapter unfolds, its pages become more lush in metaphor, the tone becomes increasingly hymnal, and the final refrain sounds the key theme that democracy’s real danger in facing disloyalty is that it may fail to be “democratic.”
The pity of The Loyal and the Disloyal is that the book closes after having used the term “disloyalty” without any final definitional care. It is made to cover the boy-to-boy perambulations of American girls, the breaking of foreign ties by second-generation immigrant stock, the discontent of night club waiters, the peddling of extra lamb chops during rationing, the German generals’ plot against Hitler, the revolt of churchmen against Communist religious persecution in Eastern Europe, and the membership of Americans in the Communist party or the Ku Klux Klan. All of these actions are left as neutral points along an unnumbered yardstick of disloyalty. Every citizen is said to have a little “treason” in him, just as he has “a little neurosis.” Only once, in a few sentences casually included at the end of one chapter, does Grodzins note that individual choice does enter into the formula and is part of the social process.
The logical inquiry for a political scientist to make at this point is to discuss how a democratic society can frame the means of education and law to maximize choices of loyalty, and What degree of commitment constitutes sufficient loyalty to justify a hands off policy by society and government. And if we use the word “democratic” in its proper sense as a term of political science—government by majority will—it is clear that loyalty programs were thoroughly democratic in the 1947-54 era. If Grodzins meant to urge us to be libertarian, and to have regard for minority rights, his invocation of the word “democratic” is quite imprecise and misleading.
At the end, so much is said about the errors committed in the name of loyalty testing and so little about the basis of sound measures that the message seems to be that “no measures” is sound public policy. This is a position which can certainly be defended, and strongly, but it needs explicit defense and a consideration of opposing positions to merit serious attention. Here, it emerges as an article of faith, like Professor Hyman’s statement of the same position. If Hyman’s conclusions are not the fruit of history, neither are Professor Grodzins’s the judgments of political science, even though the societal basis of loyalty and disloyalty is better presented by Grodzins than by any previous writer.
Loyalty in America, by John Schaar (University of California Press, $3.50), is an expansion of the author’s doctoral dissertation at UCLA and is addressed, he says, to “specialists”—his colleagues in the field of political theory. The (theorist’s touch is readily apparent, in the attention to definitions of the terms “liberty,” “freedom,” and “community,” and in what Schaar poses as the central inquiry: whether a heretofore Lockian society will abandon its former values and embrace a standard attuned to Rousseau’s general will. Since one of the theorist’s basic skills is rigorous analysis of language, Schaar excels at demonstrating the dangerous absurdities of loose loyalty standards, as in his discussion of the “one rotten apple” formula of Loyalty Review Board chairman Seth Richardson. Similarly, the political theorist should be skilled at recognizing special pleading, and so Schaar punctures the still-advanced theory that our contemporary loyalty conflict was all engineered by “the dominant conservative elites, allied with a few unscrupulous politicians, to suppress the opposition and maintain their own power.” This attempt to deprive the loyalty tests of popular support and make them a conspiratorial plot of the right, even though promulgated by a Fair Deal administration, Schaar appropriately exposes as nonsense. All of these themes are presented with imagination and good writing.
The difficulty with Schaar’s book is that it has no original contribution to make in the definition and manipulation of the basic terms of the loyalty issue; this is not a William James or a John Dewey come to judgment. More important, since one does not expect to find a James or Dewey every day, the use of history, law, and political analysis by Schaar is often less than competent, so that he fails to present the political theorist’s synthesis of perspectives which would have also been a real achievement. In the realm of history, for example, Schaar’s image of a basically tolerant society before the late 19th century (our Lockian phase), and onrushing intolerance afterward (the Rousseauan challenge), simply does not fit the facts. Mr. Schaar, meet Mr. Hyman.
In his frequent discussion of the legal tradition in America, Schaar’s mistakes go to the heart of his argument. He maintains that a “right to revolution” was “the core of the early American conception of loyalty, and once official doctrine [sic] of the land.” Only in 1950, he states, was it abandoned by the Supreme Court in the Dennis case. Apart from its unsophisticated use of the term “right to revolution,” this is simply untrue. Colonel Shays and Thomas Dorr were given no right to revolt, despite Jefferson’s poetic plea for a right to dissolution. As it never had legal status, neither did a right to revolution have political status after the Civil War hammered organic nationalism firmly into place. As a matter of Supreme Court policy, the Court had declared at least a half century before the Dennis case that no right to revolution existed in our system because techniques for peaceful change were available. In 1895, for example, the Court stated; “It is a lesson which cannot be learned too soon or too (thoroughly that under this government of and by the people the means of redress of all wrongs are through the courts and at the ballot box. . . .”
Another serious mistake occurs in Schaar’s treatment of the issue of privacy in America. He says that a movement to place a right to privacy into American law began with an essay by Louis Brandeis and Charles Warren in 1890 and that the first case to discuss this was in 1905. Down to the present time, he continues, the right to privacy has been written into law only in some state jurisdictions, but he sees signs that “Federal jurisprudence” is beginning to take up the issue.
The error here is Schaar’s failure to distinguish between, on the one hand, the right to privacy against government invasion, which was a prominent issue of our Revolution, became part of Federal law with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and received Supreme Court protection from the 1870′s, and, on the other hand, privacy from the intrusions of private and commercial adventurers, which is the subject of the Brandeis essay and the state cases discussed. On this misunderstood distinction, Schaar’s Whole treatment of privacy in America, and its meaning for the loyalty problem, is unhorsed.
Exactly what the contribution of the political theorist will be remains to be seen. Schaar’s book, alas, cannot be taken as an installment in that payment.
Edward Shils, professor of social sciences at the University of Chicago, explains in the foreword of his book, The Torment of Secrecy (1956, The Free Press, $4.00), that he first wrote it “in the heat of the struggle, as a broadside against the depredations of Senators McCarthy and McCarran and the unwholesome forces which they had let loose by their example and encouragement.” In the course of preparation, however, the book developed from “a polemic” into an essay “in sociological analysis and political philosophy.” This inquiry would consider how the confrontation of a real security problem with certain destructive potentialities in American society produced the excesses of the past decade.
Shils’s political philosophy is a blend of Aristotle and Reinhold Niebuhr. Liberal society, he contends, must retain a delicate balance between public and private spheres. This equilibrium is threatened by the perfectionists who care less about equilibrium than they do about pursuing an ideal, at all costs. Both those who seek undiluted “justice and freedom” and those demanding complete “security and loyalty” are oblivious to the fact that pure liberty or pure security is not “for man here below” and attempts to achieve perfection in an “intractable” world only jeopardize the democratic system.
On his sociologist’s side, Shils contributes a description of the “populist” tradition in America—the tendency to proclaim the will of the people as supreme over any other standard or institution, and to equate popular will automatically with justice and morality. Born of Jacksonian distrust of aristocracy, this tradition waxed as the problems of industrial regulation and government corruption burgeoned after the Civil War. By the 20th century, populist influence had established “muckraking” as the proper way to probe into governmental policy and the activities of private groups involved in public questions. Particularly, the populists wanted to penetrate the secret “conspiracies” which they saw as forever thwarting the people’s will—the British Foreign Office, Jews, international bankers, Roman Catholics, and the like.
It was against this tendency in American political life that events of the 1940′s exploded—dreams of peace shattered, an “insoluble” conflict presented, “insecure” secrets to be kept, and a Communist conspiracy of real proportions uncovered. The response, Shils notes, was an irresistible demand for populistic punishment of the wicked and unending publicity to safeguard security. This “disequilibrium” was accentuated by two additional factors—deep-seated anti-pluralist attitudes in American life such as xenophobia, fundamentalism, and isolationism, and a special “strain of politics” under which the American legislator operates, impelling him to lash out at those who do not share populist virtues. The resulting “deformation of civility” overrode all of the equilibrium-providing factors in American society: the rule of law, separation of powers, freedom of political discourse, the autonomy of science, and freedom of association.
When he applies this framework to the events of 1947-54, Shils contributes a shower of incisive observations. There is a sociology of alarmist politics, he notes, a “circular process of mutual stimulation” in which Senator McCarthy, with his “crudely aggressive speech Which abounds in terms like ‘rat-killing’ arouses the dormant anxieties of other persons” such as those who “imagine Bolsheviks under their beds” and “the Pope in the White House.” This “ideological syndrome” stirs to frantic action a segment of the population which is usually withdrawn from political life, a radical, anti-pluralist fringe.
Shils is far better in his role as sociologist, it seems to me, than as political observer. At least, the political questions are constantly left blurred by the use of fuzzy terms to cover too large a set of considerations. For example, the “secrecy” Shils discusses is used sometimes to refer to the complexities of the bureaucracy, sometimes to the operations of radical conspiracies, sometimes the governmental secrets of the cold war, and sometimes the unconventional behavior of deviant but essentially loyal groups. Each of these torments the populist who wants to expose all. If the idea of “secrecy” had been discarded, and the “private” and “public” sphere analysis had been applied more carefully, greater clarity would surely have emerged. Again, Shils alternates between policy values and institutional values without indicating that he understands the difference involved. He argues, for example, that Congress’s failure to legislate a comprehensive loyalty program was a vice, since it left matters to fragmentary legislation and never gave the program “the dignity of law.” Yet an institutional analysis might lead one to believe, as Hyman does, that the Executive Branch rather than Congress should set standards and administer the program.
It is the basic use of the “populist” analysis which I find the most interesting, yet the most debatable in some aspects. Shils, along with Peter Viereck, Richard Hofstader, and many of the contributors to the symposium, The New American Right (Criterion, 1955), identify McCarthyism as part of the nativist strain and point to the fact that many of the groups which went populist in 1890, 1920, and 1950 were from the same ethnic stock, were isolationists, xenophobes, and the like.
What I find troubling is the suggestion that the McCarthyites are the heirs of the Populist and Progressive movements. I think this extracts one segment of the populist-progressive tradition and ignores the rest. The populist-progressives were a response to the pressures of industrialization; their farmer-labor and later middle-class adherents had a programmatic approach which first championed many of the social reforms which Shils would consider essential to our present equilibrium. The protest groups between 1870 and the 1930′s were a complex coalition of groups and policies—some of the adherents cared basically about corn and hog prices, others about political purification of the cities, others about Wall Street influence. Part of the movement was aiming for social repair and part for social Utopias.
The McCarthyites, with their single issue of anti-Communism and their unconcern for social and economic issues, should not be equated with the populist-progressive strain. McCarthy inherited that segment of the populist-progressive tradition that was only indecisively committed to liberal, pluralistic values, and the rise against McCarthy in Wisconsin points to the opposition. Instead of McCarthy, the best heir of this tradition was the late non-McCarthyite Senator William Langer of North Dakota, whose isolationism and anti-Easternism were mixed with a steady record of defense for free speech and due process, in the manner of John P. Altgeld, Lyman Trumbull, Robert LaFollette, and George Norris.
For all these minor queries, I think that Shils’s book is the most revealing discussion yet to appear of the political sociology of popular restraints placed on American civil liberties. Unlike commentators who meet problems of degree and of balance by intoning, “As the First Amendment so well put it. . . .” Shils understands the fitful struggle for ordered liberty in a free nation blessed, and troubled, by the majority rule of human beings. While he prasies the British too much, perhaps, and seems uncomfortable with the egalitarian rough and tumble of American politics, his call for a restored equilibrium is a wise prescription, although how such an equilibrium is (and, in fact, was) achieved is a question Shils does not fully answer.
Loyalty and Security: Employment Tests in the United States (Yale University Press, $6.00) is a comprehensive account of contemporary loyalty programs by Professor Ralph S. Brown, Jr. of Yale Law School. Every facet of loyalty testing is thoroughly described in his volume—Federal and State programs, military programs, industrial security systems, and university programs. All of the issues intertwined with loyalty tests are also explored: from blacklists and use of the Fifth Amendment to the question of Communist membership in the university and the right to confront accusers in loyalty hearings. Brown’s treatment brings to mind Justice Holmes’s remark that the life of the law is experience, not logic. While no one can accuse Brown of poor logic, the special quality of his book is its definitive review of our experience under loyalty programs since 1945. He has collected probably every published fact (and some unpublished ones), every article, and every meaningful news report on loyalty tests, a feat of exhaustiveness which might have meant only exhaustion for the reader. Happily, Brown uses his mountain of data primarily in his footnotes or as illustrative anecdotes, thus providing depth without width, engaging the general reader while marshaling every key reference for the specialist.
How well one perceives “experience” is obviously as important as how much one collects. On this score, I think Brown’s legal training and his specialization in administrative law have served him well. Both law and administrative practice are dissected here with the practiced hand of someone who can afford to simplify because he understands. Whether he is catching up zealous authors on overextensions of Supreme Court precedents, or painfully compiling an estimate of the coverage of loyalty programs, or explaining to the layman why no hearing can be adequate without confrontation between the accused and his accuser, or placing the industrial security program against the larger backdrop of employer-employee legal relations, Brown manages to convey the full complexity of legal and administrative aspects while carrying on an urbane conversation with his readers about the broader policy issues at stake. Experience is thus presented against the background of American law, politics, and ideals, and always in a manner which probes all viewpoints before any single view is put forward by the author.
The most important difference between Brown’s book and that of the four authors previously discussed is that Brown concludes with a complete and fully defended set of policy judgments and recommendations about loyalty tests for employment. In a sense, as he says, his whole book is a conclusion, and it is surely true that the paths by which Brown arrives at his recommendations are more meaningful than a bald statement of them. Nevertheless, Brown’s two major proposals are worth noting here: first, that loyalty programs should be eliminated entirely, and second, that security programs should be out back to sensible (e.g., very small) proportions. Just how this could be done is presented in enough detail to serve as the basis for a new Executive Order. In my opinion, these proposals come closer than any previously published set of recommendations—surely closer than those of the Association of the Bar of New York City or the President’s Commission on Government Security—to providing a prescription for re-integrating internal security needs for government employment into the mainstream of the American constitutional tradition.
I hope that this account of what five spokesmen from the academy have had to say about the loyalty issue indicates how much we are learning and how much we still need to know about this phenomenon. The question which cannot be avoided, however, is whether these will be read only by the already convinced, by a set of readers whose ideological positions range only from liberal center to left. President Eisenhower has clearly not read any of them, and since none was presented in fiction form under a title such as The Disloyal American, none has made the best-seller lists. Is this simply another instance of liberals losing the battle of politics and winning the battle of the post-mortem volume?
I think the answer may be “not quite.” While I do not expect that the next crisis over loyalty which Americans will face will send the populace at large to these books, I think that a literature is growing up on loyalty oaths, procedures, and experience which had no precedent before 1947, and this will filter out into the next public debate over loyalty issues. More important, I think that lessons which are described in the five books under discussion have entered into the political genes of the nation, and the gross mistakes will not easily be repeated. This may be over-optimistic. The capacity of our grandchildren to ignore or misunderstand the central domestic experience of our generation should not be underestimated. But I still believe that something more than another swing of the pendulum took place in 1954, and it is books like those reviewed here which will be carrying the story of our recovery to future generations.