Book Notes: A Warning from Witness
I am getting to this a day late, but I hope everyone had a great weekend.
I am still enjoying Witness. There is an important warning in this weeks reading. Chambers is recounting how he explains that he and others were so willing to engage in espionage. He says he is often asked if people who engage in espionage suffer a “crisis of conscience”. He responds in part this way:
Faced with the opportunity of espionage, a Communist,though he may sometimes hesitate momentarily, will always, exactly to the degree that he is a Communist, engage in espionage. The act will not appear to him in terms of betrayal at all. It will, on the contrary, appear to him as a moral act, the more deserving the more it involves him in personnel risks, committed in the name of faith (Communism) on which, he believes, hinges the hope and future of mankind,and against a system (capitalism) which he believes to be historically bankrupt. At that point, conscience to the Communist, and conscience to the non-Communist, mean two things as opposed as the two sides of a battlefield. The failure to understand that fact is part of the total failure of the West to grasp the nature of its enemy, what he wants, what he means to do and how he will go about doing it. It is part of the failure of the West to understand that it is at grips with an enemy having no moral viewpoint in common with itself, that two irreconcilable viewpoints and standards of judgment, two irreconcilable moralities, proceeding from two irreconcilable readings of man’s fate and future are involved, and , hence their conflict is irrepressible.
Because the Communist belief and the capitalist belief are incompatible, those who were spying on America for the Russians didn’t suffer any belief that they were betraying anything. They felt they were supporting the future of man with their actions. A direct parallel can be drawn between this and today’s socialist, today’s ultra environmentalist, and today’s Islamic radical. These ideals are incompatible with our freedom, our progress and prosperity, our way of life. Until we recognize that we must fight these threats on the battlefield of the mind as well as at the ballot box or on an actual battlefield, we will be handicapping ourselves.
Bill Bennett often cites the importance of teaching our children America’s history and greatness. He argues that without a full understanding of our history, and what America has meant to the world, our children won’t understand why our nation should be defended from any number of threats. With an understanding of the positive things this nation has done for the rest of the world, and for the human condition, Communism can be defeated intellectually, and so can these other threats. Understanding our history and our uniqueness doesn’t defeat our enemies by itself, but it can’t be done without it. We can’t expect the next generation to take up the banner without a love and understanding of our nation.
For Next Week: I want to cover up to section twenty seven of Chapter ten.