I.F. Stone Remembered

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I. F. Stone was the only genius I ever observed in the genius-proof genre of deadline journalism. He was also, as is often celebrated nowadays, a proto-blogger: he wrote with an absolutely one-off independent spirit and lived without a boss or a staff (but for his dreamy, gorgeous, and adoring wife Esther) on the $5-a-year subscriptions to his four-page newsletter, I. F. Stone’s Weekly. He was a model for our time and for the ages, as is more and more universally granted.

But let’s get something straight. He was not one of us. Geniuses and gods are different from you and me. And the regular street-talking little guy we all called “Izzy” had touches of an exalted and prophetic acquaintance with divinity. And he knew it! He said to me more than once that he might have been editor of The New York Times — and knew he’d have been brilliant at it — but really preferred to stand alone, on the outside. He was a pariah by choice. He knew and adored the Hebrew prophets: Isaiah and Jeremiah were his favorite by-lines, and he was not beyond identifying with the range and vehemence of their voices.

Izzy Stone knew very, very confidently what the wider world is just coming to understand: that he was writing for all time. He was a mid-century leftist, yes, in the time of the Cold War, McCarthyism and the Civil Rights Movement, but he was self-consciously a humanist and a dissenter in a much longer tradition going back to Athens as well as the Bible. He was aiming in every Weekly, every book review, every profile, for the high pitch of other artists he admired: Andre Gide, Henry James, Mozart, Freud. And his friend Albert Einstein.

Stone’s short obituary tribute to Einstein in April, 1955, reprinted in The Best of I.F. Stone brings tears to my eyes for the penetrating humanity of Stone’s insight into a hero, but also for that ever-curious way in which everything a man writes reveals himself. Fifty years later, Stone on Einstein reveals much of the inner Izzy, and much of what I feel about him:

Professor Einstein would not have liked a stuffy tribute. My wife and I loved him. He was a charter subscriber to the Weekly, and often strained its primitive bookkeeping facilities by renewing when no renewal was due. We and our three children had the great pleasure on several occasions of having tea with him at his home. It was like going to tea with God, not the terrible old God of the Bible but the little child’s father-in-heaven, very kind, very wise and yet himself very much like a child, too…

If our dim understanding of his work has any validity, we thought of it as a lifelong search for a new and greater unity in physical phenomena, and the re-establishment of the possibility of law in the universe. A world world made up only of statistical probabilities offended his profoundest instincts: he was like Bach or Beethoven, striving for new harmonies, but with the tools of mathematics and physics…

The man who sought a new harmony in the heavens and in the atom also sought for order and justice in the relations of men. As the greatest intellectual in the world of our time, he fought fascism everywhere and feared the signs of it in our country. This was the spirit in which he advised American intellectuals to defy the Congressional inquisition and refuse to submit themselves to ideological interrogation. In that position he was interpreting the First Amendment as Jefferson would have done…

I.F. Stone on Albert Einstein, from The Best of I.F. Stone

Much as he said of Einstein, Stone too reigns in that immortal realm far beyond politics and physics and journalism — the warm human memory of transcendence.

Myra MacPherson

Author, All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone

Peter Osnos

Founder and Editor-at-Large, PublicAffairs Books

Josh Marshall

Blogger, Talking Points Memo and TPM Cafe.

Billmon

Blogger, Whiskey Bar


  • 1st/14th

    You mean IF Stone the Soviet agent IF Stone? My Lord! does the depravity of hero worship know no bounds?

  • http://www.radioopensource.org/author/david/ David

    1st/14th:

    Is this what you’re talking about when you say Stone the Soviet agent?

    “This society [the U.S.S.R.] is a paradise only for a rather stupid type of Communist party member, good but sharply limited. If you believe everything you read in the papers, lack imagination, and feel no need to think for yourself, you can be very happy in the Soviet Union and engage in useful devoted work. Or you can shut yourself up in a scientific laboratory and work on your own scientific problems and close your eyes and ears to what is going on outside or maybe even to your unlucky colleague next door. But for the journalist, the writer, the artist, the thinker, the man who cares deeply about the basic questions of humanity and history, the U.S.S.R. has been a hermetically sealed prison, stifling in its atmostphere of complete, rigid and low-level throught control. In this atmosphere has been bred a whole generation of sycophants, and yes-men, and writer-politicians.” (From “The Legacy of Stalin,” The Best of I.F. Stone.)

  • 1st/14th

    No, thats not what I was talking about when I said Stone was a Soviet Agent, This is what I was talking about:

    Several historians and researchers—including Herbert Romerstein, John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr—as well as retired KGB officials have published claims and evidence that Stone was one of a number of persons inside the U.S. journalism community who were used by Soviet intelligence agencies as agents of influence. The available evidence shows clearly that Stone was approached by the KGB during the Second World War, when the U.S. and Soviet Union were allied, but debate exist as to his relationship with Soviet intelligence agencies after this initial meeting.

    In their book Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, historians John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr identify Stone as BLIN in VENONA Project cables.[6] Venona transcript #1506 October 23, 1944 from the New York KGB office to Moscow, after a meeting with Vladimir Pravdin states, he “not refusing his aid,” but “had three children and did not want to attract the attention of the FBI.” Allegedly Stone’s fear “was his unwillingness to spoil his career” since he “earned $1500.00 per month but… would not be averse to having a supplemental income.” In response to Pravdin’s question as to “liaison” Stone is reported to have “replied that he would be glad to meet but he rarely visited New York City.” The cable went on to record: “for the establishment of business contact with him… we are insisting on reciprocity.” American journalist and KGB operative Samuel Krafsur also was set to the task of recruiting Stone. (See list of VENONA references below). Klehr and Haynes, who report the cable contents, state that there is no evidence in Venona that the KGB had recruited Stone, but that Kalugin’s comments leave open the possibility that he may have been at a later date. [7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IF_Stone

    Stone was always a bit too eager to follow the Moscow line prior to his disillusionment, from Syngman Rhee attacked the DPKR and started the Korean War, to the US used biological weapons during the conflict, and that the Soviets under the warm and gentile hand of Stalin were busily building the land of milk and honey.

    His rather sympathetic biographer Robert Cottrell wrote that “there was something disingenuous in [Stone's] willingness to suspend judgment or to refuse to criticize still more forcefully the terror that was being played out in Soviet Russia…. What could not be denied was that Stone, like many of his political and intellectual counterparts, continued to afford Russia and even Stalinist communism something of a double standard, fearing that to do otherwise would endanger … the very possibility of socialism”.

  • 1st/14th

    That’s what I was referring to, and although like most apologists of the USSR, (like Pablo Neruda for example) I feel their backpedaling was too little and too late considering all the talent and time they spent defending Stalinism.

  • 1st/14th

    “We are so constituted that we believe the most incredible things; and, once they are engraved upon the memory, woe to him who would endeavor to erase them.”

    This quote reminds me of the response I have gotten when challenging some long held beleifs, like the belief that I. F. Stone is some kind of “rebel” who “speaks truth to power”.

  • Potter

    IF Stone after coming home from abroad after the war:

    Excerpt from: Blessed Land, Blind People Sept 14. 1947

    “As we swung down over the city, I saw the wide familiar avenues, the great dome of the Capitol, the pleasant lawns of the White House, the traffic swarming ant-like in the streets. Here were sweet evidences of peace one no longer took for granted after seeing the devastated acres around St. Paul’s in London and catching the sickish smell that betrays still unburied bodies in the nightmarish ruins around the Bahnhofplatz in Munich.

    The country seemed blessed, but its people seemed blind. To talk with people, to hear the debates in Congress, to read the papers again, to listen in on the constant tidal roar of yammer and complaint that is politics in America, was a sour experience.

    I felt that America had never been less worthy of its past, more small-minded; that America was unappreciative of its blessings and heedless of its responsibilities, the responsibility of the more fortunate for the less, the duty of the strong toward the weak, the obligation of the rich toward the poor.

    Everywhere in the huge mass of Eurasia, from England to China, human beings were struggling with real and terrible problems. I had seen the one-inch square of butter that is an Englishman’s ration for a week. I had heard of the dank cellars from which the indomitable Poles were emerging to rebuild their country. I had been humbled by the courage among the ragged Jews of the illegal immigration. I had seen how thin the people are on the boulevards of Paris.

    Here no one seemed to appreciate what it meant to have a roof over one’s head, a job, a secure life for one’s children, food ample by any reasonable standard, cities untouched by war, a home, a country. America seemed like one of those idle, dissatisfied rich women with no babies to mind and no dishes to wash and lots of time to nurture neuroses.

    I recall these feelings now because this food crisis is more than a problem in food supply. It is, in a very real sense, a moral crisis and a political crisis, a test of the intelligence of the average American, the measure of his heart as well as his head.

    In any system of society, it is safer, more tactful, more expedient, to criticize the ruler by indirection, to find scapegoats, to blame advisers. The ruler here is demos, the people, and it is customary when things go wrong to blame politicians, the wicked “interests,” reactionaries, and so forth.

    But this is a free country. The people have power, when they want to use it. When they want something deeply, they can and do get it, despite the obstacles and the weight of wealth in the scales of ordinary politics. And when things go wrong, the people must share their part of the blame; they are adults, they have voices- they are neither gagged nor children.”

    Read the rest here ( scroll down)

    http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/I_F_Stone/Truman_Era.html

    from the book “The Truman Era 1945-1952″ ( I finally found this book used after a long search unable to find any part of it on the internet. It’s wonderful that someone has posted excerpts, linked above)

  • katemcshane

    Thank you, Potter. This looks good.

  • nother

    I had not heard of this man before now but after reading some of his work, I feel that his journalism encompasses the ideal of “truth with edge” that was discussed in an earlier program.

    I find it very cool that he reported on the trial of Socrates. Mr. stone interviews himself for the article and reports that the trial was a political one, condemning Socrates for anti-democratic teachings. Mr. Stone’s conclusion:

    “Athens felt that Socrates was still inculcating disrespect for its democratic institutions, and feared an attempt to overthrow the democracy again.”

    It would seem that Mr. Stone is implying that Socrates’ was the victim of the first McCarthyism.

    http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/socrates/ifstoneinterview.html

  • nother

    I’m bloging as I read and at this point I have to agree with some of what 1st and 15th wrote. He quotes Mr. Stones biographer” What could not be denied was that Stone, like many of his political and intellectual counterparts, continued to afford Russia and even Stalinist communism something of a double standard, fearing that to do otherwise would endanger … the very possibility of socialism”.

    Mr. Stone 1950: “Someone has got to begin to tell the American people that Communism and socialism are in the world to stay, to help them understand how they arose and what needs they serve.”

    Is it so easy to conflate socialism and communism? You may not be able to have communism without socialism but can’t you have socialism without communism?

    “The American in a mass production industrial society is not much less standardized than the Russian under Communism.”

    Really?

  • nother

    I am a Stone neophyte who sees a cool complexity in this man; consequently I’m looking forward to the show.

    A few quick quotes that struck me:

    “If God as some now say is dead, He no doubt died of trying to find an equitable solution to the Arab-Jewish problem.”

    “To denuclearize the Middle East, to defuse it, will require some kind of neutralization. Otherwise the Arab-Israeli conflict may some day set off a wider Final Solution. That irascible Old Testament God of Vengeance is fully capable, if provoked, of turning the whole planet into a crematorium.”

    “If the United States cannot prosper without war, then the rest does not matter. It does not matter whether Russia is Communist or capitalist. It does not matter whether Stalin is intransigent or conciliatory. It does not matter whether Russian power retreats to its old borders or remains on the Elbe and the Danube. It does not matter whether China remains Communist or Mao Tse-tung invites Chiang Kai-shek to come back and take over.

    If the United States cannot prosper without war, then new excuses for war fevers will be manufactured as the old ones disappear.”

  • girlsforscience

    Can one person make a difference? Will one person make a difference? It is a mark of maturity when we realize that yes, one can. The realization is made when another shares their story with us that proves so. I.F. Stone may have been small, but he may prove this point. Did he?

    He stood alone. For this sole reason, he can be considered a radical. Perhaps it was necessary for him to retain his privacy because of his decision to pursue what he felt mattered.

    Or was it that he had a more selfish reason? Did he feel that his discoveries were his, and his alone, until he could nurture them along steadily enough to reveal the truth? Did he trust others to help him in his pursuit? I wonder on these things concerning men like Stone. Was he like a man on safari who came back with stories for everyone to hear? Or was he like the man who feels drawn into a battle he cannot ignore?

    I believe he stood alone because he feared for others…and he trusted only himself to do what was necessary to take on the stories he pursued. He must have suffered. He must have worried. Furthermore, he must have been tremendously dedicated, to the extent of giving up opportunity in favor of a greater calling. I am excited to hear his story.

  • Potter

    This short play is not available online but I thought it was delightful (and timeless). I could not type the whole thing and have bracketed my summaries in between the quotes.

    Epilogue in Limbo (Dr. Einstein takes the problem up with God.) New York February 14, 1950

    [Einstein out of desperation leads a delegation of elderly men to the “Pearly Gates”]

    [God to Einstein]: “It looks as if theology has overcome the exact sciences, sir”

    [Einstein tells God that the H-bomb has created a new crisis but that:]

    “the H with which we are concerned is not the H of Hydrogen. We can handle that. It’s the H of humanity that has driven us in despair to see you.”

    [God:] “But the H of humanity is an old story, Mr. Einstein”

    [Einstein insists:] “the real destructive and explosive power lay not in the H of Hydrogen, but the H of humanity”

    [Einstein reasons that since humanity is God’s creation that He would be the one that has knowledge of the missing element to solve the problem of peace and pleads:] “ for by the bomb’s use humanity may destroy itself”.

    [In trying to solve this urgent problem, these men decided that what was missing was mutual trust among nations:] “ For if every man were at the mercy of the strong and unscrupulous, there would be no peace and security”

    “Dr. Einstein: So we had found the solution. We declared that mutual trust was the missing element, that a world government was necessary to foster it, that the new weapons were far too destructive to permit lawless anarchy among nations”.

    [God asks] “ Well, what happened?”

    “Dr. Einstein: Nothing. People listened and then brushed us aside”

    [ But God still does not know why these men came to him.]

    Dr. Einstein: Forgive our frankness, sir. You created this H of humanity, It’s irrationality is appalling. Reason, logic, and the scientific method can do nothing with it. When we create a machine and it does not work right, we find what is wrong and change it. Our only hope is that you will change the nature of humanity. We fear that otherwise the earth is doomed.”

    [God is reminded of an old assistant, Lucifer, who made the same criticism; he revolted and blamed God for man’s irrationality.]

    Dr. Einstein (softly) ……”yes I blame you. If I created a formula or a machine which does not work, well, the blame is mine. If humanity is obsessed with criminal and destructive folly, the blame is yours.”

    [God reminds Einstein that a machine built and operating on rational principles could not have done the thinking of Euclid, Newton, Riemann or himself and is not as rational as men can be. Would Einstein like men to operate as machines?]

    [God]: “Would they yearn for truths beyond their grasp, and create in their turn?”…..”I could not make man free to aspire without also making him free to destroy himself. He could only be truly rational if he were free to be irrational. Unlike your machines, he lives. And the essence of life is freedom. It escapes the subtlest formulas. It is a powerful explosive, and risky.”

    Dr. Einstein: “Granted, but can’t you intervene just this once to save your creation?”

    [God:]…”I cannot. It is no longer mine. I provided the spark, but that was only the beginning. Man beyond that is his own creation. History is the record of his painful struggle to mold himself. The process is too much for formulas. In the struggle against evil, good was produced, and often in striving for good, man did evil. This is the counterpoint of his self-creation. Man cannot evade his freedom. If he fails it’s test, there are other beings, other worlds.”

    Dr. Einstein: “Have you no pity? What purpose is served by so much agony?”

    [God] ( rising) “The violins in the orchestra do not understand their agony, either….”

    The scene fades out

  • Potter

    Thanks Nother, those were great quotes!

  • nother

    Thank you so much for writing that play out, Potter – It’s so relevent that it’s scary. It reminds me of the premise of E.L. Doctorow’s new book which I have yet to read.

  • galoot

    Some have argued that he was an “agent of influence” which is a bit different from an “agent”:

    relevant section of his Wikipedia entry

  • loki

    Bring back Izzy-he exposed Plato and other miscreants! Horray for Izzy,he was the first,blooger in the age pre internet. His IF Stone’s weekly was the first zine!

    What would Frank Church,woodward and Berstein and all other investigative reporters done without the example of IzzY!

  • katemcshane

    I’ve been reading IF Stone, too, and I was immediately interested in him. I wish I could have read the Weekly when he was writing it, but I couldn’t have appreciated it at that time. It is obvious from reading a handful of articles that he was a man of intelligence, and perhaps more importantly, that he was an honest man. When I listen to influential people today, I try to hear their level of honesty and sincerity. I’m not always well enough informed about an issue, and until I am, I have to rely on my intuition, and try to educate myself as much as possible. I’ve been forced to listen to enough ignorant and stupid people in my lifetime to recognize ignorance and stupidity. I’ve read enough excerpts of FBI files on brilliant and talented people to know that the FBI investigated and kept people under surveillance for having ties with Russia during a time when Russia was an ally of the United States. Those reports were idiotic. Also, many decent people in this country have belonged to the Communist Party, and many of them were late to realize the horror of Stalin. I’d like to think I would have been one of those people, because most of them wanted to believe there could be something better and took enough responsibility for the political well-being of the country to investigate what was out there. If you have an active and creative intelligence, if you allow yourself to follow your intuition the way an artist does, you’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes the only way to reach something fine is to let yourself move through the crap. Some people like Stone are geniuses at birth; other people who open themselves to the world, who fearlessly follow where it takes them, move toward genius.

    And in response to something mentioned in this thread, Pablo Neruda is my favorite poet. He opened his arms wide and let the world come through him. He, also, was marked by idiotic governments, but when he read his poetry in public, audiences were known to recite the poems with him, because they knew them by heart.

  • afmeyers

    Here’s an I.F. Stone anecdote. In the summer of 1972 I was a 21-year-old McGovern volunteer and was in Miami Beach for the Democratic National Convention. On the day of the nominaiton, there was a meeting called by “Concerned McGovern Volunteers” at the Doral Hotel. I arrived early and saw I.F. Stone’s name on the sign-in sheet. I looked up and there he was. He sat at a table, alone, unfolded his newspaper and started to read. Being somewhat shy, I sat at another table nearby. A guy came across the room and sat down at Stone’s table, a mainstream-looking guy in his forties, starts asking Stone questions, what’s he doing here etc, big smile on his face. Stone looks at him for a while, over his newspaper, then says to him “what are you, a dick?” The guy is flustered, no no he says, but Stone just goes back to his paper. At this point I screw up my courage and approach him, uh, Mr Stone, could I ask you a question? Sure, he says, let’s move. So we go to another table and Stone turns his attention to me – me, a scruffy young bearded longhair in T-shirt and bellbottoms who’s been sleeping in Flamingo Park for the past several nights. I asked him about the Mideast, which he discussed, then he asked about me. After a half-hour or so I remember having the feeling about him like he was a favorite uncle. So to what others have said already, I would like to add that up close, Izzy was a mensch.

  • jdyer

    I used to read Stone’s news letter many eons ago which made me admire him enormously at the time. That was when I was in High School.

    Then I grew up and his palaver didn’t seem so relevant anymore.

    I also read his book on the trial of Socrates which was just another attack on Socrates and Plato that was totally without any merit.

  • Potter

    Katemcshane and afmeyers thank you for those beautiful posts!

  • http://www.eastboston.com fconte

    Dear Jdyer

    I liked his book on Socrates flawed as it may be. Stone taught himself Greek to write it; no small feat in his later years. As for the Soviet stuff well don’t they have a term for that: useful idiot.

    A good review of Stone’s book on Socrates was written by Sidney Hook who is as good a foil to any Soviet sympathizer as you could find.

  • jdyer

    fconte Says:

    September 25th, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    “Dear Jdyer

    I liked his book on Socrates flawed as it may be. Stone taught himself Greek to write it; no small feat in his later years. As for the Soviet stuff well don’t they have a term for that: useful idiot. ”

    Ok, he gets an A for effort and a -C for substance.

    “A good review of Stone’s book on Socrates was written by Sidney Hook who is as good a foil to any Soviet sympathizer as you could find.”

    I liked Professor Hook, but I don’t need to agree with all his opinions.

  • http://civilities.net/people/JonGarfunkel Jon Garfunkel

    I’ll add my ever-reliable contrarian point on blogging, now that I.F. Stone is being heralded as a proto-blogger.

    A family member sent me a post from TPMCafe today– 190 words from M.J. Rosenberg entitled Clinton Saves Dems. That’s 190 words– which, by our standards, ought to be around the length of a post within a comment thread.

    Let’s be honest here. Most of the blogosphere is just things that used to be emailed, or, posted within a bulletin board somewhere. Once upon a time, a family member would have punched out a hundred-odd words praising “Big Bill” as we call him, and mailed it to the rest of us. Now instead they can just find some cheerleaded brain-dropping on the blogs and send it along.

    Josh Marshall is the one genius of the blogosphere; and I think that he is well a natural inheritor of the mantle of Stone. I suppose when one read Stone they new they were getting the best he can dish. But because blogging allows the lowest-common denominator, there is too much content of varying quality. Some time ago, somebody posted a post from “Billmon” here regarding his assessment of Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post. Billmon’s post was such a load of speculative bunk that I’m not really drawn to read him again. Ditto for TPMcafe; I admire Josh and his efforts to franchise, and there has been much good from his work, but there is just the reliable disappointment of so much on the blogs.

    Stone had 70,000 subscribers at his peak, and charged $5/year subscription. I can only assume that it was fully worth it. With today’s free blogs, you get what you pay for.

  • http://civilities.net/people/JonGarfunkel Jon Garfunkel

    Ok, so I thought I’d take another look at Billmon. He has written a rather frank post about the show. Apparently it’s already been recorded today (so no sense posting during the broadcast hour to try to get on the air):

    Update 6:00 PM ET: Well, that basically sucked. I wouldn’t bother tuning in, unless you want to hear a couple of old establishment liberals blathering on ’bout the good old days (or the bad old days, or whatever). More Edwardian plants, wondering why the sun doesn’t shine any more. Even Josh Marshall, who has a lot more in common with that crowd than I do, could hardly get a word in edgewise.

    I never knew Izzy Stone, but I have to believe he would have found it very tiresome.

    Always a pleasure to have you on the show, Billmon!

  • jdyer

    “Stone had 70,000 subscribers at his peak, and charged $5/year subscription. I can only assume that it was fully worth it. With today’s free blogs, you get what you pay for.”

    That was 1965 five dollars which was considerably more than 5 bucks today.

  • http://civilities.net/people/JonGarfunkel Jon Garfunkel

    On his blog, Josh Marshall has wisely held off commenting about tonight’s show before it airs. But I should amend my comments above to say that his solo effort at TPM effort is still leaps and bounds above what anybody else does. Only Josh invites his audience to call their Senators and Representatives, not to harangue them (as his pale imitators might do) but do engage them in conversation, and report back to him.

    Compare this to the Huffington Post, with now around a thousand contributors, manages these meek points today: “There should be a national outcry and national demand that the Senate Intelligence Committee immediately release the full text of its latest report…” from Brent Budowsky and “If the White House was able to release parts of that NIE on WMDs, it can do the same with the NIE on Iraq and terrorism” from Nation editor David Corn rights.

    Sorry, let’s call it like it is, and call that old-media thumbsucking even if it appears on a “blog” and is blessed by Arianna. Over on Talking Points Memo, you the public can be interactive, call your Congressman and report back to the genius, who’se been keeping a running commentary during the day. Hail Josh Marshall: an artist among hacks.

  • http://civilities.net/people/JonGarfunkel Jon Garfunkel

    Maybe just Billmon’s bit was pre-recorded, or maybe it was just a pre-interview to tease out some ideas? I’ll cut the show the benefit of the doubt. (and trust not what the blogs tell you, but what you can tell the blogs.)

  • dom

    I am wondering who if anyone the panel tonight thinks might be a new I. F. Stone?

  • Anonymous

    My goodness, like an bad actor on stage, Myra MacPherson seemed to continue reading from her script while everyone around her went off book. Such an exciting man; such a colossally boring hour of radio.

  • jdyer

    Here we go again.

    Chris is trying to browbeat his guests into saying that his subject “I. F. Stone” in this case would have believed what he himself believes. He did the same thing during the Orwell show.

    What is clear to me about “Izchak Stone” is that he would have been a fighting liberal in the way that Chris Hitchens and many other liberals are today.

    This is what IF Stone would have endorsed today:

    http://eustonmanifesto.org/joomla/content/view/84/49/

  • jdyer

    On another note when Brandon reads an entry or two on the blog he always picks some post which is approving of the hosts point of view.

    Since there are always entries that dissent from the hosts point of view Brandon necessarily falsifies the content of the thread on the air.

  • billmon

    idyer: “What is clear to me about ‘Izchak Stone’ is that he would have been a fighting liberal in the way that Chris Hitchens and many other liberals are today.”

    In other words, he would be a drunken reactionary who likes to dress in white suits? I don’t think so.

  • 1st/14th

    Well, I have to say that I feel a bit honored to have my post mentioned on air, even if it was so cavalierly and superficially dismissed.

    Here we have two versions of Stone. To his throngs of fans, he was a “rebel” who stood up to the powerful and exposed the lies they told those beneath them. Always digging to find the truth in a story, and expose the corrupt use and abuses of power. To people like me, Stone’s lust for the “truth” only extended to his those whose ideas he found repugnant, namely the West and its leadership. For all the bile he wrote against the power structure in the West, he was remarkable silent on the Soviets and other “liberation movements”. In all the idolatry over Stone that I heard on tontines show, lets not forget that he was one of the “Committee of 400″ who denounced “the fantastic falsehood that the USSR and the totalitarian states are basically alike”. Let us also not forget the libel and slander he wrote against UN forces during the Korean War, including charges (gleaned from key pieces of official documents no doubt) that we were experimenting with biological agents against the North Koreans and Chinese and that we had started the war. F

    act is that the Soviets would never have to pay Stone, because he would uncritically regurgitate Soviet propaganda for free.

    Oh, and I just loved Myra MacPherson’s characterization of the VENONA material. After all, if the intercepts only took place between 1942 and 1945, then anyone mentioned in them was just “helping a wartime ally” and not sticking a knife in their country’s back. Too cute!

  • jdyer

    In other words he wouldn’t be an histerical anti Bush shrilly proclaiming that it’s all the fault of the US.

    He would be closer to Senator Lieberman than to Ned Lamont.

    He would also have endoresed this:

    “We are signers or supporters in the United States of the Euston Manifesto and its reassertion of liberal values.

    We are signers or supporters in the United States of the Euston Manifesto and its reassertion of liberal values. Our views range from those of centrists and independents to liberals of varying hues on to the democratic left. We include supporters of the decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 as well as people who opposed this war from the beginning. However, we all welcome and are heartened by the decision of the writers of the Euston Manifesto in Britain to reassert and reinvigorate liberal values in the present context. Now we confront the issue of how to respond to radical Islamism. Some of us view this ideology and its political results as the third major form of totalitarian ideology of the last century, after fascism and Nazism, on the one hand, and Communism, on the other. Others regard it as having a history in the Arab and Islamic world that eludes the label of totalitarianism. We all agree however that it fosters dictatorship, terror, anti-Semitism and sexism of a most retrograde kind. We reject its subordination of politics to the dictates of religious fundamentalists as well as its contempt for the role of individual autonomy and rationality in politics, a rejection not seen on this scale in world politics since the 1940s. We understand that the United States must continue to take the lead with our allies in confronting this danger.

    Our views in foreign policy are rooted in the traditions of Franklin Roosevelt as well as Harry Truman, who battled dictatorships of the right as well as the left respectively. For their generation, the key questions of international politics concerned totalitarianism in Europe and Asia. They led the country in war to defeat fascism, Nazism, and Imperial Japan and then founded the institutions that led to the peaceful victory in the Cold War over Communism. The key moral and political challenge in foreign affairs in our time stems from radical Islamism and the jihadist terrorism it has unleashed. We favor a liberalism that is as passionate about the struggle against Islamic extremism as it has been about its political, social, economic and cultural agenda at home. We reject the now ossified and unproductive political polarization of American politics rooted as it is in the conflicts of the 1960s, not the first decade of this century. We are frustrated in the choice between conservative governance that thwarts much needed reforms at home, on the one hand, and a liberalism which has great difficulty accepting the projection of American power abroad, on the other. The long era of Republican ascendancy may very well be coming to an end. If and when it does, we seek a renewed and reinvigorated American liberalism, one that is up to the task of fighting and winning the struggle of free and democratic societies against Islamic extremism and the terror it produces.

    We regard anti-Americanism as a low and debased prejudice, not the mark of political sophistication or wisdom. We reject all forms of racism, including antisemitism, and also invoke the leaders of the American civil rights movement who won great political victories because they understood that hatred and terror would produce only more of the same. In the face of the retrograde attitudes about women and homosexuals emerging from the Islamic fundamentalists, and as advocates of the universality of human rights, we support equality for women and gays. Though most of us oppose much of the Bush administration’s domestic policies and have many criticisms of how it has conducted its foreign policy, we believe that some facts about international politics are not a matter of left and right. It is true that the knowledge about how to develop and deploy chemical, biological and most importantly nuclear weapons has [been], is and will be spreading around the globe and thus potentially into the hands of rogue states and terrorists deeply hostile to liberal democracy and respect for human rights. Indeed, the experience of fascism and Nazism showed us that it was possible for Germany, Italy and Japan to embrace modern technology yet at the same time reject liberal democracy and embrace policies of racism, chauvinism, aggression and mass murder. In our time, this paradoxical embrace of technological and scientific modernity that goes hand in hand with rejection of liberal democracy and human rights is taking place among radical Islamists, including those in the government of Iran, supported as well by non-Islamic states such as North Korea.”

    Read the rest:

    http://eustonmanifesto.org/joomla/content/view/84/49/

  • billmon

    1st/14th: “let’s not forget that he was one of the ‘Committee of 400′ who denounced ‘the fantastic falsehood that the USSR and the totalitarian states are basically alike.’ ”

    Izzy must have been listening to Churchill’s speeches:

    Throughout the war Churchill praised Stalin in fulsome terms. In 1944 he spoke of “deep-seated changes which have taken place in the character of the Russian state and government” and “the new confidence which has grown in our hearts toward Stalin.” This wasn’t mere public rhetoric. To his wife he wrote: “I have had very nice talks with the old Bear. I like him the more I see him. Now they respect us & I am sure they wish to work with us.”

    That’s from Joe Sobran — that notorious left-wing fellow traveler

    http://www.sobran.com/columns/1999-2001/000208.shtml

    1st/14th: “Let us also not forget the libel and slander he wrote against UN forces during the Korean War”

    Does the name No Gun Ri mean anything to you? It should.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/29/AR2006052900914.html

    1st/14th: “including charges (gleaned from key pieces of official documents no doubt) that that we were experimenting with biological agents against the North Koreans and Chinese and that we had started the war”

    Considering that during roughly the same period the US Army was performing radiological experiments on its OWN soldiers (marching them into nuclear test sites, etc.) the charges are not totally implausible, although in that case I think Stone did get suckered by North Korean propaganda. As for Izzy’s argument that South Korea started the war, with covert encouragement from Washington, there is considerable evidence that the Rhee regime was trying to provoke some kind of incident, although niether it nor Washington appear to have expected a full-scale invasion.

    Was I.F. Stone wrong about many things? Yes. Was he conned by communist propaganda? Probably. But the “evidence” that he was a Soviet agent of any kind is absurdly flimsy — a hell of a lot weaker than the evidence that Scooter Libby is a perjurer and Dick Cheney a war criminal, which the authoritarian right will never admit no matter how conclusive the proof.

    Whether his answers were right or wrong, Izzy always asked the right questions and always challenged the official story. The fact that conservatives now insist that journalists must do neither only shows how weak and discredited the official stories have become.

    But don’t worry: the “mainstream” media are on your side now.

    jdyer — Slandering Stone now that he’s dead is actually less disrepectful to his memory than insisting he would support things and ideas he absolutely detested when he was alive. It’s not THAT easy to rewrite history, at least not yet.

  • 1st/14th

    Umm, billmon, the “Committee of 400″ signed the statement in 1939, after the Soviet’s and Germans signed their now infamous peace treaty, and when the Brits were fighting for their lives.

    As for Izzy’s argument that South Korea started the war, with covert encouragement from Washington, there is considerable evidence that the Rhee regime was trying to provoke some kind of incident, although neither it nor Washington appear to have expected a full-scale invasion.

    Interesting theory I suppose, but too bad every single piece of history on the Korean War written in the past 20 years, especially after the opening of Soviet archives, seems to take a decidedly different view.

    Whether his answers were right or wrong, Izzy always asked the right questions and always challenged the official story.

    Thats a big fat NO!, Stone wrote what made “capitalists” look bad, no matter how flimsy the evidence was, and disregarded whatever made “liberation movements” look bad no matter how strong the evidence was. He was a hack, no more.

    What must the flowers smell like in that wonderful land of revisionism!

  • 1st/14th

    idyer: “What is clear to me about ‘Izchak Stone’ is that he would have been a fighting liberal in the way that Chris Hitchens and many other liberals are today.”

    I have to disagree with this as well, but for a different reason. Stone’s one driving passion, aside from pleasing his KGB task masters (just kidding) was ridding the world of the “evils of capitalism”. Just like the fringe left chose its side 40 years ago against the US, so too has the fringe left chosen to hitch its wagon with the Islamists.

  • rc21

    It’s funny how some on the left comment on how brilliant Stone was. How he could dig deep and find the truth. Yet he was unable to figure out that communist Russia was a brutal repressive regime,even though he seems to have had a fair amount of contact and knowledge of what they were all about.

    That doesn’t seem to brilliant to me.

    I was lectured to by my father about how terrible the Russians were and how they sent millions to the gulag for no other reason than not being a good communist. I was about 10 years old and my father was a flaming lefty. but he knew Russia was our enemy and he knew how brutal their regime was.If it was pretty easy for a ten year old to figure it out why couldn’t Stone.

  • jdyer

    “I have to disagree with this as well, but for a different reason. Stone’s one driving passion, aside from pleasing his KGB task masters (just kidding) was ridding the world of the “evils of capitalism”. Just like the fringe left chose its side 40 years ago against the US, so too has the fringe left chosen to hitch its wagon with the Islamists.”

    It’s hard to know for sure, but I think that the Islamicist program of wiping out Israel and their antisemitism would have troubled him deeply.

    He was a committed and at times unthinking anti-Capitalist but he was also and anti-totalitarian.

  • loki

    Dom Hedler Camera, former Bishop of Recife,Brazil

    ” I live amongst the poor and they cal me a saint……..when I ask why the poor are poor…they call me a communist.”

  • billmon

    1st/14th: What must the flowers smell like in that wonderful land of revisionism!

    Ah yes, the authoritarian insult de jour — highly ironic, given that the modern right’s version of “history” is choreographed about as carefully as a Russian ballet. The irony is that guys like 1st/14th would fit very neatly into a totalitarian system (mentally, they live in one now) while Stone would have been one of the first to be hauled off to the gulags.

  • billmon

    rc21: “If it was pretty easy for a ten year old to figure it out why couldn’t Stone.”

    With a little time, it would be relatively easy to dig out reams of pre-World War II quotes from various right-wing and/or Republican worthies (starting with Charles Lindbergh) commenting on what a great job old Adolf was doing at cleaning the Reds out of Germany, breaking the labor unions, putting business back on its feet, etc. And what the Nazis were doing in Germany in the ’30s was a hell of a lot more visible to the world than what Stalin’s NKVD was up to in the USSR.

    But I don’t have the time. And someone who thinks they “figured it all out” at age 10 because his/her father told him/her all about it isn’t likely to be persuaded. What if your father had told you the Jews were secretly controlling all the world’s governments? Would you have figured THAT out?

  • babu

    LYDON AND STONE

    When I was a child of five in 1951, my parents were lefty labor organizers and activists. There were sometimes meetings, discussion groups, etc at the house. One week there was an expectant fuss about a ‘great man coming from New york to lead a discussion’. My parents seemed in awe.

    On the night, I was put to bed upstairs as folks arrived, and among them a sharp but resonant voice like no other. I couldn’t resist it. I waddled downstairs in my pj’s, crawled through the chairs to his feet in the center of the circle and put my hands out. He pulled me onto his lap and there I stayed for the duration, laying sleepily against his moist, tobacco-fragrant tweed coat, breathing when he did, the voice, whose words I understood not at all, echoing in my own chest for more than an hour.

    To this day, the aroma of that combination of tobacco and wool takes me instantly back to I. F. Stone’s lap; his phrasing, staccato fast-slow delivery, deep respect for people, aura of a very smart good man communicating from a place of love for humankind…

    Fast-forward to March, 2006, Seattle.

    The ROS show is broadcasting from Seattle because Chris Lydon is in town for an alternative radio conference. Although I am a newbie to ROS, the subject is ‘Cities’, my professional interst and Brendan calls me at the last minute with a ticket to the live show. I hurry over to the KUOW studio and on the street outside the door (in the University district of the city) I brush against a professor type whose clothes give off the telltale wool and tobacco aroma. Instantly I am hearing that deep, kind voice in my head.

    Call it coincidence or conditioning, but there I was in the small KUOW sound studio when Chris Lydon started broadcasting and I sat electrified by the similarity to my memory of Stone. The phrasing, sharp emphasis, quick, compound thoughts, rat-a-rat then pause, the obvious humanity and passion to do good. The actual voices themselves.

    Stone was New york-inflected, which Chris Lydon is not. But does anyone else share this observation? Can anyone direct me to audio archives of Stone? I’d love to try do make the comparison in real-time and see if the

  • babu

    Sorry I clicked accidentally, above.

    50-year old old memory and the two men actually line up.

  • jdyer

    I don’t know what Stone’s point of view was on the Hitler Stalin pact, but the number of “Jewish” Communists in this country who went along with is mindboggling.

    Bela Abzug is one of them. Once I learned about her stance I could never take her views seriously again.

  • 1st/14th

    I don’t know what Stone’s point of view was on the Hitler Stalin pact, but the number of “Jewish” Communists in this country who went along with is mindboggling.

    Read the proclamation he endorsed after the signing of the pact.

    http://www.marxisthistory.org/history/usa/parties/cpusa/1939/08/0814-openletter.pdf

  • rc21

    To Billmon: You dont have to dig up anything on Lindberg. He was a Nazi sympathizer right from the begining. A scumbag who put Germanies intrest over the intrest of his own country. I learned that at 10 also. Whats your point.

    It seems like your saying. ”Its ok to be against your country if your a leftist or communist sympathizer, but if your right wing and dont support your country your in the wrong”.

    People who support nations that we are at war with are traitors. People who support or aid another nation in its attempts to to damage ones own country should also be considered traitors. Or at the very least really terrible people

    The reason many people didnt know the extent of the brutality and repression of communist Russia is in part due to left wing media people covering up the real and horrific truth about Russia. Does the N.Y. Times ring a bell.( 60 years later and they haven’t changed much)

    Never the less with Stones connections and brilliance it seems hard to imagine he didn’t know what was really going on in Russia.

    I dont know if Stone was a communist spy or sympathizer,I will have to do more research. I will have to look at what is said in the Venona book.

    If he was a communist spy he was a traitor and a scumbag. If he was just a sympathizer he was no more than an anti- American jerk.

    Either way he obviously seems to have been a very poor judge of character,and certainly not as brilliant as some would have us believe.Being a great writer does not make one a great human being.

  • jdyer

    1st/14th Says:

    September 26th, 2006 at 6:50 pm

    “Read the proclamation he endorsed after the signing of the pact.”

    http://www.marxisthistory.org/history/usa/parties/cpusa/1939/08/0814-openletter.pdf

    thanks for the link to the pact. The language of the procalmation with its doubletalk is breathtaking. No wonder Orwell invented the concept of “newspeak” to highlight the abuse of “progressive” concepts.

    There are people on the list whose work I know that I never would have suspected to be so naive: Newton Arvin a fine literary critic and Mark Blitzstein the composer are two such people.

    btw: I didn’t see Stone’s name on the list. Can you point it out, please?

  • babu

    Let’s put a slightly longer focus on this Russia debate.

    My Jewish grandparents escaped Tsarist Russia 90 years ago, my grandmother with a Cossack bullet in her shoulder; from ‘sport-shooting’ as it was then understood. The society which the Bolsheviks and then Commmunism replaced was a thousand years of repressive imperial feudalism laced with racism. THAT was the cultural norm from which that generation incubated the socialist idea, completely without precedent and spell-binding to millions, I. F. Stone among them.

    Capitalism was also also an infant ideology. As it still is today. Immature, very out of balance with nature, etc, yet people of conscience are trying to correct it’s course. There are respectable voices of many stripes. Why not think of Stone this way?

    It’s completely human that thinking people of of the epoch would forgive or reserve judgement in order to gestate the socialist idea. Even faced with the onset of corruption in the first 20 years, it was a movement with the kind of social promise which salved the ills of a world beset by fascism, naziism as others have pointed out. That it fell into the hands of a thug like Stalin is all-too-predictable when you consider the previous experience of the available talent pool of its time and place. But people still had hope.

    The American post-WW II Socialist movement, springing as it did largely within the recent immigrant class, simultaneous with the first signs of American expansion, focussing on addressing the inequities of the ascending capitaist system, was a hothouse flower needing special care. I. F. Stone was one of the brave, intelligent voices which believed in it and understood the intrinsic misuse of (many but not all) human beings which capitalism requires.

  • Potter

    Bravo Babu!.

    We come from similar backgrounds. My grandparents on one side came 100 years ago from Kiev, no south of Kiev because they were not allowed to live in Kiev. On the other side, from near MInsk.

    I remember whisperings in my family that my great-aunt and then my aunt were “pink”!

  • Potter

    Sorry- I meant grand-aunt.

  • jdyer

    babu Says:

    September 27th, 2006 at 12:27 am

    Let’s put a slightly longer focus on this Russia debate.

    “My Jewish grandparents escaped Tsarist Russia 90 years ago, my grandmother with a Cossack bullet in her shoulder; from ’sport-shooting’ as it was then understood. The society which the Bolsheviks and then Commmunism replaced was a thousand years of repressive imperial feudalism laced with racism. THAT was the cultural norm from which that generation incubated the socialist idea, completely without precedent and spell-binding to millions, I. F. Stone among them.”

    So you forgive the misguided “idealist” who signed on to the Nazi Soviet pact in the name of fighting an older repressive regime that was on longer in place?

    Amazing.

    Your post reminds me of the adage that a Communist is someone who forgets nothing and who never learn nothing.

    “It’s completely human that thinking people of of the epoch would forgive or reserve judgement in order to gestate the socialist idea. Even faced with the onset of corruption in the first 20 years, it was a movement with the kind of social promise which salved the ills of a world beset by fascism, naziism as others have pointed out. That it fell into the hands of a thug like Stalin is all-too-predictable when you consider the previous experience of the available talent pool of its time and place. But people still had hope.”

    Sorry, babu, but the problem was larger than Stalin who inherited the structure of repression from Lenin’s system of rule.

    Lenin’s introduced something totally new to Russia and his system of repression can’t be compared to the primitive methods used by the Tsarists.

    The same was true in Germany Nazism wasn’t just the rule by a few thugs but was an elaborate structure that used the bureaucratic methods already in place.

    Your sentimentality for Russian communism is touching but absurd.

    It reminds me of the misguided apology by the British MP George Galloway for the old Soviet State which he published in Al Ahram:

    http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2006/812/op2.htm

    This beautifully parodied here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_xQRLDsoF8&eurl=

  • babu

    Potter:

    Half of my family came from a little town south of Kiev in the ‘Pale’ called Berditchev.

    In 1987 I spent 6 weeks in Seattle’s sister city, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, then still a Soviet Republic, building a peace park as a gift from the people of Seattle. The City was still run by transplanted ‘Russian nationals’, sent to Tashkent to be the government (and keep the far-flung “brown” Republics in line. Many of these Russian officials turned out to be (secretly, quietly) of Jewish descent, who had opted to transfer to the distant Republics to escape the latent anti-semitism of the Soviet elite in places like the Ukraine. One of these, the Tashkent Director of Public Works told me –at his dacha and with copious vodka on-board — that his family was also from near Berditchev, but that the town was gone; razed by the Germans, if I understood him correctly.

    This was the Russia that Izzy Stone was trying to rehabilitate. You have to understand the terror, hope and complexity which attended the era.

  • babu

    jdyer:

    I respect your statements and appreciate your added links.

    I was simply trying to place Stone the journalist and his Weekly back into to cultral time in which they lived.

  • jdyer

    “I was simply trying to place Stone the journalist and his Weekly back into to cultral time in which they lived.”

    I know that, babu.

    However, are you saying though that those that endorsed the Hitler Stalin pact were correct in doing so because of their experience at the time?

  • jdyer

    babu: “Half of my family came from a little town south of Kiev in the ‘Pale’ called Berditchev.”

    Any relation to the Berdichev Rebbe?

  • Potter

    Babu- A peace park! What a wonderful gift! Thank you for the story- it must have been quite an experience for you. Is there a link to pictures?

    A third cousin did extensive research and found that we came from Tarascha.

    Interesting that wikipedia has an entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarascha

    Is this “your” shtetl? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berdychiv#Jewish_history

    in a different oblast than Tarascha apparently.

    see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berditchev_(Hasidic_dynasty)

  • babu

    jdyer:

    “However, are you saying though that those that endorsed the Hitler Stalin pact were correct in doing so because of their experience at the time? ”

    No, of course not. The I. F. Stone my parents revered played an intellectual and pragmatic role in the U.S. labor movement. Geopolitics was another arena altogether. That was my point. Whatever else emerged, Stone was and remains a mid-century American thinker and writer on American labor conditions.

  • jdyer

    “No, of course not. The I. F. Stone my parents revered played an intellectual and pragmatic role in the U.S. labor movement. Geopolitics was another arena altogether. That was my point. Whatever else emerged, Stone was and remains a mid-century American thinker and writer on American labor conditions.”

    Since I come from a union family I am a strong supporter of labor unions.

    The people on the left I support are those like the writers at Dissent critical of the new left today as they were of the Leninism of yesteryear.

    What troubled me about Stone was his uncritical view of Communism.

  • Don Solomon

    Stone was right when everyone else was wrong, and he proved it time and again. Lots of people opposed the Vietnam War from the outset because of a gut feeling that it was a bad thing to do, or that the premise of “freeing” Vietnam by occupying it was misguided, or because they thought they were being lied to. But Stone proved we were being lied to — not by conjecture or rhetoric, but out of the mouths of the actors themselves. Had Robert McNamara ever read Stone’s dissection of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, he either would have had to resign or adopt a mindset so rigidly compartmentalized that the side that drafted young men and equipped more B-52s would never recognize the side that had read Stone. Perhaps that’s really what happened.

    Stone was not uncritical of Communism or Soviet Russia, not at all. But they were there and he was here, in Washington, a few blocks from the Government Printing Office, able to buy the government’s own reports for a buck or two. (You can’t do that as easily today — the Bushies have decimated and partially privatized the GPO — guess why!) I think if asked, Stone would have said, “I don’t speak Russian and don’t live in Moscow. Find someone in Moscow willing to do what I do, and let them print the truth, and I’ll be just fine with that.” And the samizdat printers did just that, perhaps copying Stone’s method of work. Stone had plenty to do right here, and he was particularly well equipped to do it.

    Most of the posters haven’t the faintest notion how many people lived in quaking fear of their government in the early 1950s — teachers, union members, screenwriters, Jews, liberals, homosexuals, racial integrationists, even lowly cafeteria aides (as the recent Ed Murrow movie makes clear). Izzy Stone took his talents and put them to use “in a time of trouble.” That, plus his economical prose and rigorous fact checking, made him one of my heroes. I was proud to subscribe to the Weekly, lamented its demise, and still treasure my copies which are on the shelf not far from where I now sit.

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  • Potter

    From “The Best of I. F. Stone” via Brad deLong:

    I.F. Stone on the Soviet Union, in 1956:

    I have to say what I really feel after seeing the Soviet Union and studying the statements of its leading officials. This is not a good society and it is not led by honest men.

    No society is good in which men fear to think–much less speak–freely. I don’t care how many tons of steel the Russians produce…. This society is a paradise only for a rather stupid type of Communist party member…. If you believe everything you read in the papers, lack imagination, and feel no need to think for yourself, you can be happy in the Soviet Union. Or you can shut yourself up in a scientific laboratory and work on your own scientific problems and close your eyes and ears to what is going on outside or maybe even to your unlucky colleague next door….The London Daily Worker seemed like a bright, newsy, real newspaper after the Soviet press…. Whatever the shortcomings of the Western press, there is no comparison between it and the Soviet press….

    [T]he present leaders of the Soviet Union are dishonest… with their own people…. If they want to make a clean break with the Stalinist past, they can best demonstrate it by telling their people what they are doing and why…. No one outside a very small circle at the top really knows why Beria was executed…. Only persons rendered permanently idiotic by complete submergence in party-line literature will take at face value the charge that he was a British or imperialist agent. This is how Stalin operated… first slander and then the firing squad were his answers. And everybody turned out to be a foreign agent!…

    To blame the evils of Stalinism on Stalin is obviously inadequate…. Stalinism was the natural fruit of the whole spirit of the Communist movement. The wanton executions, the frame-ups, the unjust convictions and exiles–these would not have been possible except in a movement whose members had been taught not only to obey unquestionably but to hate…. This was the spirit the Communist movement bred. Stalin embodied that spirit.

    There is more here:http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/09/if_stone_on_rus.html

  • jdyer

    The post above with the self serving quote doesn’t change my view of Stone.

    First, any one can takes quotes out of context.

    Second, people who worship Stone (pun intended) seem not to want to read his comments critically. They take it for granted that he was right about everything as one poster above said:

    .

    Don Solomon Says:

    September 28th, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    “Stone was right when everyone else was wrong, and he proved it time and again….”

    It’s easy to disprove the above comment from one of the sentences of his quoted in the web site linked above”

    Stone criticism of Stalinism came late in the game, it happened after Stalin’s death and after Khruschev denounced him at a party meeting. By that time tens of thousands of former Communsits world wide had already left the party having shown the kind of terror that was being inflicted in the Soviet State.

    Even after attacking the Communinst terror in 1956 he still had to say that

    “The more one studies Russian hisotry the more one sees how deep were the roots of Leninism in Russian radical thinking of the nineteenth century…. [S]ocialism in Russia is there to stay…. Russian industrialization, despite Russian solvenliness and that callous waste of men and manpower one feels in Russia, has advanced on giant boots, thanks to economic planning…. ”

    In other words he is still arguing that there was a deep historical inevitebility to Russian Bolshevism. He also states that Soviet Communism (socialism) is “here to stay.”

    Still, I do giving him credit for finally coming to his senses. What is troubling is that it took a speech by Bolshevik leader to dissilusion him.

    The work of Orwell, of Arthur Koestler, and many others (and not just Trostkyites) wasn’t enough for him.

    Even a Marxist inspired website said this about him:

    “It has been claimed that Stone sought to sever his ties with the KGB after traveling to the Soviet Union in 1956 and hearing Nikita Khrushchev’s speech denouncing Stalin and the tyranny of his regime. According to Kalugin, It is true that Stone sought to sever ties in 1956, but the latter explanation appears to be apocryphal (Kalugin eventually persuaded Stone to maintain his ties).

    A plausible alternate explanation for the break is that in 1956 the Soviets invaded Hungary. Stone apparently severed all ties to the Soviets after the 1968 Czechoslovakian uprising and subsequent quelling of the revolt.”

    http://dictionary.laborlawtalk.com/I._F._Stone

    The guy wasn’t perfect by any means and people tend to want to excuse his failings because of his opposition to the Vietnam war.

    Well, I too opposed the Vietnam war in the early 70′s, but after studying the subject closely for many years I have come the to conclusion that I was wrong. Had we supported Hubert Humphrey in 1968 there would not have been the sharp turn to the right.

    One other point, Stone is quoted as saying that:

    “Whatever the shortcomings of the Western press, there is no comparison between it and the Soviet press….”

    For once he was right.

    However, if he was right then Chomsky who had argued that there was no difference between the press in the US and the Soviet Union must have been wrong.

    People, you can’t have it both ways!

  • Potter

    my bold: Second, people who worship Stone (pun intended) seem not to want to read his comments critically. They take it for granted that he was right about everything as one poster above said:

    ( note: change “worship” to “appreciate” and we get closer to what is trying to happen here and on the show. This thread started off negative and a corrective was called for.)

    from the above post: Don Solomon Says:

    September 28th, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    “Stone was right when everyone else was wrong, and he proved it time and again….”

    It’s easy to disprove the above comment from one of the sentences of his quoted in the web site linked above”

    in other words: “proved it time and again” = “right about everything”

    Sounds familiar.

    Is this also then out of context and self-serving as well complaining about being out of context while using the same source?

    However, if he was right then Chomsky who had argued that there was no difference between the press in the US and the Soviet Union must have been wrong.

    People, you can’t have it both ways!

    This was the first mention of Chomsky on this thread and I don’t recall anyone anywhere saying that Chomsky was always or that I F Stone was always right.

    The above argument amounts to small army of straw men. And to use a tired phrase and echoe what has been said but not heard re looking at I F Stone from this vantage point : hindsight is 20/20.

  • fiddlesticks

    “Still, I do giving him credit for finally coming to his senses. What is troubling is that it took a speech by Bolshevik leader to dissilusion him.”

    Dyer, you are being too generous. IF Stone was a useful idiot most of his life, either for old left or the new left. I also see no difference between him and Chumpsky.

  • jdyer

    fiddlesticks Says: “Dyer, you are being too generous. IF Stone was a useful idiot most of his life, either for old left or the new left. I also see no difference between him and Chumpsky.”

    he may have been a political idiot, but he was of use mostly to people who already thought the way he did.

    I agree with 1/14′s post which says:

    September 22nd, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    “His rather sympathetic biographer Robert Cottrell wrote that “there was something disingenuous in [Stone’s] willingness to suspend judgment or to refuse to criticize still more forcefully the terror that was being played out in Soviet Russia…. What could not be denied was that Stone, like many of his political and intellectual counterparts, continued to afford Russia and even Stalinist communism something of a double standard, fearing that to do otherwise would endanger … the very possibility of socialism”. ”

    This has been my impression also after heaving read his newsletter for many years as well as a number of his books.

    People interested in going beyond snippy poster’s comments should read:

    Author Stone, I. F. (Isidor F.), 1907-

    “The hidden history of the Korean War.” New York, Monthly Review Press, 1952.

    Any good library should have the 1952 Ed.

    The book is a revelation.

  • fiddlesticks

    “he may have been a political idiot, but he was of use mostly to people who already thought the way he did.”

    Dyer, he did a lot of harm to this country and he knew what he was doing.

    “hindsight is 20/20.”

    This is pretty stupid, Potter. Would you say the same of someone who was a cheerleader for the Nazis till 1946 and then changed his mind?

  • jdyer

    [This comment has been deleted. Please refer to The Rules and keep it civil-- Greta]

  • jdyer

    I was suprised to read in the sunday NY Times Book Review a piece by the well known leftist man of letter and editor of Dissent on I. F. Stone.

    Rather than comment on it, I’ll just set up a link to the article which was introduced in a suprise move by a sunday Book Review editors:

    Here is the introduction:

    Up Front

    By THE EDITORS

    “For many years now Paul Berman, a self-described “literature-and-politics man,” has rigorously examined the contradictions of ideological commitment, most recently in his books “Terror and Liberalism” and “Power and the Idealists.” Berman’s own ideological path has taken some interesting turns. A participant in the Columbia University protests of the late 1960’s, he later wrote skeptically about leftist governments in Latin America.

    This week Berman reviews “ ‘All Governments Lie’: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone,” by Myra MacPherson, and “The Best of I. F. Stone,” edited by Karl Weber. Berman did not meet Stone, but in an e-mail message said, “I revered Stone during my time in the Vietnam antiwar movement, and for many years later — even if I always knew that in the old-fashioned anti-Communist corners of the left, some people had their reservations. Today, when I look back on the whole of his career, the old complaints about him make more sense to me.”

    Stone’s legacy, Berman notes, is seen today in the journalistic reflex “to focus so intently on the deeds and misdeeds of our own government as to blind ourselves sometimes to other ghastly goings-on around the world.” ”

    Read it here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/books/review/Upfront.t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&ref=review&pagewanted=print

    and here is the article:

    The Watchdog

    By PAUL BERMAN

    “Does the memory of the independent-minded, hearing-impaired, liberally leftist, reliably humorous, ever quizzical and wonderfully prolific journalist I. F. Stone have anything to offer to us today? Myra MacPherson has written a biography under the Stone-quoting title “ ‘All Governments Lie,’ ” in order to demonstrate that Stone and his journalistic achievements do have something to offer, and Karl Weber and the publisher Peter Osnos have brought out an anthology of 65 articles called “The Best of I. F. Stone” in order to demonstrate that MacPherson is right. And it is easy to see what the biographer and the anthologists have in mind.”

    Read it all here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/books/review/Berman.t.html?ref=review

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