By Michael Kimmage
The Conservative flip tells the tale of postwar America’s political evolution via interesting figures: Lionel Trilling and Whittaker Chambers. Born on the flip of the 20 th century, they have been collage classmates who went directly to highbrow prominence, sharing the questions, crises, and demanding situations in their new release. A secret agent for the Soviet Union within the Nineteen Thirties, Chambers grew to become the most witness within the 1948 trial of Alger Hiss, which led to Hiss’s conviction for perjury. The trial complicated the careers of Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy and marked the start of the chilly warfare temper in the United States. Chambers used to be additionally a big conservative philosopher, a theorist of the postwar conservative stream. in the meantime, within the Nineteen Forties and Nineteen Fifties, the literary critic Trilling wrote vital essays that inspired liberals to disown their radical previous and to include a balanced adulthood. Trilling’s liberal anti-communism used to be hugely influential, culminating politically within the presidency of John F. Kennedy. Kimmage argues that the divergent careers of those males exemplify very important advancements in postwar American politics: the emergence of contemporary conservatism and the increase of average liberalism, crucially formed by way of anti-communism. Taken jointly, those advancements represent a conservative flip in American political and highbrow life—a flip that maintains to form America’s political panorama. (20090517)
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Additional resources for The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers, and the Lessons of Anti-Communism
30 Erskine’s general honors course and the more avant-garde Morningside circle were not wholly separate. A reverence for master texts touched them both, and the general honors course could inform the discussion of modern despair. For Trilling one of the representative figures of this despair was Matthew Arnold. At the same time classical and modern, Arnold bore a genealogical relationship to Erskine, who “had been a pupil at Columbia of George Eliot Woodberry, who at Harvard had been the pupil of Charles Eliot Norton, who had been the friend of Carlyle, Ruskin, and Matthew Arnold,” Trilling wrote in the autobiographical mode.
When Chambers submitted some religious poetry to Van Doren (as he recalled in an autobiographical document written for the FBI), his adviser “said it was very interesting but that it contained ‘a pathological fallacy,’ which I had never heard of until then. ’ ” In retrospect, Chambers was emphatic about his advisor’s influence: “I think that was the beginning of my pulverization in college,” he wrote. ’ ”51 Once wounded by liberalism, Chambers’s conservatism could no longer protect him from the radicalism of The Morningside circle.
But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world. —matthew arnold, “Dover Beach” adical times called for radical measures or at least for radical gestures. Whittaker Chambers first achieved notoriety as a college undergraduate when he wrote an atheist play “A Play for Puppets,” which he published in Columbia College’s literary journal, The Morningside. ” Others were less impressed. Professor John Erskine, doyen of humanities at Columbia and creator of its “great books” program, found Chambers’s play immoral.