Blogs > Liberty and Power > Alfred Kohlberg, Joe McCarthy, and the China Lobby

May 26, 2005 10:09 am

Alfred Kohlberg, Joe McCarthy, and the China Lobby

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David T. Beito - 6/1/2005

One of McCarthy's old friends made an apt comparison. When asked who most resembles McCarthy today, he said Evil Knieval. McCarthy was a poker player and a bluffer. I don't think it is fair to call him an aspiring fascist dicator. His ambitions were limited.

An example of his bluffing was his famous speech in Wheeling which said he had a "list of names" of 205 (later revised to 57) "card carrying Communists" in the state department. When challenged, he used Hoover and other sources to dig up some names of Communists and fellow travelers such as Lattimore, etc. but this was after the fact. There was no way the number was anywhere near the 205 or 57 mark.

As Justin and others like Leo Ribuffo in his excellent book, The Old Right, have pointed out, part of the appeal of McCarthy was that he represented payback for the Red Scare and a change to expose the smug and satisfied New Deal elite. It was a little like the anti-Clinton mania (which I largely shared at the time), a few years ago. Conservatives were looking for any way to bring him down and didn't seem to care much about details. Of course, McCarthy was partly right. There were Communists in the federal government and people who suspected this felt "at least he is doing something."

Kenneth R Gregg - 6/1/2005


Chodorov once said (to Robert LeFevre who told it to me) that McCarthy's efforts were futile, because "you can't get rid of commies in government, it's their natural breeding ground!"

The Old Rightists that I had spoken to about this subject (Ingebretson, LeFevre, MacCallum and some less-well knowns) were sympathetic with McCarthy and did think that his intent was right, just that his methods should have been different. They largely considered it to be a response to the blacklisting that they had experienced from Franklinstein's minions in the decade previously.

Just(in) a thought.
Just Ken

Justin Raimondo - 5/31/2005

Lawrence Dennis was disdainful of McCarthy and his movement: any red who was caught by the FBI, he said, was "good riddance for the reds." Frank Chodorov has an equivocal attitude: Tail-Gunner Joe, in his view, didn't "go far enough." The idea was to abolish govt' agencies, not "cleanse" them. Even so, as Justus Doenecke tells it, "the right-wing anarchist counted himself on McCarthy's side." The Old Right publishers Henry Regnery and Devin Garrity (of Caxton Printers) put together a "Declaration of Conscience" signed by many Old Rightists complaining that the national media was being unfair to McCarthy: I wonder if Garrett's name is on it....

Kenneth R Gregg - 5/27/2005

Agreed, David. "Red Channels" was in many ways the hinge on opening up the whole McCarthyite maelstrom. The book gave them credibility and justification for their actions.

I know that Eisenhower considered McCarthy one of his "top two" most hated persons in America. I suspect that Taft put him pretty high on his hate list as well.

I don't know about Garrett. I think he was pretty disgusted with everything at that time. I'm afraid I couldn't tell you about Dennis.

Just Ken

Chris Matthew Sciabarra - 5/27/2005

David, that book on Flynn looks ~fascinating~... thanks for alerting us about it!

David Timothy Beito - 5/27/2005

You are right Kohlberg, according to Reeves, was part of the Plain Talk crowd. The Red Channels connection is particularly disturbing.

The essay on Rothbard is fascinating. It seems to confirm the view that isolationist support for McCarthy was to some extent "payback" for the brown scare. Interestingly, as you know, McCarthy was not originally from the isolationist wing of the party and in 1952 had stayed aloof from the Taft/Eisenhower race.

What was Garet Garrett's view on McCarthy? My sense is that he would have been critical....but this is only a guess based on the tone of his essay in the People's Pottage.

I seem to recall that Lawrence Dennis was pretty critical of McCarthy as was Rep. George Bender, a little known isolationist Republican.

Kenneth R Gregg - 5/27/2005

I have read some of Kohlberg's essays. He was a wealthy textile owner who had made his fortune importing silk and Irish linen that was then embroidered in China, a financial contributor to The Freeman in the '50's, supporter of a large collection of cuneiform tablets at UC Berkeley. I had assumed that he was part of the Isaac Don Levine "Plain Talk" crowd. Joseph Keeley in his biography of Alfred Kohlberg called "The China Lobby Man." From what I understand, he was also a founder of the "American Jewish League Against Communism" (and a host of other China Lobby organizations), as well as a noted supporter of McCarthy.

He helped to fund in 1950 "Red Channels," a 213-page compilation of the alleged Communist affiliations of 151 actors, writers, musicians, and other radio and television entertainers, which appeared three days before the start of the Korean War. He also reputedly helped to finance some of Edith Efron's early writings.

I haven't read the Moser book. Am looking forward to reading it as well. Have always been a fan of Flynn.

Just a thought.

Just Ken

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