The Origin of America's Intellectual Vacuum
Date Written: 15/11/2010
Year Published: 2010
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX12398
A profile of Chandler Davis, a blacklisted mathematician who served six months in jail for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Repression does not target original thought, Davis noted. It targets already established heretical movements, which are not experimental but codified. If it succeeds very well in punishing heresies, it may in the next stage punish originality. And in the population, fear of uttering such a taboo word as communism may in the next stage become general paralysis of social thought.
It is this paralysis he watches from Toronto. It is a paralysis he predicted. Opinions and questions regarded as possible in the 1930s are, he mourns, now forgotten and no longer part of intellectual and political debate. And perhaps even more egregiously the fight and struggle of radical communists, socialists and anarchists in the 1930s against lynching, discrimination, segregation and sexism were largely purged from the history books. It was as if the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had no antecedents in the battles of the Wobblies as well as the socialist and communist movements.