'ISOLATIONIST' PAR EXCELLENCE
this space, I am of course most interested in Chodorov's
views on foreign policy. Along with that whole generation
of libertarians, republicans, and conservatives we call
the Old Right, Chodorov was strongly committed to nonintervention.
As World War II took form, he wrote many antiwar editorials
in the old Freeman, a publication of the Henry
George School. For his pains, he was purged as editor
in 1942. He founded his own broadsheet, analysis
in 1944. In this little journal, he could truly write
what he thought. (There is some resemblance between
analysis and Dwight MacDonald's Politics
in the latter's left-wing pacifist phase.)
difficulties led to the merger of analysis with
another little journal, Human Events, in 1951.
In 1954-1955, Chodorov edited the new Freeman,
published by the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).
Another outlet for Chodorov's energies was the Intercollegiate
Society of Individualists, founded in 1950, later renamed
the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (if I understand
the institutional continuity correctly). The latter
is still in existence.
NONINTERVENTIONISM DOWN THE YEARS
had opposed US entry into World War II. Like many on
the Old Right who had had no illusions that the great
crusade would produce a better world, he saw little
reason to enlist in the sequel, the cold war. In early
1947, Congress debated the Truman Doctrine US
aid to any government anywhere, that claimed to be menaced
by our erstwhile heroic allies, the communists
and, specifically, the proposal to aid Greece and Turkey.
Chodorov foresaw "a Byzantine Empire of the West,"
if Truman's policy prevailed. He warned that "poking
into Europe's business would directly impact American
liberty: "Already there is a Red witchhunt afoot,
and experience tells us that when the exigencies of
the situation require it the definition of 'Red' will
include every person who raises his voice against the
going order." In the end, "when our imperialism
comes to grips with the empire of the commissars, ...
our liberties will vanish into communism."3
course that battle against the Greek-Turkish Aid Bill,
like so many others, was lost. In "Misguided Patriotism"
(March 1951), we find Chodorov questioning the role
of big business in assisting the political establishment.
The case of Charles Wilson of General Electric was "illustrative":
"He was called by Mr. Truman when the Korean affair
started.... Mr. Truman could think of no way out but
the regimentation of private life the only cure-all
in the politician's pharmacopia... He reached out into
industry for help." This "mesalliance"
between business and state could only strengthen the
state at the expense of liberty. Chodorov wrote: "To
put it bluntly: Communism will not be imported from
Moscow; it will come out of Wall Street and Main Street"
if business itself failed to make the proper
distinction between state and market.4
RIGHT VERSUS NEW RIGHT
the August 1954 Freeman there was something of
a debate between young William F. Buckley, Jr., paladin
of the interventionist new right, and Chodorov. Buckley
wrote that "to beat the Soviet Union we must, to
an extent, imitate the Soviet Union" with
conscription, higher taxes, and bureaucracy. He dismissed
the non-interventionists' fear that "we shall totalitarianize
ourselves to a point where life in the United States
would be indistinguishable from life in the Soviet Union,
save possibly for an enduring folkway or two."5]
"replied," in effect, that communism was an
idea, that could not be killed by military means.
All we could kill would be "natives" of other
countries, who happened to believe in that unworkable
idea if, for example, we should ever be so foolish
as to "send an army into Indochina." No, we
should stand firm for the ideals of private property
and freedom "and let all natives live."6
At this late date, I think it safe to say that Washington
did what it could to make life here "indistinguishable
from life in the Soviet Union" and, as for the
"enduring folkway or two," the entrenched
academic and bureaucratic left are bent on denying us
the battle for the soul of the right wing continued,
Chodorov made related points. He noted that we now suffered
increased public debt, high taxes, the "involuntary
servitude"of peacetime conscription, and "a
bureaucracy that compares favorably with in size with
that of the Nazi regime." In the cold war, as in
hot war, "the State acquires power... and because
of its insatiable lust for power [it] is incapable of
giving up any of it. The State never abdicates."
(Congressional Republicans, take note.) Overseas, our
rough-and-ready Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles,
was leaning on France to join the European Defense Community.
This reflected "a new kind of imperialism"
based on bribery and manipulation.7
came William S. Schlamm, right-wing immigrant and former
leftist, to argue the cold warrior's case in The
Freeman. Setting up the straw man of an "unarmed
U.S., minding its own pleasant business of freedom,"
he asked how we "could avoid being overrun by a
communist world monopoly of military power"? Evidently,
the non-interventionists were relying on "hunches"
that the communists weren't serious, or that God would
bail them out. But the commies were about to add "the
gigantic industrial powerhouse of western Europe to
the manpower and natural resources of Asia": against
this terrible threat the "unarmed US"
again his ungrounded assumption could never prevail.
No, he would rather "pay with the recoverable loss
of some of my liberties for a chance to avoid, for centuries,
the total loss of freedom."8
Well, we can't all plan so many centuries ahead, but
it seems clear that if the commies had overrun western
Europe and managed "the gigantic industrial powerhouse"
according to their theory and praxis, they would have
run it into the ground, quickly reducing their threat
to manageable proportions. But, alas, word of the problem
of economic calculation under socialism, as formulated
by Ludwig von Mises, seems not to have come to Mr. Schlamm.
As for "recoverable loss" of freedoms, I merely
ask the names of those recovered in recent memory. There
may be some, but I doubt the list is very long.
reply, Chodorov went over the ground methodically. We
were being told to be afraid, that war was inevitable
(again). But as "the articulate fearers" admitted,
their program required conscription. This suggested
that they knew that Americans would never volunteer
"to fight a war with Russia on foreign soil."
Americans had been conscripted in 1917 and for World
War II. This raised "the pertinent question: if
Americans did not want these wars should they have been
compelled to fight them?" (As often happens, here
the right-wing anti-statist sounds rather more "democratic"
than his opponent.) People who would compel Americans
to fight Russia "have the dictator complex."
Giving up our freedom to an American leviathan
in the name of stopping a hypothetical foreign leviathan
seemed a stacked deck to Chodorov. Either way,
we got leviathan. Actually, US withdrawal into our own
hemisphere would be advantageous by forcing the Soviets
to lengthen their supply lines if they really
were bent on attacking us. As for Europe: "it would
be hard on the Europeans if they fell into Soviet hands;
but not any worse than if we precipitated a war in
which their homes became the battlefield."9
Quite a few saved-by-being-destroyed villages later,
I think we can see that Chodorov had a point.
CLAMANTIS IN DESERTO
cause was the anti-interventionist and antistatist faith
of the older right wing. In the hysteria of the high
cold war Truman doctrine, the "fall"
of China, McCarthyism, Korea the interventionist
new rightists stampeded their constituents into another
cosmic crusade, at the successful conclusion of which
they would get their liberties back, no questions asked.
I suppose it would be rude to ask for them now, even
though the proximate justification for their surrender
fell of its own weight and lack of rational economic
calculation ten years ago.
1962, Chodorov summed up his foreign policy ideas in
his autobiography. "Isolationism," he wrote,
"is not a political policy, it is a natural attitude
of a people." Left to their own devices, the people
"do not feel any call to impose their own customs
and values on strangers." But "interventionism
is a conceit of the political leader" who finds
too little for himself to do in just presiding over
a self-regulating civil society. As a result of successful
campaigns for intervention in the past, we had
not a better world but "a monstrous bureaucracy
with a vested interest in intervention" and a nation
"committed to a program of interference in the
affairs of every country in the world." Alexander
had imposed Hellenism on western Asia, the Romans imposed
the pax Romana wherever they could, and Napoleon
imposed "liberty, equality, fraternity" on
Europe. Hitler spread Aryanism. Britain gave "a
taste of English civilization" to natives the world
over. Chodorov saw folly in all these imperial forms.
Since we all work now in the shadow of the fellow with
the mustache, I hasten to add that I doubt Chodorov
found each empire the exact moral equivalent of the
other. What he did hope was that Americans would listen
to a world tired of our overseas therapies and know-how
and "return to that isolationism which for over
a hundred years prospered the nation and gained for
us the respect and admiration of the world."10
Charles H. Hamilton, ed., Fugitive
Essays: Selected Writings of Frank Chodorov
(Liberty Press: Indianapolis, 1980), "Introduction,"
 Ibid., p. 14.
 Frank Chodorov, "A Byzantine Empire of the
West," analysis, April 1947 (placed in The
Congressional Record, vol. 93, part II, pp. A2015-16,
by Congressman Howard Buffett).
 Frank Chodorov, "Misguided Patriotism,"
Human Events, March 14, 1947, pp. 1-4.
 William F. Buckley, Jr., "A Dilemma of Conservatives,"
The Freeman, 5, 2 (August 1954), pp. 51-52.
 Frank Chodorov, "Reds Are Natives," ibid.,
 Frank Chodorov, "The Return of 1940?",
The Freeman, 5, 3 (September 1954), p. 81, and
"The New Imperialism," ibid., 5,5 (November
1954), p. 162.
 William S. Schlamm, "But It Is Not 1940,"
ibid., pp. 169-171.
 Frank Chodorov, "A War to Communize America,"
ibid., 171-174 (my italics in the last quotation).
 Frank Chodorov, Out of Step (New York: Devin-Adair
Co., 1962), Ch. XI, "Isolationism," pp. 113-123.
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