A Reviewer's Notebook - 1969/3
MARCH 01, 1969 by JOHN CHAMBERLAIN
Nothing is simple. The good libertarian, if he follows his theory to the end, must be for the free movement of people, goods, gold, information, and ideas over the surface of the earth. He must be for the unrestrained immigration of Indians into Great Britain, or Chinese and Negroes into Australia, or Arabs into Israel, and Israeli into Egypt or Tunis. He must be for applying the principle of "one man, one vote" to Rhodesia and South Africa. But in the practical world, the free movement of men who do not care for freedom can be destructive of all the individual liberties that have been painfully wrung from governments over twenty centuries of intensive struggle.
The paradoxical results of supporting the idea of freedom for people who don’t in the least care to preserve it are spelled out in great detail in Dr. Franco Nogueira’s remarkable little book, The Third World (Johnson Publications, London, England), which comes to us with an enthusiastic foreword by former U.S. Secretary of State, Dean Acheson. Dr. Nogueira is the Portuguese Foreign Minister, a job to which he succeeded after a scarifying experience as a delegate for his country at the UN General Assembly. In the UN the nations of the "third world" form what is known as the Afro-Asian bloc. The Afro-Asian nations are loud in praise of democracy, liberalism, and other Western concepts, but in Dr. Nogueira’s experience they don’t understand anything they say.
As a Portuguese Dr. Nogueira had, of course, to defend the record of leis countrymen in Africa, where Portugal retains its hold on Angola and Mozambique. Unlike the white Rhodesians and the Boers of South Africa, the Portuguese are champions of a real multiracialism. They don’t care who marries whom. They extend the same liberties to everybody, whether white, black, brown, or yellow; and they consider their African soil to be part of the grand cosmopolitan nation of Greater Portugal. Yet, in spite of practicing the sort of liberalism which the nations of the "third world" say they want to see restored all over Africa, the Portuguese find themselves denounced in the UN as "reactionary colonialists."
Myth of Democratic Development
Dr. Nogueira makes his points about Portugal’s record in Africa succinctly. He believes his country is still in Africa precisely because it has had a policy that does justice to the concept of multiracialism. But this book is not an apologia. It is mainly devoted to an exposure of the myths that control "almost all aspects of life" on the African continent outside of the Portuguese territories.
When Britain, France, and Belgium decided to withdraw from Africa, the theory was that new multiracial states would respect the individual, leaving him in possession of his vote, his right to a representative political party, his civil rights, and his property. In Western Europe, the individual had increased his liberties in direct relation to his ability to make a living for himself by dependence on his unhampered skills and his own means of production. But in the new Africa of recent years, nationalist freedoms have been linked with the cause of socialism (African socialism in the sub-Sahara region, Arab socialism in the North along the Mediterranean). Not surprisingly to libertarians, the socialism of the new governments has proved incompatible with everything the leaders say they want for their people.
There is the myth of democratic development. In Africa, the tribe was always more important than the individual. Parliamentary freedom in the new African countries has invariably succumbed to tribal strife, with the big tribe setting up a despotism on the basis of a single mass party. The Ibos of Nigeria weren’t strong enough to maintain themselves as a separate bloc in a democratic state; hence, the necessity of recourse to tribal warfare to preserve their very existence. In the Congo, Moise Tshombe’s tribe wasn’t powerful enough to establish a separate statehood for Katanga. And in Kenya and Tanzania, the cattle-herding Masai are clearly an anachronistic element, doomed to eventual extinction as the more settled tribes such as the Kikuyu learn to work the levers of a centralized government.
Another African myth is that of rapid industrialization. The idea was that if the West were to pour in external aid, there could be a quick movement to what Walt Rostow has described as the "takeoff point." But, as Dr. Nogueira points out, industrialization depends on a healthy agriculture, a strong middle class to supply the "appropriate cadres" to operate industry, and an efficient and uncorrupt government. There is no sense giving Gabon, say, a factory to make television sets when there is no local market for them, and no technical intelligentsia to supply repairmen.
What particularly amuses Dr. Nogueira is the myth of land reform. The idea that land is monopolized in Africa "is demagogy pure and simple," for there is no scarcity of land in the African countries, there is only a scarcity of people. The extent of African under population is apparent when one considers that with only 250 million inhabitants, the African continent controls almost one-third of the votes in the United Nations. In another few years the U.S. will be more populous than all of Africa.
Another African myth concerns higher education. The theory is that if universities are created by government fiat, an effective intelligentsia will be produced in due course. But before you can have a university you have to have primary, rural, and technical schools. Africa is turning out doctors and engineers who are only so in name and in the diplomas they receive.
In an Africa so controlled by myth it is hardly strange that what we are seeing is the reemergence of the tribal chief. The coming of "uhuru," or freedom, has deprived Africans of the "moderating" power of the colonial administrator. When the state is taken over by the dominant tribe, the government exercises its new dominance with a harshness and despotism that may very well end with the enslavement of minorities. Opposition to the dominant tribe becomes a form of treason, to be punished as such.
On the world scale, the new tribal nations of Africa become pawns in the struggle between Moscow and the West. They are promised much, but actually get very little that they can use. Ironically, the small-scale agricultural missions sent to Africa by the Free Chinese of Taiwan have done more good for the new African nations than all the money poured in by the big powers that pretend to have African interests at heart.
Dean Acheson, in his pungent and lucid foreword, wonders why his own country, the United States, should lecture Portugal about her role in Africa when Angola is so much more peaceful than the Congo. It is a legitimate wonder.
DAGGER IN THE HEART: AMERICAN POLICY FAILURES IN CUBA by Mario Lazo (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968), 426 pp., $5.95.
Reviewed by Bettina Bien
To demonstrate that even disinterested eye-witnesses to an event may disagree as to what really happened, a professor of journalism stages this incident for his classes: A neighboring professor is loudly accused of indiscretion; he and his "attacker," brandishing weapons, dash out into the hall within sight of the future journalists. When the commotion subsides, the students are asked to report what took place and the differences in their accounts make the point for the teacher.
The writing of history, like the art of journalism, involves reporting events as accurately as possible. But it also calls for selection, interpretation, and evaluation. It is difficult enough to describe a simple, witnessed incident; it is even more difficult, if not impossible, to learn precisely what happened when witnesses and reporters of complex historical events are personally involved and when reputations and lives may be in jeopardy. Lincoln’s assassination has never been completely explained, nor has John F. Kennedy’s; historians still debate the significance of events leading to World Wars I and II; and the assignment of blame with respect to U. S. intervention in Cuba is one of many matters now in active dispute. Several associates of John F. Kennedy have published versions justifying his actions; and now we have the views of a close observer not responsible in any way for U. S. diplomatic decisions.
Mario Lazo, author of Dagger in the Heart, is a man of two nations. A noted Cuban lawyer, born and educated in this country, a U. S. Army officer in World War I, he has close ties to both countries. Although he recognizes that every historian has a national "bias," reports on Cuba since the late 1950′s contain what Mr. Lazo considers "planned distortion"—in Castro’s favor. Mr. Lazo traces Cuban history briefly from the Spanish-American War. No lover of Batista, he was nevertheless deeply concerned at the prospects of a Castro takeover. There were other potential leaders available. But one by one they were effectively eliminated by U. S. action, or inaction. Finally, when Batista was deliberately ousted, nothing stood between Castro and his seizure of power.
Mr. Lazo names names and places blame—principally on New York Times correspondent, Herbert Matthews, and U. S. State Department officials, Roy R. Rubottom, Jr. and William A. Wieland—for concealing the true situation in Cuba and for issuing reports obviously contrary to fact. U. S. diplomacy, based on such misinformation, led to decisions, delays, and sudden policy changes that proved antagonistic to both Cuban and U. S. interests. In spite of Castro’s communist ties, his verbal attacks on this country, his confiscation and nationalization of properties, reports biased in his favor led the U. S. government to trust him and his "socialist regime" for several years. The tentative decision to turn against him and to help anti-Castro Cubans was Eisenhower’s in early 1960; John F. Kennedy expanded and elaborated the plans in 1961, until they called for large-scale invasion by U. S. trained Cuban patriots with U. S. supplies and U. S. air cover. Knowledge of the scheme was widespread. But one man—Adlai Stevenson—raised strong objections after the plans were well advanced. Kennedy then backed down, and withdrew support of the invasion even after Cuban patriots had started landing at the "Bay of Pigs." Mr. Lazo paints a similar picture of delayed decisions and sudden last-minute reversals in the case of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. U. S. policy has in effect strengthened communism in Cuba making it a veritable "dagger in the heart" of the Western hemisphere.
Recent Cuban history has hung at times on such a slender thread as a misdirected letter that might have led to the election of anti-Batista forces in 1952. More often it has been shaped, as Mr. Lazo shows, by the political decisions of indecisive men on the basis of false reports and perhaps even deliberate misrepresentations, by diplomatic procedures that were surely remiss, by little men in high office. This book presents facts and interpretations which serious future historians must take into consideration when dealing with this phase of U. S. diplomacy. Although not a participant in U. S.-Cuban diplomacy himself, Mr. Lazo has long been a knowledgeable bystander and a friend of many who were involved. His analysis, amply supported by —FOOTNOTES—, often to the effect that the persons named have read and agreed with his interpretation, is an important chapter in the revisionist version of history which is so very much needed to counterbalance the many apologies being written and published on behalf of the political administrations involved.
THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY—HOW IT RUNS, WHERE IT IS GOING by Jacques Barzun (New York: Harper & Row), 319 pp., $7.95.
Reviewed by Robert M. Thornton and Edmund A. Opitz
A lot of things are happening on campus this season including, one presumes, some instruction. But today’s educational crisis has little to do, seemingly, with the content of the courses or the tools of learning; it concerns, rather, the sabotage of the educational process by the kind of institutions the giant universities have become.
It is imperative, if we desire to know what has happened to education, that we find a trustworthy expositor. Jacques Barzun has been associated with Columbia University for more than forty years, first as a student, then as teacher, and finally as administrator. He has a brilliant and far-ranging mind, as attested by the fine books he has authored during the past quarter century. He enlists our sympathy by first taking us behind the scenes and giving the reader some sense of the awesome task of just keeping a university going as a physical entity—in addition to the smooth provisioning of all the equipment, books, assistants, and other perquisites now deemed so essential to the task of teaching. Then he tells us what has gone wrong, and why. Finally, he outlines the remedial action.
Today’s university is expected to be all things to all people. Governments subsidize it to solve social problems, industry pays it to conduct research, and communities demand programs of adult education, so-called. Spreading itself too thin, more and more of the university’s time, talent, money, buildings, and equipment is used for purposes not consonant with its proper functioning, which is teaching and learning. The university, declares Barzun, under the load of demand and complaint and the corresponding loss of will to maintain its form, has abdicated from several provinces:
The unity of knowledge; the desire and power to teach; the authority and skill to pass judgment on what claims to be knowledge, to be a university, to be a scholar, to be a basic scientist; finally, the consciousness of what is properly academic—a consciousness which implies the right to decline alike: commercial opportunities, service assignments for industry, the administering of social welfare, and the bribes, flattery, or dictation of any self-seeking group.
Another problem is money. There is so much for impedimenta that the university strangles in its own affluence while the essentials starve for want of funds. Gifts from individuals or grants from governments and corporations have strings attached so that the funds cannot be internally directed in terms of a coherent university policy. A generous alumnus, for instance, donates a million dollars for a new building. This is very nice, except that the university will have to tap other resources to furnish, staff, and maintain the new building. Grants for government research may play havoc with university staffs, luring men from this school to that, paying them for nonteaching positions and incurring costs not paid for by the grants. Barzun notes, too, that in our inflationary economy the university is constantly faced with the challenge of meeting rising costs without increasing tuitions too much. And high taxes push up costs while discouraging potential donors.
Barzun lays about him unmercifully, sparing none who deserve criticism. He chastizes the university leaders who will not change their ways, as well as professors who do not or cannot teach. He scoffs at the idea of students running the schools and refutes this nonsense in short order, although sympathizing with many student complaints.
The final chapter, entitled "The Choice Ahead," lists no less than sixty-eight suggestions, and assumes sufficient health in our society to stand the cure—provided we have the will. Barzun ends his book on a note of quiet optimism:
I have tried to sketch, the latest and least interpreter in an ancient line, what choosing to have a university entails and what a great nation may expect from it—indeed must require. I do not doubt that the United States today still possesses the makings of a university, as I do not doubt that if circumstances send the institution into eclipse, the idea of it will survive into another day.