Freeman

BOOK REVIEW

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.

Rapid Industrialization

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. 

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March 1969

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Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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