Witness by Whittaker Chambers was high on Dr. Richter's reading list for me after he wrestled the collectivist devil for my soul, and won. Three works by Orwell were also on the list: Animal Farm, 1984 and the memoir Homage to Catalonia. The thing that always impressed me about both Chambers and George Orwell was that they turned on collectivism believing that they were choosing the losing side of history -- that all they could expect for their choice was a bullet in the ear and an unmarked grave with lime thrown over them. Stephen Smoot explains how eternal Chambers' life and work is and how relevant it is yet today.
Since 1952, the media and most historians have tried to blackball the memory of Chambers while resurrecting the ghost of Joseph McCarthy at every opportunity. The Wisconsin Senator had holes in his allegations that a battleship could float through, but Chambers could back every assertion with details and evidence. What’s more, the former Time editor came from a media background. His speech and writing were simple and unadorned, but also clearly intellectual in ideas. Liberal America could not simply dismiss him as easily as McCarthy.Yet Chambers’ role in history was far more dangerous to liberal designs. First, he inspired two of the guiding intellects of the postwar conservative movement, William F. Buckley and Novak. Most importantly, Chambers threw a punch in the gut to the New Deal coalition’s main philosophical pillar, that the American people should place more trust in Washington bureaucracy than any other institution. New Deal apparatchiks sought to reshape the nation, all the while promising Americans that they could place 100 percent trust in their federal government, as opposed to corrupt state systems, or “greedy” businessmen. The media was the Greek chorus that echoed the government line. Chambers explained how many Soviet spies started in social welfare agencies and moved up into positions where they could undermine and sabotage the nation. Witness reminds Americans that it is a civic duty to not completely trust the government and individuals working within it, but to remember Ronald Reagan’s important maxim of “trust, but verify.” Only God has earned the unquestioning trust of mankind.Once again, we are asked to trust the federal government blindly and to ignore whatever man or men remain behind the curtains because they have good intentions. We are no longer supposed to even believe that an individual can succeed without the constant mothering of government. Witness reminds the American people and the media of the destructive potential born in too much trust placed in too much power.