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Nathaniel Weyl Dies


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From the May 8, 2005 "New York Times":

Nathaniel Weyl, a writer and economist who was best known for the minor role he played in the Alger Hiss spy case, died on April 13 at his home in Ojai, Calif. He was 94.

Mr. Weyl died of natural causes, said his stepdaughter Georgianne Cowan.

One of a type of midcentury American intellectual who repudiated youthful communist affiliation and tilted toward conservative thought, Mr. Weyl wrote several books, and two of them, "Treason" (1950) and "Red Star Over Cuba (1960), aroused critical interest and set off discussion in their times.

But it was his admission that he had been a communist in the 1930's, and a member of the so-called Ware Group along with Hiss, that earned Mr. Weyl a measure of notoriety. Mr. Weyl (pronounced "while") had been active in leftist student groups while he was an undergraduate at Columbia College. He left academic life for Washington in 1933 and joined the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, where he was recruited into a communist cell that, he would later testify, included Hiss.

In 1952, a Time magazine reporter watched at a Senate subcommittee meeting as Mr. Weyl, "a deliberate, conservative witness," who "dragged deeply on cigarette after cigarette," testified how he had seen Hiss at more than two meetings of the communist cell.

Mr. Weyl's testimony added weight to the charges already brought against Hiss by Whittaker Chambers, who had accused him of espionage.

Hiss, a former State Department official, was convicted of perjury in 1950 and served 44 months in prison.

According to Ms. Cowan, in later life Mr. Weyl moderated his conservative views, and voted for Bill Clinton and John Kerry.

Nathaniel Weyl was born on July 20, 1910, in New York City, the only child of Walter Edward Weyl, a founder of The New Republic and a prominent progressive, and Bertha Poole Weyl.

He received a bachelor's degree from Columbia College in 1931 and did some postgraduate work at the London School of Economics and at Columbia University. He spent two years overseas in the Army in World War II.

In addition to Ms. Cowan, of Los Angeles, Mr. Weyl is survived by his twin sons, Walter and Jonathan, both of Florida; and another stepdaughter, Jeanne Cowan of Boston.

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It amazes me to read that Mr. Weyl voted for Clinton and Kerry.  From his postings it seemed his mind retained the lucidity of his youth . . .

Nathaniel told me it was because he considered the Republicans were being led by corrupt politicians. Although I disagreed with him about most political issues, I got on with him because he was basically an honest man. It was clear that he was unwilling to tell me everything he knew about the JFK assassination. However, I don’t think he ever lied to me (although he probably did not forget as much as he said he did).

Remember, he had been a socialist in his youth. His politics was based on idealism (like his father). Understandably, his experiences in the Communist Party made him disillusioned with the state capitalism of the Soviet Union. However, he remained a liberal at heart (although his views on the superiority of the Jewish race bordered on racism).

Unfortunately we have lost another possible witness to what went on in Dallas in 1963.

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Very good post, John.

I agree with you that Weyl was a fine and honest man, although like you I thought some of his views on race and eugenics were wrong.

I also agree with you that one can be a "liberal at heart" and a strong anti-communist. That I think is also a very good description of John F. Kennedy.

Shucks, I should have noted the name of the book but I recently saw a used book about the evils of Commuinism and the introduction to the book was written by the "Kennedy priest" Richard Cardinal Cushing. No question JFK's views were influenced by, for instance, his father, Cardinal Cushing and Tom Dooley.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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I tried to push Nathaniel a little after reading somewhere that John Martino and William Pawley had both done extensive interviews with him. When he responded he didn't have any of those old tapes, it occurred to me for the first time that he must be pretty old. But 94!! He had a pretty good run. A few months back, I came across a book by Nathaniel from the early 60's in which he linked a lot of the African independence movements to communism. As I remember he singled out Mandela in particular as a commie. I didn't have the heart to call him on it. Farewell, Mr. Weyl.

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It amazes me to read that Mr. Weyl voted for Clinton and Kerry.  From his postings it seemed his mind retained the lucidity of his youth . . .

Nathaniel told me it was because he considered the Republicans were being led by corrupt politicians. Although I disagreed with him about most political issues, I got on with him because he was basically an honest man. It was clear that he was unwilling to tell me everything he knew about the JFK assassination. However, I don’t think he ever lied to me (although he probably did not forget as much as he said he did).

Remember, he had been a socialist in his youth. His politics was based on idealism (like his father). Understandably, his experiences in the Communist Party made him disillusioned with the state capitalism of the Soviet Union. However, he remained a liberal at heart (although his views on the superiority of the Jewish race bordered on racism).

Unfortunately we have lost another possible witness to what went on in Dallas in 1963.

John,

Nathaniel's views on Jewish superiority make it very unlikely that he would have divulged all he knew about the assassination, especially if there was, as I suspect, Israeli Government involvement in the assassination.

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Just a note about left-wing anti-Communism from a European perspective.

At the time at which Weyl was gaining his formative experiences about socialism and communism (probably from European emigrants heavily influenced by the ideas about socialism and anarchism swirling about in the late 19th-century) there was a life-and-death struggle going on between Socialists and Communists for control of the ideology.

The Russian Revolution was very much a case of the minority Communists staging a coup against the majority Socialists, and then systematically rooting their opponents out.

In Sweden and many other European countries, the years after World War 1 were marked by bitter struggles between social-democrats and communists for supremacy in the labour movement, which struggles the social-democrats generally won (in non-totalitarian societies).

Then, after World War 2, the Soviets systematically imprisoned and killed social-democrats in the countries they liberated (from the Nazis). The Czechs, for example, had had a very strong social-democratic movement, but this was eliminated after the Soviet takeover.

The result of this was that social-democrats tended to be very strong anti-communists. Sweden's social democrats, for example, who designed one of the most 'liberal' (in US terms) societies in the world, collaborated actively with NATO and the Americans in the 1940s and 1950s (carrying out spying missions for them, for example). Olof Palme (who was as progressive as you get in most other contexts) helped in the setting up of IB - a special bureau whose task was to identify Communist sympathisers in the trade unions and out in working life and put them under surveillance (wire-tapping, mail opening, etc). Many hundreds of people were sacked from their jobs with no explanations, and many of these are now receiving damages for loss of livelihood, etc. It was a routine procedure to submit any job applications for jobs in state-run organisations to IB. One of the most notorious cases was a carpenter who couldn't work at the Karlskrona Maritime Museum because he'd been a Communist in his youth.

When pressed, the Social Democrats actively defended their actions - they claimed that it was absolutely essential for military intelligence to know who the Communists were, so that they could be interned in case of invasion from the East.

So … being a liberal and being an anti-communist at the same time is, I would say, the rule, rather than the exception, at least in Europe.

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So … being a liberal and being an anti-communist at the same time is, I would say, the rule, rather than the exception, at least in Europe.

Excellent posting. This is a point not grasped by most right-wing Americans. In fact, it is something that many people in Europe do not understand.

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I also agree with you that one can be a "liberal at heart" and a strong anti-communist. That I think is also a very good description of John F. Kennedy.

This is way off-topic, but this sounds a lot like the descriptions of Dave Ferrie that I have heard from his friends.

For years, Ferrie was regarded as a right-wing extremist, due to some dgree to his friendship with the truly right-wing Banister, and due to his own outspoken anti-communiism. Gus Russo caused a stir when he quoted Ferrie friends describing him as less right-wing than thought, even liberal in some ways.

I have heard the same from his friends. Many were boys at the time, politically unaware or unable to distinguish levels levels of political belief, but a few were older and more apt to have discussed politics with him. They describe him as a pacifist in WWII with liberal beliefs typical of the time. He was embarrased by a war-hero brother and became vociferously anti-communist by the early 50s. He supported civil rights, space research, some forms of government assistance and open discussion of all things political. But he supported fiscal austerity and clearly had a blind spot about Castro. Not unlike other liberal anti-communists of the time. Several told me that he voted for JFK, a fellow Irish-Catholic, but became irritated by his "balllessness" at the Bay of Pigs.

One of the books in his collection was Red Star Over Cuba by Weyl!

Things are not always black and white.

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[i also agree with you that one can be a "liberal at heart" and a strong anti-communist. That I think is also a very good description of John F. Kennedy.

_______________________

I have always been anti-communist and a strong liberal at the same time. Have never seen any contradiction.

I also read all Ayn Rand's works as a young woman and I know that greatly influenced my views re. communism.

Dawn

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I believe the Israeli GOVERNMENT was involved.

Mark,

Do you base that on the presence of Rabin in Texas, on Vanunu's recent claim, on the evidence in the book Final Judgment, or on all of the above?

In any case, I just found out today that the Chinese did it. But Tim will be gratified to know that Castro was also involved. It's in Volume 26, pp. 407-409 (CE 2946).

This confirms the suspicion I've always had about E. Howard Hunt's alibi that he went to a Chinese restaurant in DC on 11/22/63. Now what made him think of a Chinese restaurant? It all falls into place!

The clincher would be if that cheap shipping casket that the body arrived in at Bethesda was found to be Made in China.

http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/jfk/wc/w...Vol26_0222a.htm

Ron

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