Friday, September 08, 2006

This Little Brit

In June 1946, Ms. [Olivia] de Havilland was asked to deliver speeches that seemed to be straight from the Communist Party line. … She refused and rewrote the speeches, this time championing President Truman's anti-Communist program, making her persona non grata in Communist Party circles. … Ms. de Havilland felt a great sense of personal betrayal that the communists had used her, other celebrities and liberalism as covers for their party work. … Ms. de Havilland began taking the lead in trying to circumvent the organization's communist core. Her ultimate goal was to have an anticommunist declaration by the committee appear in newspapers. … Ms. de Havilland's group was making plans to fight communism. "There I was, the only woman in the group," she says, "this little Brit trying to be a good American." …

Ms. de Havilland was impressed with what she saw in Reagan. … [She] encouraged him to take a tougher stand on communism. "I said, 'Ronnie, it's not strong enough. It's not strong enough. It has to be stronger than that or I won't accept it," she says. … But there's one question that still haunts her from that era: why so many brilliant people were seduced by communism in the first place. "That," says Ms. de Havilland pensively, "is a mystery."

Read the rest. (Hat Tip Bilwick)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

But there's one question that still haunts her from that era: why so many brilliant people were seduced by communism in the first place. "That," says Ms. de Havilland pensively, "is a mystery."

She answers her own question in her interview to the WSJ.

How fortunate then that she found herself at a White House luncheon in 1940, shortly after the "Gone With the Wind" premiere. She was awestruck by President Roosevelt. "I began to realize he took initiatives during the Depression that saved the country -- and probably saved it from communism."

When poverty and economic depression becomes matter of fact, then communism and fascism become a dominant force for years to come.

9/8/06, 4:03 PM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

I do not find it a mystery that many brilliant people were seduced by communism, nor find the answer in poverty and depression. It only appears to be a mystery when we presume that people are guided strictly by reason and realities. Actually, communism was motivated by a sense of justice, where the oppressive capitalists would be prevented from persecuting the workers and minorities.

This is evident when we see that the arguments of the class struggle are spurious, while their advocates fall back on such emotionalisms as "You have to have a heart." Moreover, were poverty and depression central, people would have recognized the enormous success of capitalism, and the devastating effects of communism. Furthermore, the success of the free-market after the second world war, made no impact on communists, who simply said that it was deepening the crisis of capitalism.

I emphasize the role of aspirations, for it is one of the areas left out in the discussions of faith versus reason. Those who think that man is guided strictly by reason, without the imperative of sound aspirations, will lose the war of ideas. A sound sense of justice is not which group is being considered, but that everyone should get what he deserves. (This is the meaning of 'justice' wearing a blindfold.)

9/8/06, 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love stories like this!!!

Anyway, communism is always the brainchild of breakaway sons of privilege with colossal wills to power. Without impresarios to move and shake it, 40%+ unemployment won't necessarily lead to communist or fascist dictatorship.

9/8/06, 10:38 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Olivia de Havilland will always be Melanie Wilkes to me (Gone with the Wind). Or maybe the star of The Snake Pit; she apparently was in a different kind of snake pit in Hollywood.

Very interesting post, Jason.

9/9/06, 7:43 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...


I am not familiar with your reading list but this is in Shwiekers Book on Reagan. It is also discussed by Prof Radosh in his book in passing.

Beamish in 08

9/9/06, 11:06 PM  
Blogger George Mason said...

I am so glad to learn this.

9/13/06, 5:08 PM  

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