"It is a question the historians will ask with interest - the gentle, detached, not altogether loving interest with which historians have always questioned the impotent spirits of the dead. Young men working in the paper rubbish of our lives, the old journals, the marginal notations, the printed works, will discover (or so they will think) that the scholars and the writers of our generation in this country had been warned of danger as men were rarely warned before.
They will discover (or so they will think) that the common inherited culture of the West, by which alone our scholars and our writers lived, had been attacked in other countries with a stated and explicit purpose to destroy. They will discover that that purpose had been realized. They will discover that a similar purpose backed by similar forces, created by similar conditions, was forming here.
And it will seem to them strange - ironical and strange - that the great mass of American scholars and American writers made no effort to defend either themselves or the world by which they lived.
They will make of course the necessary reservations. They will note that societies of scholars and associations of writers adopted resolutions declaring their devotion to civilization. They will note that certain young novelists and poets, the most generous and gallant of their time, unable to endure the outrage and injustice, gave up their lives as writers and enlisted in the hopeless armies to fight brutality with force.
But of those who truly faced this danger not with their bodies but with their minds, of those who fought the enemies of the intellect with the weapons of the intellect, devoting to that warfare all the strength, all the imagination, all the resources of courage and inventiveness, all the watchfulness by day and night, all the last reserves of hope and skill and pain which men must use whose lives and more than lives are put in danger - of those who fought this danger with the weapons by which this danger could be overcome, they will record the names of very few.
And they will ask the question, Why did we, scholars and writers in America, in this time, we who had been warned of our danger not only by explicit threats but by explicit action, why did we not fight this danger while the weapons we used best - the weapons of ideas and words - could still be used against it?"
Archibald Macleish, The Irresponsibles, 1940
Macleish took quite a bit of heat from this protracted essay, since he named names in a 'disgraced profession' of the intellectual class which had said relatively little about the rise of fascism in Europe. Many were fawning, even unto the invasion of Poland.
How little changes over time. That example brings to mind the statement from Jamie Galbraith that economics is 'a disgraced profession,' and how quickly that was pushed aside in the pursuit of ideology and minutiae. And still nothing has really changed.
The SEC is mulling over the Winklevoss twins ETF for Bitcoin with the intended symbol 'COIN.'
Non-Farm Payrolls on Thursday.
Have a pleasant evening.