Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. “Philby and Treason”

Firing Line Videos, Hoover Institution, taped on February 26, 1968, uploaded to YouTube on August 13, 2010.

Guest: Rebecca West


Dame Rebecca, who had recently published The New Meaning of Treason, was invited on Firing Line to discuss Kim Philby and his spectacular defection to the Soviet Union. For connoisseurs of a certain sort of British intellectual, this show is hard to beat. West: “You see, it is historically interesting that he wasn’t really of a very important family. He was of a very charming family. But he wasn’t of a very important family.” Buckley: “If he had been important, he wouldn’t have been discovered yet, do you mean?” West: “No. What I mean is that Philby had all the slight thrill that his father gave people. You see, his father was pro-Arab. And the British establishment, the British upper class, has always been pro-Arab–I think because the British upper class has always been very fond of horses–” Buckley: “No, come on.” West: “–and it all works together. Yes, that’s quite true. . . . A great many of the English upper-class people approved of Philby because he was on the right side with those Bedouin chaps.”