Freedom and Loyalty

The Journal of Politics 18:1 (February 1956), 17–27.


It is best to begin with what is familiar and, I hope, noncontroversial. Until the first World War there was no problem of freedom and loyalty to speak of in the United States. There were no un-American activities committees either because there were no un-American activities or because the government had no knowledge of or concern with them. Americans enjoyed personal freedom and, generally, the nineteenth century was marked by a high degree of mutual trust. Or, one might also say, the nineteenth century was marked by a high degree of mutual trust and therefore Americans enjoyed personal freedom. When people trust one another, there can be personal freedom; when people do not trust one another, there is not likely to be personal freedom; when there is good reason not to trust one another, there should not be unlimited personal freedom. The twentieth century brought some changes in the social climate without a commensurate change in our notions of the place of freedom in America, although some changes here, and in our political understanding generally, are certainly in order.

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