converts to the left

James Farmelant farmelantj at
Thu Sep 24 06:07:28 PDT 1998

A noted example of someone who went from right to left back to the right was James Burnham. He started out as a disciple of T.S. Eliot and an expounder of Aquinas, then in the 1930s became a Marxist and a leading figure in the SWP. Along with Max Schachtman he clashed with Trotsky and eventually broke with Trotsky over the thesis of bureaucratic collectivism. In the 1940s he swung to the far right and in the 1950s joined William F. Buckley's National Review.

Jim Farmelant

On Wed, 23 Sep 1998 23:05:58 EDT JKSCHW at writes:
>In a message dated 98-09-23 13:14:19 EDT, you write:
><< BTW, it's often said that profs. sometimes "come out of the closet"
> leftists when they get tenure. But I don't know if that's true.
>Further, I
> think that the indoctrination of grad. school, struggling to publish
>& get
> tenure, etc. affects the _kind_ of leftist one is when one gets the
>big T.
> The long and hard effort to get tenure encourages academic and
> leftism, employing all sorts of obscure jargon or math, dealing with
> questions, believing strongly in the divisions between and within
> disciplines, etc.
> >>
>I'm with Jim on this. I never saw it in 20 years in academe, rather
>reverse. Even those who kept the faith tend tro emerge chastened and
>And them of us as wasn't . . . lost our jobs.
>Oh, I have another right-to-left example: Milton Fisk, a former
>Catholic, now a Marxist philosopherr and a comrade of mine.

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