Arthur Miller at 100
by Paul G. Kengor
Editor’s note: This article first appeared at The American Spectator.
October 17, 2015 is the centenary of the birth of Arthur Miller, one of the literary left’s shining lights and righteous crusaders against some of liberals’ worst demons: Joe McCarthy, “HUAC,” and, more generally, anti-communism. Yes, anti-communism. As often noted by Harvard’s Richard Pipes and the Hoover Institution’s Robert Conquest, few things have animated liberal animus quite like anti-communism. It’s not that liberals have been pro-communist so much as they are anti–anti-communist. They dislike anti-communists more than they dislike communists. Their preferred demon isn’t Joe Stalin but Joe McCarthy. As James Burnham, the great ex-communist, put it, “for the left, the preferred enemy is always to the right.”
But this does not suffice to describe Arthur Miller. Miller was not only anti-anti-communist; he was pro-communist. More than that, Arthur Miller had been a communist. And that’s something that students in their public schools and in our woeful universities had not and still will not learn as they are spoon-fed Miller’s left-wing morality plays. To the contrary, Miller’s most-lasting works have succeeded in portraying anti-communists as the lowest form of political troglodyte. Chief among those works, the playwright became a hero among the left for The Crucible, his political parable of the alleged excesses of anti-communism, which portrayed accused communists as innocent fighters for truth, justice, and the American way.
And so, the mere suggestion that Arthur Miller was ever a communist himself reflexively sends liberals spinning in circles screaming “McCarthyism,” which itself is a testimony to the effectiveness of the playwright’s propaganda.
Thus, it is to students that I submit the following history lesson that they will not receive from their $25,000-50,000 per year of “higher” education. And it’s free of charge.
Arthur Miller’s Masses
Arthur Miller was born in New York City in October 1915 to Isidore and Augusta Miller. He would attend the University of Michigan, where he began crafting plays. Though much has been written on Miller, the best recent research on his life, politics, and political-personal double life has been done by Dr. Alan M. Wald, English professor at the University of Michigan. In his excellent, probing 2007 book, “Trinity of Passion,” published by the University of North Carolina Press, Wald, an honest researcher, shows that Miller had been “a struggling Marxist playwright since the late 1930s.”
A genuine scholar of the left, willing to do the hard digging rather than cite colleagues’ esoteric journal articles, Wald took the time to examine old editions of New Masses, Masses & Mainstream, the Daily Worker, Currents, Jewish Life, the “progressive” PM, and other communist, communist-led, or communist-friendly publications of the era. Wald not only found Miller’s name in those publications, including as a byline, and his plays frequently glowingly reviewed there by comrades, but uncovered a blockbuster: Wald discovered that Miller published in New Masses under the pseudonym of “Matt Wayne” from March 1945 to March 1946.
I likewise scoured those publications, and reported my findings on Miller in my 2010 book, Dupes. They do indeed reveal that Arthur Miller—sometimes even as “Arthur Miller,” when not “Matt Wayne”—was an active participant. Among these publications, two features struck me: Miller’s open participation (under his real name) in a symposium splashed on the cover ofNew Masses on December 25, 1945 (along with well-known communist screenwriter Albert Maltz); and a gushing interview/profile of a rising young Miller in the April 17, 1946 edition of the Daily Worker, along with an accompanying photograph of the Proletarian playwright. (I include photocopies of all of these things in Dupes.)
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