Stanley had been to graduate school in France – he also got a degree in intenrational law but found it boring – and revered De Gaulle for saving him and other Jews. But Stanley also felt a deep loyalty to Harvard where he had studied, brought by McGeorge Bundy. He was, however, less than any emigre I know merely loyal; he was not tolerant of the stupidities and dangers of power; he was frankly and ironically critical of all forms of pretence and puffery, and he would become a critic of “Gulliver’s” wars, and often madness…
About Harvard, however, the loyalty (over 58 years) as well as creativity ran deep…
Stanley would speak without notes. He contrasted with many professors (especially many at conferences) who just read their writing. For a long time, I thought that preparing, but just talking was something I got from radical politics. Looking back. however, Stanley was a wonderful example.
Instead, he had lies of American “intelligence” (the CIA’s Operation Phoenix led to the assassination of some 20,000 village leaders) and the scraps assembled by “counterinsurgency” experts like Douglas Pike at MIT (that counterinsurgency has gone through a further iteration in the Middle East is a tragedy for ordinary people there and for Americans, and has led, despite Obama, to a decline and the rather dreadful state – the disappearance of the middle classes, the endless predatoriness of the .0001% down to attempts to cut food stamps for children by a “Republican” Congress – of American imperialism).
Stanley knew this, was critical of American arrogance. One evening in 1967, in a great campus event, I listened to Stanley debate Daniel Ellsburg, then an under-Secretary at the Pentagon, who had gone to fight with the Special Forces (killed Vietnamese) and supported the war. Stanley maintained rightly that the war was a mistake (it was also something far worse), and his nuance was way too much for Ellsberg (no bureaucrat, Ellsburg took some pride in his Special Forces’ work at the time, an unbecoming or macho monstrousness/foolishness).
President Pusey had a sublime stupidity or unwillingness to hear which drove the Harvard strike. Pusey was famous as a “defender of free speech,” but when Senator McCarthy had said “Harvard is a smelly mess of reds,” “the Kremlin on the Charles,” Pusey had responded “no, it isn’t. There isn’t a single red on the Harvard faculty.” He had called in Jerome Bruner, the founder of cognitive psychology, and Wendell Furry, a physicist, both of whom had been communists during World War II when the US was allied with the Soviet Union, and told them to testify if called against their colleagues. Similarly, Dean McGeorge Bundy had threatened Robert Bellah, then a graduate student, that he must testify if called before the House UnAmerican Actvities Committee, and rat out people he had known. Bellah went to McGill, later was brought back to Harvard by Talcott Parsons, and eventually told the story to the Chronicle for Higher Education….
Stanley looked for something different. As with most things, Harvard would have been a far better place for relying on Stanley.
Most Harvard professors would have been unable to comment on such a paper or lapsed into hostility, and would have urged working on something else; Stanley made it a point to say that he had learned something, that it was – should be – publishable….
“It wasn’t simply the discovery of the way in which public affairs take over private lives, in which individual fates are blown around like leaves in a storm once history strikes, that had marked me forever. It was also a purely personal sense of solidarity with the other victims of history and Hitler with whom I shared this primal experience of free fall.”
“I study power so as to understand the enemy, not so as better to be able to exert it.”
Stanley was also graduate students and deep friends with the wonderful Judith Shklar who made a formidable and lasting impression on everyone who met her. In addition to her brilliance as a political theorist, he also pointed to the fact that the Harvard Government faculty, segregating women, made them, at one time, enter different doors…