William F. Buckley, Jr.
The New Leader, a journal of political opinion with a heavy emphasis on foreign affairs founded in 1924, was first edited by James Oneal. The first issue declared: "The New Leader will be a publication devoted to the Socialist Party and will aid in rebuilding the Socialist movement in the United States." 1 Between 1928 and 1935 the publication was entitled New Leader and American Appeal. It was originally published in a weekly newspaper format, but changed to a standard magazine format in 1950. During its formative years the publication acted as the official organ of the American Socialist party and contained contributions from well-known socialist leaders such as Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas, but it broke away in 1936 because of the influence of radical united- front elements within the organization. 2
Samuel M. Levitas, an émigré Russian Jew, became general manager of New Leader in 1930 and was the guiding light behind the periodical for thirty years. In 1944 Levitas's name first appeared in the publication as executive editor, though William E. Bohn was listed as editor. An "old-line Socialist" whose political proposals more closely resembled "Fair Deal" pragmatism than socialism, Levitas had departed the United States in 1917 to return to his native Russia at the time of the Russian Revolution. He was soon arrested as an anti- Bolshevik, but managed to escape to Poland in 1923 and then return to the United States. The New Leader had already been in existence for seven years when he joined the staff. 3
From the beginning the journal published a wide variety of democratic opinion--excluding both communism and fascism from its pages. Such notables as John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, George Orwell, Arthur Koestler, Carl Sandburg, Herbert Morrison, Leon Blum, Max Eastman, James Burnham, Walter Reuther, and James Carey wrote for the magazine. Under Levitas's editorship the New Leader became "America's leading liberal-labor weekly." Levitas did not pay contributors, for as he remarked to authors: "Don't expect to profit from the truth." 4
The New Leader, which at its peak in the 1960s never topped a circulation of 30,000, has generally been hailed by conservatives and liberals alike for its articles. Time* magazine referred to it as "one of the best journals of opinion in the U.S., distinguished for its international coverage and lucid reports of Soviet tyranny." 5 The Commonweal found it to be "a remarkable magazine," 6 while the National Review* found New Leader to be "an open forum in which