The Nervous Liberals: Propaganda Anxieties from World War I to the Cold War

By Brett Gary | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Mobilizing the Intellectual Arsenal of
Democracy: Archibald MacLeish and the
Library of Congress

Appointed Librarian of Congress in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the lawyer-turned-Pulitzer Prize–winning-poet Archibald MacLeish (1892–1982) produced a voluminous public record as an antifascist, noncommunist liberal. Horrified by what he saw as Western civilization's failure to resist European fascism, MacLeish used his many platforms as poet, essayist, journalist, radio playwright, and establishment insider to combat intellectual and spiritual torpor and rally U.S. intellectuals for the impending war. By 1941 he held two positions within the federal government from which he could speak and act. Concurrently the Librarian of Congress and the director of the Office of Facts and Figures (OFF) (and then briefly deputy director of the OWI during the war's first months), MacLeish helped shape and articulate the nation's pro-Allies, antifascist propaganda line.1 Just as important but neither as visible or well-known as his role directing U.S. propaganda, MacLeish used these positions to help coordinate the federal government's various communications’ surveillance and intelligence activities against fascist propaganda. Between these two roles—democratic rhetorician and architect of the emerging national security state—one can identify the contradictory imperatives of MacLeish's own war-era work and within U.S. liberalism in general.

The central tension in MacLeish's work concerned the highly fraught matter of information management in a democratic society. As a former constitutional law professor, practicing poet, and government official responsible for implementing information control policies and shaping public opinion, MacLeish understood as well as any one the combustible implications of the question, How should a democracy mobilize for war in an age when official lies, half-truths, censorship, and hate campaigns would be employed by all belligerents? Within his two jobs MacLeish confronted the competing imperatives between the free flow of information necessary to democratic practices and the control of information necessary to the wartime state. As Librarian of Congress, he saw himself as the guardian of public information and, more important, Western culture's

-131-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Nervous Liberals: Propaganda Anxieties from World War I to the Cold War
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 326

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.