36 / CHRONICLESnLetter to AnothernEditornby Arnold Beichmann”More and more, the categories wenthink by are forms of darkness. Yetnwe keep using them as if fearful ofnthe deeper darkness we’d inhabit ifnwe had to front this life withoutnthem.”n—Jack Beatty, “The Category Crisis,”nAtlantic (March 1986)nAn open letter to Jack Beatty, Editor,nAtlantic MonthlynDear Jack:nI hope you will overlook this examplenof what the French call I’esprit denI’escalkr. I should have thought ofnyour little essay “The Category Crisis”nwhen you said laughingly, but notnamusingly after a few moments’ conversahonnat the Newport party, “Oh,nyou’re a professional anti-Communist.”nI was surprised at your remark.nAfter all, you were putting me into ancategory not in a sociological but ratherna judgmental spirit. I mutterednsomething about your being a professionalnanti-anti-Communist; we wentnoff and talked about something else.nWhen I came home, I went back tonyour article (I admire some of yournthings and file them under the categoryn”Beatty,” even though it may not benas significant a category as “anti-anh-nCommunist”), and I began to categorizenmy thoughts:n1. I began to think back and wondernwhy you used that particular phrase:nprofessional anti-Communist. Younmight have said, “Oh, you’re an anti-nCommunist.” But you couldn’t. If younhad, I would have said, “Well, aren’tnyou?” Now that might have been awkwardnfor you to answer. Nobody in hisnCORRESPONDENCEnright democratic mind can today be anpro-Communist (unless he calls himselfna Marxist, which in some leftistncircles is regarded as a code word fornbeing a Communist) or a neutralist,nunless you’re a symmetrist, which isndifficult—you know, Sakharov, Solidarity,nStalin, Afghanistan, the lot.nBut to admit you are an anti-Communistnwould put you into my category,nwhich wouldn’t do at all.n2. I don’t imagine we’ve seen eachnother more than three or four timesnsince we first met back in the mid-n1970’s. Now, since we have only seenneach other a few times in a decade,nhow would you know I was a professionalnanti-Communist, not just anplain, nonprofessional anti-Communist?n3. Does the term “professional”nrefer to expert knowledge about what,nsay, Bukharin said to Trotsky or Stalinnin 1921 about Kronstadt or about Lenin’snfirst words at the Finland station?nIn other words, is a Sovietologist likenAdam Ulam or Richard Pipes a professionalnanti-Communist, because eachndraws terrifying conclusions from hisnreading?n4. Is it possible that the adjectiven”professional” is in truth a put-down?nIt could imply that I make a living bynexposing, explicating Communist chicanery.nBut suppose the things I wrotenabout Communism or the USSR werenpoorly paid for, and I made a goodnliving on the Chicago options marketnor going short on IBM at the rightntime. Would I then be not a professionalnanti-Communist but an amateurnanti-Communist? Or, perhaps,nbecause of my writings I am rewardednwith a good deal of prestige amongnprofessional anti-Communists (withoutnnecessarily being one), whichnmight be glory enough?n5. Just what is the border line betweennanti-Communism and profes­nnnsional anti-Communism? Is Reagan anprofessional anti-Communist, or don’tnPresidents or statesmen like Kissingernor Shultz count? What is the essentialndifference between an anti-Communistnand a professional anti-nCommunist? Do you go from onencategory to the other by some criterion?nIs William Buckley a professionalnanti-Communist or is he an editornovelistnwhose themes deal criticallynwith totalitarianism?n6. Does the expletive apply to, say,nSoviet emigres like Dmitri Simes, Solzhenitsyn,nand Ladislav Bittman, whonmake a great deal of money writingnabout the USSR—much of which isnhostile—or does the expletive applynonly to Westerners? In other words, anvictim of the Bolshevik system whonescapes has the right to be a professionalnanti-Communist but not, say, NormannPodhoretz, whose parents onlynescaped the Czarist system. (I supposenone could have called the prerevolutionarynLenin a “professional anti-nCzarist.” He certainly made his callingna profession, according to his What Isnto Be Done?)n7. Is there a category like a “professionalnanti-Fascist”? Or a “professionalnanti-apartheidist”? There are a goodnmany people today who are making anpretty good living on the apartheidnissue, and yet they are curiously reticent,nwhen it comes to the suppressionnof civil freedoms in the Soviet Union.nIn other words, does the word “professional”nonly go with anti-Communist?nCould you be a professional anti-anti-nCommunist, for example? If that categoryncould be clearly defined, therenwould be plenty of candidates.n8. Supposing I got into a debatenwith Michael Parenti or some othernInstitute for Policy Studies Sovietophile,nor with Howard Zinn, and Incalled them “professional Marxists,”nwould that have any relevance to ourn