classmates informally voted him mostrnlikely to join the Joint Chiefs of Staff, butrnhe got his fill of war in the Pacific inrn1944-45. So he traveled as far inland asrnhe could go, ending up at the Universityrnof Wisconsin, where he studied for hisrndoctorate with the storied ProgressivernAmericanists of Madison: Fred HarveyrnHarrington, William B. Hesseltine, andrnMerrill Jensen (who, like Williams, preferredrnthe Articles of Confederation tornthe Constitution). American independentsrnall, “defenders of free thought andrnof resistance against the national juggernautrnstate,” the “Madisonians seemed atrnonce quaintly outdated and yet almostrnrecklesslv courageous in the face of coldwarrnpressures.” Madison fit Williams; hernwould return as a professor, a citizenscholar,rnand spend his most productivernears in La Follette’s state. He can bernviewed as one of the last of the ProgressivernRepublicans of the Midwest andrnWest: those Sons of the Wild Jackass, asrnWilliams’s hero William Borah and hisrnbrethren were known. Williams was reviledrnin the 1950’s and early 60’s for thernsame reason that Bob La Follette wouldrnhave been execrated in an age of Nixonrnand McNamara and Kennedv: as smalltownrnMidwesterners operating from a setrnof radically different assumptions fromrnthose prevailing, they were rooted in anrnAmerica that had been marked for exterminationrnby the ruling class and its smugrnpublicists. Atlantic had been swallowedrnb- the Atlanticists.rnWilliams viewed “Open Door imperialism”rnas the propellant of American foreignrnpolicy: markets were to be priedrnopen with crowbars and gunboats, andrnthis expansion (the ideology of the cancerrncell, as Edward Abbey was to say)rn”denies and subverts American ideas andrnideals.” The corporate state that developedrnat home to administer this imperialismrnwas choking the last breaths out ofrnthe 10,000 Atlantics that made uprnAmerica. And the villains, in Williams’srnview, were the pantheon-dwellers: thernPresidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Wilson.rnThe wise men, bv contrast, werern”the people who lost”—the “Enlightenedrnconservati’es,” most famously HerbertrnHoover, who sought to “eolve a wayrnof having and eating the expansionistrncake without paying for it by imperialrnwars.”rnI find Williams unconvincing onrnmany matters: Hoover; his shoehorningrnof even tertium quid characters into thernexpansion/Open Door framework; hisrncontention that 19th-century populismrnwas motivated by a desire for overseasrnmarkets; his perverse admiration for allegedlvrnbenevolent Establishment menrnsuch as George W. Perkins, the House ofrnMorgan henchman who as the “doughrnMoose” ran Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressi’rne Party. Nc’erthelcss, he thought uprnhis own ideas and signed his own name;rnand as the authors note, Williams “invertedrnthe dominant assumptions ofrnAmerican intellectuals by viewing conventionalrnliberalism not as a great liberatingrnforce but as a suffocating ideologyrnthat has preempted both solid radicalismrnand thoughtful conservatism.”rnWilliams the solid radical defendedrnHoover the thoughtful conservative, perhapsrnbecause the socialism of small communitiesrnthat Williams endorsed borernsimilarities to the “corporatist decentralism”rnthat Williams and his studentsrnfound in Hoover. (See especially JoanrnHoff Wilson’s Herbert Hoover: ForgottenrnProgressive.) But something even noblerrnpushed Williams toward Hoover: Iowarnpatriotism. His was a praiseworthy attemptrnto stick up for the much-malignedrnHawkeyc President, rather in the samernway that John Updike has deoted a playrnand a novel to the great temporizer, hisrnfellow Pennsylvanian James Buchanan.rnHoover stood outside the “bipartisanrnimperialism” to which both parties arerndevoted. Williams shrewdly noted thatrnwhen a “deeply conservative corporationrndirector” like Averell Harriman could runrnfor office using “the rhetoric of left-liberals,”rnthe rulebook must be a lie. The joltrnof this awareness can make a man starkrnraving sane: I think of Jeff Bridges in thernfinal scene of one of the best recentrnAmerican movies, Ivan Passer’s Cutter’srnWay (1981), when the feckless SantarnBarbaran Bridges discovers that all hisrncynical friend’s wild conspiracy theoriesrnare true. So too for Bill Williams, thern”bereaved patriot,” when he came to realizernthat “the Old Left,” as Buhle andrnRice-Maximin write, “had hidden its socialistrnideas inside a liberal casing andrnidentified the enemy as the Far Right,rnwhen in reality a bipartisan corporaternliberalism had long guided the State.”rnThe bipartisans are always lookingrnfor bright young men who know thatrnwe’re living in “the real world,” as thernsnake hisses when he offers you thernapple. Adolf Berle sought to bringrnWilliams—who voted for Nixon as thernL ET US KNOWrnBEFORE YOU GO!rnTo assure uninterrupted delivery of CHRONICLES please notify usrnin advance. Send change of address on tfiis form with the mailingrnlabel from your latest issue of CHRONICLES to:rnSUBSCRIPTION DEPARTMENT, CHRONICLES, P.O. Box 800,rnMOUNT MORRIS, ILLINOIS 61054rnNEW ADDRESSrnMAY 1996/23rnrnrn