INTERVIEWERWhat was so captivating about The Captive Mind, apart from it being so beautifully written?
HERLINGIntellectuals, particularly foreign intellectuals, were happy finally to have a book that explained things, and explained them in such a way that didn’t criticize or indict or offend writers and intellectuals, people of their own milieu.
INTERVIEWERStrange that people whose business it is to think should be so eager to have someone else think for them.
HERLINGThe behavior of the intellectuals before the war, during the war and after the war with respect to fascism, communism, and other forms of totalitarianism of various descriptions was not very respectable. So they were happy to have Milosz’s book, to have their behavior absolved, if not validated. Because to have something like Ketman or the New Faith is certainly preferable to listening to me telling them that they had betrayed themselves for career and family. Not that the Poles were alone in this. The behavior of writers and intellectuals in Italy during the Fascist reign was the same thing. They should be ashamed of what they wrote, especially because they weren’t writing out of any genuine conviction of fascism’s merits. They were merely trying to advance their respective careers. To some extent it was the same with German writers under the Nazis. Thomas Mann wasn’t sure about what choice to make.
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