Willmoore Kendall on Mill and Free Speech
Willmoore Kendall was an editor of William F. Buckley’s National Review and played a leading role in Buckley’s effort to replace the noninterventionism of the Old Right with the global crusades of the Cold War. Like Buckley, he had a CIA connection. He was notorious for his fiery temperament, and he proved such a handful that Yale University bought out his tenure contract to get rid of him. He admired Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and in response to critics who claim that Rousseau’s general will suppresses freedom of opinion, he did not respond that it didn’t. Instead, this was one of the things he liked about Rousseau. He had a powerful intellect and is well worth reading, but he had more than a few bees in his bonnet.
In a memo to the Volker Fund reprinted in my edited collection Strictly Confidential, Murray Rothbard skewered Kendall with characteristic brilliance. Murray said: “Kendall, on the contrary, is, as I have said, the pattern of the Lynch mob—he is an ur-democrat, a Jacobin impatient of any restrains on his beloved community. He hates bureaucracy, but not as we do, because it is tyrannical; he hates it because it has usurped control from the popular masses.”
In today’s article, I’d like to look at some of the arguments in one of Kendall’s most important articles “The ‘Open Society’ and Its Fallacies,” which appeared in the December 1960 issue of the American Political Science Review. (The title is a play on Karl’s Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies, one of the article’s targets.)
Kendall is horrifi
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