Is Anybody Listening? (1)
Under relentless pressure from right-wing quarters—official and unofficial—the Treasury Department let it be known that it was actively reviewing the Fund for the Republic's tax exemption, to determine whether the statutory requirements were being met. Chairman Francis E. Walter of the House Un-American Activities Committee, announcing a new investigation, said, "We're not going into the Fund for the Republic. We're going into Dr. Hutchins." And several members of Dr. Hutchins' board were articulately unhappy over the fund's having hired a "Fifth Amendment Communist." Board member Griswold refused to accept any further compensation for his service, and finally resigned. Hutchins, according to board member Elmo Roper, came "close" to being removed as president.
It was November of 1955, a year and a half after Hutchins assumed the fund's presidency. It was a bad month. It turned out to be the worst month of his career.
It began with his submitting to an inquisitorial press conference on November 7 with twenty reporters, columnists, and commentators, an outspoken majority of whom were openly hostile. Hutchins made an effort to talk about the fund's work as a whole and its overall support of agencies and institutions engaged in the front-line support of democracy and the democratic faith. His calumniators turned his recital aside and zeroed in on the question that now constituted the basis of every attack on him: Would he hire a Communist? A former Communist? A man who invoked the Fifth Amendment in refusing to tell Congress whether or not he was, or had been, a Communist? The weary interviewee made a cursory stab at answering the bear-baiters: His position had been clear since he stated it a quarter-century before. It seemed to him "stultifying to say that never
under any conditions should any Communist be hired for any job." It was unconstitutional to penalize a man for belonging or having belonged, or for refusing to say whether or not he belonged or had belonged, to a legal organization. "It is also unchristian. In the absence of a showing that a man is a conspirator or a spy it seems inhuman to deprive him of a chance to earn a living in a position that he is competent to fill and in which he can do no damage." Dr. Hutchins might have expounded upon this essentially conservative viewpoint with grace and wit; he might have softened his position during the press conference with a fashionable tirade against the Communist conspiracy; he might have alluded to his war record or to the pertinent fact that he had never employed a Communist for any position with which he was connected. But faced with the hostile and suspicious questions shooting out from behind the hot, glaring lights, he was able to repeat only briefly and haltingly his lifelong enmity toward limitations upon independent thought, and contend that under the proper conditions the employment of a Communist was justifiable. What made the news the next day was simply: "I wouldn't hesitate to hire a Communist for a job he was qualified to do provided I was in a position to see he did it." What made headlines the next day was one or another variant, all over the country, in antagonistic, friendly, and neutral newspapers, of HUTCHINS SAYS HIRE REDS. HUTCHINS SAYS HIRE REDS .
All hands—Hutchins included—agreed that the press conference had been a disaster. The historian, Walter Millis, who attended it as a fund consultant, said later, "Bob was just too intellectually arrogant to submit to the pounding they gave him. We all thought . . . that the whole thing was a dreadful show." His media enemies had discovered his Achilles' heel: He was not, as he himself said afterward, a very good cross-examinee. He was an excellent debater; he could devastate an opponent who played by the same serious rules he did. But he wasn't a street fighter. A man of pride and ego (and, by his own account, vanity), he was accustomed to respect—respect for himself and his position and the institution he represented. His academic opponents admired many of his views; none of them considered him a fool or a rogue. But the McCarthyites, in and out of the press, in and out of Congress or the patriotic organizations, had no regard for him or his works or his connections or his status. Whether they were hysterical or villainous or, as in the case of some of the press people, simply on the hunt for a kill, they did not defer to him in the least.
Two weeks later he was subjected to something worse than the press conference. He agreed to face a battery of four interrogators on the nationwide television and radio program, "Meet the Press." For thirty minutes under the kliegs he was subjected to the hammering of openly unfriendly
journalists who kept at him with trip-hammer ferocity on the question: Would he hire a Communist? The inquisitors had learned a lesson from the press conference: Keep at him on this one point, and don't let him shift ground and talk either in elegant generalities or in terms of the Fund's actual program and its achievements. As the painful program wore on, the malicious focus of the questions caused him "to bristle with anger and become evasive, cold, and spiritless. Even though a team of public-relations men had coached him before the program"—for the first time in his life—"the insolent character of the interrogation shattered his usual imperturbability and incapacitated his celebrated rhetorical brilliance." His answers were unhelpful. "There are," he said, without amplification, "many gradients of membership in the Communist Party," a point of fact on which he was uninformed (and in which he was uninterested). The members of the panel were familiar with his views on the Fifth Amendment, but they kept quizzing him on them, and he finally said, as un-cooperatively as he could, "The Fifth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights"—the kind of cryptic statement that would have meant more to a university audience, even to a congressional committee, than it possibly could to a nationwide audience on TV and radio.
The recorded script of the show contained many passages like this:
Fredrick Woltman of the New York World-Telegram and Sun : Dr. Hutchins, as a matter of fact you said a few weeks ago in New York that you would not hesitate to hire a present member of the Communist Party to work for the Fund, did you not?
Hutchins: The Fund for the Republic is committed to the proposition that Communism . . .
Woltman: Will you answer the question?
Hutchins: I'm going to. The Fund for the Republic is committed to the proposition that Communism is a menace. The Fund for the Republic is also committed to individual liberty and individual rights. The Fund has condemned boycotting and blacklisting; it has insisted on due process and the equal protection of the laws. It has condemned guilt by association. The principle is that the individual stands on his own merits.
Woltman: Now, would you mind answering the question?
Hutchins: This is a principle that was enunciated very often by the late Senator Robert A. Taft, therefore, what I was simply trying to do when I answered the question to which you refer was to dramatize the proposition that the individual must be judged on his individual merits.
Woltman: Would you also hire a Nazi or a Fascist or a Ku-Klux-Klanner?
Hutchins: This question is a real flying saucer; so was the other one.
Woltman: Well, you didn't answer it.
Hutchins: I beg your pardon, I did.
Woltman: You would also hire a Nazi . . .
Hutchins: No, I didn't say I would.
Woltman: I am sorry, I thought you said you would hire a Communist.
Hutchins: No, I said the great question always is what is the individual in himself. This is the American principle, therefore the question cannot be answered . . .
Woltman: Well, would you still say whether you would knowingly hire a member of the Communist Party?
Hutchins: This question cannot be answered in those terms.
Woltman: You were quoted in many newspapers throughout the country several weeks ago and made no denial.
Hutchins: I saw that.
Woltman: Do you deny you said that?
Hutchins: I do not regard the headlines as an accurate description either of what I said or what I had in mind.
Woltman: And you made no challenge whatsoever of the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune , press associations, World-Telegram and Sun ?
Hutchins: If I were to involve myself in commenting on all newspaper reports, I would have a great deal to do.
Woltman: Well, I heard you say it, for one.
His performance astonished his friends, none of whom had ever before seen him so completely unstrung. Newspaper editor Harry Ashmore, of the Fund's board, saw some University of Chicago colleagues in tears when the broadcast ended. A Fund board member, Roger Lapham, a former mayor of San Francisco, thought that his performance had done their cause more harm than good, and Mrs. Lapham said, "Had I not known you and your very sincere belief in what you feel the Fund for the Republic can accomplish, there would have been no doubt in my mind but that it was a high-sounding name for a Communist front organization." The enemy gloated. Fulton Lewis, Jr., hoped his listeners had tuned in to the program: "It was about as clear a lesson on the subject of Mr. Hutchins and the Fund for the Republic as you would ever find. He proved everything that has been said about him . . . a sort of incredible sort of total suicide, the explosion of a myth about a man."
Hutchins told his friends that before the program he had taken a medication that had affected him—a story that the fund chronicler Thomas C. Reeves says "was met with much skepticism." Perhaps the
most dismal item of all—in the light of Hutchins' house motto of the Fund, "Feel Free"—was the refusal of requests for transcripts of the program.
Two weeks later, his aplomb restored, he and Fund consultant Paul Jacobs met with Sidney Hook and a group representing the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, with a view to clarifying their differences. The discussion was hot, but it was not abusive; the atmosphere was reminiscent of a controversial meeting of the University of Chicago Senate. The committee's representatives proved, however, to be interested in the same primitive issue that engrossed the wild men of the press, Congress, and the patriotic societies. Jacobs recounts that "Hook got down to cases by vigorously attacking what he believed to be three incorrect positions held by Hutchins on the Communist question: a refusal to concede that some guilt could be attributed through association; a willingness to employ subversives in government posts; and the employment of Communists in institutions such as the university or the Fund itself. Hutchins defended his view just as vigorously, pointing out that he had always opposed Communism as a system, but that he distinguished between that opposition and a blanket refusal to hire Communists. He pointed out that he believed it necessary to emphasize publicly the necessity of judging each case of a Communist individually because of the possibility, even though it might have been a very limited one, that an individual Communist might be worthy of employment."
It ended (said Jacobs) amiably; but it had got nowhere, both parties holding their ground irreconcilably. The radicals, ex-radicals, Marxists, and ex-Marxists of the ACCF had the weight of disenchanting experience on their side; many of them were specialists in Communist infiltration of professional, cultural, and political activities in New York City, which was unknown territory to Hutchins. He could not begin to gainsay their experience. But in principle—principle was the rub—he was dead right and they (and all his enemies at every level) were dead wrong. The Constitution guaranteed the equal protection of the laws to every American citizen, no matter how obnoxious he or his words or acts might be, even to every convicted American. Hutchins was indeed arrogant, as so lonely an advocate could hardly help being; he stood on the ancient Roman ground, Fiat justitia, ruat coelum , "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." His opponents—literate, illiterate, honest, dishonest, sane, mad—disagreed: The American heavens of national security might not be jeopardized for the sake of justice to an individual suspected of conspiring to pull them down. Hutchins: There were adequate statutory procedures for protecting the country against treason and espionage. Hook et al.: Hutchins was
ignoring the proven cases of traitors who had successfully circumvented those procedures. Hutchins: A very few cases, in no way justifying throwing the Constitution out the window. Hook: One such case might well be enough to destroy the republic. Hutchins: Let justice be done. . . .
Through the ravaging years of the McCarthyite locust he stood lonelier and lonelier in a public position of power, as perpetrators and exploiters of the Red scare kept their fire turned on him. He was their most eligible target, an egghead throwing tax-exempt millions to the country's enemies. Years afterward it was revealed that the enemy of the country's enemies, J. Edgar Hoover himself, had tried and failed to destroy the profligate egghead. On January 7, 1976, the syndicated Washington columnist Jack Anderson wrote: "The Fund for the Republic conducted a scholarly study of domestic communism, which concluded the FBI was overblowing its importance. This inflamed Hoover, who ordered an all-out investigation of both the Fund and its head, Dr. Robert Maynard Hutchins. The FBI chief directed his subordinates to prepare a monograph ripping Hutchins to pieces. They became so impressed with Hutchins from their research, however, that they produced a mild monograph. Down came instructions to rewrite the piece, making it suitably derogatory, on pain of being censured. The second, more vicious monograph was leaked to the press."
Hoover got no further, but Young Henry was still being heard from. In public response to a public inquiry by Fulton Lewis, Jr., he charged "the fund" with "poor judgment." ("At least," said Hutchins, sotto voce, but loudly enough to reach Young Henry's burning ears, "we didn't invent the Edsel.") Even Paul Hoffman faltered under the frenzy that followed the awful "Meet the Press" broadcast. In a reply to a friend who wrote him after that fiasco, he said: "I share your disappointment that Mr. Hutchins did not give an unqualified 'no' to the question of whether he would employ a communist. If I had been asked that question, I would have so answered. I would have made this reply despite that fact that there are probably some intelligent people who are intellectually committed to communism and who conceivably might be employable. Whether this is what Mr. Hutchins had in mind, I do not know. I do know that he is a totally honest person and a purist. There are times that I wish he were a weak-kneed compromiser like myself."
Again and again he told nonresponsive audiences, "I am against Communism," and insisted that the Fund's mission was to fight it by preserving our liberties in the process of exposing the Reds' machinations. The first statement ever made by the board of the Fund read, "The major factor affecting civil liberties today, in our opinion, is the menace of Communism and Communist influence in this country." Far from ever repudiating that
statement and asserting his belief that McCarthyism was a greater menace to American liberties than communism, he continued to quote it defensively during the next three years.
But in maintaining that a Communist had every right that every other American had, including the right to be judged as an individual applicant for a job, Robert Maynard Hutchins was more "totally" honest than any similarly situated American of his time, a time of terrible panic sweeping every section of the country and every segment of society to a degree that a generation later, even during the belligerent years of the Reagan 1980s, was an unbelievable bad dream.
By the spring of 1957 the McCarthyite madness was palpably subsiding. In some part it was simply burning itself out, leaving untold wreckage behind it. The tiny US Communist Party, so long hounded and harried, together with its fellow-travelers was pretty well shattered by the Soviet invasion of Hungary and Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin in 1956. At home a former chairman of HUAC had gone to prison for financial crimes, and its principal paid informer against the Reds had tripped himself up and finally confessed that he had been paid to testify falsely—with Senator McCarthy's knowledge—against 244 persons "charged" with communism before congressional hearings. (He added that he was not the only government informer who had so lied.) The congressional committee had pretty well outworn their road-show welcome around the country and were under attack from many influential quarters, including the Supreme Court. The Court's belated decision in behalf of civil liberties had heartened the lower federal bench in undercutting passport restrictions, loyalty oaths, and denial of free speech; and state courts were following suit and reversing local loyalty-security legislation. After facing up to the charges of the Wisconsin senator, the army had relaxed its own loyalty-security measures to a modest degree. And in May of 1957, Joe McCarthy, long since condemned by a vote of his fellow senators, was dead. (But his soul would go marching on; documentation obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that in the decade 1967-76, 5,145 secret informers had been reporting to the FBI on hundreds of community, political, and social reform groups, and in 1983 the Supreme Court upheld the award of massive damages to Chicago civil-liberties lawyer Elmer Gertz, who had been called a Communist by the patrioteering John Birch Society.)
Mirabile dictu , there were even signs, in the last years of the 1950s, of softening on the part of the anti-Communist left (though twenty years later Sidney Hook would still be demanding withdrawal of tax exemption from the Fund's Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions as "a propaganda center . . . which never publishes anything in the interests of public
discussion favorable to American foreign policy.") The "Deweyite" publication School and Society published a marveling article, "Robert M. Hutchins—Crusading Metaphysician," in which it asked, "What is one to think when the Progressives' favorite dragon abruptly transforms himself into St. George?" What one was to think, the author said, was, "Dragon he may have seemed, but chameleon he has never been." The progressive educators' most implacable and influential enemy had always fought for the university as an untouchable center of independent thought as the foundation of "the argument against restrictions on freedom, against loyalty oaths, against local and federal interference in the life of the school." His having dared to call down on his head the wrath of the McCarthyites "has evoked the awed admiration of liberals throughout the country. There are numerous friendly voices now being raised on behalf of the liberal arts and in opposition to vocationalism, and the other bêtes noires of Dr. Hutchins' apocalypse. . . . It is supremely ironic that a man who has scorned the experiential test for what is important should now be judged important by the consequences of his work in actual life."
Had the three-year fight been worth the candle? Had the Fund for the Republic contributed anything significant to the repulse of McCarthyism? It was hard to say; hard, but not impossible. It had spent more than ten million dollars in those three years, and some three-fourths of its allocations above expenses had been direct grants to secular and sacred agencies engaged in the struggle to preserve and increase the national understanding and acceptance of civil liberties and civil rights. Its grants to church and civic organization in the field of race kept many of those organizations alive in the 1950s and provided the facilities for their expansion on a large scale; the immense financial appropriations to such starveling agencies, coming on the heels of the Supreme Court's school decision in Brown v. Board of Education , constituted the single most significant contribution to equality of racial opportunity between the Emancipation and the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.
Beyond the direct allocations of those millions there were the Fund's own publications, the publications it sponsored, and the publications it distributed. These items numbered in the millions of copies over the three years of Hutchins' presidency. The Fund was, apart from the government, by all odds the country's largest noncommercial mailer. It subsidized the distribution not only of its own publications but those of other agencies and institutions that addressed themselves to the Fund's libertarian purposes. The Rossiter team's study of the history of American communism ran to fifteen volumes. (Somebody said, "One volume for each member of
the Communist Party.") It was praised more widely than it was prized; commercially it would have been a colossal flop.
Millions of dollars went for the dissemination of literature which the fund's own studies indicated was not widely read. Millions of dollars went into millions of waste baskets. Their materials ignored by much of the periodical press, they were driven to a variety of demeaning stratagems to get a hearing in respectable circles. One of these demeaning stratagems came to light long afterward. In the May 1968 issue of Harper's , John Fischer, the magazine's editor, reflected at length on what he called "The Perils of Publishing"; the article was subtitled "How to Tell When You Are Being Corrupted." He reported that advertisers had tried it now and again, authors once in a while, and always pressure groups of one sort or another. The threat was blackmail. The magazine would publish what the blackmailer wanted published, or refrain from publishing what the blackmailer didn't want published—or else the magazine would one way or another be booby-trapped. But "the trickiest booby-trap in the editor's path is the Temptation of Good Causes. His friends, eminent citizens, and his own conscience exhort him without respite to give more of his space (always pitiably limited) to the promotion of some worthy cause. . . . In this heady state of mind he is all too likely to forget that worthy causes seldom make interesting copy—and that a publication which harps on one subject too often is sure to sound like a stuck phonograph record."
Only once in his long experience, Fischer went on, were these seductions accompanied by hard cash. "It was proffered by—of all people—Dr. Robert Hutchins, perennial guardian of the public morality. At the time he was head of the Fund for the Republic, devoted to furthering the ideals of a democratic society. He proposed that the Fund should take over each month a section of Harper's —say thirty-two pages—and fill them with articles of its own production. In return it would pay Harper's $500,000 the first year, and if the results were satisfactory the arrangement might be continued.
"Did Dr. Hutchins mean that he would like to buy thirty-two pages of advertising space each month? No, no, that wasn't the idea. The space to be filled by the Fund would not be labeled as advertising. In fact, the name of the Fund would not appear at all. The articles it provided would seem to be a normal part of the magazine, so the readers need never know that they had not been developed by the regular editors. The impact, he suggested flatteringly, might be greater that way.
"As I remember it, I assured Dr. Hutchins that I was in favor of both ideals and a democratic society, and probably would agree heartily with
the most of the causes he wanted to promote. But, I added, the primary responsibility of all editors was to their readers. In good conscience, therefore, an editor could not surrender control over the editorial content of his publication, even for the best-intentioned of purposes. Neither could he offer the readers somebody else's product under the guise of his own."
What Hutchins had run, during those three years at the Fund, was a cash register, a mail room, and a public relations effort. Into that effort, the lowest of all the low enterprises in his lexicon, had gone a great deal of the extravagant 35 percent of the Fund's outlay devoted to administrative costs. He had been demeaned on every hand, and had demeaned himself, to get a hearing. He had indeed "tried to buy what he couldn't sell," and buy it with cash. He knew better than to go to his friend Fischer at Harper's with an indecent proposal, but he did not know how to get publicity any other way; he had never had to know. Publicity had always attached itself to him, and editors had always sought him out, not he them.
He had sacrificed something of himself, something vital, on the altar of the American Bill of Rights: his lifelong independence of public opinion in the practice of his profession. And it showed. It showed in his frantic behavior as he tried, for three unrewarded years, to get the American people to listen to him and to heed his clarion call. It showed in his collapse at the press conference and on the "Meet the Press" program. He had never before failed on the platform; he had always before succeeded. He had never before been humiliated in public; he had always emerged from an encounter a cubit or two taller than he had entered it. The sacrifice showed in his appearance. He face was lined now, in his middle fifties, his hair greying. True, he had said that at the university he had been frustrated and furious; but being frustrated and furious is not as desponding as being rattled and impotent.
The Fund for the Republic was an eminently assailable institution. The university was unassailable. Whoever attacked it—like the Illinois legislators in the Walgreen affair—did so at their peril, not at its. At Chicago he had been in control, he had carried the fight to his opponents. There was image there, in the tower, as there was here in the mud; but the image there reflected a reality that was noble at least in concept and to a considerable extent in practice. In those three years of the Fund Hutchins had made the monumentally depressing discovery that there was a world in which image was the only reality, and the image he "projected" was that of a disdainful, contemptuous man who thought he could get away with being disdainful and contemptuous because he had talked a foolish (and now rueful) billionaire out of some of his money.
Here, in the bull pit, his opponents, not he, determined the conditions
of discourse and even the setting. Hectoring, vilifying, slandering at will, they were able to drive him from his command post and force him to fight a battle of movement, a losing battle for a yard of ground in the form of an inch of newspaper space or a minute of prime TV time. They were, on the whole—Joe McCarthy was only the most notorious of them—the most unconscionable of men with an insatiable hunger for preferment, men without so much as a peripheral concern with principle.
Hutchins was no match for these masters who scrupled at nothing. They were impervious to the magnetic man's magnetism. They were a world away from the worlds he had known, the worlds of the parsonage and the Cause at Oberlin, of the rational animal and the liberal arts and the great books at Chicago, of the antiwar speeches in the great university chapel or in the President's House with the radio network people tiptoeing around him. Franklin D. Roosevelt had offered him the posts that would likely have led to the vice-presidency and the presidency, and he had replied flatly (albeit courteously), "I am not interested in public life." For the past three years he had been forced to be interested in nothing else and, what was more, in its cruelest conditions—behind him his cautious worried board, before him the men of a desperate age who seemed bent on demonstrating that men generally may be counted on to be rascals or rabbits.
The fund had contributed some ten million dollars' worth of facts, an encyclopaedia with no discernible pattern or design. "What good are the facts," Hutchins told the Washington Post , "if you don't know what to make of them?" The Fund had commissioned exhaustive studies of every aspect of civil liberties and civil rights. Its approach had been confined to presenting the case—the facts—to the public, and stopping there. "We assumed that the state of the public mind was lack of knowledge about the facts, and after the public were only informed about the facts, the state of the public mind would change. We were disturbed, and we thought they would be too." Now he saw this approach as "naive."
Ten million dollars, and it seemed that nobody much had been listening. The Fund for the Republic had invested heavily, not just in money, but in reputation, in the spectacular Cogley report on blacklisting in the entertainment industry. The factual revelations were—or should have been— devastating. But the country generally ignored it, and Hutchins admitted his disappointment at its reception. What had been wrong with it? Nothing, nothing at all; except, as President George N. Shuster of Hunter College said, it had done nothing to solve "the intellectual problems." (Shuster was vice-chairman of the fund's board.) Monsignor Francis J. Lally, another board member, complained that the report had opened
upon the real problems without actually coming to grips with them. Looking back at it, John Cogley said, "When we got through, it was very clear that the basic issues simply were not discussed and people such as myself did not know how to discuss them. . . . I think the feeling at the Fund was that enough fire alarms had been answered."
The basic issues . Robert Maynard Hutchins had deplored the grubbing for undigested facts as the curse of university research. Now for three rough-and-tumble years in the mud he had operated a great undigested-fact factory. Here was a badly battered and blackened man who had, apparently, been fighting the right fight in the wrong way. The fund had not been a failure. But it had failed to do what he'd said the new Ford Foundation was going to do: change the temper of the country. It had been yet another straw for a man to grasp.
On May 16, 1956, the board of the fund received a sort of distant early warning in the form of an eleven-page memorandum from President Hutchins—its length was itself premonitory—proposing that a committee be established "to advise the Board of Directors on the desirability, feasibility, program, organization, financing, location, and personnel of an institute or council for the study of the theory and practice of freedom." The new body should have a five-year existence and be authorized to spend no less than a million dollars and no more than the five million or so remaining of the fifteen-million terminal grant from the Ford Foundation. The present program of the Fund had been "on the whole" successful and in some form should be continued. But it was clear (he went on) that very little had been done "to relate one study to another or to relate any studies to the clarification of important ideas." A succession of "commentaries on current events" had been produced, which were not very significant.
What was wanted, he suggested, was what he had long crusaded for in the higher learning: the integration of thought on the most serious of social subjects, with the kind of material the fund had thus far assembled to serve as illustration and confirmation. What was wanted was an institute or council "to promote coherence and intelligibility in the program of the Fund, to relate every study to every other, to be sure that efforts in public education were enlightening rather than confusing, to enable the Board to function with confidence even though it could not afford the time for protracted philosophical discussion, to permit the Officers to proceed with confidence in the absence of clear agreement on fundamental principles in the Board, to give the studies sponsored by the Fund permanence and universality, to develop a basis of common conviction in the West, and to show a pluralistic society how it can reach unanimous devotion to justice and freedom."
It was a large order, its unaccustomed prolixity indicating that its author had simply sat himself down and written it. But what it proposed was readily recognizable: an ascent from the mud to the tower. Robert Maynard Hutchins wanted to convert the Fund for the Republic from a badly buffeted agency engaged in the dissemination of money and unevaluated raw materials in the great field of freedom, into something resembling the institution he had spent the most productive years of his life trying to achieve at Chicago: a center for the clarification of principles (including "first principles") and the coordination of human knowledge with the transcendent aim of breaking the barrier of man's thinking. What he wanted might have been said to be a think tank, or, if you will, a university.