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Lindeman, Eduard C.: A Letter

Eduard C. Lindeman (May 9, 1885 — April 13, 1953) — Philosopher, Teacher, Scholar and Social Reformer


Eduard C. Lindeman
Eduard C. Lindeman
Photo: NASW Foundation

Editor’s Note:  This is a letter Eduard C. Lindeman sent to Joe Hoffer, Executive Director of the National Conference on Social Work just a few months before Lindeman passed away. The correspondence refers first to efforts to recruit a speaker for the next annual conference. More importantly, the letter is a defense of Lindeman’s politics or positions that had been criticized in an American Legion publication.



February 16, 1953

Dear Joe:

Because I still have a sub-normal temperature the doctor has not given permission for the trip to Philadelphia, or rather, Swarthmore.  I spoke with him this morning and he thinks, in spite of the fact that the temperature is still subnormal, that I might go tomorrow or Wednesday.  Unless you hear to the contrary, then, I’ll  be at Swarthmore, Pa., in care of Charles B.  Shaw at 606 Ogden Avenue until some time early in March, perhaps about the tenth.

Incidentally, if Slichter turns us down, how abut Clair Wilcox, head of Swarthmore College Department of Economics for the paper on Social Welfare in Our Expanding Economy?

Now, about the American Legion.  I had not seen the article you sent along and I have never heard of the author.  But it is not new to be attacked by the Legion.  I have in the past refrained from answering such attacks on the ground that my friends did not need it an my critics would not heed it.  I may have been wrong about this but I have always felt that it did no good to be drawn into such a public debate with persons capable of such strong prejudices.

However, you might wish to give some information to Mr.  Mueller.  I presume his hospital is located in California but no address is given on his letter.  You might tell him this:  I was the first president of the Americans for Democratic Actions of New York State.  As you know, this organization came into existence in order to exclude Communist from liberal political action.  It was and is definitely anti-Communist in every respect.  I have been since its organization a board member of Friends of Democracy which is also, as you know, dedicated to the struggle against totalitarian systems of both the Left and the Right.  I have been for years a director of the American Civil Liberties Union which was the first large national, liberal organization to exclude Communists.  In other words, I have always been opposed to Communism.

In order to make matters more explicit, I shall now state my chief reasons for being an anti-Communist:  (1) on philosophical grounds I belong to the American tradition of pragmatism of which William James and John Dewey were the chief exponents.  This philosophy is experimental and non-authoritarian and is definitely opposed to the dogmatic German philosophy of Hegel, and out which Marxism arose.  (2) on moral grounds I am opposed to Communism because it teachers the immoral doctrine that good ends may be achieved through the use of evil means; it practices conspiracy and falsehood and thus, through the employment of such means, produces gross immorality; (3) I am a believer in cultural pluralism while Communism advocates the cultural uniformity.  I believe in diversity because I believe in freedom.  (See THE DEMOCRATIC WAY OF LIFE BY T.V. SMITH and EDUARD C.  LINDEMAN, published last year by The New American Library.) (4) I believe in what may be called the Judeo-Christian ethics which is founded upon the conception of human brotherhood and love.  Communism, on the contrary, preaches hate and conflict.  There are many other reasons for opposing this malevolent movement which has perverted so many millions but the above are fundamental.

There are various ways of conducting the struggle against Communism and I have chosen my way.  It is not that of the witch-hunter who confuses the situation by calling people who are liberals Communists.  I am extremely careful to avoid betraying our basic American tradition of freedom.  My loyalty to the Bill of Rights is unwavering.  On that account I tolerate a wide range of free expression, even of ideas which are repugnant to me.  My sentiment was beautifully expressed on Saturday night by Adlai Stevensen in his Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner speech when he said:  “Our farms and factories may give us our living.  But the Bill of Rights gives us our life.  Whoever lays rough hands upon it lays rough hands upon you and me.  Whoever profanes its spirit diminishes our inheritance and beclouds our title to greatness as a people.”

I don’t know whether or not you will care to make use of this statement but you are free to do so.  I am of course deeply disturbed by this new attack upon me and I do hope you will not be made to suffer on my account.

Faithfully as ever,

Eduard C. Lindeman

SourceUniversity of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Social Welfare History Archives. Minneapolis, MN. More information about Eduard Lindeman is available at: