George Anastaplo discusses his denial into the Illinois State Bar Association
BROADCAST: Feb. 6, 1986 | DURATION: 00:52:07
Before admittance, 17 members of the Illinois Bar Association asked George Anastaplo two questions. Should people in the Communist Party be allowed to practice law, to which Anastaplo answered yes. The members then asked Anastaplo if he was a member of the party. Anastaplo refused to answer that question because he deemed it an improper question for the Bar to ask. Anastaplo himself argued his case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.
Studs Terkel I've been wanting to have George Anastaplo as guest on this program for the past 20 years at least. And why didn't I do something, I don't understand. I'm delighted he's my guest this morning because I suppose the story of George Anastaplo to me is a story of a certain moment, begins at a certain moment in 1950. But a word about Professor Anastaplo. He is there teaching at Loyola University constitutional law and that, by the way, figures the Constitution itself, that is Bill of Rights specifically, figures in the conversation we will be having and very personally and profoundly in the life of George Anastaplo. He also teaches at the adult education school, the basic book school at University of Chicago. That is at night. And how do we begin talking to you? There's a book of his called "The Artist as a Thinker" and rather original views of the various creative spirits from Shakespeare to Joyce. We'll come to that. We have to begin with something, with an event in 1950.
George Anastaplo Right.
Studs Terkel You graduate from University of Chicago Law School, 1950 about 16 years after I did. I was among the lowest in the class. You were the highest. Your class had Ramsey Clark, had now a Federal Appellate Judge, Ab Mikva, as well as a Congresswoman, Patsy Mink of Hawaii. And you were tops in the class. But something happened. You passed the bar. The written bar, of course. But then there is something, I remember it was called the morals quiz, an oral examination in which the young applicant, would-be lawyer, sits down. And who surround you, and what happened on that November day in 1950?
George Anastaplo Well I guess I failed. In fact, it's probably the first course I ever failed in my career. And in some ways that was very instructive. And I failed in an unexpected way because I couldn't see that the questions they were asking were proper ones and I wouldn't answer them. And that proved to be the end of my legal career. At least my career as a practicing lawyer. I have a sort of legal career now as a teacher at the Law School at Loyola. But it's different kind of career.
George Anastaplo Well the committee, the full committee, was made up of 17 members of the bar appointed by the Supreme Court of the state to review the character and fitness of the applicants who appeared before them after having passed the bar examination. And the typical hearing was a few minutes with one or two members of the committee, a subcommittee, and the routine was that you would appear before them and it would be over with within a few minutes and you'd go on and be admitted. And--but I had difficulty with these two people because of the questions they were asking.
George Anastaplo Well, what the problem was originally, the questions they were--they had a way of asking questions on the hit-and-miss basis depending upon the temperament and interests of the particular members of the committee. And on this occasion, one of them was quite interested in whether people--whether the applicant thought members of the Communist Party should be permitted to practice law. And the proper answer to that was no, they were not per--they should not be permitted to practice.
George Anastaplo Not prudent, but prudent is a different kind of word, right? But the answer they were expecting and the answer which they got from most people who may ask that question--they didn't ask everybody, but they would ask on a hit-and-miss basis. And some of the people--other people would ask other questions, whatever suited their interest. And I indicated that I didn't see why membership in the Communist Party in itself should bar anybody. And then the response of the--one of the members was, "Well, but members of the Communist Party believe in revolution." And I said, "Well, doesn't everybody?" And "What do you mean, doesn't everybody?" "Well," I said, "look at the Declaration of Independence. It says that there are times when revolution is right. To alter or abolish the established government is proper. In fact, it may even be a duty." And they thought that was troublesome and he said, "Well, are you a member of the Communist Party?" And I said, "Well, that's not--I don't think that's a proper question and I won't answer it." And that's where--that was it. I mean that--we had a number of hearings after that over the years, some 20 hours of hearings before it was all over. But it really came down to those two questions. That is a "What do you think about the right of revolution, a Declaration of Independence?" And "What do you think about--and are you a member of this, that, and the other?" Before it was over with, they asked me whether I was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, whether I was a member of the-- something called the Silver Shirts of America. You may remember that organization, Stud, or whether I was a member of Republican Party, Democratic Party. Those got into it too before it was over with and I refused to answer all those questions.
George Anastaplo It's improper question and I refuse to answer. And they said, "Until you answer, we will not admit you." And that's where it was left. I mean, that's what the court said and that's what the committee kept saying.
George Anastaplo That's right. The original committee only met with me maybe a half hour and then, I mean, they saw that there was trouble and that there was difficulty and they reported back to the committee. And then we had--about a month and a half later. This was in November, the original subcommittee. The full committee met I think in January 1951 and that lasted for quite a long time and then they thought about it for a few months and then in June of that year, they decided that I had not established my qualifications. And eventually I took that up to the Supreme Court of Illinois and in 1954 the Supreme Court of Illinois upheld them, 7 to nothing. Then I took it to the Supreme Court of the United States and they would not hear it. But Justices Black and Douglass indicated they would have heard it. And so then there were intervening cases. And then I tried again with the committee and this one had--that's when you had the full blown 20 hours of hearings. This was in 1957-58 period. And then they had--this time I lost but I got 6 votes, 11 to 6.
George Anastaplo But the full committee heard me in the '57-58 period and there were, you know, some very good men who came down on my side this time, people like Calvin Sawyer who's been a great supporter of me over the years. But I lost 11 to 6. Then I took it to the Supreme Court of Illinois and I lost there 4 to 3. You see, I was gaining support.
Studs Terkel And Black, of course if there ever were an American, someone who believes in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution other than, it is George Anastaplo. In fact, he implied it was your duty to answer as you did, to say "it's none of your business when you ask me these questions".
George Anastaplo Well, Justice Black's opinion is very interesting because it's an opinion of an old man who said well, you know I mean, he had a certain kind of sympathy for this foolish young man in a way and he said perhaps the only, you know, that he was defending his country's freedoms and perhaps the only thing that can be said against him is he took too much of that burden upon himself, which is a nice way of putting it. But he--what was very good about the Black dissent in some ways also is the fact that he thought well of the opinion and it was one of the--it was the first thing read at his funeral, excerpt from that opinion which he had designated himself he wanted read.
Studs Terkel You know, this this case of yours becomes more and more interesting as the years go by. Finally there were more and more lawyers and judges who came over to your side and C. Herman Pritchett who wrote of the California Law Review. I should point out, not that it's necessary to point out but, George Anastaplo, I'm a rather conservative man in many respects and you interpreted the Bill of Rights very conservatively [laughing] and liberally both but conservativeness. It does mean what it says. I'll ask you how you got this way, early beginnings. But Professor Pritchett in California Law Review in 1972 says, "On April 24th, 1961 the Supreme Court of the United States by a vote of 5 to 4 affirm the Illinois Supreme Court, which by a vote of 4 to 3 upheld the decision of the committee and character." It's called, ironically enough, character and fitness. [laughing] If ever there one whose character, whose principle, I mean [unintelligible] it's Anastaplo. By a vote of 11 to 6 decided Anastaplo was unfit for admission, Illinois bar. And then he goes on, and this I find amusing. This was not Anastaplo's only such experience with power structures. In 1960 he was expelled from Soviet Russia for protesting harassment of another American while you were visiting there. In 1970 from the Greece of the Colonels during the junta and there's a speech of George Anastaplo speaking at a banquet in Greece, at that time condemning the junta, who were there in force at that banquet. So that's Anastaplo. And so Pritchett concludes, "As W.C. Fields might have said, any man who has been kicked out of Russia, Greece of the Colonels, and Illinois bar can't be all bad." We come to--now changes were occurring in the climate, we'll come to the question of climate later on. And now more and more Chicago lawyers are saying this is absolutely incredible.
George Anastaplo Well it is true that there have been, you know, in recent years many, many Chicago lawyers including members of the Committee on Character and Fitness, the chairman of, at one point, the Committee on Character and Fitness, Richard Stevens, was very friendly. It was, in fact, he was much concerned to have the committee reverse its decision, which it did by the way, Studs, a
George Anastaplo Oh yes, the new. I mean, the other ones are long since gone. There was nobody still there, I don't think, from the old committee. And they, a few years ago, on their own reversed the decision and recommended my admission. The problem has been that I have consistently said since '61, since the Supreme Court of the United States, that I would not apply again, that I had my decade in court and that I was retiring from the practice of law and that others could do what they wanted to. I would not stand in their way.
George Anastaplo I didn't want to apply for a variety of reasons and I indicated that and so the committee went ahead and did on its own because of Mr.--partly because of Mr. Stevens's insistence and partly because of the efforts of people such as Cal Sawyer. But the committee's recommendation has not proved sufficient for the Supreme Court of Illinois. They prefer to have an applicant apply and I haven't been applying. So it's--I think it's really finished.
Studs Terkel There's one spot there where they speak of your principle, your stubbornness, and your ego. When you said at one moment there after plenty of provocation that you think that the Illinois bar needs you more than you need the Illinois bar at this stage of the game. Which, by the way, I happen to agree.
George Anastaplo Well at that time that may have been true. I think it may well have been true. I may not have been prudent to say it quite that way, but I think it was true back in the 50s. I'm not sure it's true today because, I mean, another one of the episodes in recent years was at the Illinois Bar Association. Again on its own initiative under the leadership of its president at the time, Al Hofeld, insisted upon recommending to the Supreme Court of Illinois my admission. So that's--I'm suggesting that, Studs, is an indication that the bar is not altogether the position it once had.
Studs Terkel Before we go on to other matters that, by the way, this story continues, we've got to have the role of the rich Chicago Law School faculty in this matter too, must come to that. But before that, I just came across and reading the speech "What's Wrong with George Anastaplo?" This is one of your lectures. This particular sequence to me is revealing and tells almost everything. Some of those members of the committee that turned you down were furious with you and one of them spoke what I think is the truth. And he said "He", speaking of Anastaplo, "always conducted [unintelligble] bar committee as if he was better than us." Now to me, that is the most revealing of all. They knew deep down that you were right. Didn't matter how benighted they were and they were furious at you for putting them on the spot and defying what as a fashion of the day and saying "this guy's a red [cake?], I'm out of this guy. You save the guys who had nothing to do with it." There was something to do with your own self being better than theirs and they sensed it deep down and were furious. Does that make sense
George Anastaplo Well, in a way. I mean, another way of putting it is to say--is that they were not used to having young applicants. We're talking about people between the ages of 24 and 27. They weren't used to having people like that come in and defy them.
George Anastaplo Yeah. Or question them. They were really used to a certain kind of subservience and you could argue that someone doesn't have enough sense to know when to bend before the wind. He may not be a responsible lawyer, that he may not be able to work with others in a way that would be useful for his client and so forth. You can make an argument that a certain kind of subservience, insubordination is desirable and to have this kid to carry on this way, it was in a way, offensive.
Studs Terkel Malcolm Sharp, by the way, who is a remarkable professor of law and [unintelligible] in many respects. I was in his very first class at Chicago Law School in 1933 and it was, of all things, Partnership. I wish it was Constitutional Law. But he was there, he and of course, Harry Kalven, who was quite marvelous, was two of the members of the faculty who supported you, of course, all the way students as they are of the Constitution.
Studs Terkel Like you could be a good lawyer. [laughing] Of course you could. I like your rather diplomatic understatement here. You let it go at that. OK. They didn't back you quite obviously. In fact, one who was the dean of the law school highly regarded as an intellectual in town, his particular role in this I find absolutely reprehensible and [unintelligible].
George Anastaplo But, on the other hand, you can say this. He was concerned for the future of the school. He was a new dean at that time. He was an old member of the faculty, but he was a new dean. He had ambitions for the school. He had reservations about what this youngster was doing that, you know, you can see from his point of view that he was only going to hurt himself, the kid, and he was not going to do the school any good. And so maybe the best thing to do is to pressure him out of
George Anastaplo That's right. Well, people have different temperaments. You know, some people's temperaments are to try to avoid certain kinds of difficulties and others, you know, Hutchins did some things he shouldn't have done in the sense of provoking people.
Studs Terkel So we're talking about something called principle, something called, we profess to believe in the Constitution especially the Bill of Rights, double especially the First Amendment. And lawyers and a young applicant for the bar. It's 1950, let's take a break here. After this, George Anastaplo, my guest who, by the way, is a highly respected professor of law today at the Loyola University Law School teaching, appropriately enough, constitutional law and jurisprudence, as well as for you have been a member of the faculty at Rosary College for a while too.
Studs Terkel Really?
Studs Terkel Nobody else would. So you were out, perhaps you could talk about that in a moment. We have to talk about that period because I thought of something, you may object to it. There's a lecture on the trial of Socrates that you have here. And I find a remarkable--there's a difference of course, but a remarkable similarity dealing with time and place, circumstance and principle and judges of another. And so we'll resume with George Anastaplo after this message. [pause in recording.] So resuming with the case of George Anastaplo. By the way, there's no doubt in my mind before we leave the case itself you could, of course you'd be okay [immediately?] today if you wanted to, but a number of years have gone by now. They have admitted they were wrong.
George Anastaplo Not that I know of, and that's in a way probably the most serious defect of these people. Not that they did what they did in the heat of the moment, which is understandable. People are under pressure. They are confused. They don't quite know what the issues are. This young man is perhaps not stating his position as well as he should have, all these other considerations. But the serious problem with them was that they persisted in their position thereafter and never made any effort to make amends for what they had done. And that's--I think, that is not the way they should have conducted themselves.
George Anastaplo It was a bad period in the Korean War. Things were very bad and the country was very disturbed for a variety of reasons. People were troubled and they were worried and they were looking for things they could do to help make things better for themselves. And one thing was, of course, to root out people who were thought to be dangerous. So that they were--I mean, it was a confused time for these people who were--I mean, you know in a way, Studs, you can look back upon the people now we call witch hunters and inquisitors and so forth and you can say that those people were in very bad shape themselves. I mean they were confused, they were troubled souls and they thought they had a way of making things better. They did not--what they did not recognize is that what they were doing was making things worse because they were, in effect, making it difficult for the community to discuss properly the problems that were facing them at home, facing us at home and abroad. And they made it more difficult to deal with the very things they were worried about.
Studs Terkel Before I ask you how you got this way, what it is that preceded George Anastaplo. In one of your lectures on the trial of Socrates and not comparing the two, but there's a remarkable analogy to be made here of a similar situation and a similar stubborn person for these judges who wanted him to bend to what may have been the fashion of the day. Would you mind expanding on that a bit?
George Anastaplo Well the analogy is, I mean, there is something of an analogy not in terms of the principle party in each case because obviously Socrates is to be taken much, much more seriously than I can ever hope to be. But the trial of Socrates took place in a very troubled time. If Socrates had died at what probably would have been a normal age at that time, these things never would have happened. He lived to be 70 years old. If he had died at 60, which would not have been unusual, he would have escaped his fate. It was a time when Athens was very troubled, very confused, and they lost a great war. the Spartans, the Peloponnesian War. It had been devastating in its consequences. And they were looking around to see what had really contributed to this and here was this man who had obviously been doing things that were different from what had been done before by people of intelligence and of great persuasiveness and so forth. And- and it became, especially since some of his students, former students had been involved in certain things that had not turned out well. It was not unnatural that they would look to him as somehow one of the contributing causes for their troubles and so they moved against him and now there were things happening. The times were changing. The old gods were under attack. The social order was being transformed. The war had had all kinds of other consequences. Similarly, in 1950, there not only was the Korean War, Studs, but you know better than I can know because of your own experience that the Korean War, the Cold War was, as we then talked about it, followed immediately upon the Second World War which followed immediately upon the Great Depression. And it meant that from 1929 onto '45, there had not been any relaxation for the American people. People came out of the Second World War expecting, now we've been through a Great Depression. We've made great sacrifices. We've been through a great war. We've made great sacrifices. After 15 years, at last, we can relax, enjoy ourselves, and now what happens? Cold War. And here we continue. And it's a new kind of enemy, a new kind of threat. Less clear than the one in the Second World War and less, shall we say, challenging in a way than the depression had been. And it proved to be too much for many.
George Anastaplo The Peloponnesian War. It had been devastating in its consequences. And they were looking around to see what had really contributed to this and here was this man who had obviously been doing things that were different from what had been done before by people of intelligence and of great persuasiveness and so forth. And it became, especially since some of his students, former students had been involved in certain things that had not turned out well. It was not unnatural that they would look to him as somehow one of the contributing causes for their troubles and so they moved against him and now there were things happening. The times were changing. The old gods were under attack. The social order was being transformed. The war had had all kinds of other consequences. Similarly, in 1950, there not only was the Korean War, Studs, but you know better than I can know because
Studs Terkel If there was ever a time that called for spine and principle, we know that one of your supporters and your friend and the lost teacher I most admired, one of the few at the U.C. Law School, Malcolm Sharp, at that time stuck his neck out. Remember now, in the amicus curiae brief for the Rosenbergs, I recall.
George Anastaplo Oh yes, yes he was involved in the Rosenberg case at the end of it. But I'm trying to suggest is that you see that if you come into 1950 and you have then finally the Cold War erupt into a hot war after all of this, after a decade and a half of stress and of passions having been aroused, in a way we're fortunate that we came out of all of that as well as we did. You know, I mean, by 1960 it had become much better. Now my own opinion is that in some ways the Vietnam War, the mistakes of the Vietnam War, can be traced to that period in the 50s because it disabled us from properly considering the problems. I mean, see one of the ironies of the Vietnam War is that when it began, it was thought of in terms of an effort to contain China. By the time the Vietnam War ended, we were allies of the Chinese which is, you know, kind of a bizarre turn of events and it had something to do with our inability to understand what was going on throughout. And so those people back in the 50s I think were disarming us in the respect to the most important weapon in the American arsenal and that is the ability to think about the problems of the country.
Studs Terkel Of course, you're talking about thinking or awareness, if ever there were a time when such a problem is vital, it's this moment too, the very moment we're in now. The touch of mindlessness is there, the smile does it, where thought is not involved at all. So we come to that. I guess you're talking about what a democracy is. You come back to the Socrates trial depending so much on public opinion. It does, of course it does. And so there, at the time there was a crisis and so he had to go. But we come back to what is a democracy? One of the words I suppose is--and aware the adjective here operative, an aware citizenry, which is what the town meetings were all about.
George Anastaplo An informed citizenry that's aware of the principles of the regime. And that--and I think the 1950s made it difficult to be properly informed about certain problems having to do with international relations. The Russians, what they were apt to do, what they were not apt to do, and so forth.
George Anastaplo That's right. I think, I mean such a thing happening with the bar applicants, for example, is unthinkable today. For one thing, it would be the students, the fellow students of the particular applicant who was being harassed, would immediately rise up today. There's no question about it. And the faculties of most of the schools would intervene. You see, at that time it really was unthinkable for either faculty or one's fellow students to do anything, you see. And so that's not where the threat is today. But of course as you know, Studs, the threat comes from a different corner each time. If it always was the same thing each time, there would be no problem deciding what to do.
Studs Terkel I said, in fact, today if I were to choose one face of a threat, I would say mindlessness, if I could use that word. I know it can be used generally, or banality perhaps, the threat of banality.
George Anastaplo Well I think in some ways, I mean, to go along what you're suggesting I'll go even further and say that it has something to do with a certain corruption, moral corruption which has set in, including greed, which has made people far less than what they should be. But as far as the case itself, you know, some of your listeners may be interested, and I'll kind of wrap up. I have a wrap-up discussion of this case in the--
George Anastaplo We're coming up to [unintelligible] Law Review in the spring, a long article. It was a lot of documents about the developments in recent years and people can read there all to their heart's content about these matters.
Studs Terkel By the way, to point out, George Anastaplo is a very good writer. I mean, his books are very exciting and provocative, we'll come to "The Artist as a Thinker: Thoughts about Shakespeare to Joyce" published by Swallow Press and the University--they're connected with the University of Ohio. And let's take another break and then come to how it happened. Who is George Anastaplo? What made you that stubborn person that afternoon or morning in November of 1950 before those austere and prestigious lawyers? Why did you do it? How come you did? Let's come to that after this message. [pause in recording.] Let's come to beginning with George Anastaplo, a Southern Illinois town, Carterville, that's near Carbondale?
George Anastaplo Well it was partly a matter of chance, Studs. I mean, you have to remember that if that committee hadn't happened to be made up of the particular members that morning, those questions would not have been asked. Someone else would have been asked. And then I would have gone on to a career at the bar. And indeed, I would have gone on very soon to a career teaching at, I suppose, at the University of Chicago Law School. That's probably what would have happened because I had a good record and I had certain capacities and abilities which would have been recognized, I suspect. Now what led to it all? I don't know. It's very hard to know what leads to it. I mean, certainly certain stories, lessons having to do with the Greeks and Turks and in some ways, these were the Turks sitting across the table demanding some kind of conformity to their creed. And, by the way, the Turks I've met in my adult life I have rather liked. [laughing] So it doesn't really apply, strictly speaking, but there was that, you know. And then the other thing I've probably--that was important was the--my own experiences in the Second World War and the--as a flier. I was, you know, I was in the Air Force. I was a flying officer and there were experiences where, on more than one occasion, when I thought that I had reached the end of my life. You know, I was--I mean
George Anastaplo No this was all over the world. We were flying all over. But one of the close shaves, I remember, was on the island of Kwajalein and that had a very interesting effect on me because I figured, you know, I really had faced up. I'd stared death in the face. I was what, 20, 21, 22 years old, and it hadn't particularly impressed me. I mean it had impressed me, but it hadn't terrified me and I just wasn't going to allow myself to be bullied by these men sitting across from me who, by the way, as far as I know themselves had never even served. They'd been just a little bit too old to have had the service I had. And so for the most part, and I just wasn't going to be--I wasn't going to knuckle under to them. I had faced much more serious challenges than what they were offering. And maybe something about the way they put it to me, you know, either do this or we will do this to you, do that to you. Well, I was not going to go.
George Anastaplo And I should also add, by the way, that my wife was a considerable support. I mean, what would have been different if she had simply thrown up her hands and said we can't have this. You know, we have a 9-month-old baby who, by the way, has gone become a lawyer herself. [laughing] She had no trouble getting admitted to the bar.
Studs Terkel Herself.
George Anastaplo That's right. Well the--Sharp's response was a very good one, as I look back. When he first heard that I had done this before that--this is completely unexpected for the committee I should say. When he heard I had done this, his first advice was, "You know, you really ought not to do it. It's--you're not likely to win and it's going to hurt you and you should really pull out." Now that, I think, is responsible advice from an elder.
George Anastaplo I mean give in. But when he saw that I would not give in, he didn't then say well if you're not going to give in, I'm not going to help you. He became a very strong supporter and in fact, before it was over with, he was insisting that I had done right to do what I did. And, in fact, he would tease his colleagues at the law school that what I had done had been the best educational experience that the law school had provided anybody for many years.
Studs Terkel We stay with this a minute, Malcolm Sharp being the remarkable man he was. He first told you to give in, say yes, you agree with them. They have no right to practice those damn [reds?], say that. But then [unintelligible] he changed, so he himself mature teacher that was, grew.
George Anastaplo Well, it wasn't so much that he grew, but that he was being that--that when you're dealing with a young man, and this was really the dean's position too. When you're dealing with a young man, you really have to counsel him as to what the consequences really are of what he's doing.
George Anastaplo You're putting- you put the pressure on him and say, "Do you really mean this?" Now, but what was--and that I think--I would do the same, I think, with a youngster today in comparable circumstances. But, in fact, when people came to me-- when people years subsequent who had similar situations, I would always do that remembering how Mr. Sharp had done it. But then once they clearly indicate that they're going to continue doing it and I see that they are serious about it, then it's a different matter. And he, you know, he didn't have to be converted to my position. He just came. He had to be assured that I meant it. And once he was assured I meant it and I wasn't going to change, he threw his support behind me.
George Anastaplo Well I'll tell you what probably would have been different, Studs, is that the--I would have practiced law. I would have probably practiced a few years. I then probably would have moved into law school teaching immediately after a few years. And I would have just done what people do in that world. What I had to do instead was I began teaching in the basic program. And these were the, you know, great works of literature, philosophy, and so forth. And it meant that for various--for a number--and also then at Rosary College was my first regular employment as a regular member of a faculty, and this is because of the--I happened to know the president of the college, Sister Candida, was somebody I'd been in school with and she needed somebody to fill in at one point. And there I was with a Chicago Ph.D. because I'd gone back and gotten a Ph.D. at Chicago afterwards. And that meant that between the basic program and Rosary, I really educated myself and therefore I really was able to deal with other things than law. And for me, that's been very helpful in thinking about law and thinking about jurisprudence because, as you say, there's "The Artist as Thinker" book, but there's also the other one in which the apology article is, for example, the "Human Being and Citizen" volume. And these are things that most lawyers or law professors would not be inclined to write about.
Studs Terkel I'm thinking about your life but also as far as your colleagues, those who know you in the city, the country of [unintelligible]. You might have gotten your way, this is in one of the Sacco and Vanzetti letters. Interesting. I might have just gone my way a cobbler or a fisherman and not have known anything, but here I am. And I'm not comparing the two, but simply saying--
George Anastaplo I
Studs Terkel No, they [unintelligible] too well. Yeah, but the fact is your case is such a glowing one of your own. You've gone through a hell of a situation. You know there was a blacklist involved too, again involving to some extent the university in the South Side. I dwell on that because I'm--I get furious at times at my alma mater. But the--what you've done, the case as Harry Kalven and Malcolm Sharp said, what a marvelous case it is and subject for the students going to law school as to what principle is about and what the Bill of Rights is about and what democracy is about. Comes to that again. So we've got to come to this book and how we would describe "The Artist as Thinker". You begin with various Shakespearean figures and you're implying--you're provoking the reader, it seems to be. It provoked me into saying why did folk know, was Cordelia right in speaking her heart, her truth to her vain and foolish father, you know, was--
George Anastaplo Because the younger you are, the more attractive Cordelia is. But over the years, I must say I have come to believe that she really should have realized, recognized how vulnerable he was and how unable he was to be sensible. And should have for his good as well as for the good of the country been somewhat more prudent in the way she dealt with his demands. And I think that that is now the--throughout the book, what I deal with in these dozen essays or so, articles, chapters on these great English language artists from Shakespeare to Joyce, I address myself as one way of thinking about each of the books or each of the stories. How should one have conducted oneself? And that is, it seems to me, a very important question to ask in trying to understand one of these works.
Studs Terkel Okay but had Cordelia recognized the vulnerability of her father's "I love you more than Goneril or Regan!" You know, as they did, you know, more. And she wouldn't have been disowned and exiled and would have been--that's exactly what Malcolm Sharp said to you at the very beginning. They changed his mind later on. That's exactly--because reckon their vulnerability
George Anastaplo But there's this great difference and that was I was not destroying myself or anybody else. Yet we must not over--we must not dramatize too much. I have had a fairly comfortable life. I have had an interesting one and nobody's been locking me up in jail. People have been kicking me out of countries, that's right, as Herman Pritchett--
George Anastaplo Yeah that's right. But that--even those were great adventures. You know, I mean if I were faced with a situation where it was life or death or somebody else's life or death, I would knuckle under for their benefit. I hope I'd have enough sense to know when I should be willing to back off.
Studs Terkel Nonetheless, so you come to this question of--a she--coming to Cordelia. Let's go "Romeo and Juliet". Here again you provoke. You were saying maybe they should have listened [laughing] to their parents. After all, they were feuding people here. And I think, you know, maybe they shouldn't have run off the way they did and defied
George Anastaplo Well, that's right, that is to say I think they should have made a different kind of approach to the families in order to reconcile them using their love. Instead the way they did it was to make it possible for the worst things to happen because of misunderstanding and errors. And that was not for the good of anybody.
Studs Terkel You know, what's good about this book "Artist as Thinker" is that it does provoke and, of course, the appreciation of the artist is all the more sharpened. We're talking to George Anastaplo and we have to take a last break and then we'll continue with "The Artist as Thinker" by--it's available. It's published by Swallow, which was a marvelous publishing house of young poets and then a Chicago house and now it's fused to
Studs Terkel Let's pick up on this. And Antony and Cleopatra, the organization man, got to come to that and experience that. George Anastaplo, after this last message. [pause in recording.] And so for the last lap continuing with "The Artist as Thinker", you have an analysis of Antony and Cleopatra. He was a main chancer. And our thinking once, and this has always been the case of those who are operators no matter what the period of history is, maybe some of those who are the inquisitors of Socrates there, just as certain guys in your time are main chancers. I was in the Etruscan Museum in Rome. This was in 1962-63. And there's an Apollo.
George Anastaplo Yes.
George Anastaplo Right.
Studs Terkel Business management courses were now becoming very popular and less in the humanities. And so that's Apollo. And so, I mean, he was a yuppie. A pre-yuppie, yuppie. He was on the make. He had that certain look and that certain--whoever did this particular statue, it was a small one.
George Anastaplo Yes.
George Anastaplo I see. Yes, well, that's right. And I take it, Studs, in some ways those are very useful people. Right. We need them for some purposes, for many purposes. In fact, they do many of the things that we ourselves don't want to do to keep things running. And, you know, you do need someone like Octavius to keep things going. You also like someone such as Antony, who is much more erotic and much more open to beauty and to life itself. There's a certain vitality, but obviously it's going to be difficult to live in a regime that is simply run by Antony. You know, especially since he's so caught up with Cleopatra. So that these people you talk about as yuppies, refer to as yuppies, they are very useful. I mean, the people that go to the commodities exchange are doing something for us. They are helping to do something with the movement of goods, with the--
George Anastaplo Well I think ultimately for everybody's benefit. This is--by the way this is, as you said at the beginning, I was somewhat conservative. I'm more conservative than you are on this. [laughing]
George Anastaplo Yeah but the commodities people are, in some ways, performing a very important service in the allocation of resources. They do something with risk. They do something with future supplies and so forth.
Studs Terkel Which leads to your thoughts as we're going because I like this idea of talking with you now and using your book, your own case of 1950s as a base, but your book, as well. I was thinking, is he talking about my ambivalence toward them? You're more of a--you have more of, I guess, an understanding attitude toward those who might feel no great affection, but you have the double aspect of life. Add in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", the intellectual and the creation of that monster.
George Anastaplo Yes.
Studs Terkel And you connect that with Robert Louis Stevenson's "Jekyll and Hyde" and a touch of Ahab chasing another monster. You know, in his madness. And you have the two aspects of human here, the two impulses of a human.
George Anastaplo Well there is that--the passions have to be taken very seriously. In one form we find them attractive in the form of certain kinds of love. But there is also--there are other forms of them that have to be restrained. And we go back to Socrates for a minute. The life of Socrates teaches the limits of philosophy in any community. I mean, it's not possible to turn a community as a whole into philosophers. That the community as a whole is going to be dependent upon opinions of all kinds that are ill-formed, not examined and that--you have to reckon with that and that to go further and that really becomes very threatening and raises serious political social problems.
Studs Terkel I'm having that double aspect. Now I know that the hour's going to run out soon and this is just the beginning for George Anastaplo and myself and I know we have to have him come back as a guest again for an encore to continue. Yes, but there's one character in--you discussed Mark Twain, "Huckleberry Finn", the various characters throughout. It's Shakespeare to Joyce and a tribute to the great Nobel laureate of race, George Seferiadis, who spoke out during junta time too. But in Mark when the colonel, Colonel Sherburn--
Studs Terkel The double in "Huckleberry Finn", the double theme. Here's a guy who's a brutal sort of colonel who shoots this poor old drunk Boggs. Because Boggs called him names, just gratuitously shoots. He knew he was a helpless old drunk. At the same time when the crowd comes to lynch him, holds back that crowd and speaks of mob as he is the principle individual.
George Anastaplo That's what I argue in my chapter on Twain, that you can see where he got the story of the defiance of the mob. There's, you know, there's an episode that he saw a sheriff once confront a mob like that and face him down. But I think it's virtually inconceivable that you'd have these two men together in one man.
Studs Terkel Except for one thing. You said something interesting after that. You forget, I'm seeing something else in your interpretation. You spoke of a schizophrenic aspect in him, a schizophrenic society and the country at that time, of course, a tremendous frontier movement heading for the territory and a wildness too and heroism and brutality at the same time. So there is a schizophrenia involved here too in this one guy.
George Anastaplo In fact that--I think there the underlying passions that are breaking up the country have to do with slavery. I mean that's the thing that Twain always had a problem with, trying to see how to put it together because on the one hand, the slaveholder could be a gentleman and a man of distinction and of the highest probity. And on the other hand, he had slaves. A brute.
Studs Terkel Coming back to one last thing. We'll have to end the hour with this. And that's Huck himself. We're so often told, and often it's the case, a battered child becomes a battering parent and Huck had this brutal father who beat the hell out of him--brutal ignorant lump, and his Huck, this kid of such radiance, you see. So how did that happen too, you see. So there's that, and how come he didn't become a brute? That's the question.
George Anastaplo Well, maybe chance. Chance in terms of the people that he had, you know, that he was exposed to, circumstances in which he lived, and maybe partly because the father was such a brute that he was often incompetent, literally unable to do anything and just neglected him. He was a neglected child and that saved him from certain kinds of
Studs Terkel So that may save us eventually. Coming back to you, George Anastaplo, an experience that altered his life in 1950. His thoughts, reflections today. The situation they were in, maybe the incompetence [laughing] of the barbarians may save us all. As a slender read to bank on I
George Anastaplo Well, only one thing and that is that I think the serious question ultimately for--at this time that is, is as to whether there are standards and principles that are not merely matters of opinion to which we can look for guidance. And that is itself something which is held in--which is a question by all too many intellectuals today. I think there are standards and principles, that they have a certain enduring quality about them. That reason can indeed search out and find well enough for us to act upon. That itself is an issue.