As we celebrate the Fall of the Wall 20 years ago we should remember the effort that was put in by the friends of freedom in the West during the Cold War. I am thinking of the worldwide network of groups which resisted the propaganda efforts of the communists and their fellow travellers. This was an uneasy alliance at times, involving a coalition of social democrats, social conservatives, classical liberals and others. Not surprisingly, the alliance did not long survive the Fall of the Wall. Robert Manne, who earned our gratitude for his principled stand on communism did not maintain alliance with the free traders, for example.
Quadrant magazine was the Australian organ of his effort, initially under the editorship of James McAuley. The early issues make interesting reading, especially for those of us who came to it years after when we had been told that it was a magazine of unbridled rightwing prejudice. For the most part, excepting a fiery editorial and mission statement from McAuley it was nothing of the kind. It hosted a wide range of opinions which were expressed with the utmost civility. This is Peter Coleman’s account of the McAuley Quadrants.
The first issue was far more literary than some of McAuley’s polemics had suggested it might be. He would not allow Quadrant, he had announced, “to exemplify that ideal of a completely colourless, odourless, tasteless, inert and neutral mind on all fundamental issues which some people mistake for liberalism.” The first issue had poems by Rosemary Dobson, Judith Wright. A.D.Hope, Vincent Buckley and Roland Robinson. (They all were metrical and rhymed.) There were articles by Hope, Alan Villiers, George Molnar, and George Kardoss. There were reviews of Patrick White, David Campbell and Judith Wright.
The friends of communism had a windfall when it was found that the CIA contributed funds to the freedom movement, including Quadrant. As if this invalidated a single word that was printed in the magazine. The knockers of Quadrant have yet to understand or admit that in the Cold War the friends of Quadrant were on the correct side and the communists and fellow travellers were not.
Rest in honourable peace, James McAuley, Richard Krygier and other helpers.