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A Useful List of Useful Idiots

In Bend Sinister, Nabokov’s 1947 novel about political tyranny, the philosopher Adam Krug is asked to sign an oath of loyalty to the régime. “Legal documents excepted, and not all of them at that,” he says, “I never have signed, nor ever shall sign, anything not written by myself.”

This simple confession of faith in individual expression ought to be on the desk of every working writer. A lot of contemporary American writers, however, believe in something a lot more important. As of this morning, nearly a thousand of them have eagerly signedthe latest oath:

We, the undersigned writers and all who will join us, support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world.

(Here is a slightly older list of signatories if the main site is down.) The list of writers reads like a social register of the current literary elite. A list of the major American writers who refused to sign the oath would be much smaller — not only because there aren’t too many major American writers now working, but also because no one seems to consider a Nabokov-like statement of refusal worth making. (At least I can’t find any on the web.)

 [ … ] 

The profession of the writer, by contrast, depends upon freedom, and especially upon a fanatical absolutist commitment to freedom of expression. As Nabokov said in a 1964interview with Playboy,

[S]ince my youth — I was nineteen when I left Russia — my political creed has remained as bleak and changeless as an old gray rock. It is classical to the point of triteness. Freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of art. The social or economic structure of the ideal state is of little concern to me.

 [ … ] 

Almost a thousand of the best contemporary writers have now joined the Ekwilist party, eagerly supporting the goals of radical leftist tyranny. It’s good, at least, to have them listed in one place.

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