The death of Warren Hinckle, a journalist long forgotten outside San Francisco, brings back Ramparts magazine’s crowning moment, also one of crucial moments of postwar liberalism. At a stroke, in March, 1967, the presumptions of innocence by purportedly freedom-loving (albeit hawkish) prestigious intellectuals were stripped off. It turned out that the grand banquets and conferences with literary-and-other luminaries, the New York Times-reported cocktail parties, indeed the whole egghead-celebrity thing, was at base a CIA operation called, without irony, the Congress for Cultural Freedom. The list of collaborators was a long one, but Mary McCarthy, Irving Kristol, Leslie Fiedler, Dwight Macdonald, Sidney Hook and the Trillings, Diana and Lionel, among the most famous Americans, with European stars including Isaiah Berlin and Arthur Koestler at the top (Hannah Arendt in both categories). The Partisan Review, Encounter and a considerable stream of literary or quasi-literary journals existed, as it turned out, with the help of intelligence-agency donations.
The operation had been established at the down of the 1950s with CIA executive Cord Meyer, and a youngish intellectual very much in the news, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., whose original, brainy scheme it may have been.