B&W, 16 mm., 62 mins.
I.F. Stone, Walter Cronkite, Peter Osnos, Ralph Ingersoll. Jerry Bruck, Jr., director.
Journalism and anarchism were an every day part of the Stone family: Judith, Izzie’s sister, worked for The San Francisco Chronicle and wrote a captivating book on B. Traven , the elusive and mysterious anarchist writer whose real identity is still attributed to a half-dozen different names. I.F. Stone discovered anarchism through reading Jack London and Herbert Spencer and converted to anarcho-communism after reading Kropotkin . In the documentary film I.F. Stone Weekly , Stone declares, "I generally worked my way back to being a counter-revolutionary, as I suppose I am today."
The irony of this comment becomes evident when we look at his entire life and attitude toward the Establishment. When Stone could no longer exercise his free speech by writing for the daily newspapers of the McCarthy era, he took things into his own hands and decided to start a paper. Thus, he began to play a more active role in shaping of his own professional and political life. The first issue of the I.F. Stone Weekly came out at the beginning of 1953, and publication continued for about 20 years. Totally independent, Stone could write the truth and did not deprive himself of denouncing war atrocities, intrigues and lies of the different U.S. administrations, whether Republican or Democratic. His documentation was irrefutable, and through his work, he inspired the next generation’s great anarchist critic of government wrongdoings: Noam Chomsky.
To prove that government actions were wrong, whether he was talking about the Bay of Pigs attack or the Tonkin incidents, I.F. Stone used official sources that he dug up from government declarations, parliamentary inquiries and military reports. He always found the lies. Here is a typical quote from the I.F. Stone Weekly : "Now, government lies, but it doesn’t like to lie literally. Because a literal, flat and obvious lie tends to be caught up. So, what they do is, they become the masters of the disingenuous statement, of phrasing something in such a way that the honest, normal and unwary reader gets one impression - that he is supposed to get. And then, three months later, when he discovers it’s not true and he goes back to complain, they say, ’That isn’t what we said. Look at it carefully.’ You look at it carefully, and sure enough, it was really double-talk, it didn’t say exactly what you thought." Some of my generation may remember I.F. Stone also as a brilliant, ironic, sharp and wonderful speaker when he came to speak at the University of Portland in the early 1970s. His life and writings show how an individual, when animated by a strong ideal, is not totally powerless in front of any kind of oppression.