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Spooked By His Sci Fi, FBI Looked Into Asimov As Possible Communist Tipster 190

Posted by timothy
from the state-wasn't-your-friend-then-either dept.
v3rgEz writes "By September 14, 1960, Isaac Asimov had been a professor of biochemistry at Boston University for 11 years, and his acclaimed "I, Robot" collection of short stories was on its seventh reprint. This was also the day someone not-so-subtly accused him of communist sympathies in a letter to J. Edgar Hoover. They ominously concluded that "Asimov may be quite all right. On the other hand . . . . ." The "tip off" wasn't given much credit, but it didn't matter since Asimov's science fiction writing alone was enough to warrant FBI monitoring, particularly as the FBI hunted for the mysterious ROBPROF, a communist informant embedded in American academia. MuckRock has Isaac Asimov's FBI files in full, and a write up of the more interesting bits."
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Spooked By His Sci Fi, FBI Looked Into Asimov As Possible Communist Tipster

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  • Used to this yet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:44PM (#45361057)
    See this, then remember that the NSA is currently monitoring us all. Your phone is a gps tracker. They have access to your mail. They are reading your personal papers without a warrant (Google Drive). Orwell's vision of the future seems more accurate.
    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:56PM (#45361221)
      Yep. Today's NSA makes J. Edger look like an amateur.
      • by meerling (1487879) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @06:09PM (#45361413)
        At least J.E.H. wore relatively clean panties and garters.
      • Re:Used to this yet? (Score:5, Informative)

        by mi (197448) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @07:34PM (#45362387) Homepage

        Yep. Today's NSA makes J. Edger look like an amateur.

        Compared even to his contemporaries — on the other side of the Iron Curtain — he has always been an amateur. Same goes for the much-despised Joe McCarthy as well.

        Maybe, a total of 200 people (Asimov not among them) have lost their jobs unjustly because of those two gentlemen. Compared to the roughly 20 million losing their freedom and lives in USSR due to Stalin's (and post-Stalin's) repressions [wikipedia.org], that is, well, incomparable.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2013 @08:41PM (#45363057)

          Your point is both correct and of limited use.

          First of all, we'll never know how many people were intimidated into silence by Hoover. It is widely believed to be a lot, and Hoover himself was virtually untouchable because of the dirt he knew about and the dirty tactics he was willing to employ. Even the President would have thought twice (or more) before tackling J. Edgar.

          Second, the U.S. set a higher standard for itself. The consequences of McCarthyism and Hoover were more disappointing and jarring because that stuff wasn't ever supposed to get as far, rise as high, or last as long as it did. The Soviet Union had little illusion about itself and the thuggery and repression there wasn't terribly surprising.

          Third, calling some of the worst-behaving government insiders in U.S. 20th century history amateurs, isn't just inaccurate. It belittles the threat they held to freedom, democracy and human rights. If they were 'amateurs', why take them on? The people who risked careers, futures, safety and security, did their actions mean so little?

        • Re:Used to this yet? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @09:24PM (#45363529) Journal

          Stalin's political repressions have a direct death toll of roughly 1 million. When GB archives were declassified with the fall of the USSR, the numbers turned out to be quite a bit lower that people who were all hyped up by Solzhenitsyn expected them to be. For the period of 1921 to 1953, the records show:

          Total convictions for political ("counterrevolutionary" - Article 58) crimes: 3,777,380
          - sent to prison or gulag: 2,369,220
          - executed: 642,980

          Quite a few of those send to gulags have also died - which is also recorded in the 1 million total figure that is the consensus at the time.

          Of course, this does not count famines like Holodomor, and various other policies which resulted in deaths. But those were not witch hunts for "enemies of the proletariat", which is the Soviet analog to the activities of Hoover and McCarthy.

          You obviously still have a point - a million is still a very large number compared to a few hundred - but it's worth putting the correct figures in place, now that we know them.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            There is a good reason these kinds of activities are called witch hunts. All these kinds of purges have the same thing on common, those conservative stooges squatting in the background, did not target those who threatened the state, but they targeted anyone and everyone who threatened their power, who had something they wanted or who were targets of sexual abuse that refused.

            That is the true driver for the huge numbers. Not the number of political dissidents but all those targets of political insiders to

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by mi (197448)

            Quite a few of those send to gulags have also died - which is also recorded in the 1 million total figure that is the consensus at the time.

            Compared to mere hundreds of Hover's and McCarthy's intimidated Americans, even the 2 million of dead Soviets remain, as I said, incomparable.

            Of course, this does not count famines like Holodomor, and various other policies which resulted in deaths. But those were not witch hunts for "enemies of the proletariat", which is the Soviet analog to the activities of Hoover a

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          how are the people who cemented the rule of two extremely similar ruling parties which went on to go on crusades fighting around the world(with collateral damage ok'd even non-warfare areas of action) amateurs ? ?

          why not just compare them to nazis then?

          • Re:Used to this yet? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by mi (197448) on Friday November 08, 2013 @12:44AM (#45365003) Homepage

            why not just compare them to nazis then?

            The number of victims prevents any such comparison... The number of own citizens perished in American "witch hunts" is, pretty much, zero.

            Collectivist ideologies — Fascism and Communism (as well as Communism-light, otherwise known as Socialism) — don't value the Individual for much and would not hesitate to kill thousands and millions "for the greater good", while in America Individual still usually trumps the Collective and any attempts at mass-murder (or even mass incarceration) tend to fail.

            So, in demolishing your ridiculous attempt to compare America to Nazis, we could stop right here. But I'll go on... The number of foreigners dead off American weaponry — in the 60 years from Korean War to the Iraq one — is well under 5 million, whereas just the USSR lost, by official figures, over 20 million dead to the Germans — in only 4 years.

            • by gl4ss (559668)

              America Individual still usually trumps the Collective and any attempts at mass-murder (or even mass incarceration) tend to fail.

              historically only because they weren't counted as americans if they were on the short end of the stick.. nazi logic was to not kill "true nazis", so that number is "zero" as well. countless people have perished in witch hunts in america, thanks to the justice system no doing it's job all that well(well over zero).

              but the difference with hoover and mccarthur with hitler and his cronies was that they were _successful_ in establishing their chosen political parties to power and putting in a system where no con

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by QRDeNameland (873957)

      I said it before, and I'll say it again:

      If you have nothing to say, you have nothing to fear.

  • Typos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:46PM (#45361071) Homepage

    Typos in both headline and submission. Well done slashdot, well done.

  • by surfdaddy (930829) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:48PM (#45361113)
    In those days, everybody was in danger of being a "Communist" and the government went crazy against civil liberties.

    Today, it's all about being labeled a "Terrorist", and the government continues to go crazy against civil liberties -- only with much more ability to snoop.

    What the FUCK is going on with this country?

    • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:56PM (#45361225)
      Isn't it obvious?

      Just do as you're told. We'll take good care of you.

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:57PM (#45361235)

      What the FUCK is going on with this country?

      As much as we let them get away with.

      • What the FUCK is going on with this country?

        As much as we let them get away with.

        ... or quite a lot more.

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          A necktie is topologically equivalent to both a collar/leash and a noose. This cannot be a coincidence.

          A doughnut is topologically equivalent to both a collar/leash and a noose. This cannot be a coincidence. And it is topologically equivalent to the cup of coffee you dunk it in. This certainly cannot be a coincidence.

          And it is topologically equivalent to the hypothetical spherical cow. That probably is a coincidence.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When I read stories like this, it's easy to imagine people from bygone eras to be not as educated or as informed as people are now, and this is why things like this occur. And then I'm reminded by the nightly news that human intelligence hasn't appreciably increased between now and then. Chances are that history is repeating itself today, and our descendants will eventually see some declassified documents about the stupdity of the current people in power. I wish there was a bug fix for stupidity and smal

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And then I'm reminded by the nightly news that human intelligence hasn't appreciably increased between now and then.

        HUMINT may not have appreciably increased, but clearly ELINT, COMINT, and SIGINT have gotten better.

    • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:57PM (#45361243)

      What the FUCK is going on with this country?

      The simple answer is that you keep on electing complete fuckwits.

      • by donaggie03 (769758) <d_osmeyer@hot[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday November 07, 2013 @06:10PM (#45361429)
        Nope, the simpler answer is that most Americans are completely ok with this shit.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2013 @06:29PM (#45361661)

          Nope, the simpler answer is that most Americans are completely ok with this shit.

          Of course history doesn't repeat; but it rhymes. IMHO we've nailed down that aspect of the 1950s. Most Americans didn't care who got blacklisted; but there were rumblings beneath the surface. The 50s had "the beat generation". So far all we have is "occupy" on the Left and Tea Party on the right. There hasn't been any really interesting literature coming from the Left, no Ginsberg or Keroac; but it's a bit early to tell, or it might be missing this time. Those guys had the GI bill that allowed them to persue writing. This generation is coming back from war with debt...

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No they aren't. The trust and happiness in the US government with all its people is at an all time low. Its less than 10%.

          Gerrymandering is what makes them get away with it. People aren't happy with the government, they are happy with the guy they elected. Why? Because the election zones aren't random or geographically divided, they are divided in such way to group up people that vote alike.

          I highly, very highly, if you ever take advice from a stranger on the internet to take this one and not the one that t

      • by meerling (1487879) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @06:12PM (#45361457)
        Not really. It's either elect fuckwit A or fuckwit B, or don't vote for any of them and let some deluded idiot choose the fuckwit of the term.

        Blaming the person caught in that trap since before they were even born, is rather insensitive.
        (There are other things I would say, but I'm assuming you just really haven't thought about what's actually going on. Here's your chance.)
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        well, it's not like they have any chance at electing non complete fuckwits because the non fuckwits are under surveillance..

        was there any reasonable author of written or spoken work who was NOT under surveillance(and surveillance is for taking some kind of action in case they do something drastic to make people actually do something) between 1950-2000*?

        *) post 2000 they have had those and the other population under surveillance.. and still can't keep the illegal immigration in check! despite having records

    • by Aguazul2 (2591049) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:58PM (#45361251)

      What the FUCK is going on with this country?

      It has made so many enemies, it doesn't know where the next attack may come from. So universal surveillance is necessary. Maybe make less enemies next time?

      • by Huge_UID (1089143)
        Why is this moderated Funny instead of Insightful?
    • by asmkm22 (1902712) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @06:00PM (#45361285)

      Same thing that happens with any form of government. Freedoms and information begin to erode their grip on power (which is what the individuals in charge live for), and the government has to do what it can to limit the bleeding. Some governments will outright make the dissenters disappear, others just make sure that there are so many layers to the bureaucracy that nothing short of a concerted, long-term effort to bring about change will make a dent. Syria would be an example of the former, and the US (and many allies) the later.

      Look back at any civilization throughout history and you'll see the same patterns. The tools may be different (money, oppression, religion, etc), but the results are always the same.

    • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @06:10PM (#45361433)

      It's all in the name of fighting evil.

      Unless you're on the other side, then you are the evil.

      If you ever find yourself uttering:

      "We are the free ones."
      "We are the good ones."
      "We are the peaceful ones."

      Remember that you're saying exactly what the other team believe about themselves. And I'm sure you'll be able to explain how that's not true, and in fact you REALLY ARE the Chosen Team. Just like the other team will be able to explain that. But you're wrong. Because it's the same as it's always been, no matter which side you're on: man exploiting man, with the powerful minority fucking over everyone else.

      And, if you're part of the powerful minority, you're the problem, and you're the cunt - no matter where you are. No, being part of "this team" doesn't mean that your power is more legitimate than if you were part of "that team".

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        > Remember that you're saying exactly what the other team believe about themselves.

        Didn't the Nazi SS wear "Gott mit uns" on their uniforms?

      • by houghi (78078)

        You almost got it right. The minor mistake you (and many others) make is that you think in teams. In us and them. Left and right.
        However the world is not just two things. It is not good vs. evil. It is not even all variations of gray. It is all colors combined.

        You decide it is between the powerful minority vs. the powerless majority. By telling them THEY are the problem, you do exactly as you claim people should not do.

        Those rich people ALSO believe they are the Chosen Team. And they are not even one team i

        • I'm saying that there is no distinction between people except in the amount of power they have.

          • by HiThere (15173)

            Ah. That's clear. And wrong. It is the action you take that say who you are. Power is an amplifier. Justifications are trash. It's what you do. If you spy on everyone, they you're a "nosey parker with no regard for privacy", and I don't care *what* your justification is, it doesn't change who you are. If you're a cop that pulls over black drivers for being black, then you are a racist abusing power under the color of authority. Etc.

            Some people are assholes, some aren't. There *is* a difference.

            • Can't spy on everyone without power.
              Can't pull over black drivers for being black without power.

              What matters is not what you fantasise about doing, but whether you have the power to do it.

              Impotent assholes are irrelevant.

              It'll always lead to the same thing: if you have the opportunity for power, do you wield it, or do you relinquish it?

    • In those days (Score:2, Informative)

      by nurb432 (527695)

      .. But today you are actually rewarded for being a socialist. ( which was what they used the term communist for back then.. not true Communism )

      • Re:In those days (Score:5, Informative)

        by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @07:27PM (#45362307) Homepage

        But today you are actually rewarded for being a socialist.

        This is only true if you think the statement "The government should promote the general welfare" immediately makes you a socialist.

        The number of people able to make a living because they are socialists is (being generous) around 1000, and most of them not a particularly good living. There are some people that hold good jobs and also are socialists, but typically they hold those jobs because of their skills unrelated to their politics. What absolutely doesn't exist is a well-established and well-funded set of organizations with media outlets, think tanks, etc hiring bunches of people making well over $250,000 a year promoting socialism, whereas such organizations do exist for movement conservatism (some talk radio, Fox News, Heritage Foundation, Chamber of Commerce, etc), libertarians (some talk radio, Cato Institute, some Tea Party organizations), and to a lesser degree for the Democratic Party (MSNBC, Brookings Institution, AFL-CIO). But there's a giant gap between the Democratic Party and actual socialists: The Democrats want to keep getting their nice big donations from big corporations, so they shy away from doing anything that smacks of bona-fide socialism.

        If you're thinking that the people receiving welfare are being rewarded for being a socialist, that doesn't make any sense, because welfare recipients receive their benefits regardless of whether they're a socialist or not. They are arguably benefiting from the majority of voters believing that a bit of socialism in the name of preventing people from starving or freezing to death is a good idea, but that's different from they themselves being socialists.

        What is true is that being a socialist no longer destroys your career like it did in the 1950's.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by mi (197448)

          This is only true if you think the statement "The government should promote the general welfare" immediately makes you a socialist.

          It might, depending on what you think, the meaning of that phrase is. If "promoting general welfare" means — to you — people need to be subsidized to be "well", then, yes, you are a Socialist, willing to rob the productive Peter to console the idle Paul.

          What absolutely doesn't exist is a well-established and well-funded set of organizations with media outlets, think

          • Re:In those days (Score:4, Insightful)

            by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @09:29PM (#45363583) Journal

            you are a Socialist, willing to rob the productive Peter to console the idle Paul.

            Classic Marxist socialism is, in fact, the reverse - "robbing" the idle Paul, who happens to own capital which pays him rent, to pay the productive Peter who gets almost nothing because most of the wealth he creates he has to give away to Peter in rent for using his capital to do something productive.

            • by mi (197448)
              Classic Marxist Socialism was long ago been established as mistaken at best and fraudulent at worst. There is no "idle capitalist" — not in an environment, where there are other capitalists competing with him, being idle is a losing proposition.

              Marx' definition of value was completely wrong — he proposed to value the work based on the effort put into it, not the results. From this he concluded, that the "hard-working" proletariat were "robbed" (never mind their completely voluntary joining)...

              • Re:In those days (Score:4, Insightful)

                by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday November 08, 2013 @02:48AM (#45365535) Journal

                There is no "idle capitalist" — not in an environment, where there are other capitalists competing with him, being idle is a losing proposition.

                This is trivially disproven just by looking around. Any person that owns enough stocks that they can live on the dividends is such an "idle capitalist".

                From this he concluded, that the "hard-working" proletariat were "robbed" (never mind their completely voluntary joining)...

                Did you miss that entire part of human history where worker strikes were suppressed with machine guns and gallows in most countries?

                "Voluntary" is a funny word... if, between me and my friends, we control all the industry in the country, then as an industrial worker, you are free to come and work for us, or to go and starve to death. No-one's forcing you at gunpoint, so it's free, right?

                Marx' definition of value was completely wrong — he proposed to value the work based on the effort put into it, not the results.

                This is a popular misunderstanding of his interpretation of theory on labor. First of all, he did not "propose to value" anything - in The Capital, he was studying how economy works, not giving directives on how to fix it. His theory of value attempts to explain why the market values certain things higher than the others, and where the higher value of goods compared to the raw materials that they're made from comes from. In doing so, he did indeed consider labor as key, but only productive labor, not just any application of human effort. He was well aware of the broken window fallacy.

                But, as Heinlein put it, there are only three categories: makers, takers, and fakers — there is no fourth choice. If you aren't making, you must be one of the other two and anybody proposing, you be fed (and sheltered, and entertained, and educated, and, most recently, treated) at the expense of the makers — is either soft in the head or, worse, expects to personally profit from the "wealth redistribution" he advocates.

                As noted earlier, socialists wholeheartedly agree with the division into "makers" and "takers" - they just disagree with you on which is which. So, from their perspective, the existing arrangement is the makers feeding the takers at their own expense, and that's something that they have set out to fix.

                Coincidentally, that's why modern progressives aren't socialists. They, as you say, are driven purely by empathy towards the "less fortunate"; they don't actually want to upset the existing arrangement of makers and takers, only make the takers take less to slightly improve the makers' lot.

          • by dkleinsc (563838)

            The Military-Industrial Complex, at least, produces something. The Welfare-Industrial Complex is completely parasitic.

            Oh really?

            For example, when House Speaker John Boehner inserts a provision into an unrelated bill to require the army to buy overpriced M1 tanks that they don't even want, that just happen to be built in his district, why exactly is that in any way beneficial to society? And why are we not willing to see welfare as the cost of preventing riots of starving desperate people in the streets?

            Your position, in a nutshell, has 3 major problems:

            First objection: People who lack the basic necessities of life do whate

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by mi (197448)

              when House Speaker John Boehner inserts a provision into an unrelated bill to require the army to buy overpriced M1 tanks that they don't even want, that just happen to be built in his district, why exactly is that in any way beneficial to society?

              It makes things — metal is poured, people retain (and improve) their skills at it and the many other things required to make the tank. I agree wholeheartedly, that it is wasteful — but not as wasteful (and destructive) than the endless subsidy.

              People

      • by houghi (78078)

        Socialist: I don't think it means what you think it means.

    • I can tell you what isn't going on with this country: constitutional republic.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      People didn't read their history. Too busy playing sports or something I guess.

    • by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @07:05PM (#45362069)

      What the FUCK is going on with this country?

      "Communist" and "Terrorist" are just labels used as excuses to exert control over the population because the leadership is fundamentally afraid of the populace. The Nixon tapes clearly demonstrate Nixon's paranoid fear. Other leaders share the same fear, though not the same paranoia hence there is no public demonstration of said fear. The new leadership (the wealthy business oligarchs) are afraid because if people recognized the level of control under which they live, they would likely revolt.

      The US has taken and used the Nazi propaganda model of polarizing the population in opposition to something and using this for the benefit of the nation as a whole. It was during the second world war that the US discovered the productive power of focussing the populace on a common enemy. The NEOCONs have just taken this to a whle new level by controlling all forms of mass media and religious discussion in conjunction with political ideology. By controlling the information, the terms "communist", "terrorist", "pirate" and hosts of others can gain traction as a mechanism for the production of fear driving the populace to fight in common need for a goal suiting those promoting the fear.

      Ignoring the harm this causes to the global view of the propagandists, you can say that the mechnism is a sound motivator. What has happened in modern America (which has happened countless times previously in failed dictatorships) is that the wealthy continue to accumulate unreasonable amounts of wealth at the expense of the poor. The poor rarely notice the problem until they're unemployed, lost their homes and are starving whilst being increasing oppressed by unreasonable regulations imposed by the leadership.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        I challenge the assertion that "The US has taken and used the Nazi propaganda model of polarizing the population in opposition to something and using this for the benefit of the nation as a whole" I do not believe it to be a true statement. (Granted, the first part of the sentence is indeed correct.)

    • by ultranova (717540) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @07:07PM (#45362103)

      What the FUCK is going on with this country?

      Well, I believe nurb432 below [slashdot.org] summed it up best in his tag (emphasis mine):

      ---- Booth was a patriot ---- If you dont agree with me, dont bother replying as i dont care what you have to say ----

      Politics in USA are based on the idea that those who disagree can always leave and go West to find a new community that embraces their ideas, rather than trying to negotiate a compromise that everyone can live with. Well, they can't anymore since that pesky Pacific Ocean blocks the way. So now you have people who's mythology prices independence and individuality forced to live and work together. It worked somewhat as long as the Soviet Union provided a boogeyman of external threat, but now that it's gone and Al-Qaeda being too pathetic to provide a serious threat it's breaking down.

      So, what's happening is that US is finally being forced to confront the fact it has no frontier anymore. It has no land that could be settled or virgin resources to be tapped for quick economic growth. This also means that most people will never be economically independent, no matter how hard or smart they work. The political machine is breaking down as its assumptions break, the budget circus being a symptom of that, and everyone who can is trying to grap as much power as possible to control the direction the country takes. And of course there's always the possibility that the union falls apart entirely, which is reason enough for the federal government to grab as much power as possible.

      It's just the death struggles of the American Dream. We shall see what replaces it, and whether the country can avoid a slide to either dictatorship or break-up. It's not going to be easy, and depends on how much shared culture still exists between the states - and the Federal government isn't exactly helping by constantly wiping its metaphorical body opening with the US Constitution, thus illegitimazing itself and discrediting the document.

      • by khallow (566160)

        This also means that most people will never be economically independent, no matter how hard or smart they work.

        Depends what you mean by "economically independent"? If it means, you personally make everything you ever need, then it's not a particularly useful definition since even in the hunter/gatherer days, some reliance on others was necessary. If it means that you can do work in exchange for the things you want and need, then almost everyone can be economically independent.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          I think a reasonable definition of "economically independent" would be that your economy doesn't depend on influence by the government. This is also something that only existed in history and myth, but it seems to be widely believed in, so it is a reasonable definition. (I don't think anyone believes, e.g., that Davy Crockett made his own rifle. OTOH, perhaps James Bowie did have his knife made by his brother. But do they believe that his brother dug the ore to make the steel? [Rural blacksmiths did th

        • by ultranova (717540)

          Depends what you mean by "economically independent"?

          You don't depend on anyone more than they depend on you, nor does anyone exert any real control over you - for example, you're a farmer and grow what you eat yourself, and trade your produce for what else you need. That was the original American Dream: that rather than being someone's servant, you could get land and work for yourself.

          Later versions are variations of that, but it's only really a realistic dream in a rapidly expanding economy - in a slow-gr

    • stock market to focus all of the evil in the universe. Then we looked through the telescope.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:49PM (#45361119) Homepage Journal

    Being an expatriate of another country(especially a rival) is pretty much universal cause for suspicion by the CIA/NSA/FBI. Just try and get security clearance if you are one(it'll never happen).

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      now that's funny. He came over to New York when he was three. His family was Jewish and only spoke Yiddish and some English at home; he never learned Russian because his family didn't speak it.

      • It doesn't matter, because if you have relatives in another country, they just assume that country has potential leverage over you.

        • This is a bit off tangent, but IIRC Asimov was very loosely connected with the nuclear weapons program.

          Towards the end of WWII he was drafted into the army. He was going to be shipped off to Bikini Island to help with the testing protocols but was demobilized just before being sent.

        • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @06:26PM (#45361639)

          Leverage over a SciFi author? Were they afraid he'd give them the secret launch codes to his imaginary alien super weapons?

          • If you want leverage over a SciFi author, make sure you get the right one [youtube.com].
          • Maybe they wanted the secrets of psychohistory with which they could crush those pinko commies once and for all.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      He was born in the USSR. That makes him suspicious, not from Communist leanings, but from divided loyalties. Honestly, I wouldn't trust someone born in a different country who *doesn't* have divided loyalties.

      However, in his writing, he is the furthest thing from a communist. See what he says about democratic and egalitarian movements in the Galactic Empire in his Foundation prequels. Of course, he was also not a fascist; he wrote several books about nationalist societies, such as Lucky Starr and the Mo

      • Honestly, I wouldn't trust someone born in a different country who *doesn't* have divided loyalties.

        I don’t know about that. I am thinking about another Russian born writer Ann Rand. Her hatred of the USSR and Russia and love of America was pretty clear. Or maybe it would be better to say that I would trust Ann Rand to be Any Rand.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Being an expatriate of another country(especially a rival) is pretty much universal cause for suspicion by the CIA/NSA/FBI. Just try and get security clearance if you are one(it'll never happen).

      Former Navy linguist here. Many of my fellow cryptologic technicians - interpretive were born in another country, even still had relatives or property there, and nonetheless managed to hold the TS/SCI clearance required for the job. If your foreign origin has endowed you with a skill that the US needs, like mastery

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      he had clearance to work at PNY Naval Air Experimentation Station for three years during WW II. then as other poster notes he then was drafting into US army right after war until his honorable discharge....good grief, guy helps out his country in time of need and afterward gets targeted with suspicion and stinky eye

      • by HiThere (15173)

        You think that's bad, you should check out the history of (classical) Athens. Democracies have a poor record WRT rewarding people who help them. And Athens didn't even have a bureaucracy to blame it on.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          Don't want to give the wrong impression. Totalitarian states aren't all that hot either. Look up Belisarius of Byzantium.

  • by ultraexactzz (546422) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:49PM (#45361135) Journal
    I mean, some of them might be alright, but.....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:53PM (#45361185)

    The F.B.I. has a file on EVERYONE. In most cases, they are NOT ACTIVE until there's an intercept.

    Yours In Space,
    Kilgore Trout

  • by the_skywise (189793) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:58PM (#45361265)

    L. Ron Hubbard was the accuser...

  • I would guess every person of Russian origin was a suspected spy. Granted, Isaac Asimov left Russia when he was 3. Even so, it may be possible to coerce someone like this into spying, for example by threatening some of his relatives still in Russia (if he had any). Using his Sci Fi work as some sort of evidence is far fetched, but the suspicions less so. One does not need to sympathize with the communist regime in order to spy.
  • Was this requested by his decendents? Or can anyone request FBI files on random people. Seems wierd that random info that FBI collects on people would be in the public interest.
    • Welcome to the Freedom of Information Act. Making the formerly-secretive unsecret, which is a good thing.

  • I know which ones I'd prefer today.

  • Scary twist ending (Score:4, Informative)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {hmryobemag}> on Thursday November 07, 2013 @06:58PM (#45362003) Journal

    If you read the whole report, the most suspicious things they have on him are that he's an academic in biology like this spy they're looking for codenamed "ROBPROF," and he wrote reviews for a defunct magazine that had a similar name to a defunct communist publication.

    Then in the last page they say that even though none of this really matches up, they should still consider that he could be ROBPROF and they should keep an eye on him because his "background contains information inimical to the best interests of the United States" 8-(

    • Then in the last page they say that even though none of this really matches up, they should still consider that he could be ROBPROF and they should keep an eye on him because his "background contains information inimical to the best interests of the United States" 8-(

      That reminds me of the old joke:

      Q. Why do the KGB go around in threes?

      A. One can read, one can write and one to keep an eye on the two intellectuals.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2013 @09:12PM (#45363371)

    To be fair, Asimov was one of the Futurians (if that was the name?), and a good chunk of the Futurians did attempt to distribute Communist pamphlets at the first Worldcon in 1939 (IIRC -- and the attempt was stopped by Worldcon organizers, who felt that non-sf politics had no place there). However, Asimov was also allegedly the Futurian who thought the pamphlets were a stupid idea as compared to Worldcon coolness, and quickly abandoned exile in the coffee shop across the street to return to Worldcon, hang out with non-Futurian friends, and watch Metropolis. Pretty soon they all trickled back across the street (IIRC).

    (And strictly speaking, they weren't all Communists, but rather had some sort of idealistic idea about science fiction bettering world politics. But the group's "Cool Older Guy" was a Communist, so the club's politics ended up having a Communist and/or Trotskyist bent. At the time, Frederick Pohl and Donald A. Wollheim (later of DAW Books) were both Communist in their politics, among many others.)

    However, it would appear that neither the FBI nor the informant knew about the Futurians thing. And a lot of sf fandom lost enthusiasm for Communism as history made it clear to them that Stalin was Not Good.

  • As a B.U. alum (twice), I never knew Asimov taught there. Lots of unremarkable names are on buildings but there's no Asimov library of science fiction. Kinda pisses me off.

  • It took a nuclear arms race to make Commies the ultimate boogieman hiding under every rock but it took Hollywood to make the Nazis take their place -- and boy have they gotten mileage out of that Holocaust thing! Ask anyone what "the holocaust" meant before the 1970s and they'd tell you it was the impending total nuclear war between the Commies and the good-guys, and nowadays if you ask anyone what the greatest threat to mankind is they'll say the threat of another Holocaust posed by guys who have opinions
  • someone not-so-subtly accused him of communist sympathies in a letter to J. Edgar Hoover.

    Sounds like something Arthur Clarke would do as a practical joke.

Entropy requires no maintenance. -- Markoff Chaney

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