This last week I happened across an article by Brian R. Mecham which contained Thomas S. Monson’s comments at the funeral of W. Cleon Skousen in January 2006.1 At the time of the funeral, Thomas S. Monson served as the First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
So, as I read Mr. Mecham’s article and listened to some audio excerpts from President Monson’s funeral address, I wondered why such a man should be pilloried as Mr. Skousen has been of late in the media.2
Mr. Skousen rose to national prominence with the publication of The Naked Communist which was originally published in 1958 at the request of David O. McKay3, then the President of the LDS Church. The book quickly became a national bestseller despite never being reviewed by the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune or the Saturday Review.
According to Earl Taylor, Jr. the following is an excerpt of how Mr. Skousen came to write this book,
Shortly after we moved to Utah in 1952 and joined the faculty of Brigham Young University, I was asked to give talks on the threat of Communism as I encountered it in the FBI. There were two of us who specialized in this subject and we were the only ones allowed to speak on Communism in case Mr. Hoover could not take the talks himself.
As time went by I noticed that nearly every time the newspapers advertised that I would speak on Communism in Salt Lake City, David O. McKay would be in the audience. In due time he wrote to Ernest L. Wilkinson, the BYU president, and suggested that a text on Communism should be written by the heads of departments at BYU with myself serving as chairman of the committee.
We held a few meetings but Dr. Richard D. Poll of the History Department as well as the Dean of Economics and several other heads of departments seemed to know nothing about the core problem. They were not reading the bi-partisan reports of the Congressional hearings and they had not studied Marxist philosophy and tactics sufficiently to understand the reports published by these committees.
Finally the members of the committee recommended to President Wilkinson that I be given the assignment of researching and writing the book so I didn’t have to spend all the time in our meetings trying to explain to them what the latest Communist developments were. That’s how I got the assignment to write the text on Communism.
About two years later, after the text was finished, I sent it to several people who had spent years studying Communism and asked for their suggestions. They sent back warm commendations but very few suggestions. I then took the manuscript to President Wilkinson and learned to my amazement that the faculty would not support him in having a text on Communism published by the University. They suggested that I publish it. Of course, I had no money to do that since I had taken quite a severe cut in salary to accept my position at the Y.
Nevertheless, President McKay told me to go ahead and he would back me up. However, a series of unexpected financial blessings came to us so I was able to print 5,000 copies without asking him for help. The art work for the book was done by the well-known artist and friend, Arnold Friberg, while the layout and editing was done by another good friend, Keith Eddington, who also became a well-known artist and editor. Thomas S. Monson was in charge of Publisher’s Press and President McKay encouraged him to go ahead and print the book. To this day, he continually reminds me that he printed my first national best-seller.4
The article goes on to explain how Mr. Skousen wrote The Naked Capitalist5 and contains references to Dr. Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope. For additional information, see W. Cleon Skousen – Biography.
- “An Open Letter to Latter-day Saint Detractors of W. Cleon Skousen and His Works“. 22 Oct 2009. Latter-Day Conservative. 15 Nov 2009.↩
- See, for example, Zaitchik, Alexander. “Meet the Man Who Changed Glen Beck’s Life”. 16 Sep 2009. Salon. 15 Nov 2009. See also, Kristine. “Skousen in Dialogue”. 16 Sep 2000. Common Consent. 15 Nov 2009.↩
- Mecham. “W. Cleon Skousen Is Asked to Write the Naked Communist”. Nov 1998. Latter-Day Conservative. 15 Nov 2009.↩
- The premise for The Naked Capitalist corroborates Antony Sutton’s work – see Skull and Bones. See also Hugh W. Nibley’s observations about the technology agreements between the Allies and Axis powers in IG Farben and Hugh Nibley.↩