The Great Purge encouraged Hook's increasing ambivalence toward Marxism. In 1939, Hook formed the Committee for Cultural Freedom, a short-lived organization that set the stage for his postwar politics by opposing "totalitarianism" on the left and right. By the Cold War, Hook had become a prominent anti-Communist, although he continued to consider himself both a democratic socialist and a secular humanist throughout his life. He was, therefore, an anti-Communist socialist. In 1973, he was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto II.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Hook helped found Americans for Intellectual Freedom, the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), and the American Committee for Cultural Freedom. These bodies—of which the CCF was most central—were funded in part by the Central Intelligence Agency through a variety of fronts and sought to dissuade American leftists from continuing to advocate cooperation with the Soviet Union as some had previously. Hook later wrote in his memoirs that he, "like almost everyone else," had heard that "the CIA was making some contribution to the financing of the Congress."
On February 6, 1953, Hook discussed "The Threat to Academic Freedom" with Victor Riesel and others in the evening on WEVD radio (a Socialist radio station whose call letters referred to SPA founder Eugene V. Debs). In May 1953, the John Day Company published Heresy, Yes-Conspiracy, No, a 283-page book expanded from a 1952 pamphlet (Heresy, Yes-Conspiracy, No!), itself expanded from a 1950 New York Times article called "Heresy, Yes-But Conspiracy, No."
He married Carrie Katz in 1924, with whom he had one son. The couple separated in 1933. Katz had studied at the Rand School in the early 1920s. There, she studied under Scott Nearing and came to write a chapter in his book The Law of Social Revolution entitled "The Russian Revolution of 1917" (1926). Friends from the Rand School included Nerma Berman Oggins, wife of Cy Oggins. She was a Communist Party member who was a "Fosterite" (i.e., she supported William Z. Foster amidst Party factionalism in the last 1920s). She went on to work at the Labor Defense Council. In 1935, Hook married Ann Zinken, with whom he had two children.
Hook died age 86 on July 12, 1989, in Stanford, California.
In April 2011 the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) (formerly known as CSICOP) again honored Hook. At a meeting of its executive council in Denver, Colorado he was selected for inclusion in their Pantheon of Skeptics. The Pantheon of Skeptics was created by CSI to remember the legacy of deceased fellows of CSI and their contributions to the cause of scientific skepticism.
Hero in History
Sidney Hook's book The Hero in History was a noticeable event in the studies devoted to the role of the hero, the Great Man in history and the influence of people of significant accomplishments.
Hook opposed all forms of determinism and argued, as had William James, that humans play a creative role in constructing the social world and to transforming their natural environment. Neither humanity nor its universe is determined or finished. For Hook this conviction was crucial. He argued that when a society is at the crossroads of choosing the direction of further development, an individual can play a dramatic role and even become an independent power on whom the choice of the historical pathway depends.
In his book, Hook provided a great number of examples of the influence of great people, and the examples are mostly associated with various crucial moments in history, such as revolutions and crises. Some scholars have critically responded because, as one of them claims, "he does not take into account that an individual's greatest influence can be revealed not so much in the period of the old regime's collapse, but in the formation period of a new one. [...] Besides, he did not make clear the situation when alternatives appear either as the result of a crisis or as the result of Great Man's plan or intention without [a] manifested crisis".
Hook introduced a theoretical division of historic personalities and especially leaders into the eventful man and the event-making man, depending on their influences on the historical process. For example, he considers Lenin as having been an event-making man, because of his having acted in an important circumstance to change the developmental direction not only of Russia but also of the whole world in the 20th century.
Hook attached great importance to accidents and contingencies in history, thus opposing, among others, Herbert Fisher, who made attempts to present history as "waves" of emergencies.
"Ethics of Controversy"
In 1954, Hook published an essay titled "The Ethics of Controversy" in which he set down ten ground rules for democratic discourse within a democracy.
^Edward S. Shapiro, ed. (1995). Letters of Sidney Hook: democracy, communism, and the cold war. M.E. Sharpe. p. 2. ISBN9781563244872. This faith in rationality emerged early in Hook's life. Even before he was a teenager he proclaimed himself to be an agnostic. It was simply irrational, he declared, to believe in the existence of a merciful and powerful God in the face of widespread human misery. Only the pleadings of his parents that he not embarrass them in front of relatives and friends convinced Hook to participate in a Bar Mitzvah ceremony on his thirteenth birthday. People frequently asked him in his later years what he would say if he discovered after death that God really existed. He answered that he would simply state, "God, you never gave me enough evidence."
Hook, Sidney (1995). Edward S. Shapiro (ed.). Letters of Sidney Hook: Democracy, Communism, and the Cold War. M.E. Sharpe. p. 15.
^Hook, S., The Hero in History: A Study in Limitation and Possibility. Boston, Masachuestts: Beacon Press, 1943, p. 116
^Grinin, Leonid, The Role of an Individual in History: A Reconsideration. Social Evolution and History, vol. 9, no. 2, 2010, pp. 95-136, 108.
^Professor Walter Earl Fluker Discusses Leadership, Obama and Civil Rights Pioneers"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-02-06. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
^Hook, S., The Hero in History: A Study in Limitation and Possibility, Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1955, p. 142.
^Fisher, H., 1935. A History of Europe, vol. I, London, p. vii (reprint Fontana Press, 1984)
^"The Ethics of Controversy," New Leader, February 1, 1954, republished in Sidney Hook on Pragmatism, Democracy and Freedom: The Essential Essays, (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2002), edited by Robert Talilsse and Robert Tempio, pp. 292-93.
Hook, Sidney. Heresy, Yes; Conspiracy, No. New York: American Committee for Cultural Freedom. p. 29. LCCN52036000.
Kurtz, Paul, ed., Sidney Hook and the Contemporary World, New York: John Day and Co., 1968.
Kurtz, Paul, ed., Sidney Hook: Philosopher of Democracy and Humanism (a festschrift, for Hook's 80th birthday, containing four essays on his person and writings by Nicholas Capaldi, Milton R. Konvitz, Irving Kristol, and Paul Kurtz), Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1983.
Levine, Barbara, ed., Sidney Hook: A Checklist of Writings, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1989.