Vol. 34 No. 1 1967 - page 55

majority of them are not revolutionaries, wouldn't know how to be
they tried. Mostly a salaried professoriat, they're as much at home
the system when it functions a little better than it does right now as
anyone else.
A somewhat longer comment on the last question.
Yes, I do find much promise in the activities of young people. About
the only promise one can find anywhere in this country today is in the
way some young people are carrying on, making a fuss. I include both
their renewed interest in politics (as protest and as community action,
rather than as theory) and the way they dance, dress, wear their hair,
riot, make love. I also include the homage they pay to Oriental thought
and rituals. And I include, not least of all, their interest in taking drugs
-despite the unspeakable vulgarization of this project by Leary and
A year ago Leslie Fiedler, in a remarkably wrongheaded and inter–
esting essay (published in
and titled "The New Mutants") called at–
tention to the fact that the new style of young people indicated a delibe–
rate blurring of sexual differences, signaling the creation of a new breed
of youthful androgens. The longhaired pop groups with their mass
teen-age following and the tiny elite of turned-on kids from Berkeley to
the East Village were both lumped together as representatives of the
"post-humanist" era now upon us, in which we witness a "radical meta–
morphosis of the western male," a "revolt against masculinity," even "a
rejection of conventional male potency." For Fiedler, this new turn in
personal mores, diagnosed as illustrating a "programmatic espousal of an
anti-puritanical mode of existence," is something to deplore. (Though
sometimes, in his characteristic have-it-both-ways manner, Fiedler seemed
to be vicariously relishing this development,
he appeared to be
lamenting it.) But why, he never made explicit. I think it is because he
is sure such a mode of existence undercuts radical politics, and its moral
visions, altogether. Being radical
the older sense (some version of
Marxism or socialism or anarchism) meant to be attached still to tradi–
tional "puritan" values of work, sobriety, achievement and family-found–
ing. Fiedler suggests, as have Philip Rahv and Irving Howe and Mal–
colm Muggeridge among others, that the new style of youth must be,
at bottom, apolitical, and their revolutionary spirit a species of infantilism.
The fact that the same kid joins SNCC or boards a Polaris submarine or
agrees with Conor Cruise O'Brien
smokes pot and is bisexual and
adores the Supremes, is seen as a contradiction, a kind of ethical fraud
or intellectual weak-mindedness.
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