Vol. 34 No. 1 1967 - page 57

I was a radical, too, when I was young. When are these kids going to
grow up and realize what we had to realize, that things never are going
to be really different, except maybe worse?
From my own experience and observation, I can testify that there is
a profound concordance between the sexual revolution, redefined, and the
political revolution, redefined. That being a socialist and taking certain
drugs (in a fully serious spirit: as a technique for exploring one's con–
sciousness, not as an anodyne or a crutch), are not incompatible, that
there is no incompatibility between the exploration of inner space and
the rectification of social space. What some of the kids understand is that
it's the whole character-structure of modem American man, and his
imitators, that needs rehauling. (Old folks like Paul Goodman and
Edgar Z. Friedenberg have, of course, been suggesting this for a long
time.) That rehauling includes Western "masculinity," too. They believe
that some socialist remodeling of institutions and the ascendance, through
electoral means or otherwise, of better leaders won't really change any–
thing. And they are right.
Neither do I dare deride the turn toward the East (or more generally,
to the wisdoms of the nonwhite world) on the part of a tiny group of
young people--however uninformed and jejune the adherence usually is.
(But then, nothing could be more ignorant than Fiedler's insinuation that
Oriental modes of thought are "feminine" and "passive," which is the
reason the demasculinized kids are drawn to them.) Why shouldn't they
look for wisdom elsewhere?
the culmination of Western
white civilization, as everyone from the Left to the Right declares, then
there must be something terribly wrong with Western white civilization.
This is a painful truth ; few of us want to go that far. It's easier, much
easier, to accuse the kids, to reproach them for being "non-participants in
the past" and "drop-outs from history." But it isn't real history Fiedler is
referring to with such solicitude. It's just
history, which he claims is
identical with "the tradition of the human," the tradition of "reason"
itself. Of course, it's hard to assess life on this planet from a genuinely
world-historical perspective; the effort induces vertigo and seems like an
invitation to suicide. But from a world-historical perspective, that local
history which some young people are repudiating (with their fondness
for dirty words, their peyote, their macrobiotic rice, their Dadaist art,
etc.) looks a good deal less pleasing and less self-evidently worthy of
perpetuation. The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shake–
speare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the eman–
cipation of women, Kant, Marx, Balanchine ballets,
et aI.,
don't redeem
what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white
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