Vol. 34 No. 1 1967 - page 60

ments. I am not implying that there is no truth to be arrived at by this
mode of judgment. But such truth is limited in its usefulness, sometimes
misleading, and likely to paralyze discourse. And when sensibility takes
over the entire work of reasoned argument, when-say-the acute issues
involved in the Vietnam War are let disappear in observations upon
Johnson's personal style, intellect has deserted politics. We are properly
contemptuous of an Administration unable to make a cogent statement
of its Vietnam position. But has the intellectual opposition done much
better? The fact is that the American intellectual has always lived at
such a far remove from power that he has developed a peculiarly grim
imagination of power, to which he can relate himself only in angry pas–
sivity. This hostile separation from government has no doubt played its
part in creating our famed American rigorousness in matters of culture;
indeed it is an aspect of this rigorousness that we virtually exclude from
our meaningful life of mind anyone who participates in public affairs. We
reserve for culture and deny to politics our best energies of discrimination,
now more than ever needed in our political judgments.
In particular they are needed as we direct ourselves to the difficult
problem of democracy itself, and especially as we bring to bear upon it
recent developments in the civil rights movement. Obviously were the
whole of white America committed to Negro equality it would have been
achieved. (The truism is not to be avoided if your Question 4 is to be
noticed.) What we now see rather more dramatically than we have be–
fore is that even when an Administration commits itself to equality, it can
be defeated by opposition from certain sections of the population.
Does this represent a failure of the democratic system? Yes, certainly
it represents a failure. But
failure of democracy, grave as it may be,
does not represent
failure of democracy, unless by democracy we
mean a system of government-and when has there ever been one-which
guarantees the achievement of our best social goals. I can see no reason
for Negroes themselves to be patient with the small progress that has
been made in racial equality in this country. Their moderation up to
now has been phenomenal. But those of us whose anger at racial in–
justice is supposed to be in the control of reason-that is, held in
check by understanding of the many conflicting forces involved in racial
bias and by our commitment to the national interest as a whole-have
not the privilege of desperation; we have the onerous duty of patience.
By patience I most distinctly do not mean retreat or the countenancing
of any diminution of governmental effort. Building on what gains in
civil rights have already been made, and they are considerable, we must
force new efforts in legislation and education, new programs for eco–
nomic and social betterment. Except the intellectual is prepared to name,
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