Commentary Magazine


Symposium

To the Editor:

Congratulations on your symposium “America and the World Revolution” [October '63]! The discussion is the most penetrating and illuminating consideration of the problem I have read. It is to your credit that you have provided your readers with an exchange of this caliber among four such extraordinary minds. . . .

Jane K. Schwartz
Washington, D. C.

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To the Editor:

Some years ago, Sidney Hook accused the American intellectual of a “failure of nerve.” Your round-table discussion demonstrates that the accusation was devastatingly accurate.

After the panel has gracefully skirted the real issue for an hour or two, Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg asks the symposiasts the Big Question: Is it not your duty to tell us not what is expedient, not what is politically possible, but what is right?

And what is the intellectual community’s response to the rabbi’s challenge? Without exception, they cop a plea. . . . Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. . . . rises nobly to the occasion. He has learned his political lessons well—if you don’t like the question, attack the interrogator. Aren’t you ashamed, says he, to ask such a question when there are millions starving and you glut yourself on three meals a day?

Moderator Podhoretz disposes of the rabbi gently but finally: “We don’t, it appears, have any Utopians up here.”

No Utopians indeed! And nobody with any new ideas or any nerve either. And no nay-sayers. And no gadflys. And no dissenters. In short, no intellectuals worthy of the name. Only four more sycophants who have made their uneasy peace with the status quo.

William C. Lindsey
Jacksonville, Florida

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To the Editor:

. . . What dawned on me after reading the symposium was how good we are at being specialists, how self-satisfied about our wealth. . . . Mr. Gass, alone, seemed to maintain some sanity about pressing our perfect model upon the unsuspecting peoples of the world. Somehow I thought we had all progressed beyond the point where we thought we were “the white men” and they “our burden.” . . .

We have become too special for our specialists, while they have spun themselves an elaborate jungle of ideas. We’ve just got to cut through it all with an ax and emerge in a clearing of some sort where there is bound to be . . . some last vestige of elemental human feeling. . . .

Perhaps . . . with Rabbi Hertzberg, we may learn one day what it is to give simply of the simplicity of our love.

(Mrs.) Earl Schub
Nutley, New Jersey

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