The American Mind
To the Editor:
I wish to congratulate Allan Bloom on his article, “Liberty, Equality, Sexuality” [April]. It is the humane and heartfelt effort of a civilized man confronting a most daunting and uncivilized prospect: that the twin génies of the American psyche—freedom and equality—have dimmed to such an extent that they serve more to undermine than to inspire a large percentage of the most influential segments of our present and upcoming generations, and that this noxious influence has infiltrated the very core of our social fabric—the relationship between the sexes.
His testimony is sobering news to those who would proffer a political remedy to a problem which is more properly one of cultural, even spiritual, dimensions. For what can it mean to say that we should unite as Americans to support freedom and oppose Soviet tyranny when the reality of this freedom increasingly produces the kind of anemic, dissociated nihilists Mr. Bloom chronicles? Such people are incapable of sustaining the future on even the most basic biological levels, to say nothing of carrying on the higher human heritage of the West.
By deftly illustrating how the habitual bromides of the Right and Left—more freedom, more equality—have actually accelerated rather than restrained our social deterioration, Mr. Bloom enables us to reassert the spiritual foundation that is the necessary under pinning of any political cosmology. . . .
To the Editor:
Allan Bloom is incorrect in saying that the college students whose sexual conduct he describes are not promiscuous “as it used to be understood.” That Webster’s unabridged dictionary is unequal to the task of defining promiscuity (“not restricted to one sexual partner”) may explain, in part, its use, without definition or explanation, in writings on social issues and has invited the plethora of euphemisms for promiscuity in feminist and libertarian literature.
Traditional society has always seen promiscuity as premarital sex with more than one partner without the . . . intention of long-term commitment/marriage—a potential threat to the institution of monogamy. . . . Mr. Bloom’s students easily meet both Webster’s and traditional society’s definition of promiscuity. During the sexual revolution, promiscuity under varied guises has run the gamut from one-night stands to its most conservative form: serial, monogamous, “caring,” “meaningful” relationships devoid of the intention of long-term commitment/marriage. . . .
Mr. Bloom does not address the growing signs of reaction to the sexual revolution. For example, some newsworthy feminists are quietly distancing themselves from the sexual posture they once championed and are coming back to more traditional sexual norms. . . . Nevertheless, I found Mr. Bloom’s article the best I have read on the subject. . . .
Charles R. Ewy
To the Editor:
In the note accompanying Allan Bloom’s “Liberty, Equality, Sexuality” he is identified as “the author of Shakespeare’s Politics.” He is also so identified in his new book, The Closing of the American Mind, from which the COMMENTARY article is adapted. I have a copy of Shakespeare’s Politics before me as I write. On both the front and back covers, as on the title page, the author is identified as “Allan Bloom with Harry V. Jaffa.” The book is dedicated to “Leo Strauss, our teacher.” Whatever became of Harry V. Jaffa?
Harry V. Jaffa
Allan Bloom writes:
I apologize to Harry V. Jaffa and promise that this mistake will never be made again, so far as it is in my power.
As to Charles R. Ewy, my dictionary, the OED, does not support the contention that I used the word “promiscuous” loosely.