Books

Books

THORSTEIN VEBLEN. By David Riesman. Charles Scribner’s Sons. $3.

In this unsympathetic book Thorstein Veblen is not the subject, he is the victim. An uncomfortable figure to cozilyinstalled liberals, Veblen is psychoanalyzed away. “The violence,” writes Riesman, “with which Thorstein Veblen in his declining years attacked all authorities would … seem, inter alia, to represent the return of the repressed hostility against his own domineering father.” If Veblen’s admiration goes to “masterless men,” insubordinate Icelanders or rebellious Wobblies, doesn’t that suggest a “quasi-homosexual concept of brotherly love?” “Like many great scholars and economists,” continues Riesman, “who either did not marry or did not have children, Veblen appears never to have exorcised his own father,” and so what can you expect but “anti-American feeling—with all hopes transferred to the Bolsheviks” from the “embittered Bolshevik who wrote The Vested Interests . .”? (Maybe he should have been investigated.)

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Lima