Graying of the Intellectuals

Graying of the Intellectuals

In 1957 Norman Podhoretz participated in a symposium on “The Young Generation of U.S. Intellectuals.” He was 27 years old, already an editor of Commentary. He observed that his generation, which came of age in the Cold War, “never had any personal involvement with radicalism.” His peers breathed an atmosphere of “intellectual revisionism,” characterized by “an intensive campaign against the pieties of American liberalism, which, for reasons we all know, had become the last refuge of the illusions of the ’30s.” Intellectual revisionism taught that liberalism lacked recognition of human and social limitations; nor did liberalism offer a “sufficiently complicated view of reality.” Podhoretz concluded that for the young intellectual “the real adventure of existence was to be found not in radical politics or in Bohemia” but in acceptingconformity and adult responsibilities. “The trick, then, was to stop carping at life like a petulant adolescent.”

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Wurgraft | University of California Press Lima