The Young Radicals: A Symposium

The Young Radicals: A Symposium

What makes me identify as a radical is the conviction that something new must be added to the American calculus of goods and bads, rights and wrongs. I have an uneasy sense of a whole nation skating lightly over a cracking shell of rationalization and denial, even when there really is a firmer ground to stand on. To the extent that Americans have achieved a good society, they have done so in a curiously inarticulate fashion, celebrating what is trivial and even negative, and missing what really makes this country more livable than any other on earth. America is like the inarticulate, mumbling hero of its modern drama, tragically unable to discover its own saving qualities in time to avoid a meaningless and wasteful end. As a student of history I look for the sources of the hopeful developments, trying to figure out what became of them and why practically no one undertook to give them a place in the American self-image. As an actor in the present I try to cut through the fraud and locate the authentically life-giving dimensions of this society. In this I feel myself to be racing not only against hot war but against the Cold War as well, for the latter drives the country to a retrenchment which will close off all experimentation in humane liberalism.

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Lima