Additional Commentary on Podhoretz

February 10, 1985

Norman Podhoretz and Commentary magazine merit the plaudits reported in the Jan. 31 View section ("High Honors for Editor 25 Years Later" by Elizabeth Mehren).

The attitudinal swings that brought the "Podhoretz crowd" to the widely acclaimed "neo-conservative" heights, however, needs more exploration.

Most of those in those circles reflect an original "left" attitude that believed the socialist goals promised by the Soviet Union might be attainable. The rationale was more than political. The appeal to them as younger idealists was the promised humanity that is the heart of a civilized society.

The frightening fact is that as their new directions gained power and acclaim, many lost their hearts and replaced them with cold intellect. That alone will not save us. Instead, it makes of us the same monster whom we now wish to destroy.

Are these just a torrent of words without any foundation?

I suggest we look at the programs being offered America. Self has become more important than the unity of the whole. Monies are spent arming for defense that can only be exercised by an undesired, destructive offensive. Forgotten are the basic underpinnings by which a society continues to offer hope to those seeking to attain what others have. Money for arms make dollars for human needs pushed aside.

By urging these humanist programs one doesn't necessarily suggest we overlook protective needs. But all life is balance. Upset the balance that keeps the earth in its orbit within the universe, and we self-destruct. The same holds true for inter-personal relations, as well those as between nations.

The "neo-conservatives" need, therefore, to re-focus the programs they are proposing.

The Times story doesn't indicate any such efforts are under way. That's what is troublesome in a most troublesome society and world.

Let's restore faith and hope to the poor, the homeless, et al., and overcome self-interest for the total good. By serving all, one is best served individually, in a truly democratic society whose faith is based on individual worth.


Pacific Palisades

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