by John Lukacs ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 1989
Lukacs (1945: Year Zero; Outgrowing Democracy: A History of the United States in the Twentieth Century, etc.) now gives us his ""auto-history""--a chronology of his intellectual development from his renunciation of Socialism as a 16-year-old in Hungary to his transformation into a self-styled reactionary during the war years, and on through his immigration to the US, his career as teacher and writer, and his affirmation of Catholic faith. Lukacs' reactionary stance is cultural as well as political and historical, stemming from the notion that ""while all human conditions change, human nature does not really change."" He rejects science and technology, Darwin, Freud, economics, modern art, real-estate development, and California, where he senses ""the potential presence of the Anti-Christ."" He deplores Facism, depicting Hitler not as a reactionary but as a radical, and asserting that the French Resistance was a true reactionary movement. But his primary concern is with Communism and anti-Communism and, like many immigrants, he fancies himself an American patriot, although he worries about the ""dangers of democracy"" without attempting to reveal them. Unfortunately, Lukacs litters his book with blanket statements, sexist stereotypes (""I particularly enjoyed the students, sometimes rough-mannered and poorly prepared young men, the best of whom, however, were better than my best students at Chestnut Hill because, unlike the gifts, they were avid for more learning""), racist asides (imagining at the Harvard Faculty Club ""the black professor of Sociology, in his serious three-piece suit, who may or may not have preferred roast beef but who must have thought that Soul Food was one of those things from which he had sprung with a determination of no return""), and confused arguments (""A reactionary,"" he writes in the first chapter, ""believes in history, not in Evolution""; but later he writes, ""our lives are not only pushed by the past but pulled by the future, by our own view of the future. . .""). Repetitive, reductive, and preachy, and unfortunately Lukacs never achieves his potentially interesting goal--to connect the doctrine of original sin with his often compelling ideas about historical philosophy.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1989
Page Count: -
Publisher: Grove Weidenfeld
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1989
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