THE VITAL CENTER by Arthur M. Schlesinger

THE VITAL CENTER

The Politics Of Freedom
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Pulitzer Prize winner (with his Age of Jackson) and probably the youngest important historian in the United States, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. here speaks for a generation that came too late to fall under the spell of the Communist dream, and that now views with alarm the decadence of Communism seizing hold of vast tracts of Europe and Asia. He feels that we can defeat Communism- without war- and within the framework of our liberties (granted debate, identification, exposition). But first we must know what we face. He presents a thoughtful analysis of the totalitarian left and the reactionary right, meeting on joint grounds of tyranny and terror. He surveys the record of American business -- in politics, in social welfare, in international foreign policy; he feels that free society can still lose by default. He surveys, too, the failure of the left, as myths have taken the place of faith. The case of Russia- the penetration, through an insidious underground, of America, present a challenge of totalitarianism we must face. Our problem is one of faith and time:- faith in our own freedoms, time to do what is necessary to save them. We must renew the traditional sources of American radicalism. Civil rights and civil liberties must be made to mean something again; the doctrine of "clear and present danger" must take on new significance; hysteria must be recognized as a useful weapon, employed to their advantage by the Communists. Today we are proving we can win at home, as evidenced by labor, the veterans' organizations, and the political parties in the past year. We are winning in Europe with the containment Truman Doctrine, and the rebuilding with the Marshall Plan; we are losing in Asia, where we must support the Nationalist movements. The Soviet must lose the battle of totalitarianism before we can relax preparedness and make world government a reality. This is a plea for freedom as a fighting faith, for democracy to recharge its moral energy, strengthen its recognition of the individual. A difficult but important book.
Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1949
ISBN: 1560009896
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1949




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