THE AMERICAN INTELLECTUAL ELITE by Charles Kadushin

THE AMERICAN INTELLECTUAL ELITE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For this segment of an international survey of those intellectuals who serve most aggressively and acceptedly as opinion-makers, a study backed by a vast clump of foundations, bureaus and associations, Kadushin interviewed 110 subjects (and provokingly deemed 70 as The Top). These primarily Eastern intellectuals exclude natural scientists, for the most part; they are trendmakers, and Kadushin devastatingly finds that they have ""little more to say than what might be heard in the cocktail-party conversation of intelligent well-educated people. . . . The majority were reacting to events, rather than predicting them or even creating them through the impact of their ideas."" Says an interviewee, ""What should I do about it? DO? I was not accustomed to think in such terms."" Although they stand to the political left of most American opinion on most issues (Kadushin's notion of ""extreme left"" is the Harrington-Heilbroner-Howe axis), the book Finds that only nine percent of these intellectuals consider basic moral and ethical values important in their thinking. Their lack of new ideas, recruitment channels and structures, their despair and impotence, tend to confirm Hofstadter's ""alienation and conformity"" paradigm. The New York Times Magazine and Book Review and the New York Review of Books turn out to be the publications read regularly by the highest number in the sample. The intellectuals' failure to predict or satisfactorily grapple with the crises of the past decades may help account for the ""Nobody's right or wrong any more"" spirit. One looks in vain for any Spinozan exuberance: ""The good which everyone who follows after virtue seeks for himself he will desire for other men.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1974
Publisher: Little, Brown