As a dissenting David to the Goliath of stultifying centralization, Paul Goodman has become a campus hero and a Washington bugaboo. Strikingly attuned to the new radical temper, yet graced with a good deal of old-fashioned rectitude and fervor like Emerson, Thoreau, and Morris, Goodman stands without peer as social critic and conscience for our times. Perhaps that's why his academic brethren don't know quite what to do with him. Certainly many of the complaints registered against his previous volumes will no doubt greet this publication of the Massey lectures he gave over the Canadian Broadcasting System during the last year. Much of Goodman's assessment of the moral ambiguity of America is familiar: middle class vacuity, political regimentation, urban anomie, the psychic corruption inherent in dehumanizing technology, the increasing narrowing of individual development, the bogus image of a ""participatory democracy,"" and so forth. Robert Heilbroner has balked at his Utopian airiness, Edgar Friedenberg has questioned his unscientific sermonizing. But with Goodman these criticisms are, in the main, largely irrelevant. Speaking with cranky charm, jostling an armada of pertinent illustrations, Goodman manages the rare feat of being both up-to-the-minute and visionary. His exhortative, excoriating book cuts deep into the American scene.