THE AMERICAN CONDITION by Richard Goodwin

THE AMERICAN CONDITION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This rambling essay by a well-known Kennedy partisan turned Johnson dropout appeared in the New Yorker, where diffuse segments are appropriate. Goodwin begins with an assault on rationality -- a pox on Prometheus and the Renaissance, the same slogans found in Robert Heilbroner's An Inquiry Into the Human Prospect (see below). Down with humanism ""of all sizes and shapes""; up with organic, traditional bonds. . . all quite reminiscent of classical conservative Britishers. French-style polemics follow against ""techno-reason"" and ""centre-orientation,"" plus various musings about Marx and citations from Nietzsche, as well as all-American cautions against overestimating ""politics"" or ""government."" There is an attack on capitalism for failing to invest in the technology that could give us all greater living standards and shorter work hours. Goodwin's recommendation -- get rid of all vested obstacles to such development? No, he says, like a zero-growth advocate: cultivate Community as opposed to Economic Activity; expand service industries but not production; foster ""mystical consumption."" Some may wonder if these pages are an example of the latter. It's a lost trek through the Maine woods where Goodwin lives, a cidery monologue by the fireplace, a very strange book. Will it be the Greening of the mid-1970's?

Pub Date: March 15th, 1974
Publisher: Doubleday