AUTHORITY AND ITS ENEMIES by Thomas Molnar

AUTHORITY AND ITS ENEMIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Molnar, professor of French at Brooklyn College, has written several affirmations of political and religious conservatism--though the term is inadequate to describe an outlook mildly reminiscent of the Michael Innes character who counted Mr. Milton among ""our modern poets."" Certainly Mr. Milton would have loudly qualified the assertion that the religious ""field of force between God and man. . . is a kind of model for other types of authority also."" Molnar is lightyears removed from the sort of conservatism which hankers for a return to the consent of the governed. That idea is, to him, one of those irresponsible post-Lockean notions in the process of collapsing under its own internal contradictions. For Molnar it is self-evident that most people ""need authority to be exercised not inside but over them,"" and that the separate strands of authority in the well-ordered society should coexist as in the Renaissance political image of the State as a stringed instrument. Instead, we see cacophony infesting family (permissiveness), school (anti-intellectualism), and army (pacifist pamphleteers, abandonment of discipline). Ours is an age of ""mass society and weak State,"" with authority open to attack by the pseudo-authority of theologians who appear to have been influenced by the Reformation and journalists who attack the death penalty without having ""reflected sufficiently on what constitutes civilization."" Many conservatives will be mightily puzzled by the bookish underpinnings of Molnar's arguments, but the conclusions will undoubtedly strike sympathetic chords.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Arlington House