terers. But to the objective observer ofncontemporaneity, culture seems rathernlike a seamless woven garment: once younbegin to unravel a thread, it is impossiblento tell where it will stop. Our social andnsexual experimentation is reminiscent ofnDe Quincey’s famous declension fromnmurder to bad manners. We begin byndeceiving our wives and end upntolerating disco music and day-glonorange neckties. By now we know thatnliberated Americans have not confinedntheir innovations to manners andnculture. Many of their changes in attitudenwill require a fundamentalnreassessment of the most essentialnhuman bonds and relationships. Thenpresumed right of women to marry andndivorce at will, “control their ownnbodies” and compete with men in thenwork place may lead us more rapidly tonC.S. Lewis’s Abolition of Man than thensuicidal folly of genetic engineers.nYankelovich’s searchers are alreadynencountering problems, partly from thenpressures of a shrinking economy. Inflationnand OPEC are effective antidotes tonthe gospel of self-fulfillment preachednby Abraham Maslow and his disciples.nYankelovich’s own proposal for a waynout of this crisis is to forge a new ethic ofncommitment:nNew rules to encourage a people tonchannel their creativity away fromnthemselves and back into the concretentasks that need doing in the new era.nIt is hard to see how “an ethic ofncommitment” will be much help. In thenfirst place, many of these unhappy peoplenare committed, not just tonthemselves, but to their enthusiasms.nThe declining economy, however pubhcized,nhas so far affected few members ofnthe affluent, educated classes. Inflationnand lagging productivity have struckntheir worst blows at industrial workersnwho are nowhere near so likely to take upnwith TM and ethnic foods—unless theynhappen to be “ethnic.” Yankelovich’snethic of commitment derives from thensame matrix of liberalism as the search fornself-fulfillment—not just the socialistnliberalism of our own time, butnliberalism perse.nAt least since the time of Locke, wenhave been insisting on our individualnrights. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit ofnHappiness arc embedded in the Americanndream of independence. When ansociety is reduced to a population of competingnindividualists, the outcome is inevitablyna repudiation of tradition, anreflisal to believe in any social order thatntranscends the individual, and the denialnof any value or obligation that mightnimpede an individual’s pursuit ofnhappiness. Of course these rootlessnindividualists can choose to commitnthemselves to a cause like nuclear disarmamentnor the distribution of Amway products.nBut the very fact of choosing turnsnthese causes into the instruments of theirnown pleasure. Real commitment comesnwhen, as in the case of St. Paul, the causenchooses the man. To be a self-madenman—to pick our causes, “styles” andncommitments like name-brand items innthe supermarket—puts us in the positionnof idolaters who worship what their ownnhands have made. It is hard for an Aaronnto take the Golden Calf seriously, andnthe affluent, liberated Americans Yankelovichnadmires so much will find thensame problems with commitment asnwith fulfillment: they will have changednonly the name and not the thing.nlankelovich’s pattern of a peoplengroping after self-fulfillment whilensimultaneously losing confidence in thenfuture is confirmed in part by ThenAdolescent. The authors. Offer, Ostrownand Howard, attempt to destroy thenpsychoanalytic picture of adolescence as antime of tutmoil and sexual trauma. Theynpoint out, with some justification, thatnadolescents generally claim to feel goodnabout themselves, their bodies and theirnfamilies. Their work can best be used as anpart of the accumulating dossier on thenfailures of psychoanalysis.nDespite their enthusiastic claims fornadolescent mental health, the authorsnare forced to concede that: “Teenagers innnnthe 1970’s feel worse about themselvesnthan did teenagers in the 1960’s.”nAdolescents in the 1970’s report themselvesnas more liable to fits of tears, angernand anxiety and as more violent and easilynhurt. They also have a lower opinion ofntheir parents. Even more disturbing isnthe increasing adolescent suicide rate:nbetween 1955 and 1975 it soared byn171%; recent figures suggest as much asna 300% increase in the past twenty years.nThe authors are puzzled by thesenchanges and take refuge in the historicalndifferences between the two decades.nOur current crop of unhappy teenagers,nthey suggest, “experienced the turmoilnof the Vietnam War and the antiwarnmovement, economic turbulence, andnWatergate,” while “the 1960’s generationn. . . grew up in a era . . . marked bynenthusiasm and optimism.” Even if Offer,nOstrow and Howard’s assertion werentrue, it is no better than zpetitio principi:nit does not explain why this generationnof teenagers should take war andnscandal so seriously, much less such a warnand such a scandal. They do cite, as anpossible contributing cause, “the longtermntrend toward a breaking down ofnthe traditional family.” They reassurenthemselves, however, that the evidence isnunclear. Besides, “teenagers today arennot more liberal in their attitudes withnrespect to sex than they were in then1960’s.” If the kids are still giving thensame answers on sex questionnaires, thatndoes not mean that their habits have notnchanged. If we can judge from the risingntide of teenage pregnancies—abortionsnas well as births—they must be doingnsomething, whether they are willing tontalk about it or not. We do not need ThenAdolescent’s surveys and statistics to tellnus that something is wrong when we arcnconfronted with the daily spectacle ofnyoung people taking to drugs and alcohol,nindulging in ruthlessly casual ptomiscuitynand accepung religious cults andnsuicide as attractive alternatives to normalnlife.nPart of the inadequacy of works likenThe Adolescent and New Rules is thenauthors’ hopeless ignorance of every-nMnMay/June 198Sn