Cleanth Brooks has been named then1985 Jefferson Lecturer by the NationalnEndowment for the Humanities.nMr. Brooks, who is best known for hisnworks of literary theory and his expositionsnof William Faulkner, is one ofnthe last of the band of prophets whonfound themselves at Vanderbilt Universitynin the 1920’s. Too young tonSocinian SocialismnThe worst thing that can hajapen tonmost idealists is to realize theirnideals: they have no one to blamendie consequences on—exceptnthemselves. This is the figure MichaelnHarrington cuts in The Politicsnat God’s Funeral: The SpiritualnCrisis of Western Civilization (NewnYork; Holt, Rinchart & Winston).nAs a “democratic Marxist” andnatheist, Harrington realizes that henis part of a long line of thinkers whonhave prayed for tJie end of religiousnfaith. “God,” he observes, “hasnbeen a leading conservative innJudeo-Christian society.” His funeralnwas supposed to be a joyousnevent ushering in a new age ofnequality and justice. That religiousnfaith, if not God himself, is dying,nHarrington documents all too well.nAlthough recent sociological surveysnindicate that America is asnreligious as it has ever been, relativelynfew Americans (especiallynamong the elite) now attempt tonconform either their lives or theirnthinking to any well-defined set ofnreligious doctrines. When almostnhalf of the clerg)men admit to havingnmade no attempt to convertnanyone in the last decade, devotionnis in serious trouble.nBut now that leading theologiansnand clerics are cheerfully providingnGod with “a Christian burial,” Harringtonnis beginning to have seriousnmisgivings. ^Ilie disappearance ofnfaith sought by Marxism has notnproduced properly Marxist results.nOn the one hand, Harrington seesnWestern hedonism and decadence,nwhile on the other he sees communistntotalitarianism, hi neither “latencapitalism” nor “mature communism”nhas Marx’s Promethean vi-ncontribute to I’ll Take My Stand (publishednin 1928, the year of his graduation),nMr. Brooks did supply “A Pleanto the Protestant Churches” for thenlater volume. Who Owns America? Andevout Anglican, Cleanth Brooks tooknan active role in the struggle to saventhe Prayerbook, and for the halfcenturyncelebration of the AgrariannREVISIONSnsion come to fruition. Harrington isnleft in the embarrassing position ofnhaving to apologize for a mentornwho was “naive with regard to thenease with which socialist valuesnwould replace religious values.” Besides,nHarrington reminds us, despitena few “careless” antireligiousnpassages Marx did not really hatenreligion, just the socioeconomicnstructures that make religion necessary.nIf this hairsplitting seems lessnedifying than counting the angelsndancing on the head of a pin, thennso too do many of Harrington’snother revisionist arguments. Disgustednby the “cult of No God” nownregnant in the Soviet Union, Harringtonnrepudiates it as almost tlien”exact opposite” of true Marxism.nProperly understood, Marxism, hencontends, is simply humanism andndoes not seek to create a substitutenreligion but does seek to preservenmuch of the now-threatened moralnsubstance of traditional faith. “Thenpresent crisis demands somethingnunprecedented: a united front ofnbelievers and atiieists in search of ancommon transcendental which isnneither supernahiral nor antisupernatural.”nHow is this “transcendental” tonbe found? Naturally, it is throughnsocialist politics and not throughnprayer or worship. Unfortunately,nHarrington cannot point to atiy societynat any time that has embodiednhis vision of the just and true. F.vennif there were such a society, Marxismnis so decidedly untranseendentnthat after years of promoting it,nFriedrich Engels could envision nonfinal future for mankind except extinctionnas “the earth becomes andead, frozen globe, like the moon.”nIt becomes harder every day tonbelieve Harrington’s assurances thatnnnmanifesto he wrote an essay on “ThenEnduring Faith” for Why the SouthnWill Survive. The NEH has honorednitself and the American people bynrecognizing the merits of a man whongives old meaning to the phrase “angentleman and a scholar.” ccnthe socialism of the fiituren—decentralized, communitarian,nand democratic—will give everyonenan equal opportunity to participatenin the formulation of the newnconsensus. The proposed “alliancenbetween the intellectuals and thensimple people” will founder on thensame rock that has shattered everynother egalitarian movement: thenneed for a leader. When a movementnaims to make people forgetnreligion, its leader will have to posenas God. T. S. Eliot saw clearlynwhen he wrote in 1939:nAs political philosophy derivesnits sanction from ethics, andnethics from the truth of religion,nit is only by returning tonthe eternal source of truth thatnwe can hope for any social organizationnwhich will not, tonits ultimate destruction, ignorensome es.sential aspect of reality.nThe term ‘democracy’ does notncontain enough positive contentnto stand alone against thenfoes you dislike—it can easilynbe transformed by them. If younwill not have God (and He is anjealous God) you should paynyour respects to Hitler ornStalin.nHarrington admits that the principlesnhe is promoting are meren”cliches” to many people who findnit “extremely difficult to take themnseriously.” Became of this skcphcism,nhe concludes that his programnmight well fail, leaving us inn”catastrophic nihilism.” The realndanger, however, is that many ofnAmerica’s religious leaders whonlong ago lost their faith to thenWorld Council of Churches, willnregard Harrington’s stale agenda asna godsend. ccnMARCH 1985/35n