local wars, but the necessity for a largenAmerican defense establishment. Thisnseems to be the expression of an odd setnof values, as is the idea that Stalinnsuddenly became a reasonable fellownwhen operating beyond the Soviet frontier.nThe truth of the matter is that thenSecond World War began with the NazinGames of a Precocious MindnMitchell Ross: Literary Politicians;nDoubleday & Co., Inc.; New York,n1978.nby Paul GottfriednXhe wonder of Mitchell Ross’snbook, according to many reviewers, isnthe author’s precocious intellect. Havingnjust passed his twentieth birthday at thentime of the book’s publication, Ross isnalready being hailed in the New YorknTimes, Chicago Tribune, and elsewherenas an up-and-coming literary and philosophicalncelebrity. The judgment concerningnhis precocious intellectuality maynbe granted if one allows for a certainnlumpiness in the mixture of parts. In annera of widespread illiteracy among collegenstudents, he indeed seems a miracle.nWithout doubt Mr. Ross does show antalent beyond his years in turning a phrasenand rendering apparently weighty verdictsnon his subjects yet, neither talent,nin my opinion, can compensate for thenall-pervasive shallowness of his judgments.nIndeed his very facileness oftennpermits him to avoid discussing questionsnof political and scholarly importance withnthe appropriate depth.nRoss seems particularly in his elementnevaluating the journalistic skills of politicallynconscious men of letters whom hensets out to treat: William Buckley, JohnnKenneth Galbraith, Arthur Schlesinger,nNorman Mailer, Robert Lowell, GorenVidal, and Henry Kissinger. He analyzesnwith vigor the texture of their prose andnthe tortuosities of their discourse. Henoffers a plausible case for why each ofnDr. Gottfried, Yale ’67, is Chairman ofnthe History Department at RockfordnCollege.nhis subjects has gained literary and journalisticnfame while making no genuinelynoriginal contribution to political theory.nNonetheless, Ross has little understandingnof anything prior to his own lifetime—ornof anything outside the culturalnenvironment from which his own commentarynhas so unmistakably emerged.nHis abuse of labeling provides an irritatingncase in point. Characterizing WilliamnBuckley as a “romantic Catholic,” he thennexplains Buckley’s “Adam Smithianism”nin the framework of his supposedlyn”romantic Catholic” outlook. Yet henseems unaware of the fact that romanticnCatholics uniformly detested AdamnSmith, having no use whatever for thenfree market. Both Buckley’s economicnviews and individualist politics have theirnroots in the social contract theory ofnthe Enlightenment. Moreover, if thenCatholicism professed by Buckley isntraditional, as Ross repeatedly suggests,nthere is no justification for calling itnromantic. For the most part, romanticsnwere pantheists while Catholic romanticsnhave been denounced by the church fornexpressing heretical theology.nAn obvious tension which Ross failsnto note is that between Buckley’s Catholicntraditionalism on one side and his libertariannpolitics on the other. All the same,nsince Ross knows little about the intellectualnhistory of the West, he has no waynof tracing the pedigree of ideas. In hisnpraise of Galbraith, for example, henidentifies this economist of the Left withneighteenth century Scottish culture. Yet,nhe then proceeds to make an improbablencomparison between his subject and thenTory philosopher David Hume. Little isnmade of the more obvious (though, innmy opinion, equally faulty) parallel whichnhas often been drawn between Galbraithnnnconquest of Eastern Europe and endednwith the Soviet conquest of EasternnEurope. There was no peace to benshattered. Dnand that innovative Scottish Whig AdamnSmith. For Smith, a child of the Enlightenmentnand admirer of Jefferson andnFranklin, has already been disposed of asna forerunner of Buckley’s romantic,nconservative Catholicism..nRoss then plunges into’ the world ofnphilosophy, dismissing Kant, Hegel ornthe producers of “Germanic obscurantism.”nAlthough German thought isnobviously not his bag, the author muddlesnthrough the chapter on Kissinger guidednby one infallible guideline. Since allnGermans are, as the current liberalnwisdom would have it, fascist, turgid, ornboth, Kissinger’s early theoretical writingsncan be simply categorized withoutnbeing analyzed. Kissinger’s A WorldnRestored is judged to have been (wouldnyou guess it!) “a bloated Bruckneriannsymphony” and interrupted by way ofnpsychoanalytical jargon. Almost all ofnRoss’s expository weaknesses are madenparticularly apparent in his treatment ofnmodern conservatism, or of what he stylesnsomewhat unclearly the “New Conservatism.”nMy complaint about this sectionnis not his transparent contempt for mostnof the principles that he associates withnthe Right. Nor is it too upsetting thatnthe author, once having proclaimed hisnallegiance to an imaginary political center,nthen inveighs against conservatives,nwhile praising the liberal politics of Hope.nGiven the prevalent bias of our intellectualnestablishment, one can expectnnothing else from a young social commentatorncurrently enjoying the favor ofnthe New York Times. Far more fatuousnthan his pretended neutrality is Ross’snlack of intellectual curiosity about thingsnwhich he alleges to understand.nThe conservative movement is presentednas a blend of anti-communism.n>19nChronicles of Culturen