opinions & ViewsnLa Ronde, or the Dance of LabelsnPeter Steinfels: The Neoconservatives:nMen Who Are ChangingnAmerica’s Politics; Simon & Schuster;nNew York,nby Paul GottfriednJne of the most frustrating situationsnfor modern traditionalists is thatnthe political spectrum and the thrust ofntopical issues are always moving awaynfrom them. The left not only sets thenagenda for its own discussion, but, evennmore significantly, determines that ofnits opponents. Thus American conservatives,nby and large, avoid any argumentnagainst job quotas for women whichnwould focus on traditional femininenroles in the family. The characteristicnconservative response to affirmativenaction has been to appeal to individualnrights and equal opportunity principles.nAlthough neither stand should be considerednexclusively leftist, conservativenpoliticians and publicists, in this instancenas in others, have shied awaynfrom debating social policy from a firmlyndefined traditionalist standpoint.nOn affirmative action they have simplynrepaired to those slogans that liberalndemocrats used to defend the 1964 CivilnRights Act, which was—if one recallsn—to provide all Americans with freedomnfrom economic discrimination.nNor was it simply “bad public relations”nthat made Goldwater sound extremenin 1964 for expressing an impassionedncommitment to freedom and anticommunism,na position which Kennedy hadnproclaimed to ecstatic journalists in hisninaugural address only four years earlier.nIn the early sixties America, under thenimpact of a radicalized intelligentsianand growing welfare bureaucracy,nveered sharply to the left and, in thenprocess, forced the right to “adjust.”nIt has sometimes occurred to me, asnDr. Gottfried teaches history at RockfordnCollege.n8nChronicles of Cultarena historian, that conservatives tend tonraise their banners on abandoned leftistnpositions. If the European left cannotnresist the “totalitarian temptation” tonflirt with the communists, then thenright has an equally obstinate idee fixe:npouncing upon discarded leftist slogansnand proclaiming them as its own. Inbelieve The Neoconservatives will aidnin this process by giving rightist accreditationnto a set of stimulating socialndemocrats whom many conservativesnproperly admire. Who, after all, wouldndeny that the American intellectualn'”The. Neoconservatives deserves to be taken serioiislv.”nposition emerged “as an antibody on thenleft” and was intended as a counterweightn”to the excesses of the new leftnand counterculture.” Nonetheless, althoughnacknowledging the leftist originnof the neoconservative challenge tontrendy liberalism, Steinfels would havenus believe that neoconservatism hasnby now become the “legitimating andnlubricating ideology of an oligarchicnAmerica.”nWhat he means by this is that somenalleged neoconservatives, most notablynIrving Kristol, have defended “demo-n— New leadern”Mr. Steinfels s principal mistake, it seems to me, is taking his subjec ts too seriously.”n—Neir York. Times Hook Reviewn”(Steinfels! may only be speculating, but it stmnds like a warning to tne.”n— Peter S. PrescottnNewstveekn”Steinfels mav take his neoconservatives a trifle too seriouslv.”nright has in recent years drawn polemicalnammunition from the neoconservativenpublications. Public Interest andnCommentary, whose editors and contributorsnhave, moreover, been lionizednat numerous conservative gatherings.”nSteinfels treats about a half dozen ofnthese neoconservatives and devotes thengreatest attention to Irving Kristol,nDaniel Bell, and D. P. Moynihan. Innfact, the list can be greatly expandednto include kindred personalities onlynmarginally mentioned in the text—e.g.,nWalter Berns and Michael Novak.nThis list to which I am referringnwould encompass moderate leftists whonin Europe might until recently havenbeen called social democrats. All of thesenneoconservatives support the welfarenstate; and more than a few—e.g.. Bellnand Novak—still describe themselvesnas socialists or social democrats. Steinfelsnadmits that the neoconservativennn-Nationncratic capitalism” against new left redistributionistnschemes. And yet,nKristol’s supposed ally on the right,nDaniel Bell, persistently calls himself ansocialist. Bell and Nathan Glazer, anothernneoconservative, both activelyncampaigned for George McGovern inn1972. D, P. Moynihan and SeymournLipset, two more of Steinfels’s neoconservatives,nremain strongly committednto a mixed economy. Lipset has innfact lectured to conservative audiencesnon the virtues of organized labor andnagainst the Republican Party’s supposednpandering to greedy businessmen.nAlthough conservatives may benheartened by Moynihan’s attacks onncommunist tyrannies and by Bell’s criticalnremarks on the adversary culture,nand while they may consult Commentarynfor arguments in fighting SALT IInand study Public Interest for the gloomyn