him, revolution was no laughing matter.nWhen a friend of ours spent anresearch year in Romania and camenback a fervent anti-Communist, Alntold him, “You’re a good man, Dan.nToo bad we’ll have to shoot you.” Dannswears to this day that Al meant it.nMy usual defense against leftwingersnis to tease them, but thatndidn’t work with Al. He either didn’tnknow he was being teased, or he respondednwith flat seorn. Either way, itnwasn’t any fun. On one occasion,nthough, I couldn’t resist. Al and somenof his comrades had started a magazinencalled Ripsaw, reviving the title of anlong-defunct journal of hairy-chestednradicalism. When their posters wentnup on bulletin boards around Columbia,nI pointed out to Al that a realnproletarian would know that the sawnteeth on the magazine’s logo werenthose of a crosscut saw, not a ripsaw.nHe looked at me suspiciously andnstalked off, but I bet he looked it up,nbecause the next day all of the postersnwere gone.nIn an atmosphere vibrant with thenenthusiasm of the New Left, Al was anconstant, stern reminder of the old.nDuring Columbia’s troubles in 1968,nhe was in the thick of things, rushingnfrom one meeting to another, draftingnstatements, addressing caucuses, postingnplacards. He had deep misgivingsnabout what he saw as the amateurnrevolutionaries around us, and phrasesnlike “infantile leftism” came easily tonhim. But when push came to shove,nhe and I wound up on opposite sides ofnthe picket lines. I never had an easynconversation with him after that, probablynas much my fault as his, but Inregret it.nWe went our separate ways, geographicallynas well as politically. Alntook a college-teaching position in thenNorthwest, where he belonged to then”editorial collective” of a journalncalled The Insurgent Sociologist. Fromntime to time I saw him at conventions,npeddling the journal. We barely spokenon these occasions, if we spoke at all;nthe last time, I wouldn’t swear henrecognized me.nOccasionally I ran across one of Al’sndreary, unreadable, party-line booksn— attacking Solidarity, praising thenUSSR’s human rights record, that sortnof thing. I gathered from mutualnfriends that he had achieved a modestnfame: the man to call when you wantedna specimen Stalinist to spice upnyour program. Someone told me thatnhe vacationed at Soviet resorts in thenCrimea; my informant may have beennputting me on, but it would have beennperfectly in character.nI heard, too, that Al had campaignednunsuccessfully for the chairmanshipnof his department. Academicnetiquette says you’re not supposed toncampaign for such a job (you should atnleast pretend that you have more importantnthings to do), but Al never gavena damn for etiquette, academic ornotherwise. He reportedly campaignednas “Big Al, the People’s Pal,” and Insmiled at what I saw as evidence thatnmiddle age was mellowing him, givingnhim finally a sense of humor andnperspective.nThen, last year, at the age of 43, hentook a gun and blew his brains out.nAccording to The Insurgent Sociologist,nhis final words on a last notenwere, “The working class will prevail.nCarry on.”nAl defended and worked for—well,ndamn it, for an evil empire. Yet he wasnan intelligent man, and a decent one,nselfless and sincere in his devotion tonwhat he believed was human welfare.nLast month I wrote about Bob JonesnUniversity: to compare Al to the peoplenthere would have annoyed him,nand them, too, but while Al’s answernappeals to me far less even than BobnJones’s—indeed, Al’s answer is part ofnour problem in a way that Bob Jones’snis not—there is no denying that truenbelievers of both sorts share some ofnthe same admirable qualities.nIt bears repeating that all of thenhellish ideologies of our time appeal tongood impulses as well as bad ones. It isncomforting to think that evildoers arenalways evil people, but we deceive andnto that extent disarm ourselves by believingnthat. Karl Marx himself insistednon the distinction between motivesnand objective consequences; he wasnright to make that distinction, and wencan start by applying it to Marxists.nOur collectivist adversaries’ actionsnmay have ghastly, Satanic consequences—maynlead inexorably tonthe Gulag—but some of them arendriven by something very like Christianncharity. If we judge on motivationnalone, Al was the people’s pal.nAnd he used to be mine. When wenwere students together, he saw life asnincessant struggle, and he relishednboth the life and the struggle. But henhad become depressed, I’m told, andntired—so much so that he soughtnoblivion in death. I hope he has foundnrest. And mercy, too. In the nextnworld that Marxists don’t believe in,ngood intentions may count for something.n]ohn Shelton Reed, 44, teaches sociologynat the University of North Carolinanin Chapel Hill.nLetter Fromnthe Heartlandnby Jane GreernnnSnow JobnAround here, folks are awfully worried.nIt’s strange, though — we’re notnworried about what the nightly newsnsays we’re worried about.nContrary to (seemingly) popularnopinion, we don’t spend every wakingnmoment in a nuclear catatonia. Ournchildren—at least the children I known—don’t have nightmares of “the firennext time.” They don’t even thinknabout nuclear war (or about what theyndream, for that matter) until we asknthem to.nPeople living their happy, laboriousnlives here in the hearfland wondernwhom the nightly news reporters haventalked to (is it always the same strange,nfrothing fringe group, kept on retainer,nor do they take turns?) and whether,nperhaps, we might be just a little out ofntouch. Truth to tell, though, we don’tnworry about that too often; we’ren”touched” by our local, state, andnFederal governments, and by distant,nrelentiess do-good groups, more thannwe’d like to be.nEven though no Eastern-seaboardnJ-sehool grads ever come here to reapnthe harvest of our opinion, there areneasy ways of knowing what we worrynabout, and one of the easiest is thenletters we write to the editors of ournlocal papers. After all, no one makesnus write those letters. We do it out ofnlove (or wrath, a mutant love), for free,nregardless of the consequences; we donit because we are moved. Granted, ournJUNE 1986/41n