Saint Marx or OversimplificationnJacques EUul: The Betrayal of thenWest; Seabury Press; New York.nby Paul GottfriednThe Betrayal of the West is JacquesnEllul’s latest indictment of particularnaspects of modern culture. In hisnearlier books and in his lectures asnprofessor of law at the University ofnBordeaux, Ellul gained a reputationnfor himself both as an apologist fornChristian revelation and as a despisernof materialistic values. As a critic, hentakes the Christian rejection of worldlinessnand makes it his point of departurenin attacking arrogant technocracy.nHe has no particular use for cities, inasmuchnas they consign the spirituallynuprooted to a plastic and mechanizednculture. Among the great nations, henexcuses neither the U.S. nor the SovietnUnion for humanity’s descent into annuprooted existence. Both countries arenjudged to be profoundly inimical tonthings of the spirit: the U.S. becausenof its expansive capitalist economy,nand Russia because of its oppressivelynanti-Christian government. My impressionsnof Ellul’s previous writingsnleft in my mind a view of him as ancrotchety reactionary, who would haveneagerly applauded Pius IX’s condemnationnof “liberalism, secularism, andnmodern civilization.” Although notnas unqualified in my own disapprovalnof these phenomena, I can sympathizenwith one who ridicules what have becomenthe dominant superstitions ofnour age. And I opened The Betrayalnof the West expecting to find the typenof lament described above.nNonetheless, these expectations werensoon disappointed. The volume oftennreads like the old Jean-Francois Revel,nwho until quite recently swooned overnProfessor Gottfried, of Rock ford College,nis a frequent contributor to thesenpages.nthe arrival of a noncommunist, communitariannLeft. Never mind thatnRevel rejected both Jesus and Marx innfavor of hippies, and that Ellul, on thenother hand, adores the first two whilenchastising the last. Both writers exhibitnthe same totemic attachment tonan abstraction called the “left,”ncoupled with a marked dislike forncapitalist and capitalism. Both Revelnand Ellul present parochial leftist argumentsnin the form of universalntruths. In Neither Jesus nor MarxnRevel proclaimed the advent of thenAmerican hippie an^event of cosmicnimportance. Through the primitivistncommunitarian style of this new socialnrebel, according to Revel, a plausiblenalternative was finally emerging toncapitalism and state socialism. Suchnproclamations, which turned out to benuntrue, no doubt appealed almost exclusivelynto radical intellectuals. Butnthen Revel was only speaking to thenpeople who mattered: that part ofnmankind which, like himself, believednthe hippie commune represented thenhighest form of social organization.nThe rest of mankind, which wasnneither conventionally leftist nor hippienradical, had not even proved itselfncapable of thought. Given this circularnlogic, there was no need in NeithernJesus nor Marx to consider nonleftistnpositions.nEllul takes a leaf from Revel in thenway he draws up sides for The Betrayalnof The West. Although his worknis a polemic directed against the ModernnLeft, the arguments are those ofnone leftist to another. In fact, Ellulnlets us know that no one but a leftistndeserves to be critically addressed; fornthe Right, particularly the capitalistnRight, is intellectually and morally beyondnredemption. His fight for thenWest is being undertaken for the OldnLeft, supposedly the supreme embodimentnof civilization, against the nihilisticnforces of the New Left. If Ellulnnnmight only bring truth to Jean PaulnSartre, Francois Mitterand, and thenredacteur en chef of he Monde, thennperhaps the Left would continue tonserve civilization.nMuch of his criticism deserves tonbe taken seriously. Although a selfconfessedngauchiste, Ellul denouncesnSoviet imperialism. Red Chinese tyranny,nand the senseless brutality ofnThird World dictators. He also dissectsnthe current leftist glorification ofnthe savage, perverse and insane — asnwell as the desperate attempt to attributensome special wickedness to thenWest which is supposedly absent fromnother cultures. After discussing thenracism, imperialism and religious intolerancenof non-Western societies, Ellulnreminds us that it is not in its cruelty,nbut in its ideals of personalism andnfreedom, that the West has differednfrom other civilizations. Because ofnthe higher devotion to the individual.nWestern man has felt guilty about repressivenimperialist acts which Africannand Oriental people take for granted.nIn one particularly biting passage, henshows how the concept of poverty hasnbeen redefined by the contemporarynLeft:n”Like the bourgeois Christians ofnthe nineteenth century, the Leftndistinguishes between the goodnpoor (those who walk in rank,nthose who are good sheep of thenrevolution, those whose situationncan be exploited for propagandanpurposes) and the bad poor (thosenwho refuse to regard themselves asnwell off under a Communist regime,nthose who rebel withoutnrhyme or reason, simply becausenthey are unhappy, and withoutngiving heed to the plan for a worldnrevolution, those who representntraditional values and a traditionalnculture). These bad poor must bensimply repressed and suppressed.”n11nChronicles of Culturen