betrays O’Neill’s vulnerability to revolutionarynromanticism. Gathered aroundnforums such as theNewLeaderandPolitics,nthe ri^teous continued to reprobatenStalinism without making any unseemlynconcessions to conservatism. Theirsnwas a pure radicalism, uncontaminatednby compromise, au-dessus de la melee.nAs O’Neill sees it, the primary task of thenmoment is to increase the size of thisnprincipled, if unworldly, left, for “thenMichael Harringtons and Irving Howesnare so few.”nIt is not difficult to understand whynO’Neill admires Howe, a prolific writernand able editor who has long been anleading spokesman for the anticommunistnleft as well as a truculent critic ofnconservatism. Readers of Howe’s intellectualnautobiography may, however,nfind his hostility to the right a bit perplexing,nfor in many ways the editor ofnDissent is a conservative man. His dedicationnto Yiddish literature, for example,nbetokens a genuine love for the traditionnto which he was born. He possesses anprofound respect for New Critics suchnas John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, andnCleanth Brooks, and a deep appreciationnfor the work of Eliot, Dostoevski, andnHenry James, none of whom has evernbeen a hero of the working class. Initiallynsympathetic with New Leftists, he wasntoo decent and intelligent to follownthem into the abyss of nihilism, and hensoon became one of their most uncompromisingncritics. Most revealing, perhaps,nis a brief fragment of the final chapternin which Howe describes, somewhatnapologetically, his enthusiasm for thenballet; radical friends, he admits, teasenhim for having succumbed to this “aristocratic”nart. To them and to the ghost ofnTolstoy, who chides him for sacrificingnethics to aesthetics, Howe is wont tonreply “that there are kinds of beauty beforenwhich the moral imagination oughtnto withdraw.” It is an insight worthy ofnCamus.nSo one wonders why Howe continuesnto embrace socialism long after he hasnabandoned Marxism and conceded thatn”equality without liberty is a new modenof enslavement.” The answer, I think, isnthat socialism has given form and thereforenmeaning to his life. Although, ornperhaps because, he is unable to sharenthe religious faith of his fathers, he is determined,nat the last, to say with St. Paul:n”I have fought a good fight, I havenfinished my course, I have kept thenfaith.” Looking back on the radical commitmentnof his youth, he confesses thatn”the vision of a lifetime devoted to annabiding value is hard to give up.” ThatnIrving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz,nformer friends, have broken socialistnranks may provide some explanation fornHowe’s unrelenting and—at first glancen—surprisingly vitriolic opposition tonneoconservatism. The conservativenthought of the 50’s, he now believes,n”can seem fairly benign when comparednwith the rougher, meaner versions ofnthree decades later.” Generous with hisnpraise of veteran conservatives such asnPeter Viereck and Russell Kirk, Howencannot bring himself to forgive the neoconservativesnwho, as he sees it, turnednon the left in its time of trouble. In glaringncontrast to their treason, NormannThomas, Howe points out proudly, wasnfaithftil unto death. Once, upon spottingnthe Grand Old Man of American socialismninfluence during the 1930s was to learnna lesson in moral courage. It was to learnnthe satisfection of standing firm by one’snconvictions, to realize that life offers farnworse things than being in a minority.”nThus, although Howe long ago rejectednTrotsky’s view of the world, he continuesnto be moved by the man’s ability to steerna steady course, unaltered even by personalntragedy and political failure. It isnnot surprising, therefore, that the selfportraitnthat emerges from Howe’s pagesnbears a striking resemblance to that ofnthe old Bolshevik leader—“partially”nJewish, principled, betrayed, isolated,nresigned to tragic but heroic defeat.nIndeed, this autobiography is essentiallyna long jeremiad for lost causes; it is renderednmore poignant by the author’snawareness of approaching death and bynthe gathering strength of neoconservatism.nThe melancholia that informs thisnbook is not, however, merely the resultnof neoconservative infidelity; it is also anconsequence of Howe’s recognitionnthat the yearning for a better world hasnrepeatedly ended “in muck, foul play,n[and] murder.” The simple truth is,naccording to Howe, that socialism is inherentlynproblematic and that it daren’•( )|K- … :isk 1 iCMl)M-… wluilK-r.mlioMiiiiuiiii<-iiiili’lr.iil(.lfitMII Ilissiii|v,iili li)rntill’ I >ppri-.sM-il iiriil 11 irr< iiJi-d his iv

tli> Dlri-lxlliiiiv . . I lowi”nliiilfd til LinilLi’slJiul ihi- {•(.•iilk-iK-s>« .mil itk-alisin ofj TDIII 1 l:iulin|.”n—Jlji’ Pn>}in’.ssiivn”It is ;i.s llioii^i I iowv lids «;inii lilf ili him only whm In- is in :i imliiicilnr;ij;i-. . . . \ IIDWI-(Imsni iViili/t.- is thai In- .mil ihi’Mulinislsstninil i-;n.lly iiliki-.”n-The .Stilionnin an airport lobby, Howe “wanted tonrun over and say a few words of gratitudenfor his unspoken decision to see hisncommitment through to the very end.”nBut the dominant figure in Howe’snlife and thought is not Norman Thomasn—it is Leon Trotsky. Having begun hisncareer as a Trotskyist, Howe has nevernceased to identify himself with that mercurial,nfanatical revolutionary. In his volumenon Trotsky in the “Modem Masters”nseries, Howe reflected that “to havencome even briefly under his [Trotsky’s]nnnnot be anything more than “a loose egalitarianncreed, a stubborn refusal to acceptnthe given as immutable.” It can offernonly “a margin of hope” for “what maynyet be.” All in all, this is a socialism fornpeople who do not like socialism, annideology so devoid of content and sonethereal—it exists “at no point in timenand space”—^that it is frrelevant to anynconceivable world of men. As a guide tonthe ftiture, it is as useless as Trotskyism.nThe burden of both these volumes,nthen, is that the debate on the Americannleft has shifted from Stalinism to neo-niiiiiiDnMay 1983n