Sunken SouffleesnJohn Kenneth Galbraith: Annals ofnan Abiding Liberal; Houghton MifflinnCo.; Boston.nby James Hitchcockn-A.11 authors must be more than anlittle egotistical, assuming as they donthat there are people who will pay moneynfor what they have to say. How muchnmore egotistical is the author who collectsnhis stray essays into a single volume,nassuming that there are peoplenwho will actually pay twice to read him,nonce in a magazine, then again in a book.nThe subtitle of Professor Galbraith’sncollection is “Perspectives on the TwentiethnCentury and the Case for Comingnto Terms with It.” Here, surely, arenthe ripe reflections of forty years, systematizednat last. Instead, what the unsuspectingnreader finds is a collectionnof Galbraith’s miscellaneous journalism.nThe careful purchaser will discovernthat fact on the inside of the front dustncover. But the consumer-protectionnmovement seems to have few championsnin the world of publishing, and if someonenpays 112.95 only to find that henhas bought, among other exotica, Galbraith’snlist of the seven wonders of thenworld, or pages from his 1978 travelndiary, well, the author is enough of anfree-enterprise enthusiast, apparently,nto murmur urbanely “caveat emptor. “nOne of the abiding mysteries aboutnProfessor Galbraith is the exact sourcenof his celebrity. Most people who havenheard of him would probably say thatnhe is one of America’s great economists.nYet there are economists, by no meansnall of whom are in ideological disagreementnwith him, who insist that he isnreally no economist at all but rather anhigh-level popularizer. In the appendixnto the book (his 1972 presidential ad-nDr. Hitchcock is professor of historynat St. Louis University; his latestnis Catholicism and Modernity.n8nChronicles of Cullurendress to the American Economic Association),nhe takes on such critics, andnelsewhere he suggests that economistsndeliberately obfuscate their science innorder to maintain their authority. Whatnis the poor layman to think of all this?nWillingness to accept Professor Galbraith’snversion of things is temperednby the realization that he has managednto minimize the ubiquitous influencenof Keynesianism on public policy duringnthe past forty-five years. He would alsonhave us believe that he is still fighting anbrave battle against the disciples ofnof weary but affable contempt againstnthose who disagree with him. He doesnnot argue the case for his own positions,nbut simply implies that other opinionsnare beneath serious consideration.nIn certain respects he seems to be anchoice example of the now slightly outmodednphenomenon of radical chic—ansocial critic who makes a handsome livingnfrom his writings, the mercilessnscourge of businessmen who has littlento say about the anomalies of his ownnposition, the long-time frequenter ofnGstaad who professes annoyance withn”The liberalism displayed herein arises not from any loud noise in the outragednheart but from common and contemplation of the self-evident.”n—New York Time.s Book RevieivnDavid Ricardo.nIf a suspicion emerges that ProfessornGalbraith is, perhaps, not a major economicnthinker, what is he? A good Englishnstylist, certainly, a skilled polemicistnfond of the rapier who almost nevernuses the battle-ax. Could it be suggestednthat what he practices is essentiallynSunday-supplement journalism, andnthat his Harvard professorship servesnonly to give his opinions a weight theynwould not otherwise have?nThere is nothing wrong with goodnjournalism, but the point is highlynrelevant in Galbraith’s case, not onlynbecause virtually all of these essays endnup as sunken soufflees, but also becausenit finally explains why there is somethingnrather offensive about his writings, evennapart from their content. To put itnsimply, he uses a certain genuine stylenand modest wit to compensate for thendubiousness of his ideas. What the readernfinally senses is that Professor Galbraithndoes not ask to be judged on thencorrectness of his judgments. He aimsnto entertain.nAgain, there is nothing wrong withnliterary entertainment. But Galbraithnsimultaneously seeks to be regarded asnan important thinker and employs a tonennnthe jet set, the putative reformer ofnuniversities who admittedly neglectsnhis own students. Repeatedly asked tonaddress conventions of businessmenn(undoubtedly for fat fees), he does notnconceal his contempt for his audiencesnand their unenlightened questions.nOince, despite his title, ProfessornGalbraith obviously did not intend tonoffer a comprehensive discussion of liberalism,nit is perhaps unfair to tax himnwith what he left out. But surely henwould not disagree with the thesis thatnvendors can always be held responsiblenfor the deficiencies of products they offernto the public. Galbraith’s liberalism isnoddly old-fashioned; it hardly goes beyondnquestions of domestic economicnpolicy and foreign affairs, in neither ofnwhich areas he has anything new or remarkablento say. Surely, however, whatnis most interesting about liberalism innthe last years of the 20th century is itsnmoral implications. There is growingnevidence that the liberals’ skewed understandingnof personal freedom is destroyingneven the possibility of a moral socialnorder, and that in its place a therapeuticallyntotalitarian state is in the making.nThere is no evidence that Galbraithn