tural phenomena, and Marxism cropsnup often enough: for instance, Laschnasserts that one of the difficulties withncontemporary education is that it is regardednas a “commodity” to be consumed;nhe attempts to blame industrialismnin part for the breakdown of thenfamily; and he indulges in ritual denunciationsnof capitalist advertising. In thenfinal analysis, though, Lasch’s culturalncritique is usually separable from itsnFreudian and Marxist underpinnings. Innfact, by assembling certain statementsnspread throughout the book, one maynarrive at a set of his positive prescriptionsnfor society which have little to donwith either Freud or Marx. One tendsnto applaud Lasch s belief in standardsnof excellence and in intellectual discipline,nhis profound respect for the past,nhis conviction that we must accept responsibilitynfor the future of mankindnas well. He holds that progress consistsnin the overcoming of obstacles. Moreover,nhe is dedicated to the concept ofnobjective truth. He thinks that true educationnshould “train people with thenvanishing capacity for silence and selfcontainment.”nHe would like to resurrectnthe work ethic, and hopes to “restorenmeaning and dignity to everydaynlife.” He even speaks of the moralnresponsibilities of the individual, andnof assisting people to “come to termsnwith the inescapable limits of their personalnfreedom and power—limits inherentnin the human condition.”nSuch a positive program might causenthe casual reader to conclude thatnLasch’s critique of contemporary Americannsociety resembles the conservativenone, though it lacks any very deep metaphysicalndimension. Realizing that suchnaccusations would be raised againstnhim, Lasch grapples with them in a shortnsection toward the end of his book. Herenhe compares his own analysis of modernnbureaucracy with that of Ludwig vonnMises, recognizing many parallels betweennhis own ideas and the Austrian’s,nbut then maintaining that von Mises’nfundamental premises differ from his.nWhere von Mises argues for a return tonlaissez-faire capitalism as the solutionnof the horrors of bureaucracy, Laschnholds that capitalism gives rise to ann”inexorable trend toward economicnconcentration,” and that “the strugglenagainst bureaucracy therefore requiresna struggle against capitalism itself.”nFor a moment Lasch seems to have salvagednhis radical credentials, but then,na few sentences later, he provides anbrief vision of his ideal world of thenfuture: “In order to break the existingnpattern of dependence and put an endnto the erosion of competence, citizensnwill have to take the solution of theirnown problems into their own hands.nThey will have to create their own ‘communitiesnof competence.’ ” But this isna vision of society to which the greatnSweet AUendenCaroline Richards: Sweet Country;nHarcourt Brace Jovanovich; NewnYork and London.nby Lev NavrozovnUnder Stalin, Russian writersn”created works of literature” about thenUnited States. Soon after Stalin’s death,nhowever, it was admitted that anynRussian novel about a foreign countrynwould be artificial and derivative nonmatter how ethnographically impeccable.nAmerican mass culture has notndeveloped to this level of Sovietn”sophistication,” and Americans likenCaroline Richards publish novels aboutnany foreign country, from Russia tonChile, with equal ethnocentric aplombnor parochial innocence.nI refuse to sink below the post-Stalinnlevel of Soviet propaganda and seriouslynconsider Sweet Country as a “novelnabout Chile.” Nor is it a novel anyway.nLev Navrozov, a Russian writer andnliterary critic, writes for the Chroniclesnfrom New York.nnnmajority of contemporary Americannconservatives would subscribe. Certainlynthey would agree with his readingnof the essence of human nature and thenquality of liberal contemporary culture.nIn The Culture of Narcissism, then,nChristopher Lasch arrives by curiousnpaths at an analysis of American societynbased upon a conservative view of thenessence of man clothed in Freudian andnMarxist terminology. His use of suchnterminology, sincere as it may be, willnnot save his reputation among the bearersnof liberal culture, and we mustntherefore regard the publication of thisnbook as an act of intellectual couragenon its author’s part. Dnin my perception. It can be defined asna fictionalized column by Anthony Lewisnor Tom Wicker in the New York Timesnof six years ago.nI suppose there are two reasons fornfictionalizing old newspaper columns.nFirst, the author can make such a columnnmore entertaining by injecting anfictitious love story or a plot. CarolinenRichards (who is a professor of historynat Earlham College) has devised for thisnpurpose the following plot.nEve, a Chilean lady (who could bentaken for a New York lady, reader ofnThe New Yorker and National Geographic,nhad she not referred so oftennto Pablo Neruda) works as a specialnassistant to Allende’s wife—and hasna beautiful love affair (just as in anNew Yorker story) with a Germannnamed Helmut. Helmut departs verynearly in the book, yet the plot mustngo on. So, after the fall of Allende,nEve is first tortured, then released andnrequested to live in Allende’s housen”to prevent lawless plundering of thenpremises.” Evidently Professor Richardsnassumes that those rulers whom shenH M B H H i i i ^ l lnSeptember/October 1979n