20 / CHRONICLESnOPINIONSnLame Hands of Socialist Faithn”You . . . have been borrowing goblins from thencapitahst. …”n—John RuskinnThe Nature and Logic of Capitalismnby Robert L. Heilbroner, New York:nW.W. Norton.nSocialism and America by IrvingnHowe, New York: Harcourt BracenJovanovich.nFor numerous well-known Westernnintellectuals, capitalism versus socialismnremains the great dilemma,nthe principal philosophical and institutionalnalternahve of our times. It isnfar from self-evident why this shouldn.be the case. Why not political plural­nism as opposed to regimentadon? Orndemocracy versus dictatorship? Traditionnas opposed to modernity? Or thensecular against the religious? Why donso many in the West persist in framingnthe major political-economic ornmoral-ideological choices of our timesnin this arguably dated conceptualnframework? And why, by contrast, arenintellectuals in the East, or in countriesnwhich claim to be socialist, singularlynunimpressed b’ this terminologynand disinclined to perceive the majornissues of our times through thesenconcepts?nIt is tempting to answer that if asnMarxists believe, “existence determinesnconsciousness,” “Eastern” intellectualsnshun these concepts becausenthey have learned that politicsnmatter more than economics, and thatnpolitical power does not derive fromneconomics. Moreover intellectuals (asnwell as nonintellectuals) living undernsystems calling themselves “socialist”nare generally unimpressed by the preoccupationn(of their Western brethren)nwith the ills and evils of capitalism.nThey may not like advertising or massnculture any more than Western literati,nyet they can keep such matters innperspective. They know that the invasionsnof privacy represented by advertisingnare easier to fend off than thenattentions of the modern socialist statenand its various agencies. They arenfamiliar with the ravages of commercialization,nor “commodification,” anterm coined by Robert L. HeilbronernPaul Hollander, professor of sociologynat the University of Massachusetts—nAmherst, is author of PoliticalnPilgrims and most recently ThenManv Faces of Socialism.nby Paul Hollandernnnin The Nature and Logic of Capitalism,nor (in the older terminology) then”cash nexus.” Yet they know that thesenefforts are readily duplicated by thenbrutalizing political processes endurednby citizens in socialist societies. The}’ninclude the corrosive effects of mistrustngenerated by the facade of politicalnconformity which is not a luxur- butnnecessity. Nor do personal relationsnunder socialism benefit from officialnpriorities which invariably place “social”nor “public” needs ahead of thenpersonal, private, or individual.nThis is worth dwelling on, since thennotion persists in the West (at any ratenamong social critics attracted to somensocialist alternative) that capitalism isnuniquely guilty of ravaging personalnrelationships, whereas under socialismn—while civil liberties and materialngoods may be in short supplyn— personal relationships are morenpure, less instrumental, more fulfilling.nIt may be argued that the survivingnmystique of socialism gains muchnof its strength from such conceptionsn(and fantasies) of vibrant communitiesnand social ties untainted by ulterior orninstrumental motives which proliferatenin capitalist societies.nPerceptive social critics and intellectuals,nsuch as Irving Howe, know perfectlynwell that the ideals and theoriesnof socialism have been tarnished andndiscredited by the practices of statesnwhich insist on being called socialist,nand yet they cannot let go of the ideal.nTheir critique of capitalism and theirnlonging for socialism rest on the assumptionnthat there must be betternways to build a socialist society andnthere must be a society wholly unlikenand superior to Western capitalist systems.nMoreover, Howe also knows.n