Marxism & Motorcycle Maintenancen”The revolutionary loves a man nho does not yetnexist.”n—Albert CamusnIrving Louis Horowitz: C. WrightnMills: An American Utopian; ThenFree Press; New York.nIn recent years, critics of culturenhave given the imagination a onewaynticket to the left. The LiberalnImagination by Lionel Trilling is followednby The Radical Imagination bynIrving Howe, which is followed in turnnby The Sociological Imagination of C.nWright Mills. The imagination, it appears,nis on its way to a progressivenfuture. If the idealized future fails tonmaterialize, the fault is with us andnnot with the left-liberal imagination.nWe will have failed to live up to it,nfailed to dream what we should havendreamed. Provided we never acquirenany sense of history by looking back, anone-way imagination guarantees thatnThe Sociological Imagination will benfollowed by The Androgynous Imaginationnand that, no doubt, by ThenBionic Imagination.n”Flawed in his personal life, torn betweennhis populist hopes for the downtroddennand an elitist conception of the intellectual’snrole, he made a major contribution tonseeing the modem world more clearly.”nCommonwealnAs an enemy of the past and anprophet of brave new possibilities, C.nWright Mills was announcing the NewnLeft in the early SO’s. In the threenstudies of stratification he publishednduring the decade—The New Men ofnPower, White Collar, and The PowernElite—he captured the intellectual reactionnto the McCarthy era with ansense of radical alienation that anticipatednthe tabloid sociology of PsychologynToday. His next trilogy was composednof 60’s books: The Causes ofnWorld War lU; Listen, Yankee’.; andnThomas Ashton teaches English at thenUniversity of Massachusetts atnAmherst.n18/CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnThe Marxists. The Sociological Imaginationnis a transitional work, supportingnits plan for the future with few ofnthe claims to social science that he hadnpreviously felt necessary. Mills died atn45 before he could finish a third triadnmade of a Soviet journal, essays callednin manuscript the “New Left” andnintended for a book on The CulturalnApparatus, and finally a ComparativenSociology of the Third World. We knownwhat Mills intended from two collectionsnof posthumous papers edited bynIrving L. Horowitz. Now Horowitznhas given us a final interpretation ofnMills in American Utopian.n.merican Utopian is divided inton”Settings,’ “Sources,” and “Substances.”nThis last division, with a title thatnindicates what actually comes first fornHorowitz, is a book-by-book summarynof Mills with selected pro and connreactions. Yet it is not a good cribnbecause Mills was a better stylist thannhis disciple. Condensation clarifies thenevolution of Mills thought—but doesnnot improve it. Horowitz’s narrownfocys on Mills’s ideas permits littlenspace for discussion of the influence ofncontemporary events and e’en less fornpertinent details of Mills’s life. AmericannUtopian does illuminate Mills’snjourney from philosopher to socialnpsychologist to sociologist as a questnfor intellectual pragmatism, and it exposesnthe conflict of Mills’s preferencenfor philosophy. Max Weber, andnbroadmindedness and academic sociology’snapproval of psychology, TalcottnParsons, and the empirical.’But itndoesn’t explain why the Texas Trotskynfell so far afoul of the New Yorknintelligentsia. Horowitz knows Millsnthe academic not Mills the man, andnAmerican Utopian’s unfortunate equationnof academic and intellectual wasnabhorred by Mills himself.nBy carrying the anti-psychologicalnto the extreme of academic stuffiness,nAmerican Utopian suggests that thenevolution of Mills’s writing has nothingnto do with the development of hisnpersonality. We learn neither whennnnbv Thomas L. AshtonnMills was born nor exactly when hendied. Horowitz titillates with referencesnto Mills’s “self-aggrandizing claimsnto having more women in one monthnthan Don Juan could boast in a lifetime,”nand to “his continuous interestnin sex outside the marriage,” but at thensame time he fails to identify all ofnMills’s wives (three) or any of hisn.children. You will not learn here thatnmiddle-aged Mills’s first trip to Europenwas made to attend a factory course onnthe maintenance of his beloved BMWnmotorcycle.nThe part of the book devoted ton”Settings’ is littie more than an excusento melodramatize and misunderstandnacademic life at-the Universities ofnTexas, Wisconsin, Maryland, andnColumbia—and to do so from “official”nhistories written mostly for thenbenefit of alumni associations. Toonoften in American Utopian Mills thenman is missing because he doesn’t fitnHorowitz’s naive vision of Mills thenscholar. (I once saw Mills myself atnColumbia, taking off on his motorcyclenwith a good-looking blond on thenbackseat. He did not look much like anscholar. He looked more like a bearnthat had lost a fight with a lawnmower.n)nMills himself abhorred academenand academics because they perpetuatednoutmoded liberalism. He soughtnwhat he first called an “independent”nand later a “New Left,” a left thatndefied capitalism without embracingnSoviet-style statism. But the tumultuousnbirth of the New Left was still sixnyears away when Mills offended hisnColumbia colleagues by writing:nIn the Soviet Union Marxismnhas become ideologicallynconsolidated and subject tonofficial control; in the UnitednStates liberalism has becomenless an ideolog)’ than an emptynrhetoric.nMills made the equation of the intellectualnand the alienated his paramountntheme. Even Reuel Denney,n