REVIEWSrnThe CosmopolitanrnTemptationrnby Paul GottfriedrnThe Emerging Atlantic Culturernby Thomas MolnarrnNew Brunswick: Transaction;rnIB pp., $27.95rnBlood and Belonging: Journeys Intornthe New Nationalismrnby Michael IgnatieffrnNew York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux;rn263 pp., $21.00rnThe two books reviewed here providerna contrast both in style and in substance.rnWhereas Thomas Molnar treatsrnUtopians and historical optimists withrnexuberant contempt, Michael Ignatieffrnbewails the fact that nations and nationalismrnhave not yet disappeared. Molnarrnis proud of his relentless realism, inrnwhich politics are related to man’s fallenrnstate; Ignatieff, by contrast, wants us tornmove beyond the past toward a worldrnwithout national loyalties. Despite theserndifferences, both men succinctly setrnforth their positions, resting their argumentsrnon bold generalities and arrestingrnillustrations. Ignatieff, who prepared hisrnbook for a BBC series aired in 1993, isrnclearly aiming his remarks at a bien pensantrnliberal audience, one that wishes tornbe told that its own sentiments, albeitrncurrently impractical, are admirable.rnOne respects that Molnar has in mindrnhis own particular readership, perhapsrnthose who, like myself, have read himrnover the years and value his opinions.rnI must insist that Molnar is of the twornthe far more intelligent commentator,rneven when his prejudices come to thernsurface. And he does have prejudices—rnagainst Protestantism, the Americanrnfounding, and commercial societies—rnthat detract from his otherwise soberrnanalysis of American institutions andrnculture. He tries to explain all the lunaciesrnin contemporary American life byrntoo often going back to the ProtestantrnReformation or to Ernst Troeltch’s turnof-rnthe-century views about culturalrnProtestantism. Like other Europeanrncommentators on America, Molnar is alsornoverly dependent on Alexis de Tocqueville.rnIndeed, he seems to believernthat the investigation of American smalltownrndemocracy done by a visitingrnFrench aristocrat in the 1830’s can servernto illuminate Bill Clinton’s America. ButrnTocqueville is more useful for his criticalrnreflections on Jacksonian democracyrnthan in disclosing a supposedly unchangingrnAmerican character. LikernSamuel Francis and Forrest McDonald,rnbut unlike Molnar, I am far more struckrnby the political and cultural gulf betweenrnearly and present-day America than byrnany presumed continuity between them.rnI cannot recognize in the multicultural,rntherapeutic America of the present thernProtestant Republic of 1835. Tocquevillernmight as well have been describing thernEgyptian Middle Kingdom, for all thernrelevance that the America he visitedrnhas to our own.rnDespite the Catholic and Tocquevillianrnfilters that he applies, Molnar doesrnperceive certain things very clearly. Thernculture that arose on both sides of thernAtlantic in the wake of American politicalrnhegemony following World War II isrnfar more brittle, he reminds us, than isrnoften imagined. Europeans took overrnAmerican political slogans and paid atrnleast lip service to “American values”rnlike democracy, pluralism, and equalityrnbecause shattered Europe respectedrnAmerican power. Unlike naive Americanrnglobalists, Molnar is brutally honest inrnexposing the shallowness of Europeanrnenthusiasm for American control. He isrnalso too much of a historicist to attributerntranscendent importance to the ideologicalrnaccoutrements of power. There isrnnothing intrinsically moral, he observes,rnabout whatever political system thernUnited States enjoys at any particularrntime and decides to impose on dependentrngovernments. When asked by anrnearnest disciple of Harry Jaffa whether hernbelieved that American democracy is thernonly true Judeo-Christian regime, Molnarrnlooked at the young man as if hernwere insane.rnAmerican liberal democracy, he insists,rnis incompatible with strongly corporaternsocieties that value group identityrnmore than individual expressiveness.rnIts success depends on social andrncultural transformation that is still lessrnadvanced in most of Europe thanrnin the United States. Europeans alsorndistinguish between culture and technicalrncivilization, and both their left- andrntheir right-wing critics mock Americanrnmaterialism, in contrast to Europe’s centuries-rnold artistic achievements. Moreover,rnmost Americans have no sympatheticrninterest in the European past. It isrnwhat their forefathers left behind or, inrnthe cases of Asians and blacks, never possessedrnin the first place. American interestrnin Europe, Molnar explains, is typicallyrnconfined to a concern withrnwhether the Europeans are coming tornresemble us. Presumably, the more theyrndo resemble us, the less reason we havernto feel threatened when we encounterrnpeople on the other side of the Atlantic.rnThese observations are right on thernmoney, and the most fatuous remarksrnin Ignatieff’s lament for internationalismrnconfirm Molnar’s insensitivelyrnstated truths. The Canadian-born andrneducated Ignatieff weeps over what hernsupposes to be the temporary eclipse ofrnhis vision of progress, of what he callsrn”cosmopolitanism” sweeping across thernglobe: “Twentieth-century democracyrnand unprecedented post-war prosperityrnhave extended the privileges of cosmopolitanismrnfrom a small white malernmoneyed elite to a substantial minorityrnof the population of the nation-states ofrnthe developed wodd.” Ignatieff praisesrnthe revolutions in transportation andrncommunication and the overthrow ofrnauthoritarian structures like the Habsburgrnand Turkish empires in preparingrnthe way for this new cosmopolitanism.rnIn the wodd of his imagination, therernwould exist only individuals interactingrnwithout ethnic or sexual distinctions orrnany hint of discrimination. This is notrncoming to pass, Ignatieff explains, becauserna new (really old) nationalism hasrnsurged up in Europe and elsewhere. Ignatieff’srnbanal, politically correct treatmentrnof this subject winds on for so longrnthat it almost turned me from my ancestralrnAustrophilia into a Serbian nationalist.rnAnd though sympathetic tornthe Whites against the Reds, I find itrnhard to sympathize with Ignatieff’s Russianrnemigre family, in view of the ideas hernascribes to them. After all, there are lessrnappetizing miscreants than communists.rnNOVEMBER 1994/35rnrnrn