idealism and good deeds that saw blaclisnfreed, poverty rediscovered, womennawakened, sexual inhibitions cast oflF, anwar machine foiled, and an evil presidentntoppled.nIt profits one little to decry thenmythmaking process; the left will havenits myths and the flood of memoirs,nnovels, journalistic accounts, andnpseudo-histories of the 60’s will notnrecede until the left has either exhaustednitself in an orgy of nostalgia or a new eranof radicalism arrives to supply fresh gristnfor the mythmaking mill. Nor is muchnaccomplished by railing against thenidiots and idiocies of the 60’s; it has beenndone so often that even the cleverestnterms of abuse have degenerated intoncliches. The best way to counter thenmythmakers would seem to lie in anstrategy that rejects the received wisdomnof the left —^and the right as well—nand formulates new perspectives on thenmen, movements, and issues of the 60’s.nBy dint of his willingness to scorn wornnplatitudes and to violate prescribednways of interpreting the decade, Allen J.nMatusow provides in The Unraveling ofnAmerica a start in this direction. Thoughnhimself a historian of left-of-centernsympathies. Professor Matusow trenchantlynexposes the Mures of liberalismnin the 60’s and scores those fijrther to thenleft for their willingness during thendecade to engage in cheap talk and mindlessnviolence. In a turn of affairs rarenamong American historians. ProfessornMatusow admits the cogency of thenconservatives’ attack on the liberalnprogram of the 60’s.nAs one reconsiders the decade, withnProfessor Matusow’s book as guide, ancurious thing occurs: much of thenanimosity one formerly felt for thatnbenighted era dissipates and in its placencomes a piercing sadness over whatnhappened to our nation in the 60’s.nThere is much to evoke this melancholy:nthat the idealism of the young flowedninto often ignoble causes and fed the selfaggrandizingnfantasies of mendaciousnleaders: that America wasted its sub­nstance on an ill-begotten Asian war; thatnthe tumult and strife of the decadenerected walls of incomprehension andnrancor between young and old, blacknand white, blue-collar worker andncollege student; that the rampagingnmobs of Watts, Newark, and Detroitnbetrayed the quest of blacks for equalnrights under the law; that the capriciousnpolitics of the late 60’s destroyed such andecent and honorable man as HubertnHumphrey; that the old and distinguishednDemocratic party—^the party ofnAndrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson,nFranklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman—nstaggered into the 1970’s under the lashnof fanatics; and finally and most tragi­nFrom Deuvy to IlueynCONFLUENCESnTo A superlicial observer.nphilo.soplK-rs .seem like people whoninconsequentially spin their idlentheories in their ivory lowers whilenthe renl world blithely goes its ownnwa. Hie truth is otherwise, .ristoteliannthought, refurbished and reshapednby niedieal Thoiiiists. lorncenturies governed lile in W eslernnl-iirope far more periisiel than diilnan of the “absolute” inonarehs whonruled during the period. .More relevantnto the .nierican experience isnthat lact that two l-‘iiropean philo.s(>phers.nLocke anil Montesquieu,nprobably ilid as nuich to sliape then(ionstirution as diii any man aliw inn• “S””. .Vnci in iOlh-cenlun .nierica.nthe millions who haw taken ‘W ill itnwork?” as the highest measure ofntruth are. consciousK or iinconscioiisly.niiiuier the piiilosophicalnspell of William James and liisdiseiplenJohn Dewey.nIndeed, (iliarles K. Morrislonvincinglyndemonstrates in A Time ofnI’fL^sinii: America I’M)- /’JNO (IkssienHarper & Kow: New \)vk) thatnthe pragmatism that largely deter­nnncally, that assassins’ bullets cut downnthree beloved leaders.nOut of a contemplation of all thisnchaos there arises one of those tantalizingn”what-if’ questions that students ofnhistory love to toy with: What if RobertnKennedy had eluded his assassin andnthrough the vicissitudes of democraticnpolitics had swept on to the WhitenHouse? Might it be possible that such anneventuality would have provided a morensatisfectory denouement to that convulsivendecade? Make no mistake: by 1968nRobert Kennedy had moved to the left ofnmost American politicians; one does notnessay to argue that Kennedy was a con-nmined American fX)lic’ in the I ‘J6()’snoweil as much to these two philosophersn;LS it did lo Kenned} John.son.nor any of their living adxi.sers. Suchnpragmatism fostered almost unl^oundednconfidence among governmentnleaders in the power o! managementntechniques, social sciencenexpertise, and potent weaponry povert’ and inequity at homiandnto contain communism abroad.n’Neither people, the economy, nornother nations.” .Morris ()bseres.n”were so plastic as they hoped.”nFurther, because it subordinatednends to means, pragmatism lackednthe ‘”moral resonance” ni-cessary toncombat the barbarities of a Tomnllayilen, .bbie Hoffman, or lliienNewton.nRegrettably. Morris concludes angenerally praisewortiiy book with anfacileprediction, based on little morenthan demographic patterns, of a newnperiod of .social stability and moralnintegrity. I lis own study provides toonmuch eidence that men ami nationsnmay grow into middle-age andnbeyoiul without attaining moralnwisdom if lliey are suckled on immaturenphik).sophy. (Mt!)nDecember 1984n