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The Banality of Liberalism

In response to:

Democratic Vistas from the September 30, 1965 issue

To the Editors:

Why is it, I hope the University of Wisconsin student Mr. Lasch quoted was asking, that “intellectuals are not policy makers…are not Senators…are not arbitrators of international disputes”? It is because they are critics, and, in persistent conformity to a dangerous vogue of irresponsibility, are critics only. But experience has consistently shown, especially during the present century, that criticism accomplishes too little too late, and that words, spent upon the ears of those who cannot or will not participate in a reasoned dialogue, avail us almost nothing, and that, much too slowly. We have talked to each other too long, we repeat ourselves endlessly: we make a cult of erudite repetitiousness and call it intellectualism, and we exalt the footnote and the quotation to the station of sacred rubrics. It is time for the intellectual to do and to initiate—to become, much more than he already is—the performing expert Mr. Lasch deprecates. Admittedly we derive much power from our students, but our students will not be always with us, and we cannot continue to hope to direct the herds from lofty stations apart….

John F. Withey

Department of English

Stephen F. Austin State College

Nacogdoches, Texas

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