Richard Kostelanetz, The End of Intelligent Writing - Peter Myers, November 13, 2000; update October 12, 2003.
Bold emphasis added; my comments are shown {thus}.

Richard Kostelanetz documents the takeover of American literary politics by a Jewish faction. Kostelanetz himself is probably Jewish. His site is

Write to me at contact.html.

You are at

Rerouting the Western intellectual tradition

Despite my interest in Religion and Spirituality, I have not been able to discuss these topics with my children. There seems to be a lack of common language with which to do so. Is it because Hollywood has put other thoughts in their minds? Is it because we don't make young people study history?

Richard Kostelanetz gives the answer, in his book The End of Intelligent Writing.

Kostelanetz shows that the problem is not Communism a la Soviet Union, but "Marxist Anti-Communism", i.e. the Marxist-Freudian movement in the West - which is anti-Stalin and pro-Trotsky.

His answer is that Jewish-American writers have rerouted the Western intellectual tradition.

(1) Richard Kostelanetz, The End of Intelligent Writing: Literary Politics in America, Sheed & Ward, NY 1974 (2) Richard Kostelanetz, "The End" Appendix: "Intelligent Writing" Reconsidered Epitomised (3) Richard Kostelanetz, "The End" Essentials: "Intelligent Writing" Epitomised, Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, NJ 1979 (in the same volume as "The End" Appendix, printed from the back).

(1) Richard Kostelanetz, The End of Intelligent Writing: Literary Politics in America, Sheed & Ward, NY 1974.

[p. x] ... Knowledge that is not communicated has a way of turning the mind sour, of being obscured, and finally of being forgotten. C Wright Mills, "The Social Role of the Intellectual" (1944). ...

[p. xi] Preface

The title of this book announces its argument, which holds that a panoply of growing forces and festering symptoms forecast the likely end of "intelligent writing" or "literature" as we have known those traditions. The reason for this crisis is not that such writing is no longer produced - quite the contrary is true - or that it is not read - also untrue - but that the channels of communication between intelligent writer and intelligent reader have become clogged and corrupted.

[p. 12] ... Only an ingenue, however, could still think that the ascendancy of the Southern literati was purely serendipitous.

... The same pattern of insurgence was duplicated a decade and a half later by another well-organized literary minority, the Jewish-American writers. Here again was a core of critics and propagandists; a common commitment to Marxian-Freudianism which politically branched into the two streams of democratic socialism and neo-liberalism; the inclination to test earlier authors against these intellectual touchstones or dominant beliefs; a set of literary values which discounted both formal invention and fantasy, instead of emphasizing both intelligible (and intelligent) themes and the accurate rendering of urban social experience; a phalanx of magazines, ranging from a quarterly through a monthly through the literary pages of a weekly; a force of ambitious sometime students and proteges willing to do minor tasks for which the elders no longer had the time, guts, or energy; allies in the major reviewing media; cooperative conduits in New York publishing; anthologies that would place their names beside the acknowledged champs; and the attempt to make one of their number into the foremost novelist of his time (the Saul Bellow-shall-be-our-Greatest-Writer-or-bust-movement), which has so far conquered one international prize and has at least another to go. They emphasized not poetry and extended critical essays, like their predecessors, but fiction and book reviews, which are inherently more popular forms.

[p. 13] Only on the textbook front did the Jewish-American literary propagandists at first seemingly fail to complete their literary-political revolution; instead they capitalized upon a successful surrogate - the quality paperback that has progressively replaced many textbooks in the university classrooms. Jason Epstein became the crucial entrepreneur of this phase of the operation; his pioneering paperback line, Anchor Books, not only revived many of the Jewish-Americans' earlier, often neglected works, but he also commissioned some of them to write introductions to revived classics. The lucrative textbooks, needless to say, followed later. By the sixties, this Jewish-American group became the dominant literary-political force, the Southerners having politely stepped aside during the previous decade. Among the conclusive signs of the former's ascendancy were not only prestigious best-sellers by Bellow, Bernard Malamud, and Philip Roth, but anthologies and critical books recapitulating Jewish-American cultural achievements. As Robert Alter concluded in 1965, "Everyone is by now aware of the fact that literary Jewishness has become a distinct commercial asset."

What seemed at first surprising was how strongly this group disclaimed any allegiance to religious Judaism or even any interest in Jewish theology. Rather than following the rabbis, they regarded themselves as extending a tradition of secular Jewish writers - more concerned, by definition, with the people than the faith - which they interpreted as leading directly to themselves. In this respect, they resembled nineteenth-century German-Jewish intellectuals, who, as Hannah Arendt notes, "had to differentiate themselves clearly from the 'Jew in general,' and just as clearly to indicate that they were Jews." Though neither Zionist, religious, nor members of B'nai B'rith, they were still self-consciously Jewish enough to wail "anti-Semitism" when collectively criticized. However, their assertion, like that of other groups, created the preconditions for collective dismissal; a claim that is false in form invites equally fallacious denigrations.

Indeed, just as the literary Agrarians hardly typified the Old South, these Jewish-American writers were scarcely representative of American Jews, as nearly all of them were descendants of recent immigrants, New York City-born and educated, and non-Zionist. Very few had pre-1880 American ancestors, and

[p. 14] none was Sephardic in background. Buber-boosting notwithstanding, their rationalist cultural sympathies rarely stretched as far as the intellectualized neo-Hasidism of Allen Ginsberg or certain commune hippies. These limitations and distortions partially explain why cradle Jews have often been confused with adopted Jews or converted Jews, as well as ersatz Jews and symbolic Jews (in addition to gentile writers whose names and faces happen to look Jewish); but Jewishness of some sort, at times more asserted than actual, informs all of their enthusiams.

The Jewish-American writers also sought to reroute the Western intellectual tradition, generally favoring continental (and often Jewish) precedents over Anglo-American. Leslie A. Fiedler describes this attempted shift as fully realized:

Through their Jewish writers, Americans, after the Second World War, were able to establish a new kind of link with Europe in place of the old pale-face connection - a link not with the Europe of decaying castles and the Archbishop of Canterbury, nor with that of the French symbolistes and the deadly polite Action Francaise - for these are all Christian Europes; but with the post-Christian Europes of Marx and Freud, which is to say, of secularized Judaism, as well as the Europe of surrealism and existentialism, Kafka, neo-Chassidism. . .

And Fiedler himself has specialized in outlining "the Jewish American tradition in fiction." Here, as with the Southerners, the radical revaluation of the past, along with the elevation of certain neglected figures, ultimately served to lend intellectual foundation to the current enterprise. (Indeed, as a general rule, the reinterpretation of past literature, as well as the reselection of its canon, usually reflects emerging literary-political pressures.)

However, the Jewish-American inclusions were, in the end, less significant than their most conspicuous neglects, some of which revealed or caused, limitations in sensibility. The most prominent omission, in retrospect, was Gertrude Stein who, though Jewish and first-rate, was too intelligent in ways they

[p. 15] could not understand and then too alien to their own prosaic literary tastes, as well as too wealthy, rather than upwardly mobile; too old Jewish-American, rather than new; too psychological and esthetic, rather than ethnic and sociological, as well as personally too female, and then too lesbian and too cussedly experimental. (Though she had graduated from Radcliffe with honors, a favorite student of William James, the Harvard machine neglected her, too.)

The movement's ambitions in reviving precedents were scarcely parochial, however, for just as the Southerners claimed universal, or at least national, relevance for their literary program, so did the Jewish-American writers. A few of them, especially Irving Howe, even sought to incorporate Yiddish writing into the stream of relevant ancestors, not only compiling anthologies with laudatory introductions, but dropping praise well in excess of the literature's evident merits. In an instance of critical feedback, Alfred Kazin praised Bernard Malamud's best fictions for evoking "the same deep satisfaction that I [get] from the great realistic masters of Yiddish literature." This jerry-built "tradition" served the further practical function of contributing its bit to current enterprise and of being "unavailable" to T. S. Eliot and Allen Tate. The literary Jews also sprinkled their prose with Yiddish bon mots in lieu of the Latin that the Southerners favored.

Once the core canons of current writing had been established they could be popularized, not only in "critical essays" but in anthologies that often featured previously established eminences; and a second-generation of collections, devoted solely to "American Jewish writing," would be compiled not by themselves but others (e.g., Irving Malin and Irwin Stark, Charles Angoff and Meyer Levin). By the late sixties, what the sociologist Charles Kadushin defined as "the American intellectual elite" of literary journalists, editors, and other opinion-makers was about one-half Jewish.

Both literary Southerners and literary Jews, then, capitalized upon the absence of a single permanent establishment to invade the scene from a minority position.

[p. 17] Nobody can be more meanly intolerant, more insistent on his right to be heard whatever the quality of what he says, more confident of receiving the humbly sympathetic attention that derives from his listener's sense of collective guilt than the member of a persecuted minority at a time when social attitudes are undergoing geological alteration. - Matvin Mudrick, "Podhoretz and Mrs. Trilling: The Holy Family" (1964) .

I refer to that extra dimension given to Jewish personality and life by the fact that each Jew moves, consciously or not, in the context of a long and special history and a religious-ethical tradition that lays upon him, whether as a burden or a badge of pride, the sense of being "chosen," and so creates in him the tendency, even the obligation, to carry himself "with a difference." - Elliot E Cohen, Commentary on the American Scene (1953).

It is significant that both Southerners and Jews, not unlike other militant minorities, strove to overcome earlier influential stereotypes of their collective cultural sterility.

[p. 19] As Fiedler shrewdly observed, "Philo-Semitism is required - or perhaps, by now, only assumed - in the reigning literary and intellectual circles of America, just as anti-Semitism used to be required." ...

The literary Southerners and the literary Jews resembled each other in numerous other ways, such as an insatiable interest in parochial themes - e g, the Southerner's feeling for the earth

[p. 20] and the recent Jewish immigrant's relationship to the city ... Both developed "ideologies" ... to give the admirers of each group a "handle" by which its art and thought could be most easily understood.

[p. 21] Both Southerners and Jews relished pseudo-explanations ... of why they, rather than another minority, should have current literary dominance ... As Robert Alter notes,

According to such a theory, which seems to be tacitly assumed by many critics, the main currents at least of modern culture all derive from subterranean Jewish sources: a tenuous connection through three Christian generations with Jewish forbears is supposedly enough to infect the writer with a uniquely Jewish imagination, and this in turn he passes on to the Gentile world around him.

... The ideology also explains the Jewish critics' comparative lack of interest in novels populated only with gentile characters ...

[p. 22] Both Jews and Southerners tended to favor, as noted before, certain political views ... and just as the Agrarians frequently refought the Civil War and Reconstruction, so did literary Jews persistently redo the Russian Revolution and the subsequent history of Marxian Socialism.

[p. 25] Although Jewish writers have been more inclined than Southerners to criticize each other in print, each group observes a policy of regarding fellow members as the only peers or antagonists worth mentioning. ... Especially in contrast to the Southerners, the Jewish-American writers seem more cohesive, if not more truly conspiratorial ...

[p. 26] the cultural, social, and academic influence of American Jews (proportionately far in excess of their numbers); their particular ascendancy in the U.S. communications industries; the preponderant Jewishness of both the theater-going audience and the book-buying public

[p. 27] ... Philip Roth ... critical of the Jewish middle class and yet still securely Jewish. ... all of the featured novelists are Jewish; no gentile is discussed until the book's final chapter, which is devoted to "Minor American Novelists."

[p. 29] In fact, Yiddish is decidely anti-philosophic.

[p. 42] This particular group initially came together in New York in the 1930's when several young men on the fringes of both the Communist movement and literary journalism founded a cultural journal. Partisan Review, as it was called, began early in 1934 as an organ of the John Reed Clubs which were themselves a Communist organization; but the magazine separated from organized Communism soon afterwards, ceasing publication late in 1936, only to be revived as an independent (and anti-Stalinist) magazine a year later.

[p. 43] all these people were intellectually united by what they regarded as shared interests in the highest levels of both contemporary literature and radical political philosophy. Mostly Trotskyist in their sympathies, they had such a decided bias against Stalinism that they also opposed, as "fellow travellers", those intellectuals who were judged to be insufficiently anti-Communist. Through Partisan Review, to quote Fiedler again, "was born of such a marriage of Greenwich Village and [anti-Communist] Marxism" ... By the middle forties, Partisan would garner contributions from such European ex- or anti-Communists as Arthur Koestler, Andre Gide, George Orwell, Ignazio Silone (all of whom thus became implicit allies in their strictly parochial literary-political battle with the Jewish Communist writers) ...

[p. 88] Since no one in advanced society can communicate to strangers without institutional means, book publishers have power over the future of literature simply because they select, from an abundance of possibilities, what to print, promote, and distribute to possible readers.

[p. 91] In part because the Sunday edition of The New York Times has a greater national circulation than the daily, as well as a readership more sophisticated than, say, Time's or Newsweek's, the front page of the Times Book Review has unparalleled positional power. Nothing else can claim a comparable audience. Its editors, like those at other "book reviews", choose not only what titles will be reviewed, but whether these selected books will be treated alone or in tandem with others, how long the commissioned review will be, who will write it, whether the submitted text is "acceptable", and where it will be positioned in a forthcoming issue. Because nearly all of the Times Book Review is written by outside contributors, the medium's available power is apportioned to individual writers who are thus granted a temporary license for wielding it. However, since the journal's publisher and editors retain control over the processes of appointment and apportionment, a reviewer can assimilate a medium's possible power only by constant prominent appearance within its pages (if he does not first get depressed from contemplating the power of these decisions-makers).

[p. 93] The editor of a newspaper has the power to decide what events shall be reported as "news". Unless an event is reported, it is not "news" and has no public existence beyond earshot of those initially present; and what is not news cannot possibly become "history".

(2) Richard Kostelanetz, "The End" Appendix: "Intelligent Writing" Reconsidered Epitomised, Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, NJ 1979.

[Foreword] At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas wqhich it is essential that all right-thinking people will accept without question. ... anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. Agenuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing ... - George Orwell, "The Freedom of the Press" (1945).

[p. 21] Orwell's essay exposes not just government censorship but the more subtle, less visible, and scarcely acknowledged blockage that publishers exercise among themselves ... "The sinister fact about literary censorship in England," Orwell wrote, "is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban"

[p. 25] What follows are several passages from the original manuscript [of The End - ed.] that were cut against my wishes ... p. 14, line 4 ... Norman Podhoretz, as reliable a publicist as any, found "the essence of Judaism in the struggle for universal justice and human brotherhood," making egalitarian idealism seem particularly Jewish. In fact, quite the opposite has been historically true, as Jews have generally favored law over anarchy, exclusivity over democracy, and tradition over change (pr "struggle").

(3) Richard Kostelanetz, "The End" Essentials: "Intelligent Writing" Epitomised, Scarecrow Press, Methuen, NJ 1979 (in the same volume as "The End" Appendix, printed from the back).

[p. 6] A further assumption is that the efforts of a lone writer, like those of an individual voter, count for naught until his lot is allied with that of others. ...The principal deceit of literary politics is the establishment of a system of taste upon non-esthetic criteria. ...

[p. 7] It is obvious that in a state-supported literary society such as Soviet Russia, certain writers and styles are disseminated to the exclusion of others; yet too many of us remain oblivious to similar forces and pressures shaping the public life of American writing today. The pervasive neglect of whole classes of literature suggests the possible existence of a "conspiracy" ... The most sophisticated explanation of this incongruity would probably show how what might seem the result of a "conspiracy" was actually caused by a confluence of attitudes, historical precedents, and initially independent discriminations, all of which combine to function with conspiratorial effectiveness. It is also true that one definition of a "conspiracy" is that all parties act toward a common goal, whether by design or by independent cooperation that is only retrospectively apparent. ...

[p. 20] ... One cannot help suppose that Podhoretz, in issuing his collection, felt that his pretensions to "taste" would withstand close examination, if only because the Jewish-American movement and ideology had indeed succeeded so completely. After all, the clique's promotions were all but unanimously accepted, its essayists had won professorships in major universities (even though some of them lacked doctorates), its books were favorably reviewed and frequently incorporated into university courses, they gave lectures everywhere (an increasingly lucrative enterprise in the sixties), its stars amassed annual incomes well over $50,000 (and all the accoutrements of their economic class), its allies abroad profited from their relationship, its proteges and former students were becoming increasingly powerful in publishing and reviewing media, and a new periodical of the sixties, The New York Review of Books, its name signaling a new fronting epithet, became the movement's most popular organ.

Talents languished, to be sure; very few of the important writers produced in the sixties work that equalled their earlier achievements. As the second and third generations were successively less substantial, Robert Alter could notice, in 1965, that the movement "may be falling into a declining phase of unwitting self-parody." This sense of swelling flaccidity made the Jewish writers especially prone to more aggressive extrinsic literary-politicking, not only to protect terrain already won and to compensate for a diminishing expectation of excellence, but also to extend by capitalistic means certain ambitions that could not be realized solely by literary handiwork. As the most efficient literary machine ever created in America, it had unprecedented power to determine what writing might be taken

[p. 21] seriously and what would be neglected or wiped out. Every serious writer who came of age during the past decade, be he or she Jewish or gentile, eventually became aware of that almightiness.

Perhaps this extravagant success, along with critical scrutinies, will end the reign of false equations - false both to critical judgment and Jewishness. Whereas collective self-inflation could once be rationalized as a necessary minority strategy, it now seems superfluous and obviously self-serving.

If so many of the older generation came from lower-class, immigrant backgrounds and were, therefore, very much concerned with "making it" in the U.S., often confusing literary values with personal and group advance, the younger Jewish writers invariably descend from parents who have already secured a social and economic foothold in America (as did Gertrude Stein, Paul Rosenfeld, Matthew Josephson, Waldo Frank, Lincoln Kirstein, Bennett Cerf, and others before them). These younger intellectuals realize that following their literary inclinations inevitably lowers their station in life - they will earn less than their parents did, spend most of their lives in shabbier neighborhoods and houses, and probably wind up less respected by their communities - and that these expectations must be acknowledged at one's professional beginnings.

In these respects, younger Jewish writers are, needless to say, little different from downwardly mobile gentile writers. Their experience leads them to believe, again in sharp contrast to their elders, that ethnic origin is not especially determining, for what an artist or writer achieves is nine-tenths the result of his own imaginative efforts. "Writers no longer have to feel constrained," as Robert Alter rightly observes, "to betray some part of themselves by masquerading as members of the 'dominant' cultural group in the forms of literary expression they adopt." ...

[p. 22] ... Now that the Jewish literary movement has "made it," some suspect that blacks will be the next minority group to dominate the cultural scene. I think not, for various reasons, one being that Jewish-American writers historically tied the aspirations of certain blacks to their own; so that the acceptance of Jews brought with it, certain hypocrisies notwithstanding, the acceptance of the literary blacks, at least in respectable circles. Not even a black writer as personally prickly as LeRoi Jones could claim that prejudice hindered his literary career. Although the new cultural-political segregation, abetted by evidence (and rumors) of black anti-Semitism, has severed much of this earlier collaboration, there still exist certain "radical" Jewish critics who publicize, as well as rationalize, new developments in "militancy." A further reason is that, in spite of Ralph Ellison's pre-eminence and example, the most currently emergent black writers in America have not yet produced sufficient literary works that are superlative enough to win sustained critical respect. Also, the attempt to revive the "Harlem Renaissance" of the twenties is handicapped by the fact that remarkably few writers were involved and no acknowledged classics were produced. It is also unfortunate that Langston Hughes, who possessed the personal qualities of a master literary politician, died too soon, and no one so adept has since taken his place.

Women writers could well be the next minority to ascend: like literary blacks, they have suffered both blatant discrimination and negative stereotypes, along with the accompanying self deceiving rationalizations, codifying their supposed intellectual ineptitude and cultural inferiority. It is indicative that few literary women in America have had much power apart from the literary men they married. For these reasons, they are also able to exploit an accumulating reservoir of establishment guilt over past prejudice; they have another advantage in the potentially largest literate audience of their own kind. ...

[p. 23] What began in the thirties as a collection of ambitious young writers became, by the sixties, the most powerful establishment ever seen in literary America; and they dominated the scene as it had never been dominated before. Even though all of its chiefs were "Jewish writers", they must have sensed that Semitism per se was becoming, as noted before, a less effective marquee in literary politics, so they took another minority-defining epithet for their collective identity. "The New York intellectuals" they began to call themselves, as most of them lived in and around the City; and this new geographical term capitalized as well upon the mythic cultural authority accorded everything emanating from "New York" (and especially with its imprimatur). Just as the prime new organ of the forties, Commentary, was an avowedly Jewish magazine, so the new periodical of the sixties was christened The New York Review of Books.

Indeed, New York had always been the Jewish-American literary establishment's home, though far, far fewer than all Jewish writers living in New York also resided inside this particular literary onion. Most of the "New York intellectuals" were born and raised there; a good many attended City College in the thirties or Columbia College in the late forties; their magazines were all published in and around New York; and by

[p. 24] the sixties most of these people either taught in local universities or worked in publishing or allied trades and lived on Manhattan's Upper West Side. (Even when teaching in the provinces, they regarded themselves as "New York intellectuals.") ...

Norman Podhoretz, in his autobiographical Making It (1968), compares his colleagues to a large Jewish family - ultimately cohesive, in spite of constant bickering and dissension; but, as shall become clear, the group's purposes and methods, abetted by their vulnerability, make the "mob" metaphor far more appropriate even when informed by irony.

Since the most familiar device for restricting conversation is snobbery, intellectual disputes were customarily conducted wholly within the herd - between its political conservatives (Irving Kristol and Daniel Bell) and its radicals (Howe and Macdonald), its esthetic modernists (Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg) and its artistic reactionaries (Kazin and Rahv) - with all of them generally neglecting or dismissing similar arguments and examples forged outside their immediate corral. The only "American intellectuals" described in their self-conscious polemics were predictably, themselves. Furthermore, they collectively developed the tone of privileged conversation into which the reader, especially of numerous self-

[p. 25] symposia, supposedly felt gratified to be admitted. Nonetheless, such symposia, along with their resulting debates, constitute not intellectual history, which has higher standards, but the social history of "intellectuals," in addition to an awful lot of journalistic make-work.

The strongest "critical" energies were devoted to the elitist task of separating intellectual culture, especially their own, from lowbrow and middlebrow. They emphasized artistic standards while denigrating their moral superiors and ethics while criticizing their esthetic betters, thus underscoring their own artistic incomprehensions. From this exclusionary impulse came the custom of dismissing as "cultish" all those cultural reputations prevalent outside their immediate circle. (Only by such double standards could William S. Burroughs' eminence be "cultish" and Saul Bellow's not.) For that reason, too, they consistently disparaged the professional integrity of other writers and magazines, especially those belonging to competitive establishments. "The fact that writers co-operate and collaborate with its editorial standards," wrote Delmore Schwartz in 1950, "does not lessen but rather illustrates the extent of The New Yorker's power." The same charge could be leveled at the mob magazines and their lesser writers. From this elitism also stems the characteristic mob posture (which has long outlived its reality) of dramatizing itself as an embattled minority, along with the tendency to fabricate inappropriate dichotomies (then taking "a position" behind one of them), as well as for portraying themselves as the last independents, even while screaming in chorus.

These New York writers opportunely filled a fortuitous vacuum in literary power caused by a major war (in which, unlike the Vietnam conflict, literary people actually served) - much as the young writers of the twenties had capitalized upon a comparable vacuum. (As Malcolm Cowley noted of his own contemporaries: "We started to publish in the postwar years, when our youth was a moral asset. People seemed to feel that an older generation had let the world go to ruin, and they hoped a new one might redeem it")

By this point it should become clear that even "ideological" disputes within the mob often mask literary power plays where ideas and issues represent not insights or intelligence, but either imprisonment in one's own intellectual history or an investment in one's writing career. Though politics usually provided the

[p. 26] divisive issues in the mob's history, most of its polemicists were more interested in attitudinizing, reputation-deflating, position-taking or literary-politicking than in political philosophy or extended sociological analysis. As a result, none of these "intellectuals," though mostly Marxist, made any definitive contributions to Marxist theory or criticism.

Intellectual differences notwithstanding, by the middle fifties members of the New York literary mob learned how their individual reputations were intermingled with its collective destiny and vice versa. Not only did individuals recognize common causes and attend crowded parties at which, though quarrels were common, collective solidarity was reaffirmed, but they also endeavored to mention each other's names and works whenever possible - mob-rolling, so to speak. As each other's best press agents, they developed one flair for sponsoring well-promoted public symposia with themselves as the starring panelists and another for getting an increasingly larger public interested in their personal histories and conflicts, which were both intramural and interpersonal. As New Yorkers, rather than San Franciscans, they were, like professional athletes on New York teams, more likely to be noticed and publicized by the New York - based national media.

Even though bickering among them was as common and passionate as that within the real Mafia, there was a slmilarly overriding sense of collective interest in their dealings with the larger world, and that double perspective accounts for those peculiar reversals - love-hate feelings - that inform their comments about each other. Those who won great success with cultural publics or authorities outside the mob were subject to envious criticism from within; but since they and only they, as elitists, were "qualified" to review each other in public print, the same people subject to criticism from within would nonetheless be vehemently defended from and against outside attack. The spoils of bourgeois success overcame the Bohemian penchants for artistic impracticality, intellectual integrity, and social disengagement, and though they still liked to think of themselves as an "intelligentsia," their life-style and incomes already made them squarely middle-class. They accepted, if not echoed, the modern writers' critique of contemporary civilization as easily as they surrounded themselves with its encumbrances, such "paradoxes" being both the root and the symptom of further hypocrisies.

[p. 27] By this time too, it became clear that Lionel Trilling had become the closest semblance of a chief this disparate tribe had - or, as Podhoretz testifies, "in fact, the family's single most influential member in the 1950's." As the first Jewish professor of English at Columbia since Spingarn early in the century, Tilling had a position respected by all, even if begrudgingly. ...

[p. 88] In Commentary, as in other New York literary-mob publications, nearly all contributors think within a framework of intellectual explanation established by Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, the two patriarchs of the Jewish intelligensia ...

If there are only two separate cultures today, the distinct dividing line runs between the intellectual moderns and the conservatives, between those who think the present differs so radically from the past that equally new ideations are essential, and those who think the old notions and thought-patterns should still be our predominant guide.


The early Soviet Union - after Lenin and Trotsky, but before Stalin's ascendancy: soviet-union-early.html.

Making sense of Stalin: stalin.html.

The Communist movement was irretrievably split by the Trotsky/Stalin divide. Jewish communists, over time, moved increasingly to the Trotsky camp, with its ambivalence about the Soviet Union. At first they were inclined to preserve it - hopefully with Trotsky back at the helm. Later they turned against it. Some co-operated with the CIA, and the CIA used them to drive a fatal wedge into the Communist camp: cia-infiltrating-left.html.

Communism has "fallen", yet it seems to reign in our universities and courts. Open Borders, Gay Marriage, Political Correctness ... these are the signs. The secret: what has fallen is Stalinism; that's all.

In its place, the New Left largely dominates our culture: new-left.html.

The above books by Kostelanetz are difficult to obtain. The author's site is

Write to me at contact.html.