We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Berman recounts his travels through the campus travails of the 60s and the adolescent foolishnesses of the "New Left", under the mentorship of the wise sociologist and ex-socialist Daniel Bell:
Now all this was fairly idiotic. Nothing is more bovine than a student movement, with the uneducated leading the anti-educated and mooing all the way. I'm glad to recall, looking back at those times, that my own radical activities pretty much avoided the student custom of persecuting the professors. I was much too fascinated by them to want to rail against them, except now and then. Besides, the anti-intellectual atmosphere began to weigh a little heavy on the bookish students. Hofstadter, in his study of American anti-intellectualism, had already put his finger on these moods and fads, as if predicting the uprising at his own university. And so I can understand, in restrospect, why Bell chose to flee Morningside Heights. To be sure, though, the student uprisings spread to Cambridge, too. There was no escape.
Berman's pal Szymanski lost persepctive on what was going on, while Berman took his own path through ideological mazes:
My own response to the Columbia strike and its revolutionary offshoots differed from Szymanski's almost entirely. The fervor for Marxism-Leninism in its several variations dismayed me from the start. The conservative Bolshevik instinct on cultural matters struck me as absurd. And so I rebelled against the rebels, and I did this by veering off in anarchist and anti-Communist directions—which always seemed to me truer to the original spirit of the New Left. I mentioned this to Bell, and he told me that he too had come under an anarchist influence as a kid. He had known the New York group around the German emigré anarchist Rudolf Rocker, and because of those connections he had come across an early exposé of Soviet tyranny by Alexander Berkman. Berkman's pamphlet had inoculated Bell against any temptation to join so many others of his generation in venerating the Soviet revolution.
He quotes Bell's powerful observation:
"Among the radical, as among the religious minded," he wrote, "there are the once born and the twice born. The former is the enthusiast, the ‘sky-blue healthy-minded moralist' to whom sin and evil—the ‘soul's mumps and measles and whooping coughs,' in Emerson's phrase—are merely transient episodes to be glanced at and ignored in the cheerful saunter of life. To the twice born, the world is ‘a double-storied mystery' which shrouds the evil and renders false the good; and in order to find truth, one must lift the veil and look Medusa in the face."
Read the entire piece in BookForum - it's a piece of school-yard history which has attracted far more attention than it deserves, and Berman seems to agree.