Editor: I do not always assent to inferences drawn in his commentaries by Professor Henry Srebrnik. Given, however, that I see current day capitalism as on seeming cruise control, with only nominal opposition from a so-called "critical" intelligentsia, I think that Srebrnik is spot-on in his August 28 piece, "The 'Grand Bargain' between left and right in America." In this connection, he identifies the 1980s as a trading-off period in American society in which capitalism, which had long shown the historical capacity to not only withstand but also to incorporate predictable dissent, managed to co-opt the left-intelligentsia by ceding to them the area most precious to them, i.e., "culture and education" and the driving of "…historical narrative."
To this extent, the so-called "culture wars" of the 1990s can now be seen as an inevitable squabble over territoriality, a squabble that the left was ill prepared to contest.
The upshot is that the much vaunted "narrative" of the left fails to resonate with, let alone compel, the general public for which left-liberals had hitherto claimed to speak.
The present-day left, being all about "narrative," does not connect with the unwashed and uninitiated workaday public which is now under exceeding duress. Moreover, what rocks today's world everywhere is American pop-culture, the culture of the "reality show." The day of the left-liberal intellectual being positioned above the cultural fray and passing judgment upon it has been eclipsed by culture on demand, as in supply and demand. Culture is now as subject as anything else to an all-consuming marketplace.
Whatever the reasons, to a seemingly increasing number of the "unvarnished" public, left-liberal intellectualism strikes them as supercilious and therefore devoid of the empathy that this strain of intellectualism has long claimed for itself.
W. Gordon Worth,