I've been cleaning out a lot of stuff recently, including the January 1975 Progressive, which I had been holding onto for its investigation of food monopolies.  (The self-styled progressives are worked up about exactly the same thing today.  No more Soviet Union but reactionary middle eastern regimes.  Global economic development is still about making more people poor.  Concentration in the food business is not in the public interest -- now-a-days advanced genetic modification is the latest way of enhancing profits despite making the food cheaper and more plentiful.)

In the book review section, Charles Kadushin's The American Intellectual Elite, which has collectible status these days, gets reviewed.
Sociologist Charles Kadushin has done the impossible: he has surveyed, quantified, and dissected America's intellectual elite.  He has accomplished this by rather narrowly defining the animal, taking the leading writers for influential intellectual journals such as the New York Review of Books, Commentary, The Nation, Partisan Review, and others, including, of course, The Progressive, and then interviewing and surveying these 110 leading intellectuals.  Kadushin discovered some interesting facts.  The intellectuals, while sympathetic to a rather abstractly defined socialism as a means of organizing society, are quite pragmatic in their suggestions for American society.  The opposition of the intellectuals to the Vietnam war (the study was made in 1970-72) stemmed, for the most part, from pragmatic rather than idealistic reasons.  Most intellectuals are strong liberals, a few are moderate radicals, and a few are conservatives.  They are mainly based in New York City, and they tend to talk mainly to themselves.  One might quibble with the rather narrow definition Kadushin has used for his study, but the book is without question a valuable one.  Although written by a professional social scientist, the book is admirably readable.
First, we have the emergence of concentration.  In 1975, there are about 225 million Americans, yet 110 do most of the serious chin-pulling.  In those days, it's not surprising that Pauline Kael could have a social circle in which nobody voted for Richard Nixon.

Second, we have the emergence of competition in the marketplace of ideas.  Commentary had not yet crossed over.  The review does not mention whether any National Review writers were among the 110.  Reason and The Alternative (now The American Spectator) were start-ups.

And we now have the Internet.  Anyone with a keyboard and a logon can play at being a public intellectual.  The New York set may still interact only with itself, but there is now countervailing power.

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