Catholic Moments

Patrick Allitt's study of Catholic intellectuals and their relationship to postwar conservatism is clearly presented and full of stimulating perceptions. Basic to this book is the contrast between two generations of American Catholic thinkers with some connection to the right: the generation of the 50's as typified by the Catholic anticommunists grouped around National Review and the generation of the 70's and 80's as represented by Michael Novak, Garry Wills, and—at least by intention—Thomas Molnar and John Lukacs. Though the reader may occasionally lose sight of the main theme through the superabundance of biographical sketches, the author's argument holds together all the same. Allitt demonstrates to what extent anticommunism provided the ideological entry point into American national culture for devout Catholics in the postwar years. He correctly points out that what separated conservative and liberal Catholic intellectuals of the 50's was the intensity of their anticommunism, not the question of who was or was not anticommunist. Allitt also suggests that the pro-capitalist stance of many Catholic conservatives was derivative of their hatred of "godless communism" as the enemy of the West: since the anti-Christian communists were socialists as well. Catholic anticommunists became freemarketeers, exaggerating the openings to a market economy that they claimed to find in antisocialist...

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