ON THE SHELF
OUR SIDE IS RIGHT, by Ralph Barton Perry.
The recent conflict over John Steinbeck's "The Moon Is Down" found opponents of the book attacking the "our side is right and is thus bound to win" point of view. Mr. Perry's new book is, in a sense, an attempt to answer this criticism.
"Our side is right," Mr. Perry argues, but it will win only if its adherents are also its champions. And they will be champions only if they fully comprehend the rightness of the cause for which they are fighting. Moral relativism--one man's opinion is as good as anyone else's--is attacked as an enemy weapon which will weaken the democratic front.
That Mr. Perry is working to answer the critics of what might be termed the "intellectual" school is obvious throughout his book. At one point he drags in part of an article by Bill Cunningham in which the Herald columnist takes a snipe at "those mighty minds" who "do the heavy thinking, while somebody else does the heavy fighting." To get the most out of a man, Professor Perry asserts, you must enlist his reason and his conscience as well as "his viscera and blistering hands." This means keeping the ultimate goal of a just peace in mind, as well as the immediate goal of victory.
At best, Mr. Perry has given us a reasonable argument for the preservation of thought relating to our goals and objectives. Perhaps it is the fault of the times, but such an argument rings academically hollow. We have already agreed--our side is right--but it will remain as a side at all only if the "blistering hands and viscera" continue to work side by side with the ideas of the world to come.