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.
Marxism was not the only thing that Trilling (by way of Eliot) called into question. He challenged liberalism as well. Totalitarianism, Eliot had said, was inherently "pagan," for it recognized no authority or principle but that of the state. And liberalism, far from providing an alternative to paganism, actually contained within itself the seeds of paganism, in its materialism and relativism. Only Christianity, Eliot argued--the "Idea" of Christianity, not its pietistic or revivalist expressions--could resist totalitarianism, because only Christianity offered a view of man and society that promoted the ideal of "moral perfection" and "the good life." "I am inclined," Trilling quoted Eliot, "to approach public affairs from the point of view of the moralist."
Trilling hastened to qualify his endorsement of Eliot in "Elements That Are Wanted"; he did not believe morality was absolute or a "religious politics" desirable. But Eliot's vision of morality and politics was superior to the vision of liberals and radicals, who had contempt for the past and worshiped the future. Liberals, in the name of progress, put off the realization of the good life to some indefinite future; radicals put off the good life in the expectation of a revolution that would usher in not only a new society but also a new man, a man who would be "wholly changed by socialism."
Marxism was especially dangerous, Trilling found, because it combined "a kind of disgust with humanity as it is and a perfect faith in humanity as it is to be."
A "new man" was all the rage for those who wanted me to be just like they weren't - but who wanted people like me to become some subservient but heroic prole they fantasized about. They were just the new version of the same "old men" of history - self-anointed for "virtue" and "wisdom," and seeking power and perks on our backs and on our nickel while they spun their grand theories. I think they forgot that proles like me learned to read in the meantime.
The equally-great Jacques Barzun was out of that same mold: dignified, formal, remote, but willing to give you two chances to prove that you weren't a complete idiot and just an educated fool. No tolerance for fools, and these guys had a radar for glib assertions, shallow sentiment, and cant - and for out-of-context quotes. Academic boot camp is what these guys offered you.