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“People sometimes call me a ‘public intellectual,’” Scott McLemee once wrote, “which is probably a euphemism — a polite way around the fact that I have no degrees, no institutionally recognizable field of specialization and, indeed, no credentials of any kind.”

Scott McLemee CreditJoe Ciardiello

But what this old-school independent critic, who discovered punk rock, poststructuralist theory and Marxist politics as a teenager in Wills Point, Tex., does have is hundreds of bylines everywhere from major newspapers to “tiny left-wing publications, none of them ever read by anybody.” This week, McLemee — who writes the weekly Intellectual Affairs column for the Web site Insidehighered.com — reviews Eric Alterman’s “Why We’re Liberals.”

So, is he a liberal? “Maybe in Richard Rorty’s sense of being someone who believes that cruelty is the worst thing possible,” McLemee said in an e-mail message. “But otherwise, no. I’m a socialist of some not very doctrinaire kind — my outlook being a stew of influences from people like C. L. R. James, C. Wright Mills, Irving Howe and Ellen Willis.” He also mentions Phyllis Jacobson and her husband, Julius, now deceased, of the old Independent Socialist League of the 1940s and ’50s. “Ten years ago, I would go out to Brooklyn and listen with awe as Julie talked about meeting up with the French Trotskyists in Paris when he was there as a G.I. in 1944. Talk about the greatest generation!”

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Review

very one, nowadays, who knows anything about ancient litera tures and ancient creeds, knows the exceptional interest belonging to the Hindu Veda, both as a literary and as a religious monument. Al

most every one, too, knows the difficulty of entering this great mine of primeval thought and belief, ? from which, it is true, many treasures of golden ore have been brought to day, but which has never been

thrown fully open to the explorer. With its exploration the name of Professor Muller has for long years been closely and conspicuously

connected; and now that we have from his hand the beginning of a translation, and a fully annotated translation, or traduction raisonnee, as he styles it, of the Veda, it cannot be otherwise than important to se