COMMENTn(continued from page 5Jnfor persistent social and moral leveling,nreflect a world view that has come tonpermeate popular culture. Its conduitsnhave been the media, mainline churchesnand middlebrow literature. The liberalnoutlook has caught on, among othernreasons, because of its appeal to moralnconcern and egalitarian fervor withinna residually religious democratic society.nLiberal teachings which began asnthe monopoly of Agnew’s “effete snobs”neventually became the mark of “morallynsensitive individuals,” obsessivelynashamed of racism, sexism and othernvestiges of an allegedly unjust, nonegalitariannpast.nI believe the Moral Majority has beenneffective because of its own egalitariannappeal. While liberals preach equalitynin license and emphasize humanity’snsensual-material nature, the Moral Majorityninsists upon equality in virtuenand seeks to impose upon all Americansnequal spiritual obligations. Accordingnto Montesquieu, it is virtue which holdsnrepublics together, just as it is honornwhich cements aristocracy and legalitynwhich supports monarchy. Althoughnthe Moral Majority may exalt the spiritnof material acquisitiveness, as Dr.nThompson convincingly shows, itsnstrong card remains republican virtue.nNor is it historically relevant whethernits arguments are rough around thenedges. What counts is that large segmentsnof our democratic citizenry demandnthat we exchange an equality ofnlifestyles for shared virtue and patrioticncommitment. The Moral Majority hasnbeen an effective catalyst in bringingnabout this change. Conservative intellectualsnmay lament the so-called counterculturalnannihilation of norms asneloquently as Dr. Thompson does, yetnwithout the Falwells of this world ournprotest would have little popular impact.nxhis brings me to my last point,nwhich is Hegel’s perception of the cunningnof history. Hegel notes, like manynothers, that Biblical Providence frequentlynachieves Its ends through improbablenmeans. The Old Testament revealsnthe divine law through a stutter-ning Moses amidst a formerly servilennation. In the New Testament, Paulnrepeatedly associates universal redemptionnwith “the scandal of the Cross.”nThese paradoxes are meant to test humannfaith, to demonstrate the sovereigntynof Providence, to exemplify Itsnpower to extract good from even thenlowliest or least plausible source. Innsecular history Hegel observed a similarnprinciple at work. Out of self-servingnpassions comes human good; outnof personal suffering springs culturalnbetterment; and, finally, out of small,nunnoticed changes occur momentousnbreaks with the past. Hegel identifiednthis transforrhational power with thencunning of the World Spirit in history;nand this, he believed, could never benentirely grasped by the human mind.nSuch an idea may be partly therapeuticnfor Tory critics of the Moral Majority.nThat conservative men of letters have notnbeen the ones to kindle the moral firenwhich is currently displacing liberal permissivenessnshould sober rather thannirritate us. Things are changing becausenof the private grievances, wounded pridenand personal hopes of countless millions.nThe results of these changes maynnot always please an advocate of moderationnor one who, like Dr. Thompson,ncraves the juste milieu. But few if anynsignificant historical changes have transpirednin accordance with the GoldennMean— in doing our sums it may be help-nnnful to keep this in mind.nThe Virginian farmer, whom Dr.nThompson describes as outraged bynthe alien values impinging on his life,nmay sense better than does any intellectualnthe cultural ferment of our time.nNot well-honed logic but brokenndreams, human frustration and challengednsocial instincts are producingnthe present widespread passion for oldntruths. Intellectuals may assist thenmovement which this passion has engendered,nbut they have no real powernto control it. At most they can advisenor admonish the spokesmen for a moralnforce that has become culturally effectivenwithout them. I personally have nonquarrel with this state of affairs. ThenMoral Majoritarians have made culturalninroads in spite of the revulsion ofnAmerica’s intellectual establishment.nTheir New Right allies continue to winnelections in the teeth of venomous academicnand journalistic opposition. LikenDr. Thompson, I would like Heavennand more: in this case, conservativenvictories being won by witty, elegantnmen bearing a stylistic affinity to, say,nMetternich or Disraeli. But I won’t holdnmy breath until this happens. I am toonbusy rejoicing that our country has notncome unglued as quickly as I oncenfeared. And I thank the Moral Majoritynfor helping to forestall this grimndissolution. Despite their uncouthness.nMoral Majoritarians are impressingnupon our countrymen their moral andnmilitary obligations. In view of thisnsuccess, I can only marvel at still anotherninstance of the cunning of history.n—Paul GottfriednDr. Gottfried is an historian and a seniorneditor 0/Modern Age.n^ H H i ^ ^ H ^ H o OnXovcmbcr/ December 1981n