Reay Tannahill: Sex in History;nStein & Day; New York.nA prodigious research andncompilation effort apparentlynwent into producing this volume,nbut the result is —all toldn— boring. Somehow, this seemsnincompatible with the subjectnitself, but lately so much tediumnhas been thrust into things sexualnthat it would be rather unfairnto hold it against the authornor to blame her for failing to usensome originality of approach;nthis is where so many before hernhave proved themselves deficient.nMs. Tannahill brings tonthe panorama of carnal activitiesnthroughout the ages a banalnfeminist slant which hardly enlivensnher narration. She is list­ned on the dust jacket as a highlynsuccessful historian of food andneating habits, which may havensomewhat handicapped her ventureninto a realm where sensualitynis subject to impulses morencomplex than snacks and digestion.n”Strip human history downnto essentials, and it becomesnclear that there are only two—nfood and sex …” maintains thenblurb. We don’t believe that. Tonour mind, the ideas about both,nhow to get them and what to donwith them, among other factors,nmake human history—andndistinguish us from simians.nBut Ms. Tannahill seems unablento conceive of this subtlendifference, and that’s whatnmakes her book so meager, itsnsize notwithstanding. DnEditOr^S Comment continued from page 5nimplementations of Rousseau’s ideas. To a conservative, eachnof these violates some norm of existence^ mankind’s mostnreliable regulator of values which were perfected throughnmillennia of civilization. The conservative principle is antireductionist:nman should never be simplified, lest we impoverishnhis humanness. Conversely, the conservative’s adversariesnin today’s America seek happiness in simplification,nand at the same time accuse the conservative of simplism.n6.nJ. he Democratic Party, which embodies the liberal, anticonservativenattitudes in the sociopolitical arena, consistentlynassures Americans in the lower walks of life that it isnon their side. It’s not a hollow declaration when particularitiesnof a social condition—like work, wages, communalnarrangements and special group interests—are in focus.nBut man’s social condition is only one part of his existence;nlarger stakes are inherent in what must be termed the humanncondition. And here, the conservative is on the people’snside. Human dignity, to a conservative, means a permanentnvalue, one whose societal guarantees transcend concern fornone union settlement, or one economic compromise, or onenpolitical solution. Social conscience, which a liberal oftennconfuses with pity, is a deeply indwelling ingredient of thenconservative principle: to a conservative, it means a sensenof responsibility for man and society. This is why a con-nnnservative is so appalled by the tag of social conscience whichnis today so insouciantly pinned to the lapels of those vs^ho sonnonchalantly ruin other people’s lives by dispensing fraudulent,nready-to-wear concoctions for how to live. The conservativenthinks twice, or thrice, before telling people how theynmust be. He has social conscience.nIn spite of his cliche image, so flippantly distributed by thenofficial liberal culture, he and none other today representsnreason, moderation, courtesy, pluralism, toleration, broadmindedness,nattention to the needs of the needy—in othernwords, progress, enlightenment and antidogmatism. To many,nthis may sound like an insolent paradox. But to prove such antheorem, all one need do is to look into national magazines,nwatch Hollywood movies, read literary journals—all pillarsnof the morals and manners which have been constructed bynthose who swear to their anticonservative principle. Whatnone sees will be a panorama of anticonservative thought,nconduct, mores which correlate with toleration, reason,ncourtesy and broadmindedness as well as freedom of thenpress correlates with the press’s truthfulness.n7.nJL he slogan “justice for the oppressed and exploited!”nhas proved to be history’s most successful proposition. Itsnseductiveness always was, and still is, rooted in the powernof the idealistic melodrama, the poetry of altruism. Ourncapacity to be mobilized by this motto remains mankind’snsupreme blessing.nYet justice for the oppressed and exploited has never becomena reality. Only in America, of all places, has it evennbeen approximated, perhaps because it was never too assiduouslynsought here, not too overtly preached—at least notnuntil rather recently, the last century or so. This is exactlynwhen it began to lose its real significance, for, too rigidlynenforced—as has been proved in other countries—the redressnand improveraent of justice for a few oppressed andnexploited almost immediately results in the oppression andnexploitation of others.nSo it looks like the prosperity of the catchword has littlento do with its implementation. However, if we measure thenslogan’s success—not by realizing its semantic content, butnby another standard—the phrase has been wildly successful.nIts moving force has resulted in more crimes, follies, sorrows,nhardships, vices and chaos than have been caused by anyndeliberately vile design registered by history. This noblenimpulse to alleviate misery has proved itself to be a surefirengenerator of public suffering.nThe conservative principle is firmly welded to the suspicionnthat changing social arrangements may be quite perverselynrelated to the improvement, or even alteration, ofnthe human condition. What is certain, and has so often beennconfirmed by recorded events (Oh, Mr. de Tocqueville!) isnAnSeptember/October 1980n