Faulkner was not optimistic. “We knew it once, had it oncenOnly, something happened to us.” The farmers who could notncomprehend accepting a payment from the government notnto grow cotton were anachronistic, even in the 1930’s, even innMississippi. We no longer “believed in liberty and freedomnand independence, as the old fathers in the old strong, dangerousntimes had meant it.”nX he materialist view of democracy has gained morenground since Faulkner spoke. Many would even argue todaynthat America is actually^ewwerf upon rejection of the sacramentalnview, as if the Founding Fathers’ unwillingness to statena preference among Christian denominations was equivalentnto a rejection of Christianity. As a society, we act as if we believenthat the health of the commonwealth consists of things thatncan be counted—^the GNP, the growth rate, the unemploymentnrate. But the social organism, like the human, can give off goodnvital signs and still be despairing unto death. Does economicngrowth always mean abetter life for our citizens? Possibly, butnso fer as one can tell from public discussion it is an independentnand eternal value. We are even told that it is our unavoidablenfate to admit millions of foreigners to take their places asnfactors of production and consumption. It is not worth asking,napparently, whether this “growth” will be of actual benefit tonour citizens. Beyond that, if, in the process of economicngrowth, our culture turns into something other than what wenwant, then that is seen as merely an unfortunate byproduct.nOur national defense is a question only of material means—nmore money, a better defense; less money, a poorer defense. Itndoes not seem relevant to ask what we are defending andnwhether we have the guts to do it: it is all a question of means.nThe soldier willing to die for his country is identical to thenmercenary; the leader of dash and course is interchangeablenwith the military bureaucrat—^after all, they receive the samentraining and are paid the same salaries. A society that has anspirimal certainty that its existence is worth defending regardsnthe question of means as merely subsidiary, instrumental. Ansociety that, on the other hand, believes it can purchase itsndefense with money alone is already so fer out of touch withnreality that its survival is in doubt. So is the society that believesnits defense to be a question simply of eflSciency in thenuse of material means. Such a society is suffering from thenmaterialist delusion that it can ignore the terrible contingencynof human fate and the need to strive for courage and wisdom.nThe same delusion suggests that by relieving a man’s materialnwants you make him virtuous. It might, indeed, in somencases help, but the formula is misleading. If, in so doing, younsucceed also in convincing him—^and others—^that they neednno longer strive for virtue, then you have undermined thenpossibility of a commonwealth in which either prosperity ornvirtue can flourish. Further, such utilitarian assumptions arenbound to work against the individual liberty that the Declarationn• IDEOLOGY & OUR DAILY BREAD •nand Faulkner referred to; they are bound to lead to collectivism.nFaulkner quoted a maxim of an Irish statesman which saidnthat God granted man liberty only on the condition of eternalnvigilance, “which condition, if he break it, servitude is thenconsequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” Anchild I know wrote the President that in order to save fuel henshould make everyone ride horses. From the materialist perspectiventhat pervades our society the youngster was completelynlogical and public-spirited. His iimocent ignorance ofnthe coercion that would be required to implement his suggestionnwas no different from the ignorance that marks most ofnour social policy. A well-known scientist recently declarednthat “we” have the technology to solve the problem of worldwidenhunger and that therefore “we must” do so. He assumes,nalas, that it is merely a question of means. If his hope is onlynthat the demonstration of available means will enlighten mankindnand allow it to save itseff from hunger, then I applaudnhim, though I think he is mistaken. For how will he deal withncommunism and its planned hunger, or with those societiesnfor which the solution to hunger is to receive perpetual aidnfrom others? But tf he means by his assertion that some collectivenAmerican “we” should undertake to solve the world’snproblem, then I regard him as a social enemy. I can see whatnsuch a materialist fentasy will mean to an American workingmannwho is not hungry but who is strained to pay for his family’snmedical needs, for the gas he needs to get to a place tonearn a living, and for a neighborhood where his children willnbe safe—^his last neighborhood having been ruined by thensame people who propose that it is his duty to save the worldnfrom hunger.nM. do not wish to draw from all this, and I do not thinknFaulkner intended to draw from it, primarily the conclusionnthat the free market is preferable to the collectivist state,nalthough that is true. The free marketplace is a pillar of prosperitynand a prop to republican liberty. However, I thinknFaulkner meant that we have our priorities reversed. We arenputting the instrument before the spfrit. The market does notnguarantee vfrtue. It does not guarantee anything exceptnperhaps a chance to make the most of what nature and ournparents gave us. To the contrary, our virtue, won over andnover again in daily struggle, is a necessary precondition for thenfree market. To ignore this is not merely a mistake; it poses anperil that, in our confusion of values, we will lose both ournliberty and our daily bread. Yet to ignore it is exactly whatnAmerica does—at least at the level of public discussion andndecision, while many of us, mercifully, still continue to observenmoral reality as we plow our humble furrows.n—Clyde WilsonnDr. Wilson is editor o/The Papers of John C. Calhoun.nnnOnMay 1983n