tional values”; and finally, that in looking for solutions wenmust take a long view that recognizes the wisdom of ournancestors and considers the needs of future generations.nIn an article in The American Spectator (November ’86),nChester Finn describes the project’s goals as “unexceptionable”nand attempts to put meat on the bones and musclesnprovided by Weyrich and Lind. Finn, an assistant secretarynof education, lists 10 cardinal tenets with correspondingnactions to be undertaken by the nation’s educational systems.nRecognition of our common cultural tradition requires,nfor example, the transmission of .”cultural literacy”nin the schools; since democracy is “the best form ofngovernment known to man,” we must “stop teaching thatnall political systems are equally legitimate”; and since ourncommon culture is symbolized by heroes and holidays,nschoolchildren must be taught to “understand why wenobserve Independence Day, Memorial Day, Martin LuthernKing’s birthday, and Easter.”nMost of what Finn had to say is, to use his own word,n”unexceptionable,” especially coming from a Departmentnof Education employee. Some conservatives, however,nstuck at the elevation of democracy to a first principle.nMuch of the Old Right had been explicitly elitist. Innaddition to European Catholics like Thomas Molnar andnErick von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, most traditionalist writersnhad celebrated the virtues of order, stability, and indeednaristocracy. The cult of democracy does not, after all,ninclude among its worshipers Irving Babbitt or T.S. Eliot,nAlbert Jay Nock or Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk or JamesnBurnham. Indeed, the editor of TAS has been derided (innThe New Republic) for insisting on the term republic. Angreat deal of mischief—New Deals and Five Year Plansn—has been done in democracy’s name, and conservativesnwere supposed to be providing a sort of loyal oppositionn—republican or elitist—to the spirit of the age.nEven more to the point was William Hawkins’ responsenin a letter to TAS (February ’87):nThe U.S. is a democracy and conservatives mustnwork within it. However, democracy merely definesnthe political arena in which elites battie for thenpower to advance their agendas. Democracy is notnitself one of the values for which conservatives enternthe arena. . . . Democracy is not a necessaryncondition for cultural conservatism, nor will it bynnature advance conservatism. On the contrary,ndemocracy can only work if conservative values arenso deeply engrained that they will guide thenmajority in a responsible exercise of its power.nIn most quarters, this would have been received as annunimpeachable statement of the conservative position,nfrom an economist who has written for Chronicles andnNational Review and had his work quoted in the Wall Streetnjournal. Assistant Secretary Finn’s curt rejoinder had anvaguely inquisitional ring;nAnyone who doesn’t start with a deep and abidingnaffection for and belief in democracy has nonstanding, in my view, to participate in thenconversations about “cultural conservatism”—ornabout much else!nBut an open discussion on these questions is precisely whatnis essential, if cultural conservatism is to get past first base,nand it is the neoconservative Finn’s willingness to debatenon Weyrich’s own New Right turf that gives the project itsnair of excitement. (Norman Podhoretz, another neoconservative,nhas also commented on the project, in a newspaperncolumn.)nTo their credit, the framers of the draft “Cultural Conservatism:nA New National Agenda” are remarkably open to anvariety of viewpoints. Lind is a sort of “neoliberal” Democrat,nand his chief collaborator is the Old Right CatholicnWilliam Marshner. On specific questions of policy, thenBut the revolutionaries who have been reconstructingnsociety since the 1790’s are not misguided defenders ofncivihzation: They loathe our cultural traditions andnmoral principles precisely because they are the bulwarksnand foundation of everything the revolutionaries seek tondestroy: the family, individual freedom andnresponsibility, social stability.ndraft is solid, especially on family issues. We might dienhappy if either party incorporated these prescriptions into itsnplatform. The draft agenda even lashes out against thenelevation of “procedural values” like equality or the freenmarket over traditional moral principles, but beyond detailsnit is hard to find a quarrel between Finn and Weyrich’sngroup. Both agree that the creation and dissemination of ancultural ideology is a legitimate government activity. Allnappear to believe that such an ideology can be devisednwithout insisting on any religious or metaphysical foundation.nLind, for example, declares that his creed “does notnrequire anyone to believe traditional values are truenabsolutely, that they derive from God, from natural law, ornfrom some other source outside secular human experience.nIt asserts only that Western culture is functionally true.”nBut it is in the metaphysics of culture that problems beginnto emerge. In what sense can any culture be described asntrue, much less functionally true? If we speak of the culturenof the Navaho or the Nuer, we would never dream of sayingnit is true or false, but the cultural conservatives take ancuriously idealistic view of culture as “the ways of thinking,nliving and behaving that sustain a people and underlie itsnachievements … a nation’s collective mind, its sense ofnright and wrong, the way it perceives reality, and itsndefinition of self.” While this sort of definition might do forna cognitive anthropologist or a disciple of George Berkeley,nit will never do as the basis of a bread-and-butter politicalnmovement. “It’s all in the mind, yuh know” is the Beatles’nversion of reality, not—one had thought—the conservativentradition. Early anthropologists did, it is true, includenknowledge and beliefs in their definition of culture, butnthey also included the more concrete manifestations of artnand law. Since it is virtually impossible to know what a mannreally believes, cultural anthropologists had to concentratenon folk tales, codes of behavior, kinship systems, andnartifacts. The rules of etiquette and literary forms are morenpalpable than mere beliefs. Our neighbor’s moral views arennnJULY 1987/9n