8/CHRONICLESnPERSPECTIVEnCULTURAL CONSERVATION by Thomas FlemingnAfew years back, when the air was fresh and the worldnwas new, some of us thought that the election ofnRonald Reagan was only the beginning of the beginning ofn”morning in America.” It is a common mistake. Somendecades have an identity for those who set their mark uponnthem. In periods like the I890’s, the I920’s, and the I960’s,nwhile most people went about their business of working,nliving, and dying, if you were a decadent poet in London, anstockbroker or novelist in New York, a student at Berkeley,nMadison, or Columbia, it was an age of gold. Some truenbelievers manage to keep the faith right up till the end: Thenbest social critic of the counterculture, Philip Slater,npublished his New Age prophecy—The Pursuit of Loneliness—nin 1970, and there are conservatives who, at thisnvery minute, are planning the last phase of their coupnd’etat.nIt is hardly likely. For all the great successes of thenadministration, the important fact remains that the enemynis still in undisputed possession of the major institutions thatnnncontrol the formation of attitudes and the building ofncharacter: churches, schools, “the arts,” the press are allnenemy territory. Students may rebel, for a time, as studentsndo; they may vote Republican or support the draft to spitentheir graybeard professors; but in the end most will benreabsorbed into the radicalized mainstream of Americannculture.nThe great successes of American conservatism beforenReagan were due to the intellectual or imaginative power ofna few outstanding men. Something happens to a studentnwho has read Witness or The Conservative Mind or seennMr. Buckley in debate. An aspiring writer or intellectualnwho has learned to appreciate Frost and Eliot and AndrewnLytic has taken the first steps toward committing treasonnagainst the regime. In the heat of the moment, manynconservatives have forgotten that their real source ofnstrength did not lie in resentment against the welfare state ornthe million and one little pamphlets on SDI or CentralnAmerica that are choking the U.S. Postal System. Undernthe thumb of President Joe Biden, we shall have the leisurento remember.nIt is a good sign that some conservatives at Hillsdale, ISI,nand The Heritage Foundation have been taking stock.nRecent issues of Modern Age and Policy Review havenincluded trenchant reevaluations of conservative ideas, andnHillsdale’s Center for Constructive Alternatives has held anseries of important conferences on the state of Americannculture. The most ambitious reconsideration of conservativenprinciples has been undertaken by Paul Weyrichnthrough the Institute for Government and Politics arm ofnthe Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.nWeyrich’s “cultural conservatism” project has resulted innthree essays (published as “Essays on Our Times”), anresponse by Chester Finn, and a draft proposal, “CulturalnConservatism: A New National Agenda,” completed innMarch. Taken together, these statements represent a seriousnattempt to rebuild a conservative ideology out of the rubblenof New Right populism and the disarray of Neoconservativenideology.nFor Weyrich himself, a “cultural conservative” is anyonenwho affirms the basic traditions and principles of Westernnculture. William Lind, who directs the project, sketchednout four major themes in his essay: first, that traditionalnvalues are necessary for “individual fulfillment”; second,nthat the breakdown in conventional morality is leading tonserious social problems; third, that “society, includingngovernment, must play an active role in supporting tradi-n