interchangeable.rnA similar ahistorical view of society is reflected in the clichernthat the United States is a young country. Except in thernsense that America was settled in new geographic territory, thernUnited States is of course no younger than any other countryrnin the Western world. Its roots stretch deep into the distantrnpast. The Kramers of the Constitution and the Americanrnpeople at large were imbued with classical and biblical prejudicesrnand habits that helped shape the work at Philadelphia.rnFrom the point of view of what insures American social andrnpolitical order, the least significant part of the Constitution isrnthe written document. Far more important is the unwrittenrnconstitution, all of those religious, moral, intellectual, andrnaesthetic habits and attitudes that are implied in the writtenrntext. Without them the Constitution would not have beenrnconceived as it was, and without them it could not have beenrnsuccessfully put into practice.rnIt is common to speak of the United States as the resultrnof a “founding,” as if the country had been made up more orrnless from scratch by people with good ideas, as if “lawgivers”rnhad bestowed a plan on the American people that gave themrna common identity and purpose. For Allan Bloom, Americarnwas the implementation of a rational plan for “freedom andrnequality.” “This is a regime founded by philosophers andrntheir students,” wrote Bloom. “America is actually nothingrnbut a great stage” on which theories have been acted out.rn”There are almost no accidents.” American order and freedomrnwere thus spun out of a few enlightened minds. Abstractrnideas, not historically formed personalities, built thernUnited States. In Bloom’s interpretation, the Framers were onrnmuch the same wavelength as Rousseau and the French Revolutionaries.rnThey had a plan for an egalitarian and majoritarianrnorder, which the American people adopted.rnIt is in this kind of thinking that one finds the roots of therncivics approach to social order. The solution to problems relatedrnto immigration and multiculturalism is instruction in thernright ideas. It was the intent of the Framers, Bloom insisted, tornphase out cultural particularity: “By recognizing and acceptingrnman’s natural rights, men found a fundamental basis of unityrnand sameness. Class, race, religion, national origin or culturernall disappear or become dim when bathed in the light ofrnnatural rights, which give men common interests and makernthem truly brothers.”rnIn Bloom’s view, historical identities threaten ideologicalrnunity and should give way to like-mindedness. The Americarnof which he approved asks people “to give up their ‘cultural individuality’rnand to make themselves into that universal, abstractrnbeing who participates in natural rights or else berndoomed to an existence on the fringe.” The Framers, in thisrnview, did not desire a harmony of many different legitimate interestsrnbut ideological homogeneity. For Bloom, what wasrnadmirable about America is separate from its uniqueness as arnhistorically shaped country. America is held together andrn”ennobled” by natural rights that exist apart from, and even inrnconflict with, cultural traditions and identities.rnAbstractionist universalism thus looks to correct thinking tornsupply the needed ordering of person and society. But ideasrnacquired in the abstract are no substitute for that slowly andrnlaboriously acquired self-restraint of individuals and groups onrnwhich a free society most depends. Advocates of the civics approachrnfail to appreciate the connection between present orderrnand historically formed culture. Although they may referrnceremonially to the “principles of the West” or the like, theyrnare often suspicious of—even hostile to—the actual Westernrnpast as being far inferior to present correct thinking. Therncivics approach tends to become instruction toward preconceivedrnideological conclusions—indoctrination rather thanrneducation. Insofar as this approach neglects the varied and extendedrnabsorption and nurturing of the civilized heritage thatrnfosters real personal responsibility, the social cohesion that itrndesires must be supplied in practice by ideological intimidationrnand, finally, by police and law courts.rnIt would seem highly relevant to immigration policy thatrnthe United States is an extension of European and especiallyrnEnglish civilization. The form of government that thernFramers set up was indistinguishable from the unwritten constitution,rnincluding the virtue of character. Although thatrnethos overlaps in some respects with non-Western civilizations,rnAmerica’s political institutions and other traditionsrnconnect the United States primarily with Europe. The longtermrneffect of large-scale immigration from societies that arernlargely untouched by traditional Western civilization is unclear.rnWhile it is possible that immigrants from Asia, for example,rnwill add to the American pool some cultural traitsrnthat are needed or that will cause desirable cross-fertilization,rnthe present troubles of American society can hardly be overcomernby trying to import culture. A cultural resurgence of thernnecessary depth and scope must surely spring from withinrnthe historically rooted American national character itself. Inrnthe absence of that kind of revival, large-scale immigrationrnand cultural separatism within the United States are likely tornaggravate the problem of fragmentation.rnIf only a resurgence of American culture can buttress socialrnorder, it should be stressed that sound patriotism always has anrningredient of cosmopolitan and aristocratic breadth. Thernneeded creative and unifying spark cannot be supplied byrnpopulist nationalism. To pin the hopes for a national renewalrnon an idealized common man or “middle class” is misguidedrnand even dangerous. For all his possible strengths,rnthe common man is and remains a limited creature prone tornnarrow views and lack of imagination, even in the best ofrntimes. He is at least as prone to the weaknesses of humanrnnature as others. Unfortunately, the illusion survives that therncommon people are a repository of virtue and wisdom.rnOne of the least salutary parts of Thomas Jefferson’s mixedrnand contradictory legacy is his populism: elites should alwaysrnbe mistrusted (especially if they are kings, nobles, or priests),rnbut the common people are OK. Government must berncleansed from time to time by the right-thinking masses.rnPopulism seems plausible today, because present elites are sornclearly dominated by decadent, escapist attitudes. But itrnwould be a great mistake, especially in our disoriented era,rnto look to “the people” for sources of purity and social unity.rnPopulism is only another form of escape from the real problem,rnwhich is that Western civilization as a whole is disintegratingrnat the moral center. The people in general may todayrnbe less obviously corrupt than the elites in some respects, butrnthat is not because of some natural propensity to virtue greaterrnthan that of elites. The mass is just slower to change andrnlags behind the more daring and creative elites. The peoplernseem culturally conservative today only in comparison withrnmore adventurous leaders. If the mass of common men havernsuch sound instincts, who is digesting all those television pro-rn)UNE 1993/23rnrnrn