ruling set of values which upholds its unassailability by administrativenand bureaucratic means begins to rot first innarts and letters—precisely because they are privileged andnprotected. The liberals in America have not yet attained thenSoviet style of protectionism, but a special tariff for thenliberal twaddle became a rule of cultural life in America innthe ’60s and 70s. Updike, Didion, Vonnegut, the Hollywoodnradical cinema may be only occasionally and mildly admonishednby the liberal interpreters, but never meaningfullyncriticized, dissected, evaluated. The formal shortcomingsnmay be pointed out, their philosophy—never. No one maynask what the Cheevers, Styrons, Vidals, Hellers et al., havenever given to America, to mankind, to their fellow man—nexcept for literary smartness, cynicism touted as inquiry,ndesperate mannerism, pharisaical or sanctimonious depressiveness,nlascivious pseudomelancholy and modish etiolationnof characters. The fertile Americanism of the Hemingways,nSinclair Lewises, O’Haras, has been abandoned amidst thencoquettish squeaks of self-hatred. The old naturalism usednto proclaim: “Look how it really is! Isn’t it terrible.””; thenneonaturalism of the Mailers and Baldwins now says: “Looknhow it really is! Isn’t it cute, interesting, amusing, etc..-‘”nHope, dynamics, respect for the dignity and heroism of thenother, indeed, the entire democratic pluralism recedes beforenthe onslaught of the neurotic phobias of the other, andncapitulates to the other’s freakishness. No one knows anynlonger in whose name cultural facts are praised or condemned.nIs there any moral or intellectual yardstick stillnaround.^ If nonliberal critics condemn a Cheever or a Didion,nthey know why they do it. But what are the liberal culture’snnormative criteria.^ In Time, Inc.’s in-house leaflet, we cannfind a clue to Time magazine’s critical ethics, as its foremostnliterary critic, R. Z. Sheppard, elucidates on the subject:n’When I write,’ he explains, ‘it’s just me and the book. Inhave two basic responsibilities to an author: to try to understandnhis purpose, and to evaluate how well he succeeds. Thenreviewer’s third responsibility,’ he [Sheppard] adds, ‘is tonbe absolutely clear and accessible to the reader.’ ” Thereby,nSheppard tells us that if he had to review Adolf Hitler’snMein Kampf, he would have praised it to the skies: Hitler’snpurpose was easily understandable, he perfectly succeedednin articulating his message, and Sheppard would have hadnno trouble in conveying it clearly and accessibly to his readers.nEnd of Time magazine book critic’s responsibilities.nIn contrast to the cultural ethos of Time and its Sheppards,ncentral to our culture is permanence and an orderly hierarchynof values. For instance: the individual’s moral obligationnand responsibility toward another person, community, society,nnation, toward civilization and its laws, traditions, institutions.nThe immanence of human bonds in cultural factsnis the norm of our judgment of those facts—ideas, trends,nbooks, movies, intellectual inquiries, etc. These bonds arenfor us the source of mankind’s two most precious concepts:nfreedom and human dignity. It seems to us rather evidentnthat liberal ideas, as they are embodied in the culture engenderednby them and created daily by the American culturalnproduction, are neither willing nor able to defend and sustainnhuman dignity; about freedom, they mean something differentnthan we do. During the 20th century, the idea of socialnequality celebrated countless triumphs: in America, for one,nthings once accessible only through birth privilege or moneyn—plenty of food, abundant leisure, factual political leveragen—have become standard. But freedom and dignity werentrampled in Auschwitz and in Gulags; and in the same sociallynsuccessful America, the vulgarization, depersonalizationnand dehumanization of private life nowadays reduce themnboth to mockery. Thus, the defense of freedom and humanndignity has become the gist of the conflict between theirnculture and ours.nWe e all feel confused and benumbed, sensing the lossnof the center on which we can safely hang our ideals, beliefsnand preferences. We all feel the urge to defend culturalngoods, we sense a sort of salvation—general and private—nin upholding them; we vaguely realize that this salvationnbegins there, in the cultural climate, not in economics,npolitics or social solutions. Many do not understand thencultural and spiritual dimension of our predicament: thenaverage American has never been confronted with this interpretationnof his malaise; he used to leave it to schools,nchurches, political and social arrangements which were supposednto give him sloganlike explications. Then, television,nwith its power of smirking insouciance, overshadowed themnall. The average American does not realize that the breakdownnof sexual conventions means not only that people canndo to their bodies what they wish, but that sooner or later,nit entails the collapse of everything built on rule, custom,ntradition, even the social contract itself; that it ultimatelyncancels both human warmth and those bondings on whichnhis sense of life rests.nSo we, in these pages, are trying to express our protestnby judging the other culture. Like every protest of those whonare deliberately ignored, ours can also be denounced as shrillnand overwrought. But is it.” We do our best to debunk thenfalse greatness fabricated by the liberal culture and, now andnthen, a good man or woman or thought, transmogrified intonan icon by the omnipotent liberal establishment and sycophancy,ngets hurt. But we do not fling mud, not even unsubstantiatedncharges; we do not indulge in self-serving showiness;nwe do not desecrate anybody’s symbols. We just respectfullyndisagree with or simply laugh at our adversaries. Anythingnelse would be incompatible with the most cherished preceptsnof our culture.n—Leopold TyrmandnnnJVovcmbcr/December 1979n