Editor’s Commentn”Conscience, however. ;^ not innate, i^utnacquired; and vanes with eeoaraphv . . . ‘n— SpinozanTo Dostoyevski. and to the Russians in lotn. consciencenmeans aoodness and sinlessness. Someone ‘,vho lust killednsomebody is accused of lack ot conscience. It we acceptnSpinozas aeographic theory, the American varietv ‘.vouldnbe rather socially oriented. Pragmatism and pracncalitv seemnto have been irking the American soul for centuries. Blindntaith. superstition, prejudice have vanouslv been tried asncounterbalances. Repulsive by nature, thev couldn’t countnon lasting success with the American soul.nThe American conscience thus became a respectaole irrationaiitvnnicely grounded in rational decencies, later knownnas positive thinking. A blissiul truce between reason andnunreason was established once and tor all, and turned intonan ideolo2v.nV^onscience is a purely Judeo-Chrlstian heritage, gearedninto the individualistic hierarchy of values. The suppositionn— that there is in each of us some contraption that tells usngood from bad —is a venture of personalism and pluralism,nthe stalwarts of Western civilization. Other civilizationsnlooked for more solid guarantees in regard to the distinctionnbetween good and evil. This does not mean they were lessnconscience-conscious, or that they minimized its need. Theynjust couldn’t afford it. Which brings us to the economicsnof conscience.nThe general opinion prevails that conscience is a universalnhuman attribute. Christianitv locates it in anvone who isnrighteous, and claims that even the beastlv amonu us havenit as well, but of a quality that must be improved. Marx andnLenin, however, put a lot of effort into demonstrating,nthrough countless e.xamples of heinous class-e.xploitation.nthat only the poor and wretched have conscience while thenrich are entirely devoid of it.nThe fate of doing away with both views fell to America.nI. for one. have always suspected that the bosom of affluencenis where conscience blooms to the fullest. It’s not exactlyna matter of luxury, people of modest means certainly possessnconscience if they insist and make sacrifices, neverthelessnconscience flourishes better amidst material plenty wherenno sacrifice is necessary to voice moral outrage. Nationsnwhich developed, or conquered, wealth and abundance havenalways been the most eager to debate conscience and itsnobligations —although this rarely meant they followed itsnguidance, or felt an overwhelming urge to obey its judgments.nAs Europe was. for centuries, the center of the world’s riches,nthrough productivity or conquest, it was natural that a lotnwas spoken about conscience there. Whenever a EuropeannChronielcs of Culturennnnation was licked bv its stronger neighbors. i immediateivnadopted the title ot “the conscience or Europe.” Its lamentsnwere scarcely heard, since European oopressors were alwaysnmasterful at keeping airtight lids oi security and censorshipnover their oppressed. So available and resounding voicesnwere usually from among the free, powertul and rich, whosenindependence —political, cultural and tinancial —amplifiednthe moral torments of their conscience. Which makes mensurmise that a business-like approach to conscience is asnproper as anv and. in tact, more beneiicial in manv respects.nFirst of all. conscience is a aood deal, and not only in thenmetaphysical sense: we do not need Horatio Alger to knowthatnsensitivity to goodness pays otf in the long run, especiallynin the sociopolitical sphere. Secondly, dealing in consciencenbrings handsome and tangible proiits in our dav: consciencenhas proved an ideal fuel for thnvina industries, a fabulousnsource of individual tortunes in poth moral and pecuniarynareas. Under one condition, however —namely that the activitiesnof conscience take place within huge and complexnsocial organisms, for only these can afford conscience ‘pothnas a regulatory value and colloquial argument in the neverendingndispute about human affairs.nThis is where America comes in. With its bustling, prosperousnmarketplace of ideas. America is able to invest in thenmost adventurous ways—even in conscience and its far-outnexcesses, its unreliability and caprices. This, naturally.ndistances America a bit from its current partners in the Judeo-nChristian civilization, which nowadays can already afford tonmake daring investments, but consider the adventures andneccentricities of conscience, especially in foreign policy,nan American obligation. Actually, nothing alienates America’snadmirers more than her experimentation with conscience,nwhich thev deem sociomoral antics. Occasionally, the frivolitiesnof the American conscience, which, at iirst sight, appearnto push America into the red. prove tinallv to land it m thenblack. Which makes Western Europeans shrug with bogusnindulgence—a routine concealment of envy. This, once again,namply attests to the verity that it is the rich who reallynhave conscience and can safelv frolic with it.nX. his is how things look in a global and civilizationalnperspective. What remains is to situate conscience withinnour everydayness of social affairs, supermarkets and television.nThe quality of conscience —national, social, individualn—is not immune to the laws of supply and demand: a surplusnbrings about devaluation of the marketed commodity. Therefore,nif we care about American conscience—and I believenwe all. regardless of our persuasions, do—something has tonbe done to improve that quality.nThis, however, may prove to be a Herculean task. Consciencenmay thrive with material affluence and social plural-n