government, but they will reject out ofnhand his criticisms of corporate power.nIn doing so, they supply the left withnone of its most compelling argumentsnfor destroying capitalism altogether.nThe conservative, above all of hisncompatriots, should possess an acutenawareness of the sinful nature of man,nof the fallen condition of humankindnthat leads men into the paths of evil,nwhere they exploit the weak and givenfree reign to the darkest urges of theirnperverted wills. The best-intentionednof men find the seductive lure of moneynand power difficult to resist. Should onenmarvel, then, that corporations harborntheir fair share of those who readily usentheir positions to the detriment of theirncountrymen.’ Too often, conservativesnespy only the evil that emanates fromnthose buildings hunkered down on thenbanks of the Potomac River. Conservativesnhave wisely warned Americans ofnthe abuses perpetrated by anonymousnbureaucrats who regulate people’s livesnfrom deep within the bowels of suchnagencies as the Internal Revenue Servicenand the Department of Health andnHuman Resources. Loving as they donEdmund Burke’s “little platoon” ofnsociety, conservatives naturally despisenand fear the aggrandizement of powernthat has occurred in Washington overnthe course of the 20th century. But howncan those same men and women ignorenthe power that has come to reside innthe board rooms of mammoth corporations.”nAs one schooled in the ways of thenagrarian traditionalism of Donald Davidsonnand Andrew Lytle, I need no BertramnGross or Richard Lingeman tonremind me of the shortcomings of bignbusiness. National corporations haveneroded the independence of the smallntown and drawn it into the web of anstandardized economy. Chain storesnhave undercut the local merchant andndriven small grocery stores and restaurantsnout of business. Factories thatnsprang from the energetic hands of localnentrepreneurs have long since fallennprey to absentee ownership; the bossnwho knew his men by their first namesnhas given way to the imported managernwho rivets his eyes on the profit marginnand hastens to the dictates of a distantnheadquarters. Corporations sponsor thentelevision programs that nightly inundatenAmerica’s homes with moral decaynand spiritual sickness. Sex sells, so advertisingncopywriters fill magazines withnsalacious appeals designed to glue thenconsumer’s loyalty to a given product.nBeset by the advances of agribusiness,nfarmers forsake family homesteads, thusnbreaking the long chain of rural contin-n”I’rirmih /•,(•?.• AIW LS liws nviuK llun lirm-lv.nat Gross’s vision, for he lusts after anmass democracy in which every facetnof life would be politicized, and wenwould whirl about in a continuous orgynof activism and agitation. Americanwould be transformed into a land of 220nmillion Ralph Naders intent upon scrutinizingnone another—and themselves—nto spy out the slightest deviation fromndemocratic orthodoxy. Gross may havenforsaken his belief in the magic of bigngovernment, but his Rousseauian faithnin the natural goodness of humanitynremains undaunted.nThose who sing paeans to participa-n• Vi[ltit>i- Voicen”There ivrrainK arc enough inclicaiions today . .. towananl takinj; scrioiislv Gross’snscenario for tomorrow.””n— The Seiv Rvpiihlicn•”IRidiaril Linjjfmanl has done it so con.scifiiiioiisly and thomii^hly rhal nolxxK t-lscnwill atli’inpt a simitar book . . . IIi.s prosi- starts ro sin^.””n— AVw York iinuw Hook Reriewnuity. On an international scale, transnationalncorporations conduct their ownnforeign policies and seek business withnnations sworn to destroy the UnitednStates.nI am genuinely perplexed as to whatnto do about all this, but not BertramnGross; he has a solution ready at hand:n”decentralization,” that magic incantationnthat springs quickly to the lips ofnevery half-baked leftist in America thesendays. I have noticed, however, that whennthe newly converted proponents ofnsmallness shift from an analysis of presentnrealities to a consideration of futurenprospects they lapse into a rhetoric compoundednof equal parts vague generalizationnand glib vaticination. Gross, fornexample, falls back upon the time-honorednleftist worship of the masses.nGross’s future contains a society wheren”economically, socially, culturally, andnpolitically the people of . . . Americanwould be able to take part—more directlynthan ever before—in decisionsnaffecting themselves and others and ournnation’s role in the world.” I shuddernnntory democracy have not, I suspect,nthought through the ideas very carefully.nDecentralization serves these peoplenultimately as little more than a codenword for their true aim: the destructionnof American capitalism. Most Americansndo not want this to occur, and theyncertainly have no desire to politicizenevery aspect of their daily lives. But ifnthey did engage in participatory democracynthey would spring a surprise or twonon Bertram Gross. Had the propositionnto bomb North Vietnam back into thenStone Age been put on the ballot in thenlate 1960’s, the electorate would mostnlikely have responded with a resoundingn”yea.” And what would the voters donwith court-ordered busing to achievenracial balance.” Indeed, the SupremenCourt, the source of this and so muchnof that “enlightened” reform so dear tonthe hearts of the Bertram Grosses ofnthis nation, would probably be votedninto oblivion. Gross had best venturenacross the Hudson River and perambulatenabout the hinterlands before henfurther lauds the virtues of the demo-nJanttary/February 1981n