our times consists of Nixon and Krushchevnarguing over the number of televisionnsets in America. In a world withoutnideas, numbers become the onlynreality. The great summas of the pastnseem to have been replaced by pocketncalculators. Instead of examining thencontents of heads, we count them. Kristolnsays our society is now based on thenquestionable assumption that “”there isnno superior, authoritative informationnavailable about the good life or the truennature of human happiness.” The Russianncalls this pernicious doctrine ‘”anthropocentricity,”nthe view that putsnman at the center of the universe andneradicates God from consciousness.nWith the vision of the men of affairsnbounded by the bottom line, their intellectualndefenders in the new class havenfallen back upon their last stronghold:nthe argument that our economic systemnis legitimized by its efficiency andnits success. It delivers the goods. ButnKristol sees this argument as revealingnan “”inverted moral sense.” In othernwords, it turns morality upon its headnto claim that an activity is honorablenbecause it is profitable. Let us providenillustrations from our own experience:nheroin peddling (illegal) and the makingnof soft-core pornographic moviesn(legal) are highly profitable. Are theyntherefore moral?nSo many sophisticated defenses ofncapitalism—Kristol mentions the NobelnPrize winners Friedman and Hayekn—are really elaborations of the simplisticnphilosophy as expressed by AlexandernPope, “Whatever is, is Right.”nThis leads us to an absurd provincialismnthat discards the past in both its moralnand historical dimensions. And thenGallup Poll replaces the Gospel as thensource of relevant distinctions.nOf course we cannot avoid confrontingndirectly the question of freedom.nAt times our culture seems to be endlesslynreplaying Dostoevsky’s “”Legendnof the Grand Inquisitor.” In the abstractnsense of the absence of restraints,nour freedom may be increasing. But asnKristol wisely observes, freedom is asn14nChronicles of Culturenmuch ontological as it is sociological.n””The average man in the nineteenthncentury,” he informs us, “had fewern”rights’ than his counterpart today, butnhe was far more likely to boast aboutnhis being a free man.” As Kierkegaardnwarned us a century-and-a-half ago,nfreedom without faith is a literallyndreadful situation.nMost modern conservatives worshipnat the altar of freedom. The questionnSolzhenitsyn and, to a slightly lessernextent, Kristol, are asking us is this:ndo we have too much freedom, couplednwith too little moral and intellectualnpurpose? Too often our “”freedom” degeneratesninto the bizarre behavior ofnthe nightmare world where God isndead and “‘everything is permitted.”nKristol describes today’s ‘”massive numbersn[of] ‘free spirits’ empty of moralnsubstance but still driven by primordialnmoral aspirations.” And Solzhenitsynnanathematizes the “irresponsible freedom”nexercised to produce child pornography,nhomicidal films and terroristicnatrocities.nWhat, to coin a phrase, is to bendone? Obviously we must recognize asnthe great Southern Agrarian RichardnWeaver did, that ideas have consequences.nAll too often, otherwise responsiblenintellectuals mimic the liberaln”‘new class” by analyzing the contemporaryndilemma as if it were only ancase of which group gets to divide thenspoils of capitalism. We address spiritualnproblems in commercial terms—nin statistics, in economic abstractions,nin jargon about “progress.” We forgetnwhat the great poet-philosopher DonaldnDavidson reminded us: that men donnot live by GNP alone.nOur problems are not primarily economic;nthey are spiritual. In Kristol’snwords, “It is the death of God, not thenemergence of any new social or economicntrends, that haunts bourgeois society.”nAll the electric toasters and tele­nNext Rockford Papers: “The American Innocence”nnnvision sets we can produce, Solzhenitsynnsays, will not redeem our time fromnmoral and spiritual poverty.nBeing a conservative means preservingnthose ideas and institutions (includingnprivate property) that havenserved us well. Being a conservativenmeans refusing to accept depravity, refusingnto ignore the permanent things,nthe incarnations of value. True conservatism,nKristol indicates, means lookingnhack to the philosophers such asnColeridge, Carlyle and Newman, “‘allnthose who found it impossible to acquiescenin a “progressive notion of humannhistory or social evolution.”nThrough its reliance on the stupefactionnof television and the omnipresencenof “”intolerable music” (Solzhenitsyn)nmodern society tries to drown outninsistent voices from the past, tries tonavoid confronting unpleasant realities,ntries to evade the fact of our mortality.nConstant chatter about standard of livingncannot eliminate this hard truth ofnKristol’s: “In every society, the overwhelmingnmajority of the people leadnlives of considerable frustration, andnif society is to endure, it needs to benable to rely on a goodly measure ofnstoical resignation.” We cannot producenthe conditions needed for thisnresignation by promising a swimmingnpool in every backyard, a stereo innevery “family” room, two cars in everyngarage.nA revitalized family, community,nchurch will lead, almost miraculously,nto a revitalized, freer commercial life.nThe reverse is obviously not the case, asnthe best minds of our time, includingnKristol and Solzhenitsyn, are informingnus. The great Russian author exemplifiesnthis truth: resignation to existencendoes not preclude the will tontransform society. The moment is now;nthe opportunity is ours to seize. AsnSolzhenitsyn says, “No one on earthnhas any way left but—upward.” Qn