341 CHRONICLESnprofessors who do not wish to give sonmuch as tlie appearance of being outnof step with the times; and 60’s radicalsnwho claimed immunity for their lawbreakingnby virtue of their opposihonnto the war in Vietnam.nHaving done time at the UnitednNations, Berns is also instructive onnthe inanities of pacifism and on Russiannshamelessness. And he presents ancoherent and convincing argument inndefense of censorship, that most malignednof civilization’s champions.nThat being said, it is also true that he isnquintessentially liberal in his reliancenon abstract reasoning. To take only thenmost obvious example, he insists thatnSPECIAL REPORT on thenVatican’s recently issuednInstruction on ChristiannFreedom and Liberation—nFREE with your order for thenJune issue of The Religion &nSociety Report.nSend $2.50 (includes postagenand handling) to The RockfordnInstitute, 934 N. Main St.,nRockford, IL 61103.nthe Constitution can be dishnguishednfrom its interpretation. With JohnnMarshall, he argues that “the times, tonthe extent possible, must be kept inntune with the Constitution”—not vicenversa. Given the ideological enthusiasmsnof Justices such as Douglas,nBrennan, and Thurgood Marshall,nthere is something to be said for thisnposition. But it cannot stand the test asna permanent project. The Constitutionnis not, and it cannot be, ann18th-century document; rather, it is anbody of interpretation, the record of anpeople’s historical decisions. In 1954,nfor example, it was not the case thatnthe Supreme Court suddenly awokenfrom its dogmatic slumber to find thatnthe Constitution prohibited “separatenbut equal” facilities for blacks andnwhites. Instead, it was that the weightnof American opinion had shifted decisivelynin favor of integration.nBerns’s penchant for abstractionnought not to come as a surprise, for henis a disciple of the late Leo Strauss, ancharismatic teacher for whom historicalnthinking was a form of nihilism. Innsetting forth his own philosophic position,nBerns rehearses Strauss’s viewsnPOETRY IQURNALnPlains Poetry Journal is like North Dakota: a well-kept secret. Traditionalnpoetic conventions forged into vigorous, compelling new poetry. We’renwhat you despaired of finding! Sample for $3.50; heartening manifesto fornSASE. Plains Poetry Journal, P.O. Box 2337, Bismarck, NO 58502.nnnconcerning modern natural right theoryn(Hobbes and Locke). He arguesnthat the “fundamental human right” isnthat of self-preservation and the “fundamentalnlaw of nature,” the attendantnsearch for peace. By identifying himselfnwith this redefinition of naturalnright and natural law, he seeks tonsidestep the difficulties that accompanynany effort to spell out the content ofna higher natural law. Yet, like Strauss,nhe is convinced that without somenconception of natural right, men willnbe left without a standard by which tonjudge positive law. The natural, henwrites, is “that order outside the conventionalnaccording to which the conventionalnmay be criticized.”nIt is, however, simply not true thatnthe denial of natural right must lead tonrelativism and nihilism. We judge onenlaw to be better than another in thensame way that we judge anything—bynmeans of comparison. We do not neednan absolute right or law in order to benable to make discriminations, anynmore than we must show Shakespearento be the absolute (or perfect) writer ornelse confess our inability to make anynvalid claim respecting his literary preeminence.nTo be sure, absolutes arenavailable to those of us who creditndivine revelation, but except in a communitynwith settled — and liken—religious convictions, our testimonynis almost sure to fall on deaf ears.nThus, for most practical purposes, wenare obliged to rely on finite—which isnnot to say arbitrary — comparativenjudgment.nPerhaps more disconcerting thannBerns’s abstract thinking is his belief innthe essential goodness of nature, includingnhuman nature. He maintains,nfor example, that “voyeurism is bynnature a perversion.” If he means bynthis that a perfected nature would recoilnfrom the practice, well and good.nBut if, as I think, he means thatnvoyeurism is unnatural as men arenpresently constituted, he must make anbetter case. In the absence of thenunnatural restraints imposed by civilizednmoral authority, such behaviornappears quite spontaneously. Decidingnthe bent of our nature—toward goodnor evil—remains finally a matter ofnbelief, but both Christianity and historynargue against the Rousseauian faithnthat continues to inspire the radicalimagination.n