For much of this century America has been described as arnkind of experiment or a laboratory of democracy in whichrna new kind of democratic man is being molded by a new democraticrnculture. Such was the vision of the American Marx, JohnrnDewey, but its finest rhetorical expression was Herbert CroK’srnThe Promise of American Life. Croly was the son of Englishrnimmigrants and the founding editor of the New Republic—anrnorgan of lies and mischief from its first issue. According tornCroly, the old provincial America of the colonies, the revolution,rnand the Constitution would have to give way to a newrndemocratic America that would devour what was left of thernoriginal—like a snake eating the skin it has shed: “To be sure,”rnconcedes Croly,rnany increase in centralized power and responsibility . . . isrninjurious to certain aspects of traditional Americanrndemocracy. But the fault in that case lies with therndemocratic tradition; and the erroneous and misleadingrntradition [i.e., of localism and individual responsibility]rnmust yield before the march of constructive nationalrndemocracy. . . . The tradition of an individualist andrnprovincial democracy which is the mainstay of the antinationalistrnpolicy, does not include ideals which have tornbe realized by aggressive action…. The advocates andrnthe beneficiaries of prevailing ideas and conditions arernlittle by little being forced into the inevitable attitude ofrnthe traditional Bourbon—the attitude of maintainingrncustomary or legal rights merely because they are customaryrnand legal.. . . Popular interests have nothing tornfear from a measure of federal centralization, which bestowsrnon the Federal government powers necessary to thernfulfillment of its legitimate responsibilities.rnBut what has grown up on American soil, under the nurturernof such Croly disciples as Franklin Roosevelt, has not been arnvigorous national culture. America is no new Athens or Florence;rnour culture is not even equal to that of ancient Sicyon orrnmedieval Lucca. We have not even managed to reproduce therncivility of the polyglot Habsburg empire, where you can still eatrnan excellent veal paprikash or Dobosh Tort in Zagreb. All wernhave grown by all our ferment is a culture of tooth-rottingrnCoca-Cola, ulcer-inspiring Big Macs, and tight jeans advertisedrnby the jutting rumps of preteen models; our literature isrnStephen King, our theater is Seinfeld; our music and poetry arernsummed up in “Achey-Breaky Heart.”rnMany of us know the causes of America’s cultural implosion,rnbut I shall list a few of them: first, the decline of the church asrna central social, moral, and literary influence. An ignoramusrnlike Lincoln could manage to sound like a great writer simply byrnechoing the phrases of the King James Bible that were constantlyrnringing in his nonbelieving ears. Today even religiousrnzealots—Catholics and Evangelicals alike—have their aestheticrnsensibilities trained on liturgies that read like executive summariesrnof reports from Washington think tanks and on hymnsrnthat sound like aidine commercials. What they have done tornthe Bible is unspeakable. From the Good News Bible: “WhenrnI was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those ofrna child; now that I am a man, I have no more use for childishrnways. What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror…”rnSecond, the general collapse of all literary and aesthetic standardsrnat the top levels of society. There are a number of causesrnfor this collapse, but none so important as the abandonment ofrnLatin as the basis of serious education. (On this point, seernChristian Kopff’s essay in this issue.) Today our art, for thernmost part, is reduced to the cult of ugliness and nonsense, thernworship of violence and perversity. Culture, in the sense ofrnhigh culture, is now something reserved to museums, reprintsrnof the classics, and concert halls where they perform very littlernthat has been written since the end of World War I and virtuallyrnnothing composed since Wodd War II. In the 1820’s, concert-rngoers did not want to hear the stuffy old music of Haydn;rnthey wanted the new stuff—Beethoven, Rossini, Weber. Duringrnthe Renaissance, the lust for new painting was so powerfulrnthat many of Michelangelo’s frescoes are painted on top of importantrnworks of his predecessors. Today, our best efforts go tornrestoration and preservation—quite naturally, since most newrnthings are so hideous, but a civilization whose culture is lockedrnaway in museums is a dead civilization.rnThird, the lethal effects of immigration and cultural amalgamationrnthat Frost warned against. In recent days, America’s diversit)’rnis the basis of a culture war in which the various competingrngroups—blacks, Latin-American Indians, and Asians—arerneach claiming a share of the humanities curriculum. Even ifrnthe cultural pretensions of Africans and Indians had any validity,rnwhich for the most part they do not, their merits would bernirrelevant, because for us, as heirs of Western Europe, it is vitalrnthat we know our own history, our own culture, because it isrnthis culture, the languages, the literature, the art, the philosophy,rnthe deeds of great men—it is “the memory of all that” thatrnhas formed the Western and American character and shapedrnthose principles of moral responsibility and political libertyrnwhich are so important to that saving remnant, the members ofrnthis club, whatever their ethnic heritage, whatever their education.rnThe struggle over the curriculum is a war for the Americanrnidentity and multiculturalism is a crusade—or rather arnjihad—to destroy the liberties we have retained, despite thernbest efforts of every president and every editor of the NewrnRepubhc throughout this century.rnPredictably, the very people who got us into our current culturalrnpredicament are coming forward with a solution. Somerntime ago in a debate on immigration a very good Wall StreetrnJournal editor told me that we could not and should not do anythingrnto stanch the flow of Third World immigrants, but thatrnonce they were here, they should be subject to a program ofrnforced Americanization. Other, similar remedies include: nationalrnidentity cards, citizenship classes, a compulsory publicrnservice program for high school graduates, a constitutionalrnamendment making English the official language. Less obviousrnbut more ominous is all the chatter we are hearing about arnneed for national standards in education. In fact, much of whatrnwent on at the Department of Education in the Reagan-Bushrnyears was an ill-disguised campaign to impose a national culturernby way of public schools that are to be controlled in Washington.rnThe object of some of these programs is the minority underclassrn—^black and Hispanic—that has the ruling establishmentrnterrified. Do not be misled by their humanitarian professionsrnto be, in Adam Meyerson’s phrase, bleeding-heart conservatives.rnOf course their fear of being called racists explains part ofrntheir empowerment rhetoric—to say nothing of their desire forrnvotes—^but when the hour is late and they have had one drinkrntoo many, some of our big government conservative friends willrnadmit, quite candidly, that all their schemes have one object: tornkeep blacks and Hispanics in their place, first by bribing themrn12/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn