wasteland over which a leviathan statenpresides for the enforcement of equalitynand in which a political and economicnregimen centered on and driven bynenvy and by what President Washingtonncalled the “spirit of innovation”nprevails?n”Russell Kirk, Friedrich Hayek, andnIrving Kristol,” Mr. Kesler writes,n”would agree that a healthy nationncannot really be dedicated to any propositionnor abstract truth, because a nationnis a kind of spontaneous social ordernemerging from historical experiencenand the unguided evolution of marketnand cultural forces.” In Mr. Kesler’snview this kind of traditionalism, whichnavoids universalist assertions, accountsnfor the conservative failure “to bringnabout a genuine political realignment.”n”The difficulty is that conservatismnseems to have no clear commitment tonthose principles or, more precisely, thatnit does not seem to understand why theynare so important. It has not yet learnednthe vernacular of American politics,ndespite its great and numerous successes.”nFor all his critique of conventionalnconservative traditionalism, however,nMr. Kesler nowhere offers a defense ofnthe truth of the philosophical abstractionnhe espouses. His defense of equalitynas the center of the American order isnmerely that it is our tradition, “ournancient faith,” as Lincoln put it, andnthat this line of defense does not differnin form from the arguments of other,nconventional conservative traditionalistsnsuch as Messrs. Kirk, Bradford, ornKendall—except that they make a historicallynmore literate case for their veryndifferent reading of what the Americanntradition is.nOne suspects that Mr. Kesler offersnno philosophical defense for his idea ofnequality because there is no such defense.nJohn Locke (and Thomas Jefferson,ninsofar as he was Locke’s disciple)npresumed an anthropology of the “statenof nature” and a “social contract” thatnnever existed. The natural equality ofnrights by which Mr. Kesler wants tondefine America as a political order isnentirely derivative from Lockean fiction.nIt cannot stand in the absence of thisnfiction, nor can Locke’s view of governmentnand society as artificial products ofnthe universal consent of their members.nPace Mr. Kesler, the US Constitutionnwas not “made” at Philadelphia in fournmonths, but in the long and complexnevolution of European, British, colonial,nand post-colonial history. At no timenin the 18th century were Americans inna “state of nature,” and the state andnfederal constitutions they drafted werenin no way Lockean social contracts.nWhatever facile charms Mr. Kesler’snegalitarianism may possess, it has managednto miss the point of the teachingnthat traditionalists have long asserted.nThat point is to defend an inherited waynof life that cannot be reduced to easynformulas and neat slogans, and whichnphilosophical texts and legalistic chartersnby themselves cannot adequately articulate.nWhen conservative leaders havenunderstood, and based their campaignsnand policies upon, this unique, concrete,nspecific, and habitual ethos,nwhich, as Kendall perceived, Americansnunderstand “in their hips,” they havenprospered. When, like Mr. Jaffa’s otherndisciple. Rep. Jack Kemp, they havenfollowed Mr. Kesler’s counsel, theynhave failed miserably.nPolitical success, of course, is of lessnimportance to those who keep the realnAmerican tablets than the task of preservingnthe tablets themselves. As longnas they are intact, we will be able tondistinguish them from counterfeits suchnas Mr. Kesler offers, and there will bensome firm ground from which theirnkeepers may challenge, rather thannmerely mimic, those who try to erasenthem.nSamuel Francis is deputy editorialnpage editor of The WashingtonnTimes.nLetter From thenLower Rightnby John Shelton ReednUnder the (Smoking) GunnIn The Wall Street Journal on June 16nlast, Mr. Alexander Cockburn —nwhose regular presence in the premiernorgan of capitalist opinion, by the way,nnicely illustrates Lenin’s maxim aboutnrope — argued that the current antismokingnhysteria is a capitalist plot.nThe loathsome Cockburn adduced annarticle in an obscure publication of thenSpartacist League that maintained thatnnnantismoking campaigns are intended toncontrol workers more closely, to increasenproductivity without increasingnwages, and to reduce corporate ventilationncosts. Cockburn also observed thatnan early, and rabid, antismoker wasnAdolf Hitler.nAll of this was delivered deadpan,nand it is no more ludicrous or farfetchednthan Cockburn’s other opinions,nso he may even believe it. But henwas purveying disinformation (maybennot for the first time): it is well-knownnin these parts that antismokers arenserving the international Communistnconspiracy.nI offer in evidence the copies ofnPravda that Philip Morris recently sentnto several hundred newspaper editorsnand the like, with a note observing thatn”Pravda does not carry cigarette advertising,nor indeed any advertising.” Thatnmay seem a little silly, but get a load ofnthe pinko response: according to ThenNew York Times, Democrat CongressmannMike Synar accused Philip Morrisnof “red-baiting” and called the mailingnan “embarrassing throwback to thendark days of McCarthyism.”nSynar ought to look at TobacconCulture, a recent book by historiannTim Breen that attributes Americannindependence to the irritation of Virginiantobacco growers at being jerkednaround by English merchants. Nonsmoking, no US — get it, Synar?nTheir attitude was a lot like mynbuddy Eugene’s. When NorthwestnAirlines announced a smoking ban onnall of its flights, Eugene announcednthat he was going to boycott the company.nSince Northwest doesn’t go anywherenEugene wants to go, I recognizednthis as a statement of principle.nBesides, Eugene doesn’t smoke. WhennI asked him why a nonsmoker wouldnobject to a no-smoking policy, he said:n”I might decide to start.” Don’t treadnon Eugene. He doesn’t like being toldnhe can’t do things.nGiven tobacco’s association with thencause of freedom, I don’t think thenpresent climate of epidemical fanaticismn(Burke’s phrase) augurs well fornthe Republic. So I’m on the smokers’nside.nBesides, 1 like smokers. Pipesmokers,nespecially, tend to be pleasantnfolks. My favorite example of a selfevidentntruth is Mike Royko’s observationnthat no one was ever mugged by anMARCH 1989/39n