navigating through dangerous waters. But to listen to Mr.nWill or read the nation’s leading editorialists is like listeningnto a Pentacostalist preacher raving about the last days in thenunknown tongue. The occasion serves to remind us, if wencould ever forget, that, whether they choose to call themselvesnliberals or conservatives, our intellectual and culturalnleaders are only the most recent heirs of America’s progressiventradition. At one time or another the progressives havenmarched under the name of Unitarians, Universalists,nOneida free-love colonists, Social Gospelers, New Dealers,nNew Leftists, and One Worlders. Ever since the NewnEngland Puritans mistook the Indians for devils with whomnthey had to struggle for the soul of the continent, Americannvisionaries have been busily at work building their city on anhill. Unfortunately, the city turns out to resemble Detroitnmore than Jerusalem.nThe manifest decline in all the standards of our civilization,nhowever, has not dimmed the enthusiasm of thenprogessives, who see the dawning of a new age through thenholes punched into the Berlin Wall. Recently, The NewnRepublic did a retrospective issue on their 75 years ofnhistory, and except for the deterioration in the prose, it wasnhard to distinguish the current crusaders for democracynfrom the first generation of draft-evading militarists —nincluding, of course, Walter Lippman — from their currentnavatars. Only Henry Fairlie, God bless him, was honestnenough (or learned enough) to expose the dangerous rolenplayed by that magazine in promoting American entry intonWorld War I.nBut the years surrounding every turn of century bring thencultists out of the woodwork. It is as if the script fornAmerican intellectual history had been written by H.P.nLovecraft on a bad day. Many of Lovecraft’s best talesnconcern the “Old Ones” who, as he informs us in At thenMountains of Madness, “filtered down from the stars andnconcocted earth life as a joke or mistake.” If the correctnritual is performed according to the dictates of thenNecronomicon, the Old Ones can be summoned back intonthis dimension, and a New Age — of wonder or terror—willnbegin. Lovecraft seemed almost to believe his fantasies, butnin lunacy he was exceeded by any number of politicalndreamers, each sect with its own version of thenNecronomicon: Le Contrat Social, Das Kapital, On Liberty,nProgress and Poverty. With the secrets contained in anynof these books, man will be able to slip free from the shacklesnof history and enter the Golden Age.nThis means, of course, “The End of History,” the title ofnFrancis Fukuyama’s now-celebrated article. Fukuyama probablyndid not mean us to take his piece seriously — Americansnhad better pray it is only a joke, that the US Department ofnState does not really give refuge to academic millenarians.nBut even if he and the editors of The National Interest werenonly kidding, the response has been disturbing. The bestnobservation on Fukuyama’s manufactured celebrity (sonreminiscent of the instant success of Allan Bloom) wasnprovided by Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham, who connectednit with another fatuous prophecy, The End of Nature. Thesenfantasies, suggests Lapham, are the inevitable spray cast upnby the rapidly approaching millennium. We’re in for anboring decade, if pundits and reviewers will be compelled tondevote the next ten years to the end of sex, the end of thenfamily, the end of time, and — of course — the end of ends.nThe serious attention that has been paid to Fukuyama isngood evidence that Americana visionaries have a new sacredntext to replace their battered and blood-stained copies ofnMarx: Kant’s essay “On Perpetual Peace,” a tract on peacenand world government that antedates even the founding ofnThe New Republic. It is significant, however, that the revivalnof such aspirations coincides with the turn of the lastncentury. (The 1780’s and 90’s were also vintage years fornimperialism in the guise of global democracy.) It is odd,nreally, how similar the 1880’s are to the 1980’s: both periodsnwere plagued by sex and health cults, crafts and hobbiesnmovements, pseudo-Oriental religious crazes involving crystals,npyramids, and eccentric dress, and out-and-out blacknmagicians, like Aleister Crowley (b. 1875), who would findnhimself very much at home today.nIn many ways the archetypal turn of the century figurenwas H.G. Wells, who at one time or another embracednnearly every heresy of progress that was to disturb the 20thncentury: socialism, free love, the emancipation of women,nand a Utopian future in which science served the universalnbrotherhood of man. In the Nicholas Meyer film. TimenAfter Time, Jack the Ripper steals H.G. Wells’ timenmachine and escapes from the London police into 1979.nWhen Wells follows him and explains that they don’t belongnin the future, the Ripper turns on the television and createsna collage of violence by flipping from the news to the NFLnto cartoons. “Not belong here?” he asks.nOn the contrary, I belong here completely andnutterly. I’m home. It’s you who do not belong here,nyou with your absurd notions of a perfect andnharmonious society. . . . The world has caught upnwith me and surpassed me. Ninety years ago I wasna freak. Today, I’m an amateur.nThe turn of the century was home to more than serialnkillers, Utopians, and magicians; it was also the period thatnwitnessed the struggle between rival millennialisms amongnAmerican Protestants. The dominant creed, post-millennialism,nwas and is the American civil religion. In thenAmerican post-millennialist vision, which goes back at leastnas far as Jonathan Edwards, Christianity and social reformnwill eventually make this worfd so pleasant a place in whichnto live that the Lord will step in and say, “Well done, thoungood and faithful servant.” It was the perfect religiousndoctrine for a people that did not wish to be encumbered bynorthodoxy or tradition in their pursuit of earthly perfection,nand down almost to the First World War, the postmillennialistnsocial gospel, the legacy of liberalized Puritanism,nwas the dominant eschatology of the American seminariesnand churches. In its secular form, it is the religion ofnprogressive liberalism, and its prophets are Herbert Croly,nWalter Lippman, and Woodrow Wilson.nPre-millennialists, however, are made of sterner stuff. Inntheir vision of the future, mankind must go through a periodnof tribulation before the Second Coming. The first sect ofnpre-millennialist dervishes to sweep through the Northeastnwere the Millerites (now Seventh-Day Adventists) whonconfidently predicted the Second Coming in 1843. Thendisappointment and ridicule that attended the Messiah’snnnFEBRUARY 1990/13n