Principalities & Powersnby Samuel FrancisnIf the American Republic is defunct,nand if most Americans no longer subscribento the classical republicanism thatndefined the Republic as its public orthodoxy,nwhat is the principal issue ofnAmerican politics? Ever since the ProgressivenEra, the issue that has dividednAmericans into the two political andnideological camps of “right” and “left”nhas been whether or not to preserve thenRepublic. The Progressives (at leastntheir dominant wing) argued that thensmall-scale government, entrepreneurialnbusiness economy, and the localizednand private social and cultural fabricnthat made a republic possible was obsoletenat best and at worst repressive andnexploitative. They and their descendantsnin New Deal-Great Society liberalismnpushed for an enlarged state fusednwith corporations and unions in theneconomy and with massive, bureaucratizedncultural and educational organizations.nIn contrast, the “right” pulled innthe opposite direction, defending thenRepublic and the social and economicnstructure that enabled republicanism tonflourish, but with less and less successnand with ever-diminishing understandingnof what it was doing.nToday the conflict over that issue isnfinished. The Progressivist empire hasnreplaced the old American Republic,nand even on the self-proclaimed “right”ntoday, virtually no one other than thenbeleaguered paleoconservatives defendsnrepublicanism in anything like its pristinenform. The collapse of the conflictnover republicanism is the main reasonnwhy the labels “left” and “right” nonlonger make much sense and also whyn— much more than the end of thenReagan administration and the ColdnWar—the “conservative coalition” ofnthe Reagan era is falling apart. Mr.nReagan’s main legacy was to show hisnfollowers, who for decades groused andngriped against “Big Government,” thatnthey too could climb aboard the BignGovernment hayride and nibblencrumbs at its picnic. With such “conservatism”nnow centered mainly in Washingtonnand its exponents happily dependentnon the federal megastate, thenhistoric raison d’etre of the Americann”right” has ceased to exist. Such con­n12/CHRONICLESnservatives no longer even pretend tonwant to preserve or restore the oldnRepublic, and it now turns out thatneven when they said they did, it was allnpretty much a charade anyway.nNevertheless, the end of the conflictnover the Republic and of the batflenbetween left and right does not meannthat there are no conflicts at all. Indeed,nthe American imperium, havingnfew roots in the population exceptninsofar as it can feed its client constituencies,nis riven by conflicts. The empirenmight be able to strike back, but itnhas never been able to formulate itsnown orthodoxy that would distinguishnit from traditional republicanism andnprovide a consensus that could disciplinenconflicts. That indeed is why thenmegastate has retained the forms ofnrepublicanism. Unable to legitimizenitself through the ideology of Progressivistnliberalism, it steals the clothes ofnits republican predecessor to justify itsnrevolutionary agenda.nAt the heart of the empire — ornmegastate, or managerial regime, ornleviathan, or whatever you want to callnit — there is a vacuum, and the mainnissue of the last decade of this centurynand the first decade of the next will benover what is going to fill that emptynspace. The ability to fill it, to articulatena public orthodoxy for the country, isnin large part what it means to be masternof the imperium, for whoever is able tonacquire enough cultural power to definenwhat the megastate is supposed tondo and for whom it is supposed to do itnwill achieve Antonio Gramsci’s “culturalnhegemony” and will carve hisnown initials on the blank slate of thenempire.nOne of the principal contestants fornhegemony in the megastate will be thenlargely Middle American constituencynof the now-decapitated Americannright. The end of the left-right conflictnand the absorption of its leadershipnwithin the megastate means that thenmass following of the right has becomena body without a head. That followingnthus finds itself, its interests and values,nunrepresented in the contest for controlnof the megastate of the next century,nand that situation cannot last. Soonernor later, if Middle Americans are notnto become extinct, they will generate annew, independent social and politicalnnnidentity or consciousness and will constructna movement based on that consciousnessnthat will demand not onlynrepresentation in, but also dominancenof, the regime.nBut they will not, as their forebearsndid, demand republicanism. MiddlenAmericans are a diverse bunch, consistingnof small businessmen in manufacturing,nsmall farmers burdened withndebt and confronted with absorptionnby agribusiness, and white ethnic bluecollarnworkers who find their jobs disappearingnbecause of foreign competitionnand their advancement thwartednby megastate-mandated racial and gendernquotas. What these and similarngroups share, despite their diversity,nis a common frustration with thenmegastate in its present structure,nalong with a seemingly paradoxicalndependence on it.nTheir frustrations might lead themntoward a revival of classical republican,nsmall-government conservatism, butntheir dependence on the state forbidsnit. Middle Americans are as muchnwrapped up in the tentacles of thenmegastate as the elite that runs it or thenunderclass that is its main beneficiary.nMiddle Americans buy their homesnwith loans provided by the federalngovernment. They educate their childrennin public schools and send themnto colleges, themselves recipients ofnfederal funds, with federal student aid.nThey work for corporations regulatednby and linked to the state and arenmembers of labor unions protected bynfederal laws. They receive federal farmnsubsidies, and the food they producenand eat, the highways on which theyntravel, the air they breathe, and thentelevision they watch all are subject tonthe laws and regulations of the federalnmegastate. Most Americans, Middle ornnot, lodge few objections to this kind ofnregimentation; what they do object tonis that it doesn’t work all that well —nthat is, that they don’t get from it asnmuch as they want or expect — or thatnfederal regimentation often seems tonhelp others more than it helps them.nMiddle Americans don’t object to thenmegastate in principle, but they donobject to it in practice.nHence, the agenda of an authenticnMiddle American political consciousnessnwould include retaining many ofn