Such, in essence, was the ancient ideal of liberal educationnas we encounter it in such diverse and even opposingnauthors as Plato and Isocrates, Aristotle and Cicero. It wasnconservative in its adherence to tradition and in its commitmentnto social order, but liberal or even radical in emphasizingna technique of argument and dialectic that can bring outnboth sides of a controversy. It is a far cry from anything thatngoes on in American universities, where cowardice, servility,nand disloyalty are the primary virtues, and contempt for thenpast is the sole object of teaching history.nMost of what takes place in our universities is to benexplained not so much by malice as by fear. Liberalism is antimorous creed that cannot suffer the voice of opposition. Itsntenets, because they are held as a religious faith, cannot bensubject to questioning, much less contradiction. As eachnnew corollary is spawned from liberal orthodoxy — minoritynrights, feminism, deconstructionism, toleration of perversityn— some liberals are forced to destroy their careers (ornbecome conservative, which is virtually the same thing) bynbucking the latest trend. Most, however, simply go alongnand follow St. Paul’s advice by settling their stomach with anlittle wine: a liberal with good intentions almost always has andrinking problem.nThe conservative movement that took shape after WorldnWar II, insofar as it has been in evidence on campus,nserved primarily as the permanent minority, a small wedgenin the door that keeps the house of intellect from falling intontotal darkness. The various arguments put forward by suchnconservative scholars as Willmoore Kendall, Russell Kirk,nStephen Tonsor, M.E. Bradford, Milton Friedman, KarinWittfogel, and Robert Nisbet never amounted to a consensusnon anything — except for dissatisfaction with the waynthings are. They did keep alive a diversity of political andnhistorical argument that would otherwise have been lost, andnin a few notable cases — e.g., Friedman and Nisbet—theynsucceeded in changing the terms of debate.nTo use a biological metaphor, the conservative role hasnbeen to preserve genetic diversity in our intellectual population.nLiberal intellectuals resemble nothing so much as andomesticated species of grain or bird or tree. They flourish,nso long as there is no dramatic change in the conditions fornwhich they were created, but a shift in climate or the arrivalnof some new disease or predator threatens them withnextinction, because all the little genetic variants that mightnhave proved successful in adapting to change have been brednout of them.nBy keeping alive the minority opinions on free enterprise,nlimited government, traditional morality, and patriotism,nconservative intellectuals helped to make the counterinsurgencynof the Reagan years possible. They had not succeedednin convincing very many scholars and intellectuals, but theynhad made a respectable showing over the years, sufficientnthat when the cataclysm of the Carter administration tooknplace and many people — in and out of academia—begannto entertain doubts, they could hardly fail to consider thenconservative alternatives.nA number of groups are responsible for preservingnconservative alternatives, but none is older or more importantnthan the National Review, which over the years hasnpublished articles from Birchers, segregationists, libertarians.ntraditionalists, agrarians, neoconservatives, and not a fewnliberals. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s, when most peoplenthought of conservatives, their first impression was ofnWilliam F. Buckley Jr., the polysyllabic Yalie who took onnthe opposition with the sort of heroic chivalry displayed bynRichard I and Saladin in their unholy wars over the HolynLand.nBut if NR was eager to preserve conservative alternatives,nthe magazine also seemed determined on deciding who wasnand who was not entitled to use the name. Over the years,nNR editors read a fair number of alternatives out of thenparty. Poet and scholar Peter Viereck was among the first tonbe relegated — for holding affirmative views on the NewnDeal that were somewhat to the right of Commentary in thenI980’s. If Viereck was an enemy on the left, Ayn Rand andnthe John Birch Society were enemies on the right. Rand wasnread out for her libertarian/libertine views, and the Birchersnexpelled for their zany conspiracy theories. The attack onnthe Birchers was a costly move. While Robert Welch hadnclearly gone off the deep end in declaring PresidentnEisenhower a conscious agent of international Communism,nthe Society, nonetheless, included a great manynpeople who were neither dangerous nor crazy. They werenthe representatives and heirs of the older conservativism thatntended to be Middle American, Protestant, isolationist, andnanti-urban — a combination of Bob Taft Republicans andnSouthern Democrats that continue to be the heart, if notnthe mind, of the American right.nWhatever the reason, today there is probablynless freedom of opinion on the right thannon the left, and, what is more significant,nmost of the clauses in the new conservativencredo would have been viewed, ten or fifteennyears ago, as either false or unimportant.nWith the exception of these anathemas, NR and indeednthe entire conservative coalition were marked by an intellectualnfreedom that put the “free-thinking” left to shame. Butnif the great meirit of conservatism has been to keep alive andiversity of opinion, that merit evaporated in the 1980’s.nSome attribute the hardening of conservative ideology tonthe election of Ronald Reagan, an event that gave thenmovement its first chance for power. Others blame thenarrival of the neoconservatives, whose leaders were seasonednveterans of the civil wars fought out between the variousnsects that revere the memory of Marx and Lenin. Still othersnhave pointed to the demise or retirement of a great manynintellectual leaders of the Old Right.nWhatever the reason, today there is probably less freedomnof opinion on the right than on the left, and, what is morensignificant, most of the clauses in the new conservativencredo would have been viewed, ten or fifteen years ago, asneither false or unimportant. The old conservatives believednin limited government, small-town America, free enterprise;nthey were suspicious of the intellectual and political elitesnnnSEPTEMBER 1989/11n