national theaters, or a Vienna Opera, which flourishes innAustria precisely because few other enterprises are allowednto compete with it. Built into our political process is thenwisdom, so-called, of distribution. Second, there is thenwisdom of equality. As one looks through the annualnreports of the National Endowment for the Arts, thenCongressional Record, and the various statements of thenvarious chairmen of NEA over the years, there is a strikingnreminder of the political theme of equality. That is, therenare literally no references to diflFerences between artisticnworks or cultural enterprises. No hierarchy of values hasnever been published in the sources I have mentioned. Innfact, when invited to comment on differences of quality innart, and differences of importance in cultural enterprises,nthe spokesmen have politely declined. One chairman,nmemorably, a few years ago, said that he was not capable ofnmaking distinctions between works of art; and that in anyncase it was up to government only to grant funds. A thirdnimportant theme is accountability. The reason why thenidiotic proposition that three people should cohabit with anhousehold of rabbits, monkeys, and a full-grown sow wasnfunded is that the project offered two great sops to modernnconscience. One, that art was good for something—it lednto a resolution of an identity crisis and educated allnconcerned in some way that resonated to current massnillusions. And, in some wacky way it was an offshoot of thenenvironmental movement, capturing the respectabilitynthrough its allegiance that it lost through its mindlessness.nThe proposal was able to claim, as Rembrandt could not,nthat it was good for all concerned in more than aestheticnways.nIdeally, one supposes that we should have two sets ofngovernment patrons, two National Endowments for thenArts and for the Humanities. One NEA would support art,nand the other would give money away for good causes. ThatnThe First AnnxialnERASMUS LECTUREnPaul Johnson’snTHE ALMOST-CHOSEN PEOPLE:nWHY AMERICA IS DIFFERENTnOn January 24, 1985, St. Peter’s Churcti in New York City was thensetting for The Center on ReUgion & Society’s first annual ErasmusnLecture. It was there that hundreds heard the renowned historiannand social critic Paul Johnson speak on “The Almost-Chosen People:nWhy America Is Different.”nNow this extraordinary address is available in bcx)klet form fromnThe Rockford Institute. For your copy, send $1.95 plus 50