nancial practice whose real names are bribery and corruption.rnHere in Massachusetts wc have a vivid svmbol of domesticrnimperiahsm in the spectacle of the Kennedys, a new-rich familyrnthat, having bought itself influence in the first period ofrngovernment expansion under Roosevelt, has gone on to buy itselfrnvotes by distributing largess in the form of welfare servicesrnand defense contracts, thus turning Massachusetts into arnrotten borough for Senator Kennedy and his younger kinfolk.rnThe story of postwar American imperialism is inscribed in therncareers of the Kennedys and men like them. Their politicalrnlives have been spent in symbiosis with the Russian Empire,rnand now that it has disintegrated they have two alternatives tornself-reform: a full-blooded commitment to imperialism underrnthe name of something like global democracy or an attempt tornconsolidate their power at home by the imposition of fullscalernwelfare-state socialism. Either course will ruin America,rnbut as long as our own version of the nomenklatura retains itsrnhold on the Congress and our institutions both are possible.rnAnd vet even the Kenneds cannot abrogate the rules ofrnempire. Eor a wiiilc in the heyday of the Cold War, imperialrnAmerica could build roads, endow universities, preserve passengerrntrains, and subsidize the arts not, as in Europe, be-rnSooner or later the truth will dawn thatrnirrespective of moral judgments upon a terriblernregime, the breakup of Russia was the final actrnof an immense tragedy. It would be salutary,rntoo, if Americans could understand that thernbreakup was the kind of thing that happens tornimperial states, and that when it happens it isrnalways a rebuke to pride and arrogance.rncause these were the amenities of a civilized state, but becausernsomething called “national security” required them.rnMost people were prepared to go along with this pleasant fictionrnand to pa up. They could afford it, and the amenitiesrnwere preserved after a fashion. Now the imperial bills havernswollen bevond either our ability or willingness to pay, andrnwhile we have been indulging dreams of hope and glorv, thernnew commercial powers of Japan and Europe have grown richrnat our expense.rnSo far, offered a choice, our rulers have opted for imperialismrnrather than the amenities, and public opinion of all shadesrnhas supported them in principle if not in particular cases.rnThe idea that Americans have a right and an obligation to intervenernin other countries’ affairs in the name of moral and politicalrnprogress is everywhere taken for granted. Left-wingersrnwho olijectcd to the invasion of Grenada would have liked usrnto take over Elaiti. Democrats who objected to the invasion ofrnKuwait would like us to throw a little weight around in Ireland.rnThe American Catholic bishops would like to dictate theologyrnto the Pope. Lesbian feminists feel the imperial urge to spreadrnthe blessings of American feminism among the women ofrnAfrica, India, and South East Asia. Progressives who worriedrnthat the Cold War was a sin against historical inevitabilitvrnwant us to send teams of managers, money-lenders, and politicalrnscientists swarming all over the former Russian Empire.rnEven Pat Buchanan had visions of the Sixth Fleet bringingrncommon sense to Yugoslavia, and it did candidate Clintonrnno harm at all to talk big about American intervention inrnBosnia.rnSo the response of America to the breakup of Russia was,rnand remains, problematic. President Bush was an upper-classrnapparatchik who like others of his kind prided himself on hisrnlack of imagination and his deference to habit. Because hernshared with the electorate a mania for sports and a determinationrnto win, it was probably incxitable that he should interpretrnthe breakup as a big victory for America, equally inevitablernthat he should regret so complete a victory asrnunsporting and bad for the game. Neither he nor James Bakerrnseemed prepared for the intense national emotions releasedrnby the liberation of Eastern Europe. But that hardly mattered.rnAs his famous phrase about a “New World Order” indicated,rnas far as American policy was concerned, the onlyrnchange was the removal of an obstacle and the addition ofrnmore clients to America’s worldwide welfare system. Nothingrnin the presidential campaign suggests a change of policy underrnPresident Clinton. The man from Arkansas will probably enjoyrnplaying emperor as much as any of his recent predecessors.rnSooner or later the truth will dawn that irrespective of moralrnjudgments upon a terrible regime, the breakup of Russia wasrnthe final act of an immense tragedy. It would be salutary,rntoo, if Americans could understand that the breakup was thernkind of thing that happens to imperial states, and that when itrnhappens it is always a rebuke to pride and arrogance. More immediately,rnwe need to understand that the breakup has discreditedrnthe whole complex of ideas upon which that particularrnregime was based, and that insofar as those ideas remainrnactive in the politics of Russia or of other nations, they remainrndangerous. Who, after all, would ever have imaginedrnthat progressive ideas inxented in 19th-eentury Europe wouldrnhax’c reduced the inhabitants of a great modern state to the necessityrnof relcarning the most basic human social arts and occupationsrn—of buying and selling, for instance?rnHere in America we are in no danger of forgetting how tornbuv and sell. Nonetheless, impelled by our own version ofrnthe progressive-millcnnialist bug, we have been discarding inheritedrnsocial and cultural wisdom at an extraordinary rate, arnprocess much accelerated in recent years by the contempt ofrnour fashionable and influential left-wing for all traditionalrnforms. The result is a radical uncivilizing most obvious inrnthe antics of what we have learned to call the underclasses,rnbut apparent in the behavior of all classes of society. Thernsame feckless progressivism underlies our monstrous indebtedness:rntoo many of us believed that irrc’ersible economicrnprogress would “grow” or develop us out of debt.rnOne consequence of the Russian breakup has been to makernprophecy ver’ difficult. All we now^ know for certain is thatrntruths that are universallv denied eventualK’ prevail, and thatrnthe experience of their prevailing can be extremely unpleasant.rnOne truth we should all be contemplating is that the ultimaternsocial and financial cost of America’s peculiar brand ofrnunacknowledged imperialism might just be America itself.rnI8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn