PERSPECTIVEnTurning Rights into Wrongsnby Thomas FlemingnHow Democracies Perish was the subject, as well as the title, reform and suppress the state and local jurisdictions that stoodnof an important book by Jean-Francois Revel. M. Revel • in the way of establishing a power monopoly in Washington,nis a hardheaded journalist who takes little interest in political One hundred years ago it was the federal courts that preventedntheory, but he is a keen observer of the corruption into which the states from cleaning up the corruption caused by the rail­nthe states of the West have fallen.nroad monopolies that owned state legislatures outright. It is allnWhen I had drinks with him a few years ago, much of the too easy to deprecate the progressives and populists who want­ntalk was about the corruption of the Mitterrand regime. Ruling ed state ownership of railroads and utilities, until one actuallynclasses almost always turn out to be venal and corrupt,’and I re­ studies the machine that Bob LaFollette was up against in Wisgretnnot asking him to delineate the common characteristics consin, a machine kept in place by the federal courts. Closer tonthat stamp Mitterrand’s socialists, as well as Democrats and Re­ our own time, the federal courts have seized control of ournpublicans in the United States, with the same mark of the beast school systems, gerrymandered the election process, and, slow­nthat was so visible on the foreheads of the Soviet nomenclatura. ly but surely, worked to establish a national religion, supportednOssified in their mediocrity, stupid in the conviction of their by compulsory tithes and preaching doctrines that would havenGod-given right to rule, for sale, like the friends of Henry embarrassed any honest atheist of a hundred years ago.nKissinger, not to the highest bidder, for that would take intelligence,nbut to any bidder, the latter-day Communists of thenEast and the Social Democrats of the West understood eachnother all too well. No wonder George Bush protested, whennconservatives were wary of a Soviet leader who had formedynheaded the KGB. At the time, we thought Mr. Bush was simplynbeing obtuse, when he compared his own position, as formernCIA director, with that of Mr. Andropov. It took someonenas paranoid as Andrei Navrozov to realize the truth. The principalndifference between their side and ours is that while Mr.nBush is a Yale man, Mr. Gorbachev has gone to Harvard.nI occasionally meet people, even educated people, who pretendnto believe that something called the Constitution hasnprevented the establishment of a national church. After all, thenFirst Amendment states clearly that “Congress shall make nonlaw respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibiting thenexercise thereof.” What the Framers of that amendment werentrying to prevent was a system like the Church of England,nwhich collected taxes to support the church, imposed religiousntests upon office-holders, and even had its doctrines promulgatednin- state-supported universities and schools.nObviously there were differences between the state churchesnIf the Soviet Empire rested on force—the army, the KGB— of France, England, and Massachusetts, but the main points arenhere in America, the regime has only occasionally based its compulsory tithing, in one form or another, and the promulga­npower on the army, and since that one episode in military rule, tion of official doctrine through schools and other media of in­nthe ruling class has preferred to use the federal courts to thwart formation and indoctrination. How are things different in then8/CHRON:CLESnnn