looked forward to the time when then”successive changes in human society”nwill have brought us to a time of “nonmaster save reason,” when “priests andntheir stupid or hypocritical tools will allnhave disappeared.” The proper responsento this sort of thing is that ofnTocqueville, for whom real progressnwas based upon religion. It is then”religious nations,” he said, which,n”thinking only of the other world,”nhave found the “great secret of successnin this.”nLasch and other post-’89 socialists tonthe contrary, material improvementncannot be evil. “Just think of thenprogress and perfection which humannskill has reached,” wrote St. Augustinenin The City of God. “There have beenndiscovered and perfected, by the naturalngenius of man, innumerable artsnand skills which minister not only tonthe necessities of life but also to humannenjoyment.” “Most men want to livenand to prolong their lives; they want tonbe healthy and avoid sickness; theynwant to live comfortably and not tonexist on the verge of starvation,” Ludwignvon Mises said in Theory andnHistory. “The question is not whethernsuch progress makes people happy. Itnmakes them happier than they wouldnotherwise have been. . . . Nietzschenexpressed misgivings about the ‘muchntoo many.’ But the objects of hisncontempt thought differently.” So donthe objects of Lasch’s affection.nAs Mises points out, however, economicnprogress is far from inevitable. Itnis “the effect of an accumulation ofncapital goods exceeding the increase innpopulation. If this trend gives way to anstandstill … or to capital decumulation,nthere will no longer be progress innthis sense of the term.” Today, bigngovernment has accomplished exactlynthat.nLasch correctly criticizes the linkingnby the “libertarian movement” ofn”economic conservatism and culturalnliberalism,” but his own reverse combinationnmakes no more sense. The leftnwing properly unites economic statismnand cultural libertinism, for both warnagainst the natural law. It is no surprise,nfor example, that the feminist movementnhas always been socialist, or thatnthe Communist Manifesto advocatedncentral banking and free love. Economicnliberty and conservative culture,non the other hand, also belong togeth­ner, as John Paul II makes clear in hisnlatest encyclical, Centesimus Annus.nIt all comes down, as it often does,nto theology, and Lasch is heavily influencednby Calvinism. If one believes innthe total depravity of human nature,nthat good works are a contradiction innterms, and that no individual spiritualnadvancement is possible, then no humannprogress can take place. But if onenbelieves, as Roman Catholics andnothers do, that human nature isnBRIEF MENTIONSnCASCA: THE MONGOLnby Barry SadlernNew York: Jove Books; 170 pp., $2.95nRAZORnby Barry SadlernNew York: Jove Books; 247 pp., $3.95nwounded by original sin but not completelyncorrupted, that good works arenvaluable spiritually and on their ownnterms, and that individual spiritual advancementnis possible, then so is humannprogress.nContrary to Christopher Lasch’s belief,nAmerica can be moral, free, andnever more prosperous. That was thenFounders’ vision, and, for a time, wenprogressed toward it.n^>nSoldier, mercenary, medic, arms dealer, gunrunner, actor, and author of the mostnfamous song about the Vietnam War, “The Ballad of the Green Beret” — BarrynSadler was indeed a man of many identities. Perhaps what is not as well-known isnSadler’s astounding success as a pulp novelist, as the Louis L’Amour of actionadventurenwhose thirty-some paperbacks have sold over two million copies.nThe books under review here were Sadler’s final two works, the latter having beennfound in his computer at his Guatemala ranch where he was shot in the forehead innSeptember 1988, an incident that left him paralyzed and brain damaged for 14nmonths before taking his life in November 1989. Begun in 1979, the Casca: ThenEternal Mercenary series involves the centurion named Casca who pierced withnhis lance the side of the crucified Jesus. As blood and fluid poured forth from thenwound and onto Casca’s hand, Jesus said: “Soldier, you are content with what younare. Then that you shall remain until we meet again.” And thus begins the saga ofnthe soldier cursed by Christ to outlive the centuries and to wander the globe as annindestructible soldier for hire, forever fighting, forever surviving, forever waiting fornHim to return.nEach volume in the series is virtually the same, with Casca as the champion ofnblood-sports or as the superior warrior enslaved to a person hungry for money,npower, or fame; only the historic time and setting varies the scene. In The Mongol,nthe twenty-second volume in the series, Casca is a slave to a savage Tartar beforenbeing stolen by a young Mongol rebel named Temujin, later to be known asnGenghis Khan. It is Casca, of course, who teaches the great Khan about militarynstrategy and empire building. And like all of Sadler’s stories, The Mongol is repletenwith violence and death and told in the hardboiled, no-nonsense prose that isncommon to the genre.nRazor is the second volume of Sadler’s Martin Hendricks mercenary series. Innthis story Hendricks maneuvers to rescue his co-mercs who are imprisoned by anbloodthirsty central African dictator whose preferred method of torture involvesndelicacies with a razor. The most interesting portions of the novel involve Sadler’snrealistic depictions of gunrunning and arms dealing in Central America, of thendense community of ex-mercenaries working and residing in and aroundnHollywood, and the international world of high finance that supports thenmercenary network — all of which Sadler knew firsthand. Though Sadler nevernnonfictionally detailed his mercenary experiences, arms dealer Ben Rossen claimsnthat he and Sadler served in 13 armies — “Won 10, lost two, tied one,” he jokes.nIf there is one theme that runs through Sadler’s works, it is the simple Hobbesiannnotion that, good intentions notwithstanding, man is incapable of transcending hisnanimal state. Or as Casca in his final episode in The Mongol states, “Scratch thenthin veneer of what man called culture and civilization and in most cases younwould find a barbarian waiting to be set free.”n— Theodore PappasnnnAUGUST 1991/29n