Lamentations of a Recovering Marxistnby Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.n”Progress needs the brakeman, but the brakeman should not spend all his timenputting on the brakes.”n— Elbert HubbardnThe True and Only Heaven:nProgress and Its Criticsnby Christopher LaschnNew York: W.W. Norton & Co.;n591 pp., $25.00nThe case for pessimism has beenneasy to make since Lincoln, andnmandatory since Franklin Roosevelt.nToday, not much is left of the OldnRepublic. As early as the 1930’s, FranknChodorov could describe Washington,nD.C., as a painted prostitute. Today, it isna whore of Babylonian proportions.nWe have become inured to perpetualndecline. Most Americans are gettingnpoorer. 2 Live Crew is getting richer.nCriminals are victims. The innocent arennobodies. Third-graders learn to putncondoms on cucumbers. Virginity is annobject of fun. Manners are extinct.nBlasphemy is a sacrament. AIDS is ancivil right. Martin Luther King is annicon. Rodney C. King is an assistantnicon. Max Lerner is a conservative. AndnEuropean-American culture is — likenthat dead white male Columbus — tonbe shoved off the edge of the new flatnEarth.nIn the midst of this comes ProfessornChristopher Lasch of the University ofnRochester to warn us, in The True andnOnly Heaven, against a belief in progress.nLasch is an important intellectualnhistorian, and his book reflects hisnprofessional status. His thesis — thatnthe idea of progress has caused immensenharm to society and should andnwill be scrapped — is compelling tonmany people. His analysis of a wholenraft of opponents of progress, fromnRalph Waldo Emerson to OrestesnBrownson, from Jonathan Edwards tonReinhold Niebuhr, is most useful. It is,nin fact, a good adjunct to RobertnLlewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., isnpresident of the Ludwig von MisesnInstitute at Auburn University innAlabama.n^^A^t- f^^*”^^^^^?^^nNisbet’s magisterial History of the Ideanof Progress.nThe True and Only Heaven alsonreflects Lasch’s paleoleftism. He tellsnus that the “capacity for loyalty isnstretched too thin when it tries tonattach itself to the hypothetical solidaritynof the human race.” He criticizesnmodern liberalism for promoting feminism,nsexual freedom, and divorce, andnadds that “to see the modern worldnfrom the point of view of a parent is tonsee it in the worst possible light.” Laschnis still an economic leftist, however,nand he draws upon cultural paleoism tonnnurge conservatives to demand statenlimits to economic growth. Too manynpeople, he believes, now agree with then”crude” idea “that the economy cannindeed expand” and benefit “all society’snmembers.” This is Lasch’s understandingnof that harmful “belief innprogress that has dominated Anglo-nAmerican politics for two centuries.”nSocialists used to promote their ideologynas raising living standards. Now thatnLasch, like other socialists, knows thatnsocialism equals poverty, he wants us tonbelieve that being poor is good for us,nand for the “earth’s finite resources.”nBut the right still seeks to maintainn”our riotous standard of living” at “thenexpense of the rest of the world (andnincreasingly at the expense of our ownnminorities as well).”nEverything earthly is finite, ofncourse, but the Earth in its own rightnhas no resources; they belong to man,nand unless we put the United Nationsnin charge of their distribution, we are innno danger of running out of them.nThat is not what the environmentalistsnreally worry about, however. “An EnergynGlut in the Ground ImperilsnEcological Hopes” ran a New YorknTimes headline last fall; companiesnkeep discovering vast new reserves ofnoil, coal, and natural gas, to the horrornof the Greens. The intelligent use, ornconservation, of resources can only bendecided by property owners. That isnwhy federal lands are overgrazed, ornclear-cut and not replanted; why Yellowstonenis allowed to burn over becausenfire from lightning is naturaln(whereas careless campers are arrestednby Smokey the Bear); and why thirtynthousand loggers and landowners arenimpoverished so that fifteen hundrednbirds can continue to live in the style tonwhich they have become accustomed.nNor do most Americans, outside ofnthe rich and infamous in the imperialncapital, have a “riotous” standard ofnliving, thanks largely to the federalngovernment. And while it is true thatnAUGUST 1991/27n