OPINIONSrnOnce More Beyond the Palernby Chilton Williamson, Jr.rn”A thousand years scarce serve to form a state; An hour may lay it in the dust.”rn—Lord ByronrnThe End of the Twentieth Centuryrnand the End of the Modern Agernby John LukacsrnNew York: Ticknor & Fields;rn29] pp., $21.95rnAround the Cragged Hill: A Personalrnand Political Philosophyrnby George F. KennanrnNew York: W.VV. Norton;rn272 pp., $22.95rnFew antiliberal writers are dislikedrnand distrusted so much by mainstreamrn”conservatives” as John Lukacsrnand George Kennan, Like most movementsrnthat achieve a degree of success,rnintellectual “conservatism” m Americarnhas petrified into an establishment farrnmore concerned with maintaining proximityrnto power than with preserving itsrnown integrity of mind, which in any casernwas compromised from the start by anrnunwillingness to risk a commitment torncircumscribed interests by examiningrntoo critically the structure and functionrnof postwar American society. SincernWorld War II, “conservatives” in thisrncountry have mainly been corporaterncapitalists and anticommunists whosernhatred of the left is far greater than theirrnlove of the truth, which they arc willingrnto fudge rather than concur with thernleftist critique on any point whatever.rnCompounding this commitment tornpower and interest is a prep-school codernof ethics by which people who refuse tornbe team players are judged unreliablerneccentrics at best, dangerous scoundrelsrnat worst.rnSince American “conservatism” forrnthe past 40 years has been little morernthan an apology for corporate capitalismrnand modern tcchnomaterialism, it isrnnaturally suspicious of traditionalistsrnChilton Williamson, jr.. is senior editorrnfor books at Chronicles.rnwho believe that the time has comernto reappraise the modernist idea ofrn”progress” and who are not reluctant tornsay that the environmental crisis is nornbogey of the left but a crucial—perhapsrnthe most crucial—issue of the age, orrnthat “national security” and messianicrndemocratism are not adec]uate justificationrnfor the imperial state. In his reviewrnof Mr. Kennan’s latest book in thernNew York Times, Ceorge Will called thernauthor’s brand of conservatism “anachronistic”rnand observed that “his thinkingrnis, strictly speaking, un-American. . . .”rnThe answer to this is that Kennan’srnthinking is congruent with the majoritarianrnthought of many generations ofrnAmericans, and that it is Mr. Will’s neo-rnKristolian conservatism that is likely tornbecome an anachronism, sooner perhapsrnthan later.rnFormally speaking, I’he End of thernTwentieth Century and Around thernCragged Hill are very different works,rnLukacs’ being an historical meditationrnwhile Kennan’s, as the title suggests, is arnpersonal and political testament, meantrnto aid scholars attempting to discern arncoherent philosophy from his earlierrnbooks. Thev have in common, though,rnbesides an episodic structure and an impressionisticrnand subjective technique, arnshared view of civilization—meaning essentiallyrna preference for the high-bourgeoisrnepoch that Lukacs calls the culminationrnof the Modern Age—thatrncritics will find easy to dismiss as representingrnsimply the prejudices of age, asrnindeed George Will came close to doing.rn(Who says conservatives can’t learnrnnew tricks?) Yet, Kennan’s opinionsrnaside, no reader not already familiarrnwith the man would guess that this vigorouslyrnwritten volume was the work ofrnan oeto-, about to become a nona-,rngenarian.rnKennan contemplates with dismayrnthe United States at the close of thern20th century. “If I were to be asked by arnforeigner what strikes me most aboutrnmy own people, two points . . . wouldrncome most readily to mind: first, thatrnwe are a nation of bad social habits; and,rnsecond, that there are far too many ofrnus.” He deplores the American “addiction”rnto the automobile and to television;rnthe resolute advancement of mentalrnunreality by advertising and popularrnpolitics; the trend from constitutionalrnrepublicanism toward plebiscitary democracyrnexemplified by the acceptancernof the results of public-opinion polls asrnvox populi and by a growing reliance onrnballot propositions and constitutionalrnamendments to circumvent representativerngovernment; the destruction ofrnrural life and of the land itself byrnpopulation growth and spreading suburbanization;rnthe destructive and counterproductivernsocial and environmentalrneffects of technology; uncontrolled immigration;rnand the advanced centralizationrnof American government thatrnhas so far failed to live up to its billing asrnthe solution for the country’s most fundamentalrnproblems, which arc by nowrnapproaching critical mass. As a step towardrncoping with these, Kennan recommendsrnthe creation of a Council ofrnState from among the most intelligent,rnknowledgeable, experienced, and disin-rn34/CHRONICLESrnrnrn