REVIEWSrnRetooling thernConservativernMovementrnby James ThorntonrnRevolution from the Middlernhy Samuel FrancisrnRaleigh: Middle American Press;rn251 pp., $6.95rnSamuel Francis’s newest book, composedrnof 30 essays originally publishedrnin Chronicles between 1989 andrn1996, is much more than a collection ofrnarticles about matters of passing concern.rnRather it attests to Francis’s singularrnefforts in constructing a strategy byrnwhich Americans might recapture theirrnnation from the decadent establishmentrnnow in power. He does this by challengingrnthat wodd of comfortable delusionrnand naivete that has come to characterizernconservative thought, and by callingrnour attention to the fact that, if we are tornprevail, we must comprehend whatrnAmerican civilization was and is, and tornconsider what we wish it to become. Inrnother words, to formulate a successfulrnstrategy we must begin to think sociologically.rnWe do well to ignore the petty ideologicalrnscribblers who dominate sociologyrntoday and to remember instead therntrue sociological luminaries of the lastrntwo centuries. In the realm of modernrnpolitical theory Vilfredo Pareto, RobertornMichels, and Gaetano Mosea must bernranked among the great masters. Yetrntheir books are neither easy to find nor tornread. Happily, the central themes encompassedrnin the works of these authorsrnwere epitomized and synthesized over 50rnyears ago by James Burnham in ThernMachiavellians, a genuine classic thatrneven today remains in print.rn,v /f /} ,s CI’ i/)rn87? – 5459rnA leitmotiv running through thernworks of these men is the notion that allrnhuman societies have been governed byrnelites. Whatever the system, from tribalrnchiefdoms to complex federal republics,rngovernance will be carried out by an eliternof one sort or another: a function of therntruth that all people are not equallyrnclever or courageous. Marxists, Paretorntakes pains to point out, may blusterrnabout the rights of the downtroddenrnmasses, but the practical effect of theirrntheories, insofar as the relationship betweenrnrulers and the ruled is concerned,rnis merely to substitute one hierarchicalrnsystem with another. To note that governancernis always under the direction of anrnelite and that all societies from the greatestrnto the most humble are organizedrnalong hierarchical lines, is obviously notrnto say that all elites execute their rolesrnwith equal deftness. History testifiesrnthat some elites maintained power forrncenturies and, in the process, broughtrnhappiness and prosperity to the peoplesrnand nations commended to their care.rnOthers, like the Bolsheviks, brought onlyrnbottomless desolation to their haplessrnsubjects.rnOur own current ruling elite, in powerrnfor most of this century, is of a definitelyrnleftist temper, sharing certain of its ideologicalrnassumptions and many of its morerngrotesque hallucinations with its Bolshevikrncousins. While it has, by and large,rneschewed the use of naked terror (at leastrnuntil recently), it is surely no exaggerationrnto say that it has spawned considerablernmisery and catastrophe, both atrnhome and abroad. As Burnham notes,rn”The programs which [the members ofrnthe governing elite] profess, as well asrnthose upon which they act, are devoid ofrnreality in their failure to recognize therngeneral pattern of our age. They are contentrnnot simply with myths, but withrnremnants of outworn myths. Proceedingrnin this manner, with the material resourcesrndevised by physical science atrntheir disposal, they have brought civilizationrnto the most shattering crisis ofrnrecorded history.” Indeed. So why arernthey still exercising power?rnAs a student of the work of Mosca,rnMichels, Pareto, and Burnham, SamuelrnFrancis knows the source of modern liberalism’srnsuccess. Liberals understand,rnfor example—especially after somernpainful lessons in this century—that tornmaintain control they must possess certainrncrucial centers of power, and so theyrnhave striven relentlessly to gain dominionrnnot only over government but overrnthe cultural organs of our society:rnchurches, educational institutions, thernarts, and the mass media. The necessityrnto control these cultural instrumentalities,rnthough possibly instinctive on thernpart of the American establishment, wasrnactually set down in a hypotheticalrnframework by another brilliant theoristrnwith keen sociological insights, the ItalianrnMarxist Antonio Gramsci, withrnwhose writings Francis is also thoroughlyrnfamiliar.rnChristianity, Gramsci deduced, havingrnsaturated the civilized world forrn2,000 years, remained the dominantrnphilosophical and moral system in Europernand North America, at leastrnthrough the eariy decades of this century.rnSo thoroughly integrated into therndaily lives, and even the patterns ofrnthought, of neady everyone—includingrnnon-Christians living in these societiesrn—had the Christian system becomernthat it formed an almost impenetrablernbarrier to the new, revolutionary civilizationrnthat the radical left wished to create.rnAttempts to batter down that barrierrngenerated highly menacing counterrevolutionaryrnforces and were therefore unproductive.rnFor this reason, Gramscirnsaw, it would be more effective and lessrnrisky to undermine the enemy fromrnwithin; to achieve, through “culturalrnhegemony,” the transformation of society’srncollective mind from its Christianrnperspective into one more congenial tornMarxism. That precisely is what hasrnbeen going on in this country for sevenrndecades and, in accelerated form, in thernlast three. Through his reliance on anrnunderstanding of solid historical and sociologicalrnreality, rather than on sillyrnmottoes or obdurate ideology, Gramscirnsucceeded by his influence in casting anrnever-advancing shadow over our age.rnOur own country—with its distinctrnpeople, its culture and traditions derivedrnfrom Europe, and its unique way of apprehendingrnthe wodd—is governed by arnruling elite which openly seeks its obliteration.rnThey have learned how to manip-rn36/CHRONICLESrnrnrn