OPINIONSrnThe Road to Regressionrnby Chilton Williamson, Jr.rn’Every step forward is made at the cost of mental and physical pain to someone.”rn—Friedrich NietzschernWith Good Intentions? Reflections onrnthe Myth of Progress in Americarnby Bill KauffmanrnWestport, CT: Praeger;rn124 pp., $35.00rnMost Americans, whether theyrnknow it or not, are aheady wellrnacquainted with lost causes; as for thernrest, they have only to wait, perhaps forrnjust a little while. T.S. Eliot thought norngood cause was ever lost—an opinion onrnwhich, as with so many other things, thernreactionary poet parted company withrnthe political and economic “conservatives”rnof the past 30 years, who haverninsisted on “common sense” againstrn”naivete,” “constructive” criticism overrnthe “negative” variety, and “practicality”rnin favor of “sentimentality.” “They neverrnfail who die / In a great cause,” Byronrnwrote—a maxim totally lost on the RepublicanrnParty, which believes, rather,rn”They never fail who live / To wimp anotherrnday.” If cowardice may have itsrnprinciples, the honorable assumptionrnhere is that “constructive” criticism onlyrncan be effectively embodied in “conservative”rnpolicy—a question-begging notionrnif there ever was one. (What is “negative,”rnMiguel de Unamuno wondered,rnand what is “positive,” and how does onerntell the difference between them?) MorernChilton Williamson, Jr., is the seniorrneditor for books at Chronicles.rnoften than not, what people mean byrn”constiuctive” is really only “popular”—rndenoting popularity-on-the-face-of-it, popularity-rnup-for-grabs: an easy popularityrnnot entailing the blood, sweat, and tearsrnof honest persuasion, the popularit)’ allrnpoliticians reach for and prefer, as innercityrnresidents snatch at welfare and ADCrnchecks. Totally lost on politicians andrnpolicy wonks alike is the idea of testimony:rnthe act of bearing witness to falsehoodrnand to truth, win or lose. It mayrnwell be that, in the present age, the solernfunction of truly conservative critics is tornkeep alive an idea of what should havernbeen, which perhaps is only another wayrnof explaining to our 20th-century culturernthe causes of its own demise (as humanrnbeings, we should insist on knowingrnthese), while reasserting the cause of thernstruggling humanity buried beneath it.rnA prophetic role, in other words; andrnwhile there is ground indeed for complaintrnin the personal misfortune of arnprophet’s calling (a summons, as Planner)’rnO’Connor said, to expect the worst),rnthere is no reason at all to rate prophecyrnbelow policy in the roster of useful occupations.rnThe Moloch against whom Bill Kauffmanrntestifies, in this book as elsewhere, isrnnot the “liberal” bugaboo—more chimerical,rnin some ways, than Don Quixote’srngiant that turned out to be a wineskin —rnthat false conservatives have wasted millionsrnof man-hours and billions of dollarsrnattacking but progressivism, a madnessrngreatly worse than the Don’s insanit)’ andrna type of mental and emotional maladyrnthat has gripped the American rulingrnclass on both sides of the Democraticrnand Republican divide, where the law ofrngravity has for many years been suspendedrnto allow power to flow downhill onrnboth sides to the District of Columbia.rn”The Communist revolution,” Marxrnand Engels wrote, “is carried through byrnthe class which is itself the expression ofrnthe dissolution of all classes, nationalities,rnetc.” The class of which they spokernis the class which Stalin credited withrnimposing “revolution from above”; it isrnalso the one solely responsible for whatrnhas been termed—by progressives—thernSecond American Revolution. SamrnFrancis, in a brilliant essay printed in thisrnmagazine last year, frankly discussed thern26/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn