The Rump Rightrnby Paul Gottfriedrn”A perfect democracy is the most shameless thing in the world.”rn—Edmund BurkernConservatism: An Anthologyrnof Social and PoliticalrnThought from David Humernto the Presentrnby jerry Z. MullerrnPrinceton: Princeton University Press;rn464 pp., $59.50rnLexikon des Konservatismusrnedited by Caspar von Schrenck-NotzingrnGraz: Leopold Stocker VerlagrnLe Radici dell’Ordine Americano:rnLa tradizione europea nei valorirndel Nuovo Mondornby Russell Kirkrnedited by Marco RespintirnMilan: Arnoldo Mondadori EditorirnPlanetarische Politik nachrndem Kalten Kriegrnby Panajotis KondylisrnBerlin: Akademie VerlagrnFor some time now it has been thernopinion of European political theoristsrnthat right and left have become antiquatedrnpoints of reference. Allegedly,rnthese terms, archaic by the time of thernPaul Gottfried is a professor ofrnhumanities at Elizabethtown Collegernin Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.rnCold War, were kept in use to distinguishrnthe pro- and anticornmunist sides—rnfriends and enemies of the United Statesrnand Soviet Union. The same labels wererngiven further lease on life by socialistsrnand capitalists and, later, by social democratsrnand democratic capitalists seekingrnto demarcate their overlapping camps.rnIn a frank recognition of this overlap,rn”conservative” and “liberal” are maderncomplimentary terms, each referring to arnmoderate position on the political spectrum.rnThese are the positions of nonextremists,rnas opposed to rightists and leftists,rnwho scornfully reject consensusrnpolitics.rnSuch talk of consensus fits with thern”end of ideologv” interpretation of contemporarvrnpolitical life, which has beenrnperiodicall}’ reprised for almost 40 years:rnfrom the mainstream liberalism of thern50’s culminating in the book by S.M.rnLipset and Daniel Bell in 1962 to recentrnpronouncements on the “end of history.”rnIn this view, ideologies have beenrn”exhausted,” or overtaken by historicalrnprogress. By now, we are led to believe,rneveryone but fools and idiots agrees onrnthe same political principles—chieflyrnhuman rights, a mixed economy, andrnevolving constitutional government.rnWhat is left to be resolved are mere details,rnlike the size of the payroll deductionrnor the best mix of state economicrncontrol and the free market. This supposedrnavoidance of ideology, as the laternChristopher Lasch was wont to observe,rnis itself ideological. It is a form of intolerancernthat demonizes those who ask unseemlyrnquestions or appeal to “exhausted”rnworldviews.rnBut equally intriguing have been thernattempts to make sharp doctrinal distinctionsrnwhere none exists—and wherernnone is even intended to be present.rnWhy should American Democrats pretendrnto be the party of Jefferson andrnJackson, or English Tories the aficionadosrnof Disraeli and Salisbury, when theirrnpresent character and programs are unrelatedrnto the circumstances of past centuries?rnOne possible answer is that politicalrnparties desire to be part of arncontinuum, even a contrived one, ratherrnthan to be viewed as something whollyrncontemporary: even innovators invoke arntradition of innovation. Another, perhapsrnmore relevant answer is that, b’rntracing the present differences betweenrnlargely indistinguishable parties and factionsrnto some noteworthy split safely inrnthe past, it is possible for partisans tornparticipate in high drama without beingrndisruptive. To take sides in electoral contestsrnis to engage imaginatively in politicalrnreenactment—politics presented asrnvirtual realit).rnIn Jerry Z. Muller’s account of conservatismrnsince the 18th century, one findsrnan ideology that closely fits this description.rnMuller’s conservatism is expansivernenough to include Edmund Burke,rn28/CHRONICLESrnrnrn