The Truce Is Overrnby Clyde WilsonrnTTie Long Truce: How TolerationrnMade the World Safe forrnPower and Profitrnby A.]. ConyersrnDallas: Spence Publishing Company;rn266 pp., $27.95rnToleration in public life, the agreementrnto disagree peaceably, is onernof the great achievements of Westernrnman. Toleration can sometimes bernfound in static societies, but in dynamicrnsocieties, it is rare—save for a few recentrncenturies of European civilization.rnThe disaster of the 17th-century religiousrnwars and—even more, perhaps —rnthe discovery of the practical benefits of anrnempirical attitude toward truth generatedrna certain openness, a willingness to livernand let live in matters of faith. Nonetheless,rnthe happy era of toleration ended inrnthe unprecedented totalitarian regimes ofrnthe century just past. And in the centuryrnnow beginning, the so-called liberalrndemocracies seem to be descending intornthe enforced groupthink that has been labeledrn”political correctness.”rnDr. Conyers, a professor at the BaylorrnUniversity Theological Seminar}’, v’antsrnto know how we got from there to here.rnHis account is an erudite but readablerntour of political thought from Hobbes tornthe present. To oversimplif)’ a very nuancedrnargument, Dr. Conyers shows howrntoleration became, in the modern nation-rnstate, essentially an indifference tornall values except political power and materialrnprosperity.rnFar from liberating the individualrnfrom government, toleration liberatedrnthe individual from every bond andrnobligation except the state—a state nowrnwithout any values except its own will tornpower. The loosened individual has becomernnot a free man but a cipher in anrninarticulate mass society’, which has so farrnremained livable only by virtue ofrnresidues of its civilizational founding andrnChristian patrimony. “Liberation” becomesrnthe pretty mask to hide elitist power.rnEmerson perfectly expressed it in thernpoisonous deceit of his Harvard DivinityrnSchool address: “Build therefore yourrnown world, a correspondent revolution inrnthings will attend the spirit. So willrndisagreeable appearances, swine, snakes,rnpests, madhouses, prisons vanish . . . untilrnevil is no more seen.”rn”To learn where we have begim torndrift off course is not to regret the entirernjourney,” writes Dr. Convers. “Distance,rnnevertheless, gives us perspective.”rnThere is a fundamental question raisedrnby the course of modernity, he argues:rnHow long can society maintain itself onrnresidues? “How long can it pretend thatrnthe character and virtiie of a people, thatrnwhich makes social life commodious andrnpredictable, can simplv be taken forrngranted?” Will we continue on the perilousrnpath of “a form of toleration that, inrneffect, tolerates nothing except the individualrnand the state, giing free reign tornthe egotistical forces at either end of thernspectrum?”rnI have summarized a work that deservesrnthoughtful and extended readingrnand that is as relevant to our monrent asrnthe sunrise. The Long Truce goes on myrnbest shelf with other valued friends ofrncontemplation —Richard M. Weaver’srnIdeas Have Consequences, Betrand dernJouvenels On Power, l^onald Livingston’srnPhilosophical Melancholy andrnDelerium, and Eric Voegelin’s New Sciencernof Politics.rnClyde Wilson teaches history at thernUniversity of South Carolina.rnWaking Up tornDumbing Downrnhy Derek TurnerrnDumbing Down: Culture, Politics,rnand the Mass Mediarnedited by Ivo Mosle)’rnBowling Creen: Imprint Academic;rn328pp.,$l9.9SrnChronicles readers may be ratherrntired of hearing about “dumbingrndown,” but the ugh term is just now startingrnto attain cliche status in Britain. Conservativernnewspapers like tire Daily Telegraphrnand Daily Mail have begun to talkrnabout dunrbing down recentiy, in reporting,rnfor example, that almost 200,000rnchildren entering British secondaryrnschools (11- and 12-vear-olds) could notrnspell “difficult” and that almost one inrnten believed that Victoria vas the queenrnwho so resolutely opposed the SpanishrnArmada.rnNewspapers on the left, such as thernGuardian, also use the term, though usuallyrnto deny that the phenomenon exists.rnBut while it is certainly possible to overreactrnto dumbing down, or to use thernphrase as a mask for intellectual and socialrnsnobbery, the evidence that ideologicallyrnmotivated or incompetent teachingrnhas, in the words of the quondam head ofrnthe United Kingdom’s Office for Standardsrnin Education, “betrayed a generationrn” is simplv overwhelming. And, ofrncourse, the phenomenon is not confinedrnto schools, but affects virtually every aspectrnof life in Britain.rnWhile dumbing down is attributablernto several factors, the most importantrncause is the decline of “high culture”; tornuse the term todav identifies you as an eccentric,rnsnob, or even a dangerous reactionary.rnNowadavs, large numbers ofrnpeople (at least in the media, the arts, andrnthe universities) seem prepared to acceptrnthat watching football is as “valid ” asrnwatching Shakespeare, and that the MillenniumrnDome had its good points.rnThe middle- and upper-class peoplernwho administer arts ensembles and joinrnlocal symphonv orchestras are losingrntheir self-confidence as “anti-clifism,” politicalrncorrectness, and commercialismrncreep into every corner of cultural life.rnEven their Received Pronunciation accentrnis starting to ‘anish, as they try to fitrninto Tonv Blair’s “People’s Britain.”rnBlair himself drops his aitches, and in arnrecent inten. iew said that he had met onernof his “mates” the otiier day. (He did notrnacquire these election-winning phonationsrnat his elite private school.)rnEchoes of the old suburban self-assurancerncan still be heard at the meetings ofrnsuch bodies as the Royal Institution or onrnBBC Radio ?. But such organizationsrnare ever fewer and more enrbattled, fightingrna continual rearguard action againstrndiminishing audiences —which trendrnthey tr’ to buck bv introducing more “relevant”rnprograms, outraging the faithfulrnwithout making many converts. Highrnculture is now held in such low esteemrnthat few even among the newly rich botherrnsending their children off to the conservatoryrnor to Paris. On the contrary,rnprime ministers now pretend to be interestedrnin soap-opera characters and football.rnThe drab “cla.ssless socictv” soughtrn26/CHRONICLESrnrnrn