28 / CHRONICLESnEugene Debs a penitentiary sentence); as outrageous asndefiance of FDR’s policies in 1940 (which earned a trial fornsedition for the Trotskyites).nOur Congress, moreover, as well as our courts andnprosecutors, has diminished Fifth Amendment rights innremarkable fashion. First, any witness or defendant claimingnthe right to remain silent under the Fifth can give onlynhis name. An answer to any other question—no matternhow insulting—is held to have relinquished his right. Thennanother weapon was created: immunity. This ensures thatnthose who admit murder or any other crime can go free, ifnthey implicate the persons prosecutors really want to convict.nNow Congress has emerged with still another refinement:n”limited immunity.” This means that a witness mustnanswer even incriminating questions and is free fromnprosecution unless the prosecutors can find corroborationnapart from his answers. All this adds up to the conditionnwherein our government is now determined to select whomnit chooses to imprison and will go to extraordinary lengthsnto twist the Constitution to achieve its purpose. A “parchmentnbarrier” indeed. Mr. Madison knew the nature ofngovernments.nAll these examples and arguments, precedents and observationsnare cited to prove that we are in a crisis—ancondition, as usual, hidden from the popular mind. Wenare, in fact, in the midst of a revolution, a time whennCongress is pushing against the Chief Executive with an eyentoward seizing supreme power. This is the issue—not ournforeign policy.nThat is not to say that Congress is acting alone: far fromnit. The media wants change. There are demands for a newnConstitutional Convention. The academe is an enemy ofnour present system. Radicals are widespread; their followingnis growing—and antiradicals are lost counting trees in thenforest.nIf Congress can subjugate the Executive, and the revolutionarynleaders can place one of their own in office, ournforeign policy may go one of several different ways. Whichnway, at this point, is immaterial. For whatever happens afternthe fall of this President will not be determined by nationalnchoice but by radicals in the legislature, abetted by radicalsnin the media, the Academy, and the bureaucracy. They willndecide their foreign course later: the argument now is overncontrol of the Ship of State. We have come a long way, in anshort time, from elections.nDo not be deceived by the surface issues. Do not fall intonthe error of considering all that is happening to be simplenparty politics. For traditional parties agree on traditionalnpolitics. Radicals are out to end traditions. Do not be lullednby the fact that we have had a series of weak Presidents sincenFDR. The tools of complete power, in the form ofnExecutive Orders and the like, have long ago been forgednand await strong hands.nDo not overlook the discovery that Ronald Reagan,nunder pressure, has reacted like the amiable but slow-wittednLouis XVI, like the weak though pleasant Tsar Nicholas II,nor like senile old Hindenburg.nDo not ignore these portents, signs, and omens simplynbecause the scenario appears melodramatic: life is melodramatic.nMeasured against the patterns of history, our culturenand our political situation today resembles that of Parisn1788; St. Petersburg 1916; Berlin 1933. It is true ourngovernment is not yet bankrupt; we are not in the midst of angreat war, we are not in the depths of a depression. But letnone disaster shake our ship, even at a distance, and thenrevolution will move forward here, as it has elsewhere, withnamazing and irrevocable speed—unless we awaken fromnour single-issue trances and combine to save America.nCONSERVATIVE COMMONS by Barry ShainnAmerican conservatism in the late 18th century wasnunlike the European species, where popular “peasant”nand articulate “aristocratic” conservatism were able tondevelop together and to maintain a common front againstnthe ascendant bourgeoisie. With the exile of loyalists andnthe waning of the old Federalists, American conservatismnwas effectively decapitated; nevertheless, a popular conservatismncontinued to endure in the subnational practices andninstitutions of the American commons.nAs a result, it is a serious mistake for conservativenintellectuals to search for legitimacy in the thinking of thenFounding Fathers and their national Constitution. Rather,nthe roots of American conservatism should be sought in thenethical tradition of popular democracy, and not in anynabstract rational project. It was the majority of Americansnliving in villages who in the founding period and thereafternupheld this conservative ethical vision against encroachment.nFrom the late 18th century on, two ethical visionsnBarry Shain is Prize Teaching Fellow at Yale University.nnn—nationalistic liberalism and parochial consensualndemocracy—would vie for the soul of America. ThenAmerican national republic and its “creed” were thus bornnbifurcated.nIt is this local-centric America, and not any nationalisticn”conservative” elite (though one still did exist in the laten18th century), that is the source of an indigenous Americannconservatism. But it was amorphous and inarticulate,nexisting mostly at the level of village norms and practices.nThe Republic came into being with its language, highnculture, and national identity supplied by an increasinglynliberal bourgeois elite. Its popular culture and widespreadnpractices, on the other hand, stemmed from a distinctiyndifferent, local-centric commons whose communitariannways continued to be renewed until the 1920’s by wave afternwave of European peasant immigrants.nWhy “peasant”? My answer is that while aristocraticnconservatism was not viable in America after the Revolution,nthe popular conservatism of the commons was verynmuch like a European peasantry’s variant of conservatism.n