Equality, Left and Rightrnby Paul GottfriedrnAmong the significant changes on the American intellectualrnright in the last 50 years is the growing emphasis onrnequality. From the speeches of Jack Kemp and the collectedrnworks of Professor Harry V. Jaffa to the arguments advanced forrnProposition 209 in California, it seems that equalit)’ is not onlyrna principle worthy of our attention: It is now the highest principlernand one that Jack Kemp calls the “conservative principle”rnpar excellence. Although such tributes to equalit)- predictablyrncome from neoconservative politicians and Straussian “politicalrnphilosophers,” they do indicate what is becoming a characteristicrnof the conservative mainstream.rnAccording to this recently revealed consenative dogma, thernUnited States was founded as a “proposition nation,” and itsrngerminal creed is “All men are created equal.” Abraham Lincoln,rnby destroying the states, helped give flesh to that creed,rnand the federal government waged war on foreign powers inrnthis century to advance it. (This was Allan Bloom’s argumentrnin The Closing of the American Mind.) Moreover, the Americanrncrusade for equalit)’ continued as the “good” civil rightsrnmovement, exemplified by Martin Luther King, Jr., and BayardrnRustin, and in “moderate” as opposed to “radical” feminism.rnSince respectable consenatives do not want the egalitarian oxrnto get close enough to gore them, the march of equality is convenientlyrnbrought to rest in the mid-60’s, with the emergence ofrnan American immigration-expansionist and anti-discriminationrnwelfare state.rnPaul Gottfried is a professor of humanities at ElizahethtownrnCollege in Elizahethtown, Pennsylvania, and the author, mostrnrecently, of After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the ManagerialrnState (Princeton).rnConsiderable sophistic energy has gone into explaining whyrnwe should not push a splendid principle too far, e.g., by treatingrn”equality of opportunity” as “equality of result” or, as miniconrnBill Kristol argued in the New York Times (February 12, 1995),rnby threatening the “political progress on equal rights for women”rnb’ asking too much from the state.rnThe multi-million dollar neoconser’ative project of promotingrn”moderate” versions of welfare-statism and social engineeringrnis a manipulative rather than philosophic enterprise, and itrndepends, for its justification, on a series of philosopher-kingsrnwho, like Lincoln and Roosevelt, seize executive power withrnboth hands. The achievement of Lincoln as depicted by Harr)’rnJaffa or that of FDR as presented in Harvey Mansfield, Jr.’srnTaming of the Prince was to have twisted and suppressed constitutionalrnliberty for a universal ideal. As Jaffa himself pointedrnout in National Review (September 21, 1965), “no Americanrnstatesman ever violated the ordinary maxims of civil libertyrnmore than did Lincoln.” But these violations of Americanrniibertv were entirely justifiable because, as Lincoln knew, “civilrnliberties are the liberties of men in civil societ)’,” and those libertiesrnare tied to higher principles and duties. As Jaffa explainsrnin Equality and Liberty, constitutional liberty for us was intendedrnto be subordinate to the “principles of the Declaration of hidependence,”rnunderstood as political equalit)’. In the name ofrnthat equalit)’, Lincoln had a right to sacrifice “bodies whosernsouls remained dedicated” to foundational American principles.rnJaffa and other neoconservatives and Straussians apply thernsame justification to later presidents who entangled their countrymenrnin ennobling struggles, from the punishment of Southernrnslave-owners to the “crusade for democracy” waged againstrn18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn