The spirit of reaction.

Author:Inbinder, Gary
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor
 
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David B. Hart's "Freedom and Decency" (June/July) reminded me of the writings of the great twentieth-century American critic Paul Elmer More. More was a Christian humanist and Platonist whose literary and cultural criticism appeared in the Independent, the New York Evening Post, and the Nation from 1901 to 1914. Now among the "forgotten men" of the New Humanism, in his day he was praised by Walter Lippmann in the following encomium: "To read him is to enter an austere and elevated realm of ideas and to know a man who, in the guise of a critic, is authentically concerned with the first and last things of human experience."

Some think Western culture and civilization so decadent that it is no longer worth saving or defending. They are wrong. For all our faults, we in America are still engaged in a worthwhile experiment in human liberty. This side of the Parousia, we remain the best hope for mankind.

It is the moral thing to continue to criticize that which is wrong in our culture, and in that respect I express my sincere admiration for Dr. Hart. He continues in the long and noble tradition of intelligent criticism, contrasting the beauties of eternal and universal truths with the vulgar fashions of the moment, even at the price of being labeled a "reactionary." When this familiar epithet was thrown at More, he responded, "The world is not contradicted with impunity, and he who sets himself against the world's belief will have need of all a man's endurance and all a man's strength.... If a man doubts this, let him try, and learn. Submission to the philosophy of change is the real effeminacy; it is...

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