Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline, by Robert H. Bork (Regan Books/Harper Collins, 1996, 382 pp.; $25). Reviewed by Ernest W. Lefever, senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C.
On receiving the Medal of Freedom in Washington in May, Billy Graham said that "the greatest nation in history stands on the brink of self-destruction." In his new book, Robert H. Bork, the eminent constitutional scholar, pronounces a similar judgment. After marshaling evidence of America's cultural and political decline, Bork concludes we are well on the road to nihilism and spiritual chaos, if not on the cusp of a new Dark Age.
In Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Judge Bork lays much of the blame on "modern liberalism"—a pernicious world-view rooted in the Enlightenment's emphasis on unaided reason and the French Revolution's demand for "radical egalitarianism." Modern liberalism, he says, has "a very different mood and agenda" from traditional liberalism, which advanced the quest for ordered liberty and democracy.
Like other conservatives, Bork asserts that America's liberal elite—politically correct academics, clergy, journalists, entertainers, and foundation staffs—have captured the culture and are polluting it with permissiveness, sloth, illegitimacy, smut, and crime. And with the aid of modern technology, the rot symbolized by rap music, Madonna, and MTV is bound to increase, short of a miracle.
Many who agree with Bork's dismay with the "profane manifestations of popular culture" will question his call for censorship. In the climate of freedom and limited government embraced by the Constitution, Americans have long exercised self-censorship flowing from the norms set by religion ...1
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