Three other arguments of Burkes made a comparable impression. The first was the defense of authority and obedience. Far from being the evil and obnoxious thing that my contemporaries held it to be, authority was, for Burke, the root of political order. Society, he argued, is not held together by the abstract rights of the citizen, as the French Revolutionaries supposed. It is held together by authorityby which is meant the right to obedience, rather than the mere power to compel it. And obedience, in its turn, is the prime virtue of political beings, the disposition which makes it possible to govern them, and without which societies crumble into the dust and powder of individuality. Those thoughts seemed as obvious to me as they were shocking to my contemporaries. In effect Burke was upholding the old view of man in society, as subject of a sovereign, against the new view of him, as citizen of a state. And what struck me vividly was that, in defending this old view, Burke demonstrated that it was a far more effective guarantee of the liberties of the individual than the new idea, which was founded in the promise of those very liberties, only abstractly, universally, and therefore unreally defined. Real freedom, concrete freedom, the freedom that can actually be defined, claimed, and granted, was not the opposite of obedience but its other side. The abstract, unreal freedom of the liberal intellect was really nothing more than childish disobedience, amplified into anarchy. Those ideas exhilarated me, since they made sense of what I had seen in 1968. But when I expressed them, in a book published in 1979 as The Meaning of Conservatism, I blighted what remained of my academic career.
Having lived in Poland (1981-3) during Martial Law and the crackdown on Solidarnosc, I can identify with the author's perceptions on "real-life" Communism, especially the observation that Communist governments "banish truth from human affairs" and force people to "live within a lie." Revisionist history is a tool of oppression. It relegates the individual to a meaningless speck of matter whose very proof of existence can be removed by the State.
As a free people, it is our obligation to attack the untruths, past and present, that come not only from government, but also, from our educational institutions and societal leaders. The history of the United States is being bombarded by revisionists in the name of political correctness ignoring the context of the times. I find the ignorance of young Americans about our history the stuff that will rend the fabric of our culture and leave us without a national character and identity.