For almost a quarter century, Americans have been engaged in a kind of civil war, divided into two camps defined by fundamentally different moral-cultural perceptions. That idea, which would have been a surprise to Tocqueville or Bryce, has haunted our political activity and analysis since the 1960s. Todd Gitlin, speaking from the left, has recently described this “cultural civil war” as one “between the traditionalists and modernizers”; it has gone on for no less than a century but “flared up with a vengeance in the 1960s” and raised issues that “were never resolved or assimilated.” Peter Berger is representative of the neoconservative right when he writes of nothing less than a Kulturkampf in which a whole range of social, moral, and religious issues pit the traditional middle class, now spearheaded by “business,” against the new “knowledge class.” The right, too, dates the outbreak of present hostilities from the 1960s. It is the decade, after all, that gave us such notions as “counterculture,” “Middle America,” “silent majority.”
The skirmishes in this civil war continue. They could be seen in contrasting react...
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