The version of this book I re-read was the 2001, golden anniversary edition of this 1951 book written at the same time as Lionel Trilling uttered this:
In the United States at this time Liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation. This does not mean, of course, that there is no impulse to conservatism or to reaction. Such impulses are certainly very strong, perhaps even stronger than most of us know. But the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.While "liberals" certainly thought that way, there were a lot of folks that took huge exception to WFB's (SUPER Initials!) assertion that Yale had become essentially atheist and collectivist, rather than Christian and Capitalist, which are the ideals it was founded on.
As WFB put it:
"The duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world, and the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level".He did not write the following himself, but quoted it in his introduction to the 25th anniversary edition and said it would have saved him the trouble of writing the book:
"Unless the great concepts that have been traditional to the western world are rooted in a reasoned view of the universe and man's place in it, and unless this reasoned view contains in it's orbit a place for the spirit, man is left in our day with archaic weapons unsuited for the problems of the present"In the chapter on "Individualism at Yale", after pointing out how Yale in 1950 believes in socialism, high taxes on business and individuals, 100% inheritance taxes and a host of well known leftist nostrums, he arrives at the following as to the effect that this will likely have on future Yale graduates after they decide it is useless to try to make it in small business:
So he finally decides to go down to Washington and get a job with some government bureau. Or maybe AT&T (his first question tot he pension officer at both will be about pension provisions).
And Dean DeVane was astounded, puzzled, and shocked in 1949 when he read that the graduating class seemed more interested in security than in enterprise.The word "enterprise" was once so revered that US ships and even imaginary starships were christened with the name. Today, maybe "fortress", "lock box", or possibly just "security".
"God And Man At Yale" (Gamay) was the book that launched the modern conservative movement that reached it's pinnacle in Reagan and it's 2nd act in Newt Gingrich and the Republican House of '95-2000.
WFB was able to hold the darkness at bay with the power of his ideas and communication skills. Yale and the entire educational system was lost along with law and media, and the federal and state bureaucracies exploded in size and power, but as long as the Constitution and Separation of Powers held, it was still possible to keep the great nation from being completely being destroyed.
"Enterprise" -- "the AMERICAN Enterprise", to honestly believe in the future, in building something to PASS ON to one's own children as an inheritance in a nation assumed to get BETTER from generation to generation. Those dreams were in danger in the '50s, they are dead today.
Today we suffer the sadness of the predictions of Gamay come true and with the evil kicker of BO taking out the Constitution and Separation of Powers.
If the warning of the book had been heeded, it might be similar to the result if Admiral De Robeck had decided to continue the attack at Gallipoli on March 19th, 1915, rather than withdrawing, WWI would have been over shortly, Eastern Europe would have been stabilized under British power, and Churchill would have continued on to likely become Prime Minister and have thus been in a position of power to stop Hitler before Hitler became anything but a local madman in Germany.
America did not fall because we lacked the information on the danger. No, we fell because we willfully chose the path of sin and "security" over the path of God and enterprise!