“The Capitalist Future,” Francis Boyer Lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, December 4, 1991.
This cultural nihilism will have, in the short term, only a limited political effect—short of a massive, enduring economic crisis. The reason it will not happen—this is still the good news—is that a bourgeois, property-owning democracy tends to breed its own antibodies. These antibodies immunize it, in large degree, against the lunacies of its intellectuals and artists. The common people in such a democracy are not uncommonly wise, but their experience tends to make them uncommonly sensible. They learn their economics by taking out a mortgage, they learn their politics by watching the local school board in action, and they learn the impossibility of “social engineering” by trying to raise their children to be decent human beings. These people are the bedrock of bourgeois capitalism, and it is on this rock that our modern democracies have been built.