From a review, by Roger Scruton, of Russell Kirk’s America’s British Culture (1993):
Kirk identifies a culture in anthropological fashion, as a set of “folkways”—inherited forms, procedures, expectations, and customs, which together define a communal way of life. Four principal folkways define America’s British inheritance: the English language and its literature, the rule of law, representative government, and the moral habits and beliefs which Tocqueville identified as the moeurs of the American people. Kirk gives a characteristic account of each of these, and shows how, between them, they have formed modern America as a society that is tolerant, free, welcoming towards newcomers while also proud of its traditions, and conscious of its past.
Of course, there are comparable phenomena in other parts of the globe. Latin America has a common language, and (albeit short-lived) spells of lawful and representative government. The mores of the British are shared, in part, by the Norwegians and the Danes; while the rule of law is common to European countries outside the former Communist empire, and north of the line of corruption that extends from Lisbon to Athens, via Madrid and Rome. The interest of Dr. Kirk’s analysis lies in two facts: first, the attempt to describe what is distinctive in our moral and political heritage; second, in the unashamed defense of these things as the foundation of America’s freedom and stability.
“The mores of the British are shared, in part, by the Norwegians and the Danes; while the rule of law is common to European countries outside the former Communist empire, and north of the line of corruption that extends from Lisbon to Athens, via Madrid and Rome.” Why is this? What is this “line of corruption”, and why does it exist?
The line, it turns out, is the one that keeps appearing whenever we peer closely at European societies. Does the culture corrupt the people, or do the people corrupt the culture? At her always-fascinating blog, “hbd chick” — to whom I really must link more often, as she is one of the keenest and most inquisitive writers anywhere to be found on the subject of human diversity — takes a look.