This time Lucy won’t pull the football away
September 18, 2017 § 64 Comments
From a new article at First Things (hat tip donnie):
It was characteristic of Michael [Novak] to frame the highest good as liberation from constraint. As he says at one point, “God did not make creation coercive, but designed it as an arena of liberty.”
The free market gives us a glimpse of the ideal society, one that features order without authority and purposeful freedom without the need for agreement about the common good beyond a procedural rule of law.
Democratic capitalism does a better job sustaining an open, pluralistic society than political liberalism, because capitalism, unlike political deliberation, guarantees freedom more jealously (and effectively).
Yet we’ve seen setback after setback, and the corporate tsunami that recently swept through Indiana after it passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act made clear the link between global capitalism and progressive clear-cutting of traditional religious culture and morality.
Needless to say, Michael Novak did not foresee these outcomes when he wrote The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism any more than I did when I thrilled to his insights more than three decades ago.
…he described the anthropology of capitalism in a one-sided way. Its fearsome dynamism speaks to part of our soul, but it neglects and even works against the part that cherishes permanence.
This one-sidedness needs to be corrected, for our challenges are quite different from the legacy of postwar consolidation that Michael responded to with such élan. We do not live in a closed, regulated, regimented world. Political correctness is a serious problem, and it has an authoritarian tendency. But it is not born of loyalty to permanent things. As an outgrowth of liberalism itself, this rigid ideology comes under the sign of choice. It is an obligatory, enforced participation in a fluid, liquefied moral world. We are told that we are not required to think or live in any particular way—except that we can’t think or live in ways that constrain, compromise, or even throw doubt on anyone else’s free decision to think or live differently. Taken to its logical extreme—everything is permitted as long as it permits everything—this becomes a paradoxical totalitarian toleration that is all the more dangerous because it deludes those who promote it into thinking that when they drive all dissent from the public square, they are “including.”
My summary of the article:
Don’t blame us for the poison we’ve been pumping into society for decades. We had good hearts and meant well, we just accidentally neglected to keep our nice tame liberalism on a leash. No reasonable person could have foreseen a “how were we supposed to know?” stage to inevitably follow our “what could it hurt?” enthusiasms. Who would have thought that pouring acid over the moral social fabric for centuries would make it dissolve? Who could have predicted that treating human authority and hierarchy as if it were what is wrong with the world would lead to its dissolution and reconstitution as an inhuman monstrosity?
So the thing we should all do now is correct the ‘one sidedness’ of what we’ve been doing for decades. We need to work together to promote a nice tame liberalism in common sense balance with moral constraints and the common good. We need more water for the shriveled up plants in our common garden, to bring balance to the acid we plan to continue pouring on them. And that is totally, totally different from what conservatives have been doing since the founding of America. This time it will work, really. We have to adjust to the times, to find a renewed way for political freedom to flourish.
Oh, and that crank Zippy’s understanding of liberalism is a big strawman.
 Translation: our intramural team in the red shirts is so much better than the other team playing the exact same game by the exact same rules in pursuit of the exact same goals, because they wear blue shirts.
Didn’t Novak die just recently in February of this year? This means that he must have most likely seen the consequences of the so-called capitalist spirit 35 years after he released the book.
I wonder what his thoughts on the world were just before his death.
Well, that’s one particularly scathing interpretation of Reno’s essay. I wouldn’t have summarized it nearly in those terms, but then again I am more inclined to give folks like Reno the benefit of the doubt on these kinds of things. I’m perfectly willing to believe that as a recent convert he has a number of Protestant and Americanist ideas which he has yet to really confront (and why would he, when there’s hardly been anyone in the Church since Leo XIII who has made a priority of confronting these sorts of errors). Reno had a preexisting belief system, heavily influenced by Novak, which he now sees is untenable. The question he’s left having to answer is, why isn’t it working? How come capitalism, democracy and Judeo-Christian values have failed to uphold our society like a sturdy three legged stool? As a man of faith he knows it’s not Judeo-Christian morals that is the problem, so he grasps on to capitalism as the spoiler. Reading the article I couldn’t help but be struck by how Reno doesn’t even consider that leg number two might be a problem as well.
But as long as Reno keeps running exemplary articles such as
this and this at First Things, perhaps he will slowly begin to question whether leg number one is the only problem with Novak’s stool. Perhaps.
The very term “Judeo-Christian values” contains the termites that consume not only the leg, but the whole stool.
The three-legged stool becomes a stool indeed, as it were.
“Judeo values” are codified in the Talmud. “Christian values” are codifed in both Testaments of the Bible. (Google “The Socino Edition of the Babylonian Talmud” and start learning).
“A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” – God
I think it’s worth bearing in mind too, in 1982 Novak’s book was utterly groundbreaking. I can hardly blame Reno for buying Novak’s arguments hook line and sinker because I did exactly the same thing at one point in my life. When that book was published, we Catholics were coming off of more than a decade of living in the spiritual post-apocalyptic wasteland that was ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ ’70s Catholicism. On economic issues, theologians and clerics were swimming decidedly leftward. If the Church couldn’t baptize Marx (and plenty of theologians on both sides of the Atlantic certainly tried to) at least the bishops could more or less all embrace the theories of Rawls and Keynes. Anyone remember Economic Justice for All? Although published in 1986 it’s still a pretty good summary of where the bishops were at in post-1970s America.
Novak’s rhetorically persuasive moral defense of capitalism seemed revolutionary in this context. Combined with the achievements of Reaganomics and Thatcherism later in the decade, it almost came across as prophetic. And for a lot of Catholics, St. John Paul II pretty much baptized Novak’s philosophy himself with his encyclical Centesimus Annus (which Reno actually mentions in his article) and the actions he took to squash Marxist thinking and liberation theology within the Church. The impression that communism only collapsed once Regan, Thatcher and John Paul II worked in unison with one another did a lot to give views such as Novak’s a lot of sticking power within mainstream Catholic thought, where they continue to hold enormous sway to this day.
So even if Reno is rejecting Novak’s three legged stool for the wrong reasons, the fact that someone like Reno is even rejecting it in the first place is pretty monumental in my view. Even if it ends up being just another example of right-liberalism shifting its stance in order to keep up with the Current Year and conserve liberalism at its core.
The entire article consists of Reno gushing over Novak’s neoconservatism, with a deeply reluctant concession that it might need some tweaks to compensate for its complicity in the progressive gutting of religious life — religious life understood syncretistically.
In my view it would be difficult to exaggerate the harm caused by neoconservatism.
Are the two book reviews you linked to interesting? Sure, but neither directly touches on liberalism (at least based on my skim of both of them). Neither (books nor reviews) were written by Reno. And the one is a review of a book by a friend of John Noonan’s who, like Noonan, appears to take a dim view of Catholic doctrine on contraception.
Is it possible that this article represents baby steps toward actually rejecting liberalism? Anything is possible, I suppose.
But as the neocons are always saying breathlessly as they beat the drums for spreading democracy through drones and smart bombs, “faster, please”.
You might be interested in “The Hobbit Party” by Witt and Richards (Acton Institute). It completely twists Tolkien into a supporter of neoconservatism, including corporate gigantism. I gave it a negative review when it first appeared.
Imagine a peasant’s hut, the hut of one of your own remote ancestors. The four walls are solid, the faces you see are those of your family – and maybe a crucifix or an alcove with the Holy Family. Proceed now to a modern family, and a gaping hole opens in the wall – the television – through which commands from economic authorities, cultural authorities, and political authorities burst into the inner sanctum. A man’s house is no longer his castle.
Here is advice from Rev. Paul Scalia (son of the late Supreme Court Justice) in Thomas Aquinas College Newsletter, Summer 2017: “Study the Faith; eliminate a lot of the technology; observe the Sabbath. These are things that will disconnect us from the culture that blinds us.” Take back your castle; defend your children; get to know your neighbors. And emulate the good Catholics of Malta by having many, big, loud religious processions.
It sounds like it ought to be titled “Saruman’s History of Middle Earth”.
[…] Source: Zippy Catholic […]
Zippy – I guess it comes down to how much you think Reno really ought to know better. A man who lived the majority of life imbibing Protestant and Americanist errors and who only recently realized the need to enter into the Catholic Church is a man that I am more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to. Were Novak still alive, I would be less inclined toward him, as he was a highly intelligent Catholic scholar and really should have developed an inkling at some point that there was something horribly wrong with his political philosophy. It is similar to my logic of criticizing John Paul II and Benedict XVI for the failings of their respective papacies: they simply ought to have known better.
Interestingly, you have always been very generous in your views of John Paul II. That always struck me as odd given your harsh stance toward right-liberalism.
Also, regarding the book reviews I linked to:
I haven’t read Continental Ambitions but if it’s as good as the review makes it out to be than it might help break some folks out of the stranglehold of Americanism. I think Americanist ideas prevent a lot of people with a natural sense of patriotism from taking seriously important Church teachings such as those listed on the Syllabus of Errors, as just one example. If every Catholic wholeheartedly renounced each of the errors in that Syllabus that would be about 90% of liberalism gutted right there. Also, if anyone wants to read a history of Catholic America written by someone who is not a friend of Noonan, and definitely not an Americanist, then I’ll recommend something I have read: Puritan’s Empire.
That said, the second book is the one that I think is perhaps more important, even if it doesn’t address liberalism directly. For example, the biggest weakness in the views you express here, Zippy, is your refusal to put forward an alternative to liberalism. This is a problem when people’s knee-jerk reaction to considering a world without liberalism is to imagine rampant absolutist tyranny everywhere. Books like Before Church and State
help to show what a non-liberal, truly Catholic society can look like and, in fact, once did look like. More people need to know about the great Catholic societies of old, so that they can begin working toward the great Catholic society of tomorrow.
The OP criticizes that article, and neoconservatism generally. I don’t have to know anything about Reno personally to do that.
That is one view. I see it as one of the greatest strengths of my critique, and of my non-consequentialist approach in general. Choosing to kill innocents is always immoral no matter what range of alternatives various people may be able to imagine. Liberalism is incoherent and produces what it produces no matter what range of alternatives various people may be able to imagine. There is no reason whatsoever to allow the former to become entangled with or bogged down by the latter, in either case. All sorts of people already take a consequentialist approach, and ultimately end up nowhere.
My approach might not make everyone happy, but it works for me.
Ah, well, the use of “we” and “us” threw me for a loop then. It seemed to me as if your summation was supposed to be read as if the words were Reno’s.
Reno is largely paraphrasing Novak’s views in the article, and then interjecting his very mild — not really criticism, but suggestion that times have changed which implies a modified approach.
Zippy – that’s not what I mean when I say it’s a weakness, obviously not being consequentialist can’t be a weakness of any argument since consequentialism is false.
What I mean is that once you get a man who has lived in a liberal society his whole life to perhaps consider that the philosophy that underpins his society and his entire political worldview is an incoherent lie, his natural reaction is to wonder, “well then, what should my society look like?” And I’m saying that an answer such as, “I don’t have an all encompassing theory, but definitely something much closer to Saint Louis IX’s France than anything tried post-1715” is a much better answer than no answer at all.
In my experience that kind of answer tends – at least on the public Internet – to give rise to long controversial disputation which dilutes and obscures the original point. Your mileage may vary though.
Coming from “First Things,” a magazine supposedly about first principles, that’s pretty dumb. They’re really going whole hog for being the puke pushers of society. There was another article recently that said the Christian life is all about being a cuck. The example he used for a great, noble Christian man was a character in a novel whose wife cuckolded him with a hair dresser and his great sacrifice was to agree to raise the bastard child as his own after being lectured by a woman that going to war for noble reasons is stupid. That’s not not noble or anything, but the fact that that is the image of sacrifice they aspire to at First Things instead of something from for example the Ballad of the White Horse, is contemptible.
That’s true too. You can easily get swept into a 100+ comment back and forth over whether Saint Louis IX’s France was really all that great, or whether it’s underpinning philosophies could be compatible with the technological advancements of the last 750 years, or whatever.
But even still, I think it’s necessary to have a positive, defensible idea of the way things ought to be. Because if you were going to fundamentally reform the culture and organization of a corporation, it’s not enough to say that the corporation’s core mission statement is destructive and wrong and needs to be thrown out. There needs to be some positive conception of the kind of mission statement that must replace it, otherwise no reform can actually occur.
Aside from the use of the word “wokeness”, I actually enjoyed the Evelyn Waugh piece. Should Europe be overwhelmed by Mohammedan radicals or collapse into some horrid Orwellian nightmare (or both) we know that Christ’s Church will survive. Should God permit it, a new civilization will rise from her ruins, just as Christendom rose from the ashes of old Rome. But if these events come to pass it is seldom likely that the descendants of modern Caucasians will reconquer the continent and re-transform her mosques into cathedrals. Rather it’s far more likely, in my estimation, that the next Holy Roman Empire be founded by the descendants of today’s Congolese. The thought of such a joyous triumph does not bother me in the least.
FYI for those interested, this is the article Patrick referred to:
I categorically disagree. If the current mission statement is “commit mass murder and get as many people sent to Hell as possible”, I don’t need to come up with seventeen fairytales about how things might turn out if we tear up that mission statement as a precondition to decisively concluding that we need to tear up that mission statement, right now. The very notion that some nice replacement option is required is offensive and consequentialist, and strongly suggests that the point has been missed.
The very idea that we must understand the Good (or at least the lesser evil) before we can leave the current path of Evil is itself part of the problem; if rejecting liberalism results in everyone being dead, it still must be rejected.
Now it can be argued that it won’t result in the death of everyone, but it can never be proved that rejecting it won’t result in your death – but why would that be necessary? Death isn’t all that, after all; we have a King who has already defeated it.
I figure some people might find this amusing:
Swiss Mystery: Someone Keeps Flushing €500 Bank Notes Down The Toilet
“But if these events come to pass it is seldom likely that the descendants of modern Caucasians will reconquer the continent and re-transform her mosques into cathedrals.”
At this point it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Chesterton had Alfred wandering the countryside gathering wessex men for one last Stand at Egbert’s stone. Waugh had a cuckold raising a male hair dressers bastard child and getting lectured by a feminist. The gimps at FirSt Things identify the latter as the real expression of a Christian man today.
To be fair, lots of Chesterton has to be read very carefully to not read right-liberalism into him; he often says things like “I am for true Liberty” and things like that, which has danger associated.
I think Chesterton, Belloc, and their contemporaries were “classical liberalism friendly”. Among other things though they didn’t have the full benefit of hindsight, looking back over all the piles of corpses, that we have.
But the hour is late, and smoke rises from Orodruin.
I categorically disagree. If the current mission statement is “commit mass murder and get as many people sent to Hell as possible”, I don’t need to come up with seventeen fairytales about how things might turn out if we tear up that mission statement as a precondition to decisively concluding that we need to tear up that mission statement, right now.
Of course not, but if that were actually the mission statement, everyone would reject it. Mass murder and damned souls are consequence of the mission statement, not the mission statement itself.
But I understand what you’re doing: you’re demonstrating logically that liberalism is false, and then writing Q.E.D. and putting your pen down. You’ve tackled the topic you want to tackle, and are not tackling the downstream questions that logically follow because the consequences of liberalism being false don’t have any bearing on liberalism actually being false.
But it’s still natural for a man considering your arguments to want to know what the implications of them being true are, because 1) if the arguments are true then the implications of liberalism being false becomes a new pressing reality which must be dealt with and 2) it’s important to make sure that the arguments don’t crumble against an argumentum ad absurdum.
1 is perhaps interesting (and some commentators here have done some work in that regard, see King Richard); but number 2 is just a giant baskethole of demanding that the non-liberals show exactly how nonliberalism will prevent all atrocities (which, of course, it cannot do; nonliberals killed Christ, after all).
number 2 is just a giant baskethole of demanding that the non-liberals show exactly how nonliberalism will prevent all atrocities
Anyone who argues that because non-liberalism can’t create heaven on earth therefore the arguments against liberalism fail via reductio ad absurdum is clearly abusing that form of argument.
Maybe the problem is there are so few non-liberals that you can’t even have the discussion coherently (yet).
You know, I’ve read Sword of Honour twice and I never once got the sense that Guy “embraced” his being cuckholded, but rather that he (rightly) refused to abandon his wife, despite her unfaithfulness, and raised Trimmer’s child as his own because it was preferable to either abandoning the child or allowing its mother to murder it. It’s worth noting that his unfaithful wife is killed and Guy remarries and has children of his own.
More, I think the author’s description of the end of the book is a pretty gross distortion. Guy doesn’t learn some grand lesson in Yugoslavia, he’s already been stripped of those dreams by that point. He’s attempting there to just do some small good, to help people on a local, individual level, and it fails, as most of his attempts only make things worse. The point, I think, is that this failure isn’t what’s important, but rather that Guy always strove for the good, in the face of the continual failure. That plus the fact that the modern world is unrelentingly hostile to Guy’s ideals. Maybe I’m misremembering though, it’s been awhile.
Also, I think Waugh would have found the idea of Africa re-evangelizing Europe in any sort of systematic way rather laughable, at least given Black Mischief, which does not exactly paint the continent and its people in the best of lights.
(1) could refer to (a) personal implications or (b) prognostications about what would happen if a large part of society suddenly ceased having liberal commitments. (a) everyone has to figure out for themselves in their own circumstances, and I do talk about it with individuals on that level when they ask (e.g. see my whole series on voting); and (b) gives rise to as many opinions, prognostications and fairy tales as there are human beings. Consider “if we didn’t nuke Hiroshima, millions would have died” multiplied a thousandfold.
Getting bogged down in (b) is a pointless distraction, from a blogging perspective.
(2) Isn’t intelligible unless there is something wrong internally with the argument that liberalism is incoherent, or the concomitant arguments about what that implies. And I talk about that every which way from Sunday.
So it seems that the criticism is that I don’t address 1(b). But I’ve now explained twice why doing so is pointless.
I think Chesterton, Belloc, and their contemporaries were “classical liberalism friendly”. Among other things though they didn’t have the full benefit of hindsight, looking back over all the piles of corpses, that we have.
This goes back to the last thread regarding Burke’s unreliability but I think traditonalist need to realize that Anglo-Saxon thinkers will almost always be sympathetic to liberalism because liberalism grew up and has been unchallenged there the longest. This sadly includes Catholics who should know better like Chesterton and even Christopher Dawson. In his works Dawson brilliantly criticized liberalism but he still saw America’s democratic liberalism as reflecting a true Christian polity. Belloc was part French but his politics were culturally English. For an Englishman an attack on liberalism is like an attack on his identity.
Zippy, any comments on things like the Australian “gay mirage” referendum re: voting? It seems by voting “no” you’re also agreeing that it is something that can be voted on; but at the same time it seems a “no” vote might be called for; yet the arguments for it being proportionately worthless to vote still seem to apply.
Zippy: Who could have predicted that treating human authority and hierarchy as if it were what is wrong with the world would lead to its dissolution and reconstitution as an inhuman monstrosity?
I really see this as being the TOE of modernity. And all the relating pain.
But I just can’t let go of my liberal reaction against this idea. American was founded on liberalism (defined as above). And I get the Spirit of ’76 just thinking about hierarchy and can’t let it go. The longer I think about it the more disturbed I get. Any known therapies out there :-)?
I was a FT subscriber for ten years and more. One of the great journals in America. Debt is incalculable.
Reno would be the first to tell you he’s no Fr. Neuhaus, but if FT is planning to bail on the American Founding so much the worse for Neuhaus’s troubled successor.
Hamby and Deneen would have us surrender our best weapons and feel proud about it.
“Here, take away all my best assets and then we’ll fight.”
(b) prognostications about what would happen if a large part of society suddenly ceased having liberal commitments.
Not what would happen, what should happen. Prognostications about what would hypothetically happen are as useless as you say they are. Thoughts on what those who reject liberalism ought to collectively do are worth quite a bit more.
“Thoughts on what those who reject liberalism ought to collectively do are worth quite a bit more.”
I’m going to start an End Liberalism superpac to encourage people not to vote.
That is always going to depend very particularly on what the circumstances of this still mythical substantial movement happens to be. The kingdom of St. Louis IX is a nice historical example, but anything which actually occurs is likely to look radically different for countless reasons. In the meantime, LarryDickson’s comment upthread seems reasonable to me.
Mostly the “what kind of society should we design” kind of speculation dies in its crib. Instead of obsessing over what civilizational machinery we should design as a political movement, think of St. Francis’ radical and very literal trust in Providence.
From donnie above,
“What I mean is that once you get a man who has lived in a liberal society his whole life to perhaps consider that the philosophy that underpins his society and his entire political worldview is an incoherent lie, his natural reaction is to wonder, “well then, what should my society look like?”
One of the characteristics of liberalism is that, “the personal is political.” So the first question of liberalism is never, “how can I change” or “what should I do personally,” but instead, “how can I totally redesign the entire culture to ensure all of society reflects my belief system?” Liberalism strikes again.
So in my opinion, the first step should actually be looking inward, focusing on the personal, go honor your parents, reestablish your own lines of authority, draw close to the Lord, change yourself and your own relationships.
VD coined a new phrase that you should steal for your usury posts: “The Divine Right of Moneylenders.”
Since more millennials would give up their right to vote than give up their texting plans, you might have an easier time than you think. (God knows an unlimited T-Mobile plan is a much better bang for your buck if your voting habits don’t align with the majority where you live)
Heh – a voting law is proposed. Show up to vote and vote, get $5. Show up to vote and don’t vote, get $20. Nobody would want people who would sell their vote for $15 to vote, now would they?
I’m not accusing Donnie of the following, but I get frustrated with people who insist on asking for solutions. My experience is that they often employ it as a red herring in order to avoid engaging the argument at hand. They also have a tendency to take a sort of engineering-type approach toward how society should be ordered: that the approach one takes toward ordering society correctly is no different from the sort of approach one takes toward designing an op-amp, it’s just a matter of implementing the right feedback mechanisms. God save us from Rule by Engineer.
Once one has correctly grasped the diagnosis of our society’s malaise, the solution is pretty straightforward: the Good needs to be society’s ultimate ordering principle instead of freedom.
Working out the particulars of how the Good as ordering principle should be implemented depends on, well, particulars and can’t be planned ahead of time. However, as far as articulating some of the basic principles that would underlie a positive vision of the Good, I think Bonald’s essays are an excellent resource.
I once emailed Lawrence Auster with a suggestion that we start a “Keep the vote in!” campaign that would include slogans such as “Vote responsibly: stay home on election day” and “Friends don’t let friends vote”.
SuperPACs are free, hmmm.
You could get a bunch of celebrities together and name your campaign “F#$% the Vote.”
One problem with liberalism is that it is so often a response to injustice, but we’ve usually gone and diagnosed the nature,cause,and purpose of the injustice wrong.
Zippy says, “Don’t blame us for the poison we’ve been pumping into society for decades.” A huge problem is that we’ve been pumping it into society instead of examining our own selves. Today people are offended by absolutely everything and everything is an injustice.
My parents would probably give up the right to vote to keep their texting plans, and my dad is a town committeeman and former mayor.
I mean, we text a lot, it’s pretty important.
Off-topic: Someone please jar my memory regarding usury. What is the specific legal term for when you can get a ruling for the difference on a loan? For example: I borrow money and put up collateral (car, house, etc.), I default on the loan but the collateral is not worth the full amount of the loan. So the loaner goes to court and gets a ruling that he can go after me personally for the difference. (i.e. turning a non-full recourse loan into a usurious full-recourse loan)
What’s the name for that? Thanks.
Is there a semi-soundbite level explanation you can give someone who doesn’t really care about the technical details of usury that summarizes what specifically is morally wrong about it?
Different intuition pumps / explanations work for different people.
Licit interest is a rental charge for use of actually existing capital which is employed usefully in some way: in a real project or property in which the lender retains an ownership stake (an ownership stake he can lose if things don’t go according to plans). The fact that the lender retains an ownership stake in the specific property is what justifies charging rent for the use of that specific property.
Usury is charging rent for nothing – for no actual property, just a personal IOU. The lender’s “ownership stake” for which he charges rent is in the person who makes the promise: usury is thus a species of enslavement.
Also – the 18 responses to objections to usury from De Malo may be helpful; they each approach it in a slightly different way.
Bingo. Thanks again.
Welcome to the internet. I can tell by your faith in human judgment you haven’t been here long.
As an actual serious potential answer to your question about what an alternative to liberalism might look like in the modern day, let me recommend the masterful Charles A. Coloumbe’s Star-Spangled Crown.
I claim not that it’s perfect, nor that it’s necessary of exclusive, but it’s a lovely, well-wrought picture that both opens the eyes and gives hope to the weary.
“Welcome to the internet. I can tell by your faith in human judgment you haven’t been here long.”
LOL! Oh dear.
[this belongs to the comments on the previous thread, but some kind of WordPress bug prevents me from posting it; since it’s a matter of thanks, I wanted to find some way of communicating]
Many thanks, Rhetocrates, for getting back to me on all these points. As I suspected, they all address lacunae in my own knowledge or understanding. What you’ve said certainly sounds very plausible, and I’ll most likely be in agreement after following up the leads you mention. Sorry to hear you were exposed to liturgical dance in Ireland (you have to travel to the Orkneys to find Redemptorists who always celebrate traditional mass).
I’m just glad Reno didn’t tell us about how he marched with Martin Loother King ( >> Jesus Himself)
Ian and Rhetocrates,
Yes, I’m very familiar with Bonald’s work, I read his blog regularly and even comment there on occasion. I’m also a big fan of Coulombe’s work, I own both Star-Spangled Crown and Puritan’s Empire and actually recommended the latter in a comment up-thread.
So I’m aware that there are thinkers pondering the question of what ought to replace liberalism. The critique was made in reference to Zippy’s work in particular. His arguments are the most direct and straightforward dismantling of liberalism of which I am aware, repudiating all of it right down to the very core. It seems to me that what is lacking then is the next logical step: an answer to the question, what ought to come next? It seems to me that this is important also in order to make the arguments more persuasive: it is difficult to convince a man that everything he has ever been taught about politics and authority are a lie if you don’t offer him some set of positive truths for him to grasp in order to replace those lies. But Zippy doesn’t seem interested in going down that rabbit hole, and maybe that truly is the prudent choice.
Back to the OP:
The impression I got from reading Reno’s piece was similar to this author’s take on Reno’s evolving veiws (the article is month’s old and from before Reno wrote this article, but I never saw it until just now).
I get this not infrequently, but one of the central themes of my work is that when we know A is wrong we know it is wrong and have to drop it, even if we don’t know or can’t agree about all of where that leaves us in terms of what to do next. It isn’t just that it is imprudent to get bogged down in all that: it actually misunderstands and undermines one of the central points. The mindset which insists upon an ‘acceptable’ alternative before rejecting falsehood is central to the problem.
The persuasiveness of my writing is irrelevant if it isn’t, first and foremost, the truth. And the truth is that what needs to be done is always a matter of prudence and varies widely by circumstances; whereas lies and self deception are never acceptable under any circumstances.
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