Thanks to a reader for the link. Deep but very readable. How universal is the desire for individual freedom?:
‘Some people take the view that we in the West are fortunate to enjoy freedom, because it is a universal human aspiration that has been commonly frustrated in most societies. This is one of the more pernicious illusions we entertain about human kind. Most people have never lived in free societies, nor exhibited any desire or capacity for freedom’
‘What most people seem to want, however, is to know exactly where they stand and to be secure in their understanding of their situation.’
Isn’t that last part a universal claim upon human nature? If so, Minogue generally resisted the idea that evolutionary theories could be transferred successfully to Statecraft.
He is arguing that it’s easy to mistake your experiences and ideas within our Western tradition for that of peoples everywhere.
Maybe you’ve traveled and experienced the tribal taboos and family/kin loyalties of smaller bands and ethnic groups. Maybe you’ve been up close to the transcendental submission of will in faith in Islam, uniting a patchwork of tribes and peoples under its claims with high honor ethic and a strong warrior tradition (the individual doesn’t choose whether to drink or have women work outside of the home). Maybe you’ve seen the caste system in India, or the authoritarian feudal landownership structure in Pakistan, or the ancient, imperial Chinese structure with a Han core, now still a strong State structure charting some kind of course out of Communism.
What is unique about our traditions?
Towards the end of the essay:
‘The balance in our tradition between the rules we must respect because they are backed by the authority of law, and the free choice in the other elements of our life is one that free agents rightly will not wish to see disturbed.’
Food for thought.
Roger Kimball quoting Minogue:
‘The evident problem with democracy today is that the state is pre-empting—or “crowding out,” as the economists say—our moral judgments. Rulers are adding moral judgments to the expanding schedule of powers they exercise. Nor does the state deal merely with principles. It is actually telling its subjects to do very specific things. Yet decisions about how we live are what we mean by “freedom,” and freedom is incompatible with a moralizing state. That is why I am provoked to ask the question: can the moral life survive democracy?’
One ought to think twice about offloading his/her moral reasoning and capacity for judgment over to others, mindlessly, of course, but in many cases even with family as one gets older, authority figures, tradition for the sake of tradition etc. One should always stay aware and think for one’s self.
Yet, is any man an island? Does any one of us have knowledge enough to make important decisions for everyone else? Isn’t some degree of authority and hierarchy necessary given human nature, and the functioning of civil society in a nation of laws?
For example, don’t we all have some respect for military honor and duty, even if the military is run by flawed human beings, overseen by rotating groups of politicians with their own aims and incentives?
This is often where many libertarians and conservatives split.
Rand Paul is an anti-war libertarian, and pretty isolationist, for example. Many conservatives, neo-conservatives, traditionalists and members of the military see the necessity of limited conflict, strategy and maintenance of the peace as necessary to secure our interests. The world is a dangerous place. Of the two camps, I generally fall into the latter, trying never to make any support mindless.
Where libertarians and conservatives can agree most of the time, however, is that the products of reason being the basis for the moral authority of the State generally leads to an ever-expanding State. Where are the limiting principles? How much liberal freedom is enough, before it’s time for another crusade?
One of the great dangers, as we’ve seen, is a regime, or group of people in charge who are in possession of their own ends, or the ‘right’ ideas, and who already ‘know’ what’s best for individuals.
That never ends well.
Ken Minogue. R.I.P.
Unpopular as it is to point out: Whatever your thoughts on feminism, it’s important to recognize that at its ideological and radical core are many culturally Marxist elements (the constant search for a ‘sisterhood’…operating as a ‘class’ of oppressed victims…attached to a theory of history which has them coming out victorious against real and imagined enemies during their Manichean struggle).
In other words, you probably don’t want people like that near positions of power.
Related On This Site: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution
Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”…Race And Free Speech-From Volokh: ‘Philadelphia Mayor Suggests Magazine Article on Race Relations Isn’t Protected by the First Amendment’
Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?: From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…