Rod Dreher deploys Rene Girard to look at the recent Covington Catholic boys incident near The Capitol:
Dreher: ‘Now, here is where Girard becomes especially interesting, and relevant to our moment. He says that today, “we hear repeated in every way that we no longer have an absolute,” but in fact the concern for victims “is our absolute.” That is, it is the basis for our morality: “it is the concern for victims that determines what is most important.” This is the case because all other sources of absolute value have been lost. More:’
GIRARD: The current process of spiritual demagoguery and rhetorical overkill has transformed the concern for victims into a totalitarian command and a permanent inquisition. … We are living through a caricatural “ultra-Christianity” that tries to escape from the Judeo-Christian orbit by “radicalizing” the concern for victims in an anti-Christian manner. … The intellectuals and other cultural elites have promoted Christianity to the role of number one scapegoat.
Of course, there is an implication that the replacement of absolutes is to be reinstituted through Christian doctrine.
I have my doubts.
One explanation doing some work for me is the rapid technological change going on.
The old T.V./print business models are feeling stiff competition and or/failing in important ways. On this site, see the views from a smart, radical sort: Repost-It Ain’t What You Know, It’s What You Know That Ain’t So?-Eric Weinstein At the Rubin Report: The Four Kinds Of Fake News
Many technological channels themselves (Twitter) reward rushes to judgment, commentary without context and the loudest, often most foolish and strident voices coming to the fore.
Another explanation is the rapid rate of social change outpacing our institutions, two incredibly weakened national political parties and fewer low-resolution, shared maps describing the landscape for many, many American citizens.
I’m pretty sure this ride ain’t over yet.
One basic low-resolution map shared by many outlets (CNN especially) is the activist model of social change vs the oppressor, which failed miserably in this case (noble ‘Black Men’ and noble ‘Red Man’ oppressed by ignoble white male Trump-supporting Catholic smirking and tyrannizing The Mall).
Where do I see myself in all this?: The below link still rather closely tracks with my own views. I can’t call myself a believer, but this blog continually links to Catholic, Natural Law/Natural Right thinkers and old-school Aristotelians for deeper critiques on the modern liberal project.
Often this is enough to make one uncool and unhip, but what the hell do I care?
Repost-Steven Weinberg’s Essay ‘On God’ In The NY Times Review Of Books
Living in Seattle all these years, and remaining skeptical about the hot, righteous mess of much progressive activism, its many collectivist/identitarian roots and infantilizing/totalizing tendencies (liberation, but from and towards which ends?) can do that to a man.
Here, where the non-profits cling to the Seven Hills of Seattle like barnacles, there are deeper fault lines everywhere.
Here’s one take on the problem, downstream of Oakeshottian philosophical idealism. Timothy Fuller On Ken Minogue’s take on this endless quest of liberalism, and its dangers:
‘For Minogue, freedom led to “oppositionality,” a topic he explores in “The Conditions of Freedom and the Condition of Freedom.” Oppositionality is the idea that citizens may exercise an independent judgement on questions of their obligations that were once off-limits for discussion; everyone simply accepted them. Opposition and is seen both as a “disruptive and dynamic” part of freedom but also a threat to it – “fundamentally parasitic” on society and often praising dissent for its own sake.
This leads naturally to “The Modern Liberal’s Casebook,” which contains Minogue’s well-known comparison of liberalism to the legend of St George and the Dragon. In his telling, St. George didn’t know when to stop fighting battles and grew breathless in pursuit of smaller and smaller dragons, as big dragons were harder to come by. In this Minogue is quite correct. Taking his analogy further, there must come a time when dragons become extinct and younger versions of St. George are misguided into pursuing chickens and other desirable species instead.’
Postmodern excesses are probably contributing as well: Some Not So Recently Updated Links On Postmodernism
Pushing Against Moral Relativism & The Academic Fashions Of Modern Life-Some Links
Roger Scruton on Moral Relativism still has some merit and insight:
Looking for liberals in the postmodern wilderness:
Three Sunday Quotations On Liberalism-Lionel Trilling, Michael Oakeshott & J.S. Mill…
Why Should You Get A Liberal Education? From The ASAN Institute Via Vimeo: ‘Michael Oakeshott’s Cold War Liberalism 1’
Summary & Clarification Of My Response To Andrew Sabl’s ‘Liberalism Beyond Markets’
From The Entry On Liberalism At The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy