What Have You Left In Search Of Equality? Two Thursday Links From The Federalist

David Harsanyi: ‘What Thomas Piketty’s Popularity Tells Us About The Liberal Press?’

‘But Piketty’s utopian notions and authoritarian inclinations — ones that I’m pretty sure most Americans (and probably most Democrats) would still find off-putting — do not seem to rattle the left-wing press one bit. While Piketty’s economic data might be worth studying and debating, his political ideas are unworthy of discussion’

Maybe it’s important to leave a respectable path out of the thick brush. Some folks probably haven’t realized just what they’re chattering about while some others have.

On that note, strange bedfellows?:  Social and religious conservatives (often Burkean) and more highly individualistic, free-market libertarian coalitions may have a tough time staying together without a common purpose (to say nothing of the gap between Tea-Party populism and establishment Republicans).

Peter Lawler: ‘The State Of Marxism (And Conservatism) Today

Lawler distances his position from Piketty and also from that of libertarian economist Tyler Cowen’s review of Piketty.

‘There does seem to an emerging consensus among sophisticates today that non-libertarian conservatism—and authoritative religion in general—are “reactionary.” They have been discredited by “capitalism”—or economic and technological progress—and so are destined to have no place in the emerging future. A reactionary is nostalgic for a world that’s been surpassed by history and so can’t and, in truth, shouldn’t be restored. Unlike crabs, we dialectically materialistic beings can’t crawl backwards.’

This raises a question posed to me often:

Our institutions have necessary hierarchies built-in, from bureaucracies to law to the military. This requires authority of some sort. You don’t have to deeply agree with your boss, your law professor, and/or your drill instructor (a more complicated example), but you do have to go along to get along most of the time.

Do you find church doctrine, Natural Law and/or Natural Rights to be a morally legitimate source of that authority in our institutions and in the public square?

If you’re like an increasing number Americans, probably not.

This may well correspond with a cultural drift towards liberalism, libertarianism, and a less religiously rooted form of conservatism, for what it’s worth, or also part of a much deeper process of indiviudation (I have no empirical evidence to back such a statement up).

Looking at the the authoritarian and big government consequences of modern mainstream liberalism as it’s currently practiced, and the darker totalitarian impulses of the harder Left, it seems an important question to ponder.

And now for something kind of related:


Apparently, Dennis is suspicious of King Arthur’s claims to rule, and thinks himself part of an autonomous collective.

Related On This Site: Libertarian socialist and anarcho-syndicalist:  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge…Martha Nussbaum criticizing Chomsky’s hubris in Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal

From Michael Totten At World Affairs: “Noam Chomsky: The Last Totalitarian”

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.…  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New Humanism…From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”

From First Principles: Locke, Our Great Founders, and American Political Life

Full article here.

Maybe there’s something in the air, but there seems to be a trend toward re-considering religion’s role in society in many political/philosophical quarters lately.

Perhaps it’s due to:  Islamic extremism?  An excessive secularism? A push back against a long period of excessive individualism? Some other forces at work? 

Here’s a post on a Martha Nussbaum essay I put up a few months back:  Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

From the article, here’s a quote which has the author, Peter Lawler, discussing two recent books on John Locke:

“Brownson and Murray agree that our framers understood themselves primarily as Lockeans but also that their work was less guided by the individualist’s thought than they believed. Brownson pays them the compliment of having been theoretically radical as thinkers but prudently conservative as statesmen. Murray sees them as sort of Thomistic Lockeans; their understanding of Locke’s modern thought was more compromised by traditional debts than they knew. They built so well because they averted their eyes from the voluntaristic and nihilistic depths of modern thought. Their providential—or we might just say lucky—theoretical confusion or in-betweenness, their lack of theoretical greatness, is the cause of our nation’s practical greatness.

The argument here states that because the founders didn’t fully understand (or follow) Locke’s radical individualism to its logical conclusions, they went deeper than they knew.

There’s a standard dig at the French (French perfectionism and theoretical excesses are the enemy of our good) there at the end as well.

Actually,  this just seems like our democracy functioning as it does:  the right is re-grouping and figuring out how to include religion out of political necessity:

“Our healing American task may be to show that Thomism is the true realism, that it reconciles reason and revelation through a realistic account of the whole human being.”

See Also On This Site:  Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam may be resisting such a trend: From Bloggingheads: Jon Chait Not Convinced By ‘The Grand New Party’

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