Monday, March 02, 2009

Chesterton and Dickens v. Limbaugh and Obama

Dreher took Limbaugh to task for some of the remarks Rush made at CPAC, to wit:

...We don't see people we want to exploit. What we see -- what we see is potential. We do not look out across the country and see the average American, the person that makes this country work. We do not see that person with contempt. We don't think that person doesn't have what it takes. We believe that person can be the best he or she wants to be if certain things are just removed from their path like onerous taxes, regulations and too much government.

Ummmnnnnhhhh....yah, well.

Limbaugh has specialized in "optimism" for a very long time. But there are limits to Optimism, and when you've crossed the line, you are in danger of criticism like Dreher's.

This is a comforting lie. It is Rousseau conservatism: the idea that man is born innocent, but corrupted by society, or government. Remove the chains of government, and man will return to his natural, good state, which is one of limitless possibility. This denies two bedrock truths of philosophical conservatism, which are that 1) human nature is fallen, and 2) man must learn to live within limits. A conservatism that is not founded on a conscious recognition of those two truths is a false conservatism, and has a shaky foundation from which to criticize liberal utopianism.

By coincidence, I watched EWTN's Chesterton show last night, which concentrated on GKC's book-length discussion of Charles Dickens. In that discussion, Chesterton reminds us that there are two sins against the virtue of Hope: presumption and despair.

Limbaugh's Optimism--which is to be distinguished from 'happy talk'--fits neatly into the Presumption category. Dreher is right; it would seem to ignore Original Sin.

Of course, Limbaugh paints himself as 'the opposition' to Obama & Co., the group of radical Lefties who now control the Federal Gummint. Limbaugh is correct; Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are poster-children for the "Despair" camp.

Their remedies would ignore the Redemption (and, for that matter, Job); they are convinced that all is lost, unless they act coercively to redeem humanity. It is NOT a co-incidence that their "redemption" includes anti-human propositions such as abortion, birth-control, and coercive Statism, or "Utopianism," as Dreher would have it.

Nor, for that matter, is it co-incidence that Obama has allowed himself to be portrayed as 'the savior.' This allegory is foundational to those who would practice political Despair.

So it goes in a world without the Immanent God, or as GKC put it:

"Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God."

UPDATE: The Winning McCain gets into Dreher's face.

UPDATE II: Larison gets into Limbaugh's face.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice analysis. By the way, Chesterton was brilliant.

As the government cares for the common good of society, the government should not be too absent or too involved. If the government is too absent from the picture, original sin can run wild and unchecked leading to things like B. Madoff who was able to swindle people out of billions. On the other hand, if the government is too involved, the rights of individuals and families can be trampled.

Hope we can find a nice middle ground somewhere.