Saturday, June 10, 2017

What Classical Liberalism Has Wrought

I use the term "classical liberalism" to distinguish from the tawdry-slut "left/liberalism" which has captured the (D) Party, having oozed forth from under even more leftist rocks and shoals.

Not that classical liberalism has been all that wonderful.  Here we have a snitch from a review of T.S. Eliot's Christianity and Culture:

...Eliot clearly is engaged in an intellectual pursuit, explaining and defining key terms in our public discourse. But this puts him no less, and perhaps more, at odds with contemporary standards of intellectual life than if he were merely seeking converts. His central point in this essay is that Britain’s (and by extension America’s) society is neutral, rather than Christian, precisely because the formal profession of Christianity is tolerated, while the structures and aims appropriate to a Christian society are not even considered. While “a society has ceased to be Christian when religious practices have been abandoned,” it also has ceased to be Christian “when behaviour ceases to be regulated by reference to Christian principle, and when in effect prosperity in this world for the individual or for the group has become the sole conscious aim” (CC, 9–10).

This is not to say that ours has become a pagan society. In saying that ours is a neutral society, Eliot also is pointing out that it remains Christian, though only in vestigial form. Liberalism, the ideology dominant in the West, has emptied out (some might say “secularized”) our society, dissolving many of its religiously grounded structures and aims. Liberalism has done much to neutralize Christianity, but claims the labels “benign” and “tolerant” because it has put nothing in Christianity’s place....

But as we all know, nature abhors a vacuum.  The 'nothingness' resulting from liberalism's evacuation of Christian principles will be filled with something.  Eliot has an idea:

Liberalism can prepare the way for that which is its own negative: the artificial, mechanized or brutalised control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos.
Albeit by a different means, that's what happened to Russia in the 1920's.  It's also what happened to Germany--again, by different means--in the early 1930's.

It's not as though Eliot is the first to propose this.  Many political theorists hold that a dictatorship will follow a democracy.  Now since the US is not, strictly speaking, a 'democracy,' we can all hope that the progress into dictatorship is not a natural result.

He sums it this way:

Unless we can find a pattern into which all problems of life can have their place, we are only likely to go on complicating chaos. So long, for instance, as we consider finance, industry, trade, agriculture merely as competing interests to be reconciled from time to time as best they may, so long as we consider “education” as a good in itself of which everyone has a right to the utmost, without any ideal of the good life for society or for the individual, we shall move from one uneasy compromise to another. (CC, 50)
(We should add that "the good life" is NOT sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll, nor wealth.)

But rather than 'hope,' it seems that Eliot would have us pray.  Not a bad idea.

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