Friday, May 23, 2008

P-Mac: Conservative Prophet

Sykes was kind enough to point out the column, run in some foreign country's newspaper. McIlheran objects to Obama's 'greed and gluttony' remarks made in Seattle, and clarifies the likely results of implementing the thoughts.

Here's the first excerpt of interest:

The trouble with saying America eats too much is that we don't have a collective mouth. We have 300 million individual ones, of varying degrees of sinful gluttony. Public policy is too blunt an instrument to redeem them.

The correct safeguard against such personal, individual failings is personal, individual morality, bounded by social expectation, not legal commands. This would be obvious had the left not spent the past two centuries emasculating any extragovernmental institution, especially religion.


Buried in the midst of far more elegant writings is this:

Of COURSE "conservatism" recognizes frailty and relativism--but that is not per se "gloomy." It's realistic, and underlines the locus of real problems in the polity: the moral frailty of individuals. That is precisely the reason that Conservatives are wary of Big Gummint: it's not going to resolve failings of individual humans. No way. No how.

Or this, from R R Reno:

...freedom cannot give itself the obligations necessary for its own perfection: the ordered liberty of assent to that which is greater.

And from the same post, this from Deneen, briefly summarizing Aristotle's concept of the ideal polity:

...a proper economy is cognizant of limits to moneymaking in the name of fundamental human goods of which prosperity is a part, but only a part. Those goods include healthy and stable communities which are both formed by culture and in which cultures are maintained and preserved; a sound culture that inculcates central human virtues and that is ably passed on from one generation to the next; a culture that makes and keeps good families; a culture that inculcates the very virtues that will be necessary for a good, humane, and moral economy (one that avoids the abuses that we have recently seen in our financial markets); a culture that strongly emphasizes a sense of gratitude and obligation between generations; a culture that encourages stewardship, conservation and fidelity; and perhaps above all, a culture that reins in and chastens our eternal temptation toward Promethean or sinful self-aggrandizement, that teaches and enforces limits, that calls to our mind our flaws, and that does not allow us to lose sight of our fundamental condition of being dependent upon one another. A further good is our ability to act in concert with one another to achieve and maintain such a culture and polity - citizenship as shared and mutual governance, which goes far beyond our current conception as citizenship as suffrage...

McIlheran, of course, is correct. The second part-of-interest in his column is the prophesy:

But now, in policy we trust. So Mr. Obama thrills his Whole Foods base and spooks everyone else because they suspect he's fixing to have some form of government decide what "too much" is...

And makes a social observation which is Chestertonian to the core:

Mr. Obama's gaffe exposes the default pessimism of his base, emotionally drawn to constraint, whatever the excuse.

Having relegated God to a museum, they now must replace Him, substituting 'rules of the polity' for the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes.

They will rebuild Nature in their own image and likeness, and with their own rules; a hubris which calls to mind the trusim about "fools rushing in..."


Billiam said...

Those who are of a like mind have been marching towards this end for longer than you or I have been alive. Every year they get closer to the 'utopia' they've envisioned. At this stage, the question is, do they have enough robots to give them the control they need? I think they almost do.

Amy said...

At this stage, the question is, do they have enough robots to give them the control they need? I think they almost do.

Then we revolt. We fight back. If they think for one second I will be a lemming for Obama, they're really cracked.