Monday, August 13, 2012

What the Bishops Forgot

The US Bishops infamously scolded Paul Ryan for his "Roadmap".  Following that, Ryan spent some time with Cdl. Dolan.  After that visit, the US Bishops shut their collective traps.

There's a reason they shut up, and it's right here:

Ryan said the idea of America -- that our rights come from nature and God, not government and we promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes

Ryan should hammer that message home every single day.   It should go to the top of his stump-speech, not the middle.  That 'from God and [of/by] nature' is the core of Conservatism's political philosophy.  And by the way, it's known and understood by the vast majority of people in this country, even those who resent it.

It's been noted that Ryan's statement is a quotation from John Locke.

Deneen has a few words to say about Locke:

Locke is widely regarded in the academy as the great originator of liberal secularism. Yet, it was Locke - in a less-read work called The Reasonableness of Christianity - who argued that reason alone was insufficient to arrive at certain moral precepts held to be true by modern man, above all the belief in the inherent dignity of all human beings. What Locke knew - that reason provided insufficient basis for a belief in human dignity - many of Locke's epigones have forgotten.

But Deneen is no fool; Locke's philosophy has its problems, too.

...At the most fundamental level, as modern Americans and intuitive Lockeans, we begin with the assumption that we are naturally free and only secondarily and artificially constrained. Beginning with that assumption, all morality must be understood to be legislated, since in our natural condition there is no legislation and no "morality," only freedom. We understand societies to exist to preserve maximal amount of individual freedom and provide only the minimal amount of constraint in order to provide some security and stability.

That assumption is a fallacy, of course, even though it's adopted by both the Left and Right.

...For the political Left, these libertarian assumptions are thought to apply to our personal and especially sexual lives. An example of this assumption can be seen in the argument that is typically used against conservative advocates of teenage sexual abstinence (evinced in the visceral hostility to Sarah Palin): "teenagers are going to do it anyway, so we should teach them about birth control." It underlies the contemporary insistence that the innate, genetic sources of homosexuality should be regarded as despositive in any further arguments regarding sexual behavior: if it's natural, it will and needs to be acted upon.

...This basic assumption underlies many of the economic assumptions of the Right, as well: the free market is populated with homo economicus, countless self-seeking, risk-taking, profit-seeking self-maximizers. To the extent that our market system is arranged to prevent obstacles to those behaviors, we can expect a dynamic and prosperous economic system. Legislation that restricts self-maximizing activities are abhorrent, curtailing growth and dampening the spirit of entrepreneurialism. These assumptions underlie arguments against regulations that potentially damage the bottom line, or efforts to soften the harsher aspects of the free market system - such as welfare - that undermine our natural economic incentives.

What you see is the shadow of "positive law."

...The truth is, you really can't "legislate morality" - either of the sort that would seek to force us to restrain our hedonistic personal pleasures or the sort that would seek to force us to be socially responsible in the economic realm

...Seeking to "legislate morality" is to acknowledge that the base presuppositions of a culture have made it resistant to any such imposition. A culture that has robust forms of learned or habituated restraint as a matter of cultural transmission does not need to "legislate" such morality, or - if it does - it serves as a punctuating norm, not an external imposition.


...The sad irony is that our false liberal view of human nature - that one advanced by Hobbes and Locke (Bertrand de Jouvenel waggishly commented that such a philosophy was obviously imagined by "childless men who had forgotten their childhoods") - in turn engendered further false views of human nature (in which we could altogether overcome our alienation from one another), such as that advanced by Marx. BOTH are species of an impoverished and false modern understanding of humankind. To move beyond the tired and (what has now stood to be revealed to be) false debate between the Lockeians and the Marxists, we need to re-discover Aristotelian and Thomistic understandings of humanity's true nature. It will not be easy, since Aristotle himself argues that habituation is a powerful shaper of men's mores, and we must acknowledge that most of our contemporary habituation - in the form of popular culture, deep philosophic presuppositions, national mythology, and ubiquitous advertising - instruct us that we are monadic bundles of appetite seeking satiation. We have a highly successful culture of anti-culture, and it is difficult to see how it can be assailed, short of the slow drip-dripping of arguments and practices against it...

So.  While it is useful to recall Locke, there is far more to "nature and nature's God" than the cramped and utilitarian vision(s) of the "Left" and "Right."

Let's hope that Ryan remembers that, too.


Anonymous said...

Ryan will not hammer that message home every single day because he is an statist creature. Lets revisit this question in four months and see if he has hammered away?

Can you share some of what your smoking?

Anonymous said...

Okay Dad, here is someone else who is very scepticle about Ryan's rejection of Ann Rand for St. Thomas.

............[H]e used the vocabulary paradigm of Ayn Rand in his address to the Heritage Foundation in October in which he identified the world as divided into the “Makers vs. the Takers” and he insisted he was going to protect the Makers (John Galt-style men) against the Takers, which I guess is me and my family. As a “Taker” in his construct, he is a threat to me and my family. Takers, in this construct, is everyone south of the creative productivity of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. As such, not being a John Galt, I am declared his enemy and he is out to wage war on me and my family.

Perhaps he changed or maybe this was just an Academy-Award performance at Georgetown. Why should I believe him now after he issued a call to class war on me and my family in October?
In your commentary about some “lie,” I ask you, is the urban myth comment he made a “lie”? Why is he hiding the past association and clear intellectual influence (Maker vs. Taker) and enthusiastic admiration (as a speaker at an Ayn Rand conference)?

I need more than one new speech to trust the man who declared class war on me...................

Anonymous said...

Ryan worships at the altar of Rand the atheist, and hitches his wagon to Romney the Mormon apostate. Not your grandfather's GOP, ain'a?

Dad29 said...

Anony 7:28: So you are a religious bigot who is un-informed as to Ryan's take on Rand.

Not the Democrat Party I knew, either.

Anonymous said...

Dad29, un-informed as to the Muslims' majority take on the Koran.

Look in the mirror first before calling someone a religious bigot.

Dad29 said...

So--you're telling me that the Koran is up for a vote?

Jim said...

So you are a religious bigot who is un-informed as to Ryan's take on Rand.

So what is Ryan's "take" on Rand? Today.

Anonymous said...

"So--you're telling me that the Koran is up for a vote?"

Yeah, Dad29, this comment makes so much sense.

Dad29 said...

majority take on the Koran.

Usually, "majority take" means that there's a vote of some kind.

English may vary on your planet.

Anonymous said...

Dolan's inviting Obama to dinner makes me want to puke, and forces me to consider not being a Roman Catholic.

I real agree with the letter presented in the following video.