Sunday, June 02, 2019

The Battle to Watch--and Win

A few essays about the French v. Ahmari battle have appeared lately; one in The American Conservative, and this one, at American Greatness. (Others are linked in the 'Greatness' essay.)  We are pleased to brag that we noted the general outlines of the battle a few weeks ago; all that 'natural law' stuff has to do with this.

A few grafs which set it up and then define the battlefield.  First, the setup:

....I did not think that Sohrab had all that much to say directly about the man who provided him with the title of his essay, but then I am not, so to speak, a French man. I have never met Pastor French, rarely read him, and generally feel about him the way C. K. Dexter Haven in The Philadelphia Story felt about George Kitteridge, man of the people: “to hardly know him is to know him well.” 

The outpouring of indignation, fury, and contempt that greeted Sohrab’s column reminded me that opinions about the Pastor vary widely.....

Now the meat of the matter:

...Together with Rousseau, Mill supplied nearly all of the arguments and most of the emotional weather—the texture of sentiment—that have gone into defining the liberal vision of the world. His peculiar brand of utilitarianism—a cake of Benthamite hedonism glazed with Wordsworthian sentimentality—accounts for part of Mill’s appeal: it provides a perfect recipe for embellishing programmatic shallowness with a cosmetic patina of spirituality. It is a recipe that has proven to be irresistible to those infatuated with the spectacle of their own virtue. 

Mill was exceptionally adroit at appealing to his readers’ moral vanity. When he spoke (as he was always speaking) of “persons of decided mental superiority” he made it seem as though he might actually be speaking about them. Mill said that there was “no reason that all human existence should be constructed on some one or some small number of patterns.” Quite right! Even if persons of genius are always likely to be “a small minority,” still we must “preserve the soil in which they grow.” Consequently, people have a duty to shun custom and nurture their individual “self-development” if they are not to jeopardize “their fair share of happiness” and the “mental, moral, and aesthetic stature of which their nature is capable.”...

Doesn't take much imagination to see "City Class/Establishment" figures placing themselves squarely  within Mill's 'decided mental superiority'  group, does it?   (We could add Federal judges just for fun, too.)

What's underplayed here is this:  it's not exclusively a Republican in-house battle.  This one includes Democrats.  Trump (and Hagedorn) succeeded in Wisconsin because "Reagan Democrats" voted for them.  The same intra-party battle is also shaping the Democrat nomination race--frankly, it's why Biden sits on top with almost no effort on his part.  The majority of Democrat stalwarts think Bernie, AOC, Warren, Buttigieg, Harris (et al) are wackos or Cloud People, or both.  Biden seems more 'normal,' (right, wrong, or otherwise.)

...Mill constantly castigated such things as the “magical influence of custom” (“magical” being a negative epithet for Mill), the “despotism of custom [that] is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement,” the “tyranny of opinion” that makes it so difficult for “the progressive principle” to flourish. According to Mill, the “greater part of the world has, properly speaking, no history because the sway of custom has been complete.”

Such passages reveal the core of moral arrogance inhabiting Mill’s liberalism....

In other words, Mill (and Bentham, by the way) stood--with Rousseau and the French Revolutionaries--against every single thing espoused by Edmund Burke and Catholicism--even in the Catholic-variants/heresies established by Luther and Henry VIII. 

Fuggedabout "Never-Trump-ism" here.  The battle is NOT about Trump, who is all fine-and-dandy with Liberal goalposts such as gay marriage, serial adultery, gun-grabbing, and unlimited Government deficits, albeit he DOES have a number of redeeming qualities. 

This battle is about what remains of Western Civilization, the Catholic-begotten culture which just happens to have provided more men with more wealth and more opportunity than any other culture on Earth.  But FAR more important, it provides man with a goal:  heaven, if he can earn it.

As Kimball puts it, this is an 'existential' battle.  He said a mouthful

No comments: