Saturday, August 22, 2020

Place, Aquinas, Democracy, and National Unity

The AOSHQ steered us to this essay at American Conservative, which reminded us of Thomas Aquinas, who was followed by Edmund Burke and the Sage of Mecosta.  Aquinas', Burke's Kirk's and Chalk's Church is the Roman Catholic one, but not to worry:  subsidiarity, the real topic here, is also embraced by most other Christian denominations and was certainly in the minds of the colonists when they forced the Founders to write the 9th and 10th Amendments.  It was also part of Aristotle's order of civilization; that's where Aquinas found it.

So there IS a theme here.

Chalk, writing about Thomas Aquinas' position, first mentions the Trumpian Revolution:

...Nationalist movements, whatever their flaws, perceive rightly that global citizenship, often united with unfettered transnational capitalism, identity politics, and libertarian individualism, represents a frontal assault on ancient, venerable, and particularist ways of life. The great constellation of human communal expression—manifested in, among other things, language, tradition, and religious belief—must all be leveled to make way for the global melting pot of post-patriarchal liberalism.


Distaste for this monolithic juggernaut is more than just cranky resentment over the loss of what once was. It reflects, albeit often inchoately, an appreciation for an ordering of one’s responsibilities in human society that is varied and hierarchical rather than homogenous and egalitarian....

Did I say "Place" in the title?  Yes, indeed!!  And what does Aquinas have to say about that?

...Men and women are born to specific parents who assert primary responsibility for their care and upbringing. Their children, in turn, understand both naturally and through lived experience that they owe a singular loyalty to those parents and their wider family networks.

Medieval theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas—building upon certain Aristotelian precepts—called these concentric circles of responsibilities the “Order of Charity.”...

 ...There must be a hierarchy of how one expresses these manifold qualities of love, says Aquinas, because “wherever there is a principle, there must necessarily also be order of some kind…. Consequently there must necessarily be some order in things loved out of charity.”...

... this hierarchy also has broad implications for the ordering of society, beginning with the family and working outwards. Aquinas proposes two general principles for making determinations in reference to charity: from the object loved and from the union caused. He writes: “a thing is loved more in two ways: first because it has the character of a more excellent good, secondly by reason of a closer connection.

We highlighted "closer connection" because that is critical to what follows in McCarthy's ISI piece.

...Place has always been the organizing principle in American self-government. This is true in a formal sense, with the country divided into states and localities with governments of their own. But it has also been true in an informal, cultural sense: different places have had different personalities and have held different conversations with themselves, most often through the medium of local newspapers....

...The “culture war” of the late twentieth century was largely a war of regional cultures, with different views on abortion or Second Amendment liberties to be found among cities or in the country and from state to state. A minority view in one place might be the majority view in another, and great issues would be aggregated into partisan coalitions. Yet the starting point for all effective coalitions, even the most philosophically abstract, was local culture and its potential for political expression. This was no less true for economics than for social issues: Americans worked in particular places where particular industries were rooted. Local political networks provided the means to communicate the interests of workers and businesses to higher levels of government....

The essay notes the near-eradication of "local business" in favor first of Wal-Mart, then of Amazon, telling us that economics--like old-fashioned "newspapers" are at risk with a nationalized, rather than localized, polity.

And there's the political desiderata on the minds of the Globalist/Big Government types:

... in the realm of ideas and cultural politics—always linked to the dominant forms of media—local personality has given way to causes that transcend place. The identities of identity politics are not localized and cannot fit the pattern of traditional American self-government. Perhaps unsurprisingly, progressives now call into question not only the Electoral College but also the principle of equal representation in the U.S. Senate. And when they refer to the “popular vote” in House elections, what they mean is not the vote in each congressional district, but the overall national vote for one political party or the other....

So he posits the question:  

...To put everything in one venue, with more than 300 million people in the country, amounts to trivializing most voices, and empowering only the most organized, powerful, and media savvy. The result of that, as Tocqueville would have expected, is both centralization and atomization, frustration and hopelessness, and administrative tyranny. It encourages talk of secession, though secession itself is meaningless without the organization and personality of place.

All is not lost—even in Europe, nations have proved willing to reclaim democracy. America needs a Brexit: secession not from the Union but from the displaced bureaucracy and progressive church.

That secession will certainly be more desirable than a geographic one.  Less bloodshed, for openers.

"Subsidiarity"--the idea of Aristotle developed by Aquinas, endorsed by the Church, used by the Founders, and practiced in the USA until roughly the 1970's when it began to be replaced by 'nationalization' of politics and economics--is still the idea which works best.

Trump's "America First" nationalism should be prelude to a re-invigorated 9th/10th Amendment appreciation and utilization.  The difficulty is the Deep State Establishment of which--only 10 years ago--Codevilla wrote.  Perhaps Trump will be able to nuke it.  If not, prepare for it to roar back using Antifa tactics.

It worked for Lenin, ya'know.

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