Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dr. Fleming on what can be done

Dr. Fleming writes in the comments:

A return to local control would be a necessary though not sufficient step toward recreating some form of decent republican life. On the other hand, much good would also be done if our elite class became a genuine aristocracy as opposed to merely a vulgar and self-destructive oligarchy.

The problem, it seems to me, has two major components: 1) an overcentralized system that drains the energy out of everyday life and small communities, and 2) a decadent, stupid, suicidal culture that his shared by lords and peasants alike. Our decadence makes any move toward decentralization very difficult if not impossible and the stranglehold of the system– both government and cultural institutions-makes a cultural/moral recovery difficult.

It seems to me that the only practical steps that can be taken at this point would consist of A) a national or even international movement of serious people, who B) organize themselves locally and regionally into cells, not for direct action against government but to revivify private life and cultural traditions. In a way, some of this goes on through larger religious groups and even with various strands and movements in “the arts”–music education, for example. But for what interests us or some of us on this site, we need the equivalent of a national or international network of local and laergely autonomous John Randolph Clubs, where people would meet to clarify issues, talk about books, and discuss how to apply the big ideas to small local issues. The point would not be activism or even education per se but the creation of small-scale little communities of decent civilized people. Any way, it is a thought I have been toying with the past few days. Perhaps I have seen Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe once too often.

How would this differ from Alasdair MacIntyre's "Benedict option"?

From MacIntyre's After Virtue:

A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead--often not recognizing fully what they were doing--was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for Godot, but for another--doubtless very different--St. Benedict. (263)

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