Killing the City Won’t Save the Small Town
1 hour ago
Just another Lefty pressure groupI don't know enough about Cafod to say if they advocate sustainable development and appropriate technology. But isn't it proper to protect the environment, which is a good for all?
Did you know that the Catholic Church condemns fracking? Cafod – the English and Welsh bishops’ agency for overseas development – has been tweeting hysterically against shale gas. This week it sent us a link to an anti-fracking propaganda campaign run by European Greens, ferocious opponents of Catholic teaching on sexual morality. I remember a time when, if you put money in the collection plate for Cafod, you could be confident it would go to feed the hungry. Now, apart from the odd genuflection in the direction of Rome, the charity is just another Lefty pressure group. Catholics should bear that in mind next time the plate comes round.
VD: My concern is that because of...40 years ago or so even 30 years ago, America was kind of two different countries. You had the South and you had everywhere else.
VD: No doubt that there are still...I'm sure there's still plenty of people across the South who are just patiently waiting for Round Two. But, now there's more like five or six distinct nations, not necessarily blood-nations, but very distinct groups that, in times of severe economic stress, are not likely to stick together but are likely to stick together against everyone else. You've got the Hispanic population, you've got the black population, you've got the Muslim population, you've got the South, you've got the sort of mid-west/middle class sort of thing and then you've got the coasts. Its not too hard to imagine all of those different groups separating and basically wanting to go their own way and attempt to fix the challenges...attempt to fix the problems and meet the challenges by themselves in their own way rather than as one giant 310 million strong country.
BG: So in essence you see the nation breaking apart?
VD: Yeah, all empires break apart.
VD: And the more diversity that you have the faster you're going to break apart and the more severe the stresses are. And so the whole melting pot concept has always been complete garbage. It was a romantic idea of a British Jew who came to Britain from Russia. It had nothing to do with anything relating to the American experience whatsoever. And we've seen time and time again we've seen...look what we're seeing in Europe right now, the whole European Union thing was supposed to be an idea to create a European people, but I can tell you that is simply not happening in any way.
BG: That was just a wet dream of political...the politicians and the academics.
VD: Of course, but what I'm saying is that we're actually seeing much stronger...we're seeing the rise of national interest in places it hasn't been for centuries. I mean, Scotland is on the verge of demanding independence.
There is something terrible in human action: what makes us human is also what exposes us, takes us out of ourselves, and sometimes causes us to lose ourselves. In the beginning, human beings gathered, fished, hunted, or even made war, which is a kind of hunting; but they acted as little as possible, leaving much to the gods and tying themselves down with prohibitions, rites, and sacred restraints. Historically, properly human action first appears as crime or transgression. This, according to Hegel, is what Greek tragedy brings to light: innocently criminal action. Tragedy recounts the passage from what precedes action to properly human action.Say what? Is that a true presentation of what "primitive" cultures believed about human action? Sounds like someone's setting up human action to be some sort of liberation from superstition disguised as divinely-imposed restraint. I hear a serpent calling.
Not only did the imperial idea mark the West through the enduring prestige of the Roman Empire; the idea was reborn in a new form, one that was, again, particular to Europe. This was the Catholic or universal Church, which aimed to reunite all mankind in a new communion, closer than that of the most enclosed city and more extensive than that of the vastest empire. Of all the political forms of the West, the Church extended the greatest promises, since it proposed this community, at once city and empire; but it was also the most disappointing, since it failed to bring about the universal association for which it had awakened a desire.As a result, not only were there competing authorities but competing identities as well:
Though I have just surveyed the history of premodern Europe with the speed and delicacy of Attila the Hun, I have gathered the elements of the situation that will allow me to elaborate the modern project.
Europeans were divided among the city, the empire, and the Church. They lived under these mixed and competing authorities, these three modes of human association. The cities that survived or were reborn were in competition with—indeed, often at war with—the Roman Empire (now known as the Holy Roman Empire, in what is today Germany); and the Church was in competition with the cities and the empire, which, in turn, were in competition with it. The disorder was dreadful, a conflict of authorities and of loyalty. It was this confusion that the modern project wanted to allow us to escape—and in this, it succeeded.
The conflicts had to do with institutions but also, more profoundly, with the human type that would inspire European life. Whom to imitate? Did one have to follow the life of humble sacrifice for which Christ provided the model? Or was it better to lead the proud, active life of the warrior-citizen, a life for which Rome had provided the framework and of which Rome was the product par excellence? Should Europeans, surveying the ancient world, admire Cato or Caesar? Europeans no longer knew which city they wanted, or were able, to inhabit; thus they did not know what kind of human being they wanted, or were able, to be. It was in this radical perplexity, and in order to come to terms with it, that the modern project was born.Competing authorities and authoritative texts lead to a disconnect between speech and action. Which texts were to determine action? The Reformation was one answer to this question. Machievelli gave another, directed especially at the tension between Christianity and the way men actually were.
Now, the greatest distance between speech and action is introduced by the Christian Word, which requires men to love what they naturally hate (their enemies) and to hate what they naturally love (themselves). The modern political project, which Machiavelli was the first to formulate, was therefore a response—it began as a response, in any case—to the “Christian situation,” one marked by competition among authorities, disorder of references, anarchy of words, and, above all, the demoralizing contrast between what men said and what they did.Isn't that a erroneous account of Christian charity? (Or, more accurately, of the emotion of hate, which is not opposed to charity or rational love?) But this false account may be needed by Manent to make his point.
The problem of the Christian age was solved, therefore, by the sovereign state and by representative government—that is, by our political regime considered as a whole. My object here is not to describe the mechanisms or, for that matter, to sketch the history of the representative regime. Still, one point must be emphasized. The decisive factor in the reconciliation between speech and action is the formation of a common speech by the elaboration, perfection, and diffusion of a national language. Luther’s Reformation was a spiritual upheaval, but it was also inseparably a political revolution and a national insurrection. Too often forgotten is that even before the modern state was consolidated and became capable of authorizing or prohibiting effectively, the nation had emerged in Europe as the setting for the appropriation of the Christian Word, which the universal Church had proved incapable of teaching effectively. Each European nation chose the Christian confession under which it wished to live and essentially imposed it, after many attempts, on its “sovereign.” Europe assumed its classic form with the “confessional nation,” soon to be crowned by its absolute sovereign, who would later bring about its “secularization”; and this was the form in which it succeeded in organizing itself in the most stable and durable manner. From then on, it was in the framework of a national civic conversation that Europeans sought to link their speech with their actions and their actions with their speech. The national form preceded and conditioned representative government.Having rejected the authority of the Church and weakened it, the elites controlled the modern nation-state. Can we really say that we have had "representative" government in the West, rather than rule by a few, regardless of the general population's approval of them through the fiction of voting? Manent may just be giving his analysis, rather than approving the modern nation-state as a solution, but he is missing something in his account of the rise of the modern nation-state, and how its development necessarily violates the human scale. Without this, he can pretend that the modern nation-states are democratic, but they really aren't. They are governed for the benefit of the few.
The divorce between action and speech helps explain the new role of political correctness. Because speech is no longer tied to a possible and plausible action against which we might measure it, many take speech as seriously as if it were itself an action and consider speech they do not like equivalent to the worst possible action. Offending forms of speech are tracked down and labeled, in the language of pathologists, “phobias.” The progress of freedom in the West once consisted of measuring speech by the standard of visible actions; political correctness consists of measuring speech by the standard of invisible intentions.
The head of the U.S. National Counter-Terrorism Center told lawmakers on Wednesday that the deadly attack on Sept. 11 that claimed the lives of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three aides was a "terrorist" strike. But the official, Matt Olsen, said evidence so far suggests it was not planned in advance.It all depends on what you mean by "in advance." There was planning and coordination involved; no attackers just showed up at the protest and spontaneously decided that they would join together to assault the compound. They may have decided to use the protests as cover once the opportunity presented itself, but that doesn't put the administration in the clear. It still supports the claim that intervening in Libya has made things worse and allowed for such elements to be in the country to carry out such activities.
I speak no lies when I say men wish for a family to call their own. To have an “us” to return and be useful to, rather than be in a constant situation of “I really don’t know anyone”. To have a woman who is yours, and children who you know are yours and will carry your legacy. It is ideal to own a home and be able to defend it. To have a home surrounded by a community who you’d defend and who’d defend you. Defend from physical and psychological, from economic and natural obstacles. It is ideal to be a man amongst men, to be recognized in public and have explicit opponents and enemies. These are universals, because they are all relatively permanent. They are in other words, not halation. They are knowns, and it is always easier to deal with knowns than it is to deal with unknowns. The path of order is always to create more knowns out of unknowns, and then put them in their correct place.
The November election is much ado about absolutely nothing. It will make not one whit of difference whether Obama or Romney wins. Regardless of the outcome the real winners will be the big banks, the big oil companies, the big pharmaceutical companies, big military contractors, and the tiny state of Israel.
There is only one fundamental question which really matters and it will not appear on the ballot anywhere. “Is there any justification whatsoever for the continued existence of the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most environmentally toxic, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all-time – an empire which has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable, ungovernable, and unfixable?”
A number of political groups persist in the belief that the U.S. government is still fixable. They include Ron Paul supporters, the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and 350.org. Although these groups have quite different views on what it will take to fix the empire, they each represent major distractions diverting public attention away from the fact that our nation is beyond repair. Until we come to terms with this reality, all is naught.
Classical education, unlike forms of modern education, aims at the nurturing of the soul, the cultivation of wisdom and virtue. This stands in contrast to arming students with ready-made answers – the problem of “ideology,” according to Wolfe. We claim our desire is for students to know how to think, not just what to think; yet we seem to fall short of that reality.Americans think too much in terms of the marketplace of ideas, or maybe a "battle of ideas," but maybe we should recognize conflict between individuals and groups for what it is, in so far as such conflict is irresolvable (without some sort of moral conversion) and involves at least one party trying to impose its "value system" on the other? We can talk about making culture in response to anti-culture and recognize the limits of dialogue, but if there is a struggle for power, we must be aware of that as well, and not be content to be passive in response to such aggression in the name of false "charity"?
For example, in many Christian classical schools, the teaching of logic and the growing emphasis on apologetics courses belies a truly defensive slant, the courses being taught as a way of protecting students from an ungodly culture. And, while there is nothing wrong with arming students for defense, it does not stop there. Even rhetoric has been reduced to the mere production of persuasive essays and speeches, rather than developing (as Aristotle said) the “faculty of discovering in any given case the available means of persuasion” – an art that could include story-telling, creative writing, poetry, and more.
The result is that classical educators are preparing culture warriors but not “culture-makers.” In holding up the works of Lewis, Tolkien, Chesterton, et al, then, we hold up museum pieces because rather than stressing the need for great artists, musicians, songwriters, poets, and authors, we merely equip our students to argue. We have called them to uphold truth and, perhaps, goodness, but beauty has been left out of the equation.