Saturday, December 15, 2018

Populism a Child of the French Revolution?

De Mattei: The Two Souls of the Yellow Gilets by Roberto de Mattei

From the historical-political viewpoint, both these concepts originate with the French Revolution, which marked the end of Christian civilization, and the rise of a “profane” political space. In 1789, when the General States assembled together in Versailles, the French Monarchic State was characterized by a social tripartite. At the top were the clergy and the nobility, at the bottom the Third State. After the dissolution of the General States, in the National Assembly, the defenders of the Throne and the Altar were located on the right, and on the left, were the liberals and the republicans. The first defend the upper class, the second the people – in the lower ranks. The two metaphors, those of the vertical and horizontal, are interconnected.

What sort of political authority, direct or indirect, would De Mattei like to see the Church have? And by what divinely-given competence would bishops have such authority?

Sovereignty is still a bad word, even though it can be defined differently and in a way that is consonant with Natural Law. But for Latin traditionalists it is a product of the Enlightenment. (And not a product of the modern nation-state and statism! Even if the philosophers who talked about it were not official spokesman for the nation-state or the ruling regime, they nonetheless philosophized in such an environment. While they may have rejected the claims of an individual or group to authority, how many of them denied the legitimacy of the modern nation-state? And if they did, would they have lived long?)

Of course, there is a reference to Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, the founder of TFP.

Is it true that primary leadership will never exceed more than the few? Probably. But, these sort of traditionalists forget that Aristotle also claimed that republic, or politeia, rule by the many, was also a legitimate political regime.

What distinguishes an elite, as Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira underlines, is being disposed to sacrifice its own interests in order to serve the common good which is the highest interest of society (Nobiltà ed élites tradizionali analoghe nelle allocuzioni di Pio XII al Patriziato e alla Nobiltà, Marzorati, Milano 1993). Pius XII calls being “an elite, is not only through blood or lineage, but most of all through works and sacrifice, creatively carrying out services to all social communities.” (Discourse to the Patriciate and the Roman Nobility, January 11, 1951).

This isn't the distinction that Aristotle offers, who instead focuses on the measure of virtue. One could say that because the elites are virtuous, they are disposed to sacrifice their own interests in order to serve the common good, but, again, what if the so-called elites aren't the only ones who possess political virtue?

Secondly, rendering services, is that another way of talking about some form of "servant leadership"? Or making sacrifices? Is the word "sacrifice" loaded with a Romantic or some other false connotation here? Their private goods, perhaps, but the common good includes the good of the elites, or any other virtuous group.

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