The main point: we’re all more “extremist” than he is

I wrote that last post at 1am, thinking the matter so urgent that I’d better put in my two cents right away as the Right prepares for a worldwide onslaught.  I don’t think I clearly stated my conclusion:  Breivik is what people would call a moderate conservative.  If he got in a conversation with us, he would surely accuse me of being a homophobe, Justin of being an antisemite, and Larry Auster of being a racist.  And that’s what really makes it the worst of all possible scenarios.  Any anti-terrorism investigator reading up on Breivik’s blog posts and also reading Throne And Altar, The Truth Shall Set You Free, and View from the Right would have tagged Breivik as the least dangerous, the least extremist.  So, if being a Geert-Wilders type “let’s limit Muslim immigration to protect our Jews and queers” Rightist is basically the same as being criminally insane, what will they conclude about the rest of us?

Breivik’s manifesto: what kind of a Rightist is he?

The whole thing sounded too “perfect” to be true, i.e. too in line with all the stereotypes of the Leftist Jewish media, right down to the blonde hair and blue eyes.  (Isn’t it bizarre, by the way, how much hostility they have toward blonde hair and blue eyes?  Where the hell does that come from?)  My first guess was that the guy was an intellectually isolated nut who just decided to call himself a “conservative” and a “fundamentalist” for the shock value, because those are the demon-figures in Norway’s popular culture.  (After all, orthodox/traditionalist/conservative Christians rarely call themselves “fundamentalists” anymore, that word having been successfully made toxic by the media.)  It would be rather like how the “neo-Nazis” in American prisons have no historical or intellectual connection to German National Socialism.  They’re whites who’ve banded together to form a rival gang against the black and hispanic gangs, and they’ve been told that whites banding together in an explicitly racial sense is a Nazi thing to do; hence the superficial existence of American Naziism.

It turns out that’s not what’s going on with Breivik.  Now that we have his manifesto, we know that he has put some serious thought into the relevant political and cultural questions.  What’s more, he seems to have a real intellectual connection to the anti-Muslim European Right, at least in the sense that he read some of the prominent blogs.  We see this not only by the references he drops, but even more by his concentrating on the same set of issues and talking points.  For example, most people didn’t think much when a Blair speech-writer admitted that Labour had deliberately set out to destroy Britain’s homogeneous culture by swamping it with immigrants, but for us conservatives it was a striking vindication of our worldview, and we talk about it a lot.  Sure enough, Breivik brings attention to it as well.

Kevin MacDonald has done excellent work going through the manifesto and highlighting the key parts.  Of multiculturalism, he says

Ideology of multiculturalism (cultural Marxism) is an anti-European hatideologi whose purpose is to destroy European culture, identity and Christianity in general. I equate making multiculturalism with the other hatideologiene: Nazism (anti-Jewish), communism (anti-individualism) and Islam (anti-Kafr).

This characterization of multiculturalism could have come from me (although I would quibble with his characterizations of Nazism, communism, and Islam).  His suggested strategy:

1. Have in place a cultural conservative newspaper with national distribution (which will be the only newspaper that will support the Progress Party in 4 years). For believe me, the Progress Party is going to be sabotaged and torpedoed.  Their voter base of 35% will be “scared” down to 20%.

2. Develop an alternative to the violent extreme Norwegian Marxist organizations Blitz / SOS Racism / Red Youth. This can for example be done by supporting the development of SIOE. Conservatives dare not currently air their views on the street when they know that extreme Marxists will club them down. We can not accept that Labour subsidize these violent “Stoltenberg Art” that systematically terrorize political conservatives.

3. Working to gain control of 10-15 NGOs (kulturmarxists controls currently 10-15 while we only have 2-3).

4. Initiate a partnership with the conservative forces within the Norwegian Church. I know that the liberal forces within the European anti-Jihad movement (Bruce Bawer, among others, and some other liberals) will have a problem with this but the conservative forces within the church are actually one of our best allies. Our main opponents are not the Jihadists but the facilitators—namely multiculturalists.

Excellent strategy, a lot better than the one he actually ended up going with.  I believe the last sentence has the key to why he targetted fellow Norwegians rather than Muslims.  To him, Labour Party youth activists are not “Norwegian children”; they’re more like members of the Janissary Corps in training.  The Janissary’s in the Ottoman Empire, you’ll recall, were Christian children taken from their parents, trained and indoctrinated to be the Sultan’s elite force, a key caste in the system that oppressed their parents.  Today’s European Marxist parties, as Paul Gottfried has shown, have little to do with classical socialist/Marxist concerns about economic nationalization or workers’ advocacy.  Their core concern is mass third-world immigration, something that must be continued at all costs until the host cultures are eradicated.  Epidemics of immigrant-driven violent crime don’t bother them, because to them the white natives are legitimate prey.  Breivik was probably right to think that the teenagers he was gunning down were fanatical enemies of our civilization.  Of course, this shouldn’t detract from our sympathy for them.  They were invincibly ignorant.  They were only following what all their elders had told them was the virtuous path.

MacDonald is probably right to characterize the manifesto as coming from a Geert Wilder’s type conservative, which would make him a “pseudoconservative” by our classification scheme.  In particular, it’s been pointed out that

  1. He’s not a racialist.  He rejects white solidarity and believes anti-jihadism should operate solely at the level of culture and ideology.
  2. He’s not an antisemite.  In fact, he seems strongly Zionist.
  3. He’s not a philosophically traditionalist conservative.  Mark Richardson has pointed out that his theoretical influences are classical or modern liberals (Hobbes, Mill, Kant, Rorty).
  4. He’s not a patriarchist conservative if the following from Arthur at Oz Conservative is accurate:

“The remark by ABB that the mass media won’t mention to you: “we have to ensure
that we influence other culturally [sic] conservatives to take our anti-racist
pro-homosexual, pro-Israeli line of thought.” He also condemned the VB (Belgium)
and the English Defence League for “extremism”.

Not, of course, that any of these distinctions are going to help us at all.  Metternich is right; this is a catastrophe for the European Right; it’s going to trigger (or, rather, be an excuse for) a massive persecution.  As one commenter at Alternative Right put it

Champagne/whores/orgies tonight at SPLC/ADL headquarters!

It’s not fair, you say?  What about Muslim and Leftist violence, you say?  I say, the only thing that matters in a democracy is who controls the media.  Given that the enemy controls it, all they have to do is wait for useable events and then publicize them.  And it’s inevitable that useable events will occur.  No movement can screen its members perfectly.  (Or, rather, we’ll be able to screen perfectly when there are only a half dozen of us left.)  To me, what’s most frightening is that one is now tarred as a dangerous extremist if someone who’s once made a comment on your blog goes out and commits a terrorist act.  (So behave, you all.)  So, yes, we’re completely screwed now.  But we were screwed last week too, because we were in a situation where sooner or later something would happen to give the enemy an excuse to round us up.

Why liberal assumptions don’t do us justice

The Damned Old Man has provided us with an excellent illustration of the inability of the liberal mind when confronted with nonliberal thoughts to deal with them fairly.  I hate to pick on someone whose done me the courtesy of reading my material and sharing his thoughts; we should all be humbled to think of how difficult it is to intellectually navigate on unfamiliar territory (and how seldom we do it).  Still, I think we and our moral code are not quite so contemptible as TDOM imagines, and it would be useful to consider the source of his error.

With regard to my recent post on suicide, he writes:

Damned liberals. Leave it to them to ruin the good Christian enjoyment of the sins of others. It’s not like growing old, sickly, and burdensome on others could ever lead to despair or the wish to end one’s life. We’re human beings after all, not horses and should be spared the mercy of death and forced to suffer to the bitter end. It’s the Christian thing to do.

I think this was more meant as an expression of hostility rather than a reasoned attack on my post (which itself was not a reasoned defense of my opposition to suicide/euthanasia, but rather presupposed it).  It has more in common with the liberals’ instinctive bullying, self-righteous “HOW DAAARRRE YOU!!!!” pose.   TDOM can certainly reason well with those he thinks deserve it, a group that obviously doesn’t include me or other Christians.  (As we’ll see below, he does in a later comment get to the heart of the matter.)  Still, the assumptions and tropes that come out when liberals are in sputtering condemnation mode are revealing.  Let’s look at them:

  1. It’s impossible, or somehow inconsistent, to sympathize with someone and yet not endorse their behavior, to say that you don’t approve of something but that you understand what drove someone to it.  This means you don’t really sympathize.  The liberal reads life through a rigid ideological lens, so normal human empathy without an ideology of permissiveness is inexplicable to him.
  2. If you prevent someone from using an illicit means to avoid suffering, you are causing their suffering.  Consequentialism is simply assumed to be true, with no argument for it deemed necessary.
  3. If you disapprove of someone avoiding suffering through what you regard as evil means, that means you are cruel and have no compassion.
  4. Dependency is degrading.
  5. There’s something perverse in condemning an evil act and yet appreciating literature where such an act is used as a plot devise.  As if people of all ideological persuasions don’t do this, and entirely legitimately!  Even before liberalism, there wouldn’t have been much literature without imagined sin.
  6. Appreciating fiction that contains depictions of immoral acts is a perverse “enjoyment of the sins of others”.
  7. All appreciation of literature is “enjoyment”.  Note how the Benthamite flattening of human experience has reduced everything to pleasure vs. pain.  Was the excerpt from Ovid above “pleasant” as opposed to “painful”?  Wouldn’t it be better to describe it as sad or touching, either beautiful or sentimental as its merits warrant?
  8. Because I don’t approve of suicide, I must not see how someone could be tempted to it because of suffering or degradation–even though my whole fucking post was about how I can appreciate this.
  9. The word “Christian” functions vaguely as a curse among liberals, the way “Freemason”, “communist”, or “Jacobin” do for conservatives.

I don’t think TDOM or my other liberal commenters actually believe these statements in the form I’ve written them.  But without them, they have failed to prove that I’m a heartless monster.

Later, TDOM does outline his position:

I see no one forcing anyone to commit suicide. I do see it as an acceptable option for those who choose it. Your religious beliefs should have no bearing on my choice and should not be forced upon me. My life is my own.

First, two quibbles:  by definition, no one can force anyone to commit suicide.  What people are doing in hospices right now is murder.  And who’s talking about religion?  I’m making my stand on natural law.  I oppose suicide for purely Kantian reasons.  TDOM certainly didn’t invent the idea, but somehow it’s become common wisdom that any ethics other than Benthamite utilitarianism is “religion”, therefore irrational, therefore unsuitable as a public motive.  When the hell did utilitarianism become the State’s established religion, so that only it gets to decide what’s forced on people?

We must credit TDOM with coming to the real issue, the central issue, in the end.  “My life is my own.”  That’s precisely where we disagree.  I say that our lives are not our own, and everything follows from that.  I expect that over the next decade, starting soon, he and I and everybody else will be arguing till we’re blue in the face about whether we do or do not own our own lives.

Damned liberals are going to spoil suicide

Tearing her hair and flinging her arms round Pyramus’ body, / weeping over his wounds and mingling her tears with his blood, / she covered his death-cold face again and again with her kisses. / “Pyramus!  What dread chance has taken you from me?” she wailed, / “Pyramus, answer!  It’s Thisbe, your dearest beloved, calling / your dear name.  Listen, please, and raise your head from the ground!” / Pyramus’ eyes were heavy with death, but they flickered at Thisbe’s name. / He looked once more at his love, then closed them forever. / Recognizing her cloak and his ivory scabbard lying / empty, Thisbe exclaimed:  “Poor Pyramus, killed by your own hand, / aided by love!  I also can boast a hand with the courage / to brave such a deed, and my love will lend me the strength to strike. / I’ll follow you down to the shades and be known as the ill-starred maiden / who caused and shared in your fate.  Though nothing but death, alas, / could tear you away, not even death shall be able to part us. / You sad, unhappy fathers of Thisbe and Pyramus, hear us! / We both impore you to grant this prayer:  as our hearts were truly / united in love, and death has at last united our bodies / lay us to rest in a single tomb.  Begrudge us not that! / And you, O tree, whose branches already are casting their shadows / on one poor body and soon will be overshadowing two, / preserve the marks of our death; let your fruit forever be dark / as a token of mourning, a monument marking the blood of two lovers.” / She spoke, then placing the tip of the sword close under her breast, / she fell on the steely weapon, still warm with her Pyramus’ blood. / Those prayers, however, had touched the hearts of the gods…

–Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book IV

I’ve said before that I’m really not looking forward to the coming suicide and euthanasia debate.  We’re going to lose, of course, but not before being demonized as heartless monsters who just want old people to suffer and not before having to endure a barrage of sleazy, sentimental, self-serving, self-righteous propaganda from the Leftist media machine, which we can expect to come hard and fast when they really decide to start pushing this.  Just as socialism poisoned the word “justice” and gay-advocacy poisoned the word “love”, I expect suicide-advocates to poison the word “mercy”, and I’ll never be able to use it again without wincing.

Actually, I think the thing that will bug me most (before, that is, they come to mercy-off me personally), is how this is going to ruin suicide as a literary device.  Yes, I know, killing oneself is a mortal sin.  It’s a seriously bad thing.  But some mortal sins are more sympathetic than others, and it is right that we empathize with those who sin from weakness rather than malice.  It’s a humbling thing to realize that we too might be tempted to mortal sin, and that it is as much thanks to circumstance as virtue that we have not succumbed ourselves.  It’s no doubt sinful to apostasize under torture or threat of death, but who wouldn’t pity someone who succumbed?  We can even imagine situations so horrible that we would be tempted to suicide.

Let’s consider some of the most common suicidal situations in books and movies:

  1. distraught–rejected or grieving–lover (see Ovid above)  Grief suicide can easily lead to a grief-suicide chain reaction, which starts to become unintentionally funny only after the third corpse.
  2. extreme guilt (Even though his suicide was another sin, doesn’t it make us sympathize more with Judas?)
  3. loneliness (like the last survivor after a nuclear war thinking of shooting himself in The Twilight Zone’s “Time Enough at Last”)
  4. to avoid a more painful, degrading death (like when all the surviving humans after a nuclear war kill themselves in On the Beach to spare themselves death by radiation poisoning, or a standard zombie movie scenario:  surrounded by flesh-eating zombies, only one bullet left)

I don’t endorce suicide under these circumstances, but I don’t look for fictional characters to be moral exemplars, only that they behave in a way that is psychologically plausible.  In each case above, suicide is an expression of complete dispair.  That’s what the act objectively means, and that’s how we, up till now, have understood it.  In fact, one could say that it’s such a potent symbol of dispair that writers turn to it too quickly, rather than going for something more subtle.  However, it’s always a good thing when an act’s objective meaning and our subjective impression of it match.

This can no longer be the case.  We can’t admit to ourselves that selling suicide to the elderly means selling them despair.  Now suicide means self-determination.  In the remake, Thisbe will stab herself while crying out “My body, my choice!”  Only evil, selfish, cowardly, Christian characters will refuse to commit suicide or fail to recommend it to others.  Heroic, sexy, glamorous characters will always kill themselves–and do it in style–before becoming a burden to anyone or before suffering anything indecent.  Whenever suicide comes up in a movie, I’m going to automatically think to myself “Uh oh, here comes the lecture”.  This has already started.  I remember on some Catholic blogs, we heard that some characters kill themselves in that movie about the people in the cave, and we all thought to ourselves “Crap.  Pro-suicide social commentary.”  But we didn’t have that reaction fifty years ago when the whole population of Australia self-terminates in On the Beach.  It wasn’t a live issue then, so we could let ourselves be disturbed in an apolitical way.

I just know it.  The liberals are going to spoil suicide for me.

Those blacks are as smart as our grandfathers

If we’re going to talk about IQ, we might as well talk about the more interesting discovery:  the Flynn effect.   The average IQ  in many parts of the world has been steadily increasing with time.  By today’s normalization, the average IQ in the US in 1932 was 80.  Now, it certainly seems odd to suggest that people today are much smarter than they were less than a century ago, during the age of Dirac, Husserl, and Keynes.  One’s first thought is that maybe IQ doesn’t really measure intelligence at all, but something perhaps correlated with it.  (For example, there is probably a correlation today between being intelligent and being able to program a computer; and there probably was 50 years ago, but one obviously can’t conclude that people are smarter now because more of us can program.)  Or maybe there isn’t really that much variation in human intelligence, so the curve can shift by a standard deviation without anyone much noticing.

The data suggests another possibility.  The Flynn effect is concentrated at the lower end of the distribution; there are fewer people with low scores, but not more people with high scores.  This may be the result of improved nutrition or other environmental factors among the lower class.  Perhaps people were a lot dumber on average in the past, but we don’t notice this, because when we think about a past era, we think about its greatest minds, and the number of these is not changing much.  (Suppose the total number of geniuses were proportional to the population.  That would create a real puzzle.  With the world’s vast population today, why aren’t we outshining all past eras?  I can think of a lot more geniuses active in 1932 than today, even though there were fewer of every race.)  Thus, it must have been very important that the high-IQ classes–presumably the upper classes–kept from interbreeding with the majority, to keep from drowning in the ambient sea of stupidity.

So, what are the implications for the IQ obsessives?  At the least, it seems that average IQ doesn’t tell one much about the intelligence of a society as a whole.  America once–not long ago–had an average IQ similar to that of blacks today, and it wasn’t the third-world dystopia some race-realists predict.  If IQ tells us anything about a society’s intellectual resources, it’s the right tail of the curve that matters most.  Another obvious conclusion:  group IQs are not fixed.

Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus in Dante’s Paradiso

In Canto XIX, Dante has ascended to the sphere of Jupiter, where the souls of just rulers, joined together in the shape of an eagle, address him in one voice.  Dante works up the courage to ask a question that has always bothered him about divine justice.  The eagle anticipates him:

“…your vision–which / must be a ray of that Intelligence / with which all beings are infused–cannot / of its own nature find sufficient force / to see into its origin beyond / what God Himself makes manifest to man; / therefore, the vision that your world receives / can penetrate into Eternal Justice / no more than eye can penetrate the see / for though, near shore, sight reaches the sea floor, / you cannot reach it in the open sea; / yet it is there, only hidden by the deep. / Only the light that shines from the clear heaen / can never be obscured–all else is darkness / or shadow of the flesh or fleshly poison. / Now is the hiding place of living Justice laid open to you–where it had been hidden while you addressed it with insistent questions.

“For you would say ‘A man is born along / the shoreline of the Indus River; none /  is there to speak or teach or write of Christ. / And he, as far as human reason sees, / in all he seeks and all he does is good; / there is no sin within his life or speech. / And that man dies unbaptized, without faith. / Where is the justice then that would condemn him? / Where is his sin if he does not believe?”

A good question, and we see that twentieth-century Catholics weren’t the first to ask it.  The eagle gets the Job non-answer:

“Now who are you to sit upon the bench, / to judge events a thousand miles away, /when your own vision spans so brief a space? / …O earthly animals, o minds obtuse! / The Primal Will, wich of Itself is good, / from the Supreme Good–Its Self–never moved. / So much is just as does accord with It; / and so, created good can draw It to / itself–but it, rayed forth, causes such goods….Even / as are my songs to you–past understanding–/ such is Eternal Judgment to you mortals.”

God is just by metaphysical necessity.  Why should you puny mortals even think that you could understand what makes His ways righteous?  Just believe that they are.  Dante humbly accepts this response.  The eagle then goes on to remind Dante that wicked Christians too will be damned, and will suffer far worse divine wrath than pagans.

Next the eagle points out some of the souls that make up its shape.  To Dante’s astonishment, two of them are the pagan (and Christian-persecuting) emperor Trajan and the Trojan warrior Ripheus.  “Can such things be?” Dante starts to ask (as well he would, since it seems to flatly contradict what he’s just been told).  Again the eagle anticipates:

“When these souls left their bodies, they were not / Gentiles–as you believe–but Christians, one /with firm faith in the Feet that suffered, one / in Feet that were to suffer.  One, from Hell, / where there is no returning to right will, / returned to his own bones, as the reward / bestowed upon a living hope, the hope / that gave force to the prayers offered God / to resurrect him and convert his will. / Returning briefly to the flesh, that soul / in glory–he of whom I speak– believed / in HIm whose power could help him and, believing, / was kindled to such fire of true love / that, when he died a second death, he was / worthy to join in this festivity. / The other, through the grace that surges from / a well so deep that no created one / has ever thrust his eye to its first source. / below set all his love on righteousness, / so that, through grace on grace, God granted him / the sight of our redemption in the future; / thus he, believing that, no longer suffered / the stench of paganism and rebuked / those who persisted in that perverse way / … How distant, o predestination, is / your root from those whose vision does not see / the Primal Cause in Its entirety! / And, mortals, do take care–judge prudently: for we, though we see God, do not yet know all those whom He has chosen…”

 (In the former case, Dante invokes the medieval folk story that God had redeemed Trajan from hell as a favor to the saintly Pope Gregory I.)  So, there is some hope for that Indian after all?  Why didn’t the eagle just say so in the first place?  Two reasons:

  1. Dante’s hope for those outside the visible Church is a lot different from what one gets in Catholic schools these days.  He doesn’t believe that good people automatically go to heaven.  We’ve already met the righteous pagans in Limbo, early on in the Inferno.  Limbo is a perfectly just reward for natural virtue.  Holiness is an entirely different quality, on requiring virtue no doubt, but something far more than this.  For heaven, grace and faith are required.  God can offer these to men without contact with the visible Church, but this is something extraordinary.  Dante seems to think it rather rare.  Not even his mentor Virgil is accorded such an honor (even though he would have been an obvious candidate–remember how Statius credits Virgil with prophesizing the birth of Christ in Purgatory, Canto XXII).  Furthermore, this gift of faith has a definite cognitive component.  Ripheus may not have been told everything about the Incarnation, but he knows enough to reject those elements of paganism incompatible with the Gospel.  Dante would have found the post-VII presumption that the Church’s atheist communist persecutors are “anonymous Christians” (because they care so much about the poor, don’t you know) extremely perverse.
  2. Too quick an invocation of salvation by implicit desire obscures how radical, how outside the realm of mere natural virtue, any positive response to the call of grace is.  Those offered grace in extraordinary ways as are the invincibly ignorant must make a huge “leap in the dark”, more so than normal Christians.  On must radically trust in God and believe in His intent to redeem mankind without even the knowledge of Christ on which we ordinary Christians rely.  To understand this, Dante had to first make such a leap of faith himself, by accepting the eagle’s first answer, that God’s ways just are just, and that he shouldn’t try to understand it.  This fits into the larger setup of the Paradiso; Dante’s soul is being progressively transformed to be able to take in more and more of the truth, culminating in the beatific vision of the Trinity.

Confucianism and the Enlightenment

Via Western Confucian, I’ve run across this address by Professor Tu Weiming transcribed at Andrew Cusack’s web page, “Towards a Confucian Modernity”, which I fear will be part of a process better called “Towards a Confucian surrender to the Enlightenment”.  Weiming contests the assumption that all civilizations must follow the Western path to modernity.  He says that the European Enlightenment ignored important values like community, family, authority, and ritual.  These are certainly important values, but it’s not true to say that the Enlightenment ignored them:  it was positively hostile to them.  Nor was this a side issue of the Enlightenment–it was its whole point.  The entire focus of the Enlightenment was on the destruction of the Catholic Church and the communal bonds, sacramental sense, and social/sexual mores the Church had fostered.  Nor did it plan to replace these with Confucian mores, as Weiming naively assumes from the positive attention some philosophes gave to China.  The Encyclopedists admired one thing about China, and one only:  that it was not Christian.  So Weiming’s program, to join universal Enlightenment values “liberty, rights consciousness, due process of law, instrumental rationality, privacy, and individualism” with universal Confucian values “sympathy, distributive justice, duty consciousness, ritual, public spiritedness, and group orientation” is pure self-contradiction.  What the Enlightenment meant by “liberty” was the absence of “duty consciousness”, by “individuality” it meant the absence of “group orientation”, by “instrumental rationality” it meant the absence of “ritual”.  So Weiming’s defense of these Confucian values–and it is a good defense–form not an argument for supplementing the Enlightenment, but for rejecting it as pernicious and false.

That is the true Confucian position, but Weiming explicitly rejects it:

An urgent task for the community of like-minded persons, deeply concerned about ecological issues and the disintegration of communities at all levels, is to ensure that we actively participate in a spiritual venture to rethink the Enlightenment heritage. In other words, this is not simply the problem of Western philosophers; this is the problem of anyone who is concerned about our global situation. The paradox is that we cannot afford to uncritically accept its inner logic in light of the unintended negative consequences it has engendered for the community as a whole, nor can we reject its relevance with all of the fruitful ambiguities it entails for our intellectual self-definition, present or even future. There’s no easy way out. We do not have an either/or choice.

The possibility of a radically different ethic or a new value system separate from and independent of the Enlightenment mentality is neither realistic nor even authentic. It may even appear to be either cynical or hypocritical. We need to explore the spiritual resources that may help us to broaden the scope of the enlightenment project, deepen its moral sensitivity, and, if necessary, creatively transform its genetic constraints or historical constraints in order to fully realize its potential as a world view for the human community as a whole. And, of course, the key to the success of this spiritual joint venture is to recognize the conspicuous absence of the idea of community, let alone the global community, in the Enlightenment project. Of course, the idea of fraternity, as many of you know, the fundamental equivalent of community in the three cardinal virtues of the French Revolution, has received scant attention in modern Western economic, political, and social thought. This is a major task for most of us.

I certainly wouldn’t want to “reject the relevance” of the Enlightenment.  It is the source of all the modern world’s evils, and that’s why I spend so much energy denouncing it.  Weiming, however, says that we must not embrace a “radically different ethic”.  Why not?  Because that would be “neither realistic nor even authentic”.  I’m not sure what the hell that’s supposed to mean.  It’s perfectly realistic to embrace a non/anti-Enlightenment ethic; the Christian ethic is still sitting around waiting for anyone willing to pick it up.  Why would embracing this ethic be “inauthentic”?  I would think it would be more authentic to follow an ethic I actually believe than accommodating myself to one I know to be false and evil.  No, instead we must start with an intellectual movement whose central focus is the radical rejection of religion and community, and we must inject it with religion and community.  This seems like an awfully roundabout way of returning to some very basic human goods.  I certainly don’t like the idea of starting from the Jacobin understanding of “fraternity”, which was as bloodthirsty an idol as the other two members of the French Revolution’s Satanic Trinity.

One can’t combine everything.  Sometimes we must choose.  The philosophes knew this.  If we’re going to follow them in anything, it should be in that.