Is First Things going particularist? One gets that impression from R. Reno’s surprisingly sympathetic review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, where what’s surprising is how Reno casts Coates in a sympathetic light by drawing an analogy between him and Southern Agrarians like Alan Tate. In both cases, the memory of a historical grievance is used to shore up a group’s threatened sense of identity. I’d still say that Tate is by far the more likable of the two, because Southern identity was not just a sense of grievance against the North.
What role does “freedom” play in understanding the proper role of government? One may reject libertinism and individualism while still saying that good government promotes a people’s “true liberty”, where “liberty” “rightly understood” means virtue, ability to flourish, ability to participate in subsidiary societies, or some other such thing. The question is whether “liberty rightly understood” is doing any work–why not speak directly of virtue or whatever? This question is explored in a comment box debate at ArkansasReactionary’s blog, following his clever post How not to be a right-liberal.
Similar issues are raised by Lydia’s Scotland keeps cracking down. Is the idea of having the government appoint a spy to check on how you’re raising your children wrong because it violates freedom or because it undermines the authority of parents? That is partly a matter of words. What struck me is how little of our real passion on these questions is driven by formal questions of who is authorized to do what as opposed to content questions of what is to be done. Let’s be honest: the real reason this is so horrifying is that the Scottish government wants to use its spy network to make sure every child in the country is brought up to revere sodomy. (Read the excerpt. They’re quite explicit about this.)
Thinkers in Iran and Russia are advancing critiques of Western liberal universalism drawing insight from Martin Heidegger. I was impressed that the author, Alexander Duff, seems to try hard to characterize nonliberal views fairly. I may try to get his book Heidegger and Politics: The Ontology of Radical of Discontent. I doubt I’m smart enough to read Heidegger directly and get anything out of it.
Father Waldstein has an important work on Integralist theory up at The Josias: Integralism and Gelasian Dyarchy. Integralist positions on the authority of church and state are contrasted with “Augustinian Radicalism” and “Whig Thomism”. Readers familiar with intra-Catholic disputes will not be surprised that it comes down to different ideas of how nature and grace relate.
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