An Awesome Title Or, Wordsmithery Gone Natural

Professor Deneen’s “Oeco-system.” It’s a really good piece, too — not just a superbly titled post.

Here’s a snippet:

Meanwhile, for many years now, cosmopolitans have sought to liberate humans from the narrow boundaries of unchosen communities, have urged a globalist ethic that regards humans as appropriately citizens of the world and at home nowhere in particular. Seeking the liberation of opressed individuals from the depradations of local communities, cosmopolitans have sought to commend an ethic of “multiculturalism” often at the expense of culture proper.

We should see clearly that the modern ethic, in all of its forms – philosophic, economic, political, theological, artistic – aims at the elimination of culture. Culture is an eco-system with added presence of human beings. Culture springs up in local places based on local diversities and natural conditions. In a healthy eco-system, cultures are robust and can expect to thrive – like snail-darters or tree-frogs – into the indefinite future. Under threat from external forces, they prove to be fragile and with relative ease are rendered extinct: destroy the eco-system that gives rise to and sustains creatures or cultures, those creatures and cultures are eradicated with remarkable ease and alacrity.

The commendation of “multiculturalism” is everywhere the recommended stance of our time (while this is a position most often visible on the Left, it is also in fact the default position of many on the Right, particularly in their encouragement of “free trade” whose result is a polyglot commercial sphere. Readers should consult the work of Tyler Cowen for the “Right” version of multicultural enthusiasm).

Delicious, huh? Here’s his scintillating concluding paragraph:

What needs fundamental reassessment is the idea that the current Left and Right represent true alternatives on our political stage today. There are legitimate differences, to be sure, but it turns out that what makes them more similar undermines their points of legitimate difference. Asking us to choose between “the environment” or “family values” (for instance) while simultaneously demanding that we sign on to a more fundamental agenda that makes either – or both – of those commitments finally untenable is either the most brilliantly contrived political conspiracy of all time, or simply a reflection of yet unquestioned commitments to a modern agenda that will ultimately destroy the natural and cultural pre-conditions of its own success.

Conservatism Kant survive without Burke

The wonderful John Zmirak:

Furthermore, suggesting that a set of natural rights, discerned by intellectuals and imposed by judges, must trump the wishes of the population will equally result in the victory of leftist social activism. Who produces most of the lawyers, law professors, and judges? Does anyone really expect that the answer to this question will cease to be “Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Princeton,” that such institutions will yield to “Ave Maria, Regent, and Liberty universities”? If not, the victory of judicial power will always remain a tool of elites who wish to impose their prejudices upon a relucant population. If you want to see the outcome of such a theory, look at the EU and the European Court of Human Rights. I’d prefer that slightly bigoted Bretons, Catalans, Bavarians, Serbs, and Slovaks enacted socially conservative legislation in their regions… even if it meant that (for instance) they weren’t especially kind to Gypsies, to a totalizing system that enforced “human rights”—which will ALWAYS end up including the right to abortion.

Social conservatism must rely on decentralism, populism, anti-elitism, and a certain degree of healthy, pre-rational “prejudice” (in Edmund Burke, not Archie Bunker’s sense). We can’t turn the pro-life movement into a Kantian, ideological monstrosity.

I have only two qualms with this passage. First is with the idea of “social conservatism,” rather than “cultural conservatism,” or just plain “conservatism.” For me — and maybe I’m wrong on this —, “social conservatism” insinuates something akin to MacIntyre’s “conservative liberalism” — which I may not fully grasp, anyhow —, in that at its root is individualism, upon which Christian/otherwise traditional morals and mores are heaped. That is, to me, “social conservatism” is unsustainable and, at root, not conservative. Conservatism, on the other hand, as I’m thinking of it — perchance even the liberal conservatism of Röpke is an appropriate example, given that Zmirak has written a biography of the man — has the Christian/otherwise traditional morals, mores, and customs as its foundation, and, at least in the liberal sense, embraces market economics within such framework. I suspect that, posed this way, such a riposte would be agreeable to Zmirak, or so I hope.

My second dissent responds to the notion of “anti-elitism.” In a certain sense, of course, there’s good reason for this — depending on who comprise the élite. The examples Zmirak provides chasten my sympathy for élitism, broadly conceived. However, I bear no opposition to a traditional, say, aristocracy, one composed of well educated, morally restrained and responsible men dedicated not (just) to the nation, but, much more important, to their places. Decentralist aristocrats, whose noblesse oblige compels them to tend to the well-being of their communities, rather than to belong to the Hollywood-New York-Washington jet set.

I recognize that such an aristocracy is an impossibility here, but in the Old World, I hope, some ember of hope remains. And after the ineluctable collapse of the United States, perhaps a more cavalier-peasant society can emerge, at least in some of the new, smaller republicans rise from her ashes.

And The Truth Shall Set You Free!

Or enslave you to the state.

From Prof. Deneen on the Anti-Federalists, part one:


That the very functions of State governments that they deemed to be too uninteresting for the national government – such as agriculture and civil justice – would in fact be eventually accrued to the center, and that a train of state governors would leave their posts to join a national administration of those sorts of activities would someday become the norm, might not have been foreseen by the Framers, but is not out of keeping with the general direction and trajectory of the regime that they designed.

It’s not that the wrong people get into government. Centralization is inherent in our Constitution. Hamilton was a nefarious s.o.b.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation

Front Porches and Basketball Hoops: Americana Lives

Bill Kauffman had a wonderful piece up last week on Hoosiers, the great, fictionalized account of the 1954 Milan (IN) High School basketball team’s state championship. Things haven’t been the same since the mid-Nineteen-nineties, when the tyrants at the IHSAA ended class-free basketball and instituted athletic socialism, but Indiana high school basketball is still “where it’s at.”

Mr. Kauffman will be happy to know something, I think. Late Friday afternoon, from a gas station in Cumberland, MD, I called the barber in North Judson (Yes, we have only one barber — and a few salons.), Ed, who graduated from North Judson-San Pierre (Hurray, consolidation!) High School in the 1990s. I hoped to find an opening in his Saturday morning schedule, because I haven’t had the hairs shortened since January. (I’m very loyal to my barber!) Ed informed me that he’s not open this Saturday: He’ll be in the gym of our high school, rooting on our Blue Jays as they compete in the tournament regionals for the first time since 1996.

“Most of town will be there,” he said to me.

I pulled into town about twelve-thirty a.m.; along State Road Thirty-nine, I saw numerous homemade signs supporting the young basketballers; in storefronts downtown, I saw more of the same.

If I can get myself out of bed in time, (A dubious hypothetical!), I might just be in the high school gym come ten o’clock.

Go Jays! Long live the real America.

Update 1: I slept too late, and didn’t attend the game, but the Blue Jay won game one. They play again tonight. The chances of my attending are much greater.

Update 2: I missed the night game, too. I’m lame like that. BUT THE BLUE JAYS ARE HEADING TO SEMI-STATE!

Update 3: I can hear the fire trucks’ sirens, as town celebrates. God I love small-town America.

Indiana Is the Best State in the Union

because it’s home.

And so am I.

There are many, many, many good, necessary criticisms of the Interstate Highway System. Tonight, I ain’t makin’ any. Hello, North Judson.

South Bend is a Peculiarly Lovable City

James Matthew Wilson offers a beautiful elegy here, at Front Porch Republic