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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Conserving America? Essays On Present Discontents, Patrick J. Deneen (X)

The essential point of this essay is that classical liberalism and statism are mutually reinforcing, not contradictory. Liberalism conceives of the individual as the fundamental unit of society. Contrast that view with the Catholic view that the family is the fundamental unit of society. In addition, liberalism's goal is maximum personal autonomy. If family, church, or other organization would limit this autonomy, the State regards them with hostility, and brings its power against them.

Deneen believes that classical liberalism tends toward statism because the State fills the roles vacated by intermediate organizations. Man needs belonging and community, but the individualism inherent in democratic liberalism means that he has no right to expect any of his fellows to address his needs.

It does appear to be quite compelling, the notion that the toxicity of the present political environment is due to the quasi-religious need the political process (and the State) is attempting to meet. Virtue, reflected personally and in families, says Deneen, is the way to re-build the political culture. [Rumor has it Dreher said the same thing.--ed.] I guess we'll see.

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