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Showing posts from February 26, 2017

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

Dr. Deneen's second essay is called, "Patriotic Vision: At Home In A World Made Strange." It's significant that this was a talk given shortly after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. After a brief reflection on the excesses of patriotism, and the elite suspicion of it, Dr. Deneen takes us back to the origin of the word "theory". He says that the idea comes from the Greek meaning, "to see," and it noted a specific office within the city-state, occupied by a person charged with traveling to other places to report on how they lived. Such a person was well-versed on the idioms and customs of his own culture, and indeed reported on the other in that language, as it were. Insofar as he offered critique to his own culture, it was carefully tempered by his appreciation and love for his native place. The critics of patriotism do naturally ask whether the love of one's own in patriotism is in irreconcilable conflict with universal values like tr

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

Can America be conserved? Dr. Deneen begins his collection of essays with that question. There is a logic in posing the question so starkly, because the problems Deneen identifies warrant the question. He notes that 70 percent of Americans believe America is moving in the wrong direction, and half of us believe our best days as a nation are behind us. Analysis of the situation is colored by two related tendencies, he says. Firstly, we tend to believe that our problems and solutions are to be found in the sphere of politics; and secondly, we find value in a strict binary American "liberal/conservative" axis. Deneen says that such a binary doesn't only note disagreement, but an irreconcilable conflict of worldviews. As such, the stakes could not be higher, and total or near-total control of the branches of the national government is viewed by all as imperative. And yet, Deneen argues, the deep philosophical and ideological divide is "fundamentally illusory," b