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Underneath, It's All The Same

 As a general rule, I hate "pox on both your houses" takes on politics. Most of the time, I'm inclined to think that a particular person chooses this take because someone else has made them uncomfortable with a certain aspect of their own philosophy. If they adopt a posture of cynicism, maybe they can escape the moral force of that criticism. That could be bulverism in any one case, but I have seen it before, and I can't paint a picture without generalizing. Anyway, I didn't come here to talk about that.

I came here to say that both major parties in the United States--and the people themselves--have embraced the absolute individualism at the heart of classical liberalism. Rightists want freedom from constraint in economics, environment, religious liberty, and a few other things. Leftists don't believe in this absolute individualism with respect to economics or the environment (not to mention religious liberty), but they do embrace it with respect to human sexuality and self identity. If there is a social dimension to the family, this choice is disastrous. In the end though, you don't get solidarity and common good out of a fundamental individualism. You can't get the common good out of an absolute primacy of private goods over the common good. It will not happen. We are facing as a society the frustration of wanting different aspects of the common good, and wanting other citizens and members of society to join us in it, all the while embracing a philosophy where I alone determine what is good, and the obligations which flow from what I determine.

Whatever benefits we receive as a people when Joe Biden is declared to be our next president later today or tomorrow, it must be remembered that Joe Biden was a pioneer in selling abortion rights in the language of individual liberty, classical liberal style. "My body, my choice" doesn't come from nowhere; in fact, it's American right wing individualism, applied to human sexuality.

When I read Conserving America… By Patrick Deneen, the inherent tension between the desire for solidarity, and the commitment to individualism pointed out by David Mayhew in Congress: The Electoral Connection came more into focus.

We will never have social peace, as long as the basis for the government's authority is premised upon individual whim. Moreover, no exercise of that authority will ever be in fact legitimate, unless and until that same authority is grounded in the natural law. "Limited government" is bandied about, without a discussion about the basis for the limitation. Also, the premise that the government's authority is limited to the maintenance of property rights, and an ever shifting batch of personal freedoms, should be examined.

The challenge is, it's awfully hard to re-found a country without anyone noticing. But that's exactly what we need to do.


Anonymous said…
Trump, Clinton, and Obama aren't the problem. The problems were always there festering.

Don't the last ten years seem similar to the time of the Tower of Babel? But rather than language sowing confusion it's ideology. The main problem with our country is we've taken God out of the equation. Rather than "if it be thy will," it's "Non serviam." When we throw God out we're left with Satan.
Jason said…
I just need you to know that if you don't identify yourself somehow, I won't be accepting your comments.

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