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Monday, January 11, 2021

Between Foolish Youth, And Idols

 I watched 60 Minutes last night. I do that a lot; it's still a great show. Speaker Pelosi was on, talking about the attacks, and what she intended to do next. To be honest, never in my life have I felt such tenderness and affection for Nancy Pelosi. I always wanted to triumph over her politically; I don't want anything bad to happen to her, and I never did.

That's the interesting part of an early young adulthood spent dabbling in politics: on the one hand, you treat it like a sport. Win or lose, you come back and fight tomorrow. As it turned out, every question and its consequences was much more grave than a Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal Wimbledon final. On the other hand, it was never meant to be a blood sport in any case. Our loss of epistemological realism and our lack of virtue now means that a great many people can't fight it out in good faith in the political arena, and come back and do it again tomorrow.

Our political system was never meant to bear the weight of the total meaning of our lives, and our place in society. Perhaps that is the greatest lie of classical liberalism: that it could bear that weight, and tell us exactly who we are.

We can say that we want politics as such to matter less, but what does that mean? We cannot easily reclaim the ground of meaning and purpose which politics is now filling for most people. Family bonds are strained or broken, solidarity and mutual care has been replaced by market mechanisms. We tell people that they are worth what we pay them to do, and then we pay most people almost nothing.

And how exactly are we going to tell generations of people that their sexuality--which we treated as just one more consumer choice in the marketplace--isn't as fluid as some would like to think, and that part of their confusion is due to the idol of Choice?

Generations of people have now believed that government should not legislate morality, and now there is no morality for any purported government to legislate. Our selfish individualism that masqueraded as a political ideology has revealed some people's reliance on an older underlying philosophy, while they took great pains to deny its relevance.

And maybe our system never deserved all its praise, premised as it was on individualism, conditional peace, and insurrection, from the very first.

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