Archive for May 19th, 2006

Thought I would open up a new topic for the question that the discussion about Iran drifted into. I guess I can assume, but will state in case the assumption is false, that anybody interested in this knows that by "liberalism" we don’t mean the Democrat party and its friends, but classical liberalism, the philosophy which can be said to be the basis in at least a loose sort of way for the Anglo-American constitutional republics.

I can probably also assume that we all agree that liberalism in its pure philosophical sense is incompatible with Catholicism, because it (liberalism) is silent, or at least pretty quiet, about fundamental questions: what is life for? how do we know what’s wrong and what’s right? We can probably also agree that we’re watching the collapse of philosophical liberalism into nihilism, because, as Chesterton warned long ago, it was living off the inherited capital of Christianity, which is now pretty much spent.

The question, then, is whether the political apparatus produced by or at least associated with liberalism–self-government based on the rule of law–can and should survive.

Here’s a quick and brutal statement of my view. As to the "should": yes, I would like for it to, because I think at it’s best it’s worked very well. But as to the "can": no. I could give many reasons for that second answer, but the most fundamental one is that we are running out of citizens. Not people, but citizens. The system requires citizens who understand and believe in it and wish to see it work according to its fundamental rules, which are embodied in the Constitution. The number of people who fit this description is shrinking steadily.

Maclin Horton

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