|Parable of the Swim Team||The Big Picture on Immigration|
by Christopher Chantrill
January 03, 2004 at 12:00 pm
LISTEN UP, liberals. I am about to tell you how to defeat the evil Republicans and sweep back to power. Its a very small thing, hardly worth mentioning. You could do it without breaking a sweat.
Stop your war on the middle class.
You could have everything you want: a world of creativity and authenticity, peace and justice, and an end to the cycle of violenceif you would just stop trying to smash the middle class and its totems of God, work, and family. Another way of saying this is: stop trying to neuter the Christian Right.
Last week I read Peggy Noonan relate the problems she faced years ago when she displayed a sculpture of the Virgin Mary outside her apartment off Park Avenue. It got so bad that she decided to take the Virgin back inside. But when she moved to Brooklyn, she found that Virgins are acceptable. She displayed the Virgin again, and nobody complained.
Imagine the trouble she would have got into if she had been living on the Upper West Side instead of the Upper East Side!
What is it about you liberals? Why cant you leave people alone, in their rich diversity, and let them worship their gods as they wish?
Luckily, some of us do know why you liberals, deep down, want to neuter the Christian Right. Its an old, old story. Its the age-old effort to stamp out superstition, the instinct inside everyone of us to replace your lie with my truth.
Theres a problem with this inquisitional approach, and nobody has described it better than conservative thinker Eric Voegelin. When we grasp a new truth, we do not really stand the old knowledge on its head, sweeping the slate clean. We merely accomplish a leap in being from compact knowledge to more differentiated knowledge. Even the great Copernican revolution did not invalidate the entire corpus of Aristotelian science. It just came up with a much better model of planetary mechanics than the old Ptolemaic model. Since then, we have accomplished another leap in being with the Einsteinian revolution.
If you are pushing a lawn mower around the yard, then Aristotelian mechanics still works pretty well: if you stop pushing the mower, it will stop. But if you want to compute the trajectory of an artillery shell, then you need Newtonian mechanics. If you want to compute the trajectory of an electron, then you need quantum mechanics.
For the prisoners in Platos Cave, the shadows on the wall represent the whole of reality. There is no use telling them about fires and walls and people walking to and fro until you have freed them from their chains and turned them around. Likewise, there is no hope in getting a liberal professor to understand about startups, market capitalization, and IPOs when all he knows is salary, tenure, and TIAA/CREF. To the liberal professor, the totems of capitalism are frightening mysteries beyond the familar world of the campus that he has mastered so well. As Plato knew, if you come back to the cave with your fantastic tales, the prisoners will laugh at you. If they could lay hands upon the man who was trying to set them free and lead them up, they would kill him.
Let us stipulate that the liberal vision of creativity, diversity, and one world human community of caring and sharing is the way to go. The next question is: what do we do about the current culture of nation states, capitalism, and Christianity? Do we encourage it? Do we replace it? Do we tolerate it?
We know what you liberals have decided: replace it. All this Puritan Ethic stuff was all very well in the nineteenth century, but now things are different. Yet the Chinese have recently decided, according to David Aikman in Jesus in Beijing, that Christianity is part of the package that makes the west pre-eminent all over the world. Said one academic: the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. There are said to be 80 million Christians in China right now, and we aint seen nothing yet.
Then there is the phenomenon of exploding Christianity in Africa and South America, not to mention megachurches in South Korea. It seems pretty clear that people on the cusp of the middle class, learning to make it in the city, choose Christianity.
If you stop your war on the middle class, you could still advance your progressive agenda. You would just concede a place in your progressive nirvana for enthusiastic Christianity.
But if you dont, then maybe we evil Republicans will get to govern America for another generation until there are a billion Chinese Christians. Then you liberals will really have your work cut out for you.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all.
In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State