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Drang nach Osten Socialism equals Animism

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A Whiff of Panic

by Christopher Chantrill
May 02, 2005 at 4:18 pm

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LAST WEEK in NRO the eminent theologian and political philosopher Michael Novak gently chided the emotional Andrew Sullivan for his over-the-top criticism of the Catholic Church. It is not true, he wrote, that the papacy of John Paul II saw an unparalleled quashing of dissent in the Church. The only man irrevocably excommunicated was “Archbishop Lefebvre (and his followers) of the traditionalist movement that rejects Vatican II.” Presumably the gay activist Andrew Sullivan does not object to that.

This is indeed a peculiar season. All across the political square left-wing activists are hurling immoderate accusations of extremism at moderate conservatives: at moderately conservative judge nominees, at moderate reform of Social Security, and at a moderately conservative pope.

The only thing moderate about all this is the moderate response of conservatives to all the hysteria and extremism.

Conservatives would be delighted to negotiate a moderate compromise on homosexuality, a recognition that for some people the mainstream of monogamous heterosexual courtship, marriage, and children is a burden too great to bear, even at the cost of separation from the universal trajectory of life. But we haven’t heard a whisper of moderation from liberals on sexuality. Imagine what liberals would do if McDonalds started selling food that reduced life expectancy by 20 years—as the gay lifestyle does.

Conservatives are eager to obtain moderate solution to the folly of a judicial activism that has overbalanced the laws of the nation towards the agenda of the government’s aristocratic branch and away from its monarchical and its democratic branches. President Bush has nominated moderate conservative judges to the bench who understand that the judge judges best who judges least. But liberals have reacted as if he were trying to tear down the temple of justice.

Conservatives could compromise on abortion, perhaps around a legal recognition of the right to choose an abortion safely, legally, and rarely if it were balanced by a social consensus that utterly deplored the resort to abortion as worse than a crime, a blunder. For how can any woman, knowing of the miracle of life and how precarious and impermanent her window of fecundity may be, rationally deny any opportunity to become a mother? But we haven’t heard a whisper of moderation from liberals on abortion in 30 years, unless you count junior senators from New York about to launch national presidential campaigns.

Conservatives are pushing a moderate reform of Social Security that preserves the promise of helping the unfortunate while encouraging a robust program of national saving, a program that introduces personal savings accounts with real property rights on retirement money? Liberals attack the whole scheme as at attempt to demolish a venerable monument. That is not liberal, that is not compassionate. It is extreme.

We know why liberals are driven to the politics of hysteria. They are in a panic. After the last election they felt like the investor that opens the newspaper in the morning to find his stock down 50 percent. How could that be? The broker recommended it years ago as a sure thing. Liberals bought all the Liberalism LLC stock they could afford and looked forward to a comfortable retirement. For years, Liberalism’s Democratic stockholders lived off the dividends: pensions, jobs, tenure, what a deal! And the delicious thing was that it was all paid for by evil rich Republicans and doofus Billy Pilgrims.

But now things are getting scary. Everyone that got into Liberalism LLC in the last few years is getting close to a margin call. And the guy sending out the margin calls back at Uncle Sam Benefit and Trust is a geek named George W. Bush. (So that’s why liberals hate the W smirk.)

Some liberals are getting hysterical for a different reason. Fifty year-old women are getting hysterical because they can’t forget the two or three abortions they had in their twenties that could have grown up to become the light of their lives. Gays like Andrew Sullivan are getting hysterical about gay marriage because after a lifetime of pride and rebellion they want to be normal, not an expendable fringe.

“Let us recall,” writes Richard Fletcher in The Barbarian Conversion, “that the continuance of their rule depended on regular, successful, predatory warfare.” He was writing about Charlemagne and the Franks, but he could just as well have been writing about our own welfare state. Suppose there came a day when the Democratic Party failed to deliver regular, successful, predatory pensions to its rank-and-file and sexual license to its educated elite? What then?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Churches

[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


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Pentecostalism

Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization


Conservatism's Holy Grail

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


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


Drang nach Osten

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


Government Expenditure

The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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