We can’t help it, we’re human, we necessarily have worldviews. Everybody does. The Resistance does too, rough hewn, in the aggregate, and tacit as it may be. Now it is time to take a look squarely at the Resistance’s main object of concern: Humanity itself. The Resistance declares itself “inclusive” and it hates “exclusion.” Its vision and its concern encompass all of humanity. But not all “humanisms” are created equal. But what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Who is to say that Resistance humanism is unquestionable?
In a first installment (“Resistance, in the light of 1776”), following the lead of Pierre Manent, the Resistance came to sight as a way of looking at things characterized by 1) a binary view of legitimate and illegitimate views (in keeping with Hilary Clinton’s “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it” litany); 2) a quasi-religious cast (“political orthodoxy” and “heresy,” observed Manent); and 3) a novel form of democracy characterized by terms such as “diversity,” “multiculturalism,” and “inclusion,” but with its own blind spots and exclusions. As I put it: it is “rather exclusive in its inclusivity and monolithic in its view of diversity.”
Recently, I raised the issue of the worldview of the Resistance to President Trump (“Resistance, in the Light of 1776”). I would like to delve further into the matter. It will take a few installments. Basically, what I hope to do is to put order in some readings, observations, impressions, and overhearings (I live in a university neighborhood, and one establishment I regularly eat at is the aptly named “One World Café”). This effort is neither scientific nor conclusive. Call it “political” in the sense Pierre Manent employs when he says les choses politiques arrivent en gros (“political things first come to sight in rough outline”).
What a year it has been. “Trump wins and the Resistance begins,” might sum it up. Into this maelstrom steps our annual “What would the Declaration say?” reflection. We could turn in three directions: toward Trump; toward “the Resistance”; toward the people who fall outside his devoted followers and fierce opponents, who wish to make some contribution to the commonweal in the midst of low-intensity civil war.
In response to: Pierre Manent’s Defense of the Nation-State
Perhaps the nascent Manent fan club can meet in Paris at the Café de Flore later this summer? There we could raise un verre or two to Manent, expound on our views, and hash out whatever differences we might have. Who knows, perhaps the man himself could join us? Pending that reunion, a brief response to my gracious respondents will have to do. We all agree that Manent is a first-rate thinker, but we do not agree as to how best to characterize his thought. Aurelian Craiutu quotes Manent saying that he moves intellectually within a triangle of politics, philosophy, and…
At the beginning of his career, Pierre Manent spoke of political philosophy’s “healing light.” Likewise, he pointed to Cicero as a classical model of a philosophically informed citizen who could speak to princes and peoples alike about matters of public concern. His modern-day model was his teacher, Raymond Aron. After a period of apprenticeship, then a steady stream of works of political philosophy, Manent himself entered the civic conversation. Beyond Radical Secularism is his most recent contribution, appearing in French as Situation de France in 2015.
It’s been a year since my last little piece on the Declaration of Independence, and what a year it’s been.
On the Right of our political spectrum, one could sum up its events and eventfulness in one word: Trump. A party has been captured by an outsider, the disaffection of millions of its rank-and-file revealed. At the national level, the Grand Old Party is not so grand or even particularly coherent, and some fear it might not last as a party. Something similar can be said of the party of the Left. Substitute “Clinton” and “Sanders” and comparable deep fissures emerge, although perhaps with less likelihood of disintegration.
What light, in terms of principles and manner of thinking about politics, might this context shed?
Goldilocks’ dictum about porridge is the gold standard for all sorts of things. It is also difficult to achieve, as Aristotle’s discussion of the noble mean, the mēson, in Book Two of the Nicomachean Ethics indicates. This is also the case, he explains in the Poetics, for artistic chef d’oeuvres, those works perfect in their genre, with nothing to be added or subtracted from their magnitude or proportions.
While not a work of dramatic fiction, but rather of searching philosophical analysis, French political philosopher Pierre Manent’s Metamorphoses of the City: On the Western Dynamic is one such work.
With Leo Strauss: Man of Peace, Robert Howse situates himself between the two opposing camps of the Strauss-wars. He is neither a Straussian nor an anti-Straussian; and his Leo Strauss is neither the unsurpassable resurrection of the Socratic spirit nor a malevolent teacher of immorality. His Strauss is a “man of peace”: a humane if tough-minded philosopher who confronted the tyrannies and political violence of the 20th century and attempted to make sense of them and the philosophical minds that endorsed or were complicit in them. He sought to do so at the deepest level, not being content with moralistic,…