A great many comments have been posted in response to my posting, “Subsidizing Localism.” I think the question I sought to pose – and for which I do not have a very good answer – is at the core of trying to articulate what we are doing here (and what fellow travelers who either visit here or have their own media outlets on these themes, are similarly hoping to achieve). Are we trying to diagnose the spirit of the age and its better alternative, and does this suffice? Or, are we also attempting to persuade, and isn’t any diagnosis inherently an effort at persuasion? If persuasion is at least part of our ambition (and, I think, surely it is), to what end? How can change be effected, and of what sort? Will a world of the sort commended here be the result of changes in individual behavior, or does it require a measure of political influence? How can any such political influence be conceived among those here who regard modern politics with such deep mistrust, even hostility? Are we marking time, waiting for the denoument of a deeply flawed and broken system, preparing ourselves for its apocalyptic aftermath? Are we trying to engineer, in our own way, a “soft landing” from the “irrational exuberance” of modernity itself? Trying to talk ourselves and others down from a ledge?
The many comments attest to one simple truth: the way forward is deeply uncertain. People of good will and similar outlook deeply disagree, and there are too few of those to begin with. In the end, is a kind of retreat – “The Benedict Option” – the only real option? Is it an option, really?
Of the many comments posted, I thought I’d call attention to one of the latest, from our intrepid reader and commentator, Bob Cheeks. He writes:
Patrick, congrats on this essay, a stunning success! I, for one, would like to see our other ‘contributors’ explore similar questions based in large measure on the ‘comments.’ So, please, consider this a request.
Among those I’m urging to blog on this or related themes is: John Willson, Mark Mitchell, James Wilson, Caleb, Pat, DW, and Mark Shiffman specifically because of their past contributions, comments, and expertise. But I would be pleased to read any essays on these themes by any of our gifted contributors!
I’m enthused by certain remarks by Willson re: his ‘defense’ of Southern culture which indicates an inquisitive and impartial (open) intellect, Caleb’s comments on Brolingbroke (sp) and any philosophical perspective suitable to the localist/particularist theme, DW’s vociferous and pointed renunciations of the central regime, with a close examination of the Obama Administration’s ministrations, Pat’s continuing explorations of the economic/social problems related to a restoration/re-creation of our human communities, Mark Shiffman and James Wilson’s illuminating probes into the nature of being and the erudite understanding that the great problem of modernity is the obliteration of the transcendent. And, in mentioning these folks in particular I am NOT diminishing the erudite contributions of the others.
Our world is collapsing. In our lifetimes we have seen the ennui, alienation, and boredom of the individual expand into sundry social disorders predicated on the received wisdom of our age, e.g. that the gods have died. And, here Hegel’s remark, “The Sabbath of the world has disappeared, and life has become a common, unholy workday,” speaks a truth good men and women do not wish to here.
So for me, and I open myself up to your criticism, this project is in fact a spiritual quest in an age that is defined by its pneumopathologies. We must recover/discover what it means to be human, how to live as a human being, and the love of God in freedom and in the Logos.
There is no greater challenge and thank you for your wisdom!
Another recent post on another “blawg” (my, how they proliferate) lays down a more skeptical challenge to the likes of FPR (it would seem it was written by a former student of our own Professor Mark Mitchell), accusing its authors of a form of romantic “aestheticism” rather than anything that could be seen as offering any real assistance to denizens of the age. Of course, I think the more conservative disposition of many here inclines toward a deep suspicion of anything “programmatic,” informed as so many are here by a Burkean or Oakeshottian suspicion toward top-down impositions upon the messy reality of life. But, does such a disposition fate one to an essentially romantic or “aesthetic” form of opposition to the dominant ethos – one that allows the authors here the liberty to say “I told you so” even as it relieves us of the necessity of the “hard boring of boards,” in Weber’s famous formulation of “Politics as a Vocation”? I will admit that I struggle with these questions, and think that – in addition to doing what we are doing in these many, many fine, stirring, and accumulating posts, that there needs to be an effort to articulate “what is to be done.” I’ll continue to try to do so, but admit that the question is difficult, perhaps unanswerable. But still it must be answered. Stay tuned – more to come.