What is being outlined here is fundamentally a Wendell Berry conservatism: our solutions are not global in nature. They might not even be national in nature. It asks individuals to get involved at the lowest possible scale, in church and on school boards, to be productive in the home and show up in a community as ways to build an emergent virtuous and meaningful life now.
Are those who question transhumanist progress or Metaverse predictions just knee-jerk Luddites whose visceral reactions are worthy of only a patronizing pat on the head for not seeing their own privilege? As might be expected of a Porcher, I don’t think so. Instead, those who are hesitant about digitality are remembering what it means to be embodied human beings and acknowledging the gravitas of reality’s bite - even when reality bites.
What if our expectations of politicians whom we mock or despise are simply unrealistic and guided by the standards of this world? The faith of some regular Americans in their ability to achieve social reform already amazed de Tocqueville in the 1830s. But this mindset, flowing so naturally from the much-lauded Protestant work ethic lulls us into this optimistic feeling that somehow we can just muscle our way to a perfect solution or compromise, if only we work hard.
Back of all this you might hear a rabble-rousing Palestinian Jew from a couple of millennia ago promising that the truth, once known, will set you free - but that poor soul on a collision course with Golgotha was assuming that truth could be disentangled from all the elegant technocratic lies it’s wound up in.
Livy asserts that shamelessness led to decadence which, in turn, led to greed and eventually devolved into demagoguery and tyranny. His assertion that Roman liberty and equality were destroyed by the decadence of the civil wars and buried with the emergence of the Augustan regime had far reaching influence.
Is there a direct causal connection between America’s embrace of succulents and semi-succulents as houseplants-of-choice and the conspicuous mass movement of Americans to states with the least amount of rainfall? Maybe not, but the correlation gives us strong cause to consider.
There will be a temptation for many to say: “Good. Roe is gone. Now the rest is none of my business.” It would be wise to remember this disinterest in our communities is what enabled a technocratic judiciary to impose Roe. To perfect our nation and its communities, we must balance the needs of living amongst one another with caring for one another.
For all the enhanced resolution of our universe Webb brings, for all the material analysis this new device supplies to scientists’ burgeoning cosmic databases, informing the denizens of Earth just what the universe is made of, NASA is not one whit closer to explaining what the universe actually is.