Fighting the Party of Rousseau
From a reader:
Fascinating post this morning and it brought to mind two other writers I’ve been wrestling with recently. Philip Rieff, who I think wrote the first Closing of the American Mind in his book Triumph of the Therapeutic, identifies three historic cultures of the world: 1st world, which was pagan, 2nd world, which was sacred order Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, and 3rd world, which is post modern and the negation of all sacred orders. Here’s a quote that sums it up fairly well:
“There are now armies of third world teachers, artists, therapists, etc. teaching the higher illiteracy. This teaching of the higher illiteracy amounts to a deathwork against second culture literacy.”
Rousseau’s philosophy is a third world deathwork bent on the destruction of 2nd world sacred orders. What’s interesting is that Bill Clinton, Hillary, and much of the Democratic party always go to healthcare as their weapon of choice in this battle. Why healthcare? There’s are endless avenues to fight for this global village, but it always comes down to healthcare, nationalized healthcare, joining the world trend toward a more socialized system. On the surface, it is a fairly obvious weapon because it looms so large over all of us.
But healthcare is also the perfect weapon with which to attack the second world sacred orders, and it brings to mind my second author, Edward Norman. Norman is Chancellor of York Minister and his book Secularisation is about the decline of Christianity in England. Here’s Norman:
“Once humanity and its needs have been elevated to sovereign determination of public an private action, anything that can be represented as an affront or an impediment to this painless existence of men and women is made to seem morally unacceptable–an outrage. Morality then appears self-evident: it is the palliation of whatever humans themselves regard as the cause of their suffering and deprivation. A set of material assumptions about human nature…is plainly persuasive. Among those persuaded, as it seems, are many leaders of Christian opinion. This is additionally puzzling since for centuries the Christian Church, which was founded in an act of expiatory pain, has regarded human suffering as not only inseparable from the nature of life on earth, but also as a necessary condition in spiritual formation…The reality is human pursuit of security, and an escalating set of entitlements quite at variance with the Christian insistence that life was not ordained for pleasure or repose.”
And thus heathcare is the ultimate weapon in the fight for a Rousseauean world. Politically Republicans are absolutely powerless to stand in its way. They can reasonably argue that a more nationalized healthcare system is bad for healthcare, but in doing so they’ve already accepted the moral argument that puts our personal suffering above all else. And thus they are squarely in Rousseau’s world. And I can’t think of a way out of it. Politically, what can we offer to put both sides in Locke’s world?