Our friend Yuval Levin has a very penetrating and elegant article in the new First Things. It really is postmodern and conservative, although in Yuval’s distinctive mode. The long way is personal progress through virtue, the short-cut is social (and techno-) progress that intends to make virtue superfluous. One reason we’re stuck with virtue is that, without it, even political and economic liberty aren’t sustainable. But those forms of liberty–and certainly not unregulated personal autonomy–aren’t properly human bottom lines. Here’s a particularly poetic part of Yuval’s conclusion.
Not everyone has the good fortune of a flourishing family, or the opportunity for rewarding work, or a liberal education, or a humbling faith, let alone all of these at once. But some combination of these soul-forming institutions is within the reach of most, and the work of reinforcing them, sustaining the space for them, and putting them within the reach of as many of our fellow citizens as possible is among our highest and most pressing civic callings. That calling, rather than a hyper-individualist liberationism, should be the organizing principle of our political life, helping us see what to conserve and how to advance.