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Thursday, November 12, 2009



I really wish that Kalb addressed the extreme traditionalist ideologies of, say, the Taliban and the Ku Klux Klan.

Does the book address those ideologies?

I want to understand.

John Herreid

What an odd question, Brian. A book on the dangers of one ideology doesn't have to be an encyclopedia on every single dangerous ideology in the world in order to be fair.

Robert Miller

Kalb's perspective is most welcome.

One of the things he points to, but doesn't quite say, is that what we call "conservatism" is, propositionally, nothing more than a form of Liberalism.

Now, I don't deny that many conservatives are motivated by pre- or anti-Liberal presuppositions. But I would argue that most conservative movements and parties today compromise with some form of Liberalism -- most often with its nationalist and/or economic branches -- either out of conviction, or out of a desire to find allies against Liberal internationalism and welfarism (behavioralism).

Today -- in the wake of the implosion of conservative parties during the last decade, most particularly the US Republican party -- people who are activated by Catholic principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good, find few plausible allies among the Liberals who call themselves "liberals" (or the "Left") or the Liberals who call themselves "conservatives" (or the "Right").

Both varieties accept the legitimacy of the modern democratic secular state and the purpose of politics as a business of haggling over "rights". In contrast to this Liberal consensus, Pope B16 proposes in Caritas in Veritate the need for a global "regime" (not a state, but a kind of imperium) that can inspire, co-ordinate and if necessary arbitrate the actions of polities and economies in the direction of the goods of human flourishing, the common good.

I think B16 realizes he is taking a huge risk here. But he must state the clear truth -- the world today needs an imperium with the potential of becoming a sacrum imperium, just as it did at Christ's First Coming. Yet, we believe, that need also will be felt, in a perverse way, just before Christ's Second Coming. For B16, I believe, we can't ignore the signs of the times just because a reading of them must be, in light of what we see around us, profoundly ambivalent.

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