Sunday, June 18, 2023

A Well-Balanced-Pendulum

Gateway Center Demolition area, Pittsburgh 1950 © Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos Courtesy: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

"Marianne Williamson is the most communitarian candidate in the pack," Frank wrote one post ago. It's best to read that first. He's right to notice the thoughtfulness that Williamson brings to the debate, and the flair that is appealing to everyone just a little disillusioned with the state of American society and the politics that gnaw at it. It isn't about healthcare, she proclaimed, it's about what is making us sick, which might also be the healthcare we are trying to "fix." 

How many problems there are in this world that are only so because we need them; solutions are necessarily secondary because they must make a grand appearance to be believable—for those disillusioned, it's a magic trick without amusement; for the duped, it's messianic. But solutions rarely ever solve because there is no political value in alleviating suffering. Everything that is naturally concluded ceases to exist; everything is, by nature, self-preserving. The sad plight of the conservative is that he knows that just because we seek to preserve we are not guaranteed success; and almost always, given a plentiful amount of time, of which there is no shortage beyond us, we are assured failure. In fact, preservation, a necessity for self-centered man, is a reaction to the ungrateful misery of revolution and the unremitting linearity of time. But all people and their creations are preserving, especially those looking to do so at the expense of others, i.e., big pharma. 

One of the comments to Frank's post was also insightful. "JerseyPatriot1776" noted that community must be built organically. (Or, as Frank reiterates, there must be a spiritual reawakening). He continued to posit that because heterogeneity fractured American community, then "should the American Nation exist in some form, there will exist many different enclaves of community at a micro level."

I'll add that while community must be built organically, believing this is not enough to make Williamson the right candidate, just the best of her kind. National conservatism is preferable to many because it's seen as slowing degeneration, hoping to guide the ethos, or re-legislate morality. It would be honest to admit that a communitarian society is conditioned on some some cultural restriction, which presupposes a centralized power (whether that is the state or something else). Of course, the more centralized a power becomes, the nearer our strangulation. Yet at the opposite extreme, the more the central power disperses, the quicker our unmooring: We begin to rely on the unwritten, until we see everything around us as foreign and seek to recreate in our image. The social contract becomes a whimsical French document on the devil it does not know, rather than a prudent American acknowledgment of what already binds it. 

“The man of conservative temperament believes that a known good is not lightly to be surrendered for an unknown better.” —Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and other essays (1962)

 The mission is to nurture a well-balanced pendulum. 


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