Monday, September 09, 2013

A terrific review

I'd like to recommend that you read the intelligent and sympathetic review of Jim Kalb's new book that you'll find here.

It's best to read it in its entirety, but there are a few bits that particularly appealed to me. Here, for instance, is Kalb explaining why the liberal understanding of inclusiveness harms real community:
In fact inclusiveness destroys community by reducing the importance of personal ties, making us interchangeable with others and making our goals as much a matter of individual choice as possible.  There is nothing special to distinguish shoppers at a shopping mall from each other, so there are no divisions among them.  They do not constitute a community, however, because there is nothing that brings them together other than a common interest in acquiring consumer goods.  Each has come for his own purposes.  They have very few positive duties toward each other and they could just as easily be somewhere else, if they found some minor advantage in doing so.

But perhaps the most important part has to do with these papal quotes:
Pius XII, for instance, tells us that “[t]here exists an order, established by God, which requires a more intense love and a preferential good done to those people that are joined to us by special ties,” while Bl. John Paul II speaks of spiritual gifts we receive via our history, our culture, and “the national community to which we belong.”

Kalb concludes that:
If particular cultures and national communities have such importance for the way we become human and connect to God, then an understanding of diversity and inclusion that abolishes legitimate boundaries between them and so makes them nonfunctional cannot be acceptable, and multiculturalism, which deprives every culture of any setting of its own in which it can function as authoritative, must be wrong.

The part that I've italicised is critical, I think, for the argument that religious traditionalists ought to develop.


  1. Hey Mark, what are your thoughts on the Abbott win?

  2. I don't think it will change much. Abbott has read Edmund Burke and peppers his writings with Burkean terminology but in his basic assumptions about life he is a liberal and this comes out in his political positions.