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Why Father Neuhaus Went Right

I really enjoyed Alan Jacobs’s review of Randy Boyagoda’s biography of Father Richard John Neuhaus [1], especially this take on Neuhaus’s embrace of neoconservatism:

With all this in mind, here’s (a simplified version of) my reading of Neuhaus’s political transformation: Over time he came to believe that the American left had effectively abandoned its commitment to “the least of these,” had decided that, in Boyagoda’s clear formulation, “private rights — made possible by and indeed protecting implicit race and class privileges — trumped responsibilities for others.” The moral language that he had learned from his Christian upbringing and pastoral training and experience 2Q== [2]simply had no purchase in a party dominated by a commitment solely to the “private rights” of self-expression, especially sexual self-expression. He turned to those who showed a willingness to hear commitments expressed in that moral language, who appeared to be open to being convinced. In return he gave them his loyalty, his public support, for the rest of his life.

It may well be that this was a devil’s bargain, one that Neuhaus should never have made. Indeed, I am (most days, anyhow) inclined to think that it was. He who would sup with the Devil must bring a long spoon, and Father Neuhaus’s spoon wasn’t nearly long enough. He did enjoy rather too much the perks and privileges of influence; he did, all too often, turn a blind eye to the immense faults of the institutions to which he had pledged his loyalty.

But I think we have strong documentary evidence that Father Neuhaus made his bargain out of a genuine and deeply compassionate love — a love that pulled him all his life — for those whom the world deems worthless. In trying to realize this love in the medium of politics, that cesspool of vainglory and vanity, he sometimes befouled himself. But we all befoul ourselves; few of us do it in such a noble cause.

Please read the whole thing, [1] and note especially the passage from the amazing 1961 letter Neuhaus, then a Lutheran pastor and man of the Left, wrote to Robert Wilken. Whatever you think you know about Neuhaus, this will probably challenge it.

Geoffrey Kabaservice, writing yesterday in TAC, gave a very strong review to the Boyagoda biography [3]. Excerpt:

Religious neoconservatism, tied as it was to Bush and Benedict, could not avoid being tarnished by Iraqi misadventures and Catholic sex-abuse scandals. By now, most social conservatives would concede that they have lost the public-opinion battle on same-sex marriage and perhaps assisted suicide as well, which has led many to question Neuhaus’s belief that liberal democracy and Catholicism are compatible. The result is that the Neuhaus/First Things position is losing ground both to liberalism and to the “radical Catholicism” that, as described by University of Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen, “is deeply critical of contemporary arrangements of market capitalism, is deeply suspicious of America’s imperial ambitions, and wary of the basic premises of liberal government.” The value of this biography of Richard John Neuhaus, then, is not just as a work of history and remembrance but as a guide to coming conflict.

Gotta read that book.  [4]

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44 Comments To "Why Father Neuhaus Went Right"

#1 Comment By Geddy Lee is My Spirit Animal On March 18, 2015 @ 1:37 pm

“He did enjoy rather too much the perks and privileges of influence.”

Citation please.

#2 Comment By panda On March 18, 2015 @ 1:46 pm

Of course, when whatever passes for the left in America enjoyed a brief period of undivided power, it spent its political capital on crafting a health care reform that, however inadequately, provides a federal healthcare guarantee to all races and classes of Americans, a guarantee that was demonized by the kind of people Neuhaus made alliances out of his “love for the least of these,” but I guess we shouldn’t talk about this in polite society.

#3 Comment By Charles Cosimano On March 18, 2015 @ 2:52 pm

Private rights always trump public good. We can never be sure where the public good really lies so we must never allow it to get in the way of having fun.

#4 Comment By Jason On March 18, 2015 @ 3:05 pm

Jacobs pulled his punches, mr. Dreher – he admitted that Neuhaus probably wasn’t a rightist theocon, but then suggests the priest supped with the devil by being involved with republican politicians. I must say that I don’t get the criticism that you Benedict-option guys lay on Neuhaus. He simply tried to navigate the difficult line of being in the world but not of the world – and part of being in the world inevitably means being a political animal. He felt – clearly wrongly – that the Iraq war accorded with just war theory, so why is it all surprising that he would support the bush administration (just as it is not surprising that he supported the JFK and lbj administrations for their avowal of civil rights)?

#5 Comment By Jason C. On March 18, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

“He did enjoy rather too much the perks and privileges of influence.”

Citation please.

Going out on a limb here: probably something the reviewer picked up from reading the book.

[NFR: Maybe, but Alan has written for First Things, and has been an observer of Father Neuhaus for many years. I didn’t know Neuhaus — we met once or twice — but from what I knew of his world and how he moved in it, I think Alan’s judgment is correct. But that only makes Neuhaus human. I still think he was a great man, one whose virtues far outweighed his vices. — RD]

#6 Comment By KD On March 18, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

Panda:

Of course, when whatever passes for the left in America enjoyed a brief period of undivided power, it spent its political capital on crafting a health care reform that satisfied the whims of every health care lobbyist on K Street, did not ensure universal coverage, and did nothing to control health care costs, and was repudiated by Howard Dean himself.

There is no American Left. There is the party of Hollywood and the party of Heavy Industrial Polluters.

#7 Comment By KD On March 18, 2015 @ 3:37 pm

The is no American Left because we have destroyed the family, the ethnic neighborhood, and religious communities that could give rise to an authentic left response.

#8 Comment By Floridan On March 18, 2015 @ 4:24 pm

It seems to me that the “lust for power” is a more persuasive argument, and oddly enough one that is more respectful of Neuhaus.

If, because he feared the left (whoever that includes) had abandoned “the least of these, Neuhaus switched “his loyalty, his public support” to the Republicans , then he was rather easily duped. What evidence, other than easily expressed platitudes, was there that the GOP was willing to expend any real political capital to ameliorate the condition of the downtrodden?

Furthermore, how does Neuhaus’ support for Iraq War fit into this narrative?

#9 Comment By Todd On March 18, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

Yes, Charles Cosimano, private rights are important. We should be allowed to do anything we want. No matter how evil or criminal they are.

#10 Comment By Todd On March 18, 2015 @ 4:44 pm

Yes, Charles Cosimano, private rights are absolute. We should be able to do absolutely anything we want, no matter how sociopathic they are. Stealing is ok. Lying is ok. Satanic blood rituals are not only ok, but so delightful!!

#11 Comment By heartright On March 18, 2015 @ 4:50 pm

panda says:

however inadequately, provides a federal healthcare guarantee to all races and classes of Americans,
Pace illegal Mexicans in the agri-sector,of course. As you yourself noted before.

The American ‘left’ has no solutions,nor can it be expected to develop them. Ultimately, the American liberal is Cosimanian-Orthodox.

#12 Comment By EB On March 18, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

There certainly is a portion of the liberal Left that values sexual freedom a lot. They are pretty much just being open about how even conservative Republicans act in their private lives. But there is a much bigger part of the Left that really is about making a fairer economic system — compressing the income scale, strong safety net, full employment to the extent possible, etc. It’s just that these folks are not concentrated in the media industry the way the sexual freedom folks are.

#13 Comment By KD On March 18, 2015 @ 5:30 pm

I can’t help a link to the master:

[5]

#14 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On March 18, 2015 @ 6:17 pm

panda

I must convene with you that in an affluent society that can easily afford it no Christian is allowed to oppose universal healthcare. (And in destitute societies no wealthy Christian is exonerated from funding hospitals).
Christians opposing universal healthcare are as bad as those supporting SSM.

#15 Comment By Darth Thulhu On March 18, 2015 @ 6:36 pm

Alan Jacobs wrote:

I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the varying intersections of religion and politics

Oh, you elite, liberal Leftist warriors for social justice and your trendy intersectionality 😉

As for most of the body of Jacobs’s piece, he never comes out and acknowledges the only coherent meaning of “the least of these” for the last several decades of Neuhaus’s life. Obviously (painfully obviously), Neuhaus’s conception of “the least of these” referred solely to Abortion (and ineffectual Pandering about it) Trumps Everything Else as the Only Moral Issue of Human Suffering and Death That Actually Matters.

Yeah, the Left establishment of the 1970s was way too rosy-eyed about the oppression of Communist governments, and way too enamored of “Personal-Scale Freedom Can Never Ever Be Wrong”, but Neuhaus chose not to become a political independent critiquing flaws on all sides. He freely chose to start French-kissing the hard right wing of the Republican Party, and he willfully chose to fall silent (or run cover) on almost every other “least of these” topic.

Neuhaus chose to become an increasingly-lockstep and uncritical shill for the Party of:

1) Ramping up a Flawed Death Penalty System
2) Gutting Health Care Access
3) Blowing Up Brown People Overseas In Bulk
4) Gutting Nonmilitary Foreign Aid

That he did so while simultaneously becoming an overtly more-(o)rthodox-than-thou Catholic gives entirely new meaning to the phrase “Culture of Death”

#16 Comment By Dennis Brislen On March 18, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

Father Neuhaus must have been a powerful and engaging intellectual personality to have those who knew him so willing to “pull punches” in their criticisms.

In fact, WFB’s favorite convert was frequently a guest on his show and it became increasingly apparent to those denied the pleasure of knowing him, that he was step by step cavorting with the dark side. Subsequent to 9-11 it became impossible to support his position.

Yes, it is easier to express our outrage for intellectual malingerers like Bush II, Falwell and company.

Yet isn’t it a sadder tragedy when the best of us supports the worst of us.

#17 Comment By JonF On March 18, 2015 @ 7:47 pm

Re: I still think he was a great man

I don’t. Now, when he wrote on purely spiritual matters there are traces of possible greatness. “Death on a Friday Afternoon” and “As I lay dying” are both well worth reading. But I see him as a man who sold his soul for the fool’s gold of political influence. And a Panda notes, it’s breathtakingly hard to square his Christianity with his alliance with the party of social Darwinism and racist dog whistles.
Also, he occasionally practiced a very sneering sarcasm, and I recall being steamed by it on a number of occasions (in his musings in First Things) when he turned that against the Orthodox Church. Yes, our hierarchs, here and abroad, have richly earned some hard knocks, but a man of God should strive for charity not bon mots.

#18 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 18, 2015 @ 7:58 pm

But I think we have strong documentary evidence that Father Neuhaus made his bargain out of a genuine and deeply compassionate love — a love that pulled him all his life — for those whom the world deems worthless. In trying to realize this love in the medium of politics, that cesspool of vainglory and vanity, he sometimes befouled himself. But we all befoul ourselves; few of us do it in such a noble cause.

I’ll buy that. It is no more than what I have claimed for many sincerely committed communists.

There is no American Left. There is the party of Hollywood and the party of Heavy Industrial Polluters.

KD, I’ve never seen that point made so well in so few words. Three thumbs up!

On the other hand, I am agnostic on “the ethnic neighborhood.” What I insist is that if it isn’t about the working class, it isn’t “left” at all. The workers of the world may or may not live in ethnic neighborhoods, but a large portion do indeed go to church, or something like it, on Sunday, or Saturday, or Friday.

#19 Comment By Lisa On March 18, 2015 @ 8:01 pm

“which has led many to question Neuhaus’s belief that liberal democracy and Catholicism are compatible.”

I’ve heard many say this about Islam. So is Catholicism similar to Islam in this regard? Are these people part of the Christian Dominionism movement? How are they any different than the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Franco?

#20 Comment By Charles Cosimano On March 18, 2015 @ 8:15 pm

Absolutely Todd. It is good to be honest about the world.

#21 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 18, 2015 @ 8:45 pm

The American ‘left’ has no solutions,nor can it be expected to develop them. Ultimately, the American liberal is Cosimanian-Orthodox.

I don’t know how Cosimano himself votes, but my mental model is that most people with his views are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats, honestly. Cosimanian Orthodoxy reminds me a fair bit of the thoughts of John Derbyshire, who used to be on the staff of National Review before he got too right wing for him.

#22 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 18, 2015 @ 8:48 pm

The is no American Left because we have destroyed the family, the ethnic neighborhood, and religious communities that could give rise to an authentic left response.

Uh, Russia destroyed all those things to a much greater extent than America (by explicit government design, not by happenstance), and Russia has enough of an ‘authentic left’ that their biggest opposition party is out and out Communist. Same is true of most of Europe and, by some measures, Latin America (Latin America tends to have more out of wedlock childrearing than we do), but their electorates are considerably more economically left wing as well.

#23 Comment By Elmwood On March 18, 2015 @ 9:18 pm

Fr. Neuhaus worked to undermine St. John Paul II call for peace and as far as I know, never apologized for the obvious mistake of supporting an unjust war in Iraq which killed over 60,000 civilians.

He may have been otherwise a great guy, but he really messed up and innocent people died. Not sure if you can over look that, especially from somebody who represents the church.

#24 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 18, 2015 @ 11:53 pm

Charles Cosimano has written favorably of Scott Walker, precisely because Walker advocates that Charles and his suburban neighbors should be able to prioritize their limitless individual rights over any semblance of the public good.

(Charles, to be fair, has more sense and less pretentiousness than most of his fellow Walkerites, or ate least, he doesn’t take himself so seriously, except in jest.)

So yes, as Hector says, most people of his views are likely to vote Republican. But I would still agree that American liberals tend to be Cosimanian Orthodox in their morals. HeartRight, on the other hand, should know better than to call that “left.”

#25 Comment By DeepSouthPopulist On March 18, 2015 @ 11:54 pm

According to the Brookings Institute, one effect of the ACA is a rather large boost in income for America’s disproportionately non-white poor because of the generous subsides they qualify for under the ACA, with a decrease in income for America’s disproportionately white lower-middle class and white near-poor because they qualify for much smaller or no subsidies.

IOW, the boost in income the disproportionately non-white poor get from gaining health insurance subsides through the ACA comes at the expense of disproportionately white near-poor and lower-middle classes.

Meanwhile, again according to Brookings, the ACA does not result in any reduction in income for the white upper-classes who are disproportionately white but also … wealthy Republican types, social liberals, residents of coastal cities and people dominant in America’s affluent managerial overclass. No, no income reduction for them.

The ACAs income effects are thus highly regressive. No one should be fooled by the misleading claim “all races, everyone, benefits from the ACA because it lets everyone buy insurance.” That’s an oversimplification.

The issue is not just WHO gets access to insurance under the ACA but HOW MUCH of the family income percentage wise it costs them based on subsidy eligibility and tax effects. By that standard, lower-middle and near-poor white folks get the short end.

Call them what you will, the wrong kind of whites, flyover whites, or red state goyim, the American ruling class hates them with white hot, searing heat.

#26 Comment By heartright On March 18, 2015 @ 11:59 pm

Hector_St_Clare says:

my mental model is that most people with his views are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats, honestly.
A]Only to the extent that Americans are more Republican than Democrat.
B] Remember that US Liberalism is just Cameroonism – without the nice bits.
[6]

Lisa says:

“which has led many to question Neuhaus’s belief that liberal democracy and Catholicism are compatible.”

I’ve heard many say this about Islam. So is Catholicism similar to Islam in this regard?

The more interesting question is whether Liberalism- with its insistence on individual autonomy – is compatible with Democracy – the Rule of the People as a group and as absolute and uncompromising as an Absolute Monarchy.

I say they are incompatible, I say that Democracy must be preserved and I say that Liberalism must be purged from the face of the Earth.

#27 Comment By DeepSouthPopulist On March 19, 2015 @ 12:01 am

[7]

#28 Comment By panda On March 19, 2015 @ 12:36 am

“IOW, the boost in income the disproportionately non-white poor get from gaining health insurance subsides through the ACA comes at the expense of disproportionately white near-poor and lower-middle classes.

Meanwhile, again according to Brookings, the ACA does not result in any reduction in income for the white upper-classes who are disproportionately white but also … wealthy Republican types, social liberals, residents of coastal cities and people dominant in America’s affluent managerial overclass. No, no income reduction for them.”

Citation? Because I know of no mechanism under which upper middle class people get access to benefits to which lower middle class people don’t.
Also of note: the states in which the number of inunsirud dropped fastest, due to massive use of Medicaid expansion are KY, WV, and AR- meaning the vast majority of beneficiaries in those states are white.

#29 Comment By panda On March 19, 2015 @ 12:41 am

Also, as “Deep South Populist,” tell us what you had done to protest the fact that all southern states besides AR, KY, and WV, rejected Medicaid expansion.

#30 Comment By panda On March 19, 2015 @ 12:43 am

“I say they are incompatible, I say that Democracy must be preserved and I say that Liberalism must be purged from the face of the Earth”

Look, I know that we all enjoy cranks and such, but could it be possible to point out to heartright that one does not issue calls for mass murder of political opponents in polite society?

#31 Comment By panda On March 19, 2015 @ 12:49 am

Ok, so I did some digging, and I’ve found the study from which DSP’s chart is taken
[8]

The key fact here is that the chart refers to a definition of income that does not include the value of health insurance. When the value of health insurance is included:
“11. Under more comprehensive income definitions—ones that include the value of health insurance—most workers’ money wage gains and losses are exactly offset by corresponding losses or gains in the value of their employer health protection. However, those workers who substitute subsidized government insurance for an employer health plan typically see a net gain in income under comprehensive income definitions.”

In other words, in monetary terms, people in the middle of the income ladder don’t gain or lose much due to the ACA- besides the fact that if/when they lose their jobs, and so on, they will have easy access to insurance.

#32 Comment By Bazaka On March 19, 2015 @ 3:10 am

Perhaps it’s time to start a Benedict Option party, or something like that.

A third party that transcends left-right distinctions and stands for the following things:

-Religious/spiritual liberty, and opposition to French-style militant secularism. The party would be broadly interfaith in this regard.*

-Localism, and making it possible for strong local communities to flourish.

-Opposition to corporate lobbies, pork-barreling, and government subsidies given to big companies that go on to harm small businesses. Also opposes regulations that disproportionately harm small business owners and farmers, such as the ban on raw milk, etc.

-Measured support for organized labor

-Decentralization.

-Supports medical marijuana and industrial hemp. Individual state parties would have a right to decide their own stances toward recreational MJ.

-“Compassionate conservative” economic policy

-Support for traditional values (while recognizing that different religions may have slightly different views of what is “traditional”)

-Environmental conservation married to agrarianism, borrowing from Wendell Berry, and from Latvia’s “Union of Greens and Farmers” political party.

-Freedom of association

-Noninterventionism in foreign policy. Foreign policies that directly or indirectly harm Christians or other vulnerable religious/ethnic minorities should especially be avoided.

-The well-being of individuals and communities is more important than the raw size of the economy. Thus, endless economic growth is not always the best policy; sometimes “degrowth” can be a good thing. Having more money is no good if cost of living is also higher; conversely, having less money but a lower cost of living can sometimes be better. Thus, the party does not worship Growth as an idol the way the GOP and in many cases the Democrats do.

Such a party would not need to win a majority, nor would it be likely to (its natural constituency is not large enough). However, it could pull black, Hispanic, Native American, and union voters from the Democrats, and social conservatives of the “crunchy” variety from the GOP, and that would probably be enough for it to pursue a “34 percent strategy”. It could then build coalitions with one of the two other parties and in that way, help to preserve the interests of traditional folks.

*This party would also strongly oppose the so-called “anti-sharia movement”, which in reality is just a Trojan horse for militant secularism. The fact that said movement was founded by an avowed racist (David Yerushalmi) and that it praised the French ban on headcoverings, which also adversely affects Mennonites and some Orthodox Christians (among others) is telling. Also, the same laws and logic used by anti-sharia folks against Muslims could just as easily be used to persecute Orthodox Christians, especially now that we live in the era of Cold War II.

#33 Comment By heartright On March 19, 2015 @ 5:15 am

Siarlys Jenkins says:

HeartRight, on the other hand, should know better than to call that “left.”

I called it the US left, and left it at that.

#34 Comment By JonF On March 19, 2015 @ 6:13 am

Re: According to the Brookings Institute, one effect of the ACA is a rather large boost in income for America’s disproportionately non-white poor

Rod, my apologies, but I can hardly address this sort of vile, mendacious race-baiting without wanting to swear like a trooper.

But having suppressed that urge, some basic facts against this vicious farrago of lies:

Take the “non-white” part out and that might be accurate. THE ACA DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR MANNER ON THE BASIS OF RACE. White people qualify for the same exact subsidies as black people, with income being the only determinate.

Also the subsidies are paid for via higher taxes on upper income earners.

Not everything is about race, and the Right must be getting terribly desperate if they are trying to gin up the KKK vote against the ACA.

#35 Comment By heartright On March 19, 2015 @ 9:15 am

panda says:
March 19, 2015 at 12:43 am

“I say they are incompatible, I say that Democracy must be preserved and I say that Liberalism must be purged from the face of the Earth”

Look, I know that we all enjoy cranks and such, but could it be possible to point out to heartright that one does not issue calls for mass murder of political opponents in polite society?

Could it be possible for Panda to get the baisc idea that purging an ideology is not the same as purging individuals.
When Germany was purged from Nazism, it was hardly necessary to execute every Nazi.

Indeed, few if any were executed for being Nazis,rather than simply being prosecuted,tried,convicted, for specific crimes – even if specific new laws had to be designed post-facto.

The same logic applies to countries that had to purge Quislings. Specific numbers can be pointed out,eg.in the Netherlands:
-145.000 people charged.
-3.500 cases dismissed.
-14.000 cases of Not Guilty.
-90.000 cases ended in a conditional sentence ( as in: if it happens again,you’ll be in for it )
-some 40.000 cases ended with a Royal Pardon.
– and finally: 39 executions.

Result: Democracy purged from ideological criminals.

Liberalism is no organic part of Democracy, and it is ideologically contrary to Democracy, as is any ideology that does not assert the primacy of the Group over the Individual

#36 Comment By Colm J On March 19, 2015 @ 9:19 am

This piece should should surely be called: “Why Fr. Neuhaus Went Left”. The Neocons are not right-wing in any sense. They are indeed much more hard-line and revolutionary in their commitment to the permanent sexual revolution than anti-war leftists are. The Neocons want to export cultural Marxism around the world through the barrel of a gun. How evangelicals and Catholic “theo-cons” can delude themselves (assuming they are deluded – as opposed to something much worse) that this febrile ideology has anything – apart from its name – in common with authentic conservatism is one of the great mysteries of our age.

#37 Comment By panda On March 19, 2015 @ 12:34 pm

“Take the “non-white” part out and that might be accurate. THE ACA DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR MANNER ON THE BASIS OF RACE. White people qualify for the same exact subsidies as black people, with income being the only determinate.”

Another point to keep out: the states that refused to expand Medicaid tend to have a higher minority population than average, meaning that the expansion almost certainly is weighted heavily towards whites. The problem is that for some “populists” a social welfare policy is acceptable only if it makes sure that only whites are benefitting from it..

#38 Comment By JonFraz On March 19, 2015 @ 2:25 pm

Panda,

the Brooking Institute did publish a study showing that the FINANCIAL benefits of the ACA are largely captured by people in the lower two income quintiles. That should be a “dog-bites-man and the sun rose in the east today” story. We knew all along that the main problems with gaining coverage today are concentrated at the lower end of the income distribution– and of course those people benefit the most (and why does anyone not named Scrooge or Herbert Spencer begrudge that?)

However the ACA benefits people in ways beyond the merely financial. The (presumably middle class) liberal pundit Kevin Drum, who is stricken with multiple myeloma, has a piece up on Mother Jones discussing why the ACA and its future suddenly matter very much to his future. I can’t seem to link to it right now (I think MJ’s site is down), but I advise anyone who wants to consider the ACA beyond pure dollars and cents to read it when they can.

#39 Comment By Jerry On March 19, 2015 @ 3:45 pm

heartright said:

I say that Democracy must be preserved and I say that Liberalism must be purged from the face of the Earth.

Considering that one of the primary goals of America’s constitutional Founders was protecting an aristocratic, Whiggish version of Liberalism from the tyranny of absolute Democracy, you’re calling for a fight against some of the basic structures of the U.S. constitution. You’d have to eliminate judicial review by the Supreme Court and the President and Senate’s checks on the power of the House of Representatives. Just judging by the phrase, “purging Liberalism,” you probably would also want to eliminate the Bill of Rights and other constitutional checks against absolute popular sovereignty. Absolutist Democracy without Liberalism sounds an awful lot like the Jacobinism that I thought conservatives were against.

#40 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 19, 2015 @ 8:06 pm

ideologically contrary to Democracy, as is any ideology that does not assert the primacy of the Group over the Individual

The group is only valuable to the extent that group dynamics make life better for the individuals who make up the group than their life would be as groupless individuals. That’s a lot, but its not total (which is the root word of totalitarian).

Getting this right requires defining some things The Group, or its stated representatives, should keep their nose out of. That’s an important group principle in the USA, and we don’t look kindly upon individuals who try to assert their individual primacy over this group value.

We are not the Borg, and never will be. Resistance is everything.

There is a decent biography of Theodore Bilbo entitled Redneck Liberal. Bilbo and his ilk were all for the New Deal, provided the benefits were restricted to bona fide “white” people.

#41 Comment By heartright On March 19, 2015 @ 10:39 pm

Siarlys Jenkins says:
March 19, 2015 at 8:06 pm

The group is only valuable to the extent that group dynamics make life better for the individuals who make up the group than their life would be as groupless individuals. That’s a lot, but its not total (which is the root word of totalitarian).

A] Inasmuch as individual human beings do not gestate on trees,
individual existence is not possible other than as the result of the group. In other words, the difference is the totality of individual existence.

B] Democracy is group interaction,and must be formulated from the group downwards.

C] I do not think that human beings – civilised ones anyway – can be defined other than in terms of related-to-others.

defining some things The Group, or its stated representatives, should keep their nose out of.
It then follows that I consider the existence of things that The Group should stay out of,to be a categoric impossibility.

For its stated representatives ( who must be individual agents ),though – conceded. A demarchy might work around that, a democracy cannot.

For both you and Jerry: the United States is simply a delineated part of the world.
Sovereignty is changing in meaning, but it is perhaps too soon to draw permanent conclusions on that – pendula having swung before.

But sic rebus stantibus, Humanity-as-a-whole is the Ultimate Group, and peculiar Institutions will just have to fall in line. What the American Constitution says is ultimately quite irrelevant.

Bilbo and his ilk were all for the New Deal, provided the benefits were restricted to bona fide “white” people.
Just like a BNP programme,with the addition that ‘white’, magically ends at the Norman Conquest.

Considering that one of the primary goals of America’s constitutional Founders was protecting an aristocratic, Whiggish version of Liberalism from the tyranny of absolute Democracy,

Jerry, you just validated my point: liberalism is antithetical to Democracy.
and I certainly reject the very notion of a compromise between Democracy and Liberalism.

#42 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 20, 2015 @ 10:50 pm

HeartRight, I could possibly vote for you as a town councillor, but never as a delegate to a constitutional convention.

#43 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 21, 2015 @ 12:54 pm

I have to say, Heart Right is consistently one of the most interesting commenters here.

#44 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 21, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

No doubt about that Hector. He goes left where the Red Tory goes right, and he goes right where the social democrat goes left, has an almost Leninist devotion to The Group, but an almost totalitarian devotion to democracy. Definitely outside the box, and I have at least an esthetic appreciation for that. Also, sometimes he’s right about something (in my seldom humble opinion).