Thursday, November 06, 2008

Compassionate nihilism

Melanie Phillips does not exactly hit the right tone, but she is right that the figure in recently history that most resembles Obama is Tony Blair. Personally attractive, moderate in economic matters, hawkish in foreign policy, but ultimately the enabler of a disastrous progressivist ideology and a believer in the redemptive power of the state. She is also right in pointing out that Blair's (and, probably, Obama's) sentimental-technocratic progressivism reflects most of all a gaping cultural vacuum. Ultimately, politics must rely on some notion of what it means being a human being, and on some body of shared knowledge about how to live in society and educate young people. Otherwise, without any roots in the past, what is left is the editorial page of the New York Times: sentimental mush and moronic babbling about equality. In this vacuum, individual politicians can be personally intelligent and well-meaning, but (bad) ideas have their own power and produce their own effects.


Anonymous said...

"moderate in economic matters"

lol... wut?

Anonymous said...

I see you have never met a good old-style pre-Blair European Marxist

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that Communion and Liberation is so thoroughly partisan in the USA. Is there not a single good thing to say about the election of Obama, or the Obama "event" as you might style it?

Shane said...

To "anonymous" #3: this is not an official organ of Communion and Liberation, though many of the blog posters are members of CL.

Anonymous said...

To shane #4. Well, what is this blog, exactly? It is affiliated with a center (or centers) that have their roots in Communion and Liberation, and it seems disingenuous to claim that the centers don't present themselves as CL centers, even if they aren't officially so. But the postings on this blog are mostly just the standard sour conservative politics one can find just about anywhere in the right half of the blogosphere. Doesn't a CL background provide a basis for saying anything positive about anything happening in the world, rather than just posting zingers and complaints that the world has disappointed you in yet another way? There's a lot about CL that seems attractive to me, but the tone of this blog makes me think otherwise.

Shane said...

To anonymous (it would be easier if you had a handle): you bring up an interesting point. This blog is what it says it is: "clippings" from various media sources, put together by a couple of people who are interested in doing so (for free, in their spare time). It may seem disingenuous or ingenuous, but believe it or not, CL does not exercise control over what its members do or say, whether their politics tilts to the left or to the right.
You ask "Doesn't a CL background provide a basis for saying anything positive about anything happening in the world?" The answer is "yes." In fact, if you go to the official websites, and especially the CL magazine Traces, you will see commentary on many beautiful things happening in the world, things that perhaps are not as eye-catching as a presidential election, but which give much more evidence of Christ's victory in the world.
In any case, to reduce everything on this blog to "standard sour conservative politics" is a gross generalization and just plain untrue IMHO.
That said, I can't speak for the administrators of this blog, but I imagine they will take your suggestion/complaint to heart.

Carlo said...

Anonymous #3:

as a frequent poster I can confirm that whatever I post only reflects my personal opinions and interests and does not speak for anyone else.

As for the choices being too "negative," I thank you for the criticism. Indeed, Fr. Giussani always liked to quote St.Paul to the effect that we have to "test everything and keep what is good," valuing what little good can be found anywhere. On the other hand, he also often quoted the rule "pour se poser, il s’oppose," which I think is unavoidable when dealing with a hopelessly confused culture such as ours.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm aware of Traces and so on.

I guess I'll submit this as a challenge to you bloggers (I didn't realize there was more than one here): how do you all, as apparently educated US Catholic CL-inspired individuals, think we should address some of the great matters of the day. For example, should the educated US Catholic CL-inspired person be for or against the bailout plan? What should the educated US Catholic CL-inspired person do with wrt illegal immigration? What should the educated US Catholic CL-inspired make of the fact that 54% of US Catholics voted for Obama? Does this represent the sophisticated application of the USCCB's document "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" or something else (Peter Steinfels has an interesting discussion about this in last Saturday's NYTimes).

Surely, your involvement with CL inspires you to do more than throw brickbats at the failings of the world. What should the educated US Catholic inspired by CL be for? What they should be against is much more obvious.


Siger of Brabant

Shane said...

Dear Siger:
At the risk of seeming to sidestep your serious provocations, I suggest you check out some of the programs that Crossroads has organized, for example, this one ( with Peter Steinfels.

Anonymous said...

I will and do check out the programs at Crossroads. It is excellent that you put up transcripts, audio, etc. for those of us who don't live nearby.