Liberalism and the Search for the Ground: Another Visit with Eric Voegelin
Thomas F. Bertonneau - 2010-02-07
The Geert Wilders trial in the Netherlands reminds us how much the Western elites, those who currently control the society and wish to use their authority to alter and reconstitute the established order, have parted company with longstanding Western traditions. The mutation of classical liberalism into contemporary politically correct totalitarianism is not surprising, however, since liberalism began as the cautious younger sibling of the revolutionary spirit that found its emblem in the destruction of the Bourbons and the declaration of equality, fraternity, and liberty as the new mandatory themes of human order. Quite apart from the fact of their vain abstraction, those slogans implied from the beginning implacable hostility to custom and habit. The new republican-type nation-states that followed the model of France arose, as had the French Republic, through the violent disestablishment of the smaller, ethnic polities that characterized the long period of feudalism. Insofar as Western Society still exhibits coherency, much of that coherency derives from the period before the emergence of the modern republics. Western society is what it is, therefore, because it stands in a continuum of vital experience and articulate symbolization stemming from those oddly matched wellsprings, Greek philosophy and Hebrew morality, in their unlikely, long-term cultural dialectic as mediated by a thousand years of many local manifestations of Gothic Christianity.