Still we wait, sometimes anxiously, for that moment when principles will be turned to practice, when muscle and flesh are applied to the bones, and men of good will realize that the last thing the world needs is another article, let alone a book, about how a few trivial points drawn from the three millennia history of Western thought might finally save us from ourselves. There are plenty of eager, well-scrubbed young minds of a certain orientation who will gladly settle if they can save themselves from adjuncting and a preceding generation of not-quite-old tenureds who have made a cottage industry of critiquing, by ostensibly Catholic lights, a liberal-bourgeois reality they participate in freely every single day. Consider, too, the liberals. They neither fret nor fuss over the times in which they live; they simply embrace it with nary a worry that they will be called to the carpet for doing so. They live wrong, albeit consistently wrong, lives behind a veil of glib ignorance. What do the rest of us have to say for ourselves?
Maybe there is nothing to be said. Politics and posturing go hand in hand, and what would life really be like without a bit of righteous indignation, a little bit of grandstanding against some perceived sources of oppression where the dynamics of that oppression, and the scope of the injustice at the heart of it, are poorly understood. Ask a “radical Catholic” what he thinks of economics and he will tell you it is an evil science, a false science even, which has no claim to the title of “science.” It is the byproduct of some ideology or another, or maybe it is the wrong turn in the history of human thought which delivers the byproduct of capitalism. Or maybe there’s something to it. But in order to discern that, one would have to read, and learn, and listen, and stop talking (Tweeting) for just a few moments. How long? It mustn’t be too long, for an hour without a Tweet, a Facebook post, or some other social-media blast is like an eternity. The price for not participating is irrelevance.
Not that much of what goes in these forums is all that relevant. Twitter in particular provides a quicker, cheaper, and less demanding platform for middle minds to spew superficially great thoughts, as if they, too, can successfully serve as placeholders for the exponentially harder work mentioned briefly above. Twitter lowers the bar. Three-dimensional thinking is not required because it is not expected. There’s no need to invest or, to borrow a phrase from a former blogger I rather admire, have any “skin in the game.” So why care? Why pay attention? Maybe it’s just difficult for all people, even very good people, to walk away from a fight. Nobody came to blows in grade school over competing interpretations of Little House in the Big Woods or The Long Winter. It was typically over one boy’s declaration that another boy “sucks” or is “gay” or has a “fat momma.” If you think the self-anointed Twitter sophisticates are doing anything different, you’re delusional.
There’s a new post over at The Josias, “A Note on the Legitimacy of Governments.” It is a brief post, one that only opens the door a crack to thinking about the matter of legitimacy generally and the more vexing problem of American legitimacy in particular. Perhaps it is a bit too quick to draw conclusions about our present state of affairs, though one could argue that we’ve been far too slow to grasp it. I would like to suggest, however, that until we grasp the issue, wrestle with it, and draw out concrete, practical steps that must be taken in the light of truth, then we shall always risk hypocrisy. We shall be no different than those who have made peace with evil times, only we know better—or at least should.