sábado, 7 de abril de 2018

C.S. Lewis’s resistance to European progressivism

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Essays of the Week

by Benjamin Hutchison

C.S. Lewis: World-renowned author, philosopher, theologian. Christian apologist. Mere mention of his name fills our minds with images of faith-based allegory, of lions, witches, and wardrobes, of rational defenses of the Christian faith. But political commentator and staunch opponent of progressive ideals? That’s not what we think of when we think of C.S. Lewis. And yet, while most of us associate Lewis with theological literature, the man who gave us Narnia also mounted firm opposition to the progressive-leftist ideals that swept swiftly across the world stage in his time. Lewis’s resistance to European progressivism was, first and foremost, a reflection on the reality of man’s nature, and the failings of progressivism to account accurately for man’s fallen state. He rejected progressivism’s assumption of man’s inherent goodness, of the state as an idol. Lewis succinctly described progressivism as “state worship,” predicated on the assumption of man’s inevitable rise to god-hood...

by Glenn Arbery

Edmund Burke saw the same leveling spirit of democratic envy in France that Alexis de Tocqueville would find in America some four decades later—the toxic result of too much insistence on equality. The problem is what this insistence does to the very idea of service to a someone in a superior role, especially an inherited one. “The unbought grace of life,” he says, “the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage while it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.” The qualities that I would love most of all to see in all our students could not be better described than by Burke’s account of the chivalric demeanor, which suggests a parallel (in a different register) to the proper attitudes of worship... 

by John Horvat

The problem of federal debt is not an economic problem. It is the case of a State that is no longer functioning as one. The object of the State is not to provide materially for the common good. Its role is not to be the common good, but to promote it. The State does this through the use of what is called the principle of subsidiarity. By this principle, a social unit should have recourse to a higher unit or authority only for matters it is unable to handle. A family, for example, should take care of its affairs but seek help from a higher institution when its needs exceed its abilities, for example, in extending the municipal sewer system, or the building of a county or state road. The higher societies, like the community and ultimately the State are subsidiary to the lesser and exist to serve, not to control them. Thus, government should respect the lower social units. It should recognize the different rights, traditions, functions, and privileges that allow them to develop their autonomy and self-regulation... 

by Bradley Birzer

As revolutionary as they claimed to be, the French Revolutionaries were as old as sin, Edmund Burke assured his readers. “Trace them through all their artifices, frauds, and violences,” he argued, and “you can find nothing at all that is new.” In no way, shape, or form, do they “depart an iota from the authentic formulas of tyranny and usurpation.” Whatever beauty one might find in the eloquence of the Revolutionaries, one will fail to find any corresponding wisdom. Tellingly, whenever their eloquence fails to persuade, they resort to a “plentitude of force,” and when that initial force fails, the “multiply and thicken” that force. Exactly because the Revolutionaries are unoriginal in all that they do, they lose the ability for real imagination and real creativity, losing all sense of proportion and nuance in the human condition. Because they lack the ability “to wrestle with difficulty,” they approach every problem with only the thought of “abolition and total destruction.” At destruction, they excel... 

by Russell Kirk

Preservation of good buildings, good streets, and good districts is only one aspect of our struggle against the architecture of servility and boredom. New construction, whether downtown or in the suburbs, looms larger. High costs of all building unite with the sorry limitations of most architects to produce barren public buildings, office towers, and “motor hotels”; while the condominiums and the tract-houses employ third rate materials and fourth-rate interior decoration. Ever since the Second World War, the old arts of building have lain in the sere and yellow leaf. Facile apologies for shoddy and dreary work are offered—as, in Waugh’s novel Helena, the architects and sculptors of the Emperor Constantine offer him excuses for not building a triumphal arch in the old grand style: “That is not the function of the feature, sire,” and similar jargon. At length Constantine demands of them, “Can you do it?” And those architects are compelled to answer, “No.” So it is in our age: A principal reason why our buildings are ugly is that our architects and craftsmen have quite forgotten how to construct handsome buildings...


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