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Faith, Reason, and Political Life Today
 0739102230, 9780739102237

Table of contents :
Introduction Peter Augustine Lawler
1. Autonomy and Community in Aristotle Michelle E. Brady
2. Shakespeare in the Original Klingon: Star Trek and the End of History Paul A. Cantor
3. On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule Tom Darby
4. Stoics and Christians: Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor on the Moral Contradictions of Southern Culture Gregory R. Johnson
5. Leo Strauss, America, and the End of History Joseph M Knippenberg
6. End of History 2000 Peter Augustine Lawler
7. The Ascent from Modernity: Solzhenitsyn on "Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations" Daniel J. Mahoney
8. Trevanian's Shibumi: The Perfect Postmodern Tale James F. Pantuso
9. Aristoteles Revivus:Pierre Manent's Reflectionson "The Contemporary Political World" Paul Seaton
10.A Postmodern Augustinian Recovery of Political Judgment Ashley Woodiwiss
11. Tocqueville, Girard, and the Mystique of Anti-Modernism Stephen L. Gardner
12. Christianity's Epicurean Temptation Marc D. Guerra
13. Flannery O'Connor's Teaching on the Nature of Evil in "The Lame Shall Enter First" Henry T. Edmondson III
14. Captain Kirk and the Art of Rule Diana J. Schaub
About the Contributors

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Faith, Reason, and Political Life Today



Faith, Reason, and Political Life Today

APPLICATIONS OF POLITICAL THEORY Series Editors: Harvey Mansfield, Harvard University, and Daniel J. Mahoney, Assumption College This series encourages analysis of the applications of political theory to various domains of thought and action. Such analysis will include works on political thought and literature, statesmanship, American political thought, and contem­ porary political theory. The editors also anticipate and welcome examinations of the place of religion in public life and commentary on classic works of political philosophy. Lincoln 's Sacred Effort: Defining Religion 's Role in American Self Government, by Lucas E. Morel Tyranny in Shakespeare, by Mary Ann McGrail The Moral ofthe Story: Literature and Public Ethics, edited by Henry T. Edmondson III Faith, Reason, and Political Life Today, edited by Peter Augustine Lawler and Dale McConkey Faith, Morality, and Civil Society, edited by Dale McConkey and Peter Augustine Lawler Pluralism without Relativism: Remembering Isaiah Berlin, edited by Joiio Carlos Espada, Mark F. Plattner, and Adam Wolfson The Difficult Apprenticeship ofLiberty: Reflections on the Political Thought of the French Doctrinaires, by Aurelian Craiutu The Seven Wonders ofShakespeare, by Michael Platt The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, by Maurice Joly, translation and commentary by John S. Waggoner Deadly Thought: "Hamlet" and the Human Soul, by Jan H. Blits Reason, Revelation, and Human Affairs: Selected Writings ofJames V. Schall, edited and with an introduction by Marc D. Guerra

Faith, Reason, and Political Life Today


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LEXINGTON BOOKS A division of ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD PUBLISHERS, INC. Lanham• Boulder• New York• Toronto• Plymouth, UK

LEXINGTON BOOKS A division of Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. A wholly owned subsidiary of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200 Lanham, MD 20706 Estover Road Plymouth PL6 7PY United Kingdom Copyright© 2001 by Lexington Books All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,

stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Faith, reason, and political life today I edited by Peter Augustine Lawler and Dale McConkey. p. cm.-(Applications of political theory) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN: 978-0-7391-0223-7 I. Man (Christian theology) 2. History (Theology) I. Lawler, Peter Augustine. IL McConkey, Dale, 1965- III. Series. BT70l.3 .F35 2001 261.7-dc21


Printed in the United States of America


8 The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American

National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO 239.48-1992.

Contents Acknowledgments Introduction Peter Augustine Lawler



1. Autonomy and Community in Aristotle Michelle E. Brady 2. Shakespeare in the Original Klingon: Star Trek and the End of History Paul A. Cantor


3. On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule Tom Darby


4. Stoics and Christians: Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor on the Moral Contradictions of Southern Culture Gregory R. Johnson


5. Leo Strauss, America, and the End of History Joseph M Knippenberg


6. End of History 2000 Peter Augustine Lawler


7. The Ascent from Modernity: Solzhenitsyn on "Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life ofNations" Daniel J. Mahoney


8. Trevanian's Shibumi: The Perfect Postmodern Tale James F. Pontuso




9. Aristoteles Revivus: Pierre Manent's Reflections on "The Contemporary Political World" Paul Seaton


10. A Postmodern Augustinian Recovery of Political Judgment Ashley Woodiwiss


11. Tocqueville, Girard, and the Mystique of Anti-Modernism Stephen L. Gardner


12. Christianity's Epicurean Temptation Marc D. Guerra


13. Flannery O'Connor's Teaching on the Nature of Evil in "The Lame Shall Enter First" Henry T. Edmondson III


14. Captain Kirk and the Art of Rule Diana J. Schaub




About the Contributors


Acknowledgments This book, together with another soon to be published by Lexington, originated at a conference held at Berry College on politics, religion, and community on March 9, 1999. This conference was third in a series, and it was sponsored by the Departments of Government and Sociology at Berry, Oglethorpe University, and the State University of West Georgia. Generous financial support for the conference came from President Scott Colley of Berry, West Georgia, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Many of the authors first presented their chapters at the conference. Paul Cantor and Greg Johnson presented theirs at Berry as Honors Program lectures. Dan Mahoney, Jim Pontuso, Paul Seaton, Diana Schaub, and Marc Guerra, we hope, will also speak at Berry soon. A number of Berry students helped to prepare this book for publication. Especially noteworthy contributions were made by Darrell Sutton, Jon West, Mike Rupert, and Abigail Safford. Elizabeth Prince and Erin Oiler produced the index. But our greatest debt is to the amazing Diane Land, who worked with extraordinary competence and confidence to tum a pile of computer disks into a beautiful book. Paul Cantor's chapter has appeared in Perspectives on Political Science, Peter Lawler's in Society, and Marc Guerra's in Markets and Morality. They are reprinted here, in slightly different versions, with permission.

Introduction Peter Augustine Lawler This book is a rich and diverse collection ofessays on contemporary reflection on the fundamental human questions. The authors consider in a variety of ways the relationship between nature and history, nature and grace, reason and revelation, Christianity and politics, classical philosophy and Christianity, modernity and postmodernity, Christianity and postmodernity, repentance and self-limitation, philosophy and politics, and good and evil. They often make these connections and elaborate these tensions in quite surprising ways, and always in ways that illuminate our contemporary situation in light of human nature or the human condition as such. The essays are clear and direct enough to benefit beginners. But many of them also make scholarly contributions that are genuinely pathbreaking. The book as a whole is a remarkably comprehensive if far from harmonious introduction to political philosophy today. No fewer than five of our authors take seriously Alexandre Kojeve's evidence that history has come to an end. They actually present new evidence for Kojeve's conclusion, such as Trevanian's pulp novel Shibumi (James Pontuso), the popular film Star Trek VI (Paul Cantor), and America's new "establishment," named by David Brooks the bourgeois Bohemians (Peter Lawler). Tom Darby, author of the first book in English on Kojeve, goes further than the others by seeing evidence everywhere, including in the basic agreement between Kojeve and his alleged adversary Leo Strauss. Joseph Knippenberg takes Strauss's case against Kojeve on behalf of both philosophy and political life most seriously, and he defends American liberal democracy because it is not history's end. All of the authors are clearly Strauss-influenced to some extent or another, but they often seem Straussian enough to be more impressed with the questions Strauss raised than certain of any particular answers to them. And so they often are quite uncertain that Kojeve is wrong. Lawler confesses that he is presenting a lawyer's argument for Kojeve's position. Cantor and Pontuso are probably doing the same thing, but maybe not. Alexis de Tocqueville, author ofthe best book on America, may be the next most significant modern writer for the authors, and Stephen Gardner makes Tocqueville


Peter Augustine Lawler

his focus, pairing him with the unjustly neglected Rene Girard against the illusions of anti-modernism and postmodemism. Daniel Mahoney's analysis of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn makes more clear than usual the Christian dimension of the great Russian's thought, and he comes close to agreeing with Ashley Woodiwiss's astute observation that authentic postmodemism, or genuine acknowledgment of the ineradicability of difference, would have to be Augustinianism. But Mahoney's Solzhenitsyn is more political or devoted to his country and unfashionable or anti­ ideological than Woodiwiss's Augustine. The Kojevian Darby asserts that human beings today will do what they can, but for Solzhenitsyn self-limitation is both still possible and more necessary than ever. The issue is the extent to which human beings, having apparently freed themselves from the thrall of religion, are now dominated by the imperatives of technology. Those, like Solzhenitsyn and Tocqueville, who believe that God is not dead or is merely man tend to think that human beings have a perspective from which to resist effectively impersonal determination. Even the most Straussian of the authors, Knippenberg, shares that conclusion, and he talks up American Christianity. Michelle Brady gives evidence for the continuing relevance of Aristotle's thought. Aristotle shows the political conditions required for achieving the modem good of autonomy and reminds us that self-sufficiency cannot be a good if it is incompatible with friendship. Diana Schaub, in this spirit, presents an Aristotelian view of a great statesman of the future, Star Trek's Captain Kirk. Paul Seaton claims that the best Aristotelian thinker for our time is Pierre Manent, and he makes clear that Manent learned his Aristotle from Strauss. But Manent is no simple Straussian. He is partly Straussian and partly Christian, and he manages to agree with neither Strauss nor Kojeve on whether humans are natural or historical beings. We must add, of course, that Manent is a leading authority on Tocqueville, and we notice the reliance of Mahoney and Gardner on Manent. Today's Aristotelian perhaps knows too much to follow Aristotle himself in every respect. Manent's mixture ofAristotle and Christianity calls to mind St. Thomas Aquinas. His best twentieth-century American students have been Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor. Percy, novelist and philosophic essayist, and O'Connor, novelist and short-story writer, are very tricky Thomists, and so they are often mistaken for being something else. But Greg Johnson and Henry Edmondson are not fooled. Johnson suggests that American Southerners such as Percy and O'Connor, coming from a heritage that is partly classical (Stoic) and partly Christian, are well situated to see how the virtues of magnanimity and humility fit together in Thomistic thought. Their art presents the fit as somehow both natural and made possible by God's grace, and the Christians O'Connor and Percy give a deeper argument against political paternalism and for egalitarianism than the American founders could. Edmondson adds that the Thomist O'Connor also does well in showing how naive and misguided modem humanitarianism is about evil. Marc Guerra defends another fine American Thomist, John Courtney Murray, from the charge that he is covertly anti-American. Murray, like his fellow American Thomists, did what he could to shore up the foundation of America's



political principles. By making a political contribution, Murray opposed those who believe that Christian integrity means political withdrawal, or living as nothing but an alien in secular America. Thomism, it seems obvious, is more instructive than Augustinianism in this respect, but Woodiwiss does present a form of Augustinian activism. Guerra wittily calls attention to the "Epicurean" temptation in the Ameri­ can Catholic right today, also saving Augustine from blame. Guerra's chapter highlights how much this book as a whole is anti-Epicurean. I think the greatest merit of this book is to lead the reader in so many ways to connect the concerns and thought of Tocqueville, Manent, Solzhenitsyn, Percy, Murray, and O'Connor. These thinkers are capable ofadmiring Kojeve's rigorous articulation of the danger posed to human liberty by modem thought and action, but they agree with Strauss that history probably cannot and certainly should not end. They all learned from Aristotle, but they are not engaged in a Straussian effort to transcend Christianity. They are all, properly understood, postmodern thinkers. Their writing is a reflection on the failure of the modem effort to make human beings completely at home in the world, but they do not blame Christianity for making us homeless. They all suggest that our homesickness or alienation is both ineradicable and a sign pointing us beyond both the constructed world of modem thinkers and the natural or political world of the classical thinkers. It goes without saying that I am not speaking for all the authors here, and all introductions to scholarly collections do violence to their contents. Pontuso and Gardner, for example, have different views of what postmodemism is, and I often have been reminded that I am almost alone in calling postmodemism Thomism. Call this, if you want, a lawyer's argument for postmodemism rightly understood.

Chapter 1

Autonomy and Community in Aristotle Michelle E. Brady Aristotle makes strong claims for the importance of political communities. Human beings are by nature political animals, and political order exists ultimately for the sake of eudaimonia, or human flourishing. 1 He seems unconcerned with the primary question haunting modem political thought: how to reconcile the independence natural to human beings with the structures ofrule necessary for the functioning of any society. Starting from the idea that participation in politics is good for human beings, he is more interested in understanding which order will best promote virtue than in defending the legitimacy of politics. Since political philosophy in the tradition of Locke generally assumes a conflict between the demands of autonomy and of community, Aristotle may be thought to side with community, at the expense ofthe individual. A defense ofAristotle's claim that the proper end of a polis is the flourishing of its citizens, however, explains why autonomous human beings need to participate in politics. Aristotle reconciles individual and community by showing the role of a community in the moral education necessary for eudaimonia. Since Aristotle does not use the term "autonomy" to refer to the individual capacity to direct one's own life, I begin with a brief account of why his understanding of human action demands an account of such self-determination. The particular character of this autonomy gives human beings the responsibility to learn to choose well, rather than a right to do whatever they choose. Leaming to choose well requires recognizing that what appears good may not be good, and thus reshaping one's desires. In the second section, I argue that Aristotelian friendship, understood as wishing a friend's good for that friend's sake, is essential to such moral education. Friendship provides the natural arena for measuring one's own account of the good against another's, as well as the motivation to reshape one's account. In the final section, I turn, as Aristotle does, to consider how the common good found in friendship can also be found in political communities. Participating in a community requires understanding one's own ends in light of those of the


Michelle E. Brady

community as a whole, and the common good of a polis can thus help educate citizens in virtue.

Autonomy in Aristotle The idea common to all interpretations of autonomy is self-determination. To be a law to oneself (autos - self, nomos - law) means to control one's own actions rather than having those actions determined by external forces. Aristotle's account of politics seems at first an odd place to look for an account of self-determination. He has been criticized for relegating too much of human life to the realm of irresistible "natural" forces, and his claim that human flourishing consists in fulfilling the human function suggests a natural determinism. Even his claim that virtue is a matter of habit implies that excellent human action should be simply an unthinking, conditioned response. Aristotle's definition of virtue, however, also contains reference to the root of the human capacity for self-determination. Virtue is "a state concerned with choice (proairesis)" (Nich. Eth. 1106b36). In distinguishing voluntary from involuntary actions, Aristotle provides the further distinction between voluntary actions and praxis, the deliberate action unique to human beings. He explicitly includes the actions ofanimals, acting from instinctive desire, under the category ofvoluntary (Nich. Eth. 1 l l l b8-10). The principle ofthe motion in voluntary actions is the agent, and since instinct is part of the nature of the animal rather than being an external cause, it does not render the action involuntary. Deliberate action, on the other hand, is clearly intended as a particular kind of voluntary action. We hold human beings more responsible for their actions than animals, so praxis must be more determined by the agent than other voluntary actions. The principle ofthe motion in deliberate action is not merely the agent, but the agent's deliberate choice or resolve (proairesis). The difference between praxis and other voluntary action lies in the kind of choice reason makes possible, in the nature of resolve, "desiderative thought or intellectual desire," as distinct from simple choice (Nich. Eth. 1139b5). Resolve is the result ofdeliberation, and deliberation requires the consideration ofpossibility. We deliberate about how to bring about something that is not yet but could be ·(Nich. Eth. 1112b8-10). The consideration of what could be, or could fail to be, requires the capacity to see the future that lies hidden in the present. Reason, as the capacity to take in intelligible form, makes this consideration possible. In understanding the form ofan object, we see the actuality promised by that form and measure the gap between that promised actuality and the actuality already achieved. Since we can see our own form, as well as the forms of other things, we can self­ consciously recognize our ends, as well as what is required to attain those ends. In the space opened up for this consideration of ends, a range of alternatives for achieving those ends appears. Human choice, made in light of this range of alternatives, is essentially different from the choice available to nonrational animals. Using sensation and memory, a hungry squirrel is capable of

Autonomy and Community in Aristotle


distinguishing between rocks and acorns, preferring acorns as food. A hungry human being is capable of choosing what to eat, and also of choosing whether to eat or refrain from eating for the sake of health or some higher good. Human action is not always guided by deliberation. Human beings are fully capable of acting from instinct or even ofvoluntarily following desires that oppose their resolve, falling into incontinence, or weakness of will (akrasia, Nich. Eth. 1145b25-31). Every human action, however, can follow from deliberation. The future is, by definition, not set. Anyone capable of considering the future is therefore presented with alternative outcomes among which he or she can and must choose. When we deliberate, reason is responsible for ranging over the alternatives presented and determining which one is best. Since reason alone shows us the future promised by the present, it is also responsible for our being presented with those alternatives. The human power of self-determination does not depend on our choices' being unconstrained by others. We are self-determined because we have the power of resolve, of deliberate choice, in the first place. This capacity makes possible actions that follow from one's own decisions rather than from external circumstances alone. For Aristotle, individual autonomy is not primarily a political concept. Our autonomy is ontological, part of the essential constitution of human beings as animals with reason. The human capacity for resolve means that human choice is different in kind from animal choice. Human actions are not determined by circumstances with the regularity of necessity. Aristotle's account of human action, however, entails that actions usually follow from character, not immediately from reason's prescription. The just person and the unjust person will resolve on different actions in the same circumstances because they understand the nature of those circumstances differently. Their different habits of response result in different judgments at the root of their deliberations. It might therefore seem that, for Aristotle, our actions will be as determined by our habits, our second nature, as any animal's are by the first nature of instinct. Habit differs from instinct, however, because one's habits are within one's control. An animal is born with certain instincts; it does not choose them nor does it have any power to change them. Human character, on the other hand, is itself self-determined. We are not master of our habits to the same degree that we are master of our individual actions, but Aristotle insists that we recognize that we are responsible for our habits (Nich. Eth. l 114b29-15a4). Aristotle uses the need to acquire virtue through habituation as evidence that "none of the moral excellences arises in us by nature" (Nich. Eth. 1 103a20). An acorn grows into an oak tree by nature. The acorn's nature just is to unfold into this promised actuality, providing nothing intervenes. Human beings do not grow into eudaimonia with the same effortless regularity. Aristotle's understanding ofhuman character requires an account of development that is distinguishable from natural development, and he offers this account in the idea of art. Aristotle defines art as a capacity with reason for producing something, when the starting point or source of the thing is in the producer, not in the thing produced (Nich. Eth. 1140al 0-1 5). All arts are potentialities: "they are principles of change in another thing, or in the


Michelle E. Brady

artist himself considered as another" (Metaphysics 1046b3-4). As a potential or capacity with logos, art is a principle of change that can produce contrary effects (Metaphysics, 1 046b5-6). Aristotle's term "logos" means more here than simply "reason." Logos is the human capacity to understand intelligible form, but it is also the form that is understood, as well as the articulate account of the form understood. The art of medicine possesses a logos of health, which means it possesses an understanding of the formal nature ofhealth. Since a logos ofa thing is indirectly a logos of its privation, medicine also possesses an account of disease (Metaphysics, 1046b8-9). Someone who has acquired the art of medicine thus has the potential to produce either health or sickness in patients. Because a rational potential is the potential for each of two contraries, neither contrary follows from the potential with the regularity found in natural potentials. Neither contrary is necessary, nor is either actualized simply provided nothing prevents the actualization. A rational potential is only actualized as a result of choice or of desire for one of the possible outcomes rather than the other (Metaphysics, 1048al0-12). Reason recognizes the actuality to be achieved and deliberates about whether to realize it. Since the artisan determines whether or which act follows, the product ofart is in the control of the artisan. Fire confronted with flammable material is compelled to burn. A doctor faced with a sick patient has the ability to heal or poison, and he or she is therefore not compelled to do either. As in the distinction between merely voluntary action and praxis, reason is the root of the possibility of choice, and therefore of the lack of necessity in the outcome. Human beings have virtue neither by nature nor against nature (Nich. Eth. 1 103a24-5). We have by nature the potential to develop virtue, but it does not develop in us through natural potentials alone. Our potential for virtue is a rational potential, which means it is at the same time a potential for the contrary, for vice. A human being, like any living thing, has a defining form that shapes the alternatives for its development. Aristotle can distinguish the human function: "an activity of soul in accordance with, or not without, rational principle (logos)" (Nich. Eth. 1098a8). The human form, however, is the capacity for a self-conscious recognition of form. It thus guides development in a different way than any other form can. Natural potentials are actualized regardless of whether they are known and deliberately pursued. No acorn needs to understand what it is to be an oak tree in order to grow into one. Art, on the other hand, works on its materials through an articulate account of the nature of the object to be produced. The end of any art must be known to be achieved, precisely because art is a potential to produce something by means of that knowledge of the end. The human capacity for reason means that one's choices have an effect on who one becomes. Human beings can imagine a range of possibilities for a human life, and they can determine what they want to take as their ends. Attaining any character, in fact, requires having chosen that end and worked to impose that pattern in one's life. The principle that guides a human life is not simply a form but a logos, an account or understanding of a form. The changes a human being undergoes are in large part unified by one's own

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understanding of what one should be. Eudaimonia, as a life in accordance with logos, is a life in accordance with an account of flourishing. Because he understands autonomy on the model ofthe rational potentials of art, Aristotle can take the capacity for self-determination to be compatible with the existence ofa distinctively human end, an end we must attain ifwe are to consider our lives good. All rational potentials still operate under the constraints of their proper ends. A doctor, through the logos ofhealth, can also produce sickness. This choice between alternatives is what gives the doctor a greater degree of control over the outcome than that found in natural potentials. Along with this greater degree of control comes a greater responsibility. Possession of the capacity to choose does not entail the right to use this capacity in any way one sees fit. Doctors should use their art to heal rather than harm. Using one's knowledge of drugs to produce pain, or even the pleasures of intoxication, is generally thought to be a misuse of that ability. This remains true even for doctors who tum the drugs on themselves rather than on their patients. The rational potential for eudaimonia is similarly constrained. A human being has the capacity to choose what shape his or her life will take, but this does not entail that any such choice is good. We can choose poorly, shaping our lives to vice instead ofto virtue. Autonomy is not itself human excellence, any more than the doctor's art is itself health. The capacity of self-determination means that human flourishing is harder to achieve than those excellences that unfold through natural potentials. For Aristotle, the human capacity for attaining eudaimonia is a rational potential instead of a natural one. Autonomy so understood explains why "the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing" (Pol. 1253a26). A human life takes the shape it does primarily through an individual's choices about the ends that will define that life. We are responsible for whether we have virtue or vice because we only acquire either as a result of our own understanding of what we should be. We can misunderstand the human good, and thus fail to flourish through our own mistakes. Our choices do not naturally lead to a flourishing life simply by being our own choices. We must learn to make good choices, to exercise our autonomy well. Human beings require education in virtue to achieve eudaimonia, and we learn to make the right kinds of choices by looking to the choices other people have made in their lives. Aristotle's account of autonomy implies a need for a community in which an individual can find guidance in shaping his or her life. The community of friendship provides an example of how an autonomous human being can allow others influence in his or her life, and a motive for why one would do so. The influence of one's friends is not a threat to one's autonomy but instead an essential aid to the proper actualization of that capacity.

Friendship and the Education of Desire Human beings are autonomous because the development of character must be understood on the model ofrational rather than natural potentials. The shape one's


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life takes is self-determined, a result of deliberate choices. Human excellence thus requires deliberate effort; we must learn virtue, and such education requires more guidance than that offered by natural instinct. For Aristotle the responsibility of educating citizens in virtue falls on the political community. To modem ears, the idea that moral education is a function of public education sounds at best like paternalism, at worst, like brainwashing. One of the key features of the assumed conflict between individual and community, after all, is the modem insistence on each person' s right to his or her own conception of the human good: "Politically speaking, the liberal argument goes, we can no longer demand of all men one and the same c omprehensive view of the good life."2 Aristotle's account of politics in general and political education in particular, however, must be understood in light of his assumption that politics is a form of friendship. His c laim that the human being is a political animal, "one whose nature is to live with others," appears in the Nichomachean Ethics as well as in the Politics, and he makes the claim in the context of the argument that friends are essential to a good human life (Nich. Eth. I 169b l 8, see also Pol. 1253a3). The human need for a political community is a need for friends. Aristotle' s discussion of why friends are necessary in a good life focuses on how friendship is a constitutive part of eudaimonia.3 His account of the nature of friendship, however, explains as well how friends are necessary for anyone to become virtuous. Before turning to a discussion of the role of friends in learning virtue, a word on the nature of this education is in order. Education in Aristotelian virtue is always an education of desire. "Moral excellence is concerned with pleasures and pains," and in learning virtue, "knowledge has little or no weight" c ompared with the developed habit ofresponding to situations correctly (Nich. Eth. 1104b9, 1105b2). Knowing what the best action would be and performing the right action are both necessary for virtue, but they are not sufficient. Anyone who does not also desire the right things has only attained continence (Nich. Eth. l 1 5 l b3552a3). Thejust person differs from the unjust not simply in following correct rules for action but in having learned to take proper pleasure in those actions. E ducation of desire is possible, according to Aristotle, because desire is not a brute force, divorced from understanding. Human beings are capable of rational desires, the desires we are persuaded to have because we believe the object to be good (Rhetoric, 1370a20-5). All animals are capable ofjudging pleasure and pain, and their desire is naturally shaped to the pursuit of the one and the avoidance of the other. Only human beings, however, can also judge the good and bad (Pol. 1253 a9- 18). Even our pursuit of pleasure depends on the judgment that pleasure, or at least this particular pleasure, is in fact good (Nich. Eth. l 1 13 a3 1-b 1). If an animaljudges an obj ect pleasant, it desires to pursue that object. Human beings do not of necessity pursue any obj ect judged pleasant, or even any obj ect judged good.4 Suchjudgment can always be weighed against otherjudgments, and human pursuit follows from the judgment that an obj ect is, all things considered, best. Human choices are always made in light of an overall conception of the human good. This account of the good, as an articulation of what we take eudaimonia to

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be, is also subject to deliberate change. Wish, or boulesis, is the desire for an object as good. Most people wish for what merely appears good, but the virtuous person wishes for what is in fact good (Nich. Eth. l l 1 3a23-5). We can only be praised for virtue and blamed for vice because we are capable of becoming virtuous, of becoming the sort to wish for what we should. Aristotle insists that we are responsible for what appears good to us, which entails that we can learn to wish for the right things (Nich. Eth. 1 1 14b l -25). Autonomy is, for Aristotle, the human capacity to choose one's character by choosing the logos, the account of human excellence, that will rule one's life. This choice is a choice of what one will desire, a decision about the ends one wishes to pursue. Since education in virtue is an education of desire, it requires learning to love something new. Aristotle's account of friendship as taking another's good as one's own illustrates the possibility of deliberately changing one's desires in this way. Transforming desire requires moving beyond immediate self-interest and recognizing another good as more significant. In our interactions with our friends we have the necessary motive for such change. We often make the distinction between friends and acquaintances on the basis of which relationships we see as transforming our good, precisely because friendship offers a new, shared good. A modem liberal account of the private pursuit of individual ends distinguishes between people who are trying to impose their separate ends on me and those who are pursuing their ends without infringing on my pursuit of mine. Even the latter, however, are usually not people I consider friends, because our ends are not shared. Those who happen to have ends that overlap with mine, and who are thus prepared to work in concert with me in our parallel pursuits, are still not friends in the Aristotelian sense. Being friends with someone requires "wishing for him what you believe to be good things, not for your sake but for his, and being inclined, so far as you can, to bring these things about" (Rhetoric, 1 380b36-8 l a l , see also Nich. Eth. l l 56a3-5). It is in the context of such friendships that we begin to transform our understanding of the good. Aristotle's claim that a friend is a second self, coupled with his discussion of self-love as the paradigmatic friendship, has prompted the question of whether he reduces the apparent altruism of friendship to egoism.5 In acting for a friend's sake, good people gain nobility, and in doing so, "it is a great prize they choose for themselves" (Nich. Eth. l 169a26). Even in the simple enjoyment of a friend's happiness, an element of self-love surfaces, since by wishing my friend's good I also wish for myself the good of such enjoyment. Any attempt to reduce this desire to a rational calculation of self-interest, however, ignores the fact that my interest changes with the introduction of a new friend into my life. I wish my friend's good for that friend's own sake. My happiness is increased by that of my friend, but insofar as his or her good is part of mine, then my understanding of my good must be different than it was before we became friends. When I become friends with someone, it is no longer enough that I do well. My happiness now requires the flourishing ofsomeone else in addition to my own flourishing. In Nancy Sherman's words, friendship "presupposes some notion of an extended self, or a self enlarged


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through attachments."6 Friendship transforms what I take my end to be, and this transformation is the first experience most of us have of deliberately shaping our desires. In becoming friends with someone new, my end changes, and I have a new good to incorporate into the constellation of desires that defines my life. As Sherman notes, the loyalty I owe my friends entails that, when I make choices, "the ends of my friend must be taken into account, j ust as mine must."7 Friendship can add new ends, and it can also change the ends I already have. With the introduction of this new good, I now have the motivation to pursue something other than my own immediate advantage, and I even have the motivation to sacrifice my advantage in the interest of another. The p ossibility of this radical change in one' s desires is clearest in the virtue of courage. The full virtue of courage requires more than simply standing to fight in dangerous situations; it requires taking the proper pleasure in risking one' s life. The truly courageous person must consider noble actions better than self-preservation. In some circumstances, such a person deems it good to risk one' s life for others, and this genuine preference for standing to fight over avoiding danger is the root of the appropriate lack of fear that characterizes bravery: "he who stands his ground against things that are terrible and delights in this or at least is not pained is brave, while the man who is pained is a coward" (Nich. Eth. 1104b6-9, emp hasis mine). Such willingness requires caring more for another' s safety than for one' s own. In discussing courage, Aristotle gives priority to facing death in battle, and presumably this circumstance offers "the greatest and noblest danger" because it best shows the willingness to risk one' s life for others (Nich. Eth. 1 l l 5 a30). Once again, some commentators see features in Aristotle' s account that mitigate against c onsidering brave acts genuinely self-sacrificing.8 Aristotle does claim that even in dying for friends or country, the virtuous person is "gaining for himself nobility," thus sacrificing a lesser good for a greater one (Nich. Eth. l l 69a21). On Sherman' s reading of friendship as entailing an extended sense of self, self­ sacrifice c an be reinterpreted as "not so much sacrificing oneself, as acting in the interest of this new extended self."9 This account of pursuing one· form of self­ interest rather than another can work for many virtues. Sherman admits, however, that any such understanding of the particular virtue of courage is in danger of ignoring the fact that risking one' s life involves a willingness to sacrifice the possibility of any further goods. 10 The good of the noblest death is bought at the price of being unable to attain any other nobility. If bravery is an example of self­ interest, it is a rare form, far removed from attitude usually intended by the term. Aristotle' s account of good self-love depends on this very distinction (Nich. Eth. l 168a14-34). While an account of how self-sacrifice can be a function of self-love might explain the actions of the courageous person, it is insufficient to explain the process of learning the virtue of courage. The courageous person, who prefers the nobility of virtue to life itself, must have overcome the natural desire to avoid pain and preserve his or her life. This change is only possible through the introduction of a

Autonomy and Community in Aristotle


new good such as that found in friendship. The desire for one's own advantage can produce an argument in favor of standing to fight in many circumstances, since such practice can be necessary for preserving one's life in circumstances where flight is impossible. Standing and fighting for this reason, however, is essentially different from standing and fighting out oflove of one's friends or one's country. In the former, one's own life remains the primary end, and one has no motive to replace that end with any other. As Aristotle makes clear, the confidence of one who has learned to fight well comes close to courage, but it remains only an approximation of the virtue. When in danger, such a person will still feel fear, and professional soldiers will often run in situations in which citizens will stand to protect their homes (Nich. Eth. 1 l 16b16-24). The only way to no longer be moved first and foremost by the instinct ofself-preservation is to learn to love something else more. The virtue of courage gives the clearest evidence of the need to overcome self­ interest, and thus of the role of friendship in learning virtue. All of the virtues, however, insofar as they require a deliberate shaping of desire, are encouraged through friendships. Becoming virtuous requires learning to wish for what is good instead ofwhat merely appears good. Friendship offers a new end for me to pursue, and in doing so, it can also prompt a change in my understanding of the human good. In wishing my friend's good for his or her own sake, I have a motivation to care about something other than simply what appears good to me. I must care as well about what appears good to my friend. Friends do not simply agree to disagree about the most fundamental goods. I cannot wish for a friend something I consider bad, regardless of how good it may appear to that friend. Aristotle recognizes that friendship can only be sustained ifthe friends agree on the nature of the friendship. In the case of the complete friendship, based on a mutual recognition of one another's character, this requires at least some agreement about what kind of character one should have. The unanimity of friendship means that "men have the same opinion about what is to their interest, and choose the same actions, and do what they have resolved in common" (Nich. Eth. 1167a27-8). Disagreements about the good either dissolve the friendship or cause both friends to reconsider their understandings of the good in light of the account offered by the other friend. Taking another's good as one's own requires aiming at another's flourishing. It also requires reshaping one's own understanding of human flourishing. Through friendship, my understanding of my own good is informed by what appears good to my friends. The unqualified friendship ofvirtue encourages further virtue in both friends because the shared account of the good that emerges from such friendships is an account of what truly is good. It is the mark of the virtuous person, according to Aristotle, to be the best judge of what really is good. The full friendship of virtue requires that both friends are already good, and it thus serves to solidify virtue more than to educate either friend. Aristotle claims, however, that "not only can equally good men become friends, but a better man can make friends with a worse" (Nich. Eth. l 161b36-62al ). Given Aristotle's understanding of the nature of friendship, it is hard to imagine why a virtuous person would ever choose


Michelle E. Brady

to do so, unless it is to help educate someone who is not yet virtuous. Aristotle insists on the need for good teachers when learning virtue. Such teachers are responsible for helping us acquire good habits rather than bad, by showing us what good action requires (Nich. Eth. 1103b10-11). Since being virtuous means performing the right actions as a virtuous person would, those who would teach us virtue must teach us to love the appropriate things. We learn such new loves first through loving our friends. The virtuous friend, as is appropriate in the unequal friendship of teacher and student, then receives the greater good of having taught virtue: "it may be nobler to become the cause of his friend's acting than to act himself' (Nich. Eth. 1169a32-3). For those lucky enough to have virtuous friends, one's loves and one's life will be reshaped in light ofwhat really is good. Ifour friends are not virtuous, however, friendship can still serve to promote virtue. The need to reconcile what appears good to me with what appears good to my friends offers practice in reshaping my desires, practice necessary for any ethical education. Even ifl find myself among bad friends, the discovery that my understanding of what is good can be at odds with that of my friends prompts the desire to discover what the truth is. Such a search may well propel one beyond one's circle of friends in search of better teachers. We first learn to reshape our understanding of our good in the arena of friendship. Through the love we have for our friends, we find a good beyond self­ interest in light of which to determine our actions. My friends influence what kind of person I will become, and this influence cannot be reduced to another person imposing his or her will on me. Any friendship places restraints on one's actions; there are things one cannot do to one's friends and still remain friends. We do not, however, consider these constraints a threat to our capacity to determine our own actions. Such acts are prohibited by the very nature of friendship, and the wish to mistreat another is simply incompatible with wishing that person's good. If friendship means anything, it means that there are ends I cannot choose. It also means that my understanding of the good, in light of which I consider the significance of my actions, is different than it was before we became friends. Because of my love for my friend, and the shared good that characterizes friendship, others can teach me virtue. The affection between friends gives rise to a genuinely common good, and in looking beyond my immediate self-interest I still look to a good I have chosen. In being willing to reshape my understanding of the good, I have the chance to learn to choose well.

Political Friendship and the Human Good The common good of friends who take one another's good as their own is the key to understanding Aristotle's reconciliation ofindividual and community. Political order is, for Aristotle, based on friendship: "friendship seems to hold a state together, too, and lawgivers seem to pay more attention to friendship than to

Autonomy and Community in Aristotle


justice" (Nich. Eth. l l 55a23-5). Even the most idealistic understanding ofpolitics, of course, cannot assume that the genuine affection of friendship will govern all relations among members of a political community. In friendship, the transformation in one's understanding of the human good requires not simply affection but the common good that results from such affection. Politics cannot hope to offer a common good based on mutual love. If a political community is to provide for the moral education of its citizens, however, it must offer a good that is genuinely shared. A common good is necessary for the community to prompt a reshaping of desire similar to that seen in friendship. Aristotle can claim that political order plays a necessary role in human flourishing because he sees politics as starting from just such a common good. The original human condition is, for Aristotle, one of community. His Politics begins not with independent individuals but with two primordial associations: that of man and woman for procreation and that of master and slave for preservation (Pol. 1252a25-3 l ). Both of these associations serve the necessities of life, and human beings first come together for the sake ofliving. These natural communities ultimately aim, however, at an end beyond themselves, and they exist for the sake ofthe self-sufficient association ofa polis, a political community. This community, already promised in even the most fundamental of human associations, exists for the sake of living, but also for the sake of living well (Pol. 1252b29-32). Aristotle begins from the empirical observation that human beings always find themselves with others rather than alone, but his claim implies more than this. Human beings come together to form groups organized in a specific way. Aristotle explicitly rejects a social contract, the alliance ofindividuals with a treaty to refrain from injustice, as an insufficient basis of a polis (Pol. 1280a34-b10). Such a community could never be more than a collection of parts; it would never become a whole. Aristotle defines the relation between individual and community as one of a part to a whole, and this is not simply a metaphorical trope on Aristotle's part to emphasize the close-knit nature ofa well-functioning association (Pol. l 253a27, 1337a28-30). Any whole is distinguished from a collection of parts by being unified in a way that subordinates the parts. The whole must be something real, above and beyond its parts, and it must itself be a locus of action. The subordination of part to whole must, of course, be qualified in the case of the relation of individual to community, because an individual substance is metaphysically primary for Aristotle (Metaphysics, 1028al 5). For a community to be considered a whole, however, it must have a unifying principle that is essential to understanding the parts it unifies. The formal integrity of a community is captured in its defining activity, and the members of that community qua such members must be understood in light of the roles they play in that activity. As members of communities, human beings find themselves as parts of larger wholes. They are thus required to understand their aims, at least in part, in terms of how they fit within the aims of these wholes. Understanding a community as a locus ofaction implies that a community's ends would be unattainable by the parts of that whole alone. In the primordial association of man and woman for


Michelle E. Brady

procreation, it is the couple that engages in this endeavor, and the endeavor requires a couple. Insofar as a community serves an end I want, then, I not only happen to be a member of that community, I must be. Aristotle claims that eudaimonia, an end necessarily pursued by all human beings, is the proper end of a polis. A political community should be concerned with promoting human flourishing, and, further, human flourishing is only attainable as a result of communal endeavor. Human beings are political animals, for Aristotle, because the pursuit of human excellence is possible only in the context of a polis. Those with no need for a political community are either gods or beasts; they are not human (Pol. 1253a29). It is fairly clear why an end such as procreation would require a community of a certain sort, even if further argument is needed to show that this community should be sustained over time. Aristotle's claim that a polis is required for the end of human flourishing is less obviously true. When Aristotle argues that human beings are the most political of animals, he offers as evidence the uniquely human capacity to communicate about the good (Pol. l 253a8- 18). This communication is the necessary ground of a community. It is also necessary for the education any citizen receives in virtue. Learning virtue requires learning to wish for the best ends, for what truly is good. Abandoning one's attachment to the merely apparent good is prompted by the recognition that others do not share one's assumptions about what appears good. We reshape our understanding of the human good through communicating with others about that good. Friendship, to repeat, plays an essential role in moral education precisely because it is a natural arena for communicating about the good. In explaining Aristotle's claim that virtuous people need friends, commentators often focus on the argument that seeing a friend's character can help one articulate the ends in light of which one has shaped one's own life. 1 1 Aristotle's claim, however, is that a polis, a distinctively political community, is necessary for human flourishing. Certainly, a political order can help provide a stable community within which we find friends. In addition, a polis, unlike a friendship, is preserved over multiple lifetimes. Political communities can thus offer the accumulation of culture through generations. We tend to consider good those things our community prizes, and these goods include the character traits that contribute to the preservation of the community. Praise ofthe relevant virtues is reinforced by that community's culture. The inclusion of music and its role in education is natural in an Aristotelian discussion of politics because of the influence this art has on the members of a community (see Pol. 1340a5ff). In being born into a political community, we are born into a developed account of human excellence. Insofar as we share a community's ends, as members of that community, we learn to share that idea of the good. A polis is also distinguished from a community of friends by being organized around a constitution, an articulation of its unifying principle. The constitution is "so to speak the life of the city" (Pol. 1295b 1 ), and Aristotle claims that part of what is required for a community to be political is just such a shared conception of

Autonomy and Community in Aristotle


political and human excellence (Pol. 1280b5-15). Every government "has a peculiar character which originally formed and which continues to preserve it," and one of the legislator's primary concerns is to educate the young of the city in this constitution (Pol. 1337al 0-15). Legislators take on the responsibility for this education for the sake of preserving the constitution and, therefore, the community it grounds. This concern, however, is inseparable from the legislator's concern to pass on the conception ofexcellence contained in that constitution: "For legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them, . . . And those who do not effect it miss their mark, and it is in this that a good constitution differs from a bad one" (Nich. Eth. l 103b2-6). A constitution is characterized primarily by a set of laws, and thus it expresses primarily a "shared conception of justice." 1 2 Despite his emphasis on justice, however, Aristotle holds a political community responsible for encouraging more than this single virtue in its citizens. The "mere alliance" that is not a true state but "merely enjoys the name" is characterized by justice between its members, but the lack of concern for full eudaimonia prevents it from being a genuine political community. Aristotle is explicit that "a state which is truly so called" must care for the whole ofhuman excellence (Pol. 1280b6-10). Any state that attempts to remain neutral on the nature of the human good will tend to convince its members that there is no such good, and thus that there is no reason to question what immediately appears good. 1 3 Law so understood becomes "only a convention," and it "has no real power to make the citizens good" (Pol. 1280al 0- l 1). The community of friendship requires that we learn to want something new as a result ofthat friendship. In a similar way, a political community demands that we do more than participate in that community simply on the basis of self-interest. Insofar as we take ourselves to be part of the community, we must shape our understanding of our ends in light of the common good that organizes that whole. As in friendship, the demand that we recognize an interest larger than our own pleasure and self-preservation does not entail one person imposing his or her will on another. Along with the communities human beings form as part of their nature arise structures of authority to rule those communities. The two most basic forms of association already contain the two most basic forms of rule. The relation of master and slave is one of despotic rule, and the relation of husband and wife is most properly one of what Aristotle calls political (or constitutional) rule (Pol. 1259b2). Given the nature ofa community as a whole, authority does not emerge primarily as a limit on its members. Instead it serves as an essential aspect of the unifying principle that defines the community. Any common endeavor requires a ruling principle to guide this action, to arrange the constituent parts and their ends with respect to the end of the whole (Pol. 1254a29-33). This authority need not take the form of one person or group ofpersons with the ability to claim obedience from all others. Communal authority is any true manifestation of the ruling principle that defines the community. Political rule, that which is proper for rule over those who are by nature free, is characterized by the members of the community ruling and being ruled in tum (Pol. 1255b l 7-20, 125%5-7).


Michelle E. Brady

Since authority emerges as the ruling principle of a common endeavor, the standard for judging the legitimacy of a particular exercise of rule cannot be the approval of all members of the community. The agreement of all citizens that a certain government is pursuing the desired end may be an indication of a just government. According to Aristotle, the unanimity that characterizes a polis includes an agreement about who should rule (Nich. Eth. l l67a3 l -3). This agreement, however, cannot itself be the ground of justice. Aristotle draws the distinction not between governments that rule by force and those that rule by consent, but between governments that rule by force and those that rule for the sake ofthe common interest (Pol. 1276a13-I 4). The standard for judging the legitimacy of a government must be the degree to which this exercise of authority is a manifestation of the true ruling principle of the community. Rule is good to the extent to which it serves the good of the whole and aids in the community's common endeavor, regardless of whether every citizen recognizes that it does so. The modem idea that a government must rule by consent presupposes an inviolable right on the part of each member to decree his or her own good and then measure the community against that idea. The individual would then participate in the community on the basis of his or her self-interest, without any need to move beyond that individual definition to a larger, shared good. For Aristotle, such a political order would be analogous to a friendship in which both parties continue to pursue their own separate ends without concern for what the other considers good. A political community so conceived could never encourage virtue in its members because it could offer no new end in light ofwhich those members could reshape their characters. A community's account ofthe good must emerge from the shared conceptions of its citizens, but each citizen must also measure his or her own idea of the good against the standard offered by that community. One of the aspects of Aristotle's politics that often seems most objectionable is precisely this emphasis on the community's role in shaping the characters of its members. The desire to mark off a private arena within which everyone interprets the human good as he or she chooses can come from a strong individualist commitment to the right of each individual to his or her own understanding of the good. Such criticism of Aristotelian politics would depend on assumptions about the nature of autonomy that Aristotle would reject, but a similar critique can be offered in terms more compatible with Aristotle's framework. His account can seem a threat to individuals because it leaves too little freedom for an individual to recognize that a particular community has misunderstood what is good. Aristotle claims that common opinion about the good is usually partially right, and thus, for the most part, a community's shared conception ofthe good will offer at least some guidance for its members (Nich. Eth. I 098b28-9). Aristotle is not an idealist about politics, however, and he recognizes that common opinion is also usually partially wrong. Just as he emphasizes the need for good teachers in order to learn virtue, he emphasizes the need for a well-ordered polis for the same end. In a well-ordered polis, one that truly takes eudaimonia as its end, what appears good to the community is good. By shaping our choices in light of that end, we learn to shape

Autonomy and Community in Aristotle


ourselves well. In a poorly ordered polis, such education will not produce good citizens. A community that aims at bad ends will teach its citizens bad habits rather than good ones. Aristotle recognizes the threat posed by a community's understanding of the human good. In claiming that human flourishing requires a community, and that we always find our autonomous choices influenced by the communities of which we are a part, Aristotle in fact offers a more substantial criticism of bad communities than that found in modern liberal politics. Philosophies that ground political authority on the approval of citizens can erect bulwarks against the invasion ofan individual's right to pursue happiness as he or she understands it. By stressing the independence of each individual, politics so understood can offer restrictions on authority that diminish the possibility of anyone using power to deprive citizens of their freedom, or of their property. According to Aristotle's account, however, such protections are meaningless in the face of the worst harm a corrupt polis can do. Just as a good polis will encourage virtue in its citizens, a bad one will encourage vice. An oligarchy, shaped to the good of money, will tend to produce citizens who take material gain as the highest end. Aristotle argues that such a government is not just, because such an end cannot serve as a properly common good, and a government is just only insofar as it serves the common good (Pol. 1279a27-bl 0). The injustice of the government, however, is of concern primarily because it will encourage injustice in its citizens. Even for those who find themselves in bad communities, however, the role of a common good in one's life can help one learn virtue. Measuring one's own understanding of the good against a community's is essential work for education in virtue. The dissonance between these two understandings prompts the impulse to discover what really is good. Communal agreement about what seems good remains a valuable starting point for trying to understand what it would mean to exercise one's autonomy well. The shared good that defines a community plays an important role in how its members understand their own goods, but it cannot deprive those members of the ability, or the responsibility, to deliberately choose the ends to which they shape their lives. Aristotle argues that the polis exists for the sake of eudaimonia, because the potential of autonomy can only be well realized in a polis aiming at educating its citizens in virtue. His account of the polis demands that we understand our ends in light of the community's rather than participate in politics on the basis of what we already want. The political community can thus be considered a threat to an individual's right to dictate his or her own good. Any genuine friendship would also be considered a threat to the individual so understood. For Aristotle, autonomy and community are not in conflict in this way. Communities of friendship and political communities are good because ofhuman autonomy, not in spite ofit. Our lives take the shape they do because of the choices we make about who we should become. The moral education required to make good choices is provided by the communities of which we are a part. The ability to articulate the good at which we aim is the ground ofour nature as self-detennined. In Aristotle's famous statement,


Michelle E. Brady

this ability to communicate about the good is also the ground of our nature as political animals. Since nature does nothing in vain, this capacity cannot be simply a gratuitous gift on her part (Pol. 1253a8- I 8). Human beings are political animals because we must communicate about the good. Only through such communication can we hope to learn to exercise our autonomy well.

Notes I. Politics, in The Complete Works ofAristotle, ed. Jonathan Barnes, 2 vol. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984), 1253a3, 1 252b30 (hereinafter Pol.). All references to Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics (cited as Nich. Eth.), Metaphysics, and Rhetoric are to The Complete Works. 2. Sibyl A. Schwarzenbach, "On Civic Friendship," Ethics 107 (1996): 1 10. Schwar­ zenbach traces this attitude in large part to the "principle of liberty of conscience" intro­ duced by the Reformation, and she also notes the contrast with Aristotle's understanding of political friendship. 3. For discussion, see John M. Cooper, "Friendship and the Good in Aristotle," Philosophical Review 86 (1977): 290-3 1 5. 4. For a similar distinction, see Martha Nussbaum, "Practical Syllogisms and Practical Science," in Aristotle 's De Motu Animalium, trans., with commentary and interpretive essays, Martha Nussbaum (Princeton, N .J.: Princeton University Press, 1978), 1 75-76, 193. 5. Nich. Eth., 1 166a31 -2, 1 166al-3. For a discussion ofthis issue see Julia Annas, "Self­ love in Aristotle," Southern Journal ofPhilosophy 27, suppl. (1988): 1 9-23, and Charles Kahn, "Aristotle and Altruism," Mind 90 (198 1 ): 20-40. 6. Nancy Sherman, "Aristotle on Friendship and the Shared Life," Philosophy andPhe­ nomenological Research 47 (1987): 600. 7. Sherman, "Aristotle," 600. 8. Annas, in "Self-love in Aristotle," lays out this problem with Aristotle's account and reconciles the apparent conflict by arguing that "self-love underlies and explains, but does not motivate, the altruistic agent" (13). 9. Sherman, "Aristotle," 608. 1 0. Sherman, "Aristotle," 608. 1 1 . See Cooper, "Friendship and the Good in Aristotle." 12. Schwarzenbach, "On Civic Friendship," 1 05. 1 3 . Schwarzenbach, in "On Civic Friendship," argues for using Aristotle's account of political friendship in such a political system, and she does so with full recognition that her argument parts company with Aristotle on key points (1 1 3).

Chapter 2

Shakespeare in the Original Klingon: Star Trek and the End of History Paul A. Cantor In space, all warriors are cold warriors.

-General Chang

I Though the producers of Star Trek may have seemed overoptimistic at first in assigning a five-year mission to the Starship Enterprise-the original television series lasted only three seasons-through reruns, movies, and later television incarnations, Star Trek has proved to be one of the most enduring and significant phenomena in American popular culture. It has been so successful that it has become the subject of many parodies, from a hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch (in which John Belushi played Captain Kirk) all the way down to the film Galaxy Quest (1999), in which Tim Allen plays a thinly veiled version ofKirk named Peter Quincy Taggart. To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary ofthe original television program, in 1991 Paramount released Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the last in the series of movies to employ exclusively the old crew of the Enterprise. In an attempt to round out their story, the producers came up with a plot that provides a convenient opportunity to review the career of Captain Kirk and his fellow galactic voyagers. 1 The original television show was a product of the Cold War era, often alluding, for example, to the Vietnam War. Accordingly, Star Trek VI is clearly based on the collapse of the Soviet Union. The enemy race of the Klingons suffers a disaster resembling the Chernobyl explosion and as a result no longer constitutes a viable threat to the United Federation of Planets. The projected peace between the Klingons and the Federation thus corresponds to the end of the


Paul A. Cantor

Cold War. Nicholas Meyer, the director of Star Trek VI, reports that Leonard Nimoy, the actor who plays Mr. Spock, came to him with the proposal: "Let's make a movie about the [Berlin] wall coming down in outer space."2 Thus, Star Trek VI strongly suggests that the crew of the Enterprise have lost their function now that their Cold War is over. Indeed, at several points in the film, Kirk and the others are worried that they may have become antiques. When the crew first appears on screen, Dr. McCoy wonders whether they have come for a retirement party. Later, Spock asks Kirk: "Is it possible that we two-you and I-have grown so old and so inflexible that we have outlived our usefulness?"3 In fact, the Enterprise crew are in the process of putting themselves out of business. If they bring about peace in the galaxy, there will be no need for them anymore. Their heroism is necessary only while the United Federation of Planets has powerful enemies such as the Klingons. Thus, Star Trek VI raises doubts about the future. Will the world of galactic peace be a less interesting world, a world without the heroic? The movie has a strange way of raising this question-it associates Shakespeare with the Klingons. It is the Klingons who keep referring to Shakespeare in the course of the film; somehow they have appropriated his works. In a joke on the old Soviet propensity to take credit for all sorts of Western inventions, the Klingon Chancellor Gorkon even claims: "You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon." As strange as it may seem at first, associating Shakespeare with the warlike Klingons is not inappropriate. Most of Shakespeare's tragic heroes are military aristocrats, men such as Othello, Macbeth, Coriolanus, and Mark Antony. Thus, it is somehow fitting that the military leader of the Klingons, General Chang, should die quoting Shakespeare. But this is a disturbing moment-it suggests that the extermination ofthe Klingon military aristocracy will also mean the extermination of Shakespeare (Shakespeare is no longer quoted in the film after Chang's death). Star Trek VI sets up a provocative series ofassociations: the end of the Cold War will mean the end ofhistory, which in turn will mean the end ofheroism, which in turn will mean the end of Shakespeare and heroic literature.

II But before analyzing the implications of these associations, I must review the intellectual background to Star Trek VI-the controversial "end ofhistory" debate, which is actually referred to in the film. At a climactic moment, Kirk says: "Some people think the future means the end of history. Well, we haven't run out of history quite yet." The phrase "end of history" was popularized by Francis Fukuyama in an article with that title in The National Interest; he then expanded that article into a book with the title The End of History and the Last Man. 4 Fukuyama derived the idea of the end ofhistory from Hegel, who developed it in his Phenomenology and his lectures on the philosophy ofworld history. Fukuyama especially draws on the reading of Hegel developed by his great twentieth-century

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interpreter, Alexandre Kojeve.5 In a sense, Fukuyama merely updated the Hegelian idea of the end of history, relating it to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Fukuyama argues that the end of the Cold War means the triumph of liberal democracy. Everybody around the world is now embracing the principles offreedom and representative government in politics and the free market in economics. This, then, is what Fukuyama means by the end of history-history has reached its goal with the worldwide recognition of the prin­ ciple of freedom. Fukuyama may seem to be portraying the fulfillment of a prophecy made by Hegel, but Hegel did not merely foretell the end ofhistory, he proclaimed it. Rather than arguing that at some distant point of time history would come to an end, he felt that it had already ended in his own day. In his view, the French Revolution was the crucial event: by overthrowing the principle of traditional aristocratic legitimacy, it established once and for all the new principle of political freedom. The Napoleonic Wars had begun to spread this principle throughout Europe and hence throughout the world. Hegel recognized that for a long time backwaters of unfreedom would remain in the world, but he argued that eventually freedom would spread everywhere. The great events of his day allow us to see the end of history in the sense of its goal-with the French Revolution, for the first time we can see concretely where all history is headed. In updating Hegel by referring to the collapse ofcommunism, Fukuyama can argue that some very large backwaters of unfreedom have now been eliminated, but in a sense he is merely reiterating Hegel's original point.6 As responses to Fukuyama have repeatedly shown, many people are misled by the phrase end ofhistory, usually because they confuse two senses ofthe word end: end as terminus and end as goal. 1 Hegel and Fukuyama may at times conflate these two senses, but their emphasis is always on end as goal. Thus, most people who have challenged the idea of the end of history would discover, if they examined their premises, that they in fact believe in it. The idea of the end ofhistory does not mean that one day events will just stop happening. That is why most people miss the point when they try to refute Hegel by saying: "What do you mean history ended in 1806?" (the moment when Napoleon defeated the last forces of the Holy Roman Empire at the Battle of Jena and when Hegel wrote his Phenomenology). People object: "What about Waterloo in 1815? What about the Revolutions of 1848? What about everything we read about in nineteenth- and twentieth-century history books?" But the point Hegel and Fukuyama make is not that history is over in the sense that events have stopped happening, but that history is over in principle. The Hegelian argument is that history is the development offreedom and in that sense we have already reached the final stage. Freedom, democracy, and representative government have been recognized all over the world as the only legitimate principles of government. That does not mean that these principles have been universally put into practice; that is why Fukuyama speaks of the backwaters of unfreedom that remain. But any regime contrary to the principle of representative government has to rely on force and oppression to maintain itself.


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Today, nondemocratic governments no longer have legitimacy in the way monarchies and aristocracies once did. In the twentieth century the most tyrannical regimes have in fact claimed to be representative of the will of their people. However false those claims may have been, they constitute a recognition ofthe fact that representative government is now generally thought of as the only legitimate principle of rule. 8 Thus, in a very real sense, we are all Hegelians. Those who disagree with this claim should ask themselves: "Can I imagine slavery ever being legitimately reinstituted anywhere on this planet? Can I imagine any form of aristocracy being legitimately restored on this earth?" Anyone who answers "no" to these questions is granting the point that history is ultimately headed in one direction-toward the establishment of the principle that self-determination for all people is the only legitimate form of government-again, not necessarily the only existing form of government but the only legitimate one. In fact, we are so much the heirs ofHegel and modem liberalism today that we have a difficult time even imagining what pre­ modem principles of legitimacy were like. Who today thinks in terms of real aristocracies, and not the tourist attractions that some constitutional monarchies maintain? Just consider the vocabulary of our routine political discourse. We are always speaking of political parties as progressive or reactionary, thus implying that history moves in one direction, and in particular in the direction of increasing liberalization. Any attempt to restore a pre-modem form of legitimacy is regarded as hopelessly reactionary. In short, anyone who uses terms such as progressive, conservative, or reactionary is thinking in Hegelian terms: one either goes with the

flow of history or tries to stall it or turn it back. Hence, when most people challenge the idea ofthe end ofhistory, they really are affirming it. The argument often runs: "What do you mean, the end of history? With peace and the triumph of democracy, there is no end to what humanity can now accomplish. With the potential of a free humanity finally realized and released, together we can do anything." But that is just the point-the triumph of democracy and the establishment of the principle of freedom are all that the "end of history" means to Hegelians such as Fukuyama. Thus, Star Trek's Captain Kirk is a closet Hegelian, as is former president George H. Bush. On September 23, 199 1 , Bush delivered a speech to the United Nations, which contained pointed references to Fukuyama (perhaps because he had worked for Bush's predecessor in the White House). With a clear challenge to Fukuyama, Bush's speech centered on the theme of "the resumption of history." But what did Bush mean by that phrase? Here is his argument: Communism held history captive for years. . . . This revival of history ushers in a new era teeming with opportunities and perils. . . . [H]istory's renewal enables people to pursue their natural instincts for enterprise. Communism froze that progress until its failures became too much for even its defenders to bear.9

Thus, for George Bush (or at least his speechwriters), the "resumption of history"

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is simply the triumph ofdemocracy and free enterprise. He went on to say: "People everywhere seek government of and by the people, and they want to enjoy their inalienable rights to freedom and property and person." Bush even developed the idea of backwaters, with a certain cigar-smoking despot in mind: "the people of Cuba suffer oppression at the hands of a dictator who hasn't gotten the word, the lone holdout in an otherwise democratic hemisphere, a man who hasn't adapted to a world that has no use for totalitarian tyranny." In short, what Bush means by the "resumption ofhistory" is exactly what Hegel, Kojeve, and Fukuyama mean by the "end of history." The same is true for the strangely similar speech by Captain Kirk about the end of history I quoted earlier from Star Trek VI. To analyze this point completely, we would have to examine all the forms ofpre­ modem, nondemocratic legitimacy, but two are of special importance: aristocracy and theocracy. Aristocracy is based on the idea that some people are born to rule others. Simply by virtue of their birth, they are entitled to govern, as if something in their blood makes them superior by nature to other human beings. Modem partisans of democracy are understandably horrified by the idea of aristocracy, to the point where they reject it totally and even find it hard to comprehend. Theocracy is based on the idea that by virtue of some kind of direct line to God, some people have a divine right to rule. In theocracy, God provides a higher principle and hence a claim to rule not necessarily authorized by one's fellow human beings. With the well-established principle of the separation of church and state, Americans and other democratic peoples reject the principle of theocracy as well. But as a form of government, it is at least more comprehensible to us than aristocracy, because we can see examples of theocracy in the world today, particularly in certain Islamic nations. The resurgence of theocracy has been offered as one ofthe most serious challenges to Fukuyama's thesis, but again, most of his critics view theocracy only as an ugly fact of contemporary political life and not as a legitimate form of government, least of all a desirable alternative to democracy or the wave of the political future. Whenever people refer to contemporary theocracies as ''throwbacks to the Middle Ages," they are implicitly affirming the Hegelian view of history as progressing toward freedom. Still, the presence oftheocracy in the world today raises theoretical and practical problems for democracy. It claims to be tolerant and to welcome diversity, but one thing it has always had difficulty tolerating is antidemocratic principles and forces. To quote Bush's UN speech again: "The United Nations should not dictate the particular forms of government that nations should adopt, but it can and should encourage the values upon which this organization was founded." To veteran Star Trek fans, this rhetoric should have a familiar ring to it-as we shall see, it sounds a great deal like the famous Prime Directive. But how do you encourage democratic values without encouraging a particular form of government, namely, democracy? Even democracy has its limits; for all its sense of tolerance, it has a hard time tolerating intolerance, such as the religious intolerance of theocratic regimes. Democracy must also outlaw aristocracy. The United States Constitution forbids patents of nobility; Article I, section 8, number 8 states: "No title ofnobility


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shall be granted by the United States." Very few people could quote this provision of the Constitution from memory; few are even aware of it, and indeed it sounds quite quaint to our modem ears. 1 0 B ut a provision such as this reflects the fact that at the origins of the American regime, its founders felt that democracy had to break fundamentally with the alternative principles of government, such as aristocracy and theocracy, that had dominated the world for centuries.

III This paradox at the foundation of democracy-that the one thing it cannot tolerate is intolerance-is at the heart of Star Trek. Reflecting from the beginning the political ideology of the United States, Star Trek has always been fundamentally democratic in spirit. The mission of the Enterprise-"to seek out new life and new civilizations"-appears to capture the spirit of democratic diversity and what is now called multiculturalism. But I would like to reformulate the mission of the Enterprise-''to seek out new civil izations and destroy them" if they contradict the principles of l iberal democracy. Above all, Kirk and his crew set out to eliminate any vestiges of aristocracy or theocracy in the universe. In short, their mission was to make the galaxy safe for democracy. The famous Prime Directive is the cornerstone of democratic respectfor diversity in the United Federation of Planets. It was originally called the N on-Interference Directive, and it established the principle that the Federation would not try to impose its way of l ife on other cultures in the universe. But as any regular viewer of Star Trek knows, in roughly one out of every two episodes, Kirk manages to interfere in a newly discovered planet' s affairs, irrevocably altering its history, and always directing it toward what we have been calling the end of history, namely, the principle of increasing freedom. When examined more closely, the Prime Directive turns out to be the principle of not interfering in the self-devel opment of a planet. Thus, it is already premised on a democratic principle, that devel opment is always self-devel opment. Because in Star Trek the highest principle in the universe is democratic self-determination, Kirk can interfere in a planet' s history if someone or something else is interfering with its autonomous devel opment. This principle is ill ustrated in an episode called "A Private Little War," in which the Klingons are arming one side on a primitive planet to help them enslave the other. Accordingly, Kirk decides to arm the other side in order to achieve a balance of power, even at the price of speeding up the technological devel opment of the planet. He cannot l et the aristocratic Klingons get an advantage in the system of interplanetary alliances. Star Trek takes a dim view of any form of aristocracy or theocracy establishing or spreading its influence. If anyone claims the natural or divine right to rule over anyone else in the galaxy, Kirk automatically reaches for his phaser. In Star Trek no form of superiority-above all, not mental superiority-j ustifies ruling over others. As shown by the treatment of the villain Khan Noonian Singh

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in both a television episode and the movie Star Trek II, the show is especially hostile to the idea of eugenics, that someone could be bred to be genetically superior and hence entitled to rule. This hostility even extends to Plato's Republic, the subject of one bizarre episode called "Plato's Stepchildren." The Enterprise comes upon a planet called Platonius, where the crew encounters a group of space travelers who once came to earth in the time ofancient Greece. In their own words, "they liked Plato's ideas," and they have taken over a planet and tried to institute Plato's republic, with, as they say, "a few adaptations." They have undertaken a "mass eugenics program" and have been "bred for contemplation and self­ reliance." The episode seems to reflect an ongoing hostility to intellectual superiority in Star Trek, though here the only way the program can portray it is to show some eggheads playing a game that resembles chess. The Platonians have a philosopher-king, who makes the claim: "ours is the most democratic society conceivable-anyone can, at any moment, be or do anything he wishes, even to the point of becoming ruler of Platonius, if his mind is strong enough." But that principle is not democracy in the terms of Star Trek, since rule on Platonius is founded on an aristocratic principle, a claim to a superior intellectual nature. Moreover, the episode exposes that claim to be a fraud. It turns out that the psychokinetic powers that allow the Platonians to rule are merely the result of something in the soil of their planet. Under the guidance of Dr. McCoy, Kirk takes twice the dose of the element and becomes mentally twice as powerful as the reigning philosopher-king. Kirk is thereby able to put Plato's republic out of business on this planet, with the memorable dismissal: "Despite your brains, you're the most contemptible beings who ever lived in this universe." So much for Plato's philosopher-king as far as Star Trek is concerned. This particular episode is deeply biased against any notion ofaristocracy. Almost as if the writers had read Hegel, Platonius is presented as a planet ofmany masters and one slave, emphasizing Hegel's central criticism of aristocracy, namely, the idleness of the masters. When the slave is given the chance to acquire his own psychokinetic power, he refuses because he does not want to "just lie around like a big blob ofnothing and have things done for [him]." Even the philosopher-king concludes at the end: "we have become bizarre and unproductive." Unproductive is one of the most serious criticisms that can be leveled against a culture in Star Trek, which generally takes a bourgeois view of galactic developments. In the ideology of Star Trek everybody in the universe is supposed to be putting in a hard day's work, and aristocratic luxury and leisure are frowned upon and derided. Star Trek is also hostile to theocracy, with a strong sense that no form of divine origin or inspiration justifies rule. Theocracy is unacceptable even in the case of a god providing paradise for his subjects. In an episode called "The Apple," Kirk and the crew come upon a planet where the inhabitants seem to be living in the Garden of Eden. But the price they pay for their innocent and idyllic happiness is that they serve a god called Vol with blind obedience. Kirk and McCoy refuse to tolerate this situation. Only Mr. Spock defends it: "this may not be an ideal society but it is a viable one." To that McCoy objects in ringing democratic rhetoric: "These people


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aren't living, they're existing. They don't create, they don't produce, they don't even think. They should have the opportunity to choose-we owe it to them to interfere." So much for the Prime Directive, which evidently always loses when it conflicts with the Hegelian/Marxist premium on productivity and work. Kirk is quite satisfied with himselfonce he has destroyed the god of the planet and starts explaining to the bewildered people how their lives will change: "that's what we call freedom-you'll like it a lot." Despite all protestations to the contrary throughout the series, Kirk has a strong normative sense, telling the people of Vol: ''you'll learn something about men and women-the way they're supposed to be." At the end of the episode, when he is challenged over violating the Prime Directive, Kirk claims: "we put those people back upon a normal course of social evolution." Here is a clear statement of the premise of Star Trek-planetary history moves in one direction, the development of freedom. 1 1 As this antitheocratic episode shows, Star Trek is profoundly humanistic in spirit. It repeatedly demonstrates that nothing higher than the human exists in the universe, no higher principle to which human beings might be subordinate, that might justify some form of hierarchy. Above all, despite occasional moments of obligatory piety, Star Trek strongly implies that there are no gods. The Enterprise travels all over the universe, but finds no genuine gods or even God (despite a sustained effort in Star Trek V). All Kirk and his crew encounter are impostors. Indeed, with its strong Enlightenment spirit, Star Trek repeatedly exposes the divine as an illusion. The paradigm for this tendency is an episode entitled "Who Mourns for Adonais?" The Enterprise runs into the Greek god Apollo, and of course Kirk destroys him. That is to say, far out in space, the crew finds a powerful being who they eventually realize once appeared to human beings on earth as the god Apollo. This being has mysteriously withdrawn into space, along with the other Greek gods, but they have all faded away. Only Apollo has succeeded in waiting, in the faith that human beings would eventually come to him in space, thus giving him the chance to reclaim them as worshippers. That is what he wants to do with the crew ofthe Enterprise. The underlying suggestion ofthis episode is that aristocracy fundamentally is theocracy, a situation of men posing as gods. Naturally, Kirk cannot tolerate this outcome; he will not worship anybody or anything (some might say because he is too busy worshipping himself). With his democratic pride, what he most vigorously resists throughout the series is any form ofservitude or slavery. Though he claims to be peace loving, his spiritedness rouses him to violent behavior ifpeace ever seems to require him to surrender his autonomy in any form, and especially if his command of the Enterprise is challenged. Thus, he will not yield even in the face ofa power who at least at first sight appears to be higher than a human being, namely, a god. Having destroyed Apollo, the crew in fact wonder whether they did the right thing. After Apollo fades away at the end, McCoy sadly says: "I wish we hadn't had to do this." Even Kirk uncharacteristically for once shows remorse: "They gave us so much. The Greek civilization, much of our culture and philosophy, came from a worship of those beings. In a way they began

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the Golden Age. Would it have hurt us, I wonder,just to have gathered a few laurel leaves?" To be sure, it is a little late for Kirk to be asking this question-he has just blasted Apollo's power into oblivion with his phasers. And earlier he was making more characteristic statements, such as "You're no god to us, mister" and "If you want to play God, that's your business," and above all "We don't bow to every creature who happens to have a bag of tricks." Once again democratic ideology demands that Apollo's superiority be exposed as a merely technological advantage, not a superiority ofnature. He has an external source of his extraordinary powers, much as the Platonians did. In Star Trek, he cannot be shown as possessing an internal source of his superiority; he cannot be intrinsically or by nature superior to human beings. Thus, although Apollo has some kind of different internal organ, it only allows him to channel an external power source. Any would-be divinity must always be debunked in Star Trek and exposed as a kind of cheap magic trick. Apollo's magic may have worked on primitive shepherds in ancient Greece, but it will have no effect on James Tiberius Kirk; as he says, "we've come a long way in 5,000 years." The result of breaking Apollo's spell is to destroy possibly the greatest single archaeological find in the history ofthe universe-an authentic Greek god. This episode teaches a basic truth about Kirk-as in Star Trek IV, he is willing to save whales, but he feels compelled to kill gods. 12 Kirk can be quite solicitous of the welfare of lower beings in the universe, but he cannot allow the possibility that there might be something higher than humanity in the universe, something to which human will might have to be subordinated. Kirk does not want to have to face up to the implications ofApollo's claim: "there's an order of things in this universe-your species has denied it." "Who Mourns for Adonais?" is one of the most interesting Star Trek episodes, providing probably the most sympathetic treatment of any being claiming to be higher than humanity. But though it conveys an almost Hi:>lderlinian sense of nostalgia for the ancient gods, even in this episode the supposedly divine being must be destroyed.

IV Star Trek VI raises many of the same issues as the earlier television episodes. Seeking peace, the United Federation ofPlanets is willing to extend a helping hand even to its old enemies, the Klingons. But reactionary hard-liners on both sides are trying to prevent detente from developing between the Federation and the Klingons. The rhetoric of the film is largely multicultural, suggesting that the Federation is not exclusive but rather tries to embrace any new culture. But in an important sense, the multicultural rhetoric of the film threatens to become hollow. The Klingons will be embraced, but only insofar as they abandon what makes them distinctively Klingon, their warlike ways. That is what motivates the Klingon hard-liners-they feel that they will lose their cultural identity if admitted to the Federation. In this context, one sees the importance ofthe moment near the end of the film when Kirk says to Spock: "Everybody's human." This is the great


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all-embracing affirmation of the film, but Spock answers as a Vulcan: "I find that remark insulting." Star Trek VI raises the question whether "to be human" is the highest claim that can be made in the universe. Is humanity coextensive with virtue? Or is that claim an insult to other ways oflife in the universe? As one of the Klingons puts it, is the United Federation of Planets ultimately a "Homo sapiens­ only club?" On these fundamental questions, the film vacillates. One view represented is that humanity simply happens to have discovered universal principles, principles of justice that apply to all creatures throughout the universe. That explains why a prime directive is possible, a universally valid law based on the principle of self­ determination. One might argue that there is nothing uniquely human about this principle; it has a Kantian formalism to it, as the kind of law that applies to all rational beings and not just to human beings. Nevertheless, the principle looks a great deal like good old human justice. And the Federation is led by humans, who seem committed to spreading human domination throughout the universe. Thus, there seems to be an internal contradiction in the principles of the Federation, a contradiction reflected in an interesting dialogue between Spock and McCoy back in the early television episode, "The Apple." Upset about interfering in another planet's affairs, Spock says to McCoy: "You insist on applying human standards to nonhuman cultures. I remind you that humans are only a tiny minority in the galaxy." But this genuinely multicultural perspective provokes a sharp reply from McCoy: "There are certain absolutes, Mr. Spock, and one of them is the right of humanoids to a free and unchained environment, the right to have conditions which permit growth." Here is the key to the ethos of Star Trek-the right to self­ determination generates the one absolute in its universe. Spock counters with another candidate for an absolute: "Another is their right to choose a system that seems to work for them." But the imperative of freedom always seems to prevail in Star Trek, especially when it comes into conflict with any society that smacks of military aristocracy, however much creatures such as the Klingons may appear to be content with such nondemocratic ways of life. Such considerations suggest an interesting point about Star Trek and science fiction in general-perhaps one of its functions is to allow us to contemplate genuine alternatives to liberal democracy. As I suggested, we have a hard time even imagining a form of genuine aristocracy on this planet, but maybe we can picture it on others. It is indeed a curious fact that extraterrestrial rulers often look like figures out of our past history on earth, such as ancient Romans. Space aliens may have superior technology but they often still walk around carrying swords and hailing emperors in togas. 13 Thus, in the television episode, "The Gamesters of Triskelion," Kirk and several crew members end up involved in gladiatorial contests. Nilo Rodis, the art director for Star Trek VI, reports that in planning the sets for the big trial scene-perhaps the most widely viewed medical malpractice suit in galactic history-Nicholas Meyer said: "The Klingons are kind of like Romans throwing Christians to the lions." 14 Science fiction looks to the future, but it is paradoxically haunted by memories of the aristocratic past of humanity,

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perhaps precisely because it is searching for fonns of heroism. Science fiction allows us to flirt imaginatively with aristocratic ways of life, while ultimately rejecting them in order to reaffinn the superiority of liberal democracy. Star Trek VI thus raises the question: what is a different way of life, and, more specifically, what is a politically different way of life? The ideology of multiculturalism has a tendency to aestheticize the issue of difference, focusing on ethnic variations in costume or cuisine. Dealing with purely cultural differences-phenomena such as folktales or folk songs-it is easy to celebrate difference, because nothing vital is at stake. The way one person dresses is not a mortal challenge to the way another person dresses. With aesthetic differences, it is possible to avoid genuine and substantive differences of principle. But what if another culture has a different attitude toward life; what if it is willing to enslave or even extenninate other beings? What if another culture has a different attitude toward multiculturalism itself? One culture may think it is superior to all other cultures, and therefore entitled to rule them. Some Klingons do not want to become human; they would rather maintain their genuine difference, a difference involving not something superficial such as costume but a substantive political principle. The Klingons are a martial people, who genuinely love war and live for it. If Spock is any indication, even the Vulcans are not sure they want to be fully humanized. Thus, Star Trek VI cannot decide whether humanity represents merely one principle among many in the universe or the universal principle of justice. The film appears to celebrate the achievement of a universal galactic peace founded on human principles, the principles of liberal democracy. But at the same time, the film seems to express misgivings about that result. It suggests that universal peace will result in the homogenization of the universe. To make the universe safe and harmonious will require losing what makes the universe interesting. "Genuine clashes oflegitimately opposing principles" is Hegel's formula for tragedy, which is why he understood that the end of history would necessarily mean the end of tragedy as well. 15 For Hegel, tragedy is the engine of history-violent clashes of opposing principles keep driving humanity on to the next stage of history, until it reaches the end, when one single principle universally prevails as legitimate. With two principles, we have the formula for heroism on both sides, as each spurs the other on. But that means that at the end of history, heroes will no longer be necessary because conflict has been transcended. This explains Kirk's concern in the film: "How on earth can history get past people like me?" What we are witnessing in Star Trek VI is the crew of the Enterprise making themselves obsolete. With the strongly valedictory sense ofthe conclusion, we are left with the feeling of a diminished world. 16 After the violent heroes have played out their struggle, perhaps lesser and tamer beings can run the world, such as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Some varieties of heroes still appear in the later television versions of the series, but they clearly exist in a more administered world, a more bureaucratic one, one in which we are more frequently made aware of Star Fleet Command. As a hero, Picard is much less of a lone wolf or a loose cannon than Kirk, and much


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more likely to obey orders and accept his place in a chain of command. Star Trek VI seems to point in this direction. Is there any meaning to the fact that the last person we see in charge of a commissioned starship is Captain Sulu? As the one Japanese character, he used to be subordinate to Kirk, but now he has command of his own starship, a technologically more advanced one. The film seems to be making a strange suggestion-ifthe Klingons are the Russians, and the Federation the United States, have the two sides fought each other for years only to leave the world in the hands of the Japanese? Now we see what happens when productivity is made the ultimate standard of value in the universe. Sulu is the only one of the original crew still working at the end of the film, still on active duty. Perhaps the suggestion is that the Japanese will preside over the end ofhistory, a point already made by Kojeve in a crucial footnote in his Hegel commentary: "The recently begun interaction between Japan and the Western World will finally lead not to a rebarbarization ofthe Japanese but to a 'Japanization' ofthe Westerners (including the Russians)."1 7 Kojeve argues that customs such as the Japanese tea ceremony provide the prototype of behavior at the end of history. Posthistorical and postmodern existence consists of acts of ritual emptied of their original meaning in an aristocratic culture and reenacted merely for the sake of form, thus transforming once authentic rituals into acts of pure snobbery, such as the tea ceremony. Star Trek VI opens with a shot of Captain Sulu drinking a cup of tea.

V These are disturbing suggestions, but as a professor of English, I am even more disturbed by the treatment of Shakespeare in the film. One reason the reactionary Klingons appear to be the dramatically more interesting characters is that they are given all the best lines, which is to say, all the lines from Shakespeare. By linking Shakespeare with the Klingons, the film associates him with the form of heroism that is dying out in the universe at the end ofhistory. By my count, there are twelve quotations from Shakespeare in Star Trek VJ. Some of them are essentially trivial, such as "To be, or not to be" or "Parting is such sweet sorrow." These are Shakespeare cliches, quotations sure to be known by the audience; their only function is to be recognized by the audience as Shakespeare quotations. Other passages quoted are less well-known but more meaningful. Several contribute to the valedictory mood of the film: Falstaff's "We have heard the chimes at midnight" (Henry IV, Part JI) or Prospero's "Our revels now are ended," a line from Shakespeare's own farewell to the theater in The Tempest. The most pointed of these valedictory passages comes from Richard II: "Let us sit upon the ground I And tell sad stories of the death of kings."1 8 Referring to the deposition of a monarch, these lines constitute a farewell specifically to old regimes, old forms of predemocratic legitimacy. A cluster of Shakespeare quotations appears in the film just before General Chang is blown out of space, quotations that suggest that what is being destroyed

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is the old heroic ethos of the warrior. Chang quotes Henry V: "Once more unto the breach, dear friends," and also Mark Antony in Julius Caesar: "Cry 'Havoc! ' and let slip the dogs of war." The most resonant of these quotations comes from Julius Caesar (111.i.60): "I am constant as the northern star." Caesar speaks these words j ust before he dies, when the Senators have come to ask pardon for Publius Cimber. Refusing to go back on his word, Caesar identifies himself in this scene with the constancy of a god ("Hence! wilt thou lift up Olympus?"). Thus, in effect Caesar is killed directly as a result of his claim to divinity. A group of republican conspirators strike down the man who thought he was a god. As Shakespeare shows particularly in the case of Cassius, these Roman Senators cannot stand the thought of anyone claiming to be of a higher order than they are, claiming the right to rule them as a god. The way Star Trek VI alludes to this kind of republican spiritedness at this climactic moment is thus appropriate. Kirk's killing Chang resembles his earlier destruction of Apollo; he must strike down any being who claims to be qualitatively superior by nature. One last quotation in this cluster seems at first out of place, but it is the most interesting and disturbing of all. For one moment, Chang stops identifying with Shakespeare's warriors and chooses a different model, quoting The Merchant of Venice (III.i.64-67): "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? . . . And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" These lines from Shylock' s famous speech constitute a last-and futile-plea from the Klingon warrior for genuine multicultural tolerance. The Merchant of Venice is Shakespeare's play about multiculturalism, and its argument about our common humanity culminates in this eloquent speech by Shylock. But if one looks closely at Shylock's claims, one notices that his idea of a common humanity is based solely on the fact that we share the same physical form, the same body. As Allan Bloom pointed out: Shylock justified himself by an appeal to the universality of humanity . . . . Men can only be men together when they mutually recognize their sameness; otherwise they are like beings of different species to each other, and their only similarity is in their revenge. But, sadly, if one looks at the list of similar characteristics on which Shylock bases his claim to equality with his Christian tormentors, one sees that it includes only things which belong to the body; what he finds in common between Christian and Jew is essentially what all animals have in common . . . (Shylock characteristically mentions laughter as a result of tickling. He and Antonio would not laugh at the same jokes.) . . . Shylock asserts that the brotherhood of man can only come into being on the basis of the lowest common denominator . . . . It is the body; all the higher parts of the soul must be abstracted from, because they express men 's opinions and beliefs about what is good and bad, virtue and vice. These, men do not share; these beliefs make men enemies. 19 Bloom's analysis of Shylock suggests that the quotation from The Merchant of Venice greatly complicates Star Trek VI, for the human body cannot provide a


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common basis for the whole galaxy. Who knows what happens when you tickle a Klingon? We learn in the film, for example, that Klingons do not have tear ducts. As The Merchant of Venice shows, it is difficult enough to assert a common humanity in one city here on earth. To do so throughout the entire galaxy would obviously be even more difficult. As the chameloid Martia says in Star Trek VI: "not everybody keeps their genitals in the same place"-sound advice for interplanetary travelers. The uncertainty ofStar Trek VI is reflected in the way the movie alternates between two generalizations: "everybody's human" and "not everybody keeps their genitals in the same place." Thus, C hang's quotation from The Merchant of Venice raises doubts about the democratic ideology of Star Trek. Shylock calls attention to the hypocrisy of Venice. The city claims to be a genuinely multicultural community, indifferent to racial or religious distinctions, treating all its citizens alike. But Shakespeare shows that in fact Venice operates very differently, treating Shylock as a second-class citizen, much as it does Othello.20 As a community, Venice ultimately refuses to ignore what it regards as genuine differences in principle between Christians and Jews. Eventually the city forces Shylock to become a Christian. Perhaps this provides a clue to the United Federation of Planets' goal; ultimately it wants Klingons such as Chang to "convert." His identification with Shylock points to the Federation's hypocrisy in trying to establish its galactic hegemony under the banner of multicultural toleration. To the Federation, Chang is an alien and cannot cease being one until he abandons all that he stands for, the code of a Klingon warrior. In short, aliens have a real problem with what modem Americans and the United Federation of Planets regard as inalienable rights. For all its multicultural rhetoric, Star Trek VI suggests that peace between warring cultures will require a process of homogenization, in which one culture will be ultimately absorbed into the other and the resulting world will inevitably be less interesting. Star Trek VI thus raises the question: will the end of history mean the end of Shakespeare and, more generally, the end of those higher possibilities that made heroic literature possible and even necessary? After examining the specific Shakespeare quotations in the film, one is left with a number of nagging questions. Do the Shakespeare quotations provide a serious countermovement to the thrust of the movie as a whole? Or does Shakespeare merely serve as window dressing in the film, an attempt to give it the aura of high art? In short, do the Shakespeare quotations amount to anything more than postmodern pastiche? The references to Shakespeare do not add up to any coherent subplot. Indeed, thewaythe quotations are often j umbled together threatens to become comic. All the lines from Shakespeare are ripped out of context, perhapsj ust to give a pseudo-Shakespearean elevation to the film. One of its writers, Denny Martin Flinn, gives an account that suggests that the multiplication of Shakespeare quotations was more or less an accident: "Once we got [Christopher] Plummer, Nick [Meyer] said, 'This guy can really do this stuff and kept adding more and more."21 What seems to be important about the quotations is simply the fact that they are quotations from Shakespeare; their specific content seems largely irrelevant. The average member ofthe audience

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for the film would not even recognize half of them, and surely would not be able to remember the original contexts from which they are taken. Clearly the world of Shakespeare is not being presented as a genuine alternative to the world ofthe film. Star Trek VI simply tries to absorb Shakespeare, to bite off chunks of his dialogue and spit them out as its own. Thus, the use of Shakespeare \Il the film illustrates the very process it deals with in portraying the Klingon-Federation conflict, the effacement of difference, the assimilation of the higher to the lower. The way Star Trek VI tries to absorb Shakespeare into a popular film demonstrates the dangers of homogenization the main plot suggests. The film appears to be making a positive statement about the universality of Shakespeare, that his works apply everywhere in the galaxy. Flinn reflects this attitude when he comments: In Star Trek!/, [Meyer] put [Dickens's Ta/e o/Two Cities] in Shatner's [Kirk's] hands . . . and he made a marvelous statement that no matter how infonnation is delivered to us in the 23rd century, no matter how electronic it all becomes, great literature will still exist.22 Flinn's sentiments sound uplifting, but all he really means is that in the twenty­ third century great literature will still physically exist, perhaps even in the traditional form of books. But what Flinn cannot guarantee is that people will still know how to read it, that is, to read it with understanding. In Star Trek VI, the price of including Shakespeare in the dialogue is to blur everything that is distinctively Shakespearean, as the passages get lost in the babble of other voices. The effect is much like that ofT. S. Eliot's The Waste Land-quotations from great literature jumbled together with banal dialogue from ordinary life. In that sense, Star Trek VI provides us with a vision ofthe postmodern condition. At the end of history, all of past culture is spread out and equally available to contemporary artists, who can pick and choose what they want from the vast museum, or rather supermarket, of historical art. Hence, the end of history works to efface distinctions-between past and present, between noble and base, between high art and popular culture. Star Trek VI thus helps us to reflect on the connection between the posthistorical and the postmodern. In particular, it suggests how postmodernism as a cultural attitude is related to the democratic leveling at the end of history. Star Trek VI is itself a postmodern film, embodying an awareness of its place in film history. At many points the characters seem to know that they are playing roles, most notably at the end when Kirk proclaims: "Once again we've saved civilization as we know it." Throughout, the film is very self-conscious about its use of cinematic conventions, for example, the sense ofriding offinto the sunset at the conclusion. In short, Star Trek VI accepts its own belatedness and tries to make the best of it. The film makes no effort to conceal the fact that it is related to a long line of prior films; indeed, it repeatedly plays with the fact that it comes at the cinematic equivalent of the end ofhistory. Ifone takes the film's political and literary background seriously, it leaves us with disturbing questions about the end of history and the postmodern culture to which it gives birth.


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Notes I . I was first given the opportunity to reflect on these matters by the Political Science Department ofHampden-Sydney College, where I gave a lecture entitled "Shakespeare Was a Klingon: Star Trek and the End of History" on February 18, 1991. I wish to thank Professor James Pontuso in particular for this invitation. 2. See Ron Magid, "Directing the Last Hurrah," Cinefantastique 22 (April 1992): 47. This issue of Cinefantastique is largely devoted to Star Trek VI and contains much useful background information on the movie. On the relation of the movie to the end of the Cold War, see also 28, 46. 3. For all quotations from the movie, as well as from the television episodes, I have made my own transcriptions based on repeated viewings. 4. See Francis Fukuyama, "The End of History?" The National Interest 16 (Summer 1989): 3-18, and The End ofHistory and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992). 5. See especially Alexandre Kojeve, Introduction to the Reading ofHegel, trans. James H. Nichols Jr. (New York: Basic Books, 1969). 6. On the end of history in Hegel, see especially Kojeve, Introduction, 160-61 and Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, 64. Hegel's philosophy of history is obviously a very complicated matter, especially given the fact that his view of the French Revolution changed over the years. Moreover, Kojeve's interpretation of Hegel is highly controversial. I believe that Kojeve is correct, but my argument about Star Trek does not depend on the accuracy of any particular interpretation of Hegel. For analyzing the impact of the idea of the end of history on contemporary culture, what matters is not necessarily what Hegel meant by the notion but what it has come to mean in the discourse of writers such as Fukuyama. I doubt that anyone involved in Star Trek VJ read Fukuyama; I am certain that no one involved read Hegel; but it is clear that the film was affected by the "end of history" debate, if only on the level of Time magazine reporting. 7. For a sampling ofreactions to Fukuyama, see the responses that were published along with his original article in the Summer 1989 issue ofNational Interest. More responses were published in the Fall 1989 issue and Fukuyama replied to his critics in the Winter 1989/90 issue. 8. In the last years of the communist regime in the Soviet Union, it was fascinating to watch how the facade ofrepresentative political institutions gradually changed into a reality. 9. As reported in the New York Times, September 24, 1991, A l 4. 10. That this article of the Constitution was originally controversial is evident from the fact that no less a patriot than Patrick Henry attacked it at the Virginia Ratifying Convention on June 9, 1788: "Tell me not of checks on paper; but tell me of checks founded on self­ love. The English Government is founded on self-love. This powerful irresistible stimulus of self-love has saved that Government. It has interposed that hereditary nobility between the King and Commons. . . . Here is a consideration which prevails, in my mind, to pronounce the British Government, superior in this respect to any Government that ever was in any country . . . . Have you a resting place like the British Government? . . . Where are your checks? You have no hereditary Nobility-An order of men, to whom human eyes can be cast up for relief: For, says the Constitution, there is no title of nobility to be granted." Quoted in Thomas L. Pangle, The Ennobling of Democracy: The Challenge of the Postmodern Age (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 95. 11. The same point is made about the tribal people in "A Private Little War"-"left alone they undoubtedly will develop a remarkably advanced and peaceful culture."

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12. On this point, see my essay "Romanticism and Technology: Satanic Verses and Satanic Mills," in Technology in the Western Political Tradition, ed. Arthur Melzer, Jerry Weinberger, and M. Richard Zinman (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1 993), 127. 13. In his book (82), Fukuyama notes this paradox about science fiction: it offers "a curious mixture of old social forms and modern technology, as when emperors and dukes fly between solar systems in space ships." Both the novel Dune (New York: Ace Books, 1965) and the Star Wars movies follow this pattern; it was quite prominent in the old Flash Gordon serials as well. 14. Ron Magid, "Designing the Final Frontier," Cinefantastique 22 (April 1992): 55. 15. Hegel's writings on tragedy have been conveniently assembled (in English translation) in Anne and Henry Paolucci, eds., Hegel on Tragedy (New York: Harper & Row, 1962). 16. One image ofthe end of history for a particular species is provided by the television episode, "The Gamesters of Triskelion." Kirk, Uhuru, and Chekhov are whisked off the Enterprise to a planet on which they are trained for gladiatorial combat. The planet turns out to be ruled by three detached brains, beings who have evolved beyond their bodies. These creatures have developed mental superiority, once again taking the form of psychokinetic powers. The problem for these creatures is that with their advanced evolution, they have reached the end ofhistory and have nothing to struggle for anymore. As Kojeve predicts, the Triskelions have turned to pure gambling at the end of history-all they can do is risk money on gladiators chosen from what they regard as inferior species. As they say: "We have found athletic competitions our only challenge, the only thing which furnishes us with purpose." Kirk comes up with his typical criticism: that's an "unproductive purpose, unworthy of your intellect." Faced yet again with what he regards as an unproductive aristocracy, Kirk can only seek to undo this static world and return it to history. When the Triskelion brains tell Kirk that they use "only inferior species" in their games, he tells them: "We have found that all life forms in the galaxy are capable of superior development; perhaps you're not as evolved as you think." Kirk sets up a real wager with the Triskelions-ifhe defeats their gladiators, they must free all their slaves. Naturally, he wins, and thereby allows the slaves to develop what he calls "a normal self-governing culture." Committing the Triskelions to educating their former slaves, Kirk consoles them: "I think you'll find it a much more exciting game than the one you've been playing." By forcibly dragging the Triskelions back into history, and thus reinaugurating a kind of Hegelian dialectic of masters and slaves, this episode suggests that the end of history is inherently boring; all excitement disappears when real struggle disappears. This episode thus has ominous implications for the end of Star Trek VI. 17. See Kojeve, Introduction, 1 62. 1 8. III.ii. 155-56. I quote Shakespeare from the Riverside edition, ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1 974). It is interesting that the film omits the preliminary "For God's sake" from this speech by Richard. The film also misquotes Falstaff's line as: "Have we not heard the chimes at midnight?" 19. Allan Bloom, Shakespeare 's Politics (New York: Basic Books, 1964), 23. 20. On this subject, see my essay "Religion and the Limits of Community in The Merchant ofVenice," Soundings 70 (1987): 239-58, and also my essay "Othello: The Erring Barbarian Among the Supersubtle Venetians," Southwest Review 75 (1990): 296-3 1 9. 2 1 . Ron Magid, "Directing the Last Hurrah," Cinefantastique 22 (April 1992): 48. Christopher Plummer is well-known as a Shakespearean actor (he played Iago to James Earl Jones's Othello, for example). It is less well-known that William Shatner began his career as a serious stage actor; in fact, Magid reports (48) that Shatner once understudied to Plummer in a production ofHenry Vin Canada. I have also heard that Plummer and Shatner


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once competed for the role of Hamlet at the Canadian Stratford Festival. The strange interweaving of Shakespeare and Star Trek of course continues in the "Next Generation" series, in which the Enterprise is captained by the superb Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart. One wonders whether Shatner had any thoughts of his "replacement," Stewart, when in Star Trek VI he got to blast a pompous, Shakespeare-spouting actor out of the sky. 22. Ron Magid, "ILM's Effects Final Frontier," Cinefantastique 22 (April 1992): 51. This concern for cultural literacy appears again in First Contact (1996), the first of the Star Trek movies devoted exclusively to the "Next Generation" crew. In this time travel story, a woman from the twenty-first century is trying to convince Captain Picard (who is from the twenty-fourth century) to abandon his obsessive efforts to save his beloved starship Enterprise. When all other means of curbing Picard's Kirk-like determination fail, the woman reproaches him with behaving like the mad Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick. "You still do have books in the twenty-fourth century, don't you?" she asks Picard. This shock tactic works, restoring the uncharacteristically macho Picard to his normal scholarly temperament and in fact provoking him into reciting from memory a passage from Melville's novel. But the puzzled look on the woman's face suggests that they may still have the book Moby-Dick in the twenty-first century, but nobody actually reads it anymore.

Chapter 3

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule Tom Darby Because of the incessant chatter we have heard about what is in store for us as we enter a new centwy and cross the threshold into the third millennium of Western civilization, one must apologize for bringing up this subject. Yet apology does not just have to be a plea for forgiveness. An apology also can be the offering of an explanation, a defense, or, literally, a going forth with words (apo-logos)-with new words about the way things are, or are not. Apologies are about forgiving the past and therefore about new beginnings. And new beginnings come when one has crossed over that threshold, that boundary that separates a world where experience can be taken for granted, in that its parts tacitly can be related and hence made sense ofin a broader context or whole. This boundary itself is a no-man's land, an in-between that is both terrible and magical. The experience of crossing this boundary constitutes the true meaning ofcrisis. A crisis occurs when the categories for making sense of our experience no longer work for us and our experience is rendered meaningless. A crisis, in the above sense, is at the same time a spiritual crisis, or, if you will, a crisis of the spirit, in that spirit has to do with purpose. Crisis is about an acute disjunction between that which most concerns us and the common or overarching metaphors we embrace to find something common in the manifold of this varied and dense experience. Crisis then occurs when our shared or overarching metaphor becomes uprooted from our shared underlying concerns-when, as we might say figuratively, the sky above us no longer connects to the earth below us. It seems that in the West there always has been a relation between crisis and new ways of seeing and doing, thinking and acting, knowing and making. But it is the crisis itself that has given rise to the new perceptions and practices, summed up as an "apology."


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Plato's own dialogue on Socrates' apology comes to mind, as does his more extensive apology, his Republic, his attempt to address Athens' spiritual crisis. And then there is St. Augustine's City of God, his apology as an explanation to the Romans who thought the sacking of the "Eternal City" was a result of the wrath of the pagan gods for Rome's having forsaken them for Christianity. Plato's apology is the beginning of philosophy, and Augustine's apology-his blending of Hellenism and Hebrewism-marks both the beginning of Western time and the defining explanation of the West itself: time as history and history as progress. At the end of this period we call the West stands Hegel and Nietzsche, who provided their own apologies, and in doing so, when considered together, set the template for both the upheavals of the twentieth century and the reflections on this century by such thinkers as Alexandre Kojeve, Leo Strauss, Carl Schmitt, and Martin Heidegger. These four are the most important thinkers of the last and our new century, for just as the thoughts of Hegel and Nietzsche have best informed us as to what our own time is about, the thoughts of these four will define the boundaries of thought for the future. The hinge that holds the thoughts of these four together is the Hegel-Nietzsche relation itself, and it is this relation that leads to the heart of their common reflections, reflections that center on the question: "who has the right to rule the planet?" It is well-known that for Hegel the slave has won the right to rule, but for Nietzsche the rule of the slave is the greatest of all scandals, for it is tantamount to the transformation of the planet into the vulgar world of the Last Man. But this tension between Hegel and Nietzsche has proved to be more than a mere philosophical disagreement, for their conflicting theoretical visions were to become the theater of the actual contest for the rule of the planet in the twentieth century. I refer to that which best describes this passing century-to that which Nietzsche foretold in Beyond Good and Evil-global technological warfare. Global war is impossible without global technology. Technology is the independent variable of modernity, and the contest for the planet is impossible without technology. Whether in the form of global exploration, conquest, colonialization, or in this century, world war, the contest always has been about who has had the best means-the best technology-to rule the planet. This contest has been justified and explained in various ways throughout modernity, but now it has entered a phase that we, only in the last decade of this century, have come to call "globalization." Just as the destruction of Hellenic culture was brought about by Athenian imperialism-the "globalization" of the smaller world of Socrates' day-and the many sackings ofRome spelled the end to Roman civilization-the "globalization" of that day-the visions of Hegel and Nietzsche pertain both to the eclipse of the West and to the eclipse of the notion of unilinear time: time as history and history as progress. Likewise, it is during the actual and spiritual disaster of the twentieth century that Kojeve, Strauss, Schmitt, and Heidegger both begin a search for meaning at the heart of such calamity and make an attempt to move beyond. These four contemporaries-and, to an extent, collaborators-in attempting to

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


move beyond, all heeded Nietzsche's words: "one must step back before one leaps." Considering to where each steps back or begins and to where each leaps or, if you will, lands, we should first consider Alexandre Kojeve because it is he who most directly and concretely addresses questions that are at the background of global contest: questions concerning (1) how and why history ended, (2) who rules at the end of history, and (3) what this means in terms of the transformation of the planet through global technology. Thus, we begin this essay in three parts with Kojeve, who begins with Hegel, for like Hegel, who came with the dawn of the last century, and Nietzsche who came with its dusk, Kojeve opens the door to this century as we cross the threshold into the third millennium according to the Western way of recognizing time. Strauss and Schmitt close it, and as we careen into the next millennium, Heidegger then cracks open the door to the next.

The End of History: Kojeve's Serious Joke Alexandre Kojeve's original name was Alexandre Kojeveikoff. He was born in Russia in 1902, fled the Bolshevik Revolution, was imprisoned in Poland, and in 1920 made his way to Germany, where he studied with Karl Jaspers at Heidelberg and in Berlin was exposed to Husserl and Heidegger. He received his doctorate in 1926. Eventually, Kojeve went to Paris and there became known as a man of letters, a teacher of philosophy, and later, as a bureaucrat. As a man of letters, Kojeve's musings on subjects ranging from politics, literature, and even to the painting of his day made him a public figure in the manner of Voltaire, yet he was more playful, more ironic, and more radical than this other fox. Kojeve became a serious teacher in 1931 when he took over a course on Hegel from his friend Alexandre Koyre at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Section des Sciences Re/igieus es . There his reflections on the particular events ofhis time and of time in general defined much of what was to become twentieth-century philosophy. Many of Kojeve's students would become luminaries, some better known than Kojeve himself. But in the last decade ofthis century this has changed somewhat, due largely to Francis Fukuyama's popular book about the end of history. This book was popular because Fukuyama told Westerners in general and Americans iri particular what they wanted to hear. Ironically, although Fukuyama's conclusions about the Americanized "future" has already begun to look rather quaint, the transformation of this serious (and for some, grim) notion into Disneyesque entertainment has given "the end of history" the cache of an urban myth. Kojeve-who died during the high seriousness of the student revolts of 1968-would have loved this. 1 There are three more serious reasons why Kojeve became better known during the last decade of the last century. First, it has been discovered that the students of this once obscure Marxist-atheist joke teller were all reacting to his startling teachings that history was over and that his erstwhile students were either timidly


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maneuvering around Kojeve's conclusions or brazenly trying to further elaborate the logic of these conclusions. In the camp of the former I refer to his students such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and in the latter camp, the likes of Raymond Aron and Georges Bataille. Furthermore, by extension, I also refer to students of students. There was Louis Althusser, who studied with Merleau-Ponty and whose student was Michael Foucault, and then there is Jacques Derrida, who was much influenced by Bataille, names we have come to associate with post­ structuralism or postmodernism. Ah, what incestuous business! But then incest is the story ofphilosophy.2 To be clear, without an understanding of the teachings of Kojeve, postmodernism not only makes no sense, it is impossible. This explains the embarrassing academic fad of "postmodernism," a fad mercifully now out of fashion. And then there is the third reason Kojeve became well-known during the last days of the last century. I will be blunt. In October of 1999 it was revealed by Le Monde that according to the French Secret Service Alexandre Kojeve had been a spy for the U.S.S.R. since the 1940s. I will return to this on several occasions. However, for now I will say that this was one ofKojeve's jokes. And Kojeve loved jokes-well, ironic jokes. Typical ofKojeve, he joked that he had grown tired of teaching philosophy and so became a bureaucrat, for after all, why would one want to be a teacher of philosophy when he could stay at the finest hotels and drink the finest wines, so he joined the Ministry of Finance. In 1948 Kojeve was posted to Japan, and after a long sojourn there, he went on to begin the negotiations for what would become the World Trade Organization (WTO) and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Eventually, Kojeve went to Brussels and became one ofthe architects for what was to become the European Union (EU). As we shall see, although it appears contradictory, this self-professed Stalinist-Marxist practiced what he preached. So, to this also, we shall return.


Although he wrote on varied subjects, Kojeve is best known for the collection of his and his students' notes taken from his seminar on Hegel. The notes were published under the title Introduction a la Lecture de Hegel.3 It is significant that Kojeve did not bother to write a book on this subject and rather left it to his students to document his thoughts. But even more important, Kojeve was-by his own seemingly flippant admission-lazy. Surprisingly, Kojeve's laziness is an interpretive key to his work. Kojeve, like the gods who lived on timeless Olympus, saw himselfas living at the end oftime or history, and that as a philosopher his task was to explain the world that had come to be in terms of the complete and final philosophy-the Science ofHegel. This world for Kojeve was posthistorical in that there was nothing left to do except to complete the task of universalizing and homogenizing the planet. Or as Kojeve himselfput it in an interviewjust before his death: "Since this date (1806), what has happened? Nothing at all, the alignment

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


ofthe provinces. The Chinese revolution is only the introduction of the Napoleonic Code into China."4 The term "the alignment of the provinces" is a reference to none other than the progressive elaboration of the technological world system, what Kojeve called the Universal and Homogeneous State (U.H.S.) or what we now call "globalization." The date 1806 refers to the eve of the battle of Jena, when Hegel says that he realized the significance of Napoleon's historic action, the date when Hegel's realization that Napoleon's action brought into the concrete, historical world the principles that have been elaborated into the global system. Thus, Hegel saw that Napoleon's action was the last action, in that everything that has come after it has been, is, and will be a mere elaboration ofit. This is what Kojeve means when he says that nothing new has occurred since 1806. Indeed, what appeared to be a flippant remark is now seen to be deadly serious, for since there is nothing left to do or say except to elaborate Hegel's system, like the gods on timeless Olympus, Kojeve merely plays. And yes, he is playing with us. Long before Kojeve's serious encounter with Hegel he was influenced by the thought ofVladimer Solovyov, a fellow Russian, who gave and later published a series of lectures on what he called "God-manhood" (1878) and published his last work called War, Progress and the End ofHistory (1899). Solovyov's notion of God-manhood is an extrapolation of his religiopolitical vision of a unified planet and man becoming god. While Kojeve's Introduction was influenced by Solovyov's reading of Hegel, Solovyov also influenced Dostoyevsky, who modeled Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov after him. While Solovyov' s vision of the end of history is an obvious influence on Kojeve, above all, Solovyov's influence on Kojeve appears most precisely in Kojeve's filtering Hegel's notions of time through Solovyov's mysticism and gnosticism found most explicitly in his unfinished work, The Foundations of Theoretical Philosophy (1899). 5 Although Kojeve never mentions his erstwhile Russian compatriot in his Introduction, Kojeve wrote his doctoral dissertation on him, and the shadow of Solovyov is everywhere present in Kojeve's reading ofHegel.6 Another early but less profound influence ofKojeve was polymath-philosopher, physician, science-fiction writer, and embalmer of Lenin-Alexander Bogdanov. Bogdanov, also guided by Solovyov's vision of planetary universality, developed what he called "tectology" ( 1922), the guiding principle behind which is that Truth is the totality ofexperience and Truth, therefore, becomes a method for organizing experience, leading to the construction of a coherent system based on the control of experience itself. The circular logic is underscored by the fact that Truth here is spelled with an upper case "T," an eccentricity that Kojeve himself would adopt to indicate universality, totality, and circularity. Much that seems esoteric or even manic about Kojeve' s thought becomes clearer and calmer when one considers the influence ofSolovyov and to a lesser extent ofBogdanov on Kojeve's work. Thus, by stepping back to where Kojeve's came from we gain insight into the vision that guides his interpretation ofHegel, principally Kojeve 's notion ofthe Universal and Homogeneous State and its relation to technology and its mystical and gnostic


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foundation. Many today who call themselves postmodems natter on about how Hegel's philosophy is the most totalizing, hence most hegemonic of all Western discourses. But it was Kojeve, the father oflate twentieth-century postmodernism, who revealed that Hegel's philosophy indeed is the epitome of logo-centrism in that it is a discourse that contains all of western discourse. Yet Kojeve also shows us that for it to be rational it must be complete, and if complete, it must contain its opposite. Hence, the complete discourse at the end of history is undergirded by the irrational.

*** Kojeve's reading of Hegel is an interpretation and not a commentary. Interpretation, unlike commentary/ both begins outside its text and transcends it. All interpretation, for this reason, is deliberate misreading, in that it entails playful revision, and in Kojeve's reading of Hegel, even the jettisoning oflarge portions of Hegel's philosophy, such as his philosophy ofnature. This is not to say that any text can be read in any manner one wishes to read it; on the contrary, while commentary entails the attempt to faithfully render what an author meant, interpretation is an interplay between what an author meant and what an author means. Thus, interpretation is about the past, the present, and the future. This is what I meant when I said that interpretation transcends the text, and for this reason it also is about time-the transcending of time. Kojeve's Introduction is not about Hegel as such, but about Kojeve's reading of Hegel and what it means for the twentieth century and beyond. It is this to which we are to be "introduced," and this is captured in the sheer irony of the title itself. It is not an introduction to Hegel but to Kojeve's reading of Hegel. Kojeve's Introduction is a form of"serious play." Kojeve's own serious introduction to Hegel came when Alexandre Koyre convinced him that Hegel's philosophy was above all else a philosophy oftime and that for Hegel to have known this, and in turn for Koyre and then Kojeve to come to know it, time or history somehow had to have stopped.8 Thus, Kojeve's introduction to Hegel began with this seemingly absurd claim by Koyre, a claim based on his own conclusions, conclusions Koyre neither understood nor could deny. Koyre's conclusions were the following: ( l ) that Hegel had experienced in himself all stages ofconsciousness by rethinking them, and in doing so had attained complete knowledge or wisdom, or put boldly, nonrelative and therefore Absolute Knowledge, (2) since Hegel had experienced these stages of consciousness, and since the experience constituted a totality of consciousness, then he, Hegel, had to exist at the moment when actual historical events gave rise to the consciousness that he experienced, and (3) since experience is historical, and since Hegel experienced all moments (the reflections on all previous events) that gave rise to his experience, then Hegel had to exist, at least in principle, at the end of time in order to know what he knew. In other words, time or history had ended with Hegel's realization. Now I will present a sketch of what Kojeve found when he turned to Hegel in his attempt to understand this conclusion reached by Koyre. Let

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us begin as did Kojeve by asking the following question: What are the conditions that had to pertain for Koyre to reach such conclusions? And here is a sketch of the answer.9 First, if Hegel had to have thought all moments of consciousness, then he would have had to account for the beginning as well as the end of human consciousness. Next Hegel would have to have accounted for all moments of consciousness between this beginning and this end, thereby accounting for how and why one moment leads to the next. Kojeve explains that Hegel does this by showing the difference between animals and humans. Humans, like all animals, have both consciousness and desire, but unlike other animals humans are conscious of the difference between themselves and that of which they are conscious, together with the difference between themselves and the obj ects of their desire. Humans are thereby self-conscious, conscious of the self, the desiring conscious self. Humans also are conscious of the presence of other selves, whose desire they desire. This is to say that all humans desire to be recognized (recognized, re­ membered) and it is from the desire for recognition that both internal ti me consciousness (past- present-future) and external time consciousness (history) arise. The former appears because one must recognize in the future and must remember (in the past) in order to do so. History appears because of the fight to the death that results from the desire to be recognized. In the fight for recognition both must remain alive and one must yield to the other. The one who yields becomes the slave and the victor becomes the master. As slaves cunningly observe their masters, it appears to them that their masters can do whatever they desire. This the slave calls "freedom," and this freedom arises because of the slave's bondage and the fact that the slave is forced to transform nature as the master desires. This transformation of nature is called "labor." Thus, freedom is tied to bondage and labor. Furthermore, it is the labor of the slave that allows the master freedom to do what masters do: to eat, drink, copulate, and fight. Masters are good at fighting, but fighting, if it has no point, is even more meaningless than eating or drinking or sex, which at least sustain or produce life. But fighting that has a point (a purpose, an end, hence a meaning) is called "war." War is organized fighting directed toward an end, and politics is a subspecies of war. But politics must occur in a common space, and this common space is called the "city." Slaves build cities through "work." Thus, it is the work of the slave that constructs the relatively permanent common space called the city, a theater where masters exercise power through speaking and acting before their peers and are in turn recognized and perhaps even remembered to the extent that they become immortalized. It is through and because of politics that freedom increasingly appears. This progressive appearance offreedom resulting from politics is what we call the "historical process." Having sketched the above, Kojeve's interpretation of Hegel reveals that if freedom is the engine that powers history, then it is the slave whose power progresses along with his freedom as he drives history to its final battle between slaves and their masters. This final battle is the French Revolution, with its


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principles summed up in the battle cry, "liberte, egalite, fraternite." The battle is final because its principles, when made concrete, do away with actual mastery and slavery, and because everything that follows is just an elaboration of the progressively actualized principles themselves. Alas, the French Revolution, on its own, fizzled out. But this is why it took Napoleon to make the principles actual, concrete, or historical, for it is Napoleon's final action and Hegel's realization of the meaning ofit that bring knowledge and action together. Since Hegel's knowledge is final knowing-nonrelative knowing or wisdom-and Napoleon's action is final action, the system is, in principle, complete. So all there is left to do is to make the system progressively complete. And complete means concrete, ergo, real. This elaboration of the system is made possible through that copenetration of knowing and making we call technology. Through technology the abstract (possible) and the actual (concrete) become one.

*** Classically, the difference between theory and fantasy is that, with the former, our desires, our ideas or ideals, our principles, are possible. But there is nothing of the classical today. The classical pertains to definitive boundaries. To speak of the classical is to speak of a reality that can be classified. Thus, to speak of class is to speak of boundaries. Today class does not exist, which is to say that those boundaries separating the possible from the actual have been erased. Asked if one thought it possible that everyone on the planet could be made free from want, able to reach his or her potential, could be made equal despite differences, and live together like the members of a happy family, one might answer that yes, given the right conditions, this is possible. Granted, this could entail removing from the planet all those who could not be transformed into happy "humans." This is not likely. Prozac would be more efficient. By whatever method, it would be possible because our technology is that which, by my definition, is capable of making both the unequal equal and the equal nonequal-and by its ability to erase and to reconstruct boundaries, to alter the relation between the actual and the possible. Technology can transform literally anything. Without technology (or modern science, which is but its other name) Kojeve's vision of the U.H.S. would be but a fantasy. So what did Kojeve think this globalized world-his U.H.S-would look like? As one might guess, Kojeve described this concept. Kojeve's clearest picture of the U.H.S. is presented in a now famous footnote appearing on page 157 ofthe present English edition ofhis Introduction. He writes of what he calls the "re-animalized man," resembling Nietzsche's last man and Nietzsche's description of the timeless life of animals as found in his Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life. His description is not too far from the Disneyfied consumer democracy championed by Fukuyama. But then, in typical form, after having lived in Japan while tending to his duties as a high-level

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bureaucrat with the Ministry of Finance, in a subsequent edition, without altering the original note by a jot, Kojeve appends the note. He tells us about what he calls "japanized man," a posthistorical creature who has for some centuries lived at the end of history, a creature somehow associated with the code of honor of the Samurai warrior and who is capable of committing a "perfectly gratuitous suicide." So who lives after history, the re-animalized man or japanized man? Both do. The re-animalized man and the japanized man are posthistorical archetypes of victorious slaves and nonreconstructed masters. Usually taken as one ofKojeve's flippant riddles, this again is one ofKojeve's serious jokes. Here he gives us the picture of what lies between the end of history and its concrete realization. Also, this is but an echo ofthe tension between Hegel's slave and Nietzsche's master that has played itself out during this century of global technological war. So contrary to Professor Fukuyama's gleeful conclusions resulting from our victory of the Cold War, that war was but a civil war-a family feud. But alas, echoing a statement of Heidegger's in The Introduction to Metaphysics, Kojeve himself said that "Americans are just rich Russians, and Russians, poor Americans." 1 0 On the basis of this and other statements by Kojeve, it is no surprise that he was a Soviet spy. I think his political action is wholly consistent with his teaching and would make even more sense if we someday learn that Kojeve had been a double agent. As we shall see, what Kojeve was describing in the above quote is the tension between re-animalized man and Nietzsche's last man as that which lies in between the globalizing slaves and the remnant of masters who refuse to be globalized -between civilization and culture, between totalitarianism and tyranny. This will take us to Strauss and his discussion with Kojeve of this very subject, to Schmitt as related to both Kojeve and to Strauss, and then to Heidegger and what he calls our "age of the world picture."

Power and Wisdom: Politics as Destiny As noted in the first part of this essay, Kojeve, Strauss, Schmitt, and Heidegger were, by varying degrees, collaborators. This clearly is true for Kojeve and Strauss, whose association began in Berlin and Paris in the 1930s. There is a record of their sustained correspondence beginning in 1932 and ending in 1965. And, of course, there is the "Strauss-Kojeve Debate" published in Strauss's On Tyranny. 1 1 As we shall see, despite their fundamental differences, Kojeve and Strauss shared concerns, passions, and even visions. There are rumors of an extant body of correspondence between Schmitt and Kojeve, but as of yet nothing has been published. However, Kojeve had commented that-along with Strauss and Heidegger-Schmitt was among his few contemporaries with whom he cared to discuss philosophy. 12 And then there was the shorter but intense relation between Schmitt and one who soon was to become his erstwhile pupil, the then-young Leo Strauss. This relation is documented by Strauss's published comments on Schmitt's


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best known work, The Concept of the Political ( 1932). 13 This collaboration took place at the time Kojeve was beginning his lectures in Paris, roughly at the same time Heidegger was writing his essays on technology, and, of course, at the time Hitler was coming to power. It was a time of unprecedented danger and anticipation. So, let us begin here by stating the obvious: twentieth-century politics is unprecedented in human history. Western global exploration, leading to global conquest, and then to the global wars of the twentieth century, has made way for the planetary transformations that we now are experiencing with increasing rapidity and thoroughness. This truly global politics-what Kojeve called the U.H.S. and what we now have come to call the process of globalization14-is the particular context for those questions pertaining to the status and relation of politics and philosophy and their effect on man. So from such observations arise the following questions: If Aristotle was correct when he said that man was a zoon politikon, or a political animal, and if epistemic or philosophical man constitutes humanity's most developed, and therefore highest form, then what happens to humans if politics and philosophy ( 1) change their relation, (2) disappear altogether, or (3) metamorphosize?

*** B y the time Leo Strauss met Alexandre Kojeve he already had begun t o take the position that despite the sweeping changes modernity had brought to the human condition, humans essentially have remained the same, and for this reason are able to find access to truths that remain more or less constant. Thus, this classical approach to reality, whether it be the reality of the antique world or the globalizing world of the late twentieth century, could reveal certain truths about man, his politics and his philosophy, and the interrelatedness of the two. 15 The first complete stud y Strauss published of a work of classical p�ilosophy was his interpretation of Xenophon's dialogue, Hiero or Tyrannicus. to some extent we already have become familiar with Kojeve's position about ,the relation of action to thought, together with his vision of the future; however,, when we contrast what we already have learned about K ojeve's perspective with that of Strauss, the questions asked above concerning the status of politics and philosophy today, and hence q uestions concerning the status of humanity, become sharp and grave. It is the sheer seriousness of these questions that kept this "debate" between Strauss and Kojeve from becoming partisan. Despite the stark difference between Strauss's and K ojeve's positions, both realize that the other's position is the only other plausible one besides his own. Thus, both Strauss and Kojeve exhibit an urgency to find answers to these questions that arise from their exchange and a determined openness to understand what ever answers they might yield. Strauss's choice of Xenophon's short dialogue provides him with a direct way for raising the question of the nature and relation of politics and philosophy. This

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is the theme of Xenophon's dialogue. The dialogue is between the tyrant of Syracuse, Hiero, and Simonides, a poet who was reputed to be wise, hence a kind of poet-philosopher. Their discussion is first about the burdens of rulership and what the tyrant can do to make his rule more satisfactory to himself and to his subjects, thereby bringing himself and his subjects more happiness. But while the dialogue also is about the lessons a wise teacher may bring to a corrupt pupil, the advise is not given for the purpose of transforming Hiero into another kind of ruler or about transforming his regime into another kind of rule. Rather, it is advice that is supposed to make him a "better" tyrant, hence a happier or more satisfied tyrant, and in this way, a more virtuous tyrant. I say "supposed," for we never learn if, indeed, Hiero becomes "better," that is, more satisfied or virtuous, for the lessons merely are dispensed by the teacher and the results simply promised to the pupil and to readers such as ourselves. So the dialogue is about the relation of theory to practice, knowledge to virtue. The poet-philosopher thus acts as advisor to the young tyrant, thereby guiding his actions. And what kind of guidance does the wise man offer the unhappy tyrant? The advise can be described as a combination of the pedestrian and the abstract. The advise is pedestrian in that it would not take a wise man to imagine that rewarding subjects for actions that increase the wealth and honor of the regime would both please (satisfy) and honor (recognize) them, and honor and thereby please the tyrant. While recognizing subjects, and in tum having the subjects recognize the tyrant, may make both happier, this does not make either better. Thus, happiness does not necessarily beget virtue. The advice is far from delivering the results it promises, thus it is abstract, or as we might say today, ideological or utopian. The real question is this: is there any advice pertaining to action that can keep its promises? Strauss does not think so. He holds that there always must remain a distance between theory and practice, and furthermore, that this relation is a constant, as is the fundamental nature of such practices as tyranny and virtue. Tyranny and virtue are particular manifestations of the political, which is a Westem perception of a constant human experience. No tyrant can learn to be virtuous no matter who his teacher might be. There has not been and cannot be a good tyranny. Yet this is not to say that for Strauss theory has no relation to practice, that there is nothing political about philosophy or anything philosophical about politics. For Strauss, politics is always philosophical and philosophy always political. Philosophers are human and humans live in cities and cities are communities that are held together by opinions that sooner of later will become threatened by philosophy. This is so because philosophers are skeptics and skeptics question everything, including that which the city takes for granted and is likely to hold dear, if not sacred. This explains both why there must remain a gap between the philosopher and the city-theory and practice, philosophy and politics-and why the two must exist together for either to exist at all. For Strauss, the gap between theory and practice is not permanently bridgeable. But, at least, for a few, it is temporally leapable. It is the rhetorician who teaches


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the few who are fit for philosophy to leap over this gap, and in doing so, gain limited insights into the relation oftheory to practice. I do not refer to the rhetoric of those who are reputed to be wise, such as Gorgias, but to the philosophical rhetoric employed by Socrates in the dialogue named for Gorgias himself. One learns from this nonreflective and self-satisfied Gorgias that his kind of rhetoric is used for the single purpose of increasing one's power. Socrates' philosophical rhetoric makes possible what becomes the classical understanding of politics. It begins there, but it does not end by bringing philosophy and politics together in such a way as to cancel their differences. Philosophical rhetoric begins in the city, hence it begins with commonsense observations, expressed as opinions. Thus, philosophy itselfbegins with opinion, and, for a few, transcends the city and leads to a quest for wisdom. But the philosopher, because he is a man, never leaves the city for long, and it is to the city that always he must return. Thus, the thinker and the actor remain forever apart. This is why philosophy is a love of wisdom, for we only love that which we do not possess. Thus, the philosopher by definition can never possess wisdom, for if he does, his quest is over, and, like Gorgias, he becomes nonreflective and self-satisfied. Let me state unequivocally that we concluded in the first part of this essay that for Kojeve the history of man is also the progressive cancellation of the difference between thought and action. For Kojeve, the gap between philosophy and politics is bridged by Hegel. Hegel is the possessor of wisdom, the wise man, and after Hegel, the principles of the U.H.S. become elaborated in reality. But whereas Strauss and his classical approach employ the rhetorician for a limited form of transcendence, the gap between theory and practice, or philosophy and politics, is bridged, and the difference between them eradicated. According to Kojeve, this is accomplished by the "political intellectual." But the political intellectual does not use rhetoric. He uses technology to replace deeds and propaganda to replace speech. Unlike the poet-philosopher Simonides, the political intellectual can both account for his words and deliver his promises. He is a thinker-actor. Plato's Philosopher-King comes to mind, as does the twentieth-century thinker who described the process of globalization before we invented the name, that architect of the EU and archspy, Alexandre Kojeve himself. Oh well, if not Alexandre at least Alcibiades. Let me repeat: for Strauss it is impossible either to be a good tyrant or to have a good tyranny. For Strauss and his classical perspective tyrants and tyranny are always bad. But this is not so for Kojeve and his modern (Hegelian) perspective. Indeed, good tyrants and good tyrannies are possible. But the best and therefore final tyranny is the U.H.S. It is good because in it everyone is (or at least can be transformed into) a free citizen. The citizen is free in the negative sense in that he is provided with at least the necessities of life. First, he is free from need and sooner or later, from want. And he is free in the positive sense as well, in that each citizen is capable ofrealizing his potential. He is free to pursue the "life-style" he wishes (provided he can pay for it). All choices are equal, thus the worth of each individual is honored (recognized) equally. It is this freedom that makes these

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


citizens of the U.H.S. happy, and for them happiness is virtue. Since there are no external standards such as the Good or God by which can be measured either the truthfulness of what we say or the virtue or wickedness of what we do, then both philosophy and politics are over. Thus, the end of history is beyond good and evil. So the question becomes: what of man?

*** So now we will tum to Carl Schmitt. Schmitt was a jurist and political theorist who taught at the University of Berlin, joined the Nazi Party in 1933, and who, despite the fact that he later was denounced by the party, rightly has been associated with the Hitler regime in particular and with antiliberal thinking in general. It is understandable why Schmitt's political theory largely had been ignored from the time of the Allied victory until almost the last decade of the twentieth century. 16 But not only does the passage of time erode prejudices, it also seems that the great shifts in global politics that led up to the collapse of the U.S.S.R., together with the eroding of the categories with which we, for so long, have attempted to make sense of political life, have cleared the way for the legitimation of interest in this "theorist of the Reich." 17 The single best example of Schmitt's recent legitimation came in 1987 when Telos, the long-standing premier English-language journal of the "left," published an issue featuring the thought of this erstwhile archpariah of the "right." Since the beginning of the decade, like a great well of revelation pent up for half a century, mounting interest in Schmitt has burst forth, giving buoyancy to theorists ofwhatever political stripe. The journals-especially the English-language ones-are inundated. 1 8 Schmitt's early concerns are reflected in his works that first lay the ground for and then developed into a theme that would serve as the underpinning for his subsequent writings-the theme of sovereignty and his famous Friend/Enemy distinction, the base for the extension of his theory of sovereignty into a general theory of politics. The political fate that had befallen Germany between the wars, the humiliation of defeat, the economic woes, and most of all the "Weimar Imposition," was the experiential ground for the development of the theory. In his Politische Romantic, Political Romanticism ( 1919) 19 Schmitt sought the roots of Germany's troubles in the nineteenth century with thinkers such as Shelling and Novalis. These thinkers Schmitt named "Aesthetic Romantics," who despised the modem world and sought to escape it by immersing the "self' in the medieval or classical past. However, these Aesthetic Romantics only were interested in their private experience and were incapable of action. Alas, while the Aesthetic Romantic may experience a sovereignty ofthe self, this sovereignty was (is) a dead letter. It was (is) a self-indulgent, impotent, and unmanly sovereignty. It was (is) personal, thereby private and antipolitical. To the Aesthetic Romlll!.tic, Schmittjuxtaposed the "Romantic Politician," who


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is not concerned with life as self-indulgent, effete poetry but with transfonning life-through action-into a work of art. From the actions of the Romantic Politician is derived Schmitt's notion of "decisionism," an idea based on the decisive exercise ofthe will resulting in genuine action that always entails risk and danger. "Decisionism" becomes the cornerstone for Schmitt's theme of sovereignty,20 which, in tum, is the foundation for his concept of the political, and as we shall see, his theory of the political alters, to the extent of canceling out, the difference between the thinker and the actor. Decisionism also fonns the basis for Schmitt's critique ofliberalism, which he saw as subverting action through incessant debate, comprise, and its obsession with bureaucratic processes. The privileging of economics, security, and procedural justice he saw as akin to Aesthetic Romanticism. It was but another instance of feminization, but worse, it was a systematic fonn of "neutralization and depolitization." For Schmitt, from a practical, ergo existential standpoint, the liberalism imposed on Gennany during the Weimar years constituted a case of the "exception," and thus was an "emergency" requiring action. This leads directly to Schmitt's general theory of politics. Reflecting on Hobbes's state ofnature, Schmitt locates the origin of sovereignty in politics and politics in "the possibility ofcombat,"21 or in the state ofnatural enmity or war. But unlike the fearful and solitary creature of Hobbes's state of nature, Schmitt's creature recognizes danger (a fear that does not consume him, if you will), and he looks for allies. He thereby joins a group, and the groups divide into members and nonmembers-friends and enemies. When these friends and enemies glare at each other from across the creek, politics is born. With the birth of politics these creatures become "dangerous and dynamic."22 They become human. Strauss begins his critique by noting that by Schmitt's own admission Schmitt's theory, in being political, is polemical. The polemics are directed at Schmitt's enemies, the greatest of which is liberalism, but after the bellicose words there is a deeper meaning. Thus, Schmitt's theory-like any true theory-is about what he meant and what he means. Schmitt claims that there is no moral dimension to his theory, but Strauss argues that this is but the surface meaning, for if one interprets Schmitt correctly one will find that Schmitt is really concerned with the "order of human things."23 To make his claim clear, Strauss attempts to show that man is "dangerous" because he has "a need of dominion."24 Because this will to dominate in the modern (Machiavellian) sense is virtu, and in the classical sense, is a vice and the basis of a tyrannical nature, Schmitt's philosophical anthropology, the cornerstone of all political philosophy, is really about morals. Strauss agrees with Schmitt that it is liberalism that most corrupts man because, as Schmitt says, it "neutralizes and depoliticizes" man and the human world. In a word, liberalism attempts to make man a nonpolitical animal, and as such, "man" ceases to be human. Politics metamorphizes into technology. The human world becomes bereft of seriousness. It becomes a world of"entertainment."25 But this "virtual world" is only what we see on the surface, for in its interior, the obliteration of the difference between the public (politics) and private (economics)--acting and

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


thinking-has vanished. Furthennore, Strauss claims not only that Schmitt's theory contains a moral dimension, but also that Schmitt fails to transcend the horizon of liberalism. So, at least for now, liberal speech is the only legitimate "discourse." But for later? Strauss, in his 1932 critique, asked, "which men will rule the world­ state?"26 And Kojeve in a 1952 letter to Strauss answered the question: If the Westerners remain capitalists (that is also to say nationalists), they will be defeated by Russia, and that is how the End-State will come about. If, however, they "integrate" their economies and politics (they are now on the way ofdoing so) then they will defeat Russia. And that is how the End-State will be reached (the same Universal and Homogenous State). But in the first case it will be spoken about in "Russian" . . . and in the second case-in "European."27

Again, this sheds light on Kojeve the thinker who acts. Kojeve sees himself as practicing what Nietzsche calls "Great Politics." And Great Politics is beyond good and evil.

*** Reading Strauss's critique starkly reminds one that Schmitt was a student ofMax Weber, for while there are major differences between him and his teacher, in the darkest corner of the heart of Schmitt's theory is a profound concern about the "iron cage" of technology and the "disenchantment of the world." Schmitt's political philosophy is, at least on the surface, an attack on liberalism or on the liberal state; but the deeper meaning is that Schmitt's real enemy is the state that is everywhere, the World-State, the End-State, the U.H.S. Without this process of "globalization" all this would be a fantasy. But it is technology that makes the process itself possible. Thus, Schmitt's theory-at its most profound depth-is about technology: technology, the new sovereign, the thing that authors the appearance of the "new," and the only thing that we do not question. Thus, Schmitt's gravest concern is about technology, this new authority. Schmitt argued in Political Theology that "[a]ll significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts." 28 When putting Schmitt's own political theory in this context one must conclude the following: the End-State, World-State, or U.H.S. is God, and since technology will save us by bringing us to God, then technology is the new Christ. But the new Christ is the Antichrist. While the inference is clear, perhaps it is too clear. On the surface, the Antichrist (technology), like Christ, appears to be the Savior. In his essay, "The Age of Neutralizations and Depolitizations," Schmitt makes a distinction between technology and "the spirit of technicity which has lead to a mass belief in an anti­ religious activism." He goes on to say that technicity is an "evil" and "demonic" spirit, and that "[t]he process of continuous neutralization of various spheres of cultural life has reached its end because technology is at hand. "29 He adds that


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technology no longer is neutral, and that the way we will eventually understand technology will depend on the appearance of a politics strong enough to master it. Thus, Schmitt's stance on technology is ambiguous, but so is technology-at least provisionally it is. Technology is our destiny, but it also is our fate, and as we will see in part 3 , this ambiguity is a key to its meaning.

Life in the Age of the World Picture The above title is taken from Hei degger's 1938 essay, "The Age of the World Picture," appearing in English since 1977 as part of the collection called The Question Concerning Technology and Other Es s ays . 30 But, as you see, I am qualifying the title. I do so to indicate that what a few decades ago was esoteric and abstract now has come to be part of life for an increasing number ofpeople on this planet. Our experience ofthis shrinking world and our expanding picture ofit, like the very breath of our lives, have become a kaleidoscope of the real as i magined and the i magined as real. It is a world in which the non-West is progressively transformed into versions of the West, and the West shaped by that very Other it transforms. But this world, which, not so long ago would have been unimaginable, deludes us. It deludes us because it increasingly embraces us, s mothering the mysterious under the cloak of the everyday, denying us the experience of astonishment. In progressively becoming our common, virtual, yet empirical world, it als o is becoming a more vulgar world, for in this world everyone is either in or is clamoring to get into the picture. Heidegger's aforementioned essay is not only about the "world picture" ( Weltbild), it also is about what Heidegger calls the New Time (das Neuzeit), this age31 ofthe world picture. While rooted in the past ofthe West, this age-our time, modernity and especially late modernity-is different from previous ages in that only in our time can one have a picture ofthe world as a whole. But this should not surprise those who recall Alexandre Kojeve's vision of the Universal and Homogeneous State (U.H.S.), Leo Strauss's vision of the World State, or Carl Schmitt's vision of the End State, each examined in parts 1 and 2 of this essay. Indeed, Kojeve was an ironic, self-professed Marxist, Strauss a Jew who embraced the "West" and its late heir, liberalism of the American variety, and Schmitt, to his last day, an unrepentant Nazi. I say visions and not-as we are wont to say today-values. Nietzsche, who invented the term ''value" ( Wert), taught that value is about willing, while vision is about seeing. And yet, I will argue, while different, value and vision form part of the same picture. Differences aside, not only were these three men collaborators, their visions reinforce each other, and, as we shall see, reinforce Heidegger's own vision, for what they see is the same world, albeit from different perspectives. Perspective has to do with where one stands. These four perspectives of our world allow us to see more clearly where we stand, for they uncover the meaning of the recent, yet already hackneyed term, "globalization," and allow us to see our

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


past, our present, and perhaps our future in a new light-and, alas, in a new darkness.

*** In A n Introduction to Metaphysics, Heidegger makes the startling claim that the West-the Occident-is dis-Oriented.32 This, I think, is a key to our understanding of the meaning of Heidegger's position concerning the origin and destiny of the West. If the destiny of the West results in the West's disorientation, then the West at one time must have been oriented, and thus, this destiny-this "loss of its way"-also is tied to, and lies at, the origins of the West. As stated in the general introduction to this essay, with the blending of philosophy and Judeo-Christian religion, the West appeared as an evolving relation of perceptions and practices that have defined its boundaries by setting it apart from how other people on this planet have seen both the world and have lived in it. The origins of the West are to be found in the origins of these other ways of seeing and doing-the non-West-as objectified and constituted by the West as Other. And the West-from its origins-repeatedly oriented itself in opposition to everything it deigned non-Western. Thus, its original orientation resulted in increasing disorientation. Specifically, metaphysics, as it emerged from Socrates' critique ofthe Olympian gods, and Christianity, emerging as a critique oflate-Hebrewism, gathered together the form that was to become the West and set it on its way along its path. This two­ thousand-year journey that has resulted in the "disorientation" is both temporal and spatial, in that this result is the same cluster of phenomena that has been identified here as "the end of history" and "globalization." The destiny of the West is to be found in its origins, in that the Western perception of space lies with metaphysics, and the perception of time with the Hebrew notion of history as unilinear time, together with the Christian perception that time as history is providential, thereby has a purpose, and from this is derived the notion of progressive ages, culminating in an apocalyptic end ( e.g., in the "fullness oftime"). The intersection ofmetaphysical space and Christian time rests on our attempt to transform the world in which we live in relation to a projected beyond. This results in the copenetration of what we see with what we endeavor to do-knowledge with action, wisdom with power. Thus, with the eruption of modernity, time or history becomes progress, and space a merefu:ed ground plan33 for objectified ideas, thereby transforming ideas into ideals, willed projects or values. As we have seen in part 2 of this essay, at their origin, knowledge and action were unbridgeable, but now we see that the dynamic of Western time and the eventual uprootedness and consequent malleability ofideas have progressively brought them together. Together they culminate in the disorientation and the dissolution of the West. This is the destiny of the West. Destiny must have both an origin and an end. For Heidegger, the beginning of the West lies with the appearance of Western time and space and with our


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forgetting that everything that we perceive in time (beings) must have a space in which to be (Being), and that Being, empty of beings, is simply nothing.34 Moreover, in forgetting Being, we also have forgotten the beings who we are, and thus busy (auf betriebung) ourselves with the task of transforming whoever we may be along with the other beings who dwell on the planet, together with whatever may lie beyond. So, while we may have gained a planet (and perhaps more), in losing our way we have forgotten Being. But also, because we transform the beyond (the future) into the present, in turn, we forget the future, and with no future, there is no past, and so, with the eclipsing of the future and the past, we forget not only Being but Time as well. Bereft of Being and Time we are left with our present. This present is our legacy, for the present lies with its origins and its destiny. This legacy is the concrete appearance of the western logos incarnated as our technology. Thus, technology is both our destiny and our fate.

*** Now we must ask the question: what is our technology? As Heidegger does, we must begin with a question, rather than with a problem. Metaphysics has led to the transformation of questions into problems-problems to be solved, things to be fixed-but what Heidegger means is that a true question is about what stands before us as it is and not otherwise. For those of us living today, the question is about the presence of our technology, that which defines us most, but that which we question least. For us, it is technology that is nearest to us, or, as Heidegger says, for us "technology is at hand."35 Most today take technology to be neutral and thereby ''value free," to be, in other words, the mere application of those ideas we call "science."36 And, indeed, were we to perceive of technology differently, it would not work as it does, or it would not be correct, not efficient, and thereby would not be technology. But on the other hand, here we want to question the appearance of the ,oundaries of technology-technology just as it presents itself to us as it is. Questions are but means to ends, in that answers are mere ends or boundaries. But we will not question in order to find a way of altering the boundaries of technology-to view technology as a problem to be fixed-and thereby making of ourselves part of the problem we set out to solve. We question in order to learn of the astonishing (thaumazein) presence of technology, and do so in order to learn what it is. So what is technology? One can begin with this thoroughly modem word and try to recover its meaning synthetically. Technology is a compound of the two Greek words techne and logos. Techne pertains to making and logos to knowing, to practices and to perceptions. But technology is not a compound in word only, for it is compounded from the copenetration of making and knowing. Technology is the progressively rational (efficient) arrangement of means and ends (for humans) and cause and effect (for nature). The former, therefore, has to do with practices, and the latter with perceptions. Technology has as its project the transformation of

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


nature both human and nonhuman. Efficiency, the goal of the proj ection of technology, is and can only be measured as the progressively diminishing difference between those means and ends or causes and effects. Thus, technology is ( 1 ) self-referential, (2) relatively autonomous, (3) progressively sovereign, and, being so, (4) tends toward the systemization of nature both human and non human. If the relative difference of means and ends ( or cause and effect) were ever reduced to zero, or to complete efficiency, then technology would become a totality (i.e., a total or complete system)37; and here, of course, come to mind the visions of the Universal and Homogenous State, the World State, the End State, and, as we shall see, Heidegger' s Neuzeit.

*** Although in our time technology is embraced by not only the West but by the non­ West as well, technology is a compound of Western perceptions andpractices. The perceptions point to the radically revised relations of God, Nature, and Man that crystallized in early modernity, but go further back, and to practices of radically increasing prowess,38 which, in turn, dynamically shape and are shaped by those radically revised perceptions. First, I refer to the perceptions of Bacon, who urged us to put nature on the rack and to vex and torture it so as to force its "reasons for being," and to Hobbes, who told us that man's artificial creation, the World, is superior to God's natural creation-the Earth and the beings upon it-except, of course, for man. Bacon was among those whose observations of nature led to what we call the "scientific method," which, in turn, enhanced our control over nature, qua nature, through developing a way of transforming it and eventually systematizing it. But, as Heidegger notes, Bacon's new perception of nature was not enough, in that it pertained exclusively to perception. What was needed to bring about the scientific method was a practice coupled with this changed perception. This practice-a practice that allowed man to act upon nature-resided in imitating God's action, in creating the world and His eruption into the Earth and the World, that resulted in His embodiment within the realm of nature (Space) and history (Time). I refer to what lies at the heart of Christianity itself, to the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ. This doctrine became a practice with the medieval Schoolmen who attempted, through their interpretation of the Word, to embody the divine Will itself. But I suspect that these roots lie even further back, in the cabalistic and gnostic practices of both Jews and early Christians.39 The perceptions of men such as Bacon, together with those practices rooted in Christianity, result in attempts to systematize nature qua nature, while Hobbes systematizes human nature. Hobbes begins by his attack on God's creation and Aristotle' s doctrine of causality. His "artificial man," Leviathan, is a systemization of human nature, in that it is a system built by man, the Maker who makes Himself.40 But this "new man" is a creature with neither conscience nor a longing


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for transcendence. He exchanges conscience for the rational calculation of self­ interest and the longing for transcendence for his immanent safety. Bacon and Hobbes were among the men who discovered that the power of modem science (technology) lay in its tendency toward systemization. Because of this, they are harbingers of the new age for the West. But, according to Heidegger, this still is not enough, for in order for it to be, technology requires the advent of research, for without research, there is no procedure, or way (lo modo), as Machiavelli calls it (mode = the way of today, hence what is the modem, e.g., the present). However, research is not just procedure, it is the projection into nature (into what is) of that "fixed grown plan" (Grundriss) mentioned above. The projection draws (wills) the boundaries, in advance, and the way of knowing must adhere to these orders or boundaries. Heidegger calls this "binding adherence" of research, "rigor." Projection of the fixed ground plan is the first command of research. "Science becomes research through the projected plan, and through securing that plan in the rigor of procedure. "41 Its second command is methodology. Methodology is the way of clarifying the known and relating the unknown to it, thereby increasing the sphere of the known as facts. This is at the heart of what I call metaphor. This leads to explanation, explanation to law, and law to experiment; the latter itself mirroring-albeit in a disembodied or abstract way-learning itself. "The more exactly the ground plan is projected, the more exact becomes the possibility of experiment."42 Exactness leads to the objective knowledge we call facts or information, because the ground plan that is willed and projected is controlled before the experiment itself, yet continually adjusts itselfto its results. Thus, the way of method is what I identified above as the self-referenial, self-adjusting aspect of technology. The third command of research is that it be what Heidegger calls "ongoing" (Betrieb), that its activity both pertain to its proper (ordered = bound = fixed) sphere, that it, in other words, be specialized, and that the facts be coordinated so that the methodology can be adjusted to the results. This simply means that one must specialize and that specialists need to communicate and cooperate. This is why the business of research must be ongoing.43 Research brought technology to this point. But because of what became an overwhelming mass of facts (facts = information = decontexturalized knowledge) generated by it, a new way of ordering, storing, and explaining was necessary. Since explanation is a relation of the known to the unknown, or what I identified in our general introduction as the relation of our Underlying Concern to our Overarching Metaphor, new metaphors were needed for ordering this mass of information.

*** Due t o the radical an d rapid changes compounded into the perceptions and practices that constitute technology, the modem world has had three phases, or

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


what I elsewhere have called "waves."44 Each wave has its own metaphor rooted in its own experience and its own symbol that best allow for ordering, storing, and explaining each phase of the experience of modernity. Each metaphor, along with its symbol, has been technological. The experiences of Bacon and Hobbes's day required a mechanical metaphor, which was encapsulated within the symbol of the clock. Because symbols are wholes, they too are systems, as is the very machine we call the mechanical clock. The day of Kant, Hegel, Marx-and to a lesser extent of Nietzsche-needed an hydraulic metaphor, symbolized by the engine. During all the previous century, and for most of the twentieth century, the hydraulic metaphor and its symbol, the engine, have sufficed, and indeed, most people are still stuck with the vocabulary based on these older metaphors and symbols, in that we still describe both nature and human nature in terms of forces, pressures, processes, and movements. Our everyday assumptions about nature both nonhuman and human are those mechan­ ical perceptions granted by Galileo and Newton and the hydraulic perceptions associated with the second law of thermodynamics. While most people today (including philosophers and scientists) still rely on these metaphors and symbols for explaining their experience, I think that Heidegger, Schmitt, Strauss, and Kojeve anticipated a change that did not become apparent until the last decade of the twentieth century. Heidegger, especially, and to a lesser exte11t the others, realized that, while all technology pertained to a summoning forth , ,f energy from nature, transforming it and storing it for future use, something fund. mental had changed. Heidegger calls this process of extraction and transformati m Enframing (das Ge-stel/), and its storage for future use, standing reserve. 45 A though still in embryonic form, what Heidegger saw as so basically different 1 vas that energy could be extracted, transformed, and stored differently, and tha which in his part of this century was manifest only mscently, at the end of this century now is commonplace. First mechanical energy was extracted from nature and stored in the weights and springs ofthe fr ame ofmachines such as clocks-machines that held the energy of nature in reserv e until transformed by setting it on its way by winding a spring or releasing a weight. Next, hydraulic energy was extracted from nature, transformed and reserved within the walls of a frame called an engine and set it on its way by releasing water, steam, or a regulated explosion to drive a turbine, a piston, a jet engine, a rocket engine, or, at the end of this wave, crude nuclear power. But what fundamentally has changed is that now we are able to extract, transform, store, and set on their way the less apparent, even invisible, yet fundamental energies of nature. I refer to what lies within our inner space such as the DNA of our bodies and to that energy within the atomic structure of all bodies (beings), electricity-the spark of life, and one might say, its spirit. I speak of the wave of the electric metaphor, the symbol ofwhich is the electric c0111puter, without which the present phase ofthe Western project, the "end of history" and "globalization," would not have become possible, much less apparent. The universal use ofthe electrical computer marks the appearance ofthe coming


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together of perception (knowing) and practice (action = making) through the copenetration of the computer's superstructure (its software = perception) with its infrastructure (its hardware = practice). I say appearance, as this coming together only appears to be, in that the space between them is relatively but progressively invisible. This is so because in the space in between is Time itself. Granted, we see neither force nor pressure, but we see their effects, relate them to their causes, and call this change. But the change we see in our time is becoming so swift that we see it less and less, and we are progressively becoming to see change as normal, for the normal is precisely what is nearest, and therefore not questioned. Time is Being. And both Time and Being are progressively becoming invisible. Whereas, the power (efficiency) ofmechanism is measured as force, and that of hydraulicism as pressure, the power of the computer lies in the difference in between the on and off pulse of a charge of electricity, and thus is measured by speed. Hence, the technology of mechanism and hydraulicism is manifest in the representation ( Vorstellen) of the apparent as objective, ergo concrete, in that it demands the centralization, hence the massification, of force and pressure in machines; and in human technologies, the massification of money in economies, the massification ofpeople in societies oflarge nations in great cities, governed by extensive bureaucracies, all protected by great armies. So the power of the technology of our day is derived from the relative but progressive rate of diminished time, with the apparent disappearance of the representation of the time that the West has called history. Thus, electronic technology demands not the overstatement of appearance (representation) that in the time of the mechanical and hydraulic metaphor Heidegger calls the "gigantic,"46 but the dissolution of the boundaries in which power was previously contained, hence the decentralization and dispersion of power. Artists, as usual, realized this first. Witness the dissolution of the image in impressionist and abstract painting, and then there is our present antireality and hence reactionary movement-so called postmodernism. While artists need not account for what they see and do, unlike those modernists, most "postmodemists" are not artists, nor are they philosophers. Rather than questioning what is, they resent it and so, with their rhetoric, try to conjure it away, but in their reaction to modernity, they are, in turn, conditioned by it, and hence, unwittingly, are an integral part of it. And sometimes the engine that drives it. But in terms of the serious demands of our technology today, I am thinking of the level ofcoordination in scientific and humanistic research, and how without the advent of the computer this would not be possible. I am thinking of electronic communications in general, but specifically oftelevision and the Internet, and how these two modes of communication are destined to come together. And I am thinking ofhow all ofthis makes us witness to the ever swiftly, disorienting eclipse ofthe sovereignty ofthe nation-state, creating, as it were, a new political arena and a new political actor, the form of which we are yet to imagine, much less to name. Ah, shades of Machiavelli's Prince and Ovid's Metamorphosis. Our technology at the end of this century is manifest by the disembodiment of

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


power in the fonn of the appearance of the invisible. This is why the power of technology during the time of globalization often is referred to as soft power, soft because it is both malleable and boundless. It is a technology the power of which either appears benign or, because of its stealth, appears not to exist at all. Its use always is justified by that abstraction called "values." This power is as soft and as illusive as the electronic image itself. Mass communications is both decentralized and dispersed power. It also is mass illusion and delusion in that the more decenturalized and dispersed it becomes, the less natural and historical reality exists. Given the "world picture," more and more people are coming to take the "virtual" as an improvement over the "givens" ofnature and history, or they simply are taking the "virtual" itself as the given, and therefore, not questioning the picture they see.

*** So we zap the TV. There is CNN. Well, maybe not. Perhaps a talk show in Icelandic, Slovak, or Urdu. But for now, most are in English. Tomorrow? Perhaps, , in Chinese. Crudely put, news or talk about the news is "history as journalism,' 47 as Heidegger tenned it. This is the world picture-the world as a picture-the world pictured as a whole in which the past and future are zapped into an electrical image of the present. The specific language matters less and less, for the fonnat (the frame) increasingly is the same, for the content is conditioned by the context and the context by the perspective. "Truth is relative,'' so they say, but this is not the point. While truth is relative to the perspective from which the world is being viewed, limiting, thereby, both what one "sees" and how one interprets it, greater numbers of people are seeing versions of the same picture. Thus, more and more people are becoming less and less tied to their "little corners" of their necessarily "limiting standpoints"-and coming closer to what Heidegger calls a "standpoint without standpoint."48 This point is so obvious that it likely is to be missed (and this is the point), for it is about that which defines us most, but which we question least. It is about our "Archimedean Point,'' our technology in general, and electronic technology in particular. Let me repeat myself from part l of this essay: technology is our common denominator, our independent variable. Thus, it both defines the world upon which we stand and our view of that world. Simply put, no thought of our world makes sense without taking into account the phenomenon oftechnology. Its major reason for being depends on our perception that all there is there is only in relation to us, and thus, is there for our use. But because of technology, we are able to do/make what we see-to represent a universe as we see fit.49 But representation entails negation, in that it is the given that is represented-both the historical and natural given. The magic of negation lies in its transfonnative power. While globalization is about the transformation of the given, all that has been given to us is not yet transformed. Thus, as Kojeve taught, the U.H.S. is only here in principle, and the 1999 World Trade Organization


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(WTO) mess proves his point. Under present conditions the various uncoordinated and contradictory groups protesting in Seattle cannot be represented, transformed, and hence recognized, for while globalization may be in principle boundless (universal) much ofthe planet has not been transformed (homogenized) in practice. Thus, globalization is not everywhere actualized, and this means that under present conditions these contradictory groups represented at the WTO cannot be assimilated by the "system." Thus, the U.H.S. is here only in principle. But this is another way of saying that the "system" does not yet contain everything, and because of this, is uiot yet complete. Globalization is the actualization of technology. It is technology's concrete universal. Hence, globalization, like the technology that makes it possible, is self-referential, relatively autonomous, progressively sovereign, and tends toward the systemization of nature both human and nonhuman. What I am suggesting is that the interests represented both by the spontaneous protesters, environmentalists, feminists, farmers, labor and NGOs, the Americas, Europe, and the rest of the planet are now too contradictory to be transformed, and that while the U.H.S. may well be our future in the sense that we have eliminated all other possibilities save that one, we are not there yet, and that globalization is but the process that may take us there. But processes, while they are occurring, appear to be without logic. Thus, while undergoing a process, process appears as randomness, but when it is over, it is revealed to have been inevitable. And in the sense that it is revealed to be inevitable, it is logical. But the logic of globalization is meaningless, hence nihilistic.

*** In 1946 when Europe was digging itself out from under the rubble, Kojeve wrote that every good Hegelian knows that the days ofthe nation-state are numbered and that we shall witness yet again the rising star of empire.50 I must confess that I did not understand what Kojeve meant until I read Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Unbeknownst to the rightly celebrated political scientist, however, when you transform a civilization into a power unit you get an empire. Empires are what his book is about, not civilizations. Huntington implores us in the West to "hang together" lest "we hang alone." But the West itself may not hang together, in fact, it may split into a European "West" and a "West" of the Americas. While this is unthinkable for the likes of Huntington, there are signs that such is already developing. The first is the afore mentioned WTO mess in Seattle; the next is a closely related sign. Made more urgent by the other mess that is Kosovo, a decision was taken by the European Union (EU) in the Helsinki talks of December 1999 to establish an EU rapid response corps to be the germ of a future EU military arm. This marks not only what may likely be the beginning of the end ofNATO but also the transformation of the EU into a power unit. Let me be clear. I am writing about

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


the EU becoming an empire, and, in response, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) becoming the same (AFTA), and perhaps the "rest" of the non-West forming imperial power units similar to those described by Huntington. Let us look at the range ofpossibilities: (1) the status quo, e.g., nation-states, (2) radically decentralized power units along cultural (= ethnic) lines, the kind of balkanization that leads to chaos, (3) civilizational economic and social blocks transformed into empires, or (4) planetary rule. At the dawning of the new millennium, the answers appear to be the following: 1. Nation-states have been both the actors in and the stage of politics for four hundred years. But no more. The political question ofhomogeneity and the nation­ state was first settled when WWI emasculated the European nobility by eradicating hereditary rule, and hence class, which led the way for black Americans to become combatants in the next war and then in 1964, "legally equal." And then there was "Rosie," who, in WWII, proved herself by doing "man's work" behind the lines. Yet, the last days of the nation-state marched to the New Speak swan song of political correctness and multiculturalism called "class, race, and gender"-the last gasp ofthe twentieth century, a mere elaboration of, or a concretizing of, our recent past. In principle, the political questions were answered by the Western global civil wars, WWI and WWII, and, at the century's end, the West's victory in the third Western global civil war-the Cold War-has settled the economic question as to whether the state or the market could more efficiently produce more wealth and afford a higher standard ofliving (= life-style, i.e., consumerism). This having been settled, sovereignty and power begins to shift. But where and how? 2. Radical decentralization of power? Perhaps. But unlikely. Why? Because even though frail, the nation-state is still too strong to allow it. Russia, Canada, Mexico, and other states with rebel movements are still strong enough to play by political rules, and power both rules and defines politics. As nation-states become part oflarger civilizational or imperial units they will continue to resist reactionary popular movements who see themselves as trying to protect their culture by resisting globalization. 3. But nation-states can become Huntingtonesque "core states" that can exert power so as to lead and restrain other "states" in an empire and, at the same time, efficiently assimilate groups into a "system" in such a way that globalization on its own is unable to accomplish at this time. I am proposing that perhaps empires will be but a stage along the way to the U.H.S. But no one can know how long this stage will last or what it will bring. Empire is probably the only temporary deterrent to planetary rule, and I think this is what Kojeve's statement concerning empire and his essay on that subject really means. 4. Considering the above, barring the recycling of nation-states as the power units in our future or the free-fall into chaos, it seems that only a period of empire stands between us and planetary rule. But, of course, I speak of technological empires, empires shaped and bound by technology-hence by efficiency-for efficiency rules technology, and globalization is but the reification of technology, and hence efficiency. Hannah Arendt said that bureaucracy is the "rule ofnobody."


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Globalization is the process that may lead to the universal and homogeneous rule of nobody. It is at once Hegel's "Cunning of Reason" (= efficiency) and Marx' s "Specter" (= socialism as "each according to his abilities; each according to his needs" = If you can pay for it, its yours, if you need it). But reason, however cunning, is not yet concrete, and Marx' s "Specter," while it now looms over the globe, rather than just over Europe, still merely looms. So, the U.H.S. is still here only in the abstract, or, again, it is here only in principle. But this means that the U.H.S. is more than a dream. It now is possible.

Conclusion While the West began with the blending of the Greek view of the whole that Plato called the Good with the Judeo-Christian whole called God, the center of this whole, this worl d ( and indeed, of any whole or world) is that in-between where the heavens meet the earth. Previously, because humans were earthbound beings, every view of the whole was limited to the ground upon which they stood, constituting their various centers, or worlds bound by space and time. Today, because of our technology, the center is wherever man deigns to stand, and thus the boundaries of our world now are constituted only by whatever we will to do and can do. And we will do whatever we can. So, for ill or good, our technology provides us with a view of the "patterned change" that is necessary for our picture of the whole. Through technology the planet has become our eternity in non-Time, our

everywhere i n no-Where. So, who has the right to rule the planet? Since rule is about setting limits or boundaries and right depends on adherence to those rules, then our technology has the right to rule because it progressively sets its own rules and adjusts its rules to whatever is efficient at any moment. Nobody knows if our time-ourNeuzeit-will result in the complete transformations visioned by Kojeve, Strauss, Schmitt, or Heidegger. N obody knows if the entire planet eventually will fi t into the self­ adjusting frame of the self-adjusti ng picture, or if something altogether unforseen will occur. But we do know this: at least for this age, and for the life of the West, technology is here to stay, as are its temporal and spacial offspring-the end of history and globalization. So we are left only with an old question that is both philosophical and political-philosophical because it is useless and political because it is practical. This is the questi on: how ought we to live and what are we to do? But, then, since our technology rules and has the right to rule, how can we find an answer to this question when we cannot see a horizon overwhich an answer might dawn on us? We can take the safe way and call the darkness light, or we can embrace our destiny and accept our fate, taking the dangerous way, trying to see and do what we can, and, along whatever way, continue to question.

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


Notes 1 . Mark Lilla, "The End of Philosophy: How a Russian Emigre Brought Hegel to the French," Times Literary Supplement (April 5, 1 99 1 ): 3-5. 2. Vincent Descombes, Contemporary French Philosophy, trans. L. Scott Fox and J. M. Harding (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1 980). 3. Alexandre Kojeve, Introduction a La Lecture De Hegel, ed. Raymond Queneau (Paris: Gillimard, 1 947). Introduction to the Reading ofHegel, assembled Raymond Queneau, ed. Allan Bloom, trans. James H. Nichols Jr. (New York: Basic Books, 1 969). 4. Kojeve, "Entretien avec Gilles Lapouge," La quinzaine litteraire 53 (July 1 - 1 5, 1 968): 1 8- 1 9. 5. Kojeve, Re/igionsphilosophie Wladimir Solowjews, philosophy diss., Heidelberg, 1 926. Also see review of R. Ambrozaitis, "Die Staastslehre Wildimir Solowjews," Archivefur Sozialpo/itik 1 , no. 1 (February 1 929); Kojeve, "Die Geschichtsphilosophie Wladimir Solowjews: Sonderabdruck," Derrussische Gedanke: International Zeitschriftfur russische Philosophie, Literaturwissenschaft und kultur 1 ( 1 930). 6. Alexander Bogdanov, "Matter as a Thing in Itself," trans. George L. Kline, in Russian Philosophy, vol. 3, ed. James M. Edie (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1 969), 390-404. 7. Hugh Gillis, "Anthropology, Dialectic and Atheism in Kojeve's Thought," Graduate Faculty Journal 1 8 ( 1995): 24-34. I would argue that there were no accurate commentaries written during the nineteenth century and only two reliable interpretations, the critiques of Hegel by first Kierkegaard and then by Nietzsche. Commentary, as opposed to interpretation, more closely resembles an author's understanding ofhimself. However, aside from the famous letter Hegel wrote to his friend, Niethammer, where he identifies Napoleon as the man who actualizes freedom, there is textural evidence in the Phenomenology that Hegel understood himself to mean that history had ended in 1 806. For examples, see Hegel's comments about the love ofknowledge and the possession ofactual knowledge on page 70, together with his comment about the "New World" on page ';5 of the Baillie translation ofthe Phenomenology (New York: Harper & Row, 1 967). Napoleon is the "true" Christ, "the Logos become flesh,'' so says Kojeve. Jesus entered Jerusalem astride an ass while carrying an olive branch. Napoleon entered Jena astride a white steed while brandishing a sword. Yet, it was Hegel who reminded us in his Philosophy ofRight that Minerva's owl flies after dusk, so perhaps the twentieth, rather than the nineteenth, is really Hegel's century, the century in which Hegel is actually understood. 8. Alexandre Koyre, "Hegel a Iena," Revue d'histoire etphilosophie re/igieuses ( 1934), in Etudes d'histoire de la pensee philosophique, vol. 9, 247-89; "Note sur la langue et la terminologie hegeliennes," Revuephilosophique (1931 ), in Revue d'histoire etphilosophie re/igieuses, vol. 4, 1 9 1 -224. 9. Many have remarked about how different Kojeve's account ofHegel is from the more conventional accounts of Hegel. While Hegel certainly knew more about what he meant, Kojeve knew more about what Hegel means. After all, Kojeve could read Hegel while Hegel could not read Kojeve, and, of course, Kojeve could read Marx, Nietzsche and Heidegger, Strauss and Schmitt. But most important, Kojeve experienced most ofthe twentieth century. In this sense, Kojeve knew Hegel better than Hegel knew himself. Kojeve's violently anthropocentric account is accomplished by reading all ofHegel (and thereby all ofWestern experience) through the "Lordship and Bondage" section of the Phenomenology. But this is the point: man all along has been the telos ofthe West, and by extention of humanity and its planet. 1 0. "Kojeve, Entretien avec Gilles Lapouge/Razhovor so Gillom Lapougeom,'' La


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quinzaine litteaire 53 (July 1968): 18-19. 11. Leo Strauss, On Tyranny: Including the Strauss, Kojeve Correspondence, ed. Victor Gourevitch and Michael Roth (New York: Free Press, 1991). 12. Mark Lilla, "The Enemy ofLiberalism," New YorkReview ofBooks (May 15, 1997). Shortly before his death in Brussels in 1968, Kojeve visited Schmitt, who Kojeve said was "the only person in Germany worth talking to." On this trip Kojeve told a fawning group of students that ifthey really wanted to do something radical they should learn to read classical Greek. 13. Carl Schmitt, On the Concept of the Political, trans. and intro. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996). On Schmitt's anti-Semitism and "betrayal" of Strauss, see, Heinrich Meier, Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue, trans. J. Harvey Lomax (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), esp. 81, 130-31. Also for a differing opinion on the "betrayal" and other matters discussed in Meier, see, "Heinrich Meier, Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss und Der Begriffdes Politischen," Zu einem Dialog unter Abwesenden (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler Verlag, 1988), 139, and Paul Gottfried's, a review in Telos 96 (Summer 1993), 167, esp. n30. 14. Globalization is a dynamic process that progressively makes manifest (concrete) the concept of the U.H.S., thereby transforming the given (human and nonhuman nature) into the made (artificial or virtual). Just as the condition that is U.H.S. would be impossible without the process ofglobalization, globalization would be impossible without technology. Technology, its meaning, and its relation to this process and condition are the main subjects for part 3. 15. For the best general essay on Strauss, his position concerning such matters as the relation of politics to philosophy-action to theory-and how Strauss's approach is "classical," yet confronts the modernity, see Allan Bloom, "Leo Strauss: September 20, 1899--0ctober 18, 1973," in Giants andDwarfs: Essays 1960-1990 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990), 235-54. 16. The most notable exception is the Frankfurt School in general, but in particular, Walter Benjamin. See Ellen Kennedy's essay that began a controversy over this matter, in Telos 71 (Spring 1987), 15-34. After having abandoned Marx for Nietzsche in the years following 1968, the "left" now has forsaken Nietzsche for Schmitt. For the best example of this kind of appropriation, see John McCormick's well-researched and most illuminating book, Carl Schmitt 's Critique ofLiberalism: Against Politics and Technology (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997). 17. I am deliberately using this term in reference to the earliest major source on Schmitt to have appeared in English. See Joseph Bendersky, Carl Schmitt: Theoristfor the Reich (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983). This is an "intellectual biography" of Schmitt. It also is an apology in the most commonly used sense of the term. 18. For a thorough accounting of the great number of articles on Schmitt appearing in Telos and otherjournals, together with major works published since Bendersky' s work, see John McCormick, Carl Schmitt 's Critique ofLiberalism, 1. McCormick also mentions that the greatest interest in Schmitt has been expressed by those associated with what he calls the "New Left." Remembering that I heard this term over twenty-five years ago, we must ask the following: Is the "New-Left" constituted by the same people who called themselves the "New Left" then? The answer is both "no" and "yes." While some are the same, all are "newer." Some of the ''New Left" just cannot let go and others are trying to adjust. Whatever the case, this is the fact: Our conceptual apparatus, and thereby our political vocabulary, has become uprooted from the experiential ground, leaving us with an inability to make the kind of distinctions necessary for explaining our experience. And, in the case

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


of "right and left," that ground is the French Revolution. How can this or any other revolution serve as an experiential ground when the "Age of Revolution" is over? It seems that when it is over all one can do is play it over. This may help to explain why in 1993, Telos devoted an entire issue to Fascism, with articles by neo-fascist writers such as Alan de Benoit. This "recycling" is the comic moment of a civilization stuck under its own horizon. At the end of history there is nothing new, merely combinations and permutations of the same. 19. Carl Schmitt, Political Romanticism, trans. Guy Oakes (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985), 31-33, 57-56, 1 12-13. 20. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. George Schwab (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985). "Sovereign is he who decides on the exception" (5). 2 1 . Schmitt, On the Concept ofthe Political, 35. 22. Leo Strauss, "Notes," in On the Concept ofthe Political, 1 04. 23. Strauss, "Notes," 98-100. 24. Schmitt, On the Concept ofthe Political, 53, and comments from Strauss's ''Notes," 101. For "neutralization and depolitization" see, Carl Schmitt, "The Age ofNeutralizations and Depolitizations (1929)," trans. John McCormick, Telos 96 (1993): 1 19-30. 25. Schmitt, On the Concept ofthe Political, 98. 26. Strauss, On Tyranny, 256. 27. Strauss, On Tyranny, 256. 28. Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, 36. 29. Schmitt, "The Age ofNeutralizations and Depolitizations," 141. 30. Martin Heidegger, "The Age of the World Picture," in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harper and Row, 1977). 3 1 . Heidegger, "In the Age of the World Picture," 1 15. Also, An Introduction to Metaphysics (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1959). Since philosophy cannot judge the real until the real has passed away, philosophy always is "untimely." But "what is untimely will have its own time . . . and imposes its measure on its epoch" (8). Thus, the "way" of philosophy is to enforce its own perspective on its own age, and in this way misjudges its own time. Put tersely, because ofthe untimeliness ofphilosophy, Being, in its own time, will be concealed. The last moment of our age is on the cusp of what Heidegger calls the "planetary culture" of the "age of the world picture" -the "Eveningland" of the West-the last ofthe last age. Hence we view the last moment ofthis, our modern age, from the perspective of the dusk of the age of metaphysics. 32. Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, 19; see also, 37-39 and 45. 33. Heidegger, "The Age of the World Picture," 1 1 8. 34. Heidegger, Being and Time (New York: Harper and Row, 1962). This relation of beings and Being is the driving theme of this, Heidegger's most famous work, and centers on the question: "why are there things that are rather than nothing?" It is about the question of ''thereness" (Dasein) and the way Being discloses itself as it reveals itself. Also, see n. 2, above. 35. "Technology is at hand" is a phrase used in 193 1 by Carl Schmitt, but we do not know if Heidegger got the phrase from Schmitt. It likely was one of those utterances that constituted the discourse of"reactionary modernism." 36. Heidegger, "The Age of the World Picture," I 16; and "The Question Concerning Technology," in The Question Concerning Technology, 5-6. 37. According to the second law of thermodynamics, systems tend toward totality, and totality leads to entropy. In relation to the emerging "system" of "planetary culture,"


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entrophy equals nihilism. 38. This radically increasing prowess appears early in the modem age with what I have called elsewhere interrelated "Sovereign Regimes" of religion, art, science, and politics, appearing in this order. See my "The Three Waves ofTechnology," in The Literary Review ofCanada (October 1995); and also see Heidegger, who inspired my elaboration of his idea in An Introduction to Metaphysics, 48. Incidently, my three waves have nothing to do with Tofiler, but everything to do with Plato. 39. Heidegger, "The Age of the World Picture," 1 22. My suspicions are best explained by "Epilogue: Gnosticism, Existentialism, and Nihilism" in Hans Jonas's The Gnostic Religion (Boston: Beacon Press, 1963), 320. Also, see, Eric Voegelin, Science Politics and Gnosticism (Chicago: Gateway Books, 1997); and Flannery O'Connor's novel, Wise Blood (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1952). 40. In his three-page introduction to Leviathan, Hobbes attacks Judeo-Christianity and philosophy. This attack is Hobbes's hypothesis or the projection of his "fixed ground plan." Here he says man is superior to God, which is the same thing as saying there is no god but Man, and he metaphorically describes Man's "artificial creation," Leviathan, as a clock-like machine. In his attack on the heart of philosophy (science}-Aristotle's Doctrine of Causality-he compounds Aristotle's first and third causes (material and agency) and the second and forth causes (idea and purpose), thereby bringing together a new practice and a new perception. What follows, e.g., the text itself, is a proof of his "ground plan." As Hobbes advises: "Read thyself." 41. Heidegger, "In the Age of the World Picture," 120. 42. Heidegger, "In the Age of the World Picture," 122. 43. Heidegger, "In the Age ofthe World Picture," 125. The "ongoing activity" ofresearch requires institutionalization. In our universities the researcher will replace the scholar. Today, this almost has come to be. It seems that the only refuge for erudition left is in the liberal arts (artes libera/es), a small enclave for humanity, perhaps its last hope for dignity during ''the age of the world picture." 44. While in actuality globalization is new, the experiences engendered by it are old. These experiences are the theme ofRepublic. In Plato's dystopian book 5, Plato, playing on Aristophanes' "The Assembly ofWomen," outrageously eradicates the difference between the public and private realms, by (1) elimating eroticism, (2) then the family, and last (3) the difference between action and thought. These conditions are his famous "waves." His first wave is about universalization, his second about homogenation, and the third is the end of politics and philosophy with the reign ( "state ") of the philosopher-king. This is the greatest of Plato's serious jokes. And then there is Gen. 11: 1-9, which recapitulates the "Fall" in the story ofthe Tower ofBabel. But then there was God and the Good. Destiny has a beginning and an end. 45. Heidegger, "The Turning," in The Question Concerning Technology, has Enframing and Standing Reserve as its major theme. My term for "Standing Reserve" has its shallow roots in our late-modem experience and is part ofour worn-out late-modem vocabulary. My word for it is simply "stuff." See my Sojourns in the New World (Ottawa, Canada: Ottawa University Press, 1986). 46. Heidegger, "In the Age of the World Picture," 153. An explanation as to why the U.S.S.R. fell: it was not able to make the transition from "hydraulics" to "electricity," and instead of exploding (= revolution), merely imploded from leaking pressure due to a lack of fuel (= money), thereby collapsing under the gigantic weight of its engine (= frame). Now the rubble (Russia) has reverted to a frontier (= lawless = criminal) society somewhere between "mechanism" and "hydraulicism." The U.S.S.R. tried to escape the past and today

On Spiritual Crisis, Globalization, and Planetary Rule


Russia is being squashed by its past as the U.S.S.R., and a series of anemic revolutions could pop out anywhere and anytime. Yet, the Russians still make the best rockets, e.g., engines, their only significant contribution to the International Space Station Project. For now, the micro-electronics of the "electric age" still must depend on engines to move their hardware, e.g., their frame (= body = being). Tomorrow, when another way is found, perhaps the Russians will become like the early-modern Chinese, who, after having invented gunpower and ballistics, were reduced to making and exploding firecrackers to ward offthe spirits of evil ancestors. 47. What is meant by "History as Journalism" is the following: (I) politics and its result, history, are transformed into culture and culture into entertainment (see Schmitt /Strauss in part 2 of this essay), (2) the imploding ofthe past and future into the present, and (3) instant global communication. See, as described in An Introduction to Metaphysics, 3 7-38. During the last days ofthe last century we were entertained by the electronic implosion ofthe drama of sex and death on CNN-the impeachment of the American president during the electronically controlled bombardment oflraq. Nietzsche wrote that the politics ofthe future would be beyond good and evil, but, as my colleague Hugh Gillis has noted, Nietzsche may be wrong, the politics of the future (our present) appears to be below good and evil. 48. Heidegger, Nietzsche, vol. 2, The Eternal Return ofthe Same (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), 117. 49. Heidegger, "In the Age of the World Picture," 132. 50. Kojeve, "L'EmpireLatin. Equisse d'unc doctrine de la politique francaise" (Aout 27, 1945), in La regle dujeu l (May 1990).

Chapter 4

Stoics and Christians: Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor on the Moral Contradictions of Southern Culture Gregory R. Johnson Both Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor have grappled with one of the central questions regarding the relationship of religion, politics, and community in the American South: How did Southerners reconcile their predominantly Christian faith and its teaching that all men are equal in the eyes of God with the existence of slavery and racial segregation? Both Percy and O'Connor offered essentially the same explanation. Southern morals and culture, particularly of the upper class, contain a significant admixture of "paganism"-i.e., ancient Greek and Roman moral attitudes. The Southern upper class may worship one day a week in Gothic or Romanesque churches, but they aspire to live seven days a week in houses that look like Greek temples.

Hierarchy and Equality, Cosmic and Moral What is the main philosophical difference between Christianity and paganism? Pagan thought has a metaphysical and moral commitment to hierarchy. Christianity has a metaphysical and moral commitment to egalitarianism. Both pagan Greek philosophers and biblical theologians identify goodness itself with the divine. God is not merely good; he is the Good, goodness itself. All other beings have goodness merely by participating in divine goodness. Pagan philosophy holds that the world is uncreated, eternal, and finite. The divine/the Good exists within the horizon of the world, and the gods are finite beings in the world, subject to natural necessities. Thus, the moral and


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metaphysical "distances" between mundane beings and the divine are finite and commensurable, and when these distances are compared, the cosmos is revealed as a hierarchy, a "great chain of being," in which all beings receive their place in terms of their distance from or proximity to the Good/divine. The Bible holds that the world is created by God out of nothing. God is an infinite being who transcends the world and is subject to no external restraints. 1 Even though God is intimately present to all beings as their creator and sustainer, he is also infinitely distant from them in terms of his subsistent being and goodness. But if God/the Good is infinitely distant from a slave and infinitely distant from his master, then God is equally distant from both slave and master. Thus, when measured from the viewpoint of God, the hierarchies of this world, both natural and social, are flattened out, and all men appear to be equal. (Mankind as a whole, however, is not equal to all other beings; man is elevated above them insofar as he is made in the image of God.) For pagan philosophy, the highest virtue is magnanimity (mega/opsychia, greatness of soul). For Christianity, the highest virtue is charity (agape). Magnanimity and charity often resemble one another. Both virtues lead to generosity, forbearance, and forgiveness in dealing with human failings. Both virtues reject small-minded calculations of selfish advantage. But there are fundamental metaphysical and moral differences between these virtues. For the Greeks, magnanimity is a kind of pride or self-esteem. In common parlance, it is the pride of those in "high society"-the people on the upper rungs of the social ladder. For Aristotle, however, conventional social status is not the highest thing to take pride in. Instead, one should take greater pride in one's moral character. Thus, for Aristotle, magnanimity is the well-justified pride that highly virtuous men take in their own virtues. It is opposed to two related vices, smallness of soul, in which one underestimates one's virtues, and boastfulness, in which one overestimates them. The greatest good for the magnanimous man is his own character, the perfection of his own soul. The greatest external good for the magnanimous man is the recognition ofhis virtue by his peers. Thus, magnanimity inevitably involves self-love and self-gratification. Aristotle defends the love of one's own moral self-perfection as entirely praiseworthy. Magnanimity, moreover, involves an awareness of moral and social differences and hierarchies, which fit perfectly into the hierarchical cosmos of the pagan philosophers. Charity, however, does not involve self-love or self-gratification. The concept of charity arises from the metaphysics of creation ex nihilo. If one holds that God is goodness himself, that God can exist undiminished even if the world does not exist, but that God nevertheless chose to create the world, then it is difficult to understand God's motive for creation. Since God can exist without the world, he did not create it out of need. Since God is goodness itself, creation produces no net increase in existing goodness, for the goodness of creation is merely borrowed from God. Creation, therefore, cannot be understood in terms of egoistic motives. There is simply nothing in it for God. Creation can only be understood as an act of

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love or generosity, a love or generosity that does not, and indeed cannot, aim at any recompense. The name of this gift-love is charity. God creates the world out of charity, enters the world as Jesus out of charity, dies for the redemption of mankind out of charity, and Christians must imitate his example. Of the three theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity, charity is the highest, because God himself practices it.

Percy's "Stoicism in the South" Walker Percy argues that the moral views of the Southern upper classes were as much, if not more, influenced by Stoicism than by Christianity. Stoicism was founded in Athens in the fourth century B.C. by Zeno of Citiurn. It takes its name from the Stoa or "porch," a public building where Zeno and his students gathered. Percy's Southern Stoicism, however, is derived primarily from the Roman Stoics of the first and second centuries A.O., primarily Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Reinhold Niebuhr's prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference" states the essence of Stoicism. Epictetus begins his Enchiridion with the observation that there are some things that we can change and some things that we cannot. The wise man distinguishes between the two and adjusts his expectations accordingly, acquiescing to what cannot be changed and dutifully changing what can. The result of this policy is happiness or well-being, which is the aim of the moral life. The Stoics understood well-being as the harmony of the soul with itself and the world. Thus, the Stoics emphasized retreat into the "inner citadel" of the soul and the cultivation and perfection of one's character. In public life, the Stoics took pride in nobly shouldering the duties imposed on them by their social and familial roles. Percy claims that this Stoic ethos was in large part responsible for the elements of chivalry, humanity, and moderation in race relations after the Civil War. The Stoic gentleman would never mistreat blacks because he believed it beneath his dignity-not so much because of the value he placed on black men, but because of the value he placed on himself. Furthermore, he believed that his role in society obligated him to care for his social inferiors. In Percy's words: The Colonel Sartoris who made himself responsible for his helpless "freedmen," and the Lucas Beauchamps who accepted his leadership formed between them a bond such as can only exist between one man in his dignity and another. . . . The nobility of Sartoris-and there were a great many Sartorises-was the nobility of the natural perfection of the Stoics, the stern inner summons to man's full estate, to duty, to honor, to generosity toward his fellow men and above all to his inferiors-not because they were made in the image of God and were lovable in themselves, but because to do them an injustice would be to defile the inner fortress which was oneself.2


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Percy argues, however, that as much as this Stoic ethos moderated and humanized slavery and segregation, it was incapable of overturning them. Indeed, it contributed to their perpetuation. After all, in Rome Stoicism could be professed both by a slave {Epictetus) and an emperor (Marcus Aurelius), for it counseled that we ungrumblingly embrace the station and carry out the duties allotted to us by Providence, rather than try to take destiny into our own hands. Stoic virtues presuppose the existence of a hierarchical society. Thus, when faced with unjust hierarchies, Stoics see only opportunities for heroic endurance, not for radical change.3 Percy sees Christianity as a far more optimistic, egalitarian, and socially transformative teaching-although he acknowledges the prominent role of Christians as apologists for the worst forms of slavery, segregation, and repression. A Stoic avoids doing injustice not because it would harm other men, but because it would harm himself. A Stoic does good for other men if it is his duty, but his duty is assigned him by his social standing. But there is no duty to help other men regardless of one's social status, much less a duty to change the whole structure of society to benefit other men. Christianity, however, emphasizes the dignity of others, and imposes both negative duties to respect their rights and the positive duty, the duty ofcharity, to further their happiness. Christianity, furthermore, views all men as equal in the eyes of God. God's charity is no respecter of social hierarchies, and neither should our own.4

O'Connor's "Revelation" Flannery O'Connor's short story, "Revelation," dramatizes the conflict between "pagan" hierarchical ethics and Christian egalitarianism as it plays out in the mind of a single woman, Ruby Turpin. Mrs. Turpin, like the South as a whole, is forced to confront the conflict between these two value systems and choose which one is ultimate. I argue, however, that although O'Connor regards Christianity as the ultimate truth, she regards the pagan viewpoint as a repository of genuine moral truths. The plot of"Revelation" is quite simple. The story begins in a doctor's waiting room. The protagonist, Ruby Turpin, is accompanying her husband, Claud, who is visiting the doctor because of an ulcer on his leg. In economic terms, Mrs. Turpin belongs to the upper middle class. Morally and socially, she regards herself as a member of the upper class. She is also a pious Christian, apparently a Baptist, for she seems to believe that her acceptance of Christ has assured her redemption once and for all. As she waits, Mrs. Turpin carefully sizes up the people in the room in terms of their social class and their moral character. She then strikes up a conversation with another lady of her class, a conversation that eventually involves other people in the waiting room. The conversation abundantly displays Mrs. Turpin's prejudices, snobbery, and complacent conviction that she has been saved.

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This enrages the upper-class lady's college-age daughter, the surly and unattractive Mary Grace, an alienated secular egalitarian seething with resentment against her own mother and her social class and its prejudices. Mary Grace hurls her Human Development textbook at Mrs. Turpin, striking her on the head, then tries to strangle her before she is pulled off. Mary Grace's parting shot to Mrs. Turpin is, "Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog."5 The remainder of the story is set on the Turpin farm. Mary Grace's words have struck home, forcing Mrs. Turpin to question her moral complacency, particularly her conviction that she has been saved, and to confront the conflict between her class-obsessed snobbery and her Christian commitment to charity. Mrs. Turpin's reflections open her soul to receive a revelation: a vision of souls ascending into heaven as the hierarchies of her world, and even the virtues of her class, are burned away by God's chastening love. Ruby Turpin is typical of O'Connor's female protagonists. Like O'Connor's mother, Regina, she is a strong and capable white Southern woman who runs a farm. She dominates her husband and all those around her. But she seems more characterized by smallness of mind than greatness of soul. Mrs. Turpin, after all, is obsessed with ranking people in terms of social class. When Mrs. Turpin enters the waiting room, she immediately hones in on such details as the smallness of the room, the limpness of the magazines, and the overflowing ashtray (which would have been emptied if she had been running things), and takes special note of people's shoes, hairstyles, clothes, posture, deportment, and cleanliness, from which she can determine their income levels and social class. At night, Mrs. Turpin lays awake thinking about social class. If given the choice between being "a nigger or white-trash," she decides that she would prefer to be a "neat, clean, respectable Negro woman, herselfbut black" (195). Other times, she occupies herself naming and ranking the classes of people. On the bottom are "most colored people" and "the white-trash." Above them are home owners. Above them are home and land owners like her and Claud. And above them are people with bigger homes and more land. At this point, however, the hierarchy becomes somewhat confused, for there are colored people who owned homes and land, trashy people who owned more than she did, and fallen upper-class people who owned neither homes nor land. At a certain point in the conversation, Mrs. Turpin mentally dismisses the opinion of a white-trash woman, noting to herself that ''you had to have certain things before you could know certain things" (199). She discounts the woman's look of disapproval because of "where it came from" (201). But Mrs. Turpin's meticulous attention to details, her obsession with class, and her pride, although extreme, are not necessarily signs ofsmall-mindedness. Indeed, the classical idea ofgreatness ofsoul presupposes both the existence and awareness of a hierarchical social order, even though it also encourages an inner detachment from it. Mrs. Turpin also regards the internal goods of character as more important than the external goods of fortune. It is this feature, in particular, that demonstrates her


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breadth of soul. She has a high opinion of her disposition, and she is thankful for it: IfJesus had said, "You can be high society and have all the money you want and be thin and svelte-like, but you can't be a good woman with it," she would have to say, "Well, don't make me that then. Make me a good woman and it doesn't matter what else, how fat or how ugly or how poor!" Her heart rose. He had not made her a nigger or white-trash or ugly! He had made her herself and given her a little of everything. Jesus, thank you! she said Thank you thank you thank you! Whenever she counted her blessings she felt as buoyant as if she weighted one hundred and twenty-five pounds instead of one hundred and eighty. (203)

Later, the last straw that precipitates the attack by Mary Grace is when Mrs. Turpin voices these sentiments aloud: "If it is one thing I am," said Mrs. Turpin with feeling, "it' s grateful. When I think who all I could have been besides myselfand what all I got, a little of everything, and a good disposition besides, I just feel like shouting, 'Thank you, Jesus, for making everything the way it is!' It could have been different!" For one thing, somebody else could have got Claud. At the thought of this, she was flooded with gratitude and a terrible pang ofjoy ran through her. "Oh thank you, Jesus, Jesus thank you!" she cried aloud. (206)

When Mrs. Turpin inventories the different classes of people, she clearly understands that class is different from money, for she notes that there are trashy people with lots of money and respectable people with none, and she clearly regards the latter as superior ( 196). Looking at Mary Grace, she notes that "it was one thing to be ugly and another to act ugly," clearly regarding the latter as worse ( 1 96). Mrs. Turpin immediatel y sees past the outward resemblance between Mary Grace and her mother to the radically different temperaments beneath ( 1 96). Mrs. Turpin also exemplifies another characteristic of classical magnanimity: iro nism. Irony, in the classical sense, is a superior person' s forbearance in displ aying his superiority in front of his inferiors. Mrs. Turpin never displays her snobbery to the people she disdains. She is even careful not to be noticed when she examines people's shoes ( 1 94). In the waiting room, she mentally registers disdain for the white-trash present, yet although she does not wish to converse with them, she does not speak frankly and does not treat them rudely. 0'Conno r constantly illustrates her reserve by contrasting what Mrs. Turpin says and what she thinks. She tells the white- trash woman how she keeps her pigs clean, while she thinks to herself that they are cleaner than the woman's child ( 1 98). When the woman says that she would never hose off a hog, Mrs. Turpin thinks to herselfthat the woman would never own a hog in the first place ( 1 98, cf. 1 99, 203). She does speak negatively of some blacks, but never in their presence. Indeed, one

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of the things she talks about is the necessity of "buttering up niggers": ''you got to love them if you want them to work for you" (199). When a black delivery boy enters the waiting room, she helps him, albeit somewhat patronizingly, by showing him the buzzer to summon the nurse, further demonstrating her practical mastery and attention to detail. Nevertheless, most readers of "Revelation" find Mrs. Turpin thoroughly repulsive. O'Connor, however, does not. Unlike Jane Austen, who invariably portrays snobbery as stupid, O'Connor quietly points out the intelligence of Mrs. Turpin's snobbery. First of all, Mrs. Turpin is shown to be a master of reading and decoding the meaning of people's clothes, hair, posture, cleanliness, etc. Second, Mrs. Turpin's ability to read people allows her to make accurate predictions about their behavior. As soon as she enters the waiting room, she notices a small blond child, taking up enough room for two people in an otherwise full room. She notes that his clothes are dirty, his posture slumped, his arms idle, his gaze blank, and his nose snotty. She pegs him immediately as white trash and correctly infers that the child will not make room for her, nor will be told to by his family (191-92). Mrs. Turpin spotted the child's family instantly. Sitting next to him was his grandmother, "a thin leathery old woman in a cotton print dress"; she recognized the pattern: it was the same as the pattern on the chicken feed sacks in her pump house. She knew that the woman and child belonged together because of the way they sat, "kind of vacant and white-trashy, as if they would sit there until Doomsday if nobody . . . told them to get up" (194). Mrs. Turpin correctly guessed that the child's mother was a "lank faced" woman sitting separately from them. She had dirty clothes, dirty hair, and her lips were stained with snuff. She was wearing a pair of bedroom slippers and had not bothered to remove the cast from one ofher eyes. Mrs. Turpin had a rather elaborate set of prejudices against white trash: "There was nothing you could tell her about people like them that she didn't know already" (203). But O'Connor does not mock or undermine these prejudices. Instead, she shows them to be well-founded. For instance, Mrs. Turpin pegged the mother as the kind of person who would try to monopolize the conversation, and her prediction was immediately and amply confirmed (197, 204). Mrs. Turpin also knew, from personal experience, that such people could not be helped, for they had no pride. Whatever was given them would be filthy or destroyed within two weeks. This particular family turned out to be especially nasty. The mother complained that the child was vicious and mean from birth. He only became manageable when he became sick with an ulcer. The mother preferred that her son stay sick, and was at the doctor for her own maladies (204). Finally, the mother turned out to be a typical lower-class racist. She hated all blacks and wished them forcibly deported to Africa, whereas Mrs. Turpin and the upper-class lady were careful to distinguish between good and bad blacks and professed to be unable to do without the good ones (200-20 1).


Gregory R. Johnson

When Mrs. Turpin notices the only man in the room besides Claud, she notes that he is "a lean, stringy old fellow with a rusty [read: dirty] hand spread out on each knee." She immediately pegs him as white trash, which disposes her to give a suspicious interpretation to the fact that his eyes are closed, "as ifhe were asleep or dead or pretending to be so as not to get up and offer her a seat" (192). Her suspicion is soon confirmed when the man, evidently awake, laughs at Claud'sjoke (202). Other signs oflower class standing Mrs. Turpin notes are the nurse's high stack of yellow hair and the graceless way the woman in the chair next to Claud's "hoisted herself up . . . pulled her dress free from her legs and lumbered through the door" ( l 93). Mrs. Turpin also appraised a "red-headed youngish woman, reading one of the magazines and working a piece of chewing gum, hell for leather," as "not white trash, just common" (195). Mrs. Turpin is also correct in her estimation of the upper-class lady. She immediately notes that she is well dressed, in a red and grey dress with matching suede shoes. The dress and shoes harmonize with her grey hair (192, 194). Mrs. Turpin regards her appearance as "pleasant" (192) and "stylish" ( 193). Her outward appearance coheres well with her character. Her sense of propriety was immediately evident. Her eyes met Mrs. Turpin's, and there was an immediate mutual understanding. Mrs. Turpin read her expression as saying: "if that child belonged to me, he would have some manners and move over" (192). This impression was immediately confirmed when the woman suggested, in vain, that the little boy move. The woman shows polite interest in Claud's malady, magnanimously denies that Mrs. Turpin is fat, and praises the superiority of inner dispositions to external appearances (192-93). She blushes at her daughter's rudeness (204) and is mortified by her violence (208). In sum, not a single one of Mrs. Turpin's snobbish prejudices is shown to be false or foolish. Instead, Mrs. Turpin's prejudices are shown to be both well­ founded in past experience and useful for predicting future experience. But for all of her "pagan" snobbery, Ruby Turpin is by conscious conviction a Protestant Christian. Her complacent assurance of her own salvation is evident from the line she supplies to complete the half-audible gospel tune playing in the waiting room: "And wona these days I know I'll we-ear a crown" (194). Furthermore, Mrs. Turpin strives to be charitable, and her charity overlooks all distinctions ofrace and class: "She never spared herselfwhen she found somebody in need, whether they were white or black, trash or decent. And of all she had to be thankful for, she was most thankful that this was so" (202-3). When dealing with white trash, Mrs. Turpin's commitment to charity even trumps her knowledge that all such help is futile: "if you gave them everything, in two weeks it would all be broken or filthy or they would have chopped it up for lightwood. She knew all this from her own experience. Help them you must, but help them you couldn't" (203). But O'Connor uses two ironic devices to indicate that for all of her conscious convictions, Mrs. Turpin is only half a Christian. First, the half-heard gospel music

Stoics and Christians


is a sign that Mrs. Turpin has only half-heard the gospel. Second, when Mrs. Turpin complains about the necessity of"buttering up niggers" to get them to work for her, the pleasant lady responds, "Like you read out of the same book," . . . showing she understood perfectly, to which Mrs. Turpin responds, "Child, yes" (199). Mrs. Turpin never pauses to consider that she and her black workers do read from the same book, the Bible, and what this might imply. Mrs. Turpin interprets Mary Grace's attack as a message from God. This undermines her smug conviction of her own salvation and her obsession with distinctions of class, opening her soul to a revelation. This transformation takes place on a number of levels. First, the attack heightens Mrs. Turpin's sense of her own vulnerability to suffering and death. Suffering and death, however, are no respecters of persons. They tend to erase all distinctions of class. This theme appears early in the story. When Mrs. Turpin lays in bed at night, categorizing and ranking people, she finds that her neat classificatory system is strained by certain exceptions. The system collapses, however, when she contemplates the great equalizer, death: "Usually by the time she had fallen asleep all the classes of people were moiling and roiling around in her head, and she would dream they were all crammed together in a box car being ridden off to be put in a gas oven" (196). This heightened sense of vulnerability is apparent when the Turpins return home after the attack. Mrs. Turpin "gripped the window ledge and looked out suspiciously" at their very proper and well-maintained house: "their small yellow frame house, with its little flower beds spread out around it like a fancy apron, sat primly in its accustomed place between two giant hickory trees. She would not have been startled to see a burnt wound between two blackened chimneys" (209). That evening, she had the same experience as she watched Claud driving the black workers home: "A tiny truck, Claud's, appeared on the highway, heading rapidly out of sight. Its gears scraped thinly. It looked like a child's toy. At any moment a bigger truck might smash into it and scatter Claud's and the niggers' brains all over the road" (21 7). Second, Mrs. Turpin's need to discuss the attack forces her to confront the limitations on frank communication imposed by the Southern class structure. When Mrs. Turpin takes water to the black women employed to pick her cotton, one of them asks "in a solicitous voice" about the bruise over her eye where she was struck by the book (211). Under normal circumstances, Mrs. Turpin would feel socially constrained from talking frankly to her black workers, but her desire to discuss her experience and reassure herself of her position in the world leads her to cross this boundary. Looking around to make sure that her husband is gone, Mrs. Turpin reported the assault and what Mary Grace had said. But her attempt at frankness was not responded to in kind. Instead, she received only inane flattery, and "Mrs. Turpin knew just exactly how much Negro flattery was worth and it added to her rage" (213). Mrs. Turpin is angered when her social inferiors repay her condescension with insincere and patronizing flattery. Magnanimous irony preserves the boundaries between people by papering them over with insincerity


Gregory R. Johnson

and good manners. It is only the spirit ofcharity that allows people to communicate with open-hearted frankness across the divisions of race and class. Third, Mrs. Turpin is driven to an angry confrontation with God himselfbecause of the contradiction between two propositions she believes to be true: that she is Ruby Turpin, a respectable, churchgoing woman whose salvation is assured, and that she is an old wart hog from hell: "I am not," she said tearfully, "a wart hog. From hell." But the denial had no force. The girl's eyes and her words, even the tone of her voice, low but clear, directed only to her, brooked no repudiation. She had been singled out for the message, though there was trash in the room to whom it might justly have been applied. . . . The message had been given to Ruby Turpin, a respectable, hard-working, church-going woman. The tears dried. Her eyes began to bum instead with wrath. (21 0) Later that evening, again after :furtively determining that Claud has gone, she stands before the setting sun, hosing offpigs in her pig parlor, and vents her wrath at God himself: "'What do you send me a message like that for?' she said in a low fierce voice, barely above a whisper but with the force of a shout in its concentrated fury. 'How am I a hog and me both? How am I saved and from hell too? "' (21 5). As Mrs. Turpin speaks, she uses her hose to torment her pigs. Once, when she shakes her fist at God, Satan surges up momentarily as "a watery snake . . . in the air" (2 1 6). God's half of the dialogue is represented by the descending sun; it is his own face, his own eye: "The sun was behind the wood, very red, looking over the paling oftrees like a farmer inspecting his own hogs"-and tormenting one ofthem, Ruby Turpin herself (2 1 5). After each verbal assault by Mrs. Turpin, the sun moves and the landscape changes its aspect, as if in dialogue with her. These passages contain some of O'Connor's best writing. No summary can do them justice. In the deepening light everything was taking on a mysterious hue. The pasture was growing a peculiar glassy green and the streak of highway had turned lavender. She braced herself for the final assault and this time her voice rolled out over the pasture. "Come on," she yelled, "call me a hog! Call me a hog again. From hell. Call me a wart hog from hell. Put that bottom rail on top. There'll still be a top and a bottom!" A garbled echo returned to her. A final surge of fury shook her and she roared, "Who do youthink you are?" The color ofeverything, field and crimson sky, burned for a moment with a transparent intensity. The question carried over the pasture and across the highway and the cotton field and returned to her clearly like an answer from beyond the wood. She opened her mouth, but no sound came out of it. (21 6- 1 7)

Stoics and Christians


The drama here is rich. Mrs. Turpin defends her obsession with class and status with the old Southern analogy of the split rail fence. One can switch the position of the rails, but by the very nature of the fence there will still be a top and bottom. Likewise, one can switch the positions of the social classes, but by the very nature ofsociety there will still be a hierarchy. She addresses this challenge to God, across the pasture in the direction of the setting sun. And, as if it were God's reply, a garbled echo comes rolling back over the pasture. Goaded by this reply, Mrs. Turpin hurls her final challenge at God: "Who do you think you are?" Who is God to overturn the neat, orderly, smug, complacent life of Ruby Turpin? Who is God to challenge the social mores of the American South? This time the echo comes back clearly, the question returned to its sender: "Who do you think you are?" Was it God or the Southern gentry who laid the foundations of the world? Mrs. Turpin opens her mouth, but for once she has nothing to say. She sees that no answer is possible. Mrs. Turpin's mind has finally been opened to a revelation. But before it arrives, O'Connor narrates a small and touching detail. Mrs. Turpin pauses in her struggle with God long enough to make sure that Claud returns safely after driving their black workers home. Then she takes on an attitude of prayer and acquiescence to the will of God, whose live-giving charity is refracted toward her from the lowly piglets, whom she had seen as "idiot children" and tormented with the watery snakes from her hose: like a monumental statue coming to life, she bent her head slowly and gazed, as if through the very heart of mystery, down into the pig parlor at the hogs. They had settled all in one corner around the old sow who was grunting softly. A red glow suffused them. They appeared to pant with a secret life. Until the sun slipped finally behind the tree line, Mrs. Turpin remained there with her gaze bent to them as if she were absorbing some abysmal life-giving knowledge. At last she lifted her head. There was only a purple streak in the sky, cutting through a field of crimson and leading, like an extension ofthe highway, into the descending dusk. She raised her hands from the side of the pen in a gesture hieratic and profound. A visionary light settled in her eyes. She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were rumbling toward heaven. There were whole companies of white-trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herselfand Claud, had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right. She leaned forward to observe them closer. They were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. They alone were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces that even their virtues were being burned away. She lowered her hands and


Gregory R. Johnson gripped the rail ofthe hog pen, her eyes small but fixed unblinkingly on what lay ahead. (217-18)

The meaning of the vision is clear: from the point of view of God, all of the distinctions of race and class Mrs. Turpin clings to are flattened out. It is only by seeing herself and human affairs from this point of view that she can open herself to the transgressive and transforming action of charity.

A Thomistic Synthesis? Both Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor recognized the conflict between pagan and Christian attitudes in Southern culture. Furthermore, although both Percy and O'Connor were Christians, they also saw elements of truth in the pagan outlook. Thus, it is reasonable to ask if Percy and O'Connor thought that pagan hierarchy and Christian egalitarianism are necessarily in conflict. Is some sort of synthesis possible? I wish to suggest that the answer is to be found by examining another commonality between Percy and O'Connor. Both were Catholic writers in the Protestant South. Furthermore, both had come to embrace the philosophical theology ofSt. Thomas Aquinas. Finally, both had arrived at Thomism, not through natural theological arguments for the existence ofGod, but through humanistic and existentialist meditations on the miseries and mysteries of the human condition. If we examine Aquinas's Questions on Charity in his Summa Theologica (Ila Hae, QQ 23-46), we find an attempt to reconcile elements ofpagan hierarchy with the egalitarian operation of charity. Aquinas argues that certain hierarchies and preferences are entirely natural, such as social hierarchies and the preferences we have for friends and family over strangers, fellow countrymen over foreigners, etc. But Aquinas also makes clear that the operation of charity does not erase these natural hierarchies and preferences, but instead flows through them, placing such distinctions in their proper, i.e., subordinate, metaphysical and moral position. Robert Sokolowski expresses this viewpoint with precision: although Christian beliefmay emphasize the common dignity ofall men as created and loved by God, it does not reduce to insignificance the many differences that exist among them, nor does it imply that all people should be treated exactly alike: there remain differences between the good and the bad, the talented and the untalented, the strong and the weak, leaders and followers, and friends and strangers, and such differences must be taken into account when we act, even though they are seen against a setting in which the common humanity of all men is made more vivid. Christian belief does not diminish, for example, the public honor due to virtue, and it obviously does not imply that public responsibility should be given to the ignorant or the incompetent instead of to those who are suited for it. Such discriminations are not to be

Stoics and Christians


eliminated when Christians emphasize the common dignity of all men before God.6

Thomism thus encompasses and hannonizes the pagan and Christian attitudes that divide the mind of the South. Aquinas allows us to make sense of Percy and O'Connor's appreciation of paganism's proud pursuit of virtue and realism about the natural and conventional hierarchies that divide men, even though they place these truths within the ultimate context of the order of grace.

Notes 1. For a lucid discussion of the differences between biblical and pagan conceptions of divinity, see Robert Sokolowski, The God ofFaith and Reason: Foundations ofChristian Theology (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1995), chs. 1-2. 2. Walker Percy, "Stoicism in the South," in his Signposts in a Strange Land, ed. Patrick Samway (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1991), 85. 3. Although Percy is correct about the actual influence of Roman Stoicism on the Old South, the ascetic dimension of Stoicism had little appeal to the Southern gentry, whose idea ofgracious living required the accumulation of external equipment. In this respect, at least, the South is more Aristotelian than Stoic. But it is pagan nonetheless. 4. One ofPercy's contrasts, between Stoic "pessimism" and Christian "optimism," seems ill drawn. The Stoics, after all, believed that the world is ruled by Providence and that whatever is, is right-the very essence of optimism. 5. Flannery O'Connor, "Revelation," in Everything that Rises Must Converge (New. York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1 964), 207; henceforth cited parenthetically in the text. 6. Sokolowski, The God ofFaith and Reason, 84.

Chapter 5

Leo ,Strauss, America, and the End of History Joseph M. Knippenberg Globalization and Modernity There has been in recent years a renewed interest in several thinkers-among them, Carl Schmitt, Alexandre Kojeve, and Leo Strauss-who saw early in this century the prospect the rest of us have come only lately to recognize. Some current observers celebrate it as "globalization" or "the end of history"; others dread the inescapable homogeneity ofall things "Western," "technological," "American," or "bourgeois." 1 These earlier thinkers remain interesting to and important for us because of the exceptionally sophisticated and profound character of their discussion and because of the ways in which they forcefully engaged one another. Some of the deepest meditations on the character of "our times" can be found in works written between (roughly) 1925 and 1960. Rather than attempt in this short paper to offer a comprehensive account of the attitudes of all these thinkers toward globalization, I wish to focus on the work of one critic, Leo Strauss, whose writing and behavior set him apart from his contemporaries, whose stances ran the gamut from an apparently wholehearted philosophical and practical embrace of globalization (Kojeve) to a rejection so radical that it led to support for National Socialism (Schmitt and Martin Heidegger).2 As is well-known, Strauss made his way to, and made his career in, the United States, arguably the most powerful exporter of the ideas and tendencies associated with globalization. What accounted for this choice, if indeed it was a choice?3 Let us begin with the ground of agreement between Strauss and the other critics of globalization. Those who seek an end to all quarrels in some sort of world state can only do so at the expense of our humanity.4 They seek "agreement and peace


Joseph M. Knippenberg

at all costs," to which there is "no other path than to abandon entirely the question of what is right and to concern oneself solely with the means." Now, "if man relinquishes [the] question [of what is right], he relinquishes being a man."5 To be human is, first of all, to care about the just and the good and, second, to quarrel "with each other and with ourselves"6 about it. So long as we are not all wise and hence in complete agreement about the truth, such divisions and quarrels will exist. And we cannot all be wise. As Strauss puts it in his Auseinandersetzung with Alexandre Kojeve, "The diffusion among the unwise of genuine knowledge that was acquired by the wise would be of no help, for through its diffusion or dilution, knowledge inevitably transforms itself into opinion, prejudice, or mere belief."7 A purportedly wise tyranny, such as that apparently favored by Kojeve, would in fact be the rule of an "ideology." Any state that aspires to universality would have to depend on such unwisdom and would "of necessity [provoke] a counter-faith."8 The universal state is not only undesirable but ultimately impossible.

American Liberal Democracy: Unmodern or Hypermodern? Nevertheless, Strauss's rejection of the totalitarian and universalistic alternatives to American liberal democracy, itselfbased on "truths" that are claimed to be self­ evident, is not sufficient to ground allegiance to it. In fact, Strauss insists that "I really believe . . . that the perfect political order, as Plato and Aristotle have sketched it, is the perfect political order."9 By this he means not the rule of the wise-for "the wise do not desire to rule"-but the rule of good laws "equitably" interpreted by cultivated (but ultimately unwise) gentlemen. 1 ° For Strauss's view of America, the next step in the argument is the decisive one: "It would not be difficult to show that . . . liberal or constitutional democracy comes closer to what the classics demanded than any alternative that is viable in our age."1 1 The closest Strauss comes to undertaking that demonstration is in "Liberal Education and Responsibility," an essay initially published in 1962. 12 Stripped to its bare bones, the argument goes something like this. The absolute rule of cultivated gentlemen, whose right opinions bear some relationship to the wisdom philosophers pursue, is best, but improbable. The best possible regime is one "in which the gentlemen share power with the people in such a way that the people elect the magistrates and the council from among the gentlemen and demand an account of them at the end of their term of office."1 3 Such a regime is closely related to a mixed regime, which balances an aristocratic senate with a popular assembly. And "[t]here is a direct connection between the notion of the mixed regime and modern republicanism." 14 Of course, the elites who are likely to dominate a modem republic are not landed aristocrats but wealthy merchants and landowners, along with "members of the learned professions,"15 who in the best case hold the balance of power. If popular elections do not produce this result, then there is some hope that liberally educated men and women might still find a place

Leo Strauss, America, and the End of History


in the civil service. 16 For "liberal democrats" such as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, it was still possible to imagine a liberal education comparable in aim to that envisioned by ancient political philosophers. 17 Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. "The remedy for [the] specialization [demanded by progress in modem science] is . . . sought in a new kind of universalism. . . .We are trying to expel the narrowness of specialization by the superficiality of such things as general education courses or what has aptly been compared to the unending cinema, as dis­ tinguished from a picture gallery, of the history ofall nations in all respects. . . .The gigantic spectacle thus provided is in the best case exciting and entertaining; it is not instructive and educating." 18 Strauss's defense of liberal democracy, American or otherwise, is thus ambiguous. To the extent that it is thoroughly modem, i.e., to the extent that it fosters scientific specialization and popular enlightenment, it cannot serve as the contemporary equivalent of the classical mixed regime. Characterized by "the interplay of mass taste with high-grade but strictly speaking unprincipled efficiency," thoroughly modem liberal democracy simply caters to and exaggerates the crudest elements of democracy, empowering ordinary human beings to live entirely as they please. 19 What might "redeem" America from Strauss's point of view are its pre-modem (hence also anti-modem and perhaps postmodern) elements. There are, I think, two candidates here. The first is the claim that revealed religion-especially Christianity-has played and continues to play a powerful role, unacknowledged by those who focus on either classical liberalism or technology, in American political culture. The second is the argument that human political practice actually or eventually follows a script written, in effect, by human nature, not by inferior and/or overweening theorizing about and attempts to remake human nature.

America, Strauss, and Religion The first argument has been made historically by Barry Alan Shain and philosophically by Peter Lawler in a number ofrecent essays.20 In one version, it goes something like this: those who focus on the classical liberal (i.e., rationalist) character of the American founding look only at a small number of founders and at a small temporal slice ofAmerican history. There may have been some important figures (Madison and Jefferson, to name two) who were decisively influenced by Lockian liberalism, but they were hardly in the majority. Most of the opinion leaders and constitution makers at the time ofthe founding were religious men who conceived of their duties and communities in religious terms. (Thus, one could further argue that the distinctively American communitarian alternative to liberal individualism does not derive from the "pagan" classical republican tradition, but from something more closely akin to Calvinism.) Furthermore, if there was a "rationalist moment" (Tom Paine's "Age of Reason"), it was superseded rather


Joseph M. Knippenberg

quickly by the revivalism associated with the Great A wakening. In other words, this argument goes, those who insist exclusively and myopically on the predominance of the "liberal tradition in America" have got it wrong historically. Indeed, by insisting on this, they deprive us of an indigenous countertradition that might serve as an antidote to the excesses of liberal rationalism.21 I am loath to say too much about my colleague Peter Lawler's approach to these questions. He can speak much better for himself than I can speak on his behalf. Suffice it to say that Lawler is somewhat less interested in the historical question and more interested in the philosophical coherence and comprehensiveness of classical liberalism. Thus, he seems to argue that our supposed liberals par excellence-Thomas Jefferson and John Locke-are in fact less confident that human beings can satisfactorily conquer nature and attain happiness than their most authoritative interpreters would have us believe. The condition of finite human beings is, instead, insecure and restless. If there is no human construct that can satisfactorily replace God, then secular liberalism cannot stand alone. It leaves an opening for religion, through which Lawler drives his conception of "postmodemism rightly understood." Someone who embraces liberalism and revealed religion may not necessarily be confused, so long as he or she takes with a grain of salt-indeed, many grains of salt-liberal claims of human self­ sufficiency. Thus, one could come to America and find something in residence other than liberal rationalism. To oppose the dominance of rationalism, one need only join a Reformed community, not the Nazi Party. Of course, I can imagine two responses to the position I just sketched. One is that it is impossible to imagine Leo Strauss as an elder in any Presbyterian Church. The Shain-Lawler argument does not explain the case of the only profound thinker in the twentieth century not to embrace one tyranny or another. The other is that I have missed the point. The problem ofrationalization and universalization is only partly embodied in liberalism. It is more completely expressed in technology, which forces on everyone who attempts to make use of it a particular way of organizing his or her enterprise. To build a viable Christian community in this day and age, you have to get in bed with the devil, so to speak. You have to run your church like a business; you have to have a modem and efficient stewardship system; you have to have rational principles of management. If this is true, then a successful Christian community ends up looking a lot like its secular counterparts.22 To the latter objection I have only one response: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them" (Matt. 18:20). In other words, the standards of success are different. You do not have to have a state-of-the-art public address system or a presence on the web if you really have the Holy Spirit among you. And Lord knows your preacher does not have to have an M.B.A.23 But let us return to the case of Leo Strauss. Whatever one ultimately makes of his attitude toward Judaism (about which much has recently been written),24 it is indeed fair to say that he believed that revealed religion had a role to play in a healthy (i.e., not thoroughly modernized) liberal democracy. 25 As opposed to the

Leo Strauss, America, and the End of History


"self," which might (wrongly) regard itself as autonomous, the soul is necessarily "part of an order which does not originate in the soul." Stated another way, "the self which is not deferential is an absurdity."26 Thus, "[r]eligion . . . shames . . . the tyranny of desire,"27 unquestionably a salutary outcome, at least for those whose desires do not lead them to philosophy. Strauss further argues that genuine religion is a source and bulwark of diversity in a society in which there are many pressures-especially (albeit not exclusively) from the technical and commercial sectors-toward conformity.28 Now, one could argue that Strauss's positive evaluation of religion' s role in liberalism points only to its civil benefits. Religion may be useful, whether or not it is true. And nothing in Strauss's argument requires that the religion that is the source of restraint and moral and intellectual diversity be true. Like Thomas Jefferson,2° Strauss may believe that any (or perhaps almost any) religion is good enough to perform these functions. And with respect to diversity, the more the merrier, especially since there is a tendency (albeit not a necessity) for religious states to enforce religious conformity.30 But Strauss is at least respectful, as opposed to cavalier, in his treatment ofreligious claims to truth. What makes a Jew a Jew and a Christian a Christian is steadfast adherence to particular claims about the truth. 31 Of course, at the same time Strauss repeatedly insists on the massive difference between philosophy and religious faith. I shall cite three examples, the first from Strauss's correspondence with Karl Lowith, the second from his correspondence with Eric V oegelin, and finally one from a sustained treatment of this theme in "Progress or Return? The Contemporary Crisis in Western Civilization." To Lowith Strauss writes that "[t] here is only one obj ection against Plato-Aristotle: and that is thefactum brutum ofrevelation, or of the ' personal' God. I say:factum brutum-for there is no argument whatsoever . . . from the agnoia theou, which characterizes the genuine philosopher, to belief."32 Similarly to Voegelin Strauss writes that "philosophy is radically independent of faith."33 Finally, in "Progress or Return?" he argues that despite a great deal of commonality on many moral matters, the Bible and Greek philosophy differ fundamentally. For the latter, "the divine law . . . is only the starting point, the absolutely essential starting point . . . , but it is abandoned in the process. And if it is accepted by Greek philosophy, it is accepted only politically, meaning, for the education of the many, and not as something which stands independently."34 According to the biblical teaching, "Man was given understanding in order to understand God's commands . . . . But at the same time this very fact allows man to emancipate the understanding from the service . . . for which it was meant, and this emancipation is the origin of philosophy or science from the biblical point of view."35 Strauss concludes this discussion by denying that these two positions can be synthesized; one must be either "the philosopher open to the challenge of theology" or "the theologian open to the challenge of philosophy."36 But, as Werner Dannhauser has summarized this position, it amounts to the claim that "[t] he gulf between the philosopher and believer can never be bridged because the philosopher doubts what she can and


Joseph M. Knippenberg

believes what she must, while the believer believes what he can and doubts what he must."37 One might then say that the persistence of a variety of religious denominations in America not only provides the aforementioned security but also offers a wealth of stimulating materials for "the philosopher open to the challenge of theology." To the civil benefits might thus be added philosophic benefits. But this is still not to say that Strauss's reasons for favoring America were religious.

Liberal Democracy and the Reassertion of Nature I think Strauss is more likely to listen sympathetically to the other line of analysis I suggested above. There is a line, which he quotes in Natural Right and History and in a letter to Karl Lowith, from Horace, "the philosophic poet." "You can expel nature with a hayfork," Horace says, "but it keeps coming back. "38 Technology may succeed in effacing and erasing the character of a particular human community or even of the vast majority of human communities the world over, but it cannot ultimately obliterate or transform human nature. As in virtually every science-fiction story that offers a horrifically totalitarian picture ofthe future, there will be pockets ofresistance. So long as there are human beings, the renewal of the human prospect is possible. This, it seems to me, is a principal basis of what Strauss calls his "hope in America and . . . faith in America."39 While by the early fifties some parts of the American academic establishment had "adopted toward natural right which, a generation ago, could still be described, with some plausibility, as characteristic of German thought," there might remain something in America that does not as readily relativize and thereby trivialize the principles affirmed in the Declaration of Independence.40 As he notes in Thoughts on Machiavelli, to the extent that America's principled foundation can either be revived or retain its hold on the hearts and minds ofAmericans-"to the extent that American reality is inseparable from American aspiration"41-there remains some hope for preserving freedom, not to mention the life of philosophy. One need not agree with the authors of the Declaration about their view of natural right to recognize that these are universalistic and transhistorical claims that demand that we reflect on them. As a practical matter, we are compelled, as was Abraham Lincoln, to evaluate our actual circumstances in light of our principles. The principles of the Declaration, as Lincoln insists in his debates with Stephen F. Douglas, militate against living simply in accordance with our irrational preferences and prejudices.42 But the demand that we reflect on our circumstances in the light of our principles also opens the possibility that we might reevaluate our principles in the light ofwhat we learn by reflecting on our circumstances.43 We can learn as much, if not more, about equality from Tocqueville as from the Declaration or The Federalist. In short, what the principled foundation of America seems to hold open is the possibility of reasoned action or philosophical reflection.44


Leo Strauss, America, and the End of History

This is not to say, as Strauss was well aware, that there have not been and will not continue to be efforts both to relativize American principles45 and to subordinate them to a larger global order demanded, it is alleged, by the requirements of history, economics, technology, or global survival. But note the word I have omitted: politics. To the extent that the locus of political allegiance is a community, it is of necessity a particular community. All politics, as the late Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O'Neil was wont to say, is local. In his own way, Strauss would have agreed: "Man's natural powers, especially his powers of knowing his fellow men and caring for them, are limited."47 While there are subpolitical and suprapolitical arguments for subordinating countries48 in a global order, there is no simply political argument. Above all, politics soberly recognizes human weaknesses and limitations, from the relatively narrow scope of our affections to the presence of ambition that can be satisfied only by holding office.49 Even such a cosmopolitan as Immanuel Kant recognized that motives such as selfish concern and the desire personally to be well regarded by future generations were necessary supports of his federation ofrepublics. And, needless to say, Kant also insisted that a global political order could only be a soulless despotism that would ofnecessity provoke a rebellion.50 But politics also gives play to the human capacity for admiration, for looking up to something. It is this capacity that gives rise to a variety of different regimes, founded on different principles or pursuing different goods, which in tum demand that kind ofsober and prudent discrimination that only someone who takes politics seriously can undertake.51 Strictly political considerations will always, to some degree at least, disunite the world, separating human beings into communities looking up to and pursuing different ends. Lest I sound unfashionably optimistic or sunny (like Ronald Reagan in this impending era ofAl Gore), let me hasten to add that, in the most apocalyptic terms, things can get pretty bad for lots of people before nature reasserts itself in the collapse of totalitarian and technological universalism. But if technology is truly antinatural, then sooner or later, the order it requires will collapse, if not happily or sunnily, then dreadfully and destructively. You and I may not be around to enjoy the renewal that is possible after the collapse. But let me pull back from this speech about the "end times," so to speak, and talk in more mundane terms about everyday life. Yes, my students belong to the most wired generation ever. And my four-year-old son knows how to navigate his way around interactive CD-ROM programs featuring Elmo and Pooh. But among my students I have not discerned a decrease in their interest in and ability to read and discuss old books and great arguments. And my son would still rather have me read to him. The intimate human contact matters. There may be fewer who have the attention span and powers ofconcentration required for, say, the study of Great (or even merely good) Books; I do not know. But there is still (and I hesitate to use this word) a market for it. We will always seek intimacy and friendship. We will always seek meaning. We will always be human. 46


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Leo Strauss could come to America because, at the moment, it left him free to pursue these meaningful conversations with philosophic friends. Unlike the totalitarians on the continent, it did not seek to impose the same order everywhere. The space for humanity did not have to be sought furtively, at the margins of the monolith. As Strauss put it in "Liberal Education and Responsibility": [W]e cannot forget the obvious fact that by giving freedom to all, democracy also gives freedom to those who care for human excellence. No one prevents us from cultivating our garden or from setting up outposts which may come to be regarded by many citizens as salutary to the republic and of deserving of giving to it its tone.52

This strikes me as a very sound prudential reason for preferring one political order to another. I am not convinced that technology will ever obliterate either our capacity for rendering these sorts of judgments or the differences among regimes that will make such judgments possible and necessary.

Conclusion It is tempting in the end to characterize Strauss's preference for the United States as essentially Aristotelian on all the levels on which such a description could be meant. Certainly given the circumstances in and through which he lived-the rise ofNazism in Germany and the Cold War confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union-it is possible to make a case that there was at the time no more attractive alternative. Of course, making this case requires that one be able meaningfully to distinguish between, say, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.53 While one did not have to be an Aristotelian to prefer a liberal democracy that purported to respect individual rights to one or another totalitarian dictatorship, there were apparently plenty ofStrauss's contemporaries, especially in university departments of social science, who could not find a way to give a rational account of their preferences, however strongly they felt them. And while it is entirely possible to explain the trajectory of Strauss's theoretical endeavors without focusing on his inquiry into the grounds of this particular practical judgment, it nevertheless remains the case that he began many ofhis works by referring to what he presumed to be first for us.54 In other words, Strauss could in the first instance be said to be Aristotelian in that he practices the kind of regime analysis that had its roots in classical political philosophy. But Strauss goes even further, seeming to connect liberal democracy with the best practicable regime as the classics understood it. When it genuinely practices equality of opportunity, it permits the so-called natural aristoi to rise to the top.55 Or, at the very least, it permits mass opinion to be moderated or leavened by the opinion of a well-educated (that is, liberally educated) elite. Still, there are aspects ofStrauss's praise for liberal democracx that seem at first glance to be relatively far removed from classical principles. According to Strauss,

Leo Strauss, America, and the End of History


there inheres within liberal democracy the potential for both religious and intellectual pluralism, an observation that is common enough, but not obviously consonant with the general classical preference for civil and religious homogeneity.56 While some might cherish this pluralism simply because it facilitates the development of a multiplicity of different selves, all of which are equally valuable, Strauss sees in it the potential for creating an enclave devoted to philosophical inquiry. Unlike the totalitarians, liberal democrats are inclined by and large to leave him and his friends alone to cultivate their garden. Further, to the extent that liberal democracy is home to a diversity of political opinions and religious confessions, it offers much grist for the philosopher's mill. In short, one might argue that what was most attractive to Strauss in the long run was the privacy and pluralism that liberal democracy afforded him. It of course bears repeating that he did not necessarily prefer these features of liberal democracy on liberal democratic grounds. Indeed, it is consistent with classical political philosophy to observe that philosophy often finds a home in democracy, which tends to be the most tolerant of regimes. The philosopher as philosopher does not prefer democracy, liberal or otherwise, because it itself is a good regime, but rather because-unlike many other regimes-it permits him to pursue his way of life. It would in the final analysis be a mistake to pigeonhole Leo Strauss into the camps of either the partisan friends or the partisan enemies of liberal democracy or ofthe United States as its principal "representative" in the world.57 Ifwe consult his works with our own pressing political and practical concerns in mind, we will not find easy answers. But in addition to, or perhaps as a result of, Strauss's invitation to the serious consideration of perennial questions, questions that transcend our own time and place, we will find the materials necessary to begin considering our own circumstances in a commonsensical and nonideological fashion.

Notes 1 . For ajournalistic account ofthe phenomenon, cf. Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1 999). For a critique by a prominent political theorist, cf. John Gray, False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (New

York: The New Press, 1 998). 2. For Schmitt's stance toward National Socialism, cf. Heinrich Meier, The Lesson of Carl Schmitt, trans. Marcus Brainard (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1 998), ch. 4. For Heidegger, cf. James W. Ceaser, Reconstructing America: The Symbol ofAmerica in Modern Thought (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1 997), ch. 8 and the works cited therein. 3. It is worth noting that while many German emigres ultimately made their way to the United States, it should not be regarded as a foregone conclusion that this was an unproblematical journey. One need only peruse Strauss's correspondence with Kojeve, Schmitt, and Karl Lowith to gain a very humbling appreciation ofthe difficulties they faced.


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Cf. Strauss's letters to Schmitt ( 1 3 March 1 932 and I O July 1933), reprinted in Heinrich Meier, Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue, trans. J. Harvey Lomax (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, I 995), 123, 127-28; Strauss's letter to Kojeve (3 June 1 934), reprinted in Leo Strauss, On Tyranny, ed. Victor Gourevitch and Michael S. Roth (New York: The Free Press, 1 99 1 ), 227; and the Strauss-Lowith correspondence, published in The Independent Journal ofPhilosophy 5-6 (1 988), especially Lowith's letters of23 February 1 935, 1 5 April 1 935, and 3 1 December 1 935. 4. In his eulogy ofKurt Riezler, Strauss affirms Riezler's analysis of"the intellectual root ofpolitically relevant cosmopolitanism" as containing three elements: "the beliefthat human life as such, i.e., independently ofthe kind oflife one leads, is an absolute good"; "universal and unqualified compassion or humanitarianism"; and "an overriding concern with pleasure and unwillingness to dedicate one's life to ideals." Leo Strauss, "Kurt Riezler," in What Is Political Philosophy? (New York: The Free Press, I 959), 236. 5. Leo Strauss, "Notes on Carl Schmitt, The Concept ofthe Political," in Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue, by Heinrich Meier, trans. J. Harvey Lomax (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1 995), I 14. 6. Strauss, "Notes," 1 1 4. 7. Leo Strauss, "Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero," in Strauss, On Tyranny, 1 93 . 8. Strauss, "Restatement," 1 93 . 9 . Strauss, letter to Karl Lowith ( I O January 1 946), i n Lowith and Strauss, "Corre­ spondence Concerning Modernity," trans. Susanne Klein and George Elliott Tucker, Independent Journal ofPhilosophy 4 ( I 983): l 07. 1 0. Strauss, "Restatement," 1 93-94. Cf. also Strauss, "Liberal Education and Responsibility," in Liberalism Ancient and Modern (New York: Basic Books, 1 968), 9-25, especially 1 0-14. 1 1 . Strauss, "Restatement," 1 94. 12. Cf. above, note I O for bibliographic information. For an interesting effort by a follower ofStrauss to make a similar argument, cf. Hilail Gildin, "Leo Strauss and the Crisis ofLiberal Democracy," in The Crisis ofLiberal Democracy: A Straussian Perspective, ed. Kenneth L. Deutsch and Walter Soffer (Albany, N.Y.: State University ofNew York Press, 1 987), 9 1 - 1 03 . Gildin uses the virtually practical impossibility of discerning politically relevant inequalities to show that a theoretical preference for aristocracy is consistent with a practical preference for liberal democracy. 1 3. Strauss, "Liberal Education," 15. 14. Strauss, "Liberal Education," 1 5 . Harvey C. Mansfield's essays on liberal democracy are among the best efforts I have seen to portray it as a "mixed regime." Cf. Mansfield, The Spirit of Liberalism (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1 978), 1 - 1 5 ; and America 's Constitutional Soul (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1 99 1 ). For an endorsement ofMansfield' s approach, cf. Steven Kautz, Liberalism andCommunity (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1 995). 1 5 . Strauss, "Liberal Education," 1 6. 1 6. Another version of this argument can be made in the following way. Liberal democracy differs from the direct democracy Aristotle deplored in recognizing the undeniable natural inequality in the distribution of politically relevant capacities and characteristics. By emphasizing equality of opportunity, "which implies that differently gifted people are supposed to do very different things with the opportunities offered," liberal democracy approximates the political justice cherished by Aristotle. Cf., e.g., Leo Strauss, "Political Philosophy and the Crisis ofOur Time," in The Post-BehavioralEra: Perspectives on Political Science, ed. George J. Graham Jr. and George W. Carey (New York: David

Leo Strauss, America, and the End of History


McKay, 1972), 232. 17. For a somewhat different view that emphasizes the distance between the aims of ancient liberal education and that envisioned by Locke, cf. Lorraine Smith Pangle and Thomas L. Pangle, The Learning ofLiberty (Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1 993), especially part 1 . 1 8. Strauss, "Liberal Education," 23. 1 9. Strauss, "Liberal Education," 23. 20. Barry Alan Shain, The Myth ofAmerican Individualism: The Protestant Origins of American Political Thought (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994); and Peter Augustine Lawler, Postmodernism Rightly Understood (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999). 2 1 . For another statement of the role of religion in the American tradition, cf. Wilson Carey McWilliams, "Leo Strauss and the Dignity of American Political Thought," Review ofPolitics 60 (Spring 1998): 23 1-46. 22. For a somewhat more hopeful view ofthe potentially positive relationship between the Lexus (modern technology) and the olive tree (traditional community), see Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, 29-35. 23. Many of Stanley Hauerwas's provocative books make this sort of argument about genuinely Christian communities. Cf., e.g., In Good Company: The Church as Polis (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995); After Christendom? (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1 991); and Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens (Nashville: Abingdon, 1 989). 24. For an exhaustive review of the literature, cf. Kenneth Hart Green, "Editor's Introduction: Leo Strauss as a Modern Jewish Thinker," in Jewish Philosophy andthe Crisis ofModernity, by Leo Strauss, ed. Kenneth Hart Green (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1997), 1-84. 25. Cf., e.g., Strauss, "Liberal Education," 1 5-16, 1 8-19. 26. Leo Strauss, "Perspectives on the Good Society," in Liberalism Ancient and Modern, 261-62. 27. This is Wilson Carey McWilliams's interpretation of the significance of the two biblical citations with which Strauss opens Natural Right and History; ( McWilliams, "Leo Strauss and the Dignity of American Political Thought," 240). 28. Strauss, "Perspectives," 263ff. Cf. also McWilliams's comment on this passage, "Leo Strauss and the Dignity of American Political Thought," 242 and note 33: "Of course, Strauss's argument implicitly assumes that religion, in America as elsewhere, has another side and darker possibilities." 29. Cf. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVII: In New York and Pennsylvania, which do not have a religious establishment, "[r]eligion is well supported; of various kinds, indeed, but all good enough; all sufficient to preserve peace and order." 30. Cf. Strauss, "Perspectives," 264-65. 3 1 . Cf. Strauss, "Perspectives," 266, as well as the following observation by Hadley Arkes: "[E]ven Strauss's students who were not religious managed to preserve a certain reverence for religion. And of course many of them went on to become more deeply religious, or more deeply committed as Jews and Christians. . . . Without any religious pleading . . . Strauss had drawn to himselfyoung students who had drifted from the Judaism and Christianity of their families. Strauss managed to draw them into a set of philosophic problems that they found utterly compelling, and once drawn in that way, some of them would make their way back on their own to Christianity and Judaism." Hadley Arkes, "Leo Strauss on Our Minds," in Leo Strauss, the Straussians, and the American Regime by


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Kenneth L. Deutsch and John A. Murley (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), 86. 32. Strauss, letter to Lowith (IS August 1946), Independent Journal of Philosophy 4 (1983): l 08. For an admonition to weigh this statement carefully in the context ofStrauss's relationship with Lowith, cf. Werner Dannhauser, "Athens and Jerusalem or Jerusalem and Athens?" in Leo Strauss and Judaism, ed. David Novak (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996), l 58n6. 33. Strauss, letter to Eric Voegelin (25 August 1 950), in Faith and Political Philosophy, ed. and trans. Peter Emberley and Barry Cooper (University Park, Pa.: Penn State University Press, 1993), 72. Cf. also Dannhauser, "Athens and Jerusalem," 16l n l 4. 34. Leo Strauss, "Progress or Return? The Contemporary Crisis in Western Civilization," in Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis ofModernity, 114. 35. Strauss, "Progress," 116. 36. Strauss, "Progress," 116. 37. Dannhauser, "Athens and Jerusalem," 167. 38. Leo Strauss, Natural Right andHistory (Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1953), 201-2, as well as Strauss's letter to Lowith (15 August 1946), Independent Journal of Philosophy 4 (1983): 108: "[T]he famous atomic bombs-not to mention at all cities with a million inhabitants, gadgets, funeral homes, 'ideologies'-show that the contemporary solution, that is, the completely modern solution, is contra naturam." 39. Strauss, "Progress," 93. 40. Strauss, Natural Right and History, 2. 41. Leo Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 14. 42. Cf. Lincoln's repeated discussions of Douglas's "care not" position, especially with regard to its inconsistency with the principles of the Declaration, in the "House Divided" speech and in the Ottawa debate. 43. Cf. Strauss, Natural Right and History, 3. 44. In "Leo Strauss and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy," Gildin makes a similar point: "The essential difference between liberal democracy and communism is that liberal democracy regards some things as more sacred than itself. These things include not only art, religion, and philosophy but also nearly everything, high or low, that falls within the private realm. . . . The plausibility of the case for liberal democracy depends on the extent to which there are to be found, among the things that it regards as higher in dignity than itself, things that are truly higher than it in dignity" (100). 45. Richard Rorty's many works are merely the most recent examples. 46. A trivial but telling example ofthis sort ofargument was presented by a bright Atlanta high-school student on a guest editorial on the local National Public Radio affiliate. Expressing what he regarded as an enlightened concern for overpopulation, he insisted that he and his peers were quite willing to support draconian limitations on family size. What did individual rights or the sanctity of the family matter in the face of this massive planetary threat? 47. Strauss, "Political Philosophy and the Crisis of Our Time," 236. 48. Strauss argues that this is the contemporary term that comes closest to capturing what Aristotle meant by polis ("Political Philosophy and the Crisis of Our Time," 233). 49. The best defenses of ''the political" that I know are James W. Ceaser's Liberal Democracy and Political Science (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990) and Reconstructing America: The Symbol ofAmerica in Modern Thought (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997). Cf. also my forthcoming "James Ceaser and the Restoration of Political Science," Perspectives on Political Science.

Leo Strauss, America, and the End of History


50. Cf. Immanuel Kant, "Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View" and "Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch," in Kant 's Political Writings, 2d ed., ed. Hans Reiss trans. H. B. Nisbet (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1 99 1). 5 1 . Cf., e.g., Strauss, "Political Philosophy and the Crisis of Our Time," 236-42. 52. Leo Strauss, Liberalism Ancient and Modern (New York: Basic Books, 1 968), 24. Two valuable commentaries on this theme can be found in Christopher Bruell, "A Return to Classical Political Philosophy and the Understanding ofthe American Founding,'' Review ofPolitics 53 (Winter 1 991 ): 1 73-86; and Nasser Behnegar, "The Liberal Politics of Leo Strauss," in Political Philosophy and the Human Soul, ed. Michael Palmer and Thomas L. Pangle (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1 995), 25 1-67. 53. Consider Ceaser's discussion of this theme in his treatment of Heidegger in Reconstructing America, ch. 8. 54. Cf., e.g., the introductions or prefaces to On Tyranny, Thoughts on Machiavelli, Natural Right and History, and Liberalism Ancient and Modern. 55. Cf. Thomas Jefferson's letter to John Adams (28 October 1 8 1 3). 56. The biggest difference between Strauss's view and that typically associated with this observation is his sense of the fragility of genuine pluralism. Many contemporary liberal pluralists take it for granted and do not assume that attaining and maintaining it requires effort. They do not see, as Strauss does, the potential for at least temporarily homogenizing opinions or flattening character differences. 57. In "The Questionable Influence of Arendt (and Strauss),'' George Kateb offers an evaluation ofStrauss from the point ofview ofpartisan ofdemocracy, finding even Strauss' s ostensibly friendliest suggestions wanting. Cf. Kateb, "The Questionable Influence," in

Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss: German Emigres and American Political Thought after World War II, by Peter Graf Kielmansegg, Horst Mewes, and Elisabeth Glaser-Schmidt (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1 995), especially 38-43.

Chapter 6

End of History 2000 Peter Augustine Lawler My purpose is to present evidence, from the perspective of America in 2000, that history has ended. I am presenting a case like a lawyer would, and so I usually do not call attention to objections, even obvious ones, to the points I am making. But let me begin by saying quite dispassionately that the case deserves to be made. Francis Fukuyama did well to remind us of that fact, but he also confused us beyond beliefin The End ofHistory and the Last Man. 1 Because just about nobody, as far as I can tell, was persuaded by his argument, he actually reinforced the commonsensical view that it makes no sense to speak of history's end. We human beings are still around and dissatisfied; liberal democracy has not won everywhere and is still quite fragile and less than completely admirable; and we are still making history! But there is actually much to be said for the view that distinctively human or "spiritual" existence is withering away, and that is the fundamental claim of the most consistent argument for the end of history.

Matter vs. Spirit The argument that history is ended is of great theoretical complexity, and it must be supported, of course, by all sorts of historical evidence. But thanks to the amazing clarity of the foremost account of that argument, the one presented by Alexandre Kojeve in his lectures on Hegel's Phenomenology ofSpirit, the basic factual claims are not so hard to summarize.2 There are two kinds of reality-matter and spirit. Nature is merely matter; even animate nature is merely matter in motion. All natural phenomena obey impersonal, mechanical laws. Animals are guided wholly and unconsciously by instinct. Human beings are unique in being free or historical beings. "Spirit" is what freely negates nature, and by doing so becomes something other than matter. The


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evidence of the spiritual or historical existence of human beings is their ability to transform nature through their action, and the record oftheir success is history. All other c laims for freedom except historical ones are not really worth taking seriously. There is no evidence for them but the imagination. Why human beings alone among the animals are free is impossible to know. History, from nature's perspective, is an accident. It c omes into being for no reason, although it can be understood at its completion on its own terms. Spirit has its own logos that makes sense independently of matter or nature. Understanding that account of human or historical existence is human wisdom, and that understanding is available to the human mind at history's end. Understanding the real or historical evidence of human freedom is the perfection of both human reason and freedom. Human beings make history or act against nature because they are discontented with their natural existence. The other animals do not know that their existence is temporary; they do not know that they are going to die. So in the decisive sense they are not temporary or governed by time; they are not moved by their c ontingency (their possibility of dying or disappearing at any moment) and their mortality (their inevitable death). Their existence is not really contingent at all, and so they have no reason to be dissatisfied with their natural limitations. They are in that respect like God, although God differs from the animals in being c onscious. The human being is like God in being self-conscious, and like the other animals in being mortal. This mixture is the cause of his discontent. He, alone among the animals, has desires that cannot be satisfi ed naturally. Eventually, he satisfi es them historically.

The Universal and Homogeneous State Human beings at one point created imaginatively a God who rules in another world. He satisfi es imaginatively the human desire to be recognized in one's freedom and so to have evidence that one is not determined by nature. But that satisfaction, of c ou rse, is not real. At a later point in history, human beings come to know that this world is the only one, and so they self-consciously pursue satisfaction of their longing for freedom politically or historically. Through political action, through revolution, they create a world in which all human beings are freely and equally recognized as citizens. That world is, in a way, history's end: A better political or historical world cannot really be imagined, and all other political orders are henceforth regarded as illegitimate or reactionary. What Kojeve c alls the Universal and Homogeneous State is the perfected state. There all human beings are recognized as free citizens in exactly the same way. That state has no place or no need for God; God signals human dissatisfaction or a defect, as Marx says, with this world. The state or government is perfected, and the details ofthat perfection gradually infuse social life. Distinctions based on race, class, gender, family, ethnicity, and so forth disappear everywhere, as all human relationships are infused with wisdom

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available to all. From this perspective, the end of history in principle was the American Constitution-silent as it is on race, class, gender, and religion-and the so-called history of America is the gradual perfection of all of American life according to that principle. The distinction between national and state government disappears, and government becomes progressively less limited in its pursuit of justice. All human activity once regarded as private or nonpolitical, such as the church and the family, is subjected to political judgment. And so God disappears from more and more ofAmerican life. To the extent He remains, He is increasingly employed as a means to devote Americans to eradicating all social injustice, to perfecting the details of history's end.3 That history has ended is the premise that informs American progressivism, whether we realize it or not. Friendly critics of America such as Alexis de Tocqueville complain that the modern and democratic view of progress or perfectibility becomes less individual and more social or historical and also more indefinite or vague.4 Today's American Hegelian/pragmatist Richard Rorty, the professor of philosophy who has claimed to have captured the spirit of our time, actually praises the fuzziness of our utopianism.5 To have our hopes for the future governed by the limits of experience and reason would needlessly constrain our imagination. But Kojeve rightly points out that historical change can only be called progress if we know the point or purpose of history. That purpose, being itself a product of history, can only be known at history's end. So Hegel saw the purpose of history because he had seen it all. He thought at history's end. Marx thought he was close enough to the end to discern what would happen next that would make sense of it all. If we know American history is progressive and human beings are essentially historical beings, then Americans must be now situated by history to see the purpose ofhuman or historical existence as such. Rorty's denial that we really have such knowledge makes human life too contingent or arbitrary for us to know what to hope for and what to work toward. His claim that the abolition ofcruelty and the classless society are goals he has chosen for no reason at all but his personal preference is incredible. If we are provided no guidance by nature and God, as pragmatists say, then surely we are governed by history. Rorty's choices, as he sometimes admits, are determined by his place in history, by his wisdom concerning human contingency and human liberty or self-creation over time.6

Political Correctness The end of history also is the real foundation of today's academic insistence on political correctness. Education, for many of our professors, has become wholly a matter ofrace, class, and gender. The truth is that human beings are free and equal citizens, but they have been falsely and unjustly degraded in the past by being oppressed or stigmatized as blacks, the poor, and women. We now know that racism, sexism, and classism are wrong; we know what justice is. Education is no


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longer asking what justice is, but using our wisdom about justice to judge thought and action past and present. Our task today is to employ our wisdom to root out residual error embodied in our institutions and individuals, and to judge thinkers of the past to have been racists, sexists, and aristocrats, to have been limited by their places in history. By saying that education is only about race, class, and gender, we say that in the most important respects there is no more intellectual progress to be made, that we are all wise today with very little effort. Much of the American opposition to political correctness does not contradict the premise that history has ended. The politically correct are accused with dogmatically connecting opposition to racism and sexism, which in itself is surely just, with support for affirmative action. And this dogmatism is meant to suppress discussion about how much affirmative action has or can succeed in achieving its goal of overcoming the effects of past racism or sexism. Insofar as political correctness makes discussion about practical success impossible, it is opposed to the standard of history. And so its opponents often serve better today's goal of implementing the principles of the Universal and Homogeneous State. The justice of affirmative action can only be defended by its results. Considered in itself, as some sort ofcategorical imperative, it is clearly racist and sexist. (So the Supreme Court has worked its way to the conclusion that affirmative action is contrary to the Constitution's premises concerning individuality and dignity unless it can be proven to overcome the effects ofracism.) Multiculturalism is also racist, sexist, and otherwise narrowly chauvinistic, if taken seriously as a political principle. If taken as an attachment to particular forms and rituals detached from what was a nonegalitarian way oflife (Quebecois linguistic chauvinism, contemporary Native American spirituality, etc.), it is merely a form of empty snobbery, form without content, and so of no great consequence. But other opponents ofpolitical correctness object to its standards being applied to all of education and to all of human life. The thinkers of the past are not completely discredited because they did not share our wisdom concerning justice. They still have much to teach us about love and death. Political progress is not the same as human or personal progress, and some human problems do not have political solutions. We today still have longings that are, at best, imperfectly satisfied in this world, and we still must live well with the truth about our ineradicable alienation and mortality. And we still have connections with and responsibilities to others that are hardly exhausted by the idea ofjustice, however perfect it has become. 7 Such opponents of political correctness seem vulnerable to Marx's criticism of Hegel: For history to end completely, for it to be human as opposed to merely political emancipation, the universal and homogeneous principles of justice must inform all of human life.8 Kojeve accepts this criticism, which is why he finally rejects the Hegelian principle that the end of history can merely be the free and equal recognition of one citizen by another. Human beings know they are not most fundamentally citizens; they know that political recognition is abstract or not really satisfying. Political recognition is as much of dependence as of freedom; I am

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dependent on your recognition for my freedom. Marx is in some sense right. The state must wither away for human beings to live free and unalienated lives.

Animals Again History is the record of distinctively political or uniquely free action. At the end of history, there could be no more such action. There would be nothing left to do. So both political or historical life and the being capable ofit would wither away. At the end of history, human beings would have to become in every respect like the other animals again. Our species would once again live wholly according to nature. To be human is to be alienated from and discontented with one's natural existence. The end of alienation must be the overcoming of the inexplicable distinction between nature and history. Comprehensive wisdom, finally, cannot be historical wisdom; the world or cosmos makes sense only with the end of history. History had a beginning and must have an end. It is not like matter, which is neither created nor destroyed. The human or historical being is the being with time in him, and so the being defined by his contingency and death. Each human being is temporary, and history as a whole is too. The historical being, from the view of nature, is an error. The error becomes, over time, more conscious of himself as error, or free from the illusion that he is, somehow like God, more than a temporary being. Once the self-conscious mortal becomes completely conscious of himself as a temporary error, then in the name of wisdom and contentment ( only historical beings are discontent) the error disappears. Once the human being completely understands himself as the being who dies, which he can do only when history itself has ended or died, then he ceases to die in the precise sense. He is no longer aware of or moved or defined by his mortality. He no longer is discontented, wanting to be more than he really is. And the disappearance of history or human uniqueness, far from being a cosmic catastrophe, actually makes the cosmos a cosmos or a comprehensible whole again. At the end of history human desire is no longer different from that of the other animals. Our passions are no longer inflamed by self-consciousness, and so the intensely social passions such as love and pride contract. Sexual desire, for example, is no longer mixed up with illusions about the soul or immortality. It becomes, as Rorty observes, open and casual; the cruelty of love and hate fade as we no longer attach undue or spiritual significance to our rutting.9 This casualness about all human activity we find in Marx's description of his version of the end of history, The German Ideology, communism. We do whatever we want whenever we want, without being obsessed with any particular activity or, by implication, any particular person. It is hard to say why Marx calls the end of history communism, because there human beings are not connected or devoted to each other in any strong or communal sense. But where Marx goes most wrong, in Kojeve's eyes, is in believing that human beings somehow can remain distinctively human or self-conscious at history's end.


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Like all animals, they will still die, and if they are moved by or genuinely conscious of that fact, they will remain discontented or in some sense spiritual beings, even if material or economic scarcity is overcome. The real human scarcity is scarcity of time, and being defined by time is the mark of the temporary or historical being. For human beings to be as easygoing or unobsessed as Marx describes, they must not be distinctively human at all. Human beings must become unconscious or completely governed by natural instinct at history's end.

Solzhenitsyn's Dissident Observations The idea that human beings are in the process of surrendering their human uniqueness rightly offends common sense and seems to contradict personal experience. We say we still fall in love, are proud and angry, and are afraid of death and anxious about nothing. One of the most penetrating critics of the contemporary world, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, says that people are now more lonely and death-haunted than ever before. What he calls the "howl of existentialism" is the result oflongings that we not only cannot satisfy but about which we seemingly cannot even speak. We live in a time not ofself-consciousness and contentment but of self-absorbed confusion and miserable self-denial. If Solzhenitsyn is right, then our destruction of human ties through our doctrine of rights or the principles of justice of the Universal and Homogeneous State has actually made human life harder than ever before, because human beings have deprived themselves of the resources to face its challenges and limitations. They have deprived themselves of the virtues of courage and self-limitation, and of the orientation provided by spiritual life. 1 0 But Solzhenitsyn might be understood to provide more evidence for history's end. He speaks of the post-Cold War West, especially America. Our nation was ennobled by the struggle against Communism; we understood ourselves as defending truth and liberty against ideological lies and despotism. And the dissidents in the Communist nations saw in their courageous efforts on behalf of truth and responsibility evidence against all of modern materialism and atheism. But Communism collapsed, and America was suddenly without ennobling national purpose. And the words of the dissidents were suddenly deprived of their weight or connection with noble or life-risking deeds. They could now speak freely, but what they said was now met with indifference. So the dissident criticism of the modern West seemed to evaporate almost overnight, and the vision of Vaclav Havel that the alternative polis of the dissidents would provide the foundation of a new Czechoslovakia now seems laughably naive. Solzhenitsyn's thought that America could not and would not be the model for post-communist Russia now seems quite misguided, at least if interpreted to mean that Russia would develop a morally superior alternative to Americanization. 1 1 Most ofthe former dissidents, such as Havel, for the most part have even abandoned their unfashionable, critical words. 12 Solzhenitysn is the noteworthy exception, but he is usually viewed as a

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relic of the past.1 3 Until Communism's unexpected and abrupt collapse, the argument that modern liberalism culminates in totalitarian catastrophe seemed plausible. The best thinkers of the West wrote of the crisis ofliberalism under the shadow of totalitarianism's threat. 14 But now the threat and so the crisis seem no more. The evidence that modern thought and practice produces in unprecedented terror and tyranny invigo­ rated the West. The possibility of Communism's victory or global destruction in nuclear war made everything modern a question. But as Fukuyama reported in his famous book announcing history's probable end with the end of the Cold War, liberal democracy or America has won everywhere in principle. This global victory was achieved without bloody revolution and by depriving the world ofany prospect ofsalvation or destruction through political or technological apocalypse. What do we do if the bomb doesn't drop, worried the philosopher­ novelist Walker Percy. But he really wasn't that worried. His expectation was that the West would somehow self-destruct or maybe had already destructed, making room for love in the ruins. 15 But now his novels are viewed more as reflections of personal neurosis than as profound and prophetic commentaries on the malaise of our time. Only a God can save us now, exclaimed the philosopher Heidegger. But now most of the Westernized world, that is, most of the world, blinks and says save us from what? From unprecedented peace, freedom, and prosperity, from the disappearance of all forms of moralistic chauvinism for a universal and homogeneous or radically individualistic globalization? Rorty asks, not without reason and quite in accord with the spirit of the time, why we should care about the personal obsessions of a neurotic German Nazi. 16 Rorty would, of course, say something similar about Solzhenitsyn, and he has encouraged Havel to get less serious about outmoded ideas such as God and eternity. 1 7 (And in fact Havel has.) Perhaps the end of history leaves us lonely and death-haunted and with no hope for political or divine salvation, but surely that interpretation is perversely at odds with any reasonable conception of historical progress. Or perhaps Solzhenitsyn's description is far too extreme. Surely a certain amount ofloneliness and anxiety is a price worth paying for peace, prosperity, and freedom. People with good government and in fortunate social situations do have a tendency to magnify their remaining miseries far beyond reason. Today's American or Western whining, contrary to Hobbes's bourgeois fear and Marx's radical hope, is not about to lead to revolution or civil war.

Tocqueville on Democratic Apathy Tocqueville actually provides a way of connecting Solzhenitsyn's telling observations with history's end. He almost begins by defending his own version of the end of history: Democracy has or will triumph everywhere in the world, and it is futile for aristocrats to imagine any restoration because democracy or popular sovereignty is the only principle of political legitimacy that remains credible. 18

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The only question is what sort of democracy we will have, and Tocqueville defends the American propensity to incorporate aristocratic inheritances-such as the family, association, local government, religion, and so forth-into our understanding of democracy. These fortunate inheritances help limit and shape human liberty, and by so doing make liberty lovable and so sustainable in an increasingly democratic time. 19 The problem with Tocqueville's strategy is his own subtle opposition to democratic progress or history. He knows that the love of equality, an impersonal passion, undermines human love, love ofparticular beings or entities, as it actually exists. And so he knows that the particular American institutions he defends will be eroded over time by the democratic understanding of justice. He seems finally quite pessimistic about the future of human liberty or distinctively human individuality or greatness. The best Tocqueville can say is that his efforts to direct democracy are not inevitably futile, because we cannot say for certain that free human action will not continue to have some conscious influence over historical change. We can say in some way Tocqueville both affirms and resists the end of history, and we must wonder how tenable that combination can be, even in his most capable hands.20 In Tocqueville's eyes, the danger of modem democracy is not, most fundamentally, totalitarian terror, although as an outstanding student ofthe French Revolution he certainly knew what that is. Democracy's most enduring pernicious tendency is toward what Tocqueville calls individualism, an isolated, apathetic existence without the social passions of love and hate. Individualism is not only compatible with but seems almost inevitably to generate a soft or gentle form of despotism, where the individual surrenders control ofthe details ofhis life to some provident, impersonal authority. Individualism, above all, is the judgment that concern for others, and so love and hate and concern for past and future, is more trouble than it is worth.21 The result is the denial or imaginary destruction of almost all of human individuality. Tocqueville agrees with Kojeve that the perfection of democracy is the abolition of human liberty, the disappearance of that singular being capable of acting freely or historically. The deepest Tocquevillian observation concerning the psychology of this surrender might be found in his account of democratic poetry or idealism. Egalitarian skepticism eventually destroys all illusions human beings have about Gods, heroes, and even the future. All that remains is the simple truth about the human individual: He exists for a moment between two abysses and then disappears.22 Human existence is absolutely contingent because of the individual's consciousness of his own contingency. From the perspective of nature, consciousness is a mysterious error, one that is bad for both nature and one's own productivity and happiness. The democratic perception of the truth about the unsupported individual, of not only the democratic individual but also the human condition as such, is too hard to bear, too hostile to life. The unadorned truth produces human self-destruction, including the end of the being capable of perceiving and being moved by the truth.

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Tocqueville, like Solzhenitsyn, sometimes presents the Americans as lonely and anxious about death, restless or uneasy in the midst ofprosperity. But he also fears that they will eventually not be moved by death, love, or pride at all. They will be mindlessly engrossed in the present, gladly surrendering the concerns that constitute their humanity.23 The gradual self-surrender Tocqueville dreads and almost predicts may, in fact, explain much ofrecent American history. It is hard to tell whether the Americans are becoming more lonely or just more disconnected, more obsessed with death or just not bothered by it at all. It is certainly plausible to say that today there is a lot more sex but a lot less love, and that the bodily connection has been more completely sundered from love and enduring human relationships and institutions than ever before. That was a provocative conclusion ofAllan Bloom's famous best-seller; American souls have ceased longing or being souls properly speaking at all.24 How much evidence do we really have in America today for the withering away of the soul?

Laissez-Faire Everywhere Bloom's analysis came before the Cold War's end, and the defeat of Communism or the success of America and Reagan merely intensified an already fairly rapid American movement toward individualism. The more common name of that movement is libertarianism. As sociologist Alan Wolfe has observed, middle-class Americans are now applying the principle of laissez-faire to all areas of human life.25 The political principle of tolerance, or, more precisely, moral nonjudg­ mentalism rooted in both fear and respect, has now become a comprehensively social principle. A Marxist might say that our respectful political principle of free and equal liberty has gradually infused all of American life. But a Marxist might also say that what remains ofAmerican community is being destroyed, and that the capitalist or Hobbesian spirit offearful isolation now separates even neighbor from neighbor. Certainly churches and families have been weakened, and maybe most Americans now understand religion and morality as private whims. And Americans consciously use each other to pursue their private interests more than ever before. Judging, which is sometimes tyrannical and sometimes charitable but always social, has been replaced by using. American associations are now primarily instrumental and far less heart-enlarging than Tocqueville hoped. The Marxist ambivalence about American progress is resolved by Tocqueville: The end of history or perfection of democracy is the individual's apathetic isolation, and Marx's description of communism is really libertarian, not communal.

The Sixties and the Eighties: Two Forms of Moral Destruction The recent American movement toward the universalization of laissez-faire has rather definite stages. The first is the l 960s. The various social movements of that

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decade had political or idealistic dimensions, but their enduring effect was to destroy the credibility of traditional or religiously based personal and familial morality. One fundamental contradiction of the sixties was embodied in its new form of commune, people sharing the same way of life in close proximity while doing their own thing. Such a community is not communal enough to last, but what its antimoral morality dissolved seemingly cannot be restored. The contribution of the sixties to the perfection of the Universal and Homogeneous State is clear in the cases of blacks, women, gays, and even Jews, and we often forget the sixties' place in the destruction of the residues of aristocracy-concern with breeding and lineage-that had taken root in America.26 But not only unjust political distinctions were discredited, so was morality as such. The political principle ofliberation was applied most promiscuously to all ofsocial and personal life. With respect to sexual morality, as Rorty notices, the result was casualness or indifference. Nobody ought to care what you do with your body, and nobody should even have an opinion concerning your soul. The illusory or outmoded mixing of soul with body is a cruel deprivation ofbodily pleasure. In this respect especially, Rorty says, the enemy ofjustice and happiness is Platonism, the philosophical alternative to Hegelianism.27 The sixties' political idealism was, in part, a continuation of welfare-state liberalism. America is a national community; each citizen has a duty to provide for the unfortunate among his fellow citizens. The foundation of that duty is care or compassion, which overcomes the selfishness of apathy. That duty is expressed in the redistribution of income through taxation to support various government

programs. The destruction of the principle of redistribution was one goal of the 1980s revolution of Reagan. The other was to roll back the moral permissiveness of the sixties, especially as it found expression in government policy. The first goal was achieved. The discrediting of the welfare state was assisted mightily by the failure of socialism, as it was by a huge deficit that made new programs impossible. And it is not so hard to convince people ofwhat is, after all, mostly true: A free economy is best for everyone, and intelligent personal selfishness is genuine compassion. Public devotion to caring for the poor is counterproductive. Reagan's second, moral goal was not taken as seriously; its pursuit was compromised by the libertarianism within Reagan's own party and even his own soul. Reagan and Bush, despite appointing six ofnine members ofthe Supreme Court, could not even get the pro-choice Roe v. Wade reversed. The so­ called religious right or "moral majority" got plenty of stirring words from the president, but very few deeds. From our perspective, the sixties and eighties were both victories for freedom or individualism over morality. Eighties' freedom whipped sixties' moralism, and sixties' freedom easily fended off eighties' moralism. A second libertarian innovation of the eighties for which we can thank Reagan is freedom from the duty of military service. The American victory in the Cold War, confirmed by a crushing victory in the Gulf and the one from 1 5,000 feet against the Serbs (won despite the fact we managed actually to hit very few

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targets!) makes the draft seem almost unimaginable for the foreseeable future. The draft, of course, has been the exception to the rule in American history, because of the nation's policy of isolationism. But now our unprecedented technological superiority makes something like global dominance possible with amazingly few men in the field. We can bemoan the lack of concern today for national greatness, and we were even drawn for a moment to John McCain's exhortation on behalf of virtue, for devotion to something higher than interest. We could almost but not quite forget that McCain was never able to give that greatness any content. We also notice the decline in the quality of our leaders as we move away from the time of war and compulsory military service. But we do not really long for war. We are, in fact, thrilled at the reach of American power without citizen sacrifice. Our experiments with alternatives forms of service from the Peace Corps to Americorps remind us that William James was wrong and Hegel was right. There is no moral equivalent to war.

Bill Clinton, Model Libertarian Sixties' personal liberation combined with eighties' economic and civic liberation explains in remarkably large measure the presidency of Bill Clinton. Clinton's administration is judged by both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans to be morally deficient, although for quite different reasons. For liberals, he has abandoned our commitment to the poor, and for conservatives he is a poster boy for the personal decadence of our time. He did it all, from dodging the draft to completely sundering sex from love or even concern for the other. But conservatives, in truth, have little reason to be dissatisfied with his economic policy (shaped, in part, of course by the Republican Congress). Clinton may have done as much to kill the principle of redistribution as Reagan. He signed the bill that brought the national government's responsibility for welfare to an end. And his secretary of the treasury actually understood the details of "trickle-down economics" and rather faithfully implemented them. The Clinton administration has in many ways allied with congressional Republicans to promote free trade, against the liberal Democrats' reactionary efforts to protect jobs. The result has been an unparalleled period of prosperity and the end of the nation's deficit spending. The national consensus on the economy, with plenty of reason, is arguably more libertarian than at any time since before the New Deal. Basically middle-class entitlements do persist (today's American individualist is not a rugged individualist), but the era of the compassionate welfare state is over. Despite Hillary Clinton's loose talk about a national village and the president's about feeling our pain, government and citizens become more apathetic or individualistic in Tocqueville's sense under her husband's watch. Most liberal Democrats applaud Clinton's achievements on behalfof pro-choice causes concerning personal morality. The gays and their agenda have been a

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cherished part of the president's party, and they have made gains both in the military and in the courts. As Harvey Mansfield has observed, the president's defense of his philandering with the help in the White House has made the phrase "consenting adults" more than ever the nation's standard ofpersonal morality, even for chief executives who are married with children.28 The middle class's toleration of the president's shameless and devious behavior and its acceptance of moral laissez-faire have driven many religious conservatives to political despair.29 Many have withdrawn from public involvement into small countercultural communities to protect themselves and their children from amoral America. This withdrawal, of course, leads to personal narrowness and political indifference, and it surrenders public life to an easygoing pro-choice consensus on almost any issue imaginable. It is an admission of defeat; the moral majority that some followers of Reagan hoped would come to guide America is nowhere near a majority anymore.

Bourgeois Bohemians at the End of History In the Hegelian spirit ofhistory's end, I present this evidence unjudged. Americans, more than ever, treat each other as free and equal individuals. They, less than ever, judge each other morally, because all such judgment is meddlesome and inegalitarian. We may know less about each other than ever before, but we respect each other as individuals more. The libertarian spirit of Marx's end of history is closer than ever to be being an account ofAmerica. We are relatively content living in freedom and abundance without doing all that much work. And maybe we are less moved by love and death, and so less distorted by cruel, moralistic anger, than people have ever been before. I am not saying that we are simply like the other animals yet, although by observing that our species is somewhat different in kind and not only by our complexity I differ from almost all of our scientific experts. We are more than clever animals until every detail ofour lives has been transformed by history's end. The differences, though, do seem to be fading. As Wolfe shows, American women want to live both as free and equal individuals and as devoted and responsible wives and mothers. Life, for now, is still rather hard, because they do not have time enough to do justice to both of their self-understandings. But it does not occur to them, in most cases, not to think of themselves as individuals and not to demand justice. American women will not go back, and so they gradually go forward. They spend less time with their children with every passing year, and getting by with less love, children, too, become more independent and withdrawn. Perhaps most troubling to social or religious conservatives is that their in a sense hopeful prediction of a social crisis rooted in excessive permissiveness has not come true. The Clinton years have proved that the spirit ofthe sixties, purged ofits superficial communalism or idealism, is quite compatible with social stability and personal prosperity. David Brooks has named the new model Americans, the new "establishment,"

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bourgeois bohemians. 30 They combine the affectations of cultural radicalism or progressive, egalitarian lifestyles with unconspicuous concern with the acquisition of wealth. The money, they say, is for living a bohemian or nonconformist life. But they would never live in such a way as not to have money. They work hard. But they believe their work must be both creative or self-fulfilling and efficient and that there is no necessary tension between the two. They, in good end-of-history fashion, reject all talk of hierarchy and sexual moralism, except, of course, concerning safe sex. And they seek spiritual fulfillment, but are convinced that God or the One would make no unreasonable or discomforting demands, no demands, properly speaking, at all. They are emphatically not anxious or restless in the absence of God; they look down on obsession with personal salvation as unenlightened and unhealthy. But morality the bourgeois bohemians still have; they are toughly judgmental when it comes to smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity, and not wearing seatbelts. The limits to radicalism are health and prosperity. Bohemianism or cultural nonconformism, properly domesticated with fear and greed, can be completely compatible with living according to the natural goal of comfortable self­ preservation. Artists and intellectuals no longer abuse their bodies because they no longer have souls. Life can be interesting (American food, coffee, shoes, vacations, bookstores, and so forth have become more tasteful and diverse under the guidance of bohemian consumers) and even a bit risky (in the entrepreneurial sense) without being very tough because we are no longer really moved by the great political or spiritual longings of the past. So the bourgeois bohemians, Brooks concludes, have become thoughtless conservatives, unable to imagine a better life than the one they have. He also concludes that Tocqueville's prediction has become true. Their lives are petty, too quietly complacent, and free from genuine or human aspiration. We can add that they seem uncannily like the people Marx describes at the end of history: They have come close to reducing life to an interesting series of hobbies or cultural experiences while refusing to becoming obsessed with any of them. The sociologist Wolfe would push Brooks's analysis even further. The aspirations and even the achievements of the bourgeois bohemians are not only limited to the wealthy establishment. The broad middle class, including managers and secretaries, aim to combine material comfort with the bohemian quest for "higher meaning." Many of them have acquired both personal trainers for their bodies and personal gurus for their souls. And Wolfe also notices that the Evangelicals can be just as therapeutic in their spirituality as the Unitarians. So he presents what amounts to the Hegelian conclusion that "Boboism . . . is American life."3 1 Life at the end of history is more clearly than ever than shared goal of all Americans and is available to more and more of them with every passing day. Waller R. Newell wonders whether this sort of analysis of our time is really superficial. Young people are still full of passion. They still have strong, antinomian desires and ambitions. During the day, they do tend to conform to the orderly, unadventurous requirements of the bourgeois bohemian way of life. But


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there is also a nightly "Dionysian underworld" ofdrugs, dance clubs, manic music, piercing self-mutilation, passionate and beautiful expressions of male and female sexuality, and even the passionate excess of androgyny (as opposed to the lifeless, bureaucratic suppression of difference). His hope is that this underworld is evidence that human nature remains unmanaged, that eros still reigns supreme, if only covertly, in the human soul.32 But that world seems to me well under control; the young blow off steam (admittedly they still have steam) and gradually their nights conform to their days. Their eros, uneducated (and so unsublimated) and without any institutional support, simply fades. The day rules the night, and everything that goes on at night becomes safely packaged. What used to be regarded as criminal lust or pederasty is aroused quite predictably and privately by a Calvin Klein ad.

Biotechnology and the New Ambiguity of Nature I have not yet mentioned the most powerful weapon at our disposal for eradicating what remains of human distinctiveness, biotechnology. The argument of the dissidents, Solzhenitsyn and Havel, that the fall ofCommunism shows that human nature is capable ofresisting all ideological or historical impositions, is powerful. Certainly Rorty' s pragmatic view that we can somehow talk intense love and hate, cruel obsessiveness, and death out of existence seems weak. We know that we are more than words; our being is not completely determined by our language. We can agree with the sociobiologists that certain inegalitarian features of our natures cannot be overcome through political or environmental change. We cannot help but return to the thought that human beings remain discontented or homeless in the world in ways that will elude social and political reform. Libertarian apathy or contentment is surely only part of our story today. Our easygoing, nonjudgmental words may mask more than describe our genuine experiences. But what ifwe can alter our natures in ways that can eradicate natural resistance to the goal ofhistory's end? Walker Percy writes ofthe significance ofour anxiety, depression, and general unhappiness in the midst of a good environment. This depression, he notices, cannot in fact be remedied by environmental improvement or soothing therapeutic language. And it is actually worsened when the impersonal language of scientific expertise does not correspond to our human longings. The more we can explain scientifically, the more the self or what remains uniquely human seems an inexplicable leftover. Our depression, anxiety, and so forth, Percy concludes, are evidence that we are strangers in this world, aliens by our very natures. The depressed or melancholic, if they reflect on their miserable dislocation, can see through the platitudes ofscientific humanism to the truth about our being and even to the possibility that Christian anthropology and maybe Christian revelation might be true. According to Percy, we live not at history's end but at the end of the modem world. Our language is exhausted and our cultural inheritance has become

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incredible. The result is not only loneliness, but also a rare opportunity to see the human being as he truly is. The result is also the possibility of the undeluded love of one self-conscious mortal for another. Percy agrees with Tocqueville that modern democracy, through its destruction of all forms of privileges, shows the human being in all his contingency or dislocation. But he adds that there is also some joy in knowing the truth, which is much more bearable than our experts think. The West may self-destruct, but the uniquely human being will continue to exist in one form or another.33 But Peter Kramer, in his very thoughtful Listening to Prozac, doubts that Percy's celebration of the wisdom of the depressed or melancholic is much more than delusion. Prozac can so improve such a person's life that he experiences a transformation in his very being. He is freed from his miserable experiences in a way than enhances memory and self-understanding and contributes to optimism and personal productivity without any unpleasant side effects. The Prozac taker is not some zoned out "last man" but an intelligent, reflective, outgoing, risk-taking person in a good mood. Kramer admits that Prozac or some similar drug could have deprived us of the novels of Percy and Dostoyevsky. But now it seems their self­ understandings have turned out to be untrue, and so we no longer see any profundity in their brushes with suicide and searches for God. Depression and melancholy are merely biological disorders with a biological remedy; they are not some gateway to the truth about being. A person feels much more at home, because he really is more at home, after taking the capsule.34 Kramer recommends a new aesthetics of optimism and sanguinity for this new world. Knowing that mood is a function of chemical balance keeps us from privileging bad moods because they are more truthful; we are free to choose the ones that make us productive and happy.3s What is possible now through mood-enhancing drugs (the effects of which we can expect will become progressively more safe and predictable) may soon be achieved even more effectively through gene therapy and other forms of biotechnology. We will be more and more able to manipulate our natures. This success would seem to contradict the idea of the end of history. Perhaps human nature can become like that of the other animals only if it is altered. Historical effort by itself cannot eradicate the error that is the free being, because human freedom has a natural, or not only a historical, foundation. But the uses to which we will put biotechnology do seem to be set by the principles of the Universal and Homogeneous State. We will eradicate those aspects of our natures-aggression, anxiety, and so forth-that cause us to remain dissatisfied with it. We will no longer be religious, metaphysical, political, or even polymorphously erotic beings. We may remain, as Fukuyama argues in The Great Disruption, social beings, but the circle of our sociality will shrink and simplify.36 Perhaps we would have never quite believed the modern, expert propaganda that our "spiritual" experiences are merely illusions, but now we really won't have them at all. Our secular or merely scientific language will finally seem adequate; we will lose any intimations of deprivation. Our agenda, set by history, is to perfect what

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has already been achieved in principle. We will make ourselves different in degree but not kind from the other animals. We will become clever, reasonably contented, safely gregarious animals and nothing more. It is worth emphasizing that we now lack the moral standpoint to resist such biotechnological alteration. Communism, in fact, was much easier to resist. It was clearly rooted in terror and tyranny, and the standpoint of resistance was most clearly human nature. But now not only human nature but nature itself seem ambiguous and imprecise terms. One meaning of nature is what we have been given and cannot change, an ineradicable limit to human effort. But now almost everything natural seems technologically alterable. Even our dependence on this planet and any particular fixed span of life may no longer be necessary. All living beings will still have to die sometime, but we may be able to choose how much we are moved or determined by that fact. Most uses ofbiotechnology, even Prozac capsules, seem beneficial to all. They are used to cure mental and physical illness, to prolong life and alleviate suffering. And the distinction between preserving human life and enhancing it through natural transformation is hard to maintain in particular cases. Even ifthere were American moral restrictions, it would still be easy to find the technological therapy we desire elsewhere in our Internet-connected world. The Supreme Court has declared moral regulation of the Internet by our government unconstitutional because such regulation is so obviously futile. Technology, and especially technology mixed with universal principle, has made impossible the moral defense of national borders. We might fear that biotechnology might be a tool used by new tyrants to impose their will on the world, to dismantle the Universal and Homogeneous State. It is true that we will end up trusting scientific experts far too much in choosing our proper chemical balances, but our own inclination and expert direction will be in the direction ofbeing productive, unalienated members ofa liberal society. We will be energetic and contented conformists. But our scientists probably won't be much different. And we now know that this conformism is compatible with economic prosperity and technical innovation. Given that all other forms of rule are regarded as illegitimate by our elites, we can reasonably expect that the universal and homogeneous principles of bourgeois Bohemians, and not deranged, obsessive individuals, will guide our gradual surrender of the qualities that actually distinguish us as human beings.

Notes 1. Francis Fukuyama, The End ofHistory and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992). 2. The most accessible, if incomplete, version of these lectures is Alexandre Kojeve, Introduction to the Reading ofHegel, trans. James Nichols (New York: Basic Books, 1969).

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For a more detailed account ofKojeve and his relation to Fukuyama, see my Postmodernism Rightly Understood: The Return to Realism in American Thought (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1 999), ch. 1 . See also the chapters in this book by Darby, Pontuso, Cantor, and Knippenberg. 3. See my "The Therapeutic Threat to Human Liberty: Pragmatism vs. Conservatism on America and the West Today," in Vital Remnants: America 's Founding and the Western Tradition, ed. Gary L. Gregg II (Wilmington, Del.: ISI Books, 1 999), 305-29. 4. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 2, part 1 , ch. 8. 5. Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope (London: Penguin Books, 1 999), especially ch. I 0. 6. For more on Rorty, see my Postmodernism, ch. 2 and my "Rorty's America," Perspectives on Political Science 27 (Summer 1 998). 7. See my "The Dissident Professor," The Intercollegiate Review 34 (Spring 1 999). 8. Marx's clearest expression of this point is "On the Jewish Question." 9. See the Hegelian history of America presented in Rorty's Achieving Our Country (Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1 998), especially his account of the sixties, with his remark on the disappearance of the illusion ofthe soul among intellectuals "around 1 9 1 O" (Philosophy as Social Hope, 1 68). 1 0. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, "Address to the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein (September 1 4, 1 993)," in The Russian Question at the End ofthe Twentieth Century (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1 995), 1 1 2-28. This speech is clearly a post-Cold War update and modification of Solzhenitsyn's famous 1 978 Harvard Address ("A World Split Apart," inEastand West [New York: Harper Perennial, 1 980], 39-7 1 ). This summary is of the 1 993 address with the 1 978 one in mind. 1 1 . Consider how outdated my "The Dissident Criticism of America," in The American Experiment, ed. P. Lawler and R. Schaefer (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1 994), seems now. 12. See my "Havel's Postmodern View of Man in the Cosmos," Perspectives on Political Science 26 (Winter 1 997). 13. See Mahoney's chapter in this book. 1 4. Here I am thinking of Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and Hannah Arendt, in that order. And I am not forgetting their common indebtedness to Heidegger. 1 5. These thoughts inform all of Percy's work, both his novels and philosophical essays. See my Postmodernism, chs. 3 and 4. For a quick and exciting entry into Percy's concerns, see the summary he wrote of his novel The Last Gentleman, quoted in Patrick H. Samway's Walker Percy: A Life (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), 24 1 -42. The modem world has come to an end through some catastrophe, and "the strange new world," indefinitely called "post-modem," is still really "the as yet unnamed Time After." 16. See Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope, 1 90-97. Heidegger's thought is useful to the extent that we can separate it from his political views and moral character! 1 7. Richard Rorty, Truth and Progress (Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 1 998), ch. 1 2. 1 8. Tocqueville, Introduction to Democracy in America. 1 9. See my "Tocqueville on Pride, Interest, and Love," Polity 28 (Winter 1 995). 20. This is a general account of what is, in my view, the key argument of volume 2 of Democracy in America. 2 1 . Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 2, part 2, chs. 2-5, 8-9, with vol. 2, part 4, chs. 6-7. 22. Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 2, part 1 , ch. 1 7 on poetry or the


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representation of the ideal. 23. Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 2, part 2, chs. 13 and 1 6. 24. Allan Bloom, The Closing ofthe American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1 987). 25. Alan Wolfe, One Nation, After All (New York: Viking, 1998). 26. My general view of the relationship between the sixties and eighties is indebted to Mark Lilla, "A Tale of Two Reactions," The New York Review ofBooks 45 (May 14, 1998). 27. Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope, xii. 28. Harvey C. Mansfield, "A Nation of Consenting Adults," The Weekly Standard, November 1 6, 1998. 29. Jeremy Rabkin in "The Culture War That Isn't" (Policy Review [August/September 1999]), documents and criticizes this withdrawal. He says it is plain un-American not to pursue religious objectives through political means. 30. David Brooks, Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000). 31 . Alan Wolfe, "The Greening of America," New Republic (June 1 2, 2000): 40-41 . 32. Waller R . Newell, What Is a Man? (New York: Regan Books, 2000). My discussion is ofNewell's concluding reflections to this wonderful collection. 33. See especially Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The last Self-Help Book (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1 983). 34. Peter D. Kramer, Listening to Prozac (New York: Penguin, 1 997), ch. 9: "The Message in the Capsule." This chapter is an extended response to Percy's philosophic The Message in the Bottle (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1975). 35. Peter D. Kramer, "The Valorization of Sadness: Alienation and the Melancholic Temperament," Hastings Center Report 30 (March/April 2000). 36. Francis Fukuyama, The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order (New York: Free Press, 1999). In "Francis Fukuyama as Teacher of Evil" (Modern Age 42 [Winter 2000]), I criticize Fukuyama for not reconciling the naturalism of that book with what he says in "Second Thoughts" (The National Interest, no. 56 [Summer 1 999]) about the likely biotechnological destruction of human nature. That is what I try to do here, drawing on the valuable scientific information Fukuyama presents in that article.

Chapter 7

The Ascent from Modernity: Solzhenitsyn on "Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations" Daniel J. Mahoney Repentance, not Utopia, is the greatest revolutionary force in the moral world. -Max Scheler

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn clearly believes that Christianity ought to assume a significant place in the public life ofcontemporary societies. In his 1 973 Letter to the Soviet Leaders, he pleaded with the Soviet leadership to abandon a "decrepit and hopelessly antiquated" ideology that, he argued, was the basis of the most mendacious tyranny in human history, and that had proved to be neither scientific in its empirical claims nor capable of addressing the real dilemmas of modem society . 1 He called for nothing less than competition "between all ideological and moral currents, and in particular between all religions,"2 confident that Marxist­ Leninism would collapse of the weight ofits own falsehood ifit were deprived of its ideological monopoly. On that occasion, he stated that he wished for no special privileges for Christianity despite his belief that it was "the only living spiritual force capable of undertaking the spiritual healing ofRussia."3 Despite the modest character ofSolzhenitsyn's hopes for a Christian role in the regeneration ofRussia, the legend grew about his supposedly theocratic propensities. He was even accused of wanting "new Gulags, new Ayatollahs" by certain emigre writers such as Eftim Etkind, in a move that Solzhenitsyn angrily labeled "the Persian trick."4 Few of Solzhenitsyn's critics have bothered to subject his writings to serious analysis. They did not take the time to carefully examine the call for a "national rebirth" that Solzhenitsyn and six other writers had put forward in the 1974 collection From Under the Rubble.5 How could Russia escape from under the

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"dank and dark depths"6 of communist totalitarianism without descending into social chaos, ethnic conflict, or new forms of tyranny? these writers asked. How could she recover her national soul as well as her liberties after decades of ideocratic rule? Solzhenitsyn and his collaborators proposed nothing less than a peaceful moral revolution made possible "by traveling [the] path of repentance, self-limitation and inner development."7 These themes would resonate in all of Solzhenitsyn's subsequent political essays and programmatic statements over the next twenty-five years. Of Solzhenitsyn's three contributions to From Under the Rubble, the essay "Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations" is the most synoptic in character and the one that best captures his hopes for Russia's future.8 It is also one ofhis most philosophical statements, combining a critique of philosophical and political modernity, including the social sciences, with an analysis ofthe place ofrepentance and self-limitation in natural human experience and in the Christian religion. In 1998, Solzhenitsyn told his biographer, Joseph Pearce, that he still considers it to be "one ofhis most important articles, expressing one of his key thoughts."9 This chapter consists of a detailed exegesis of and commentary on Solzhenitsyn's essay. Its aim is nothing less than a philosophical exploration of Solzhenitsyn's recommendation of the path of repentance, self­ limitation, and inner development for a Russia emerging from under the rubble and, more generally, a modem world in the midst ofa profound intellectual and spiritual crisis.

The Transference of Value Judgments Part I of "Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations" begins with a quotation from book 19 of St. Augustine's City ofGod: "What is the state without justice? A band of robbers." Solzhenitsyn is less interested in analyzing the truth of a judgment with which he concurs ("Even now, fifteen centuries later, many people will, I think, readily recognize the force and accuracy of this judgment") than in examining the human propensity to apply "ethical judgments about a small group of people" to "larger social phenomena and associations ofpeople, up to and including the nation and the state as a whole." Solzhenitsyn upholds the naturalness and necessity of the "transference" of ethical judgments from the individual to the social and political sphere-and, in the process, criticizes the social sciences for their methodological ascetism, their strict prohibition against "extensions of meaning" to larger social phenomena (105*). Solzhenitsyn implicitly criticizes the "fact-value" distinction at the heart of the modem social scientific enterprise. The "fact-value" distinction is itself a radicalization of lmmanuel Kant's argument in his Critique ofJudgment for the

* All references to "Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations" will henceforth be cited parenthetically in the text. (See bibliographical information in note 8.)

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absolute independence ofthe cognitive, ethical, and esthetic spheres. Solzhenitsyn affirms the human need to evaluate political life by ethical criteria, however "provincial" ( 105) or old-fashioned such an endeavor may appear to the positivist cast of mind. Delba Winthrop has rightly noted that Solzhenitsyn's confrontation with the ideological lie somehow led him to an ancillary confrontation with the dogmatism at the heart ofthe social scientific enterprise. 10 In "Repentance and Self­ Limitation in the Life of Nations" Solzhenitsyn confronts the dogma, sacrosanct in social scientific circles, that reason as such can tell us nothing about how human beings ought to live, that true science is incompatible with value judgments. Solzhenitsyn attacks the "arrogant insensitivity of the modern trend in the social sciences" for ignoring the naturalness and necessity of transferring "age-old human impulses and feelings" from the realm of personal and interpersonal relations to larger social phenomena (106). Solzhenitsyn seems to ignore or abstract from the fact that the separation of fact and value as articulated by Max Weber and his epigoni forbids the application ofvalue judgments to individualphenomena as well as to larger social aggregates 1 1-at least value judgments that claim any reasonable as opposed to idiosyncratic or arbitrary foundation. But Solzhenitsyn would not be deterred by this objection. He takes for granted that human beings are evaluative beings precisely because they are moral agents responsible for conducting their individual and collective lives honorably. "The transference of values"-the application of the "laws and demands which constitute the aim and meaning of individual human lives" to human society at large-is "entirely natural to the religious cast of mind." But, Solzhenitsyn tellingly adds, "even without a religious foundation, this sort of transference is readily and naturally made." For Solzhenitsyn, religion provides powerful reinforcement for what is natural to human beings. Solzhenitsyn's defense of repentance and self-limitation does not depend on prior religious commitments-although these natural goods clearly point beyond themselves and are compatible with the truth of faith. The application ofethical criteria to the realms ofpersonal and interpersonal life is integral to what it means to be human. For example, the transference of moral judgment to "the biggest social events or human organizations, including whole states" is entirely natural in Solzhenitsyn's view. Human beings instinctively apply the full range of "spiritual values," of human virtues and vices, to the social and political spheres, freely speaking of the "noble, base, courageous, cowardly, hypocritical, false, cruel, magnanimous, just, unjust" traits of men and communities. Solzhenitsyn wryly notes that "even the most extreme economic materialists" write this way "since they remain after all human beings." To be a human being is to be a person who evaluates the qualities intrinsic to human actions and institutions. The moral and evaluative character of individuals and societies is a given of our nature and it cannot be wished away in the name of scrupulous adherence to scientific or ideological criteria. Without a clear-cut adherence to and thoughtful analysis of the moral dimensions of social life, society risks being "brutalized by the triumph of evil instincts, no matter where the pointer of the great economic laws may turn" (106). To resist the moral examination of


Daniel J. Mahoney

social phenomena in the name of science or adherence to moral or cultural relativism is to "evade" a primordial and fundamental human responsibility. In parts 2-5 of the essay under examination, Solzhenitsyn turns to a thoroughgoing examination of social life with reference to two essential categories of individual ethics: repentance and self-limitation. These are the touchstones of Solzhenitsyn's reflection and the place where his philosophical, spiritual, and political concerns most clearly and fruitfully converge.

The Gift of Repentance Solzhenitsyn calls repentance a "gift" that "perhaps more than anything else distinguishes man from the animal world" (107). He leaves open the question of whether this gift is given by nature or by God. Repentance is coextensive with the human condition but it does not come easily to modern man, who has "grown ashamed of this feeling" ( I 07). Solzhenitsyn highlights a central feature of modernity: it sets out to liberate or emancipate man from conventional restraints, but, in profound ways, it estranges him from his nature. "The habit ofrepentance" is increasingly "lost to our callous and chaotic age" (107). In light ofmodern man's resistance to any settled notion of limits, his refusal to bow down before a divine or natural order that is responsible for the "givenness" (1 10) of his nature, Solzhenitsyn asks if his article is not in fact "premature or altogether pointless" (107). But he resists this conclusion because he is confident that modernity's rejection of limits is untenable and unsustainable; a "hollow place in modern man" makes him "ready to receive" (107) repentance and self-limitation in both the personal and social spheres of life. Solzhenitsyn thus affirms the primacy of the Good-he has confidence in the permanence of the Permanent Things-in the ultimate solidity of a natural order. The undeniable progress of science and technology in the modern world cannot change the fact that man's freedom and dignity reside more in his capacity for inner development than in his ability to transform the external world. Progress is an undeniable necessity capable of bringing great benefits to the human race. But it is also a chimera if it claims to provide the key to understanding the mystery that is man. And infinite progress risks contributing to environmental catas­ trophe-even to "the end ofthe world'' ( 107) foretold by the prophets of old. It is not appropriate on this occasion to subject Solzhenitsyn's "green" presuppositions to detailed scrutiny. For now, we must be content with some necessarily cursory remarks. Suffice it to say that Solzhenitsyn accepts the most pessimistic, "Malthusian" analyses of the global ecological crisis, drawing in particular on the hyperbolic claims of the Club of Rome from the late 1960s and early 1970s about imminent global catastrophe as a result of uncontrolled economic development, galloping population growth, and continued polluting of the planet (137, 143). For Solzhenitsyn, self-limitation has thus become a practical necessity if mankind is not to "perish as a result of the total exhaustion, barrenness and

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pollution of the planet" (108). Solzhenitsyn's ecological vision is rooted in deep reservations about the human adequacy of unfettered external development or unlimited progress, development that turns human beings away from the cultivation of their souls, genuine concerns about the effects of industrial civilization on the integrity of nonhuman nature, as well as in a profound revulsion against totalitarian communism's Promethean contempt for any limits to the conquest of nature. His green proclivities are an inherent element ofhis philosophical and political critique ofmodernity and should not be dismissed as romantic or reactionary longings. Solzhenitsyn, a scientist by training, does not oppose the legitimacy of modern progress or the importance of technological development (he even recognizes that technology provides a crucial way out of the approaching abyss of ecological catastrophe). His writings are also free of the pantheistic worship of "Gaia" or mother earth that is an increasingly important part ofthe "theology" ofradical or deep ecology. But Solzhenitsyn could be faulted for too readily accepting suspect empirical claims of radical environmentalists, for underestimating the crucial role that the market can play in encouraging ecological responsibility, and for adopting a quasi-apocalyptic rhetoric that understates the very real progress that has been made, especially in the liberal democratic nations of the West, in addressing pollution and other environmental dangers. 12 And as Nicholas Eberstadt has recently highlighted, the pressing problem facing the "developed" world in the next half century is likely to be depopulation, with its attendant consequences for sustaining a welfare state, civic peace, an ever graying population, and the political rank or influence of once dominant Western nations. 13 Solzhenitsyn himself has expressed deep concerns about depopulation in the former U.S.S.R. 14-although the causes of that demographic disaster are decidedly different from the changing population patterns of the prosperous West. Solzhenitsyn surely wishes to stress the practical urgency ofa turn to repentance and self-limitation for modern peoples who are all too prone to dismiss advice they see as moralistic or hortatory in character. But the deepest argument for repentance is, according to Solzhenitsyn, a "fact, which has been made plain, especially by art, a thousand times before" (I 09). This fact is perhaps the central moral message of Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago-and is at the heart ofhis rejection of every form of religious or ideological manicheanism. Human beings have a propensity to localize evil in others and resist the appeal of religion to "censure, denounce and hate" ( I 08) the evil in themselves. Modern man is increasingly estranged from the dramatic character ofthe human condition and the "mixed" character ofthe human soul. Solzhenitsyn reiterates a central "fact" obscured by sophisticated currents of contemporary philosophy and social science: Good and evil are not some arbitrary constructions of language or culture but vital qualities of soul that pulsate through every human being. The ideological construction of a surreal world "beyond good and evil" dehumanizes men and turns them away from the arduous but eminently human task of inner spiritual development and self-limitation. In words almost identical to those used in The Gulag Archipelago 15 Solzhenitsyn writes:

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Daniel J. Mahoney But obvious though it may be, we are even now, with the twentieth century on its way out, reluctant to recognize that the universal dividing line between good and evil runs not between countries, not between nations, not between parties, not between classes, not even between good and bad men: the dividing line cuts across nations and parties, shifting, constantly yielding now to the pressure of light, now to the pressure of darkness. It divides the heart of every man, and there too it is not a ditch dug once and for all, but fluctuates with the passage of time and according to a man's behavior. (108)

Repentance is a gift available to human beings who have come to know themselves. It provides an opportunity for civic concord and spiritual growth, which, alas, human beings are all too prone to resist. Human beings wish to blame other parties, nations, and races for the imperfection of the world or even for their own imperfections and faults. This process of attacking the other is easier than searching "for our own errors and sins" (108). In a particularly powerful passage in part 3 of the essay, Solzhenitsyn suggests that communist ideology intensified the intractable human resistance to the gift of repentance, locating evil and evildoing in distinct social and ontological categories. Such an obfuscation of the mixed character ofall individuals and social bodies is at the heart of the communist lie and is an essential reason for its intrinsically coercive character. Solzhenitsyn writes: For halfa century now we have acted on the conviction that the guilty ones were the tsarist establishment, the bourgeois patriots, social democrats, White Guards, priests, emigres, subversives, Kulaks . . . anyone and everyone except you and me! Obviously it was they, not we, who had to reform. But they dug their heels in and refused to. So how could they be made to reform, except by bayonets, revolvers, barbed wire, starvation? (1 17)

Solzhenitsyn, then, does not consider his appeal to repentance to be in any way quixotic or utopian. Repentance provides "the first firm ground underfoot, the only one from which we can go forward not to fresh hatreds but to concord" (108). It provides ''the only starting point for spiritual growth" (108) for individuals and social bodies alike. Yet Solzhenitsyn is cognizant of the many objections that will be raised to the transference ofrepentance to the social and political realm. A critic of the partisan character of modern representative government, Solzhenitsyn does not expect political parties ("utterly inhuman formations") to repent for their misjudgments or misdeeds. The same cannot be said of politicians, who do not necessarily "lose their human qualities" and thus are open, in principle, to the call of repentance (109). Nations, in contrast to partisan movements, are "vital formations, susceptible to all moral feelings, including, however painful a step it may be-repentance" (109). Solzhenitsyn cites the authority of Dostoyevsky, who in his Diary of a Writer

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affinns the indebtedness of every nation to a prior ethical idea. Political foundings are simultaneously theological and ethical as well as political events (Dostoyevsky gives the example ofMoses and the Hebrew polity and the various Muslim nations "founded after the appearance of the Koran"). Neither Dostoyevsky nor Solzhenitsyn is willing to draw the Machiavellian conclusion, reiterated by Rousseau, that sees in such foundings the manipulation of a godlike legislator who provides the subsequent horizon of a people's corporate existence. Solzhenitsyn draws on Dostoyevsky to stress the inescapably spiritual dimension ofnational life and hence the "right" of a people to repent, to cultivate and preserve its national soul. Solzhenitsyn ends part 2 of"Repentance and Self-Limitation" by raising three doubts that naturally arise in considering the application ofrepentance to the nation as a whole. The first concerns the legitimacy of"talking about the qualities or traits of a whole nation." Doesn't the expectation of repentance for an entire people presuppose that "the sin, the vice, the defect is that of the whole nation" (109)? Second, doesn't the call for national repentance presuppose collective responsibility for wrongdoing? But under authoritarian or totalitarian governments, the mass of people "can neither obstruct nor contribute to the decisions of its leaders." Solzhenitsyn tellingly asks, "What should it repent of?" (109). Finally, Solzhenitsyn asks how a nation as a whole can express its repentance. Isn't repentance the work of singular individuals who take responsibility where most refuse to act? How then can a people as a whole repent? In the first half of part 3, Solzhenitsyn systemically responds to these fundamental obstacles to the idea of national repentance.

A "Community of Guilt" and Common Repentance In his "Nobel Lecture on Literature," Solzhenitsyn affinned the indispensable place of the nation in "God's design." The disappearance of national fonns "would impoverish us not less than if all men should become alike, with one personality and one face."1 6 And elsewhere in From Under the Rubble, in the opening essay "As Breathing and Consciousness Return," he dissects Andrei Sakharov's "Saint­ Simonian" vision (in Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom) of world government and scientific management of the international economy, guided by spiritually sensitive experts and administrators. 17 Solzhenitsyn is among those who "set the highest value on the existence of the nation, who see in it not the ephemeral fruit of social fonnations but a complex, vivid, unrepeatable organism not invented by man" ( I 10). He goes so far as to speak of "the profoundest similarity between the individual and the nation," a similarity that "lies in the mystical nature of their 'givenness'" (l lO). What are we to make of these remarkable "mystical" or metapolitical claims made on behalf of the nation? Perhaps it is best to begin by analyzing Solzhenitsyn's notion of the givenness ofindividual and national life. This claim is not in and ofitself mystical and is open


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to rational and philosophical examination. In asserting the givenness ofindividual and collective life, Solzhenitsyn reiterates his long-standing criticism of "anthropocentric humanism," ofmodernity's confidence in what Aurel Kolnai has called the "self-sovereignty" of man. In Solzhenitsyn's view man "participates" in an order that he neither creates nor is able to negate. 18 Solzhenitsyn joins a long and venerable tradition that sees man above all as "a debtor" (Bertrand de Jouvenel) 19 who owes everything to an order of things finally beyond human control and manipulation. Modem political philosophy is replete with an unfounded confidence in the capacity of human beings to conquer fortune (Machiavelli, Prince, ch. 25) and sees man as the matter and maker (Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 29) of an immense project of social and individual self-creation. Without denying the importance of the political regime (most of Solzhenitsyn's political polemics of the 1970s and 1980s centered on a desperate effort to remind an intellectually senescent Western world that Russia was not the same thing as the ideocratic "U.S.S.R."20), Solzhenitsyn sees in the nation, the eternal nation, the incubus of civilization and the social embodiment of the moral inheritance ofman. Solzhenitsyn believes that nations are spiritual entities as much as political ones, and "can soar to heights and plunge to the depths, run[ning] the whole gamut from saintliness to utter wickedness (although only individuals ever reach the extremes)" ( 1 10). Solzhenitsyn's ethical/spiritual conception of the nation is alien to the civic republican, creedal, and contractual understandings of national identity that are indebted to the American and French revolutionary experiences.21 But it is also distinct from ethnic and even merely cultural explanations of national identity. It has something in common with Charles Peguy's notion that politics in the narrow or specific sense of the term must always be undergirded by a mystique, a spiritual vivacity that gives it energy and purpose, or to Charles de Gaulle's notion that beyond passing regimes are thefatum of nations and peoples who endure despite the best efforts ofrevolutionaries or ideologues.22 And Pierre Manent has exposed the dependence ofeven the democratic polity, with its grand ambition for collective self-government, on national forms that give territorial and historical expression to what is otherwise an inhuman abstraction. Democratic peoples, too, are indebted to inheritances, including the nation itself, that precede their constitutional foundings or their belief in the principle of individual and collective consent.23 Some things cannot be consented to-they need to be accepted in a spirit of humility, even piety. Patriotism is a constant reminder of the sacral dimension of any civic community, however secular in inspiration. Even today, many ordinary citizens of the Western democracies remain old-fashioned patriots. They instinctively reject the abstract "constitutional patriotism" put forward by intellectuals such as Jurgen Habermas, who reduce national loyalty to the acceptance of procedural political forms. Relying on "intuitive perceptions" rather than "positivist knowledge" (1 10), Solzhenitsyn asserts that the "shifting boundary between good and evil" of which he previously spoke "oscillates continuously in the consciousness of a nation" (1 10). Nations, like individuals, can "change beyond recognition in the course of

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their lives" (110). "Because of the mutability of all existence, a nation can no more live without sin than an individual" (110). In a manner reminiscent of the arguments of the neo-Augustinian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, Solzhenitsyn insists that "every nation" is under judgment, that whatever the tragedies of a particular country's national experience, it "has certainly at one time or another contributed its share of inhumanity, injustice and arrogance" (111). Solzhenitsyn criticizes all forms ofnationalism that abstract from the properly penitential aspects ofauthentic patriotism. But ifit is necessary to avoid manicheanjudgments or one­ sided national antipathies, it is also necessary to reject the cool, scientific asceticism that tries to transcend the evaluation ofnational experience. Whether we like it or not, we cannot understand social phenomena without appreciating the virtues and vices that are inherent to all human action. Solzhenitsyn's defense of the transference of value judgments to social and political phenomena is inseparable from his recognition of the givenness of human life. Nations, like individuals, have an obligation to acquit themselves responsibly, recognizing an ethical order that transcends individual or collective willfulness. And it is natural for human beings to judge nations "as a whole," as long as that judgment is balanced by a genuine recognition ofthe intrinsic imperfection ofall things human. Solzhenitsyn responds to the second objection, that not every individual or citizen is responsible for the crimes of their governments, by arguing that our inheritance includes the crimes of our forbears-"the sins of the fathers" (113). Each generation does not begin anew. The great contract of the living, dead, and yet to be born-what Chesterton famously called the "democracy of the dead"-unites a nation "in a community of guilt" that requires "common repentance" (113). Nations are "integrated organisms" (113) and cannot avoid responsibility by passing things off as the product of other men, or times, or regimes. Solzhenitsyn chooses his cases ecumenically-giving examples of wrongdoing in liberal, authoritarian, and totalitarian regimes and from the developed and developing world. The peoples of western Europe (e.g., the British, French, and Dutch), for example, did little to obstruct the adoption of colonial policies by their respective governments even though "their system of government allowed for considerable obstruction to be placed in the way of colonialism by society" (111). They share guilt for the wrongdoings associated with colonialism. About this particular wrong, there has certainly been a lot of posturing and some genuine regrets, although repentance does not seem to describe the West's doubts in this regard. The next example is near and dear to Solzhenitsyn's heart-and recurs in many of his works from the first volume of The Gulag Archipelago to the Address to the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein on September 14, 1993.24 Solzhenitsyn highlights the British and American complicity in the forcible repatriation of hundreds of thousands of civilian refugees to the U.S.S.R. immediately after World War II in the infamous "Operation Keelhaul." The action of Allied governments contributed to the deaths and imprisonments of tens of thousands ofpeople. Writing in 197 4, Solzhenitsyn indignantly protests that no one


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has raised a finger to bring those responsible to punishment or even to hold them accountable in the court of public opinion. Worst of all, "the voice of repentance has still not been heard" (112). Yet in the years since the publication of From Under the Rubble, and in no small part due to the efforts of Solzhenitsyn himself, this "last secret"25 (as Solzhenitsyn has called it) of World War II has been the subject of excellent books by Julius Epstein and Nicholas Bethell, among others.26 If there has not been collective repentance on the part of Britain and the United States, these books represent an effort to come to terms with the shame of events still too little known by the ordinary public in the Western democracies. Solzhenitsyn's last two examples come from tyrannical regimes-from the bloody tyranny ofldi Amin Dada in Uganda and from Enver Hoxha's fanatically totalitarian regime in postwar Albania. Ugandans may not have been directly responsible for the bloody incidents that characterized Amin's rule. Nonetheless, they gave tacit backing to his expulsion of the productive and law-abiding Asian minority in 1971. "There is no doubt that [Amin] had the self-interested approval of a population which battens on the spoils of the deported." As Ugandans embarked on the path of nationhood, "repentance is the very last feeling they [were] about to experience" (112). It is much harder to hold ordinary Albanians responsible for the crimes of Hoxha's fanatical Marxist regime (a regime that executed parents for the "crime" of baptizing their children). But Solzhenitsyn adds, "the enthusiastic layer of the population which keeps (Hoxha) in orbit must surely have been recruited from ordinary Albanian families" (113). Solzhenitsyn has insisted that post-communist societies, such as Albania or the former republics of the U.S.S.R., must punish those who were principally responsible for the crimes of the totalitarian regime. Otherwise, the new generation is taught that evil goes unpunished in this world, that, in the end, "might makes right." But more fundamental than judicial punishment is the need for collective responsibility and repentance for the crimes of the past. It is not merely a question of us-the victims-and them-the guilty, although that distinction is pertinent to the reality of the totalitarian or ideocratic state. But no one is wholly without guilt. In a totalitarian society, everyone, to some extent or another, has "taken part in the lie" even if only by refusing to display civic courage or by unintentionally reinforcing the ideological claims of the regime.27 Even in the totalitarian state, then, the "community of guilt" is real. Only public and collective repentance can begin to purge the sins of the past and allow society to pursue a healthy path of development. Solzhenitsyn next turns to an examination of the third objection-Is it possible for a nation as a whole to express its repentance? He readily admits that "individual expressions of this common repentance are dubiously representative for we cannot know when those who make them speak with authority" (113). An added difficulty is that those who take it upon themselves to "pronounce words of repentance on behalf of society as a whole" must "inevitably distribute the blame, indicating the various degrees ofculpability of various groups-and that necessarily changes the spirit and tone ofrepentance" ( 1 13). It is only in retrospect that one can "unerringly

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judge to what degree one man has expressed a genuine change of heart in his nation" (114). The reader cannot but help be reminded of Solzhenitsyn himself, who since his return to Russia in May of 1994-and long before, as the essay testifies-has tirelessly pleaded for common national repentance for the crimes of the Soviet period. For the most part, his calls have gone unheeded-ignored by a political class and society that both have ample reasons for forgetting their complicity in the perpetuation of communist rule. Only time will tell if Solzhenitsyn's calls for repentance are the first step toward public healing and a harbinger of a fuller societal confrontation with the past or merely an eccentric protest against a complacent society that refuses to come to terms with the totalitarian past. But, Solzhenitsyn insists, repentance can become "the normal mood of all thinking society" ( 1 14). A good example is the nineteenth-century Russian intelligentsia, which was filled with genuine "repentance" for the injustices that plagued tsarist society. For the first time Solzhenitsyn even raises the possibility that the gift of repentance can be misused-and that penitents can cease "to acknowledge any good in themselves or any sin in the common people" (1 14}-a clear reference to the nihilistic hatred of the existing order and the populist adulation of the people that characterized the attitude of educated nineteenth­ century Russian "society." This moralistic or one-sided repentance had "incalculable-and even counterproductiv�onsequences" (114}-consequences that are a principal theme of Solzhenitsyn's Red Wheel. Solzhenitsyn believes that the nihilistic contempt for Russia and Russian national consciousness is a pernicious inheritance of prerevolutionary Russian political culture-one that continues to dominate major currents of Russian liberal thought, as our analysis of part 4 of "Repentance and Self-Limitation" will make clear. The next example of collective repentance that Solzhenitsyn discusses is much more promising. He turns to a discussion of the "powerful movement" of repentance in Germany for the crimes of the Hitler period. (He adds that this was true only ofWest Germany-in the so-called German Democratic Republic [GDR] communist ideology stood "like an impregnable concrete wall in the way of repentance" [114].) West Germany's repentance entailed "real actions," even "large concessions" and reached its apex in Chancellor Willy Brandt's "Canossa­ Reise" to Warsaw, Auschwitz, and Israel. It also found "further expression" in the policy of Ost-Politik-the policy of detente with the communist regimes in the east (a policy that was far from prudent given the ideological nature of communist regimes). Solzhenitsyn's aim, ofcourse, is not to judge the political wisdom ofOst­ Politik, about which he has real doubts, but rather to show that "ethical impulses" can give rise to efficacious political action and can begin to transform the moral character of a people. But the two examples discussed show that repentance needs to be linked with balanced judgment if it is not to degenerate into a mere display of good feelings or a moralistic disdain for the complexity of social and political arrangements. Solzhenitsyn does not disregard the importance of prudence to political life-or simply collapse political and ethical judgment. But it is fair to say

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that in "Repentance and Self-Limitation" he is not always sufficiently careful in distinguishing the two. In his 1993 Lichtenstein address he freely admits that "moral criteria applicable to the behavior of individual, families and small groups cannot be transferred on a one-to-one basis to the behavior of states and politicians; there is no exact equivalence, as the scale, the momentum and tasks of governmental structures introduce a certain deformation" (emphasis mine). 28 But Solzhenitsyn's principal aim is to show that repentance is a living possibility of social life, and that "the penitential impulse" is a natural one conducive to the healing and spiritual growth of the Russian people. Russians used to freely affirm the truth that, in the words of a proverb, "God is not in might but in right" ( 1 15). This natural ("or partly natural") truth was "powerfully reinforced" by the widely shared Orthodox faith of the Russian people ( 1 15). The practical effect of decades of communist rule was to undermine the confidence of human beings in the primacy of the Good, a confidence upheld by natural reason and religious faith. Marxism, with its utter disregard for a universal or categorical morality that transcends the exigencies of "the class struggle," in practice creates a nihilistic order in which the mass of people comes to believe that '"might is right' and act accordingly" ( 1 15). Marxism radicalizes the emphasis on individual and collective willfulness inherent in modernity, and paradoxically helps create a world where Nietzschean "will to power" is triumphant.

The Russian Case Solzhenitsyn does not romanticize prerevolutionary Russia and has no illusions about its despotic or unjust features. But he does remind his readers that pre-Petrine Russia, in particular, experienced "religious penitence on a mass scale" (1 15) and that repentance was considered "among the most prominent Russian national characteristics" ( 1 15). Solzhenitsyn suggests that imperial Russia, even at its most despotic, never lost the sense that human beings and institutions are under the judgment of God: "Ivan the Terrible's terror never became as all-embracing or systematic as Stalin's, largely because the tsar repented and came to his senses" ( 1 1 5). Solzhenitsyn� however, criticizes both the Petersburg (or Petrine and Post­ Petrine) and Muscovite (or Bolshevik) periods of Russian history for estranging Russians from their natural and Orthodox proclivity to repentance. The Petersburg period saw the radical political subordination of the Church, the continuation and consolidation of the monstrous persecution of the Old Believers (who resisted the liturgical reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon in the seventeenth century), and an emphasis on external grandeur and "imperial conceit" that "drew the Russian spirit even farther from repentance" (1 16). This period also saw the preservation and perpetuation of serfdom long after it had become ''unthinkable." The blindness of the regime contributed to the one-sided and ideologically corrupt "repentance" on the part of society of which we have already spoken. This new moralism,

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disguised as repentance, "came too late to appease angry minds, but engulfed us in the clouds of a new savagery, brought a pitiless rain of vengeful blows on our heads, an unprecedented terror, and the return, after seventy years, of serfdom in a still worse form" (116). Despite his adamant refusal to confuse communist totalitarianism with traditional autocracy, Solzhenitsyn has no illusions about the partial responsibility of the old regime for the revolution. He knows that Russia's estrangement from her best traditions had begun centuries before the onslaught of revolutionary nihilism or Bolshevism. Under communism, Russians "have not merely lost the gift ofrepentance . . . but have ridiculed it." They succumbed to the worst kind ofideological manicheanism, one that led to "evil on a massive scale and mainly in our own country." Solzhenitsyn does not deny the imperial oppression that accompanied communism but he rightly insists that Russians, Ukrainians, and Byelorussians bore the principle brunt of communist criminality. And every Russian bears some responsibility for communism since those of "the present older and middle generations have spent our whole lives floundering and wallowing in the stinking swamp of a society based on force and fraud." Very few have managed to escape any defilement. Almost everyone learned to live by the lie, to accommodate themselves in one way or another to the ideocratic regime. Solzhenitsyn writes in a particularly incisive passage: This realm of darkness, of falsehood, or brute force, ofjustice denied and distrust of the good, this slimy swamp was formed by us, and no one else. We grew used to the idea that we must submit and lie in order to survive-and we brought up our children to do so. Each ofus, ifhe honestly reviews the life he has led, without special pleading or concealment, will recall more than one occasion in which he pretended not to hear a cry for help, averted his indifferent eyes from an imploring gaze, burned letters and photographs which it was his duty to keep, forgot someone's name or dropped certain widows, turned his back on prisoners under escort, and-but of course-always voted, rose to his feet and applauded obscenities . . . how, otherwise, could he survive? How, moreover, could the great Archipelago have endured in our midst for fifty years unnoticed. ( 1 1 8)

This passage helps explain why Solzhenitsyn believes that the introduction of political and civil liberties is not a sufficient basis for beginning the ascent out from under the rubble of communism. When people concentrate too much on the infringement of their rights, it draws them away from the painful imperative of repentance and makes them forget that "we, all of us, Russia herself were the necessary accomplices" (119) of Bolshevik tyranny.

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National Bolshevism: The Ideological Defilement of Patriotism In the final section of part 3 of "Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations" Solzhenitsyn turns to a dissection ofNational Bolshevism-a current of thought first articulated in the 1920s and increasingly influential in the Soviet Union from the late I 960s and 1970s onward. The proponents of National Bolshevism are uncritical patriots who believe that "tsarism and Bolshevism are equally irreproachable"; in their view, "the nation neither erred nor sinned either before 1917 or after" (119). They defend the purity and "Russianness" of the Petersburg and neo-Muscovite or Soviet periods ofRussian history alike, and scorn the penitential state of mind that, according to Solzhenitsyn, is integral to authentic Russian national consciousness. They deny any "nationality problem" within the U .S.S.R., freely celebrate Greater Russian and Soviet imperialism, and affirm what Solzhenitsyn elsewhere calls an unnatural "Commie-patriotic motley,"29 singing the praises of both October 19 I 7 and the Orthodoxy that the revolution set out to expurgate. They share a narrowly racist or ethnic view of what it means to be Russian in contrast to Solzhenitsyn's own capacious emphasis on the spiritual, cultural, and political preconditions of Russian national identity. Solzhenitsyn explicitly rejects racialist definitions of Russian identity. In "The Russian Question " at the End of the Twentieth Century, he writes: "But when we say 'nationality' we do not mean blood, but always a spirit, a consciousness, a person's orientation ofpreferences."30 It is clear that Solzhenitsyn considers the temptation of National Bolshevism to be one of the fundamental obstacles to the recovery of a healthy national life rooted in repentance and self-limitation. Joseph Pearce has rightly noted that "Repentance and Self-Limitation" is a response to both liberal and neo-Marxist disparagements of Russian tradition and the National Bolshevik identification ofall things Russian and Soviet.3 1 In The Oak and the CalfSolzhenitsyn dedicates no fewer than twelve pages to the Chalmayev affair that engulfed the Soviet intellectual world in the late 1960s. 32 Victor A. Chalmayev, an "obscure and mediocre joumalist,"33 had published two bombastic articles in Molodaya Gvardia that laid out the National Bolshevik worldview. Solzhenitsyn deplored the "illiteracy" of these articles, their hyperbolic disdain for all things Western, their "inordinate praise of the Russian character" and their incoherent exaltation of "the bloodstained Revolution as 'a joyous sacramental act. "'34 But he discerned in the midst of this hybrid of "Russianness" and "Redness"35 an effort, albeit incoherent, to come to terms with the spiritual poverty of contemporary Soviet society and to affirm the dignity of Russian national and spiritual traditions. Solzhenitsyn recounts his disappointment and anger that Aleksandr Tvardovsky's Novy Mir (the publisher of One Day in the Life ofIvan Denisovich) chose to run a "Marxist-Leninist" response to Chalmayev's ramblings, one that heaped scorn on religion and traditional Russian patriotism and repeated the most shameless Soviet propaganda about the revolution and collectivization. 36 Solzhenitsyn had no sympathy for the National Bolshevik amalgam but felt equally

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distant from the doctrinaire Marxism of Novy Mir's editors. Solzhenitsyn deftly locates their mistake through an adaptation of a proverb: Don't call in a wolf when dogs attack you. However viciously hostile the dogs, don't look to the Marxist wolf for help. Beat them with an honest stick, but don't call in the wolf. Because the wolf will end by gobbling up your liver.37 The Chalmayev affair helped clarify Solzhenitsyn's opposition to both the dominant currents of Russian nationalism and the real and residual "leftism" of oppositional intellectuals in Brezhnev's U.S.S.R. "Repentance and Self-Limita­ tion" is Solzhenitsyn's "honest stick" for warding off the dog of National Bolshevism while avoiding the desiccated atheism and antitraditionalism of Russia's "westernizing" intellectuals. In a beautiful passage in the midst of his critique of National Bolshevism, Solzhenitsyn presents his own alternative understanding of patriotism properly understood: As we understand it patriotism means unqualified and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment ofits vices and sins, and penitence for them. (120) This capital passage is crucial for understanding Solzhenitsyn's much maligned and misunderstood call for a renaissance ofRussian national consciousness. Again and again, Solzhenitsyn has insisted that Russia's future lies in "recuperation" grounded in "repentance and self-limitation" (see 139-140). He told Jan Sapiets in an important 1979 BBC interview that Russia must "renounce all mad fantasies of foreign conquest and begin the peaceful, long, long, long period ofrecuperation."38 In his latest and perhaps final overtly political work, Russia in Collapse (1998), Solzhenitsyn continues his two-pronged assault on National Bolshevism and liberal antinational currents. In chapter 26 of that work, simply entitled "Patriotism," he admits that patriotism is capable of"deviations" and "perversions"39 like all other human sentiments. But he reminds his readers that the modern concept of liberty, too, is capable of great corruption. It is not for that reason rejected, even though its partisans tend to forget that ''we are human beings only in the measure where we constantly feel in us, and above us, that which is our duty."4° For Solzhenitsyn, then, patriotism is a necessary accompaniment and qualification of modern liberty. It takes us out of ourselves and reminds us of the givenness of our individual and collective existences. But Solzhenitsyn defends a dignified patriotism that is "charitable" and "creative": He rejects an "extremist patriotism . . . which elevates nationality above all imaginable spiritual summits, above our humility faced with Heaven."41 Solzhenitsyn no more accepts the idolatry of blood or any form of particularity than he does the idolatry of class or revolution. He never forgets the unity of the human race (beautifully articulated in his "Nobel Lecture on


Daniel J. Mahoney

Literature")42 nor God' sjudgment toward all excessive national self-assertion. He freely criticizes those ultranationalists who fulminate about the nefarious deeds of Masons and Jews, who applaud aggressive chauvinism, and who promote the deadly "union of nationalism and Bolshevism."43 In Russia in Collapse he bitterly exp oses the fraudulence of the newly discovered patriotism ofRussia' s Communist party in a passage brimming with prophetic judgment: the current Communist party ofthe Russian Federation . . . claims to be a popular and patriotic movement, and one favorable to orthodox religion! And not one of its current leaders will repent, nor even mention how many of these patriots and Orthodox they have drowned, shot, or reduced to ashes. What indecency, today, of putting between quotation marks ''the horrors of Bolshevism," . . . No, these cosmic crimes will remain an indelible stain on communism.44 S olzhenitsyn is Russia' s most articulate defender of moderate and responsible patriotism and is a continuing scourge of aggressive, right-wing nationalism and of the enduring National Bolshevik temptation. His thirty-year effort to root patriotism in repentance and self-limitation is among the least understood and appreciated intellectual projects in the modem world, as evidenced by the widespread identification ofS olzhenitsyn' s political vision with tsarist imperialism, anti-Semitism, pan-Slavism, and even National Bolshevism itself ( a ludicrous charge made by hack emigre scholars such as Alexander Yanov45). The root of this s ystemi c misrepresentation of Solzhenitsy n' s position i s clear enough: contemporary intellectuals andj ournalists will tolerate no serious challenge to the e nlightenment or progressivist assumptions underlying modem liberty, however moderate, restrained, or insp ired by a l ove of human liberty this challenge might be. The p olitical and philosophical alternatives are strictly binary: human beings must choose between an implicitly atheistic humanitarianism on the one hand and religious authoritarianism on the other. Liberal intellectuals will not seriously consider the p ossibility that "anthrop ocentric humanism," the rejection of the givenness of the human world, creates the preconditions for totalitarianism. In his recently translated 193 9 essay, The Political Religions, the political philosopher Eric V oegelin brilliantly goes to the heart of the matter: There is no distinguished philosopher or thinker in the Western world today who, firstly, is not aware and has not also expressed this sentiment-that the world is experiencing a serious crisis, is undergoing a process ofwithering, which has its origins in the secularization ofthe soul and in the ensuing severance ofa consequently purely secular soul from its roots in religiousness, and secondly, does not know that recovery can only be achieved through religious renewal, be it within the framework ofthe historical churches, be it outside this framework. It is precisely in this respect that the politicizing intellectuals fail completely. It is dreadful to hear time and time again that National Socialism is a return to barbarism, to the Dark Ages, to times before any

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new progress toward humanitarianism was made, without these speakers suspecting that precisely the secularization of life that accompanied the doctrine of humanitarianism is the soil in which such an anti-Christian religious movement as National Socialism was able to prosper. For these secularized minds the religious question is a taboo, and they are suspicious of bringing it up seriously and radically.46

Solzhenitsyn belongs to the small camp ofdistinguished philosophers or thinkers who truly discern the nature ofthe modern spiritual crisis. He will continue to elicit the scorn of politicized intellectuals who can see in totalitarianism only an atavism of the unenlightened past that precedes the liberation of the human race from irrational restraints.

Repentance vs. Self-Hatred Solzhenitsyn does not hesitate to defend the "transference" ofrepentance from the individual to the social and political realms. But we have already seen that the path ofrepentance is strewn with dangers-in part 3 ofthe essay Solzhenitsyn presented striking examples of repentance severed from political moderation and balanced historical judgment. In part 4 of "Repentance and Self-Limitation" Solzhenitsyn warns against efforts to repent that are tied to self-hatred and rejection of the Russian "national idea" itself. In part 3, Solzhenitsyn dissects the crude "National Bolshevik" adulation for all things Russian and Soviet, the synthesis and celebration of everything "Red" and "Russian"; in part 4 he takes on the liberal or pseudoliberal claim that "the Russian idea is the main content ofBolshevism"(125) and the source of Russia's (and the world's) travails in the twentieth century. Solzhenitsyn addresses a series of articles on the theme of Russian national repentance that appeared in the emigre Russian Paris journal Vestnik RSKhD, (Herald ofthe Russian Student Christian Movement) no. 97. The authors of these articles called for nothing less than a thoroughgoing self-examination and self­ condemnation on the part of the Russian nation. Solzhenitsyn certainly has no principled objection to that call. But he is repulsed by the tone of these reflections --especially their lack ofempathy for the fate of Russia. "There is not the slightest hint that the authors share any complicity with their countrymen . . . there is nothing but denunciation of the irredeemably vicious Russian people and a tone of contempt for those who have been led astray" (122). These articles, in Solzhenitsyn's view, aim not to rekindle a responsible and penitential Russian patriotism but to "bury" ( 1 22) Russia once and for all. Solzhenitsyn particularly objects to the claim that "more Evil has been brought into the world by Russia than any other country" (122) and to the accompanying assertion that "overcoming the national messianic delusion is Russia's most urgent task" (124). The liberal critics of the Russian national idea show an unacknowledged complicity with their National Bolshevik enemies: both refuse to distinguish Russia's imperfect


Daniel J. Mahoney

precommunist past from the unprecedented crimes committed in the name of an anti-Christian, antinational, and antiliberal ideology. Solzhenitsyn states explicitly that his article "has not been written to minimize the guilt of the Russian people" (127). But neither will he tolerate the heaping of scorn on a people who have been the first and principal victim of the Bolshevik plague. He adamantly rejects the idea that totalitarianism is somehow Russian in its essence or that "the idea ofthe Third Rome suddenly surfaces again in the guise of the Third International" (124). Russia and the Russian national idea are not responsible for the protototalitarianism of the French Revolution, for the evils of the Third Reich, or for the coercive propensities of Marxism itself, an eminently Western current ofthought. Solzhenitsyn particularly objects to the claim that ''the class hatred" and atheism integral to communist ideology are somehow secretly indebted to Orthodoxy, the "faith by which Russia lived so long." The "main content" of Bolshevism is the decidedly un-Russian ideas of "unbridled militant atheism and class struggle" (125). These ideas have intellectual origins and political antecedents outside of Russia (European millenarian movements of the late Middle Ages and the Reformation, Jacobinism, and Marxism itself) and cannot reasonably be blamed on an inherently messianic "Russian idea." Proletarian messianism was first and foremost an ideological movement that took on a blatantly Russophobic character, assaulting the Church and destroying the "flowers of the Russian people" ( 125), the gentry, clergy, intelligentsia, and peasantry. Undoubtedly as time went on, efforts were made by the authorities to co-opt Russian patriotism by promoting its self-destruction. "Once it was victorious on Russian soil the movement was bound to draw Russian forces in its wake and acquire Russian features" (126). But Solzhenitsyn rightly insists that communism in the U.S.S.R. remained an essentially antinational ideology. It had, especially in the first decades of Soviet rule, "some of the characteristics of a foreign invasion" (126). Communism had the same ideological profile wherever it was applied: a single-party dictatorship, militant atheism, the forcible imposition of a pseudo­ scientific ideology as the key to understanding every aspect oflife, and an abusive and ''wooden" rhetoric that demonized real or imagined enemies. Can the indulgence of intellectuals for Marxism throughout most of this century, Solzhenitsyn asks, be blamed on the Russian national idea (127)? Is communist totalitarianism in Cuba or Asia "an organic outgrowth of Russian life," to quote the authors in Vestnik (127)? Does the totalitarian nightmare derive "from the unwashed monk Filofei" (128), that is, from the obscure medieval author of the theory of Moscow being the "Third Rome"? To ask these questions is effectively to answer them. Solzhenitsyn's attack on the false repentance promoted by liberal, antinational intellectuals is not intended to whitewash the Russian past. Solzhenitsyn has gone as far as reasonably possible in advocating a thorough reconsideration and reevaluation ofthe unsavory dimensions of the Russian and particularly the Soviet past. But, in his view, this process must be guided by a deep and abiding love of Russia if it is not to degenerate into nihilistic self-hatred or to lose a sense of

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historical and political proportion. He freely admits that Russians "were not vaccinated against the plague" and "lost [their] heads" (127). Russians must forthrightly confront their past while maintaining their self-respect. Crucial to that task is maintaining a firm separation of things Russian and Soviet, a distinction collapsed by both liberals and National Bolsheviks. Solzhenitsyn concludes part 4 by reiterating that the path of repentance "will bristle with . . . insults and slanders." Partisans of genuine repentance "must expect predators in the guise of penitents to flock around and peck your liver." Still he insists "there is no way out, except that of repentance" (quotations drawn from 128). Solzhenitsyn limns a principled middle path between the cultured despisers of patriotism, the advocates of repentance without patriotism, and the fevered advocates ofNational Bolshevism, nationalists who disdain both self-knowledge and all penitential impulses. Solzhenitsyn's is a lonely path but one that resonates with that section of the Russian public that yearns for a Russian national rebirth shorn of nostalgia for despotism or for irresponsible dreams of foreign conquest and imperial domination.

Repentance and Self-Limitation: The Path oflnner Development In the fifth and final section of "Repentance and Self-Limitation" Solzhenitsyn finally turns to an analysis of "self-limitation." In the process, he clarifies the relationship between these two principles. It might be said that while repentance is absolutely indispensable for "a clearing of the ground, the establishment of a clean basis in preparation for further moral actions" (135), self-limitation is the "crown" of the moral virtues for Solzhenitsyn. Repentance for internal and external sins (128) is self-limitation's necessary but "always difficult" precondition. "And not only because we must cross the threshold of self-love, but also because our sins are not so easily visible to us" (129). A detailed analysis of Russo-Polish relations over five centuries (129-33) reveals a "tangle ofcrimes" (129), which can only be overcome by "mutual repentance" and "magnanimity"(133) on both sides. Solzhenitsyn freely admits Russia's unsavory role in the partitions of Poland as well as the terrible Soviet crimes against Poland, which cry out for repentance. These include the "stab in the back for dying Poland" on September 17, 1939, the Katyn forest massacre, and the "heartless immobility on the banks of the Vistula in August 1944" (130) when Soviet troops stood idly by as Hitler crushed the nationalist uprising in Warsaw. But Solzhenitsyn makes clear that even prostrate Poland is not without historic blame. Writing as a spirited Russian as well as a penitential one, Solzhenitsyn discusses the imperialism of Poland in the prime of its power (an imperialism freely accepted by educated society). He also painfully recalls Poland's assault against Russia in 1920, an assault aimed not at undermining Bolshevism or helping the Whites in the Civil War but at plundering and carving up Russian territory during her time of crisis. Solzhenitsyn also laments the "relentless Polonization" carried out in Poland during


Daniel J. Mahoney

the interwar period ( 1 3 2-3 3 ). In Solzhenitsyn's view, only repentance can provide a way out of this morass, allowing Poles and Russians to overcome historic animosities and begin a "new relationship" rooted in "mutual forgiveness" and self­ restraint (133). Solzhenitsyn appeals to the natural gift of repentance, a virtue with clear Christian resonances and antecedents. But he explicitly ties repentance to magnani mity or greatness ofsoul, suggesting that a great and self-respecting people ought to welcome the path of mutual repentance and forgiveness among nations. This natural coexistence and mutual reinforcement of humility and magnanimity is at the heart of Solzhenitsyn's reflection.47 (It might even be said to describe the man himself, a spirited Christian who combines immense personal courage and authoritative moral witness with measured patriotism and a profound sense of natural and divine limits.) The humble acceptance of a nation's responsibility for its internal and external sins is powerfully reinforced by a sense of national honor that allows a people to take responsibility for their collective life. The dialectic of humility and magnanimity is further reflected in the fact that the Christian virtue of repentance is completed and deepened by a classical appeal to moderation in personal and political life. B ut Solzhenitsyn also understands the "moral revolution," the "tum toward inner development" (137) made possible by self- li mitation, in explicitly Christian terms. Just as repentance depends on magnani mous self-regard to gain a foothold in the human world, so self- li mitation or moderation needs to be "for the sake of others" ( 1 36). Solzhenitsyn j uxtaposes "the true Christian definition offreedom"-"self-restriction"-with the "Western ideal of unlimited freedom" and "the Marxist concept of freedom as acceptance of the yoke of necessity" (136). Rej ecting "the concept of infinite progress" ( 137) dear to both Western liberalism and Marxist historicis m, Solzhenitsyn recommends a "tum toward inner development" ( 137) marked by "prudent self-restriction" ( 138). He has the good sense to appreciate the revolutionary character of this recommendation. The rej ection of the modem faith in progress would "be a great turning point in the history of mankind, comparable to the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance" ( 137). This moral revolution will require "both courage and sacrifice" although it must eschew every element of"cruelty" ( 137). Solzhenitsyn is not a partisan of bourgeois liberalism but rej ects every totalitarian effort to overcome it through specious appeals to History or collective self-assertion. His attack on the politics of cruelty firmly distinguishes his thought from the atheism of the Nietzschean or post-Christian Right. Solzhenitsyn accepts the essential elements of a free society, noting that ''the fundamental concepts of private property and private economic initiative are part of man's nature, and necessary for his personal freedom and his sense of normal well- being" ( 1 38). B ut he also laments that "no incentive to self-li mitation has ever existed in bourgeois economics, yet the formula would so easily and s o long ago have been derived from moral considerations." Solzhenitsyn is undoubtedly right that prudent self-restriction uneasily coexists with the "pursuit of wealth, fame, and

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change" integral to bourgeois or commercial society. But private property and economic initiatives depend on what Bertrand de Jouvenel has called "the essential freedom . . . the freedom to create a gathering, to generate a group, and thereby introduce in society a new power, a source of movement and change."48 The stable economy of the kind endorsed by Solzhenitsyn, developed only through "improved technology," could be sustained only by serious limitations on individual initiative. As I have suggested elsewhere, self-limitation can provide, at best, a salutary corrective to the relentless dynamism of the modem society and economy. But if human beings are free to initiate, a commercial economy will be by definition anything but stable. As Jouvenel suggests, the task of statesmanship in the modem context is not to undermine the essential freedom to initiate, but to sustain institutions and attitudes that counterbalance the disruption inherent in a "progressive" society. More recently, Solzhenitsyn seems to have confronted this basic conundrum. In the Liechtenstein Address, he writes that "human knowledge and human abilities continue to be perfected; they cannot, and must not, be brought to a halt." The fundamental task is not to confuse technical with moral progress: Solzhenitsyn rightly asserts, against all forms of progressivism, that "there can be only one true Progress; the sum total ofthe spiritual progresses ofindividuals; the degree ofself­ perfection in their lives."49 There is some evidence for thinking that Solzhenitsyn has come to moderate his expectation that self-limitation could become the animating principle ofa transformed political order. In 1998 he commented to his biographer, Joseph Pearce, that "the idea ofself-limitation is not successful if you try to propagandize it. Mostly, I think, only highly religious people are willing to accept the idea. For instance, if you try to propagandize the idea of self-limitation to governments or states and say that they should learn not to grab what belongs to others, this does not have an effect."50 Solzhenitsyn has, of course, in no way abandoned his recommendation of repentance, self-limitation, and inner development as the path for renewal in Russia and the West. He has never stopped insisting that "self-limitation is the fundamental and wisest step of a man who has obtained his freedom."51 But Solzhenitsyn has fewer expectations for fundamental moral reform, especially at the political level. Perhaps because of a mellowing that accompanies age, perhaps in response to Russia's present discontents, Solzhenitsyn has a fuller sense of the limits ofpolitics than he articulated in the 1974 essay. That said, there has been no fundamental change in his support for the "transference" of repentance and self-limitation to the political and social spheres. Today, however, Solzhenitsyn seems more prudent and patient-and less confident that an ascent from modernity is an immediate or likely political possibility.

Self-Limitation: The Key to Russia's Future Solzhenitsyn suggf;Sts near the end ofhis essay that Russia "perhaps more than any other country [is] :_n need of comprehensive inward development" (139). Rejecting


Daniel J. Mahoney

all imperial conceits, whether put forward in the name ofPan-Slavism52 or Marxist "Theory" ( 139), Solzhenitsyn argues that Russia must "concentrate on its inner tasks, on healing its soul, educating its children, putting its own house in order" ( 1 40). The healing of souls is all the more necessary given the "long complicity" of the Russian people in "lies and even crimes" (130). Russia's first and most arduous task is freeing herself from the tutelage of the ideological lie-and education is indispensable to this task. Solzhenitsyn suggests that "the school . . . is the key to the future of Russia" (140), a theme that he reiterated in greater detail in his 1990 essay Rebuilding Russia. There he noted the lamentable character ofRussia's schools outside "select institutions of larger cities," the reduction of the living standards of teachers to subsistence levels, the need to replace ideologically driven textbooks and to eliminate atheistic indoctrination. He also gave his qualified endorsement to the establishment of tuition-charging private institutions as long as they do not "institute irresponsibly arbitrary curricula."53 As Delba Winthrop has observed, Solzhenitsyn prudently emphasizes education (and not the Church) as the crucial factor in determining Russia's future.54 He recognizes that the deplorable character of Russia's educational system "cannot be solved in one generation" and "will require immense efforts" and resources made available by the jettisoning of "vainglorious and unnecessary foreign expenditure" (140). Part of Solzhenitsyn's deep aversion to the "oligarchy" that rules the new Russia lies in his conviction that they have squandered an opportunity to redress the human devastation inherited from communism. Not only have they failed to repent but they have also neglected education, failed to pay teachers and other civil servants, and continued to ignore the provinces and villages. Above all, they have been bereft of a sense of public responsibility for the rebuilding of Russia. Solzhenitsyn also believes that Russia will need a project to occupy her "national and political zeal" ( 141) once she has turned away from the paths of imperial and ideological self-aggrandizement. He reiterates the call for the full development of the Russian Northeast-including parts ofthe north of European Russia and all of Siberia north ofthe railway line-that he developed in greater detail in his Letter to the Soviet Leaders. 55 In that work, he cited Stolypin's "prophetic" words to the State Duma in 1 908: "The land is a guarantee of our strength in the future, the land is Russia."56 The cultivation of a Northeast "left stagnant and icily barren for four centuries" (141) will demand patriotic devotion and sacrifices as well as the prudent use ofmodern technology. A Northeast brought to life will certainly entail the definitive rejection ofthe camp society ofthe past, of a Northeast coextensive with Gulag. It will also be a palpable sign "that Russia has resolutely opted for self­ /imitation, for turning inward rather than outward" (142). In addition, its great expanses "offer (Russians) a way out of the worldwide technological crisis" (142) chronicled by the likes of the Club of Rome (143). If Solzhenitsyn too readily accepts the Malthusian calculations of ecologists, he nonetheless recognizes that the prudent use oftechnology is an essential ingredient in addressing the ecological challenges that confront modern societies.

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13 5

Characteristically, Solzhenitsyn ends on a note ofqualified hope. The future need not be catastrophic if modern societies rethink their commitment to infinite progress ( 137) and rekindle a sense of prudent self-restriction.

Conclusion "Repentance and Self-Limitation" is Solzhenitsyn's clearest and most com­ prehensive articulation of his constructive response to the crisis of modernity. It is also one of his crucial statements about the path he envisions for a postcommunist Russia that builds on its preco mmunist traditions while rejecting the imperial delusion commo n (to radically different degrees) to the Petersburg and neo­ Muscovite periods of Russian history. Its call for repentance and self-limitation gives concrete expression to Solzhenitsyn's claim in the Harvard Address that there is no place to go but "upward" from modernity, in a great anthropological ascent comparable to the movement fro m the Middle Ages to the Modern Era. 57 We have seen that some of Solzhenitsyn's empirical claims are questionable; that he sometimes comes close to collapsing the crucial distinction between moral and politicalj udgment; and that his often penetrating analysis of the modern crisis tends to be meandering and impressionistic in character. But the 1974 essay reveals a deep philosophical attentiveness to the moral resources without which individual and collective life are deeply impoverished. It also clarifies Solzhenitsyn's relations to the great traditions of reason and revelation, ofhumility and magnanimity, which form the Western soul in the broadest sense of the term. And nothing in our experience, not even the West's victory in the Cold War, has disproved Solzhenitsyn's provocative claim that "a society with unlimited rights is incapable of standing up to adversity."58 Solzhenitsyn joins a distinguished tradition of Western thought, from Aristotle to Burke and beyond, that rejects the idea that consent can be the sole foundation of a properly human order.59 He does not reject human rights so much as place them within their proper ontological and political context: "if we do not wish to be ruled by a coercive authority, then each must reign himself in. . . . Human freedom . . . includes voluntary self- limitation for the sake of others."60 The systematic misrepresentation of Solzhenitsyn' s position over the years reveals how little our contemporaries are prepared to accept the insight that "human rights" can never be what Burke once said of prudence, "the god of this world below."

Notes 1. See Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, "Letter to the Soviet Leaders," in East and West, trans. Hilary Sternberg (New York: Harper & Row, 1980), 120-29. 2. Solzhenitsyn, "Letter," 138.

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Daniel J. Mahoney

3. Solzhenitsyn, "Letter," 1 39. 4. See Solzhenitsyn, "I am no Russian Ayatollah," Encounter (February 1 980): 34-35. 5. See Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn with Mikhail Agurksy, A.B., Evgeny Barabanov, Vadim Borisov, F. Korsakov, and Igor Shafarevich, From Under the Rubble, trans. A. M. Brock, Milada Haigh, Marita Sapiets, Hilary Sternberg, and Harry Willets under the direction of Michael Scammell (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1981). This is a reprint (with the same pagination) of an edition published by Little Brown in 1975. The original Russian version was published by YMCA Press in Paris in 1974. 6. Solzhenitsyn, foreword to From Under the Rubble, vii. 7. Solzhenitsyn, "Sakharov and the Criticism of A Letter to the Soviet Leaders," in Kontinent, English-language edition (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1976), 23. 8. Solzhenitsyn, "Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life ofNations," in From Under the Rubble, 1 05-43. 9. Joseph Pearce, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile (London: Harper Collins, 1999), 209. l 0. See Delba Winthrop, "Solzhenitsyn: Emerging From Underthe Rubble," Independent Journal ofPhilosophy, vol. 4, 9 1 . 1 1 . See the discussion of this point in Winthrop, "Solzhenitsyn," 92. 1 2. Peter Huber, Hard Green:Saving the Environmentfrom the Environmentalists (New York: Basic Books, 1 999). Huber articulates a hardheaded environmentalism that emphasizes that wealth is "green" and provides the means to conserve the environment. For a thoughtful critique of Solzhenitsyn's ecological views, see James V. Schall, "Solzhenitsyn's Letter," Worldview 17, no. 7 (1974): 26-29. 13. See Nicholas Eberstadt, "World Population Implosion," The Public Interest (Autumn 1997). 14. Solzhenitsyn, The Russian Question at the End of the Twentieth Century, trans. Yermolai Solzhenitsyn (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1995), 99-100. 15. Compare Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, vol. 2, trans. Thomas P. Whitney (New York: Harper & Row, 1 975), 615. 1 6. Solzhenitsyn, "The Nobel Lecture on Literature," trans. Alexis Klimoff, in East and West, 20. 1 7. Solzhenitsyn, "As Breathing and Consciousness Return," in From Under the Rubble, 3-15. 1 8. For a profound philosophical defense ofthe notion of"participation" as the proper foundation of human liberty, see Aurel Kolnai, "Privilege and Liberty," in Privilege and Liberty and Other Essays in Political Philosophy, ed. Daniel J. Mahoney (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 1 999), 1 9-61, esp. 42-46. 19. See Bertrand de Jouvenel, Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Human Good, with a foreword by Daniel J. Mahoney and David DesRosiers (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 1997), 3 1 6-17. 20. See especially Solzhenitsyn, The Mortal Danger: How Misconceptions about Russia Imperil America, 2d ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1986). 21. See Dominique Schnapper, Community of Citizens: On the Modern Idea of Nationality, trans. Severine Rosee (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1998). 22. For Peguy's articulation of the place of mystique and politique in political life see Notrejeunesse (Paris: Gallimard - Folio, 1 993). For an account of de Gaulle's reflection on nation and regime see my De Gaulle: Statesmanship, Grandeur, and Modern Democracy, 2d ed. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 2000), especially chs. 2 and 7. 23. See Pierre Manent, "Democracy without Nations?" in Manent, Modern Liberty and Its Discontents, ed. and trans. Daniel J. Mahoney and Paul Seaton (Lanham, Md.: Rowman

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& Littlefield, 1 998), 1 85-96, esp. 191-94. 24. See Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, vol. 1 , trans. Thomas P. Whitney (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), 85, and "Address to the International Academy ofPhilosophy," in The Russian Question, 1 13-14. 25. Solzhenitsyn, Gulag, vol. l , 85. Solzhenitsyn writes that the "perfidious return" by Allied authorities to Soviet hands of "not less than one million fugitives from the Soviet government-civilians ofall ages and both sexes" is ''truly the last secret, or one of the last, of the Second World War." 26. See in particular Julius Epstein, Operation Keelhaul: The Story ofForcedRepatriation from 1944 to the Present(Old Greenwich, Conn.: Devin-Adair, 1 973), and Nicholas Bethell, The Last Secret: Forcible Repatriation to Russia, 1944-1947 (London: Penguin, 1 995). 27. See Solzhenitsyn, "The Smatterers," in From Under the Rubble, especially the concluding section, 274-78. 28. Solzhenitsyn, "Address to the International Academy of Philosophy," The Russian Question, 1 14- 1 5. 29. Solzhenitsyn, The Oakandthe Calf, trans. Harry Willets (New York: Harper & Row, 1 980), 245. 30. Solzhenitsyn, The Russian Question, 102. 3 1 . See Pearce, A Soul in Exile, 209. 32. Solzhenitsyn, The Oak and the Calf, 245-56. 33. Solzhenitsyn, The Oak and the Calf, 245. 34. Solzhenitsyn, The Oak and the Calf, 245. 35. Solzhenitsyn, The Oak and the Calf, 248. 36. Solzhenitsyn, The Oak and the Calf, 249-52. 3 7. Solzhenitsyn, The Oak and the Calf, 248. 38. Jan Sapiets, "An Interview with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn," trans. Alexis Klimoff, in East and West, 143-82. The quotation is drawn from page 1 82. 39. No English-language edition ofRussia in Collapse is yet available. I have drawn from the French translation, La Russie sous L 'Avalanche (Paris: Fayard, 1 998). The quotations are from page 260 of this edition. 40. Solzhenitsyn, La Russie sous L 'Avalanche, 261 . 4 1 . Solzhenitsyn, La Russie sous L 'Avalanche, 264. 42. See "Nobel Lecture," in East and West, especially 19-2 1 and 30-34. Solzhenitsyn highlights the role ofliterature in conveying human experience beyond national boundaries. 43. Solzhenitsyn, La Russie sous L 'Avalanche, 252. 44. This devastating riposte to the Bolshevik appropriation of patriotism and orthodoxy is drawn from chapter 25 of Russia in Collapse, entitled "The Maladies of Russian Nationalism." (See page 253 of the French edition.) 45. Alexander Yanov's The Russian New Right: Right-Wing Ideologies in the Contemporary U.S.S.R. (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California, 1978), claims Solzhenitsyn for the fascist Russian "New Right." See the excellent rebuttal by Edward E. Ericson Jr., "Should We Fear Solzhenitsyn?" New Oxford Review (December 1979): 8-10. 46. Eric Voegelin, Modernity withoutRestraint: The Political Religions; The New Science of Politics; and Science, Politics and Gnosticism, vol. 5, The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, ed. Manfred Hennigsen (Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri, 2000), 24-25. 47. For a subtle argument that modernity is defined by a relentless effort to escape from the conflicting demands of humility and magnanimity, and nature and grace, see Pierre Manent, The City of Man, trans. Marc A. LePain (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 1 998).


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48. Jouvenel, Sovereignty, 363. 49. Solzhenitsyn, "Address to the International Academy of Philosophy," 128. 50. Solzhenitsyn as quoted in Pearce, A Soul in Exile, 211. 51. Solzhenitsyn, "Address to the International Academy of Philosophy," 125. 52. The critique of "Pan-Slavism" is implicit in this section of "Repentance and Self­ Limitation." For Solzhenitsyn's explicit critique ofPan-Slavism see The Russian Question, 59-62. 53. Solzhenitsyn, Rebuilding Russia: Reflections and Tentative Proposals, trans. Alexis Klimoff(New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1991), 42-44. 54. See Winthrop, "Solzhenitsyn," 95. 55. See Solzhenitsyn, "Letter," 101-8. 56. Solzhenitsyn, "Letter," 103. Solzhenitsyn's appeal to the moral authority ofStolypin is particularly bold, coming as it does in a letter addressed to the Soviet leadership! 57. See the concluding section, "Before the Turn," of "A World Split Apart," trans. Irina Alberti, in East and West, 69-71, esp. 71. 58. Solzhenitsyn, Rebuilding Russia, 54. 59. The limits of consent or rights as the sole principle of human life is beautifully articulated by Pierre Manent: "We do not reflect enough on the singular fact that we are the first people who wish to submit all the aspects of the world to a single principle. Even though the principle is that ofliberty, the project itselfnonetheless has something tyrannical about it." See Modern Liberty and its Discontents, 193. 60. Solzhenitsyn, Rebuilding Russia, 54-55.

Chapter 8

Trevanian's Shibumi: The Perfect Postmodern Tale James F. Pontuso Shibumi: "being without the angst of becoming"

-Trevanian, Shibumi

Postmodernism has become the most important intellectual approach of the last decade. Since the demise of communism and the subsequent abandonment of Marxism as a tool of analysis, progressive intellectuals have adopted

postmodemism as a method for uncovering the hidden power relationships of

Western bourgeois society and for challenging the established order. Postmodernism is not explicitly political; indeed, those who utilize its intellectual cousin-deconstruction-as a tool of literary criticism abjure direct political involvement. Yet, postmodernism's critique ofthe West's literary tradition (the so­ called canon), as well as of its metaphysics, undermines the legitimacy of every hierarchical institution, especially one based on power, such as the state. Trevanian's Shibumi, written nearly a decade before the ascendancy of the postmodern movement, adopts many of the major themes ofpostmodernism, but comes to startlingly different conclusions about the proper ordering of social and political life. 1 When the spy-adventure novel Shibumi was published in 1979 it gained moderate success, residing for about six months on the New York Times best-seller list and garnering praise from the Washington Post as "one hell of a pleasure to read." The St. Louis Post-Dispatch called the author, Trevanian, "a master of international intrigue . . . this novel should establish his reputation in the forefront of the cloak and dagger genre." But despite the high praise, reviewers hardly considered the book to be a piece of literature; none conceived of it as work of political philosophy or linguistic criticism; it was never regarded as the perfect


James F. Pontuso

postmodern tale; and no one imagined that it foretold of the "end of history" a generation before Francis Fukuyama's The Last Man and the End of History popularized the idea. Yet, Shibumi is and does all of these things. Shibumi tells the story ofNicholai Hel, who was fathered by a patrician German and raised by his single mother-an aristocratic emigre Hapsburg-in Shanghai during the 1930s. When his mother, whose livelihood depends on the "kindness" of upper-class colonial gentlemen, orphans him as a teenager, a Japanese general, whose troops are occupying Shanghai, befriends him. The young man shows an aptitude for the traditional Japanese board game Go and the general sends him to study with a master of the sport in Japan.2 Hel spends World War II on that island nation learning to hate Americans for the anonymous murder that their superior technological weapons inflict on his adopted nation's people. At the end ofthe war, Hel becomes a man without a country, a Caucasian living in Japan without citizenship. When he discovers that his mentor will stand trial for war crimes, on the pretext of a visit, he kills the general in his cell rather than have him face the dishonor of a public humiliation. Hel is then imprisoned and tortured. While he is incarcerated, American military intelligence discovers that he is fluent in five or six languages and offers to forget the murder charge if Hel will commit an assassination in China aimed at destroying Sino-Soviet relations. The plan works, and Hel begins a career as the world's highest paid and most successful assassin. When we meet Hel he is about fifty and retired. He is drawn out of seclusion in the Basque hills when a young American-Israeli woman arrives at his doorstep

pleading for help. The other members of her small band have been killed by CIA

operatives while attempting to thwart an airline hijacking by the same terrorists who had perpetrated the Munich Olympic murders oflsraeli athletes. Because Hel is an old friend of the woman's recently deceased uncle, he becomes embroiled in a struggle against the Mother Company, a vast conglomerate of media and energy companies that now commands the CIA and directs much of the world by manipulating the media, fixing energy prices, and controlling people's lives through information gathered on its ubiquitous computer "Fat Boy." The Mother Company foils the Israeli group's plot against the Munich terrorists to pacify oil­ producing Arab nations with which it does business. Hel is successful in his confrontation with Mother Company, but not without costs to himself and others. What does all this have to do with postmodernism? Before we can begin to answer that question, we must define postmodernism. There seems to be no one clear definition.3 The term postmodern was probably first used by Arnold Toynbee, but most contemporary scholars credit Nietzsche and Heidegger as the progenitors of the postmodern tum. However, it could be argued that the principles of postmodernism were conceived even before the advent of the modem. Much of what is considered postmodern actually originated in 1806 when Hegel perceived the importance of Napoleon's victory at the battle of Jena. Hegel recognized that Napoleon was a strange admixture of military genius and technological innovator, of old-fashioned tyrant and enlightened ruler, and of patriotic Frenchman (his adopted country) and universal lawgiver. Napoleon was a throwback to an earlier

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time when martial prowess was the supreme virtue. He was also the champion of a new age, bringing the Enlightenment to each place he conquered. Napoleon kept the form ofthe ancien regime, but he forever destroyed its substance. The eclectic nature ofthe Napoleonic phenomenon indicated to Hegel that Western culture and history had reached an end. Of course, Hegel did not mean that time had ceased, but rather that the principles on which Western culture had been built had reached their logical conclusion by coming into being. History had arrived at a culmination exactly because Hegel was able to comprehend and proclaim that a new Moment, as he called it, was at hand. By a Moment he meant the religious, philosophic, social, legal, political, technological, artistic, and architectural practices and principles that attempt to explain and express being or existence. The various principles that had been put forward about the best way of life, ideas over which people had vigorously disagreed and fought, were, for the first time, seen to be incomplete, or partially incomplete. All ideas and principles were true for their time and place but, Hegel reasoned, were not true in all places at all times, as they had all claimed to be. Once it was comprehended that concepts were relative to their time and place, Hegel believed, traditional ideas would lose their hold over the human mind. People would be less likely to fight and die for principles that were no more true or false than another person's or culture's views. While on the one hand the loss of belief might be seen as a detriment to humankind since people would be without principles, on the other hand, Hegel insisted that without parochial dogmas, people would become more tolerant and come to accept what was formerly "the other." At the root of the movement of History, Hegel reasoned, was a struggle for recognition, the desire to be considered interesting, funny, important, powerful, attractive, and all the other things that humans aspire to be. The longing to be seen as distinctive is so strong that people are willing to fight, even to risk death, to make others acknowledge their importance. As a result of these contests, some people come to dominate while others submit and recognize the superiority of the more powerful. Hegel calls this the battle between master and slave. The outcome of the contest has manifested itself historically in the various regimes that have represented particular class interests and in the diverse national cultures through which people have organized their social lives. For example, the feudal lords created an elaborate social, political, religious, and philosophic defense of their superior position, all of which maintained and justified their rightful place as superiors. The aristocrats were not cynically feigning dedication to their beliefs. They, along with almost everyone else, accepted the ideas oftheir age. In essence, the aristocrats were "recognized" while everyone else was not. During the Enlightenment, however, individual rights gained sway. Hegel reasoned that relativism would culminate in the final victory of human rights. If all philosophic, social, and political doctrines were of equal merit, that is, equally incomplete, then all people were equal as well. Since no person or group could justify greater distinction, all were equally deserving of recognition. For Hegel, Napoleon embodied History's absolute moment. He was the synthesis ofthe old and the new

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and combined the- fighting spirit of past generations with a recognition of the universal rights of man. In Hegel's view, at the end ofHistory all humans would come to lead genuinely fulfilling lives. The laws, made by all and applicable equally to all, would accord dignity to the uniqueness of every person. There would be freedom with responsibility, individuality with community, transcendence with imminence, autonomy with order, God with man. Hegel's vision was so striking in its scope and promise that most philosophy in the West, including that of Nietzsche and Heidegger, has been a reaction either for or against Hegel's announcement of the end of History. Postmodernism is the latest attempt to defy Hegel's discovery. Within a popular culture genre, Shibumi embodies many ofthe postmodern strains.

Eclecticism In the postmodern era, all ways of life are of equal merit. People come to understand that their own culture is just one among many. They do not feel as if they must love their country or leave it. Thus, each way of life can have a place in every person's consciousness. Moreover, the technological advances that are so much a part of the modern (the precursor of the postmodern) bring the various cultural expressions before the eye of the whole world, making the distant and different familiar. Postmodernism throws many disparate forms together. Shibumi represents the eclectic features of the postmodern era in the character of Nicholai Hel. He is described as "half saintly ascetic, half Vandal marauder" (365). His Go master believes that he "possessed the ineffable constellation of talents that makes a player of rank: a gift for conceiving abstract schematic possibilities; a sense of mathematical poetry in the light of which the infinite chaos of probability and permutation is crystallized under the pressure of intense concentration into geometric blossoms" (78). Hel's origins, too, are eclectically multicultural. He "was born of the best blood of Europe but raised in the crucible of China-was he really Western? Certainly he was not Oriental either. He was of no racial culture. Or was it better to think of him as the sole member of a racial culture of his own?" (69). He is fluent in many languages and has a working comprehension of many more. Hel's lucrative occupation allows him to maintain houses in Paris, New York, Morocco, London, and on the Dalmatian coast (109). Shibumi is set at his favorite residence in the Basque country of France, where he lives in an ancient chateau that has been painstakingly restored: it has no electricity and no central heating. The only concession to the modern world and to his profession is a telephone, used primarily by his wary Basque neighbors to announce the arrival ofstrangers. To accommodate his multicultural tastes he has planted an elaborate Japanese garden complete with a stream and a sounding rock that seems to require constant adjustment (211, 350).

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Language, Being, and Diversity Hel's multiculturalism allows him to perceive something important about human consciousness and understanding. While Hel is working as a translator and code breaker for American military intelligence after World War II, he discovers that each language has a certain idiom that must be grasped to understand the way people who use that language think (118). Hel's realization is similar to the revelation that came to Martin Heidegger. lfthere was no ultimate truth, as Hegel had maintained, Heidegger wondered how human beings understood existence or being in its most primitive and original form. For Heidegger, we cannot fully make sense out of the phenomena of our daily lives unless we have some method for understanding being itself, or Being, as he called it. Although Heidegger was not entirely clear on this point, he seemed to suggest that it may be possible to apprehend Being directly, as did the pre-Socratics. Shibumi's leading character is given the capability to glimpse at Being itself. There are brief episodes when Hel experiences the "flowing into all things and understanding all things" where there "is neither time nor timelessness" (79, 81 ). In trying to explain these transports, he claims, "I don't become one with everything. I return to being one with everything" (78-79, 82). Few humans are given the gift of transport directly to the source of Being. They gain their understanding of existence through their culture, which explains the meaning ofthe phenomena. Put more simply, we learn about the world through our parents, teachers, the media, and fellow humans in general. Heidegger would say that Being reveals itself within culture. Since cognition is primarily grasped through the medium of language, as Heidegger put it, language is "the house of being." Here arises a difficulty, however. If language constructs the meaning ofthe events and objects of the world and languages differ, then people of different linguistic groups understand the world differently. Since most people seem to favor what is familiar to them, societies, nations, ethnic and even racial groups organize themselves around these common linguistic traditions. This "love of one's own," as it might be called, is more than mere egotism. In fact, it transforms individualism and draws people together into political communities. As such, it can be the source of civic-mindedness and dedication to one's friends and fellow countrymen. By caring for one's own, however, one usually excludes outsiders, since the range of human devotion can be spread only so far before it is diluted altogether. (This process explains why sporting events are more interesting to watch when one has a home team to root for.) Other people, too, form themselves into communities, and because the interests of these communities are sometimes at odds, clashes are inevitable. While linguistic theory seems to lead to diversity, modem bourgeois life, which aims to treat all people in a similar fashion, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, or language, seems to result in conformity. For many, if not all, postmodemists, the heterogeneity of languages both is and ought to be represented in the diversity of culture. Postmodemists employ the tools of literary deconstruction to undermine


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the stultifying sameness of modern bourgeois life. They claim to show that the "truth," as understood by the dominant culture, is merely one discourse among many and that the attempt to defend and conserve the legacy of Western rationalism is indicative, not of intellectual taste, but of fear of losing power. Paul de Man explains that more than any other mode of inquiry, including economics, the linguistics ofliterariness is a powerful and indispensable tool in the unmasking of ideological aberrations, as well as a determining factor in accounting for their occurrence. Those who reproach literary theory for being oblivious to social and historical (that is to say ideological) reality are merely stating their fear at having their own ideological mystifications exposed by the tool they are trying to discredit.4 Postmodernism and multiculturalism are closely connected. According to postmodernism, the West has fostered the false notion, if such a concept is appropriate, that there is but one truth, one proper way of thinking, one metaphysics. But linguistic analysis indicates that there is not one way to comprehend reality, but many. The principles of the West are responsible, therefore, for its imperialistic attitude toward other cultures and other modes of cognition. It has enforced its monistic vision of reality, not by the veracity of its ideas, but by the power of its arms. It has repressed and subjugated all who have resisted its logocentrism. The postmodern response to the history of the cultural, military, and political dominance of the West (Eurocentrism) is to celebrate those people, ideas, and cultures that had been traditionally excluded from the mainstream. Multiculturalism favors the discourses of the downtrodden, the dispossessed, the victims of Eurocentric oppression. It raises "the other" to the status of an equal, even a superior, for the voices of those so long excluded must now be given their say. Indeed, the discourses of the victims of the West's domination-women, gays, non-Western people, people of color generally--can lead all humans to a fuller awareness of the diverse character of reality. Shibumi's representation of this problem can be seen in Hel's life among the Basques, surely one of the least "recognized" cultures in the home of Eurocentrism, Europe. Hel learns Basque quite by chance when, during a long imprisonment, he is given Basque books by a sympathetic Japanese jailer who mistakes them for French. Hel teaches himself Basque out of sheer boredom, and comes to respect the poetic nature of the language as well as its uniqueness. Basque is thought to be the most ancient language in Europe. It is unrelated to any other tongue. After becoming wealthy in his profession, Hel makes the Basque hills his primary residence. The Basques, or at least the ones we meet in the novel, revel in their distinctiveness. They see all outsiders as "the other" and therefore inferior. They feel no real allegiance to France or Spain, the countries that have traditionally ruled over them. They strive for political autonomy, for only then will their linguistic uniqueness be adequately recognized. They see their separateness from the rest of the world almost as a sign of originality. Their pride inspirits them to undertake sensational feats (76, 183, 223). Hel understands that the Basques live within a

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particular horizon; therefore, he views the longing for a Basque Republic as an "impractical dream, neither likely nor desirable, but a useful focus for the activities of men who choose romantic danger over safe boredom, men who are capable of being cruel and stupid, but never small and cowardly" (252). Yet, for all their independence of mind, many of the Basques cannot resist European integration. Having lived so long under the rule of "the other," the Basques have taken on their culture. "[A]lthough they bore Basque names, these village people [near Hel's chateau] had become thoroughly French under the corrosive cultural pressure ofradio, television and state-controlled education" (40). We have, then, two views of social life. Postmodernism' s analysis ofthe human condition leads us to wonder whether the gulf between people of one linguistic culture and "the other" is insurmountable. Ifthere is always "the other," what does this imply about the possibility of a universally valid principle of conduct, of the rights of man, of the brotherhood of human beings, of Hegel's assessment of the end of History? The postmodern account seems to suggest that different peoples will remain distinct. The Hegelian, on the other hand, holds out the hope that the human race, under the influence of mass communications, will dissolve all differences. Which is the more accurate portrayal of the human condition: are human beings moving toward a common humanity in which all will be recognized and there will be no "other," or are we forever to be divided by the insurmountable gulf of cultural and linguistic diversity? Perhaps, more important, which vision of human destiny ought to prevail?

The Death of the Particularity If the particular and the parochial are to be overcome, there must be some mechanisms for inculcating a universal perspective. Hegel foresaw that both the material and ideal worlds would combine to make the human race more homogeneous. Science and technology would liberate people from the grinding poverty ofthe pre-industrial age. Not only would their lives become easier, but the new inventions would afford them enough free time to educate themselves. With literacy would come independence from the priests and feudal lords who ruled over the people's bodies by keeping their minds in a perpetual state of ignorance. Once superstition, prejudice, and benighted folly among the many were overcome, people would act on the basis of rational self-interest. They would turn their attention to the conquest of the material world, rather than to the slaughter of each other. Peace and prosperity would replace war and poverty. Technology would also make communication easier. People from the most remote parts ofthe earth would become elements of the worldwide movement toward homogeneity. The differences between people would diminish, too, as the various cultural folkways became less strange, better understood, and more accepted. In addition to the material basis for universal brotherhood, Hegel maintained there had to be a philosophic or ideal principle that would act as a rallying point for


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the transformation of the old hierarchical order. This, he saw, was already at work in the doctrines of the Enlightenment. Its ideals appealed to human beings, not on the basis of their rank, religion, or culture, but rather solely on the ground of their humanity. The Enlightenment displaced the intricate web of feudal social arrangements with a simple but universal message, perhaps best expressed in Jefferson's resounding phrase that "all men are created equal." Now, Hegel was well aware that people in his day were not equal. But he maintained that as practices follow principles, actions follow ideas. Once an idea such as equality became embedded as a worthy goal, every institution or activity standing in its way would be swept aside. Hegel believed that the Enlightenment's egalitarian ideals would eventually lead all nations to adopt some form of democracy, or at the very least a mixed regime, with a strong popular element. Under such governments every individual would be recognized as essentially equal before the law. The state would be constrained to protect human rights. All citizens would vote and thereby have a hand in guiding their own destinies. Furthermore, ruling institutions would become rational. His noted follower Max Weber best explained what Hegel meant by this. Weber argued that for people to be treated fairly and equitably, the arbitrary or charismatic leaders of previous ages would have to be replaced by bureaucracies. Bureaucratic organizations do not depend on the whim of those who direct them. Rather they act in accordance with a fixed set of rules; they keep written records so as to hold employees of the bureaucracy responsible for their actions; and they maintain an institutional memory so that past actions can become the basis for future choices.

Bureaucracy is just in two ways. Its staff is hired on the basis of some skill, not because of a family or social connection, and all those who come before the bureaucracy are treated the same; all are recognized equally. The end ofhistory as Hegel foretold it would be quite a nice time. People would be treated fairly and equitably on the basis of their abilities and without regard for their incidental traits such as religion, nationality, linguistic or cultural identity, or sex. In essence, all people would be the same. Science and technology would make it possible to create sufficient wealth so that the struggle against scarcity would be more bearable. The increase in productivity would attenuate the age-old struggle between the rich and the poor. The political or social structure would not be arbitrary or capricious. Information would pass easily between borders. Differences between races and cultures, although they would not disappear, would not lead to senseless violence. The age of common humanity would be at hand.

Dilemmas at the End of History Shibumi makes us wonder whether Hegel was correct in his optimistic judgment of human destiny. All of the mechanisms that Hegel hoped would bring about progress have a darker side. First, along with technology comes a higher standard of living, a longer life span, more people, a greater demand for more goods to

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satisfy those people's needs, and inevitably more pollution of the environment. Second, the forces set loose by technology and automation create a "grim and impersonal" society (100). Production and consumption become standardized because the free market rewards those goods that can be produced most cheaply and sold most effectively to as many people as possible. Although survival is easier in an advanced industrial culture, and, of course, there are more material goods available, there is little direction provided as to how to live well or what to do with the goods. As Heidegger argued, technology transforms the world into "standing reserve." Technology allows people to better manipulate the world's resources, but to what end? Indeed, there are so many material objects at hand that people can become overwhelmed by the world of objects and everyday routine. They become conventional and follow only the shallow behavior of the crowd. In such a society, people are deflected from the most human activity: confronting questions of life and death, meaning and purpose.5 Since political stability in democracies depends on providing for the material well-being of citizens, it is inevitable that these societies will foster a spirit of scientific investigation and technological creativity. However, technology cannot be kept within limits. Its uses are not always peaceful. Technology has been put to work not only to make life easier for people, but also to kill them. As science progressed, slaughter increased, culminating in the mass murder of millions in the twentieth century. It does not seem to be a coincidence, then, that the most democratic nation is also the richest and has developed the most technologically advanced weapons of war. Hel experiences World War II from the losing end. Everywhere he turns, destruction is at hand, and in almost every instance that carnage can be traced to American technological innovation. From the Northrop airplanes that the Chinese use to bomb Shanghai to the atomic explosion that kills Hel's first girlfriend, he finds nothing in the much-vaunted Yankee know-how to recommend it (63, 64). Moreover, the power of American technology and industry seems to be irreversible. Hel's Japanese mentor reflects on Japan's fate in the war: "The day of the battles between professional warriors is gone. Now we have battles between opposing industrial capacities, opposing populations. The Russians, with their sea offaceless people, will defeat the Germans. The Americans, with their anonymous factories, will defeat us" (91). The production of wealth also requires large corporate enterprises whose ability to manufacture goods is increased by economies of scale. These huge entities are needed to satisfy the material desires of the many. At the same time, large bureaucracies are required to administer the programs needed for a comfortable life ( 136). In ceding power to vast organizations as a way of satisfying human needs, most people lose the ability to control their own futures. One of Shibumi's characters calls the era of giant corporations and huge bureaucracies-that is, our time-the "post-democratic age" (139). People can be so organized by technological and bureaucratic organizations, hallmarks of Western culture, that they become tools rather than masters of them.

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Shibumi brings this point home in the character called Diamond, He!'s archenemy. Diamond despises "both physical and emotional clutter" (16). He eats without relish, has sex without emotion, and acts without conscience. He is a methodical, cold, ruthless bureaucrat, totally committed to the goals of his organization, the Mother Company. The Mother Company must run the world, he insists, because traditional governmental structures, nation-states, are inefficient and no longer viable (5). They cannot fulfill the needs of the world population that has come to expect the amenities found in the advanced industrial nations. Hel's adversary is "not a person, but an organization man" (325). Although the postmodern world has done away with ruthless tyrants, Shibumi suggests, the problem ofour era is that heartless bureaucrats have the technological means to control our lives. As the postmodernist thinker Michel Foucault has argued, the information age implies that records will be kept of every action and event in an individual's life.6 This data, though innocuous in itself, provides a source of power for those who hold it, for it can be used to manipulate and control us. The same technology that brings the people of the world closer together is the source of control over them. For Hel, the computer, which stores vast amounts of data, is the "final enemy," since it "arms stupid men with information" (338). The computer that Hel struggles to defeat is Fat Boy. It was a blend of top-secret military information and telephone billing records, of CIA blackmail material and drivers' permits from France, of names behind Swiss bank accounts and mailing lists from direct advertising companies in Australia. It contained the most delicate information, and the most mundane. Ifyou lived in the industrial West, Fat Boy had you. He had your credit rating, your blood type, your political history, your sexual inclinations, your medical records, your school and university performance, random samplings of your personal telephone conversations, a copy of every telegram you ever sent or received, all purchases made on credit, full military or prison records, all magazines you subscribe to, all income tax records, driving licenses, fingerprints, birth certificates-all this, even if you were a private citizen in whom Mother Company had no special interest (1718). The contest in the postmodern age is between an overbearing order that threatens to make life peaceful, safe, standardized, and ultimately subhuman and the human longing for freedom and distinctiveness. Shibumi illustrates the point in the clash between the organization man, Diamond, and the loner, Hel. Diamond possessed the most extensive computer system in the world; Hel had some file cards. Diamond had all the governments ofthe industrialized West in his pocket; Hel had some Basque friends. Diamond represented atomic energy, the earth's oil supply, the military/industrial symbiosis, the corrupt and corrupting governments established by the Wad to shield itself from responsibility. Hel represented shibumi, a faded concept of reluctant beauty (331 ). The Mother Company is not a particularly cruel or mean-spirited ruler. It merely wants to protect its own position and maintain the new world order (10). It intends the best for its charges, furnishing the many with the physical necessities and

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comforts they desire. Its exercise of power is, for the most part, minute, provident, and mild. The head of the Mother Company is a woman, nicknamed Ma. "We've got a problem with some kids demonstrating against one of our atomic-power plants," she declares at one point. "Young people aren't what they used to be, but I love the m all the same, the little devils" (43 1 ). As the most insightful although least well-known postmodern philosopher Alexandre Kojeve has written, the feminization of the political arena may result in a softer and kinder world, but it ine vitably dispirits and enervates great deeds and bold action.7 There will be nothing to inspire people; no excitement, no desire for distinction, no need for noble sacrifice, no cause to spur courageous acts, and not even an impulse toward beauty. In one sense the entire postmodern movement is a reaction against the confines of the end of history. One of Hel's associates, reflecting on an age in which most activities are managed, organized, and controlled as well as on Hel's resistance to that order, says: Like the classic hero, the antihero leads the mass toward salvation. There was a time in the comedy ofhuman development when salvation seemed to lie in the direction of order and organization, and all great Western heroes organized and directed their followers against the enemy: chaos. Now we are learning that the final enemy is not chaos, but organization; not divergence, but similarity; not primitivism, but progress. And the new hero--the antihero--is one who makes a virtue of attacking organization, of destroying the systems. We realize now that salvation of the race lies in the nihilist direction, but we still don't know how far. (366)8

Democracy Perhaps no principle is more strongly held in our age than the belief that democracy is the only legitimate and j ust form of government. As Francis Fukuyama argues, over the past two hundred years liberal democracy has triumphed over all its enemies: monarchy, autocracy, Fascism, and, with the conclusion of the Cold War, Communism. Democracy prevailed because, of all regimes, it most fully recognizes the essential equality of human beings and accords them dignity. The ideas of liberal democracy are now almost universally accepted as the proper way to organize political communities. Those nations that have not yet adopted the institutions of liberal democracy will eventually do so because behavior follows theory, practices follow ideas. In good Hegelian fashion, Fukuyama maintains that History has once again come to an end, for there are no serious alternatives to the democratic way of life.9 The early Enlightenment thinkers who fostered democracy did not believe that History had to end in order toj ustify democracy. They reasoned that human rights are natural and that the only sure means to protect those rights is through the consent of the governed. In defense of American democracy, for instance, John

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Adams explains in Novanglus: "[Great Britain] has, after one hundred and fifty years [of colonial rule], discovered a defect in her government, which ought to be supplied by some just and reasonable means, that is, by the consent of the colonies; for metaphysicians and politicians may dispute forever, but they will never find any other moral principle or foundation of rule of obedience, than the consent of the governed." 1 0 Richard Rorty, America's reluctant postmodernist, argues that postmodernism has no ground for favoring democracy over any other form of social arrangement. For him, human beings are "centerless networks ofbeliefs." Human understanding is nothing but "discourses," and none can lay claim to be authoritative. No idea, no practice, and no way of life is superior to another. Rorty does hold that the relativism, multiculturalism, and eclecticism ofpostmodernism are most compatible with the liberty and tolerance guaranteed by democracy. But this just pushes the question back one step further. Why should one favor liberty or tolerance? In the end Rorty falls back on convention to defend democracy. When "historical circumstance allows," it is possible to have "agreement about political topics." In other words, for people who by chance are born and raised in a democratic culture, democracy is beneficial and choice worthy because other people of the same culture will have similar prejudices. As for those with "unusual views" who disagree with his democratic sentiments, Rorty indicates that "extensive attempts at an exchange of political views have made us realize we are not going to get anywhere."1 1 What if a person i s not born into a democracy? What if one's mother i s a Hapsburg and one's father a German count? What if a man is "brought up in the knowledge that he was the last and most rarefied of a line of selective breeding that had its sources long before tinkers became Henry Fords, before coinchangers became Rothschilds, before merchants became Medici?" What if, combined with centuries of noble lineage, a man could speak six languages fluently, had a special knack with mathematics, was quick of mind, subtle oftaste, nimble ofbody, strong of will, and beautiful of appearance? Measuring himself against those around him, would such a man bother himself with a democratic discourse? Certainly Nicholai Hel does not (72). Hel is openly hostile to democracy, viewing it as the tyranny of the mediocre. When challenged whether it is fair to generalize about all people imbued with a democratic ethos, Hel responds, "Generalization is flawed thinking only when applied to individuals. It is the most accurate way to describe the mass, the Wad. And [democracy is] the dictatorship of the Wad" (294). He is especially critical of the United States, for "Americanism" is "a social disease of the postindustrial world that must inevitably infect each of the mercantile nations . . . and is called American only because [the United States] is the most advanced case of the malady" (296). 12 He thinks "of Britons as incompetent Americans and Australians as Americans-in-training" (129). While Americans are "good-hearted and hospitable: willing to share-indeed insistent on sharing-their wealth and their ideology with the world," they are also "culturally immature, brash, and clumsy,

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materialistic and historically myopic, loud, bold and endlessly tiresome in social engagements" ( 1 19). Americans "can be brave and self sacrificing," but "only in short bursts." Their material way of life makes it difficult for them to endure sacrifices for any sustained period; after all, "there was always Coca Cola for soldiers in Viet Nam" (294). America defeats its enemies not so much by bravery as by "monumental exercises in production and supply" (119). The core ofthe "American Genius" is "buying and selling." Although Americans think of themselves as "a classless society," in reality "they [are] a one-class society-the mercantile." "Honor for them consist[s] in fair trading." "Their government [is] a series of social contracts." "Their marriages [are] emotional deals, the contracts easily broken if one party fail[ s] in his debt service." Although Hel has respect and affection for the members of true classes-farmers, artisans, warriors, scholars, priests-he feels nothing but disdain for the merchant class, which buys and sells but creates nothing but "kitsch." It is responsible for change "without progress" and for "consumption without use" ( 119-20). In comparison to traditional societies, "Americans are not a race. That is, in fact, their central flaw. They are . . . mongrels. They are not even a culture. They are a cultural stew ofthe orts and leaves of the European feast. At best, they are a mannered technology. In place of ethics, they have rules. Size functions for them as quality functions for us [Japanese]. What for us is honor and dishonor is for them winning and losing" (99100). To overcome the differences that have traditionally divided human beings, such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and the like, America has established a mass culture in which "a critical lack of judgment" is mistaken for "freedom from prejudice" (26). Differences are overcome by appealing to the lowest common denominator of humanity, survival and personal well-being based solely on physical gratification. Americans confuse "standard of living with quality of life, equality of opportunity with institutionalized mediocrity, bravery with courage, machismo with manhood, liberty with freedom, wordiness with articulation, fun with pleasure-in short, all of the misconceptions common to those who assume that justice implies equality for all, rather than equality for equals" (130). Although the Cold War occupied the whole world in an ideological struggle, Hel "could detect very little difference between the Americans and the Russians. Both were hale, vigorous, physical people, both excelling in things material, both baffled by beauty, both swaggeringly confident that theirs was the ultimate ideology . . . both infantile. It was ironic to realize that the destruction of the world would not be the work of Machiavelli, but of Sancho Panza" (130). The Americans and the Russians both dedicate themselves to equality; the battle between the two ensued over how best to achieve it. From an aristocrat's perspective, both nations "are only slightly different forms of the same thing: the tyranny of the mediocre" (169). 1 3 He! takes out his ire against the era of the common man on his Volvo. He purchases the automobile on the advice of a friend and "on the assumption that a car so expensive, lacking in beauty, comfort, speed, and fuel economy must have something to recommend it." A flock of nagging minor problems immediately

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beset the vehicle. Neither the dealer nor manufacturer feels responsible for these defects, so Hel is forced to deal with the problems on his own. He expects the car to disintegrate, but it endures. "Sadly while there was no truth to the company's reputation for service, there was some basis for the car's claim to durability and, while it always ran poorly, it always ran." For Hel, the Volvo represents all that is dull, commonplace, pedestrian, and shoddy about the rule ofthe many. His revenge is to park his car, walk several yards away from it, pick up a rock, and throw it at the vehicle (309). Mediocrity is not always so easily vanquished, however. His Go master warns Hel that he will be defeated by "the patient, the plodding, the mediocre. But, we are in the age of the mediocre man. He is dull, colorless, boring-but inevitably victorious" (106). Hel pursues shibumi, a contemplative activity aimed at finding spiritual peace and inner balance, and not action that may result in "attracting the attention and vengeance of the tyrannical masses" (74).

Aristocracy Hel is raised amidst an aristocratic discourse. His mother decided to "create" him "as argument against mongrel egalitarianism." She is aghast when she discovers her young son has an aptitude for mathematics. Only after his tutor assures her that pure mathematics has no practical or commercial application does she agree that the activity is appropriate to his breeding (58-59). His Japanese mentor, too, is of noble blood, indeed, even more ofan aristocrat than Hel's mother. "From the point of view ofhis thousand years of samurai breeding, her lineage appeared to be only a couple of centuries ofHunnish chieftainship" (66). Although he is extraordinarily talented in many fields, Hel is raised to have no ''useful training" (7 1 ). He takes up Go because it is an intricate, complicated, and almost unknown game. "What Go is to philosophers and warriors, chess is to accountants and merchants," he says at one point (70). Although he enjoys the freedom that wealth brings him, he feels no compulsion to work. He spends his time in pursuits that are interesting rather than profitable. "Breeding and training had given him the inner resources to satisfy his needs without the energy of gainful employment so vital to the men of the egalitarian Wad who have difficulty filling their time and justifying their existence without work" ( 129). As is the case with all those of aristocratic temper, Hel would rather pursue the beautiful and the noble than the necessary and functional. He does not want to fit in, get along, or be popular. Quite the contrary: he prefers to distinguish himself from others, to put as much distance between himself and the mundane world of average people and events as possible. He prefers to exercise his freedom by controlling and subordinating his desires rather than living to gratify them. He is a gourmand, for instance, but eats very little. When he bothers to think about it, he feels disdain toward the merchant class partly for its bad taste, but mostly because it concentrates on satisfying the most common needs of the most common people.

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"lfwe forsake beauty in our desperate struggle to live," one ofhis starving fellow refugees says just after Japan is defeated in World War II, "then the barbarian has already won" (93). To keep Hel from assisting the Israeli woman in her efforts to thwart the Arab hijackers, the Mother Company assassinates the woman, confiscates Hel's Swiss bank account, and makes any record of his ownership of property in Wyoming and New York disappear. 14 These actions only provoke Hel to foil the hijacking. When Diamond discovers what Hel has done, the bureaucrat has Hel's Basque friend murdered and his chateau burned, a fire that causes his lover to be blinded. Diamond also makes an attempt on Hel's life. In the tradition of any good adventure novel, however, the hero-or in this case the antihero-wins in the end. With information garnered from his associate, the Gnome, Hel blackmails Ma into returning his property, leaving his life unmolested, and turning over Diamond and his henchmen. Hel kills his antagonists in the midst ofa ''whiteout," a thick fog that sometimes covers the Basque hills, reducing vision to nil. Yet he hesitates before killing Diamond. Hel feels no compunction or pity; he simply experiences contempt, a contempt that leads him to ignore inferior human beings. However, he does shoot Diamond for what might be called ecological motives. He! had hoped [Diamond] might make a contest of it. But this? And that emotionally shattered merchant out there in the fog? He was too loathsome for even punishment. He! started to move away. . . . Then [he] stopped. He remembered that Diamond was a servant ofthe Mother Company, a corporation lackey. He! thought of the offshore oil rigs contaminating the sea, ofstrip-mining over virgin lands, of oil pipelines through tundra, of atomic energy plants built over the protests of those who would ultimately suffer contamination. He recalled the adage: Who must do hard things? He who can. With a sigh, and with disgust souring the back of his throat, he turned and raised his [gun]. (436-37)

Now it might seem odd that a person such as Hel would care anything about the environment. But who better protected the environment than did the aristocrats? If the lords owned all the land, they would never allow factories to spew pollution near their estates, ugly malls to be built adjacent to their mansions, sterile highways to cut across their property. And who better to protect endangered species? Nobles would almost never permit peasants to poach game on their lands.

Good Form What does one do in the postmodern era? What project does one undertake at the end of history? The world is in a state of relative peace and prosperity. There are no great battles to be fought. Carthage need not be destroyed, nor Sicily conquered. It is no longer necessary to defend civilization against invading barbarians. There is no balance of power to maintain in Europe, since almost every country belongs


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to the same alliance. The age of discovery is long past, and even though space remains to be explored, there is no pressing need to explore it. The age of devoti on, too, is gone. It is unlikely that anyone feels strongly enough about God to paint the Sistine Chapel or build more great cathedrals to the glory of the Maker. True, people still believe in God. But in line with the natural rights doctrines of our time, the postmodern God does not demand much. He, or perhaps She, asks only that we feel good about ourselves and be nice. 1 5 Most important, the profound ideological struggles of the twentieth century fought for the heart and soul ofthe human race are over. As Hegel foretold, liberal democracy has triumphed. Of course, one could throw oneself into good works such as cleaning up the environment, saving the whales, reducing poverty, or curing AIDS. Yet these endeavors are all outgrowths ofthe Enlightenment proj ect, in the words of Bacon, "to relieve man's estate." Indeed, they are all part of what Hegel predicted would occur at the end of history. They hardly stir the soul when compared to the sight of stalwart people in a life or death situation acting gallantly for the sake of their nation, religion, or way of life. There are no great proj ects in the postmodern era because there are no principles worth sacrificing for. In presenting the ideas of Paul de Man, Rorty explains the postmodern predicament. For de Man literature has always hinted at what Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and Derrida have now made philosophically explicit: that instead of thinking of ourselves, logocentrically, as knowers, we must now think of ourselves as confronting a void-an abyss which cannot be known but can only, in de Man's words, be "named with ever-renewed understanding." Instead of thinking of ourselves as living according to the constraints set by the nature of physical reality and the dictates of moral imperatives, we must think of ourselves as "[unable] to escape from a condition that is felt to be unbearable."16

What postmodernists have discovered that they should do at the end of history is play. Since they are "unable to worship anything" and thus cannot pour their " hearts, souls and minds" into one great proj ect, there is little else for them to do but play. 1 7 There can be no truth, no compelling reason to favor any particular activity, no reason why one game should be preferred over another. Yet, it is the way with things that play is more interesting when it is difficult and complex, perhaps like playing Go. In fact, Kojeve had wondered whether, at the end of history, human beings would lack any proj ects to inspirit them. Without some spirit people might become so content with mere animal pleasures that they would revert to some preconscious animal existence. They would erect their buildings the way birds construct their nests and play music as do cicadas and frogs. On a visit to Japan in 1953, however, he discovered that snobbery was an alternative to the pleasure-seeking principle so prevalent at the end of history and so well fulfilled as part of the American dream. In other words, when there is no substance to action, the form or rituals become all important. In a footnote to the Introduction

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to the Reading ofHegel, Kojeve relates an example ofthe activities appropriate to the postmodern age: the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The tea is presented in a complex, stylized, intricate, and beautiful manner. The point of the ceremony is that it has no point. It is all form with no substance. It gains its significance through its style and beauty, not through an effort to convey a rational meaning. In postmodern terms, it has no center. Kojeve explains "post-historical" Japanese civilization undertook ways diametrically opposed to the "America way." No doubt there were no longer in Japan any Religion, Morals, or Politics in the "European" or historical sense ofthe words. But Snobbery in its pure form created disciplines negating the "natural" or "animal" given which in effectiveness far surpasses those that arose, in Japan or elsewhere, from "historical" Action-that is, from warlike and revolutionary Fights or from forced Work. To be sure, the peaks (equaled [sic] nowhere else) of specifically Japanese snobbery-the Noh Theater, the ceremony of tea, and the art of bouquets offlowers-were and still remain the exclusive prerogative of the nobles and the rich. But in spite ofpersistent economic and political inequalities, all Japanese without exception are currently in a position to live according to totally formalized values-that is, values completely empty of all "human" content in the "historical" sense. . . . Now, since no animal can be a snob, every "Japanized" post-historical period would be specifically human. . . . Man must continue to detach "form" from "content," doing so that he may oppose himself as a pure "form" to himself and to others taken as "content" of any sort. 18 It is ironic, perhaps, that Hel is raised in the land of intricate tea ceremonies. Hel's "tea ceremony" is his garden, an eclectic and poignant collection of flora with one flower. The sounding stone in his stream must be constantly rearranged so that its tone is in harmony with the visual scene expressed by the plants (277, 285, 350). Hel understands that "style and form are everything, and substance is a passing myth" (298). For him, the "beauty ofthe Japanese spirit" is based on polite manners ( 1 1 1 ). Manners are, of course, a form of behavior based on nothing but tradition and accepted usage, from which we maintain the concept of "formal manners." Hel holds that in the Jong run, the "minor" virtues are the only ones that matter. Politeness is more reliable than the moist virtues ofcompassion, charity, and sincerity; just as fair play is more important than the abstraction of justice. The major virtues tend to disintegrate under the pressure of convenient rationalizations. But good form is good form, and it stands immutable in the storm of circumstance. (333) Moreover, Hel's tastes respond to formal behavior. Aristocratic forms are more complex, intricate, and beautiful than democratic. It was, after all, aristocrats who constructed the fabulously complicated social arrangements of the feudal order, with all their pomp and ceremony. It was the aristocrats, too, whose "play" created


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the most sublime works ofart and architecture ever conceived by the human mind. No one who has visited places where "democratic" architecture is on display next to "aristocratic" structures, for instance Prague, can doubt the superiority of the aristocratic. The aristocratic wins out exactly because the democratic creations pay more attention to function and substance than form. Shall we conclude that in the postmodern age aristocracy is superior to democracy because it gives greater weight to form than it does to function and substance? Is aristocracy better because it encourages more interesting and beautiful games?

Conclusion With the notable exception of Richard Rorty, postmodernism has fought a rear guard action against the suffocating implications ofthe end ofhistory. Postmodern thinkers have counterattacked by implicating all hierarchical institutions as efforts to constrain human freedom. They have sought to unmask, expose, and ultimately destroy every power relationship that constrains the assertion ofindividual volition. Politics, social organizations, family relations, sexual roles, art, philosophy, metaphysics, thought, and, most important, language, have come under the blistering fire of postmodern criticism. Yet postmodernists are not merely in opposition. Most favor multiculturalism because it better represents the diversity of "truth" and because the discourses of the victims of the West reveal the oppressive character of its logocentric power. While most postmodernists claim to favor multiculturalism, none would accept one of its consequences. In the real world, diversity often leads to suspicion, separation, hatred, and violence. The postmodernists' dream that the discourses of "the other" should become the canon must be compared to the political effects of cultural variety as represented in Shibumi. The Basques detest their rulers, the Spanish and the French, and the Arabs want to annihilate Israel. Perhaps, Shibumi' s view of cultural diversity can better help us understand where real differences between cultural groups may lead. For example, Nobel Prize-winning author Ivo Andri explained the source ofthe conflict that broke out in his native Bosnia when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914. Adherents of the three main faiths, they hate one another from birth to death, senselessly and profoundly . . . often, they spent their entire lives without finding an opportunity to express that hatred in all its facets and horrors; but whenever the established order ofthings is shaken by some important event, and reason and law are suspended for a few hours or days, then this mob or rather a section of it, finding at last an adequate motive, overflows into the town . . . and, like a flame which has sought and has found fuel, these long-kept hatreds and hidden desires for destruction and violence take over the town, lapping, sputtering, and swallowing everything, until some force larger than themselves suppresses them, or until they bum themselves out and tire oftheir own rage. 19

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Most, if not all, postmodernists would no doubt oppose such horrible events. They seem to believe, instead, that postmodernism can and will lead to diversity as well as to peace and brotherhood. As J. Hillis Miller states, "the millennium [of universal peace and justice among people] would come if all men and women became good readers in de Man's sense."20 If postmodernism brings about the millennium, it might also undermine multiculturalism. True, people might associate with particular cultures, but for those groups not to become violent factions, all individuals would have to recognize the worth of the "other" groups. In doing so, however, they must admit that there is something more important than cultural identity. In fact, in the postmodern world where only metadiscourses are possible, people would be forced to realize that there is nothing special about their own culture, that each culture is no more than one discourse among many. Commitment to a heritage would be equivocal since people would see beyond the horizon of their culture. Whatever cultural identity that did exist would be ironic rather than authentic, playful rather than serious, dedicated to form rather than substance, freely chosen rather than assigned by historical tradition, linguistic, religious, or ethnic identity, and the accident of birth. Rorty, who appreciates the ephemeral character of multiculturalism, argues for a pragmatic approach in which there are "no high altars, and instead just . . . lots of picture galleries, book displays, movies, concerts, ethnographic museums, museums of science and technology, and so on-lots ofcultural options but no privileged central discipline. "21 Cultural identity of this sort would have the same status as a Japanese tea ceremony. Behind the mock diversity would be a fundamental agreement on first principles, one that would have the effect of producing a universal homogenous condition of humankind, not dissimilar to the epoch imagined by Hegel. In the universal homogeneous era true multiculturalism and diversity will cease to exist. There is, ofcourse, a third alternative. Perhaps Hel 's Hapsburg lineage is not just a trope. The Hapsburg Empire was arguably the most ethnically diverse political entity in Europe, including Austrians, Hungarians, Slovenes, Romanians, Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Germans, Poles, Serbs, Gypsies, Jews, and many other small groups too numerous to mention. For most ofits long history, the Hapsburg Empire maintained peaceful coexistence among these groups through a policy of enlightened despotism. Under its tutelage some ofthe finest works ofart, especially music, were produced. Both those loyal to the empire and those opposed to it were given the liberty to express their aesthetic genius. Indeed, it could be argued that artistic creativity was the vehicle through which people expressed their opposition to the empire. Multiculturalism seems to flourish when it is born ofoppression. The very injustice of Hapsburg rule toward its many minority groups-and of course everyone was a minority under the Hapsburgs-was also the origin of its most lasting achievements. It is because the third alternative of a multicultural and aristocratic society is no longer a viable option in the modern world, perhaps, that the main character of Shibumi leads such a thoroughly "postmodern" existence. Rel refuses to commit himselfto a cause or principle, knowing that the effort to proselytize his aristocratic


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leanings would be futile. Realizing that his "discourse" is unacceptable, He! remains aloof from the great ideological struggles of his day; the battles between communism and liberalism, nationalism and internationalism, and fundamentalism and cosmopolitanism. Instead of commitment, he chooses to lead an eclectic life. He is a gourmet, an environmentalist, an adroit and trained lover, a multilingual world traveler whose best friends are dedicated nationalists, a spelunker, an expert murderer, an art collector, a gardener who seeks to bring the visual and audible experience into harmony, and an acetic on a quest to attain the unreachable condition of shibumi. On a deeper level, He! also accepts a postmodern view of life. For him, there seems to be no ultimate ground of being and no religious or metaphysical principle that is true for all time and all places. (At a critical point in the story, He! escapes from a cave in which Diamond has trapped him, not as, in the Republic, by moving up the mouth ofthe cave into the light of pure knowledge, but rather by swimming out through an underground aquifer. In Nietzsche's words, he "goes under.") Hel's decision to become involved in the effort to thwart Mother Company is taken reluctantly out of personal loyalty to an old friend, not in the name ofa just cause. Even Hel's devotion to aristocracy is based on little more than a personal whim; an aesthetically superior whim, but a whim nonetheless. Trevanian's Shibumi is the perfect postmodern tale because, within a popular culture framework, it presents many of the themes associated with postmodern thought, including its stress on language, its reliance on form, its refusal to make value judgments, and its rebellion against power. It also dramaticaily discloses the social and political consequences of the postmodern tum. The main character despises the homogenization of the human race into one mass culture, where universal peace and brotherhood are achieved only by making all people the same, by reducing them to their common physiological traits, and by forcing distinctive human beings to become ordinary. Hel vigorously supports Israel because Jews, the chosen people of God, do not want their special place in the spiritual order to become universal (136). He lives among Basque separatists because they stubbornly resist integration. Yet, he is fully aware of the political implications of Basque separatism; it can only be won with terrible cruelty. Shibumi even presents a "third way" between conformity and violent separatism. Hel's Hapsburg ancestors ruled over one of the most multicultural, diverse political entities in history. The Hapsburg rulers maintained order in the empire partly by force, guile, and intrigue of course, but they also appealed to a common human love beauty, as is so evident in the art, architecture, and music of their reign. We learn from Rorty's pragmatic views that no "argumentative roads lead from this kind of philosophy [postmodern] to any particular brand of politics. The absence of an intrinsic human nature, and thus built-in moral obligations, seem to us pragmatists compatible with any and every decision about what sort of life to lead, or what sort ofpolitics to pursue." Therefore, we also discover in Shibumi that postmodemism justifies the actions of an aristocratic assassin at least as much, and probably more, as it does the playful linguistic exhibitions or the political agenda of a Jeffersonian pragmatist.22

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Notes 1 . All page references are to Trevanian, Shibumi (New York: Ballantine Books, 1980). 2. "Go is a game ofterritory. Starting with an empty board of 1 9 by 1 9 points, the players take it in turns to place one of their pieces on a point aiming to surround more empty territory than their opponent at the end of the game. For the last 4000 years the rules of Go have remained unchanged. Invented in China in about 2000 B.C., it has been played in Japan since 740 A.D., in Europe since 1 880 and in Britain since 1930. Go is now played in all comers of the world. It is a strategic and tactical two player game, often compared to Chess-but where Chess is a 'battle,' Go is guerrilla warfare. The rules are simple and can be stated on a single sheet of paper, although mastering Go takes a little more effort." Cited from the Web page,, of the West Surrey Go Club. 3. See, for example, the eclectic array of definitions given by Van Piercy, an English professor at Indiana University, at the Alt.Postmodern FAQ site html/na-dir/postmodem-faq.html. Leslie Paul Thiele explains that postmodernist "thinkers are far from a unified bunch. They have been usefully described as a 'constellation' of thinkers, that is to say, a juxtaposed cluster of elements that resists reduction to a common core." This is so perhaps because "postmodernists do attempt to uncover universal structures or patterns that operate according to a stable logic or scientific Jaws. They assume that their identities, desires, and predilections are the products of social power and therefore acknowledge that their investigations will only reveal the effects of particular relations of power as they are theorized from a particular vantage point." Leslie Paul Thiele, Thinking Politics: Perspectives in Ancient, Modern, andPostmodern Political Theory (Chatham, N .J.: Chatham House, 1997), 82-83. 4. See the debate between Jean-Fran1yois Lyotard and Jurgen Habermas on whether postmodern "science" undermines a universalist approach to social theory. Lyotard attempts to unmask any "metadiscourse" that makes "an explicit appeal to some grand narrative, such as the dialectic of the Spirit, the hermeneutics of meaning, the emancipation ofthe working or rational subject, or the creation of wealth." Jean-Fran1yois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), xxiii, also 60-66. Habermas worries that postmodemism leads only to "context dependent" criticism, which abandons "the elements ofreason in cultural modernity." Jurgen Habermas, "The Entwinment ofMyth and Enlightenment: Re-readingDialectic Enlightenment," New German Critique 26 ( 1982): 1 829. According to Richard Rorty, Lyotard's approach "will be counted by Habermas as more or less irrationalist because it drops the notions which have been used to justify the various reforms which have marked the history of the Western democracies since the Enlightenment." Richard Rorty, Essays on Heidegger and Others (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1 991), 1 65. 5. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. Joan Stambaugh (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1 996); Martin Heidegger, The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude, trans. William McNeill and Nicholas Walker (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1995). 6. In his early work at least Foucault saw something sinister in the records that were kept on people's most mundane activities. In his later work Foucault abandoned the notion that some conspiratorial group or class exercised power. Power was just everywhere. Compare Michel Foucault, The Birth ofthe Clinic: An Archaeology ofMedical Perception, trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith (New York: Vintage Books, 1994); Michel Foucault, Madness and

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Civilization: A History ofInsanity in the Age ofReason, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Vintage Books, 1 988); and Michel Foucault, Discipline andPunish: The Birth ofthe Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1 995). 7. Shadia Drury argues that Kojeve's dislike of a world empty of manly and martial activities is a key to understanding his thought and to how he perverted Hegel's views. Shadia Drury, Alexandre Kojeve: The Roots ofPostmodern Politics (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1 994), 24-41. 8. One cannot but help note the similarities between the view stated in Shibumi and that ofFriedrich Nietzsche. "O my brothers, am I cruel? But I say: what is falling we should still push. Everything today falls and decays: who would check it? But I-even I want to push it. . . . And he whom you cannot teach to fly, teach to fall faster." Friedrich Nietzsche, "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," in The Portable Nietzsche, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin, 1 954), 321 . 9. Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1 992). 10. Works ofJohn Adams, vol. 4 (Boston: Little-Brown, 185 1), 106. 1 1 . Richard Rorty, Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1 991 ), 191. 1 2. Although the principles at the core of American society, stated most forcefully in the Declaration of Independence, were meant to apply only to Americans, they speak of the natural rights of all people. The Declaration message is simple yet universal, which is why it has been so appealing to people everywhere. 13. Kojeve explains,

Now, several voyages ofcomparison made (between 1 948 and 1 958) to the United States and the U.S.S.R. gave me the impression that if the Americans give the appearance of rich Sino-Soviets, it is because the Russians and the Chinese are only Americans who still are poor but are rapidly proceeding to get richer. I was led to conclude from this that the "American way of life" was the type of life specific to the post­ historical period, the actual presence of the United States in the World prefiguring the "eternal present" future of all humanity. Alexandre Kojeve, Introduction to the Reading ofHegel, assembled Raymond Queneau, ed. Allan Bloom, trans. James H. Nichols Jr. (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1 980), 1 61 n. 1 4. For the ultimate postmodern treatment ofthe ability oflanguage to deconstruct reality and make the phenomena disappear, see Jean Baudrillard, La Guerre du Goffe n'a pas eu lieu (Mayenne, France: Galilee, 1 991). 15. Shibumi recognizes that religion no longer holds sway over people's souls. Much religion presently appeals to people's physical well-being, as does every other institution in the modem world. He! "hated the fanatical third world priests who incite children to their deaths for the purpose of linking the cause of social reform to the Church to save that institution from natural atrophy in the face of knowledge and enlightenment" (270). 16. Rorty, Essays on Heidegger, 1 3 1, emphasis original. 1 7. Rorty, Essays on Heidegger, 132. 1 8. Kojeve, Introduction to the Reading ofHegel, 161-62, emphasis original. 1 9. Quoted by Lenard J. Cohen, "The Destruction of Yugoslavia," in The National Idea in Eastern Europe, ed. Gerasimos Augustinos (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1 996), 1 5 1 .

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20. J. Hillis Miller, The Ethics ofReading (New York: Columbia University Press, 1 987), 58. 2 1 . Rorty, Essays on Heidegger, 132. 22. Rorty, Essays on Heidegger, 132. Whether the popular culture storyteller Trevanian is aware of the implications of his work is unclear. But the writer behind Trevanian, Rodney Whitaker, a professor of English, is surely conversant in the intellectual currents of his day.

Chapter 9

Aristoteles Revivus: Pierre Manent's Reflections on "The Contemporary Political World" Paul Seaton Pierre Manent is one of France's leading scholars of political philosophy. He is i ncreasingly well-known in this country. 1 The chief focus ofhis work is " our liberal destiny."2 In an impressive series of philosophical-historical analyses he has explored the theoretical construction of classical liberalism's chief tenets, the rights of equal and free individuals, the society-state distinction, and representative government, among others.3 Complementing these scholarl y investigati ons, Manent also has turned his attenti on to "our present situation" and to political analysis and commentary. We and our liberal democracies today are fitting obj ects of the philosophic student of liberalism, since we are the doctrine' s chief current embodiment. In fact, in Manent' s view liberalism is truer today in its adequacy as a description of the actual state of things than at any time i n its history, starting from its "opposition" phase under the Old Regime and continuing through its long period of political construction and consolidation.4 To understand ourselves and our world we must consider this maj or constitutive ingredient of both modem liberal views of man, society, and politics. In what follows we focus in particular on one ofManent' s two chief analyses of "the contemporary political world." In 1997 he gave a lecture at the University of Chicago enti tled "Liberali sm and C onservatism: The Transatlantic Misunderstanding." In it he compares and contrasts the "present condition" of the two countries that were at the forefront of the modern democrati c movement, his nati ve France and America. Manent, of course, is not the first Frenchman to engage in this comparative endeavor. He has an illustrious predecessor in Alexis de

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Tocqueville. Manent is one of the most penetrating readers of Tocqueville writing today, and he makes ample use of the French aristocrat's teaching and example in his own thinking.5 However, there is another philosophically minded thinker about politics Manent regularly enlists to help him think about actual politics as well as political philosophy. Aristotle and his teleologically focused analyses ofhuman agency and of the communities action engenders continue to be pertinent in Manent's view.6 He accordingly makes good use of the Stagirite in his effort to understand us, as well as to take the measure ofliberal doctrines proffered to explain us to ourselves and to guide us in our action. When Manent declares that his "perspective is political" and that he writes as a partisan of man's "political nature" as he attempts to hold up a mirror to us today, he expressly invokes Aristotle as his inspiration. Aristotle, the archenemy of the early modem philosophic constructors of liberalism, as it were returns at Manent's behest to comment on the most recent products of his erstwhile foes.7 Under the Greek's tutelage, Manent sees our social life and politics increasingly ruled by abstract views of man as rights-bearer and interest-seeker, views that fail to grasp important, essential aspects of our nature and being. He is particularly keen to detect the presence and viability of these latter features within the modem regimes ofindividual liberty and to counsel modem liberty-loving men and women to beware of losing their souls, or the fullness of our natures, in the name of a too abstract, ultimately demeaning, liberty.

I Four texts convey the main lines and contours ofManent's sketch ofour world and ourselves. In two articles-"Democracy without Nations?" (1996) and "Liberalism and Conservatism: The Transatlantic Misunderstanding" ( 1997)-he provides an analysis of "the contemporary political world," taking as his point of departure reflections on the arche of our current situation, the collapse of Communist ideocracies.8 This defeat of Communism is ipso facto the victory of democracy. The latter is to be understood less as the various liberal democracies of Westem Europe and America and more as the democratic idea, the democratic principle, the sole principle of legitimacy today, the consent of the individual will. In his first article, Manent surveys a political world increasingly informed and even dominated by this principle.9 As the sole principle of legitimate obligation, this principle is simultaneously sovereign and potent-it tends to discredit all other principles of obligation and motives to action-and impotent: it leaves men free to do what they will, but it neither proposes nor validates intrinsically any object or motive of human choice. The specificallypolitical consequences ofthis are debilitating, even paralyzing. Outraged political nature is wreaking its revenge on modem man's misguided, hubristic effort to deny the truth of the classical teaching. 10 In his second lecture, he analyzes the various understandings ofand complements French

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and American democrats give to modem liberty. Spanning the two articles is Manent's "political perspective," his advocacy of man's "political nature." One thus can describe his position as detecting in the contemporary scene a contest between a modem democratic emphasis on individual will and a classically understood political nature. The former has the upper hand, officially speaking, but Manent is very dubious about how rooted in human nature is the doctrine of bare human willfulness. And despite classical nature's contemporary erosion, even eclipse, Manent does not think that his advocacy is utopian; perhaps, though, it is Sisyphean. 1 1 Two other articles focus on the "intimate life" of "modem humanity." "On Modem Individualism" ( 1995) is a Tocquevillian-inspired look into modem man's soul. 1 2 He is increasingly the detached individual described by the seventeenth­ century philosophers of the state of nature, liberated officially and internally or psychologically from previous communities of belonging that dictated his life to him; "commands" have been replaced by "consent." But the problem remains: what ought I consent to? How can I achieve substance in my life when the condition ofmy liberation from previous substantial communities of command was to delegitimate them, often debunking them, and arguing that by nature I am an independent self? In "On Modem Individualism" Manent analyzes modem literature's depiction ofthis condition and canvasses various modem philosophical efforts to restore viable, fulfilling human attachments. Rousseauian compassion, Kantian respect, and contractual justice are brought forward; all prove insufficient. In closing Manent suggestively asks, is there something we human individuals have in common that both would enrich our interior lives and bring us together in the same motion? 1 3 The previous articles' advocacy of our political nature (and of a more thoughtful, appreciative membership in various great bodies, the nation­ states) hovers in the background as one suggestion. However, neither Aristotle nor Manent thinks that we are simply political animals. We are also erotic beings. In "Recovering Human Attachment: An Introduction to Allan Bloom's Love and Friendship" ( 1996) Manent comments on the views of one of the outstanding contemporary explorers and advocates of eros in its various forms, Allan Bloom. According to Bloom, contemporary democratic men and women are "disillusioned Romantics." We more or less believe the modem scientific view that denies that anything in man is naturally lovely or loveable. We have tried the romantic illusions and discovered their incredibility and our inability to ignore our "knowledge" that they are illusions. Alfred Kinsey's is the perfect "scientific" view of sex for us. Modesty and shame, rather than being natural accompaniments ofand revelatory ingredients in human sexuality, are held to be Puritan relics. The scientific revelation, the Kinsey Report, ofthe fact that our private longings and practices are widespread was intended to form a distinctive boudoir-based community ofno longer inhibited consciences and bodies. Bloom, rather than contesting directly the modem view of science and nature, turns more dramatically to Shakespeare as the true "mirror of nature"-human nature-in all its mysterious profusion of attachments and fissures, of attempted

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connections, tragic failures, and modest successes. Bloom ends his reflections on the Shakespearean cosmos by reflecting quite beautifully on its maker, the most natural-and thus most artful-of poets. However, there is one connection that Shakespeare does not show directly, the highest one. Bloom turns to Plato and to his Socrates to consider the master of the human connection, which is erotic conversation, Socratic dialectics. And what better dialogue to consider than the Symposium, the discourses on eros, especially the one by the man who while he claimed only to know his ignorance made one apparent exception, to know erotics? In one of the very rare Platonic moments in his corpus, Manent follows Bloom's lead and affirms that a "mysterious but luminous energy circulates among the different levels ofhuman life and the variety of human connections, and it does not circulate in vain. In the end, eros, because there really is an 'end,' is one with the desire for understanding and self­ knowledge, and this desire, too, is not in vain." 14 Here, too, a classical teaching helps Manent to take the measure of the modem liberal teaching of man as most deeply a naturally disconnected individual whose reason is merely instrumental. Manent's investigations of the modem world and its inhabitants are motivated, he tells us in an autobiographical essay, by a desire for self-understanding. 15 He thus puts himself at least partly under the rule of eros. And from him we see that eros can prompt sober, graceful essays of analysis and gentle advocacy. To one such we now turn.

II "Liberalism and Conservatism: The Transatlantic Misunderstanding," as we said, was originally a lecture given at the University of Chicago in 1997. Manent found himself in middle America asked to speak about the two democratic countries and the conservative-liberal split within both. He acquits himself of the debt of speaking about the latter in the first part of his lecture, then moves on to the former topics in the next three parts of his discussion. From the beginning, however, he puts his own stamp on the topics, he provides his own initial framework of analysis, by distinctively naming the whole, and identifying its essential parts, that he will consider: the modem democratic regime. All three words are essential; all will receive due consideration. The movement of his thought across this terrain has four main steps or stages. Our contemporary political life has an essential structure and essential features, including its chiefpolitical agents and agitators, the partisans. Manent aims initially to bring them into focus. Then, before we can consider the present as such, "our present condition," we must acknowledge the presence of the past, the fundamental task that was thrust upon us the past forty years, the challenge of the Cold War, and what condition it has left us in. After looking at the shaping influence and ongoing contemporary effects of our recent mortal struggle, Manent turns to an analysis of the contemporary scene.

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There are two main parts to his consideration. A first part combines a phenomenological description of certain salient features of our two societies with a deeper analysis, which seeks to root the dynamic surface in our constant regime principle, what he calls "modem liberty." This surface to depths present-day look at us then is historically widened. Our regimes of liberty have a history, a birth or genesis and a career of some duration. The tum to political history enables Manent to discern and to highlight the "radical novelty" of this new order of things and to see how modem liberty's birth and history wedded it in Europe to two extra-democratic features, the nation and what he calls "systems of command," great hierarchical institutions whose raison d 'etre or "finality" is some human good, such as truth or salvation or national defense and patriotism. The last third of his lecture (cutting across its final two sections) is devoted in large part to a tallying ofthe pluses and minuses ofthe latter institutions or mediating communities of human participation. In a measured way, Manent counsels modem men and women to appreciate the substance and elevation this sort of community has brought and can continue to bring to the exercise of their liberty. There are, as we said, four parts to Manent's analysis. An introduction brings forward the whole he will consider, the contemporary modem democratic regime (in its French and American versions). It has two essential parts or aspects, the state and society, and two parties, the liberal and the conservative, which attach themselves to one or the other of these essential but incomplete poles of the democratic regime. Conservatives are the party of "society," of the uncoerced association of free, equal, and responsible individuals. Liberals attach themselves to "the state" as the sovereign instrument or agent ultimately responsible for ensuring justice and social provision. Both adhere to something good and necessary in the modern dispensation and both ignore or slight the other's good; both therefore will coexist and squabble or contend throughout the life of the regime. In an aside, Manent declares his preference for the party of free citizens over the party of the tutelary state, but he tantalizingly asserts that in his view "the Gordian knot" of our societies is not to be found in the issues over which the partisans today quarrel. We will have to tum to another Manentian piece, "Our Liberal Destiny," to see where Manent locates this deepest level and problematic of our lives. 16 Manent's partisanship, however, such as it is, does not define him. His thought aims to comprehend the entire regime and to promote the good of the whole, and his judgement is free to discover deeper difficulties therein than partial-minded partisans can discern. One can notice, and should wonder about, the abstract or bare-bones character of Manent's initial description of our democratic regimes. Conspicuous by their absence are such features as socio-economic classes, interest groups, distinctive ethnic and cultural configurations, intermediary institutions of all sorts, et cetera. Manent, of course, is not unaware of these present and past features of liberal democracies. Why does he initially leave them out of the picture? Asked to speak about liberalism and conservatism, he may have wanted to honor the request and


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to focus upfront on the two parties committed to them, as it were, in their purity. Another reason, however, suggests itself. The "original liberal conception" ofstate and society and of a free society's natural partisan division-a combination of Locke and Montesquieu in Manent's view-ignored (more or less) just these complicating factors. Our own Declaration of Independence, a liberal document par excellence, does the same. Manent's beginning may replicate by design the original liberal democratic view of itself, in order to expose it to sight and to show that it quickly was foreed to complicate its own view ofitself. As we will soon see, Manent himself notes that the Cold War was conducted in the West under the leadership of "the political classes." And in his survey of liberal democracies' nineteenth- and twentieth-century existence, he is at pains to note and to explore their incarnation in nation-states as well as their harboring of great intermediate institutions such as the army or the university. Whatever the reason for his initial depiction of"our great and good contrivance," the modern democratic regime, we should note its incomplete, abstract character. Manent begins his survey of our "contemporary political world" with its arche, that is, the most recent "decisive event" that gave it its shape, the fall of Communism. In so doing, he reminds us that the Cold War, the contest between the Soviet-led communist ideocracies and the Western liberal democracies, was in some deep sense the defining feature of our political world for over forty years. Our internal lives were led under the shadow of a great external enemy. This contest, this fall ofthe adversary regime, and its aftermath thus are the large objects ofManent's initial consideration. Most striking and important are the terms in which Manent conducts his reconsideration. His are the terms of virtue and vice, of moral and intellectual virtue and their opposites. From the beginning of his exercise in political analysis Manent sees and presents the subjects of his analysis-the nature of a regime, its political class, its citizenry-as moral-political animals and as thinking beings. This language is so telling, these categories so appropriate, that it takes an effort to notice them and to begin to appreciate them in contrast to the social science language offacts and values, systems and modernization, not to mention the moral equivalence language of some of the Left and a few on the Right at the time of the contest. But what is this language; what are the descriptions it conveys; what are the conclusions it expresses? "The nature of communism" was to be "an intrinsically perverse regime." Reagan was right: Soviet-led communism was an "evil" empire. Its founding, self-justifying "lofty science ofhistory" was really a great Lie and the regime built on it was intrinsically mendacious. 1 7 Not only mendacious, the regime's lies undergirded and required continual, systemic "criminal" conduct. At best its leaders were thugs, such as Gorbechev, but they all ruled over a citizenry (sic) of "slaves." Faced with this archenemy, how did Europe and America, each and both, their political classes and citizenry, react and conduct themselves? What fruit have they harvested from the war and its victory? Manent concurs with most observers. The

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first thing to see and to say is, the West won and that is a very good thing. This happy recognition, however, does not end the work of reason and political assessment. And it is in these latter deeper reaches that Manent finds much matter for darker thoughts. In fact, his conclusion is that there is a "festering sore at the heart of Europe" because of its rather irresolute, tepid, at times craven attitude and conduct vis-a-vis its enemy to the East. Compounding this misconduct is its current, ongoing failure to take stock of the communist episode, to come to terms with the evil of communism and the lessons about man's nature and human good and evil it provides, as well as with its own Cold War failings. Current political Europe is in denial and this inability or unwillingness to confront its recent situation and reality entails a significant anaesthesia of its moral-political and rational faculties. Europe peers and strides into the future dragging an undigested, ignominious past along with it. 18 I have jumped to Manent's conclusion. A fuller version of his analysis runs as follows. The victory of democracy was more the collapse of its opponent than its own doing. With a few ambiguous exceptions, the political classes ofthe European democracies did not really desire, much less expect and work diligently to bring about, Communism's defeat. They received (in short-lived euphoria) as an unexpected happy chance the self-immolation of their enemy. And, as we have heard, they have not availed themselves of the opportunity, or responded to the moral-political imperative, of reconsidering in (relative) tranquillity the lessons of the recent past. Manent's morally charged analysis (and blame) of his fellow Europeans is moderated to a significant extent by his recognition that "European equivocations were largely determined by situation and history." Responsibility, however, remains. A moral-political examination of conscience is still in order. The resolve that steeled the Western alliance came from the Americans. Its political class provided the strategy, arms, and determination that held the fort until the enemy could no longer carry the fight or even continue its own mode of existence. Particularly important were the Reaganjudgments that communism was evil and defeatable and the actions he took premised on them. As a political victory "the victory of democracy is an American victory." However, the democratic victory is not solely or, in sense, even primarily a political victory. The idea ofdemocracy, the ideas of individual rights and popular sovereignty, has won the day; there are no credible ideological opponents current now with the defeat and discrediting of Marxist-Leninist socialism. True, this idea is embodied in and was defended by the various Western democracies, but, as Manent's analysis claims to indicate, the embodiments ofthe idea are in much less good shape than the idea itself as an ideal. As for soi-disant "realists" who may think that a distinction between a political and an ideological victory must entail the primacy of the former, Manent's subsequent analyses will be a challenge. In fact, this idea may be the main motor, the "generative principle" (Tocqueville's phrase), of subsequent European political activity. Certainly Manent's earlier analysis, "Democracy without Nations?" sees things going this way. 19 This is not to deny that Manent has his own form of realism. His, however, is of

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the "common sens[ical] and good-that is, Aristotelian-philosoph[ical]" sort. The fundamental reality that Manent brings forward throughout his consideration is man' s nature as a rational agent, conceiving and freely pursuing natural ( and other) goods that perfect and ennoble his nature.20 Moreover, Manent makes so bold as to affirm that man has natural obligations ( which, of course, he can choose to slight or to fulfill half-heartedly). The "paramount" one is one that both the Socratic and Christian traditions recognized and advocated: each one must be able and willing to give an account, /ogon didonai, ofhis deeds, basic dispositions, and fundamental thoughts and beliefs. Underneath the right to think and to believe as one will are the human capacities to think and to believe and the obligations to do so in ways that are publicly expressible and accountable. Simply explaining orj ustifying one' s deed or thought by the assertion, I had a right to do so, is deeply inadequate as a humanly satisfying rati onale. That this is the case Manent thinks is obvious. Why this is so is something to think seriously about, because it is a privileged entrance to the character of our being. And any account of being human that fails to recognize this human need to account for itself and its important choices, deeds, and thoughts is woefully i nadequate.21 The other chief effect of the fall of their common foe i nforms American­ European relationships. Here, too, Manent detects adverse consequences. Similarities and commonalties rightly and necessarily took precedence over dissimilarities and differences during the days of mortal peril. Now the reverse obtains. And America the erstwhile leader of a transatlantic coalition is i ncreasingly behaving like a traditional hegemon, with distressing effects on others' abilit y to act i ndependently, sovereignly. It is more than merely i nteresting to hear a very well disposed foreign observer bemoan American inability to distinguish itself from others, its proper spheres of interest, i nfluence, and action from European nati ons' . Perhaps we would do well to heed this friendly criticism and rethink our place i n the world. Perhaps we need a more nuanced conception of the leadership tasks and limits that both events and choice have bestowed upon us. This last topic, the character of transatlantic relations, characterized unfortunately by misunderstanding, leads Manent to his next topic and the rest of his considerations. He does not rest content with detecting and descrying misunderstandings. He will attempt to survey and to comprehend the internal affairs and lives of the various Western modern democracies. French self­ understanding may be assisted by way of a sustained contrast with the other Western country whose democratic regime was born in a revolution and vice versa. Tocqueville at the beginning of volume 2 of Democracy in America noted various elements and characteristics ofAmerican intellectual life. He then went on to root them i n a common principle, an underlying source of the various traits. (Thi s arche was the American democratic view that each individual' s reason is adequate to guide him i n his own life, especially i n those matters that pertai n exclusively t o him.) Manent does much the same thing in his i nitial consideration of American and French societies. He begins descriptively, then moves to an archaeological analysis.22

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W e Americans are rather dynamic; our talk and view of things somewhat abstract, simplified; we value money, less perhaps for what it enables us to purchase and to do and more for its significance as a register of merit and achievement. The French are less impressed by money; they acknowledge-and are confused by or hesitate before-a distinct variety of goods and heterogeneity of human motives; they are less demanding of economic liberty and more enamored of social provision. They know how to take it easy.23 One, of course, could extend, or amend, these contrasting lists. But what accounts for the lists? Do they have common or comparable causes? Manent's answer is affirmative. And the reason is the fundamental principle of all modem regimes and societies, "modem liberty." Modem liberty chiefly accounts for the massive fact that Westem democratic regimes comprise both free societies and representative states. And ambiguities within modem liberty, and differing glosses on these ambiguities, in turn help account for the different modalities of modem life found in the various countries. Before turning to his analysis we should consider the move from a phenomenological survey to the regime principle, which, purportedly, mainly accounts for the phenomena.24 Implicit in the move is the thought that human life in this case (and in all cases) is regime-shaped and that each regime has an arche. These, of course, are antique thoughts and Aristotle is their classical exponent. In another context, one could ask why political communities are this way, that is, with some distinctive arrangement of authoritative offices, and why one principle must serve as its ordering principle, that is, its view of justice in the light of which its authoritative institutions and common life are arranged and judged. At this point political philosophy is in full flight. Further implicit in this move is the claim that modem liberty, the principle of modem democratic regimes, is the political order's end. Now there is something striking about individual liberty as the end of a regime. Liberty, to be sure, is august, precious, but it does not have the end character of such human goods as patriotism, virtue, piety, even wealth that other orders have been devoted to during the course of human events. Manent is quite struck by this peculiar character ofour regime principle, and much of his work is an effort to elucidate its intellectual content and real world effects.25 Manent begins his consideration of our regime arche and its effects by an invocation of our great revolutionary document, the Declaration oflndependence, and its assertion of inalienable human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There, certainly, liberty of a distinctive sort is at the ground of our great revolutionary deed, there is one of the first great declarations of the modem view ofliberty and liberal politics. Manent formulates modem liberty as the view ofman as an individual, endowed with the capacity and therefore right of personal judgment in matters of exclusive concern to himself. This right of individual judgment in turn grounds the famous trio of rights, to life, to liberty, and to pursue happiness as one conceives it.26 Manent's main observation is that liberty as rights is primarily liberty as means . . . to one's preservation, to one's commodious

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preservation, or to the capacious pursuit of happiness. Nonetheless, this means, liberty as rights, is so important, so indispensable as a means, that it takes on something ofthe character ofan end. Moreover, sometimes men will stoutly defend a threatened right without any immediate thought of exercising it; they simply do not like its impairment, so closely do they feel it. Manent refers to this liberty as means, liberty as end conundrum as the "ambiguity" of modem liberty. Finding it hard to grasp or to articulate theoretically, Americans are nonplused by this tension and march on, taking it in stride. Their lack of theoretical fastidiousness allows them to be practical dynamos. Moreover, ''under the spell ofthis ambiguity, some abstraction and simplification of human motives necessarily enters." For example, money, a great abstraction, becomes one of the few universal criteria available to measure men and merit in a society whose authoritative discourse is, you have a right to do what you will. The French and Europeans generally are less inclined to smooth the path between liberty as means and liberty as an end. They resist somewhat the homogenization, the abstraction and simplification of life and action inherent in modem liberty. Europeans, Manent claims, are more apt to focus on the means character of modem liberty and to wish or to demand that it be at the service of something substantial. Three objects historically have been proposed. Insofar as liberty is a means to personal economic security and well-being, many Europeans have decided that if another agent, the state (or society acting through the state), can better or more equitably provide this good, then personal economic liberty can be legitimately circumscribed. Other more high-minded Europeans (one thinks of the German idealists and Romantics) sought to elevate prosaic, bourgeois liberty by connecting it with "culture," Bi/dung, the full development of all the facets of one's nature and personality. These thinkers, however, made the awkward recognition that the bourgeois pursuit and attainment of this culture produced less than satisfactory results and that the fullest achievements of personal and social culture, ancient Athens, for example, or Goethe, existed in conditions not characterized by modem liberty. There seemed to be no necessary connection between the two. Finally, some Europeans dreamed of a great self-overcoming of modem liberty. The selfish individuals claiming their rights to life, personal liberty, and property could be transformed into truly free men and women by revolutionary action. This dream, of course, contributed mightily to many of the nightmares of the twentieth century. Having completed his initial analysis of American and French articulations of their common patrimony, modern liberty, Manent opens wider horizons on the contemporary modern democratic regime. Today's society was born and profoundly analyzed much earlier, as early as the eighteenth century. "Perceptive observers" including Hume, Smith, Ferguson, and, above all, Montesquieu saw in mid-eighteenth-century England a new sort of society and political order, commercial society and a state of balanced, checking powers representative of the partisan elements and fissures of the society.27 The European future, they thought

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and advanced, lay with commerce and representative government, peaceful competition within and between states. These observers, and Manent himself, in order to gauge the character of the new aborning order contrasted it with its pre-modem predecessors. Two features of contrast help to define the new order. Previous political life at its peak-the Greek poleis, the Roman respublica, the Italian city-states-consisted in citizens who were more or less equal and as such could rule and be ruled in tum (in the famous Aristotelian formula). Nonetheless, these isles of political freedom and equality harbored and were judged to require commanding institutions, say this or that magistracy, and an exclusive common way of life. What Montesquieu and others saw happening before their eyes was a society, commercial society, united by bonds-interest, sympathy, commerce itself-without a common way of life or commanded as such by authority. In stark contrast to the past political experience of Western man, modem commercial society proved that beneficent social and political effects could be obtained without explicit design or superintendent authority. This awesome occurrence required quasi-religious language to express its novelty, the "radicality of this revolution." Its beholders and explorers were "in awe, as if contemplating a miracle transforming human life itself." Here we come across one of the leitmotifs of Manent's work, the idea of "radical novelty." Neither a simple naturalist nor a thoroughgoing historicist,28 Manent detects in his survey of the political and spiritual itinerary of Western man crucial moments during which genuine novelty was introduced in the human scene. The radical novelty that is commercial society, non-commanded social order, was preceded and in various ways prepared by other radical novelties in Western history. The first was a new institution, the Catholic Church, with its universal claim to ultimate authority over men's lives, its divine mission and human service of guiding men to their supernatural end.29 The ''theological-political problem" posed to European peoples by the presence in their midst of such an institution gave rise to the second radical novelty Manent detects, the European monarchy, the precursor and, in many ways, founder of modem nations and the nation-state. Finally, this new political form, the monarchy, initiated and unleashed a new dynamism or process in Westem political history, the process of eviscerating intermediate bodies, Church and nobles principally, of their political inscription and authority.30 The result? The rudiments of the state-society polarity that "commerce" comes to "solidify" and to articulate. Manent shares his predecessors' astonishment at the unprecedented character of commercial society. However, his wonder does not preclude, as we have just sketched, an intellectual effort at comprehending the character and genesis of this new order. His analysis, however, does not lose contact with his initial awe and the generating sentiment of the investigation, that something new occurred and came to sight in the eighteenth century. Too many competent contemporary observers said as much, to dismiss easily their view. Commercial society is a wonder at its birth; its subsequent career also provokes wonder. "After all, the eighteenth century was followed by the nineteenth and

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twentieth centuries, the era ofpacific and pacifying commerce by an era ofnational wars and total states. And it is precisely this succession that makes you wonder and ponder." One gets the sense that this new creature, its nature, its birth, and its career, is a continual object of fascination and reflection for Manent. Insofar as philosophy is born of wonder, it claims the philosopher's rapt attention. As Manent considers the next stage of commercial society's existence, the long century from the French Revolution and the Congress of Vienna to August 1914, two features especially attract his attention: the nation-state and something he calls "systems of command." These two elements were left out of"the original liberal conception" of the new order. Subsequent thinkers and personal reflection therefore must be added if one is to continue to grasp modem liberty and its embodiments in history. Modem democratic systems were born within, adapted themselves to, and reworked existing political (and other) arrangements. One ofthe chief of these was the nation, already the fruit of centuries of political, especially monarchical, activity. Modem democracy, with its fundamental principle of individual consent and its political consequence, popular sovereignty, was incarnated in and by peoples already formed in nations. In fact, the democratic doctrines that toppled or shook royalty gave increased strength to nationality; the nation, instead of the kingdom, became increasingly "the community ofbelonging par excellence." Manent elsewhere observes that the nation in the wars of the nineteenth and early twentieth century demanded, and received, greater sacrifices of blood and treasure than any monarchy ever dreamed of.31 This new political form, the nation-state, had a paradoxical nature; it was a coincidentia oppos itorum (and thus, again, a matter for wonder and reflection). The "opposites" are two great "systems" found within the nation-state framework. First is "the system ofliberty" (a Smithean coinage), which is a synonym for commercial society, a society harboring a dynamic market economy and respecting individuals' various opinions and protecting their expression; it is a society devoted to freedom, commercial and "cultural."32 The second sort of system is the "systems of command," the great hierarchical organizations such as the military, the civil administration, the Church, and modem industries, which formed a tertium quid, a set of bonds linking the free men of the free society, the state itself, and the community encompassing both, the nation. These institutions provided visible social inscription and status to the free individuals who entered them and ascended their ladders. Manent has two objectives in mind as he considers these two sorts of systems in themselves and in their interconnections. First of all, he wants to see how they both grow out ofmodem liberty. As it were he wants to see them as modem liberty itself sees or presents them. However, this perspective proves to be inadequate to grasp its objects. Manent therefore supplements, or corrects, modem liberty's view of its products with another view. This fuller view was articulated long before commercial society's advocates critiqued its predecessor, the absolutist phase of the Old Regime in France, the "feudal order" in England, with their new view of human nature and the social-economic-political order appropriate to it. It is

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Aristotle's view of man as a teleologically ordered being and agent. In other words, Manent contrasts a rather abstract modem view of human agency with a more complex Aristotelian one. The man who once was the great target of Hobbes, Descartes, and Bacon, not to mention Locke and others, is given the last word or at least is allowed to comment on his later opponents' works and thoughts. Commercial society in its own telling freed men from "shackles." First of all it freed men, or completed the process of emancipation begun under the absolutist monarchy, from the familial, economic, and s ocial chains of prescription and command that had constituted the feudal order and that remained, greatly attenuated, in the absolutist period. The accidents of birth and class of origin no longer were to be the prime determinants of human attainment. Moreover, the nation-state (which replaced the absolutist order) did not step in and assume the burden of commanding the actions, economic and other, of the newly emancipated. As Montesquieu said in Book 2 1 of The Spirit of the Laws, good or sage modem governments, such as England's, had learned the lesson that less government control of the economy means greater productivity, and thence more resources to control when need be. The English defeat ofNapoleon sixty-fi ve years later would demonstrate this teaching.33 How did commercial s ociety and its advocates envisage the natural order of things? Men were to be "left free"-i. e., only the minimal rules required for familial, economic, and s ocial order were legitimate; primogeniture, for example, was to be abolished-to pursue their "interests" as they conceived them and as they choose to do so. Hegel was right. Modem civil society and its chief institution, the free market economy, was most in keeping with the infinite variety of subj ective individual talents, ambitions, circumstances, and industry. The Republic's one man, one art rule was false, and the modem economy knew that individuals did not fit by nature into one class, much less the one of their birth. One notices that · the s ystem of liberty's view is equal parts a critique of prescriptive, class-rooted determinations and an image of emancipated, therefore civically equal indi viduals pursuing their own paths in s ociety. What guidance, what view of human activity, does this system give to its freed members? That they are sufficient to determine for themselves what they are, what they ought to pursue, and how they are to go about this pursuit. And, for good measure, that their true interests nicely cohere with others ' . The s ystem of natural liberty maintains that human nature, especially men's interests, and s ocial harmony are naturally fitted. The key term of the s ys tem ofliberty, its chief descripti on of human activity, and main word of instruction and encouragement to individual men is "interest."34 Conceive your interest, pursue your interest, as you see fit, and all will go well for you, you will "better your condition." Manent elsewhere spells out the presuppositions and doctrine of"interest."35 One's interest is neither one's views or opinions or thoughts nor one's passions, even one's passion for life or commodious existence. It is oddly detached from these more obviously natural facets of our nature and being. Moreover, one's interest, as a motive or obj ect of

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deliberation and choice does not have the good or noble goal character of Aristotelian agency. Ofcourse it is close to the Aristotelian advantageous or useful. But "interest" lacks the useful's explicit link both to one's body, one's life, and to one's soul and the higher virtues and psychic activities, such as liberality and theorizing. Your interest is your interest however you conceive it and certainly we are not going to prescribe it to you. Manent is right to observe that "interest" combines a certain plausibility as a description and logic of human action with a great vagueness as to its motives, goals, and character.36 Interest, however, is not simply open-ended or wholly indeterminate until the self whose interest it is decides what it is. There is a bracing social dimension and character to it. Here is where the invisible hand enters the picture. One can be deluded about one's interest. The market, however, quickly will disabuse one and render one much more clairvoyant about what is truly in one's interest. You may want to make widgets, but without others' interest in your product, it is not in your interest to produce it. Thus, and this is the system ofnatural liberty's deepest claim about the providential character of the natural order, interest is intrinsically social, it is only when it is harmonious with others', my interest is also yours or it cannot be mine, and it is mutually, i.e., socially, beneficial or useful. To sum up, homo economicus is freed not only from the past and its strictures, but also from overdetermined perfectionistic views of human nature. To compensate, as it were, for this liberating vagueness, he is promised that his reasonable activity and social benefit are natural allies. In contrast, the systems ofcommand are constructed around expressly identified goods: the university and the pursuit of the truth; the military and national defense and patriotism; the Church and salvation; even business corporations aim at identifiable goods and services, along with profits. Manent is quite struck by the persistence and the straightforward endorsement ofnatural or human goods in these citadels. In some way or another, these institutions harbor substantive views of man, his nature and its good or goods. They merit a closer look. In the first place, these institutions are ordered to and by identifiable "finalities," specific goods, such as truth or national defense or eternal salvation. The good of each sets the tone for the structure and its members. This good and its pursuit inform a certain structure of activity, a certain form of agency. This (or that) good is grasped by a "specific rationality," one that correspondingly spins out the means-necessary, feasible, and desirable-for its attainment. Likewise, the good in question solicits a free response of attachment and service to it, and it is jealous of its sovereign rights. It resists extraneous factors interfering with the means and policies it wishes set up for its own promotion. There is, in other words, a "free content" to the human activities responding to the various goods and there are appropriate or "congenial motives" the goods generate in men's hearts. This form of"freedom," one should note, is not captured by the notion of freedom as "rights to." The sovereignty ofthe individual, and his freedom to or not to, is not the same as the sovereignty ofthe good, grasped by reason and informing man's free choice.

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All of the foregoing is "common sense and good-that is, Aris­ totelian-phi losophy." A glance at the opening lines of the Nichomachean Ethics and the Politics reveals Aristotle' s teleological consideration ofhuman agency and the cooperative "products" of many agents, the various communities ofthe human world. These great modem organizations still function in accordance with the structure of behavior Aristotle observed and analyzed twenty-four hundred years ago. All, of course, is not perfect, and this is so not merely because one' s boss is an idiot, or one' s priest has moral failings. The problem is more systemic. Manent sees these goods as significantly weakened in their new homes, the great organizations of modem society and, more broadly, the modem regime of liberty itself. Looked at structurally, i.e., in the interplay between the goods, human nature, and the hierarchical systems that house them, Manent notes that frequently, perhaps tendentiously, the hierarchical logic of the institution tends to override the "free content," the natural interconnection of free response, congenial motives, and specific good, that the pursuit of the good otherwise would possess. Moreover, Hobbes has taught us that institutions, as sites of command or power, necessarily will become obj ects of power-seekers, men who thus deflect themselves, the institutions, and their members from the specific, founding goods that are their raisons d 'etre. There is another source of weakening of the goods and their vigorous pursuit attached to these systems or institutions. The advent of modem society, of free men dissolved of traditional chains of command and social roles, also entailed the dissolution, or some form of attenuation, of the premodem bodies, chiefly noble Estates and the Church, that socially embodied and politically inscribed these finalities of man. With such corporate institutions stripped by the new principles of modern liberty, and the sovereign State, of their political authority, the goods they served lost their social-political moorings. Their new existence was both severed of political inscription, resources, and authority and more pure. The price of the latter was a more precarious social and ideological standing. Moreover, the various systems of command that did develop and that became the institutional homes ofthese goods, because they were separated onefrom the other in the regime of liberty, were weakened in the sense that they lost their coherence and obvious interconnection with one another. Even the great institutions of modem society are affected by splendid isolation. Finally, and Manent will never let us lose sight ofthis fundamental fact, all these goods and their institutions exist within the regime and its principles. They remain in principle optional obj ects of the free choice of morally and legally unobliged individuals. These goods are bounded by the principle of individual consent. They and their pursuit are authorized by the regime, but they are not invested with authority as they were in the pre-modem order of corporate command. Insofar as the goods and their spokesmen claim intrinsic compelling authority, the regime says, you can only go so far in making your claim. Manent's conclusion and concluding counsel thus come as no surprise. Modem

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liberty, either in the fonn of rights or interest, is a costly "abstraction and simplification ofhuman motives," ofhuman agency, and human being. The thrust of his remarks has been to expose this shortcoming. He presents his own case as an example. [W]hat we do cannot be accompanied only by the bland commentary that we have the right to do it and that we hope we will do even better next time. It is by any measure an insufficient public account of what we do. If we stay within the confines of this point of view, we necessarily fail the paramount human obligation of logon didonai. For instance, it is not sufficient, for justifying or defending this lecture, to say that my offer met your demand, or the other way around, and that I will try to do better next time, ifthere is one. But ifl stay within the confines ofthe system ofliberty, I am not authorized to say much more. The principle ofsubjectivity-my right, my way-is not self-sufficient. It must find some socially objective expression and inscription. (MLID, 227)

Man as the rational animal, thus the moral and political animal, continues to be an unavoidable way of describing what we are and do. Wherever in modem life versions of this remain, Manent looks upon them with favor and encouragement. His parting counsel to us Americans takes into account his judgment that as a people we tend to be conservatives, i.e., partisans of "the system of liberty," and thus somewhat prone to myopia when it comes to the homes of more substantial views of man. I would not counsel Americans to push too hard for the swift dismantling ofevery system ofcommand, particularly in Europe, where they still fulfill many worthy social tasks in a civilized manner. In Europe, old motives still linger on, without much strength, indeed, perhaps devoid ofsincerity. But people are thus reminded that there are ends that are desirable by themselves, because they are simply good or noble. Under what conditions these insubstantial longings could become the principle of meaningful public actions or individual expressions of high art, I do not know, and I admit that the prospects do not seem good. But you have to leave something to the gods or nature, without always sacrificing the possibility of doing things to the right of doing them. (MLID, 228-229)

III We have come to the end of our exposition ofManent's analysis of us today. One question is outstanding. Early on Manent indicated his distance from the partisans' conceptions of what is wrong and what is to be done with our common life and its authoritative framework. The aporia, the Gordian knot that ties the strands of our lives together in a puzzling way, is not the question of the primacy of state provision over individual freedom and responsibility, or vice versa. While such a

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conundrum is ofgreat importance, it is not in Manent's view the deepest difficulty of our condition. To see this latter difficulty requires us to step outside of our modem regime and its categories. It is not a total surprise, then, when Manent's explanation of this phrase, the Gordian knot, is found in his introductory essay to Heinrich Meier's book on Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss.37 Schmitt was a sworn lifelong enemy ofliberalism. His critical stance toward liberalism was dictated by his theological views. Whatever the merits of his theology and the political consequences he drew from them, his was a worldview and perspective that escaped the liberal church-state separation and relegation of religious belief, sentiment, and practice to the sphere of private opinion. As such it is a reminder of the challenge to liberalism of faith and its demands. Leo Strauss's relation to liberalism is more complex. During the Cold War he gave, and exhorted others to give, unhesitating allegiance to the cause of civilization over ideological barbarism, to liberal constitutionalism over scientific (sic) tyranny. And as a political scientist he pointed out to liberal democracy its need for a constitutional or Aristotelian political science as its friendly critic and thoughtful friend. However, Strauss's deepest concerns transcended politics and the great exigencies of the Cold War. He above all was concerned to revitalize the great quarrel between faith and philosophic reason. As a political philosopher he painstakingly retraced the arguments and history of its great debates and contributed his own thoughts to it. As a philosopher, reason was his "star and compass," and the sempiternal order and its mysterious reflection, the human soul, were his constitutive objects of reflections. Modem liberalism was but one rational account of these great topics, one that was owed respect, that is, the respect of a searching engagement with its leading exponents and arguments. One would not be divulging a secret if one observed that Strauss never found any of the modem philosophical articulations of liberalism-Hobbes's, Locke's, Berlin's, et cetera--compelling. It is in the company of these searching critics ofliberalism that Manent finds the intellectual space to set forth what he takes to be our "Gordian knot." The relevant passage should be cited at length. The great mind of Schmitt could have untied the Gordian knot-that of nature, grace and liberty-if he had not let himself be dominated throughout the course of his very long life by political impatience and moral indignation, ifinstead oftrying to find a decisive weapon against liberalism he had taken the care to elaborate an understanding of the human world which, because it was independent of [liberalism] could be simultaneously the judicious critic and sincere friend of liberalism, according to the aspect of the thing under consideration. Such a point of view in order to be politically effective would necessarily remain on the plane of nature; it would derive therefore not from "political theology" or Revelation, but from political philosophy and natural reason. It is what Leo Strauss will elaborate subsequently in his work. Whoever seeks to illumine the spiritual and political situation ofmodem

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times, our situation, is led to take into account at bottom three elements: the democratic and liberal movement with the rationality and irresistibility proper to it, the Christian religion and its history with the relations of affinity and opposition that attach it to liberalism, finally-as problematic and little plausible as it appears to us today­ the idea (present in some fashion even in Schmitt) ofa "natural order," of an "order of human things" in relation to which the history of liberalism and that of the Christian revelation could find their place and sense. Or again: we are carried away by the liberal democratic project, and by the history it opened up; we do not cease, we modern men, to affirm and to deny simultaneously Christianity; men, we live in a natural order. Nothing is more difficult, but nothing is more necessary than establishing the exact proportion among these three elements, with a complex map of their relations.

In a recent autobiographical statement, "On Historical Causality" ( 1994 ), Manent writes of himself: My work, described in the most general terms, thus consists in interpreting the modern movement, the condition of modern man, in accordance with a triangularization that takes seriously the ancient, modern, and Christian poles. And it is by taking seriously the Christian pole that I am able to escape from the alternatives of Straussian "naturalism" and Heideggerian "historicism," while preserving the phenomenon ofnature and that of history. Such in any case is my intent. (MLID, 2 1 3)

It seems that political philosophy has never had a more fascinating object for consideration than the modem democratic regime. Aristotle, as we have seen, is required to comprehend it. But even he falls short before the presence of Christianity and its history ofecclesial and ecclesial-political permutations and the unprecedented dynamism of the modem democratic order, that of modem liberty. No wonder that Pierre Manent has enlisted so many fine minds in his effort to comprehend our "spiritual and political situation" and no wonder that he has had to think new thoughts of his own.

IV Before we Americans pursue these thorny issues ofnature, history, and the claims of grace, perhaps I should say a few words of query and response about the views presented and claims made by Manent. 1. One notices quickly that he is rather Euro-, even Franco-centric in his perspective. Witness the contrast of the modern regime of liberty with the Old Regime in its absolutist phase. Certainly this is no fault in a Frenchman, but we Americans can and should ask, what about us? We didn't have an Old Regime to

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destroy or to displace. We have a constitutional order ofrights, republicanism, and federalism. How does our particular history and our particular political structure affect the applicability of his views and claims? In fairness, I think that his mode ofprocedure, starting with the phenomena, then moving to their root cause, the regime principle, and including the history of the people-and-political order (highlighted by comparison and contrast with comparable and quite different orders), is perfectly tailored to our distinct, complementary material. Likewise, as I indicated earlier, his presentation of modem liberty is emphatically secular. Our country, however, has traditionally linked rights to a divine source and a divinely ruled order. This difference must be explored, both theoretically and historically. (I suspect that Manent would respond, in part, with the observation that the effective truth and the current dominant understanding of rights is the secular one. I would be hard-pressed to dissent. 2. Manent equates modem liberty as individual rights with modem liberty as commercial society, the latter as articulated by Montesquieu and Smith. The latter slight or ignore natural rights; certainly the latter do not play the prominent role that they do in Locke and the American founding. Are there any important consequences of eliding the two accounts? Again, his identification or equation ofthe two is not without plausible reasons. Both share the modern abstractness concerning man and agency; both have as their key note, liberty; both presuppose or maintain that men are individuals in a radical sense, more rather than less self-sufficient, self-defining "social solitaries" (Allan Bloom). 3. Manent's major claim, as we've seen, is that modem liberal thought and the authoritative doctrine informing our common life and major institutions are inhumanly abs tract, afraid of or dubious about saying too much about man. As a result even obvious, important features of human being are ignored, slighted, sometimes denied. This thought, this version ofhuman being and agency, must be supplemented and corrected, if we are to have a public life worthy of what we know about ourselves and our fellows. Manent has indicated his view that this cannot be done from within liberalism. He, however, is too prudent a man and thinker to call for an explicit refounding of our regimes ofliberty. What then does he wish for us to do as good citizens, political scientists, and religious believers? What more precisely would a revivification of our political nature look like and entail? And what contribution to our spiritual and political problems would he like the Church, and churches, to make? Whatever Manent's-and our-response to these questions, one thing is clear at thisjuncture. Manent' s analyses ofour liberal democratic present and past amply demonstrate the philosophic matter for reflection that our regimes provide, as well as the illumination of our situation that political philosophy can provide in tum. Both politics and philosophy, and we as citizens and rational beings, have in Pierre Manent an admirable exemplar and guide.

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Notes 1 . Two Manent articles appeared in the collection New French Thought: Political Philosophy, ed. Mark Lilla (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1 994); The Intellectual History ofLiberalism appeared the same year from the same press. In 1996 Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield) was published. And in 1 998 two books appeared: The City of Man, again from Princeton University Press, and Modern Liberty and Its Discontents, a collection of articles, essays,

and lectures translated by Daniel J. Mahoney and myself and published by Rowman & Littlefield. 2. This is the title ofManent's introductory essay to the French translation of Heinrich Meier's Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss and la notion de lapolitique: Un Dialogue entre absents (Paris: Commentaire-Julliard, 1990). 3. "One can agree without too much difficulty as to the principal elements ofthe modern regime, namely, liberal democracy (they are legible in our institutions as well as books). All legitimacy is founded on individual or collective consent; men possess equal rights; law is sovereign; the state is distinct from society and is the latter's representative instrument." Manent, "The Truth, Perhaps," in Modern Liberty and Its Discontents (henceforth MLID), 36. In The Intellectual History ofLiberalism (henceforth IHL), 62-63, Manent writes: "Fully constituted liberalism, which is fully constituted doctrinally only with Montesquieu, is based on two ideas: the idea of representation and the idea of separation of powers. The idea of representation postulates that the only legitimate power is founded on the consent of those subject to power. In such a regime, all powers within civil society born from the spontaneous interplay of economic and social life or from traditions come to seem essentially illegitimate since they are not representative. Hence they are slowly but surely eroded." It is now three and a half centuries later in this process of erosion. 4. "C'est le liberalisme qui aujourd'hui fournit Jes termes dans lesquel Europeens et Americains formulent !es problemes de leur vie sociale, c'est Jui qui donne le ton. Une telle situation est inedite, en Europe continentale du moins. Depuis deux siecles en effet, le liberalisme y a connu une existence politique et ideologique continuellement precaire . . . . [Les] principes liberaux recoivent une adhesion plus ferme et plus generale que jamais." Manent, "Situation du liberalisme," Commentaire (1986): 388. This piece has not been translated into English. The above-cited portion reads as follows: "It is liberalism that today furnishes the terms in which Europeans and Americans formulate the problems of their social life, it is liberalism that sets the tone. Such a situation is unprecedented, at least in continental Europe. For the past two centuries in fact liberalism there has had a constantly precarious political and ideological existence. . . . Liberal principles [today] receive a firmer and more general adherence than ever." It should be noted that Manent penned these words before the fall of Communism. The latter event has only increased their truth. 5. In addition to the above-mentioned Tocqueville and the Nature ofDemocracy, one should mention "Democratic Man, Aristocratic Man, and Man Simply: Some Remarks on an Equivocation in Tocqueville's Thought," in MLID, 65-77. 6. Speaking ofthe "Aristotelian analysis ofhuman action and association" and the Politics in general, Manent writes: "Aristotle's Politics gives a description and analysis ofpolitical life that in a certain way is exhaustive-in any case more complete and subtle than any subsequent description or analysis. The bringing to light of the elements of the city, the critical and impartial analysis of the claims of the different parties, the exploration of the

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problem ofjustice, ofthe relations between liberty, nature, and law: the phenomenology of political life is presented without either prejudice or lacuna. Whoever wants to orient himself in the political world, for the sake of either action or understanding, finds in Aristotle's Politics a complete teaching." Manent, "Christianity and Democracy," in MLID, 101-2. 7. "The founders of modernity-Machiavelli, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau-had one thing in common: a radical and often fierce critique of Aristotle . . . Aristotle's philosophy was definitely the strategic bolt that had to be sprung. If the modem project was to be intrinsically possible and profitable, then Aristotle's philosophy had to be, quite simply, false." Manent, "The Modern State," in New French Thought (henceforth NFD, 124. 8. Both contained in MLID, 185-96 and 217-29. 9. "We do not reflect enough on the singular fact that we are the first people who wish to submit all the aspects ofthe world to a single principle . . . this principle is that ofliberty ." Manent, "Democracy without Nations?" in MLID, 192. I 0. "[lJn a world where the principle of consent increasingly is becoming a principle of political impotence and paralysis . . ." "For the point of view I am defending here is not the moral or religious one that reproaches modern man for having rejected natural or divine law. Rather, my perspective is political. Whatever man's latitude to define and to produce his conditions of existence, he is not the sovereign author of the human world. It is therefore dangerous, and above all logically contradictory, for him to act as ifhe were its sovereign author-which is precisely what he does when he grants exclusive legitimacy to the principle of consent." Manent, "Democracy without Nations?" in MLID, 193-94. 11. There is more than a little similarity between Manent's contention that modern democrats need to recognize the political, that is, "Aristotelian" character oftheir nature and Tocqueville's instruction to democrats that their form of society, and its influence on their minds and hearts, is dissolving of human integrity and greatness. Tocqueville exhorts modern democrats to choose to exercise political liberty, as the chief way to enlarge and elevate their minds and sentiments and to bring to liberal democracy the moral components required for its health and viability. Manent agrees with the Tocquevillian diagnosis and prescription. His understanding of man's political nature and the nature of the political, however, is more deeply indebted to Aristotle's analyses. 12. Manent, "On Modern Individualism," in MLID, 151-59. 13. "[W]hat is common in the strong, full, and almost sacred sense of that term is something whose embrace or appropriation transforms the individual by taking him beyond himself. Can we observe, discover, or in some way acknowledge that there is something-it would be precisely the 'public thing' (the common weal or res publica)-greater than ourselves? And can we hope that this public thing will make us greater than ourselves? Only with these two other questions in mind can we take the full measure of the magnitude and the gravity of the question: What is to be held in common?" Manent, "On Modern Individualism," in MLID, 159. In "Democracy without Nations?" Manent spells out his Aristotelian-inspired thought: "Man as a free and rational being cannot fulfill himself except in a political community, with all the consequences (not all ofthem pleasant) that this entails. It is in the political body, and only in the political body, that we seriously put things in common. And we are obliged 'to put things in common' in order to realize our membership in the same species, in order to concretize our universal humanity . . . . In the city all of the individual's faculties come into play. In the city people 'put in common actions and reasons,' as Aristotle puts it in his Nichomachean Ethics ( l 126bl 1-12)." Manent, MLID, 191.


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Manent's view of "the nation" and his advocacy of a renewed respect for and parti­ cipation in the nation's political life is informed by this Aristotelian view. "[A]s a political body the nation in Europe has succeeded, in a manner comparable only to the ancient city, in realizing the articulation of the particular and the universal. Each great action and each great thought produced by one of our nations was a challenge to and a proposal for the other nations, a proposal by humanity for humanity. . . . If the preceding might be seen as a defense of the nation, it is of the nation as a political body and not as an expression of particularity. . . . My hope, however, is at least to have shown that today one may still 'defend the nation' out of concern not for the particular but rather for the universal. The nation remains the indispensable form that gives concrete expression to our common human nature and aspirations." Manent, "Democracy without Nations?" MLID, 194-95. 14. Manent, "Recovering Human Attachments: An Introduction to Allan Bloom's Love and Friendship," MLID, 1 65. 15. "We cannot know ourselves without first understanding our situation. And we cannot achieve either without first recognizing ourselves as 'modems."' Manent, "The Truth, Perhaps," in MLID, 33. 1 6. See note 2. 17. The phrase, of course, is Solzhenitsyn's. Vaclav Havel has a wonderfully sardonic expression of this view: "The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use ofpower to manipulate is called the public control of power; and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack offree expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing." Vaclav Havel, "The Power ofthe Powerless," in Open Letters, Selected Writings 1965-1990 (New York: Vintage Books, 1992), 135-36. 18. "[B]ecause man is a moral and political animal, and even a thinking being who cannot live too far away from truth, there is, as a result of this failure to confront the nature of communism, a festering sore at the heart of Europe." Manent, "Liberalism and Conservatism," in MLID, 219. 19. See note 7. 20. See note 18. 2 1 . For one ofManent's accounts of how the modem liberal moral-political articulation of man as rights-bearer erodes and attenuates our recognition of this obligation and our capacity to meet it, see the last few pages of his "The Modem State," in NFT, 129-3 1. 22. When Manent thinks of, or engages in, a "phenomenology of democracy," he has in mind Tocqueville: "At the beginning of this regime an observer without a particular intellectual formation, basing himselfon no particular scientific discipline (and unable to be claimed by any), gave it an exact and exhaustive description. Better yet, the more that generations pass, the more that democracy grows in extension and comprehensiveness, the

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more Tocqueville's analysis grows in truth. . . . [In my Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy] I attempted to expound the coherence and amplitude of the phenomenology of democracy, to show how Tocqueville unfolds before our eyes the 'nature of democracy."' Manent, "The Truth, Perhaps," in MLID, 37-38. 23. As I reflected on what principle or principles might underlie Manent's description of us Americans, two came to mind. (I am content to defer to him concerning his country.) First of all, Manent seems to ask himself, how are we, generally speaking, in the domain of deeds and speech? The variety and dynamic character of the former most strike his eyes, while the abstract, general character of our talk comes to the fore in his listening. And money (and our relationship to it) quite reasonably is held to be a central phenomenon ofour commercial republic. The other guidepost I suspect Manent is following is Tocqueville himself, his predecessor and mentor. Much earlier Tocqueville had noted that we Americans are dynamically "restless in the midst ofour prosperity" (Pascal had helped him to penetrate into the psyches of the dissatisfied honest materialists we are). Likewise, in part 1 ofvolume 2 ofDemocracy in America, Tocqueville noted democratic peoples' addiction to general ideas; he devoted an entire chapter to this tendency among democratic historians. Pantheism, the radical denial of all distinctions, including the fundamental one between Creator and creation, was the logical culmination of this bent of the democratic mind. And finally, in his preface to The Old Regime and the Revolution, Tocqueville explained why he thought money and its pursuit necessarily occupy a central place in constantly changing democratic societies. 24. Tocqueville, too, as we have indicated, made the same move. However, his version has somewhat ofa different aspect or basis than Manent's. As is well-known, Tocqueville grounds his analysis ofmodem democratic life and ofmodem democrats' souls in his notion and analysis ofthe democratic "social state." This social state is characterized by "equality of conditions," both "material" and "intellectual." The democratic social state harbors an ascendant middle class whose members have attained "ease" or "well-being" by means of their "industry." They have attained "creature comforts," but must continue to work in order to maintain commodious existence. Similarly, because of widespread literacy and common educational sources, most members of this society have attained, roughly, the same level of intellectual cultivation and share basically the same moral, religious, and political views. However, Tocqueville goes on to say that one common view dominates the minds and lives ofdemocratic men and women, it is "the generative principle" of their lives and of the liberal democratic society within which they live. This principle is "the dogma of popular sovereignty." According to its teaching, each individual is deemed to possess the intellectual capacity sufficient to guide him in life, especially in those matters of"exclusive" concern to him. As we will see, this is the meaning Manent gives to the regime principle of modem democracy. 25. A good place to begin is his The Intellectual History ofLiberalism (1994). "The Modem State" (in NFn and the "Situation du liberalisme" provide succinct accounts of the motives and reasoning that led to the moral-political affirmation ofman as rights-bearer and as the sole source and object of legitimate political action. In The City ofMan (1998), the chapter on Locke entitled "The Hidden Man" analyzes Locke's effort to articulate man as rights-bearer (and self-creator) on the explicit basis ofa denial of the knowability of human nature or rational substance. 26. I should note that Manent' s exposition leaves out the Declaration's grounding ofman as rights-bearer in a richer anthropology that recognizes virtuous and vicious developments of man's nature, not to mention its ultimate rooting in a divinely created order. We will return to this issue.

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27. "From the eighteenth century on, England proved to the French that a society can exist and prosper without an independent church, without a king who really governs, without an exclusive nobility. English institutions, already a mixture of social authority and modem representation, stigmatized the French institutions, which remained characterized by political inscription. To the French observer [Montesquieu], English social cohesion appeared to arise solely from the interchange of the free activity of individuals, individuals who appeared disconnected from institutions. The hypothesis of modem representation appeared to be realized in England. There, contractual and thus nonpolitical relations seemed to suffice for social coherence. Civil society is self-sufficient, or at least it only needs a purely exterior and instrumental state, which limits itself to guaranteeing the rights of individuals. The liberty or sovereignty of the individual does not have to be instituted because it is identical to the spontaneity of his nature." Manent, "Totalitarianism and the Problem of Political Representation," in MI.JD, 1 28. 28. "My purpose, however, is not at all to establish or to refute any philosophical position. I simply wanted to give expression and a solution to the following difficulty contained in modem experience: if we adhere without any reservation to the modem experience of history, then man becomes at this point so different from himself that his very humanity is put in danger. If, on the other hand, we hold firm to the recognition of human universality, if we give voice to the sentiment of our shared nature across the modem difference-Homere est nouveau ce matin ("Homer is new this moming.")--we then risk becoming unfaithful to modem experience. One could say that modem men have a knowledge of human nature that is invincible to any form of historicism and that we have an experience of history that is invincible to any antihistoricism. In short, we are too natural for what we have of the historical, too historical for what we have of the natural." Manent, "The Truth, Perhaps," in MLID, 42. Elsewhere he writes: "I certainly do not believe that it is possible to understand the human world without having recourse to the notion of human nature. I am even ready, in order to defend this notion, to brave the jests and sarcasm ofthe learned. But it seems to me that the very description that Strauss gives ofthe modem movement, and in particular ofits propensity toward radicalization--of its accelerated movement, of a movement ever more in motion-poorly fits with this idea of nature." Manent, "On Historical Causality," in MLID, 2 12. 29. "(The Church] by its very existence and distinctive vocation . . . posed an immense political problem to the European peoples. The point must be stressed: the political development ofEurope is understandable only as the history of answers to problems posed by the Church, which was a human association of a completely new kind." Manent, IHL, 4. In "Christianity and Democracy: Some Remarks on the Political History of Religion, or, on the Religious History of Modem Politics" (MLJD, 97-1 1 5), Manent retraces the series of ''theological-political dispositions" that articulate European history. 30. Ofcourse, the description and analysis ofthis process in seventeenth- and eighteenth­ century France is the focus of Tocqueville's The Old Regime and the Revolution. Manent himself writes about commercial society: "Cette possibilite politique inedite a ete concue dans la demiere phase de l'Ancien Regime, la phase proprement 'absolutiste': la critique de l'absolutisme s'est fondee sur des developpements sociaux et politiques par lui abrites et meme induits. L'ordre europeen traditionnel, la 'feodalite', reposait, on I' a souvent note, sur une longue chaine de commandements. Au fur et a mesure que le pouvoir du prince s'etend, !es pouvoirs intrasociaux s'affaiblissent . . . Chacun est de moins en moins directement commande." Manent, "Situation du liberalisme," Commentaire (1 986): 390.

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In translation the passage runs as follows: "This unprecedented political possibility had been conceived during the last phase ofthe Old Regime, the properly 'absolutist' phase: the critique of absolutism had been founded upon social and political developments sheltered and even introduced by it. "The traditional European order, 'feudalism,' reposed, as has been often noted, on a long chain of command. To the extent that the prince's power expanded the intrasocial powers were weakened . . . . Each one was less and less directly commanded." 3 1 . After the tempest ofthe French Revolution, "the nation is born; it takes upon itselfthe attributes of the church; thus it is the vera perfectaque respublica found at last. . . . The nation inspired throughout Europe sacrifices that no king and no church had ever obtained." Manent, "Christianity and Democracy," in MLID, 1 1 1 . "To be sure, European nations had existed for a long time, but their particularity now burst forth with a new intensity and energy. They had almost died, or so they felt, but now they believed themselves reborn. And in fact, as a result of the Napoleonic enterprise and its ultimate failure, they were reborn. No longer were they merely nations in some passive sense, now they wished to exist as nations." Manent, "Democracy without Nations?" in MLID, 1 87. 32. "Le 'commerce' a au XVIIle siecle une acception plus large qu'aujourd'hui: le mot recouvre ce que nous appelons nous aussi commerce, et de plus une bonne part de ce que nous appelons 'civilization' ou 'culture,' breftout ce qui donne consistance au lien social independamment du commandement." Manent, "Situation du liberalisme," Commentaire ( 1986): 390. '"Commerce' has in the eighteenth century a wider meaning than today: the word covered what we also call commerce, and moreover a good part of what we call 'civilization' or 'culture,' in short everything that gives consistency to the social bond independently of command." 33. "Napoleon was defeated not only by his own inability to stay put, which created new enemies where none existed, but also by a third modem principle that, unlike revolutionary meritocracy and nationalism, worked against him rather than for him. This was the capitalist liberalism of England and of the global economy of the high seas and of intercontinental commerce, which not only gave Britain the resources to stand alone against a Europe dominated, in 1 807-9, by the Franco-Russian bipolar coalition, but also outcompeted the Continental powers in efficient use of resources and in geopolitical scope." David Gress, From Plato to Nato (New York: Free Press, 1998), 3 1 1 . 34. "Le maitre mot du systeme liberal, l'interet . . . " Manent, "Situation du liberalisme," Commentaire ( 1986): 393. "The key term of the liberal system, interest . . . " 35. "L'interet comme motif de !'action individuelle est indistinguable de la relation so­ ciale dans laquelle ii est efficace. II se distingue en cela de !'opinion et de la passion. . . . Mon 'inreret' est different de mes motifs; ii se confond avec le prix que le client, si client ii y a, va me donner. L'interet ou l'utilite, tels qu'ils reglent le marche, ne sont done ni opinion, ni passion, ni besoin, meme s'ils trouvent en eux leur premiere cause." Manent, "Situation de liberalisme," Commentaire (1986): 393. "Interest as the motive of individual action is indistinguisable from the social relation in which it is effective. It distinguishes itselfin this from opinion and passion. . . . My 'interest' is different from my motives; it is equivalent to the price that the client, ifthere is a client, is going to give me. Interest or utility, as they run the market, are therefore neither opinion, nor passion, nor need, even if they find in them their first cause." Writing in The City of Man about Adam Smith's magisterial treatment of the notion,


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Manent highlights the abstraction, the humanly impoverished abstraction, inherent in the concept of interest: this version of interest "leaves in the dark the nature of the satisfaction sought and obtained by rational parsimony; it does not determine the social and moral [content] of this desire which it continues to make the wellspring of human nature and history. Does economic man desire to become wealthy in order to be admired or to become ever more comfortable? In Rousseau's terms, is he 'reflexive' man or 'sensual' man? It seems that, far from providing an answer, Smith's great book-the first monument of political economy---does not even raise these questions and thus leaves the nature and character of the social bond completely undetermined" (89). "[T]he notion of 'interest,' already present in the French philosopher [Montesquieu], at this point is so inflated with 'explicative virtues' that, beneath the uniform gray of this abstract notion, the qualitative differences start to lose their contours and color" (96; translation amended for the sake of greater accuracy). 36. "Invoquant l'interet, les liberaux fondent leur construction sur un principe pas­ sablement abstrait---on a envie d'ecrire en marge de leur copie: vrai mais vague- , . . . ils designent un ressort universe! et puissant de !'action humaine-il faut ecrire aussi: vague mais vrai." Manent, "Situation du liberalisme," Commentaire (1986): 392. "Invoking interest, the liberals found their construction on an acceptably abstract principle-one is tempted to write on the margin of their text: true, but vague- , . . . they designate a universal and powerful spring of human action-[but] one must also write: vague, but true." Manent is not the only political thinker who has seen the centrality of the notion ofinterest for modern political thought and life. Harvey Mansfield Jr. has written a penetrating historical-analytic study of "Self-Interest Rightly Understood" (Political Theory, 1995). The history is articulated in this way: "Since all modern philosophers contributed to the doctrine ofthe passions and the interests-since, indeed, the doctrine could be said to define modern moral philosophy-we can do no more than trace its trajectory from its origin in Machiavelli, to its zenith in Montesquieu, and to its decline as a result of Rousseau's critique" (50). (Ofcourse, Tocqueville's classic treatment is rendered its due.) And then "passing from history to analysis, one may begin from the drastic simplification in the concept of interest" (55). Mansfield's analysis identifies "fourteen features of that simplifying concept." The first sets the tone for all that follow. "Your interest is abstract. . . . The question of what one ought to seek, of what is good for man is set aside and lost to view when pursuing one's interest" (56). Manent and Mansfield are alert to the fundamental fact that modern thought articulated itself against classical, especially Aristotelian-Christian, thought. Since the latter took its bearings by the human good, modern thought had to find new articulations of human being and agency. Interest, in its vague, low but solid, abstractness serves this purpose. 37. See note 2.

Chapter 10

A Postmodern Augustinian Recovery of Political Judgment Ashley Woodiwiss The Recovery of Judgment In 1983, Ronald Beiner lamented how "[w]e look in vain for a[n] . . . exhaustive analysis of political judgment proper in the entire course of western political philosophy."1 And yet a decade and a half later in his most recent work, Beiner refers to ''the political judgment thesis" as a generally recognized body of literature.2 What has happened? It strikes me that in the years between the publication of Beiner's two texts there have occurred changes in both the intellectual and political world that, taken together, have quickened the sense among political philosophers that political judgment ought to be recovered as a primary subject oftheoretical reflection.3 John Dunn in his aptly titled, Rethinking Modern Political Theory ( 1 985), put it succinctly: "What a political philosophy for the turbulent world of today and tomorrow needs at its center is a theory of prudence-a theory adequate to the historical world in which we have to live.'"' Dunn, too, points to empirical conditions in the political world as driving this theoretical urge. In sum, the world strikes us in some deep and meaningful ways as fundamentally different from that of the immediate post-WWII generation, which was linguistically ordered by such terms as "Cold War," "New Deal," "liberal," "deontic," "bipolar," "interest group liberalism," "rational bureaucratic," etc. In the new and unchartered seas upon which we are embarked, a number of thinkers argue that a deliberative praxis must replace static theoria if contemporary democratic societies are to avoid repeating past tragic political errors or committing future technologicaVideological terrors. Nevertheless the recovery of political judgment faces daunting cultural hurdles. As Ruderman points out:

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Ashley Woodiwiss Interest in political judgment arises from a widespread sense that something in our political culture and its principles tend to frustrate the exercise ofprudence. The diffusion ofresponsibility among competing branches ofgovernment; the growing scope of not-to-be-compromised rights, enforced by unelected and unaccountable judges; the omni­ presence of self-interest; the dominance of technical rationalism or expertise, deaf to political nuance or the benefits of a messy com­ promise: These and other trends have led to the situation in which the exercise of prudent judgment is seen either as willfulness or as naive reliance on "mere common sense" or "anecdotal evidence."5

Interest in politicalj udgment cuts across the political spectrum and occupies the efforts of exponents of civic or classical republicans (Sullivan, Sandel), participatory democrats (Barber), social democrats (Beiner), and liberal democrats (Salkever). There exist a number of themes in the contemporary literature: the conflict between theoria and phronesis; the critique of the modern liberal public square as inimical to the full fl ourishing of politicalj udgment; the democratization of the capacity for j udgment versus the elitist pretensions in expert claims of knowledge.6 But for my purposes here I draw on some points made by Beiner in his slim volume, Political Judgment, to bring into view certain characteristics that are associated with the term. What does it mean to exercise political j udgment? In his "closing reflections" Beiner recognizes that taking political j udgment seriously is to revive the classical understanding of politics as essential to human fl ourishing. While p olitical j udg ment is concerned with political partic ulars, it cannot, to be true to its nature, stop there. Rather, political j udgment is situated within a narrated whole. Thus, for Beiner: "Political j udgment in the fullest sense confronts particulars in the light of the whole, namely the whole of what is meaningful and important to human beings."7 Judgment on what Aristotle called "ultimate particulars"(here, political particulars) is and can only be carried out in the context of a narrative that brings into view a fuller account ofthe Human Good. That is, there are no ( political)/acts as such, but only facts-as-they-are-situated-in­ a-narrated-whole. And it is the work ofj udgment to so situate these "facts" and then interpret them. But j udgment cannot be fully apprehended by definitions or analysis. Its way and manner of knowing distinguishes to other modes of knowing subj ect to scientific description, for "[p] oliticalj udgment discloses itself only in exemplary performance."8 As such, it is a social practice (in Maclntyre' s terms) that is constituted in part by those virtues and skills that are held in common by its participants. And part of what is held in common is the shared recognition of what counts for excellence in the practice. So, Beiner states: we know what political judgment is, in this sense, only when we encounter exemplars (or examples) of judgment, that is, men and women who judge with impeccable consistency and skill, who have mastered the issues from every possible angle, and who embody the full ensemble ofqualities needed to render the appropriate verdict. We shall

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grasp the nature of political judgment only when we are presented with exemplary judges of political affairs.9

Such exemplary judges open the political imagination, causing us to see in new ways and to imagine new possibilities hitherto hidden from view. Not just is understanding deepened, but being-in-the-world is enriched. Political judgment encourages those "better angels of our nature." In this light, political judgment possesses a serious ontological concern: "One might say that political judgement requires a knowledge of the human soul."10 Following Beiner, I seek to demonstrate how St. Augustine in his City of God does in fact exemplify just the qualities of political judgment that Beiner (and the political judgment literature more broadly) point to as the kind of thinking about politics and the human good necessary for our own day. In his City of God, Augustine demonstrates an exemplary form of political judgment in his account of how to think about the sack of Christian Rome. As we shall see, he situates this event in a broader narrative ofGod's providential ordering of history and human affairs; a narrative that reflects an ontology of peace. Augustinian political judgment, against the pagans, locates peace as ontologically prior, and thus rejects the pagan agonistic construal of the political as ineliminably violent.

Approaching Augustine As noted above, "the political judgment thesis" has developed a broad intellectual currency. Not surprisingly, recent scholarly efforts consider such usual sources as the classical Aristotle and Plato and the medieval St. Thomas. But as well modems such as Heidegger and Arendt, and even postmodems such as Lyotard, are being mined for their insights concerning the practice ofpolitical deliberation. 1 1 What has been surprising is the omission of St. Augustine from this literature. This is especially surprising given the recent revival ofinterest in St. Augustine within the domain ofpolitical philosophy. 12 The closest such efforts are found in recent works on Augustine's hermeneutics. 13 Why such an absence? I think the reasons are simple and twofold: first, unlike Aristotle's concept ofphronesis or St. Thomas's discussion of prudentia, Augustine nowhere explicitly treats the activities of the mind when it comes to political deliberation. Given Augustine's straightforwardly apologetic and theological concerns in Civitas Dei, it is easy to come to the conclusion that deliberation on political particulars is not part of his critical apparatus. The absence of such an explicit account tends to lead modem interpreters, or so I maintain, to read Civitas Dei largely in terms of "principles"; that is, to view Augustine as setting out universal rules or categorical claims, when in fact something else more subtle may in fact be at work in the text. The other problem is a textual problem. As Paul Weithman observes: Remarks about politics can be found in a number of [Augustine's] works, but the different concerns that gave rise to those works, the

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Ashley Woodiwiss different views expressed and the span of time over which they were written make virtually impossible the isolation of a political theory which could be described as Augustine's considered view. 14

Apparently, errors ofomission and commission confront any effort to delineate an Augustinian theory of political judgment. However, with respect to omission I attempt to show that St. Augustine in The City of God demonstrates an implicit account of political judgment. That is, with a careful reading of text and context, I believe it can be demonstrated that Augustine's account of political judgment emerges from within the text of the City of God. That is, the Bishop of Hippo's magnum opus bears the marks ofa "fully realized account of political judgment." With respect to commission I limit my account to those passages within Civitas Dei that Peter Burnell maintains are the generally held loci classici for getting at Augustine's political thought. 1 5 In what follows, I follow the lead ofJohn Milbank, whose Theology and Social Theory has done so much to reposition Augustine back into the mainstream of political philosophy. Milbank identifies his overall project as a case of "postmodern critical Augustinianism." 16 In Theology and Social Theory Milbank is involved in the (re)constructing ofa metanarrative account of social and political theory antique, modem, and postmodern through the lens of Augustine's City of God. By way of an all too brief summary ofMilbank's complex and challenging work, what can be seen in Theology and Social Theory is the author's placing all ofWestern political and social thought in "a narrative underwritten by an ontology of violence that none of its indigenous critics overcome." 1 7 Over and against this narrative, Milbank pits the countemarrative ofAugustine, a narrative underwritten by an ontology ofpeace. For Milbank, the City of God in Augustine is instantiated by the Church. Thus, Christian theology/ecclesiology operating at once both as sociology and political philosophy rests on a massive claim: "[T]o be able to read, criticize, say what is going on in other human societies, is absolutely integral to the Christian Church, which itself claims to exhibit the exemplary form of human community."18 For Milbank then, Augustine, with his text City of God, stands as an exemplar ofjust how Christian thinkers ought to think and be in the world: In my view, a true Christian meta-narrative realism must attempt to retrieve and elaborate the account of history given by Augustine in the Civitas Dei. . . . A re-reading of the Civitas Dei will allow us to realize that political theology can take its critique, both of secular society and of the Church, directly from out of the developing Biblical tradition, without recourse to any external supplementation. For within Augustine's text we discover the original possibility of critique that marks the western tradition, ofwhich later Enlightenment versions are, in certain respects, abridgements and foundationalist parodies. 19

Taking my cue from Milbank, I portray Augustine as an exemplar of political judgment. But the identification of these exemplary qualities is found not by a formal presentation by the author himself, but in the piecing together of

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Augustine's discussion. Thus, I set out for our considered judgment, Augustine in action.

Augustine and the Making Strange of Political Judgment Political Judgment as a Deconstructive and Narrated Practice [Civitas Dei, Book 11.29) 20 Augustine's massive and extended work of political theology confronts at least three problematics-that of pride, ignorance, and distortion-that complicate his effort to fully explicate an interpretation of the sack of Christian Rome. The recourse to "providential mystery" can work for the ignorant and questioning faithful, and the "Rule of Faith" can discipline unruly Eusebian theologians, but what works for the pagan critics of the Christian narrative? I suggest that it is within this last domain of rhetorical activity that we get the best glimpse of Augustine's political judgment. I say this because of the "horizon problem" that just such an encounter produces. Augustine can appeal to both the ignorant and the unruly Christian audiences by means of shared understandings from within their Christian narrative. But what about the pagans who resist such appeals? Augustine must approach this situation differently and, one is tempted to say, politically. By that I mean, he must be able to size up the particulars of the situation and just how a specific mode of(rhetorical) action must be employed in service to the questions of identity, means and ends that serve as the basic elements of all political judgments. That is, contra pagani, St. Augustine must demonstrate how their opposed readings ofthe political text (here the sack ofChristian Rome) take place within the context of differing narratives as to the nature of the political and the Human Good. Book 11.29 is illustrative of Augustine's approach to the pagans. At once what is striking is how Augustine turns the tables on his pagan antagonists. Rather than allowing the collapse of Christian Rome to position Augustine on the defensive, he goes on the offensive and positively invites the pagans to leave the Rome of their narrated mythos and to become citizens of the City of God: "It is to this country that we invite you, and exhort you to add yourself to the number of our citizens. The refuge we offer is the true remission of sins." The problem with the pagans is that they simply cannot understand how to read the signs of the times. Imbedded within their pagan and agonistic understanding ofthe divine nature and the human condition, they appraise the fall of Christian Rome as vindication, a triumphing of pagan power over Christian power. But Augustine inserts an alternative read. This political particular ought to be seen in terms not of vindication but of invitation; that is, the cataclysm must be re-described, not as pagan triumphalism, but as Divine opportunity. From the collapse and destruction of Christian Rome, there can be discerned the doorway to a higher and more noble


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way ofbeing in the world, just as the "never again" ofpost-Holocaust thought aims to re-educate and re-situate modem citizens in order that a life and world-affirming lesson can be derived from that great evil event. Augustinian political thought thus works to open the political imagination, moving it away from a preoccupation with power and dominium and toward that of life-affirming being. But the moment of opportunity may pass. The "blessing" of disaster is that it, momentarily, shocks us out ofour complacent description ofhow the world works. But human nature being what it is, a new complacency will soon settle in and the advantageous moment may be missed. So Augustine urges his pagan interlocutors: "Choose now which course to follow, so that you may receive men's praise without illusion, not for what you are in yourself but in the true God." A key work of political judgment is to seize on the right reading of the particular moment, to understand just what possibilities exist (here by Augustine referenced to salvation and a re-located citizenship) and the necessity for making a break with those traditions that captivate our imagination, potentially blocking us from attaining the good. Thus, a fully realized political judgment must in some ways take part in a work of deconstruction; that is, an unmasking of particular readings ofthe political text as inimical to a more noble way of being in the world. One thinks here of Vaclav Havel's efforts in post-communist Europe to ground the democratic spring in transcendence by uprooting the Enlightenment account of human nature and behavior. Twice in II.29, St. Augustine likens the pagans, locked in their narrative community, unto sleepers: "Awake! The day has come." And again, "Now become fully awake!" St. Augustine reads the sack ofChristian Rome as an opportunity for a re-renewed understanding of the nature of the world and of being in the world. But to get the pagans to see it requires a deconstructive effort. Thus, as Augustine puts it in book III, 14, a necessary part of political judgment is unmasking the alternatives: "Let us strip off the deceptive veils, remove the whitewash ofillusion and subject the facts to a strict inspection." Such deconstructive work discloses a true reading of the political moment, one that makes possible (by imagination and act) the redemption of the community. In a tone and method hauntingly resonant with the postmodern "hermeneutic of suspicion," Augustine situates political judgment in the contestation ofnarratives. Facts, neutrality, objectivity, history wie es eigentlich gewesen ist, all disappear in the recognition that our "seeing" is deeply enmeshed in the "narrated communities" whereby we link "ultimate particulars" to our(particularistic, local, and narratively constructed) "human best." Whether it is health care or Bosnia, Kosovo or the environment, when we deliberate we do so in the context of a narrated whole; it cannot be otherwise. In Augustinian political thought, such deliberation partakes of an ontology either of violence or of peace. Both "situate" the facts and drive our interpretation of them, shaping our political imaginations and disclosing the limits ofpolitical possibility. The problems with the pagans, in Augustine's view, is that they are blind to the very nature of being. How this plays out in the realm of the political, Augustine demonstrates in his discussion of justice.

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Political Judgment and the Mislocation ofPolitical Goods [Book IV] Book IV.4 c ontains perhaps the most oft-quoted passage from Civitas Dei: "Remove j ustice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale? What are criminal gangs but petty kingdoms?" This passage, along with his revision of Cicero' s definition of the commonwealth ( found at 11.21 and XIX.2 1), has led most commentators to the discussion ofAugustine' s analysis ofj ustice and j ust war, concluding with his rej ection of the former from any temporal realization and only an argument from necessity for the latter.21 Thus, the standard account has St. Augustine reading j ustice out of temporal politics. But I think a closer reading reveals that Augustine may be after something a bit more subtle than what the standard acc ount leaves us with. The broader c ontext for book IV.4-5 is a discussion of how pagan pre-Christian Romans misidentified what truly counts as political goods. However, when Augustine banishesj ustice he may be making a local or contingent argument about the absence ofj ustice in the specifically Roman Empire, and not an argument on the ontological impossibility ofj ustice due to (fallen) human nature. Roman pagans are faulted in their political j udgments because they have mislocated what truly ought to be sought/praised and what is to be avoided/blamed in the political life of the community. Better j udgment on their part might have made the proj ect of j ustice more realizable. Let us follow this out in some detail. In the preceding chapter (IV.3), Augustine c onfronts the pagan account of pre­ Christian Rome' s great expanse and empire. But he intentionally re-focuses the discussion: "But I should like to preface the inquiry with a brief examination of the following question." His question gets to the heart of a central preoccupation in political j udgment, that is, with a concern for rightly identifying what are the proper goods with which politics ought to be concerned. What is the proper source for political pride and boasting? He posits the alternatives as either (following the pagan account) "the extent and grandeur of empire" or (following his own) "happiness." Augustine here acknowledges the necessity for j udgment and provides an analogical model that he considers superior to the rhetorical c lai ms set forth by the pagans: "To help us form our j udgment let us refuse to be fooled by empty bombast, to let the edge of our critical faculties be blunted by high-sounding words like ' peoples,' ' realms,' ' provinces.' Let us set before our mind' s eye two men. . . ." Here Augustine traces out the contrast between the virtues of the man of " middle station" and the vices of the "rich man." The former is "content with his strictly limited resources," while the rich man is "tortured by fears, worn out with sadness, burnt up with ambition." He then concludes: It is the same with two families, two peoples, or two realms. The same canon ofjudgment applies as in the case ofthe two men. Ifwe apply the canon scrupulously, without allowing our judgment to be warped, we shall not have the slightest difficulty in seeing where true happiness lies, and where an empty show.


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What is important here is to recognize that Augustine seems to be implicitly arguing that realms ifthey are rightly constituted, may indeed possess a measure (at least) ofhappiness (and by classical extension, justice). The problem with pagan Rome lay in its refusal to remain a middling state and to become, rather, an empire. Avarice, glory, and ambition overcame the possibility of "a contented life." It is in this context that Augustine proceeds to the more well-known comments concerning "kingdoms without justice" (IV.4) and the revolt of the gladiators (IV.5). I suggest that Augustine gives us here evidence that his concern is not so much withjustice as with the proper formation ofjudgment. Ifl am correct, then perhaps modern commentators have overplayed the theme of justice and ought to look afresh at what Augustine is really doing in these chapters. Note how the passage on justice and empire immediately follows on his analogy based on size as set out in the previous chapter. That is, Augustine links the problem of securing justice to the scale of the Roman Empire, which is likened unto the rich man, who though he "enormously swells his patrimony," yet by this increase "he heaps up a load of further anxiety and bitterness." Now the revolt of the gladiators, led by Spartacus, comes into play, but not as some commentators have thought, as an indication of St. Augustine's attitude toward rebellion or revolution.22 For here Augustine does not stress the injustice of the Roman regime, but itsfragility due to its bloated condition: What I want to say is that when the Roman Empire was already great, when she had subjugated many nations and was feared by all the rest, this great Empire was bitterly distressed and deeply alarmed, and had the utmost difficulty in extricating herself from the threats of overwhelming disaster.

It was in this context that "a tiny handful of gladiators" became "an object ofdread to the soaring might of Rome," and their defeat was "only achieved with the greatest difficulty." Why was this? Again, hearkening back to chapter 3, Augustine has already suggested that the boasting of the pagans concerning Rome's previous greatness and empire was a misunderstanding as to that empire's true condition. For all its greatness, the empire "had the fragile brilliance of glass," and its boasted joy in domination was "outweighed by the fear that it might be shattered in a moment." This was the lesson of the gladiator revolt. Empires are constitutionally incapable of justice because they are governed by overmastering and vicious passions. For St. Augustine, not only had the pagan critics of Christian Rome misunderstood the true nature ofthe earlier pagan empire, but they had mislocated true political goods. Blinded by its libido dominandi, pagan Rome had made itself great. But in so doing it had become like Augustine's rich man, who, tortured by so much anxiety and swollen by so much ambition, was neither just nor could secure justice. Augustine's contemporary pagan critics were merely repeating this misjudgment in their claim that Christianity had itself been the cause of the weakening ofthe empire. But Augustine inverts the scale. The middling man, "the

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ordinary citizen," who is content with his strictly limited resources not only possesses a sturdier constitution than the weak and fragile man of wealth, but just by being so content makes the possibility for justice more immediate. While St. Augustine would not locate fully realized justice within the horizon of temporal politics, I do claim that Augustine's political judgment holds that if such were possible (or even the best approximation of it), it could only be secured in the middling regime of contentment.23 Indeed, St. Augustine returns to and extends this argument in the fifteenth chapter of book IV. There he actually employs the language of justice to acknowledge the preferred political arrangement: The empire would have been small indeed, if neighboring peoples had been peaceable, had acted with justice, and had never provoked attack by any wrong-doing. In that case, human affairs would have been in a happier state; all kingdoms would have been small and would have rejoiced in concord with their neighbors.

Is the qualifier, if, merely a rhetorical concession that has no real ontological status of being realized, or does it reflect Augustine's acknowledgment of the contingent condition of (some level of) in/justice in the world? If St. Augustine was willing to grant pagan philosophy some efficacy and access to truth (though admittedly not the full veritatis splendor) then by extension cannot the same be granted to temporal politics? The problem with the Roman Empire here was not that it was Roman but that it was an empire. The pagans had mislocated political goods. Borrowing from MacIntyre's idea of social practice we might say that for St. Augustine, the pagans had focused on the goods external to the practice of politics (wealth, power, reputation) and abandoned its internal goods (civic contentment, peaceableness, concord, justice). Theirs was an error ofpolitical judgment.24 Justice cannot be secured through a civil mythos of glory.

When Indifference Becomes a Virtue [Book V.17] Often found in the standard reading of City ofGod is a related claim that Augus­ tine was indifferent to the nature of the political realm. For instance, R. A. Markus commenting on Civitas Dei book V.17 notes a sense of detachment that "here amounts almost to indifference to secular institutions."25 And again, at first blush, this does indeed seem to be the case, for in book V. 17 Augustine states: As for this mortal life, which ends after a few days' course, what does it matter under whose rule a man lives, being so soon to die, provided that the rulers do not force him to impious and wicked acts? . . . As far as I can see, the distinction between victors and vanquished has not the slightest importance for security, for moral standards, or even for human dignity.

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But as Augustine might himself say, appearances can be deceiving! I would suggest that rather than this passage being read as Augustine adopting the position of"indifference," he is in fact pointing to the disposition necessary for the proper work of public service. That is, "indifference" is a means not an end in Augustine's thought. Like the discussion of justice above, we see Augustine in book V not involved in making a categorical argument but rather subtly contending against the pagan claim of what does and does not count in the practical political life. Augustine is not indifferent to the public realm, rather he is concerned that his readers understand how one's appetites are to be rightly ordered to best serve the public realm. Again we must consider the context and the line of argument. The context for the "indifference" statement ofV. l 7 is Augustine's analysis of the moral character of the ancient Romans that begins in V.11 with the theological claim of God's providential ordering of all of Creation-temporal kingdoms included-and continues through to his celebration of the Christian Emperor Theodosius in V.26, which ends the book. The key I think lies in the nature ofhis argument. In brief, what Augustine provides is an analysis of three separate qualities of character or motive virtues that each incline its possessor toward a particular political self-understanding and consequent practice. In this context, I would suggest "indifference" functions for Augustine not as a conclusion or attitude taken toward all forms of political regimes, institutions, etc., but rather as the particular quality of character he identifies as necessary for the best administration or practice of temporal politics. Indeed I think it can be clearly demonstrated that in book V Augustine employs a comparative analysis in which a particular "master passion" is isolated and analyzed for its political effects. He then considers each isolated quality for the purposes ofmaking the judgment as to which "passion" can best serve the civitas terrena. In doing so, he demonstrates not that he is indifferent to the political realm at all; rather, he is deeply concerned with the quality of political rule. Throughout Civitas Dei Augustine stresses the inscrutability of God's purposes as He providentially orders history. God does not permit "that He should have willed the kingdoms of men, their dominations and their servitudes, to be outside the range ofthe laws ofhis providence" (V. 1 1 ). And as Augustine concludes, "This being so we must ascribe to the true God alone the power to grant kingdoms and empires" (V.21). However, as Augustine himself catalogues, providential history does strike the casual observer as ofttimes inexplicable. For with respect to kingdoms, God grants them to the good and to the evil "when he willed and in the measure he willed." The same pertains to particular rulers: God has given the throne to the glorious Vespasian and to the evil Domitian, to the good and to the cruel (V.21). It is thus not surprising to hear Augustine concede: But to examine the secrets of men's hearts and to decide with clear judgment on the varying merits of human kingdoms-this would be a very heavy task for us men, a task indeed far beyond our measure. (V.2 1 )

A Postmodern Augustinian Recovery of Political Judgment


But in fact, closer observation reveals that the history of an empire can indeed be instructive, and real knowledge can be secured, for "the one true God . . . never leaves the human race unattended by hisj udgment or his help" (V.21). What then is the lesson to be learned from the long history of the Roman Empire? Augustine' s read of Rome' s imperial history is to identify three "master passions" that have at different times governed the empire to differential political results. Each virtue (real or so-called as we' ll see in Augustine' s account) has a differentiated impact in "service to the earthly city" (V. 19). First, and appearing earliest in history, was the fabled Roman love of glory. The (ancient) Romans who founded the empire "were passionately devoted to glory; it was for this that they desired to live, for this they did not hesitate to die" (V. 12). To attain glory they first had to secure Rome's freedom ( and thus can be understood her early republican period). But liberty was not the end, j ust the necessary precondition for their greater ambitions. For ''when liberty had been won ' such a passion for glory took hold of them' that liberty alone did not satisfy-they had to acquire dominion" (V. 12). This master passion, ''the desire for glory," worked itself out in Roman history by developing a number of self-denying virtues. Indeed, St. Augustine describes in glowing terms the conduct of these men of virtue, who by restraining baser passions made themselves, if not saints, at least "less depraved men." What did they accomplish? Augustine instructs his Christian readers to ponder the great acts of the early Romans who served their country for the sake of honor, denying their own comforts, conveniences, and, at times of heroic sacrifice, even their own lives willingly in order "to have a kind of life after death on the lips of those who praised them" (V. 14). Augustine summarizes the early history of the empire, a history characterized by this governing passion of the love of glory, as having a twofold intent: Accordingly, it was that Empire, so far-spread and so long-lasting, and given lustre and glory by the heroic quality of its great men, that gave them the return they looked for as a recompense for their resolution, while it sets before us Christians examples whose message we cannot but heed. (V. 1 8)

A second "master passion" however came to characterize the Roman Empire at a later moment in its history. Where the desire for glory characterized the ancient Romans, those closer to Augustine's own time were not motivated by "the good opinion of enlightened j udges" but fearlessly sought to accomplish their heart' s desires "by the most barefaced crimes." Such rulers were governed by "the desire for domination" (V. 19). Augustine' s discussion here of the Roman libido dominandi is brief. But in fact it forms the heart of his critique, not only of pagan Rome but for the whole of the Earthly City. Augustine's contrast between ontological antagonism and ontologica\ peace is grounded in the contrasting historical narratives of the two cities. The Civitas terrena is marked by sin, which means, for


Ashley Woodiwiss Augustine, the denial of God and others in favour of self-love and self­ assertion; an enjoyment of arbitrary, and therefore violent power over others-the libido dominandi.26

In V. 1 9 Augustine is concerned to situate the "desire for domination" specifically within the context ofhis examination ofgoverning passions and what they do to/for the political life. Augustine begins his examination with the recognition that "a slippery slope" exists between the more noble love ofglory and the base desire for domination. The difference comes in the set of limiting conditions noted above; i.e., the due regard (or not) for the opinion of enlightened judges of human character and acts, and the proper restraint (or not) over one's appetites and corresponding actions. "On the other hand, the man who despises glory and is eager only for dominations is worse than the beasts, in his cruelty or in his self­ indulgence" (V.19). It was Nero, he states, who "first scaled, as it were, the heights of this vice, and gained the summit." Augustine then concludes this brief examination with the clear judgment that those who possess the love of glory "are of more service to the earthly city . . . than if they are without it" (V. 19). But Augustine is not finished. He swiftly moves on to assert that the happiest situation for mankind would be government by those who are under the master passion of neither (secular) glory nor domination, but of a passion of quite a different order-the desire for piety. Truly pious rulers, even when they possess the skills and arts for good rule, nevertheless "attribute to the grace of God whatever virtues they may be able to display in this present life. . . . At the same time they realize how far they fall short of the perfect righteousness, such is found in the fellowship of the angels, for which they strive to fit themselves" (V. 19). And it is precisely here where, I think, the significance of the V. 1 7 "indifference" passage must be located. Augustine is quite clear that it is a positive "good" for the Earthly City that, when and where possible, Christians who can should rule. And indeed, as he makes clear, their rule is to them not a matter of indifference. Rather, in the well-known "mirror of the prince" passage in V.24, Augustine describes the "blessed" Christian emperor as one who "rules in justice"(!); extends the worship of God; possesses appropriate love for their kingdom; takes vengeance on wrong-"because of the necessity [my emphasis] to direct and protect the state"; grants pardons; mingles mercy with judgment; etc. His conclusion: such emperors are those "whom we call happy; happy in hope, during this present life [my emphasis], and to be happy in reality hereafter" (V.24). Augustine strikes me as making a clear description of precisely the kind of political rule that best fits the Earthly City. Rather than being indifferent toward the political realm, Augustine demonstrates in his description of the Emperor Theodosius (V.26) the peculiar benefits for the political realm under the government of"religious humility." It is characterized, as embodied by Theodosious, with "the love of doing good," a proper confidence, a "respectful compassion," a respect for enemies, grief over civil strife, just and compassionate legislation. Not that the Christian ruler rules infallibly. Mistakes will be made. However, most tellingly in Augustine's eyes was how Theodosius's "religious humility" made him receptive to correction following

A Postmodern Augustinian Recovery ofPolitical Judgment


the incident at Thessalonica. Such a ruler not only brings blessing to the realm but also earns for the ruler "eternal happiness" (V.26). What then of V . 1 7? How do we understand the claim of Augustinian indifference? Burnell agrees with Markus that the clear force of V.17 is to draw "our minds away from politics to higher things." But he goes on to argue that such does not necessarily amount to indifference to secular institutions. Rather, Burnell argues, the sentence must be read as hypothetical: "So the possibility is still left open . . . that politics (as such) can have great moral importance of a kind, both for the rulers and for the ruled.,m Indeed, I would push this even further and argue that in Augustine's judgment, politicsjust does have great moral importance. His analysis of three different loves (glory, domination, and piety) leads him to the conclusion that the best kind of politics for the Earthly City is one informed by religious humility. "Indifference" functions for Augustine as the opposite to the "praise of men," which animates the desire for glory, or the "heart's desire," which animates the man eager for domination. It is an orienting condition, a priming disposition, if you will. For Augustine, "indifference" to the praise and actions of men is the sine qua non for public service rightly understood. One simply cannot have the kind of piety necessary for beneficial service to the Earthly City unless one is indifferent to what men can do to you, their praise, their blame, and ultimately their power of life or death over you. Like his considerations on justice, Augustine in book V possesses a supple line of argument. It is not at all clear that Augustine stands indifferent to secular political institutions. On the contrary he seems concerned to identify those "civic virtues" that best equip individuals who participate in temporal political institutions.

Tranquilitas Ordinis as Embodied Practice [Book XIX) We come finally to book XIX, the book that in Oliver O'Donovan's view makes "City of God a text of continuing interest to students of Western political thought who know nothing else ofAugustine."28 While there is much in this lengthy book, I draw particular attention to those passages wherein Augustine draws our attention to the great theme ofChristian eschatology, the ultimate state oforder and harmony that Augustine calls the "tranquility of order." Specifically, I want to consider how Augustine's tranquilitas ordinis functions in practical opposition to the libido dominandi. Having identified and named the latter, Augustine overcomes it through his account of a greater peace made possible. The ontology ofviolence is not the only possible narrative for the world of temporal affairs. As such tranquilitas ordinis points to an alternative "reading" of politics, one that rejects the necessity of violence. We are introduced to the phrase tranquilitas ordinis ("the peace of order") at chapter 13 ofbook XIX. It arises in that portion of the book wherein the saint both affirms the pagan philosopher Varro's claim that the good life is social but claims


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that the Christian narrative includes a superior account: "When they wish to say that the wise man's life is a social one, we agree, and we say it much more clearly than they do." His tranquilitas ordinis follows on a cataloguing of the various kinds of peace: the peace of the individual body, the peace of the irrational soul, the peace of the rational soul, the peace of a duly ordered life, the peace betwixt God and man, the peace between men, the peace of the home, city, and state, "the peace ofthe Heavenly City [which] is a perfectly ordered and perfectly harmonious fellowship in the enjoyment of God." He concludes: "the peace of the whole universe is the tranquility oforder-and order is the arrangement of things equal and unequal in a pattern which assigns to each its proper function" (XIX.13-my emphasis). Such a peace, however, the world-