I actually think the Dr. Pat Deneen post referenced by Voegelian Bob below is too over-the-top to command a detailed response. Let it stand as a singular work of art. But if I were to respond, I would out its Heideggerian Marxism. According to Heidegger, the United States and the Soviet Union were metaphysically the same. They are both technology and nothing but. From that view, Deneen seems to believe that the victory that President Reagan was so savvy in helping to engineer over the Soviet Communism was meaningless; his accomplishments were on behalf of techno-liberation and nothing but. The American virtue that victory displayed is an illusion; modern freedom inevitably erodes into nothingness every human purpose above productivity or power (as Marx and Heidegger agree). The Cold War was a showdown between two techno-empires, and Deneen predicts the final result, ironically, will be the displacement of the American empire by the Chinese empire—because of its superior techno-ruthlessness.

I might also say that modern freedom is both better and worse than classical republicanism. In the final analysis, I think, it’s probably more Christian. The ancient city regarded particular persons as citizens or “city fodder” and nothing more. It’s authoritative discrediting was done by St. Augustine.

The closest thing the Americans ever had to the classical republicans were the Puritans. They were in fact very civic-minded egalitarian idealists, and they displayed virtues that were neglected during our more Lockean founding. The Puritans were also better than the Greek and Roman civic republicans because their egaltiarianism, being Christian, went, so to speak, all the way down (so they didn’t have slaves, for example).

I’m all for preserving what’s good about our Puritanical inheritance, and that’s plenty. And I really irk the Straussians and the libertarians by pushing that point. But the Puritans were also, well, too Puritanical. Their laws, as Tocqueville says, were often bizarre and tyrannical, and they relied far too much on legislating religious uniformity. Their idealism, Voegelians know, was also too fanatical or lacked irony and a sense of proportion.

So there might be something good or not merely technological about the American mixture of modern liberty and Calvinism found, for example, in our Declaration. Locke and Calvin, of course, aren’t enough . . . But the Americans I know (the evangelicals etc. I’ve described from time to time) are pretty darn Christian, display especially the virtue of charity, and can’t be reduced to some cogs in a techno-capitalist machine (as Marxists try to do with the inevitability theories).

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