I feel it my duty to pass on some choice tidbits from a scintillating book of interviews with Pierre Manent  (conducted by Benedicte Deloreme-Montini) just published in French under the title: Le Regard Politique ( Flammarion) . Here is the first (in provisional translation), from pages 203-204:

“You know the argument: membership in a plurality of communities is not a problem because there is no need to choose among them: on the contrary, to a multiplicity of belongings is enriching – is it not enriching to be at once and equally Breton, French, European and a citizen of the world?  I find this presentation seductive but misleading.  All these memberships in fact aspire towards and are absorbed in our membership in humanity.  But humanity is not a political body since it is incapable of self-government.  Certain circumstances, notably American protection and power, have relaxed ad almost suspended the pressure of political necessity in Europe; and, since they are on vacation, Europeans believe that they are forever free from work.   Let them enjoy it, because it won’t last . . . Europe as a whole can consider itself to be humanity’s pacified avant-garde because the United States still takes care of European defense.  The European religion of humanity is thus based, finally, on American power . . .

. . . “At some point external pressures – economic, political, military, and those related to migrations – from countries or areas that not only do not share our religion of humanity but that even despise it (do you believe that the Chinese or the Muslims see themselves as citizens of the world?), these pressures will perhaps bring about reactions of survival, something like: “we do not after all want to die.”  And so, I say only that, in these conditions, a third possibility might emerge, in which the old nations and the old religion will appear as a priceless resource – if only because we have no other.  How could they be given new life?  I do not know, but necessity, as Machiavelli taught us, is a great teacher.”

(Future tidbits: Manent on Aron, Strauss, Straussians, the essence of the West, and more.)

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Articles by Ralph Hancock

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