Jason’s post below puts me on the side of the primacy of CULTURE, and our friends from Claremont (THE WEST COAST STRAUSSIANS) on the side of the primacy of POLITICS. (I want to thank Jason and the gracious Mr. Kienker for their positive publicity.)

I’m not sure I’m quite either. I’m on the side of PERSONAL, RELATIONAL FREEDOM, which manifests itself in POLITICAL LIFE and THE CHURCH (or “organized religion”). People are free from political domination by nature for doing their religious duties as social,relational “personal” beings (aka creatures), and even for doing their social, personal duties as familial beings and friends. But political life has its own relative autonomy, and it’s not determined by the church (which is inevitably lacking in prudence). That’s not to say the “regime” owns citizens, and each and every one of us is more than a citizen. So despite my Straussian intellectual socialization, I now shy away from using the word regime as too Greek to be completely realistic. So I guess I’m siding to a limited extent with the culture people.

The Claremont contradiction: We’re to be totally devoted to the American regime and its civil theology. But the American view, found in the Declaration, is that we’re by nature free poltiical from domination, and we institute government for our personal convenience. Isn’t that view of freedom (as even Locke saw) in some sense Christian? It’s not sustainable unless it’s freedom for life whih is in some sense social or communal (or not the freedom of the isolated, needy, lonely individual)?

Articles by Peter Lawler


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