In case you missed it last week, Mark Signorelli over at Front Porch Republic has posted further thoughts on the recent Joe Carter-Jerry Salyer debate, though this time the focus is on authority and coercion in legitimate government. It’s not a question of whether to “impose” rules on others, Signorelli writes, because that will happen regardless of whether the regime is liberal, libertarian, fascistic, or anything in between:
In any complex society, the opinion and principles of some portion of the public must be expressed in the laws, to the displeasure of some other portion of the public. Here is where I think Mr. Carter shows himself the most deceived. He writes, again in the comments, “So if someone has the right ‘vision for a proper life’ it’s okay for them to coerce other people into accepting that vision? And how is that not fascism?” It’s not fascism because it’s a description of every single political order that ever was, or ever will be.
Despite the disagreement, Signorelli’s piece is not for sniping. It’s extraordinarily even-handed, and does a commendable job of laying out the paradox faced by traditionalists today. As one of his paragraphs near the end notes (sympathizing with some parts of Carter’s original argument, particularly his query, ‘who’s to say’):
We need some form of coercion to stem the flood of cultural depravity, yet our society produces no trustworthy candidates whom we would wish to exercise such coercion. The many do not have the answers, but neither do the few. Democracy is no solution, but neither is anti-democracy. We must approach the question outside of our comfortable political categories, for the problem before us is not how to deploy the resources of our society to counteract a great evil, but how to generate those resources in the first place.
I would suggest that the project Signorelli endorses—an attempt to work out and prepare for what comes “after liberalism” from a position that cherishes faith, virtue, and community over degenerate and potentially authoritarian alternatives—is one both our outfits share in common.