So I just haven’t had time to post. But tonight in my mail I found two “issues” that you might want to explore.
Here’s the first, as explored in the NYT . Should we change the names of the ten army bases named after Confederate generals? We could explore the merits of the various generals, of course. But the big point is they were all TRAITORS who fought to keep their country safe for race-based slavery. It is, of course, more than okay to decorate the graves of Confederate fallen heroes, both on Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day. Maybe the latter should be regarded as the questionable but justifiable choice of a formerly Confederate state. The U.S. Army, though, shouldn’t have turned Confederate generals into “role models.” What would a West-Coast Straussian say at this point? I’m a little more TRADITIONALIST, and so I would be reluctant to disturb names with long and honorable histories. BRAGG stunk as a general, but FORT BRAGG is a name that a high place in our more recent military history.
I’m also more reluctant to view Confederates—beginning with Lee—as traitors. Read the ferociously anti-slavery Orestes Brownson, who remarked that the issue of secession was not clearly enough resolved by the Constitution of 1787 for us to say that there’s no place for seeing a legitimate difference of opinion that would one day have to be resolved on the battlefield. And there’s something magnanimous—as Lincoln saw—in knowing that the Southerners were in a way traitors—rebels—but not acting on that thought. He wanted to return the states as states to the Union, and that can mean to regarding those who thought of themselves as fighting for their states (as Lee surely did) as heroes worthy of admiration by our soldiers (even if they were wrong).
An argument against my position, of course, is having African-American soldiers serving at forts named for very or even fantically pro-slavery men (not Lee [although he was okay with slavery], but check out some of the others).
The other question involved postmodern conservatives becoming more self-consciously disciples of Rousseau. That note, I think, has to do with the simple-mindedness of saying Locke=nature=good and Rousseau=history=bad. After all, Rousseau’s criticism of the incoherence of Locke’s “state of nature” is devastating, and so is his criticism of ENLIGHTENMENT. I will say more on this later. One postmodern and conservative thought is “Neither Locke nor Rousseau,” but that’s because we see truth in both what would be Locke’s criticism of Rousseau and Rousseau’s criticism of Locke. Neither Locke nor Rousseau has an adequate account of either NATURE or the PERSON, although they both have true stuff to say about both human freedom and human dignity.