I’ve been listening to more of Bill Kristol’s Conversations; especially those with Harvey Mansfield. The first effect of which has been to expand my list of classics; Tocqueville, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, J.S.Mills, Strauss, Mansfield himself…
Since those books yet remain for me in that classical state, I can only comment on what he briefly explains. There are over 12 hours of Mansfield speaking though, and he returns to the same topics over and again. So I have probably learned a few things which I will test as I remove titles from my personal list of classics.
- Zippy is right: I have been a right-liberal. I previously admitted to be a right-liberal before, but limited it to an accordance with his interpretation of things, i.e., “on his blog”. That was wrong. Modernity (a whole ‘nother thing which I’m only now seeing from outside) is what we live in, and it taught me that its (modernity’s) notions of right and left were true. They’re not. It turns out that there is a very long conversation about politics and the dichotomy was established a long time ago. The character, or spirit, of each side is probably beyond dispute: Democracy (Liberalism/Left) or Aristocracy (Authoritarianism/Right). There are several/many forms of each, but there are only two real philosophies (or principles). Every mixture of the two requires some kind of mental investment in a paradox. That’s in the best case. In the worst mixtures one requires doublethink. I like the former and hate the latter. My problem, and not just mine, is that the unstoppable force of democracy is crashing full-speed into the immovable object of reality. Unfortunately I’m between them, and quite squishable. Paradoxes are a kind of crash-cage protection, but fear causes one to grasp at doublethinks as a kind of insulation…but at some point enough pillows will smother you.
- All these old guys (Kristol, Mansfield, Larry Summers, Charles Murray, etc.) are hesitant to say that men do good things too, and often at times and in ways that women can’t, and they take pains to say that women might do it, too. They really put men down. Mansfield at least makes the case that this is a problem (even as he does it) and makes snide comments that the powers-that-be are who muzzle us.
- There’s this argument called the fact value distinction of which I did not know that I had picked a side (value). In modernity–because of modernity–democracy has elected fact. I am at odds again with the majority; though I confess that my preference was instinctual, subconscious, or in some other way less-than-consciously-reasoned. Irrational, but correct. A great deal of Right thought is irrational. It (knowledge or wisdom) can’t always be logically deduced, or logically consistent. I’m good with that, but then we get into accepting paradoxes, and also threatened by doublethinks.
- One thing that I extracted from the spaces between Mansfield’s words is that No-Fault Divorce was probably an inevitable “innovation” of democracy. Democracy’s spirit is not just consent, but retractable consent, or arguable consent; a consent that is always up for debate. Here we get to one of those doublethinks because consent that is debatable is not really consent. If it is debatable, then it’s not real. So when some feminist (who is a kind of democrat/liberal/leftist) argues that she didn’t really consent to marriage, or sex, or whathaveyou: She is correct in the sense that she is more in-line with the spirit of liberalism. Her correctness matters and resonates because our society just is ruled by Liberalism. According to that spirit, No-Fault Divorce corrects an oversight of our forebears: The right of a wife (theoretically any spouse but effectually a wife) to hold a new election for Husband. A democracy with only one binding election does not keep with the spirit of democracy/liberalism. Binding isn’t what liberty does. No-Fault Divorce is a call to stand for election to office.
So, as I was saying, I was a right-liberal…I do not think I will stand for election again.