Posted by Peter Lawler
...can be found HERE. I say a little bit about everything, including health care.
These efforts to harness Solzhenyitsen to the latest conservative cause is problematic, since one of his targets was precisely the capitalism that goaded forth so much of this relativism and subjectivism in the first place. It is not just technology but techno-capitalism that has isolated human beings, something republicans and this site in particular have lauded. Self-interest is in fact god's gift and any other ways condemned as socialism. Your article loses all its moral force when you say that the private sector is the least narcissistic segment of America. That is not true and is not what Solzhenyitsen would say. Or maybe the CEO bonuses are a form of grace. Maybe Solzhenyitsen drew dollar signs in the dirt while in the gulag. This article is really only one step above Palin saying that Obama wants to have death panels, except the right-wing intellectual uses better writers as props, as well as his own self-promotional cliches. Lesson: go read Solzhenyitsen, but leave the right-wing filters behind.
ren: While I agree with what you are saying, it does seem that Lawler's article is consistent with that attitude as well. "Self-interest" is talked about at length in the article, often tied to terms like "narcissistic," "howling existentialism," "emptiness," etc. I didn't catch where the article said the private sector was the least narcissistic part of America, but if I'm wrong point it out. Either way, it was a pretty refreshing read, IMO. Job well done to Lawler.
Tremendous piece, Peter. Very worth extended reflection. Thank you.
Nice essay. Certainly being "death haunted" is not a distinctly modern phenomenon. Nor is the relationship between technology and death hauntedness particularly modern. One might even suggest that the tower builders of Babel were moved by such hauntedness. What seems to me to be distinctly modern is the explicit and deliberate union of death hauntedness with technological progress. Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, and Locke (I love the "philosopher of narcissism" tag)all appear to appreciate what could be achieved by way of cultivating this death hauntedness. A proper relationship with death, that Solzhenistyn calls for, would seem to demand first a proper understanding of technology. The final few pages of Strauss' Machiavelli book is particularly illuminating in this regard. Thanks, Peter.
Gary, Thanks. Just talked to Paul yesterday about you.
A really terrific piece, Peter. Ren is right that conservatives don't often take seriously enough real moral failings of capitalism (part of the reason many conservatives unfortunately distanced themselves from Caritas in Veritate) but Peter is not one of these. Also, the problem of technology (and Solz understood this) is much deeper and more fundamental than the problem of capitalism--the modern abstraction that is the individual--defined by autonomy and lost in productivity--is the hallmark of th technological turn that has the paradoxical consequence of exacerbating our uneasiness while trying to therapeutically deny it. I'm putting together a course on Solz and this will make the syllabus
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