01 January 2019


I haven't written much lately. That's partly because I don't want to be just another blogger posting "DAE Trump is dumb" or something to that effect, but it's also because I've come to think that each day's provocations too easily distract us from deeper flaws in our political culture. Both the stupidities of Trumpism and the hysteria among the opposition point to potential critical failures in American political thinking as a whole. In what I have written I've touched glancingly on some of these flaws, including the ad hominem element of liberalism in both its conservative and progressive forms and liberalism's degeneration into pathologically individualist and impotently hedonist forms. What I haven't done is say much about how democratic republican politics should or at least can work. To do that would require more grounding in political philosophy, and for a while I've felt the need for a refresher course. My plan for 2019, then, is to reacquaint myself with some key texts and consider others for the first time, with an eye on how past insights might clarify today's confusion and, more importantly, what it really means to be a citizen as well as -- if not rather than -- an individual. In an era of anxiety over creeping authoritarianism, we need to think harder about how much leadership we can stand and how much we should accept, and about finding the right balance between skepticism and faith in leaders -- or, if you prefer, the balance between skepticism and faith in politics itself. I make no guarantees going in, but I promise to do what I can this year to make this project worth your time and mine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And yet those people who formulated political philosophy did so without the advantage of texts written before. They simply sat and thought. That being said, I have no particular love for philosophy or philosophers. Considering that philosophers, in thousands of years, have yet to solve any real problems besetting humanity.