Wednesday, 28 June 2017
Further to my last Manent Mercredi, more from Paul Seaton at the Liberty Law Forum:
If I had to venture a French thinker who has significantly influenced Manent’s thinking about the nation, I would propose Charles Péguy (1874-1914). Among other things, Péguy introduced the concept of “communion,” which has a spiritual dimension lacking in the Greek koinōnía, and his writings helped Manent see how the nation synthesizes the temporal (past, present, and future) and historical phases of a people’s existence. There are some beautiful passages in this vein in the book I translated, Democracy without Nations?
In Manent’s view, oft repeated, the post-Maastricht EU has been constructed in the light of an Idea of Humanity as already (or virtually) united, with no significant collective differences.What is normative is the autonomous individual and harmonious Humanity. As a result, all other human groupings lose normative status, especially nations and religious communions, and are seen as threats, or as material to be remade along ideological lines. Moreover, this view of integrated Humanity is enforced. Rigorously.
Seaton discusses a number of alternative 'takes' on Manent which are linked to in his article and are worth pursuing. My tuppenceworth (admittedly a tyro's tuppenceworth offered in the spirit of one who is interested but does not know) is that I find in Manent a number of themes from Leo Strauss which I find helpful: in particular, the 'political' as a sphere of human practice irreducible to philosophy or religion, but which maintains a creative tension with them, and the importance of engaging with classical thought as a root to the perennial problems of politics. In addition, however, Manent has a greater focus on the potential of modernity, coupled with an interest in two contemporary concrete issues: the EU and the place of Islam in Europe. (I found Aurelian Craiutu's essay helpful here.)
Saturday, 24 June 2017
[Thir twal Jesus sent oot, and chairged them, sayin,]
“Be-na fley’t at them than; for thar is naething cover’t that sanna be uncover’t ; and hid, that sanna be kent. What I tell ye i’ the mirk, tell ye oot i’ the licht ; and what ye hear whush’t i’ the lug, proclaim ye on the hoose-taps!
"And dreid-na them wha slay the body, but canna slay the saul! but raither dreid ye him wha is able to wreck saul and body in hell! Arena twa sparrows gaun for a bodle? And ane frae mang them fa’s-na on the grund withoot yere Faither! But the vera hairs o’ yere heid are a’ coontit. Dinna be dowie, than: ye are better nor mony sparrows!
"Whasae sal own me afore men, him sal I own afore my Faither wha is in Heeven. But whasae disowns me afore men, him sal I disown afore my Faither wha is in Heeven."
(From The New Testament in Braid Scots William Wye Smith (1904) here)
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
From the Law and Liberty website, a good essay by Guillaume de Thieulloy on Manent's thought, focusing especially on his views on the nation state and on his (comparative) neglect in France:
Accurate glosses of other thinkers and charming writing are the main assets of the writings of my former teacher. Nor is this by chance—for Manent rightly thinks of himself as an heir, as we all are. We received our forma mentis from our ancestors and especially from the classics. Manent, in his latest book (Beyond Radical Secularism), proffered the classic authors as an access point for young French people (including those whose parents were not culturally French) to a shared vision of the world and of the human being. The appeal he made in this 2016 book was very powerful and striking. Unfortunately, the education system in our country worked, and still works, toward the creation of a “new human being,” after the revolutionary tabula rasa. If we are seeking the common good, we need a common language and some common heroes, common legends, and common history. So, the French rulers who pretend to promote the ethic of “vivre-ensemble” (living together)—especially with those who have immigrated into France—while at the same time abandoning education in the classics are deceiving the rest of us, or themselves.
Manent’s public profile is now that of a promoter of the European nation-state—or perhaps more precisely, a defender of that nation-state which is being so harshly attacked by European “elites.” That defense includes, of course, the American “daughter” of the European nation-state. It also includes, in some aspects, the Jewish mother of the European nation-state, which has been for so many centuries a nation without a state. He’s indeed one of the rare influential writers who doesn’t seem to think that “progress” implies the vanishing of this very specific “political form.”
See more here. (The earlier essay by Paul Seaton referred to by de Thieulloy is also worth reading and can be found here.)