Friday, November 22, 2013

Reflections on our civil polity...

Commenting on Tocqueville's insights regarding the spirit of religion and the spirit of liberty in AmericaPascal-Emmanuel Gobry writes:
He goes on: “Far from hurting each other, those two tendencies, seemingly so opposed, work together and seem to support each other. Religion sees in civic liberty a noble exercise of man’s faculties, and in the political realm a field given by the Creator to man’s intelligence. [...] Liberty sees in religion the handmaiden of its struggles and triumphs, the cradle of its infancy, the divine source of its rights. She sees religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the guarantee of the laws and of its own posterity...”  [Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America]
Tocqueville understood very well that which is seemingly so hard for progressives to understand, which is that religion strengthens liberty insofar as it provides the moral foundations that prevent liberty from destroying itself. In contemporary sociological terms, we can put this differently : we can say that given the twin 21st century realities of disruptive capitalism and the administrative state, the only viable check on either of them that doesn’t turn us into a slave to the other is voluntary institutions, which ensure that we have a rich, vibrant civic life.
: from his essay - We're Losing The Two Things Tocqueville Said Mattered Most About American Democracy

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