Saturday, January 9, 2010

American Exceptionalism and American Religion

Contemporary secular liberalism, and the social decomposition it is incapable of addressing, are the almost irresistible outworking of the problematic of modernity: All the beliefs, norms, and prejudices formed by the mediating institutions of civil society, and therefore those institutions themselves, successively come under question as obstacles to the unfettered freedom of the autonomous individual. All that’s left, or would be left, is what happens to remain largely unquestioned: the consumer society, which is about choice, and the nanny state, which forbids and penalizes bad choices.

Neither the consumer society nor the nanny state do anything to form, sustain, or improve the moral character of the citizenry. In the long run, this proves as destructive philosophically as it is socially. Liberalism is based on certain ideas, such as that of human dignity, that are actually predicated on Christianity and biblical religion. Human dignity, at least in the relevant sense, didn’t exist for the Greeks; and as we analyze the waves of modernity, it becomes evident that every attempt to anchor human dignity in something other than biblical religion has failed.