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4.

Social Capital, Confidence and Loss


1. Economy and Public Square
2. Culture, Memory and Social Capital
3. Remembering and Paying Debts
4. The Paradox of Liberalism
5. Modernity meets a Rival
6. Monism and the Closed Economy
7. Faith, Freedom and the Open Economy

The economy is our social relationships considered from a particular angle. The
interactions we identify as economic derive from, and depend on, other
interactions that are social, cultural and political. Our readiness to transact with
one another depends on our being at ease enough with one another to do so. This
requires a large enough reserve of social cohesion and trust, that makes us
content to leave some services unstated and unacknowledged. The slippage of
relationships from the informal economy of household and community into the
market may be the result of a reduced appreciation of our inter-relatedness, and
so be the result of a reductive and ‘economical’ view of man, owed to modern
economics.

Perhaps the economic developments of recent decades, chiefly the move from
production and industry, to ‘services’ and consumption, and a move from
citizenship to individual rights-holders, results from an assumption that there is
little we may offer one another and loss of confidence in ourselves as public
beings. Nevertheless the economy depends on the freedom exercise and
expression of our full, high, view of our interrelatedness.

1. Economy and Public Square


We may judge for ourselves. We are free to decide. Though habits and rules help
us arrive at it, no one may tell us what our decision is to be. We make our
judgments here and now, in the particular circumstances we find ourselves. We
must judge in the light of everything we know, using all the gifts, virtues and
experience acquired through whatever processes of learning we have undergone.
We may listen to all sides, take into account what everyone understands as
‘common sense’, change our own mind perhaps, argue for our own view and
either convince others or not. But then we may reach our judgment and make
our decision. When others are involved, the agreement on this decision is likely
to represent a compromise, but one which everyone must be ready to stand by it.
We make decisions and bear responsibility, together, so our decisions are our
joint responsibility; we bear the praise or blame that may result, even though as
individuals we may have foreseen the unfortunate consequences that the
majority did not. This requires that we act with a measure of self-control.

Every decision requires a decisiveness, even a boldness. Courage is what enables


us to insist on this particular decision, even against the consensus. Others may
not be able to see the wisdom of it. We have to justify it in terms of what is just
and right, and so may point out how it seems to us to offer the best and most
just solution. The Christian gospel affirms that each individual person has the
dignity of exercising their own judgment and making their own decisions. We may
decide for ourselves, and we may decide for other people and so for the common
good. This may require any number of personal qualities; the classical list names
the four virtues of wisdom, justice, self-control and courage. Each of these is
required for the exercise of that personal responsibility on which our culture and
economy rely. We may not finally delegate our decisions to others, for each of us

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finally has the dignity of standing alone before God. Our decision is not set out for
us in any law or set of instructions. It is Christianity that describes and insists on
the autonomy and dignity of this sphere in which we take these decisions, and so
it is the Christian faith which defines and defends the secular sphere. For each of
us there is such a sphere, an area when which no one can take our decision for
us. This sphere of our own responsibility is what the Christian tradition means by
the secular sphere. We make our decisions not in any ideal realm, but in the here
and now, and so pragmatically. The gospel affirms this proper secularity.

We are able to make judgments because, as members of society, we share in a


culture. Each member of society decides from resources which we may describe
as social, political and religious which belong to that society. We take particular
decisions in the light given by our long-term commitments, expressed in moral
and religious terms, as these direct us towards what is right, just, true and good.
We cannot decide not to bring our own background to bear on any issue; we can
only become aware of some aspects of our tradition that allows us to reach our
view. These political and religious resources allow us to decide. They enable us to
countenance and weigh and to come to some specific judgment. Our moral and
religious traditions enable us to live in the world, be pragmatic and to come to
agreements with others, of the same or different traditions. Every short-term and
immediate decision is shaped by our long-term orientation, for none of us sets
out to make decisions that take us where we do not want to go.

The economy takes place in this secular sphere, in which I take decisions, and
there is no one to second guess me. In the sphere described by this freedom of
mine, I alone get to decide what I purchase. With each purchasing decision I
alone decide which firm to give my custom to, and a million individuals like me
will make unseen the purchasing decisions which reward one firm and punish
another. I have only a limited duty to agonise over the hidden ramifications of
each purchase. I did not send that garment factory into insolvency: I merely did
not buy the shirts made there. I cannot be accountable for the fact that many
others made the same decision I did with the result that that firm had to call in
the receivers.

By its insistence on the dignity and inviolability of our judgment, and thus on the
autonomy of the individual person, the gospel defends the independence on
which every individual has a particular defined sphere of responsibility. I am
responsible for some consequences of my actions but only to a limited degree am
I responsible for the actions of others. My purchasing decisions have a specific,
limited, responsibility. There is a distinct sphere of freedom within which we are
not beholden for our decisions to any man. No one can tell me that I may not
wear the shirt I love, plant in my own garden the flowers I love, or marry the
person I love.

Where the Christian faith has been a long presence within it, that society will
have acquired the culture in which that secularity is secured. This freedom for the
decision of the individual person will be reflected in the law, and in the practices
that constitute the rule of law, which make this a society of more or less self-
controlled people. Such a people abides by the law and accepts that it is the task
of representative authorities to enforce that law, even when its enforcement is
directed against themselves.1

Christianity secures the secular sphere, which itself secures that space of free
exchange that we term the ‘economy’. The economy is the sum of all our
individual choices, as these are reflected in prices. This Christian account of man

1
Oliver O'Donovan The Ways of Judgment

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as judge, of himself and of his peers, makes him a champion of the freedom of
every person to take decisions for themselves and so of the public square. This
autonomy of each person, to enter the relationship and make the transaction that
they judge best, gives a degree of sovereignty to this sphere that we term the
‘economy’. The civic and political realm is another aspect of the public square in
which persons meet together to take the decisions that that will shape and
support their lives, and in which they must insist in taking for themselves. They
must also enforce the decisions they have taken by the censure of public speech;
each can challenge the other and attribute blame as that other seems to flout the
decisions which that community has agreed on. You can buy and sell as you like,
and do so within the framework of law, and yet anyone may challenge the
decisions you make, however you describe them as economic or political, private
or for the public good.

But we may also ask ourselves whether there has been a retreat from this
Christian account of man as bearer of responsibility, as judge, and as someone
whom his peers may call to account, and who may debate the extent of our
responsibilities. Have we seen an inclination to avoid challenging one another in
the public square? If there has been a decline of the public square, perhaps a
decline in the economy follows from it? This that is both cause and consequence
of a movement away from the view of man as public being, robust enough to give
and take public challenge, to an account of man as merely private being, should
neither give nor have to take a challenge?

We have seen there is also a political force, or perhaps a political temptation, to


rule out public expression of public and long-term considerations, and especially
to rule out those challenges which are identified as coming from the Christian
tradition. This ‘secularisation’ means precisely the opposite of secularity.
To suggest that religion should stay out of politics is to exclude long-term
considerations from our decision-making. Yet even trivial decisions may carry
long as well as short term consequences. In each decision we can only do the
best we can. We cannot entirely foresee the outcome of our decisions, for
subsequent generations can take our decisions in directions which we neither
wished or foresaw but cannot guard against. So secularisation is the temptation
to believe that judgment and the traditions of wisdom which make judgment
possible, are no longer required. Secularisation suggests that there is a settled
progress of removing and converging from the deep assumptions about the
integrity and dignity of the human being, and which is articulated as gospel, and
thus as religious tradition. Are we seeing a departure from the full account of man
offered by the Christian tradition to account a lesser account of the freedom and
dignity of the human being?

The confrontation of ideas


A healthy economy depends on a people motivated by the confidence that they
receive through their culture.

‘Civil society… materializes most dramatically when even strangers can succeed
routinely in establishing such a relationship and such a mode of reliance, despite
the fact that there is no question of personal attachments or anticipated
consequences affecting what people do.’2

A healthy culture supports a healthy public square. In a healthy public square


people publicly express differences and so there is public testing of ways of life
and public discussion of what is good and what is of value. A healthy culture is
able to identify those traits which benefit that society long-term, and so give
them its public approval, and aim its disapproval at those traits which tend to its

2
Geoffrey Brennan & Philip Pettit Economy of Esteem (OUP 2004) p. 256

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long-term disadvantage. In the public square we praise and pour scorn, attribute
honour and ignominy.

Every society must be glad of the history that formed it. It must celebrate that
history, give thanks for it, even direct its thanksgiving to God. Our public
discourse must be primarily self-affirming and only then self-critical. We may not
let the second-order discourse of self-criticism to drive out the discourse in which
express our own basic contentment. We may express our gladness about
marriages and children, our towns and communities. We may proclaim whatever
is good about local industry, local produce, local teams and all other sources of
pride. We may decry whatever we believe is execrable about them. One way or
another, social enforcement is inevitable. Geoffrey Brennan and Philip Pettit refer
to the sanction of shame as the ‘intangible hand’.

‘We may be judged by those who say or do nothing as a result… just being well
or badly thought of by others can be a significant sanction for people, so that
without doing anything in particular people may police one another into certain
patterns of behaviour.’ 3
One way or another, we communicate our estimation of our own community. We
talk ourselves down but we could equally talk ourselves up.

We must be able to say what is valuable and attempt to persuade one another
that it is so. Our values are tested in the public square, and we hope, their
truthfulness is established there. It is established through public discussion and
the practices of peaceful public contest built up over generations. We may
challenge the value that others place on economic goods, and sometimes perhaps
declare that they are worthless or destructive. We can say that a thing is not
made valuable by price, and that prices may therefore be wrong. We may say
that the market is mistaken, and that a particular market is pact of knaves and
fools bound together by mistaken estimations of value.

Money abbreviates our valuations. These abbreviations depend on our ability to


persuade another that our description of what is valuable is true and our
commitments to them good, and this depends on our willingness to contest
incompatible accounts. This public dialogue requires face-to-face encounter, time-
consuming though it is. Public dialogue should not be eclipsed by those sub-
personal relationships expressed by money. If we give up such contests we will
not find that the price mechanism takes our decision for us. Even though distinct
sphere of culture and public discourse recede, money cannot perform the whole
task as sole medium of our encounter.

Though we have promoted the discourse of the private over that of the public
sphere, our society is as much an economy of honour and shame as any earlier
society.
‘Our society has managed to stigmatize stigma so much so that we are reluctant
to blame people for any act that does not appear to inflict an immediate and
palpable harm on someone else.’ 4

But it is not only in order, but it is entirely necessary, that we publicly attribute
honour and shame. What happened to honour?

3
Geoffrey Brennan & Philip Pettit Economy of Esteem (OUP 2004) p. 277 (citing Adam Smith Theory
of Moral Sentiments p 116).
4
James Q. Wilson The Marriage Problem: How Culture has weakened Families (New York:
HarperCollins 2002) pp??

4
‘The story of that word’s virtual disappearance from the working vocabulary of
English and other European languages belongs to the larger story of the
discrediting ultimate loss of cultural honor in the West.5

Culture and freedom


Free speech is embedded in custom and tradition, made explicit by law. The rule
of law is more fundamental than democracy. Democracy functions when it is
firmly embedded in the attitudes and customs that evolved together with the
national body of law. When it has not grown organically with law, democracy can
only mean the views of the electorate at this moment, views which will shift week
by week. A democracy that acknowledges nothing but democracy, without these
customs, acknowledges no source of authority but itself. But since it own views
may change as often as they are polled, that authority cannot make itself felt,
and there is a crisis of authority. Democracy is healthy when it is no hurry, and is
not directed to rooting out the attitudes and customs of previous generations.

‘Modern man, as modern, both flees and seeks out law. He flees the law that is
given to him and seeks the law that he gives himself. He flees the law given to
him by nature by God or that he gave himself yesterday and that today weighs
on him like the law of another. He seeks the law he gives himself and without
which he would be the plaything of nature, of God or of his own past. The law he
seeks ceaselessly and continually become the law he flees.’6

If democracy is defined without reference to law and custom, it means no more


than the most fleeting self-expression of the electorate. Without law, we have
only the crowd that barracks in the television studio or takes to the street. Then
‘the people’ is a mob and tyrant, and politics would only be about placating it by
buying it off. ‘Democracy’ cannot merely mean the ‘will of the people’, without
any other more long-term consideration. For our good government, we need
leaders who do not cave in to the latest expression of our demands, and who are
not therefore just like ourselves. We need leaders who are good at self-
government because they have been formed by a tradition of self-government.

To set out the secular sphere, by distinguishing between State and Church, is the
privilege given to the Christian Church. When no other such institution does so,
the Church may have to perform this role for the nation as a whole, in which case
Christians must have courage. But this task is given to the Church by Christ, not
by the State through ‘establishment’. ‘Establishment’ and an ‘established’ Church
merely indicate that the State acknowledges that the Church has this role, and
that the State does not, which is simply to acknowledge that any State must, by
definition, be secular. If it is not willing to do this it may be because it is making
its own religious, ideological or totalitarian claims. Secularity is established
through continuing reference to the precedence, of national attitudes, customs,
law and the working of representative government. Secularity is threatened, not
enhanced, by any state-led attempt to rule out those attitudes or traditions. Any
nation needs to express in which those attitudes of honour and shame can be
tested.

Can the State truly be secular? Can it allow the open stage on which the real
variety of ways of life in one national community can appear? Can the State avoid
turning secularity into an ideological secularism that denies real pluralism? When
it determines that all our motivations are merely private and that the traditions of
thought, religious and other, which give us our motivations should have no public
expression or debate, the state forestalls real pluralism. It is the Church’s
confession of the gospel that secures the secularity of the public square. The

5
Bowman Honor p.10
6
Pierre Manent The City of Man (Princeton 1998) p. 204

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Christian faith is that form of politics that distinguishes between politics and
religion, and thus between our present circumstances, and our ongoing and long-
term orientation, between ‘now’ and ‘not yet’, the eschatological reserve which is
essential to all politics. It determines that the most Christian society can be is
simply civil society, under the rule of law, in which the Christian community and
its tradition is partner.7 Long-term there cannot be any government or any
society when we abandon the discourse and practices of self-control and try to do
politics solely in the discourse of individual will, rights and interests. The
discourse of good, truth, authority, service and love may not be dispensed with.
As soon as we define man without consideration of his purposes, aspirations and
future, and thus without hope, we have taken away freedom and he is eclipsed.
Then man, without means to direct and control himself, is turned into a
fundamentally a-social being who can only be controlled externally. When this is
so, we have created a two-class society, of the controlled and of their controllers.

The Church says that that man may not be utterly known and controlled. He is
free, and is a mystery and a wonder, knowable yet never utterly known, who will
always surprise us, and about whom there is always more to learn. This
insistence on the depth of man and the world that makes the Church essential to
the public square. Without it, secularism becomes a fundamentalism, and thus no
longer secular.

Christians are witnesses of freedom. The best favour that can be done for those
who are not free, is to be free and not to capitulate to their lack of freedom. The
‘freedom’ that acknowledges no responsibility and restraint is no true freedom but
merely libertinism and captivity to the passions. I am not free if I am only free to
follow my own whims moment by moment. I am truly free only when I have
some other source of authority by which I can decide between my whims so that
they become more reasoned and mature views. So freedom is not merely given
by democratic institutions and freedom of the press, but also requires a self-
critical independence of mind by the nation. When our freedom is only that of
consumers, powerless to resist, or even notice the relentless encouragement to
buy, we are held captive by our own stunted moral development, our inability to
judge well for ourselves.

It's our duty to consume, we're told, because it keeps other people working. For
spare moments, when regime-threatening questions might come to mind, the
oligarchs have authorized a modern form of bread and circuses, an array of new
sexual freedoms to compensate for the loss of the most basic civil right of all –
the right of self-government. 8

Under political totalitarianism each of us at least has the smallest interior freedom
in the heart. But in the soft, all-comprehending, all-providing comfort of the
market, we may loss our ability to judge well for ourselves without ever-realising
that this is what we have given up the dignity of being unsatisfied, that can only
come through the virtue of self-control and the desire to achieve a degree of self-
government.

The effort of public challenge


The intellectual tradition that we can trace back to Plato and Aristotle tells us that
some persons, those formed by particular traditions that teach the skill of

7
Roger Scruton The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat (London:
Continuum 2002) p. 7 ‘Put very briefly, the difference between the West and the rest is
that Western societies are governed by politics; the rest are governed by power.’
8
Mary Ann Glendon, Contribution to ‘The End of Democracy?’ discussion, First Things
January 1997

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judgment, make better judges than others. Christians suggest that, since life is
also a matter of striving, hoping and directing ourselves towards what is not yet
present to us, the future, it requires such an apprenticeship. But the concept of
the consumer enthrones all of us without discrimination and without any
apprenticeship: everybody is right, no view better than any other. This does not
give us the public discourse by which we can talk about what is good and hope to
make good judgments. The long and involved discourse of speech and ideas has
been left on one side and the lighter and easier discourse of settling on a price
been used in its place. Money is public discourse abbreviated; prices are
abbreviated speeches. Making and hearing speeches requires effort, while making
and accepting bids, selling and buying, requires much less effort. We have
declined to hear and talk, listen and argue, and so act as public beings who face
one another in the public square and articulate our differences. We have asked
the discourse of money to take away from us the need for public confrontation.
Our economy is in trouble because we have asked the discourse of economics to
do too much and not asked our culture to do enough.

Albert Hirschman pointed out that it is easier simply to leave the institution that
you have become dissatisfied by than it is to declare that dissatisfaction. But that
institution is at risk if it does not allow the culture in which members or
customers are confident enough to complain. The disgruntled can always take
their custom elsewhere – ‘exit’; citizens will emigrate, and the country that does
not take note of such silent departures is in trouble. To complain, protest and
‘give voice’ is to act for the sake of the long-term health of your country.9

Culture relates to the reproduction and sustaining of our communities. How we


shall encourage and reward the good, motivate the behaviour that sustains our
society, punish wrong-doers and defend ourselves against them? This is must be
our first- order discourse.

Critical and Modern discourse is a corrective, and so occasional, discourse


dependent on our first order discourse. But the second-order discourse of critique
has come to replace that first order discourse. We denigrate the discourse by
which we identify and praise the good and shame the evil. We criticise those who
regard our culture as good, and as worth promoting. We have promoted to
positions those cultured despisers who denigrate our inherited culture.10 We have
denigrated the transcendentals of truth, goodness and beauty by which we can
talk to communicate with one another at all. But the first order discourse is
inevitable. For all discourse is intrinsically about both truth and public respect, so
about identifying and defending a community which, for as long as it is willing to
receive judgment and correction, is worth defending.

The good of disagreement


What makes our society so unready to argue and debate is that it is convinced
that warrior society is bad and is over and past. It has determined to avoid
confrontation, considering it as conflict. It is convinced that peace has arrived,
and is only threatened when people fail to understand that peace and silence
therefore should be upheld.

9
Albert Hirschman Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations,
and States (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1970)
10
Roger Scruton The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat (London:
Continuum 2002) p.79 ‘A single theme runs through the humanities as they are regularly
taught in American and European universities: the illegitimacy of Western civilization, and
the artificial nature of the distinctions on which it has been based. All distinctions are
‘culture’, therefore ‘constructed’, therefore ‘ideological’.’

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Yet one faith community has had an exclusive impact on this country. The near
exclusive presence of Christianity has made this culture and this country what
they are now. No other faith community has had any influence on the culture of
this country. Moreover the culture of this country has been exported around the
world, to create a sphere of public which, depending on which aspects of it we
wish to consider, we could call variously civil society, the rule of law, liberal
democracy, the freedom of the individual, the free market, the global economy.

It is culture that explains the wealth and poverty of nations. It encourages people
to abandon impatience and violence and adopting the long-term habits of hard
work, rationality and education. Only societies with long histories of security
develop these cultural characteristics, while these cultural characteristics promote
long-term security.11 These are aspects of the culture of this country, and they
derive from one faith community exclusively. Faith communities are not all the
same.

Warrior culture may be pushed underground but it is always inchoately present


for it is basic. We see it in the confrontations in every playground, boardroom and
market. We can assess Christianity only by the extent to which its presence
ameliorates that culture, through the at best partial conversion of the country.
Since it is a faith, Christianity is not the permanent possession of this, or any
other, country or culture. This faith does not hang on where it is not wanted. It
ebbs and re-grows in this people, and when the Christian tide goes out it reveals
more of the pagan beneath that Christian culture. But this country is certainly
free to shed this faith, precisely because it is to be believed in, or not believed in,
freely.

The Christian contribution


Christian discourse is the guarantee of public and secular discourse, the Church is
the sponsor of the public square. Freedom starts with the freedom of man to
believe what he wants, to have his own view, and so to be private. Freedom of
conscience and the freedom of religion is freedom to dissent and disbelieve
whatever the prevailing orthodoxies. Christianity offers no totalising worldview. It
offers a series of questions to whatever culture it meets, thereby opening that
culture to examination through the processes and practices of public reason,
thereby enabling it to be a plural and secular culture. Christians are able to
identify the threat to the freedom of speech. They identify the temptation to
homogenise and attempt to achieve a conformity by legislation. The Church
speaks truth to the liberalism that is unwilling to hear it and turning illiberal as a
result.

The origin of the word reminds us that ‘liberal’ once meant generous. Generosity
can only be free and spontaneous. But the secularising liberalism that always
resorts to legislation is unable to account for the love and unforced public service
that supports civil society. Modern liberalism is now just a faint memory of the
liberalism of unforced public generosity that was exercised as expressions of
joyful gratitude at the grace of God.12 It cannot tell us how to be a man or how to
be a woman. We will not be able to surprise one another with spontaneous acts of
graciousness. We may point out the pragmatic argument that Christianity
succeeds in constructing civil societies because it places forgiveness over
retribution and so breaks the cycle of violence.13
11
Gregory Clark A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
12
Frederick Beiser The Sovereignty of Reason: The Defense of Rationality in the
Early English Enlightenment (Princeton 1996) on the origins of Liberalism in Shaftesbury
and Cambridge Platonists
13
Bowman Honor p. 47 ‘We have only to think again of the custom of ‘honor killing’ in the
honor cultures of Pakistan and India to get an idea of what a revolutionary force

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The secular square must primarily a place in which people speak express the
whole range of attitudes, and give recognition to and withhold it from one
another, attributing alternatively honour and shame. They will do so of course
with make reference to what is good and purposeful, and they will occasionally
but necessarily utter what some are offended by. They refer themselves to what
is good and purposeful and to what is true. The secular sphere cannot be entirely
filled by the market, in which our speech is abbreviated to yes/no signals, and it
cannot be monitored and approved by the state. The secular square cannot be
dominated by either the provision or the regulation that market and state want to
interpose. Market and state can account for only part of the public square. In a
significant portion of it the views of the whole nation must be expressed, and
heard and weighed by the nation itself.

2. Culture, Memory and Social Capital


The goodness of existing covenants
Each generation finds itself in existing covenants and may takes its empowerment
from them.

Our history make us what we are. We can decide to talk up certain aspects of our
history, and downplay and denigrate other aspects. We can emphasise either the
continuity or the contrast between other ages and our own. If we remain
indifferent to history or ignorant of it, we are likely to become captive to one
undeclared conception of it. Modernity represents one conception of our history
and so offers a particular historical canon. Modernity declares that history is of no
interest to us, while intimating that the past exerts a dark force over us unless we
energetically free ourselves from it. But we cannot simply alter our history by
grafting ourselves onto a different tradition. We are who we are, and are faced by
our own set of issues, because we are the heirs of Abraham and Moses, Socrates
and Plato, Augustine and Descartes, Hume and Kant. If we were the heirs of
Buddha, Confucius or Mohammed, we would ask the sort of questions that the
cultures of Asia ask. The public square of Asia and the Middle East is a much
more smaller and more timid place than it is in Europe. The extra-large public
square of the West is the direct outcome of the long presence of the Christian
community that promotes self-examination, buttressed by those practices of
Christian discipleship that puts the question of truth over the question of who is in
possession of power. If they decline to receive the witness of the Church, Western
societies may find that their public squares shrink to similarly small dimensions.

All culture is an acknowledgement of our forebears. We regard some forebears as


particularly significant because they were publicly instrumental in shaping the
world we have inherited. We can name, and we can even in a soft way revere,
those who we particularly identify with the political forms and freedoms we now
benefit from. The more a society is able to look with equanimity on its ancestors,
the more it is able to look forward with the same equanimity. The broader its
view of its tradition, and more forebears and their differing ways of life it is able
to value, the greater the resources from which a society can judge how to live
well. The further back it looks, the better prepared it is to face future challenges.
The society with a rich account of its own historical journey is better placed to
sustain itself over the long term and thus live in hope of a good future.

Modern Europeans acknowledge no obligation to remember its debt, or pay its


our respects, to their ancestors. They prefer to name only those forebears who

Christianity was, especially in its prohibition of polygamy and its promotion of the idea of
the full humanity for women.’

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freed it from what it regards as the burden of its further past. They celebrate a
shallow history, because it releases them from a deeper one. They celebrate their
modern forebears, the founding fathers of European and American republics
because they tell us that we are already free and mature, and that we need
undergo no course of discipleship or formation. No effort or labour is required
from us, for they tell us, the economy of persons is a matter of the all-immanent,
all-demanding present.

The self-respect that extends into fellow-feeling and sense of belonging is the
glue that holds a people together and makes them a nation. A nation perseveres
through time because it attracts a sense that it is worth dying to defend, a
patriotism. Modernity has forgotten the warrior culture and pagan religion of
ancient Europe. Christianity has preserved some memory of them. Warrior culture
is never simply a matter of history, but is always at least inchoately present and
basic. We see warrior culture in the confrontations in every playground,
boardroom and market. Though almost nothing is now known of the paganism
that that preceded Christianity, throughout our long history, European
intellectuals have re-imported and re-packaged Roman and Greek accounts of
warrior culture, its gods and cosmologies. We can discuss the contemporary
phenomena of pagan culture through this Greek and Roman intellectual
inheritance that describes the fatalistic worldviews represented by ancient
atomism, Epicureanism and Stoicism. These allow us to identify warrior culture
and fatalistic cosmologies in ourselves, and to identify them in the devious
because undeclared violence of modernity and modern economics.

Tradition as embodiment, history as debt


The concept of the embodied person is fundamental to the Christian account of
humanity. A person is inseparable from his body. It is the means by which we
may come to know him. The body is not a nuisance. The Christian doctrine of
creation affirms that the world, both material and social, is good and it is given to
us. The body is no embarrassment or nuisance. We the form of our bodies from
our parents and all generations previous to them. We are located in an ethnicity
and a culture and inhabit our tradition as a ‘body’.14

On the Christian account, everything has that outward form by which it can be
recognised for what it is. Everyone receives a body, first from their immediate
parents and then a more extended ‘body’ or presence that accrues by a process
of enculturation from wider circles of cultural authorities. What have been given is
firstly our own families, comprised first of our parents and their generation, and
then through baptism the Church, then perhaps also children and a generation
subsequent to ourselves. Everyone is shaped and given the public form and
‘body’ made of what they have received from some combination of the
generations that preceded them. Every form is both new and it is a bricolage of
given and existing things. Our morality is not held by any coherent narrative
account of our communal identity. As Alasdair MacIntyre has pointed out,

‘What we possess… are the fragments of a conceptual scheme, parts of which


now lack those contexts from which their significance derived. We possess
indeed simulacra of morality, we continue to use many of the key expressions.
But we have very largely, if not entirely – lost our comprehension, both theory
and practical – of morality.’15

14
James Q. Wilson ‘Marriage Evolution and the Enlightenment’ (AEI Bradley Lecture Series,
May 3, 1999) ‘Once reason has been separated from experience and thought has been
freed from tradition, people will increasingly challenge any arrangement that seems to be
grounded in experience and tradition as opposed to cognition and ideals.’
15
Alasdair MacIntyre After Virtue p. 2

10
Christians acknowledge a debt to our predecessors. We owe thanks to the saints
of the Christian communion, sanctified for our sake in every generation of our
history. We do not offer excessive respect to, and thus are not captive to the
mindset or worldview of any particular generation. Christian baptism tears us
from captivity to all such partial communities into the true communion.

But moderns are afraid of what they have been given. On the modern conception,
not only is your own individual and culture embodiment thought to be of no
consequence, but it is thought that you should energetically repudiate it. Nothing
you are do in your body or with your body is thought to impact on who you are,
but you must distance yourself from the world and its materiality, and from our
history. Moderns imagine that they are able to dispense with every form of
cultural embodiment, and exist without any inherited form, entirely sourced from
their own imagination. Modernity is entirely unfamiliar with the thought that the
past is the matrix and ‘body’ from which each present generation emerges, and is
a new instantiation of. It concedes the past nothing. Economics is the idiom of the
modern account in which it believes that we owe our predecessors nothing, and
acknowledge no debt to them.

Modernity consists in turning from the past to the future, as from the dead to the
living, and turning from the patient hearing to many voices in public discourse to
the discourse in which we buy options on all our preferences and are obliged to
no particular judgment. This apparent promotion of future over past makes the
present problematic. Our society is not happy with itself, so is adopting Gnostic
and escapist mode. The present is under-valued, and the future is drawn forward;
but over the long term this throws the future into doubt too. If the eschaton and
reconciliation of all thing is already here, it is no longer to be hoped for and we
lose the dignity of crying for justice and waiting for true reconciliation.

European was once a continent of feud. Over centuries the practices of Christian
life broke the cycle of violent retribution and enabled a secular culture open to
the world. If over the long-term Europe ceases to be marked by the Christian
faith it will revert to this violence. Christians do not nurse their grievances but
confess their sins and receive forgiveness and so are reconciled. They do not
consider any situation without looking for God's judgment of it, and with that
judgment, release from the brute facts that bring only condemnation, and thus
they consider each situation along with the prospect of its redemption. Modernity
expects things to continue the same and thus assumes an equilibrium. We have
inherited classical and Christian civilisation because the Church survived the
demographic and economic catastrophe. The Christian form of life tamed the
extreme violence of warrior society; it taught obedience to the law, brought about
a corpus of law that allowed national law to emerge, and so turned the warring
clans of these tribal societies into unified nations. It was the Church that enabled
nations to emerge. How is that? Christian judgment and repentance keeps society
together. Men were glad to hold to a higher law than retribution and power. It is
only the Church that holds a nation together.

To imagine that we could simply swap one history for another, to drop our own
Christian-impacted history for say the history of some Asia, is to suffer a kind of
breakdown. Then we may start to believe that whatever is good cannot derive
from the culture we have inherited. No modern believes that we have received
anything of value from the hands of our own parents, the fifth commandment
abrogated. But who makes the positive argument that we could swap our history
and tradition for that of, say, Saudi Arabia and still remain recognisably British or
American? Without this inherited culture of ours, that relies on an ongoing
relationship to the Christian tradition, would we have the culture of self-
examination and public judgment that has produced the secular public square and

11
market? Would we find the means to challenge the discourse of economics that
would otherwise entirely dominate and substitute for the public square?
Economics is the ‘culture’ that abbreviates and throttles culture, but it is not the
only culture that does so.

All cultures are warrior cultures, for confrontation and examination of differences
is intrinsic to the human economy. Public admission of confrontation is necessary
so that we may develop the practices of self-government by which we may hold
confrontation in proper and useful bounds. The state in Britain and Europe must
allow and enable the public examination of cultures so that their various accounts
of man can be tested by public speech. We can assess Christianity only by the
extent to which its presence ameliorates our own intrinsic warrior culture through
the, at best partial, conversion of the country. Since it is a faith, the Christian
faith is not the permanent possession of any European country. This faith ebbs
and re-grows in this people, and when the Christian tide goes out it reveals more
of the pagan beneath that Christian culture. Europe is free to shed this faith,
precisely because it is a faith, and thus must be received or refused in freedom.
But, no Christian faith: no practice or canon of public memory. No public canon of
memory: no public culture of reason.

We are present to one another in the present because we come together with our
various pasts, and come in hope of sharing a common future. That future is not
yet the possession of any one of us: it can only be jointly negotiated and
discovered. We share a present in that we are present to one another, and this
means bodily present, as embodied creatures in creation, the materiality of which
is the means of our sociality. We have to reveal ourselves, and let ourselves be
discovered, through our bodies. Bodies are the means of our sociality, but every
encounter requires not one body, but two and more.

3. Remembering and Paying Debts


Crisis of self-respect
The Western domestic programme is to root out whatever vestiges of its own
Christian inheritance it can identify.

The Christian gospel says that you may love your fellow as yourself. That is, this
faith takes it for granted that you look after yourself and exhibit a basic self-
preservation. When you are hungry you look for something to eat; when you
have an itch you scratch it. It assumes that it is not necessary to tell anyone to
eat when they are hungry, scratch when they itch, and that they should look after
themselves. It does tell us that you should love your own first, not expect others
to take care of your dependents for you. And then you are free to love others.
You may love the stranger, take them in and treat them as though they were of
your own family or your own brother.

The gospel tells us that we may love our neighbour as ourselves. It takes for
granted that we love ourselves: we dress and feed ourselves and exhibit a basic
care for ourselves. Having done so, we may proceed to serve our neighbour in
the same way. We are loved, by God, and may not dishonour what God loves.
Because they know that they are loved by God, Christian are freed to love: there
is no self-hatred here. We saw from Augustine that self-love is our
acknowledgement that God loves us and we must have respect for his creatures.
But individual ethical principles extracted from this Christian faith and
community, and thus without experience of the love of God, do not result in self-
love and self-respect, but flip over into self-hatred. Such cultural self-abjuration
has become a public policy directed against the faith that generated our inherited
culture. Secularism is prejudice is aimed at the community that insists on the

12
integrity of that faith and opposes such dissolution into separate ethical
imperatives. Such self-reviling comes from a great ingratitude and unhappiness.16

Now we have no public account of how we arrived at our present freedoms, a


failure to see the present freedom of the public square as good and a failure to
identify and defend ourselves against the threats to it.

Modernity is resistant to history. But the past is not only not the problem, but it
may be the place to look for the solutions. This country’s history has provided us
with civil society, the rule of law, the welfare state, a free market and prosperity
and stability. Nonetheless, our public political discourse is all about freeing us
from the past, and starting again from a new and tighter legislative basis that will
close every loophole so that we are made entirely safe from the possibility of
doing harm. But freedom is the freedom also to do harm. Society cannot be
entirely managed and all possibility of anything going wrong made impossible by
legislation. If nothing we do makes any difference to anyone else what we have
arrived at is not society. We cannot be made safe. There is always a risk to us.
We must not box our leaders in by the expectation that they can make us safe
from one another or from ourselves. For this would mean only that nothing we
did would be of any consequence – which would be the abolition of man.

Honour and self-respect


Our society is undergoing a crisis of self-belief. It does not honour its own origins
and tradition and appears to despise displays of manliness and self-assertion. It
has not listened to its own previous generations, so it does not have their
confidence in the covenant of God with man, and so does not know how to
exercise truthful self-judgment. As a result it swings between unsustainably high
and low estimations of its own worth. The present financial crisis demonstrates
that this is a crisis for our economy. We should take recent financial instability as
warning us of a long-term failure. We are no longer be taken at our word, for we
ourselves have devalued it. Money is a series of promises, a proportion of which
have to be kept: when that proportion is too low, and neither we nor anyone else
believes our promises, our money has no value, and neither does the economy
denominated in that money.

An economy is a reflection of a society. The society that does not want to hear
about covenants suffers a crisis of morale that makes it unable to act for the long
term. If we devalue the covenants which constitute the community around us, we
reduce its value, and weaken and reduce the value of every covenant of which
our community consists. So perhaps we should be shocked when marriages break
up. We should feel sex without marriage as shameful and feel hurt when a
marriage ends, and ask one another how we could make it easier for marriages to
survive. We could even suggest that we have let this couple down, or they have
let us down, by breaking the word that they gave one another and those of us
who were in the congregation at their wedding. We should fear that when one
word can be broken, so can others, and suggest that all contracts and covenants
are weakened by the failure of this one. The apparent economic prosperity of
recent years has been premised on the wasteful and destructive consumption
without replacement of our social capital. We have been on a fifty-year binge of
the stock of our social capital.

It looks as though British regard it as dishonourable to express any respect for


themselves as a nation. Perhaps we are undergoing a collective loss of nerve and
16
Pierre Manent The City of Man (Princeton 1998) p. 201 ‘Modern man is the man who
does not know how to be either magnanimous or humble... he overlooks and rejects these
two virtues that correspond to the two principal directions of the human soul.’

13
breakdown. To recover from it we must diagnose it for what it is. The self-
respect that extends into fellow-feeling and sense of belonging is the glue that
holds people together and makes them a nation. Each of us considers our
interests in the light of those of our various communities and the nation as a
whole. Yet we do not seem to care what others think of us. Our government has
not considered whether other economies are really likely to carry for us the
burden of the national welfare that we have awarded ourselves. If we do not
believe in our society it is not likely that anyone else will believe in our economy.

Social capital generates the economy but cannot be measured by it. Christian
social concern cannot be measured by any economic indicators if it is Christian.
Christian work cannot be paid and cannot show up on GDP. But Christian work
must receive its recognition within the Church. It must be acknowledged by the
benefactors, for those who give a year, or a life, to this work must be supported
in dedicated communities.

They are the ones who have created this definition of employment as that which
is explicitly recognised by corporations or government by being taken on their
payroll. They devalue all other sorts of unacknowledged work. Christians have to
say clearly that it is sometimes necessary to leave the formal economy. It is
essential that we recover our informal economy and voluntary sector, for this is
simply neighbourliness, and neighbours give us our motivation. The decline in
neighbourliness means that our youth has become de-motivated and turned in
various forms of entertainment and self-harm so the decline in neighbourliness
has resulted in the waste of our own best national resource.

Britain’s heritage of liberal democracy is under pressure from the new culture of
resentment and victimhood. David Green believes that we have about politically-
mandated victimhood and political authoritarianism. Sectarian collectivists are
hostile to a constitutional system based on a shared political culture, and want to
replace it with a system based on loyalty to racial or sectarian identity. David
Green identifies group self-interest, misguided compassion and political
authoritarianism as three causes. This culture of rights is mistaken, he believes.

First, because it undermines the bedrock principle of liberalism, personal


responsibility grounded on the equal moral status of all. Second, because it
encourages majoritarian rather than deliberative democracy. And third, because
it infringes the ideal of equality before the law.’ 17

Our society is undergoing a crisis of self-respect. We do not seem to be


concerned for our own reputation or what previous generations called ‘honour’ or
‘glory’. We have been given this social capital, this bundle of attitudes and this
system of laws; this moral, social and constitutional capital is the silver spoon we
were born with. We have inherited the good will that came with the UK brand,
which was created by all the Victorian, imperial and post-imperial twentieth
century generations that shaped the society which we now see.

‘What is taking place is not merely the continuing decline of organised


Christianity but the death of a culture which formerly conferred Christian identity
on the British people as a whole.’18

The West has abandoned the discourse of honour and despise patriotism. No
sense that our civilisation is worth defending and even dying in the defence of.
European nations overcame the challenge of the Western European governments
refused to internalise the crisis and loss of confidence that earlier armed

17
David Green We are (nearly) all Victims Now (Civitas).
18
Callum Brown The Death of Christian Britain (Routledge) p. 193

14
movements. In this ‘Stockholm’ syndrome the healthy are so intent on
sympathising with the sick that they deny that there is any difference between
them. Some believe that some in the West are ready to surrender themselves to
the strong arms of that alternative community and that Europe is internally in a
state of ‘submission’.

Since we regard this country’s past as though it were all mistake we swing
between excessively high and low estimations of ourselves. Where we are
uncertain about our value we see wild swings in the valuation the markets give to
our economy and its currency. There are storms in the market because we have
let go of so much of our social capital that we are no longer sure what we are
worth.

Modern self-hatred and flight from public discourse


The question of culture arises with the rise and fall of national economies in the
global marketplace. A national economy falls because other economic agents do
not believe in the value of the product that arise within that national culture, and
they do this when they can see that those national economic agents do not
believe in their own redemption through work.

The question of culture, and the comparison of cultures, arises with the
movement of peoples that has accompanied globalisation. It does not arrive with
immigration but with the arrival of Muslim culture in Western societies. Yet in
there is a determination to stifle the question by those European governments
which do not wish to believe that immigrants are culture-bearing in any public or
political sense. Each arrival from Pakistan is thought of as an individual without
history, a mere body, not a cultural or political integer able to resist the forms
that market and state want to press him into. The possibility that other cultures
are political cultures, and that they do not separate religious and political, private
and public, and can defy all attempts to impose such a separation – this is the
thought which our policy-makers cannot countenance. Their conviction that Islam
can only be a religion and therefore cannot possibly also be a political system, let
alone more robust and long-lived political constitution than liberal secularist
politics, has not yet been questioned in the public square.19 But the culture that
cannot allow such questions to be tested has already conceded too much ground
to be able to last. It cannot tolerate the thought that the little population so
recently introduced, is not collection of individuals grateful to be admitted and
individually ready to take the place that market and state intend for them, but
that each brings with him a thick mesh of indivisible human relationality and an
indissoluble political culture that may still be here when the host culture has
disappeared. The inability of modernity to tolerate the question of the formation
of man and our the question of culture, a failure suddenly apparent with its
reaction to asking such question in this new Muslim presence, raises the question
of whether in modernity and Islam we are dealing with two forms of the same
monism and despair.

The concept of ‘faith communities’ implies that one religion is very like another,
and that none of them has had constitutive impact on us. But Christianity has had
decisive impact on Europe and America. It has made this culture and these
nations what they are now: no other ‘faith community’ has generated the

19
Paul Gottfried After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State p. 127 ‘Administrators,
social workers and academics often romanticise the collective lifestyles of Third World immigrants.
Whether as victims of the West or as imagined avatars of nonsexist and nonracist cultures
these group are seen as.. entitled to their differences… But it may be impossible for a
managerial state to socialize those who have such a privilege or to check the balkanisation
which may result from its exercise. Proliferating alien cultures exercising a ‘right to
difference’ can, after all, subvert a host society.’

15
freedom of the individual, property rights, the free market and welfare state, and
consequent prosperity and stability. Moreover this culture has been exported
around the world, to create what we could call variously civil society, liberal
democracy, individual freedom and the free market.20 These are aspects of
European culture, and they derive from one faith community exclusively. The
equality agenda insists that the imported cultures that now appear on our high
street are as good as the culture that built those streets and markets in the first
place. But the enforcers of this policy there this equality for any culture that is
not the inherited culture, so we may denigrate no religion except the religion that
gave rise to this freedom. Faith communities are apparently not all the same.

The demand that we cut ourselves off from the past is also an attack on the
disciplines that make possible public reason. Modernity is a flight from history into
a forgetfulness, punctuated with moments of rage at its own incoherence.
Modernity is Manichean: the present must perpetually struggle against the dark
power of the past. Abjuration of history past has made the commonplaces of
twenty years ago controversial enough to bring the possibility of legal action, and
since legal action is costly, it is finance, rather than debate in open court, that
settles an issue. No issue is reasoned out in public debate, therefore, for the
market has always decided and discounted everything already.

Modernity canonises those thinkers and statesmen associated with the slow
separation of economy from politics and emergence of the economy as an
autonomous sphere. Economics became detached from the other human sciences
and disciplines, and was re-conceived as the closed economy of nature, a
mechanism that goes on regardless of us. I have suggested that to talk about
market and government as though they were systems and mechanisms is a
means of distancing ourselves from our responsibilities to one another and
avoiding the formation and labour such service involves. It is a way of refusing to
be accountable to one another and to generations past and future.

The moral philosophers from Bacon to Kant who championed of the autonomy of
the individual were succeeded by the Utilitarians who championed the
autonomous economy. When neoclassical or utilitarian economics became the
dominant idiom of public life, our various actions in the public square were
described in terms of individual market transactions in which each of us imagines
that we act in private. No action of ours is understood to be visible to others or
likely to be emulated by them; every transaction is considered in isolation from
all previous and subsequent transactions. The inside world of the human heart is
the idiom in which we understand the public world, and the whole European
tradition of thought about being human in public is turned inside out, so we now
attempt to understand the public world only in terms of the preferences of the
individual, the man who is alone.

These champions of the autonomy of the individual rejected the existing


humanities tradition built up by Christian discipleship, and the Aristotelian
inheritance with which the Christian tradition had been in long conversation, and
so cut away the whole web of complex connections between the two ontologies of
nature (bodies) and culture (charisma). As a result much of the discourse that
held together the doctrines of creation and redemption, and the two concepts of
nature and culture, disappeared in the West. We therefore have to consider
ourselves twice, or as two separate persons. We consider ourselves once as body
20
Hernando de Soto The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism succeeds in the West and
fails everywhere else p. 182 ‘All property rights spring from social recognition of a claim’s
legitimacy. To be legitimate, a right does not necessarily have to be defined by formal law;
that a group of people strongly supports a convention is enough for it to be upheld as a
right and defended against formal law.’

16
and set of needs, and once as the self that desires freedom from this body and
environment. Each of us has two avatars, but no means of saying how the
embodied and material avatar relates to the avatar with views and purposes.
Should we give up hope of the reconciliation of the two worlds of nature
(materiality) and culture (freedom)?

The champions of autonomy dismissed the great apprenticeship and hoped that
we would forget its great representatives, Aristotle and Augustine. They denied
that this Christian history represented a moral and intellectual tradition that could
serve to form us into public persons. In doing so, they made it difficult for us to
compare their teaching to that of earlier generations and achieve any critical
distance from them. These champions of the autonomy of the present have
become the modern canon, and assumed an undeclared authority in
contemporary Western societies. This early modern and modern period is
canonical for us because it withholds the names by which we can interrogate the
cultural and economic forms that it elevates. The founding of the American and
other republics, the explicit disengagement of political and religious sphere, and
the emergence of the disembedded economy, and the foundation of national
banks issuing a single legal tender, made a glorious new morning. Modernity
gave us a narrative of progress, conceived through the nineteenth century in
material and political terms – a rising standard of living and widening political
participation. The Christian and Aristotelian narrative of the growth of the human
person through an apprenticeship, changed into a narrative of what we now
simply call ‘economic growth’. We must pick up this story again in our next
chapter.

The shallow canonical past of modernity


This promotion of one past, the early modern period, to the status of canon
makes our society vulnerable. We cannot resolve our present problems only by
referring to the principles articulated by the fathers of the modern period. We are
unable to help ourselves as long as we obey their injunction not to enquire about
the great tradition that preceded them. When times are hard we need to take
advice from all members of the family, perhaps particularly those with the longest
memories. But this canonical early modern morning has become an article of faith
in the cult of modernity. The autonomous and disembedded economy of
modernity is not a matter only of beliefs, or of unarticulated deepest
assumptions. It is actualised and given body in each economic transaction.

Because Western society is not confident of its long future, no one is willing to
receive their public recognition in the long-term and implicit currency of honour.
We demand that we are paid only in the explicit and immediate currency that is
money. Money is a means of ordering and communicating preferences. It is not a
means of exchanging accounts of the truth, and testing our accounts, and so of
testing and improving ourselves. The economy has grown to fill the public square,
driving explicit public examination and judgment into enclaves. We avoid
confrontation by tackling public issues in the idiom of economics, so that
discussion is not substantive, about ideas, but procedural, about budgets. To talk
about truth in the discourse of preferences is to take away the burden of judging
what is right in any case and, having reached judgment, to turn definitively away
from other options. To do politics in the idiom of economics is to deal with all
public issues by spread betting. Money is a kind of shorthand or pidgin that we
oblige one another to employ for all public issues. Its infinite divisibility allows us
to avoid making any decision definitive. We never have to turn finally to or from
any decision, because we can keep all options open, by greater or smaller
budgetary allocations to all of them. But as we hedge our bets on all public policy,
it is we who are divided, and who therefore fail to develop and grow.

17
The West does not respect and admire what its previous generations have done.
It is suffering from a loss of self-respect. This is a failure to honour its own
predecessors, and to realise our obligations to past and future generations. It
does not keep the fifth commandment to honour your mother and father, to
respect our elders and forebears. In part this is the result of such a hubristic view
of itself that it believes itself to be superior to all previous generations that it has
no need to grant them recognition, so it neglects to cultivate its own history
altogether. Where the attitude of gratitude is not known, we see ourselves only
as critics and destroyers of what we have found.

We have put ourselves under the tutelage of the generation that said that all
previous discipleship should be wiped and systematically set aside. Those who
followed them decided that we do not need any discipline, while their successors
asserted that all discipleships are forms of power exerted on us, and that we
must exert ourselves against all of them equally. The university has been
overtaken by those who are convinced that there is nothing to learn about man.
He has been fully revealed to be a merely biological phenomenon without self-
control, who needs to be controlled externally.21

We introduce ourselves as though we were without history. Only when we know


someone’s whole history can we argue with them, and suggest that the account
of their identity that they give us is not the only one. As long as we refuse to
name our sources and heads we hold out against each other. 22 We exert power
over one another when we attempt to withhold our identify from one another, by
refusing to say what our past is and so who our intellectual forebears are. We
attempt to withhold from them the means of showing how their identity and ours
may be different from what they say it is. We have to own up to our history and
tradition and so even name our intellectual sources, in order to give one another
our identity. When we own up to our tradition we are being more generous and
hospitable to others than when we do not. A society which is forgetful of its past
to the point that manages to conceal from itself its own history, is less generous
to others, and over the long-term, will suffer for it. It is generous to give one
another an account not only of what we want, but why we have come to regard
such things as valuable. We are better able to enter new relationships with others
when we offer them long-hand accounts of our identity, together with the long
history of that identity. Once again, the short-hand account cannot entirely
replace the long-hand account.

Christians know that we have to approach one another both in peace and with
judgment and questioning and readiness to challenge, so simultaneously in peace
and hold one another to judgment, even at the cost of confrontation. Christians
do not think that peace obviates the need for confrontation and mutual
questioning and testing. Christians insist that our age must remain under
examination and judgment, for it is not yet the kingdom of God and this is not yet
the end time.

4. The Paradox of Liberalism


Modern self-hatred and the inversion of values
The first aim of any society must be to continue to be a single society. When it
ceases to make whatever effects are required to preserve its unity it will drift
apart into opposing groups, identified by income, class, ethnicity or age-group.
Mutual attachment is the bond which holds these groups together as one nation.
In the form of love of glory, such attachment and affection is the motive for all

21
MacIntyre
22
Jenson on Hegel

18
public action.23 Though the modern tradition has left us with the impression that
love is sentimental, unsophisticated and irrelevant to public life, we may properly
call this attachment as ‘love’. Love is end and goal of all sociality. Our hope for
the recognition and love of our contemporaries motivates us to act will for them.

In classical political philosophy, generosity is the most fundamental political


concept: either justice includes generosity, or is an aspect of it. Generosity
results in thankfulness and so is it own reward. You are able to take joy in the
people who have received your generosity, and to take joy in their joy in you. The
Christian view relates generosity to an insistence that each particular person is to
be loved for themselves, rather than as part of a class of persons. Christian
generosity comes from the twin convictions that we are ourselves loved, and that
all human beings are loved, and are in the image of God. This emphasis on the
particularity of human beings, makes Christianity is the true source of that form
generosity, that once termed liberality, then became gave rise to the political
concept of liberalism.

But there is another form of liberalism that I we may call ideological secularism.
It has turned the command to love our neighbour into a harder command, not to
offend or confront, and so not to identify anyone as neighbour. Since they have
decided that they cannot receive, however much at second-hand, the self-
government that originates in the Gospel, our political leaders have lost touch
with generosity and its sources. The state that does not acknowledge the primacy
of self-government is trying to push the service of the Church out of the public
square, telling Christians that they represent merely one ‘faith community’ among
others. But the Church replies that, though there be many faith communities,
there is only one that threatens us. The government that is has lost sight of the
sources of generosity, attempts to substitute for it, and becomes over-extended.
It looks for ideological justification for why it should become more so. Such a
state is itself a ‘faith community’. Because they do not condescend to recognise
the covenant from which all our many distinct covenants come, everything
governments do substitutes for our own love and initiative and action. Their
equality agenda attempts to flatten every specific covenant, bringing each
individual into direct relationship with the state, so that the relationship each of
us has with the state is more important than any other relationship that we have
inherited or entered freely. Their determination to solve our problems drives them
to do things for us and instead of us, so taking away our motivation to do things
for one another or for ourselves.

Liberalism, equivalence and compulsion


British society has routinized generosity, so fewer of us now want to experience it
first-hand. The state that does not hear from the covenanted community of the
Church is drawn into a new gospel, which declares that all relationships are equal.
The equivalence agenda takes the command of Christ to ‘love your neighbour as
yourself’ (Luke) away from the grace of Christ and the formation in the Church
which it enables. It is turned into an abstract principle, and so into a new law.
‘The first shall be last and the last first…’; the Lord’s warning that the last will be
first has become the principle that the previously marginalised must always
become our new norm. It promotes the marginal over the central, the exception
over the rule. The promotion of the excluded is a Christian precept, taken from
the Christians and used as a lever against them.

The crisis of confidence felt by our contemporary society of individuals without


covenant expresses itself in many ways. The equivalence agenda is one of them.
When it is promoted to an agenda, ‘equality’ represents a failure to admire and

23
Augustine City of God

19
wonder at the particularity of other people, though wonder is the basis of all
enquiry and knowledge. without it, equality is likely to be pursuit of homogeneity
and an effort to flatten whatever part appears to stand higher than the rest.

The public policy to disavow and eradicate our inherited differences has started to
silence the public sphere.24 No government that has taken on an ideology is able
to tolerate a rival. It wants to defend itself from challenge and so it wants to
guard the public square from the risk of public speech. It considers confrontation
to be a form of conflict which it has to deter. It prefers to believe that peace has
arrived, and is only threatened when confrontational views are brought to the
public square.

The state has taken on the therapeutic task of modifying the behaviour and
attitudes of the population, to root whichever of our beliefs are no longer
acceptable. 25

(quote??) Affirmative action, mass immigration, and the exclusion of religion


from public life illustrate the power of that elite to force fundamental changes
over strong and rooted opposition from virtually the entire people.....
subordinates the institutions of civil society, and even popular opinions,
attitudes, and customs, to the state, which is responsible for their supervision,
transformation, and reconstruction on inclusivist lines. It denies and indeed tries
to destroy the connection between government and any particular people with
common habits, outlook and loyalties that make possible effective common
deliberation and participation in government.26

Anxious to avoid confrontation and upset, we regularly identify new categories of


person who may be offended.27 We have to spread consensus by consulting with
ever-widening circles of people and demonstrating that we have done so by
keeping records, and keeping employ numbers of people on compliance.28 We
need a class of controllers to monitor us. All may be equal, as long as some, who
select themselves, are able to sustain their own superior status for our good.29

Confrontation avoidance and the loss of public speech


Our individual determination not to be ‘judgmental’ has issued in the vast
judgment that all truths are partisan and temporary. We have decided that no
one should declare anyone else’s judgment is wrong, and that public expressions
of disagreement should not be pushed too far. The state wants us to regard us as
though we shared a single gender, and hints that it is coercive to suggest
otherwise. But if response must be that if there were a single unisex no human
being would have no need or desire any other human being. If we are all
undifferentiated beings, the state is prior to human existence, and must nominate

24
Paul Gottfried After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State p. 99
‘Pluralism was intended to close off discussion with individuals and groups who were held
to be insufficiently progressive.’
25
Paul Gottfried After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State p.140 ‘…those
who rule have not abandoned the practice of restricting disagreeable speech but are
carrying it forward in the name of openness and combating discrimination.’
26
James Kalb Tyranny of Liberalism
27
David Green We are (nearly) all Victims Now (Civitas)
28
Paul Gottfried After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State p. 104
‘Pluralist proponents of social harmony… aim at ‘openness’, ‘inclusiveness’ and other ideals
that require the monitoring of groups by public administrators and behavioural scientists…
29
Bowman Honor p.39 ‘You could say that the most important survival of honour in the
West – that by which we separate our intellectual, moral and social elites from the rest –
lies in the sense of exclusivity on the part of the enlightened and progressive-minded
honor group who regard themselves as being above the demands of honor. This anti-honor
honor…’

20
and delegate our functions to us. We are then functions, and indeed
instantiations, of it. Society is then a single household, and the state is its head,
our universal parent. Then the state is in truth the only person, the meta-human
being, and we are only persons to the degree that we receive our identity from it.
The state is then a secular god, and we must be its worshippers. Such an
unwillingness to concede that we have to give an account of ourselves and enter
debate should warn us not only of a loss of morale but of economic motivation.

Modern self-hatred and the body


Modernity insists on an absolute disjuncture between the public and private
worlds. There is no intrinsic meaning of bodies and no long tail to any event of
encounter, however bodily that encounter is.

There is no difference between men and women, and such differences that we
have inherited are to be reduced by state intervention. Anyone who suggests that
there are difference between men and women is shamed. For moderns, nothing
you do in your body or with your body has any intrinsic meaning, but only the
meaning you put upon it. This is why the body is the area in which so many of
modernity most interesting contradictions appear.

Moderns feel that they should not be encumbered by shame, but they
nonetheless feel guilt and shame in all issues that involve bodies, and they are
surprised. Modernity fights its campaign against shame. The female body is a fifth
column in the body politics. Individual women amongst us are periodically
invaded: they become pregnant. In doing so, their body has defied their will, and
they have no wish to acknowledge what their body has done. This pregnancy is a
failure of the technology of birth prevention. Each conception is an incursion over
an undefended border. They do not have the moral means to see this as anything
but a failure of technology, or even worse, to fear that this is a particular
susceptibility and even weakness of the female body. Men are not betrayed by
their bodies in this way. But a woman is the victim here, made so by her biology.
Yet men have been persuaded to feel ashamed. In truth, every abortion tells a
man not that he should feel shame that, despite all that is asserted about the
independence of each woman from her biology, there is indeed a living
relationship between this woman and her own procreative powers, but then adds
simply that this woman did not believe that he was good enough for parenthood.

Those who opt for an abortion have decided that we as a society are not able or
worthy to value them and support them in bringing up their child. Every
termination is a vote of no confidence in the rest of us. If the six million children
aborted in the United Kingdom since the 1967 Abortion Act were alive today we
would be likely to be dependent on workers from other countries, and perhaps
less exposed to the mindset that disparages our own products.

Abortion is war on the home front, indeed is the war of the present generation
against its own best hopes, and therefore against itself. Perhaps in additional to
moral, we should tackle this issue in the terms of our society’s long-term and
thus of its economy. If we imagine that this embryo is indeed not a child, and so
not a bearer of ‘rights’, and confine our interest to the adults involved. What
effect does a termination have on the readiness of the woman who has an
abortion to bear other children? Above the loss of a child, abortion compromises
personal morale.

What is the effect on the confidence of the population of the absence of the six
million lives aborted in the UK since the legalisation of abortion in 1967? Does the
population that uses contraception, and abortion when contraception fails,
recover the ability to have children? What is the effect of the undeclared grief of

21
these acts on the morale of the individuals involved? What is the effect on those
individuals of being unable to talk publicly about this act? The emotional
dislocation that follows an emotion means that readiness to bear a child in the
future disappears. Many relationships do not survive an abortion. What effect
does the shame and silence generated by this event, have on the morale of that
age-group that might be starting families? Every birth causes a rise in the morale
of its parents. What effect does this lack of confidence have on the future growth
of the population?30 What is the effect on the relationships lost and confidence of
men and women to embark on relationships that might eventually issue in
children? But over these issues, is again the issue of our failure to talk about it,
and to lament the lack of moral resources by which this issue could be talked
about. Discussion of the economy should consider whether by constantly
preventing the arrival of those children who are the agents of our own futures, we
have not been damaging our own economic future. Could it be that contraception
and abortion are part of a wider fear of reproduction that reflect a wider flight
from the future? Our failure to express such concerns in public life has direct and
deleterious effect on our economic prosperity.

We said that each generation owes the previous the gift of life, a gift that they
can only acknowledge with the return gift of a third generation, of grandchildren
for grandparents. We concluded that the economy is about the production of
persons, and secondarily about the flows that enable one generation to bring
another into existence. Sex without the public social affirmation and the ritual
change of status – marriage, the explicit covenant that welcomes children, results
in the decline of a society, and generation that since it is without children of its
own, has a foreshortening horizon and one less reason to live responsibly.

Ideological liberalism is a partial borrowing from Christianity, that sets some


parts of the Christian inheritance against others without comprehension of what
whole these parts belong to. Liberalism does not sustain itself. It seems unaware
of the long-term challenges it faces or of its need to renew itself from that same
the tradition which gave birth to it. A society needs to exercise its virtues in order
to maintain the stock of social capital it inherited. The gains represented by
Western culture may be lost.

‘Demographic collapse is one sign of an existential loss of hope and a turning of


the self inward on the self, refusing to extend the self to a child and thus
abandoning the task of civic formation on this most fundamental and private
level.’31

I suggested that a healthy society depends on a mixed economy. In a mixed


economy we have the demands of the body, family and tribe and inter-
generational solidarity and continuity, on the one hand and, on the other, the
opportunity to grow through these biological and cultural givens into the freedom
of encounter of the secular public square.

We have noticed the withdrawal from procreation, disappearance of the three-


generation household, and the consequent question of how Western society will
reproduce itself. Where once ‘married with children’ was the norm, now it is
‘single, no children’. The two-generation unit of the family household, combining
the claims of present-and-future was norm. Now the household is a one-
generation unit, that is unable to hear the claim of any time that is not the

30
See Donald T. Critchlow Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the
Federal Government in Modern America (OUP); Phillip B. Levine Sex and Consequences:
Abortion, Public Policy, and the Economics of Fertility; Stephen W. Mosher Population
Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits (Transaction, 2008).
31
Jean Bethke Elshtain ‘While Europe Slept’, First Things March 2009.

22
present. The single are the norm, and the married and fecund are the marginal.
The result is a lack of those new bodies which would as economic agents in
twenty year’s time, would be our own support. We must contrast our society with
those other societies which are willing to produce a new generation. We can
compare the ideology that disdains bodies and procreation with the ideology
which affirms them.

5. Modernity meets a Rival


A society requires an element of self-respect. Do Western societies possess this
self-respect. Is their own reputations no longer reason enough for their public
actions? Are they undergoing a crisis of confidence? In order to recover from any
loss of self-respect we will have to identify it. We must find our self-respect and
loyalty to our community for these are the basis on which we may be hospitable
to other communities and cultures and so truly be an open economy.

In Chapter 2 we examined the family as source of virtues and the economic


functions that grow out of them. We saw that the family is as constitutive of the
future as of the past. Far from attempting to ‘return’ in romantic fashion to an
earlier social form we saw that families produce the agents of our economy. The
economic future can only be generated by the unit that produces not merely
children, but children who receive enough emotional formation to become self-
governing persons. But there is a community that represents the strong claims of
the family, right here before us. A vibrant non-modern community has come to
the West. Since it is not modern we may fairly call it primitive; since it is
articulate and well-defended I will call it ideological primitivism. Since this
community is strong in all the virtues that make for inter-generational continuity
it represents a rebuke to the anti-body, anti-family gnosticism of modernity and
so to the modern refusal to acknowledge any debt to generations, past or future.
Faced by this self-consciously rival way of life, Modernity no longer appears as
the only form of life possible in the contemporary world. Modernity has a rival, so
cannot any longer insist on its own inevitability. It will have to give an account of
itself, say why the modern is preferable to all other forms of life, and that
modernity is indeed a superior culture. All this is surely good for Western and for
British society.

Importing primitivism
Western economies require labour power. Western governments have responded
to this need by encouraging immigration from other parts of the world. No matter
that our career makes it impossible for us to have children. We can import other
people’s children!32 Western societies have imported populations from many other
parts of the world. But immigration from one part of the world presents Modernity
with a challenge and presents us with a series of counterfactuals that enable us
to see Modernity more clearly.

We have said that modern economics assumes that all will fit the place that
market and consumer culture have prepared for them. Each migrant worker is
thought of as an individual, without history or his own cultural and political
integrity. It is certainly possible that the corrosive effects of consumerism will
turn Muslims into consumers, and that Islam will not develop as a political
phenomenon in Europe. It may be that Muslims will become modern deracinated
consumers, as ironic and sarcastic about themselves as any other modern. But
we should not proclaim the triumph of consumerist individualism over family and
primitivism before it happens, or assume that, of these two cultures, modernity is
32
John C. Caldwell and Bruce Caldwell Demographic Transition Theory (Springer 2006) p.
12. ‘The Industrial system does not need marriage, families, virginity, legitimate births or
even reproduction. If the birth rate falls too low then immigrants can replace the native-
born.’

23
the stronger. We must at least entertain the thought the culture of these
immigrants will prove stronger than the culture-denying culture that hopes to
receive them as merely economic individual agents.

Modernity may not succeed in assimilating and neutralising Islam in Western


societies. While liberals do not tend to have children at the replacement rate and
so decline to reproduce themselves in that way, Muslims do have children and
strong, and controlling, families. It may be that while ideological secularists are
presently the dominant ideological force, they will not continue so. Ideological
liberals are reluctant to bear children at anything approaching replacement rate.
The changing economic-and-demographic situation will mean that in twenty and
thirty years’ time they will no longer represent the political nation. It is not that
they be defeated intellectually, for that is already true, but simply that, having
declined to procreate, they will be disappearing as a generation and a political
constituency.

Ideological Primitivism against Modernity and secularity


Islam is the most developed ideological form of primitivism. Islam is not merely a
‘religion’ in the sense that moderns understand this as a merely interior individual
preference. It is a movement of moral and political reform. It has taken up the
space as capitalism’s ideological opponent once occupied by Communism. It
believes that the West is suffering from a loss of dignity, and in this we have to
admit that it could be right. It regards the behaviour of this society as vile and
degrading and it intends to reform it. What proportion of Muslims are committed
to this mission to reform, and what power they have to effect such reform, and
whether this reform is in fact in the interests of this society and its economy, and
indeed might represent a return to the best traditions and virtues of British
society – all these are open questions.

The secular square must allow these questions to be asked. Moderns should take
to heart the implied rebuke. Are moderns suffering a fear of the body? Are they in
flight from their own families? Are they dishonouring their parents by refusing to
bear them children and grand-children, and are they thereby de-motivating
themselves? Have moderns decided that Western societies have not achieved
anything worth living for, protecting, promoting and having children for? These
are the questions which the new European presence of Islam represents. Let us
consider them.

Honour
Modernity insists that it has outgrown the conceptuality of honour and shame,
and associates the body with neither. Perhaps we should express this another
way. Perhaps modernity is driven by a merely unexpressed shame into flight from
the body? Modernity dissolves society, removing us from our natural ties, and so
it wears away all that belongs to our biology, the family and to territory. For
Modernity the body must not determine our identity. Islam is appalled by this.
Perhaps we should be too.

For Primitivism the body largely determines our identify. Islam is a highly
articulated system for identifying honour and shame, and attaching one or the
other to bodies, family, kin and territory. We must of course also ask Muslims
whether they also understand that we are more than our biology and families can
make us. Do they concede that we meet outside our family, and have obligations
beyond those that our families place on us? Is this primitivism able to accept the
dignity and freedom of the person? Are they able to support freedom and
openness, and so sustain the open economy that depends on them?

Resentments

24
Our next question is about the ability of ideological Primitivism to transform, or at
least to control, the impulses of those people who adhere to it. How well does the
spirituality of Islam form and enable the individual as political agent and citizen?

The pagan account arranges people on the basis of whether they are my friends
and allies, or they are enemies; they are not conceived as truly independent
agents. Does Islam tame warrior society or does it merely entrench it and
regularise the fact that the game goes to the powerful? When he obeys a public
political decision is this accompanied by the forgiveness that makes his
submission to it permanent and even willing? Or does his submission continue
only until he is powerful enough to attempt retribution? David Goldman believes
that ‘Islam does not take its adherents away from the basic lines of their own
society’. This religion ‘ensures that Muslims carry the baggage of traditional life
into the new religion, for it offers no point of departure from traditional society.’
Goldman believes that, ‘As a universal religion, Islam can only universalize the
aspirations of the tribes it assimilates, rather than transform them, and cannot rid
itself of its pagan heritage.’ 33

Nationhood is a concept that derives from the Christian view that each person is
ready to accept, and even to suffer, the rule of those appointed to govern,
because this is an outworking of our deference and service to one another. We
may knuckle down to this discipline because we believe that we may find our way
to the long-term common good. Does Islam create nations?34 Or is the concept of
nation a Western imposition, and the nations of the Middle East the creations of
European colonial powers? Are Muslims happy to be citizens of their own nations
or do they long to throw off such imposed identities? Each Islamic nation
experiences a state of low-level civil war.35 Each power broker intends to capture
the apparatus of power in order to run it as an extension of his own extended
family.

Does primitivism have the resources to allow the individual person to escape the
call of loyalty to his family, to escape his own household? Is Islam able to regard
those who attempt to leave Islam as people who exercising their freedom or is it
able only to regard them as betrayers? For a long period within the history of
Islam a secular sphere existed, for an elite at least, before eventually vanishing
again. But was not even this secular square premised on a permanently different
legal status so that even the protected the non-citizen, the ‘dhimmi’, was without
equal access to the law? Could a dhimmi ever prosecute a Muslim? Has there ever
been an open square – and market – hosted by Muslims in which Muslims and
non-Muslims met on a level field? Can an independent secular public square
emerge?

The West believes in co-existence. Islam, surely rightly, believes that the West
corrodes Islam and that they are in the struggle to the finish. To a degree we can
see the differences between modernity and primitivism as a matter of mutual
ignorance and incomprehension, but also of schizophrenia. Modernity does not

33
David Goldman – Spengler Asia Times
34
Roger Scruton The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat (London:
Continuum 2002) p.126 ‘Western civilization depends on an idea of citizen that is not
global at all, but rooted in territorial jurisdiction and national loyalty. By contrast, Islam,
which has been until recently remote from the Western world and without the ability to
project its message, is founded on an ideal of godliness which is entirely global in its
significance, and which regards territorial jurisdiction and national loyalty as compromises
with no intrinsic legitimacy of their own.’
35
Roger Scruton The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat (London:
Continuum 2002) p. 133 Muslim states do not have the loyalty of their people, who are not
citizens but subjects, contemptuous (for the most part) of their rulers

25
allow the public comparison of cultures and forms of life, insisting that there is no
culture that it has not assimilated, and so depowered, and at the same time it
dishonours the historical tradition from which it has emerged and denigrates all
continuing expressions of that tradition. Western guilt about the imperialism of its
previous generations is no basis for a healthy relationship. Islam cannot absolve
us of that guilt, for it regards guilt as weakness and despises weakness. It has no
conception of the Christian conception that admission of weakness is necessary in
order to discover a further strength.36

This means that one modern assumption is mistaken. Other cultures, Islamic
culture among them, do not share, or even understand, the modern habit of self-
denigration. Some of this relates to Western guilt about nineteenth and twentieth
century imperialism, although those powers assuredly were motivated to prevent
the disorder caused by the previous, Ottoman, empire. Muslims may protest
Western military occupations, though this is to ignore that Western interventions
prevent the disorder caused by the failure of regimes to sustain a wider peace.
Their presence sullies the purity of the territory that Islam claims exclusively.
Islam’s new-found energy is a protest against the failure of manliness or
masculinity. But is this not all moved by self-pity and resentment? The claim is
made that someone did all this to them. The powers they blame are the ‘colonial’
powers of the West, with Israel as their battering ram. Islam cannot absolve us
of that guilt, for it regards guilt as weakness and a warrior culture scorns
weakness. Does Islam have the Christian conception that admission of weakness
is necessary in order to discover a further strength?37

Not everybody admires the civilisation of the West. Some are motivated to do it
whatever damage they can.38 Some Westerners assume that if the demands of
Islamists were examined some could be met and violence would stop. But it may
not be so. Roger Scruton tells that ‘You don’t overcome resentment by feeling
guilty, or by conceding your fault. Weakness provokes, since it alerts your enemy
to the possibility of destroying you. We should be prepared to affirm what we
have and to express our determination to hold on to it.’ Scruton believe that it is
not envy, but resentment, that animates Islam:

‘Envy is the desire to possess what the other has; resentment is the desire to
destroy it. How do you deal with resentment? This is the great question that so
few leaders of mankind have been able to answer. But we are fortunate in being
heirs to the one great attempt to answer it, which was that of Christ.’

He points out that forgiveness is our release from resentment:

‘To reach out in a spirit of forgiveness is not to accuse yourself; it is to make a


gift to the other. And it is just here, it seems to me, that we have taken the
wrong turn in recent decades. The illusion that we are to blame, that we must
confess our faults and join our cause to that of the enemy, exposes us to a more
determined hatred. The truth is that we are not to blame, that the enemy’s

36
Bowman Honor p.19 ‘The Kantian categorical imperative – the maxim that no one
should act on principle that he would not wish to be universal – which is so central to
Western moral thinking since the enlightenment is simply incomprehensible in the moral
world of the honour cultures that survive outside the penumbra of Western thought.’
37
David Pryce-Jones The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs (New York: Harper
& Row, 1989); Philip Salzman Culture and Conflict in the Middle East.
38
Roger Scruton The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat (London:
Continuum 2002) p.83 the spectacle of Western freedom and Western prosperity, going
hand-in-hand with Western decadence and the crumbling of Western loyalties, is bound to
provoke, in those who envy the one and despise the other, a seething desire to punish.’

26
hatred is entirely unjustified, that his implacable enmity cannot be defused by
our breast-beating. And this truth makes it seem as though we are powerless.’ 39

The West should surely admire its own civilisation, and employ whatever to
defend it so that future generations can decide for themselves they wish to
receive it as good. Economic breakthrough occurred in the West, producing the
rising raising standards of living that other parts of the world did not. Could it be
that only those societies with prolonged exposure to the witness of the Christian
community, with its sophisticated account of justice, forgiveness and rule of law
experience such an economy? Could it be that, without the rule of law, not merely
represented at a constitutional level, but embodied in the deepest habits of mind
of the nation, there is no sanctity of contract and property, and so no
independent economy emerges? Their resentments may provoke others to do
damage to this society if they can. Perhaps we should heed a warning of a pagan
Greek, Cleon, to his Athenian fellow-citizens.

Because fear and conspiracy place no part in the your relations with one another,
you imagine that the same thing is true of your allies. You fail to see that when
you allow them to persuade you to make a mistaken decision and when you give
way to your feelings of compassion you are being guilty of a kind of weakness
which is dangerous for you and which will not make them love you any more.40

Bodies and contagion


Dualist anthropology – Man and women in Islam
Now we must make the same cross-cultural comparison at the level of
anthropology. What how do the doctrines of man of Primitivism and Modernity
compare? In modernity as we have seen there is a single and undifferentiated
human status. Men and women are full equivalents; whenever biological
differences force themselves upon our attention, they must be flattened and
concealed. In Ideological primitivism there are two human statuses – that of man
and woman: their political difference is permanent and evidenced by their
biology.

For ideological Primitivism the meanings of bodies are obvious yet always need
reinforcement. Islam is the ideologisation of bodily contagion and the need to
control and regularise the meeting of bodies in order to protect family and tribe.
For Modernity, each of us belongs to whichever elective affinity he decides, and
can change his allegiances as often as he wishes. Bodily contagion and purity
extends to territory, for what Islam once touches, it forever holds, and cannot be
removed without becoming an act of war against Islam. Islam regards its seizure
of territory as demonstration of its truth. It is supersessionist – it believes that it
has succeeded Judaism and thus taken over the theological space occupied by
Judaism, such that Muslims are the true and sole people of God, while Jews
themselves have become false Jews.

In Primitivism Men are strong and therefore remain clean and do not become
contaminated while women are weaker, vulnerable and easily sullied. Women are
the assets of men, but when they pick up contamination, they can become
worthless. The worldview of Primitivism relates everything to honour and
contagion. You stay ahead by honouring your friends and dishonouring your
rivals. You enter relationships, temporary alliances, to make you strong enough
to weaken a common enemy. When he is weakened, your ally becomes your next
strongest rival, who must then be turned on and disrespected. You get ahead by
protecting your own assets, which is what your women are, and impugning those
of your rivals. While Modernity has an extreme short-term conception of

39
Roger Scruton ‘Islam and the West: Lines of Demarcation’, Azure (Winter 2008-09)
40
Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War (Penguin 1954) p. 213

27
relationships, Islam has a very long-term conception of how bodies relate. A stain
on one’s honour cannot be eradicated in a lifetime, except by violently removing
the one through whom the offence has come. In relation to sex, the rules are not
the same for women as for men. If a woman is even thought to have had sex
outside marriage the men of her own household have been dishonoured. She can
be destroyed by rumour for, to the household that is attacked, there may not be
a significant difference between being besmirched by rumour and actual sexual
transgression. The Muslim woman is something short of a fully public person.

Primitivism understands modernity as contagion, as the standing attempt to


disrespect and undermine Islam. It believes that modernity is deliberate in this
and that the West is therefore a conspiracy against Islam. It believes that the
West is also morally weak and so ultimate politically weak too. At the same time
it is motivated by fear and resentment, for it fears that modernity is strong,
clean, more efficient. Perhaps these two discourses of resentment will combine
against the discourse of responsibility and so direct themselves against the
Christian faith that sustains it.

The closed economy of tribal primitivism


Liberalism acknowledges no difference between men and women public status:
men and women can encounter one another without reservation. They do not
need to acquire public approval before they meet. Islam does not concede that
men and women can meet outside the family, in the public realm. Christianity
allows a covenant-defined area in which men and women can greet, meet and
contract with one another in any form but the directly bodily of physical coupling.

The Moderns must ask Primitivists whether there can countenance the freedom of
the open economy in which we are more than our biology and families can make
us, in which we meet outside our family, and beyond the obligations which our
families place on us. Is Islam able to get beyond the feud? Does being Muslim
make you poor first in a moral and political, and then also in an economic,
sense? Does it allow people to escape the closed circle of retribution and the
endless desire for revenge? Is it able to communicate the practices of asking for
and receiving forgiveness? Can it tell forgiveness apart from resignation? It must
ask our ideological primitivism whether it is opposed to the freedom?

We must put the same questions to Modernity. By his insistence that all cultures
are the same, the modern raises himself above what he sees as an
undifferentiated multicultural melange. By insisting on this single status for all
cultures, he creates a second status, above all cultures, from which he is has
authority to make this judgment, and so he too operates a two-level hierarchy.
The modern believes that it does not matter what each thinks, for there is no
truth, but only power; he believes that there will be no accounting and no one
held responsible. But his determination that there are no given criteria,
represents his determination to be judge, here and now, and insist on our
acquiescence.

Perhaps Western societies have been hollowed out by Modernity. Modern societies
may not be self-supporting in the long term, because modernity as an ideology
may not allow a society the means to survive. Western societies may be under
much greater threat from crises of demography and morale than they are from
crises of energy supply or climate change. Perhaps Islam is simply bystander to a
long decline that is taking place anyway. If the West is able to rise to the
challenge posed and become stronger because it does so, perhaps the arrival of
Islam is to be welcomed. In any event, the ideological liberal wants to prevent us

28
from putting such questions as these.41 But the ideological liberal is already
preparing to vacate; it is no concern of theirs that, when they are gone, the
primitives will inherit what is left. So we have a paradoxical alliance of moderns
and primitives.

Comparison of these two cultures brings up unexpected similarities. Both appear


to be cultures of victimhood and resentment; each fails to give the present is
proper value in such a way that they also hold out against the future. For Islam
the past determines the future and present. For Modernity the future determines
the present, although the future is also no different from the present. These two
cultures are short of aspiration and hope, and therefore have limited accounts of
the motivation that drives an economy. Modernity is not capable of reproducing
the children to support its economy and standard of living so it imports its labour
force from Islam. Islam itself is not capable of producing the economy which can
give meaningful aspiration to its children, so that it must export them to the
economy of modernity. Both Islam and modernity are appear to be pillage
economies.

Although moderns decline to have sufficient numbers of children and reproduce


themselves in that way, Muslims in Europe are doing better. We may tell liberals
that they are soon going to be what they have long sought to be, the minority.
Demographics may decide this issue. The ‘freedom of the individual’ identified by
Moderns will soon be over, for women in particular. We do not need to make any
judgment on this, for it is a dialogue internal to these two monisms. Christians
have no particular stake in the survival of one society rather than another, and
certainly refute the assumption that nationhood is determined by ethnicity. The
Church has no stake in the lasting existence of the British. But it is for Christians
to encourage all to talk up their nation, and so for British Christians to encourage
the British and talk up their future as a nation. It is incumbent on Christians in
Britain to point out to them that the British have unaccountably gone quiet on
the issue of their future as a political entity. It is always the duty of the Christian
to say what others are no able to. So we must put it to our contemporaries that
they have given up and are already starting to impose on themselves a closed
economy.

We have contrasted Modernity with its opposite. In modernity the kinship group is
abolished whereas in Islam the kinship group is universalised. In the closed
economy of Primitivism the past is the norm for the present: the present must
conform, so growth represents deviance. Primitivism is flight from open future
into settled past. This prepares us for two more questions. Is modernity a
reversion to a form of pagan power politics? Will the open economy survive a
return to the politics of sheer power? In the next chapter I will suggest that this is
reflected in the desperation that recent economic developments reveals. Now, we
must look closer at the doctrine of God that drives these two belief-systems

6. Monism and the Closed Economy


We have compare two cultures in order to assess the forms of economic life that
arise from them. I suggest that the developed economy is uniquely a function of
the long Christian influence on the societies first of Europe, then of America and
finally the global economy. Our brief comparison with the society of Ideological
41
Paul Mashall ‘Blasphemy, ‘Islamophobia,' and the Repression of Dissent’ inFocus
(Winter 2007). Some of the questions are put by Paul Berman Terror and Liberalism
(WWNorton 2004), Ian Buruma & Avishai Margalit Occidentalism, Matthias Küntzel Jihad
and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, Robin Shepherd A State
Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel (Weidenfeld and Nicolson).

29
Primitivism might help us to conceive how different, and diminished, our economy
could perhaps become. We could perhaps have looked at other ideologies, such
as the Ideological Collectivism that gripped Eastern Europe and Russia through
the twentieth century, and that resulted in the collapse of that economy and
those societies. We could make a comparison between Western capitalism and
socialism or Soviet communism. But since collectivism in these forms has
disappeared, this would only indicate the triumph of one sort of Modernity over
another, soft and veiled despotism over the more brutal. Instead I have sketched
another comparison, between Modernity and Primitive, in which Modernity is
faced by the possibility of ceding to Primitivism.42 Here we have a much more
interesting contest, because it is one which may yet threaten the open economy
in which different peoples may meet and exchange without coercion.

In examining the cultural phenomena that sustain an open economy we have


established that different accounts of human being give us significantly different
accounts of the open space in which we may transact with one another. These
accounts must include the theology and metaphysics in which we reckon man as
fundamentally free. We saw that in the Christian tradition the covenant is
primary: God has made a covenant with man, speaks to man and waits to be
spoken back to. In this account God considers himself to be on trial, all
humankind his prosecutor and judge. This gives us the very high concept of man
that over many centuries has given risen to the developed market economy.

In Modernity, it is not covenant but will that is primary. The will is more
fundamental than any concept of a shared communion, tradition or rationality. In
the modern account no God opens relations or offers humankind any account of
himself. In Ideological Primitivism there is a blistering monologue: there are no
episodes in which God encourages us to talk him round or to intercede for one
another. But the concept of God that now appears to Westerners through Islam
has always been familiar to Christian theology for it has been present throughout
Western history as the deism and fatalism of Roman and Greek Stoicism. The
deist God in whom the enlighteners invested also asked humankind no questions
and offered no clarifications, and so no tradition of debate and hermeneutics
occurs. The God who is too high to commit himself to any actual two-way
communication with humankind is the ultimate ‘Big Man’. He has no discernible
features, not even of particularity or individuality, by which he would be one
entity amongst others. This figure again does not allow us to interrupt, and we
receive no other acknowledgement from him. He leaves us with ourselves, that is,
the concept of the lonely self, and with the consequent misery of being without
anyone to confirm or refute our account of ourselves. We will connect the
monadic God to the man of the economy of modernity when, in Chapter Six, we
examine the afterglow of the Big Man in the shifting of forms of the medium of
universal reconciliation and unification that is money.

In both Modernity and Primitivism God is a unit of infinite will. The state that does
not acknowledge our self-government is derived from the God who concedes only
his own will, and gives no account either of himself or of us. If people were free
to believe in it, or not believe in it, without punishment, Primitivism would be a
‘faith’ and a matter of ‘belief’. But for both ideological Primitivism and ideological
Modernity, freedom is only freedom from freedom. But Modernity has an equally
fatalistic conception of God. It is only able to conceptualise Christianity in terms
42
Bowman Honor p. 49 ‘Honor hardly developed from its primitive form in any place where
it was not irritated into doing so by progressive Western notions of morality. Where , as in
the Islamic lands, there was no comparable split between culture and religion, honour has
survived almost unchanged from the most primitive times, while in the West it has
undergone a centuries-long process of evolution and development – to the point at which
it has seemingly rendered itself obsolete.’

30
similar to itself, as though it were a deism, and thus as a form of surrender to
fate. For Modernity, Christianity is the mirror in which its own image is projected
back to it. But the ‘fate’ that Christianity holds out before us, and insists we can
never push away, is freedom.

The God of Christians identifies himself simultaneously as high (transcendent)


and low (incarnate). He is not only unknown and unknowable, but also known,
giving knowledge of himself in incarnate and material form. He is lord of his own
appearing and in all our knowledge of him; he is thus simultaneously Lord and
servant, and as both he is mediator of our knowledge of our fellow creatures. He
is the possibility that we can know him in freedom, or refuse that knowledge;
thus God is the basis that we can know any creature, or refuse to know or
acknowledge it, in freedom. The Christian doctrine of God is foundation of the
freedom in which we may know and encounter anything at all. No brute fate
stands before us, reducing us to those who must simply submit. On this basis,
one person can encounter, or refuse to encounter, any other. There need be no
coercion. Only in this Christian conception, is there no coercion lying deep
beneath all human encounter and transaction.

The Big Man in the Modern conception places himself above judgment. He does
not concede that previous generations have set out criteria by which we may
judge him, and bowdlerises Western history so that we may not achieve any
critical distance from him. He defines himself in opposition to any other time-
frame other than the present.

Because Western society is not confident that it has long future, no one is willing
to receive their public recognition in that long-term and implicit currency which
can only be paid by the generation that follows us. To the extent that we insist on
receiving our recognition now, in the explicit currency of money, we indicate that
we do not believe in the continuity of relationships. The man of modernity is a
creature with no memory, and therefore without a past. But without memory
there is no reasoning.

Modernity believes that God is locked in on himself. There may be a god, but
there may not, and we may not know either way. But they are certain that if
there is a God he would not or could reveal himself. They have determined that
God may not establish his own truth for us. The in-himself nature of God is so
fundamental that it rules out the possibility of any for-us-ness. God is locked
away in any parallel universe that will never meet our own, and so we are
absolutely unaffected by the question of God.

The monist, or monadic, doctrine of God indicates a God that cannot tolerate
anything that is not itself. It can only conceive of the society in which each
individual is directly related to the state, so that individual and state are
themselves little gods. We have a hierarchy of gods: God, the State, the
Individual.43

The God-State-individual Monad


The monist God is shut within himself. He may address us, but he cannot come
near and so is unable to help us. He is not strong enough to take on vulnerability
and so stand where we are. He is content that we bow and submit but, that
concession made and that homage done, no further transformation is required.
The god of modernity and the god of Islam want this formal and outward
submission but are not concerned about our innermost orientation. They do not
look for our love, for our fear is enough. So two monads, ‘God’ and ‘Self’, warily
observe one another from their separate spheres. A lonely isolated essence can
43
Jean Bethke Elshtain Sovereignty

31
love only itself. Love always presupposes the existence of the other (so self-love
is not love) just as an individual cannot be aware of himself as a person except
through his communication with other persons. The individual of modernity
believes that it is more sophisticated to remain in fear and despair than to
concede that he is loved and valued, and indeed was conceived and borne in the
love of God. When we determine that God could only be a monad we get three
monads, of God, State and Self, each an unchallengeable autarchic unit, a god in
our own sphere. If we imagine God in this way we have created an idol, and it
does not significant whether we profess theist belief or atheist disbelief, in this
idol.

But outer obeisance is not enough for the God who is Father of Jesus Christ. He
does not desire that you live without love or with a merely local or circumscribed
freedom. He wants you for his friend, for his equal, and he wants to be able to
love and judge, in complete freedom. He wants you in your entirety, together
with your uncoerced love, and so he is a jealous God.

We saw that in Christianity there is no class of persons who are beneath


citizenship. There are the poor but there is no under-class. The poverty of some
is an opportunity for the rich to be generous, and is even as a status to be
honoured. Christ came to become the lowest and overlooked, celebrated in
Christmas in terms of the vulnerable and at Easter in which he is despised and,
crucified outside the city wall, excluded from all human society. Christ becomes
the most despised and untouchable, no one will ever be rendered more excluded
than he, so in Christianity no one is excluded, and there is no status of total
exclusion. As a result of its long acquaintance with this Christian teaching that
nothing is excluded by reason of being too dirty, in contemporary society nothing
is untouchable. Because it has been profoundly influenced by the resurrection,
nothing in the West is excluded, all is clean. Yet, Modernity not only has no
concept of the untouchable: everything is touchable but it does not believe that
any touch leaves a trace. There are two areas of exception to this. One, as we
have seen, is that product of the union of two human bodies – a child, or as
moderns rather conceive it, a ‘pregnancy’. The other is the past, which it
conceives as exerting a deathly force. For decades, even generations, our society
has been carried forward by the momentum built up by earlier generations. Now
that momentum is lost, the more ideological of our political leaders are tempted
to believe that our further progress is held back by the Church, the very
community through which all that momentum and social capital came. Re-
acquaintance with this same community would enable our society to rouse itself.

Will Europe be able to deal with all the daunting challenges she faces, including
destabilisation, economic stagnation, a resurgence of anti-Semitism and all the
rest? Only if she remembers who she is, with something precious and valuable to
offer, which means accepting her religious heritage and its normative constraints
on what people are permitted to do and how they may do it.44

7. Faith, Freedom and the Open Economy


Release from retribution and resentment

We are enquiring into the future of the economy. I have suggested that as an
ideological force Modernity is not sufficient to sustain an open economy. Without
acknowledging that it does so, modernity is constantly borrowing its moral and
intellectual resources from the gospel, even while its denial of the authority, or
even interest, of the Gospel grows stronger.

44
Jean Bethke Elshtain ‘While Europe Slept’ First Things March 2009.

32
We are generous to one another to the extent that we open and reveal ourselves
to one another, conceding to the other person the means by which they are able
to identify us in freedom. We may do this by giving one another adequate
accounts of the tradition and history which are our sources. Christians know that
we have to approach one another both in peace and with judgment and
questioning and readiness to challenge, so simultaneously in peace and hold one
another to judgment, even at the cost of confrontation. Christians do not think
that peace obviates the need for confrontation and mutual questioning and
testing. Since this is not the end times, we remain under one another’s judgment
and must continue to ask the questions and challenge one another to give our
reply.

We have been comparing the accounts of human being and the accounts of our
moral and political freedom that come from them. We have asked whether
Modernity has trouble conceding the givenness of the world. Does it present us
with an entirely open and featureless world, in which there are no givens
whatsoever, in which every act is over-written by the next act? We may take
notice of nothing that is not established by our own will. It seems to operates on
a complete avoidance of particular locations and a disembodiedness, so that
every place and body is interchangeable. No body is affected either positively or
negatively by contact with another. Relationships are the West has an extreme
short-term conception of relationships. Bodies are atoms that bounce indifferently
and without consequences off each other. Modernity is less and less as one
society and more and more as a collection islands of people of the same age-
group and lifestyle, each group contracting and regarding other groups as alien
and unclean, each dissatisfied with its own body and appearance. Yet an
economic agent must be an embodied person, who meets other persons through
medium of our bodies and materiality. We are not disembodied spirits; if we
were, how would we need each other or any material thing? The health of the
human economy requires that we hold together these two concepts of body and
person in all their complex interrelation.

Our economy and culture are under pressure from the force which I have called
‘Ideological Modernity’. Its equivalence agenda is attempting to replace the true
and particular God (who exists) in the public square with the general God of
sheer power (who does not exist). This leaves the state as the only true person.
The state is then a secular god. This is the project of keeping religion out of
politics.

The first article of the modern credo is that all faiths are the same. The corollary
is that that the modern credo is the one faith that is not the same, but superior to
all others. The modern god is the only god. Modernity is more fundamental than
God, or is itself identical with God. The credo of Modernity is not even presented
as a credo, that we might believe in (or not), or which we have to affirm. It is not
presented as faith, that is, as an article that could be affirmed or denied. It is
beyond affirmation or denial, beyond expression and articulation. It is a theology
ineffably negative theology. We cannot think outside it. It operates on the basis
of there being a God (and it is that God) and that there is no God (that it is all
there is, beyond even the affirmation and assent we could give to a deity.

The second article of the modern credo is that all faiths are equally irrelevant.
Faiths are simply individual preferences, with no more public relevance than our
individual tastes in music. The unsaid part of this commandment is that none of
these faith may challenge these two articles of the modern credo, or suggest that
modernity is a faith. The corollary of these two articles is that there is a political
and ideological class that wishes to preserve itself beyond public challenge. This
would seem to undermine the basic tenet that all individuals are private as well

33
as public persons, that they are free to believe whatever they wish, that their
consciences are not forced. It is the basis on which we talk, and so the basis on
which we have a culture. Culture precedes the economy as well as being coeval
with it. The private man precedes the public man as well as being coeval with
him. The household precedes the public square and marketplace as well as being
coeval with them.

Money is a means of communicating and discounting and ordering preferences


that subjects them to the present. It is not a means of exchanging accounts of
the truth, and testing our accounts, and so of testing and improving ourselves,
and remaining to the judgment of the future. To the extent that we have allowed
the ideology of modern economics to solve too many political issues and so
apparent remove the need to debate them we have turned every issue from one
of ‘what is right’ or ‘what is best’, to one of value and then of price. When we
convert issues into question to be settled by price, so that ‘good’ turns into ‘value’
and ‘value’ into price, we are enforcing a kind of shorthand on one another.
Money is the language in which everything can be equated and reconciled with
everything else. It is a means of the avoidance of confrontation. All debate is
merely about budgets, not directly about ideas, and all argument is in terms of
what is useful as long as that concept of useful itself is never examined. But
Christians believe that there is an honour attached to those who are right, and an
honour attached to those who, though initially ignored, are proved right by the
long term. Christians are equally content with this latter form of honour, and are
not concerned by how long the long term is, being ready to wait until the
judgment of God, brings the final judgment to all history.

Our economy and culture are under pressure from the force which I have called
‘Ideological Modernity’. It assumes that unity is more fundamental than diversity
and so it is a form of fatalism and monism. We are therefore dealing with three
cultures, each of which has its own intellectual justification, which we may refer
to as ‘religions’. The first of them is Modernity, the contemporary form of deism
which takes the form of atheism; the second is deism in its Primitivist form, and
the third is Christianity. Christianity regards both Modernity and Primitivism as
mistaken, but also as indifferent as any other culture. That Christianity must for
us be expressed against in the background of Modernity is of as little
consequence as that it is expressed in French in France, German in Germany.

The Christian Church always lives in societies marked to greater or lesser degrees
by paganism. But Christians live amongst the pagans without deception or fear.
Christianity says that we must receive and exercise our own self-definition. All
religions and traditions of ideas are traditions of self-control for the sake of
growing up into freedom. Freedom is inseparable from self-control. Christianity is
that tradition of self-control by which we give thanks for having our claims to be
above responsibility, and thus our implicit claim to divinity, taken out of our
hands. Our self-control is thankfulness. Christian thought and ethics may not be
separated from the Christian community, its proclamation and worship. Theology
gives a full and rich definition of man and his place and future, for the humanities
and public square.

The Christian tradition points us to a long and large tradition of thought about
what it is to be human. By referring us to this shared history of thought as a set
of resources with which we can discuss what it is to be human, Christian engages
in reason and defends the claims of reason. Christianity is intrinsically constituted
as debate in encounter and confrontation with other religions. Christianity did not
encounter other religions for the first time in the twentieth century; it has always
been in dialogue with the warrior culture of Greece, Rome and all the other
cultures it has encountered since. Christianity is not threatened by this

34
encounter, for the gospel is intrinsically discursive and hospitable. This faith
therefore is fully able to point to the dignity and created autonomy of the world,
and so support secularity.

The chief achievement of the Church is that it survived through demographic and
economic cataclysm and that through it, civilisation, both Christian and classical,
survived. The Christians tamed warrior society. Peace, justice under the rule of
law were established. Christians do not simply nurse their grievances, but confess
their sins and receive forgiveness and so are reconciled. They consider no
situation without looking for God's judgment of it, and with that judgment,
forgiveness, release from the brute facts that bring only condemnation, and thus
seeing its redemption. The Church taught the techniques that make for peace,
and make it possible for persons from different tribes and traditions to engage
with one another and to do so in commerce. It is the presence of the Church, the
communities forged in repentance, that holds a nation together. And the society
that is receives their witness picks up these habits and becomes an open society.
Within the Church a corpus of law developed that allowed national law to emerge,
and so made nations out of these tribal societies, and that enabled commerce
between peoples.

Essential to the integrity and dignity of man as the image of God is that man is
free. God invites us to be free, and so to judge and decide for ourselves. He
summons us to be free and to take responsibility for others. This freedom and
responsibility is ours, intrinsic to the image of God in man. God is source of all
freedom. He has lodged that freedom, its desire and its possibility in each and
every individual. We may grow into the good exercise of that freedom, and that
service for others, through the discipleship offered by the Church. Though may
push it away, deny it and ask for much less, this freedom is ours. When we do
not take it as a gift it remains as a burden.

The world is good, and so its past is good and will be redeemed by God.
Christianity holds on to the past and is enabled by it to judge the present, is able
to live in it and adapt to it, just as the Church adapts to every culture without
denying it or being assimilated by it. Christianity is ‘past-and-present-and-future-
ism’. Cult and culture mean growth. Culture is old growth. Previous growth
represents the resources for new growth. Culture is amassed motivations.

European was once a continent of feud. Under the influence of the Christian faith
over many centuries the cycle of violent retribution was broken. But with the rise
of the mentality of ideological secularism, and driven by a determination to
separate itself from its past, and to cut civil society off from the Christian faith
from which it is resourced, what will prevent Europeans from returning to the
pagan politics of resentment and violence? So, paradoxically perhaps, it has
fallen to Christians to argue for the concept for the European achievement, and
for the habits, practices and rule of law that makes for the open economy. We
need social capital because it is truly capital. Each generation has to replace what
they spend, but it has to remain largely untouched. If they do not respect this
obligation, they rob their own children and so deny their own future.

Summary
1. Persons judge, and they are judged, by one another. We appeal for one
another’s judgment, we receive it, and appeal for new judgment.

35
2. Judgment must take place through the person-to-person confrontation through
reasoning and argument about our various ways of life. This exchange of contrary
views creates the public, secular, sphere.

3. The public square is sustained through the effort of its members; when they do
not practise judgment in public speech, freedom of speech is lost and the public
square is diminished.

4. A healthy economy is embedded within and driven by a healthy culture with a


healthy public square. A society remains open through practices that sustain that
openness. Institutions may support this, but alone are not enough. There must
be the habits, practices and virtues of encounter and debate to sustain the rule of
law and a public culture.

5. Money is an abbreviation of fuller accounts of our judgments. These much be


expressed through public speech. Money cannot replace these more
comprehensive accounts, nor substitute for the practices of confrontation and
assessment that are the task of the public square. There must be a balance
between the sphere of abbreviated, that is, monetised judgment, and the full
account of that judgment articulated in public speech.

6. The market and money may perform their role alongside the long and costly
practices of culture. A society must honour and reward people sufficiently so that
they do not prefer explicit monetary reward over all other forms of public
recognition.

7. The society looks with equanimity on all its forebears will be able to look
forward with a similar equanimity.

8. The public square must acknowledge the rightness of love and the desire for
recognition, and acknowledge that love relates to what is particular, and thus is
directed first to those closest to us. We love first family, then community then
nation, then those beyond: inversion of this order is pathological.

9. A healthy public square presents us with motives for public action. Honour and
shame are unavoidably the conceptuality in which we communicate our
motivations. The public square will discuss and weigh what is honourable and
shameful; it will not attempt to push this conceptuality out of public discourse.

10. Politics cannot be conducted simply in the discourse of power, or of power


disguised in the idiom of personal preferences. It will include the discourse of
truth as well as the discourse of power.

11. Christians insist on talking about what is true, and keeping the question of
truth present to the public. The contribution of Christians is to raise the level of
discourse.

12. Debate and freedom of speech require a sense of the appropriateness of


confrontation. We are all members of warrior society. Modernity determines to
reduce opportunities for such public challenge, so to promote the more
consensual virtues (of ‘women’) over the virtues of robust challenge and (of
‘men’)

13. Each decision or judgment is the end of a long column. To each judgment
that approves something, we call that long tail ‘honour’.

36
14. Honour is approval over the long-term. The judgment that some attitude is
not acceptable is reflected in the long term as shame. Each judgment promotes
some part of our history over the rest and establishes a canon. The canon of
Modernity tells us to abandon history prior to themselves

15. Western and modern societies do not acknowledge debt to the their
forebears.

16. Modernity decides that it has a complete knowledge of man, and is


pessimistic, for it is convinced that man cannot control himself but has to be
controlled. There is no humility about its knowledge of man.

17. Liberalism does not remain liberal when it defines itself in opposition to our
inherited traditions. Modernity has a self-denying and self-destructive honour
code

18. European culture is suffering a crisis of confidence. It does not respect the
achievement of all its earlier generations. Loss of self-respect results in failure to
honour, and realise our obligations to other generations, past and future.

19. This loss of confidence manifests itself as the equality agenda which intends
to diminish cultural, political and even biological differences. By doing so it
reduces the opportunity for mutuality, and so take away reason why one person
may desire another.

20. Modernity is Gnostic, in flight from embodiedness, particularity and from its
own sources. It conceives itself in terms of the requirement to discard whatever
its sees as belonging to the past in order to move into future. But in this, it is a
simply a preference for one version of its past over others, and so is a failure to
embrace all resources of its own identity.

21. Modernity promotes flight from biology and particular cultural belonging and
towards disembodiedness and dislocatedness. Our body must not determine our
identity; our imperative is to escape all that we have inherited. The identity of
each individual is a function of his will; he may change his elective affinity as he
wishes.

22. We regard ourselves simultaneous in two unconnected ways, as bodies and as


individuals. We cannot conceive of any relationship between these two
descriptions.

23. We regard ourselves as helplessly attached to these bodies, and powerless to


restrain their demands.

24. Since we isolate the demands of bodies from the hopes of persons, we
understand the economy to be primarily about the supply of material things and
so as the sphere in which the demands of bodies are met.

25. Culture is social capital. It is capital that is embedded and therefore long-
term. It is there to be called upon and used, but must also be replaced .

26. The future of the economy depends on an openness that modernity does not
understand and cannot support from its own resources. The free market requires
the long-term presence of Christians to create the conditions within which it can
be sustained.

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27. Modernity lives from the social capital accumulated by Christianity, whilst
denying that it does so. The Church sustains the open economy against the
closed economy of paganism. The closed economy of modernity is the form of
contemporary paganism.

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