Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alasdair MacIntyre on Conservatives and Liberals

I was recently given by a very generous friend After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre. Having read only the Prologue, I'm hooked. Speaking about the modern conventions of liberalism and conservatism, he has this to say:
My own critique of liberalism derives from a judgment that the best type of human life, that in which the tradition of the virtues is most adequately embodied, is lived by those engaged in constructing and sustaining the forms of community directed towards the shared achievement of those common goods without which the ultimate human good cannot be achieved. Liberal political societies are characteristically committed to denying any place for a determinate conception of the human good in their public discourse, let alone allowing that their common life should be grounded in such a conception (xiv-xv).
And this:
This critique of liberalism should not be interpreted as a sign of any sympathy on my part for contemporary conservatism. That conservatism is in too many ways a mirror image of the liberalism that it professedly opposes... And, where liberalism by permissive legal enactments has tried to use the power of the modern state to transform social relationships, conservatism by prohibitive legal enactments now tries to use that same power for its own coercive purposes... So the conservative moralist has become one more stock character in the scripted conversations of the ruling elites of advanced modernity. But those elites never have the last word (xv).
Perhaps Christians should consider an alternate conversation than the ones carved out for us by our overlords.

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