Thursday, April 30, 2009

Matching lenses

With the possible exception of one sentence, I find myself agreeing with everything Mark Levin has written in Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. I am only on Chapter 3, but so far he is right on target as far as I am concerned. Apparently he has struck a chord, since the book is #1 on Amazon and the New York Times bestseller lists.

The dichotomy he uses in not Conservative vs Liberal, but Conservative vs Statist. Big overlap, but it makes the issue clear: the egalitarian drive of contemporary liberalism is expressed in a commitment to the dominance of the State in all areas of life. As I have opined before, a society of equal outcomes must be a virtual police state, since humans, left to their own devices, will not move in that direction.

(The "Justice and Peace" fetish of Vatican II Catholicism, for example, does not include "Liberty" in the headline. And for a very good reason. It's not important.)

I have listened to Levin on the radio in the past, when I used to drive to and from work. He has a voice not meant for radio. Not pleasant at all. And he is hardly the grand statesman in attitude. Very scrappy or worse. But his writing is a pleasure to read, not only for its ideas but for its style. Hard to hear, easy to read.

Reminds me of Gregory Baum. He is a very liberal sorta Catholic theologian, now in his 80's. His 1970 book, Man Becoming, had a big impact on me. He wrote in a self-consciously non-jargoned style and I liked the humanism of his articles and other books. Then I took a class from him. Although I don't recall that his voice was unusual for a German-speaker, he revealed himself to be a prickly, testy, short-tempered, dogmatic and self-righteous little tyrant. (Neither the first or last time I found an icon of liberalism so charactered.) Easy to read, hard to hear.


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