Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sterilizing the Body Politic

For pre-democratic peoples, begetting and filiation are the elementary locus and analogate of human order, for in the household the material boundaries of human identity have their strongest natural roots. But modern philosophers taught that we are in fact born free and equal into a "state of nature." Our humanity is universal from the outset, wholly manifest in each person. Although the modern philosophers also taught that the state of nature makes all the more necessary the construction of a political order--man reborn, as it were, through the social contract--this is not the moral of the story today. The structures of politics now must serve an abstract and universal "man," who is only incidentally situated as a citizen--or, for that matter, as a spouse, or a child.
-Russell Hittinger, "Dissecting a Democratic Illusion"
Intercollegiate Review Fall 2006

This is a review of Pierre Manent's new work A World Beyond Politics?. Hittinger focuses Manent's reflections on the problems political abstractions pose for us embodied creatures. Universalist anti-nationalism diffuses to the point of inconsequence the variety of bodies politic, while egalitarianism encourages blindness to basic physical differences between individual human bodies: strong and weak, adult and child, man and woman, young and old.

Granting the accuracy of this analysis, it is little surprise that the nations most affected by universalism are producing the fewest children. Theirs is the universalism of the now, stripped ofthose messy corporate connection between past and future.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Excuse me, what language are you speaking? Can we get an English translation?