Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Russell Kirk on Call to Action

Much to my surprise, Russell Kirk was an attendee of the notorious 1976 Call to Action conference, which organized Catholic radicals for the most superficial forms of activism. Kirk's wife was even a delegate, though the conference was run by the "chancery rats and church mice" who make their living in adminisrative positions in ecclesiastical bureaucracies. Kirk published his reflections on the event in the Fall/Winter 1982 issue of the Intercollegiate Review.

He notes the utterly secular presuppositions of the conference:

"Human rights" and "civil rights" were employed as god-terms, unqualified and abstract; the assumption of the resolutions' authors seemed to be that absolute liberty always has been the norm for humankind, and that any deviation from unlimited freedom is "oppression." I doubt whether any of the delegates had read Rene de Visme Williamson's analysis of "the Christian doctrine of man and civil rights" in Independence and Involvement:
Man can lay only a very limited claim to liberty on the basis of his origin. ...Fallen man can no more have a rightful claim to the same measure of liberty which belonged to him in a state of innocence than a poor copy of a great painting can command the same price as the original.... We must recognize that the denial of liberty is coexstensive with sin.


love the girls said...

"We must recognize that the denial of liberty is coexstensive with sin."

That's a very interesting point. And similar to one I've seen used to defend tyranny as the Declarationists do in defending Lincoln's suppressions.

But tyrannical abuse aside, why ground the determination of liberty in fallen nature as opposed to grounding it by determining the degree of liberty according to the virtue or vice of a given populace?

Kevin Jones said...

Of greater concern, I think, is grounding liberty in misguided angelic or even god-like conceptions of human nature.

I take it that you mean by determining liberty the political questions. Prudent government should indeed take into account both the virtues of the governed and the limits of even a virtuous populace.

Anonymous said...

"... and that any deviation from unlimited freedom is "oppression."

When did anarchy become a Christian value?