Judgment succumbs to those forces that Tocqueville rightly diagnosed as being at the heart of modern democracies: the rejection of distinctions and forms, the revulsion against discrimination and boundaries, the abolition of mediation and the eschewal of divisions. What can begin as the righteous opposition to unjust discrimination easily becomes indignation of all forms of distinction. Thus, the rightful rejection of laws against miscegenation becomes the rejection of laws that defend marriage of one man and one woman. The justified fight against racial discrimination becomes the crusade against any judgments that threaten our self-esteem, leading to a culture in which every child receives a trophy after the season and grade inflation is rampant (and these are hardly the most pernicious forms that this impulse takes). Tocqueville rightly predicted history would become the story of forces, rejecting the idea that history was made by great men and women; poetry would become populated by ordinary people, not heroes or models, an anticipation of the poetry of Whitman; and religion would become pantheistic, collapsing the divide between heaven and earth so that the sacred and the profane became one. He also told us that all political problems would become judicial problems, in the main because we would reject the messy realm of politics for the winner-take-all universalism of the courts.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Georgetown's Flight from Judgement
Georgetown's quest to refuse funding for student internships at immoral organizations recently gave up the ghost. Georgetown political theorist Patrick Deneen ties this failure to our society's diffident habits of thought and action: