“When a tendency has gone to extremes, it is most evident that something must be done to oppose it. Opposing one aspect of it may not be enough to reverse the tendency as a whole, but that is no reason to give up. The liberal attempt to rationalize society on neutral utilitarian grounds is unsustainable and must be defeated, so that a form of human society that makes sense can once again establish itself. Instead of a free, equal, rational, and efficient society, that is, society understood as a machine for producing and distributing satisfactions, our goal should be a society that functions well in the way societies normally function.
“Such a society would necessarily rely on particular traditions as ordering principles, along with the boundaries, exclusions, and authoritative attachments needed for them to function. It would thus take into account basic features of human life that accepted views ignore:
• Goods are largely social, since what is on offer and what it is worth depends largely on other people. For this reason, a purely individualistic approach to human life makes no sense.
• Nor does subjectivity as to values make sense. Viewing a choice as good includes the belief that it would be right to chose it, so that goods must be understood as objective.
• Knowledge, especially practical knowledge, is largely local and inarticulate and cannot be made otherwise. It is found distributed among the people at large and comes from the growth through experience of habits and perceptions that work.
• More generally, society learns through the development of tradition, and, as social beings, we learn and become able to function through participation in the traditions of our society.
• Traditions differ, since they arise locally in response to events and the situation, goals, and qualities of those involved. It follows that the attempt to bring about perfect rationality and uniformity by overriding the diversity of local traditions and connections destroys local knowledge in the form in which it actually exists and so plunges us into stupidity and brutality.
“The effect of such recognitions is fundamental rejection of liberal modernity.”
▪ James Kalb, Against Inclusiveness (Angelico Press, 201) extract from pages 165 to 166.
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