Friday, February 15, 2013

The People of the Responsible Self

We conservatives are the People of the Responsible Self.  The responsible self was invented back in the Axial Age in Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity.  And I suppose, Islam.

That's what Robert Bellah suggested in his "Evolution of Religion."  I blogged about this back on 9/11/2012.  Bellah argues that the Axial Age of "historical religions"
highlights the conception of a responsible self, a core self or a true self, deeper than the flux of everyday experience, facing a reality over against itself, a reality which has a consistency belied by the fluctuations of mere sensory impressions... [T]he historic religions promise man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.  The opportunity is far greater than before but so is the risk of failure. (my italics)
You can see that conservatives are the people of the responsible self by passing in review Ken Blackwell's sixfold typology of conservatism.

The social conservatives, according to Ken, are people that care about things like judges.  In other words, they are concerned, let us say, with the organization of civil society.  People that act in civil society are people that think they have a responsibility to serve their community.

The Christian conservatives are the "the pro-life and traditional marriage crowd, and are also passionate about religious freedom, home schooling, and raising their children with their beliefs."  If you don't think that approach to life is reeking with the idea of the responsible self, I gotta bridge I want to sell you.

The Second Amendment conservatives are the folks that think people should be allowed to possess the means of defense against the bad guys.  They think that when seconds count, the police are minutes away.  So there is no substitute for the responsible armed citizen that is ready to subdue a breaker of the peace.

The economic conservatives are people that have a  problem with taxes and government spending.  They think that people acting as producers and consumers in the market are the best people to make responsible decisions about economic matters.

The philosophical conservatives are committed to the idea of limited government.  Not much difference with the economic conservatives, except that they are thinking about how to implement and protect the institutions and the processes of limited government.  If the government is limited, then people need to be responsible.

The national security conservatives think that we should be serious about defending our nation in a dangerous world.  They just feel a responsibility to make sure that the US maintains a strong defense.

What unites our liberal friends is the marginalization of the responsible self.  Liberal elitists believe in the educated self, the creative self, the expressive self, the critical self, the compassionate self, but rather sneer at the bourgeois responsible self.

The clients of the liberals, the folks getting all the "free stuff" from the administrative welfare state are what I would call the People of the Pre-responsible Self.  They are people that would be responsible selves by now if only liberals hadn't enticed them into the liberal plantation with promises of loot and narratives of marginalization and victimization.  Liberals encourage their clients to abdicate responsibility and blame someone else.  The one big thing we need to do in America is to introduce the people of the pre-rational self from out of the sleep of ages to the idea that they could be responsible selves.  And transform their lives.

It's not earth shattering, this business of the responsible self, but it explains a lot.

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