Spirit of the City:
Problem of Republican Citizenship in Global World.
of Notre Dame, United States
American and French Revolutions inaugurated the movement towards
democracy in the modern world.
This paper presents a picture of the different tensions
that exist within the political culture and citizenship in
the United States and in France during the time of the French
extension, these tensions could be applied to other democracies
because, in many ways, both France and the United have been
the great exporters of modern democratic ideals.
Of central importance for this paper is the idea that
many of the notions of citizenship rooted in equality and
freedom have difficulty respecting the freedom of conscience
of Christian citizens who take the time to form their conscience
and then act on it.
I want to try to better understand why this is so,
and what distinctions could be made so as to show that the
Christian citizen has something to add to the modern theory
and practice of citizenship.
will be helpful for me at the beginning of the paper to say
a few things about what I think is good in the European and
in the American understanding of citizenship. Among Europe's
contributions to humanity are its arts, architecture, philosophy,
humanism, and religion.
It has a rich history.
Its cities have republican traditions, culture, and
a basic savior vivre.
The people and institutions also maintain a sense of
the practice of virtues, honor, spirit of service, and refinement
that can make a great contribution to other societies of the
world. In fact,
many observers from America, when they come to Europe they
note the sense of tradition, history, honor, and virtue that
remains much stronger in the spirit of the people than it
does in the United States. I am always pleasantly surprised by the magnanimity with which
I see Europeans undertake projects of service, both how they
conceive them and how they carry them out.
As individuals and as societies they are able to think
and act with a view to the common good in mind.
One also sees in the French Revolution a great expression
of human rights. One
can see in modern Europe a continued concern for rights in
the European Court of Human Rights and in other international
legal institutions that European Governments adhere to for
the sake of upholding the practice of human rights in Europe
and throughout the world.
also having an expression of human rights, it seems to me
that Americans are inculturated to be free and pragmatic.
In general, they are willing to overlook differences
in race or economic status in order to work together to get
things done, especially if it involves making money.
They also have a sense of freedom, letting each person
fend for himself in life.
At this point, America seems to be the leading country
in the world. It
is the leader in advancing global economic markets and it
is the leader in promoting democratic regimes throughout the
world. As a country,
it has a good capacity to offer the opportunity of the life
of leisure for many of its citizens, a kind of life only a
few could dream of in times past or in many parts of the world
at the moment.
having been said, I think that the United States is involved
in a difficult and yet important moment in its history.
Europe is as well. And how the United States and Europe relate to each other over
the next century or so will probably be of paramount importance
in the development of the world.
Europeans and intellectuals in the United States will
have a major role to play in how the next several decades
work themselves out, for good or for ill in the United States
and from the United States to the rest of the world.
and America can compliment one another very well on the international
stage. One could
say they can complement each other the way that freedom can
compliment equality or the way freedom can complement virtue.
Yet, there are strands within each culture that tend
to form citizens in a way that makes them blind to the complementary
relationship that they can have with each other.
Or, there are strands that understand citizenship in
a way that might unite the two continents, but only in a superficial
way and for a short period of time, they offer an imperfect
notion of citizenship that over time will create disharmony.
There is also a tendency over time for the democracies
of the West to lead their citizens into apathy and indifference.
The result is often romantic nationalism, racism, or
or Republican Citizenship
French and the American Revolutions are two places one can
start to understand conceptions of modern society and the
role of the citizen within it.
Alexis de Tocqueville, who was familiar with the political
systems that both revolutions produced, explained the idea
of citizenship as fundamental part of what leads to the spirit
of the city. He
saw this spirit best represented in the United States in the
New England township.
There, he saw active citizens, engaged in political
knew they were free, national and local governments respected
their basic civil and political rights, and they were also
responsible for themselves and for their community.
They took seriously their duties in society.
what he saw in Revolutionary France, the citizens of the New
England township were religious.
They saw their religion as supporting, not detracting
from, the overall life of the community.
They avoided the entanglements of mixing Church and
State, but they had an intuitive sense that religion had a
place in civil society.
There was a place for God in civil religion or the
social religion of the New England township.
The law of the town, the state, and the nation reflected
the moral and religious character of these men.
In short, the New England township reflected the spirit
of the city. Tocqueville
thought this was a rare event. He saw the spirit of the city as being an ideal for political
life, difficult to produce, and fragile in its existence,
hard to maintain.
spirit existed at moments in the French Revolution, but it
was built on a different conception of republican citizenship.
Revolutionaries hoped for the participation of republican
citizens who were full of zeal, energized, and electrified
by their interest in seeing the principles of freedom and
equality lived out with their brother citizens.
While there were brief moments of zeal, energy, and
interest, the Revolutionaries also feared, and, as the Revolution
went on, lamented the apathy and disinterest that they saw
in citizens. They
also did not know what to make of the peasants, who often
became most zealous, energized, and electrified in their revolts
against the revolutionaries.
The revolutionaries dreamed of a national democracy
in which groups of citizens expressed their will to the representatives
and the representatives, taking account of this expression
of the will of the people, who make laws from which the citizens
of society would be free and equal.
the American revolutionaries and most of their progeny, the
French revolutionaries and most of their progeny have wanted
to control much more closely what kind of religious spirit
is allowed by the society.
In part, this is because they fear the presence of
the Catholic Church in civil society. It is interesting to note that the American founders also feared
the influence of Catholics in their society.
John Adams, in a letter that he wrote late in his life
to Thomas Jefferson, noticed a large influx of Irish (and
therefore Catholic) immigrants coming to the United States.
Adams had deep-rooted prejudices against Catholics.
In this particular letter he told Jefferson that he
thought that letting all of these Catholics into the country
would ruin the United States.
At the same time, he also told Jefferson that if Americans
were to be consistent with the principles of the founding
and religious freedom, they would have to take the risk of
letting them in and letting them operate freely.
might contrast the letter of Adams with the actions of the
At one point during the revolution, in their efforts
to de-Christianize France, the revolutionaries defaced the
Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
Thinking that the statues of the kings on the façade
of the Cathedral represented the kings of France, they tore
them off the Cathedral.
This was the sign that they were destroying the mélange
of nobles and clergy that supported the ancient Regime.
As it turns out, the statutes of the kings were the
kings of Israel from the Old Testament.
That says something about the ancient regime and something
about the revolutionaries. The Christian king in the Ancient
Regime often appeared to be the modern equivalent to a king
of Israel. In
his worst form, he had mistresses instead of many wives.
The old regime was at times a kind of theocratic regime,
one in which priests often exercised political offices and
the external forms of religion were often upheld to the detriment
of inner spiritual renewal.
French who revolted found themselves revolting against a regime
in which it was difficult to distinguish between the supernatural
mission of the Church, the mission of the political community
and the role of the citizen in political and civil society.
It could be that the ancient regime itself had too
much of an Old Testament view of itself. Needless to say, the Revolutionaries initially did not change
their thinking too much on how the state should intermingle
with religion. In
the early years of the Revolution, they drafted the Civil
Constitution of the Clergy and the logic with which they drafted
the bill is a reminder to us of what the revolutionaries thought
of the distinctions between Church and state.
Simply put, the Revolutionaries thought that since
the Church was complicit in the Ancient Regime, then it should
alter its structures to accommodate the new regime.
The Ancient Regime was a monarchy.
The new regime was democratic.
Therefore, the Church in France should become more
should let the democratic assembly appoint priests and it
should let its priests take an oath of loyalty to the new
the reports of historians like Francois Fuhret, it seems that
the elites in France had little problem with this constitution.
The Clergy who were part of the National Assembly (who
helped write the Constitution) had little trouble taking the
new oath. It
seems that the first people to really object to the oath were
parish priests and peasants in the countryside, and who somehow
had an intuitive sense that such a constitution and the requirement
of taking an oath to a regime would not fly.
is the Civil Constitution of the Clergy important?
Citizens are not required to take an oath to their
for example, professes to be an "lay state."
Clergy and peasants are not being martyred anymore
for adhering to the basic principles of their faith.
But, it seems that in countries like France, the political
and intellectual leaders keep this vision of Catholicism as
being essentially what it was in France under the ancient
it and Catholics need to be controlled.
Religion needs to be controlled by the state.
Citizenship in America
it seems that it is somehow part of the consciousness of a
European political leader that to mention God in the Constitution
would be to hearken back to the religious wars, to national
state Churches, to the Inquisition, in other words, to all
of the institutions that worked to build up a post-Medieval
political and religious structure that governed nations.
Therefore, Europeans have to live a kind of forced
have to completely forget their past rather than know it in
such a way so that they can purify their memories.
seems that in several ways, the effect of the policies of
modern Europe is not to be neutral to religion, but to be
anti-Catholic, to deny history, perpetuate prejudices, and
suppress Catholics from exercising their freedom of conscience,
freedom of organization, freedom of education, and freedom
of spreading their ideas in social and political life.
In order to achieve a society that controls the Church,
they end up developing a society of control.
The governments create social space for all sorts of
abnormal behavior in this way.
They perpetuate the insinuation that Catholic citizens
would only use power to oppress the freedom of other citizens. Thus, if we look back to Tocqueville's spirit of a city, they
will have difficulty allowing for the healthy mix between
republican virtues and a religious spirit that could foster
the kind of citizenship that still seems to be at the heart
of the desires of many intellectual and political leaders
some ways, Europe's problem is America's problem.
This excursion into French politics helps us to better
understand where America stands in her current political and
cultural debates. This year, European political leaders chose
to leave God out of the Constitution.
A different yet in some ways similar debate faces Americans
in the debate over the pledge of Allegiance.
The most recent Supreme Court decision has avoided
the question of whether having school children stand and say
"One nation, under God" as part of the Pledge of Allegiance
violates freedom of conscience.
Most polls indicate 90% of Americans have no problem
with this practice.
It is an act of civil religion.
Still, it looks like a majority of the Court rejected
the case on procedural grounds.
Based on the opinions of Stevens, Souter, Kennedy,
and Ginsberg from previous cases, it would not be difficult
to see the Court eventually declaring that the Pledge, by
encouraging grammar-school students to recite that the United
States is a nation "under God," violates freedom of conscience.
The case is only one in a series of cases that have
taken place in the United States over the past sixty years
dealing with freedom of religion and freedom of speech, or,
if you will, freedom of conscience.
than descend into the details of the cases, which I am not
competent to do, I think that we can see a picture emerging
from these cases of the different forces that are at work
forming the conception of Americans of who they are.
What we see developing in the United States is a debate
or a struggle at the level of societal leadership between
ordinary men and the intellectuals.
The intellectual class would include most university
professors, leaders of professional associations such as the
leaders among the lawyers and doctors, teacher's unions, artists,
Hollywood, TV, Film, Radio (except for talk radio), and most
media outlets (FOXNEWS being the exception).
At the same time, we can see emerging within each of
these fields a competent and growing minority.
I were to attach these leaders to an intellectual tradition,
it would be that of the more radical ideas of the French Revolution.
We see it in progressive elements of the New Deal,
Wilson (who drew a lot from Hegel and Rousseau), Rousseau,
Kant, the progressives of the American and the French Revolution.
an example from the American founding will indicate what I
mean. By the
1820's, John Adams (one of the most radical delegates at the
Convention in 1776) was fearful of what he thought to be a
growing Roussean influence in American politics and a number
of men who were using Rousseau as a lens through which they
would interpret and apply the principles of the Constitution.
It is in the sentiment of John Adams that we can see
the kernel of an idea that is modern but that distinguishes
itself from the French Revolution and its progeny on the Continent.
This sentiment has a great respect for the tradition
of rights, even the tradition of rights articulated in the
early years of the French Revolution.
At the same time, it does not see how it can legitimately
create an environment which would stifle or control the freedom
of conscience of a group of its citizens, even if the insinuation
or prejudice exists that over time these citizens might ruin
one's country. It
is the expression of a protestant culture, one that sees a
need for reconciling some notion of God in public life while
avoiding the problems associated with post-Medieval Europe,
a political and cultural mélange in which it was often hard
to distinguish between the responsibilities of a priest and
the responsibilities of a political man.
sentiment of John Adams tends to find its expression in the
ordinary man throughout the history of the United States.
It has not yet found its philosophical or systematic
generation ago, Daniel Boorstein argued that the genius of
American politics was that it avoided the intellectual abstractions,
and therefore the ideologies, that typified modern political
life in Europe. The
ordinary man tends to find his way in the business world and
in the service professions.
Before the World War One this spirit could be found
both in the township (which typified the ideal in protestant
America), and in the neighborhoods of American cities (which
typified Catholic America).
The two cultures lived together in a pragmatic federal
system. In the
past fifty years in the US these two cultures have tended
to move out of the cities and into the suburbs.
It is not always easy to attach this tradition to a
certain class or group of intellectuals.
It is not a group that sees itself as having to bring
to fruition, create, or give birth to new ideas.
In many ways, these citizens see themselves as trying
to discover, imitate and implement what is already there.
I would say it is kind of an optimistic pragmatism.
the past eighty years, a new political culture has developed
in the cities, a culture that seems to draw its lineage from
what is styled progressive politics.
This is a story in itself.
If there has been a chief weapon of this culture, it
has been the use of the Courts.
Most of the cultural and political debates of the past
fifty years in the US can be summed by looking at the Courts.
The intellectuals have used the Courts to subvert as
much as possible the traditions established by the ordinary
men in the US. In
doing so, they have relied on a set of theories and an ideal
of political and cultural life that they have inherited from
the left of the French Revolution. Perhaps in its best expression, they imagine a national political
community, democratic, equal, and free, based on rational
principles of political and social discourse in which a diverse
number of lifestyles and voices are given place in the community.
They also envision an active and participatory democracy
in which each citizen has a say in electoral and political
courts are the best way of bringing about the outcome of a
free and equal society because there one finds the best locus
for rational discourse independent of the influence of irrational
groups or backwards ideologies.
this group, when it acts and succeeds, usually ends up implementing
policies that would never come about if put to a democratic
after an initial burst of progressive activism, participatory
democracy has worked in a more conservative direction.
Activist then resort to the Courts to overturn the
choices of the people because they have violated "rights"
to privacy, to determine one's meaning of the universe, or
to determine one's sexual identity independent of public considerations.
When we better understand this group and its influence
on American politics, we can better understand both how the
left and how the right in the United States have changed in
the past fifty years, and how these changes affect American
notions of political life and citizenship.
in American Citizenship
return briefly to the problem of citizenship in the United
States as it stands, one of the central concerns of political
science over the past twenty years is the lack of active citizen
participation in national and local elections.
Most don't care or don't see what is so important in
the election of a national official to go to the polls.
Books like The
Vanishing Voter speak to the problem of the lack of citizen
is now the norm in the United States that in a national election
half or less than half of the eligible population votes. In local elections, the numbers are significantly smaller.
life seems to leave citizens apathetic and alienated.
It is safe to say that it lacks the spirit of the city.
On the bright side, half the nation does actually vote. Half the nation has a list of issues that they hope will be
dealt with by local and national politicians.
If we were to compare this level of participation even
with the level of participation during the founding generation
of America, it would be seen as general improvement.
At that time, voters consisted almost-exclusively of
property owning males.
short, while there are good signs, the conditions are also
ripe in the United States for the kind of messianic nationalism
that has stuck nations throughout the history of the world. I think one can put together a picture in which one can see
the circumstances coming together that would be opportune
for an ambitious politician to use military expansionism as
a way of resolving the problem of the spirit of the city.
begin, many citizens are not interested in political life
in a practical way.
Better put, if they are interested in political life,
it is a concern that has only the most theoretical expression.
It usually is not "felt" in the ordinary course of
the life of a citizen.
Most are too busy to vote or to get involved in politics.
They will support foreign adventures from time to time.
They do care about the stock market.
They might have an emotional attachment to their family,
but it is probably not reflected in their deeds.
They probably do not follow any developments in local
will probably say that they live very busy lives, that they
lack time for the things they would really like to do, that
they spend a lot of time driving around in cars from thing
to thing, and that while they work a lot they feel insecure
about their job. They
sense that at any moment their job could be cut and they could
be forced to move to another part of the country to find another
job. They are
concerned about security.
addition, people tend to ignore the local or particular in
practice while being concerned about the national or universal.
When they think of their lives and when they make major decisions
in their lives, they are likely to make economic success the
top priority among the priorities that they weigh in making
a decision. The authority of the corporation or work in the consciousness
of a typical America citizens seems to be large.
The actual authority given to the local community,
the family, or a local nexus of authority seems to take second
place when it comes time to make a practical judgment in the
life of a citizen. They
are willing to move where the jobs are. As institutions, the family and the neighborhood, small groups,
have declined in authority over the course of the past hundred
that time, economic corporations and the national political
community have grown in authority.
many are willing to look to the military as providing the
exemplar of behavior and as providing the kinds of standards
that all groups in society should adopt when conceiving of
how they will act. This
point is not simply a point about the popularity of the military.
It is a sociological point that the ways of living,
thinking and acting that are commonly associated with the
military are, over time, being adopted by other social groups
in society. The standards of military thinking have come to
dominate the consciousness of individuals.
It does not simply mean that America is organized to
be a military machine, though it could lead to it.
It is also to say that the kinds of standards and practices
one associates with the military are the kinds of standards
and practices that one finds in the consciousness of Americans.
The psyche of Americans, of American corporations, and of
American political institutions are all set for a national
society in which the possibility of military expansionism
remains a threat. The
military is probably the only institution that still earns
the respect of a majority of Americans.
addition to what might be the form of the American social
state, and whether it is conducive to forming citizens who
over time will accept or be indifferent to the prospects of
war, we also have the psychology of persons themselves to
now in the United States the Armed Services have to turn recruits
is not a problem in May 2004.
What could be the attraction to War?
explains these developments?
The sociological analysis of Robert Nisbet has been
helpful in showing what is at stake.
He was a sociologist of history who wrote from the
late 1930's to 1990.
He fought in the Second World War.
One can see in his writings from the 1950's a large
concern about status of local forms of authority in American
social and political life.
What is interesting from the point of view of this
study is that in his writings of the 1950's he begins to express
a small concern that it could happen that the United States
could become a military society as the result of its efforts
to win the Cold War.
By the time of his last works, the United States becoming
a military society becomes a dominant concern.
In The Present Age he devotes almost the entire study to drawing the
line of development of a military society from the presidency
of Woodrow Wilson during the First World War to the presidency
of George Bush during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
engaged in a propaganda campaign to weaken elements of the
ethos of the township and neighborhood to get the United States
in the War and to further his goal of making the world safe
for democracy. He
saw these local communities as a threat to national democracy
at home and as an obstacle to promoting democracy abroad.
Wilson brought to the fore a struggle between the local
authority, state authority, and national authority in way
that would tip the balance in favor of national authority
against the authority of small groups, local authority, and
state authority. Localism
was a threat to a national society capable of acting with
energy. It represented
a kind of particularity at odds with universal equality.
It represented a kind of freedom and responsibility
that was inefficient and often unjust. Tocqueville saw the township model of society as inefficient,
because it duplicated in many different places what could
be done on a broader and more equal basis by one institution.
Yet, the township model by giving space for freedom,
risked certain injustices, but also risked the possibility
of responsibility and the practice of making a felt and a
real contribution to the good of others.
believed in a rational and universalist politics.
He thought that equality, efficiency, and justice could
all be better served by the United States and the World conceiving
of itself as one community.
He thought that small groups were obstacles to achieving
this vision. They
tended to oppose the war that would help him bring about this
the experience of the First World War many Americans, especially
those who fought in the war, began to see the benefits of
acting like the army acted in winning the war.
They thought that social problems could best be solved
by a political hierarchy in which citizens organized and waited
to obey the directions of a general who had thought out more
efficiently and rationally the best strategy for attacking
see in the presidency of Wislon and what came after a trend
that modern presidents would follow that work against the
understanding of the proper role of the small group in a society,
or creating abstractions so that while citizens mouth their
support of the small group or their feelings for it, they
act so as to bring about its further decline.
We see in the presidency of Wilson an aspiration towards
a national and international community.
We see an indifference to or suspicion of the authority
of small groups. We
see a suspicion of the local businessman.
We see a reliance on the military if it helps bring
about the aspiration of a creating democracies with universal
principles. We see the use of propaganda to turn the average citizen to
this aspiration. We
see the use of intellectuals to enlist their support in the
cause of justice and democracy. He saw intellectuals as his
great aid in molding the masses to accept and to bring about
his vision of a national democracy at home and spreading democracy
abroad. The intellectuals
helped him develop a system of propaganda for "freeing" individuals
of their attachments to ethnicity and neighborhood that prevented
them from fully accepting this vision.
Presidents since Wilson have, in general, followed
as a statesman was confident he could control all of these
forces so as to build a national democracy in the United States
and to create a missionary nation that could bring that democracy
to other countries.
He had a kind of confidence in his personal capacity
to intuit the right thing to do.
Wilson was re-elected on the platform of opposing intervening
in the First World War.
He later attributed his change of policy to a personal
inspiration, an inner light.
Wilson's inspiration created an aspiration, the thought
that Americans were a specially elected people to protect
and spread democracy around the world.
Wilson made the city on the hill not just a city that
Americans were to build on this continent. He made it the city that Americans had a reason to export to
all the nations of the earth.
Americans now aspired to a more perfect national democracy,
purified of its local ethnic cultures, as well as an international
democratic ethos, purified of all corrupting elements one
could find in local cultures. This aspiration, if met, would bring about peace on earth.
believed that "what America touches, she makes holy."
He inherited from his father the notion that America
was a city on a hill.
It was the Redeemer Nation that would purify or save
all other nations from themselves.
His inspiration brought him to the world assembly as
the apostle of democracy.
He accepted war because he thought that it would help
him in his ultimate goal of reforming the world and bringing
democracy to all nations.
danger of the ideology of Wilson or those who follow in his
footsteps is that they risk undermining the kinds of institutions
in which persons form the habits that lead them to be active
citizens in a democracy.
There is also a danger that they give a kind of religious
quality to democracy, rather than subjecting it to the standards
of fairness and equality to which they say they aspire.
They also risk creating conditions within which the
missionary goal of spreading democracy could easily become
the military goal of protecting markets.
weakening local institutions, Wilson weakened their capacity
to carry out their traditional functions. He also weakened the capacity of citizens to habituate themselves
to make use of the ordinary channels of social and political
life for exercising their rights and duties as citizens. So, we see in the Twentieth Century that the nation has an
increasingly difficult time understanding and regulating morality.
Part of this is due to the intellectual, legal, and
cultural attacks on morality.
Part of it is due to the weakening of the institutions
that are the appropriate institutions for regulating morality,
the institutions that Wilson saw as the enemies of his plan.
and state institutions traditionally exercised the police
power. By police
power I do not mean simply the power of arresting criminals.
Arresting criminals is one function of the police power.
The older and broader understanding of the police power
includes preserving the character of the community through
unwritten and written laws, many having to do with actions
connected to marriage and education, with education including
Signs in our own day of the complete and dare I say
stunning victory of the mentality of Wilson are seen in the
shift in the attitude of the Republican Party to move debates
about education and marriage to the national level.
President Bush has promoted both a national marriage
amendment, which would in effect transfer control of marriage
from the local to the national level.
He has pushed to have national education standards,
again transferring control of education from the local to
the national level.
also see a victory accorded to Wilson's ideology by the way
in which most Americans now think first, foremost, and only
about the importance of the presidency in an election, if
they vote at all. The
rest are content with the kind of nationalized democracy that
Tocqueville feared in Vol. 2, part IV of Democracy
in America. They
basically let the government do whatever it wants so long
as all of their needs and enjoyments are fulfilled.
In this, they are content to live as perpetual children.
feature of the modern politician is that he is open to the
nationalism of a Wilson.
At the same time he is critical of the intrusive morality
that he sees in the ethnic neighborhood.
He finds such morality stifling, a cause of boredom
and alienation, restrictive, backwards, and ultimately against
contrast, the modern politician lives in the cosmopolitan
neighborhood, his gateway to the world. He lives in Seattle.
It offers him all choices.
It frees him from the suffocating atmosphere of the
ethnic neighborhood or the alienation of the suburb.
national community with aspirations to democracy and to spreading
democracy around the world produced a social state that formed
citizens to serve it well.
This social state formed citizens who conceived of
themselves in terms of a national, and eventually world, economic
market as well as a national, and world, political community.
It formed citizens who are suspicious of local authority,
whether in the family or in the neighborhood.
It formed citizens who are also more likely or more
quickly disposed to resort to the use of war to protect their
markets and their way of life at home and abroad.
Since these citizens no longer found joy in the family,
they were kept in a perpetual childhood. So long as the national and international institutions, and
most importantly, liberating moral practices, could keep them
happy, and move them around using the fear of economic instability
or the fear of insecurity, then these citizens would not oppose
the spreading of democracy around the world.
What person in his right mind could oppose such an
way to spread democracy abroad, if the military fails, is
through economic coercion or population control.
All of these methods were employed to keep the world
safe for democracy.
or lucky for us, the desire for community does not die.
We see in the 1990's in the United States a revival
of urbanism. Many
American women are choosing to work out of their home and
to have large families.
We see more women urging their husbands to stay close
to the family. We see many cities attempting to bring back traditional neighborhoods.
We see Mexicans and Asians re-inhabiting many of the
neighborhoods previously inhabited by the Irish, Polish, Germans,
summary, the history of the Twentieth Century has been a history
of the breakdown of the family and the neighborhood from the
point of view of the function that those institutions fulfill
in the matrix of a society.
The government, citizens, and planners let these institutions
break down or actively assisted in their breakdown because
of philosophical, economic, political, and militaristic reasons.
The liberal philosophy found local groups and what
they represented inimical to universalism and the new morality.
The liberal economist finds them difficult to reconcile
first with national and then with global markets.
The political universalist finds traditional forms
of authority embedded in these neighborhoods an obstacle to
the growth and development of universal rights, however those
are understood. The
military finds the local community less enthusiastic about
any sort of nationalist expansionism or universalist patriotism.
some sense, one might say that economic, political or military
universalism is the false goal of a desire that is natural
in man. The human
person is part of the family that is called the human race.
The person has within him desires to be united to his
on in human history his chances for fulfilling this desire
became more difficult.
His capacity to see his unity with others and his capacity
to know how to justly bring about this unity was weakened.
Yet, the desire persists.
Each of these attempts to universalize are attempts
built on a desire that is good, but the desire needs to find
its proper goal.
summary, what can we say that is good about the French Revolutionaries
and about Wilson's agenda? We see in both of them an expression of great ideals and great
hopes for the human race.
We also see in them great ideals about what is a political
community and the happiness that it can bring to those who
belong to it. We
also see a fear of clericalism, a state or a community in
which the clergy, and not the citizens, run things.
Where do their ideas err?
They err in insinuating that a Catholic or a Christian
citizen that uses his freedom and responsibility to form his
conscience and act on it might disagree with Wilson, a progressive,
or a Revolutionary.
There were times when the concerns that they had were
true, Christian citizens did not participate in politics or
did not take the time to form their consciences well while
they participated in politics, deferring to their pastors
in making political decisions.
However, the error that they made was in assuming that
this was an integral part of local communities.
We might say that now is a good moment for Christian
citizens to re-evaluate how they see themselves as citizens
and to show by their deeds that they know how to act in political
society exercising their freedom and also their responsibility
to form their consciences well.
Nisbet, Quest for Community,
Twilight of Authority, The Present Age
de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Adams, Letters to Thomas