Wednesday, 28 June 2017
Manent Mercredi #11: more on Manent from the Liberty Law Forum
Further to my last Manent Mercredi, more from Paul Seaton at the Liberty Law Forum:
If I had to venture a French thinker who has significantly influenced Manent’s thinking about the nation, I would propose Charles Péguy (1874-1914). Among other things, Péguy introduced the concept of “communion,” which has a spiritual dimension lacking in the Greek koinōnía, and his writings helped Manent see how the nation synthesizes the temporal (past, present, and future) and historical phases of a people’s existence. There are some beautiful passages in this vein in the book I translated, Democracy without Nations?
In Manent’s view, oft repeated, the post-Maastricht EU has been constructed in the light of an Idea of Humanity as already (or virtually) united, with no significant collective differences.What is normative is the autonomous individual and harmonious Humanity. As a result, all other human groupings lose normative status, especially nations and religious communions, and are seen as threats, or as material to be remade along ideological lines. Moreover, this view of integrated Humanity is enforced. Rigorously.
Seaton discusses a number of alternative 'takes' on Manent which are linked to in his article and are worth pursuing. My tuppenceworth (admittedly a tyro's tuppenceworth offered in the spirit of one who is interested but does not know) is that I find in Manent a number of themes from Leo Strauss which I find helpful: in particular, the 'political' as a sphere of human practice irreducible to philosophy or religion, but which maintains a creative tension with them, and the importance of engaging with classical thought as a root to the perennial problems of politics. In addition, however, Manent has a greater focus on the potential of modernity, coupled with an interest in two contemporary concrete issues: the EU and the place of Islam in Europe. (I found Aurelian Craiutu's essay helpful here.)