Leave it to David Brooks to provide straw man caricatures of Counter-Enlightenment political philosophy. In his recent column “The Enlightenment Project”, Brooks lays out some whoppers.
After jerking himself off with idealized visions of Enlightenment philosophical systems such as those from John Locke and Immanuel Kant, Brooks further jerks himself off with an uber-idealized depiction of St. Lincoln:
De Tocqueville came along and said that if a rules-based democratic government was going to work anywhere it was going to be the United States. America became the test case for the entire Enlightenment project. With his distrust of mob rule and his reverence for law, Abraham Lincoln was a classic Enlightenment man. His success in the Civil War seemed to vindicate faith in democracy and the entire Enlightenment cause.
Lincoln’s “success” in the Civil War was due to… ‘democracy’ and Enlightenment? It was more due to a suspension of habeas corpus, the burning of Atlanta, etc., and his unilateral f—k you to the South’s attempt to peacefully secede via state constitutional amendments.
Today’s anti-Enlightenment movements don’t think truth is to be found through skeptical inquiry and debate. They think wisdom and virtue are found in the instincts of the plain people, deep in the mystical core of the nation’s or race’s group consciousness.
The Alt-Right doesn’t want to debate? Is he serious? It is the ‘Enlightenment’ forces in the E.U., and on college campuses, that is stopping ‘hate speech’, not the Alt-Right.
As far as ‘mystical core’ of a race, Brooks is setting up dastardly visions of Nazism, not the similar sentiments of Edmund Burke and the like.
Today’s anti-Enlightenment movements believe less in calm persuasion and evidence-based inquiry than in purity of will. They try to win debates through blunt force and silencing unacceptable speech.
By ‘evidence-based inquiry’, does Brooks mean the overwhelming evidence that there exists I.Q. differences between racial groups, and that this race realism best explains why the Enlightenment vision of One World Without Borders is…. suicide?
They don’t see history as a gradual march toward cooperation. They see history as cataclysmic cycles — a zero-sum endeavor marked by conflict. Nations trying to screw other nations, races inherently trying to oppress other races.
Here, Brooks is taking a shot at Bannon’s favorite book, The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe, a generational theory that melds Spengler, Jung, and a helluva lot of modern, empirical, historical evidence.
Which working metaphor is better: human history as a cyclical process (ala Spengler and others) or the one-directional ‘progress’ that progressives (er, I mean ‘conservatives’) like Brooks believe?
When Trump calls the media the “enemy of the people” he is going after the system of conversation, debate and inquiry that is the foundation for the entire Enlightenment project.
Really? Might it instead be better characterized as Trump being the first President in a long time to call out the MSM for doing what they do? Their liberal bias is empirically-proven (through polls of journalists on political issues), and their liberal, P.C. hive-mind attempt to frame The Narrative is obvious to everyone on the Right… except David Brooks.
But then again, David Brooks never really was a man of the Right. He is the PBS/NYT definition of an acceptable ‘conservative’.
When anti-Enlightenment movements arose in the past, Enlightenment heroes rose to combat them. Lincoln was no soulless technocrat. He fought fanaticism by doubling down on Enlightenment methods, with charity, reason and patience.
Again, the South’s position leading up to the Civil War was ‘fanaticism’? Perhaps Brooks should read historian Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War.