Friday, January 11, 2019
Add to the conversation on liberalism, Catholicism, integralism, etc., this First Things review, by Gladden Pappin, of Helena Rosenblatt's The Lost History of Liberalism. He concludes with this:
The political development of Europe,” Pierre Manent once wrote, “is understandable only as the history of answers to problems posed by the Church.” The Lost History of Liberalism reinforces Manent’s observation even while Helena Rosenblatt colors the goals of early liberalism in golden hues. However noble early liberalism’s project of moral improvement may have been, its self-perception always included the specific aim of overthrowing the Church. As that institution has suffered under liberal advances, so has the morality and liberality that liberals claim they want to secure.
Though this is hardly its intention, The Lost History of Liberalism offers a counterpoint to the hopes of Catholics seeking rapprochement with liberalism. In spite of her best efforts to make liberalism’s interest in public morality stand on its own two feet, Rosenblatt shows that liberal public morality is always in opposition to the accounts of morality and public life offered by the Church. Liberals have never been seriously interested in the ways Catholics have sought to make peace with liberalism. The more liberals return to their roots, the more apparently shared ground will give way. The future lies in anti-ecclesiastical liberal ressourcement on the one hand, and anti-liberal ecclesiastical ressourcement on the other.
As one of those who continues to resist some aspects of the current Catholic (and other) critiques of liberalism (properly understood, which is to say, as I understand it!), I have to say this is bracing stuff. Stay tuned!