The purpose of this unusually long post is to review and expand upon a discussion under a set of posts by Tim Kowal and Burt Likko, who are practicing attorneys with interest in Constitutional Law, on doctrines of Constitutional interpretation. The perhaps still distant objective is a framework for a “synthetic originalism” or “vital originalism” or “living originalism,” or a Unified Theory or at least Adequate Description of American Constitutionalism…
Though Robin sometimes seems to intend to incriminate Hayek and others by association, as with the likes of Pinochet, perhaps as a way to emphasize his continued membership in good standing on the political Left, there is nothing in the core of his argument, as opposed to its trivial polemical decorations, that a Hayekian ought to find embarrassing. To the contrary, Robin attributes “profundity and daring” to Hayek and his marginal siblings. Thought through, Robin’s arguments may present at least as many difficulties to a leftist, including one operating from Robin’s own presumptions, as to a conservative or to a libertarian.
Libertarianism is infant liberal-democracy, the arrested development of the polity fixated at the level of the pre-socialized or socialization-resistant individual – the pre-dialogical, self-sufficient, natural “I-atheist.”
What Slaughter wants to say but cannot quite say is that, whether or not Western civilization and its deeply embedded egalitarian ideal might have survived a Mongol victory at Vienna in 1241, or perhaps have arisen in quasi-reptilian form among evolved dinosaurs in the absence of the Yucatán asteroid, the 4th of July can be thought to commemorate a true inflection point in human history as a meaningful history. The American Founding as symbolized by whichever of its most important days may or may not qualify as history’s single most course-altering event, but it still invites comparison, without any hint of vulgar “exceptionalism,” to a small handful of other singular moments – as in the Hegelian world-historical concept, but with point of origin transferred to the New World from the Old: perhaps not as the biggest day in the natural history of one damn thing after another from Big Bang to Heat Death, but as a or the day after which history itself, as human history, must be thought of as truly changed.
A political identity and a position on political identity may in the final analysis be indistinguishable from each other, and I cannot legitimize my own concept of legitimacy or of political identity without referring to the same to be legitimized, identity-creating or -affirming or -confirming concepts.
The overall dysfunctionality of a political discussion can be the product of countless such lesser dysfunctionalities, though the overall dysfunctionality of that discourse may in turn be what makes it manageable, or manageable enough. We dislike things the way they dysfunctionally are, and that is how we like things.
In an “objective” if not necessarily “morally clear” accounting, the thousands killed and thousands more disfigured and terrified would receive many thousands of times greater concern. The child dismembered by a bomb blast, the soldier buried alive in a bunker, the prisoner merely sent off to some conventional Hell, and on and on, precisely as they become multiplied by thousands or millions and turned into numbers, all seem to command less outrage and concern than the captive in manacles.
The Drones as symbol refer us to a tyrannical, imperial, not merely mechanical but super-biological or super-organic, invulnerable, temporally and geographically unbounded, and most of all cruelly lethal power that has already annihilated the human being ideally before it sends its “Hellfire” missile at him to finish the job, while also morally annihilating the distant human pilots and their masters, the latter group eventually including all of us who benefit or who possess a moral share in the program as citizens of a democratic republic.
The eternal crosses infinitely all the way over to us on the finite cross. Even against the definitional and lethal disagreements within and between the Abrahamic faiths on instantiations of eternity, or finitizations of infinity, or mortalities of the immortal, the structure of the central question, as a dichotomy to be resolved into a unity, from incarnation to crucifixion to resurrection, survives all answering exclusions. We can even begin with the atheistic or heretical counter-narratives that insist that indispensable parts of the greatest story were merely story, that the humanly fallible texts amount to a pre-capitalist commodification for “franchising” purposes. Even the falsehood of the tale would precisely on its own level magnify it, as the greatest lie ever believed, in this the only world the closest a disenchanted perspective can approach to miracle.