29 May 2016

The Five P’s

From left to right:
Ion Mihalache, Konstantin Pobedonostsev, Vladimir Solovyov,
Hans Morgenthau and Our Lord Jesus Christ

I have been meaning to post something like this for some time, but never got around to it, and always feared that it would come off as self-indulgent or self-righteous. But I am doing it now, as much for the sake of tying these things together as anything else. For those of you who think this blog is perhaps politically hard to follow, it generally follows the following ‘Five P’s’. As a caveat, most of them are ‘isms’ but I don’t hold to them ideologically. Some of them can occasionally overlap or contradict. I make no pretension to political consistency, but I muddle through somehow. These are general tendencies, more than anything else.
  • POPULISM. Standing up for the little guy. Opposing the Money Power, Wall Street, the Military-Industrial Complex, the Privatisation Fad, Big Oil, Big Ag, Big Pharma. Supporting unions, guilds, worker and farmer co-ops. Subjecting marketing to deep scrutiny. Fighting corporate-bureaucratic control of what rightfully belongs to the family or to the small town. I take inspiration from the People’s Party, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation of Canada, the Non Partisan League of North Dakota and the Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota; also from Russian славянофильство, Yugoslav задругарство, the Social-Revolutionary Party and the Green Rising of Eastern Europe during the interwar period, which followed similar lines. Call me a ‘Jim Oberstar Democrat’ if you like. Better yet, an ‘Ion Mihalache distributist’.

  • PERENNIALISM. The idea that tradition inherently contains more than just a grain of truth, and that old and well-loved things are valuable in themselves. The awareness of fallen human nature. The avoidance of ‘chronological snobbery’. The wisdom of the six canons of Russell Kirk. The notion that probably Socrates, Plato and the old monarchical states might have been onto something. Respect for ancient cultures and traditions, even those other than my own - especially and most dearly the Chinese path of Confucius and the Iranian path of Zoroaster.

  • PERSONALISM. All human beings are icons made in the image and likeness of God. Each human life contains its own world, infinitely precious, and of worth surpassing any material exchange that might be made for it. Human beings are superior, ultimately, to any ideology that seeks to flatten them to their constituent parts, or sever them individualistically from their moorings in their given communities. This means opposing categorically and with equal vehemence: abortion, euthanasia, torture, capital punishment, eugenics, and the odious ideologies which dehumanise by race, sex and class. Nikolai Berdyaev, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vladimir Solovyov are my guiding lights here. But also Dorothy Leigh Sayers, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., who made many of the same conclusions and draw from the same canons as the former three.

  • PATRIOTISM. Buying American when possible. Make that: buying second-hand when possible. Keeping old things longer. Not watching TV. Supporting family-owned and local businesses. Opposing war and imperialism - particularly the imperialism of good intentions! - and putting my own country's interests first. Embracing foreign policy realism as the only sane option: especially the realism of Hans Morgenthau and Andrew Bacevich.

  • ПРАВОСЛАВИЕ. The most important ‘P’ is pretty self-explanatory, and deceptively non-political. Honouring Our Lord Jesus Christ, his mother the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, and his disciple, my patron saint the Holy Apostle Matthew. Keeping to the mind of the Church in all things, and holding to the faith of the Fathers. Decreasing my own will and my own wants. Fighting temptations to exert my will over others. Praying twice a day. Fasting twice a week. Attending Liturgy when I can - ideally once a week.
There it is, I suppose. I don’t fit very neatly into the American party system, and I certainly don’t fit neatly on a one-dimensional left-right axis, and even a two-dimensional grid like the one at right, though more helpful on the nakedly political side of things, is still frustratingly one-sided and inept when it comes to looking at other intellectual tendencies. Anyway, for those who get confused either by my Facebook feed or by this blog (and I feel for you; I get confused myself sometimes!), I hope this outlines a bit where I am coming from.

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