Only Free Beings Can Love
August 26, 2022
Part Two of Timothy Gorringe's The World Made Otherwise is a discussion of the practices necessary to embody the values and virtues and achieve our ends of a flourishing human life together, in order to address the climate and other crises of our times.
First he considers the shape of politics and how we should be organized. He resists the "idolatry of the state" but argues that we do need a social order. He defends a "rights cosmopolitanism." Freedom is essential to this practice, as "freedom is at the heart of life because only free beings can love, and love is the best one-word account of the meaning and purpose of life that we have yet come up with." (That's a great sentence.) Gorringe believes this politics is best embodied in "small, federated political units."
I wasn't sure how this was to be achieved. And can't imagine how (or why) one would want to break-up the USA for instance. I don't think any such break-up would actually be an advance in problem-solving, and it would likely lead to millions seeing reductions in their freedoms.
But, an emphasis on freedom, love, and rights cosmopolitanism within our existing polity seems like a good idea.
His next chapter defends the practice of democracy and the equality that it values:
The main objective of democracy, according to David Held, is "the transformation of private preferences via a process of deliberation into positions that can withstand public scrutiny and test." Respectful participatory practices are what allow this to happen. This presupposes in turn educational policies that foster critical and informed thinking and promote a culture of respectful debate.
I agree with Gorringe when he emphasizes subsidiarity--the idea that as much power and decision-making as can be is passed down to smaller and local units. The strength of democracy arises from local institutions that people can participate in and can have influence and power (de Tocqueville admired this about early America, but we've lost it in the last half-century). I have written before about how I learned democracy in my small town church business meetings.
The next chapters move on from the practice of politics to the practice of economics, which I'll explore in a separate post.
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