Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gift-giving and Quarrels

In our tax-paying politics and our exchange economy we have less and less opportunity for gift-giving. We pay our taxes because we must and we exchange our labor for money because that's the best way to earn our bread.

But Roger Scruton in "Gratitude and Giving" points out the importance of giving.

There is, in the gift-giving culture, a display of gratitude at the moment of gift, and a kind of rejoicing that warms the hearts of those involved. On the gift day the tribe does not merely put aside old quarrels; it feels a renewed surge of affection toward its neighbors. This affection is a kind of moral capital on which it may draw in times of conflict.

In our welfare state, where charity and religion have been marginalized, we lack the warmth of giving. So it comes as no surprise that, with the decay of neighborliness, there has also come an increase in conflict. Politicians draw dividing lines between red and blue, and people respond to their encouragement by demonizing the opposition.

Our liberal friends talk a lot about religion as a means of "social control," and they mean by that the power that religion gives the political elite to keep the populace afraid and subservient.

But they forget that religion also ennobles gift-giving, love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. Leaving aside the question of divine will, we can see that any belief system that encourages these qualities will also diminish the opportunity for conflict. People are quick to quarrel. The hard part is to get them to lay down their grievances. "I would you would accept of love and grace," says Sir Walter Blunt to the hot-headed Harry Hotspur in Henry IV Part One.

We need a culture of gift and grace because otherwise there is nothing but politics, and politics is about conflict, civil war by other means.

More and more, I like my Greater Separation of Powers between the three sectors of society: the political sector of force and taking, the economic sector of trust and exchange, and the moral/cultural sector of faith and giving.

Our liberal friends have made a mortal error, in thinking that the political sector, the locus of force, can administer compassion and caring.

They ought to have learned by now, since the great lessons of the last century were the inevitable brutality of fascism and communism, the regimes where the three sectors are collapsed into the political sector.

When you collapse the three sectors into the political sector all you get are mass graves and social collapse.

Even though liberals won't learn the lessons that are staring them in the face, there is no reason why we should stand by and let them wreck this nation while they learn the hard way.

We must take back this nation and revive the separation of the economy from politics and separate the necessary and ennobling care for the unfortunate from the brutality and the inevitable conflicts of power politics.

And the take-back starts in November.

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