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This week, we finally get to see President Obama's thesis statement.
To some extent that was not a bad thing, of course: It is not wrong to learn to curb one’s own independent ambitions in service to the community to which one belongs.
Yet what happened in these communities often went well past the good work of shaping individuals to serve communal ends and frequently became a sort of psychological violence against individuals who did not belong.
Though Krein’s diagnosis of the problem with the three fusions he describes in the essay is correct, the proposed solution fails for the simple reason that political virtue is not going to be arrived at via a consistent commitment libertarianism or communitarianism.
The discussion surrounding books like explains why: though the robust communitarianism of the traditional American small town exerts a great appeal on many of us today, it should be remembered that such places often squelched individuals who did not easily fit in to the already established norms of the place.
Given that, I want to propose an alternative framing of our political debates.
They are less about communitarianism and libertarianism and much more about creation and the machine.
Such principles ought to recognize a definitive political organized around a coherent set of desirable goods.
Both “communitarian” and “libertarian” cannot adequately do that for the simple reason that a just polis recognizes the freedom of both communities and the individual.
The way of articulating this is to say that a Christian politics ought to be, as a friend put it in conversation, concerned with protecting creation and the forms of life which respond to it.
Foremost, this will mean a protection of the family and small communities, but it also encompasses the natural creation as well as plant and animal life.