7.26.2009

the difference between dualism and distinction, and the necessity of politics with different people

Michael Iafrate recently suggested to me that I think dualisitically about politics. By this he meant I unnecessarily and wrongly separate the natural and the supernatural community. Here is what he said:
As for church vs. politics, yes, what I have said applies to the Church as the Church has (among other things) a political dimension. In its on-the-face worldly level, the Church is a society (or a society-of-societies if you will). But I could not compartmentalize the tasks of the Church against the tasks of politics in general, Christianly understood. As you probably remember from Gutierrez (you also find it in De Lubac and Rahner) we should not too strongly separate the spiritual and the worldly as if they were two “spheres.” I think such a dualism is active in your thinking.

I’m usually talking about theopolitics, and yes, that often throws people because it is not politics-as-usual. It’s the politics of the Kingdom.
I would like to respond to this in some blog-like depth.

Let me get the nitty gritty out of the way first. I never suggested that we "compartmentalize the tasks of the Church...", and even if I did (which I didn't), I would never suggest an opposition between the two compartments, as he does instinctually when he finishes his sentence: "...against the tasks of politics in general". I believe Michael places opposition where there was none to begin with. I believe this is rooted in an intellectual disposition that sees distinctions as things that are necessarily opposed. In this view, distinctions must be eliminated because they are divisive. A healthy view of distinctions would see them as the work of the finite human intellect trying to understand reality. Things can be distinguished without being separated. I can tell my pupil is not my eye, and thus I have distinguished between them. But this does not mean I have separated my pupil and my eye. The pupil is a part of the eye, not separate from it.

In his book Socratic Logic, Peter Kreeft explains this better than I can:
If we do not distinguish things (in the world) or points (in our thought or writing or speech), we confuse them; and if we confuse them, we are confused. To have a clear idea, the idea must also be distinct.

Modern minds often have a vague ideological aversion to distinctions; they think they are "discriminatory." In other words, they fail to distinguish three very different kinds of distinctions: (1) distinctions between thoughts, which are always helpful, (2) just and reasonable distinctions between things and people, such as distinguishing between medicines and poisons, or between students who pass and fail, and (3) unjust and unreasonable distinctions between people, "discrimination" in the ideological sense, e.g. basing salaries on gender or race instead of performance.
We must make distinctions in our ideas; this does not mean we are separating things. On the contrary, as Professor Kreeft explains, this is a process necessary to have any meaningful conversation at all.

Now back to the original contention - At the time, I was trying to make the argument that his politics does not account for the natural community, by which I mean the community not bound together by Catholic faith. Political thinking that does not include and account for the reality of pluralism is fundamentally deficient.

I think a good case can be made that Catholic anarchism prima facie does not account for pluralism. After all, a Catholic anarchism must begin with Catholic people.


This is why I originally suggested to Michael
that he was not really talking about politics, but about the revitalization of small local communities. I am not saying these communities are not political, but that they are not political in the usual sense of including everyone.

This is also where Michael and I agree: small local communities are extremely important for human flourishing. Modern Western society works in many ways to the destruction of these communities. The "status-quo" does indeed prefer larger indifferent bureaucratic administrative arrangements and isolated autonomous suburban life, and this is truly something which Catholics of all political predilections can and should work to oppose.

Cross-posted at The American Catholic

6 comments:

Michael J. Iafrate said...

At the time, I was trying to make the argument that his politics does not account for the natural community, by which I mean the community not bound together by Catholic faith. Political thinking that does not include and account for the reality of pluralism is fundamentally deficient.

I think a good case can be made that Catholic anarchism prima facie does not account for pluralism. After all, a Catholic anarchism must begin with Catholic people. How could non-Catholics want to live in a society of Catholic anarchists (as I write this it sounds more and more like an oxymoron to me)? How could anyone expect them to want to?


What makes you think I am (or ever have been) arguing in favor of anarchist communities made up purely of Catholics? I've never once argued for such a thing.

Zach said...

Your website is called Catholic anarchy?

Zach said...

Also you didn't respond to anything else I wrote.

...

Michael J. Iafrate said...

How does my website title in any way imply that I am in favor of anarchist communities made up purely of Catholics?

The title is meant to reflect that I am a Catholic and an anarchist. Nothing more.

Continue reading into it if you wish but I hope I have been clear.

Zach said...

Ok so I'll take out the one offending sentence. If you have comments on the rest of this criticism they would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Do You interesting how to [b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b]? You can find below...
[size=10]>>>[url=http://listita.info/go.php?sid=1][b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b][/url]<<<[/size]

[URL=http://imgwebsearch.com/30269/link/buy%20viagra/1_valentine3.html][IMG]http://imgwebsearch.com/30269/img0/buy%20viagra/1_valentine3.png[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://imgwebsearch.com/30269/link/buy%20viagra/3_headsex1.html][IMG]http://imgwebsearch.com/30269/img0/buy%20viagra/3_headsex1.png[/IMG][/URL]
[b]Bonus Policy[/b]
Order 3 or more products and get free Regular Airmail shipping!
Free Regular Airmail shipping for orders starting with $200.00!

Free insurance (guaranteed reshipment if delivery failed) for orders starting with $300.00!
[b]Description[/b]

Generic Viagra (sildenafil citrate; brand names include: Aphrodil / Edegra / Erasmo / Penegra / Revatio / Supra / Zwagra) is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction regardless of the cause or duration of the problem or the age of the patient.
Sildenafil Citrate is the active ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men. It can help men who have erectile dysfunction get and sustain an erection when they are sexually excited.
Generic Viagra is manufactured in accordance with World Health Organization standards and guidelines (WHO-GMP). Also you can find on our sites.
Generic Viagra is made with thorough reverse engineering for the sildenafil citrate molecule - a totally different process of making sildenafil and its reaction. That is why it takes effect in 15 minutes compared to other drugs which take 30-40 minutes to take effect.
[b][/b]
Even in the most sexually liberated and self-satisfied of nations, many people still yearn to burn more, to feel ready for bedding no matter what the clock says and to desire their partner of 23 years as much as they did when their love was brand new.
The market is saturated with books on how to revive a flagging libido or spice up monotonous sex, and sex therapists say “lack of desire” is one of the most common complaints they hear from patients, particularly women.