Premisele libertatii: In Memoriam Kenneth Minogue (1930-2013)

A incetat din viata unul dintre cei mai influenti si respectati ganditori politici ai timpurilor noastre, profesorul Kenneth Minogue de la London School of Economics. Pentru toti cei inclinati spre gandirea deziderativ- utopica, pentru pasionatii diverselor forme de inginerie sociala, profesorul Minogue, el insusi fost student al lui Michael Oakeshott, a fost un adversar redutabil. A fost convins si a demonstrat in opera ca ca advaratul liberalism, cel fidel traditiei lui Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, Benjamin Constant, Tocqueville si John Stuart Mill, este consonant cu conservatorismul. Spiritelor exaltate, celor intoxicati cu viziuni salvationiste, partizanilor unui etatism mereu in expansiune, Minogue le-a opus decenta, moderatia si civilitatea ca valori esentiale ale unui spatiu politic transparent si onest.

Cartea lui Minogue, “The Liberal Mind,” scrisa in anii 60, a oferit una dintre cele mai fertile interpretari ale crizei gandirii liberale. Intr-un fel, putem spune ca ideile lui Minogue au pregatit actuala critica a liberalismului pe care o intreprinde John Gray. Iata un pasaj revelator:

“The story of liberalism, as liberals tell it, is rather like the legend of St. George and the dragon.  After many centuries of hopelessness and superstition, St. George, in the guise of Rationality, appeared in the world somewhere about the sixteenth century.  The first dragons upon whom he turned his lance were those of despotic kingship and religious intolerance.  These battles won, he rested for a time, until such questions as slavery, or prison conditions, or the state of the poor, began to command his attention. During the nineteenth century, his lance was never still, prodding this way and that against the inert scaliness of privilege, vested interest, or patrician insolence.  But, unlike St. George, he did not know when to retire.  The more he succeeded, the more he became bewitched with the thought of a world free of dragons, and the less capable he became of ever returning to private life.  He needed his dragons.  He could only live by fighting for causes—the people, the poor, the exploited, the colonially oppressed, the underprivileged and the underdeveloped.  As an ageing warrior, he grew breathless in his pursuit of smaller and smaller dragons—for the big dragons were now harder to come by.”

Ultima carte a profesorului Minogue, aparuta in 2010, a fost “The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life”.  Iata un citat care lumineaza viziunea individualist-civica a unui ganditor care a refuzat cliseele progresite si miturile variilor corectitudini demagogic-popuiste, in fapte forme ieftine de cumparare a unei obediente auto-distructive:

“My concern with democracy is highly specific. It begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much, and these are merely the surface disapprovals, the ones that provoke legislation or public campaigns. We also borrow too much money for our personal pleasures, and many of us are very bad parents. Ministers of state have been known to instruct us in elementary matters, such as the importance of reading stories to our children. Again, many of us have unsound views about people of other races, cultures, or religions, and the distribution of our friends does not always correspond, as governments think that it ought, to the cultural diversity of our society. We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.

No philosopher can contemplate this interesting situation without beginning to reflect on what it can mean. The gap between political realities and their public face is so great that the term “paradox” tends to crop up from sentence to sentence. Our rulers are theoretically “our” representatives, but they are busy turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up. The business of governments, one might think, is to supply the framework of law within which we may pursue happiness on our own account. Instead, we are constantly being summoned to reform ourselves. Debt, intemperance, and incompetence in rearing our children are no doubt regrettable, but they are vices, and left alone, they will soon lead to the pain that corrects. Life is a better teacher of virtue than politicians, and most sensible governments in the past left moral faults to the churches. But democratic citizenship in the twenty-first century means receiving a stream of improving “messages” from politicians. Some may forgive these intrusions because they are so well intentioned. Who would defend prejudice, debt, or excessive drinking? The point, however, is that our rulers have no business telling us how to live. They are tiresome enough in their exercise of authority—they are intolerable when they mount the pulpit. Nor should we be in any doubt that nationalizing the moral life is the first step towards totalitarianism.

 We might perhaps be more tolerant of rulers turning preachers if they were moral giants. But what citizen looks at the government today thinking how wise and virtuous it is? Public respect for politicians has long been declining, even as the population at large has been seduced into demanding political solutions to social problems. To demand help from officials we rather despise argues for a notable lack of logic in the demos. The statesmen of eras past have been replaced by a set of barely competent social workers eager to take over the risks of our everyday life. The electorates of earlier times would have responded to politicians seeking to bribe us with such promises with derision. Today, the demos votes for them.”

Am citit cu mare folos si recomand aici cartea lui Kenneth Minogue despre ideologie. Intitulata “Alien Powers: The Pure Theory of Ideology”, lucrarea deconstruieste exemplar modalitatile de insinuare a discursurilor mistificatoare, deci a ideologiilor, in insasi tesatura modernitatii politice;

““Have I really been in a battle?” wondered Stendhal’s hero after many hours blundering around the field of Waterloo, and many people today share a similar perplexity. Like Stendhal’s hero, they eat and drink and sustain the business of life, but the meaning of it all depends upon their conviction of contributing to the liberation of workers, women, the colonized, or other varieties of the oppressed. Like Fabrizio del Dongo, they find a regiment and tag along—the Hussars against Patriarchy, the Dragoon Guards of the Proletariat, and so on. Quite where the real battle lies is hotly disputed, but its significance is agreed to be a final end to oppression. (…) My argument, then, is an exploration of the hypothesis that there is a pure theory of ideology, and while from one point of view it is a critique, from another it is a do-it-yourself ideology kit. It begins with some suggestions about how ideology was generated from eighteenth-century social theory. The long central section is an attempt to characterize ideologies as forms of understanding. The last section develops the view that, although ideology must take on political trappings in order to transform the world, its real character is entirely antithetical to the practice of politics. Ideology is to reality, I suggest, as (in Tolstoy’s opinion) the reports of battles are to the concrete experience of individuals in the field. In ideological moods, we think we see in social and political life those clear lines from the history books depicting the battle order of the antagonists in massed array. They have neat, clear names like bourgeois and proletarian, colonialist and national, city-dweller and producer, in a word, oppressor and oppressed. The actual reality, however, is messy. Things change all the time, and it becomes impossible to keep any clear and distinct identities in focus. Confronting the arguments of ideology, we are forced to transform the Stendhalian question: Is it really a battle that we are in?”

 http://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/

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