Mediating Communions and Institutions Must Correct Our Course


In an excellent weekend interview by Sohrab Ahmari, Pierre Manent hones in on the problem of un-assimilationist Islam in the West, but this part is obviously more broadly applicable:

… the liberal West has grown tired of the older forms of “communion” that used to define it. Liberals in Europe, and to a lesser extent the U.S., wish to dispense with both the modern nation-state, the political communion that once gave concrete shape to the open society, and Judeo-Christianity, the sacred communion that used to provide the moral and spiritual frame.

For the West’s professional classes, Mr. Manent contends, the only acceptable sources of political communion are the autonomous individual, on the one hand, and humanity as a whole, on the other. He understands the jet-setters’ impulse: “We can go anywhere on the planet, work anywhere on the planet—these new liberties are inebriating.” Better, then, “to be a citizen of the world.”

But Mr. Manent, a Catholic and classical liberal in the tradition of Alexis de Tocqueville, thinks this attitude breeds resentments and anxieties that are only beginning to surface across the developed world.

One can see how this globalized view, bolstered by technology and wealth, removes incentive for those at the top of the socio-economic scale to concern themselves with those around them.  They don’t have to interact with their mid-distance neighbors, and they’re largely insulated from problems that arise through the economic and legal regimes that they favor (and that protect them, specifically).

Whereas once they would necessarily have come into contact with those of lower classes at church, the market, and other local establishments, they can now set themselves apart geographically, ideologically, and with respect to their activities.  This is not only culturally divisive, but also disruptive of social mobility.

At the same time, the overall wealth of the West has kept the real dissatisfaction and economic consequences from bubbling up in a revolutionary way.  That may be changing, and the change will certainly accelerate if the global elite makes it clear that it will not allow mediating institutions (like nations and churches) to correct course.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    I recently watched the re-make of Independence Day (it wasn’t released, it escaped). The movie is a celebration of a unified world. Made me wonder, if the say the Russians had a weapon they thought would defeat the aliens; would hey really share it? Or, seek advantage in the situation?