Quote of the Day II

It's Orwell:

"I do not think one need look farther than this for the reason why the young writers of the thirties flocked into or towards the Communist Party. It was simply something to believe in. Here was a Church, an army, an orthodoxy, a discipline. Here was a Fatherland and — at any rate since 1935 or thereabouts — a Fuehrer. All the loyalties and superstitions that the intellect had seemingly banished could come rushing back under the thinnest of disguises. Patriotism, religion, empire, military glory — all in one word, Russia. Father, king, leader, hero, saviour — all in one word, Stalin. God — Stalin. The devil — Hitler. Heaven — Moscow. Hell — Berlin. All the gaps were filled up. So, after all, the 'Communism' of the English intellectual is something explicable enough. It is the patriotism of the deracinated." - George Orwell, "Inside the Whale."

I think something similar applies to those lefties like Stanley Fish whose sympathies lie more with those outraged by the Danish cartoons than with those who drew them; and also to those conservatives who couldn't live with the golden era of the 1990s - the Clinton-Gingrich Settlement - because it didn't energize them enough, didn't give them the "politics of meaning" they so longed for. They needed a new faith - stronger than liberalism and not as restrained as market capitalism. Richard John Neuhaus, to take one example, had once been a Marxist and a believer in dialectical materialism. Why would he subsequently be content with a neutral public square, with social progress and economic and technological miracles? Bourgeois hooey. So he switched sides and now worships Benedict XVI the way previous generations worshipped Stalin - even to the point of resistance to what theocons have called the American "regime". Many Republicans have found the appeal of an unbending faith - Protestant fundamentalism - more emotionally satisfying than the challenge of rational and questioning belief. Others still have responded to the empty center of liberalism by flocking to a new cult of the leader who can do no wrong - Bush. Others still are so blinded by partisan loyalty they can call torture - torture! - by another name, and vie with one another to extend the reach and power of government. But there are many sane liberals and principled conservatives prepared to confront modernity's empty center with skepticism, private faith, public moderation, and a commitment to limited government. They are becoming the real opposition to the muddle of fundamentalisms, passivity and hero-worship that now pass for establishment conservatism and post-modern leftism. And I have a feeling we have only just begun to hear from them.

(Hat tip: Gil.)