Sean IllingAs I understand liberalism, it is fundamentally about accepting ordinary life as our destiny and making our ordinary lives the best we can. This is liberalism's strength and its weakness: it is rooted in reality, not dreams about the future or the glorious past.
I want to talk about the major themes of your book. I’m struck by the role of narrative in your broader accounts of revolutionary and reactionary orientations.
The revolutionary treats the present as a means to some future utopia. The reactionary sees the past in all its splendor wants to relive it. In both cases, however, it’s present experience that seems least important.
Oh, I couldn't agree with you more. It's the unwillingness to live within the envelope of what the present gives you. This is what liberalism at its best does: It lowers your expectations for politics, it forces you to take responsibility for mastering what's going on in the present and urges you to think about what is ameliorating problems rather than wiping the slate clean.
We're creatures built for escape, and we try to escape ourselves psychologically in so many ways, and it's a natural tendency to want to escape the present rather than think it through when there are moments of crisis and dislocation.
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Revolutionaries, Reactionaries, and Liberals
Sean Illing interviews Mark Lilla about Lilla's new book on reactionary politics: