Sunday, September 05, 2004

Moral Confusion in the British Academy

Novelist and essayist John Banville, writing at, reviews Heresies: Against Progress and Other Illusions, by John Gray. Banville notes that Gray
is richly dismissive, for instance, of the Bush administration's neo-conservatives -- "Washington's new Jacobins", he calls them -- who believe that it is possible to eradicate evil from the world. "The danger of American foreign policy," he writes, "is not that it is obsessed with evil but that it is based on the belief that evil can be abolished." Such foolishness, he points out, is far removed from the wisdom of America's founding fathers, for whom "the purpose of government was not to conduct us to the Promised Land but to stave off the recurrent evils to which human life is naturally prone".
Why does Gray think that the Founders rejected a promised land? If he would read our Declaration of Independence and the Preamble of our Constitution it would be clear to him that the Founders embraced a secular promised land and established a system of governance that would guide us to that promised land.

As for evil, Gray is merely nit-picking when he contrasts Bush's supposed fixation on abolishing evil -- falsely imputing naïveté to Bush -- with the Founders' view that evil is recurrent. A cheap rhetorical trick.

I am ceaselessly amused -- but never amazed -- by the depths to which half-baked, left-wing academicians will stoop to score points against their political enemies.