Polemics & Exchanges

On the Managerial State

In "The Proletarian Weapon" (Principalities & Powers, May), Samuel Francis has restated his theory that we are living "in a society that is between civilizations," the old one being "bourgeois, Western, and generally Christian" and the new one "managerial, non-Western . . . egalitarian." When he first said this, I thought he was being ironic, but apparently he wants us to take him seriously. I must demur.

As Pitirim Sorokin pointed out in The Crisis of Our Age, great civilizations cannot survive without a considerable measure of "ideational" content—widely shared religious beliefs that strike deep into the soul of man. To use C.S. Lewis's terms, the spiritual underpinnings of society must be "thick," not "clear"—they must acknowledge blood ties, the power of the numinous, a dark mystery at the core of human life, and so on. I'm not sure whom Dr. Francis would count as members of the managerial elite, but I dare say that they look with scorn on anything thick. Those who are "rationalist" and "secularist" would probably like to do without religion altogether, but if they must have it, let it be clear, rational, even scientific—something modern people can believe in. But such an effort is doomed to fail. Aristotle's Ethics,...

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