A profound review of what seems a profound book. Dalrymple on Daniel J. Mahoney’s The Conservative Foundations of the Liberal Order: Defending Democracy against Its Modern Enemies and Immoderate Friends:
I think Mahoney proves his case that a sense of limitation is necessary if the democratic ideal is not itself to become despotic in its pursuit of perfection. So far, so good. But what he does not do is explain how such a sense is to be encouraged in a population whose elite is either not religious, or religious only pro forma, and which is already much influenced, not to say rotted, by Promethean Yes-we-can-ism.The acceptance of limitation is a habit of the heart as much as a doctrine of the mind. Clearly it is possible to develop that habit without being religious, but it is more difficult, for it requires not only a certain temperament but also an intellectual sophistication by no means common or easily acquired.…I do not think there is much prospect in the Western world of a religious revival, nor does Mahoney suggest that there is… The likelihood, then, is that people will continue to seek not only the meaning of their lives, but their salvation, in a variety of secular causes promoted by narrow ideologies that serve as lenses through which everything in the world can be seen and interpreted.
Read it in the new National Review (purchase required)