Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Some think that altruism is not real if it has any mixture of self-interest, social pressure, or social conformity.
But we learn how to serve others, much the way we learn anything else. Virtue is a practice which we try to get better at and make habitual. When it becomes second nature, it can appear to be "pure".
Yet we learn how, exactly, to be altruistic from social models. And we keep on trying to learn how to make virtue habitual because we have the support of social norms and of other people promoting those norms.
Moreover, when we do serve others, we also can reap the approbation of others - that is, enhance our status.
These are not impurities of altruistic service. This is the very human and social way that we learn how to be altruistic servants.
Monday, September 18, 2017
The vision of America as one commonwealth comes from Reformed, Catholic, and Jewish worldviews. The Yankee vision of the city on a hill translated into the progressive policies of the early Republican Party. Catholic social teaching and Jewish repair of creation views were joined to this progressive Protestant view (which had changed parties by then) to underscore the New Deal.
Opposition to the view of America as one commonwealth comes from what Michael Barone calls the Southern Grandees. Marrying racism and exploitation of cheap labor, they have consistently opposed universal social welfare policies. This has been true in every era of America, from Jamestown to today.
The United States has been able to adopt universal social welfare policies when the Southern Grandees have been checked. This was especially true during and just after the Civil War, and partly true in the Depression and the Civil Rights movement.
The Southern Grandees, and their fellow travelers, are dominant at the national level right now. But history gives us plenty of reason to hope they will be checked once again. America is one commonwealth, and will be able to act like it once again.