Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Roots of American Order Book Club

Chapter III - The Glory and The Ruin:The Greek World

Origins = Hellenes who at the height of their power had conquered and ruled much of the known world.  Not exactly Hollywood Elite, but establishes my theme.

Regimented = militaristic city/states (polis) requiring big budgets to maintain.  *Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous* comes to mind.

Deities = disorderly, raucous characters who really saved no one from any thing.  The residents of Mount Olympus could have staged a long-running soap opera/reality show.

Experience = cautionary tale:  American Founders learned *What Not to Wear* from the Greeks, like class conflict, internecine violence, private/public arrogance, imperial vainglory.

Recovery = litany of poet/philosophers all proposing better ways, all failing to save Greek culture/society/civilization.  Think of the credits at the end of a movie.  There really are too many to list, but I love pronouncing their names.

Of the five sections within Chapter III, I think the final one (Aristotle and Political Forms) might be the most instructive for us today because Kirk succinctly describes the Greeks' attempts at various forms of government, comparing and contrasting  their virtuous forms with their degenerate deviations.  

Whereas religious convictions undergird a society at the most fundamental level,  they play out differently when administered (manifested) by the civil authority, be it monarchy, oligarchy,  or democracy.  The Greeks never got the religion thing *right*.

"The Greek idea of political and social balance, as the Americans found it expressed by Aristotle and Polybius and Plutarch, was incorporated directly into the American Constitutions,"  says Kirk.

Unfortunately, we (inheritors of said document) are now way.out.of.balance.

On this Super Tuesday, I hope those exercising their right to vote have read some Russell Kirk.

His insight will help all of us understand the consequences of today's primaries.

Read how fellow book-clubbers are applying Kirk's advice.


  1. George Will explains how to restore balance aka equipoise

    Conservatives this year should have as their primary goal making sure Republicans wield all the gavels in Congress in 2013.

    If Republicans do, their committee majorities will serve as fine-mesh filters, removing President Obama’s initiatives from the stream of legislation.

    Then Republicans can concentrate on what should be the essential conservative project of restoring something like constitutional equipoise between the legislative and executive branches.

    3 March 2012 article
    Washington Post

  2. I am sorely tempted with George Will to vote expediently.

  3. I'm just glad I live in a country where I have the privilege to vote ~ in ancient Greece, that would not have been so.