Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tocqueville, Purtianism, and Virginia

Peter Lawler offered up a rather fascinating post a few weeks ago.

The first Americans of the North chose exile in America not for prosperity or physical liberty, but to satisfy an intellectual need that has nothing to do with their bodies. The Virginians, by contrast, were extremely moved by singularly materialistic–really, criminal–pursuits. (Most colonies, Tocqueville notices, originate in the lawless greed characteristic of pirates.) But that’s not to say the men of New England thought of themselves as too good or too pure for this world.


Both the North and the South—New England and Virginia—began with extreme views of what human liberty is. Neither Tocqueville could affirm as what’s “true and just,” although both have elements of truth and justice. The Americans, with their subtle and unprecedented statesmanship, haven’t found it necessary to choose, as Tocqueville says people are often stuck with doing, between the excesses of one extreme or another. America at its political best is a compromise between colonial North and South, between New England and Virginia, between meddlesome, intrusive idealists and vulgarly self-indulgent and morally indifferent pirates.

It's interesting in its own right, but again, probably to the massive annoyance of everybody who reads this blog, FLG sees inklings of his time horizons theory. However, he's not quite sure how it fits. But damn it, like Prego, it's in there. There's always something about the Viriginians', well, let's just say Jefferson's political philosophy that FLG always felt was short-term focused despite the high fallutin' rhetoric.

In any case, he's going to put his time horizon theory on the shelf for a while.

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