Today I had the great pleasure of welcoming our first guest to Politics at the Cross+Roads, Rev Canon Dr Giles Fraser. Giles will be well known to many listeners as a journalist with Unherd (and previously with the Guardian). Giles is a priest and canon in the Church of England and he regularly contributes to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day and the Moral Maze.We had an absolutely fascinating discussion about how he sees the relationship between socialism and conservatism, about whether the pandemic is a post liberal moment and how the Church roots us in community, warts and all.
For Giles’ new book, Chosen: Lost and Found Between Christianity and Judaism (Penguin, 2021), see https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/213/213476/chosen/9780241003268.html
For Giles’ post liberal reading list, see https://unherd.com/2019/11/a-post-liberal-reading-list/
On churches and the pandemic, see Giles’ thoughts here https://twitter.com/giles_fraser/status/1354091428092268545, https://unherd.com/2020/12/why-i-wont-be-closing-my-church-this-christmas/ and https://unherd.com/2020/11/boris-johnson-doesnt-get-god/
For Giles’ discussion of Jesus as a somewhere and Paul as an anywhere, see https://unherd.com/2018/08/jesus-somewhere-paul-anywhere/
On postliberalism and the Magnificent Seven, see https://unherd.com/2020/04/the-magnificent-seven-is-a-post-liberal-idyll/
I’m putting together a podcast called Politics at the Cross+Roads. As the name suggests, the podcast sits at the intersection or the crossroads of Christian faith and political conviction. In Politics at the Cross+Roads, I interview interesting Christians in the public square about where they are politically and how their faith helped them get there.
This a new series which features conversations with prominent public figures who are Christians and who also openly discuss their political convictions.
So, in the weeks and months to come, join me as I speak with well-known, thinking Christians from across the political spectrum,looking at why they’ve come to the positions they have and how their faith has helped them get there.
Together, we’ll explore such questions as, how do your political convictions and your faith interact? When has your Christianity come into conflict with your politics? And what does the Christian faith have to say to the political tradition you inhabitand what does the political tradition you inhabit have to say to your faith?
So keep an eye out on the blog (www.thesaeculum.com) under the Politics at the Cross+Roads section, as well as the blog’s YouTube channel and on iTunes for audio and video conversations with well-known guests over the next few months.
Hazony’s piece offers a description of Neo-marxism, its power and pitfalls and its take-over of institutions in the English-speaking world. He is careful to note that he is not using the term Marxist as an ad hominem smear, but instead to describe a genuine attempt to rewrite the history and re-shape the culture of the West. The fatal flaws of Marxism he describes include:
the simplistic assumption “that wherever one discovers a relationship between a more powerful group and a weaker one, that relation will be one of oppressor and oppressed”. This ignores the real state of affairs in which mixed relationships more often are the norm with powerful and weaker groups mutually benefiting one another in civil life. It is possible for the more powerful interest groups to seek to “balance the benefits and the burdens of the existing order so as to avoid actual oppression”.
the assumption “that every society is so exploitative that it must be heading toward the overthrow of the dominant class or group”. But if Hazony is right, and weaker groups favour the general preservation of the current order (surely with some reform), then there would be a preference not for the overthrow of current institutions but for an order that seeks to address the challenges of inevitable inequalities, with the help of custom and all with a view to improving, rather than tearing up, the social fabric.
the lack of consideration given to what the revolting class would construct once the revolution has been completed. Hazony goes on to suggest that the overthrow of an oppressive class by the revolters can, and indeed will, breed more oppression (assuming that Marx was right about relationships of power being the norm for human existence).
To his credit, Hazony also notes aspects missing in Enlightenment liberalism that Marxism helpfully fills in: it’s awareness of class and the formation of cohesive groups within society (which liberalism ignores because of its obsessive focus on the individual) and its aliveness to abuses of power in liberal Western societies (which liberals erroneously tend to think exist only in totalitarian societies “over there”).
However, on the question of the relationship between the three political philosophies, the article contains two points that stand out for me: