If religious restraint is good, the restraint of modernity is, too; ironically, while religion seems able under the right circumstances to restrain itself, modernity seems doomed to spiral into the postmodern predicament I have just illustrated, in which our inability to define reasonableness from a neutral, external standpoint drives us to race from subjective subject to subjective subject, anxiously relying on, and seeking to balance out, the extremely non-neutral and internally-oriented feelings of each. So Andrew I think ties himself a bit too closely to modernity; personally, I quite agree that premodernity is inhospitable — and fortunately long gone — territory, especially for our politics. I would suggest a postmodern disposition that strikes me as more realistic, and real, than either a zombie premodernity or an addled, self-destructive modernity. Yet where Oakeshott, who has much wisdom for would-be postmodern conservatives, gives us a theory of conversation that winds up causing politics to self-destruct in inarticulateness, I would be more permissive, more sure of ourselves. But I would grant that the preconditions for my alternative — the preconscious fabric of tacit consent and tacit knowledge that produces the sort of citizen capable of confidence in both assertion and restraint — are not much in vogue these days, for reasons Tocqueville has laid out well enough. Unfortunately, this is more a problem for we the people than it is for my theory, and it is no small problem for my theory.
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