Friday, September 18, 2009

ACORN and Kinneging

It is easy to make jokes about ACORN, but is it not a perfect example of what Andreas Kinneging is talking about in his book Good and Evil: Philosophical Investigations, chapter 9 "Spiritual Capital"? In my post, "The Inadequacy of the Communitarian Critique of Liberalism" I summarized Kinneging's argument that, while social solidarity is a necessary condition for a good society it is not a sufficient one.

Social solidarity - care for the weak and the poor - cannot stand alone as the one great virtue needed in society. Rather, it needs to be supported by and be embedded in a network of virtues as described by the Tradition. It is not enough to be concerned about helping the poor; it is just as important to be faithful to your wife, honest in your business dealings, prudent in your voting and in control of your appetites in general.

In ACORN we see an organization devoted to social justice but divorced from the other virtues. The result is evil festering under a thin veneer of righteousness. People - rich, poor and middle-class - all need to cultivate the virtues in general instead of forgetting about them all except one. Let's say it clearly: being in favor of social justice does not substute for having basic morality in all other areas. That is the temptation liberals face and it is very subtle, deceptive and dangerous.

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