Koyzis’ provocative thesis on authority and liberty.
Assumed audience:‘Little-o’ orthodox Christians interested in political theology, or others curious about what a healthier (because more robustly!) Christian political theology might look like.
In what has to be one of the more daring moves I’ve come across in years and years, Koyzis drops this thought in his discussion of the plan for the book:
When I first read this, it had the force of a mental triple take:
Standard reading mode.
Wait, what? That can’t be right, can it?
Huh. I think… that is absolutely correct.
It’s early pages yet, but the idea is striking: not simply that we’ve been getting it wrong with liberalism, but quite specifically: that the key mistake of liberalism is to ground all our ideals in liberty as such rather than to see individual liberties as a proper response to the authority of a human person qua human person: that abridgements of liberties are abridgements not because liberty is itself the supreme ideal but because it is violating another’s rightful authority over her own person (an authority that itself stands under the authority of God the creator).
Every prior critical treatment of liberalism I’ve read has had a fundamental failure: it had no answer for why we should see individual liberties as goods worth preserving. Koyzis, it seems, does:
That is: though liberalism has mistaken the grounds for its expansion of individual human liberties, it was in many cases not wrong to expand those liberties — in Koyzis’ terms, to differentiate many different kinds of authorities, including those of the individual herself.