The Question Of Virtue

Nun-with-Ruler


From Walter Russell Mead:

Finally and inescapably, there is the question of virtue. The liberal order of representative democracy depends more on the virtue of its citizens than other forms of government do. If most citizens are tax cheats, most politicians are swindlers, many parents are neglectful and most children are ingrates, democracy cannot last, much less prosper. If everyone is thinking about what they can get from the government and no one is thinking about what they give, and if nobody can be trusted when the lights are out, freedom will shrivel up and die. Our founding fathers were haunted by the example of the fall of the Roman Republic; we need to remember that Rome’s fate could be ours.

There are many forces working against republican virtue in America today. Consumer capitalism, as Daniel Bell and others have taught us, breeds attitudes of narcissism and self indulgence. The crisis affecting mainline Protestant and euro-Catholic congregations and institutions has weakened one of the chief props of the kind of self restraint and self governance that democracies need to survive and it’s not clear what if anything can take their place.


Virtue is more than just not doing bad things. Civic virtue includes positive actions like serving in the military, giving blood, reporting crimes, paying taxes and showing up for jury duty. It means helping those in need, even if you don’t know them. It means respecting and defending the rights of others, not just your own.



About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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5 Responses to The Question Of Virtue

  1. 49erDweet (D) says:

    Our local NW org is suffering the disinterest pangs brought about by our own success coupled with the progs anti-Zimmerman campaign. Whither to keep on keeping on, or turn it over to the pols and commercial interests, is the $64,000 question.

  2. Roberta says:

    Over 30 years ago in his wonderful book, America, Alistair Sim’s said the same thing:

    “As for the rage to believe we have found the secret of liberty in general permissiveness from the cradle on, this seems to me a disastrous sentimentality, which, whatever liberties it sets loose, losens also the sement that alone can bind any society into a stable compound – a code of obeyed taboos. I can only recall the saying of a wise Frenchman that ‘liberty is the luxury of self-discipline.’ Historically those people that did not discipline themselves had discipline thrust on them from the outside.”

  3. foxyladi14 says:

    self-discipline is very important. 🙂

  4. yttik says:

    “.. If most citizens are tax cheats, most politicians are swindlers, many parents are neglectful and most children are ingrates, democracy cannot last, much less prosper…”

    I completely disagree. For evidence, I present the United States of America.

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