Thursday, October 27, 2016

Two paths through the woods

Ross Douthat, conservative columnist for the New York Times, October 2016, about American conservative intellectuals (don't laugh at the oxymoron) who have lost their way:

History does not stand still; crises do not last forever. Eventually a path for conservative intellectuals will open.

But for now we find ourselves in a dark wood, with the straight way lost.
Mahatma Gandhi, conservative Hindu, September 1929:
"The Shastras have taught us both our ideal dharma and our practical dharma....

"However, we do not seek solutions to [such] problems by regarding them as matters of absolute dharma. Relative dharma does not proceed on a straight path like a railway track. It has, on the contrary, to make its way through a dense forest where there is not even a sense of direction. Hence in this case, even one step is sufficient. Many circumstances have to be considered before the second step is taken and, if the first step is towards the north, the second may have to be taken towards the east. In this manner, although the path may appear crooked, since it is the only one which is correct, it can also be regarded as the straight one. Nature does not imitate geometry. Although natural forms are very beautiful, they do not fit in with geometrical patterns."
 Commentary:  The real world is complicated.  Gandhi acknowledges this, finds it natural.  American conservatives like Douthat do not.