More on idealism:

"Some readers will say that this is a mere fantasy. I answer that it is the actual history of mankind. This, as a fact, is how cities did grow great. Go back to the darkest roots of civilization and you will find then knotted round some sacred stone or encircling some sacred well. . . .

The eighteenth-century theories of the social contract have been exposed to much clumsy criticism in our time; in so far as they meant that there is at the back of all historic government an idea of content and co-operation, they were demonstrably right. But they really were wrong, in so far as they suggested that men had ever aimed at order or ethics directly by a conscious exchange of interests. Morality did not begin by one man saying to another, 'I will not hit you if you do not hit me'; there is no trace of such a transaction. There is a trace of both men having said, 'We must not hit each other in the holy place.' They gained their morality by guarding their religion. They did not cultivate courage. They fought for the shrine, and found they had become courageous. They did not cultivate cleanliness. They purified themselves for the altar, and found that they were clean."
G. K. Chesterton, "The Flag of the World," Orthodoxy

There is much here that is right, even for those who, like myself, are not at all Catholics. The classical liberal tradition has its roots in Socrates, who did cultivate courage--see the "Laches." Yet Socrates has his roots in Homer, and Homer in the lost tales of old. At base, that classical liberal tradition to which I subscribe is a well drawing on an underground sea. The well is a rational, thoughtful way of obtaining the water in an orderly and predictable fashion. The water, though, is a wild thing, whose power and energy is prior to and greater than our own.

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