What’s the moral of this story?: A new moral criticism
Part of the mission of Right Scholarship is to advocate a return to moral cultural criticism, in the tradition of neo-Thomism and New Humanism. Moral criticism is not simplistic, and it is not based on an arbitrary moral standard. It involves placing our culture within the long history of moral revolt. This history of moral revolt extends from the beginnings of civilization to today, and can be imagined ahistorically as an atemporal plane of human activity devoted to subverting the absolute moral values of the West, which were discovered through both reason and revelation and synthesized in the moral philosophy of Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic Church.
The crucial distinction between Right Scholarship, as I envision it, and earlier rightist intellectual movements like neo-Thomism or New Humanism is that Right Scholarship is able to examine, incorporate and transform the anti-moral insights of structuralist and post-structuralist theory. Theory, properly understood, is part of the history of moral revolt. In its more creative manifestations, it is a form of literature in itself: an extension, in the language of criticism, of the revolution that occurred in the literature, music and visual art of 1960s Europe and North America. For Right Scholars, the canon of Theory is an open toolkit displaying the intellectual technologies of moral revolt. These technologies can be disassembled and reassembled, in the tradition of Sorelian ‘diremption,’ and used to repair the great moral framework they were supposed to help destroy.
If this sounds dogmatic or absolutist, I challenge any purveyors of Theory to look inside themselves and recognize their hidden absolutism, whether it be Marxist rationalism or Nietzschean perspectivism. Moderate and reasonable thinking must be founded upon an unchanging intellectual base, if it is to be more than timidity, deception or both.