The elitism of liberal equality

Even if you’ve got formal democracy, in reality there is some kind of technocratic elite in charge if you don’t have the vision of the soul. So I suppose one of the difficult things about our book is that we’re saying that if you do have the vision of the soul, then you do tend to recognize, yeah, that there are some people further along the line than other people — there are some people genuinely able to guide us, that they can take other people further along the journey. And that can look more kind of elitist than the discourse we’ve got. But our argument would be very much that you have to think in terms of paradox, that in fact if there is somewhere to go, if there is something we share in common, then people can be led along that road, then you can have the idea of fair shares and so on. It’s a kind of dynamic equity, whereas in reality liberalism — which talks the talk of equality, but in reality it’s always going to lead to controlling elites because the only discourses we share in common are impersonal ones to do with technocracy, to do with process. So the people who have expertise in that will be in charge, whereas when Im talking about wisdom, when I’m talking about genuine insight into truth, or genuine spiritual qualities — these are in the end much more democratic, we can all participate in them — in reality, there are wise men and women, in reality there are prophetesses and prophets — and yet potentially we can all get there, whereas I’m never going to be any good at maths or computers.

(John Milbank, on Volume 138 of Mars Hill Audio Journal, discussing The Politics of Virtue, which he and Adrian Pabst authored)

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