"Temporal and Eternal" is a profound and poetic assessment of the relationship between tradition and liberty, between politics and society, and between Christianity and the modern world. The Liberty Fund edition includes a new foreword by Pierre Manent, professor of political science at the Centre de Recherches Politiques Raymond Aron in Paris.As ...
"Temporal and Eternal" is a profound and poetic assessment of the relationship between tradition and liberty, between politics and society, and between Christianity and the modern world. The Liberty Fund edition includes a new foreword by Pierre Manent, professor of political science at the Centre de Recherches Politiques Raymond Aron in Paris.As the twenty-first century begins, the relationships this book explores are as relevant as they were in the last century, when French poet and essayist Charles Peguy addressed them in "Memories of Youth" and "Clio I," the two essays in this volume. In these essays Peguy develops his theme of "la mystique"--that which a person or a nation is--and "la politique"--mere policy. According to Peguy, "Everything begins as a mystique and ends as a politique." A nation, then, that loses its mystique--that is, those traditions and customs that predate politics--loses both its liberty and its self-respect and becomes prone to totalitarian terror, by the right or the left. Specifically, Peguy uses the Dreyfus Affair (1894) as an example of how ideology and "national interest"--again, from both the right and the left--can deform mystique into politique. The reader is transported into an imaginative engagement with the great issues of liberty that were at stake when a single individual--Dreyfus--was unjustly condemned by his state solely for the convenience of persons in power.Peguy rightly discerned in the displacement of mystique by politique in European life "the coming of a demagogic domination disastrous for liberties." Thus, observes Pierre Manent, "the most important event in Peguy's life and for his work was also of capital importance, not only for the French of his generation but also for the Western world ever since."The brevity, beauty, and timeless relevance of Peguy's prose make this volume attractive for historians, scholars, and laymen.
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