“CWR: It used to be that people saw cultural political and other institutions as larger than themselves, existing to help form character and shape communities. You say this has been completely reversed or turned inside out. How so? And to what end?

Trueman: This comes down to the move to the psychological self. A world where I think of my identity as something primarily established by external relationships is one where I need to learn from the external world and its institutions to find my place therein and then learn how to play my role therein. A world where I think of my identity as determined by my inner psychology is one where I need the world and its institutions to enable me to give outward expression to those inward feelings.

To take an extreme example, if I think I am woman trapped in a man’s body in a world where external factors are decisive, then medical institutions will serve me by treating me such that my mind conforms to my body. In the world of psychological man, those same medical institutions will serve me by altering my body and hormones to conform to my inner conviction. In the former, the institution helps form me; in the latter, it enables me to perform me. The basic idea lies behind child-centered learning philosophies, consumerism etc.

Of course, the reality is more complicated: my identity is itself the result of a dialogue between my self and the wider. But the key point is that I imagine my identity to be an internal monologue and the role of the institutions in my life to serve the purpose of allowing me to express that.

CWR: How has a psychologized notion of “dignity” led to radical change in how people understand themselves and their place in society?

Trueman: In earlier epochs in the West (and to an extent in contemporary cultures in places like South Korea), society was understood as a structure focused on honor. Not everyone was equal, e.g., the lord was superior to the peasant, the elderly to the young. The structure of society was understood as a hierarchy where the different levels were bound together by notions of deference and obligation. From the seventeenth century onwards, the dominant notion in the West has been that all men and women are equal, regardless of outward circumstances, and that society is a contractual arrangement between individuals.

We see this in a shift in the notion of natural law from, say, Aquinas to Locke. For the former, natural law pointed towards an end for human beings that therefore placed obligations upon each of us in order to achieve that end. With Locke, natural law moves towards a focus on individual rights – life, freedom, property. Each individual possesses a right to equal dignity, regardless of their place in the social hierarchy. Once we psychologize the notion of the self, this then transforms the notion of what natural rights are: everyone is entitled to feel happy and that in their own way. Which was the basic premise of, for example, the argument for gay marriage.” – Carl E. Olson

– Understanding and surviving a culture dominated by expressive individualism

Det er nok ikke uten grunn at James Kalb har valgt å skrive hos “Catholic World Report”, for her er mange gode samfunnsanalytikere, og jeg er virkelig glad for at Luther ikke klarte å reformere hele kirken. For, så langt jeg kan se, har vi da ikke tilsvarende skarpe penner innenfor den reformerte kirke.

“We see this in a shift in the notion of natural law from, say, Aquinas to Locke. For the former, natural law pointed towards an end for human beings that therefore placed obligations upon each of us in order to achieve that end. With Locke, natural law moves towards a focus on individual rights – life, freedom, property.”

Civita er virkelig helt gale, hvor de sponset av milliardærer pumper ut propaganda til forsvar for ekspressiv individualisme, hvor de tom. påstår at ekspressiv individualisme gjør oss mindre ensomme. Selv er jeg da totalt samfunnsforlatt under den ekspressive individualismens tidsalder, hvor jeg neppe kommer til å føre en samtale igjen med noe menneske på Toten for resten av mitt liv, det eneste viset jeg nå kan kommunisere på, er gjennom fotografiet. På Livoll leirsted opplever jeg dog å føre mange gode samtaler, hvis vi kommer oss dit igjen etter korona-krisa, men så er da heller ikke Livoll tuftet på idealene om ekspressiv individualisme. Det er derimot de enorme hyttefeltene omkring Livoll!

På samme vis er det her, hvor jeg tror Klaus, Even Helmer og Johan Albert bygget opp denne grendeklynga deres på et aquinansk sinnelag. Nå er det imidlertid et lockeansk sinnelag som råder her, hvor ingen ser ut til å ha andre mål enn oppfyllelsen av egen ekspressiv individualisme. Selv har jeg derimot ingen ekspressive individualiteter jeg føler behov for å uttrykke, jeg kjenner kun på en forpliktelse til å ære husmannstroen, hylle kulturelva vår og å minnes vår apostel. Men denne forpliktelsen kommer helt på tverke med de andres behov for å markere sin ekspressive individualisme, hvor de også ser på husmannstroen som ekspressiv individualisme, og vår apostel som en ekspressiv individualist, fordi de ikke har noen som helst forståelse av hva bedehuslandet var.

Personlig er jeg meget forferdet over at herr Fossemøllens ætlinger synes å se sitt fedrealter som et arnested for ekspressiv individualisme, og at en aquinansk verdensanskuelse for dem er et uttrykk for reaksjonært hat. Ikke minst kommunalsjefen, men det blir stadig klarere for meg at hele statsforvaltningen er sentrert omkring et lockeansk verdenssyn, hvor statens oppgave er å sørge for komfort, fundamentet for ekspressiv individualisme, hvorover den ekspressive individualismen likefordeles under prinsippet for lik frihet.

Ah, likefordeles er visst ikke et ord i ordboka, dette er vel da et permalivinsk nyord.

Uansett, påstanden om og forståelsen av at bedehuslandet var lockeansk og ikke aquinansk, provoserer meg noe voldsomt!