Reno concludes his book with a series of questions and concerns, followed by his prescription for a cure. I find much of this as frustrating as his diagnosis. Frustrating because I appreciate much of it while disagreeing with much of it.
He observes in modern society: Marriage is collapsing, and transgender bathrooms are the answer; drug overdose on the rise, with calls for further legalization; suicide rates increasing, followed by calls for doctor-assisted suicide; poor neighborhoods with no services, and the churches who can help them being sued to compel adherence to the sexual revolution.
I suggest respect of private property, and leaving ethical violations (call these non-violent crimes) and punishments outside of the authority of state violence (with churches taking their proper role). These two actions will go a long way toward resolving all of these concerns. At least that’s what I think. We will come to Reno’s views later.
He asks a series of questions:
1. Can we make the global economy work for middling folks in the West?
2. Are we able to restore a shared moral community that protects the undisciplined among us from self-destructive vices?
3. How should we respond to mass migration?
4. Should there be limits to globalization, and if so, set by whom and to what end?
5. And then there is the fundamental question: What is the role of the nation in the twenty-first century?
To which I would answer, in order:
1. End central banking. This is the foundation of the economic weapon used against the middle class.
2. End the militarism and wars, including domestic wars like the war on drugs. There cannot be a moral society when it is a society built on endless militarism, when it is a society that does not care about the death and destruction caused by its government, when a society criminalizes behaviors that are best dealt with via counseling and shelter.
3. Respect private property. There will be no perfect solution to the question of immigration; property owners can best regulate this issue.
4. Eliminate the laws and regulations that make labor unproductive and uncompetitive and that subsidize capital. Labor in the West is burdened to such an extent that looking overseas for productive capacity is the rational decision; capital is subsidized resulting in an excess of investment in labor-saving tools.
5. And to his fundamental question, first define what you mean by nation.
Reno will answer none of these in the same way that I do, and he cannot because he dismisses Hayek out of hand (I must mention that Hayek isn’t the best example for my purposes, but it is who Reno chose); I could say that Reno throws the baby out with the bathwater. But more on this shortly.
On the subject of nation, Reno asks:
Who are we? What are the loves we share? What communal loyalties properly demand sacrifice? Who among us belongs to the “we”?
All very important questions, certainly if we are to come through these times somewhat peacefully. Is it a “we” of 300 million people, or is it something else? Reno lays some groundwork for his further examination on these questions. He gives a very nice examination in recognizing our specific patrimony within the context of our common humanity:
My parents, grandparents, and ancestors before them are in a real sense far more necessary to me than my generic humanity, so much so that I’m far more likely to sacrifice my life for my blood relations than for someone outside the family circle, however equal he may be in the eyes of God.
My thought while reading this examination: by “we,” he certainly cannot mean the United States or something like the European Union. We will see if I am right.
He recognizes that the “we” doesn’t just happen; we must take deliberate steps to form families and broader communities. I keep in mind his recognition that blood relations (including through marriage, etc.) are far more conducive to such a “we” than any conceptual construct or proposition. Reno offers:
In his massive account of world history, The City of God, Augustine defines the “we” as “an assembled multitude of rational creatures bound together by a common agreement as to the objects of their love.”
Which now brings him to his way forward. You have seen his questions and concerns; you have seen my responses to some of these. What does Reno have to say?
Reno understands the reasons for the populist responses in the West – issues of immigration, borders, and national sovereignty. He suggests that the leadership class has refused to renew the “we.” What will this “we” rally around?
False loves can be remedied only by true ones. A humane future in the West will require nurturing noble loves.
I agree with this, also that it is necessary if we want to move toward liberty. But much still depends on the “we.”
A politically universalized “we” is seen as a blessing:
By drawing the many into the affairs of state, however remotely, democracy encourages them to transcend their me-centered existence. The strong god of the nation draws us out of our “little worlds.”
This will only matter if the “we” feel that what they say / do / vote has influence. So, the question is: how big is the "we"? “However remotely” just won’t cut it. This is where Reno jumps the shark: