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Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Remnant

Kid Various didn't even know Mr. Surly read Bill Whittle. Whittle's latest essays are indeed magnificent - as they all are. But The Kid was more intrigued by the concept of the Remnant.

Albert was a very highly educated fellow. He observes that, strangely enough, Plato himself used precisely the same word – Remnant -- when referring to the same group, the people whose force of character was the mortar that held ancient Athens together. Curious…

He clarifies that he is not talking about an educational or aristocratic elite:

As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, labouring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass-man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.

I have been, and remain, a staunchly anti-elitist individual. I find the idea of belonging to a special group the most dangerous philosophical ground you can stand on. But what is remarkable about this Remnant is that the people that compose it seem to be drawn completely at random. It is not a philosophy. It is a frequency. You are on it or you are not. And this is not a million-dollar lottery win, either: it is a call to face unpleasant facts and impending hardship. It is a quiet summons to duty. It often makes one uncomfortable, and, most often, this unfocused, vague desire – this need – to do something useful most often makes one feel very much alone.

Kid Various is also extremely wary of any theory of an elect (or anything to do with Plato) but he has to admit - he feels like this sometimes; called to be uncomfortable, called to duty.


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