by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Carlo Lancellotti has done the English-speaking world a great service in translating and commenting on the work of Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce. Consider “Augusto Del Noce on the ‘New Totalitarianism'” from the summer 2017 issue of Communio, which elucidates Del Noce’s views on ‘scientism’ and transcendence. In this essay, Lancellotti shows how Del Noce connected a rejection of the “religious dimension” of life with the “subordination of both ethics and culture to politics.
Coercion by force is not necessarily the best method to that effect. A better way is to remove the “equipment” that makes it possible to transcend politics: philosophical reason, non-utilitarian liberal education, national tradition, the family as a vehicle of ideal values. What is true is that the new totalitarianism is very different from older forms because it is a totalitarianism of disintegration, even before being a totalitarianism of domination. It dominates by disintegrating.
By politicizing every disagreement and assuming its own premises as the only valid ones, the “new totalitarianism” makes it impossible to fight it through political means without getting trapped in its own self-referential loop. Here Lancellotti quotes Del Noce directly: “What matters is rather the preservation of that religious dimension connatural to the human spirit which, on the one hand, is the only ground on which the action of Grace can bear fruit and, on the other hand, is the only condition to save the world from catastrophe.” (The Age of Secularization, emphasis original)
This has implications for what we mean by human flourishing and what can be accomplished through policy prescriptions.
the reaffirmation of philosophical reason and of the religious dimension, and its fulfillment in faith, are inseparable from the question of freedom, including freedom from worldly powers. … Del Noce’s thesis is that the exact opposite is true, and the most potent refutation of totalitarianism is the lived rediscovery that human freedom is founded on the recognition of the transcendent.