Writes David Brooks, brutally, in "The Brutalism of Ted Cruz."
Who are the "happy and hopeful warriors," I wonder? George W. Bush, I presume, but the mainstream media loved to portray him as a monster. It was convenient for them that he did not fight back, even to defend himself. Turn the other cheek. He got no credit from them for that Christian charity at the time, but he's convenient now as a model for what the staunch, hard-fighting Evangelical Ted Cruz ought to be.
"Personalism" feels unfamiliar to me. Brooks follows it with what looks like his definition — commitment to "the infinite dignity of each person" — but I was curious enough to look it up in the (unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary. The first definition is: "The quality or character of being personal; a theory or system based on subjective ideas or applications." An early example comes from The Atlantic in 1890: "Hampered by this impotent system of personalism... the party in possession of the executive power soon begins to drift helplessly upon a sea of troubles." I'm delighted to find the whole article on line. It's about the "growing inefficiency" of the House of Representatives.
The second definition is: "Allegiance to a person, esp. a political leader, rather than to a party or ideology." Example: 1937 Times 4 Sept. 11/6 "Personalism is a characteristic of Argentine politics. A party is the personal following of a man." This can't be Brooks's meaning. The vector points in the wrong direction. The "person" in that personalism is the leader, not all the individual ordinary people subject to his power.
Finally, we arrive at philosophy, and here there are 2 meanings, one of which I'll quickly toss to the side: "The theory that probabilities are expressions of a personal perspective on the occurrence of events, and so do not have objective meaning." Improbable!
The other is: "A system of thought according to which reality has meaning only through the conscious minds of persons, or (in a theistic, esp. Christian, context) of God as the supreme person, or that reality consists of interacting persons. Also: a view of social organization which emphasizes the primacy of human beings and their actions, rather than material resources." Is this it? From the historical examples:
1957 M. P. Fogarty Christian Democracy iii. 29 Personalism, as distinct from individualism, is held by Christian Democrats to imply a certain ‘solidarist’ conception of the individual's responsibility to and for the society around him.Personalism, as distinct from individualism.... That rather fits with Brooks's fear of brutality of free markets — see the quote in the post title — and desire to balance it with a spirit of "solidarity."
I was reading the Brooks column as a consequence of James Taranto's "Brooks Borks Cruz." (Google some text to get to a link that will work for you if that doesn't.) I'm reading Taranto's column only now, after writing all of the above, so it amuses me to see that Taranto latched onto a word. For him, it's "brutalism": "Brutalism is a style of architecture, but Brooks means to repurpose the term as an ideological slur—and a religious one."
Actually, the OED has an older meaning of "brutalism," "Brutal state, brutality," but you've got to wonder why the normal word "brutality" didn't seem quite right. "Brutalism" sounds more systematized and cerebral. Something about -isms.
Brooks's context, aside from the headline, is: "But Cruz’s speeches are marked by what you might call pagan brutalism. There is not a hint of compassion, gentleness and mercy." Pagan, eh? This, after saying "Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues." Brooks isn't Christian, it should be noted, but Jewish. By the way, do pagans deserve this insult? "Pagan" originated as an insult, but I don't see how the insult is deserved. Ironically, Brooks's use of it displays a lack of respect for the infinite dignity of each person.
Taranto focuses on a Supreme Court case, Dretke v. Haley, which Brooks puts at the top of his column and distorts rather grotesquely to make Cruz seem like a heartless brute. Here, the irony is brutally obvious. Brooks cannot possibly care about the infinite — or even the finite — dignity of Ted Cruz.