Politics of eremitism (7)

Apologists for society, institutions, and the state, insist on the necessity of social and civic duty above all other virtues. Hence Cicero, the defender of Roman character, insists that “service is better than mere theoretical knowledge” and that “men of ability either choose a life of private activity or, if of loftier ambition, aspire to a public career of political or military office. …” (De Finibus, 5.57). Whatever the public career today, it serves to perpetuate a contrived system incompatible with natural and humane values. In Western religious culture, the virtues of service were once pressed upon the majority, while a non-active life was reserved for the few. But secular culture of today returns moderns squarely into Cicero’s mode of thought. And with it comes an authority to enforce civic duty — an authority defined, of course, by the powerful. All this is anathema to eremitism, where spiritual and natural virtues define the solitary’s chief object as retirement of self from the marketplace and social halls of society and institutions, which are the cause of so much sorrow and the banishment of virtue.