Friday, February 17, 2017

Political thought of C.S. Lewis

From an interview with one of the authors of C.S. Lewis on Politics and the Natural Law:
Berny Belvedere: Your book is on C.S. Lewis’ political thought. But didn’t Lewis avoid politics at all costs?

Justin Dyer: There is some truth to the notion that Lewis was apolitical.

Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham, said flatly that “Jack was not interested in politics.” In the 1950s Lewis turned down the honorific title of Commander of the British empire because he worried that his writings would be viewed as political propaganda. He claimed he never read a newspaper and once wrote to his brother that he “loathed great issues” and would prefer to see a “Stagnation Party — which at General Elections would boast that during its term of office no event of the least importance had taken place.” ....

Belvedere: Where do you turn in Lewis’ sizable catalogue to see examples of his political thought?

Dyer: There are political themes in nearly all of Lewis’ works.

In his academic magnum opus, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Lewis gives sophisticated treatments of political theorists such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Hooker.

Lewis’ Abolition of Man chronicles the consequences of humanity’s attempt to conquer human nature, and he presents those themes in fictional form in the third volume of his Space Trilogy, That Hideous Strength — which centers on a nefarious government bureaucracy called the National Institutes for Coordinated Experiments (or N.I.C.E. for short).

In letters and shorter essays, Lewis wrote about equality, criminal justice, capital punishment, pacifism, nuclear war, unalienable rights, social contract theory, Christian political parties, and the welfare state, among other explicitly political topics. But even some of the less overtly political works, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, have political themes running throughout. .... [more]