Just as “the revolt against ethnocentrism” contained in the self-criticism of the West is perhaps the only uniquely and specifically Western idea, there is nothing more liberal than illiberalism (communist or religious) expressed as an intellectual project of debate and criticism. Critique enmeshes the critic in the object of criticism.
Paul says something similar about sin and the Law:
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
One of my goals in beginning this journal again is to find ways of thinking that are not critique. My goal is not to escape the trap of responding to events and participating in the discourse of the day, which would best be achieved by silence, but to discover new modes and orders of thought, even to found new regimes of truth. That is, I’m interested in ποίησις.
For a while I was reading and translating Anaximander’s fragment: ἐξ ὧν δὲ ἡ γένεσίς ἐστι τοῖς οὖσι, καὶ τὴν φθορὰν εἰς ταῦτα γίνεσθαι κατὰ τὸ χρεών· διδόναι γὰρ αὐτὰ δίκην καὶ τίσιν ἀλλήλοις τῆς ἀδικίας κατὰ τὴν τοῦ χρόνου τάξιν (The birth of beings is from what also their death comes to be: necessity. For they give justice to one another from injustice according to time’s order). I still can’t make sense of it, and I wonder if this urge to return to the old writers is a mistake.
Perhaps you’re right that the only way forward is sculpture, not texts. Carving a future in stone…