Foundationism is the politics of people who build things for a living. We're conservative about some things and liberal about others. We're secular, but Christian-friendly. As builders, we are deeply pragmatic, but as builders, we also concern ourselves with what is true, what is just, what is good, what is beautiful. That is to say, we are just as concerned with questions as we are with answers. We believe it is the sacred duty of all people to grapple with these questions honestly and with all their strength, and to do so all their lives.
You might also ask: is Foundationism a left-wing movement, or a right-wing movement? And the answer is: when you go into a building, is the foundation to the left of you, or to the right?
Like all political movements, we want to take on big problems -- but we understand, as students of history, that the only way to do that well is to focus on the small particulars and work from the bottom up. In this sense, Foundationism is a radical movement: radical from the Latin word for root.
Our own roots are working class. That's where our loyalty is; that's where we look for guidance, and it's not because working class people are always right. It's because building things for a living, and trying to do it well, imposes a sense of balance and proportion -- a sense of grace -- on the things you do. When you build something, be it a physical structure or a social institution, you are responsible for it, and for what it does in the world. You have to live with it. You have a moral obligation to build well. This is a burden that most revolutionaries and deconstructionists don't feel they have, and it shows in their rhetoric, which is as hollow as their works. We know the system needs to change, but we think we can do better than those who only want to burn it down. We take as our starting point the structures and institutions built by previous generations, who built as well as they could; as well as they knew how. They did not build perfectly, because no imperfect being can. But they gave us something to stand on, something to be proud of, something to improve. That is a sacred trust. We have no right to neglect -- much less to casually destroy - what they gave their lives to building.
FutureRadio is the home of the Dangerous Space podcast, which is an official communication -- right now, the official communication -- of the Foundationist movement. There's more than one meaning there: the obvious one is a gesture of contempt and defiance to the advocates of "safe spaces". But in a larger sense we reject the notion of safety, because we live in dangerous times, and because we are interested in ideas and independent thought -- and ideas are dangerous. Thinking is dangerous. No useful thing is devoid of hazard. Any tool worth the name can also be a weapon.
So in Dangerous Space, we're going to talk about ideas. There's no limit to what we can talk about and think about, but one theme we're going to keep coming back to is a core Foundationist concept: the concept of radical seeing.
Imagine one of the walls inside a house. It's smooth, painted; it looks like all one thing, a uniform piece of matter. But now if you want to attach something to that wall -- say, a shelf or a cabinet -- you no longer have the luxury of imagining that it is uniform, because it has a deep structure that you need to understand. There are load-bearing elements behind that wall, and anything substantial you hang on it has to be fastened to them, otherwise the new structure will fail.
If we want to build well, we have to see the essence of things, the inner structure. We have to see deeply; radically. This basic truth applies to the institutions we build in civic, political, and cultural life.
Certainly in the lives of people, and in the life of a nation, there's a time to build things up and a time to tear things down. But the logic of radical seeing applies here too. If you go into a house and you need to take down a wall, it can be hazardous or even life-threatening to do that without radical seeing. What kind of wall is it? What is it made of? What is it for? Is it a bearing wall, holding up the weight of the floor above? Here again, we see a parallel with the politics of change in American civic life: You have to be careful what you dismantle and how you go about it.
This is why Foundationism, although radical in some ways, is at its core an evolutionary movement -- not a revolutionary one. Are revolutions necessary? Sometimes. But they unleash so much energy that they can't help but destroy good things as well as bad ones. Revolution sounds great when you're young and angry-- just like we were once. But when we ceased to be children, we put away childish things.
Our children have their own responsibility: to become citizens worthy of inhabiting the future. Our responsibility is to build a future that is worthy of its citizens.