George Will’s “The Last Word” column in this week’s issue of Newsweek raises several of the most important questions posed by Hurrican Katrina and its aftermath — inclusing the purpose of government and the nature of humanity. In “Leviathan in Louisiana,” Will ends his article with a blend of elegy and warning:
In Katrina’s collision with New Orleans, the essence of primitivism, howling nature, met one of mankind’s most sophisticated works, a modern city. But what makes cities such marvels–the specializations and divisions of labor that sustain myriad webs of dependencies–also makes them fragile. Forgetting that is hubris, an ingredient of tragedy.
So Katrina has provided a teaching moment. This is a liberal hour in that it illustrates the indispensability, and dignity, of the public sector. It also is a conservative hour, dramatizing the prudence of pessimism, and the fact that the first business of government, on which everything depends, is security.