Runnin' With the Devil
I was about to move on to the next topic of discussion, that is, the hostile forces--you know, the deities of the nether world, the Cosmocrats of the Dark Aion--and how they fit into the psychic economy of the cosmos. But yesterday's post was so popular, I've decided to offer up more of the same. We'll get to the Father of Lies tomorrow. Today we'll just talk about some of his minions, for the adversary knows better than anyone that Job One is to convince sophisticated folk that he doesn't exist.
Nor does the Subtle One work with hammer, pliers, blow torch or other such crude instruments. Contrary to popular belief, he will not "get medieval on your a**." He is a refined fellow. A man of wealth and taste. He does not threaten. Rather, he seduces. He hypnotizes. He intoxicates. He is a flatterer. One of our best defenses is that he only takes the willing. He works with what is at hand. You must choose him. And yet, the temptations he offers are steps on the ladder of perfection. Obviously, a fine line.
Why do so many otherwise bright and intelligent--not to mention decent--people fall for leftism in any of its many varieties? Partly it is a reflection of the devaluation of the intellect in modern times, the reduction of knowing to mere reason. Properly understood, reason is a tool of the intellect. It is a good slave but a bad master, for reason can only touch the richness of the world, but can never truly "enter" or map it. It necessarily reduces the higher realms of pure intellection to the flatland of mere knowledge. Time and space are drained of their metaphysical significance, so that the gift of liberty actually becomes oppressive and wearying. Reduced to horizontal freedom, it just entails aimless wandering or frantic running, looking for a "place" and "direction." But there is no place in the horizontal. Anywhere you are there, you're still nowhere. So you must keep moving. Or search for some kind of "rock" to cling to during life's sojourn, even if the rock is of your own creation. It's better than no-thing and no-where.
Leftism is just one of many logopathologies available to the lost soul. One of the problems is with our elites. We are wrong to think that the difficulty lies in the uneducated and unsophisticated masses--as if inadequate education, in and of itself, is the problem. As a matter of fact, no one is more prone to illusions than the intellectual. It has been said that philosophy is simply personal error on a grandiose scale. Complicating matters is the fact that intellectuals are hardly immune to a deep emotional investment in their ideas, no less than the religious individual.
The word "belief" is etymologically linked to the word "beloved," and it is easy to see how certain ideas, no matter how dysfunctional--for example, some of the undeniably appealing ideas underpinning contemporary liberalism--are beloved by those who believe them. Thus, many liberal ideas are believed not because they are true, but because they are beautiful. Or because of their rocklike function alluded to above. The contemporary secularized intellectual simply marshals their intelligence in service of legitimizing the beliefs that they already hold. It has long been understood by psychoanalysts that for most people, reason is the slave of the passions. In fact, it will almost always be the slave of the passions unless it becomes the slave if the intellect properly so-called---that is, the nous.
I have written before of how, underneath the attachment to the dysfunctional idea or system, there is a more insidious fear that one's entire intellectual cathedral, carefully constructed over a lifetime, will collapse in ruins. Religious people are not as prone to this same fear, because they accept it that their religion is ultimately based on a leap of faith.
That liberalism is the latest pseudo-religion seems quite apparent to me. While it is true that the conservative intellectual movement includes religious groups, it has been my experience that conservatism actually maintains a far clearer separation of religious and political impulses than liberalism, simply because it acknowledges a sharp difference between the two. Since leftism denies the existence of spirit, it ends up conflating politics and gnostic spirituality into a single ideology that is neither politics nor religion, but a monstrous hybrid of the two. The philosopher Eric Voegelin wrote at length about this (his works are rather difficult, but there is an excellent introduction that I have placed in the sidebar).
As Jonah Goldberg has observed, "Like many spiritual movements, liberalism emphasizes deeds and ideals over ideas. As a result, when liberals gather there’s a revivalist spirit in the air, with plenty of talk about fighting the forces of evil and testifying about good deeds done." Goldberg cites several examples, such as "the spiritual nature of the environmental movement; the quasi-messianic treatment of Martin Luther King Jr.; Bill Clinton’s invocation of 'covenants' with the American people; Hillary Clinton’s 'politics of meaning,' which claimed to redefine what it meant to be a human being in the postmodern world--all of these are examples of what Voegelin would describe as the neo-Gnostic effort to make the hereafter simply here."
At the same time, for the person who is not under the hypnotic psycho-spiritual spell of contemporary liberalism, it is strikingly devoid of actual religious wisdom or real ideas. As such, it is driven by vague, spiritually infused ideals and feelings, such as "sticking up for the little guy," or "war is not the answer," or "we gave an academy award to Hattie McDaniel in 1939." On the other hand, conservatism (not, mind you "Republicanism") is not so much based on ideas, but on simply observing what works, and then generalizing from there. It is actually refreshingly free of dogma, and full of dynamic tension.
For example, at the heart of conservatism is an ongoing, unresolvable dialectic between freedom and virtue. In other words, there is a bedrock belief in the idea that free markets are the best way to allocate scarce resources and to create wealth and prosperity for all, but a frank acknowledgment that, without a virtuous populace, the system may produce a self-centered, materialistic citizenry living in a sort of degenerate, "pitiable comfort." Thus, there is an ongoing, unresolvable tension between the libertarian and traditional wings of the movement.
There is no such dynamic tension in liberalism. Rather, it is a topdown dogma that is not dictated by what works, but by how liberals would like reality to be. This is why liberalism must be enforced with the mechanism of political correctness, in order to preempt or punish those who deviate from liberal dogma, and see what they are not supposed to see.
It is a mistake to think of this as a problem afflicting only intellectuals. Rather, a moment's reflection reveals that it is a much more pervasive problem that afflicts artists, psychologists, literary types, etc. So what is common to all these folks? Why it's the tyranny of the abstract. All of these types fall in love with their own ideas, and take their ideas to be more real than reality. In fact, for such an individual, reality becomes a defective form of their sacred ought. Instead of "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," the overly abstract thinker says, "In the beginning, reality ought to be the way I want it to be."
Let's face it, if you are a ward of the state, a university professor with the luxury to idly pursue the intellectual life, you have it pretty easy. You are living a rather sheltered existence, free from hunger, disease, pain, and want. Therefore, it's pretty easy to forget the violence that made such leisure and abundance possible, in the same way that it's easy to enjoy your health while forgetting that you're only healthy because you have a "primitive" but sophisticated immune system ready to do incredible violence to any foreign invaders who threaten your body's health. For these intellectuals and so-called spiritual types to have contempt for the military is as idiotic as having contempt for your body's immune system. But that doesn't stop elite universities from suing to get the ROTC and military recruiters off their campuses.
Try telling your immune system to be reasonable, to sit down and talk it out with the viruses that want to invade you. Tell your white blood cells to hold conferences to try to understand the root causes of bacterial motivations.
The ideals of abstract thinkers are utopian and unworkable because they forget all about embodied human existence--about reality. It is no coincidence that the great totalitarian movements of the past century--communism, nazism, and now Islamism--were and are the products of intellectuals. On the other hand, Christianity takes seriously the idea that we are unavoidably embodied and imperfectible. As a matter of fact, Judeo-Christian metaphysics solves the otherwise insoluble philosophical stalemate between idealists and materialists, because a logoistic reality means that the Word is made flesh: that the ideal is located in the real, not in some abstract, utopian beyond. The world is neither ethereal nor earthly: it is earthereal.
Abstract ideas are designed to understand and describe reality. But intellectuals turn this around and begin using their abstractions to judge reality. And if reality falls short, they don't abandon their ideals but jettison reality. Intellectuals just can't stand the thought that a free market with no one in charge has much more embodied wisdom and rationality than their sacred abstractions and economic prescriptions.
Also, most intellectuals and liberal, new-age spiritual types simply imitate one another rather than having a direct encounter with the Real and building up a world view based on personal experience. They are generally not original or creative thinkers, but simply take on predigested ideas that have been passed to them by other intellectuals. But you are not free to discover what you are motivated or predisposed to believe. The mind and spirit only evolve in a concrete way if they are open systems in a fluid, dynamic, and dialectical relationship to reality.
The ultimate basis of the culture war is in fact nihilism vs. theism. While the left would like you to believe that it is simply a battle between right-wing religious zealots and "free thinking" secular liberals, you can conceptualize it in more subtle ways--for example, a belief in absolute Truth vs. relative truth, moral absolutes vs. moral relativism, spiritual hierarchy vs. "flatland" materialism, meaningful existence vs. existential meaninglessness, etc.
At the basis of my philosophy is a belief in evolution--not just the watered down gruel of Darwinian evolution we are taught in school, but a much deeper and comprehensive spiritual evolution that has been going on for the past 13.7 billion years. We are embedded in an evolutionary, hierarchical cosmos eschatologically oriented toward a spiritual telos that lures us in its wake. But secular leftism involves a gross simplification of human nature. It reduces hierarchy to a spiritual leveling and replaces the telos of spiritual aspiration with the mundane enforcement of material equality.
Any spiritual practice involves orienting ourselves to these winds of inward mobility that lift us higher and higher, toward our own nonlocal center--which also happens to be the beating heart of the living cosmos. It is the fabled circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere. Call it grace, shakti, dynamis, the holy ghost, kundalini, mojo, primordial slack, whatever. It's there for you to tap into if you want to. Or you can live in a spiritually bereft flatland, as secular fundamentalists choose to do. But what is so irritating about these literal-minded spiritual simpletons is that they believe their puny perceptions exhaust the Real. And then they have the nerve to impose their crude atheocracy on us! For nihilists, they sure are hard-core believers.