Monday, August 14, 2006

The System of the Antichrist, Revealed!

I was thinking about writing a post with the colorful title, "The System of the Antichrist," in response to how intellectually hamstrung we have become in our ability to think about and confront evil. I was inspired to reflect further on this topic by one of Dr. Sanity's posts a couple of days ago, entitled The Surreal Rules of Modern Warfare. In it, the bad Doctor (urbonically speaking) concludes that,

"As long as we play by their specially designed postmodern--and hence, irrational, anti-western, anti-freedom--rules; and accept the underlying premise that all the values of the west are inherently oppressive and evil; then it will impossible for us to win any battle of this war."

In response, I left a little comment mentioning that I too had been thinking about "how it's like an intellectual chess match, in which we have become cornered by the many pathological assumptions that have insinuated themselves into our discourse over the past 30-40 years. If these types of ideas had entered the body politic in the 1930's, we would not be having this conversation. Or at least we'd be having it in German."

So the idea is, let's just suppose--for heuristic purposes only, mind you--that there is a demonic force in the world that seeks to undermine the possibility of the good, almost analogous to Freud's notion of the "death wish" in the individual psyche. How does it operate? What are its main methods? How do we combat it? What is its appeal? How does it hijack minds that are otherwise perfectly intelligent? Has it already colonized too many leftist minds, or is there reason to hope that we can turn things around?

All very provocative questions, but I have to leave for an appointment in Santa Barbara in less than an hour, so you'll have to figure it out for yourselves. On the positive side, whenever I'm in Santa Barbara, I always make it a point to visit the Vedanta temple nestled up in the mountains above Montecito, overlooking the Pacific. If I were ever going to be a monk, that is where I would prefer to be stationed. I'll bring my camera and take a few pictures, so you can get the idea. I'll also go into the temple and put in a few good words for bobbleheads--and even the far more numerous antibobbleheads--everywhere. And, of course, I'll make sure their bookstore carries my book.

In the mean time, to set things up, I will rebroadcast this review of Stephen Hicks excellent Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. Both Dr. Sanity and I have found this book to be extremely useful in analyzing the deep structure of the Left. For me, it is a good point of departure for discussing The System of the Antichrist, because you may not be able to prove that God exists, but you sure can easily prove that his opposite exists. Or perhaps we might say, "there is no satan, and Mike Wallace is his stenographer."

*****

Surely you have wondered why the academic left is not just foolish, but completely out of touch with reality? In a mere 201 pages, author Stephen Hicks efficiently accomplishes exactly what is promised in the title of his book, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. Not only is there hardly a wasted sentence in the book, but Hicks writes in an exceptionally clear way about some rather difficult and abstruse thinkers and concepts. For example, I have never before encountered such a lucid discussion of the inane pseudo-profundities of that uber-charlatan, Heidegger. He is a key postmodern figure, one that many of the lesser lights and dimmer bulbs fall back upon, mainly because his writing is so appallingly obscure that no normal person can see through his portentous vacuities. This kind of bluff writing usually signifies that the author either wishes to conceal the banality of his thoughts behind a cloud of jargon and neologisms, or that he is simply talking out of his hat and doesn’t really understand what he is writing about.

I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but the purpose of Hicks’ book is clearly to answer the questions: What has happened to our looniversities? Why do the humanities departments of our elite universities teach such unalloyed leftist nonsense? In short, why is the left so bereft? Hicks makes the critical point that, if we were just dealing with generic nonsense, then we might expect about half of it to result in left wing nonsense, the other half in right wing nonsense. But practices such as deconstruction result in almost 100% left wing nonsense, meaning that, whatever theoretical or methodological cover these academics are taking behind their high-flown rhetoric, it’s all just a smokescreen for the promulgation of leftist ideas.

And that is exactly what Hicks concludes. He chronicles the utter failure of socialist ideas in the past three centuries, beginning with pre-Marxist leftists such as the odious paleofrog Rousseau. But the key figure in the descent into modern irrationalism and illiberal leftism was the figure of Immanuel Kant, for it was Kant who divided the world into phenomena (what is accessible to our senses and categories of thought) and noumena (the ultimate reality behind them). By closing off the noumenal reality to reason, Kant thought he had spared religion from the onslaught of scientific skepticism, when he had actually opened the door to all the baleful forms of irrationalism that followed. For in the Kantian system, all we can really know is our own nervous system--reason and science merely toy with the phenomena, leaving the deeper reality unknown and unknowable. The next time some cliche-ridden boob says to you, “perception is reality,” know that they are a metaphysically retarded son or daughter of Kant.

As an aside, one can trace the history of philosophy in a pretty straight line from the ancient Greeks to Kant. But Kant represents the end of that line and its subsequent ramification into the many streams, creeks, drainage ditches and sewer lines that reach us today. Virtually every philosophy since Kant has been either a rational extension of his ideas (Schopenhaur, structuralism, phenomenology), an irrational exploration of his ideas (e.g., reality is absurd, we are impotent to know anything, feeling and instinct trump reason, the irrational yields more valid insights into reality, etc.), or attempts to undo his ideas (e.g., Hegel, who reunited noumena and phenomena in his notion of the Absolute Subject, and Hegel's upside-down disciple, Marx).

Postmodernism involves a smorgasbag of these various reactions to Kant. Ever wonder why leftists are so irrational and unreasonable? According to Hicks, postmodernism is “the first ruthlessly consistent statement of the consequences of rejecting reason.” This is why leftists routinely resort to ad hominem attacks, extreme hostility to dissent, speech codes, and authoritarian political correctness.

Ultimately, according to Hicks, postmodernism is “the academic left’s epistemological strategy for responding to the crisis caused by the failures of socialism in both theory and practice.” Ironically, they have an a priori and unfalsifiable belief in the moral superiority of socialism over capitalism. But since capitalism has repeatedly disproved every one of socialism’s predictions, postmodernism provides the “skeptical epistemology to justify the personal leap of faith necessary to continue believing in socialism.”

Ironically, Kant was trying to save traditional religion from being eroded by scientific skepticism, but his ideas are now used by the secular left to shield the false religion of socialism from rational scrutiny. The choice for leftists is simple: either follow the evidence and reject their utopian ideals, or hold to their beautiful ideals and undermine the notion that logic and evidence matter. Obviously they have chosen the latter course, which is why a casual stroll through the halls of academia, the editorial pages of the New York Times, or the darker corners of the internet reveals that language is no longer being used as a vehicle to understand reality, but a rhetorical club with which to beat opponents. In this context, “Bush bashing” can be seen as a completely impersonal and inevitable phenomenon, for if your only tool is a rhetorical hammer, you will treat everything as an ideological nail.

And this also explains the common observation that the left is devoid of constructive ideas, for without logic and evidence, leftism has been reduced to a knee-jerk critique of Western civilization. It is essentially irrational and nihilistic, because language is not about reality, but simply about more language. Therefore, language cannot build anything but illusions.

Moreover, this explains why the left is so incoherent and contradictory--why, for example, all truth is relative but leftism is absolute, why all values are subjective but homophobia and American exceptionalism are evil, why tolerance is the highest ideal but political correctness is higher still, etc. Leftism is simply an absolutism masquerading as a relativism.

The only problem with Hicks’ book is that he stops short of explaining how to overcome what I call the logopathologies of the left. This is because he appears to be an objectivist or secular libertarian, and seems vaguely hostile to religion. In reality, there is no defense against these destructive ideas within the bounds of common reason--as soon as you descend into mere reason, you have already given the game away, for there is almost nothing the human mind can prove that it cannot equally disprove. In a subsequent post I will explain the only way to combat the left's hijacking of the higher planes.

14 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

I see you've been synchronistically stepping through some of the same aromatic manure fields of those Chomsky farmers Kant & Rousseau too - not the best way to spend your weekend.

I'm still working on my Post, and am frankly amazed by your ability to post so much so quickly and not lose the quality.

A Bobbleheaded Hat tip to you!

8/14/2006 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

Van,

The guy is good, isn't he?

8/14/2006 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

C.S. Lewis already figured this whole thing out, Bob. Of course, he cast it as fiction, but I have always been of the opinion that The Screwtape Letters contains far more truth about human nature than many books I have read that specifically claimed to be about human nature.

Among other now-topical subjects, Lewis pegs the Lefty sense of humor: "Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it."

8/14/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

>>In a subsequent post I will explain the only way to combat the left's hijacking of the higher planes.<<

It seems to me that the left tends to enviously block access to those higher planes for anyone trying consciously or unconsciously to reach them. Then once the higher planes are touched upon and the process of assimilation begun, the mocking and ridicule begin.

8/14/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Jimmy J. said...

When I read the story of the founding of Greeley, Colorado as a commune, and the subsequent breakup of the commune into private farms and businesses, I realized that communism can only work if you can perfect human nature.

When I read the story of Collis P. Huntington and the Southern Pacific Railroad, I realized that laissez faire capitalism can only work if you can perfect human nature.

Neither system can work without the perfection of human nature. However, socialism (communism light) can work in small populations that share a devotion to their cultural values and common acceptance of the idea of sharing the misery equally. Sweden might be an example of this.

Capitalism requires some regulation to prevent the sharks and crooks from robbing the public blind. When I read the "Mystery of Capital" by Hernando DeSoto I realized that ownership of private property backed by courts and regulated as lightly as possible by a reasonably honest representative government is the best economic system available to the human race at our present stage of development. It ain't perfect but it allows more people to make the most of their economic chances than any other system I know of.

I guess my opinions are kinda simple and based on simple examples. But it works for me cause I'm a simple guy.

8/14/2006 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Gaude said...

Jimmy J.

Monastic communities work, but that's because they're all about the perfection of human nature.

An excellent observation re: socialism. May I borrow it?

8/14/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"But Kant represents the end of that line and its subsequent ramification into the many streams, creeks, drainage ditches and sewer lines that reach us today." So true. It's always amazed me that Kant is often held up as a champion of Individualism & Free Will, when Kant's use of Categorical imperatives were the forerunner of todays Speech codes and the like - blatant attempts to pre-empt independent thought and judgement with preprogrammed (Ivory Tower Approved) responses, making independent thought seem to be in conflict with morality.

As Rousseau said, "we'll force them to be Free".

Kantians and Rousseauians not only distrust peoples ability to act morally, but fear their ability to judge for themselves. And typically they resort to lists and lists and lists of do's & dont's - Listicism, whose intent is to make thought unnecessary - judgement avoided, Free Will abandoned.

Yea-uch!!! I haven't heard of Stephen Hicks before, I'll have to look him up.

Changing gears, My Mom visits the Vedanta temple fairly often, a long time friend of our family (he died fairly recently), was living on the grounds at the Vedanta temple (Not exactly on the main grounds, but connected) for the last few years, by the name of Garr, a Real Character.

What do they say? Six degrees of separation?

8/14/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Two thoughts:

1. Total Truth by Pearcey is a great book from an evangelical viewpoint at providing a strategy for combatting the system of the antichrist. The key it proposes is in overcoming the false divide between the upper world of values and the lower world of facts to embrace a unified, holistic worldview.

2. The School of Athens, IMHO, can bear much fruit if meditated upon with this issue in mind (School of Athens

8/14/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ed in texas

Quoting a sage line form Kevin Spacey's portrayal of arch-criminal Kyser in 'The Usual Suspects':
"The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he didn't exist."

8/14/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Jacob C. said...
"C.S. Lewis ... The Screwtape Letters contains far more truth about human nature than many books I have read that specifically claimed to be about human nature."

An excellent book. He wrote another, "The Great Divorce" that had a unique take on Heaven & Hell - Gagdad's concept of Mental Parasites reminded me of some of the imagery in it.

8/14/2006 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Always Searching For The Bottom Line Dept:

The human intellect is, essentially, a material, physical attribute. Depends on how fast the brain's synapses are firing, etc. Like any physical attribute, if the human intellect is not yoked to and governed by the Higher Intelligence, it runs amok, eventually goes crazy. It's taken some time to get there, but currently, the spiritually bereft intellect is basically in charge of most of the world's influential institutions, which of course means the world is in deep stew. As far as definitions of the anti-christ go, I think this would do OK.

8/14/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous joseph said...

Jimmy,
Regarding Sweden, I recommend the books of Tage Lindbom, a high-up Swede who found the socialism there to be particularly Anti-God. These things go hand in hand. Monasticism has nothing essential in common with Socialism. The first posits spiritual man, the second economic man.

8/14/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

"In response, I left a little comment mentioning that I too had been thinking about "how it's like an intellectual chess match, in which we have become cornered by the many pathological assumptions that have insinuated themselves into our discourse over the past 30-40 years. If these types of ideas had entered the body politic in the 1930's, we would not be having this conversation. Or at least we'd be having it in German."

back to read the rest of the post after...
but i got to the paragraph abve and have to link to this article by Eric S Raymond,"Gramscian Damage":

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=260

excerpt:


"..some of the Soviet Union's most potent memtic weapons:

+There is no truth, only competing agendas.

+All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.

+There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.

+The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.

+Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.

+The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)

+For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.

+When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions."

it's a great essay.

the jihadis are riding the momentum and coat-tails of the "war of each against all"
provided courtesy of the Soviets.

some of the West (the 9/10 portion)
are still eagerly waiting the
"End of History",and the
Western Left is trying to bring it on more quickly.

...ok,back to finish reading the
original post's bobulations.

PS - dunno if i can take credit for pointing Pat Santy to
Hick's "Explaining Post-Modernism",
but for the "blue/orange crowd"(sic) at Bob's Place,i feel Hicks hasPoMo's number.

8/14/2006 01:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Jimmy J. said...

gaude,
Pleased that you find it to be useful. Be my guest.

8/14/2006 08:15:00 PM  

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