Monday, August 20, 2007

The Historical Undertow of Constitutional Envy

Well, it's jury duty week, so I have to leave rather early. I barely have time to repost this continuation of our series on the fall from liberalism to realism to vitalism. All that remains is our last leg of the journey into destructive nihilism.

One wonders what, aside from sheer ignorance, animates people to adopt doctrinaire leftist ideas when they have proven time and again to not only be ineffective, but to generally make matters worse. At a certain point, you have to begin wondering whether there is actually an unconscious desire to do just that -- perhaps something reflecting Freud’s idea of a death instinct in human beings.

In taking the long view of history, it is almost necessary to posit such a soph-defeating anti-evolutionary or anti-divine force in the world, if for no other reason than to have an explanatory “place holder” until we discover what this force actually is. It’s the same with the notion of satan, or the old Zoroastrian idea that cosmic history is a battle between Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, or light and dark respectively. If it’s not, then it might as well be.

Even Democrats used to see things this way. For example, President Truman once remarked that “God has created [the United States] and brought us to our present position of power and strength” in order to defend “spiritual values -- the moral code -- against the vast forces of evil that seek to destroy them.”

The war against Islamic jihad is nothing other than a struggle against pure, unalloyed evil. But what if you are too sophisticated to believe in the primitive idea of evil? Then you are probably too sophisticated to survive your own magical ideology. In naively embracing “peace” you are ensuring your own doom, which frankly wouldn’t bother me if I and my friends and family and beloved cosmonauts didn’t have to go down with you.

It's too bad we can't conduct a controlled experiment between Red America and Blue America. Then, once and for all, we could have a true test of which ideas are the more functional and create more economic prosperity and moral goodness.

In Blue America they would have high taxes, a mammoth, intrusive federal government, economically crippling Kyoto-style restrictions, government enforced racial discrimination, open borders (except into our country -- to preserve the integrity of the experiment we’d have to have a big fence to keep the Blue meanies from escaping into our beautiful Red America), a permanent ban on vouchers to ensure the stranglehold the Teachers Union has on education, a religious test to keep people of faith out of public life, no guns, no smoking, lots of abortions, inefficient and insanely expensive "free" healthcare, even more special rights and protections for criminals and terrorists, a ban on evil places like Walmart which provide vital goods to people of modest means at rock bottom prices, college at someone else's expense for everyone, no matter how stupid, and a high minimum wage to suppress employment and spur inflation.

As I mentioned a couple of posts back, if your conception of human nature is faulty, then your political philosophy is going to be dysfunctional. One of the reasons leftism is so inherently dysfunctional is that it revolves around the appeasement of perhaps the single most spiritually destructive human emotion of them all, constitutional envy. In the formulation of the brilliant psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, envy is the primary mode of expression of the death instinct. It is present in everyone, but can be exacerbated by early childhood experiences so that later in life it becomes a crippling barrier to psychological health and happiness. For envy prevents one from appreciating what one has. It can only attack the person or system believed to possess what one lacks. In this regard, it is the polar opposite of gratitude, which is one of the prerequisites of human happiness. As a matter of fact, Klein’s most famous book is entitled Envy and Gratitude.

At the heart of leftism is envy. Now, I am not a libertarian. I do not believe we should rid ourselves of all leftist ideas even if we could. But this is not because I believe leftist ideas work. Rather, it is because I believe that the force of envy is so strong in human beings, that the culture must have some means to channel it in an officially sanctioned way, or the society will implode from within. But the question is, how much should we appease envy? Because if you go too far, as they have in Europe, then you will reach that tipping point where the society begins to spiritually rot from within, because envy is an intrinsically sick and unhealthy beast that can never be made healthy.

In America we try to appease envy by tolerating such odious things as trial lawyers, overtaxing the wealthy and productive, racial quotas, and a general relaxing of standards in every arena so that people might feel “special.” The problem is, none of these things work to eliminate envy, for the simple reason that you cannot eliminate envy. The leftist thinks that the solution is to further appease envy, which simply leads to a vicious cycle of more and more envy, until no one is allowed to have any more than anyone else.

This, of course, was the ideal of communism, which ended up creating the most petty and envious population you could imagine. It wasn’t just in the Soviet Union, but even in the idealistic socialist experiments of the early Zionists. They had the idea -- contrary to all scripture and all understanding of human nature -- that the kibbutzim would eliminate the problem of envy and create heaven on earth. But the opposite happened. Envy could not be appeased, and found ever more minute and destructive ways to express itself. Today very few kibbutzim remain, as Israel eventually adopted American ideals of free market capitalism, which unleashed tremendous creativity, innovation and economic growth because it tapped into its most critical natural resource: Jewish culture.

Since leftism is a magical belief system that is no more effective in the long run than a kooky religion that keeps predicting the second coming or the landing of aliens, one must conclude that its benefits are mainly psychological and emotional. Based on my past flirtation with leftism, I think this is pretty much on the mark. It is also no coincidence that I wasn’t particularly spiritual back then, so it obviously tapped into that archetypal dimension that was going unused at the time. In other words, leftism rides piggyback on properly religious impulses from which it derives so much of its energy and fervor. Leftist ideas may be ineffective in the world, but they are highly effective (in a perverse way) in transforming the psyche of the person who believes them, and that is the point.

A religious person knows that the world is corrupt and fallen. In fact, this banality falls under the heading of something one cannot not know. However, depending upon whether or not one is religious, one will respond very differently to this realization. For the leftist, it means that the present social arrangement (not man as such) is corrupt to the core and must be torn down -- with extreme revolutionary prejudice if necessary.

It is no accident that leftists believe that there is some unique “culture of corruption” among conservatives, when the most generous analysis will demonstrate that the corruption is spread about equally between left and right, because the problem is within the human heart, not with ideology per se. But I’m pretty sure that if you conducted just a little investigative research, you would find that the corruption is much more common and pervasive on the left. People must have very short memories, because the Clinton administration was possibly the most corrupt in history.

Let’s look at a recent example of corruption, Mark Foley, who was denounced by Republicans and forced into retirement as soon as his naughty IMs became known. But Democrat Gerry Studds, who actually raped (assuming the age of consent was 18) an underage male page? Here’s how the liberal media eulogized him last year. See if you notice any difference in treatment of the two cases:

“Gerry Studds, the first openly gay member of Congress and a demanding advocate for New England fishermen and for gay rights, died early Saturday at Boston University Medical Center, his husband (sic) said....

“[H]e was also a leading critic of President Ronald Reagan's clandestine support of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He staunchly opposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, which Studds once described as ‘the Edsel of the 1980s’ -- overpriced and oversold.

“His homosexuality was revealed through scandal. In 1983, he was censured by the House of Representatives for having had an affair 10 years earlier with a 17-year-old congressional page. For Mr. Studds, formal and dignified, a model of old New England reserve, the discovery sparked intense anguish, friends said.

“Once outed, however, Mr. Studds refused to buckle to conservative pressure to resign.... [H]e never apologized. He defended the relationship as consensual and condemned the investigation, saying it had invaded his privacy....

“And in addition to speaking on the House floor on behalf of same-sex marriage, he set an example. In 2004, he and his longtime partner, Dean Hara, became one of the first couples to marry under a Massachusetts law allowing same-sex marriage.

“Though his name had barely been mentioned in Washington since he retired, the resignation late last month of Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., revived interest in Mr. Studds' dalliance with a teenage page in 1983.”

So let’s get this right. Foley is a vicious homosexual pervert and child predator that corrupt Republicans knew about and condoned merely because they wanted to hold on to political power. But Studds was a courageous openly gay congressman who was outed and persecuted by Sandinista-hating conservatives who invaded his privacy merely because of a dalliance with an underage page.

I think I get it. If a Republican homosexual asks a page for a photograph, he’s a pervert and a pedophile. But if a Democratic homosexual rapes an underage page, he’s a champion of gay rights. Any questions?

To be continued tomorrow.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Jim said...

I would like to see the experiment of splitting the country into red/blue (this sounds familiar, wasn’t that tried in 1860 something and some bad guys won. Oh well) I would have to move to a red state but on the plus side we could pick up all the blue states for 10 cents on the dollar in about 30 years, or less.

8/20/2007 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Bob, since the core of Sanctification is Transcending (and not eliminating) the passions, flaws, etc, which is to say - cleaning the mirror - what would you say is the Transcendent form of Envy? For instance, the transcendent form of 'sexuality' is marriage. Or if you will, lust is a a perversion of sexuality, which is transcended through marriage.

Perhaps we're talking about Gratitude? But then, is Envy a perversion of Ownership?

8/20/2007 08:45:00 AM  
Anonymous stratego said...

the lefties are masters of spin. I suggest we get wise too.

8/20/2007 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

"Get wise" goes together pretty well with the word "master" -- not so much with "masters of spin."

8/20/2007 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

This experiment already exists. It's called "Canada".

Canada enjoys a standard of living which is lower than that in the US more or less in direct correlation to the degree to which socialism has been implemented to a greater degree.

Don't be misled though. It is a question of degree. The US has far too much socialism, and Canada is at the end of the day primarily a free-market democracy not unlike the US.

Canadians have a lower standard of living but they don't know this--or at best dimly apprehend it--because of that other aspect of leftist power: censorship, propaganda and control over the mainstream media. Of course it helps little that most of the mainstream US media reinforces these same myths. Canadians hear from the likes of Michael Moore and CNN how wonderful their "superior" health care system is. Counter-evidence is ruthlessly suppressed.

The US too can ratchet down standard of living. The problem is that it will be even harder for Americans to know this is happening since there is literally nobody to compare yourself to. At least Canadians can actually compare themselves to Americans with a little perseverance and effort (why does the same car cost 35% more 10 miles across the border?). If Americans succumb to the Big Sleep of leftism it will be more like the frog in the slowly heated pan of water--they won't realize it is happening and will have no yardstick to measure their regress against.

I read somewhere that leftism has already reduced the standard of living in the US over the past 50 years by some 40% against what it hypothetically could have been.

Americans are not resisting leftism strenuously enough. It is time that the terms "socialist", "anarchist" and "communist" carry the same opprobium that the terms "racist", "Nazi", and "KKK" do. Only when people are ashamed to call themselves socialists publicly will the tide begin to turn...

8/20/2007 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger juliec said...

River,
might the transcended form of envy be, in a sense, capitalism? By which I mean, when it's working well we may look at what our neighbor has and say "I want that," but what we generally mean is "I want to get my own version," which entails figuring out how to earn the money so you can go out and buy whatever it is for yourself (assuming "it" is a thing and not a person). In other words, for instance "I want an iPhone"* as opposed to "I want JoeBob's iPhone, and besides it's not fair if he has one and I don't, so really it's okay if I take his, or at least make it so he can't have one either."

*and no, I actually don't want an iPhone, it's just the first thing people have wanted lately that came to mind.

8/20/2007 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

River - According to the Apostle Paul, love (agape) does not envy (I Cor 13). Therefore, the act of envy only exists apart from the act of agape. I'm not sure there is a "transcendent form of envy."

8/20/2007 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Envy is indeed a soul-corrupting force that explains much on the Left. I don't think we ever entirely lose these negative emotions. Personally I still feel pangs of envy quite regularly. However I am attuned to these now and I am adept and using "spiritual judo" to recognize such feelings and defuse them harmlessly into the ether. At least most of the time. Seriously though, I'm far less envious of others than I once was--something that can only be achieved through the desire to live a life which is laid bare before God.

8/20/2007 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

If you refine River's proposed model, Capitalism : greed :: marriage : lust. These social patterns harness, channel, and transform many free-floating and destructive aspects to add virtue and value beyond measure.

The transcendent form of sexuality is the Beatific Vision and the Unitive state, full-blown "knowledge" in conformity to the mind of God.

The Orthodox do not find much use for the passions, including zeal (or in the Roman Church's parallel view, "enthusiasm.") Passions are to holiness as disease is to bodily health. "...the healing of the passions of our souls and the diseases of our bodies." -- Kontakion to St. Timothy

The kind of hysteria frequently parsed by Dr. Sanity is in this sense passion squared or to even higher mathematical powers. There is no transcendent possibility there, but to back away slowly into the sunlight.

Or to sum it up in eloquent academic Swedish -- Glofkkj, Syskon, glofkkj!

8/20/2007 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous stan keho Scrotch said...

The point is not to be right, or to have the truth, or anything like that.

The point is to be in power and to call the shots.

Capish?

Construct your ideology accordingly.

8/20/2007 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

On An Island
upon reflection
building a city of light
is not done by hand

8/20/2007 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

stan keho Scrotch said... "The point is not to be right, or to have the truth, or anything like that.
The point is to be in power and to call the shots. Capish? Construct your ideology accordingly."

Thank you Thracymacus. Tell me, which flavor do you prefer, the new Legions, new Caliphate or new Reich?

wv:inhqyqw - in headquarters, why question? So your head isn't lost to unseen quarters.

8/20/2007 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

"Passions are to holiness as disease is to bodily health."

Hmmm.

I have to wonder about that one, Dilys; are there not rather healthy passions and unhealthy ones? There is a difference between zealotry and honest joy in worship. And frankly, the thought of a marriage without passion sounds very cold and depressing, and to my admittedly poor eyes it sounds less than Beatific.

It's fair to say that Jesus had moments of passion (or so it seems to me - He certainly didn't come across as detached when He drove out the moneychangers). Then there was that passage in Revelation about not being lukewarm.

I think that, for some people, especially those who choose a life of holy solitude, there is a great deal of virtue in subduing ones own passions to better attune the self to God. For most people, though, that type of detachment might actually be detrimental.

I may very well be in the wrong here; perhaps there is something I am missing. I just can't get behind the idea that all passions are wrong, but if I've misunderstood somehow then my apologies.

8/20/2007 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

Those were some good links, by the way, Dilys. Thanks.

8/20/2007 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

RE envy, healthy passions and unhealthy ones, I think it may be important to check for a difference between:

Envy – which is a resenting of what another person has, as in, you really don’t want them to have it anymore,

and

Desire – which is to long for something that someone else may have, but completely unrelated I think to whether the other person will have theirs anymore if you get yours.

The former being at the heart of leftism and the latter at capitalism.

8/20/2007 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

By the way, "Capitalism" is a term that was coined by Karl Marx. It is not a "system" so much as the absence of system.

What we refer to as "capitalism" is more accurately called economic freedom. Free-market economies emerge naturally and spontaneously when the shackles of systematic, top-down control (of which socialism is the prime exmplar) are removed.

Most evil in the world is caused by lack of freedom, and the Left is the cause of most of it.

8/20/2007 06:41:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"Or to sum it up in eloquent academic Swedish -- Glofkkj, Syskon, glofkkj!"

Aha! Just look at that spelling.
wv must be Swedish!

8/20/2007 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

It makes little sense to me to be given passions to deny them... while I would counsel restraint and temperance with respect to desires, we can rationally choose to use them to propel and navigate with upward toward higher consciousness or full-blown "knowledge" in conformity to the mind of God.

8/20/2007 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I believe, irt passion, we are all talkin' about the same thing, but perhaps in different context.

Dilys, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you are speaking about the negative context of passions.

Whereas Julie is talkin' about the positive aspect, or positive form of passions.

For instance, in marriage, the passions of the man and woman for each other is a form of celebration and communion of love...and occurs righteously.

However, if that passion were to go astray; directed in a harmful direction, within and without, say in a fantasies of someone other than your wife/husband, then that passion takes the form of lust and adultery, rather than love.

So we must, as Bob has mentioned many times, strive to master our passions and funnel them, in a dispassionate way, in a just and honorable way; honest passion aligned with the Good, True and Beautiful.

That doesn't diminish passion, it fulfills it properly, for passion is a double-edged sword, and we must resist the temptation to allow fleshly passion to control our spirit.

Easier said than done, and sex is only one example.

God demonstrates passion in a consistently Godly way, and it's always Righteous.

That's a high bar to shoot for, but we gno it's possible to get there. :^)

I hope that wasn't as confusing as it sounds...

8/20/2007 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

y"Even Democrats used to see things this way. For example, President Truman once remarked that “God has created [the United States] and brought us to our present position of power and strength” in order to defend “spiritual values -- the moral code -- against the vast forces of evil that seek to destroy them.”

The last Democratic President who "got it."

"As I mentioned a couple of posts back, if your conception of human nature is faulty, then your political philosophy is going to be dysfunctional."

As well said as I ever heard!

"At the heart of leftism is envy."

Bingo! Rebellion and envy. Couldn't be any clearer.

"A religious person knows that the world is corrupt and fallen. In fact, this banality falls under the heading of something one cannot not know. However, depending upon whether or not one is religious, one will respond very differently to this realization. For the leftist, it means that the present social arrangement (not man as such) is corrupt to the core and must be torn down -- with extreme revolutionary prejudice if necessary."

And therein lies the rub.

Communism is just as evil as the islamofascists, and, ironically, actually enables the jihadists in a sick, perverted way.

You know, that's what I fought against as a US Navy Sailor, and that's what I still fight against today, as all you Raccoons do, in your own, unique way.

Evil is Evil, no matter how you frickin' slice it; be it insidious (the left) or perfidious (islamic jihadist mofo's).

They work well together, don't they?
Well...we ain't gonna let that happen, now are we?
Until the Remnant is gone, and that ain't gonna happen, at least, if I read Revelations right; then no, Evil will not win.

But it requires, nay, it demands, that we make a stand against all odds!

Sure, it looks like we're outnumbered, but we are not.
Was gideon outnumbered?
Was General Washington outnumbered?
If you ask the losers, then yeah, he was.
But that wasn't the case, now was it?
Or, rather, it didn't matter!

And so we find ourselves in the same situation today.
Look around...we're not outnumbered.
Not in God's eyes.
And in the end...that's what counts!

But we all must do our part.

8/20/2007 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Ben - Thanks for laying it out so simple and clear! I appreciate it.

(as opposed to wv: smrkmsej ???)

8/21/2007 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"However, if that passion were to go astray; directed in a harmful direction, within and without, say in a fantasies of someone other than your wife/husband, then that passion takes the form of lust and adultery, rather than love."

I remember somebody (I think it was Richard Exley) defining sin as a legitimate desire met illegitimately.

8/21/2007 01:58:00 PM  

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