How to Distinguish Your Friends From the Barbarians
"Civilization" is an archetype that, by its very nature, can never be fully attained on earth. It is the perfection and the totality to which this or that culture -- to the extent that it is healthy -- orients itself. In a sense, you might say that it is analogous to Augustine's distinction between the "City of Man" and "City of God." Evolution and progress can only occur in light of the "movement" toward civilization, which is why "progressives" are so curiously named, since their earthbound ideology specifically eliminates the possibility of objective progress toward this nonlocal telos.
One of my many objections to leftism is that it eliminates the idea of civilization and replaces it with culture. Multiculturalism explicitly maintains that various cultures are uniquely beautiful and valuable, and that there are no objective standards -- i.e., civilization -- by which we may judge them. Thus, because of this metaphysical pathology at the heart of leftism, it is not possible for them to notice, for example, that Israel is civilized and that it is surrounded by savages. To any civilized person, this observation is a banality of the first rank, but one of the most pernicious effects of leftist political correctness is that it outlaws civilization, generally equating it with "racism" or some other form of oppression.
Obviously, the so-called "Palestinians" and other Islamic death cults are barbarians, but the fact that this is not openly recognized and discussed is a kind of collectively enforced insanity. The odd thing about it is that it is not enforced by the barbarians themselves, who have no power over our minds. Rather, it is enforced by leftist elites in the media and academia. As noted at Belmont Club the other day, the left is the most critical "force multiplier" for our uncivilized enemies to gain power over us. In a very real way, the left represent the only hope for these barbarians who wish to destroy civilization.
Schuon writes that "civilization only represents a value provided it is supra-human in origin and implies for the 'civilized' man a sense of the sacred: only peoples who really have this sense and draw their life from it are truly civilized. If it is objected that... it is possible to conceive of a world that is civilized though having no religion, the answer is that in this case the civilization is devoid of value, or rather -- since there is no legitimate choice between the sacred and other things -- that it is the most fallacious of aberrations." Again, this is because culture draws its objective value from the vertical realm which transcends local space and time. To recognize the sacred is to recognize this transcendent order and our obligation to it.
Our intuition of the sacred -- without which we cannot know of true civilization -- is also our innate consciousness of the Divine. It is, according to Schuon, "a kind of universal respect, a kind of circumspection before the mystery of animate and inanimate creatures; and this without any favourable prejudice or weakness towards phenomena which manifest errors or vices, and which for that reason no longer present any mystery unless it be that of the absurd."
As such, while culture is -- given the very structure and possibility of universal existence -- no doubt necessary and inevitable, we owe it no fundamental allegiance or intrinsic respect. It is only valuable to the extent that it reflects "the immutable in the moving," or "the uncreate in the created, of the eternal in time, of the infinite in space, of the supraformal in forms; it is the mysterious introduction into one realm of existence of a presence which in reality contains and transcends that realm and could cause it to burst asunder in a sort of divine explosion. The sacred is the incommensurable, the transcendent, hidden within a fragile form belonging to this world..." (Schuon).
What applies to culture equally applies to the individual. Yes, in one sense, people are of infinite value, but only to the extent that they embody the infinite. Which is why there are so many "worthless" people, so to speak. We can only recognize their worthlessness to the extent that we recognize their (potential) divinity. Otherwise, we are in the absurd situation of suggesting that everyone is unconditionally of infinite value, which is logically indistinct from saying they are of no value, since there are no objective values by which to measure them. Only in such a pathological frame of mind could one award a Nobel Prize to a Yasser Arafat or Jimmy Carter, one of whom embodied evil, the other error, weakness, vanity, and resentment of the good -- not divine values, to say the least.
Now, the left wishes to cure mankind in the absence of a proper diagnosis of the individuals who constitute it. In fact, due to the very nature of the left, they cannot diagnose the illness because they cannot recognize it. That is, they are "humanists," an intrinsically anti-human ideology, since it specifically forbids the human individual from transcending himself and becoming truly human (since transcendence is believed to be fanciful). For them, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the human being that a little coercive, top-down social engineering cannot cure -- not that there's anything to cure, since all cultures are beautiful, except maybe southern Christian culture, and all people are beautiful, except maybe wealthy white people... or conservative blacks... or people who listen to talk radio....
But as Schuon correctly states, the world is not a wreck because there is too much self-transcendence and not enough social engineering. Rather, "the world is miserable because men live beneath themselves." The fundamental error at the heart of the left is that it wishes "to reform the world without having either the will or the power to reform man, and this flagrant contradiction, this attempt to make a better world on the basis of a worsened humanity, can only end in the very abolition of what is human, and consequently in the abolition of happiness too." To truly reform man can only mean what it has always meant, which is to re-establish the broken link between the celestial and the mundane, the vertical and horizontal, cultures and the civilization they must embody.
It is a commonplace to point out that the left are hardly "liberal," meaning interested in liberty. Rather, as they have taken the wrecking ball to Spirit, they have simply replaced the internal law written in the heart of man with so many external laws written by the legislature. Thousands and thousands of laws to bind us to the leftist conception of the "good." But the good man -- the man who has transcended himself -- is not in need of this burdensome yoke.
There are Children of the Earth and Children of Light, and if your cOOnvision is awakened, you can distinguish one from the other in a nanosecond. The latter, "though he be a king, lives as if in the antechamber of Heaven; on this very earth and in his carnal body he has attached himself to Heaven and enclosed himself in a prolongation of those crystallisations of Light that are the celestial states" (Schuon). As implied in yesterday's post about the awakened sense of wonder, they live simply from day to day, but never in a repetitive way, for "the Lord makes all things new."
As above, so below; analogously, a culture is a sort of collective individual, while an individual is a private culture. True civilization is a sort of “mystical body" -- or, as Schuon describes it, "in so far as that is possible, a collective contemplative." And a Raccoon is none other than a private civilization.
One may define a person, if one allows oneself a somewhat permissible simplification, as a being that exists for the sake of its own perfection. --Josef Pieper