Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cosmopathology and the Descent of the Left (3.15.10)

Yes, yes, I realize that some people don't like it when I write about politics, and that my political philosophy condemns me to alienation from what would superficially appear to be my key demongraphic, Brother Deepak's Spiral Dynamic New Age Traveling Salvation Show. But these ideas are absolutely critical to the evolutionary health and well being of the cosmos, and follow quite naturally from the nonlocal principles that (vertically) structure reality.

As we have discussed before, leftism is by definition a perpetual rebellion against these principles -- against the Real. Thus, it is de facto the maninfestation of a spiritual illness, often rooted in a psychological one. It amounts to a sort of nihiljerk paranoia toward reality -- a cynical and worldly suspiciousness -- that excludes any real explanations, "since these in their turn fall under the same law of suspicion, which drags everything down and which is the end of truth" (Schuon). Sophisticated secular man proudly avoids falling for anything and thus triumphantly plunges into nothing, the only alternative. Detached from the Real, he either drifts or bolts from it 32 feet per second per second.

Continuing with our discussion of Michael Polanyi, one puzzling thing he noticed -- discussed a few days ago in this post -- was that intellectuals were not only responsible (obviously) for the most destructive ideas and ruthless political movements of the 20th century, but that they embraced them despite the fact that these ideas, if implemented, would spell the end of the intellectual class. That is, they undermine the very liberal ideal of freedom of inquiry guided by the pursuit of truth.

Prosch writes that "It was the intellectuals of [the last] century themselves who played the largest part in destroying those very things that they needed and that were already theirs. Such operative perversity as this must lead one to suspect the operator's mental health, a mind blind to that which it wants and needs." Indeed, a mind which "proceeds on a path toward its own destruction, may surely be suspected of suffering from obsessions that are pushing it to such nonadaptive behavior."

As we shall see, Polanyi's analysis explains why the cognitive and spiritual pathology of political correctness emanates from the left, and could only emanate from the left, despite the fact that it makes a farce of their vaunted ideal of "academic freedom." And it is the very definition of pathology, since it causes great damage to the mind and soul of the person afflicted with it. And once the pathology has taken over whole institutions -- i.e., leftist academia, the MSM -- it becomes a truly dangerous pathogen that systematically infects those who pass through its environment (again, unless they have a very robust spiritual immune system rooted in the Real).

We see the same thing occurring with Islamic fascism, which is not -- as leftists cluelessly, but necessarily, believe -- a result of poverty, but of affluence. It is rooted in the ideas of intellectuals, who then -- just as leftists do in the west -- try to demagogically propagate these ideas to the ignorant masses to explain their misery. The only thing that has kept America (its better half, anyway) immune from this process is its strong foundation in an alternative metaphysic, which we call the Judeo-Christian tradition. Likewise, the reason why continental Europe fell to the viral song of leftism is that it had already gravely weakened its own natural defense mechanism to it.

The book I'm reading on Polanyi has an interesting explanation for this, and it makes a great deal of sense to me. That is, in continental Europe, their political liberation was inseparable from their religious liberation, i.e., from the Catholic church. However, in Protestant England and America, the break from religious tyranny had already been effected, so that political liberation was not conflated with a rebellion against God. Thus, the Founders were able to formulate the ideal of separation of church and state, not for the purpose of ending religion's influence, but strengthening it.

Conversely, in Europe, their separation of the two spheres inevitably led to the destruction of religion and the deification of the state. No properly religious person could ever deify the state, which is why leftism is excluded for the spiritually attuned but just about mandatory for the spiritually blind (objectivists and contemporary libertarians represent insignificant and ultimately self-refuting exceptions to this rule).

Being a scientist, Polanyi noticed a connection between the ideals of logical positivism and the nihilism of the left. Even today, despite the fact that positivism has been thoroughly discredited, it remains a kind of tacit metaphysic for both scientists and for much of the educated public. In other words, there is a widespread assumption that "only scienctific theories [are] capable of verification (i.e., proof), and that moral or ethical or political or religious ideals and principles [are] essentially unprovable, mere matters of emotional preference." But Polanyi saw that there was a deep relationship between the very possibility of science and certain metaphysical ideals and principles "that not only could not be proved, but could not even be made wholly explicit." And just because the ideals which underlie science could not be proved, it hardly meant that they were unworthy of belief.

This tacit acceptance of positivism ramifies in interesting ways. On the one hand, there is the scientific worker bee who supposedly only believes what his experimental data tell him. But this is indeed a cold, dead, airless, and ultimately infrahuman spiritual environment into which the passion for nihilism rushes to fill the void. In this regard, it seems that human nature abhors a vacuum, and therefore filled it with a void -- the nihilistic void of the secular left.

Now it is surely noteworthy that the only organized opposition to liberty comes from intellectuals, who supposedly hold their own liberty -- i.e., "academic freedom" -- to be sacred. How could someone who would instinctively rebel at the idea of centralized "planned culture," embrace the idea of a centralized, planned economy?

Good question!

As Prosch writes, "much of the dissatisfaction with the present order of the economy came from intellectuals, from people not under these immediate threats and whose professional life would derive little benefit from scrapping the system. Those who needed cultural freedom most in order to get along with their chosen work formed the bulk of those most obsessed with the notion of curtailing it through adopting a planned economy." And a planned economy eventually entails a planned culture, something which is quite evident. That is, the more left the country, the more laws must exist to constrain and control the people, exterior laws which displace the interior law written in the heart of man.

Yes, but what are the exact dynamics of this irrational leftist nihilism, and what caused it to reject the liberal foundations of the Christian West?

That's enough for today. Next post.

Rights that are defensive for an isolated individual become aggressive for a collectivity.. --F. Schuon

34 Comments:

Blogger debass said...

When you write about politics, it helps me understand the sickness of the left. It helps me understand the motivations of these people. I still don't get it. Like you have said many times, it's (-k). Why does someone strive for ignorance and glorify stupidity? Not to mention the damage to our children and our country.
BTW-I forgot to mention that Clifford Brown and Lou Donaldson's birthdays were this week.

11/03/2007 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Compared to the descriptions in your post, this question will perhaps seem over-simplified -- is there any basis for groups having a collective "suicide wish?"

As I watch the so-called Intellectual Classes in action, that is how it appears to me.

11/03/2007 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummmm....Bob...need some help here...
I am still thinking about yesterdays Bobism and had a question....I am having a hard time correlating the belief system expressed as "Nobodies fault but mine" with the three times I have lost fortunes...1) Congress passed Tax Reform, 2) Greenspan said "Irrational Exuberance" and, 3) The town manager was on another developers payroll...or was once they were able to get the property I had been working on...
So, Mr. Prager not withstanding, and not to be a complainer in any sense, but if Congress enacts the Fairness Doctrine and Mr. Pragers show goes off the air....then will it have been Mr. Pragers fault???? If the leftests next move to control the Internet and heaven forbid that we can no longer enjoy Bobisms on any basis...will that be Bob's fault...
So, help me with my quandry and point out the part I'm missing...please!!!! and hurry, my brain on works so many minutes each day........
Doug

11/03/2007 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yea,
Kinda a question for whomever is reading:
Is the US financial system based on "Real" or on -R????
Might help me figure out what will happen next.................
doug again

11/03/2007 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

(Anyone who wants to vote for One Cosmos for Best Religious Blog may do so here.)

11/03/2007 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Doug, I think the answer is it's "nobody's fault but my own,"*



*except when it's completely beyond your control (i.e. natural disasters, acts of Congress, etc.). Of course, how you then respond is your fault, so unfortunately it still all comes back to you. Besides, didn't you volunteer to take the blame for everything a few months ago (assuming you're Dougman - if not, then you're off the hook and it's really all his fault, anyway)?

11/03/2007 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

recipe to win
vote early and vote often
works for democrats

Who alert...VH1 is broadcasting Amazing Journey tonight.

Fish & Relatives
smell of sweet success
trawlers dock for the weekend
forecast calls for rain

11/03/2007 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Robin:

Thank you for the Who Alert! I never know what's on TV anymore, so I would have missed it.

It's funny, they are the most testosteronic band ever, so much so that Future Leader responds to them already. I'll Tivo it so he can watch it instead of the usual kid's dreck.

things I'd like to see
Pete Townshend break his guitar
over Barney's head

11/03/2007 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Fausta said...

That is, the more left the country, the more laws must exist to constrain and control the people, exterior laws which displace the interior law written in the heart of man.
You're right on the money, Bob.

Anon @ 10:25:00 AM,
Congress enacts the Fairness Doctrine & I'll invest in satellite radio stocks.
I fully expect that if the internet goes into some kind of government control, there will be plenty of new underground products to bypass it (as there are today, for criminal purposes).

Voted for Bob! (And now for shameless self-promotion, if you can, please vote for Fausta's blog in the 251-500 category.)

11/03/2007 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"nihiljerk paranoia"

LOL

11/03/2007 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

I saw The Who in Toronto in... I believe it was 1978. Right around the time Moon left us.

Then again in 1980 or so. They were larger than life. Iconic, powerful, sweeping the audience along like the Stones never could.

11/03/2007 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

OC is hanging in there with the much bigger religious blogs.

Not sure what the formula is, but generally speaking you have something like 50 or 100 readers for each person who posts in the comment section regularlt.

11/03/2007 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Re: writing about leftism:

1. It has to be done. It is a necessary culurtural innoculation against the depradations of the cultural Left.

2. Few people writing today are as able to articulate the deep strata of leftist pathology more accurately and effectively than GB.

Ergo, no explanation is necessary. It's literally a public service. These ideas from this little corner of blogdom will be amplified and repeated to a much wider audience by virtue of the fact that they ring profoudly true.

I am currently in a little (probably ill-advised) dalliance with a co-ed. She's 20 years my junior, but not yet wrecked by the academic machine, and smart enough that she takes to the ideas expressed here like a calf to milk. The reason I mention this is that she espied Polanyi's "Meaning" on my coffee table and after leafing through it for a few minutes asked to borrow it. And she read it. A 23 year old liberal arts major.

There's hope for the world. (Also, few things in life are more compelling than a pretty blonde young woman reading Polanyi on your sofa.)

11/03/2007 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"And a planned economy eventually entails a planned culture, something which is quite evident. That is, the more left the country, the more laws must exist to constrain and control the people, exterior laws which displace the interior law written in the heart of man.

Yes, but what are the exact dynamics of this irrational leftist nihilism, and what caused it to reject the liberal foundations of the Christian West?"

A plan can be to help you accomplish something, or it can be to give you cover, to help you avoid having to think and do. One goes well with seeking the truth, one goes with seeking to make things seem true.

Similarly, you seek to assign fault to those with active responsibility for their actions for reasons of justice, or you can seek to assign fault for reasons of justifying your actions and absolving yourself of responsibility.

AnonyDoug, You go to Life with the World you've got.

Wasting time on assigning blame where no justice can be served or benefit derived, is just wasting time. If you've lost a fortune three times, you've apparently got the hang of creating one too, spend your time on that.

And yes Barney must die. Death by Who would be very cool.

11/03/2007 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Smoove said "Also, few things in life are more compelling than a pretty blonde young woman reading Polanyi on your sofa."

You are so Smoov.

11/03/2007 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Van,
you might like Bro. Bartleby's post today.

11/03/2007 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Doug, unless you did something to make it happen, it's not your fault. But if you reacted to it in such a way that it made it worse or didn't solve the problem in the best way you could, that part was your fault.

I.E: You get into a car crash. It wasn't your fault. But, you fly into a rage and beat up the other person. Now, the lawsuit you're losing against them IS your fault.

One thing I've noticed about the left-affected is they take relish in 'justice' in the sense of getting 'righteously angry' when someone does an 'injustice.' This does anything BUT execute justice, which if we should recall, is ideally blind.

I found that in review of my life, a lot of my worst times were an ill-fated event leading to a bunch of personal errors that turned it into a catastrophe. Shit happens. What you decide to with the shit - well, what did these guys do?

Biiig picture.

11/03/2007 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"...objectivists and contemporary libertarians represent insignificant and ultimately self-refuting exceptions to this rule"

Hmm... I've been a little puzzled about this, and find a couple ways it could be taken, how do you mean Self-refuting?

Ignoring the libertarians... if the goal is Truth, and you see Truth as whole, then eventually silly self limiting errors will be found out, so self correcting I can see, but self refuting?

11/03/2007 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van--

You'll have to wait for the next post, so I can figure out what Petey meant. Has something to do with objectivism undermining the transcendent values that make objectivism possible.

11/03/2007 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Additional Who Alert -

If you want to buy the DVD, Best Buy has a 3-DVD version that includes a 90 minute concert in Chicago from '79 for $22; Amazon has the 2-DVD version for $20.

11/03/2007 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"You'll have to wait for the next post..."

Argghh!!! Between you & Ben (and me too I suppose, but that doesn't count when I'm griping about others doing it), these cliff hangers are giving us Racoons a whopping case of vertigo!

11/03/2007 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Van - Don't say "vertigo". I've spent much of the day way up higher on a ladder than I ever care to go. I don't mind painting, but give me solid ground any day.

Who? WHOOOOOOOO!

11/03/2007 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Are You
Who Who Who Who

(a little owl rock there)

11/03/2007 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

nomo:

Ooh! I'm paranoid about ladders. I have an uncle in Louisianna who fell off a ladder cleaning his gutters. Became a quadriplegic in his mid-30s.

11/03/2007 08:01:00 PM  
Anonymous ricardo said...

"Likewise, the reason why continental Europe fell to the viral song of leftism is that it had already gravely weakened its own natural defense mechanism to it."

The above quote from Bob is problematic because I hear persisent reports that Europeans are doing better than we are. They work fewer hours, are happier, healthier, etc. Some account will have to be made, if true. It is a vexing discrepancy.
If leftism is bad, shouldn't here be some form of human suffering attached to it?

11/03/2007 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricardo,
I know, why don't you go have a look-see? Maybe you could take the scenic route through the freedom loving land of Venezuela, or maybe that sparking medical marvel land of Cuba? Once you land in europe, be sure to stop and see the old favorites, you know, Auschwitz, the Gulags... while you're trying to connect the dots from the present to the past, you could take in the lights of Paris... just be sure its not the light of your car being torched by the leftie loving islambie youths clamoring to embrace your deepest ideals.

Bon Voyage.

11/03/2007 10:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, leading a planned economy is as likely as winning the lotto. Whatever the actual odds, eventually there is always a leader and a select coterie. Those professors who support domination probably just like to gamble, not perhaps on a safe gamble like Pascal's wager, but an unsafe bet, like lotteries, and, if I'm right, planned economies.

11/03/2007 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Continuing with our discussion of Michael Polanyi, one puzzling thing he noticed -- discussed a few days ago in this post -- was that intellectuals were not only responsible (obviously) for the most destructive ideas and ruthless political movements of the 20th century, but that they embraced them despite the fact that these ideas, if implemented, would spell the end of the intellectual class. That is, they undermine the very liberal ideal of freedom of inquiry guided by the pursuit of truth."

I believe that's because they don't live in reality, so they don't really believe that anything will seriously happen to them.

As you've mentioned, Bob, they take an effect; they are safe, and ignore the cause of that effect (God, and real people fighting and dying), and how precarious it is to maintain that effect (liberty).

Most leftists actually believe that freedom doesn't have to be bought and paid for with the blood of heroes.
In their "utopia" fantasy world, it just happens due to diplomacy, or education, or technology, or some other pie-in-the-sky nonsense.

11/04/2007 01:56:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

syky"Likewise, the reason why continental Europe fell to the viral song of leftism is that it had already gravely weakened its own natural defense mechanism to it."

Indeed. As the Dissident Frogman points out, the love affair of the conservatives for Sarkozy is based on what Sarkozy says, not on what Sarkozy does.

Leftism runs very deep in Europe, and France has been leftist for well over 100 years.

A conservative in France is the equivalent to a center leftist in America.
Sure, Sarkozy ain't batsh*t crazy like Kucinich (or Ron Paul), but let's face the truth here, he ain't gonna do anything other than talk.

I was rather disappointed to hear this, but the Dissident Frogman is the exception not the rule in France and in Europe.

11/04/2007 02:43:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Thus, the Founders were able to formulate the ideal of separation of church and state, not for the purpose of ending religion's influence, but strengthening it."

Perhaps a better description is that the Founders were able to formulate the ideal of freedom of Religion (a church that wasn't influenced, endorsed or persecuted by the state).

Meanwhile, leftists and libertarians focus on the word seperation, which, although may be technically correct, in a sense, isn't entirely accurate (and oh, so easy to distort).

11/04/2007 02:50:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"But Polanyi saw that there was a deep relationship between the very possibility of science and certain metaphysical ideals and principles "that not only could not be proved, but could not even be made wholly explicit.""

You might say that Polanyi did what Kant can't. :^)

Super post, Bob!

11/04/2007 02:59:00 AM  
Blogger phil g said...

I love your political screeds...keep up the good work. I particularly appreciate the way you discuss politics and culture in relation to the vertical and horizontal.

One of the reasons you may be trailing the religion blog poll is that some of those are linked to very high traffic sites...i.e., Evangelical Outpost is linked to Hughhewitt.com.

Not suggesting you do that, I like the cozy coon den myself.

11/04/2007 03:00:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Hey, if I had known I'd been nominated, I might actually be in first place! I didn't find out about it until yesterday, but voting had been going on behind our backs since Nov. 1, so in one day we shot into third place.

In any event, it would represent a strange but significant development in the blogosphere if Raccoons could pull this out and strike a blow against the Normals! Don't forget to vote every 24 hours....

11/04/2007 05:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Patrick Roberts said...

interesting... an unintended, genius aspect of democracy is that the state of the government will represent the state of the people. We needn't impose any particular religion on our government. Whether or not our government is morally stable will reflect the moral stability of us, the people. So how are we doing?

11/05/2007 01:12:00 AM  

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