Learning and Relearning the Americoon Way (11.01.10)
Since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Anglo-Americans have been on the winning side in every international conflict. And we didn't just win these conflicts, but reorganized the world in our image. Much of the resentment toward us has to do with the fact that in order to survive and flourish in this world, you must adapt your dopey world to the world we both discovered and made, which is to say, "reality" -- and nothing is the source of more resentment than the demands of reality.
Never confuse "Anglo-American" with "European," much less "white," let alone "French." "It is France that has most often attempted to defeat or at least most often contain" the Anglo-Americans. "Whatever we call it, the hatred and fear of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants and all of their doings is one of the motors driving the world." It is "one of the key organizing principles that many observers use to make sense of mysterious events," i.e., it is an unconscious paranoid process that animates resentful and envious people who don't really have any ideas, only rebellious anti-ideas.
We see ourselves as fighting for liberty over tyranny; the French see themselves as fighting for "civilization" over barbarism, especially us. As one frog put it, "America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization." Or as an intellectual from one of those useless South American countries put it, "Americans are Englishmen with the good qualities left out and the bad qualities swollen to fill up the vacuum."
Very early on, the Anglo-Americans discovered the dynamics of complex systems, i.e., the "invisible hand." They understood that order emerges from chaos, not just in economics, but in virtually every realm -- politics, the marketplace of ideas, science, relationships, etc. Most cultures -- including half of our own -- still struggle with the idea that most things will improve if only you leave them alone.
Anti-Anglo-Americanism is a constant in world history. It just takes different forms. Thus, the hatred of President Bush, both here and abroad, is nothing new. It's been the same pattern from from Louis XIV to Osama bin Laden to the New York Times.
For at least a couple hundred years, sensible Anglo-Americans have been predicting the End of History -- the end of poverty, war, stupidity, and all the other follies of fallen mankind. We always think world peace is just around the corner, under the assumption that the rest of the world will naturally come to its senses and adopt our liberal values, since they are obviously so successful. George Bush may be the latest victim of this sanguine view of mankind, i.e., giving Muslims the gift of freedom and expecting them to appreciate or make use of it
Heidegger is an even bigger a**hole than I thought: first he sees Hitler and Nazism as "Europe's best and even noblest protection from the twin threats" of Marxism and "Americanism"; then he concludes that the latter "is the hideous final destination on humanity's road away from a meaningful way of life"; and then he finally decides that "the Marxist machine, for all its evil, was less dangerous than the American." And Heidegger's vision "remains central to much European and Latin-American anti-Americanism today...." Truly, you could pick a name at random out of the phone book and obtain more wisdom than from this "great" philosopher.
Ever since England established the first national bank over 300 years, ago, economic illiterates have been howling that national debt would bring economic catastrophe and ruin, but instead, it has always led to more growth. You could publish a Paul Krugman editorial in 1740, and it would be just as timely as today. (Wisdom is not the only human knowledge that is timeless; a corollary is that certain forms of stupidity, or (-k), are timeless as well, something well understood in scripture.)
What Germany is to music and Italy to painting and sculpture, New York and London are to finance.
All Raccoons know this, but it's worth repeating: in reality, only the free market respects the masses, as it efficiently responds to their genuine needs, even if elites have comtempt for them. In traditional or elitist societies it is "the rulers and well-born whose tastes must be studied, prejudices indulged, and caprices made much of." "The power of mass consumption, harnessed by flexible markets to the economic interest of the talented, may be the most revolutionary human discovery since the taming of fire. The changes that have come and will come from this union of the ambitions of the elites with the aspirations of the masses are incalculable."
By the time Marx was dead and writing his books, middle and lower-income families were already enjoying "a higher standard of living in some ways than even the most aristocratic households had enjoyed only a half century before." Thus, his ideas were born obsolete, one reason why leftist academia is such a soul-killing environment.
It is because Anglo-American governments have been so relatively weak that they have been so strong. Like the free market, they must respect the wishes of the people and lean on voluntary cooperation instead of coercion. Thus, big government will necessarily become unpopular, because it no longer need respond to the citizenry and instead must coerce or use force. This is why everyone hates the IRS or recognizes the failures of the education establishment or the problems with social security, but no one can change them. Imagine the permanent nightmare of nationalized healthcare, which constitutes some 17% of our economy.
Again, all Raccoons know this, but societies that overvalue reason and devalue tradition and revelation become dysfunctional and cannot evolve. "Dynamic religion" is the philosopher Bergson's term for "the angel that calls people forward to ever more open societies." Those who have read the Coonifesto will be familiar with my idea that only open religion specifically engages the eschaton, O, luring the open system toward it, both individually and collectively. Mead notes that open religion can take many forms, such as "a feeling of restlessness and unease, a yearning for new experiences, a voice in the head shouting warnings or commands, visions, dreams, or ideas." It is living religion, or O-->(n).
Dead or "static religion" is the historical norm, certainly outside the Judeo-Christian world, but often within it as well. And radical secularism can be as much a static religion as any other. In this regard it is the form -- the deep structure -- not the substance, that counts. Put it this way: whoever you are, you either practice a dead religion or a living one:
"The tragic choice that many self-consciously 'modern' observers see between the black-and-white realism of open modernity and the visionary colors and imagery of closed tradition and myth disappears if Bergson's dynamic religion is taken into account." We cannot do without our great visions that "light up the western sky" and "stir human souls to the depths," driving us to "to pull up our stakes and move on," which is to say evolve, both within and toward O.
Which is why Raccoon philosophy is simply the operative philosophy of reality; it is what we might call "dynamic" or "evolutionary neo-traditionalism."
That's only half the book... we'll get to the second half in the next post.