Enthusiasm, Inspiration, and Charisma Banned by the Left! (5.05.10)
If human beings are not free to know truth, then neither freedom nor truth can exist. These two categories are fundamentally intertwined, and any diminution of one leads to a diminution of the other. Therefore, it should be no surprise that a philosophy such as leftism, which does not value liberty, should be permeated with so many lies. And it is not just as if these lies represent bad or faulty information. Rather, these are vital lies which one is compelled to believe. In other words, one is not free to believe otherwise.
A mundane but nevertheless illustrative example is the recent case of high school cheerleaders being compelled to root equally for boys' and girls' teams. As Prager writes, "almost no one directly involved wants this -- not the cheerleaders, not the fans, not the boys' teams, and not even the girls' teams. But it doesn't matter: The law coerces cheerleaders to cheer at girls' games."
And it all begins with a vital lie of the left, that men and women are identical. Since no normal person believes this, it must be mandated by law. Put another way, it is against the law to be normal. Once a vital lie such as this is accepted, freedom must be constrained in a thousand ways -- not just for men, but obviously for woman as well, since a normal girl doesn't have much spontaneous interest in being a cheerleader at a girls' softball game. For that matter, at least back when I was in high school, no, ahem, "normal" boy wanted to be "yell king."
Come to think of it, what an intrinsically undignified designation for a young man. Real men don't yell (except when necessary), any more than they whine or pose as victims. If you would be a king among men, you must possess a genuine center of power. This power may lie in the realm of knowing, or doing, or being, but a man, in order to be one, must conquer something in one of these realms. Furthermore, in order to be a man, you can't just know "anything." Rather, you must know truth. Nor can you do just anything. Rather, you must courageously do what is virtuous in a fallen world.
And you certainly cannot be just anything. Rather, your being must radiate the calm presence of Being, which undoubtedly supersedes the other two powers. For example, one senses that Republican voters do not yet feel that any of the existing presidential candidates fully pass muster in the realm of being, as did, quintessentially, Ronald Reagan. In point of fact, Reagan was a man who took ideas very seriously, and who clearly possessed much more truth than the typical leftist intellectual.
But where he really left his puny detractors in the dust was in the realm of being. Reagan is often referred to as the "great communicator," but he communicated something much deeper than mere ideas, which any pinhead philosopher can do. The Clintons, John Edwards, Obama -- each is sort of "vacuum" of being. One could say that they are existentially weightless -- in particular, Obama -- except that darkness takes on a paradoxical "heft" of its own.
Prager notes what should be a truism, that "Of all the myths that surround Left-Right differences, one of the greatest is that the Left values liberty more than the Right. Regarding a small handful of behaviors -- abortion is the best example -- this is true. But overwhelmingly, the further left one goes on the political spectrum, the greater the advocacy of more state control of people's lives.... It is astonishing that this obvious fact is not universally acknowledged and that the Left has somehow successfully portrayed itself as preoccupied with personal liberty with regard to anything except sexual behavior and abortion."
Again, since the left does not value liberty, their version of "truth" must be coerced, never arrived at freely. As Prager notes, "Most activists on the Left believe that they, not only their values, are morally superior to their adversaries. Therefore, coercing people to adhere to 'progressive' values is morally acceptable, even demanded. It is thus quite understandable that laws would compel high school cheerleaders to cheer at girls' athletic events as much as at boys'. And true to leftist totalitarian models, not only is behavior is coerced, but emotions as well."
Regarding the cheerleaders, for example, leftist activists insist that they should "attend girls' and boys' games 'in the same number, and with equal enthusiasm' as part of its five-year goals.'" Is it not Orwellian to require "equal enthusiasm" of anyone over anything? Ironic, since "enthusiasm" comes from en theos, or to be in-spired by God. Thus, for a leftist, enthusiasm of any kind should be against the law on the grounds that it violates the so-called separation between church and state. So too inspiration and charisma ("divine gift"). The ACLU has fought for more bizarre causes. (And my own field of clinical psychology has many similarly illiberal demands mandating, for example, that I "respect" diversity. Why?)
Because so-called progressives "are often unsuccessful in competing in the marketplace of ideas. Same-sex marriage and affirmative action are two contemporary examples. And when persuasion fails, laws are used. If you can't convince, coerce." And of course, "The more secular the society, the more laws are needed to keep people in check. When more people feel accountable to God and moral religion, fewer laws need to be passed. But as religion fades, something must step into the moral vacuum it leaves, and laws compelling good behavior result."
Natural law is eclipsed by unnatural law, which ends up producing unnatural men -- which is to say, either feminized males or developmentally arrested boys. France apparently elected a man president yesterday, which has the boys rioting. This is to be expected.
Arnold Kling notes that "human planning tends to work poorly when compared to trial and error." For example, "many medical discoveries are serendipitous, while systematic efforts such as those of the National Cancer Institute often yield disappointing results." This is because liberty results in the spontaneous emergence of robust order, as is patently true of the economy.
But something similar -- actually, identical -- happens in our spiritual growth, so long as we use our liberty correctly. Just as a command economy ends up strangling growth, efficiency, and wealth production, a "command religion," so to speak (of which leftism is an example), will stifle spiritual growth. More on this below, because it is a point that can be misunderstood.
Regardless of your stance on the merits of embryo stem cell research, it is simply bad science to start with an end that science may or may not be capable of reaching. We can see the absurdity of this more clearly if applied to other fields. For example, imagine funding a philosophy department with the mission that they must elaborate and defend this or that position, instead of freely exploring wherever truth leads. It sounds absurd, but this attitude already prevails in our illiberal leftist universities, where, for example, "diversity" must be achieved. This represents death to thought because it is death to the freedom without which thought cannot function.
Any time thought is in the service of something other than Truth, then it is no longer thought. I don't think we have a word for what it is, but it certainly should not be associated with the beautiful word "liberalism," because it is essentially servile. The typical leftist wackademic is hardly a proponent of the "liberal arts." Rather, no matter how "intelligent," he is a drone practicing the servile arts. He might as well be flipping burgers, except that at least no child is harmed in the process of burger flipping.
As Schuon writes, a proper human being is one who “knows how to think." Conversely, "whoever does not know how to think, whatever his gifts may be, is not authentically a man; that is, he is not a man in the ideal sense of the term. Too many men display intelligence as long as their thought runs in the grooves of their desires, interests and prejudices; but the moment the truth is contrary to what pleases them, their faculty of thought becomes blurred or vanishes; which is at once inhuman and 'all too human.'”
Furthermore, "man is so made that his intelligence has no effective value unless it be combined with a virtuous character. Besides, no virtuous man is altogether deprived of intelligence; while the intellectual capacity of an intelligent man has no value except through truth. Intelligence and virtue are in conformity with their reason for being only through their supernatural contents or archetypes; in a word, man is not fully human unless he transcends himself, hence, in the first place, unless he masters himself."
Do you see how it all hangs together in a beautifully complete and coherent manner: liberty, intelligence, truth, virtue, self-mastery, transcendence, reason for being? This is the classical liberalism of our wise fathers.
The truth is not at your service. Rather, vice versa. Only by virtue of this constraint -- the yoke which is paradoxically easy -- are you free. Not to mention, intelligent.
But this is not to say that there is no sort of connection between the fulfillment of the "common good" and the philosophy taught in a country! Only the relationship can never be established or regulated from the point of view of the general good: when a thing contains its own end, or is an end in itself, it can never be made to serve as a means to any other end -- just as no one can love someone "in order that." --Josef Pieper