Intrapsychic Divorce and the Worst Laid Plans (1.11.11)
But just as we couldn't have a genetic blueprint without copying errors, we couldn't have real thinking without mistakes. I suppose we could have logic, but logic isn't thinking. If thinking is reduced to logic, then you end up shooting psychic blanks with forms of pseudo-thinking such as materialism or atheism. Even then, anyone should know that logic is useless in the absence of a thinker who knows how to deploy it and is aware of its limitations. Logic cannot provide its own mamaterials, nor can it father its own boundaries. This is why the problem of our trolls can be summarized in four words: their boys can't swim. But I'm sure Robin could extend it into the form of a verbose haiku.
In the absence of a prudent thinker, logic is just as likely to use faulty premises to arrive at incorrect conclusions -- or, as is pervasive among liberals, fail to draw out the full chain of reasoning and arbitrarily stop thinking at a point that suits their desires, such as "helping the little guy." If they would only reason just a little biddy father -- from A all the way to C or D, instead of stopping at B, they would see how their ideas and policies underarm their heirs. But doing this would require them to exit the maternal world of washy wish fulfillment and be detained in the paternal office of the reality principle -- or, to be precise, to marry the two, for the one is useless in the absence of its soul mate. When liberals favor the "redefinition of marriage," it can only be because there has been a divorce in their own psyche between mother and father, or, at the very least, a devaluation of their sacred union.
As the big-brained Roger Kimball writes, "This is the oldest and the best argument for conservatism: the argument from the fact that our actions almost always have unforeseen and unwelcome consequences. It is an argument from so great and so mournful a fund of experience, that nothing can rationally outweigh it. Yet somehow, at any rate in societies like ours, this argument never is given its due weight. When what is called a 'reform' proves to be, yet again, a cure worse than the disease, the assumption is always that what is needed is still more, and still more drastic, 'reform.' Progressives cannot wrap their minds (or, more to the point, their hearts) around this irony: that 'reform' so regularly exacerbates either the evil it was meant to cure or another evil it had hardly glimpsed."
Even more alarmingly, the reforms forced upon us by liberals not only produce unintended consequences, but unintended people and cultures. In short, it produces deviant people who then require the very cultural circumstances that gave birth to them. They are not so much adapted to their environment as addicted to it. It reminds me of a question posed yesterday by Van der Leun: "what is More UNNECESSARY than Liberalism if You Don't Need it?" In fact, in another timely comment that he stole from me before I could think of it, "The more things change, the more they stay insane."
I've given it some thought, and I've concluded that it is impossible to have minds without mind parasites. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that simply "must be." Even God can't alter it, on pain of making us robots. In short, it is a condition of existence, like the necessity of shadows if there be light, or falsehood if there be truth, determinism if there be free will, or permanence if there be change and progress.
Speaking of change, I see that in another piece, Kimball outlines how this has become one of the left's most pernicious mind parasites, to such an extent that it has completely infected the current presidential epidemic. Here it is important to note how the word operates just like a parasite, because... well, because it is one. In fact, so in love are liberals with change, that it can only properly be called a venereal disease:
"I am struck by the prominence of the word 'change' in this campaign. Mrs. Clinton deploys it like a hammer, Mr. Obama offers it up as a sort of sweetmeat. But for most of the candidates change is the holy grail, the unending mantra, the cynosure of their hearts."
But mere change in the absence of permanence and stability is indistinguishable from disease in any living system. The body is constantly changing, but the change is oriented toward a telos called "health" or "normalcy." Most of our change is in order to remain the same, or to prevent entropy. It is not simply unrestricted change. There is a word for that: it's called cancer.
Civilization is also a body, an organic collective with deep unconscious roots. This is why it is absurd to think that one could ever have a purely secular culture, because secularism is the very absence of culture, the latter of which is rooted in the cult, which I would define more abstractly as a shared unconscious (or supraconscious) template of preconceptions for interpreting reality. It's very difficult to impose this cult in a top-down manner -- for example, the cult of freedom and democracy, as we are witnessing in Iraq.
Just as much of our change is in order to remain the same, much of our permanence is in order to change, only in a healthy way. As Russell Kirk commented, "I am a conservative because I am a liberal." To cite one obvious example, the mind cannot grow in the absence of permanent standards of truth. This is why, say, deconstruction, is the equivalent of intellectual cancer. It goes nowhere but sideways or down, and even destroys the very basis of productive thought. Likewise, moral relativism is cancer of the conscience, just as cultural relativism is cancer of reality.
In other words, if all cultures are of equal value, this is equivalent to saying that there is no reality to which culture is an adaptation. Culture therefore becomes a fantasy world. Which, of course, it is for the left. They are, by their own definition, not oriented to reality, since reality is just an oppressive white European male construct. So, what are they adapted to? That's a good question. I suppose it depends upon the day, for it changes -- which is their prerogative, since change is the only reality. Nothing is more futile than trying to hold a liberal to what they said yesterday. (See here, for example, NYT Editorial, Plus Six Months.)
As Kimball writes, one good reason to be wary of promiscuous change is that "lasting cultural accomplishments are hard-won achievements that are easy to lose but difficult to recoup." To paraphrase Dawson, it is possible to destroy something in a day that took 5,000 years to build. The language of change also discourages the cultivation of gratitude, which is one of the prerequisites of human happiness. In the words of Kimball, "the rhetoric of change encourages us to discount present blessings that are real for future promises that are uncertain at best."
So, it seems that some mind parasites are merely nuisances, analogous to the common (k)-->Old, instead of being O-->(k). In fact, mind parasites are generally not too destructive so long as they are confined to individual minds. But just as neurosis may be thought of as a private culture, culture often comes down to a public neurosis. And that is when the mind parasites can result in the eradication of the host, as in contemporary leftism.
The really dangerous thing is that the parasite needn't reach 100% saturation to ravage the population. Think if how few committed leftists there are in the country -- the type of person who would support, say, the vile John Edwards. I don't put Obama even close to that category of noxiousness (which is why the nutroots have not warmed to his campaign). (In fact, see here for a fascinating bit of unconventional wisdom, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Loving Obama," by Randall Hoven. Conservatives, more than anyone else, should appreciate the the law of unintended political consequences, or the Irony of History.)
Speaking of which, I had no conscious intention of this post ending up here. Rather, I "intended" to continue yesterday's discussion of the transmission of mind parasites from generation to generation, in particular, Bolton's statement that "children automatically share in the moral merits and demerits of their parents, and indirectly those of the society they belong to." What this means is that we don't just have a means of transmitting mind parasites, but a means of eradicating them.
In other words, if you stand back from the historical situation and take a martian's-eye view, the transmission of mind parasites might seem unfair to the individual, but it ultimately benefits the collective, since each individual is tasked with the mission of eradicating the parasites that he has inherited from his parents (and they from theirs, all the way back to the dawn of human time). This is one way to look at our "fallenness," in that we all fall, but we fall in our own way. You cannot undo the fall by "normalizing" it, as leftists do, nor can you undo it by imposing a collective solution, as leftists also do.