Political Truth and the Cosmic Errors of Liberalism (1.10.11)
I hope it goes without saying that contemporary "Republicanism" is hardly the opposite of leftism. Rather, it's more like an obstacle, or bump in the road to socialism. More often than not it's just the crooked officer who wants his piece of the pie and can be appeased with bribes. Although more people call themselves conservative than liberal, there are in fact more "principled" liberals than principled conservatives.
Schuon is never explicitly political, but he frequently slips in a page-stopping observation that is pregnant with political implications. It would be strictly impossible to be a student of his and also be a leftist, just as it would be impossible for any seriously religious person to be a leftist. Not that there aren't religious leftists. It's just that their values are deeply at odds with the "perennial religion," and when push comes to shove, it is clear that they derive their values from politics, not religion; or, if from religion, they deeply misunderstand its esoteric and often even plain meaning. Rather, they simply use religion as a vehicle to advance their political agenda, an agenda that is rooted in ungoverned feeling. Everyone knows this, which is why the Democrat candidates are so awkward and unnatural when they talk about religion.
Edwards is a case in point. From where did he derive his mandate to end poverty -- as if such a thing could be possible, given the constants of human nature? He never explains how the sudden conversion to this mission came about. If it's just his ideology, that's one thing, i.e., the usual Marxist politics of envy, resentment, victimhood, entitlement, and theft. But if it is a "religious" impulse, he needs to explain his reasoning, and how and why it is permissible to force his religious beliefs on the rest of us, for it is hardly self-evident that "charity begins with government coercion."
To the contrary, there is reason to believe that charity ends with government coercion, for it places man either at odds with the collective or helplessly dependent upon it -- a helplessness that will be encouraged as "normative" once the system is in place and human nature, i.e., "gravity," takes care of the rest. Furthermore, this kind of socialist "charity" easily goes "hand in hand with complacency, which annuls its spiritual quality" (Schuon). Socialism never cures human selfishness but breeds it.
A spiritual virtue -- let us say charity -- is "nothing other than consciousness of a reality," in this case, the reality that all men are created equal and that our neighbor is equally precious "in the eyes of the lord." This is fundamentally a consciousness, not merely a "sentiment." If only the latter, then it is likely to be perverted by various forms of "intelligent stupidity," discussed in the last couple of posts.
Thus, "when virtue is purely sentimental, in the sense of being ignorant of the reality to which it relates, it may have a relative utility, but it is nonetheless a spiritual obstacle and source of errors" (emphasis mine). Again, true charity is rooted in consciousness of a reality. It is the very opposite of, say, self-created victims exploiting our sentiments to perpetuate their victimhood and therefore legitimize the presence of their hand in our pocket.
Metaphysical truths, in order to be effective, must become operative in the will. Thus, to transfer responsibility for a dimly perceived spiritual truth to the collective is to render it inoperative, since it relieves man of having to be personally conscious of the principle. But demagogues and narrow-minded moralists don't like to be reminded of this complexity, as they imagine that their "straightforwardness" absolves themselves "of the need for reflection."
For example, a John Edwards or Dennis Kucinich flatters himself by thinking he "speaks truth to power," when he actually speaks seductive lies to the powerless in order to keep them that way (and to keep voting Democrat). After all, it isn't as if the simple behavioral principles for avoiding poverty aren't well understood. But since they require the cultivation of certain timeless virtues -- and don't allow the sentimental liberal to feel good about himself -- the liberal isn't interested.
Is there a single leftist who understands the following principle?: "Too great an indulgence toward others is often caused not by an innate weakness of character but by an actual inability to conceive the frailty of men and the malice of the devil." And the reason they can't conceive of the frailty of men is that it would require too much painful self-examination.
One immediately thinks of the Hollywood left, who presumably project their deep character flaws into those they presume to rescue, which then absolves them of the need to root out their own frailties and rise above themselves. But "to take fallen man as the human norm is to end up idealizing not man but the human animal, the thinking beast." This is why no one is more anti-human than a humanist, for they undermine man's sufficient reason for being, not to mention his rootedness in the transcendent.
A Bill Clinton embodies the "qualities" of earthly intelligence and oily charm; or cunning and seduction; or calculation and hypnosis. As Harvey Mansfeld wrote, he is "the envy of vulgar men," and deservedly so. But as Schuon explains, "cunning" is no more a normal mode of intelligence than paranoia is a normal mode of perception. The latter is not perception but apperception, i.e., the systematic confirmation of one's malevolent suspicions. Keith Olbermann has to be the current poster boy for this dark side of human "knowing"; he is as brutally charmless as Clinton is "charming" to the willfully naive.
Suspicion becomes "illegitimate as soon as it becomes a tendency and a kind of principle, for then it engenders a sickness of the soul that is incompatible with virtue and hence sanctity." "Bush Derangement Syndrome" reflects this principle "gone wild," and we can see the dreadful consequences for the soul drowning in its dark waters. Rational thought becomes impossible, since it it organized by hate, not love. It is similar to moralism, which sunders beauty from truth. In fairness, one also sees this latter problem in certain annoying precincts of the religious right. Morality should never be made to look "disproportionate" by detaching it from truth and beauty. Moralistic virtues merely imitate their archetype, and can in turn become "a form of idolatry" (Schuon).
Here is another principle to which liberals are oblivious: "Rights that are defensive for an isolated individual become aggressive for a collectivity." The latter situation arises from envy and entitlement, not any virtue. As Schuon explains, "There is no legitimate connection between humility and a mere leveling down, for such a leveling is a form of pride since it denies the natural hierarchy of values and men; by this negation it is also opposed to dignity. Humility -- or simplicity -- is never a synonym for egalitarian mediocrity or weakness." Racial quotas based upon group identity are an affront to cosmic reality.
But "To take a collectivity as such as an intellectual norm means the progressive strangulation of intelligence." It means ignoring the reality of man's fallenness, however you wish to conceive it. It amounts to saying that man has "unlimited rights," but no responsibilities. "The consequences of such an attitude are evident: it opens the door to all the vices of human nature and unleashes the downward force of its fall; this is enough to prove it false."
Sorry I have to end abruptly.... no time to edit or spell check.
All the Schuon quotes taken from Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts
BTW, I hope you've all seen these videos of someone being dragged before the leftist inquisition. I think I have a man-crush....