Truth vs. Power in the Life of Solzhenitsyn
Odd that LGF should post a tribute to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, for whatever else he was, he was a stern voice against postmodern nihilism in all its varieties, whether it be Marxism, Darwinism, western style consumerism, or narrow-minded Queegism. A Raccoon knows precisely what Solzhenitsyn meant when he said that That which is called humanism, but what would be more correctly called irreligious anthropocentrism, cannot yield answers to the most essential questions of our life, and that One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.
But what can these things possibly mean to a middlebrow Darwinist? It's just vacuous rhetoric. To a Darwinist, Solzhenitsyn's life can make no sense. Why would he risk his genes for ideals that the Darwinist knows are illusory? (Solzhenitsyn was a devout Russian Orthodox.)
In looking back at the horror of Soviet communism, Solzhenitsyn remarked that "if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.
I wonder if Solzhenitsyn could have more effectively survived his ordeals if he had adopted the Lizard's credo, that "One word of natural selection shall outweigh both the soul of man and its Creator," or that the atrocities of communism occurred because "Men have forgotten Darwin; that's why all this has happened."
There are several pillars of postmodern deconstruction, and these include Marxism, philosophical Darwinism, and a crude form of Freudianism. Taken together, these constitute a "hermeneutics of suspicion," through which an inferior mind may imagine itself superior in its omnipotent ability to undermine the foundation of things that infinitely surpass it.
In the barbarous hands of a Kosling or Queegling, these are like all-purpose corrosives to the foundations of civilization and to any ideal that transcends our narrow self-interest. But they are emotionally satisfying tools, since the person who wields them can instantly elevate himself above people and institutions far superior to himself. For example, Cornell West or Jesse Jackson need only remind themselves that Jefferson owned slaves, and they are superior to him! Likewise, Queeg need only link to a Penn and Teller routine on creationism, and he is superior to Thomas Aquinas or Hans Urs Von Balthasar.
As I have mentioned before, the Queegling is so powerful that his weaponized ideology is capable of destroying in a single comment what it took 3000 years of spiritual genius to build. Can you imagine the abject idiocy of such a person? But this is what we see in comment after comment at LGF. These "terrible simplifiers" are proud of their ability to render the suprasensible meaningless and reduce existence to a horizontal wasteland.
Freud -- who also had no feel whatsoever for religious truth -- believed that religion was nothing more than a giant collective defense mechanism rooted in childhood fears, while for Marx it was the "opiate of the masses." Likewise for an orthodox Darwinist, religion must have once had some genetic survival value, but in itself it is pure nonsense. In other words, we believe religion not because it is true, but because we are genetically programmed to do so. Which begs two questions, 1) how the atheistic Darwinist has transcended his own religious genes, and 2) whether we are simply genetically programmed to understand science, which in itself has no truth value.
Now, the postmodern revolt is all about power. Since there can be no appeal to truth, no ultimate way to adjudicate between competing agendas, this means that raw power must come in to fill the void. Things like multiculturalism and moral relativism are just masks for pure power.
This is why scientistic rationalism necessarily leads to the kind of totalitarian impulses we always see from the left, whether it is in the form of campus speech codes, political correctness, assaults on religious freedom, judicial tyranny, resurrection of the "fairness doctrine," etc. It is why Queeg must ban dissent from his blog, since no one is allowed to freely discover truth, being that the incorrect truth might be discovered. Therefore, doctrinal truth must be enforced from on high. But at least Queeg is consistent, in that he is behaving just like the survival machine he claims to be.
The entire basis of our rationally ordered liberty is that we may freely appeal to a truth that transcends us. The absence of this arrangement results in hell, one way or the other. For a truly free soul to have to live, move, and think within the narrow constraints of Darwinism would be hell on earth -- like a kind of intellectual and spiritual gulag.
For blind faith in Darwinism results in a kind of violent spiritual dismemberment; these people are crawling around with limbs missing, an eye gouged out, deaf in one ear, for they cannot see, hear, or touch the divine. Now, I'm all for extending rights to the "challenged" in order to make their lives easier. Nevertheless, I don't go as far as the extremists who claim that a disability is an advantage -- for example, advocates for the deaf who are against the cochlear implant, or the "fat is beautiful" movement. For the same reason, we know that "Darwinists must be." But we shouldn't flatter them by calling them "intelligent," much less "wise." Rather, it is a spiritual infirmity. After all, they know far better than we do that they are not intelligently designed. (Again, I am speaking of the Darwinist metaphysician, not the mere intellectual worker bee who knows his limitations, especially if his biological research is in service to a higher ideal.)
Of necessity, Darwinism reduces the Subject to an object, i.e., spirit to matter. But as Polanyi explained, "if all knowledge includes the personal participation of the knower, then the ideal of strict detachment is false. And clearly, if this ideal is a false one, science and religion stand on similar grounds -- or better, they stand on a continuum, with one leading naturally to the other" (Mitchell).
Do you see the problem? Either the Subject is ontologically real and therefore able to arrive at truth, whether scientific, religious, aesthetic or moral; or, if it is reducible to matter, then it renders any kind of immutable truth a mere illusion. In short, what's bad for the religious nous is bad for the scientistic panderer.
Polanyi wrote that this kind of crude scientistic reductionism deprives "our image of man and the universe of any rational foundation. All men, scientists included, must seek and hold on to a reasonable view of the universe and of man's place in it. For acquiring this we must rely on a theory of knowledge which accepts indwelling as the proper way for discovering and possessing the knowledge of comprehensive entities. I believe also this may open up a cosmic vision which will harmonize with some basic teachings of Christianity."
Hey, no kidding! Polanyi continues:
The book of Genesis or the frescoes of Michaelangelo "remain a far more intelligent account of the nature and origin of the universe than the representations of the world as a chance collocation of atoms." Why more intelligent? Because the former view draws great significance from the fact that the world exists and that we may comprehend it, and that the whole existentialada is "linked to our own calling as the only morally responsible beings in the world"; whereas the scientistic view necessarily "denies any meaning to the world, and indeed ignores all our most vital experience of this world."
You see, life is not meaningless. It is an achievement. Likewise, real manhood -- not the mere genetic kind -- is an achievement. It is not conferred by the genes, but by transcending them. Just so, Alexander Solzhenitsyn achieved things of eternal worth on this temporal plane. His life was not just a case of genes looking out for their own interests, like the monsters who oppressed and tortured him, and whose only interest was power.
For two thousand years, philosophy and religion had held up before Western Europe the ideal figure of man, as man, and had claimed for it a supreme worth....
Biological science drew the conclusion that the destruction of individuals was the very means by which advance was made to higher types of species.... As applied to human society this theory is a challenge to the whole humanitarian movement. --Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas