Falling at the Speed of Liberalism
Gricks may rise and Troysirs may fall (there being two sights for ever a picture) for in the byways of high improvidence that's what makes lifework leaving and the world's a cell for citters to cit in. --James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
There are two laws in history: the law of gravity, and the law of destiny. Left to their own devices, human beings will recapitulate the fall day by day, moment by moment, plummeting further and further from the Origin and Center. In order to find and attain one's destiny -- which is coextensive with the Origin and Center, on a personal level -- one must go against the collective winds which either drag one down with the rest, or, at the very least, pressure one to conform to the mentality of the horde. This was not as problematic in America's past, when the culture still valued and embodied the ideal of spiritual perfection in its diverse modalities.
[Here you go: here's a contemporary reference for you at American Thinker, The Drumbeat, by William Staneski. The drumbeat to which he refers is simply the dreary rhythm of man's fall, set to the monotonous bleat of leftist doctrine. It is hardly new, much less progressive:
"The drumbeat. It's always there. Day and night. Rain or shine. Winter or Summer. Sunday or Monday. It comes at you from every direction. It comes over the TV, the radio, at work, at school, in music, in the newspapers, from the politicians, in conversation with others, even in church. It wears you down. It robs you of the will to resist its message. Even short-lived victories, which stop it briefly, leave you with the knowledge that it will return; each minor victory bound to be lost to the redoubled efforts of this patient and persistent force. You can't escape it. It never stops. It never gives up. It never ends. It rains upon you from every possible angle, from every possible source."
Again, you have to imagine how difficult it was to resist this drumbeat back in the days before talk radio and other conservative media. When I was a liberal, I literally encountered no resistance to the leftist fall. There was nothing whatsoever to prevent me from jumping into the fire and going down with it into the ribbon of darkness. As I have said, I am not a bitter or backward looking man, but if I were, I could be pretty angry at how much of my life was lost bathing in the muddy water of liberalism. One reason I'm not angry is that I made the transition back to reality and truth before I was too old, and I have no right to complain about the way things turned out.
The downward tide of leftism is "tolerant, diverse, non-judgmental, non-discriminatory, egalitarian, politically correct, multicultural, globalist, and collectivist. It insists that there are no rights and wrongs, no moral absolutes. It turns everything upside down in its looking glass world. It denies the correctness of all that produced what our culture revered before the deconstruction of the world in accordance with the tenets of cultural Marxism.
"It denies God, human exceptionalism, and the soul. We are reduced to Darwinian animals floundering in an amoral sea of meaninglessness. It is a product of the nihilistic, existentialist philosophical movement, which went hand in hand with modern art, atonal music, scientific materialism and modern physics, and the generally discordant nature of the twentieth century."
I would express it differently, in that there is nothing about modernity that needed to end in the hell of leftist nihilism. Rather, I think the left is riding on the much deeper structure of the cosmic fall, or those descending winds that end in the Great Nothing, or what Schuon calls the possibility of the impossible. There is nothing whatsoever about modern science -- for example, quantum physics -- that necessarily leads to materialism. Quite the opposite. Likewise, modern art. None of the techniques of modern art are problematic in the hands of an elevated soul. Hollywood doesn't have to be sewer. Rock music doesn't have to be subhuman. I blame the people, not the medium. For every 1000 Madonnas or Bon Jovis, there's still one Van Morrison. In order to see the light, all you have to do is turn around.
Anyway, back to the old post.]
In this sense, the ancients were correct in being suspicious of time. At any given point in history, looked at in a certain way, things always look bleak and seem to be getting bleaker. Therefore, why not stop the whole colliderescape and get off? I would call that a pathological kind of conservatism, whereas real conservatism must be progressive. However, it all depends upon what one means by progress. For the true conservative, it means closer proximity and adequation to the Good, True, and Beautiful.
If one were to look at the way things stood in the world over the 500 years or so up to 1700, one “would not have been optimistic about the future of mankind." As historian Alan McFarlane notes in his The Riddle of the Modern World: Of Liberty, Wealth and Equality, nearly every civilization had reached some sort of "invisible barrier” that prevented further development: "The world and its roughly 500 million inhabitants seemed to have reached the limit to its potential to support human life.... Mankind seemed to be caught on a treadmill."
How did we ever get off that treadmill? It's an important question, because it is at the heart of our current conflict with Islam. They are still on that treadmill, and when one isn't progressing, one generally degenerates. Life is not static. Reduced to stasis, it becomes death. There is no middle ground. You cannot be "a little bit" alive or dead. Any evolving system must maintain disequilibrium by exchanging matter or information with the environment. The deepest problem with the Islamic world is that it is a closed system, both individually and collectively.
Prior to West's discovery of the dynamics of material and intellectual growth, life consisted of unrelenting uncertainty deprivation for all but a very few. In order to accomplish our breakthrough, “almost all the trends of the previous 2000 years had to be reversed.” Among other things, the monopolization of knowledge had to end, so that information and technology could be shared through widespread education and literacy. Furthermore, this couldn't be just any kind of education. Rather, it had to be a rational education in which one freely discovers universal truths that are not context-bound (i.e., merely cultural constructs which are often rooted in the management of anxiety rather than pursuit of truth).
There is an ontological divide between human beings that is mirrored in the gulf between left and right. There are those who say that what the world really needs is more love, more peace, more mutual understanding, more unity, more cuddly blah blah.
Nonsense. Nearly every serious problem in the world may be reduced to an absence of Truth. The pursuit of love and peace is perfectly admirable on a micro level in one's personal life. This is the meaning of “love your enemies," “turn the other cheek," "the meek shall inherit the earth," and all those other admirable sentiments.
But the Bible is not a suicide pact. On a macro level, the most important societal value by far is Truth. And not just any kind of Truth, but the truth of Truth and a method for discovering it. It has been said that it wasn't this or that particular invention that distinguished the West. Rather, it was the invention of invention, or the discovery of a method of discovery.
In the Islamic world -- as in liberal academia -- truth is received, not discovered. And most of what they receive is not only untrue, but cannot possibly be true. But because they have no tradition or means of independent verification, they are immersed in darkness and falsehood. In such a situation, the soul emaciates in the same way a body eventually consumes itself if deprived of food.
The other day, an acquaintance mentioned the left wing barking point one often hears, that if only the Israelis had settled someplace other than Israel, there would be no problems in the Middle East. That is beyond naive. Muslims do not object to Israel merely because it exists, but because they believe outrageous lies about Israel.
Likewise, for all those leftists who say that America is hated, that may be so, at least by the international left (and by the Americans who give a rat's ass what the international left thinks about us). But it is hated because the haters of the left believe things about us that are outrageously untrue, just as the left hates President Bush because they believe lies about him. Furthermore, they want to believe the lies, in order to legitimize the hatred. To know the truth would be to de-legitimize the hatred, and deny its channel of expression. Imagine what would happen to a Bill Maher or Keith Olbermann or Randi Rhodes or Markos Moulitsas if all that hatred were backed up inside them. Thus, they have every motivation for believing lies. It keeps them insanely sane, so to speak.
By being sensitive to Muslim feelings for decades, we have essentially honored their delusional lies. In the spirit of a deeply illiberal multiculturalism, we have allowed these lies to take their place alongside the truth as a coequal partner. Light shall no longer shine in the dark, but shall dialogue with it, man to imam. The Pope let slip a banal truth about the sordid history of Islam, and look what happened. The entitled liars bristled in defense of their primordial lie, a lie which has been further enshrined by that half of the postmodern world which regards truth as relative and arbitrary. In so doing, they have simply allowed these tyrannical monsters to elevate their truth (which is a lie) to a false absolute.
For, although they are the benefecearies of liberal academics who teach the false absolute that truth doesn't exist, they don't really believe that for a second. Rather, they simply use the means of leftist relativism to advance their own absolute end of religious totalitarianism. For when truth is denied, raw power fills the vacuum, destroying love and everything else in its wake.