Do I Dare Disturb the Obamaverse? (11.16.11)
For example, "Newton doubted the traditional theory of 'gravity,' but he believed in the unity of the world.... Doubt set his thought in motion; faith rendered it fruitful." In a way, you could say that doubt is horizontal, whereas faith is vertical.
But there is faith in doubt and doubt in faith. The doubt in faith is the "dark night of the soul," the days and years spent wandering in the bewilderness, the childlike attitude of expectant silence. Conversely, the faith in doubt is the belief that the cosmos is ultimately intelligible and therefore whole and finally good; that it is a creation through which we may apprehend the qualities of its creator.
The scientist has faith that the vast multiplicity of the cosmos is a reflection of some prior or underlying unity. He also has faith that the human subject is uniquely capable of knowing this unity; as Aldous Huxley remarked, "science is the reduction of multiplicity to unity." And the scientist believes in evolution, which is to say progress. And progress is absolutely meaningless unless it is in light of an absolute standard, e.g., truth. A universe of pure change could never be progressive -- which, by the way, is another reason why "progressivism" is always regressive.
Just last night I was reading how Eliot made this observation back in the 1930s, when there were mindlessly pervasive calls for "change" of a similar nature to what we are witlessing today, i.e., collectivist and fascist change. To say that Obama is "un-American" is not an insult; it just is, just as it would be un-American to, say, enact a law banning homosexuals from teaching in public schools (which was actually attempted in a California ballot initiative in 1978).
Seen in this light, progressivism is just an excuse to unleash violence against the current order, since reality can never match up to the infantile fantasies of the left. "The perfect is the enemy of the good." The leftist does not believe in the permanence of transcendent things, which is precisely what creates the dynamic and fruitful interplay of faith and doubt, or creative evolution. Rather, he believes in a static fantasy of an unattainable utopia, which again serves as the justification for destroying that which is -- including those beautiful values that made this nation possible.
It is the unrepentant spiritual terrorism of the left that frightens us. For when you insist that this is a racist country; a sexist country; a homophobic country; a classist country; you do not just criticize the margins, but delegitimize the center. Progressivism is the expression of thanatos the "death instinct." It is perverse, sadistic, and authoritarian. Which is why, of course, they project these things into conservatives. The left howls in indignation at the prospect of monitoring international phone calls from terrorists. But illegally investigate Joe the Plumber? No problem! It's for the greater good.
Eliot wrote that "if the progress of mankind is to continue as long as man survives upon the earth, then... progress becomes merely change; for the values of man will change, and a world of changed values is valueless to us -- just as we, being a part of the past, will be valueless to it. Or if the progress of mankind is to continue only until a 'perfect' state of society is reached, then this state of society will be valueless simply because of its perfection. It will be at best a smooth-running machine with no meaning..."
The idea that progressivism renders our lives worthless to generations of the future is a subtle point worth dwelling on. Look how easily the left sweeps away not just the average person, but the truly great men of past. The Founding Fathers? Just racist slave holders promoting their economic interests. Lincoln? He didn't care about the plight of blacks, he just wanted to preserve the union. The men who died for our freedom in World War II? Probably just racist rednecks back at home. Hell, the army wasn't even integrated until what, 1948? How could it be a force for good?
The other day, a leftist-integral-Buddhist suggested to me that the liberation of Iraq was an aggressive war. I told him he was either ignorant, intellectually dishonest, or morally retarded. And I meant it literally, not as an insult. Talk about irony. What China did to Tibet was aggressive. Removing the most sadistic tyrant on earth and installing a democracy is a gift from heaven -- even of some, if not most, men have to be driven to paradise with whips.
The point is, the left completely undermines and delegitimizes the United States, and then wants to elect one of its own to be President of the land they so despise. If Obama fails to bring this howling mob the revolutionary change they are clamoring for, who knows what will happen with their collective death instinct? These people aren't playing. They are scary serious. And if you are not a part of their fantasied solution, you are just a problem, like everyone from Joe the Plumber to George the Father. For a primitive person, idealization is always a defense against aggression, so it will be very interesting to see how Obama manages the aggressive idealization being projected into him. I seriously doubt that he appreciates the hatred beneath the love.
In light of the "permanent things," time past and time future become time present. This was one of Eliot's great concerns, expressed so perfectly in Four Quartets. Again, the progressive believes in time as a straight line composed of atomistic and disjointed moments -- which, by the way, is what Eliot was attempting to capture and convey in his earlier, more pessimistic poems, prior to his conversion. Again I think of Bion's concept of "attacks on linking," which can take place in both time and space; in fact, if you think about it, you cannot attack spatial links without attacking temporal links. To attack the one is to attack the other. Deconstruction doesn't just destroy the present, but past and future as well. To destroy history is to destroy the present, and vice versa.
But to dwell in the permanent things -- the essence of conservatism -- is not to live in the discontinuous line, but within a kind of spiritual plenum that connects us to all of mankind, living and dead. It is a kind of sin and scandal, not only that the dead cannot vote, but that the left wishes to force a new country upon us that would be unrecognizable to the men who died to create this one. To say that "we are the ones we've been waiting for" is not just cosmically narcissistic, but profoundly ungrateful. But all children come into the world believing they are cosmically special, otherwise they could not psychically survive infancy.
How did we get here? What about the Hermit?
Science in the absence of religion conforms to the pattern laid out in Genesis: your eyes will be open to the horizontal and you shall become like a god! But this appreciation of the quantitative aspect of the cosmos comes at the price of obscuring the qualitative aspects: "quality is the vertical aspect of the world," and it is ultimately rooted in the permanent things discussed above. The supreme value of values in the vertical is God, just as the supreme quantity of quantities in the horizontal would be some sort of "theory of everything," or simple equation for generating a cosmos.
But as UF asks, why is it necessary to choose between the two? Why not just add the one to the other "under the sign of the cross," i.e., the vertical line of religion -- the permanent things -- bisecting the horizontal plane of science at each and every moment? Why not just crucify the serpent? Do so, and a metamorphosis follows: "The scientistic creed then becomes what it is in reality: the mirroring of the creative Word. It will no longer be truth; it will be method. It will no longer say: 'in the beginning was substance or matter,' but will say: 'in order to understand the mechanism of the made world, it is necessary to choose a method which takes account of the origin of matter and of that which set it in motion from above." Likewise, we will see the brain as a function of intelligence, not vice versa.
In short, "The synthesis of science and religion is not a theory, but rather the inner act of consciousness of adding the spiritual vertical to the scientific horizontal."