Monday, June 01, 2009

Obsessive-Compulsive Political Disorder and the Hopelessness of Hope

We left off last Friday discussing those evil twin towers of the leftist narrative, utiopianism and revolutionism. You say you want a revolution? Good! You got one. Scipio ponders the gruesome details here.

So you're happy now, right? Utopia is right around the coroner, is it not?

Ho!

Leftists are constitutionally incapable of noticing that their revolutionism is always at odds with their utopianism, and only "delays" the latter (but only forever). Therefore, what's the solution? More revolutionism. As Obama promised -- or threatened -- the other day, you ain't seen nothin' yet! This leads to the odd situation in which the revolutionism becomes the utopia. The utopia itself can never come about. Rather, the fun is in trying.

For all of those aging boomers who miss the '60s, this is the reason why: it was a time of manically "hopeful revolutionism," indeed like adolescence itself (mania is always a defense against depression). Of course, it didn't take long for the revolution to turn distinctly dystopic; therefore, it had to somehow be sustained without ever achieving its goal. To actually achieve the goal would be the end of the revolution, and therefore the end of hope. The secret of Democrat power is to forever keep its drones suspended in a state of hopeless hope. The more hopeless you are, the more false hope they have to promise you.

In the absence of revolutionary hope, we would have to accept man for what he is, and start from that depressing but sober realization. Which is what our wise founders did.

It reminds me very much of the great psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott's observations about the unconscious phenomenology of shoplifting. He noticed that the compulsive shoplifter didn't necessarily steal out of greed or need. Rather, he did so in hope. In that suspended tick of time in which the theft is taking place, the shoplifter experiences a kind of exalted hope that lifts him out of his existential despair. Of course, the effect is only temporary and must be reenacted again and again.

This is a profound observation, because it doesn't just apply to shoplifters, but to most any kind of compulsive behavior. A compulsion is a kind of mini-narrative, except that it is entirely circular and lands you right back where you started. Behind the compulsion is some sort of unconscious or semi-conscious hope: hope for safety, or esteem, or fulfillment, or health, or whatever. But the compulsion cannot actually be fulfilled, or the person would be reduced to a state of hopelessness. So the little drama must be compulsively staged and reenacted, often with more elaborate details, but no change in the underlying structure.

Again, it is the narrative that counts, not the facts. Facts that do not fit into the narrative are not only ignored, but actively attacked. This is not a "passive" kind of madness, but quite active, for this is where the leftist places his misplaced faith: in their specifically Christian counter-narrative. They will defend this narrative with all of the tools at their disposal, even while concealing its nature, often even (or especially) to themselves.

To bring the narrative fully into the light would rob it of its mystery, for in the end, there is nothing mysterious about it. It's like the withered little man beneath the Darth Vader costume. It's just plain old secular socialism, underneath which is the hope for an immanent utopia, or heaven on earth. Thus, it hopes for the impossible, and gets it every time.

Today the church has largely gone from shaping history to being either shaped or bypassed altogether by the historical forces it brought into being (such as Christian hope). Nowhere is this more evident than in "liberation theology," which appropriates the Christian narrative for the purpose of destroying it. Anyone who thinks it is unimportant that Obama found his soul's rest in just such a degraded theology is a fool, for he has now made himself the central actor in that counter-narrative, even while claiming to have left that particular church behind. He hasn't left it. Rather, he's finally taking it seriously, backing up his faith with bold actions, not just words.

The point is, man must live in drama, and a drama has conflict and resolution. For the Christian, the primary locus of the conflict is within the self, and secondarily between powers at play in the world -- powers that "enlist" actors to read their lines and do their bidding. And the hope is for eternal salvation, not temporal utopia.

For the leftist, the principle conflict is superficially between "haves and have-nots," but the deeper conflict is between finite having and infinite wanting. And that is a conflict that can never be resolved, for the very reason that man's wanting is infinite -- as infinite as his imagination.

There is nothing you can give a man that will extinguish his wanting more, unless that man is on a spiritual path through which he transcends, or at least masters, that kind of mimetic desire (which is to be distinguished from appetite, which is natural desire uncontaminated by mimesis or compulsion). In other words, in addition to desire being infinite in itself, man always wants what the other guy has, just because the other guy has it.

I suppose it's possible to completely transcend desire in the manner of a Ramana Maharshi, but moderation is the more practical means of dealing with it. As Dennis Prager recommends, you should give yourself little proscribed areas for the enactment of "moderate vice."

For example, with me, it's my Blue Note collection. Yesterday I snagged an out-of-print rarity from some poor sucker for only ten bucks, when they often go for the absurdly high price of $150. Did that make me happy? Yes, for a moment. But now I really "need" this one, which is fetching a preposterous $90. Thus, it's a kind of deadly game between me and a future sucker. I just have to wait him out, then move in for the kill.

But let's say I eventually collect every rare and out of print Blue Note. Would that make me happy? Fulfilled? Of course not! If anything, it would make me less happy, because it would be the end of my little game.

Again, I think this is the deep structure of the naive leftist, who is playing a game he hopes to win, but in winning will leave him without hope. Thus, Obama must find a way to keep the preposterous fantasies of hope alive, even while never fulfilling them (which he cannot do anyway, of course).

It's the same with the naive scientist or Darwinist. Let's say Queeg's fondest hopes are fulfilled, and that no one ever again utters the words "intelligent design." Then what? It won't even make any practical difference in the world, let alone bring about the secular eschaton. At least I can listen to my CDs.

Likewise the Darwinian geek who gets all excited about this or that discovery. But why? He already knows that the narrative has no meaning or purpose. Therefore, he must fool himself into thinking that things have meaning, when they really don't. It's a little game that the Darwinian plays with himself, in order to make his meaningless existence bearable. But if you call them on it, you will notice that they get as touchy as a Muslim over a cartoon of Mohammed.

Bottom line: the left is on a (counter) religious crusade. And as we all know, you can knock a man down, spit in his face, and slander his name all over the place, but don't you mess with his crusade ruse.

30 Comments:

Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Not much to add to that, except that it's not so great to live in the tender mercies of the Left's obsessions.

6/01/2009 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Rick@work says,

The point of this post reminds me of the (entirely possible) point of the movie, "Memento".

6/01/2009 09:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Cassandra said...

I wonder what it is that the left is really hoping for. As "counter-Christians," maybe it is POWER, even as the true Christian hopes for LOVE.

You've had a lot of posts this year that have really enriched my understanding of the difference between philo-sophia and ideology, between the desire for the mysterious, infinitely self-revealing Truth and the quest for instrumental knowledge.

Desire. It seems to me that many eastern philosophies want to eliminate it by self-abnegation or self-annihilation. The left wants to eliminate it by fulfilling it on a horizontal plane. Then there are those who don't want to eliminate desire. Ever. Not even in an afterlife. They don't want to know God in the sense of utterly possessing him and killing their desire for him. Which gets back to the infinitely self-revealing One and the infinitely desiring lover.

CS Lewis described "joy" as a "longing." Can we separate love and desire? But if you desire, you admit to an insufficiency. Oh nooooos!

6/01/2009 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

The link to Scipio really harshed my mellow. Now it's going to take all day to get nothing done.

sigh.

6/01/2009 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Cassandra said "I wonder what it is that the left is really hoping for."

What the leftist mind wants, is to get away with behaving as if the world could operate in the way that they wish it would. And Damn anybody who dares to point out that it doesn't.

They want to get away with not having to do what is necessary, proper & right, and as such, they are in direct opposition to what is necessary, proper and right (and EVERY variant of what is Good, Beautiful and True).

It really is that simple. They want reality to be as they'd prefer it to be. Any train of thought that has ever caught on with the left, multi-culti, pragmatism, see and say, progressivism, marxism, J.S. Mill, Kant, Hume, Rousseau, Descartes... they all in some way more enabled them to behave as if___ (fill in the blank) would work "better" than how reality actually does behave.

At bottom, they want nothing less that to remake the cosmos to suit their whims. And for the chance to go on pretending, they will willingly die (if they can evade admitting they know that) to preserve their pretense.

6/01/2009 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"The secret of Democrat power is to forever keep its drones suspended in a state of hopeless hope. The more hopeless you are, the more false hope they have to promise you."

And Obama is the epitomy of hopeless hope. But they still have "change"...unless cap n' tax and loonyversal healthcarelessness gets passed.
Then the change will take the form of no change left in our pockets.

Excellent post, Bob!

6/01/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>Bottom line: the left is on a (counter) religious crusade<<

This ultimately translates as a crusade to undo, to reverse the divine ordering process: an anti-Creation.

I think the leftist may be superficially animated by an addictive hope for a utopian future, but I have to think that, given his bottom line imperative, the leftist is more devoted to *destruction*, the desire to see the night sky lit up by flames.

6/01/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Even when folks who buy into this hopelessness n' change (chumps) get their "chicken in every pot" (or pot in every chicken), they are never satisfied.

It's never enough to steal from the "rich" (or anyone who has anything includin' the midlle class and the poor). Because their appetite is insatiable (we're talkin' a hellish case of the moonchies here).

So next they'll want a cow in every pot or corn, preferably organic (and grown in chickenshit) for the veggiematarians.
Not that there's anything wrong with corn grown in chickenshit, other than an increased risk of salmonnella. If you don't have a very strong immune system, I suggest you pass on organic, unless you cook the shit outta it, but I digress...

6/01/2009 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Change chumps. Heh.

6/01/2009 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Will-

Speaking of the destructive nature of leftism, that explains why so many on the left romaticize anarchy (apparently never reaching the conclusion that anarchy doesn't work with socialism/communism...which also doesn't work, for the good anyhow).

Incidently, those on the extreme right who want anarchy basically want unfettered freedom without any government interference whatsoever (which can't happen without a minimum of government; police, fire dept., military), while those on the left who want anarchy actually do tend to embrace destruction and lawlessness.

6/01/2009 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Obama = Chumpy. If that catches on it'll drive the left insane...oh wait...too late. Gnashin' of teeth, dentures or gums anyway.

6/01/2009 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Cassandra said...

Pondering Van's and Will's insights (while pretending to work.) I think you are both right on target.
And it seems to me that your observations intersect at Gnosticism....I mean the heresy... the hatred of Creation and the over-whelming urge to destroy what IS. Presumably, a glorious New Age will rise from the ashes, but even if they realize that their utopia is an illusion, the hatred does not abate. It actually intensifies exponentially... and becomes a worship of death itself....."anti-Creation," as Will says.

I think Jim Jones hasn't gotten his proper due for being the most successful socialist in modern history.

6/01/2009 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Again, it is the narrative that counts, not the facts. Facts that do not fit into the narrative are not only ignored, but actively attacked. This is not a "passive" kind of madness, but quite active, for this is where the leftist places his misplaced faith."

This puts me in mind of all the leftist made up wars--the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on terror etc. Every fact that does not fit the utopian desire, which is, essentially, perpetuating these "wars", is ignored, since it does not fit the preconceived narrative.

6/01/2009 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I would seem this game is - as Song of Solomon reveals - what is played with the beloved. Therefore, we should assume that the Leftist loves the world. Of course, the world in the pejorative sense mostly, since the world we know and are able to know is both a function of our own fallen-ness and the fallen-ness of others. The world becomes God.

6/01/2009 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Iz Obama's obsession with czars
bi-czar or what?

6/01/2009 01:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Pretty well brilliant on the idea that a mal-directed and informed kind of hope may lie at the root of compulsive behavior.

Thanks.

I've got a few compulsions to go get hopeless about then, but in search of what true hope there is.

I hope.

6/01/2009 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Speaking of the 'as above so below' - I've noticed that there is a certain kind of spirituality which is sexualized, which I think you might know what I mean - but I should explain it further.

Song of Solomon reveals that there is ultimately what can be called a 'sexual' element to the whole thing, but in any case, it is the romance between Christ and the church which is the figure here, not the copulating couple. What seems to happen, though, is the copulating couple is taken as type in a sensual manner, and sensualities are then translated to a higher plane resulting in a kind a paganism.

It is when the 'divine feminine' simply becomes the image of the most beautiful woman you can think of, rather than the most beautiful woman you have seen showing a hint or type of the divine feminine.

What I think is - and there is a connection to Freud in all of this - there is a kind of sensualization of spirituality (some of it coming from the West through some Roman Catholics) that I think teeters very tenuously on the edge of paganism.

It happens when we forget that God's masculinity is relative; that is, he is the most masculine thing possible relative to us; in and of himself he is completely beyond what we call gender or sex.

There are some who try to use the gendering of words (ruach for example) to intuit a gendering of the Godhead or the members thereof; but a bit of study of language in general (the Russian word for Trinity, troika, is feminine) reveals more about the people's relationship to God than it does about God, who is beyond-knowing.

There is without a doubt a copulative aspect to the Leftist seeking; and as much as I am disappointed with the Right - mostly it feels like a falling-short, toppling off the ladder than a running the other way. The left in the metaphor is digging into the Earth (or perhaps, humping it.)

I've seen those who take Freud seriously and kind of own the mother - sexuality connection. It is positively Oedipal.

6/01/2009 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Cassandra, you mentioned ...the hatred of Creation and the over-whelming urge to destroy what IS.

I think you're right on the money, there. I know so many leftists who view the human world - and God, particularly the Christian image - with pure hatred and anger. The world is hard, and bad things happen, and people aren't nice and fair the way they want. It's not the way they would have made it, so instead they want to re-make it in their own image.

6/01/2009 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Gazriel said...

Bob said in the post, "I suppose it's possible to completely transcend desire in the manner of a Ramana Maharshi, but moderation is the more practical means of dealing with it. As Dennis Prager recommends, you should give yourself little proscribed areas for the enactment of "moderate vice."

I have found this in my life as well, but it was trying process to integrate my vice experiences wth my natural predilection for focussing upon God in all things. For instance, eating sweets, or watching the pithy hilarity of a television sitcom (30 Rock, anyone?), or occasionally toking on the ganja.

For the longest time if I indulged in one of the aforementioned vices I 'lost' myself in them. Say I was blessed with a state of Presence all-day long, dwelling at the heart of the Mystery with little reason or need for anything, then in the evening I started having thoughts arise that I should go get an ice cream cone. I would struggle in this desire, seeing that experience as somehow separate from the Living Reality.

This stems from my life before Awakening, when I worshiped things in horizontal reality to the point of over-consumption and near death. When my consciousness shifted into the Present, I had a considerable time of purification
when I stopped consuming a large variety of things that I had taken as perfectly normal (meat, cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, porn, etc.).

Gradually, however, as I have come to terms with the mind parasites ravaging my body-mind and energy field, I have been able to maintain that feeling of connection while indulging, and the really interesting thing is how the Lord turns those treats into something way beyond their normal capacities when they focus is upon Silence. The main thing is looking through the treat to see what is Behind, and of course recognizing the transience of all experiences.

6/01/2009 02:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

"There is nothing you can give a man that will extinguish his wanting more, unless that man is on a spiritual path through which he transcends, or at least masters, that kind of mimetic desire (which is to be distinguished from appetite, which is natural desire uncontaminated by mimesis or compulsion). In other words, in addition to desire being infinite in itself, man always wants what the other guy has, just because the other guy has it."

On mimetic desire, you might like Gil Baillie's "Vioelence Unveiled" his interpretation of Rene Girad.

Here is a website Baillie has. Some mp3's there are really good.

http://cornerstone-forum.org/

6/01/2009 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

The child revolutionaries are truly running the asylum.

6/01/2009 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Michael:

We are big fans of Gil Bailie.

Gazriel:

I think Christianity is a kind of tantric yoga, in that it definitely appropriates pleasure for higher purposes. Certainly Judaism does as well. Both are world affirming, not world denying. They key is in using the world as a step ladder, not an abyss.

6/01/2009 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Aurobindo on the deeper meaning of tantra.

6/01/2009 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Gazriel said...

From the article on Aurobindo:

"The method we have to pursue, then, is to put our whole conscious being into contact with the divine and to call him in to transform our entire being into his, so that in a sense god himself, the real person in us, becomes the sadhaka of the sadhana as well as the master of the yoga by whom the lower personality is used."

To be able to even understand this as a possibilty, as an Idea in the platonic sense, leaves me humbled and horored, fills my heart with pure devotion and Love. What is amazing is that it really does take an integral practice to realize the potential. One needs effort and surrender, needs to embrace and release their conditioned selves simultaneously. I keep thinking of the card Art/Temperance in the major arcana, where fire and water meld to create steam.

6/01/2009 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Christianity *is* about sublimation. The sublimated gold, the Light of Christianity, is dynamism, the dynamism of love and creativity. Anti-Christian-leftism is about reversing the alchemical sublimation process, it changes gold back into base metal, it draws the Light back into the fire.

I think that the utopia that the left seeks is destruction in and of itself. They may fantasize that their utopia maximizes "order" to its best, but leftist statism order destroys Christian dynamism and leaves nothing but ashes - and a culture deprived of spiritual dynamism really does feel like ashes.

I think at some level the leftist must fear success because complete success would mean there's nothing else left to destroy. If there's nothing left to destroy, then the adrenaline/excitement-fueled euphoria that keeps leftists afloat in their ash-universe would die on the vine. Without that perverse euphoria, there's nothing left but existential despair. I think that's why there were so many party purges in communist nations - they had to keep the revolution going in some way.

6/01/2009 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

...man's wanting is infinite -- as infinite as his imagination.


Even unto death.

6/01/2009 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Huh. I wonder if Aurobindo ever imagined this coming?

6/01/2009 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mike O'Malley said...

Some weeks ago Van (I think) linked me up with the Cornerstone Forum in a comment to an earlier discussion thread. I'd like to thank him (or whomever it was) for generously directly me to Gil Bailie's lectures. I've had a chance to listen to six of those lectures and to travel out of town to hear Bailie speak. It's well worth the effort.

Thanks

Mike O'Malley

6/02/2009 03:44:00 AM  
Blogger Mike O'Malley said...

Opps! Perhaps I should be thanking Michael for that earlier link to the Cornerstone Forum?

6/02/2009 03:52:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I'm listening to Gil Bailie right now...thank you! Very good stuff.

6/03/2009 09:08:00 AM  

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