I Know Why the Caged Birdbrain Sings Off-Key
And no, that wasn't just a gratuitous pimpslap. Rather, I think the reasons for the switch are similar, for the essence of conservatism is belief in a transcendent and permanent order to which we owe our primary fidelity, whereas the essence of leftism is rejection of the transcendent and allegiance to matter, i.e., to a single level material ontology.
That being the case, the leftist is absolutely committed to maya, hence his inability to think coherently or to reason on the plane of virtue. Obviously there are plenty of intelligent leftists. But for the vertically challenged, it is a matter of garbage in, garbage out: first comes maya; then comes angelou.
As Schuon explains, the transcendent order is "perfectly accessible to pure intellection." Far from being abstract, it is the most concrete thing imaginable, because it is not subject to change, and is "always there."
In contrast, matter is always changing. You might even say that it is "change as such." But the essence of intelligence is "the capacity to discern 'substances' through 'accidents.'" Thus, to insist that the accidents are more real than the substance "can only be described as a kind of philosophical codifying of unintelligence."
As you can see, this warps intelligence itself, for in reducing it to a reflection of matter, you have undermined its very reason for being. By supposing that intelligence is contingent, you have sundered it from truth, from substance, from the eternal.
Obviously, the reason intelligence can know the substance is that it shares in the substance. Ultimately the intellect is made of the same truth it is able to discern in accidents. To know truth is to exit contingency and to touch eternal being.
Truth, like freedom, is always there, waiting to for us to "enter it," so to speak. Schuon cites the example of a bird that has escaped from its cage: "we say it is free; we might just as truly say that freedom has burst forth from a particular point of the cosmic carapace or that it has taken possession of the bird, or again that it has manifested itself through this creature or form." What he means by this is that freedom is anterior; it is "that which is, which always has been, which will always be." In contrast, liberation is "something that occurs."
For example, we liberated Iraqis so that they might know freedom. Closer to home, America's founders liberated us (tried, anyway) so that we might live in freedom. Here again you see the problem. For the left, freedom is not a priori; rather, it is conferred by the state. But the state cannot confer freedom and other valuable prizes to one person or group unless it appropriates them from another. It cannot "give" healthcare unless it "takes" labor, capital, research, innovation, and Slack.
It reminds me of that sign you sometimes see in small businesses: quality, speed, low price. Pick any two. That pretty much summarizes what will happen with socialized medicine. Only in freedom can the three achieve their natural equilibrium and Death Panels (by any name) be avoided.
You will have noticed that nothing incenses the left more than when one of their victims has escaped from their cage and a point of liberty has been realized in the cosmos. They especially despise blacks and females who are actually free, for they are a painful reminder that real freedom is still possible. This is the real reason they so despise a Clarence Thomas or Sarah Palin. How dare they not be dependent upon brave and kindhearted liberals who struggled for tenure to give them their freedom!
Existentialism -- by which Schuon means all philosophies that deny essence -- is a "monstrous contortion" that presents "the commonest stupidity as intelligence," "disguising it as philosophy while at the same time holding intelligence up to ridicule, that of all intelligent men of all times." Only an intellectual class that has forgotten how to think could ever embrace a philosophy as barren as materialism: "All down through the ages to philosophize was to think; it was left to the twentieth century not to think and to make a philosophy of it."
Now naturally we cannot know absolute truth, or else we would be God. In other words, possession of absolute truth would be identical to the thing in itself, which is impossible in any realm. Rather, we are always dealing with the question of adequation. So long as we are relative beings, there is no absolutely adequate formulation, and to imagine there could be is "the most fruitless of occupations." In the end, religion provides a more than adequate framework for human understanding of the divine planes, but it cannot bridge the gap between God and man on its own.
Rather, that remaining gap can only be diminished by faith on the one hand, and grace on the other. This creates a kind of spark in the dark that undoes that disagreeable business that took place in the park.
Further problems result from man severing his ties with his transcendent source. When that happens, standards obviously go out the window as well -- not just intellectual standards, but aesthetic and moral standards as well (for truth can never be tossed overboard without drowning love and beauty in the process).
This is why, as Dennis Prager always says, the left is the party of compassion rather than standards. But to throw away standards is actually a profoundly uncompassionate act, for you have eliminated man's reason for being and condemned him to a meaningless scuffle for animal satisfactions. Compassion regards "the average as the norm" whereby mediocrity becomes the rule. How could mediocrity not be the norm in a culture devoid of higher truth?
But man always seeks transcendence, and if he cannot escape "from above" he will do so from "below." Thus, mediocrity soon descends into artistic decadence, intellectual vulgarity, and moral degeneracy. This is why Schuon says that these "narrow-minded protagonists of the concrete" usher in "the most unrealistic and most inhuman" forms of politics. They may look like mere change chumps, but they're really quite dangerous. Not to mention expensive.
(The Schuon quotes are found in Logic and Transcendence.)
Good intentions backfire if one is mired in untruth. Roger Kimball:
'But what about the malevolence? It all depends on what you mean by “malevolence.” When you calculate a quantum of evil, do you look only at intentions? Or do you also take into account the effects of certain actions, regardless of the intentions of those who brought them about? (Hint: we have here a road paved with good intentions: where do you suppose it leads?) I think the commentator Jim Cramer was onto something when he lamented that “We’ve elected elected a Leninist” whose “agenda is destroying the life savings of millions of Americans.” Was Lenin malevolent? He didn’t think so. He thought he was laboring on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised. Many Western intellectuals believed him. True, his policies — like socialist policies wherever they’re imposed — led to vast immiseration, loss of freedom, and the growth of an unaccountable ruling nomenklatura. But he didn’t mean to precipitate misery: he meant to bring about paradise on earth.'