Monday, September 14, 2009

Mapping the 4-Dimensional Soul Space of Politics

Not sure if this will go anywhere, but yesterday while reading Hayek's Road to Serfdom I had a little brainwave, or an idea for an idea.

Actually, it began with a crack by Schuon, to the effect that there are really only two kinds of people. Here. Let me find it. It's from a chapter called The Problem of Qualifications, and it goes a little like this:

"If one insists on making a fundamental distinction between men, it should be between the worldly and the spiritual."

To place the statement in context, Schuon was speaking of the charge that esoterism or gnosis is only intended for a kind of intellectual elite, when intelligence as such is not the most important qualification.

Given the staggering amount of intelligent stupidity on our college campi and among the tenured, this should be obvious. As often as not, a certain kind of intelligence forms a barrier to higher worlds. It is a wall, not a window, much less a bridge or door. Not all of our trolls are stupid. I would say that perhaps half are "stuck on smart." In other words, they are condemned to the closed world of vulgar rationalism.

In order for the intelligence to become operative on the spiritual plane, several other factors are necessary. Grace is one, and although we obviously cannot create grace, we most certainly can get out of its way. For some this comes naturally -- it is a reflection of their temperament -- while for others, they must work harder at it.

Thus, we are ultimately talking about a moral qualification, "which involves the fundamental virtues," especially humility and charity. Why humility? Because the assimilation of a spiritual truth is a little death to the ego. The ego lives primarily in, and is nurtured by, the world of appearances. In order to pass from appearance to reality, the ego must be left behind.

And why charity? Because up here, truth and love converge, so there is no impulse to cling to knowledge as if it is one's personal possession. Therefore, to be precise, one could think of charity as an effect, not a cause. It's like tapping into a geyser, and then the geyser gives the water away freely. This is what our trolls never understand: I already realize what I say is worthless to you. That's why I'm giving it away.

We're getting a little far afield here. I just wanted to establish this notion that there are two general types of men, the worldly and the spiritual. However, this is not strictly an either-or proposition; rather, this duality exists on a vertical continuum. Let's call this the y-axis.

With this in mind, we need to immediately amend our definition, since there exist "infrahuman" states that are spiritual in the negative sense. As such, the saint would be situated at the top of the y-axis, whereas the common man would be at the zero point. The real evildoers are situated in the minus space below the horizontal axis. More on which later.

Spiritual Man Infrahuman Man

Now, later in the day I was reading The Road to Serfdom, which is all about... well, about the left-wing collectivist road to serfdom. I don't think there's any need to rehearse all of his arguments here, because if you don't already understand them, you probably never will.

At the time Road to Serdom was published, it was still thought that fascism and socialism were somehow opposites rather than two forms of the same underlying assumptions. To place these on the horizontal continuum is pure nonsense -- as if fascism is somehow an extension of the classical liberalism of the free market!

No. The only logical way to understand the horizontal continuum -- and to chart "progress" -- is to place "collectivism" and "individualism" on the x-axis; conveniently, collectivism (and serfdom) is to the left, while individualism (and liberty) is to the right.

And supplemented with our y-axis, we are now in a much better position to understand "political space," which will have at least four main areas, but actually more like six if we take into consideration the nether regions below the x-axis.

Let's begin with the lower left hand side of the graph. This would be both collective and "infraspiritual." This type of collectivism is fueled by unconscious magical tendencies. It is the area of fascism, for above all else, fascism is a political religion.

There is also a healthy kind of socialism in the upper left quadrant. This would be, for example, the corporatism of the Catholic Church. Critically, this type of socialism is freely given, not coerced and backed by the violence of the state. In the lower left quadrant of bad socialism, the person is merely a means to the ends of elites, whereas in the upper left quadrant, the person is an end in himself. No one is forced to do anything.

As Hayek points out, bad socialism is morally self-refuting, because it inevitably arrives at intolerable outcomes that deviate from the original aims. For example, no matter what Obama says, socialized medicine will lead to rationing, to illegals being covered, to lower quality healthcare, to less innovation, etc. One way to test the intellectual honesty of a leftist is to ask what the tradeoff will be in Obamacare. If he says "nothing," then you know he's either a fool or a liar.

Looked at in a certain way, both the x-axis and y-axis are "evolutionary," for, taken together, they chart man's soul development. For example, primitive religion is largely collectivist -- which is appropriate, since man started out as a collective being, and only discovered his individuality quite recently, especially on a mass scale. The upper right quadrant is the area of saints, mystics, seers, and visionaries. In the final analysis, a religion is operative if it is producing these kinds of people.

But what about the lower right quadrant? This would be the unhealthy combination of individualism and worldliness. When people talk about the vacuity of consumer culture, this would be the area to which they are referring. It is a kind of egoic "individualism for individualism's sake," bearing upon no higher meaning. I also think of a Bill Maher or Charles Queeg, who deploy worldly reason toward plainly irrational ends.

Again, as we descend down the y-axis, individualism partakes of unconscious and infrahuman forces, and we end up with the cult of personality and the gallery of "unique monsters" -- the triumph of the personal will as embodied in beasts such as Castro, Mao, Stalin, etc.

This is why I am not offended by the signs depicting Obama as a fascist. That would not be my style, nor do I believe that it is strategically prudent. Nevertheless, such a person probably has an accurate intuition about Obama that he cannot symbolize in any other way. He knows that Obama is a creature of the lower right quadrant, and that he wishes to plunge America into the lower left. How low depends upon a number of other variables.

Let's just say that with Democrat majorities in both the house and senate, they can go as low as they wish, and conservatives alone cannot stop them. Let me be clear: both fascism and socialism result in a tyranny of elites of the lower right over the masses of the lower left. Call them Death Panels if you like. (Or, in Lenin's two word formulation, "Who and Whom.")

Socialism is always authoritarian, and therefore fascist. And fascists always place themselves above -- actually, below -- The Law that enshrines our liberty.

35 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The truth that humility is a prerequisite for spiritual insight is God's little joke on those "stuck on smart".

9/14/2009 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> There is also a healthy kind of socialism ... for example, the corporatism of the Catholic Church.

Yeah, socialism would work fine if we were living in the Kingdom of God. In fact, anything would work fine. But in a fallen secular milieu, socialism in invariably deadly.

So the problem isn't so much socialism - rather, the problem is us.

9/14/2009 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Let's begin with the lower left hand side of the graph. This would be both collective and "infraspiritual." This type of collectivism is fueled by unconscious magical tendencies. It is the area of fascism, for above all else, fascism is a political religion.

Within the past few weeks, I followed my reading of 1984 with Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon.

What struck me, forcefully, about both of these was how service to the state truly became an inverted religion. The process by which the main characters were broken down was a demonic mirror of the spiritual experience, complete with dark nights of the soul (various methods of physical and psychological torture) and moments of "grace" bestowed by the tormentors, wherein the final objective was an "enlightened" death, a martyrdom given for the love of the state. The protagonists had not just to pay lip service to the state, but to feel a deep agape for it, before they were granted death for the good of the state. These scenarios would be disturbing enough from a mere horizontal perspective, but bearing in mind the vertical I found both to be genuinely horrifying, with the second simply magnifying the horror with the knowledge that it was true. Oh, not the specific character, of course, but that's really how it was in Stalinist Russia.

Still, that's another one of those things that I can "know" without really comprehending. I don't know if a properly liberal mind can even wrap around that kind of "life" - which is probably a true mercy.

9/14/2009 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

“Therefore, to be precise, one could think of charity as an effect, not a cause.”

Absolutely, it is the effect of a virtuous nature, as is of course generosity. The attempt to reverse that effect as a cause, removes it from the realm of virtuous free choice, and submerges it into the realm of forced actions as its cause, and the effect produced is resentment, and worse, on the part of both the ‘giver’ and the receiver.

That is the core truth the well intentioned leftist completely misses.

9/14/2009 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Very good use of the 4 quadrant cube! I’ve seen a libertarian version before, but it doesn’t hold much water, as it puts Joe Stalin and Margaret Thatcher close by each other in the top right.

In a probably unworkable version, I’d like to add a third dimension to it, with Conceptual/anti-Conceptual layer. For instance, fascism, belongs in the lower left, but so does communism, but they are opposed to each other, in that fascism is thoroughly anti-conceptual, pragmatism application of socialism, while communism claims a conceptual philosophy. With this third dimension, fascism would be lower left, back; while communism would be lower left, forward.

9/14/2009 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There is also a kind of "pragmatic" or "third way" socialism/fascism that proposes to simply apply "common sense" and reason to solve problems. Clinton was of this variety. As Hayek explains in detail, it never works, for you are either for liberty or against it. Top-down solutions always involve taking away someone's liberty in order to give advantage to some favored group.

9/14/2009 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Maybe you're saying the same thing...

9/14/2009 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

Another zero point (old school)...

9/14/2009 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said “Maybe you're saying the same thing...”

Yes I think so.

It’s not so easy to visualize though… unless maybe you’re a techy used to working with 3-D arrays.
The grid you used, I’d position as the center layer of a cube, the 0 point, with say, 10 layers behind it, the furthest being -10; and 10 layers in front of it, to +10.

Full out fascism of the Adolph variety, I’d put at the furthest anti-conceptual, hyper-pragmatic point on the grid -10. For them there were no principles to follow, only whatever der fuhrer commanded that day to ‘take action!’ and make it work.

Communism, on the other left hand, claimed to follow marxist principles, but probably could never attain a level beyond a, say, +3* (no matter their claims, their principles were false and contrived).

Communists liked to claim they had an integrated set of principles, and their adherents could trot out some mumbo jumbo of ‘the principles of dialectic materialism’ that ‘proved’ such and such worked… until Stalin said it didn’t, then they’d re-cast the forms and showed how Uncle Joe actually had it right.

Clinton and co. I’d place near to the zero level, maybe a -1, just behind center. They liked to claim to think principles are all well and good, but sometimes (in practice nearly all the time) you just had to do what was ‘right’, take whatever actions ‘would make it work’. Interestingly both Bush’s, 41 & 43, hover very near this level as well (41’s ‘read my lips, no new taxes’ morphed into ‘I had to violate principle for the good of the country, and 43’s px drug plan, and of course ‘I had to sacrifice free market principles to save the free market’ are both pragmatic refutations of principle) – or maybe Bush & co at +1.

*The reason something like +3 would be the limit for the lower left, is that their ‘principles’ are such in name only. Real principles function as smoothly interlocking, integrated ideas, a scale of finer gradations of Qualities, smoothly flowing from one into the other. But with leftist ‘principles’ as with Kant, in place of layers, they have convolutions, and instead of integrated, interlocking ideas, deep beneath the convoluted rationalizations, they end with an arbitrary assertion that connects one idea to another with a rusty nail hammered through them.

9/14/2009 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

... like I said, kind of unwieldly....

9/14/2009 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

“As Hayek explains in detail, it never works, for you are either for liberty or against it. Top-down solutions always involve taking away someone's liberty in order to give advantage to some favored group.”

Definitely.

A practical problem with top-down solutions, is that they are nothing but enforced stupidity. An intelligent decision can only be made with a clear grasp of the realities of the situation, and applying a principled decision to bring about a solution. A stupid decision is one which takes no account of the realities of the situation, and makes a decision with little or no likelihood of working beyond that of sheer luck.

Top-down ‘solutions’ are made with no direct understanding of the realities of the situation at hand, they are pre-fabricated decisions which have little or no points upon which to plug in to bring about a solution.

In IT, we spend numerous expensive hours analyzing and crunching numbers and data from the grass-roots operatives in the field (from around the world), which through reports and so forth we generalize into a picture of reality that, if done correctly and not breaching important principles, gives mgmt an understanding of what is happening in their business.

You can always tell whether or not mgmt is intelligent or idiotic, based upon whether they look at these reports and send back a command to the next level footprint on scalp level of mgmt to ‘bring this number up!’, who then passes the baseless order on down the line of muddied scalps (i.e. top-down stupidity) inevitably producing ‘bad profit numbers’ in the next report, or whether they ask the next level mgrs who are closer to reality what is it they need to be able change what is producing the weak results, who then seeks from the next layer mgmt who is that much closer to reality, what they need in order to improve things, and so on down to the actual people in contact with reality, who then are able to say, and do, what is more intelligent in the field, and the numbers on the next profit report are ‘good’ numbers showing rising profits.

9/14/2009 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would seem to me, based on your graph, the trick would be to place oneself in the "elites." Then, any quadrant becomes a "good" place to be...

Conversely, one must avoid being un-elite or downtrodden. Basic stuff, I guess.

I posit mobility between the quadrants, based on a person's stage in life.

Per the precepts of the mother, the darkest shadows indicate, quite precisely and in exact ratio, the truiumphs latent in the being. She gave the example of the thief having the potential for the greatest honesty, the most afraid the most capable of supreme courage, and so forth...

Examine oneself for the shadows, review ones history, and then decide if there is something to this...

Tasurinchi

9/14/2009 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "It would seem to me, based on your graph, the trick would be to place oneself in the "elites.""

Ah. Didn't quite get the whole concept of the quadrant, did you?

wv:figrear
It said it, not me.

9/14/2009 03:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

watch the lgf meltdown live here

9/14/2009 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

"The real evildoers are situated in the minus space below the horizontal axis. More on which later."

Great post, but..
You speld moron witch rong.
Jus sayin...

9/14/2009 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Moron witch... Nancy Pelosi or Barbara Boxer?

9/14/2009 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Sez we're supposed to find out later.
I'm a little scared.

9/14/2009 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I do believe in spooks.

9/14/2009 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Van - your graphic description is making my head spin somewhat (though granted, it doesn't take much). For the sake of dumbing it down for the restuvus, I have a couple questions:

If you're transposing the image to 3D, then what specifically does the Z axis represent? Maybe structure ↔ formlessness (or anarchy ↔ law)?

Communists liked to claim they had an integrated set of principles, and their adherents could trot out some mumbo jumbo of ‘the principles of dialectic materialism’ that ‘proved’ such and such worked… until Stalin said it didn’t, then they’d re-cast the forms and showed how Uncle Joe actually had it right.

Going back to Darkness at Noon, one of the things I found interesting was that there was a mad sort of method behind all of that. The overarching goal was for a utopic equality and primordial unity for all, but it was acknowledged from the outset that to achieve this goal everything had to change and the past - the entire history, culture, tradition of man as such - literally had to erased. A type of doublethink was prescribed for the current generations, and total ignorance for the subsequent ones. They were to be nearly as mindless and void of character as cattle. Anything that deviated from that goal was a threat. And since, in a way, Uncle Joe was seen to be the very embodiment of the state, anything that went against his knowledge was wrong and therefore treasonous. There was a deeply twisted explanation for the mechanism behind all that which lasted several pages, but they were led to believe that the Leader's caprice was truly for the benefit of the future. It was not so much that they weren't serving their principles, as that they believed wholeheartedly that the fantasized ends justified absolutely any means. They fully acknowledged that they were presently acting in complete contradiction to those ends by engaging in false propaganda and wholesale slaughter; they simply told themselves they were serving a greater truth, to be realized some unknown time far in the future, after the taint of history had been purged from the mind of man.

9/14/2009 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

OT:

“I farm for my bread and butter, and I write for a bit of jam on it..”

HT: The Ochlophobist

9/14/2009 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "If you're transposing the image to 3D, then what specifically does the Z axis represent? Maybe structure ↔ formlessness (or anarchy ↔ law)?"

I've been thinking of it as a scale of Conceptualization, but maybe it would be best expressed as the level of integration (+) or dis-integration (-) of the movements ideas, concepts and principles, internally, and with reality...?

One Cosmos... or infinite splatz.


"There was a deeply twisted explanation for the mechanism behind all that which lasted several pages, but they were led to believe that the Leader's caprice was truly for the benefit of the future."

Which is what I meant about them not being able to get beyond +3 on the conceptual Z axis. The problem with the left is that it is, in fact, nothing but a glob of assertions - there are no real principles behind any of their arguments.

The communists give a pretence of being principled, but only in their initial scenario setup, which they phrase as if there were real principles behind them, - 'workers are the real source of wealth, not bourgeoisie mgr's and financiers', 'the state will wither away'... etc.

The problem, is that after that initial set up, they have to fall back on exactly what the Nazi's did, der fuehrer, commissar, etc, knows best for only HE knows how to do what must be done! HE embodies the Revolution! He knows how to get to 'the future!' and so forth.

The fascists just came out and discarded the idea of principles right off the bat. They began with socialism, but as hitler describes it in mein kampf, he was lit on fire by his first exposure to a socialist speaker on the evils of capitalism, but he quickly became impatient with their 'principles' such as they were, and cut right to the chase of 'taking action!', der fuehrer embodies the Volk, and the blood spirit of the Volk is in Him!.

The communist has that slightly higher layer of abstraction, 'The Revolution!' as a tissue of justification. The fascist is as visceral, perceptual as it gets in its naturalistic justifications, of "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer" - One People, One Empire, One Leader!'

Or in brief, the communist will say 'look at our manifesto, it shows we are the future, move aside or die!', the nationalist fascist just says 'the Volk will slaughter you if you stand in our way!'.

9/14/2009 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Okay, I see the distinction now.
Thanks!

9/14/2009 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Search of the day:

homosexual goats

9/14/2009 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Have goats really come up that often here?

9/14/2009 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh, every once in awhile.

9/14/2009 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Heh... thanks Julie, but even I can see that Gagdad's graph is immediatly graspable and applicable... my extention isn't even fully clear to me!

There's something there, a integration/disintegration scale... or (same meaning, different words) Principled/pragmatic "Z" scale... but it isn't soup yet.

Still... 'Join us for these thrilling tales of yesteryear, when in the distance... the cry of someone being wronged! Suddenly a hearty "Hi Ho Silver!" rings out, and a masked man with two silver pistols rides in to save the day, and his saber slashes a bold "Z" into the chest of the oppressor, and..."... no, wait, that's not right either, is it?

Crud.

;-)

9/14/2009 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"homosexual goats'

(blink)

I have no response to that.

9/14/2009 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "Oh, every once in awhile."

Ewe!!!

9/14/2009 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:)

There's something there, a integration/disintegration scale... or (same meaning, different words) Principled/pragmatic "Z" scale... but it isn't soup yet.

Oddly enough, that reminds me of the time I tried making bacon apple pie from a recipe Instapundit linked. The recipe's creator said it needed something to tie it all together. It did. It was mostly there, but something was lacking that would have provided harmony. I've no idea what the something would have been, though.

9/14/2009 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Ha! I remember that post, Bob!

9/14/2009 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of humility, Doctor Zero.

9/14/2009 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

btw, the review of symmetrical logic in that old post was useful, as I assume it can be just as true of other emotions as it is of hatred.

9/14/2009 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...

Van,

Bucky Fuller once mused that he didn't think about elegance and beauty while trying to solve a problem - but if his solution wasn't beautiful, he knew he hadn't quite found it. Please keep at it - you're on to something.

WV: steduo (two rocks of the Marne?)

9/14/2009 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger christian soldier said...

Shoprat sent us over---great 'discussion'...I miss such as this-my Pastor is ill...can't wait til he returns...
I'll be back!
Carol-CS

9/15/2009 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Wow! That's the best (and most clear) graph, and explanation I have seen, Bob!
Bravo Zulu!

Van-
I also think you are talkin' about the same thing Bob is, but in a different way (if I follow correctly).
I would like to see a visual graph if possible of what you said.

Amazing how a visual can clarify.
One of the many reasons I like Robin and Julie's blogkus. :^)

9/16/2009 01:15:00 AM  

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