Mapping the 4-Dimensional Soul Space of Politics
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.