The Cause and Cure of Mankind
One of the things a classical liberal realizes that a leftist liberal doesn’t is that human beings are the problem. And this is why the classical liberalism embodied in the modern conservative movement will always be a tougher sell than contemporary left-liberalism, because people naturally don’t want to believe that they are the problem. Rather, they prefer to imagine that there is some simplistic political solution that will cure the disease of man.
But if you have even a modicum of personal insight, you know bloody well that no political program could ever cure you, you sick bastard, any more than socialized medicine could make Michael Moore just put down the damn fork, okay? The state cannot cure restless mouth syndrome.
I realize Petey's characterization of human beastlings sounds harsh, but you know he's right, and besides, he was addressing me. But there is a sense in which you can think of human beings as a weird disease of the biosphere. However, you can also think of life as a sort of runaway cancer on the body of matter, and existence itself as a blight on the body of nothingness. Some old wise man or guy -- I can't think of the name -- said something to the effect that existence was the greatest sin of all.
After all, if there were no existence, there would be no problems either. To exist is to have problems, if only because existence implies duality and therefore separation from the Source. And that’s a big problem -- a problem that it is the purpose of religion to address and to heal. Religion is about recovering our prior wholeness -- or, let us say, "discovering" the wholeness that already is. Truly, it is a "memoir of the future."
Being that the principles we are discussing are truly universal, no man can escape them. Your tenure is powerless here, my overeducated friend. Nevertheless, you will have noticed that leftism attempts to address the same problem -- to heal the wound of existence -- only in an upside-down way, e.g., the religion of radical environmentalism that sees man as the pariah of the biosphere.
Do you see the irony? For the left, individual men are not the problem. Rather, mankind is the problem. Since the disease is "collective," they imagine that the cure is too. But their prescription cannot heal a man, to put it mildly. Rather, for the leftist, the "cure" is in the attempt to impose the cure on others. They don't care that the treatment actually makes men worse. The point is that it makes the leftist feel better. It diminishes their existential pain. This is why we truly say: God save us from the do-gooders! Why do liberals not believe me when I say that I can get through life without Barney Frank's help?
The local manifestations of life and mind are relatively recent phenomena in the cosmos. (Again, I believe that involution is prior to evolution, so that life and mind are ultimately nonlocally prior to their local appearance.) The cosmos is at least 13.7 billion years old, meaning that it did just fine, thank you, for about 10 billion years without any creepy living things slithering about and mucking things up.
And after that, the cosmos went another 3.84 billion years or so without any of these animals getting a big head and thinking that they knew better than the cosmos that had bearthed and begaialed them. Although modern human beings have been more or less genetically complete for as long as 200,000 years, we really don’t see any evidence of what we -- or I, anyway -- call proper humanness until its sudden emergence about 40,000 years ago, for example, in the beautiful and fully realized cave paintings at Alta Mira and Lascaux.
As I pointed out in One Cosmos, once you have these new modes of locally concentrated Life and Mind, you also have the entirely new existential category of pathology. In other words, prior to the emergence of life 3.85 billion years ago, there were literally no problems in the universe. Nothing could go wrong because nothing had to go right. (Of course, I'm omitting discussion of the multitude of things that have to go right for a big bang to result in a big brain, but that's the subject for a different post.)
But every biological entity is composed of various functions that must achieve their end in order for the organism to survive. Say it with me: pathology is a function of teleology, or final causes. This is why we say that "judgment day" is just the cosmic final exam, that is, a measure of the distance between you and your final cause. Don't worry -- no one gets a perfect score. Well, one guy supposedly did. But guess what? In this class, you're actually allowed to copy his work!
In a human being, there are thousands -- millions, I suppose -- of large- and small-scale things that have to go right in order for us to be free of pathology. Our lungs must exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the environment; our heart must circulate blood; our pancreas must produce insulin (d’oh!). A multitude of irreducibly complex processes have to go right for life to continue. Anything that interferes with the ability of an organ to accomplish its end is called “pathology.”
But this leads to an interesting question, for what on earth or in heaven is the mind for? What is the proper end of human consciousness? Because if we don’t know what consciousness is for, we can’t very well say that this or that individual is pathological, can we? Nor can we even begin to develop a functional political philosophy. It would be like trying to build a zoo with no proper knowledge of the appropriate habitat of each individual species. No wonder our culture is such a zoo.
Now, if you adopt a strictly Darwinian, materialistic view, then the answer to this question is obvious: a healthy person is simply one who survives, because that is the whole point of natural selection. Thus, Stalin was more healthy than the 20 to 40 million people he murdered, just as Hitler was clearly more healthy than the 6 million Jews he slaughtered. Survival of the fittest is the final arbiter in nature. You may think that I am being a bit polemical, but this was the philosophy of one of the forerunners of postmodernity, Nietzsche, who believed that the whole idea of “God” was a pathological meme that simply protected the weak and infirm from the harsh judgment of nature. Nature loves man ruthlessly, as some wag once tailed it.
No matter who you are, you will have something inside of you that makes a judgment between psychological health and pathology. A non-psychologist generally doesn't make his criteria explicit or overcharge you if you try to pin him down. But clearly, you cannot say what is pathological unless you have some implicit idea of what a human being is for, and what the pathology is preventing it from accomplishing.
Is there a reason for our existence? If you are any kind of materialist or secularist, you must be intellectually honest and affirm that there is no such reason -- no possible reason -- aside from those that we simply make up.
And this is precisely what the secular left does. To use the technical term, they just "make shit up." The doctrines of “diversity,” multiculturalism and moral relativism are all nihilistic to the core, being that they insist that there is no proper way for a human being to “be,” and that any judgment we make about other people and cultures is not only wrong, but probably racist as well. But on why on Darwinian grounds is racism or anything else intrinsically wrong? C'mon, Queeg. We're waiting.
Completely lost on these leftist quacks is the irony that their daffy doctrine of diversity is itself a very strong statement about the ultimate purpose of human beings, which is to not make judgments unless it is to harshly judge those who judge. This is what we call a sophisticated postmodern belief, which is to say that it is a diseased limb on the tree of western civilization that its inhabitants have cut from the trunk, so that they mysteriously hang suspended in thin, irony-poor acadanemic air with no visible means of philosophical support. This is why in the Polanski matter we see the morally insane rush to non-judgment.
It makes no sense at all -- certainly less sense than the religious traditions they deride and dismiss -- but that’s an intellectual for you. They always believe that their abstractions are more real than reality, and that reality itself is a deviation from their beautiful ideas. They don't trust something that works in practice unless it also works in their theory. It’s one of the reasons they detest liberty, because they cannot accept the idea that the spontaneous and robust “bottom up” order produced by chaotic liberty surpasses their own beautiful ideas of how the good society should be imposed by leftist elites from on high.
I do not derive my ideas of human spiritual and psychological health and pathology from nature. Nor do I derive them from culture. Rather, I do so from religious tradition, which I believe speaks to the Universal Man -- not to such and such a man, but to man as such -- to all men at all times and in all cultures, without exception. The man who fails to achieve these ends is more or less sick in the soul, spirit, or brain, while the culture that fails to produce these kinds of men is a sick society. To turn it around, the purpose of civilization is to produce these kinds of men, which is to say, Men.
Man is the image and likeness of the Creator, so he therefore has an uncreated intellect that may know Truth, and know it with certainty. He may distinguish between the Real and the unreal (or less real), between appearance and reality, between the transient and the eternal, between causes and effects, between the objective and subjective, and between principles and their manifestation. No mere animal can do any of these things, nor can any materialist philosophy or tenured ape account for them in a manner that is not logically self-refuting.
Man has an uncreated conscience that may distinguish between objective good and evil, and do so reliably. This is not to say that I do not believe in situational ethics. Rather, it is to say that in each situation there is an objectively good choice, even if we must struggle to discern it.
And man has an aesthetic eye that may distinguish between beauty and ugliness, and therefore pursue degrees of translucent material perfection that are apprehended in light of the Absolute. Aesthetic perfection does exist, and cannot surpass itself. Postmodern art makes a virtue of its failure to even acknowledge these transcendent degrees of perfection, and therefore equates ugliness and beauty. As we have said before, it aims low and reaches its target every time.
In short, man is man because he may know the True, the Good and the Beautiful, and act upon that knowledge with a will that is free. Any man who does not achieve these ends is a sick man, and any culture that does not produce such men is a sick society.
Judged by these criteria, academia is by and large a very sick place, at least as it pertains to the humanities (we are naturally excluding those noble and truly liberal universities such as Hillsdale College whose very mission is to preserve the ideals of which we speak). On what elite campus do the professors speak of timeless truth, or objective morality, or of transcendentally real beauty? To the extent that they do, we have no quarrel with them.
Our enemies in the Muslim world are our enemies precisely because they are sick men from sick societies who wish to spread their disease to the rest of the world. But in our own part of the world, approximately half of the population suffers from a soul pathology that prevents them from making judgments on, or even perceiving, the soul pathology of our external enemies.
Thus, there are no feminist groups that rallied behind George Bush, who liberated more Muslim women than perhaps any other human being in history. Likewise, I know of no leftists who celebrate the achievements of the great liberator Ronald Reagan, who gave millions of victims of a satanic ideology the opportunity to become human again. For if leftists were to acknowledge these achievements, they would no longer be leftists. They would be cured.