Monday, October 12, 2009

There Is No Truth, and Progressives Are Its Guardians

Lincoln knew that "to embrace the Founders truly, we must embrace their sense of the eternal and the sacred" (Watson). The universal truths enunciated by the Founders are eternal, and yet, inflected through America's particular culture, values, and traditions. You will note that the contemporary left erodes America from both ends -- the universal and the particular -- by denying absolute truth at the "top" and affirming "diversity" and multiculturalism at the "bottom." It is like saying: there is no truth, and all cultures have a piece of it.

But for Lincoln there is one truth, and it is the task of a nation to approximate it. Not the task of leaders, mind you; that is again the leftist view, that with sufficient expertise and good intentions, a handful of elites at the top can transform Man. Not to mention the fact that "a desire for leaders creates followers," and it is by no means clear "that a nation of followers is capable of self-government" (Watson).

Think of how this applies today: for a person to actually believe that Obama will radically and fundamentally change the world for the good requires such passivity and dependency -- to say nothing of naivete -- that no such change will be possible. Conversely, imagine the transformation that would occur if individuals actually embodied the creed of the Founders, and valued liberty and self-reliance tempered by virtue and reciprocal obligation (instead of invented rights and entitlements).

Overwhelmingly, the problems of the nation and of the world are a result of bad values, not an insufficiently intrusive and pandering state. As Dennis Prager has said, the pathologies of Democrat-controlled urban America would vanish overnight if their inhabitants adopted the values of, say, Provo, Utah instead of Sharpton, Al -- just as the problems of the Middle East would disappear if Muslims adopted the values of the Jews.

Conversely, those problems and pathologies will never be resolved so long as we believe that governments can resolve them. Here's a novel idea for you: why not let the Palestinians bugger themselves with dynamite until they not only acknowledge the right of Israel to exist, but beg them to stay?

It's an insidious case of vertical alzheimer's disease, that's what it is: "The fall of a republican people from grace comes gradually, not precipitously; it comes not from an act, but from a slow loss of collective memory" (Watson). Obama did not happen overnight. Rather, it took a hundred years of creeping cultural dementia for him to even be so much as a possibility in this country, a ghastly twinkle in Bill Ayers' jaundiced eye. It's like how one goes bankrupt: very gradually and then all of a sudden. And Obama is bankrupting us in more ways than one.

For make no mistake: the Nobel was awarded for his forceful and conspicuous rejection of the principles upon which America was founded, principles which have always formed the main obstacle to the ambitions of the transnational left. The prize is for a job well done -- or to lend him the courage to see the job through to its bitter conclusion, as America completes its auto-castration and submits to the terrestrial Lord of Falsehood and his Cosmocrats of the Dark Aion.

Lincoln knew that "something more than reason is needed to attach a people firmly to a republican regime" (Watson). Thus, he proposed a "political religion... whereby every American would 'swear by the blood of the Revolution'" of our Founders. "Everyone must at least imagine himself a descendent of those who fought in 1776 for the Declaration" (ibid). It reminds me of a kind of Holy Communion, in which each of us renders the vertical past present by pledging "his life, his property, and his sacred honor" to the universal principles upon which our nation was founded. Watson:

"This proposition would be quite unintelligible to a model of politics based on self-interest, personal growth, or individual freedom alone." Rather, mere reason needs to be bolstered by a kind of real faith in our founding principles.

This is transnationalism in its true sense, in that it is situated at the top, not the bottom, of the cosmic hierarchy. For the same reason, it is situated at the end, not the beginning, of human history; it is the "point" of history, whereas progressivism is specifically a backward-looking metaphysic that sanctifies and preserves our superficial multiplicity, while preventing any evolutionary movement toward the Universal and Absolute.

The latter begins and ends at the terminal moraine of the senses -- in passions and in the simultaneously dangerous and silly idea that "perception is reality." This is why the "reality-based community" can't be, because reality for them is reduced to time-bound beliefs of this or that person or culture. And there is no way out, no appeal to universal and inviolable truth. In short, it is hell -- the hell of the UN, or the Nobel Committee, or the Pelosi-Reid congress, each of which can only conduct it evil business under cover of metaphysical darkness. John Bolton in the UN is a secular version of Jesus in hell.

"A society cannot be maintained if it is dedicated to ignorance" of both man and man's proper end (Watson). Again, if your anthropology is wrong, then your political philosophy will be stillborn. That is, it can still be applied, but it will only work with dead people -- or, it will have to render them spiritually dead in order to work (and often physically dead -- cf. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, et al).

Lincoln's political religion "is aimed at illuminating the moral and political things that do not change" (Watson). For Americans, these are like the central sun around which we revolve, and as Lincoln said, "to add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none attempt it" (quoted in Watson).

To be continued....

Reader Erik just left a perfectly apt quote on a previous post, attributed to Henry Jaffa:

"[I]n our time, truth has been disarmed by the opinion that reason is impotent to know what it just or unjust, right or wrong, true or false. If there is no truth, or if the truth is beyond the power of the human mind to know, then free argument and debate as means of arriving at the truth are meaningless. Truth is thereby disarmed of her natural weapons a priori. This challenge to the principle of a free society is one that neither Jefferson nor Lincoln anticipated. Nonetheless, we assert categorically that the common sense of the subject as it appeared to Jefferson and Lincoln, although it has been denied by the mainstream of Western thought for more than a century, has not been refuted."

35 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

That is, it can still be applied, but it will only work with dead people -- or, it will have to render them spiritually dead in order to work (and often physically dead -- cf. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, et al).

I think Britain's "health care" needs to be on that list, too. (Via Neo)

10/12/2009 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

A free man is as jealous of his responsibilities as he is of his liberties. The rights of a citizen evolve from his duties in maintaining them.
Government does not grow by seizing our freedoms, but by assuming our responsibilities.

10/12/2009 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Indeed - and when that happens, how happy we the people are to hand over our freedoms as well.

10/12/2009 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of the reality based community...

10/12/2009 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Think of how this applies today: for a person to actually believe that Obama will radically and fundamentally change the world for the good requires such passivity and dependency -- to say nothing of naivete -- that no such change will be possible. Conversely, imagine the transformation that would occur if individuals actually embodied the creed of the Founders, and valued liberty and self-reliance tempered by virtue and reciprocal obligation (instead of invented rights and entitlements)."

Yep, hence proregressives early and persistent assaults, intent on turning independent education, into coordinated diseducational indoctrination, focused on promoting disintegrated facts while ignoring or denigrating integrated principles and concepts. The result being kids that accustomed to temporarily 'learn' and recall meaningless facts, soon forgotten, and with little to no ability to think, evaluate or know why to think.

Ugh.

10/12/2009 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

See also Dr. Sanity on Columbus Day.

A tidbit:

What is the point of all this "nuance" you may be asking yourself? Why would kids in kindergarden need to appreciate that Columbus was "mean" or that he was "bossy". Well, if you are asking yourself this question, then you have failed to appreciate the purpose of this deconstruction of history, brought to you by the politically correct ideologues of the postmodern left.

10/12/2009 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

""This proposition would be quite unintelligible to a model of politics based on self-interest, personal growth, or individual freedom alone." Rather, mere reason needs to be bolstered by a kind of real faith in our founding principles. "

I was just arguing with a leftie on a similar issue on an Amazon site for Levin's book,

"...I know this is probably a stretch for you Woolley, but the 'Free Market' is a practice, a practice of non-interference in the business of business, and while that practice was discovered as a result of the philosophy of classical liberalism, capitalism is not a philosophy in and of itself. Classical Liberalism is the pinnacle of Western thought, a full philosophy; metaphysics, ethics, politics, Law, economics, esthetics... not to mention the full history, literature, Art and and religious understandings of Western Civilization - it's very much a package deal.

If Hong Kong, or any other country practices Free Market Capitalism, that will enable them to become economically prosperous, but it will not make them America or even Britain, it will make them unfettered, but not Free - that takes a full and valid philosophy, and a people educated to understand and respect it.

Money can't buy you love. It can't buy happiness either. Not for a person, and not for a nation
... "

Which is where the libertarians come up short as well - free choice isn't enough, it must be an intelligent (in it's full proper meaning) choice.

10/12/2009 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Contra Rebels said...

"...the pathologies of Democrat-controlled urban America would vanish overnight if their inhabitants adopted the values of, say, Provo, Utah".

Having lived in Provo, I can tell you that those pathologies would be wished for a thousand fold if the pathologies of Mormonism were allowed to have their day.
The only thing of interest there is the landscape.

And by the way, I fought for the North in the Civil War. My ancestors never owned slaves.

10/12/2009 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Van said,

"If Hong Kong, or any other country practices Free Market Capitalism, that will enable them to become economically prosperous, but it will not make them America or even Britain, it will make them unfettered, but not Free - that takes a full and valid philosophy, and a people educated to understand and respect it."

This is what I was referring to in my comment on your blog the other day. It came up on my radar in the discussion of capitalism because sometimes the term is used erroneously interchangeably with classical liberalism, so when someone says "capitalism", sometimes I have to wonder what they mean.

I have a number of Asian friends (born and raised; went to college in the US; some have stayed) who seriously don't get the United States' philosophy of government. They think they do. They are also professed Christians - a 'btw' extraneous piece of info. One of them calls herself a libertarian but still doesn't get the main point. She also is big into urban planning.

You have to be savvy about the differences between prosperity and freedom. And just because a country adopts a free market (or free market elements) doesn't mean that they are a peer philosophically to the US. Capitalism doesn't automatically mean freedom. It is a component of freedom.

10/12/2009 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

I say this also because there is a popular term these days called "the industrialized world". That is not our distinguishing feature - it is a feature of our distinguishing feature. As if industrialization means (liberal political) sophistication...

[I'm not saying their governments don't have points of sophistication or that individuals in those countries aren't politically sophisticated... of course, of course.]

Another thing about awards is that they don't always point backward, they sometimes are used to control or persuade forward. (Thinking of the recent Nobel Peace Prize.)

10/12/2009 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

I said, "...means (liberal political) sophistication." For clarity, liberal here in its true meaning, not contemporary anti-'liberalism'. I wish there wasn't such a mix-up of terms.

10/12/2009 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

CR--

We were not aware of the florid pathologies of Provo. The exact city is beside the point, but if you could provide some statistical examples, we will be happy to name another city to avoid confusing readers who are still in Piaget's cognitive stage of concrete operations.

10/12/2009 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

"It's an insidious case of vertical alzheimer's disease, that's what it is: "The fall of a republican people from grace comes gradually, not precipitously; it comes not from an act, but from a slow loss of collective memory" (Watson)."

All the while during this forgetting, people are adopting uber-conscientiousness almost in religious form about 'the earth', acting like missionaries of recycling and literally daily mindful concern about 'not harming the earth'. Instead of thinking about protecting freedom, they are thinking about (often global) ecosystems and other things that transcend national boundaries. I hope it is just a passing trend. I want to blatantly ask, "What about liberty?" But then the sad thing is that they will respond with "Liberty for what?" A lot of people aren't in touch with their vertical selves so they don't even remember what risk is for. They don't remember liberty's frontier. At a certain point they will be accountable for the bringing in of anti-liberty. Ignorance is no excuse. I give at least the intentions of the earth do-goodism the benefit of the doubt, but after a while, it's like come on. You're not just mistaken, you're responsible. You can't just say, "The propaganda told me to..."

10/12/2009 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Anna said "...Capitalism doesn't automatically mean freedom. It is a component of freedom..."

Yep. Capitalism is the exercise of freedom, and it builds strong economic muscles - what you choose to do with those muscles, in and of itself, it has no component to tell you whether you should do gardening or join the jackass team and skateboard onto a freeway - other than if the predominant philosophy is wise enough for the market to offer far more outlets for gardening than jackassery.

10/12/2009 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Van said...

"Yep. Capitalism is the exercise of freedom, and it builds strong economic muscles..."

And economic freedom is necessary for freedom. But it is just one thing, not the total alchemical antidote. I wonder if Milton Friedman wrote on the latter point. I know that in Economics and Freedom, he thoroughly explains the former.

10/12/2009 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Anna said "I say this also because there is a popular term these days called "the industrialized world". That is not our distinguishing feature - it is a feature of our distinguishing feature. As if industrialization means (liberal political) sophistication..."

Similar situation with how 'democracy' gradually became the norm for referring to our form of govt, instead of a constitutional republic. It is a substitution of the most physically visible, perceptual, attribute, for the more accurate conceptual essential - it is another form of the quantity vs Quality conflict, attempting to swamp the more intellectually demanding Qualities, with a mass of perceptual, sparkly sweet and shallow junk mind foods.

Or in fewer words, classical liberalism vs proregressivism.

10/12/2009 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Er, I meant Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom".

10/12/2009 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Van said...

"It is a substitution of the most physically visible, perceptual, attribute, for the more accurate conceptual essential..."

...And by those who substitute in that way, I get accused of "splitting hairs." !! Or of "making things complicated." More like, they mean, "The truth is not convenient for my agenda", so there is a degradation of the truth.

wv: axlgoosu
silly axle goosu's and their greasing the rails...

10/12/2009 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Anna said "I want to blatantly ask, "What about liberty?" But then the sad thing is that they will respond with "Liberty for what?" "

That last, is the most achingly disheartening question to hear... the sound of a soul lost in a self-shrouded labyrinth, and a sure sign that they have no experience of, or conception of, Liberty or of Freedom... they have no golden thread to lead them back out into the light.

It is the question of a person who has bought into elevating quantity over quality... and found nothing awaiting them. When they are alone and the lights are out, the dazzle and sparkles hidden from sight... they. have. nothing.

Monroe, Belushi, Elvis....

10/12/2009 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

And then it gets even worse. With "Liberty for what?" comes the impulse, "Isn't liberty selfish?" And they give in, stripped, via the collective, the 'good of the whole', to the state, all in good (faux) conscience. They are very usable then.

10/12/2009 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

That is why the Russians and Eastern Europeans knew the value of the Forbidden Book. They knew it intimately. The censoring of the Bible was not incidental but most likely very integrally related to the totalitarian state.

Not that a totalitarian state couldn't exist without it being banned, but that it wasn't a mere coincidence. People's response to its availability after 1989/90 is a powerful testament.

10/12/2009 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Veering way off topic,
Hey Van - remember a few weeks back when you brought up the EPT? I wasn't planning on picking one up, because there was a blood test scheduled for later that week. So far, so good...

10/12/2009 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I'm back. It's about time.

10/12/2009 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Pardon topiclessness...Did anyone mention or read this yet?

10/12/2009 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie, I do sooo enjoy being right!

And I really gno I'm right in saying that you are going to make One fantastic Mom!

10/12/2009 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

Re: the notion of a "political religion"
Dennis Prager has spoken of a need for an American Seder- a ritual that would sanctify the memory of the break with England much like the Jewish Seder commemorates the Jews Leaving Egypt. It's an interesting idea- a ritual meal followed by a re-telling of the American Revolution.
Then on with fireworks and beer!

JWM

10/12/2009 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger sehoy said...

Julie!

I was there when Van said it. I'm a witness. He was spot on.

But so was that dream. Too cool.

WhaHoo. There's no better news than that.

Congratulations and Best wishes.

10/12/2009 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks, van and Sehoy! Yep, Van, you were right :)

***

Along the lines of Anna & Van's discussion today re. types of capitalism or types of democracy comes this article at Neatorama: Can a Godless Society be a Good Society? It spurred quite a useless debate over there, and I think the book probably missed quite a few important points as well, though having not read it I could be wrong.

I've no doubt that life in Denmark and Sweden (and Japan, since it also came up as an example) is generally quite pleasant, and the folks sound decent enough. It's notable, though, that like ours their cultures were shaped by faith-based values, and obviously some of those lessons remain. But something is lost in a faithless society, and that can be seen by looking at their demographics. People may say they're happy, but what is that based on? Spending an entire life in adolescent pleasure-seeking and general avoidance of certain types of responsibilities may make for a "happy" life, certainly an entertaining one, but not a lasting civilization. Their current birth rate is well below replacement level, as are Denmark's and Japan's.

Just as capitalism is not liberty, but only a component of it, so cultural pleasantness is not cultural goodness, but rather a component of it. I can't help wondering how good it can really be if it doesn't have enough faith even in itself to want to share itself with future generations.

10/12/2009 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Worthwhile Whittle reading:
Those in turn are OUR IRREDUCIBLE CORE BELIEF SYSTEMS for which SOME of us are willing to fight and die.

10/12/2009 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger ximeze said...

Oh goodie, it's baby blanket time!
Congrats Julie & Hubbie

Another worthwhile read is this item by AJStrata

***************************

On a completely different subject, has anyone heard from Ben recently?

10/12/2009 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

He had a new post up this weekend. He has to spend less time online for the sake of domestic harmony.

10/12/2009 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger phil g said...

JWM,
I always thought that was basically the purpose of our Thanksgiving holiday (holy day) done properly.

10/13/2009 04:15:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Julie said...

"Spending an entire life in adolescent pleasure-seeking and general avoidance of certain types of responsibilities may make for a "happy" life, certainly an entertaining one, but not a lasting civilization."

That's a good example of the difference between appearances and essential aspects (the concept illucidated by Van). I am trying to work out some of this stuff because I have friends from all over the place and encounter their presuppositions inlaid in casual interaction. They seem to think that because their home countries are doing well economically, with growing middle classes, that their countries have "caught up to the US", but they miss the fact that a healthy middle class is not what makes the US distinct. It is kind of like they have an unspoken notion within, that if their countries score better in math and science and their standards of living are currently bumping up a notch (from what they were before), that some of their vestigial planning culture should be applied. It's specific to a certain phenomenon (these people I know) but it relates to some of the conversation on a wider scale. Many students come to the US from other countries and might not be aware of differing cultural attributes, and only notice the surface things or even the results not knowing the raison d'etre.

10/13/2009 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Van, Julie...so funny!! :D I remember your mentioning your amazing dream. Congrats, Julie!

10/13/2009 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

"This hints at the tantralizing idea that 10, 10 is actually the ultimate source of the rest of the graph, a point we will return to later, when we're dead."

Grateful Dead, to be precise.

10/18/2009 09:14:00 PM  

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