Saturday, December 12, 2009

Omniscience, Contempt, and the Sealed World of the Left

This is kind of a rambly, free-associating post. Oh well, it's Saturday, so there's no need to adapt to the rigid style dictates of the Conspiracy.

As I have mentioned, I came to my senses in the usual way, initially going off the shallow end through atheism, liberalism, and non-dualism, before eventually recovering my sacred Slack. Indeed, even at the time I completed my book, I certainly didn't think of myself as any kind of "spiritual authority," so not only was I less willing to identify those self-styled gurus whom I now consider to be destructive frauds and con-men, but I probably still had one foot in that world. (I still don't think of myself as an authority, but I do have a clearer vision of the spiritual landscape, so I can better distinguish up from down.)

It's the same way with one's political philosophy. Most former liberals can testify to the difficulty of embracing and identifying with a group that one had previously demonized. In George Nash's excellent Reappraising the Right: The Past & Future of American Conservatism, he has a chapter on the history of neoconservatism. I had been aware of the broad outlines, but not all the details. Perhaps there is a fable in here.

Briefly, for those of you who don't know the whole story, the original neocons were a group of liberals who became increasingly disaffected with the Democrat party as it was gradually taken over by the left, in a process that was more or less complete with the nomination of the radical McGovern in 1972.

Specifically, the liberal neocons were disgusted by the rampant anti-Americanism of the left, along with their dangerously weak and naive foreign policy. Initially they attempted to reform the Democrats from within, by championing such people as Scoop Jackson and especially Daniel Patrick Moynihan. But by 1980, it dawned on them that it was a hopeless case, and that the Democrats were not going to deviate from becoming the regressive and reactionary clowns they are today.

Still, the neocons had a great deal of difficulty identifying with the conservative movement, and jumping in with both feet. One reason for this is that they were what you might call urban intellectual snobs. True, many were Jewish as well, but that doesn't so much go to religion as it does to education. Jews, since they are disproportionately educated, are quite naturally disproportionately indoctrinated in the strange ways of the left -- that is, if they are secular, or merely culturally Jewish. None of this applies to seriously religious Jews, such as Dennis Prager, who are overwhelmingly conservative.

Thus, for these men, there was a kind of double distrust of conservatism, since they were largely Jewish + intellectual, while much of the right is Christian + regular folks who live in the real world, not the abstract fantasy world of the liberal looniversity bin.

Also, the neocons disproportionately came from the world of the social sciences, whereas most conservative intellectuals were more literary men (in the old sense of the term, like a T.S. Eliot, not in the post-literate postmodern sense). As such, they still clung to the idea of the liberal welfare state (which had been given a huge boost by a corrupted sociology and psychology, and their odious Doctrine of the Immaculate Victim), only finally letting go of it when empirical proof came of its destructive nature with the publication of books such as Losing Ground, by Charles Murray. After that, there was no way one could remain a welfare state liberal and still live in reality. (In other words, they still needed scientific proof of the destructiveness of liberalism, as they were alienated from the religious and literary worlds of wisdom, whereby one knows truth intuitively and directly).

In hindsight, I think this is when we really see the Democrats become completely unhinged, to the point that it is no longer possible to have a rational conversation with a liberal. It's not even necessarily that they are dishonest, although many of course are. It's just that they live an a completely insular bubble, and feel superior to anyone who lives outside their secure little feeltank. Their main argument is not even an argument, just an attitude: contempt. It's so transparently childish: if Bush says it, it's contemptible; but if Obama says the same thing, it's brilliant and visionary.

Liberals affect the same attitude toward climate change skeptics, -- really, on most any issue. (While looking for the hockey game the other night, I caught a few minutes of Stephanie Miller on Larry King, cluelessly insisting that AGW was an unquestioned truth, and that anyone who thought otherwise was a contemptible tool of evil oil companies.) And they are able to get away with it because of a compliant media that shares the identical worldview, so they never learn how to argue. This is why they attack Fox and talk radio, because their very existence is an insult (and unconscious threat) to their omniscience. Conservatives routinely go on liberal programs such as Meet the Press, but it is impossible to imagine Obama submitting to an interview with Dennis Prager or Rush Limbaugh. It would truly be a battle of wits with an unarmed twit.

Again, I well remember this attitude, because I once held it. Yesterday I was talking with Mrs. G. about this. How, she asked, is it possible for these people to remain so sealed off from reality? I thought back about what I was like in the 1980s, when I was a Reagan-hating, NPR-listening, Nation-subscribing graduate student. Not only was I completely outside the reach of any conservative influences -- for back then there was only National Review, and that was about it -- but I sealed my fate with the reliable defense mechanism of contempt -- or what is called in the psychoanalytic literature "envy" or "devaluation" -- which is one of the most common means to maintain omnipotence.

Thus, if I had met a conservative, I would have simply had contempt for him, thereby relieving me of the need to take him seriously and actually engage his arguments. I mean, I was in a Ph.D. program! What are you, some kind of corporation-loving businessman? 'Nuff said! I remember one such conversation with a conservative. It occurred one morning on the graveyard shift, when I was still working in the supermarket. It was a 24 hour store, and we'd get two or three customers between midnight and six, at which time you'd have to stop what you were doing and mosey on up to the cash register.

Somehow, the customer and I got into a discussion of politics, and he calmly explained to me the economic miracles that were being unleashed before my very eyes, with Reagan's transformation of the economy -- however many consecutive quarters of extraordinary economic expansion, not to mention record tax revenues, which only failed to reduce the deficit because of a recalcitrant congress that would never have allowed significant government cuts.

But I literally could not hear the argument, and I mean that literally. It just didn't compute, because mine was a faith, not a philosophy. And not the good kind of faith, because it was not open but closed, in the manner of the atheist or Darwinist who reduces reality to his silly little monkey way of knowing it.

Er, remind me. Is there supposed to be some kind of fable here? Yes, well, to continue the story, it took even longer for the neocons to not only come to peace with the religious dimension, but to actually begin exploring and embracing it. Only in so doing can one become a truly deep thinker, so the irony is that these heretofore conventional intellectuals are now moving into the realm of what I call the "meta-intellectual," or perhaps "trans-intellectual," or mind in service to its transcendent source. Perhaps someday they will catch up with the neocoons, for we're nothing special, just people who enjoy living in reality in all its modes and dimensions, which, at the very least, must include mind, body, and Spirit.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT, but not...

"Without belief in God, without belief
that the truth is real, is in him, all our
attempts to "tell the truth" become no
more than stories told for human
purposes--to persuade, to comfort. to
stake claims, to build power--but none
of them means anything, or, more
accurately, means anything else. Behind
the images and metaphors of paintings
and poems, behind the patterns, broken
and mended, of music and verse, behind
the imagined characters of plays and
novels, there is no mysterious depth
of meaning, there is nothing. Yet a child
of four knows what a lie is and knows
what a story is and knows that they are
not the same."

Lucy Beckett

12/12/2009 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I read your book, you magnificent bastard!

12/12/2009 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

From the product description -- which perfectly encapsulates today's fable from Uncle Petey's Tall Tales for Ring-tailed Young 'Uns:

"The good, the true and the beautiful -- it is for these that our souls long. Though they reside in unity and perfection in God alone, the written word is one place we can discover glimmers of divine light.

"The writings of great souls can turn our gaze toward God as he is revealed in Jesus Christ. Even authors who do not know Christ or who reject Christ, can still point to him, for anyone who seeks the truth finds it; and any one who turns his back on the truth turns away from a someone whose presence can often be more keenly felt in his absence.

"In this volume, Lucy Beckett illuminates some of the finest writings in the Western tradition and trains our eye to discover in them the Christian vision of God. She masterfully guides us through Sophocles, Plato, Augustine, Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky and many others. With selections taken from poems, plays, essays, letters and diaries, she deftly demonstrates each author's worth as a bearer of truth."

12/12/2009 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> atheism, liberalism, and non-dualism

Just curious: was Aurobindo your next step after non-dualism? Then Schuon, then Christianity?

That was my trajectory, at any rate (although I skipped the initial atheism stage, going in more for a sort of New Age-y pantheism that harmonized well with liberalism.)

12/12/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't know if it was as orderly as that, plus it's ongoing. I think Meditations on the Tarot was a big factor, but I'm still very much drawn to people like Abhishiktananda, who developed a sort of experiential Christian-Vedanta hybrid; or at least he brings out a certain hidden or underemphasized side of Christianity that one also finds in Denys, Maximus, and especially Eckhart.... I don't think that Christianity needs to be remade for the modern age (least of all by me), but I do believe that it would be accessible to many more moderns if these underemphasized aspects were better known and understood.

12/12/2009 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous recess said...

OT, Dennis Miller compares raccoons to global warmists while paraphrasing Bob:

"Of course the only truly creepy thing "the weather" could do would be to remain perpetually constant. Now that would be weird!"

12/12/2009 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another word about human religious tendencies and gurus, etc, comes from Geoffrey Falk in his book "Stripping the Gurus."

He arrives at the interesting conclusion that Christianity resembles groups that sprang up aroung Trungpa, Cohen, Da, Rajneesh, and a host of others.

He states that Jesus was a Guru figure who developed a cult following, the difference from the modern guru movements being his massive popular acceptance and longevity, giving him an aura of special authenticity.

The evidence is fairly compelling.

Jesus may well have been an especially good raccoon, good at meditation, very powerful at public speaking, and so forth, and very deeply connected to Source.

But the rigamarole surrounding him seems outlandish. Well, consider that Cohen, Da, and others also claimed healings and bringing the dead to life, etc etc.

Falk makes good case; makes good reading.

12/12/2009 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Woof.

12/12/2009 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> Cohen, Da, and others also claimed healings and bringing the dead to life, etc

When a community of believers in these folks is prepared to have their living guts ripped out by starved animals rather than disavow their beliefs, then I will sit up and take notice.

Until then, I will merely point out that anyone can claim anything, and people can always be found who will believe anything. So what?

12/12/2009 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Besides, who but an abject moron could confuse Andrew Cohen with Jesus?

12/12/2009 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the Falk does he know anyway? Probably a lib. Just sayin'.

12/12/2009 07:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Who is Andrew Colon?
Does the troll now have a name for his plumbing?

12/12/2009 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Congratulations, Northern Bandit!
Readin' OC back issues and I caught yer comments.

There's nothin' like the unique joy and awesome responsibility of havin' a son and/or daughter (or more)! :^)

12/12/2009 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Not only was I completely outside the reach of any conservative influences -- for back then there was only National Review, and that was about it -- but I sealed my fate with the reliable defense mechanism of contempt -- or what is called in the psychoanalytic literature "envy" or "devaluation" -- which is one of the most common means to maintain omnipotence."

"But I literally could not hear the argument, and I mean that literally. It just didn't compute, because mine was a faith, not a philosophy. And not the good kind of faith, because it was not open but closed, in the manner of the atheist or Darwinist who reduces reality to his silly little monkey way of knowing it."

Those two factors are excellent reasons why arguing or "debating" lefties is a waste of time (barring some good insultainment, an exercise in presentin' what you larned, or a lefty on the brink of Owareness).

Jest when I think you explain it the best, Bob, you come up with a bester way to say it. :^)

12/12/2009 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Their main argument is not even an argument, just an attitude: contempt. It's so transparently childish: if Bush says it, it's contemptible; but if Obama says the same thing, it's brilliant and visionary."

Aye. Barrack "I'm just like Ghandi" Obama...the visionary without vision.

Note: not that Ghandi is a great role model to compare one's self to, but Obama clearly don't compare favorably even to that clown.

12/12/2009 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous uncin said...

USS BS (Ben active):

So singular, the spray from your never-ending font of goodwill. If I continue downing this swill can I look forward to a similar peace?

12/13/2009 12:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Tybalt said...

Peace? Peace. I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.

12/13/2009 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

insin said "...ingular, the spra... "

I really enjoy it when the aninny's demonstrate the title of the post so clearly.

12/13/2009 10:31:00 AM  

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