Monday, May 10, 2010

The Volk Religion of the Left

If one doesn't believe in revelation, then the issue of divine accommodation is moot. But if revelation has occurred, then I think it's impossible to avoid the conclusion that it must be couched in terms that human beings can comprehend. And since human beings have changed dramatically over the centuries, this means that God must reveal himself in different ways at different times and to different populations.

For example, as we were discussing in the previous post, the logic of sacrifice made perfect sense to primitive peoples, otherwise it wouldn't have been universally practiced. It took thousands of years for human beings to arrive at the conception of a rational and caring God -- or even God, since it was a long, back-and-forth struggle to evolve from polytheism to monotheism. Compared to how long man has been here, monotheism has only prevailed for a tiny percentage of the time.

Stark begins with an analysis of the religious beliefs of primitive peoples, but it turns out that there's not all that much we can know about them with certainty. For example, many theories on the subject were derived from the study of "modern stone age" cultures such as Bedrock that persisted into the 19th century or later, and there is no way of knowing for sure if the Flintstones are really similar to peoples of ten or twenty thousand years ago.

Interestingly, it has long been argued that religion began with nature worship, but Stark writes that "primitive peoples show remarkably little interest in what we may regard as the most impressive phenomena of nature -- sun, moon, sky, mountains, sea, and so forth -- whose monotonous regularities they take very much for granted." In other words, ironically, it is contemporary human beings who are much more impressed with the beauty and majesty of nature. This is not difficult to understand, as primitive man must have been very much aware of the fact that nature was full of dangers.

Furthermore, as I have argued in the past, I don't think primitive peoples were individuated enough to notice such a sharp distinction between self and world. It is only because we are so aware of our separation that we take aesthetic notice of the environment -- which is why it is no coincidence that the romantic movement arose shortly after the emergence of the modern self.

In every development, something is gained but something is lost. I can see this quite vividly in my son, who is still between baby and boy. When he goes thorough a growth spurt, this is usually accompanied by anxiety that makes him want to engage in "regression play," for example, being a baby animal.

Likewise, when the autonomous self emerged with modernity, something was lost. Actually, several things: a fixed role, erosion of traditional family structures, weakening of religious constraints, etc. Think of the vast difference between having your identity given to you, vs. having an open-ended self that one must struggle to actualize and understand. In a very real sense, being liberated from tradition meant being a mystery to oneself.

The scientific and industrial revolutions created a kind of historical rupture or existential birthquake which continues to be felt today. In his book Modern Fascism, Veith discusses the deep alienation that resulted from the dramatic change from an agrarian, religious, hierarchical, and essentially timeless (or cyclical) existence to one that was suddenly ordered around the machine, the clock, democracy, and (small r) reason.

If we say that man appeared approximately 200,000 years ago, his life was essentially unchanged from then until the Agricultural Revolution some 10,000 years ago. Afterwards, not a lot changed for the average Joe until the Industrial Revolution, beginning in the 18th century. So in the overall scheme of things, our current lifestyle is truly just a blip -- several hundred years out of a total of 200,000. No wonder, therefore, that humans have such a strongly romantic and nostalgic streak, being that we're all living in an alien psychic environment profoundly different from the one we we evolved in.

Veith writes that "fascism is essentially a response to the alienation that has been a part of the spiritual landscape of the West since the Enlightenment.... Science, technology, and the economic realities and environmental damage of the industrial revolution isolate the individual from nature. There has thus been a genuine yearning for community and for an organic unity with the natural world."

Living a life of cold logic is intrinsically alienating. There is nothing Rational about living a life of pure (again, small r) reason. But nor is there anything rational about abandoning reason altogether and living a purely instinctual life, which is what occurred with Nazi Germany, but also to a lesser extent in the 1960s, not just in America, but all over the developed world.

Again, this is anything but progressivism; it is pure romanticism, which is always backward looking -- and not just backward looking, but backward to an idealized past that never existed to begin with. It is pure projection of present existential pain, and escapism into a mythic past. No one is more conservative than a progressive. It's just that what they want to conserve is childhood and all of its privileges, i.e., irresponsibility, dependency, entitlement, rebellion against the grown-ups, polymorphous perversity, weak boundaries, etc.

For someone who lives without any religious telos, the denial of impulses seems stifling and arbitrary. As Veith writes, "If objective knowledge is alienating, subjective experience is liberating and healing. Authentic experience comes from unleashing the emotions, cultivating the subjective and irrational dimension of life."

So never ask why the left is so emotional and irrational, because that is the whole point. It is a way of life. You will look in vain for the "rational end" they are seeking, because the emotional irrationalism is its own end.

America was the first nation explicitly created around abstract and universal principles instead of more primitive modes of blood, soil, mythology, etc. Here again, the modern doctrine of multiculturalism is in reality a quite primitive reversion back to earlier ways of life. Multiculturalism is specifically a rejection of American principles, what with its obsession with blood and race instead of ideas. This is why those who criticize Obama are accused of being "racist." It is not as if we have our ideas and they have theirs. Rather, we have our ideas and they have their emotions, which they project into us -- as if we are the ones who are obsessed with race!

For Americans -- and for Christians -- "essence" is in the individual. That is, we are created in the image of God, so that our deepest personal essence partakes of divinity.

But for the multicultural volkists of the left, essence is in the group: "Volk is a much more comprehensive term than 'people,'" signifying "the union of a group of people with a transcendental 'essence.' This 'essence' might be called 'nature,' or 'cosmos' or 'mythos,' but in each instance it was fused to man's innermost nature and represented the source of his creativity, his depth of feeling, his individuality and his unity with other members of the Volk. The essential element here is the linking of the human soul with its natural surroundings, with the 'essence' of nature."

Now, why do you think that virtually all leftists are environmental hysterics and global warmongers? Here again, you need only scratch the surface of their irrational rhetoric to appreciate a reservoir of primitive, volkisch-like sentiments of "unity" with mother earth, of "healing" the planet, of turning back the tides, of sacrificial penance to the gods of carbon offsets, etc.

For (non-left) Americans, the individual stands above the state, and derives his inalienable rights from the Creator. But for the left wing volkist, the group is the supreme identity that is fused with the state. No surprise then that we worship such different divinities.

39 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

Sometimes I worry a bit, since for as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the so-called Natural Sciences, natural history, agriculture, etc. -- if it grows, wiggles, used to wiggle, or moves about on this planet, it catches at least some of my attention and interest. I was deep into ecology before it became trendy. And as an adult, I've also taken an interest in cosmos and myth.

But your distinction is correct, I think, and applies to me -- for I find the essence of all things in Divinity. No room for the Volks in my wagon!

5/10/2010 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Precisely. God's immanence in nature only becomes apparent through our transcendence of it.

5/10/2010 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Interesting about the regression play. It's something I often observed in my younger brothers and wondered about (and in hindsight, I can see when I engaged in it myself at a couple of points), but didn't make the connection between growth and anxiety. When my brother was in 7th grade, he and his best friend went through a long (and painful to hear) phase of talking to each other in cutesy baby voices at the same time they developed a strong interest in dad's not-so-secret stash of Playboys. Now that actually makes a bit of sense. And of course, regression as a coping mechanism doesn't necessarily stop just because we reach adulthood.

Touching back on yesterday, then, there is a vast distinction between Motherhood as spiritual path and Earth-Motherhood as the attempt to regress back to a primordial state.

5/10/2010 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of regression, It’s like watching a 3 year old struggle with a jigsaw puzzle for AGES 14 AND UP.

5/10/2010 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

And then, of course, there's the whiner-in-chier.

5/10/2010 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

We may get an example of the Volk "ethos-in-action" with the nomination of Ms. Kagan to the SOTUS.

Back in 2005, when one of the evil Bush's nominees was being debated, then-Senator Obama gave a speech stating that when it came to Justices, we have an empathy deficit, and that empathy is one of the most important qualities in a Judge. So we may get to see this play out this summer.

5/10/2010 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Too bad nobody in power seems to be overly concerned about a justice deficit...

5/10/2010 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The left replaces justice with "social justice," which is just another way of saying "the power of statists to impose their idea of fairness."

5/10/2010 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Good post. It provides another path into understanding what happened to human thinking over the last 200 years or so.

The bad news is that the Age of Idiocy may persist until a cultural shock equivalent to the scientific and industrial revolution occurs again.

5/10/2010 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

"No one is more conservative than a progressive. It's just that what they want to conserve is childhood and all of its privileges, i.e., irresponsibility, dependency, entitlement, rebellion against the grown-ups, polymorphous perversity, weak boundaries, etc."

Theodore Dalrymple opines on recent temper tantums being thrown, Know Thyself: Rather than pointing fingers, Greek citizens should look in the mirror. City Journal

5/10/2010 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yeah, they could grow up and do that. Or, as Anon was suggesting yesterday, they can keep sacrificing more Euros on the altar of Keynesian economics.

5/10/2010 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The left wing obsession with blood and race.

5/10/2010 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I've been riddling my already addled brain reading 19th Century writers to identify the roots of the Age of Idiocy but I think you nailed it with paganism-blood-race.

I hope I can get enough neurons together to make sense of it.

5/10/2010 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That Olberman video is just awesome.

Unrelated, is anyone else noticing some odd lags between comment publishing and posting? They show up in my inbox, but don't turn up on the page here until a while later. Weird.

5/10/2010 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Gagdad re:

"No wonder, therefore, that humans have such a strongly romantic and nostalgic streak, being that we're all living in an alien psychic environment profoundly different from the one we we evolved in."

Is this a psychic dissonance between our conscious and collective unconscious that causes the emotional desire to return to the known (or fancied known)? Funny thing is, most of those that say they wish to return to an agrarian model wouldn't know the first thing about milking a cow or slaughtering a hog. Living off the land is tough work and very risky. It is much easier to sit on a sofa and watch a romanticized version of Eden then to actually live it.

5/10/2010 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Again, this is anything but progressivism; it is pure romanticism, which is always backward looking -- and not just backward looking, but backward to an idealized past that never existed to begin with."

I have no doubt that the regressives would not last five minutes in a primitive tribe of the past, their "empathy" notwithstanding.

Actually, it would probably be their empathy that would get them killed, assuming of course they could contribute anything worthwhile to the tribe.

Ironically, most "progressives" don't really want to live a tribal or communal life, but rather their fictional perception of one.

A tribe where there is no back-breaking labor, no child labor, no food shortages, no lack of luxuries, no lack of medical care, no lack of free time, no lack of anything; nirvana...the mythic Avatar tribe where everything is just hunkydory and everyone rides magical unicorns.

In essence, a crock of sh*t, and they are so angry because they can never make it happen with their regressive, or at best, statist ideas.

They want transcendence without actually putting out any effort to face the Truth.

5/10/2010 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie said-
"Touching back on yesterday, then, there is a vast distinction between Motherhood as spiritual path and Earth-Motherhood as the attempt to regress back to a primordial state."

Right on!

5/10/2010 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Of course, if leftists go back far enough they can always find their true essence: sponges.

I know, even that doesn't work because sponges don't commit self destruction in their efforts to destroy everyone else outside of tribe spongeblob (note that I didn't say spongebob, who is an individual. Albeit a fictional one but nevertheless...).

5/10/2010 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Excellent article, Mizz E!

"The crime of that substantial proportion of the Greek population was to accept the bribe that the politicians offered; they were only too prepared to live well at someone else’s expense. The thieves were not principally the politicians, but the demonstrators.

Such popular dishonesty is by no means confined to Greece. In varying degrees, most countries in the West have displayed it, Britain above all. It is perhaps an inherent problem wherever the universal franchise is unaccompanied by widespread virtues such as honesty, self-control, providence, prudence, and self-respect. Greece is therefore a cradle not only of democracy, but of democratic corruption."

Ho!

5/10/2010 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bob said-
"So never ask why the left is so emotional and irrational, because that is the whole point. It is a way of life. You will look in vain for the "rational end" they are seeking, because the emotional irrationalism is its own end."

Ho! Ho! That's a zinger!

5/10/2010 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Confirmation of today's post.

5/10/2010 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Off topic, there's a Scott Walker documentary on Sundance right now. It's almost over, but does reinforce my impression that there's an awful lot going on with his music. Audio plaid, stripes & polka dots. With meat and garbage cans. And an orchestra.

5/10/2010 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Actual quote: "There's other times when he's saying, 'I'd like a donkey.'"

5/10/2010 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't actually like his current work. It's like nightmares set to music. Except that it's not exactly music. More like a whacked out opera singer vocalizing over various industrial sounds. Very difficult to listen to.

5/10/2010 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes. Also (and granted, I didn't get the full context), the whole Mussolini thing seemed a tad sympathetic.

It was still interesting, though; he came across as kind of a musical aghori, striving to reach a state of transcendence by the most painful (for the listener) means possible.

5/10/2010 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

His reputation really rests on the four solo albums he did between 67 and 70, especially his interpretations of the songs of Jacques Brel, such as this. Wacky stuff, but I was hooked as soon as I heard it.

5/10/2010 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The original.

5/10/2010 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I'll have to wait until tomorrow to give it a listen.

Thought I should clarify my observation a little, though. From the brief bits I saw of the documentary, he comes across as someone driven by something otherwordly, trying to eff the ineffable by completely abandoning the usual boundaries and structures of music. One of the guys who worked with him confessed to being envious of people who don't like his music.

Anyway, what he's doing now musically is definitely appalling, but the driving force behind it is something else. I may have to try and catch the rest of the documentary some time.

5/10/2010 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh yes. He's definitely an interesting and thoughtful guy with an intense and uncompromising vision of what he's after.

5/10/2010 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

....about as opposite stylistically from late S. Walker would be this man's precocious
masterpiece
[I spent an hour yesterday reading SONG CYCLE's reviews on amazon & RYM]
I am among its yea-est of -sayers, having savoured it since released in 1968. the most playful finneganean approach to words ever on vinyl, I'd say!...
Bingo!! i, on a hunch, checked the birthdates of Scott & VDP: a week apart---Jan. '43: Capricornian ambition/achievement, anyone?
[Think Limbaugh, Presley, Bowie, J Page, H Stern et al!]

5/11/2010 04:03:00 AM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

A bit late, but regarding yesterdays anonymous know-it-all-but-really-does-not-get-it jesterton, I would like to contribute to the coonfusion by urging you to listen to Gil Bailies latest talks from the Emmaus Road site, found here:
http://cornerstone-forum.org/downloadablemp3s.aspx

- The Parable of the Russian Bells
- The Angelus Bell
- Works of Love & Darkness

If you don't get it after that, you will probably never get it.
It's free to donate too.

/Johan

5/11/2010 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Baby NB was born last night at 8:20pm EDT. She was 9 lb. 2 oz. and completely healthy. Mom and baby are doing great. Dad is mostly experiencing a mixture of love, awe and profound gratitude. Thanks for prayers from Mrs. G and others here.

How are things with you on the baby front, Julie?

5/11/2010 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Congrats to you & Mrs. NB! I'm so glad everything went well, and both are healthy.

As for me, I'm still doing fine. Just another couple weeks - the due date is June 1st, so suppose it could be any time between now and a month from now. I'm not quite to the point where I can't take it anymore, but I do wonder just how much farther my belly can expand :)

Give that baby girl a kiss for me.

5/11/2010 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Leslie Godwin said...

NB,
I was looking to see if you left an update...had a feeling babyNB came yesterday!

I'm choked up just thinking about you guys!!

Post pix if you can.

Many blessings to you guys,
Mrs G

5/11/2010 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

A brand new NB Mini!

Congrats!

5/11/2010 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Back for a moment to last night's diversion, okay, I can see where "Jackie" has some appeal. That would be a fun one to sing along with. Preferably loudly while barreling down the freeway.

Reminds me a little of a few Split Enz songs in terms of quirky dramatic style.

GE - VDP is interesting in that regard, too. I had never heard of him before. Thanks :)

5/11/2010 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Back in town, catching up still, but had to say big coongratulations to Ma & Pa NB!!!

Life is about to get Real interesting, frustrating... and more rewarding than you can imagine!

5/11/2010 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"Baby NB was born last night at 8:20pm EDT. She was 9 lb. 2 oz. and completely healthy. Mom and baby are doing great. Dad is mostly experiencing a mixture of love, awe and profound gratitude. Thanks for prayers from Mrs. G and others here."

Wonderful news! That's what I was poking around for!

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. NB, on your new daughter, and welcome to the outside world, sweet one!

The time's getting short, yet seemingly eternal, right Julie? :) Hate that "about to pop" feeling...

5/12/2010 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:D
Yes, that about sums it up.

5/12/2010 07:05:00 PM  

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