Wednesday, October 20, 2010

All Men Are Drunks and Hobos

Continuing our little discussion of caste and clue, Schuon notes that the priest/sage and knight/warrior share the common capacity "for spontaneously placing oneself above oneself," the former through wisdom and disinterested intelligence, the latter through heroism and self-sacrifice. In both cases, the person simply responds to "the nature of things" in order to provide what is needed in the moment, whether in the field of intellect or of action.

The third caste discussed yesterday -- the merchant, artisan, or craftsman -- may have more of a challenge in this area, in that it is possible for the mercantile mentality to dominate, thus reducing everything to quantity -- to know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

Nevertheless, it shares with the sage and warrior "an inward incentive toward the good," in contrast to the fourth caste, which "cannot maintain itself in the good except under a pressure coming from outside and above," the reason being that "this human type does not dominate itself and does not like to dominate itself" (Schuon).

Now, is this a generalization? Of course. In the absence of generalization it is impossible to think. The question is whether it is useful in illuminating an aspect of reality. In my experience, I find it to be perfectly accurate, allowing, of course, for inevitable exceptions.

For example, I was a card-carrying member of the laboring class for at least 12 years, when I toiled as a retail clerk. While I was very comfortable with my fellows, there is no question that these were not people who dominated themselves or who enjoyed doing so. To the contrary, they -- we -- not only frowned upon dominating ourselves, but systematically employed every chemical means to unmoor ourselves from the tyrannical dictates of right reason.

In other words, we drank a lot. In fact, here's an autographed photo of me from the Great Strike of 1979. Why autographed? Because I was drunk!


Actually, I was always on strike, mainly against authority, consequences, and adulthood. Yes, we were members of a labor union, but the notion that there was any kind of nobility or higher purpose associated with this is a sham. Rather, we simply wanted more money and benefits, combined with something approximating lifetime tenure.

Not that there's anything wrong with this. But to conflate this naked self-interest with heroism -- as in the left's hagiographic attitude toward the labor movement -- is pure hooey. The reason why this country has always rejected socialism is because of the common sense of our labor class, which never fell for the bogus wisdom of our tenured caste of pseudo-disinterested Marxian scholars telling them how to think. Plus they're usually drunk.

Only the first caste is truly lacking in "worldliness." The warrior caste obviously must deal with the world -- and mankind -- as it is. But the priestly caste is aware of the distinction between celestial and terrestrial things, and doesn't allow the Is to obscure the Ought.

Note that our secular class of tenured priests also trucks in the Ought, but this Ought is purely terrestrial and marxmade. It involves what Voegelin called the "immamentization of the eschaton." It also must redound to coercion, since it is not a "truth" that lies outside or above man. God vouchsafes his truth and lures men to it. Man can only enforce his.

Extremes meet, so it is quite possible -- especially in our day and age -- for our sages to actually be outcastes, in particular, if they are in contact with no reality higher than themselves. As Schuon explains, the outcaste lacks a homogeneous center, and is "unbalanced" or "mixed" with all sorts of incompatible and contradictory impulses. For example, imagine a university professor who doesn't believe in objective truth. Such a person cannot be helped, and yet, here he is presuming to help others!

Schuon goes on to say that the two higher castes are "noble," in the sense that their spirit is "free," or "'sovereign,' for it is naturally conformed to the universal Law, whether in 'heroic' or 'sacerdotal' mode." A man is noble "to the extent that he carries the Law within himself," but he is ennobled "to the extent that his obedience is perfect," at first "quantitatively" but eventually "qualitatively."

In other words, obedience is gradually interiorized -- or, as the interior is awakened, the obedience becomes spontaneous.

There is also a hidden relationship between the priestly and mercantile, which recalls Somebody's wise crack to the effect that few things make a man more peaceable than when he is occupied at making money.

Think of the natural contemplativity of the artisan or farmer: "It is easy to see the peaceful character of the peasant, the craftsman, the merchant; none of them has any interest in coming to blows, and each of the three functions possesses an aspect that binds or unites human groups rather than placing them in opposition" (ibid). Which is why capitalist countries are more peaceful within and with each other.

The warrior may fall if he forgets his higher purpose and descends into ambition or mere quarrelsomeness; this results from "an intelligence with too little contemplativity" (ibid). In contrast, the merchant can be afflicted by a "contemplativity with too little intelligence," whereas the intelligence of the priestly caste may become "narrow and pedantic," thereby becoming flaccid and ineffectual. In other words, it is possible for the elect to suffer from electile dysfunction.

In the ultimate sense, the priest/sage should either be "without caste" or encompass the qualities of each of them. Think of the heroic martyr-priests, or those who patiently and lovingly (not to say beautifully) transcribed and preserved all those ancient manuscripts prior to the invention of the printing press.

In another sense -- and a very important one -- all men are outcastes and bums, especially in our post-edenic, fallen state. Just as "the totality of truth demands the totality of man," his complete inversion results in priests like Deepak Chopra, sages like Paul Krugman, rulers like Obama, warriors like Osama, merchants like Countrywide, and deranged celebrity outcastes such as Keith Olbermann or Sean Penn.

37 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

"In the ultimate sense, the priest/sage should either be "without caste" or encompass the qualities of each of them."

I wonder if it's safe to say that there is a degree of each caste in every man?

10/20/2010 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I would think so, except for the true outcaste.

10/20/2010 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Note though how the outcaste can mimic the radically free spirit, or, conversely, how Jesus appeared as an outcaste to those without eyes to see. A lot of new-age guru types are "free," but from below, not above.

10/20/2010 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

... imagine a university professor who doesn't believe in objective truth ...

Anyone who claims there is no such thing as Truth should be sent to prison for a crime they did not commit.

10/20/2010 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Chopping this up just a little, cause I couldn't help noticing..

"Think of...those who patiently and lovingly (not to say beautifully) transcribed and preserved all those ancient manuscripts..."

I think of this often. I don't think this is an anti-capitalist statement (or at least not too much - I think one does not need to take from the other, but we (the world) seem to be a bit too ROI-focused. Or something has gone missing that used to be everywhere. It seems. Why are we not building things that last longer than ourselves. Cathedrals. Ornate buildings. My grandmother used to have the most ornate Singer sewing machine. Every house of any means had one. I've seen ornate drill presses. Sipp can likely back me up on this. How is it "they" were able to afford to build libraries like the ones I'm thinking of. You should see the post office in the next town. It looks like the Parthenon. The "downtown" of this town doesn't extend more than a mile radius.

10/20/2010 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Here's the post office.

10/20/2010 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's true. Secular horizontalism necessarily drains the world of beauty. The only compensating factor is that because of our general affluence, we may beautify our immediate ambiance.

Conversely, in the past, most of mankind lived in filth and squalor, but had the compensation of a magnificent public space, e.g., the cathedral.

10/20/2010 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"Secular horizontalism necessarily drains the world of beauty."

THAT'S what it is.
Nailed it.

10/20/2010 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Rick:

My current venture is the first one I've undertaken with people who are conscious of the fact that "raw capitalism" divorced from any sort of spiritual foundation can be just as wanton and destructive as any other "double-edged" activity (the US Army and the Waffen SS were both engaged in "military activities", yet the underlying spiritual foundation could hardly have been more different).

My problem is that I am inherently suspicious of anything which purports to improve upon what is normally the sole responsibility of corporate officers: to maximize shareholder value. For one thing the Left is heavily mixed up in such evil schemes as "Green" corporations, "corporate social responsibility" etc.

I know deep down it's not that simple (i.e., only profit really matters -- the good is a side-effect), but I have yet to determine how one might organize a firm along (for lack of a better term) spiritual principles. My primary partner seems to bring this quality to our efforts, but as with Bob's description of his father, these are qualities in one man, not something you can necessarily turn into an organizing principle.

One of our investors is a grizzled ex-hippie who made a ton of dough along the way and now (aside from investing in startups) spends all his time tooling around the Southwest in a vintage Airstream camper trailer "spreadin' the love". Suffice it to say these are quite different people than I've dealt with in the past.

10/20/2010 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Correction:

the sole responsibility of corporate officers: to maximize shareholder value within the law

10/20/2010 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Conversely, in the past, most of mankind lived in filth and squalor, but had the compensation of a magnificent public space, e.g., the cathedral.

Also, it seems, there was a beauty of manner that civilized people were expected to maintain, regardless of the state of their clothes or their personal hygiene. The public face of the interior cathedral, one might say. Secular horizontalism drains beauty not only from the world, but from the individuals who believe there is a distinction between the sacred and everyday life.

10/20/2010 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...the left's hagiographic attitude toward the labor movement...

You're not exaggerating here. I wish I could remember the name of the book -- ok, not really -- that I read years ago describing an effort to unionize loggers back in the '20's or '30's. It was like gay labor pr0n. It pictured a congenial group of men relaxing at the end of a day of satisfyingly honest sweat and physical toil, smoking pipes and discussing philosophical income redistribution in their red flannel shirts and suspenders.

10/20/2010 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

As I've said before, Bruce Springsteen lost me when he began singing all those songs about being an oppressed laborer, when he's never worked a day in his life, so he has no idea what he's talking about.

A leftist psychiatrist friend of mine was talking about the exploitation of labor, and I said to him, "you've got to be kidding. Don't you realize that these people are much happier than you are?" (He was an especially bitter guy. Pure projection.)

10/20/2010 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

NB,

but I have yet to determine how one might organize a firm along (for lack of a better term) spiritual principles.

Simple - make sure that everyone in a position of authority is a member of a church. Better even if it's the same church. For instance, DH right now is representing a company whose founders are all Mormon. They pray before meetings and meals. That hasn't kept them from making foolish decisions and filing for bankruptcy, though.

There are also plenty of businesses that are, for instance, openly Catholic. If you want a firm to be organized around spiritual values, find people who have faith - and try to live accordingly - to run it.

10/20/2010 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I suppose you could accuse Schuon of a little Tolstoyian idealism, but he's not talking about the modern mechanized world. In the old days, small farmers and craftsman were more contemplative. There's a rhythmic ritual to that kind of life. You saw it especially when work could not be efficiently done by an individual. Harvests, for example, involved a prolonged unified effort by neighbors and extended family and had the aura of a religious festival.

10/20/2010 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I dunno, Mushroom, I think some farms still manage to work that way. My uncle's did. Swarms of combine harvesters would go over not just his fields, but his neighbors', too, and certain times of year they'd have big family get-togethers to take care of the big tasks, from slaughtering and processing meat in the fall to castrating and inoculating the livestock in the spring. They always made it a festival, or so it seemed to my young eyes.

10/20/2010 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

julie:

Explicitly faith-based firms are interesting to be sure. I think I would like very much to work for one. It can get very tricky though if you expect to do an IPO, interact with the government, or sell internationally (to name a few issues).

Instead of a business based explicitly on specific religious doctrine,I'm more interested in how Judeo-Christian principles can be generally woven into the fabric of a corporate culture while still allowing us to buy and sell in e.g., China.

My partner did this more or less by driving change in the practices of a global pharma giant over the past decade. A lot of the leftist smears featuring sex-kitten drug reps, docs "on the payroll" etc are actually based on facts. Or were. My colleague changed that culture and instead redirected the funds formerly earmarked for call-girl infested luxury golf weekends to things like bolstering community-based healthcare initiatives (helping to fund clinics, etc.). Funny thing is: it worked.

10/20/2010 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"... imagine a university professor who doesn't believe in objective truth ..."

Heh, had my own comment, but I like NB's better:

"Anyone who claims there is no such thing as Truth should be sent to prison for a crime they did not commit."

I heard of one of those rare Prof's (sane I mean), where in his Philosophy 101 class when the topic came to that point, and students began to make noise about 'no one can really know anything for certain', he'd pass them out test's he said would account for 25% of their grade, and gave them all back F's the next day.

You can guess the result, especially from those who the day before had declared there was no Objective Truth - "NOOOO!!! That's not right!"

His reply began with "How do you know you didn't get an F?" and let the good times roll on from there.

10/20/2010 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricky said "How is it "they" were able to afford to build libraries like the ones I'm thinking of."

Hey, disposable values, disposable income, disposable stuff... why build value into what's disposable?

Capitalism is just the management of value... if you (meaning the Priests & Sages) let your values slip from Quality into Quantity... don’t blame the system which manages them, that’s a production & QA issue, not distribution.

10/20/2010 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

If you want to make money without being a crook, the only option I can think of is love. Think about it: What other people will pay you for is something that makes their life better, or at least makes them happier. To succeed in business you need to think constantly about the happiness of other people, and then deliver it. This constant thinking of how to improve the lot of others is technically speaking self-interest, but it does things to your soul even so. At least if you let it.

This is not just the case for the entrepreneur, though of course that is the prime example. But even in many forms of employment this works the same. For the celibate man work may indeed be the greatest opportunity to give love to others on a regular basis, and so escape the hell of narcissism.

10/20/2010 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

NB Said "...the sole responsibility of corporate officers: to maximize shareholder value within the law.

I know deep down it's not that simple (i.e., only profit really matters -- the good is a side-effect), but I have yet to determine how one might organize a firm along (for lack of a better term) spiritual principles. My primary partner seems to bring this quality to our efforts, but as with Bob's description of his father, these are qualities in one man, not something you can necessarily turn into an organizing principle."

I suspect it is simple, but not easy. Keeping in mind of course all of the obvious culturally assumed norms & fashions you would be bucking, it might begin with focusing on the depth of the first point, Value. If your businesses culture focuses in on noting the difference between the quantification of it, and what it actually is, IOW, between mere 'money', and what it is that money signifies, Value, you might orient people around the deeper depths.

After all, when you brush aside all the clutter, Capit... - strike that - the Free Market (how easily we cave to the marxists and play their name games) is nothing more than enabling Value to become liquid and flow to where it can find balance.

A farmer is lacking clothing, a shop keeper is lacking food. The farmer produces crops, the shop keeper produces clothing, and through the medium of money, like monetary locks in a canal, they transfer that portion of value from what each has, to what the other lacks, balancing out their lives and raising the overall value level at the same time, by virtue of what they produced for themselves, and for another.

Keep some amount of focus on that aspect of all transactions, that they really are Value for Value exchanges... and an opportunity to flesh out the depths of what Value is and means, may become part of the culture.

10/20/2010 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Magnus said "If you want to make money without being a crook, the only option I can think of is love. Think about it: What other people will pay you for is something that makes their life better, or at least makes them happier."

I see Magnus is on the same wavelength.

Make a simple effort to direct people's attention away from the shallow distractions, and focus them on what it is you and they are truly doing and engaging in, and the depths may be found.

10/20/2010 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Van said... "...that’s a production & QA issue, not distribution."

Brilliant! That is a very important point. It needs to be said more. So many people go around thinking that capitalism/a free market is immediately and intimitely tied to decline in quality and hyperfocus on quantity. Not true! That's one of those areas that (currently) needs the disinfectant of the light of truth. It's a main headlining point of the misrepresentation of free exchange.

10/20/2010 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

The entire concept of the corporation is inherenlty flawed as it has been put into practice.
As far as I can tell, major corporations are generally sociopathic as put into practice.

Making money cannot be the overriding goal because that neglects any consideration of the vertical.

10/20/2010 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

rick@saltmine.com

I wasn't suggesting there may be a "corporate" solution to the problem I noticed. I think that's where libs go wrong. Faked is no good too. (and I'm not suggesting anyone else was suggesting it)
I'm just curious as to why people thought it was a good idea to make an ornate sewing machine once or a beautiful post office. If people don't want it, then perhaps they shouldn't make it.

However, it is interesting to see how well Apple is doing. Placing the brilliance of the iPhone aside for a moment (fully recognizing that's a big something to place aside) a great many Apple customers believe that Apple believes people want beautiful things. Apple insists on it.
As much as the Tarantino's of the world insist "hey, I'm just giving the peoples what theys want", it's hard to not notice the amazing ticket sales of everything Pixar makes...and Disney used to make.
But a movie is better than an iPhone. The iPhone is temporary brilliant.

So who built the beautiful banks, and post offices and libraries before? These things that not only outlived them, but many, such as cathedrals would not be completed in their lifetimes. Were they just monuments to the few people who foot the bill? There must still be such people. Why don't they still feel this way? They must be doing something else.

10/20/2010 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Oh..and when I said "afford" I really didn't mean money. They were giving up something more than just money.

10/20/2010 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Company culture itself, as in within one company, tends to trickle down and mirror the person in charge. I have witnessed that where I have been working for the past five years (I am leaving next month). A letter to employees, and posted in out-of-the-way spots, addressing qualitative values in employees (including two lists, positive and negative) is what attracted me and I haven't been disappointed. Integrity and quality are two said values of the company publicly and this really holds true. The president noted in the letter that it is the substance of good work, not the appearance, that matters. The president is steeped in Judeo-Christian values and it reams off of him without him "saying" anything. *Who* he is shapes the company and gives it character and its personality. Btw, it is a public company.

(The shortcomings trickle down as well. In this case, an overly passive stance in certain areas.)

10/20/2010 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Julie,
Thanks for the link.

RE the small farmers and the contemplative, it's no accident or coincidence that most (if not all?) of "The Parables" are of an agrarian theme. Maybe that's gnobvious. But which came first? The farm or the parable?
I'm serious. I'm going with the parable.

10/20/2010 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"Company culture itself, as in within one company, tends to trickle down and mirror the person in charge."

This has been my experience as well. Fortunately I managed to find some good people to work for. Actually, the employees over the years should have treated them better. I see that a lot.

10/20/2010 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm going with the parable.

From a top down perspective, it couldn't not be. From the human perspective, it does make sense. After all, why in the world would proto humans have looked at grass seed as something to cultivate and eat?

10/20/2010 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Julie,
Good point. Perhaps the Divine mind thought to have them coarise.

10/20/2010 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Note that our secular class of tenured priests also trucks in the Ought, but this Ought is purely terrestrial and marxmade."

Aye. And they are armed with double ought muck-shot, which can only be lethal if society in general decides not to counter their barrage of damn-O by being (and doing) a Real counter O-salt (with extreme prejudice, I might add), using everything in our
O-rsenal.

Knave-l God Fire, O-pedoes, OMahawks, Owitzers, t(h)anks,
in-fantry, special fOrces, and even Newclear weapons will be more than enough to send 'em packin' with their tail between their legs.

And on every front, be it air-to-err, surface-to-err or subsurface-to-err (hell, everywhere-to-err!) use those heat-seeking truth missiles my friends.

I'm talkin' Holy fire scorched earth policy here!
ROE (Rules of engagement):
O-bliterate the hell outta them.

Ain't no compromisin' with those walkin' dead types anyhow or their inhuman rights pukes.

10/21/2010 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

IRT the free market discussion, I cooncur: good character means the customers will get high quality, honesty, etc., and the leader(s) set the tone.

The same principles hold true in the military, and every walk of life to some extent.

It's the straight shooters that folks wanna deal with, and not just in free markets.

I would and have pay more for good character driven products of high quality rather than pay less for inferior products produced by a business ran by scumbags if at all possible.

However, even if the quality of products is high, but the owner and staff of a business is say, anti-American or anti-liberty, then I choose not to do business with them.
Back to good character. It's not just a good business practice, it's a good practice regardless.

10/21/2010 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey, what about the overcaste? :^)

10/21/2010 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Then there's the die caste, which are the jihadists, commies, and totalitarians.

I reckon the neo-commies would be die caste lite since they spread death slower and with fewer calories.

10/21/2010 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger SippicanCottage said...

That guy. There, that one. In the picture there.

I wanna party with that guy.

10/21/2010 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Plays a mean picket guitar, doesn't he?

10/21/2010 07:38:00 AM  

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