Degrade and Conquer
Back to the topic at hand, the relationship between the order of the soul (the interior individual) and the order of the state (the exterior social). Again, these reflections are sponsored by Schall's The Order of Things. I should add that I take full responsibility for the post, and that any errors are entirely his.
When we talk about the use of force, again, it is only legitimate when it is a tool of order, or when "it represents an effort to keep order within the polity against those forces that would cause disorder." Furthermore, force only becomes necessary when ordered reason -- i.e., persuasion -- won't do the trick. And even if one's reasoning is perfect, human beings aren't. As often as not, their passions blind them to reason, so that coercion becomes necessary.
One of the true miracles of the human situation is that we have discovered a way to convert men's passions into common goods that benefit us all, i.e., the free market. Merely as a result of men doing what they do, the pool of wealth grows without limits. Conservatives don't see a problem with this, and would like to let the pool continue growing. But the left says, "that's enough. Let's stop now and divvy up the booty, which was stolen by Anglocentric racist homophobes anyway."
Thus, as some honest Democrats have acknowledged after the fact, Obamacare is hardly about improving what is already the finest healthcare in the world, but merely a Trojan Horse for the purposes of income redistribution. Obviously, the billions in new taxes it generates will be poured straight down into the general sump hole, where they will be used to sustain our bloated government and forestall its bankruptcy for another week or two.
Again, the market is a natural way to transform what moralists regard as "bad" impulses without in any way controlling them. No government entity has to force me to engage in economic transactions I think will benefit me. But third parties who run the state have their own ideas of what constitutes the good, so that they feel morally entitled to interfere with my free choices.
It is critical to bear in mind that a state that employs force to punish goodness or create disorder is intrinsically illegitimate (although there are obviously degrees of illegitimacy). And every state will engage in some activities that are not legitimate, but that doesn't mean that the entire state lacks legitimacy. Rather, the whole purpose of political philosophy is to understand the conditions of the ideally just state, even though the reality can never absolutely conform with the ideal, if only because man is everywhere man.
Schall points out that there are two kinds of happiness, one of which is "political," the other having to do with man's proper end. Clearly the two are related, because it can be very difficult, if not impossible, for a man to achieve his true end in the wrong kind of polity. To take an extreme example, imagine the difficulty of actualizing one's true potential and "becoming oneself" in the old Soviet Union -- or in any totalitarian regime that tells you what a man is and what his life is for.
Clearly, such a view was antithetical to the vision of America's founders, who were not just political philosophers, but more importantly, moral philosophers. America was conceived in liberty, which for them meant ordered liberty rooted in right reason accessible to any uncorrupted man.
What is the end of man? Schall writes that "Political happiness is its own natural good, while at the same time it is ordered to the good of contemplation. Contemplation [or what we call cʘʘntemplation] itself is ordered to what is ultimately worth contemplating, for its own sake."
Here again, this converges on the true meaning of liberal, in that we are most free (or slackful) when we are free to contemplate and enjoy the absolute in all its diverse modes, e.g., love, truth, beauty, friendship, creativity, unity. For men, it is this "useless" knowledge that is the most useful, for it is precisely what elevates our lives and makes them worth living. It is what makes us human instead of a just another pleasure-seeking animal, and implies the "full blossoming, inasmuch as that is possible, of the human being in all his mortal potential."
An alternative to this is the warped progressive ontology which sees man as a material means to a material end conceived by third parties. Thus their devaluation of liberty and a consequent preoccupation with economic, not spiritual, equality. This is one of the master keys toward understanding the disordered soul of the true leftist, for he literally doesn't see what we see, and obsesses over things we don't think about -- for example, that some citizens in a free society will have more stuff than others. My son, for example, has many more toys and clothes than I have. But I'm not jealous of him, since I have some invisible and infinitely precious things of which he has no awareness (or rather, they have me).
You might say that Job One of the left is to first despiritualize man. And once a man has been materialized, it is child's play to convince him that the state can make him happy -- or that the reasons for his unhappiness are exterior to himself.
This is truly a diabolical inversion, for it is not only absurd, but it also systematically prevents a man from understanding and actualizing his transcendent purpose. The true conservative knows that we must "prevent politics from being something other than it is. We do not want politics claiming to provide a transcendent happiness that is beyond its nature." For when the political order "places itself between the human being and his end, it violates the most precious purpose of its own existence..." (Schall)
Indeed, as the Pope has said, the loss of transcendence provokes the flight to utopia -- for example, our new utopian healthcare system, soon to be followed by our utopian climate-control system. These follow on the heels of the left's utopian educational system, along with the utopian poverty-control system they implemented in the 1960s. Thus, as anyone can see, our nation is very close to actual political utopia. Two more years of Obama, and we should be there.
But why are people angrily rejecting Obama's imposition of liberal utopia? Is it ingratitude? Racism? An outmoded belief that the Constitution means what it says? Bitter clinging to one's own ideas of the transcendent good?
Jesus and Socrates, two of the archetypal fountainheads of Western civilization, were men who lived in the Light of the transcendent Absolute, and were murdered for it by the state. I believe that these myths (in the higher sense of the term) are in our bones, so that the left must first uproot them in order to impose their own magical myth of Sugar Candy Mountain on earth.
It is surely no coincidence that Obama is our first non-Christian and "multicultural" (in the philosophic sense of seeing nothing special about the West) president, whose perverse version of "Christianity" is so beyond the pale that it contains far more heresy than valid theology. We have to imagine the spiritual condition of a man who sat in those pews week after week, year after year, hearing vile and lunatic things that would have sent any of us (trolls excepted) running for the nearest shower.