Two Tribes, Two Dreams, One Dreamer
Trying to locate the "origins of political order" is a bit like trying to remember the beginning of a dream -- which ain't gonna happen. We never remember the beginning of a dream. Rather, we somehow find ourselves in the middle of one, and no matter how many times it happens, we're always surprised and more or less puzzled to be there. You know, like life. WTF are we doing here?!
It is exactly the same with the origins of politics, which must be coterminous with the origins of humanness. There is no humanness without some kind of psycho-political and pneuma-political order.
For just as kinship and tribal structures are the politics of early man, politics as we know it is the tribal structure of modern man. What are liberal and conservative but two different tribes? Hence the primitive emotionality that is unleashed as a result.
There are two ways we can approach the problem. Indeed, one might even say that there are two tribes who approach the problem in alternate ways. Fukuyama clearly belongs to the tribe that believes in rationalism and naturalistic explanations, which is fine. I never question another guy's faith.
But what if politics is actually the unfolding instantiation of something higher -- not just a complicated way for monkeys to organize themselves, but an ingression of cosmic principles?
For while Fukuyama shows a certain respect for the other tribe, he repeatedly lets on that he doesn't really take our orientation seriously, and automatically translates our beliefs into his language.
For example, our tribe sees a direct link between the unique emergence of individualism in the West, and Christianity's emphasis on the infinite value of the individual. Fukuyama, to his credit, acknowledges this historical reality -- which already places him miles above the multicultural crowd -- but then ascribes it to material/efficient causes.
Fukuyama begins his search for the Origin with our prehuman ancestors. Here again, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, and much to admire and learn from -- indeed, I did the same thing in my own book.
But there is a massive difference between saying that man came from the apes as opposed to through them. For just because humanness emerges in a modified ape brain, it hardly means that this trivial change was sufficient to account for the vast differences.
In Fukuyama's tribe, they point to the "one percent difference" in the genome between man and chimp. In our tribe, we point to the same one percent to show the relative insignificance of DNA in distinguishing man from ape.
Perhaps that one percent doesn't constrain but permits. After ninety-nine Noes! that keep consciousness plunged in the body and merged with the senses, a single Yes! liberates it out into the infinite.
It very much reminds us of that otherwise undistinguished novel, Little Big, which depicts the world as a series of concentric circles, with Reality at the center.
However, unlike in the wideawake world of Aristotelean geometry, in this case, the closer one penetrates toward the center, the more expansive the world, until one reaches the Absolute center which is simultaneously Infinite circumference.
In the profane world of geometry, each successive circle becomes more cramped. But with sacred geometry, each world is more expansive. Thus, in the unsane mathsemantics of our tribe, 1% = ∞; or, to put it anauthor's way, ʘ and O are "not two" (which is also why we can in principle know anything that is knowable).
In our view, the naturalist tribe can only pretend to understand how man managed to climb over the Monkey Wall, and can only devalue what lies on its other side -- the human side, which is to say, the divine/human side.
Their origin myth is no better than ours, and in fact, considerably more primitive and implausible, for it is forever constrained to explain the Greater via the Lesser. In this myth, truth must somehow be a function of truthlessness, consciousness of matter, life of chemistry, and politics of ape warfare.
The irony is that our tribe is expansive enough to easily accommodate theirs (with wombs to spare), whereas theirs necessarily denies ours.
This is a critical distinction, for our tribe believes in complementarity, while theirs believes in duality. For us there is a complementarity between science and spirit, whereas for their tribe there is only a duality that ultimately reduces to science. And for us, the complementarity always points to its resolution "above," while for them it is simply abolished by pulling it down below.
Which is a funny thing for a liberated monkey to do, for it is a little like escaping back into the zoo. But we are all acquainted with monkeys -- indeed, they are everywhere! -- who prefer chained security to a liberty which is simply "nothing" if not "everything."
And in the absence of spiritual awakening and guidance, liberty is indeed nothing, just as the existentialists say it is. Better to beat a hasty retreat back into matter, where we can at least cash in our chimps and be a king of nothingness.
A hopelessly wayward, eccentric, and willful member of our tribe, James Joyce, attempted the same thing as Fukuyama in his Finnegans Wake, but what a difference! And which approach is more "true?" That is one of the questions we will explore as we go along. (I should emphasize that we have barely even touched on Fukuyama's book, so you should reserve any odium until we have at least given him the podium.)
For Joyce, our origins are obscure, to be sure. But he treats the obscurity as a positive presence rather than a mere "absence." As with a dream, just because it is obscure hardly means that it doesn't have its own logic. It's just different than ours, and if we try to apply our daytime logic to it, we will either be misled or generate absurdity.
For one thing, the Dreamer is bigger and more powerful than the ego. The ego cannot really compete on its playing field, for the same reason that a child, no matter how brilliant a prodigy, will never be a literary genius. The ego going up against the Dreamer is like trying to empty the ocean with a spoon.
In describing the obscure style of Finnegans Wake, Joyce said that "It's natural things should not be so clear at night, isn't it now?" It is a book about the night, veiled in darkness, and attempting to express the truth of the night in the idiom of darkness.
To not remember one's dreams -- or at least not know that one dreams -- is analogous to not knowing that man ceases to be ape when he begins to dream -- or, when he crosses the threshold into the world of the Dreamer. The dream cannot be reduced to mere neurology without putting us back to sleep, swaddled in the animal carcass of our tenured furbears.
"What we have rashly labeled a dream, then, might more accurately be called the 'murmury' of a dream. And since all such dreams occur to us -- literally -- when we wake up and assume our conscious capacity to 'remumble' them, to articulate to ourselves in 'murmury,' traducing them in the process, they will help only some in allowing us to know what really happened in the clearer few minutes of the dark half-hour that we wished, in detail, to reconstruct" (Bishop).
Thus, in trying to locate the "origins of politics," we must simultaneously remumble and remurmur a collective dream. Casting the floodlight of reason on the nighttime of the Dreamer is like beating a drum while chasing a criminal.
Two tribes, two dreams.