Real Socialism is the Only Remedy for Socialist Fantasies
You will need to read the whole thing, but in summary, "The central tenet of the cultic and hysterical [entity] called Leftism is what I call ‘the unreality principle.’ This is the principle, baldly stated, that reality is bad and unreality is good, therefore unreality is real." (I would just add that this applies with special force to vertical, or principial, reality.)
The immediate corollary is that "anything one would like to believe about Leftism is real, and that the facts are not real. Hence, the Leftist believes his cult is not a cult." It is the cult to which no one may belong and few ever leave, especially in its upper wretchelons.
Who hasn't confronted this in virtually any conversation with a leftist? It almost comes down to a tautology: leftism is good because it is good, and conservatism is bad because it is bad. For the the exegetes of the left, everything else is commentary.
The third tenet is that "there is no war, there is only rebellion" (especially against reality, hence its never-ending nature). Taken together, we have something analogous to "the Gnostic belief that the world is an illusion created by an evil demiurge in order to trap the souls of us, we enlightened who are actually gods in disguise."
This is certainly how I regarded the world back when I was a default leftist. And when I say "default," that is indeed a critical point, because it was never anything I "chose" in any meaningful sense, if by "choice" we mean being given a sober and disinterested presentation of the alternative metaphysics that underlie illiberal European-style leftism and traditional American conservative liberalism.
Rather, it cannot be overemphasized that, given the quality of information available to the average -- or even highly motivated -- citizen back when the left had a total monopoly on the dissemination of news and propagation of scholarship, one would have had to be a real oddball to hold alternate views.
I frankly didn't know any conservatives. Like the Jew is for the Arab Muslim, the conservative for me was just a mythologically malevolent beast who was not only patently wrong but also intrinsically bad (e.g., "greedy," "misogynistic," "homophobic," etc.), and, worst of all, a judgmental case, a buzzkilling scold, the death of the party.
When I say "oddball," I mean this in both its positive and negative connotations, in the ironic sense captured by Don Colacho: "Conformism and non-conformism are symmetrical expressions of a lack of originality."
For example, people who do not "fit in" will often adopt a philosophy that accounts for their failure to do so, and then put it "in your face," daring you to reject them. Then the person can say to himself, "they don't like me not because I'm a jerk or a weirdo, but because I'm a whatever."
Nowadays one sees the same pattern in blacks, homosexuals, and feminists with little else to recommend their nasty personalities. Think of how Al Sharpton can explain away how the normal person cringes in his presence with recourse to "racism." "They're not cringing because I'm a lying sleazebag, but because I'm black!"
In another sense, to be an "oddball" is simply to be oneself. In an epigram Petey whispered to me long ago, If you're not eccentric, you're wrong. Petey is, of course, subject to bombast and over-generalization, but his point is that since each human being is as unique as a snowflake, we will all be a little flakey in our own particular way.
Importantly, for the believer, our uniqueness is not accidental, but absolutely essential -- which is none other than the true meaning of "liberalism," for real freedom is genuine individuality lived.
In other words, we cannot "become who we are" except in the context of ordered liberty. (And bear in mind the truism that liberty in the absence of order is another word for nihilism, or Sartre's existential "nothing," or the Jews' "cosmic bupkis.")
Recall Ratzinger's answer to the question of how many ways there are to God: "As many as there are people." It can be no other way. It is reminiscent of Sri Aurobindo's comment that each of us is a "unique problem of God," with no one-size-fits-Allah solution. Indeed, to suggest that there is one solution (in all its details and particulars) to the problem of humanness is the very definition of tyranny.
But there are obvious forms of "hard tyranny," e.g., the Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and more subtle forms of "soft tyranny" in the post-Christian and neo-pagan west. If the essence of tyranny is the denial of freedom and therefore self-discovery and development, then the pneumacognitive prison of the west is built by pricks of political correctness.
Unlike brick-and-mortar prisons, one can live one's entire life without awareness of being imprisoned, so long as one doesn't breach the invisible walls. Touch one of the walls, however, and the snipers begin firing from the parapets.
For example, in this prison it is permissible to smear a non-leftist president with the most vile and over-the-top epithets -- nazi, mass murderer, racist, war criminal -- but if you happen to notice that the current occupant is, you know, kind of a dick, you'll be spending time in the gulag for re-education.
I personally do not condone such language, but what do you expect from a dick like Halperin? Besides, it is much worse to falsely accuse someone of racism than to accurately describe someone as a dick.
Now, what does this all have to do with John Paul? First, let's begin with an aphorism or two from Don Colacho: "Liberty is the right to be different; equality is a ban on being different."
To paraphrase another one, the only permanent cure for socialism is actually living under it. Until then, the fantasy can be indulged and dressed in the garb of intelligence. But once the concrete reality of socialism intrudes, the abstract dream collapses upon itself. Either that, or you run out of other people's money.
Obama's example is only the most recent, but this is a persistent collective dream from which man must awaken generation by generation -- similar to how each individual man must evolve and go through the civilizing process one assoul at a time.
In other words, each person who comes into the world must master himself -- his pride, greed, gluttony, et al -- while acquiring and perfecting the virtues, e.g., wisdom, courage, temperance. No one else can do it for you, much less the state.
For the paradorks of the left, one might say that there are no virtues, and that the statist defines and enforces them. Thus, to paraphrase Eliot, they dream of political systems so perfect, that no one needs to be good. Like, say, Al Gore, one can live an opulent lifestyle that emits more pollutants than a small country, but be lionized as a secular saint so long as one mouths the proper words.
In this bizarro world, Hugh Hefner and Keith Olbermann are "feminists," Jesse Jackson and Johnnie Cochran "civil rights leaders," Deepak Chopra or the Marxist Dalai Lama "spiritual leaders," etc.
Back to the point about nothing being quite so effective in curing socialism as actually living under it. This was the source of one of the enduring themes animating John Paul's life and papacy, for he had known nothing but freedom prior to the National Socialist occupation that occurred in his twentieth year, followed by the Soviet occupation that commenced six years later. As an old joke has it, Poland was the only country to lose World War II twice.
Especially during the Nazi occupation, Christians were driven underground, where the truth had to be preserved and passed along in secrecy, under the constant threat of death if caught.
This modern catacomb-Christianity wasn't just a kind of oasis of freedom in a spiritual desert, but was the only defense against the systematic de-spiritualization of man.
In the west we all take our Judeo-Christian spiritual matrix for granted (especially unbelievers), but in Poland there was a vivid awareness of how the Gospel "had a more compelling answer to the perennial questions of human life than the purveyors of the official state ideology. Christian humanism, in other words, was quietly but unmistakably counterpoised to Marxism."
To the everlasting bewilderment and frustration of leftists everywhere, fidelity to Christianity -- not to mention Judaism -- is something they simply cannot explain or eliminate. Indeed, the mere survival of Judaism has to be counted as miraculous evidence of its providential source, in the teeth of thousands of years of efforts to exterminate it from the planet.
In this regard it is the very opposite of socialism, in which living under it is its own worst enemy. In contrast, Jews -- and Christian martyrs -- were so attracted to the truth that they were willing to die rather than relinquish it. The only thing that can get a socialist similarly worked up is to threaten his pension or vacation time.
For the leftist, there are several fronts in the cosmic battle: God, the individual, and the family, the latter two being reflections of the first. Thus, communists "understood that men and women secure in the love of their families were a danger. Housing, work schedules, and school hours were all organized by the state to separate parents from their children as frequently as possible."
There was certainly nothing sacred about the family or about sexuality. Rather, as for the left in general and our troll William in particular, no intrinsic morality attaches to sexuality -- much less male-female sexuality -- which sets the termites loose at the very foundation of civilization. Gravity and tenure take care of the rest.