Is the Left Insane or Merely Unsane?
But what does it mean to be sane? The dictionary is of little help to us -- it simply says that to be sane is to be healthy, to be "free from hurt or disease," to be "mentally sound, especially able to anticipate and appraise the effects of one's actions," or "proceeding from a sound mind: rational."
Uh oh: able to anticipate and appraise the effects of one's actions. Does this mean that the left is intrinsically insane? Yes, it does -- at least when they are not criminally insane.
Actually, I would prefer the less loaded "unsane," because I believe the vast majority of leftists could see reality if only it were carefully explained to them in a non-confrontational manner. For example, to understand Hayek's knowledge problem is to understand why leftist economic schemes not only don't work, but always have unintended consequences, i.e., quackfire on us.
Conversely, conservatives see and anticipate these adverse consequences, whether we are talking about socialized medicine, rent control, porkulus, relaxing lending standards, printing too much money, redefining marriage, whatever.
The question of sanity is not, and cannot be, an either/or proposition. Rather, there are clearly degrees of sanity, and therefore, degrees of insanity.
Apparently -- except at the extremes-- all of us are more or less sane and insane at the same time; or sane about some things and less sane about others. We all have our buttons, which, when pushed, cause our ghosts to invade reality. This implies that there are degrees of reality, as opposed to the more stark dichotomy of reality/unreality.
More generally, think of psychological development: a child is not insane just because he sees and experiences reality in a different way than an adult. But development does not cease with chronological or biological adulthood. Rather, psychospiritual growth is an endless horizon.
Sanity clearly cannot be reduced to merely being rational, for a rationalism pushed to the extremes becomes patently irrational. Rather, reason must always be in the service of something else -- something called intelligence, and intelligence is beyond all reason.
In other words, no rational operation accounts for intelligence as such, or is able to judge why and how some people are so much more intelligent than others. Only intelligence can discern and judge intelligence.
And what is intelligence? If intelligence is to be a useful or meaningful construct, it can only mean one thing: the mind's conforming or adequation to reality, and reality is another word for Truth.
For no matter how high someone's IQ, if their intellect isn't conformed to truth, how intelligent are they really? It is foolish to suggest that IQ somehow correlates with truth -- as if a person with an average IQ of 100 is intrinsically less in touch with reality than a person one standard deviation above, at 115.
Look at Obama. Many on the left have suggested that he is the most intelligent man to ever occupy the White House. Leaving aside the intrinsic absurdity of such a claim, his intelligence clearly doesn't prevent him from embracing any number of untruths -- or, more neutrally, ideas that do not conform to reality.
But what is reality? Animals are beautifully conformed to reality, but does this mean they are sane? No, because they are conformed only to the lowest degree of reality, the outer shell or "epidermis" of the cosmos, the material world. But nor are they insane. You can't put a dog on trial for sexual harassment for humping your leg.
Unlike animals, human beings are consciously aware of the paradox of inhabiting two worlds, an external world of objects and quantitites, and a subjective world of qualities -- of thought, imagination, values, feeling, creativity, beauty, virtue, will. Thus, if sanity is conformity to reality, what does this mean as it pertains to the wider subjective world?
We are currently in the midst of a triangulated war for the future, between Islamism, Western European socialism, and American classical liberalism, i.e., liberty, free markets, and a spiritually grounded individualism. Only one of these is sane, or at least more sane than the others, i.e., more adequately conformed to both external reality (the way the world works) and, more importantly, internal reality (real human nature; note that the left doesn't have a problem conforming itself to our animal nature, but in such a way that it destroys the human).
However, it would be a mistake to view this struggle in terms of three competing ideologies on a horizontal plane. Rather, like most important historical events, this war is also taking place in vertical historical space.
In this regard, you may view the (real) United States and its spiritual allies as reflecting a transcendent position above, the Western Europeans occupying a fully immanent one on the two dimensional plane in between, and the Islamists who swim in the parasite-infested waters of the lower vertical.
Importantly, this infra-human domain is not to be confused with the animal realm, for there is obviously no animal that would or could sacrifice its own life for a transcendently evil cause, as do Islamists. Animals are not evil. Rather, they're just animals.
Most of the real wholesale evil in history is caused by groups inhabiting this lower vertical area, which is both sub-animal and infrahuman. Moreover, just as there are vertical Missionaries who embody the upper transcendent, there are avatars of evil who embody and give voice to the lower vertical: bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, Mao, et al. The awesome power of these men is trans-human (or infrahuman, to be exact), and cannot be explained by recourse to any mere human psychology.
If there is a purely animal-human realm lacking in transcendence, then it is actually the immanent-horizontal space occupied by Western Europe and the international left. Although they think of America as "selfish" because of our belief in low taxes and limited government, it is actually the other way around.
While socialism may superficially appear to be more humane, Mark Steyn points out that "nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellow is enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn't give a hoot about the broader social interest; he's got his, and if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till he's dead, it's fine by him." In this sense, social democracy is eventually "explicitly anti-social" (NR, 11-7-05). [Note how Steyn "saw the future," i.e., the unintended consequences playing out today, back in 2005.]
There is a further corrosion of the soul that takes place with European style socialism, in that, because it elevates material desires to the highest, it cynically cuts the heart out of any transcendent view of the world, anything beyond one's immediate animal needs.
As Steyn explains, it perversely elevates secondary priorities, such as mandated six week vacations, over primary ones such as family and national defense. And (real) progressive political change eventually becomes almost impossible, because the great majority have become dependent upon government, which causes a sort of "adherence" to the horizontal. To paraphrase Dennis Prager, the bigger the state, the smaller the human.
You cannot rouse the ideals of a nation that has lost its ideals. Any politician who threatens the entitlement system cannot get elected in Western Europe. The situation is analogous to an addict who has given over his power to the pusher.
By attempting to create the perfect society on earth through government coercion, it actually diminishes our humanity, since it relieves human beings of having to exert the continual moral effort to make the world a better place -- and oneself a better person -- as this is only possible by maintaining contact with the realm of transcendent moral and spiritual ideals.
In other words, European socialism is actually a flight from morality, thereby making people less humane, not more. It is a bogus kind of freedom, because it merely frees one from the vertical while condemning one to the horizontal.
As Pope Benedict has remarked, "I am convinced that the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes.... The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia" (emphasis mine; this should be pasted over every goofy left wing bumper sticker).
As Tomberg summarizes it, the human being is always faced with the choice between two basic attitudes or outlooks: that of existential being or that of essential Being. According to the choice he makes, he is either "orphaned" in the purely material, deterministic and horizontal realm with no reality higher than his individual meatsack, or his individual being is grounded in the more essential, trans-subjective Being which is both his sanctuary and destiny.
The European existentialist lives shackled in the Egyptian "house of bondage," in manacles forged by the deterministic/materialistic outlook, resulting in a materialized reality drained of divine-human meaning. That is, no vertical causes can arise in the closed chain of cause and effect, so that one is truly imprisoned as it pertains to the moral/spiritual realm.
From the existential outlook follows a host of disastrous ideas, such as class determines consciousness, poverty causes crime, free will is an illusion, private property is theft, hierarchy is evil, the vertical dimension is an opiate for the masses to keep them oppressed, and worst of all, the idea that a coercive state is needed to enforce equality (vs. the American belief in a Creator who endows us with a spiritual liberty which it is government's primary duty to protect). The freedom of mere animal passion forges the fetters that bind Western Europe to the horizontal wasteland.
So, back to our original question: what is sanity? Sanity is not reason, but intelligence. And intelligence is conformity to the real -- both internal and external -- which is Truth.
Intelligence is the perception of a reality, and a fortiori the perception of the Real as such. It is ipso facto discernment between the Real and the unreal -- or the less real....
It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error. The paradoxical phenomenon of even a “brilliant” intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively “horizontal,” hence lacking all awareness of “vertical” relationships.... --Frithjof Schuon