Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is the Left Insane or Merely Unsane?

Ahh, if only everyone were sane.

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

29 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

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)...

I am not counting on the APA to recognize the unsanity of the latter any time soon.

Being a little out of touch with external reality can be painful, but: A man's spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14)

8/25/2011 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error.

And thus the importance of humility. Genius in the service of its own genius = stupidity².

8/25/2011 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Dang! I think I may have actually understood ALL of that post.

Except infrahuman.

This dense language in which you speak, it takes time and reptition, but it is sinking in.

This is worth committing to memory:

"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.
"

8/25/2011 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Ok, I get infra-human.

8/25/2011 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Like infrared and ultraviolet, the realms above and below visible light.

8/25/2011 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

You cannot rouse the ideals of a nation that has lost its ideals.

Indeed; first, the citizens must find their ideals. In some places, one wonders whether it is still possible, but in others (such as the Netherlands) there does seem to be an awakening, as the real costs of moral relativism become too dear to continue paying.

It occurs to me that multiculturalism is akin to a refusal to acknowledge that up, down, left and right have meaning, simply because those directions are dependent upon a subjective location. Since "up" in England is not the same direction as "up" in Australia, who can say which is truly "up"? And since women in Tennessee are oppressed by the male gaze when they just want to go topless, who can say women aren't then more free from the oppressive male gaze in Saudi Arabia when they go about in a sack?

8/25/2011 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Dolly Parton is from Tennessee. And I am pretty sure she eats doughnuts.

8/25/2011 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oops - my mistake, it was North Carolina.

Ms. Parton, I'm sure, would have too much class to go topless. Besides, if she did she might cause a riot...

8/25/2011 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I think Kinky is winning me over: Three days later Rick called to give me a gracious little pep talk, effectively talking me down from jumping off the bridge of my nose.

Word veri says, It's herissi. In more ways than one.

8/25/2011 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Awesome. Perry obviously knows the secret of winning with grace. Contrast with the Won's habit of not-so-subtly flipping the bird at his erstwhile opponents during press conferences.

8/25/2011 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

gotopless.org is run by Raelians. I hired a Raelian once. Nice guy, except I knew that when he went to his conventions, he was at a giant sex-fest. Kind of icky.

8/25/2011 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yuck - you'd need a bottle of brain bleach handy after every conversation...

As an aside, I read that link as "Go to Pless" at first, and wondered where the heck Pless was, why I'd want to go there, and what that has to do with Raelians. Then I read it the right way :)

8/25/2011 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

I don't think it is a matter of sane or insane. ...

Conservatives seem to be a lower evolved sect of humanity. Kind of like modern humans 50,000 yrs ago that coexisted with the Neanderthals. Very similiar.

Science denying, superstitious. Study after study after study has shown conservatives do not handle information well. They are not equipped to adapt, they rely on persistent response patterns often not based on sound logic and critical thinking.

8/25/2011 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, ...

8/25/2011 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Another sluggish bowel movement from the male cat lady.

8/25/2011 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

No, William, I think I liked your first version better. You said of conservatives that we are: "A dying breed .. destined for extinction."

Bwaaahahahahaaaaaa

*gasp*

Bwaahahahahahaahahhaa

*snorfle*

*ahem*

Oh, please, keep the knee-slappers coming! Keep telling us what you really think! I mean, really, that's one for the ages - only, you won't have any descendants to appreciate the funny. Or the details of your digestion (because seriously, where's the fun of being a grandparent if you can't regale the kiddies with tales of TMI?).

Oops.

Well, that's a shame, because there are quite a few grandparents among the commenters here, and for those who aren't it's pretty much just a matter of time...

Now what was that you were saying about being unfit for survival?

8/25/2011 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

You don't understand, Julie. William is too evolved, too advanced, too intelligent for the vulgarity of reproduction. When you have achieved perfection, it is impossible to alter or improve.

I am reminded of one of my late brother-in-law's favorite jokes.

A man's cat has not been feeling well so he goes to the vet and describes the symptoms. The vet's a little hard of hearing so he misunderstands and thinks the man is talking about his calf. He advises him to give the "calf" a pint of castor oil, which the fellow resolutely proceeds to do.

A few days pass, and the man and the vet meet in town. The vet inquires as to how the animal is faring. The man shakes his head.
"All right, I reckon. The last time I saw him, he had five cats helping him. Two digging, two covering up, and one scouting for new territory."

8/25/2011 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Some Questions to ask Obama about his faith.

8/25/2011 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The comments are hilarious.

8/25/2011 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ace's commenters are always hilarious:

Do you believe that Christ is your savior and Lord?
Ok then why did he make you fucking retarded?

Do you believe it's ever permissible for 57 year old men to have sex with 9 year old girls? Even if the man in question was the Prophet Mohammad?

Do you believe we should follow the Ten Commandments? Then how the fuck can you explain the existence of the Democrat Party when #10 is "Thou shall not covet?"

8/25/2011 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I like this one:

"If Jesus could feed a multitude with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, what's your fucking problem?"

8/25/2011 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger chris m said...

"Another sluggish bowel movement from the male cat lady."

One of the most excellent insults I've read in a long time.

8/25/2011 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of the male cat lady, Sipp's paper of record has an apropos headline:

Local Lady’s Cat Pleads: Kill Me Now

(As an aside, Vanderleun is once again right; The Rumford Meteor has the best headlines of any newspaper on the planet)

8/25/2011 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

""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.]""

Epitaph for the 'Brave New World'(tm) of socialism.

Perhaps someone should write Part 2 of Aldous Huxley's classical dystopian nightmare - especially with the recent economic abyss staring back at us.

8/26/2011 12:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of foreseeable unforeseen consequences, American Digest quotes a guy who wrote in January 2009:

"What we are experiencing, in the deepening days of a global depression, is the desperate suspension of disbelief by people of intelligence in a pathetic effort to hypnotise themselves into the delusion that it will be all right on the night. It will not be all right.... Whatever the solution, teenage swooning sentimentality over a celebrity cult has no part in it. The most powerful nation on earth is confronting its worst economic crisis under the leadership of its most extremely liberal politician, who has virtually no experience of federal politics. That is not an opportunity but a catastrophe."

8/26/2011 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

@julie. Adding the Meteor link to my news folder. Heh.

Back to the intellegence discussion...

"For no matter how high someone's IQ, if their intellect isn't conformed to truth, how intelligent are they really?"

Makes me think of those geeks with enough spare mental horsepower that they learn Klingon. It's sinful, as in "missing the mark".

8/26/2011 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. learning Klingon, on the one hand, I sort of agree - it's certainly silly if nothing else - but on the other, I hesitate; declaring how one should spend one's mind seems a bit much like telling a man how he ought to spend his money. It may seem frivolous, but of all the things they could be doing it's probably pretty innocuous.

8/26/2011 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

True, makes me think of the silly things I spend time on. It's certainly no evil but makes one question what should one be doing with one's limited time on this rock?

8/26/2011 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, it definitely does that. Lord knows I waste a shameful amount of time engaged in frivolous entertainments; if there's to be an accounting, I'm in trouble...

8/26/2011 08:28:00 AM  

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