Friday, September 09, 2011

Reactionary Mush from the Imperial Wimp

This is right in keeping with our discussion of the millennial mentality: regarding last night's predictable Mush from the Wimp, a Jeffrey Kuhner observes that

"Contrary to popular myth, liberalism is not politics committed to science or rational thought. It is a substitute religion -- a secular philosophy similar to Marxism that seeks to replace Christianity and provide believers with existential meaning. Hence, it must be defended at all costs, even in the face of irrefutable evidence or logic. Mr. Obama is not an anomaly among progressives. They share his stubbornness. Reassessment is not possible. If Mr. Obama truly were to tack to the center, it would represent a fatal admission of error. The liberal faith would collapse. This is why left-wing Democrats are demanding that he defy the Tea Party --- and reality.... The problem is not Keynesian liberalism, but the lack of sufficient zeal."

As we will see, this is an extremely common pattern, for again, what is the millennialist to do when redemption doesn't come, when the cargo doesn't arrive, when the spaceship doesn't land? More stimulus!

Imagine if Obama were actually serious about helping our ailing economy. The first thing he would do is sign the repeal of Obamacare, but that is impossible. But why is it impossible? Is it only because of arrogance, narcissism, petty pride? No, it's much deeper than that.

I can fully relate, because I know how difficult it would be for me to abandon one of my bedrock beliefs. Furthermore, I know I wouldn't do so based upon some "transient" or "apparent" setback, as Obama no doubt imagines he is facing. Thought is always superimposed upon a well of deep emotion, so it's actually more analogous to switching allegiance from one team to another.

In my case, I've been a Dodgers fan since I was nine years old. My allegiance is completely irrational, or a-rational, anyway -- as Seinfeld said, since the players are always changing, it really comes down to rooting for laundry -- but that doesn't make it any less compelling. I suppose if I moved to another city I could root for a different team, but my heart wouldn't be in it, given my long history with the Dodgers, especially during the formative years.

Indeed, it was a very slow and difficult transition for me to go from 100% liberal to 100% conservative, as those beautiful and seductive lies and illusions were exposed and dropped one by one -- lies that had shaped and structured my identity and even my reality (although the two obviously go hand in hand).

A philosophy isn't just some kind of interchangeable operating system. Rather, it's a rough and ready, all-purpose economic, cultural, historical, sociological, political, and even metaphysical map of reality. It orients one to fellow citizens, to the world, to other countries, to history, everything. This is why it was always said that one should refrain from discussing religion and politics in public, or with people one doesn't know well. Religion is understandable, but why politics?

Because politics is quite obviously much more than politics, as we have been learning in our discussion of apocalyptic and millennial thought.

Furthermore -- and this is key -- if one has no (conscious) religion, then one's politics will inevitably partake of that preternatural energy as well. In my view, this is the only thing that explains the fanaticism, anger, and irrationality of the left.

And I would say the identical thing of "conservatives" who convert politics to a millennial religion or personality cult. A conservatism that is not rooted in maturity, sobriety, and (usually melancholy) experience (individual and collective, present and past), is not conservatism.

I want to continue with some of Landes' definitions before (I think) moving on to what I believe to be the actual dynamics, or deep structure, of the millennial/apocalyptic mindset.

First, he draws a distinction between hierarchical and demotic millennialism, which in many ways describes the differences between left and right. I won't speak for Landes, but when I say "right" in this context, I am referring not to American style conservatism -- which is uniquely demotic and hierarchical, hence its effectiveness -- but to European style statism, caesaropapism, fascism, authoritarianism, etc. American conservatism is as different from these as it is from contemporary liberalism.

The hierarchical "pole of millennial thinking works from a top-down model of the 'perfect' society," and often includes visions of the "messianic 'world conqueror' who inaugurates the golden age." This "emporer-messiah represents God on earth and constitutes" his "image and icon" (Landes). (See snidebar for contemporary examples.)

Landes notes that "the evil forces that hierarchical millennialists target come from 'below' (the unruly masses) and from 'without' (foreigners)." Substitute "reactionary statists" for "imperial government" and "tea party" for "unruly masses," and you get the idea. These statists are offended by "commoners who do not know their place, women who talk back," and general disrespect for aristocrats and elites.

As the Sultan so accurately describes it, "When liberal pundits accuse tea party protesters of longing for the good old days, it is in fact the pundits themselves who in true reactionary fashion long for the good old days," specifically, "when the common people kept their heads down and listened to their betters. To hear the MSNBC talking heads bewail the danger of the armed mobs at Town Halls, you might think that you were listening to royalists bemoaning the French Revolution. But theirs is an equally elitist worldview in which power comes not from the voice of the people telling their representatives, but from the people listening to their representatives telling them what to do."

Our state masters forget -- if they ever knew -- that "The American experiment was based on the radical progressive notion that the people as individuals were best suited to conduct their own lives. Socialism by contrast is a reactionary ideology that rejects individual freedom in favor of a rule of the enlightened elite" (ibid).

And Greenfield is writing of and from the same attractor we are, in observing that "To hear the adulation wash over Obama, is to hear an echo of the slavish worship of the Sun King or a divinely appointed emperor. It is not simply messianic, a vein of political mysticism long common among liberals, but royalist in nature" (emphasis mine).

Having said that, its inverted cousin, demotic millennialism, is hardly better, and often worse. For one thing, demotic movements have a way of becoming hierarchical: the people's revolution soon enough becomes the vanguard of tyrannical elites.

In conjunction with my research for this series of posts, I have been reading the classic account of our constitutional convention, Miracle at Philadelphia, and it couldn't be more obvious that this was one of the dualities the congress was trying find a way to get past: monarchy at one end, and at the other, democracy (which in those days wasn't any kind of ideal, but rather, another word for mob rule).

How to construct a system that was both "aristocratic" -- i.e., drawing upon the disinterested wisdom of virtuous citizens who had the time and inclination to think and study, unquestioned geniuses such as Barbara Boxer or Al Franken -- but also fostering in people a sense that they too were participants who had a stake in the government?

The second distinction drawn by Landes is between restorative vs. innovative millennialism. Here again, this is generally reflected in the differences between left and right, but only in Europe, not America, since our unique combination of limited government, free markets, and Judeo-Christian values was harmonuiously innovative (as evidenced by the "creative destruction" of the free market and the development of science) and restorative (we are by far the most religious nation on earth, if one presupposes the freedom to choose one's religion or no religion at all).

A true "restorative" or "conservative" revolution would be like that of the Islamists, who utterly reject modernity and want to return to an insanely "pure" form of Islam. Ironically, conservative Americans are routinely accused by the left of having a similar agenda, when the opposite is true. Rather, the left wishes to impose its religion on the rest of us, since one cannot be a leftist without a huge and intrusive state. Again, Greenfield describes it perfectly:

"While the Tea Party protesters are fighting for a fundamentally progressive cause, the right of individuals to lead their lives as they see fit, liberals are fighting for a reactionary cause to impose an overriding government on the people against their will.... The socialist dream is the ancient dream of a supreme state, that is somehow all-wise and all-benevolent, whose rulers are somehow more enlightened than ordinary people, and who supply everyone with their needs."

Lastly, Landes describes two main types of apocalyptic scenario, the cataclysmic and transformational, which further divide into active and passive versions. I'm running out of time here, but let us just say that the "passive transformational" is the most benign of the four possibilities, while the active cataclysmic is the most destructive (for example, the Islamists are active cataclysmic, as apparently was the recent Norwegian mass murderer).

And unfortunately, all secular millennial scenarios are activist. Why? Because there is no God to bring about the transformation. Rather, we're on our own.

For example, although the left supposedly believes in evolution, they do not trust it. Rather, they want to force their preferred outcome, but in ways that are certain to fail, which brings us back to last night's ridiculously stale Mush from the Wimp.

25 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

Furthermore, I know I wouldn't do so based upon some "transient" or "apparent" setback ...

That's a worthwhile Bobservation. Compare it to Hebrews 11:13 -- These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

Progressives are like that, and as a matter of faith, I can respect them for it. As MLK said, "...I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there ...".

Just don't try to tell me that the progressive faith is science or reason or something else concrete. I would never try to dissuade a person from believing in the progressive corruption of Keynesian theory. I'm content to let reality take care of it.

See also, the wisdom of getting punched in the nose by reality.

9/09/2011 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Aha! du Jour...

"And unfortunately, all secular millennial scenarios are activist. Why? Because there is no God to bring about the transformation. Rather, we're on our own."

Mushroom sez:

"See also, the wisdom of getting punched in the nose by reality."

That was a good one although it brought up painful memories of youthful cowardice masked as wimpy Christian forgiveness. I wish I had punched back.

9/09/2011 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"regarding last night's predictable Mush from the Wimp,"

Speaking of which, and sorry for the left turn, but with all those promises the peppy Potus made last night, as he exhorted congress to 'pass the bill tomorrow'... which unfortunately doesn't yet exist, that wasn't the half of the problem.

What is the problem, is what it is that is necessary, what must be excused and even lauded, in order for nObamao & those in power to give goodies to their friends, those goodies have to be first taken from those who are not their friends - the use of Force.

I still do not see this in the headlines, and it makes up the second half of my comments about his speech last night,

"...And today, early this morning, hundreds - HUNDREDS - of members of the AFL-CIO stormed a port in Longview Washington, vandalized the grounds, and held people hostage, over a labor dispute...

"Hundreds of Longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview early Thursday, overpowered and held security guards, damaged railroad cars, and dumped grain that is the center of a labor dispute, said Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha.
Six guards were held hostage for a couple of hours after 500 or more Longshoremen broke down gates about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack, he said."

... and that union's president, Richard Trumpka, was a guest of honor in President Obama's box tonight, to listen to the President's speech with the First Lady. "


If that doesn't sound the alarm for your liberty... your liberty can expect to wake up dead.

9/09/2011 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Faith is a funny thing. Even faith based in truth is irrational (super-rational?), which makes it difficult two compare one faith with another and determine which is "more correct."

Of course, that's why it is so dreadfully important to base one's faith not on how it compares to another faith, but on the Real. If a metaphysic can't handle the universe as it is, then it must be in error. If it can't account for man as he is, it is in error. Faith does not shy away from reality testing - it must embrace it; if the map doesn't fit the coastline, then the wise man adjusts the map accordingly.

That being the case, when people actively work to deny reality, they must already know on some level that they are wrong...

***

wv says the Obamessiah still gives it a tingl.

9/09/2011 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

You are a better man than I am, John.

There's nothing wrong with forgiveness. What I think the writer was trying to express is more along the lines of what is consequential in life. I have a magnet on my door that says, "If it's not FATAL it's no big deal." But I'd go beyond that even, and say that there are worse things than dying. Or, "Live Free or Die" as they say in New Hampshire. There are certainly worse things than getting punched in the face, knocked down by a lineman, run over by a cow, or doing an endo over the handlebars. But a lot of people don't know that.

9/09/2011 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

@mushroom. I appreciate the compliment but it is probably inaccurate. It was just that if I had fought back the bullies, even it I had gotten really beat up, it would have sent them a message that I probably wasn't worth the trouble. I could have done that much. (Also, I had a great fear of AUTHORITY. What would the Principal do to me?)

Sometimes you have to fight for what's right. Nip it in the bud sort of thing. From a Christian perspective, it still troubles me how to appropriately act, whether to fight or forgive.

Sorry for the OT discussion.

9/09/2011 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I don't think it's OT, and anyway it's always a tough question. The extremes are usually obvious; the gray areas, not so much. And is there a more concrete example of reality testing than putting one's physical self on the line? In fact, generally speaking a leftist will do no such thing - and they don't want anyone else to, either (Snide note - DH's favorite nickname for Obama is "Hindmost").

9/09/2011 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

I've gotten beaten up on several occasions.

I've mastered the art of attempting to verbally defuse the agressor while he's pounding on me.

This has actually worked twice in my life.

I think it's because it just confuses them when you don't really try to run away and continue to talk to them.

9/09/2011 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

My father was the school superintendent. Talk about overlaid authorities.

Julie says:

"Faith is a funny thing. Even faith based in truth is irrational (super-rational?), which makes it difficult two compare one faith with another and determine which is "more correct."

Of course, that's why it is so dreadfully important to base one's faith not on how it compares to another faith, but on the Real."

I always liked playing the "let's argue religion game" with my friends. One time I got my Mormon girlfriend in a fight with my Pentacostal friend.

I was also very anti-Catholic, but that was because I was Lutheran. I figured that by accepting Lutheranism (which you had to do by a certain age), I was implicitly accepting the falsehood of Catholocism, ergo, it, like all other false faiths, must be ultimately eliminated from the world.

Fortunately, I got past all that years ago. I no longer play the "let's argue religion" game.

It makes much more sense to see how faith compares to the Real than trying to weigh religions against one another, as though using a mathematical equation, to see which one needs to be annihilated.

9/09/2011 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Mushroom says:

"Just don't try to tell me that the progressive faith is science or reason or something else concrete. I would never try to dissuade a person from believing in the progressive corruption of Keynesian theory. I'm content to let reality take care of it."

What I find odd about the current debt-based system is that there is no real limitation on the governmental purse.

The government can, and does, issue as much debt as it feels like.

With interest rates at about 0%, they can keep massive debt issuance around for some time.

And the only reason to tax is to reduce demand to reign in inflation. There is no real external limit to debt issuance.

I take a more systems approach to certain portions of the economy. For instance, since food is so cheap to produce, we essentially need food stamps to keep the unemployed population fed. There are no family farms anymore.

9/09/2011 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of reality testing, this is just dumbfounding.

9/09/2011 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

In this latest round of the "let's argue religion game", God may have offered an opinion.

Excluding Catholics and Evangelicals from the 9/11 vigil at the National Cathedral? You gotta be kidding me!

9/09/2011 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

At least the Washington memorial will feature members of the clergy, whatever their denomination. New York doesn't even get that. Still, it's insane that these sorts of events always feature religious people from faiths shared by roughly 1% of Americans (a Tibetan monk? Really?), while the vast majority are excluded. Like in Tucson back in January, where they had a "Native American Shaman" give the address.

9/09/2011 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

John Lein says:

"Excluding Catholics and Evangelicals from the 9/11 vigil at the National Cathedral? You gotta be kidding me!"

Have you ever been around evangelicals when they are on a good anti-Catholic rant?

It's pretty impressive.

I've read a ton of anti-Catholic literature produced by the anti-Papists.

9/10/2011 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger David R. Graham said...

"The problem is not Keynesian liberalism, but the lack of sufficient zeal."

al Wahhab, al Bana and Qutb used the same conclusion to explain the defeat of the Caliphate at Vienna 1693 and the invasion of the Levant by Napoleon and Nelson. That is, the end of Mohammedan supremacy over "its" territory. Their conclusion: the problem is not Mohammedanism as both polity and religion, it is our insufficient zeal to its tenets and promises.

9/10/2011 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Taranto's column yesterday seems apropos of the general discussion. Interesting that the left - or at least Dionne - dismisses Muslim millenialism as a fantasy ideology, and as such must be harmless. This in face of all the actual verifiable harm done in the name of that particular fantasy.

Isn't that kind of like the pot calling the kettle "differently colored," in hopes that nobody will notice the pot is black as well?

9/10/2011 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger David R. Graham said...

"Faith is a funny thing. Even faith based in truth is irrational (super-rational?), which makes it difficult two compare one faith with another and determine which is "more correct.""

That is a flighty statement, cute, pandering, uninformed. There is a whiff of superiority from it.

Faith, reason, truth and "the Real" ( do you mean esse ipsum?) are one and the same. That makes them incomparable. Is that funny? I don't think so. Thinking it's funny is funny, I think.

9/10/2011 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger David R. Graham said...

The National Socialists tried to make a new religion which they considered very liberal and liberating, for them. It took an outside force to demonstrate the nullity of their religion. Except that it does persist, as was heard Thursday from the podium of the US House of Representatives. So maybe one should recognize that liberalism is a religion, an idolatrous one, that isn't going away of its own, not even if it fails internally, and doesn't even go away when whacked down by an external force.

How to break the back of the National Socialist ecclesial/academic/media/bureaucratic monopoly ruling the USA for, what, decades? And if that monopoly is compared to a bees' nest, who/what is the queen bee at the center?

I don't think it was mush. I think it was clear, specific rally for National Socialist leader worship (idolatry) backed up by threat.

9/10/2011 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I suspect, David, that there is a definitional barrier here. I used those words in layman's terms, not Thomistic. I'm the first to admit I may be prone to flighty thinking, and certainly this may have been the case. If so, well, I've never claimed my thoughts are worth much attention. The going rate is about .02¢, last time I checked...

9/10/2011 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of being flighty, cute and uninformed, here's a good shepherd crossed with Heaven's Gate millenialism.

Not sure how to work pandering superiority in there, but I trust it is frivolous enough for a Saturday morning...

9/10/2011 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

http://ia600700.us.archive.org/1/items/Liberty_7/Liberty.pdf

9/10/2011 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

[url=http://ia600700.us.archive.org/1/items/Liberty_7/Liberty] Definition of liberty [/url]

9/10/2011 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Aside from obvious troll stomping, I find this a place where one can freely express one's opinion, even if tangentially on topic, and we encourage one another and build each other up. I believe I understood what julie meant in her statement; she then develops the idea further in next paragraph. I didn't find it to be

"...a flighty statement, cute, pandering, uninformed. There is a whiff of superiority from it."

David's opinion, while he is allowed to express it, violated the spirit of comradarie we share around here.

In my opinion.

9/11/2011 06:06:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks, John. I know I have my moments, but hadn't thought that was one of them.

I'm not sure what David's issue really is, but I doubt it has anything to do with me.

9/11/2011 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Because politics is quite obviously much more than politics, as we have been learning in our discussion of apocalyptic and millennial thought.

Furthermore -- and this is key -- if one has no (conscious) religion, then one's politics will inevitably partake of that preternatural energy as well. In my view, this is the only thing that explains the fanaticism, anger, and irrationality of the left."

Agreed. The person who has political beliefs, but no integrated system of thought which accounts for them... it becomes it and the vicious circularity is off and running.

"In conjunction with my research for this series of posts, I have been reading the classic account of our constitutional convention, Miracle at Philadelphia..."

I'm not one who thinks that changing or 'improving' textbooks could or would have any affect on what and how they were taught, but, if any book could help bring about real change, it's that one. Replace Social Studies textsbooks with 'Miracle at Philadelphia', and a miraculous transformation of the schools could possibly become possible.

Not because the schools would be changed, but the kids surely would, in so many ways.

Of course... you're far more likely to see Paul Krugman studying Thomas Sowell, than 'Miracle at Philadelphia' being admitted to a classroom, but... dare to dream. Just don't drive while doing it.

9/12/2011 07:01:00 AM  

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