The Left: Upping the Anti-Christ into 2012 and Beyond
For the left, the apocalypse is always right around the corner, and yet, they pretend that we are the religious fanatics. Remember back in 2004? Democrats ran on the belief that it was the worst economy since the Great Depression! Yes, back when unemployment was 4 or 5% and the deficit was around 4% of GDP.
Of course, it is inherently difficult to say when a liberal is being sincere, for a liberal who is transparent about his beliefs is unelectable. If Obama had announced his actual beliefs and agenda in 2008 -- or if the media hadn't done such yeoman work in obscuring them -- he would have had about as much of a chance as Dennis Kucinich.
Rick Perry's theology -- whatever it is -- is not my theology, but I am confident that it is within the American mainstream. On the other hand, Reverent Wright is not mainstream, but preaches a classic millennial/apocalyptic/paranoid/neo-Marxist brew masquerading as Christianity. And Obama sat there for twenty years, just drinking it all in.
I want to briefly address a couple of comments to yesterday's post, because they anticipate much of what we will discuss later. Gandalin wonders "how the Church has avoided the millenarian temptation despite the fervently hoped for deliverance at the eshcaton."
The short answer is that she has not always succeeded in doing so; and outside the Church, all bets are off, as Christianity has spun off any number of schismatic millennial cults over the centuries.
Landes notes that Augustine was largely responsible for putting the kibosh on millennial temptations. I don't have time at the moment to look up the exact quote, but he essentially said something to the effect that we must always live as if the eschaton is just over the horizon, even though we can never know and should not attempt to predict when it is to arrive.
In fact, this is fully in accord with Jesus' rather definitive statement in Mark 13:32, which should have settled the matter forever:
But of that day and hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. So, what should we do? Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. End of issue. Just stay alert, and don't let me catch you napping behind the wheel of karma.
So right there we have what ought to be a built-in unknowculation against the millennial temptation. But does it work? Certainly not with everyone. There are always books and religious television programs dedicated to proving that these are the End Times, but I am quite certain that a clever religious huckster could prove that any time is the End Time -- just as apocalyptic environmentalists can show that any weather pattern proves that We're All Gonna Die!
What this actually proves is that millennial and apocalyptic thought is somehow prior to any particular religion. However, this doesn't mean that it is intrinsically false. It does mean, however, that it can only happen once. Julie touched on this in commenting that "The Millenial tendency, it seems to me, must be based in Truth -- much like counterfeit money. But there is no end to the imitators, while there is only one genuine article."
This again goes to one of the central questions we will be attempting to answer as we go along: why do human beings seem to be built in such a way that millennial thought comes so naturally to them?
My preliminary opinion is that it is indeed an archetype, but a complex one, since it is not only in "space," so to speak -- like the Great Mother, the Wise Man, the Anima, the Trickster, et al -- but specifically deployed in time. Also, it organizes and reveals the ultimate meaning of everything, which is why it is so seductive and so intoxicating.
Conspiracy theories will always be with us, because something about them renders existence both exciting and meaningful. They are like the iron magnet that instantly organizes all our random metal shavings. Even if it portends a cataclysmic outcome, from a psychological perspective it is preferable to be persecuted by One Big Thing than a thousand nagging ones (think of the delusional paranoid, who has only one big enemy).
To put it another way, to immerse oneself in a Cosmic Drama of surpassing importance -- whether climate change, Obamania, or this or that smelly little leftist revolution -- is to forget one's own unendurable self for a blessed moment.
But as always, no one escapes the cosmic law: he who smelt it, dealt it. In other words, the problem with these leftist assouls is that they make us endure their unendurable selves. Imagine the horror of actually having to be a Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Michelle Obama, Barney Frank, Keith Olbermann, Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, Cornel West, Al Gore, Rachel Maddow, whoever.
And yet, these are precisely the people who have the ovaries to interfere with our being. But our being is doing just fine, thank you. It never occurs to them that we are not aware of "missing something" that the mommy state can ever fulfill.
Rather, for most normal people, the state can only take, not give. Yes, there are obviously sad and tragic cases for whom we need that "safety net." But the left specializes in converting otherwise normal people -- or at least people who had a shot at normality -- to helpless and needy parasites who cannot live without a state master. In my state, California, these parasites call the shots, and there's not a thing we can do about it. The state is imploding before our eyes.
One thing these people never appreciate is that we are already living their awful millennium. It is already here, after some seventy five years of ceaseless effort to put it in place. But are they happy, now that it's here, now that the government is larger and more intrusive than ever? Of course not! Look at the rioters in Europe. That socialist paradise can't get any more comprehensive unless they revert to the Stone Age.
But do these reactionaries want to roll back the state and try progress for a change? Of course not! Rather, they want more of the same, as His Highness the Teleprompter will undoubtedly announce in its forthcoming "jobs speech."
This is again a transparent example of what Landes calls "apocalyptic jazz," that is, the type of discourse millennialists engage in after they have seized power and their predictions have failed, which they always do and always must.
The pattern is absolutely no different than Christian cults that predict and prepare for the second coming. When it doesn't happen, they just dig in their heels, figure out why their calculation was in error, and then offer a new and improved prediction. This pattern is universal because it is again a human archetype. We are all susceptible to it -- left and right -- if we fail to take precautions.
Although I want a conservative to win the presidency, in no way do I get caught up in the millennial hopes and dreams for which elections serve as "safety valves" to let off the psychic pressure. I'm not into predictions, but I am willing to offer three: one, the Republican candidate will be who it is. Two, I will vote for said candidate. Three, my life will not change much. In other words, there ain't no cure for Bob but the One cure.
I do not expect paradise on earth, because it is impossible. Conversely, the leftist never, ever asks himself if this or that is the best we can expect, given human nature and all.
Rather, the left always exploits the intrinsic imperfections, -- say, in any market economy, in the medical system, in the housing industry, in race relations -- makes them much worse with misguided policies, and then asks us to grant them the power to solve the problems they have created with more solutions guaranteed to make the problems worse.
This is how we end up with a disastrous real estate bubble, with Porkulus, with bankrupt Medicare and Social Security ponzi schemes, with Obamacare, with a dysfunctional educational system, with racial quotas that degrade their targets and impede their progress, etc. All of these ideas work fine in utopia, where they aren't needed. Here on earth they are a disaster. Especially when applied to human beings.
It is instructive to compare and contrast the American and French Revolutions, because in many important ways, these iterated into the left and right as we know them today. Landes has a chapter devoted to the French Revolution, so we'll get to that in due time. But how did Americans hold off the imposition of utopia by government masters for so long?
Clearly, one reason is that they were steeped in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Yes, the writings of the Founders occasionally veer into a kind of messianic fervor, but for the most part, they were quite sober and cautious, and not at all sanguine about man's ability to govern himself.
Since they were instructed by the wisdom of scripture that man is a fallen being who is imperfectible, but must always work toward his own perfection -- individually, but never collectively! -- they never lurched in the direction of the radical enlightenment, which threw off religion as so much nonsense, and attempted to found itself upon pure Reason.
Soon enough, the application of this pure Reason dictated the elimination of anyone who stood in the way between Now and Paradise. If you think this type of thinking is absent from the left, think again.
For Al Gore, if you do not believe the left should take over the global economy to prevent a climate apocalypse, you are no better than a racist or Holocaust denier. If you don't think it is wise to radically redefine the very foundation of civilization -- male-female marriage -- you are a hater and should be treated as such. Ironically, you are beyond the pale of the very civilization you cherish and wish to preserve.
Likewise, the only reason for your hostility to Obama's wise polices can be the color of his skin. You cannot possibly believe that the government has grown too large, for how can our savior, the State, be "too large?" What nonsense! And how inhumane!
Landes puts forth the ironyclad axiom that "one man's messiah is another man's anti-Christ."
This strikes me as manifestly true, but most especially for non-Christians, who see the anti-Christ in George Bush, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, "Dominionists," Creationists, the internal combustion engine -- whoever or whatever is their Demon of the Day. Since they are void of ideas, expect them to engage in this demonology -- to up the anti-Christ -- until November 6, 2012. Then watch them crank it up to eleven.
Kind of ran out of time before I even got started. I think this post may have been inspired by some of the sublime rants at Sultan Knish.