Monday, May 16, 2011

Liberalism and Ontological Closure

I don't reasonably have time to climb to Upper Tonga to procure a new post, but I do have sufficient slack to randomly select a previously cogitated one to bang into shape. It has a fair amount of new material, so please don't think you can just skip it:

Have you been keeping up with the debate about whether the conservative movement has descended into epistemic closure? Ironically, it's been a big topic of discussion in the impotently sealed world of the left, in such shriveled liberal organs as the Post, Times, and New Republic.

Another case of the liberal pot calling the kettle a "cooking receptacle of color."

PowerLine discusses the matter here, and after our laughter has subsided, there's not much left but to dismiss the liberal who imagines his ideology to be anything other than a dogmatic grid superimposed on the reality he rejects. For contemporary liberalism is the very essence not only of epistemic, but of ontological, closure -- a much more serious matter.

It is not just that the leftist lives in a closed intellectual world, but that he closes himself to whole worlds, i.e., the vertical world, or every ontologically real degree of being that transcends matter. A certain degree of "horizontal closure" is necessary for vertical openness, in the same way that self-control is a prerequisite of self-liberation.

Think of it: the liberal's whole world is just our bottom floor. The horror!

As we will proceed to explain, epistemic closure is really neither here nor there as compared to ontological closure.

As it so happens, our epistemic world can be relatively "closed," and still be quite effective for the exploration and colonization of higher worlds. This is for the same reason that our alphabet can be closed, and yet, still quite useful for coming up with sentences and words.

Indeed, if the alphabet weren't closed, we would have no stable means with which to build anything higher or deeper. This is one of the principle purposes of "dogma," which is there to close certain avenues of thought, so we can get on with the exploration. Only in extraordinary circumstances should they be reopened and renegotiated.

An example is the first sentence of our founding document, which affirms the transcendent source of our liberty and other natural rights. If I say that I am not open to renegotiating this dogmatic statement, does it make me epistemically closed? Very well then, I am closed. It is precisely such truths which the conservative wishes to conserve, and to which he must always remain open, for to close one door is to open anOther.

You will have noticed that the left, especially after 1968, succeeded in reopening and weakening virtually all of our founding principles and traditions. This is something they must do in order to replace them with their own beliefs and dogmas -- for example, the redefinition of marriage, the replacement of American culture with multiculturalism, the obsession with race over colorblindness, the pursuit of "criminal rights" over justice, etc.

Many of my readers are former liberals who left the left precisely because of its narrow, closed, and dogmatic worldview, histrionically enforced by the femailed fist of political correctness.

But how and why is it this way? In order to understand its deep structure, we must begin at the very beginning, for if one's anthropology is wrong, then so too will one's political philosophy -- and everything else, for that matter -- be wrong.

If it is "true" that man is just another animal selected by the environment through random mutations, he is by definition epistemically closed, for he is limited by what his selfish genes constrain him to know (and we would have no real way of knowing otherwise).

On the other hand, if man is in the image of his Creator, this places no limit on what he may know, since he partakes of the very substance of the Absolute. He is by definition open to reality. Indeed, a CRITICAL POINT is that there can be no "reality" at all in the absence of God, only opinions that have no ultimate ground.

Schuon notes that true -- or traditional -- philosophy involves "knowledge of the stellar world and all that is situated above us." But this is precisely where knowledge shades off into wisdom, the latter having to do with immutable ideas and archetypes, i.e., our MetaCosmic Clueprint. It is "knowledge of first causes and principles, together with the sciences derived from them."

This knowledge is both essential (i.e., partaking of Essence) and true, hence, liberating: it is the truth that sets one free, but only so long as one both knows it and lives in conformity with it (for the latter implies that truth has mingled with one's own substance; one does not merely "know" it but "undergo" and "become" it).

It is here that truth touches on intrinsic morality -- or where knowledge has its limits and its responsibilities. For all normal men know that truth may be defined as that which we must know and are obligated to defend. Only an already lost soul believes that truth doesn't exist or that it carries no moral obligation with it.

But for the secular leftist -- or any profane thinker -- there can be no philosophy as such, only various parodies of it, such scientism, rationalism, metaphysical Darwinism, existentialism, etc.

Since the world of transcendence is a priori closed to him, the profane thinker (or infertile egghead) is reduced to "reasoning" about phenomena, or secondary causes (i.e., diddling around ønanistically with his own organ of knowing). Thus, his philosophy becomes a frustrating dry dream that is simultaneously all wet.

Do you see the problem? Logic itself is a closed system -- for its conclusions arise necessarily from its premises -- but becomes doubly closed when one applies it only to the shifting empirical world of secondary causes.

Not only does the profane thinker try to reason in the absence of truth, but he seriously -- seriously! -- attempts to arrive at truth through reason, which no serious person would ever attempt to do.

Such individuals imagine "that the norm for the mind is reasoning pure and simple, in the absence not only of intellection but of indispensable objective data" (Schuon). Placing reason prior to Truth is to place man in front of reality, with disastrous consequences (e.g., the French Revolution and most every leftist revolution since).

Now, as a kind of compensatory mechanism, the secular thinker exchanges vertical openness toward the transcendent with a kind of faux horizontal freedom -- for nothing pleases the leftist more than to believe that he is a fearlessly "free thinker" who has thrown off the shackles of convention and tradition. He is the very opposite of those religious yahoos who believe in ontological realities transcending matter -- little things like truth, love, virtue, beauty, and Slack.

But how could freedom exist in any meaningful sense in the absence of truth? If there is no truth, then there is no freedom, only random or arbitrary movement. And if there is Truth, then by freedom the leftist merely means freedom from it. But you knew that already.

Again, the profane thinker is reduced to "observing causations in the outer world and drawing from his observations the conclusions that impose themselves on his sense of logic" (Schuon). But the leftist cannot exclude what his impoverished philosophy tries to deny, so he necessarily lives in a world of ghostly demonic presences that he projects into the conservative.

In other words, for the true leftist, the transcendent is collapsed into the immanent and located in the malevolent other, who becomes the essence of everything he denies in himself.

Only in this way could a doctrinaire leftist flatter himself by imagining that he lives in an epistemologically open world. Whereas a normal person vertically "brings his troubles to God," so to speak, the leftist projects them horizontally into demon teabaggers, anti-immigrant nazis, Obama-hating racists, and other malign figments of his ontologically closed imagination.

Friday, May 13, 2011

From Each According to Obama's Needs, To Each According to His Desires

There are two things about the market that are -- or might as well be -- magic. We discussed one of them in yesterday's alternately appearing and disappearing post: the "spontaneous order" that far surpasses the ability of any human -- or group of humans -- to allocate scarce resources with alternative uses in an efficient manner. The second is its godlike -- and I use that word advisedly -- ability to "create something from nothing."

First of all, there is no value in the absence of human beings. Because we value -- i.e., desire -- an economy comes into being. Now, desire is based upon a lack -- or perceived lack -- of some object, power, or state of being. A person who wants nothing engages in no economic activity.

It is through spontaneously trading with one another that aggregate value increases -- just as if something has been created from nothing. Note that this cannot occur if a central authority tries to undertake the fanciful project of determining peoples "needs," then providing for them.

"To each according to his need, from each according to his ability" is a recipe for stasis and impoverishment. For one thing, people do not value what is given to them, with the result that what they are given diminishes in value. What one is "entitled to" becomes simultaneously priceless and valueless, like soundwaves or gravity.

But there is also no increase in value without rules for gettin' it. This is why war and plunder do not result in increased value -- because they satisfy desire by simply appropriating value created by someone else, in a zero-sum game.

Our tea party-hearty founders were acutely aware of the long history of governments sustaining themselves in this manner through the power to tax -- which, in the wrong hands, is simply the power to get what one wants without having to undergo the formality of working for it.

Thus, the statist works a kind of counter-magic, in that he too gets -- but does not create -- "something from nothing" by purloining the slack of others. Instead of recognizing the market as the great generator of value, he uses it as a means to his own private ends -- for example, Obama's personal desire to provide healthcare to illegal aliens and to people who want to use their own scarce resources to satisfy other desires.

The latter may be stupid -- eg. omnipotent adultolescents who don't believe they'll ever get sick -- but why is this Obama's problem, much less mine? Unfortunately, the only way for an adultolescent to grow up is to learn the unyielding ways of the world. Shielded from these ways, he can stay a liberal forever.

Which I suppose is the point. Obama's ruling desire -- and the desire of the left in general -- is to see his ideology enacted into law and backed by the force of the state. This is a stance to which the believer in representative democracy can have no fundamental objection, for it is simply a case of the people getting what they deserve.

The problem is that the left uses democracy in order to put profoundly undemocratic policies into place -- similar to the "one man, one vote, one time" rule of pseudo-democratic tyrants.

After all, no living person ever voted for Social Security, and none of us have a say in various other leftist desires that have become our perpetual obligations, i.e., public employee unions, agricultural subsidies, state-run arts and media, the state education/indoctrination monopoly -- really, all of the countless extra-Constitutional activities of the federal government, which, once in place, are beyond the reach of citizens to eliminate.

The end result of leftist polices is the institutionalization of their desires, in a one way flow between citizens and statists. Yes, there is of course some incidental flow of value back to the citizenry, but usually much less than what was extracted from us. Few people deny that the citizenry gets good value from the legitimate activities of the state, e.g., police, military, public health, and, to a lesser extent, the judicial system.

Unfortunately, the latter has been systematically corrupted by leftist desire over the past fifty years, so it no longer provides the value it once did. A judge was once a figure of respect instead of likely ridicule, e.g., Sotomayor, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Kagan, O'Connor, Souter, and the rest of those dingbat tools of the left.

But this is no different from what Democrats have attempted to do to the judiciary from the very beginning of the country. Hamilton foresaw this in Federalist 78 -- that the judiciary was the weakest branch of government, and the most susceptible to populist and demagogic mischief. Slavery and Jim Crow were kept in place by Democrat presidents appointing Supreme Court justices who codified the desires of racists, just as today the institutional racism of the left undermines black progress.

The problem is that, while the Supreme Court is a coequal branch of government, it has no power except for the appeal to intrinsic rightness and truth. It has neither the executive sword to compel nor the legislative cash to bribe and seduce. Rather, the judiciary is there to protect us from these lesser forms of power through an appeal to truth and rightness only.

But what if people do not value truth and decency? Then truth has no voice in the judiciary, and your little experiment in representative democracy is over.

Note that when law is reduced to desire, we might as well concede that the game is lost. For there can be no compromise between what the Constitution says and what the left wishes for it to say. The latter is no longer the rule of law but the tyranny of unrestrained desire.

What is the origin of the rule of law? If we consider it only as the formality of arbitrary custom or "collective desire," we will eventually go off the rails, because customs and desires naturally change.

This is the whole basis of the left's argument that the Constitution doesn't really mean what it says, and even if it did, we don't have to pay attention to it, since today our desires are different. For example, we want the word "marriage" to no longer refer to the union of man and woman. Reality must bend to our desires.

Note the deep hypocrisy, for a liberal would never say this of laws he supports, such as the "right" to abortion, or the new constitutional "right to healthcare" discovered by Pelosi, Reid, and Obama. Likewise, don't even think about tampering with Social Security, for that is a sacred right of man!

This whole tyrannical enterprise is upside down, for the left has to undermine our legal foundation in order to compel us to build their beautiful penthouse on top. Through this sinister pettifoggery, our constitutional rights are transformed into unconstitutional obligations. Forever.

In real life, we cannot rely upon either the state or our fellow citizens to do right by us. Or, we can rely on them to the extent that they are bound by the rule of law. But the local rule of law is of no abiding value unless it is rooted in the nonlocal MetaLaw. Not for nothing does our Supreme Court building have a marble frieze of Moses the Lawgiver.

The Law behind the law is misleadingly referred to as "natural," but I would prefer to call it either the MetaLaw or perhaps the Cosmic Law, i.e., those laws that are authorized and handed down by our Creator.

For only if there is a Creator can there be any universally applicable law. Otherwise we are ruled by custom, opinion and convenience, which in the end devolves to power, not truth.

Truth subordinated to power ends in Crucifixion. Conversely, power subordinated to Truth is Resurrection.

So here is my desire: let us rededicate ourselves to the unfinished work for which our vertically living predecessors fought and died herebelow. Let us never, ever allow their selfless defense of our noble ideals to have been in vain. For if we permit this to happen, then government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall have perished from this bitter earth.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Worst Things in Life are Very Costly

Ever notice how the best things in life are unplanned and serendipitous? Of course you have. I gave up *trying* many years ago, and have been floating on the slack plane ever since....

Since when? I don't know. Was I just born this way, or reborn this way? That's one reason I hesitate to offer advice to people, since it may be analogous to advising them to be 5'11'', or have blue eyes. Taking credit for certain things might be just another form of imaginary control.

But I do distinctly remember -- this was when I was teenage moron -- that Death was a real gamechanger. It wasn't a result of any morbid preoccupation, just the spontaneous understanding that Death places everything in perspective and renders 99% of our activities, ideas, hopes, plans, and dreams rather trivial -- just distractions at best. If you really know you're going to die, it changes everything, every day.

I remember reading Ernest Becker's Denial of Death with great enthusiasm. In it he confronts the paradox that man is simultaneously fashioned in conformity with the Absolute, and yet, must die.

In other words, unlike any other animal -- or god, for that matter! -- our very lives are made of transcendence, even while knowing that in the end we return to dust. What's up with that? Was it really all just a dream? How can an animal awaken to this marvelous world of truth and beauty, only for it to be trumped by an Absolute Negation? How can the negation be more real than the thing it negates?

Why am I on this line of thought? I have no idea. Now that I'm on it, though, might as well follow where it leads.

I guess it all started when Vanderleun linked to a resonant passage by Sippican Cottage:

"In a hundred years the most important man you ever met is anonymous. In a thousand everyone is. We cobbled together a life around the table where we break the bread, and for a few thousand times we were as one. I saw your face in our children's faces. You said you saw mine. The universe passed the plate, and we put in our offering. We are poor, but it's enough."

Which provoked in me the thought: In the absence of death, humans would have no perspective on anything.

If terrestrial life were eternal, it would render everything meaningless, in the sense that value is usually a function of scarcity. Which means that the existentialists -- including Becker -- have it precisely backward and upside down in suggesting that the meaning of death is the death of meaning. Which, when you think about it, makes no sense, for how could meaninglessness mean anything?

Of course, it took at least another decade for me to figure this out: that death is indeed the key, but not in the way existentialists imagine.

Since Death is the existential key to the siddhi, it should come as no surprise that it has a central place in Christianity. For only in Christianity does God submit to Death, which is the only thing that can transform it from the existential negative of Becker and other existentialists into an ontological positive that shapes and transforms our lives in a beneficial way.

To be "born again" is to die to the old existence -- to give Death its due, and surrender to its grim reality. We die before we die in order to be reborn on another plane where death does not rule the night.

It is interesting that in one of the Upanishads, Death is the teacher. This is certainly a step in the light direction, but learning from Death is a very different thing from God taking on and becoming Death.

In the Katha Upanishad there is a kind of parallel to the Abraham/Isaac story, in which a father prepares to give his son to Death. Nachiketa journeys to the house of Death, where a courteous Mr. D. proceeds to instruct him on the ways of the cosmos.

Nachiketa says to him that "When a man dies, there is no doubt: Some say, he is; others say, he is not. Taught by thee, I would know the truth."

Death replies that "even the gods were once puzzled by this mystery," which is "subtle" and "difficult to understand." Similar to Jesus' forty days in the desert, Death offers the boy various inducements to abandon his quest, but Nachiketa holds fast. "Tell me, O King, the supreme secret regarding which men doubt. No other boon will I ask."

Please note that this is not strictly analogous to Christianity, which is a religion of descent, i.e., Incarnation.

Rather, yoga is a naturalistic religion that teaches the way of ascent from our side of the vertical. I won't rehearse all the details here, but the key to the innerprize lies in essentially dying to the world and realizing the indwelling nonlocal spirit behind or above the local ego, i.e., the unbroken circle of ʘ behind the partial and fragmentary (•). Does it work? Of course it works. But at a steep price.

One of these prices is the separation of spirit and body, in direct contrast to Christianity, in which the soul is the form of the body.

From another perspective, we might also say that God is the form of the cosmos, without limiting him by such a conception (i.e., he is not only that form, for he is the container that cannot be contained).

All of this is related to our discussion of economics. I hope. After all, in the ultimate sense, it is through the "economy" that we try to postpone death while we spend 70 or 80 years putting our affairs in order.

Through the unplanned activity of the free market, we are provided with various goods -- food, shelter, medicine -- that no individual could have planned. Free markets are very much analogous to life, which must involve both anabolism (building up) and catabolism (tearing down).

For example, a recession is nothing more than an economy tearing down a bunch of inefficient businesses and redistributing a lot of poorly allocated resources.

The leftist believes that this Death can be avoided by propping up and resuscitating the latter with a flow of stolen revenue. It works, in the same way that giving cocaine to a dying man will perk him up for awhile.

Likewise, our public education system has long been in its death throes, but liberals will never pull the plug and allow it to go out with some dignity.

Truly, our whole system of government is on the brink, like a severely obese patient. Some say the patient needs to lose weight. Others insist that if we just shovel some more food in, he'll be okay. Who is right? Who is denying death?

Does foreign aid work to resurrect dying economies? Does the War on Poverty heal dying subcultures? Or do these nations and cultures simply become addicted to the treatment? Yes, there is a "Keynesian multiplier," except that it multiplies pathology, dependency, and dysfunction and puts off the d'oh! of wreckoning.

For I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat and snicker (Eliot). But why was he holding my candy bar? We'll never know.

This is why there is an ironyclad law at work here: no matter how much the government spends, it must always spend more because of the negative multiplier of liberal programs. This explains, for example, why my son gets such a better education at a funding-starved private Catholic school than he would in a public system that spends much more money.

So liberalism is always a lose-lose proposition, in which they want to have their crock and make us eat it too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Evolution, Interior Capital, and the Cosmic Economy

What is an economy for, anyway? Just for meeting our material needs? Yes, but a free market economy does so much more.

It's analogous to asking what a human being is for. A Darwinian will say, "to pass along his genes to the next generation." Obviously a human being does infinitely more than that, which is precisely why the theory of natural selection falls so short of being an adequate explanation of man. It doesn't mean the theory is false. Only that it is a piece of the puzzle.

No one set out to "create" the "free market" (in the aggregate sense). Rather, it was simply an unintended consequence of freedom -- of people just doing what comes naturally -- in a context of stable law and private property (which are more apparent and objective) and more subtle, subjective factors such as trust, self-discipline, delayed gratification, hope, belief in progress, faith in the reality and reliability of the material world, and a rich moral tradition that values all of these latter terms.

In fact, capitalism has little to do with material resources and everything to do with what I call interior capital. This explains how resource-poor but pneumatically rich nations such as Japan and Israel are such economic powerhouses, while countless resource-rich but pnuematically poor peoples remain mired in poverty (and on micro level, one could say the same of the poorest places in America, all of the economically backward cities that have been run by liberal Democrats for decades). For these evolutionary stragglers have not learned the secrets of how to create wealth.

Two of the most intriguing subtexts of Money, Greed, and God have to do with creation and evolution. One of the most odd and unexpected characteristics of a free market economy -- and one which liberals still struggle to grasp, or at least pander to their crassroots who don't get it -- is the ability to create wealth from subjective factors alone. The second is its ability to evolve, which is not at all dissimilar to the ability of Life as such to transform and evolve in such shocking ways.

Bear in mind that for a radical Darwinist, "evolution" is not the purpose of natural selection. Rather, it is a side effect only of an intrinsically random and meaningless material process.

The same is true of the free market. Left alone, it comes up with novelties far too diverse to ever catalogue, at such a rapid rate that one generation's luxuries become the next generation's needs. This results in the left's continuous redefinition of "poverty," for in their sour worldview, one generation's luxuries are the next generation's entitlements.

The irony is that in so doing, the leftist undermines the only system that could have created these luxurious new needs to begin with. A stagnant socialist economy doesn't innovate, so one doesn't have to worry about its novelties provoking envy in those who cannot yet afford them.

It is a commonplace to note that man's moral development does not keep pace with his scientific development. But is this actually true? As a matter of fact, I have no fear whatsoever of nuclear weapons in the hands of people capable of creating them from scratch, e.g., the Americans or Israelis.

Rather, the nations and peoples we worry about wouldn't have the ability to build a toaster without poaching on the knowledge of the West. Somehow the irony is lost on the Iranian mullahs who, like the rest of us, rely upon "Jewish physics" to assemble their bomb. Muslim physics couldn't produce so much as a suicide belt, let alone telephones, computers, and airplanes.

The free market definitely leads to unintended externalites with which we must cope, both positive and negative ones. No one planned for air pollution, but neither did anyone plan (i.e., without the entire unplanned scientific superstructure) for the means to cope with it.

And yet, the advanced economies that resulted in so much pollution have arrived at the most successful means to minimize it, mainly because we can afford the luxury of worrying about the environment.

But it is equally critical to bear in mind that positive externalities have a hidden cost that can even exceed the negative type, because we embrace them with such unambivalent enthusiasm, meanwhile failing to realize that we are messing with the very nature of man.

Contemporary examples are social media and video games, which seem to have an effect on the very structure of the brain. I see what the latter do to my son, and try to minimize his playing with them, especially at this age, when his brain is still being assembled. (Another example: have birth control pills contributed to the visible increase in wimphood?)

Man lives in the transitional space of the imagination, and to the extent that the imagination is foreclosed in childhood, there may be no getting it back. One is literally exiled into this impoverished country we call "the world," forever chasing after sensation and other phantoms that cannot satisfy.

In an advanced economy, sexual differences take on much less importance. In premodern economies survival is dependent upon a biological division of labor, i.e., farming and child-rearing. And just because a woman can adapt to a modern economy, this doesn't mean she can so readily overcome her womanhood. Likewise, a contemporary man has countless options through which to avoid the developmental burden of manhood. But is this a good thing?

Back to the subject of interior capital. Just as evolution would have gone nowhere in the absence of a "hidden reserve" of genetic potential, the free market would have gone nowhere in the absence of a hidden reserve of psychospiritual potential.

In other words, both natural selection and the free market are mechanisms through which potential is actualized. Conversely, in, say, the old USSR, no one was truly allowed to achieve his full human potential. It was literally against the law -- if not the written then certainly the unwritten law. Indeed, a saint or independent genius would have likely ended up in the Gulag. (Note that left wing PC is just such an unwritten anti-evolutionary law to enforce a static ideological solidarity in the group.)

Likewise, we are told that great leaps in genetic evolution cannot occur in the absence of extrinsic factors such as cladogenesis, i.e., isolation from the group. Otherwise species tend to be static, which is another way of saying that evolution does not occur.

Transposed to human reality, we can see at a glance how isolation from the group -- or what we call individualism -- is the great facilitator of evolution. For only individualism unleashes the full range of human potential and creativity. Bands, tribes, and kinship groups do not innovate or evolve. Rather, there must be something analogous to punctuated equilibrium that accounts for the Great Leaps of mankind.

A committee did not arrive at the theory of relativity, rather, only a solitary genius relatively isolated from the group. To be sure, the group is always necessary -- a point we have always maintained -- but it must be the type of group that not only allows but nurtures and promotes individualism.

Is it possible for individualism to cross a line into narcissism, grandiosity, entitlement, and even sociopathy (i.e., violence toward the group)? Yes, no doubt. Which is one reason why we must always maintain the group/individual complementarity, in contrast to extremist libertarians on the one end and solipsistic and entitled leftists on the other.

Socialist economies are run by committee. Instead of allowing the spontaneous order of the market, they arrive at some pretermined outcome -- say, "universal healthcare" -- and proceed to impose it from on high.

Does it work? No, never, not in the real economic world. For one thing, these systems must parasitize the ceaseless medical innovation that can only occur in a competitive and profit-driven economy. If the entire, worldwide medical system were instantaneously relieved of free market forces, the unintended consequences would be catastrophic -- analogous to unilaterally eliminating our nuclear arsenal. For we would be unilaterally caving in to the arsenal of health disasters awaiting each of us, and which require constant innovation to keep up with.

I'd better stop. Work to do.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Genesis Myth of the Left: I Want, Therefore You Work

Why are liberals so resistant to economic truth? Truth is a realization. Once realized it cannot be unrealized without damaging the psyche. You cannot put the truthpaste back into the tube. Thus, truth is part of the temporal irreversibility of the cosmos, which moves forward and not back.

This is one of the deeper meanings of Genesis, in which humans are exiled from paradise. Looked at it more abstractly, it clearly memorializes a catastrophic realization that expels man from a prior and more harmonious mode of being. One could say that it marks the transition from childhood innocence to the burdens of adulthood, or from unconsciousness to self-consciousness, or from unity to division. According to Kass,

"If read historically, it it shows how and when human life got to be so difficult. If read philosophically and anthropologically, it reveals the basic and often conflicting psychosocial elements of our humanity, thus making it clear why human life is always so difficult. And if read morally, it enables us to see clearly and to experience powerfully the sources of many of our enduring moral dilemmas and much of our happiness."

But since the secular left regards our own wisdom tradition -- the very tradition that gave rise to the precious civilization they devalue and undermine -- as so much superstition, they end up not only blindly reenacting our founding myth, but failing to even draw its philosophical, anthropological, psychosocial, and moral lessons. In trying to reinvent the wheel of karma, they simply get rolled. Every time.

What is the founding counter-myth of the left? One could cite a number of possibilities, but certain themes emerge repeatedly in Rousseau, Marx, Keynes, and other deep stinkers. Is there a unifying strand beneath them all? Dennis Prager says that it almost always involves naivete about the nature of evil. Others might say that it revolves around the political legitimization of constitutional envy.

In the modern world, it often comes down to the systematic effort to superimpose rationalism (in the vulgar, tenured sense) and scientism over the soul, thus sMothering it in a kind of "monstrous trivia," if one may put it thus (cf. the French Revolution, which combined the height of sterile reason with the depth of vibrant barbarism; likewise Nazi Germany, demonstrating how the most "advanced" culture lives quite easily with the most depraved impulses).

For example, our latest troll would simplify politics by consulting brain scans in order to know how to best govern man. No need to read the Founders, much less all that complicated stuff by Aquinas, or Locke, or Burke. The aforementioned people were really just "closed off to experience," and if you don't believe me, there is a barbarous neurologist somewhere who can prove it!

Science!

Not for nothing are our adversaries called the terrible simplifiers.

In the real (i.e., qualitative) world, "A life of sinless innocence and wholeheartedness is virtually impossible for a human being, thanks to freedom, imagination, reason-and-speech, self-consciousness, and pride, and in the face of neediness, sexuality, ignorance, self-division, dependence, and lack of self-command" (Kass).

Please note that these are all existential conditions that the mature person realizes and accepts. Which means that there are millions of immature souls who neither realize nor accept them.

For example, another central theme of the left is the failure to accept the awful gift of freedom. Of course they conceal this beneath layers and layers of pretense and sophistry, but when you penetrate to the heartless heart of the matter, the leftist is really telling you that he knows better how to ruin your life, and that decisions made by a central authority are superior to those made by you morons. Believe it or not, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid know better how to take care of your health than you do.

Genesis poses a challenge to the proud man's rational self-sufficiency, helpfully informing him that if you go there, you will experience an epic FAIL. It "challenges the human inclination to try to guide human life solely by our free will and our own human reason, exercised on the natural objects of thought" (Kass).

Go ahead, if you must. Just bear in mind that you may not have enough time left once you reach the end of that ontological nul de slack. Consider yourself fortunate if you hit that wall by the age of 30 or 40, which will give you sufficient time for a midcourse correction.

Note that ADAM, or man as such, epitomizes our existential situation. On the one hand, he is constituted of dirt ('adamah means ground or earth). This is our horizontal being.

But on the other hand, man has been inbreathed a spirit of life, thus meaning that our very existence is an intersection of vertical and horizontal vectors. This complementarity breaks out in diverse ways, including time/eternity, form/substance, wave/particle, absolute/infinite, male/female, heaven/earth, sun/moon, etc.

Such complementarities are not resolved, but lived. They are not riddles to be solved but mysteries to be savored. To "demystify" them is to commit cluelesside, or autoflimflammery.

"Progressive" visions of paradise are not actually in the future. Rather, their source is in the ontological past, only naively projected into the future. This accounts for the curious inability of the leftist to appreciate the ironyclad law of unintended consequences, for this beastly law is obscured by the innocent beauty of their political fantasies.

Remama, in paradise man is free of the annoying baggage of manhood. He has no shame, no guilt, no envy, no conflict, no want, no knowledge of death or scarcity. It is Marx's workers' paradise, minus the work.

Which reminds one of the infant who indeed lives in a primordial paradise in which wish is instantaneously converted to its fulfillment. I cry, I eat. The credo of the left! (Which of course ignores the reality of the exhausted mother and taxpayer who make it possible for the recipient to maintain his edenic omnipotence.)

Now, back to the subject at hand, the childish economic myths under which the left habitually labors -- the fantasies for which they fight. Richards conveniently lays out a Top Eight for us. They include

1. The "nirvana myth" (i.e., the paradise myth as discussed above).
2. The "piety myth" (i.e., the naive idea that good intentions lead to positive outcomes).
3. The "zero-sum" myth (failure to grasp the strange idea that free markets create more wealth for all).
4. The materialist myth (a projection of the junk metaphysics of scientism onto economics).
5. The greed myth (including the myth that the state is somehow not greedy).
6. The usury myth (touched on in the previous post).
7. The "artsy myth" ("confusing aesthetic judgments with economic arguments").
8. The "freeze-frame" myth (i.e., that there is some economic norm which leftists can achieve by manipulating the whole economy through centralized authority -- not dissimilar to the myth of centralized climate control).

To these I would certainly add Hayek's knowledge problem, which truly is the Fatal Conceit of the left; also the myth that there is this thing called an "economy" separate from the individuals who use their freedom to derive value and increase aggregate wealth by serving one another.

I've run out of time so I'll have to belaborate on these points later.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Bleeding Brain Conservatism and the Human Margin

I much prefer "bleeding brain" to "compassionate" conservatism, the reason being that conservatism is already the height of compassion, at least if we examine results (which are objective and measurable) and not just good intentions (which are entirely subjective). Just look at India and China, where a billion or so people have been lifted out of poverty as a result of putting a brake on socialist compassion and inching toward the free market.

It is always possible to have boundless compassion, but only if one is a liberal. The moment we are dealing with the real world, compassion is not only bounded -- because scarce resources with alternative uses is a price of existence -- but fraught with unintended consequences.

To be a man means to have an envy-haunted imagination, which means that there is never enough stuff for anyone. This is proved by the fact that two-thirds of Americans go to bed hungry and fat. Or that half of them insist that the state isn't big enough. Or that my child is bored by Christmas afternoon.

If we consider only intent, then quite naturally pretty much everything is compassionate, from socialized medicine to the Islamic Jihad to purchasing another toy with which my son will be bored in five minutes.

I will stipulate that the majority of people who wish to impose state controlled healthcare believe they have my best interests at heart. But so too do the Islamic barbarians who wish to impose on us a Caliphate worse than death.

So everyone -- liberal and conservative alike -- should be able to agree that compassion as such, unleavened by deep and sophisticated thought, is a childish thing. Which doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing -- indeed, it is clearly a good -- if limited to the micro realm in which it evolved, i.e., to family and friends.

But if we try to systematically translate it to the macro realm, then trouble is in store (there are exceptions of course, eg. large scale and unforeseeable disasters).

"Love thy neighbor" is one thing. But to imagine it is possible to love 300 million strangers if only we can extract sufficient taxes is lunacy. The philosophists behind the French Revolution loved everyone, as did Marx and Lenin. America's founders, not so much.

Besides, the government doesn't love. Rather, as our Founders recognized, governments have powers and that is all. That being the case, they decided to create a government with clearly defined and strictly limited powers. This means that there are certain things it is forbidden to do, no matter how "compassionate" its vulgar representatives.

Conversely, a monarch -- or religious leader, for that matter -- can be guided by malevolence, or compassion, or any other emotion. There is no limit to feelings.

This preramble has been brought to you by our sponsor, Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem, which I read last weekend. There's not much in it that a libertarian or (classical liberal) conservative won't already know, but there is quite a bit that the religious believer might not.

As a result, a religious conservative might well have some residue of cognitive dissonance in enthusiastically embracing capitalism, since we are often told that there is something incompatible between the two. The purpose of this book is to disabuse us of any such notion, and to demonstrate that free markets are the only cosmically correct economic arrangement for the thinking Christian.

A key principle is evolution. All of the major religions were born and developed in static and unevolving cultures. Thus, certain doctrines will apply only to this specific type of culture.

Put it this way: limiting our discussion to Christianty, it has certain core principles that of course transcend history and culture. But certain other aspects are worked out at what Schuon calls the "human margin," and are not necessarily eternal. They are inspired and "sanctified," but cannot be applied universally when conditions undergo a fundamental change.

This is just common sense. We all know that lying is bad, but not if you lie to the Nazi who wants to know where Ms. Frank is hiding. Is this hypocrisy or inconsistency? Hardly.

"Divine influence is total only for the Scriptures and for the essential consequences of the Revelation"; but this "always leaves a 'human margin,'" where the revelation "exerts no more than an indirect action, letting ethnic or cultural factors speak" (Schuon).

It is generally the transitional area where certain exoteric pieties and practices emerge and crystalize, but again, these conventions can be counterproductive when terrestrial conditions change. A most obvious example is envy, which served a purpose under conditions of band-level organization, but is extremely counter-productive in the contemporary world.

The human margin is what allows the universal revelation to be tailored to this or that group. Most people are not esoterists, and therefore require the human margin as a point of entry into the divine.

As Schuon explains, if this were not the case, then "there would be no theological elaborations, nor would there be any divergences in orthodoxy, and the first Father of the Church would have written one single theological treatise which would have been exhaustive and definitive." There would have been no need for an Eckhart, an Aquinas, a Balthasar, and a host of other religious geniuses.

Schuon makes the subtle point that there are "men who are inspired by the Holy Spirit because and to the extent that they are Saints," but "others who are Saints because and to the extent that they are inspired by the Holy Spirit."

To put it another way, these two may be visualized as:


and



But in the overall scheme of cosmic recycling, these two movements break out into time and person and back into God and eternity in one deuscontinuous mattercycle ride (according to metaphysicians as diverse as Aquinas, Eckhart, and Maximus the Confessor).

In my opinion, nearly all of the traditional objections to capitalism were and are at the human margin. A quintessential example is the injunction against the charging of interest, which Richards deals with in chapter six.

The very concept of "interest" meant something entirely different in a static agrarian culture in which a handful of oligarchs ruled over a vast majority of subsistence farmers, who mostly bartered with neighbors and kin. No one had the slightest notion of a fluid and dynamic economy in which money is abstract, immaterial, fertile, and a key to unleashing human creativity, growth, and efficient allocation of resources.

In order to understand something at the human margin, we must try to apprehend the principle it embodies. Just as you wouldn't loan money to your wife or child at usurious rates of interest, it would have been wrong for, say, a wealthy nobleman in medieval times to trap peasants into a cycle of debt they could never repay.

This is still wrong today, which is why it was wrong for Jimmy Carter to ever sign the Community Reinvestment Act into law, and why it was wrong for private actors to exploit reckless or irresponsible borrowers through subprime loans. But we cannot generalize from this to say that "interest is bad." One can never condemn anything on the basis of consequences that flow from its misuse.

As Richards writes, "What's interesting about the Christian West is not that it once condemned all charging of interest, but that it eventually learned to make careful distinctions and develop vibrant, wealth-creating capitalist economies with sophisticated banking systems."

He quotes another scholar, who writes that "The scholastic theory of usury is an embryonic theory of economics. Indeed, it is the first attempt at a science of economics known to the West."

In other words, Christians began using their heads and not just their hearts to think economically.

Just as we shouldn't look to scripture to tell us about the laws of physics, nor should we expect it to reveal the laws of economics. But it reveals much about the purpose of physics and of economics. Which, oddly enough, converge upon the same Attractor.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

God Spends Most of His Timelessness Arranging Meetings and Marriages

In Money, God, and Greed, author Jay Richards visits some of the same themes we've been discussing, in particular, the relationship between Christianity and the free market.

Obviously, capitalism wasn't always embraced by Christianity, and in certain two-bit quarters it is still regarded with deep resentment and suspicion. Fortunately, in the long run Christianity is -- and must be, if it is to embody Truth -- self-correcting.

No one would deny that evil is and has been done in the name of Christianity. But this does not mean that the evil is compatible with, much less authorized by, it. The same cannot be said of other religions of our acquaintance, some of which go so far as to make it a core principle to wage war upon those who do not buy it.

The fact that Christians are required to evangelize -- i.e., spread the good news -- is a source of great irritation to its detractors, as if another man's free exercise of his First Amendment rights is an affront.

But the same people are rarely bothered by the fact that one of its primary global competitors requires adherents to spread the awful news by waging violent jihad.

I am not troubled by the sappy religious folk who come a-knocking the odd Saturday to propagate their faith. I just politely inform them that we are one people divided by a common deity.

One time I even mentioned that they are wasting their breath, because I am already a devout Jehovial Witticist. It seems that they are trained to deal with most exigencies -- i.e., angry or busy residents, touchy atheists, the occasional paranoid Jew burdened by family memories of European pogroms. But that was a real conversation stopper. Try it at home!

It would be different, would it not, if the evangelists came equipped with Korans & Kalashnikovs, the latter imbuing the former with a little more gravity if not credibility?

Then, if they inquired as to whether I might like to consider their brand, I'd betray a tad more interest. "No, I am a stranger to this delightful kornucrapia of allahgory of which you speak. Tell me more!"

Back when I was a prickly atheist, I was much more combative with these porch-dwelling idiobots, in the manner of our loonitarian trolls. Polymythic hack of all tirades that I am, I would unleash the full irehose of absecular certainties, secure in my manmode knowledge that Science had vanquished the mysteries of existence.

I would try to hang them up with the good noose of natural selection, bop them with the big bang, darken my doorstep with the arrogance of the Enlightenment, sometimes even depack them with the tired gnostrums of some windy Hindi or commie swami, but to no effect. It all went straight under their heads. Their faith was equal to mine, plus they wouldn't even admit that I had none!

Ironic, isn't it, that I now have more in common -- even if it isn't much -- with these naifs than with my former knave? How did this happen? How did the previous Bob turn out to be nothing more than a chrysalis presence with a big kookcoon inside?

That would be a long story, a soph-indulgent autobobography co-wrotten to the core principles. What was is none of my isness.

Now, as to the above-referenced book, it is an excellent corrective to the idea that capitalism is incompatible with Christianity. To the contrary, it is the only economic system that is (potentially) fully compatible with its principles.

And of course, it is only compatible to the extent that it is populated by souls within the Judeo-Christian historical stream, if not in word, then certainly in deed. Is the latter possible? Of course not.

It very much reminds me of our Constitution, which was hammered out by Christian men animated by Judeo-Christian principles (the Bible is cited far more often than any other source in the writings of the Founders), fully enmeshed in a Judeo-Christian civilization.

But actually putting the document into practice was a very different matter. In reading this excellent biography of Hamilton, it becomes quite evident that the whole thing would have gone to pieces if the right type of men had not been there at the start.

Forget party, ideology, philosophy. If a valorous, virtuous, and incorruptible man such as George Washington hadn't been there, our nation never would have left the starting gate. And if an insanely brilliant and hyperactive visionary such as Hamilton hadn't been there at his side, forget about it. Washington could never have done what Hamilton did, and vice versa.

And the trail of unlikely events and bizarre coincidences that links a singular Washington to a singular Hamilton is just too outlandish to contemplate. It's as if the only two men in the world capable of accomplishing what they did somehow bumped into each other. You are free to dismiss it as coincidence. I do not.

For I do not believe that something so cosmically profound, so fraught with world-historical significance, can be likened to a couple of billiard balls randomly pushed around in the void. (By the way, the same applies to the origins of existence, life, and mind).

I understand that the secular weltanscam is founded entirely upon the premise that the lower fully accounts for the higher, chaos for order, and meaninglessness for meaning.

Different yolks for different folks. I realize mine is somehow over easy and sunnyside up. If that makes me a free-ranging fertile egghead, then so be it.

Apologize for the abloviated post, but I have an early day.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Why the Chosen Always Have Arrows in their Backs

Let's be honest. When we talk about American exceptionalism, we're really talking about Judeo-Christian exceptionalism, since we are literally the only nation founded upon, and imbued with, Judeo-Christian values and principles.

And when we say "exceptionalism," does this equate to triumphalism? Of course not -- any more than Jews being the "chosen people" implies some sort of crass self-aggrandizement.

To the contrary: chosenness is a grave responsibility from which most peoples would -- and did, in the oral tradition -- shrink: "thanks but no thanks." God only makes offers you can refuse.

Most worthless cultures can bumble along in the shadows of history and escape getting screwtinied, while the Israelights had to glow up in public and to this day cannot evade the slimelight of dimmer bulbarians.

No one expects anything of Chinese, or Arabs, or Eskimos. The UN holds them to no moral standard, and rightfully so. When Muslims desecrate an American soldier, we are appalled but not surprised. But mishandle the body of a genocidal Muzz-murderer? Day of rage!

It is very much as if the dark powers do indeed recognize Israel as chosen, hence their double standard in a psychopathic worldview that is otherwise devoid of a single standard. For the other nations, whatever; for Israel, perfection.

Thus, the UN's vicious defamation of Israel is a kingly title. As is the left's vilification of America. After all, how is the left supposed to react in the face of wanton and senseless goodness? With indifference? The left is under no moral obligation to turn the other cheek to decency, but will attack it with a vengeance, from the Boy Scouts to the ROTC to the sanctity of marriage.

This just in, a comment from Mizz E linking to Mark Steyn's take on Fukuyama. Let's see what he has to say....

Very good. It's just a short blast, but he points out the absurdity of holding out socialist Denmark as some sort of ideal toward which the cosmos is laboring:

'The Muslim world is certainly “getting to Denmark”. It’s also getting to the Netherlands, to Austria, to France, and beyond. In Scandinavia and in other advanced western societies, the state grows ever bolder in constraining freedom of expression and other core western liberties. In the interests of enforcing the state religion of a hollow and delusional “multiculturalism”, basic tenets of Fukuyama’s “rule of law” – including due process, the truth as defense, and equality before the law – are tossed aside in the multiculti version of heresy trials. As recent decisions in Michigan suggest, America is not immune to this trend.'

No. The question, as always, is how to get to America, both literally and figuratively. As to the former, is there any nation on earth to which more people would rather get? That was certainly the case for my father, who gettled here in 1948.

And why did he want to get here? Because he knew that he would have the uppertunity -- only the chance, mind you -- to embark upon the adventure of consciousness and be someone. Had he remained in England he would have likely stayed a no one due to the sclerotic and ambition-killing class system of the time. There he would have been a mason or mechanic; here he was able to leverage an eighth grade education into a corporate executive position.

When we say "class," it is really another way of saying "tribe." The more abstract notion of class is nevertheless superimposed upon the subterranean waters of blood and kin.

Thus, to escape from class or kin is to make a run for individualism, for a true individual is always in a class by himself.

Which is why the B'ob can neither follower nor followed be. Trolls who accuse him of failing to meet the requirements of some fantasied group are missing the point entirely. It is like telling a jazz musician, "hey, you just strayed from the melody! Get back in line!" But to paraphrase Einstein, to be in a marching band requires nothing more than a hindbrain.

Now, as we have always emphasized, the family is the penultimate basis (the Trinity being ultimate) of our unique identity, and all three -- God, family, and person -- are sacred. Different family arrangements result in very different kinds of people. This is axiomatic, but Fukuyama provides abundant historical evidence for skeptics who will not believe unless they can place their hand in the wound.

Each part of the trimorphic family -- Mother-Father-Baby -- is equally important to its evolution, which is why, for example, cultures that value the female will produce healthier children. Just look at the Arab world, where females are second-class citizens and the men are first-class nuts. (And of course we are speaking in generalizations, without which thought is impossible.)

It is an absurdly self-flattering myth of the left that the "feminist movement" somehow emerged from nowhere in the modern west. For one thing, the movement was an effect, never a cause of what it purported to seek. These bitter misandrists continue to throw themselves like lemmings against doors that are wide open. Or so my wife tells me.

At any rate, Fukuyama shows that in the West there was a more enlightned attitude toward women very early on -- certainly prior to the so-called Enlightenment. Even in the late Middle Ages, "Englishwomen had the right to hold and dispose of property freely and to sell it to individuals outside the family..." From no later than the 13th century, they could "sue and be sued, and make wills and contracts without permission of a male guardian."

This is an indication not of liberation from men -- since true liberation always involves a co-evolution of all members of the trimorphic family -- but "of the deterioration of tribal organization" (ibid.). While the latter may well have been "patriarchal," to suggest that the average man of 1000 AD gloried in his worldly power is just so much feminist piffle.

One critical point about the healthy trimorphic family is that it is future-oriented, a stance that is rife with implications. Fukuyama contrasts this with the Chinese, for whom the family was upside-down and backward: "Confucian moralists were clear that individuals had stronger obligations to their parents than to their own children, and Chinese law severely punished children who behaved in unfilial ways."

In profound ways, this created a backward-looking, static, and unevolving culture, which is a major reason why the transition to communism was really just more of the same, only under a modern ideological guise. It is the same with the backward-looking progressives of the left.

Since the family is the hinge of psychopneumatic evolution, it should come as no surprise that Job One of the left is to undermine the family in each of its three components.

It devalues fatherhood by replacing it with the state (and that's just for starters). It devalues motherhood by insisting that women should emulate men (so long as the men are safely neutered); and it systematically assaults childhood in any number of sinister ways. I won't even chronicle them here, for if you have a child and you are sane, you are already well aware of them. To be a responsible parent now includes protecting your children from the toxic soul environment of the left.

In these parts it began with Marx, who reduced the family from sacred soul-incubator to mere "money relation."

Indeed, one of the central arguments for the redefinition of marriage is its supposed monetary benefits. Thus, to even respond to such a vulgar argument is to concede the argument to the vulgarian who advances it. Marriage is a cosmic sacrament. Man did not invent -- and could not have invented -- this Fact.

Rather, we can only preserve and memorialize it through ritual and ceremony. "Homesexual marriage" simply cannot be without undermining the foundation of the cosmic spiritual economy. To imagine that two men can marry is to literally have no idea what marriage is. Conversely, to know what marriage is is to place a bullseye on one's back.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Obama

In a comment yesterday, ge linked to a review of Fukuyama's The Origins of Political Order at Slate. Although there is nothing wrong with the review, it highlights the truism that a review is always as much if not more about the reviewer than the object under scrutiny.

In a serious review of a serious author, one mind is bringing itself to bear upon another, in a process that is simultaneously passive and active. In order to enter the author's world, we must passively allow him to enter our head and make his presentation.

But in the end, this is no more possible than, say, listening to a new song while forgetting what one knows about music, most of which is implicit, not explicit. In general, our implicit knowledge surpasses our explicit knowledge, certainly in significance if not "amount" (i.e., quality vs. quantity).

Through implicit awareness, we are able to instantaneously and transrationally intuit potential meaning and significance, i.e., those avenues that are worth the trouble of exploring in order to gain explicit knowledge. Any kind of cognitive endeavor is characterized by this complementarity of implicit/explict (or tacit/focal, in Polanyi's terms), whether scientific, philosophical, or religious.

It is a dangerous error to regard oneself as a rationalistic "blank slate," for the human mind is filled with preconceptions, the most important of which antedate our personal existence. Some of these are genetic, others cultural and linguistic, others what we call "archetypal," still others "principial" or metaphysical. For the average person, his deepest assumptions are buried beneath the conscious mind, and never clearly articulated.

The most bitter political struggles are generally taking place at one of these much deeper dimensions, e.g., the war -- and it is a war, only generally without guns -- between conservative individualism and leftist collectivism. For as we have been discussing, "individualism" is an extraordinarily rare, subtle and infinitely significant cosmic fact.

From our perspective, just as the left assumes the existence of wealth that needs only to be "distributed" "fairly" after the fact, they also assume the existence of the individual, as if there are not very specific historical, cultural, familial, religious, and other factors that give rise to it.

This latter assumption leads to any number of psychopathologies, both individually and culturally (and to even conjoin the words "cultural" and "pathology" is a no-no on the left unless dealing with conservative Americans). One especially glaring example is the destruction leftist policies have wrought upon the black family over the past half century.

This is inevitable, because if one actually believes that a family is just "anything," then one will exercise no caution whatsoever in messing with its delicate environment.

Indeed, leftists will exercise considerably more caution in dealing with tree slugs or sea turtles than human beings. Leftists never conduct "environmental impact studies" to determine what their laws will do to the human soul. They are much more concerned with second hand smoke than with third rate Marxist professors blowing smoke at our young adolts.

But this only goes back to one of their implicit assumptions: that there is no soul to be impacted. Rather, the left's unending social engineering assumes that they can shape and fundamentally change the human being through public policy. What we call the immortal soul they call "putty in our hands."

For example, if human beings are "greedy," the left proposes to simply punish this anonymous group with higher taxes in order to create a vast state to make them more "generous." At best, this merely transforms private greed into public greed, except that, ironically, we have less power to fight public greed than we do private greed.

The democracy of the free market ultimately mitigates the latter, but there are parasites lodged so deeply in the leftist state that they are virtually "eternal" and beyond our reach. Is there no way to rid ourselves of the Education Department, deference to the UN, agricultural subsidies, foreign aid for Palestinians who seek the destruction of our way of life, funding for state-controlled media propagandists, abortion mills hiding behind "family planning," etc?

The welfare state is like Islam. Once the latter conquers a territory, it is supposed to be forever subdued and part of the Dar al-Islam. And once the left conquers a portion of our liberty, there is no going back.

This is the great danger of the regression to socialized medicine, which renders our physical well-being -- our most intimate private property -- an extension of the Dar al-Obama. This is a cosmic monstrosity that has no right to exist. It is entirely outside the limited constitutional government -- the liberal republic -- established by our founders.

Remember, there was a time, not too long ago, that no wealth existed. This would be prior to the agricultural revolution. The latter brought with it wealth, i.e., surplus, but no understanding of how wealth is created.

There was also a time that no individuals existed. Man evolves first as a social being; this must indeed be the case, for the individual can only evolve in the dialectical matrix of communion with others, beginning with the (m)Other.

I'm getting way sidetracked here. My original point was how differently we engage reality, based upon our implicit preconceptions. I notice this every day, on a moment-to-moment basis, as random things are simultaneously illuminated by, and attractive to, my preconceptions.

But "preconceptions" sounds too clinical. In reality we are talking about a "soul attraction" that exerts its force -- and it is an ontologically real force -- in two directions. This is what a Raccoon calls the essential erotics of being, a phrase which I have playgiarized from Christopher Bollas.

When you get right down to it, human being -- the beingness of our humanness -- consists of a kind of rhythm and economy of attraction. We are attracted to certain things; and certain things attract us.

Likewise with repulsion, which has its higher and lower modes of operation. For example, vomiting is a primitive defense mechanism for ridding our body of a foreign invader.

But so too is the queasiness we feel in the presence of certain malevolent souls and ideas. If you should ever lose contact with this critical soul-defense, you will surely become lost and disOriented in the cosmos. If certain people and ideas do not make you want to vomit, then you probably can't be helped. Even Jesus himself occasionally spews, cf. Rev 3:16.

I am fully aware of the fact that I cause indigestion in our trolls. The question is, why? And why do they enjoy making themselves sick? As to the first, it is because I challenge all of their deepest assumptions about the ways and whys of the cosmos.

I will be the first to acknowledge that the left has this adverse effect on me. But I certainly don't seek it out. I don't have to, because it is everywhere. Rather, I try to avoid it.

Conversely, people have to make a special point of coming to visit me in the slackatoreum. I know of no one else who shares my specific world view. If I did, it wouldn't be so lonely here in Upper Tonga. Indeed, even the people I most admire would undoubtedly want to keep me at arm's length, to put it mildly.

Regarding my delicate digestion, I could only stomach about thirty seconds of Obama's vulgarly self-aggrandizing statement on Sunday night. And it wasn't just the pettiness and gracelessness that I found disturbing.

My aesthetic sensibilities were also wounded by his attempt to reach beyond the limitations of his eighth-grade level of prose. Where is Bill Ayers when you need him? Probably professional courtesy. He didn't want to get involved in dissing a fellow terrorist.

a bright September day was darkened... The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory... a cloudless September sky... The empty seat at the dinner table... a gaping hole in our hearts.... the American people came together... We reaffirmed our ties to each other... we were united as one American family...

Oh, c'mon. Here's what happened in the real world: an evil psychopath with religious delusions took out two of our buildings with 3000 human beings inside. Do this and we will destroy you. We will dispatch men of granite from the future who will reach down into your festering sinkhole of history and pull you out by the gonads. We will tear your evil ideology from the earth, root and branch. If you want to live like a stinking animal, hey, move to some desolate corner of Pakistan and go nuts. But don't even think about imposing this on the rest of us, because we will put a sunroof in your skull faster than a jihadi can hide behind his whore, and pass the rest of you through whatever sea creatures happen to find you floating by.

Jeez, I keep getting sidetracked. Let's get back to the subject at hand. Yesterday I was reading the March 2011 Hillsdale Imprimus and came across the following statement by the eminent economist Gary Becker:

"I am struck by the similarity between the [Catholic] church's view of the relationship between the family and the economy and the view of economists -- arrived at by totally independent means. Economic and spiritual concerns appear to point in the same direction."

What direction might this be? Well, first of all it is a direction. And only an evolutionary cosmos guided by an attractor can have a direction.

Obviously, the Darwinian world can have no real direction, nor can any materialistic metaphysic in general. And since progressivism is ultimately rooted in Marxian materialism, it cannot have a proper direction either.

Which should not surprise us, since progressivism is the very codification of principles that erode progress -- principles such as private property, the rule of law (e.g., the Constitution), the sanctity of the traditional family, religious ethics, self-discipline, delayed gratification, etc. -- or what the Raccoon refers to as "vertical capital."

In short, horizontal capital is predicated on vertical capital, more on which as we go along. At the moment I'm swamped with work, and must get to it.

Monday, May 02, 2011

God Hates Equality

I thought that might grab your attention. Yes, it is hyperbole. But it's not just hyperbole, for if God were partial to equality, he could have created a static and unevolving cosmos with no distinctions or levels whatsoever, just a big relativistic blob of multicultural goo -- instead of a liberating universe, a liberal university.

But our cosmos is nothing like this, thank God! That we are created equal, we know; but "equal" hardly means "equivalent."

For not only is it a full employment cosmos, each with his proper role to play, but it is characterized by an inward mobility through which we may ceaselessly develop and improve -- or fully actualize -- the gifts conferred by the Creator.

This latter characteristic is especially queer, for there is no other realm in the world that is subject to unlimited growth. Only the soul may continue assimilating reality and expanding forever.

Or at least no one has yet come close to reaching its limits. Even the cosmos -- paradoxically -- is closed and finite. And yet, it "contains" something that not only contains it, but is ultimately contained by nothing with the exception of O, which is extra-cosmic and beyond being.

One of the reasons Christianity is here is to annunciate and memorialize this metaphysic, and to render it operational.

Conversely, to the extent that man forgets this primordial truth, he is lost. He can be lost in a primitive way, as in the Islamic world, or in a pseudo-sophisticated way, as are the tenured, but he is nonetheless Ørphaned and adrift in a meaningless world, condemned to shout his inanities into the void.

Critically, this escape into the inscape occurred in only one place in history, in the Christian West (for our Jewish friends, we are naturally assuming the Judeo- component, since we are talking about a single "arc of salvation"). Fukuyama -- who is again clearly not coming at this from a religious perspective, but a disinterested sociological one -- documents how differently western Europe developed in comparison to China, India, and the Ottoman empire, each of the latter being rooted in very different metaphysics.

Now clearly, we cannot speak of "multiple" metaphysics. Of all the sciences known to man, only metaphysics can be truly "one," truly objective, and truly true (or "relatively absolute"). It is nothing like science, which has competing or tentative hypotheses for every phenomenon.

Science is a paradigm we superimpose upon phenomena, but it knows nothing of the noumenon beneath, behind, or above it all, for the phenomena are its shadow, so to speak. Plus, science can never be truly unified unless it sacrifices either completeness or consistency, a la Gödel.

But metaphysics is the "science of the whole," so to speak, so there can be no entity or event or theory or even religion (if the religion is to transmit Truth) that exists or takes place outside its purview.

In the past, we have spoken of Christianity not as a religion, but as the cure for religion.

This is only half-ironic, for in very important ways Christianity either contradicts what called itself "religion" prior to its emergence, or else it assimilates and sanctifies partial or garbled religious understandings in a higher Light (and again we are not speaking of Judaism, which is a special case).

One very obvious way that Christianity corrects and "cures" pre-Christian religion is in its emphasis on the sanctity and supreme worth of the individual. It cannot be overemphasized the extent to which the emergence of the individual marks an unprecedented and shocking Cosmic Fact -- the most important "fact" in all of creation.

This is a fact that cannot and will not be denied, for to deny it is to affirm it. In other words, the Knower of fact is obviously superior to the fact; either the Knower knows and therefore contains the fact, or vice versa.

"European society was," writes Fukuyama, "individualistic at a very early point, in the sense that individuals and not their families or kin groups could make important decisions about marriage, property, and other personal issues."

Cosmic evolution is very much rooted in the family, which is entirely conversant with what I know to be true of human psychological development: "Individualism in the family is the foundation of all other individualisms. Individuals did not wait for the emergence of a state declaring the legal rights of individuals and using the weight of its coercive power to enforce those rights."

"Rather," -- and this is a key point -- "states were formed on top of societies in which individuals already enjoyed substantial freedom from social obligations to kindreds. In Europe, social development preceded political development" (Fukuyama).

And what was true in Europe was and is even more so in the New and Improved World, which codified this metaphysical principle in its founding document. Men did not first figure out that they were created in liberty; rather, they first lived and embodied the freedom, and only then reasoned about its source, its foundation, and its ultimate purpose. Only posterior to this embodiment does it become cosmically "self-evident."

Prior to this, we must take it on faith that the Bible is telling us the truth when it affirms that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor 3:17).

Liberty and equality are inverse variables, and in critical ways define the distinction between contemporary conservative liberals and illiberal leftists.

Ever since the French Revolution, the cosmically reactionary left has vaunted égalité over liberté, while the conservative revolution of America was fought for our freedom.

Our founders were freedom fighters, not feudal fighters struggling to make everyone equally beholden to the state master. And they were passionate about the relationship between hierarchy and liberty, for nothing destroys liberty like egalitarianism (not even the system against which they were rebelling; to the contrary, 18th century England was the freest place on earth).

Like all primitive peoples, the pre-Christian west was originally organized on the basis of tribes. In the past we have discussed how, in order for economic development to occur, human beings must crash through the "envy barrier."

But in many ways, the envy barrier is simply a function of the tribal barrier, for envy is one of the psychic mechanisms through which the tribe imposes unity and survives through time.

The question is, how did we accomplish this? And why the counter-revolution of the reactionary left?

Gotta take the boy to school. To be continued...

Yeah, baby, gotta be me, even or especially if I'm the only swingin' black Jewish Nixon-hugging dwarf in existence:

Friday, April 29, 2011

No Christ, No Evolution

It was once thought -- as long as a decade ago, since Fukuyama's End of History is predicated on it -- that cultural evolution is universal, and that there are clearcut, unidirectional stages from primitive band to modern liberal democracy.

September 11, 2001 more or less applied the kibosh to this idea, or at least made it clear that certain cultures have a very long way to go if they are ever to break through the tribal barrier and join the ranks of the civilized.

I read The End of History when it came out, and found its thesis to be entirely persuasive. I mean, who in their right mind wouldn't prefer individualism to collectivism, liberty to authority, the rule of law to the rule of man, democracy to autocracy, civil rights to unlimited state power, free markets to command economies or crony capitalism?

The operative term is, of course, right mind. "Mind" is the most important variable, both individually and collectively, because it is obviously the case that many people prefer all of those social arrangements that we find anathema.

So Fukuyama can be correct in essence, or "archetypally," even if things are much messier on the ground. This should come as no surprise, because this is Just the Way the Cosmos Works.

For example, my racket, psychology, is implicitly predicated on the idea that health exists and that it is preferable to pathology. Any organism is internally directed toward its archetype, but that doesn't mean everyone is healthy.

To the contrary, pathology in any organic system is a measure of the distance between reality and ideal. We could say the same of cultural pathology, at least so long as we have an ideal. Modern liberalism, of course, has abandoned this in favor of a horizontal multiculturalism, in which all cultural comparisons are considered invidious and probably racist.

The result is that for the politically correct left, there is a ban on the exercise of judgment and discrimination, and therefore wisdom. One can certainly see this in the field of psychology. Like most every other profession, mine has been hijacked by left wing activists who substitute their collective ideology for individual discrimination.

In certain areas, one is not permitted to entertain thoughts that are counter to various reflexive leftist memes, especially as they pertain to race, sexual orientation, sexual differences, family structure, mothering, fatherhood, and cultural practices.

If in our view a person is enmeshed in a pathological culture, then it is our problem. As in the old Soviet Union, we need the psychologist. We need a dose of sensitivity training in order to overcome our bourgeois indoctrination.

Here one can appreciate one of the many contradictions at the heart of the left: that all cultures are equally precious except for traditional American culture, which is uniquely bad and oppressive. No leftist ever condemns, say, homosexual activists, for insensitivity to the Judeo-Christian norms of the majority.

You will have noticed how this mechanism operates in your personal life. I assume we all have crazy relatives.

The annoying thing about crazy relatives is that they always insist that you adapt to their craziness, and if you don't, you are considered crazy, or impolite, or inconsiderate.

This conceals the fact that the crazy person is crazy specifically because he has no insight into his craziness, nor can he adapt to the real world. Screwball comedies from Shakespeare to Seinfeld are based on this idea, but it's not funny when it's happening to you.

A friend of ours recently endured a three week visit from especially difficult in-laws, and was nearly insane by the last day. Here we see how mental pathology is exported into others in the psychic environment.

Conversely, the healthy person is more empathic and flexible. He can see that the crazy person is actually in pain, and he will try to minimize their pain by adapting to their nutty world. But often a line is crossed, whereby the crazy person becomes a tyrant because of our indulgence of them, i.e., our desire to spare them of pain.

When people accuse Petey of being unkind, this is usually what is going on. Since he has no one to please, he has no interest in making crazy people feel comfortable. He is not going to adapt to them. Rather, they must adapt to him. If they don't like it, they can find someone else to manipulate. It shouldn't be difficult. Don't you have family?

It is the work of a moment to see how this identical mechanism operates on the world stage. What is the UN but a bunch of crazy autocrats who expect the world to fall in line behind them? Look at their favorite mascot, the dreaded Palestinians. The UN has spent the last 50 years indulging their madness instead of pointing it out to them, which would obviously be the helpful and "therapeutic" thing to do. Indulging madness only results in more of it.

Now, back to cultural evolution. As we have discussed in the past, the word "evolution" in its original sense is completely at odds with any materialistic/relativistic/Darwinian framework, since evolution is by definition directional. So when we talk about cultural evolution, we are implicitly saying that there is an ideal way for man to "be."

And as soon as we say this, the psycho-spiritual left will accuse us of some nonsense such as "cultural imperialism" or "religious fascism." But this is no more fascistic or imperialistic than to say that some diets are better than others for cardiac health. Only if one begins with the assumption that clear arteries are no better than atherosclerosis can all diets be considered equal.

Fukuyama -- who is clearly not coming at this from a personally religious standpoint -- writes that "The only part of the world where tribalism was fully superseded by more voluntary and individualistic forms of social relationship was Europe, where Christianity played a decisive role in undermining kinship as a basis for social cohesion."

That's odd. It's almost as if Christianity, far from being at odds with evolution, is the key to it.

And when we say "Christianity," please do not make the multicultural error of substituting "religion." For example, "In India, kinship interacted with religion and mutated into the caste system, which up to the present day has proved much stronger than any state in defining the nature of Indian society" (ibid.). And let's not even talk about Islam.

However, this raises the immediate objection of why evolution didn't proceed apace in South America despite its conversion to Christianity, or in the Orthodox east, where church was generally subordinate to state.

We'll deal with that later, but it's a little like asking why one brother turns out to be a sterling chap, the other an assoul. This problem was recognized before the beginning. Look at Cain and Abel. Same family. Same God. What went wrong?

Indeed, what went wrong between Judaism and Islam? They're both tribal, strictly monotheistic, and conspicuously porciphobic. How come the former raced ahead of the pack, while the latter is stuck in the wayback machine?

Early day today. Gotta get to work. To be continued...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Founders and Bounders, Panderers and Slanderers

Continuity? Yes, where were we?

It's tricky to simultaneously pick up a strand of thought while abandoning memory, desire, and understanding in order to plunge into the wild godhead of O and encounter a fresh cosmos each morning.

Any repetition is due to the currents and patterns of my own ocean of being, although we are always endeavoring to conform ourselves to the Real. Naturally some biography always slips into one's cosmography. If only science would acknowledge this.

But that's the thing about any cultural elites, who inevitably believe their point of view is "normative" and that opposing ones are deviations. Which is especially ironic in relativists who not only reject norms, but believe they are oppressive -- even biological norms such as male and female, which are transformed into bloodless and soulless "genders."

Thus, for example, the mainstream liberal media pretend there is "media" and "conservative media," but no liberal media. Likewise, irony-proof secular fundamentalists believe there is science and faith, but no faith in science. Put these two errors in the same person and you have the typically clueless Times reader or NPR listener whom the future laughs at even now.

Is it even remotely correct to maintain that primitive peoples practiced a pure form of communism, and that this is somehow normative for humans?

Beginning with the latter, the answer would have to be yes if you believe that our genetic endowment is normative -- that it is not only an "is" but an "ought."

It is analogous to nutritionists who believe we should all adhere to the "caveman diet" -- which at least makes sense in light of the fact that our physical form is presumably identical to what it was as long ago as 200,000 years.

But does this mean that we should in effect adhere to caveman psychology and group dynamics? Underneath it all, this is what romantics from Rousseau to our latter day tree-buggers are saying.

I might add that the the modern faith of AGW would have no psychic traction if it weren't rooted in this romantic fantasy of primitive harmony with nature.

There is a reason why properly religious people tend to be immune to the fantasy. We know there's no backward-looking return to Eden. In a temporally irreversible cosmos, that is a non-starter. There is paradise, to be sure, but it is up and ahead, not down and back.

So Marx and Engels "argued that an early stage of primitive communism existed prior to the rise of exploitative class relationships, an idealized state that communism sought to recover" (Fukuyama).

How's that working out? I mean in the real world, not in the fantasies of the tenured?

"[R]eal-world Communist regimes in the former USSR and China forced millions of unrelated peasants into collective farms. By breaking the link between individual effort and reward, collectivization undermined incentives to work, leading to mass famines in Russia and China, and severely reducing agricultural productivity" (ibid).

Amazingly, in the Soviet Union, the tiny four percent "of land that remained privately owned accounted for one-quarter of total agricultural output" (ibid.).

Does this settle the argument over private property? Hardly. Again, leftism is a religion. Its idol is equality, irrespective of how self-defeating it is. We see this in Obama's insanely wasteful spending spree and in his authoritarian appropriation of the healthcare system.

Again, leftism is not something one can be argued out of, only awakened from. Nothing short of that can disabuse them of the faith that smart people with good intentions can create paradise on earth by appropriating your liberty and deciding what is best for you, right in the brisket, Chicago style.

But this is somewhat beside the point, because primitive peoples were not communists and they certainly weren't environmentalists.

First of all, since they weren't even individuals as we understand the term, no one argued for, much less decided upon, "group sharing," any more than the various organs of one's body get together and decide to share the food.

This is man's default state, and he needs to be educated out of it, not plunged into it -- even though the latter may well be more "natural."

It is also natural for a man to defecate in the street or to rape the next attractive woman he sees. Only the supernatural saves us from nature. Nature certainly doesn't. Nature couldn't care less, so long as we reproduce. And even then it couldn't care less, because it doesn't care, full stop. Only humans care.

I might add that primitive peoples not only weren't environmentalists, but were the greatest despoilers of nature the planet has ever known. Only Malthusian population constraints prevented them from destroying the place.

Individual <--> Environment is a complementarity that only fully blossoms with modernity. Only when man is ousted from Eden does he know of its existence. Which is the whole point. Growing up is painful, and is always accompanied by loss.

Primitive peoples shared everything within the boundaries of what they considered "the one." For them, oneness was not instantiated in the individual but the group. Thus, they lived not in a dialectical space of "me <--> you" or "I <--> thou," but of group <--> stranger, or insider <--> outsider.

And just as an individual has psychic defense mechanisms to keep out the not-self, the group has defense mechanisms to protect its own integrity -- mechanisms such as human sacrifice, ancestor worship, and ritual warfare.

These primitive mechanisms come with the terrortory of "communism," so never ask why the left requires enemies to slander and defame. It needs them for the purposes of primitive group cohesion. Conservatives have no use for race, but the left couldn't do without its hyperbolic fantasies of racism (or misogyny, or homophobia, or Islamophobia, or class warfare, or Gaia rape).

Perhaps it is no surprise that of the Big Six Founders, the conservatives -- Hamilton and Adams -- were implacably opposed to slavery, and never owned any slaves.

But the founders of the Democratic party, Jefferson and Madison, each owned over 100. And the conservative Washington not only freed his upon his death, but even provided for them, while Jefferson's were sold (and families hideously broken up) to pay off the debts from his insanely extravagant and self-indulgent lifestyle.

You will note that to this day, the brilliant but erratic Jefferson is the favorite founder of the angry adolescent left. He said so many intemperate things, that he provides a goldmine of unwise cracks for the left to legitimize its anti-American ideology through one of America's founders.