Monday, May 23, 2011

There's No Escape From Liberal Freedom

In Bob's absence we have been taking a leisurely stroll through the hyperborean gardens of slack, conducted by yours threely, the cosmic SlackMeister.

I believe we left off discussing the innersection of Christianity and slack, which is a rather important subject, since there are many people -- the erstwhile youngBob included -- who consider them to be not just incompatible but antonymous.

In other words, to become Christian is to abdicate one's slack. Could this be true? For example, how could dwelling on our sinfulness be any kind of highway to slack? Doesn't slack involve dispensing with all that medieval superstition so we don't have to be troubled by that nagging old crone, the conscience? Let's find out!

Again, instead of dealing with proxies and intermediaries of dubious qualification, we're going straight to the top to see how Pope Benedict's words square with the sphere of slack. As always, we will do this in a rigorously unplanned manner by doodling what comes supernaturally, if at all.

I am given to understand that even the dimmest among you realize that man is born into a kind of prison. Who is to blame for this prison? Political sensibilities are often determined by which side of the question one falls on.

Is culture to blame? Bad luck? Corporations? The hidden hand of the White Man? Or could there be something within man himself -- or man as such -- that imprisons him?

If the latter, then all of the solutions proffered by the former will not free man, since he will still be a prisoner of himself. This will then lead to a cycle of evermore liberal "solutions" enacted to overcome the problems created by liberal solutions.

Furthermore, compassion is twisted into an ideological weapon that serves to keep the masses in their cramped cells.

Through the magic of "social justice" our untransformed desire is converted to "rights," which undoubtedly feel like slack to the person making the demand upon his fellow citizens (who are obligated to finance the slackless). But it is really a form of institutional stupidity, with bars as strong as one's autovictimhood.

In other words, Each day we demand more from society so that we can demand less from ourselves (Don Colacho's Aphorisms). This works until the system runs out of other people's slack.

Compassion -- not thought, not reason -- is the master key for the acquisition of left wing power. But compassion for one group always comes at the price of exploitation of another.

For example, if I want the state to compassionately "give" slack to blacks through the imposition of racial quotas, clearly other groups must be punished. If one group does too well -- say, Asians or Jews -- we must confiscate some of their slack and distribute it to more slackless groups.

Which would be the fair thing to do if slack were randomly distributed, with no connection to one's values, behaviors, and achievements.

Now, what is a prison? The Pope says that "in ancient times, the really terrible thing about prisons was that they cut people off from the light of day and plunged them into darkness."

The same is true of man's existential prison, which casts him into another form of darkness. And "Truly, the prison that alienates us from ourselves can be anywhere and everywhere" (ibid). But "What makes man a prisoner, incapable of being himself?"

A man who is aware of his imprisonment has two options. He can escape "horizontally," into the field of desire and sensation; or, he can inscape vertically, into a different kind of relationship with his source. There is surely "freedom" in both, but in very different ways.

For the Pope, "at a deeper level, the real alienation, unfreedom, and imprisonment of man consists in his want of truth. If he does not know truth, if he does not know who he is, why he is there, and what the reality of this world consists in, he is only stumbling around in the dark. He is a prisoner." He is not a freeman of Being but a hostage to existence.

Therefore, freedom has a purpose, a meaning, a vector, without which it is only the illusion thereof: "Liberty is indispensable not because man knows what he wants and who he is, but so that he can find out who he is and what he wants" (Don Colacho).

Now, human beings have a cosmic right to truth, for without it they cannot be properly human. To bar the truth is to prevent freedom. Thus, all forms of tyranny must, in one way or another, limit access to truth or systematically denigrate and devalue it.

For example, in the former Soviet Union or in contemporary Iran or Saudi Arabia or North Korea, the only way to control the populace is to systematically deprive them of access to truth.

In the West a more subtle apparatus is put in place in order to bar truth and therefore freedom. On the one left hand, political correctness enforces the current truth; on the other left hand, deconstruction and multiculturalism undermine the very basis of truth, so the leftist is really saying either "Truth doesn't exist and only we know it," or "That there is no truth is the absolute truth."

Either way real freedom is denied, since its rational foundation is obliterated. An irrational man is only a parody of freedom, since his choice is rooted in error or illusion.

Truth is a kind of food; but so too is the Lie. Recall that man's very first error consists in consuming the wrong type of food. At the other end of the cosmic spectrum, the treatment for this malnourishment involves eating the right type of food, e.g., communion.

In one way or another, we must engage in theophagy in order to assimilate truth; but this isn't quite accurate, since it is actually a means for us to be assimilated into Truth. If we could "contain" Truth, it wouldn't be True. Only because it contains us is it true. Conversely, an inferior man is indeed capable of containing the Lie.

The Pope says that "Liberation is our continual and fresh acceptance of truth as the path of life set before us." Thus, truth is both path and goal, which are the form and substance of our real freedom. This freedom has a vertical source, but it is prolonged horizontally into time and space.

As the Pope writes, "Behind the human exterior stands the mystery of a more than human reality," whatever one wishes to call it. If this were not the case, then we would be reduced to mere animals doing what we are constrained to do, and knowing only what nature has willed.

Absent the vertical, we can never really be free, for we will simply go from prison to prison, with no way out short of death. But because of the vertical there is always a kingdom of slack just a few microns away.

The leftist says "to hell with that." For Marx and his leftwing heirheads, existence is prior to essence -- which, as we know, is the very essence and recrapitulation of that fatal error in the garden. Thus his shrunken dictum that philosophers only interpret the world, when the real point is to change it. Change!

Into what? What we will it to be. But what if your will clashes with another man's slack? Then he is in a state of bad faith, and doesn't know what's good for him. What is good for him? That is for me to know and you to find out. It pretty much depends on the needs of the day. So, you state managers are free to exercise your power in the way you see fit? What do you think, chump? Power is the only real freedom, baby. Then slack is the opiate of the deluded masses? Correct.

Unlike the Biblical archangel, Marxist archangels prevent man from escaping their paradises. --Don Colacho

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Purity

The other day we picked up Tristan from school. We ran into his teacher, and stopped to chat. Off in the distance, we were surprised to see Tristan kneeling down to pray, right out in the open.

Later we asked if he wanted to tell us what he had been praying about. He said, "I was just thanking God for loaning us the world."

We never put him up to these outbursts of spirit. Rather, they just come out spontaneously.

"Pride" is not the word for the feeling it evokes; if anything, it is humbling -- to know that one has been profoundly touched by the real presence of the sacred in all its naked innocence and purity. It pierces the heart like few other things.

Friday, May 20, 2011

False Slack and the Tyranny of Relativism

Don't ask me. I don't know what the deal is. I suppose I'll continue geistposting so long as Bob goes through whatever little phase he's going through. Probably just one of those periodic dry spells when he threatens to quit blogging and then everybody -- yeah, all three of you -- begs him not to and he feels oh so special.

About Bob's reverence for slack, the question often comes up: why would he playgiarize with a concept from a so-called "pretend religion" and expect anyone to take him seriously as an original cosmedian? He's not stupid. Can't he just invent his own crap, like L. Ron Hubbard or Reverend Wright?

Plus, there is already a real Bob. Isn't it a little misleading -- or confusing at best -- for a man calling himself "Bob" to be preaching the gospel of slack? Why hasn't he been sued?

Is there a better word for slack than slack? I don't know, let's consult the thesaurus. Various related words are: rest, repose, take it easy, lighten one's load, recline, slow down, knock off, take time out, suspend operations, take a leave of absence, take off one's shoes, unbuckle one's belt, relax, call it a day; also, most significantly, sabbatical, weekend, Sunday, Christmas.

So is there a laughtier concept that encapsulates these disparate terms? The SlackMeister has not found one.

I suppose one could say "heaven" or "paradise," but these have certain connotations that do not quite capture and convey our meaning; they are either too full or too empty of specific content. One might say there is not sufficient slack in those terms. We need a little more elasticity, a smidgen more growing room.

A reader once accused or flattered Bob by calling him a "Christian SubGenius." Is there any truth to this? And if so, does this represent some heretical new development, or is it just the same old orthoparadox with a space age twist?

Well, why don't we consult the Pope? He ought to be able to adjudicate this matter. If slack is intrinsic to Christianity, he'll surely tell us.

Let's start with his first principle: that "at the origin of all reality is loving intelligence." I ask you: what could be more slackful than loving intelligence? Certainly not hateful stupidity, or entering paradise would be as easy as attending a Democratic convention.

The alternative view is that the world is woven of chance and necessity. If this is the case, then there is -- and can be -- no slack. For what is necessity but the complete absence of slack? A machine has no slack, no freedom, no will.

But it is not just materialism that would deny our slack, for so too do most other religions. If the Absolute is completely transcendent, this means that it does not interact with man.

We begin with the idea that slack is real, and that it is man's birthright. The converse position is that slack is an unreal illusion. We might think we have it, but that's just a tenured monkey babbling on about his stupid relatives. Even I can do that.

As the Pope affirms, anyone who embraces Marxism in any form -- and contemporary "progressivism" is one of them -- "not only accepts a philosophy, a vision of the origin and meaning of existence, but also and especially adopts a practical program."

This much is obvious. But on an even more deeply superficial level -- one might call it "anti-principial" -- this "philosophy" is not rooted in the Word (i.e., Reason, or that Loving Intelligence just mentioned), but the deed: it "does not presuppose a 'truth' but rather creates one." "Truth" becomes merely a fig leaf over that Nietzschean willy thing, which, excised from Truth, reduces to power. Thus,

"The redemption of mankind, to this way of thinking, occurs through politics and economics, in which the form of the future is determined." The middling relativities of the left never stop preaching slack, even while holding a philosophy (either explicit or implicit, it doesn't matter) that renders it null and void.

Man is of course a political being -- not to mention economic, biological, and social -- but he cannot be reduced to any or all of these categories. If so reduced, he becomes a mere object, so there is no longer a foundation for his dignity, morality, or epistemological strivings.

This miserable philosophy prides itself in "demystifiying" the world, but it is really a remystification, for it can provide no rational explanation of our humanness.

Rather, after so much random shuffling, man just "happened." This is what they call an "explanation." But to reduce man to material and efficient causes is to preclude understanding, since it excludes the very domain in need of explanation, i.e., the Explainer. One might say that materialism is the embalming fluid of the left.

Another first principle of Christianity is that the Absolute is person. Being that we are in its image, our own personhood is rooted in this principle.

Thus, "Where there is no uniqueness of persons, the inviolable dignity of each individual person has no foundation, either." "[H]owever one may try to spin or turn it," this "ultimately deprives moral values of their grounding." Therefore, "all that is left is traffic rules for human behavior, which can be discarded or maintained according to their usefulness."

The tyranny of relativism has been sold to the masses by dressing it up as freedom. Once purchased, the citizen finds out too late that he has mortgaged his soul to a system that cannot create slack, but only parasitize existing slack.

For leftism has not created a single thing in this world. Getting something done requires lots of cash, technical inventions, and power. With the all-powerful state, these dangerous mediocrities can get their barbarous hands on all three.

Meanwhile, in the real world of vertical flow, give us this day our daily slack:

(photo courtesy mizz e)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Looking for Slack in All the Wrong Places

In Bob's mysterious absence, we shall continue our exploration of the origins and development of slack.

Yes, we realize most of you don't care about this subject, but perhaps you don't realize that we don't care that you don't care. For if we did care, it would diminish the very slack we are trying to cultivate and maintain.

Or, to put it another way, we care very much about you and your slack, but slack is often at odds with one's own perceived self-interest. Slack is no respecter of persons, at least in the anonymous sense. Slack is, however, a great respecter of individuals, and in many ways one could say that individualism is slack lived.

What I mean is that if you are not yourself -- if you are living a lie in one form or another -- then you have no slack. Where 1 cannot be 1 self, 1 is a kind of zero, or Ø.

Therefore, the first rule of slack is to become who you are, or at least to stop pretending to be what you are not.

Sadly, many people are so immersed and invested in the Lie, that there is no turning back. Not surprisingly, such a person is heavily defended, so it is difficult to penetrate his dense farcefield and storm his hidden slacktuary.

If your home is not a peaceful and loving I-land of slack in an Øcean of general slacklessness, then you're probably not going to find it. Yes, your religion is here to deliver you from slacklessness, but for most people, family is the field in which this becomes most operative and apparent.

Naturally, the ingression of slack affects other areas -- e.g., intellect, creativity, and social relationships -- but there is a good reason why family is so central to Judaism and Christianity -- why marriage is a sacrament, why children are a gift, and why the family in general is a laboratory of trinitarian Love.

Some form of monasticism also works -- either exterior or interior -- but to the extent that we are drawn down into the world drama, we will probably lose ourselves.

Don Colacho has many perceptive aphorisms along these lines, for example -- and this is a big one -- Few people do not need circumstances to complicate their souls a little.

It should all be so simple: man woman, hungry eat, tired sleep, mind learn, spirit truth, freedom play. But truly, most people cannot handle the simplicity. Complexity inevitably creeps in, which then requires a constant output of slack in order to maintain. Complexity is the way of anti-Slack; conversely, unity, or communion, is slack's seal and crown.

In the end you will lose, because Death is the most dreadful form of slack removal awaiting you at the end of all the complications. Death is so simple! He cuts you down to size, whoever you are, and renders you as simple as a date on a headstone.

If Death is simple, so too must be its "adversary." This occurred to me yesterday while reading a passage by then Cardinal Ratzinger. For the Christian, Jesus has transformed death itself into the ultimate slack, freeing us from its icy grip. Therefore, there is no need to construct elaborate psychic defenses against it. Life is no longer a project of death denial.

Freud had a saying about the purpose of psychoanalytic therapy: where id was, there ego shall be.

What he meant by this is that our psychic world expands as the personal conscious mind colonizes and transforms more of the impersonal and unconscious "it" within (id is German for it). In other words, in each of us is the I and the It, in a dialectical process of gradual transformation.

As you watch your child grow, you can see more of his It becoming I. But most people, as they mature, have to leave a lot of unresolved It behind, only to be unwillingly dealt with later in the strangest and most inconvenient places! For example, residual It from one's relations with parents may haunt a marriage.

Look at a couple of recent examples, the political actor and the socialist predator. Both were waylaid and overtaken by their It.

When the It is roaming free, it always feels like slack. But it is false slack unless it is unified with, and personalized in, the higher self. Look at the fine mess Strauss-Kahn's It has gotten him into! His false slack has been abruptly foreclosed, and all of his power cannot retrieve it.

Such complicated lives those two must have been leading. For a secret life is a complicated life.

We all have a public life, a private life, and a secret life. The public life is our persona with which we negotiate the Conspiracy and get through the day. Our private life is where we are free to be ourselves without reserve.

However, the more of one's private self can be expressed in public, the more content we will be. In other words, you don't want your public life to be too much at odds with your private life. To take the first example that comes to mind, if you are the type of person who cherishes truth, it would be quite painful to be a trial lawyer.

Likewise, the more of our secret life we can get into our private life, the more fulfilled we will be. This is where true intimacy arises -- where there are no secrets, and each can give him- or herself to the other without reserve.

We have all felt this vast realm of slack at one time or another. For example, when we first fall in love, one of the reasons why it is so blissful is because of this expansive feeling of intimacy: of two private selves in communion.

But what happens? The It! It is commonly the case that, to paraphrase Freud, people have a hard time loving the person they desire and desiring the person they love. These two are split apart into an I of love and an It of desire. The goal, of course, is their union and marriage.

This is why most relationships do not just passively "die." Rather, they are actively killed. There is a chilling book about this subject, Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance over Time.

Many partners unconsciously seek security over intimacy, and accomplish this by covertly undermining the intimacy, which drains the relationship of passion. The relationship feels "dead," which then makes it easy to imagine that the passion is elsewhere. Rinse and repeat.

This "is not intrinsic to the nature of love itself but is a degradation, a defense against the vulnerability inherent in romantic love" (Mitchell).

Of note, the secret life isn't really so secret unless one is oblivious to its absent-presence. It is always picked up on in one way or another, especially by children -- who won't know what to call it -- resulting in the internalization of the family It.

"The parents' secrets are often a palpable presence in the household, even if, sometimes especially if, they remain unarticulated" (ibid). The secret It-self can become "alluring, forbidden, and mysterious." It is imbued with temptation, which holds out a promise to the It that is always broken.

Life and intimacy are always dangerous and unsettling, which is why most people draw back from the abyss of love and look for slack in all the wrong places.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is Freedom Built into the Cosmos?

Yesterday Bob made an oblique reference to the origins of Slack, but was he serious? Sometimes it's hard to tell whether he's pulling our leg or merely joking. In his characteristically authoritative -- some would say pompous -- way, he wrote that

"Being is the Slack in existence; Life is the Slack in matter; Psyche is the Slack in the biosphere; and Pneuma, or Spirit, is the Slack in Psyche."

In response to such a fascinnoying gnostrum, the napoleonic reader may find himself thinking: like anyone could know that!

This word "slack" -- often capitalized -- seems to come up frequently in Bob's daily dose of diaryhea entries, but to my knowledge, he's never actually exspelled out what he's talking about. Rather, he seems to assume that we all grasp it already, or that perhaps the context renders it less murky. Or maybe he's just deepaking the chopra.

I am here to explain it all out for you, for while no one has ever seen the "face of slack," I did once steal a glimpse of its backside, so I think I know a thing or two about a thing or two.

In fact, this is where we must begin our discussion, with "things" and with "twoness."

It is not immediately evident why either should exist. Why should the cosmos be anything other than One? Well, as it so happens, it is one. This is proved by our unconscious use of the word "cosmos," which assumes a prior or transcendent oneness behind or above all phenomena. Clearly, to say "cosmos" is to say "one." We always know that any this and any that are related on some level.

But why should "things" -- this and that -- exist? While animal perception can apprehend boundaries of various kinds, are these boundaries really real? Or are they just superimposed upon phenomena?

For example, is there really a difference between an animal and its environment? For all we know, the flower could be an external organ of the bee. In our minds we separate them, but the one couldn't survive without the other.

In the book Laws of Form, G. Spencer-Brown (SB) explicates an indicative calculus with which to think about such fundamentals. We will not pretend to understand the calculus, so we'll just assume the letters add up. We are more interested in his conclusions, which are true regardless.

In the book, SB attempts to bring together "the investigations of the inner structure of our knowledge of the universe" with "investigations of its outer structure." As we all know, these two weren't divided until Kant, and the tenured haven't been able to put them back together ever since. In truth they were never separate -- for again, nature knows no such rigid boundaries -- but it's nice to be able to prove it.

SB affirms that a universe comes into being when a space is severed or taken apart. For example "the skin of a living organism cuts off an outside from an inside." Thus, inside and outside coarise with the drawing of a boundary.

This leads to the somewhat eery conclusion that prior to the appearance of life, the physical cosmos not only had no inside, but no outside either.

Frankly, this is not something we can imagine; or, we can only imagine it, as if consciousness were there prior to 4 billion years ago, when life emerged.

(At this point we are speaking only of consciousness associated with biological life, not in terms of a transcendent or meta-cosmic intelligence; for surely, prior to the emergence of life the cosmic lights were on, even if nobody was home.)

SB goes on to say that this primordial severance is always present in our own experience; indeed, "experience" would not be possible in its absence, for there would be no distinction between experience and the thing experienced -- like a person in a coma, who (we are told) is having no experience.

Now, a line is also a form of closure. In drawing a distinction, it creates boundaries around two things, thus "enclosing" them, so to speak. And "Once a distinction is drawn, the spaces, states, or contents on each side of the boundary, being distinct, can be indicated."

This is obvious in the case of lower planes of existence, say, the perception of a "rock." In order to see the rock, we must separate it from its surroundings. (Note also that a professional geologist will look at a rock in an entirely different way than we do, seeing all sorts of interesting things.)

But this is also true of higher and more subtle planes and modes, for example, the distinction between conscious and unconscious minds, or between God and man. To even think about God, one must first draw a line between man and God, the one and the many, time and eternity, essence and existence. But this line is not as unambiguous as the distinct line between, say, journalism and MSNBC.

So to think about God, we must draw a line. But as it so happens, God himself is responsible for "lines as such," with the result that we can draw the line anywhere we choose, but the mere fact that we have drawn one reveals another kind of line, i.e., the clearobscure boundary between Spirt and matter, or intelligence and intelligibility, or form and substance, or knower and known, etc. This mysterious line is everything, at least in potential.

As Bob wrote in the book, Life as such -- which marks the distinction between the great outdoors and the grand inside -- is "a luminous fissure" that suddenly appears "in this heretofore dark, impenetrable circle." It is "the unimaginable opening of a window on the world."

This is what is meant by the statement "Life is the Slack in matter." Perhaps slack is better grasped by thinking of its antonyms, which would include such things as necessity, predetermination, compulsion, inevitability, etc. On the human plane we recognize it as "fate," or perhaps just the "human condition," i.e., those conditions that give us little or no wiggle room. No wiggle room = no slack.

Animals surely have more slack than inanimate objects, but they still float very close to the surface of matter. Not until the emergence of mind -- i.e., the mental space occupied and colonized by humans -- is there this new dimension that seems to exist at a right angle to matter and life.

Here is where the true freedom exists (at least in potential) and could only exist. At the other end, one must wonder about a man who uses his God-given slack to try to prove it doesn't exist -- e.g., people who do not "believe" in free will. Which of course they are free to believe.

Let's consider two extremes, beginning with a wealthy man who is so driven by a compulsion to acquire more stuff, that he actually has no slack. Conversely, think of a man in prison who has an experience of the divine freedom. Though behind bars, he has infinitely more slack than the rich man. Examples of each are too numerous to mention.

I believe this is what Jesus was driving at with his wise cracks about the challenge of the wealthy person to enter the kingdom of slack on earth. It can be done, of course, but it is often the case that the attributes responsible for the acquisition of great wealth are precisely those that exile him from the slack he supposedly craves.

Only when such a person slows down and attempts to enjoy the slack, do they realize too late that they have lived a mirthless life of grim slacklessness. They were not truly free to do what they did, but were compelled to do so. It is a tragedy to realize this too late.

Unless you are like C. Montgomery Burns, who, believing his life was at an end, whispered, "I only wish I'd spent more time at the office."

I will conclude this episode with a passage by SB: the physicist is "made of a conglomeration of the very particulars he describes, no more, no less, bound together by and obeying such general laws as he himself has managed to find and to record.

"Thus he cannot escape the fact that the world as we know is constructed in order (and thus in such a way as to be able) to see itself.

"This is indeed amazing.

"Not so much in view of what it sees, although this can appear fantastic enough, but in respect of the fact that it can see at all.

"But in order to do so, evidently it must first cut itself up into at least one state which sees, and at least one other state that is seen....

"In this sense..., the universe must expand to escape the telescopes through which we, who are it, are trying to capture it, which is us."

This interior expansion, or bigger bang, is where the slack is. Please also note that if we could prove all of this with the inevitability of ironyclad logic, it would only prove that our slack is an illusion. Likewise, if we could logically prove the existence of God, he couldn't exist (nor could we).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Where is the Slack?

Alongside your normal, everyday life, there is another life: one in which you have SLACK.... Slack, in its cosmic sense, is that which remains when all that is not Slack is taken away. But Slack is a trickster. It is unknowable, ineffable, unsearchable, incomprehensible... hidden in revelation. --Book of the SubGenius

Where is the true Slack, and how do we acquire it? And does it have anything to do with politics? People hate it when I bring politics into our endless discussion of the Cosmic Religion, but only the people who disagree with me.

Since I believe these people -- usually unwittingly, for their intentions are good and they know not WTF they do -- embrace a pneumapolitical philosophy that erodes our collective Slack, this must mean I am on the right track.

Or is it just a coincidence that the assouls aflame who disagree with us also happen to be after our Slack? That they think there is only so much Slack in the world, and that a slackless person can acquire it by taking another man's?

In the ultimate sense, we would agree that politics cannot affect our Slack, for the Slack that can be named is not the true Slack. As we have been taught from childhood, there is the City of Man and the Siddhi of Slack, and it is an intrinsic heresy to ever believe we could forge the ladder from the crookward and dissonant timbre of mankind.

Nevertheless, it is the perennial duty of the Raccoon -- so long as he draws breath from vertical respiration -- to try, even though he knows the task is impossible. Even the great Slackbringer Moses did not come in for a promised landing, but perished in the desert bewilderness between slavery and slackery. Light this be a listen to a soul with ears to hearafter and eyes to henceforth!

A review of various scriptures of the world is instructive. Lao-tzu reminds us that only The unnamable is ultimately real, meaning that the moment we speak of it we begin to mislead if not lead -- as if we are qualified to do so! And yet, how can we not speak of Slack and still call ourselves men?

This is, of course, the orthoparadox at the heart of it all. Somehow we must maintain an abiding complementarity between the Name and the Nameless, i.e., God and O, in order to avoid what we call the heartbreak of saturation. The moment "God = What (or Who) we think God is," God is functionally dead.

With that unqualification in mind, Lao-tze doesn't shrink from discussing the relationship between politics and Slack. For example,

When the Master governs, the people / are hardly aware that he exists. / Next best is the leader who is loved. / Next, the one who is feared. / The worst is the one who is despised.

Or, If you want to be a great leader.... / Stop trying to control, for the more laws and prohibitions you enact, the less virtuous the people will be. The best way to foster rebellion is to make trivialities against the law. Such an approach makes the people depressed and crafty.

Indeed, Governing a large country / is like frying a small fish. / You spoil it with too much poking.

Clearly, this is not the recipe for an intrusive and activist state. To the contrary, it is in accord with the enduring -- barely -- American principle of That government is best which governs least; which is to say, the least that is compatible with the preservation and maintenance of Slack.

We are not anarchists, for "unbound liberty" is a contradiction in terms. Anarchy is just the other side of central planarchy, and both end in Øligarchy, or the pissing reign of antiSlack down our back. We believe in a slacktivist government rooted in ordered liberty.

Here is a passage that no leftist wants his subjects to take to heart, for it puts the kibosh on their nefarious psychospiritual economy, which runs on envy:

Be content with what you have; / rejoice in the way things are. / When you realize there is nothing lacking, / the whole world belongs to you. And if you Try to make people happy, / you lay the groundwork for misery. Nevertheless, liberal economics is always green, which is to say, tinged with jealousy.

But the Tao Te Ching is not a sufficient guardian of our slack, for if it were, China wouldn't be the way it is.

Let's go back to the beginning, and ask ourselves, "how did the Slack get here?" Some religions (e.g., Taoism) maintain that it is older than God, while others (e.g., Islam) insist that it needs to be torn from the earth root and branch with hammer and tong.

Here is what we believe: Being is the Slack in existence; Life is the Slack in matter; Psyche is the Slack in the biosphere; and Pneuma, or Spirit, is the Slack in Psyche.

Furthermore, this is a mythsemantical equation for rejoycing, since the penultimate Slack spirals 'round and rejoins the primordial Slack of Being, which consecrates this thrilling holycoaster tide on the way from Alpha to Omega and backagain -- from riverrun to swerve of shore to bend of bay, in a commodious wakeus of recirculation to the sight of salvʘcean, where You finally meets I in an eternal embrace of Fatherson.

So relux and call it a deity.

"Bob" is.
"Bob" becomes.
"Bob" is not.
Nothing is; Nothing becomes; Nothing is not.
Thus: Nothing Is Everything.
Therefore: Everything is "Bob."
Abracadabra
. --Book of the SubGenius

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.