Saturday, September 17, 2011

One Way Out

I was once in a similar situation. Second floor apartment. Angry boyfriend pounding at the door. Oddly enough, he was employed as a meat cutter. One way out. Balcony to my left. Should I jump? Eventually he departed, so I was able to ease out front, soft and slow. There was no second date. Too risky for my health.

A second opinion, from the angry meat cutter's point of view:

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's the Psychic Economy, Stupid!

With this post, I want to get into the question of why -- why do human groups repeatedly fall into millennial thinking, even though it has never once succeeded in bringing about the hoped for transformation? I'm actually doing this before I have even outlined the persistence and pervasiveness of the phenomenon, but that can be obtained through Landes' Heaven on Earth, and even he acknowledges that he's dealing with only a small representative sampling.

It seems to me that either you get it and accept it as a real and enduring motivation in human beings, or reject it as so much pseudo-historical speculation. Landes himself wonders if his ideas about millennial thinking prove too much.

Which is ironic, because this is precisely what millennial movements do: they prove too much -- everything, really. They have an easy answer to every problem, whether it is kill the Jews, eliminate fossil fuels, board the spaceship, break out the guillotine, or grow the government.

This is going to be an instance of high-risk blogging without a neural net, because I don't yet have any idea if I will be able to answer or even really address this question of why. Rather, I am relying solely on memory -- or, more accurately, the memory of a memory.

That is, I vaguely remember reading this book about fifteen years ago, Object Relations, The Self and the Group. I had plucked it from the shelf at *random* while browsing a bookstore near UCLA, and noticed that not only had the forward been written by a familiar personage, but the book delved into the theories of W.R. Bion, my central influence back in grad school.

Little did I know at the time that the choice hadn't been random, but that my future Bob had directed me to this particular tome because I would need it for my "blog" seventeen years later. But that's the way the cosmos works, isn't it? (Bion called it a memoir of the future.)

Upon reading the book -- which I recall as being pretty dry and academic, probably not recommended to a general audience -- I thought to myself, "gosh, this is the best book I've ever read on the subject of group psychology."

But that's pretty much all I remember. However, I retain the belief that developmental psychoanalysis is the deepest and most comprehensive model of human thought, behavior, and development; and that the individual is obviously the key to understanding the group. So we're about to find out if the passages I highlighted fifteen years ago still have any relevance to the problems of today's space-age Bob.

So here goes. Let's begin with the quote by Freud on the title page: The contrast between individual psychology and social or group psychology, which at first glance may seem to be full of significance, loses a good deal of its sharpness when it is examined more closely.

One of the reasons for this blurring, in my opinion, is that psychoanalysis reveals the individual to be a kind of group -- inhabited by a host of benign and malevolent "objects," or powers and principalities, so to speak -- while the group can be fruitfully regarded as a kind of individual.

One doesn't have to believe the latter to be literally true to see that groups often seem to have a mind of their own that conditions the subjects of which they are composed, especially as applied to riots, herds, mobs, and mindless, reactionary groupthink. But enough about the left.

Likewise, it has been said -- possibly by me -- that a neurosis is analogous to a private culture, whereas a culture is very much analogous to a public neurosis.

Doesn't this explain a great deal? The neurotic obviously doesn't fit in with his surroundings, but the real problem is a kind of civil war within his own psyche: this impulse in conflict with that standard, desire at war with conscience, will power in rebellion against aspirations, etc. In this regard, neurosis is just a part of the human condition.

But think of the craziness of culture. Landes wrote his book knowing that he was in contravention of the academic police, in this case anthropologists who regard all cultures as beautiful and adaptive save for their own.

Due to the dictates of relativism and multiculturalism, one is not permitted to say that many cultures are downright nuts without having one's license to bloviate yanked. So Landes has placed himself at risk by describing the craziness of all these groups, from ancient Egyptians to Marxists, from primitive cargo cults to modern UFO cults.

In my book I attempted to answer the question of why human groups are generally so crazy. In order to fully support the theory, I would need to write another book or two of at least 500 pages each. But that's not the kind of guy I am, which is to say, an academic.

Rather, I am a soph-taught slackademic and gentleman loaffeur, so once something makes sense to me I move on and retain the theory until something better comes along and displaces it. I just have wayyyyy too much ground-of-being to cover to dwell on all the particulars. I do not want to spend my life proving that this or that tree exists, meanwhile underlooking the whole forest. Besides, I've got thousands of other people doing that for me, counting and categorizing all the trees.

Anyway, one of Bion's ideas was that the mind, no different than the "world," was something that required adaptation. Once you think about it, it makes perfect sense: for just as there is an external environment, so too is there an internal environment. The human cosmos always and unavoidably has an exterior and an interior, and much if not most human conflict comes down to trying to get these two to line up.

When we are "in" a culture, we are generally unaware of the extent to which it "contains" us. In particular, a functioning culture contains any number of primitive aggressive and sexual impulses. In the absence of the culture our primitive natures would be "unbound," so speak. Most of us -- especially blue state liberals -- do not appreciate the thin red line that separates civilization from barbarity.
Look at the riots in Europe. Look at Nazism. Look at left wing union thuggery in America. Look at those two undulating heathens on the right, abandoning themselves to the savage voodoo rhythms.

In the book, I suggested that culture is a kind of group adaptation to "mindedness" -- to the exceedingly odd circumstances of having thoughts. After all, thoughts are the problem, aren't they? No thoughts = no problems, an equation to which our two dogs will happily attest.

Only humans have this problem of persecutory thoughts, e.g., worries about the future, regrets about the past, obsessions over our standing in the hierarchy, envious thoughts, greedy thoughts, sexual thoughts, health and death-related thoughts, etc.

Culture serves as a kind of apparatus to contain and direct these; or, to put it another way, if the culture fails to contain them, it cannot last. When it fails, then all the previously contained primitive material seeps through and comes to the fore.

One might say that a culture is subconsciously felt to be "legitimate" when it more or less adequately reflects our interior being. Revolutions are triggered when the disjunction becomes too extreme.

This was the case of our Founders, who were increasingly aware of an unbridgeable gap between their natural rights as British subjects and the unjust laws to which they were being subordinated. Likewise, the Tea Party rebellion is nothing but the reflection of a similar gap between what the Founders intended vs. what the modern left would like to impose upon the nation.

It is as simple as this: Obama's vision is in violation of my deepest values, principles, and hopes. I could never, ever, be comfortable in a leftist world, which, to me, would be hell on earth.

I am sure that leftists feel the same way about traditional American values, since they say this all the time. After all, Obama was elected with a promise to fundamentally transform the country. This should have set off alarms in anyone who loves America and doesn't want to see it fundamentally transformed into Europe, just fixed.

It is beside the point that Europe doesn't even work for Europeans. Rather, it is a question of values, not mere economics. That socialism doesn't work is well understood. Why then does it persist? Because it reflects the values of the people who put their faith in it, and values trump economics.

Here is what Thatcher said on the subject, and it is worth tattooing on the forehead of every leftist professor:

"The economic success of the Western world is a product of its moral philosophy and practice.

"The economic results are better because the moral philosophy is superior.

"It is superior because it starts with the individual, with his uniqueness, his responsibility, and his capacity to choose.

"Surely this is infinitely preferable to the Socialist-statist philosophy which sets up a centralized economic system to which the individual must conform, which subjugates him, directs him and denies him the right to free choice."

Freedom. It's a fearful burden. No wonder the left wants to build a world reflecting this psychic fact.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bending Over Forward to Please the State

Even though the counterculture of the sixties is known more for sexuality than aggression, it nevertheless helped idself to the entire range of millennial styles. There were obvious religious elements, along with pseudo-scientific, rationalistic, Marxist, and fascist ones. 1967 and the Summer of Love can only be artificially severed from 1968 with its domestic terrorists, political paranoia, and campus mobs.

But in truth, the signs were already there, what with the race riots that had begun in 1963-'64 before really hitting stride in '67-'68.

The French Revolutionaries also believed they could begin mankind anew, in their case by eschewing everything but Reason.

But again, the pscyche is whole; one can no more sever oneself from the upper and lower vertical (unconscious and supraconscious) than one may declare that the brain can function in the absence of a beating heart. A human being is an integrated organism at every level; the parts are always subordinate to the whole, not vice versa.

Indeed, pathology -- both physiological and psychological -- can be understood as a part that doesn't know its place, and either usurps the rightful domain of other parts or ceases functioning for the benefit of the whole. My pancreas went on strike seven years ago, but it's not as if there are no implications for the rest of me.

But most diabetic patients I see act just this way (many do the same with hypertension). They live in blissful denial of their diabetes, which is why they end up with strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease in their 40s and 50s. As Homer Simpson once lamented, Why do my actions always have to have consequences!

Mendel is undoubtedly correct in highlighting "the rationalists' problem," which is the absence of any "solid ground of being and purpose to replace religious faith." Thus, in actuality, although they always talk about ends, the left really has no means to get there. Rather, they have only means, which explains quite a bit about self-styled "progressives."

For what is the end toward which the progressive believes the state to be progressing? This end doesn't actually exist; or, even if it did exist as a fantasy of some sort, it could never exist on earth.

Again, if one considers actual ends -- empirical reality -- we see that our gargantuan state and its unsustainable debt are the direct result of the application of progressive means, decade after decade. Yes, here we are, liberal paradise. Isn't it beautiful?

The ubiquitous liberal problem is that it has no intrinsic boundary, no limiting factor. Yes, it is Never Enough: liberals insist

"that the government must do more -- much more -- to help the poor, to increase economic security, to promote social justice and solidarity, to reduce inequality, and to mitigate the harshness of capitalism. Nonetheless, liberals have never answered, or even acknowledged, the corresponding question: What would be the size and nature of a welfare state that was not contemptibly austere, that did not urgently need new programs, bigger budgets, and a broader mandate? Even though the federal government’s outlays have doubled every eighteen years since 1940, liberal rhetoric is always addressed to a nation trapped in Groundhog Day, where every year is 1932, and none of the existing welfare state programs that spend tens of billions of dollars matter, or even exist. "

No liberal ever says, "okay, that's big enough. The present size of the state is perfect." Likewise, they never tell us how high taxes have to be before they are too high. After being forced by the electorate to abandon his liberal agenda, President Clinton bowed to reality and proclaimed that "the era of big government is over." But it was just resting. A new era of Bigger Government commenced on January 20, 2009, with Clinton's full-throated support. Clintonomics!

Now, two of the important modes of unconscious thought are omnipotence and omniscience. Why is this the case? Just logic. To simplify, the deep unconscious knows no clear and unambiguous boundaries, and a boundary is a limit. It also transcends -- or subtends -- linear time, and only knows the now. Add those together, and it is possible to live in a kind of boundless eternity.

I should emphasize that this is by no means inherently pathological. To the contrary, we all long to spend a little timelessness in this mode, but most of us do it in appropriate ways, e.g., religion, meditation, hobbies, family, music, cosmic blogging, sex, grog, etc.

But what if you are the type of person who is unsatisfied or cannot be satisfied with his own life? These are the most dangerous people on earth, especially when given political power. For some reason, the personal happiness -- and even identity -- of these persons is bound up with "helping" others.

Nothing wrong with that -- one cannot be human in the absence of the charitable impulse -- but this is quite different.

For just what makes a person want to force a second person to pay for something he believes a third person needs? Why do we have to radically transform our whole medical system and inconvenience millions of people, just because some vulgar community agitator thinks it's a good idea?

I understand the charitable instinct, but I do not understand the infinite self-belief -- the presumption of omniscience and omnipotence, backed by the force of state violence to impose his will. Have we any right whatsoever to imagine that the people who will administer this system will be wiser, kinder, and more moral than we are?

Here's an idea: how about our government actually making itself useful by fostering the market conditions that would make the medical system more functional? As it stands, the system is so distorted that it has few meaningful price signals, and in a free market economy, price is everything. Once price no longer conveys up-to-date meaningful information, we enter an irrational and incoherent world of too much or too little of what we want and need, and at the wrong price.

A state takeover can only make this worse, not better, for no one knows the actual cost of anything in a command economy. Nor does anyone know whether it is worthwhile to do this or that. There are infinite decisions to be made, with no rational basis to make them, and each with unforeseen and unforeseeable consequences. It is why we had to pass Obamacare in order to find out what's in it (and we still don't know).

Pelosi was being unintentionally honest here, because her statement is literally true. No one can pretend to know the consequences of a 2,500+ page bill on 17% of the economy, which is in turn connected to everything else. The bill could have been 5,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 pages, but one could still never predict its impact, since the information it pretends to understand is literally infinite (Hayek's knowledge problem). The map would have to be as large as the territory, which is both impossible and redundant.

Note that freedom and inequality are two sides of the same coin. We are free because unequal, and unequal because free. If everyone were the same, it would be another way of saying that we are not free to be unique.

But in its attempt to impose equality by force, this is precisely what the left ends up doing. Thus, in the socialist brain of a liberal Democrat, there are large areas devoted to embedded groupthink, generous spending of other peoples money, and smarter-than-thou intellectual sanctimony, but mere remnants of common sense and personal responsibility.

In a command economy, we are only "free" to be what the state wishes us to be, which is no freedom at all. The state is the agent and we are the receiver; it is the manly pitcher while we must lean forward and be the passive catcher. It rewards certain thoughts and behaviors, and punishes others, which places a new and completely unjust cost on the development of individualism.

For Margaret Thatcher, this was the wickedness at the heart of leftism. I found it surprising and fascinating to discover that Thatcher had deduced her economics from moral principles. But as soon as I thought about it, I realized that the left does the identical thing, except they begin with the wrong moral principles. For someone like Paul Krugman, his economics is clearly posterior to his morality -- or, to be precise, his hate-drenched moralism.

As Berlinski explains, "socialism itself" has a corrosive effect on human nature; it has "turned good citizens into bad ones; it turned strong nations into weak ones; it promoted vice and discouraged virtue; and even when it did not lead directly to the Gulags, it transformed formerly hardworking and self-reliant men and women into whining, weak and flabby loafers." It is not a noble idea badly applied, but "an inherently wicked idea," one not susceptible to "perfecting." Rather, it works every time, only in ways unintended.

Thatcher also felt -- and this would apply to Obama's America -- that "Britain's decline was not an inevitable fate, but a punishment" (emphasis mine). No, not for those sins that preoccupy the liberal brain -- imperialism, racism, homophobia, greed, and all the rest -- but "for the sin of socialism." Thatcher:

"How could anyone expect that the idea of 'more of the same' which has nearly brought us to our knees could be seriously entertained?"

For socialism is not just "a folly, but a heresy" (Berlinski); it is actually bad theology, because it is rooted in "the belief that Man is perfectible" (Thatcher). In this naive but pernicious view, "we must do good. We know how to do good, and we have the money to do good. And that inevitably became, and you will be done good to! (Bernard Ingham, in Berlinski).

So, bend over and be done good to, comrade!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spoiled Children of the World, Unite!

We are toying with the idea that fascism involves the collapse of Ought into Is, resulting in Is becoming what ought to be.

Any form of metaphysical materialism is in an unstable state of "pre-fascism." This mental state is unstable because the materialist doesn't generally have the courage, consistency, or insight to draw out the implications entailed in his premises.

In point of fact, human beings can never actually escape the Ought, for even -- especially -- Nazis were quite certain that various things ought to happen -- things like genocide, world dominance, elimination of Judeo-Christian values. For them, man is fallen, so to speak, but the fall occurred as a result of a catastrophic turn from nature to idea, in particular, ideas that were at cross-purposes with the Will of Nature.

This reminds me of self-styled artists who depict this or that infrahuman reality on the pretext that it is "real," and who claim that the artist has the responsibility to tear away the masks and reveal reality in all its naked glory. Bad naked, not good naked.

Not only is this an excuse for anything, but it violates the prime directive of art, which is to liberate man from his existential prison, and to reveal the noetic light that radiates through bars of time and space. We do not need art to depict things that are readily apparent to our lowest capacity for knowing them. People defecate. What's more real than that? Why not paint it ? Oh, wait.

One of the touchstones of modern conservatism is Richard Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences, one of the consequences being that no form of metaphysical naturalism can be true -- or natural! -- for man. For if the world is intelligible and man is free -- the one entails the other like light and heat -- the materialist is irredeemably wrong.

The irony is that such parochial yahoos necessarily use the spirit to deny it, but who cares what the spirit says if it isn't real?

In placing matter over spirit, quality is reduced to quantity. But is quality just another quantity? Is meaning just another name for meaninglessness? Is man just an animal? Is the world just a brute fact?

For Weaver, this downward pull from mind to matter -- and the attraction is real, something we will be discussing later -- ultimately redounds to the end of ideational life altogether.

To paraphrase Weaver, where fact becomes the criterion of truth, thinking has been rendered unattainable: "Total immersion in matter makes man unfit to deal with the problems of matter" (say it again). The world shrinks down to our lowest mode of comprehending -- or let us just say "sensing" -- it. In the end there is only a purple haze of fleeting experiences superimposed upon this third stone from the sun. Are you experience? No, only the experienced, i.e., an object, not a subject.

Another relevant quote from Weaver before we dive into the feminine fascism of the 1960s: Every group regarding itself as emancipated is convinced its predecessors were fearful of reality. But once all the veils are stripped aside -- all the archetypal forms that serve as "ladders of ascent" -- there subsists "a reality of such commonplace that it is merely knowledge of death." (The downward ideational pull referenced above ends here. Afterwards there can be further "elaboration" but no essential progress, no evolution.)

Whereas the Nazi declares apocalypse, now!, one might say that the sextaphiliac (lover of the 60s) says paradise, now! -- which happens to be the title of Mendel's chapter on the 1960s. He writes that

"In midcentury, two decades after the defeat of fascism, throngs of Western youth flocked to a new credo that was, for opposite reasons, even more radically alien to Western civilization than fascism had been." Really? More radical than fascism? That's a bold statement! Explain.

Well, both involve turning aside from thought, and toward experience and feeling. They also involve a complete rejection of the existing social order, and with it, a transvaluation of values.

Again, in the case of Nazism, aggression came to the fore, whereas with the 60's generation it was sexuality. However, in the deep unconscious these two are inextricably linked -- the lustful sadism of the Nazis was quite obviously sexualized, while the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s was equally obviously a kind of blunt instrument with which to beat off detractors.

The latter were not merely "wrong," which was beside the point. Rather, they weren't enlightened, or "with it," or tuned in, or what have you. Thus, there was a clear gnostic element in the whole enterprise: authentic people in the know vs. all those phonies and hypocrites. The middle class goes from being the foundation of America to the final common pathway of a dreadful disease:

"Why sacrifice one's life to the impersonal and oppressive institutions" that "built and sustained" our civilization, e.g., "enslavement to time, work, success, 'delayed gratification,' efficiency, prudence, and the rest of the code. For the counterculture, it was all a vast hoax, a grotesque deception that had compressed their elders into dehumanized parcels of roles, functions, and skills" which "the young refused to accept as man's fate."

Rather, "they wanted here and now to make that leap into the realm of freedom" -- as if there is such a thing as abstract freedom outside the individuals and institutions that nurture and preserve it.

At this point I would like to quote some songs from the era, with the most pompous lyrics you could possibly imagine, but I don't have time. Well, here's one ridiculous but typical example -- Enter the Young, by the Association (note the apocalyptic overtones):

Here they come, yeah
Some are flying, some just gliding
Released after years of being kept in hiding
They're climbing up the ladder rung by rung

Enter the young, yeah
Yeah, they've learned how to think
Enter the young, yeah
More than you think they think
Not only learned to think, but to care
Not only learned to think, but to dare
Enter the young

Yeah, here they come
some with questions, some decisions
Here they come
Some with facts and some with visions
Of a place to multiply without the use of divisions
To win a prize that no one's ever won

Here they come, yeah
Some are laughing, some are crying
Here they come
Some are doing, some are trying
Some are selling, some are buying
Some are living, some are dying
But demanding recognition one by one

That's some ridiculous songwriting. But no less ridiculous than the influential wrongsighters of the era, such as Charles Reich, Herbert Marcuse, Normon O. Brown, et al.

One of them, Murray Bookchin, wrote of how this "revolution cannot end with the traditional goal of 'seizure of power'; it must culminate in the here and now with the dissolution of power as such," including the power of "parental authoritarianism over youthful spontaneity."

Come to think of it, that last one seems to be what it's all about. "Spoiled children of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but the reality principle!”

Uh oh. I think the revolution is here. Now what? Maybe our parents weren't so stupid after all...

Late, gotta run. To be continued.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Strangling the Last Nazi with the Entrails of the Last Hippie

Let's talk about the millennial movement I know best: the 1960s!

One way of resolving the complementarity discussed in yesterday's post -- between Is and Ought -- is to collapse one into the other.

For example, one can transform Is to Ought, and be all superego (the conventional conscience) all the time: sanctimonious, judgmental, rigid, priggish; such individuals are easy to identify, because they are narrow-minded, conventional, fearful of experience (or of being), and dominated by the defense mechanism of projection (i.e., they see their own split-off and denied sexual and aggressive impulses in everyone else).

The other way -- which appears "cooler" but is every bit as pathetic -- is to collapse Ought into Is, which comes down to elevating appetite, instinct, and desire to a kind of moral imperative: if it feels good do it, free love, free hate, give peace a chance, give war a chance, etc.

Individuals who engage in this can radiate a kind of infectiousness or allure, as they seem to have solved the problem of limits, and appear to live in a world of instinctual plenty. They can also provoke envy, as if they have the secret of life, and we are somehow missing out on it.

As a brief and possibly banal aside, I spent twelve years working in a supermarket -- often the graveyard shift with no adult supervision -- so I would spend a lot of time idly flipping through magazines such as People or Us. (I was a frivolous fellow and it was a union job, so the man-hours always exceeded the amount of work that needed to be done; in other words, lots of slack.)

One lesson I internalized early on is that things aren't always as they appear to be with these quasi-animal, instinct-driven celebrities living in their infrahuman paradises. Especially over the long run -- we're talking twelve years -- I came upon example after example of bliss transforming to catastrophe. One issue he "has it all" -- money, fame, women, the respect of his peers, a golden future, the perfect relationship -- but a few years later, another issue is devoted to the same person's trainwreck of a life. This confirmed in me a kind of sacred hunch that there was nothing intrinsically enviable about these people. If there was a secret to life, they didn't have it. Or, if they did, it had nothing to do with all the outward trappings.

In Violence and Vision, Mendel has two chapters devoted to the second style of millennial fever, i.e., reducing Ought to Is. Typically we think of millennial thought in conjunction with religion or ideology, but in this case, we are dealing with nature.

Now, it is axiomatic that for man, being in a state of nature is unnatural. In other words, there is no mythical man prior to the cultural matrix that nurtures, preserves, contains, and allows expression of his humanness.

For one thing, man is uniquely trinitarian and intersubjective, and cannot be who or what he is in the absence of others, which automatically introduces a kind of constraint on any notion of "pure being" detached from concern for other persons. Indeed, man can only be himself in openness and intimacy with others (both vertically and horizontally).

Another way of saying it is that for man, the supernatural is natural. Man cannot be man in the absence of the good, true, and beautiful -- without courage, justice, freedom, nobility, reverence, love, and creativity, each of which is a luminous facet of the gemlike One.

Nazism, on the one hand, and the Sixties, on the other, resolved the problem of Is and Ought by creating a magical world of isness, of the celebration of instinct.

Let's begin with National Socialism. What was it, really? Historians have been debating this for decades, but it seems to me that, underneath it all, the key principle is the complete legitimization and institutionalization of violence toward the Other.

Think of war: in war, we are temporarily liberated from the dictates of our superego, and are free to engage in violence toward the other. We are permitted to do things we normally wouldn't dream of, like putting a bullet through someone's head. This is normal and necessary. It is a calling and a profession, i.e., the Warrior.

The same principle is sublimated through violent sports such as football and boxing. But even in non-violent sports such as baseball and basketball, there is still a sublimation of the primitive desire to conquer, dominate, and triumph. It is why boys need sports, whereas for girls it's totally optional. Girls don't generally need an outlet to sublimate their violent tendencies. Rather, girls need to sublimate their inborn ability to hypnotize and seduce, i.e., to dominate and triumph in a different way over the weak. Men and women have different "intrinsic struggles" with their lower selves.

Nazism essentially took the unusual psychological circumstance of war, and normalized it. Of course, the first step is to create a kind of all-powerful enemy, which then paves the way for a severely polarized mentality of "annihilate or be annihilated." In this view, the Holocaust was quite literally a simple case of self-defense. If one isn't the hammer then one is the anvil. There is nothing in between.

"In fascism, the Apocalypse found a philosophy that let it act forthrightly and stop pretending that violence and hatred were really peace and love." It "boldly glorified violence as a noble end in itself. As fascists, those who wanted to hurt and kill could do so openly. Might was Right, not because it served the cause of love... but simply because that was the way nature worked and the way Providence wanted it to work" (Mendel).

Someone else characterized fascism as the violent resistance to transcendence, and this too is a good definition. However, when transcendence is immanentized, the immanent -- nature -- becomes transcendent, as necessarily occurs in metaphysical Darwinism. Thus, it is no surprise that the Nazis rooted their ideas in a kind of twisted and yet literal interpretation of Darwinism, which necessarily regards any Ought as nothing but an Is in disguise, just a pretext for purely selfish genes.

"Since nature's primary, if not exclusive, concern was survival and growth, it was entirely appropriate that those strong enough to prevail in the endless struggle for the scarce prerequisites of life should dominate and guide the species into the future. Only unrestrained and unabated conflict could assure the dominance of the healthiest, the strongest, and, therefore, the best among the species, humans included" (Mendel).

Furthermore, "it was right that the weak die before they harmed the species as a whole by multiplying and thereby perpetuating and spreading their weakness. What could be more 'logical,' 'rational,' or 'scientific?'" (ibid).

Don't wait for a Darwinian rejoinder, because there isn't one. Indeed, the Nazis found abundant confirmation for their values in nature.

That being the case, who would be public enemy number one? That is correct: those bastards who made us all slaves to those fraudulent transcendent values, the Jews. Mendel quotes Himmler, who said that "we had the moral right, we had the obligation toward our people, to kill [the Jews].... you may call it cruel, but nature is cruel..."

And before him, Nietzsche wrote of how "the Jew, with frightening consistency, dared to invert" the aristocratic values reflecting the natural hierarchy of strong and weak, master and slave. Indeed, Jews "gave the world the God of thou-shalt-not," not to mention the value of free will, the preciousness of the individual, and concern for the weak.

That noted bio-ethicist, Hitler, wrote of how "the idea of struggle is as old as life itself, for life is only preserved because other things perish through struggle.... In this struggle, the stronger, the more able win, while the less able, the weak lose." And of all the animals, man alone imagines he can ignore and transgress this law written in nature and in our genes." Thus, "our motto should be -- If you will not be a German, I will bash your skull in." And you don't blame a German for doing this any more than you would blame a tiger for eating a gazelle.

In this upside-down cosmos, life -- raw life itself -- becomes a "Law unto itself." It is divorced from any real value that would imbue it with truth or meaning, and becomes a self-enclosed tautology: "Live intensely, never mind whether the aim or stimulation came came from the 'highest' or 'lowest.'" One might say that Nazism involved a masculine fascism, while in the case of the sixties, it was a feminized fascism.

But just as the vertical doesn't go away just because we collapse it into the horizontal, the masculine doesn't disappear just because it is conflated with the feminine.

Rather, we merely end up with perverse, unnatural, stunted, and inappropriate forms of masculinity and femininity. In the case of men, we end up with wimps or barbarians, while in the case of women we end up with something analogous, for which I haven't yet devised a snappy shorthand.

Note how so many intellectuals were seduced by fascism in the 1930s, just as they were -- and are - seduced by the fascism of the 1960s, right down to our current Dear Leader. Which we will discuss tomorrow.

Monday, September 12, 2011

No Good Deity Goes Unpunished

In his Vision and Violence, Mendel asks, "Why has the apocalypse persisted century after century, changing nothing but its mask -- from God to Reason, History, and Nature?"

And although he has chapters describing each mask -- e.g. the French Revolution (reason), Marxism (history), and National Socialism (nature) -- he never really gets around to answering that question: why?

Another conspicuous weakness of the book is his misunderstanding of genuine mysticism, which he somehow regards as apocalyptic. Thus, a Meister Eckhart gets lumped in with the Inquisitors who quizzed him.

However, the book is not without its merits. One of the most interesting chapters is the first, which goes into the worldview promulgated by the ancient Hebrews.

What makes it so interesting is that this completely marginal and undistinguished group of slaves and nomads somehow arrived at the most functional and humane way of organizing society. As I have suggested before, this itself argues for a supernatural source, and yet, since Mendel is writing from a wholly academic/horizontal perspective, he just leaves this miracle hanging, with no attempt at a real explanation.

For example, he writes of the unprecedented vision "that commits us to the world, to change, and to the attainment of the good society," describing it as "a gift to us from the ancient Hebrews and their Bible, on which so much of our culture is founded."

Agreed, but who gave them the gift? To leave the Creator out of this picture is to leave no way of explaining it. Oh well. That's our job, I suppose. I'm just gratified that an erstwhile member of the tenured class appreciates the miracle of the Jewish revelation.

Mendel writes that "Biblical man and woman are committed to this world, come what may, because their God not only created it, but called it good, 'very good.'"

This was and is a critical point, for, among other things, it made uniquely possible the eventual emergence of science in the West. Mendel notes that Hebrew sages were "on guard against attempts to spiritualize material reality out of existence" (as in eastern religions), and "repeatedly emphasized the divinity of the world and the necessity of our continuing attachment to it and to our tasks within it."

Another key idea that is rife with contemporary political implications is an emphasis on the "distinct and permanent separation" of heaven and earth, or vertical and horizontal.

In short, all millennial thinking -- whether religious or "secular" -- conflates the two, and is motivated by the belief that we can somehow create heaven on earth. What this ends up doing is either eliminating the vertical all together, or creating a hellish mixture of horizontality and lower vertical energies, with no spiritual telos. Like Obama and his den of Chicago muscleheads, we end up with "thugs for hope."

But the Jewish sages cautioned that heaven is "not fit for earthlings" and counseled man to "seek not what is too wonderful for thee." If it's too good to be true, it probably is.

Another central idea is that human beings are in the image of their Creator, which primarily has to do with our ability to reason, with our freedom of will, and with our boundless creativity -- or, one might say, our ability to know truth, to do good, and to create beauty, respectively.

The expulsion from paradise is also fraught with implications that we ignore at our peril. This realmyth may be approached from any number of angles, but Mendel looks at it in psycho-developmental terms, as an evolution from infantile dependence to mature and autonomous individuality.

This necessarily implies work, for no longer are we within the womb of infantile omnipotence, in which our desires are instantaneously transformed into their fulfillment. But enough about the left.

As Mendel describes it, "having to work for the fruit of one's labor" is coterminous with "growth beyond an infant's immediate and total gratification," the latter of which is "always the miraculous core of the millennial fantasy."

This transition from the maternal to paternal sphere involves "the necessity of laboring against obstacles to achieve one's aims; the accompanying necessity of Law and its constraints to curb the rush of infantile desires; and the value of reason to overcome those obstacles and conscience to see the wisdom of those constraints."

Thus, the millennial left is always at war with each of these: with the intrinsic value of work (which doesn't detract from, but adds to, our dignity); with the transcendent order that places fruitful constraints upon animal desire; and with the simultaneously frustrating and liberating application of reason.

One might say that the "romantic" left ignores or denigrates reason, while the pseudo-scientific left absurdly elevates it to a suitable guide for life, which automatically renders it unreasonable in the extreme (plus the vertical always seeps in anyway, since spirit abhors a vacuum).

What this means is that, always and forever, "It is only in this endless enterprise, in which reason, freedom, and conscience are both means and ends, that humanity both is and becomes the image of God."

These are the eternal orthoparadoxical horizons within which man lives, and which generate a humanly insoluble complementarity of is and ought, or being and becoming. The sacred ought is simultaneously necessary and impossible.

To put it another way, we always fall short of what we ought to be and do, but we must never stop trying. It goes with the terra-tory, which is to say, terra, earth.

This also implies that "God himself... awaits the completion that only his created image, man, can achieve," which is nothing less than carrying forward "the work of creation to the world's completion." Lean forward, as it were.

And the greatest task of world maintenance and reparation involves moral repair. Thus, knowledge and thought are nothing if not allied with "ethical purpose." Truth should not only set us free, but is ultimately the foundation of any efficacious change in the world. Clearly, change based on lies and delusions -- or on vacuous Hope -- is not going to be beneficial.

Here is the truly miraculous part, and which probably helps explain the depth and persistence of Jew-hatred down through the centuries; for "what is most remarkable about the Biblical message of moral commitment and action is the fact that it provides virtually all of the basic blueprint for the good society."

Thus, it is axiomatic that bad people -- especially tyrants who do not want competition from another deity -- will oppose both the inconvenient message and the annoying noodges who deliver it, generation after generation.

For this was the first people who sought communion with God through ethical behavior as opposed to, say, child sacrifice. The Judeo-Christian God is very much unlike certain tribal gods of our acquaintance, who justify "territorial conquest" and who legitimize "hatred and annihilation of other peoples."

It is no wonder that all of the wholesale anti-Semitism in the world emanates from the left and from Islam. Evil prefers to operate under cover of darkness, and hates to be watched and judged.

One thing that accounts for the durability of the Hebrew vision is that it is actually in accord with human beings as we find them, not as we wish them to be. It "makes no attempts to conceal human flaws," and yet, nurtures the idea that man may gradually, "over time, sufficiently control the 'evil inclinations' in human nature to establish the good society of peace, freedom, justice, and material well-being."

And of course, there is "no role for apocalyptic-revolutionary violence in this vision." Rather, "the Biblical vision starts with the premises that the goal is too distant; the way too slow and uneven; and both the travelers and their guides too limited and uncertain for violent theory and practice."

Besides, my question to the left is: why do you want to bring a new world into being, when you can't even appreciate and enjoy the existing one?

(All of the quoted material is from Mendel's Vision and Violence)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

3,000 = 1 = ∞

As you might imagine, I'm not into this whole anniversary business. From what I've read, no one made a big deal out of December 7, 1951, and why should they have? It was the anniversary of a cowardly sucker punch, of our own unpreparedness, of our underestimation of depths of evil in this fallen world.

Even now -- especially now -- religious psychopaths all over the world are looking forward to another genocidal event to which we will undoubtedly look backward.

But why look back before the job is even done? Often it becomes an excuse for the villainous traitors in our midst to pretend they are actually on the same side we are, by expressing sympathy for the victims -- victims they would otherwise regard as deserving of their fate because of America's evils. They are not animated by a desire to avenge these deaths, which, after all, is the important -- and difficult -- part. With all due respect, anyone can cry. What we need are people who can fight and kill, a very different skill set.

The Sultan speaks for me in observing that

"the anniversaries have long since been reduced to a national therapy session, with pain released and healed in the media's own talking cure. But it isn't the pain that matters, it's what we do with it that counts. We have not yet lost the war -- but we are losing it, and unless we decide as a nation what we stand for and what we stand against, then we will lose. It will take time, like our banks we are too big to fail, but given enough appeasement, enough immigration and enough terrorism -- it will come."

It doesn't matter if we lost 3,000 people or one person that day, for the evil is just as extreme, even infinite. Ironically, to place a nice round number on it is to contain it, not express it.

There is more truth than we realize to Stalin's remark about tragedies and statistics. The reason for this is that one -- that is, one precious human life -- is already infinite, and the infinite cannot be surpassed.

Substituting 3,000 or even six million can only be a diminution, a drawing back from the infinite horror and pain -- the horror of, say, one young mother deciding whether to be burned alive or to be pulverized by the concrete below. Such pain can neither be conceived nor surpassed.

There is no "collective suffering." Rather, as Bolton explains, "The maximum distress is always neither more nor less than one victim." In no way can this "be made into any objective total or larger entity." What we really need to remember, always, is the infinite worth of the individual and the limitless evil of the enemies of individualism and liberty, light and truth.

A repost from five years ago:

History very seldom records the things that were decisive but took place behind the veil; it records the show in front of the curtain. --Sri Aurobindo

Everyone seems to be using this day to offer their reflections on What Changed That Day, both in themselves and in the world. I don’t know that my own personal musings would add much of anything. Therefore, some tranpersonal cosmic ones.

I remember thinking on the day it happened, “nothing will ever be the same,” as if the veil of history had been rent right down the middle, revealing to us, if only for a moment, exactly what lay behind it: the principalities and demonic powers, the Cosmocrats of the Dark Aeon -- those unseen forces that “are more than rational and which make use of lower things, things below reason, in order to conquer and rule the world of man” (Dawson).

Outwardly, history seemed to change directions that day, but the opposite is true. History arrived at the destination toward which it had been hurtling under cover of darkness -- or was it blindness? -- in a more or less straight line for two decades or more. And zigzagging toward for centuries, the moment you stop to think about it. Really, we should substitute "inevitable" for "inconceivable."

For as ever, there are two dynamic principles and social orders at work in history, the City of Man and the City of God. Or, if you prefer, there is a centrifugal force that draws the world down into ignorance, bewildering multiplicity, darkness, and death, another centripetal force that draws us up toward unity, life, love, and Truth.

We live in the midst of the worldpool created by their interaction, and the eye of that world-historical spiral just happened to focus over New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that day. Where will it touch down tomorrow? We may express shock at where it touches down, but we should never be surprised that it touches down.

For Christians, the cosmic storm touched down on a place called Golgotha some 2000 years ago. At the moment, it appeared as if the forces of evil had accomplished their ultimate triumph. And yet, the opposite was true. For if ever there was a turning point in history, that was it. What looked like the darkest night was actually the dawn.

On any spiritual view of history, history is coextensive with time itself -- cosmic time -- and historical time represents the interpenetration of time and eternity: eternity enters time, and time makes its way back to eternity, serially revealing a bit of it at each step along the way.

When someone speaks of "root causes," it is time to reach for your revolver. Those who search for them nearly always look in the wrong direction, for the causes are not horizontal but vertical.

The antievolutionary barbarians we are fighting are delusional servants of their own loathsome creature, a false god created out of their own perverted psychic substance. Why people worship their own creations is a good question, but it is hardly a new phenomenon. Most anyone who doesn’t worship the Creator worships a creature. It’s just a matter of degree and of virulence.

Here are the root causes: World. Trade. Center.

First, the World, the idea that human beings are actually one, and that, beneath our superficial diversity, there is a universal Way and Life and Truth. It is the opposite of multiculturalism, the pernicious idea that the endarkened multitude of human streams evolve in their own parallel universes and that truth is somehow embodied in each culture.

In point of fact, culture -- that unreflective torrent of custom that drags most souls in its wake -- is more or less a repository of falsehood and delusion, of things that are not true because they cannot be true. Time reveals this to be the case, but it is specifically time that our enemies wish to arrest and reverse.

Trade. The spiritual evolution of which we speak is a system, and only an open system may evolve. We are specifically at war with people who object to this fact, and wish to remain in a dark, dank, and airless prison -- an authoritarian anthell with truth handed down from on high, preventing any hope for evolutionary progress.

These are literally death cultures, for death occurs whenever a system becomes closed, whether it is biological death, psychic death, epistemological death, spiritual death, economic death, what have you.

Center. The world is converging towards its nonlocal center, a spiritual telos that is located outside space and time. This center can only be reached through liberty, for “the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” While we necessarily hail this future unity of mankind from afar, we also know that it is available to each of us now. And only now.

Spirituality respects the freedom of the human soul, because it is itself fulfilled by freedom; and the deepest meaning of freedom is the power to expand and grow towards perfection.... --Sri Aurobindo


I hope Will doesn't mind my posting of the poem which I just found in the comments from the original post:


On occasion I find myself considering an image,
Perhaps not the one you might expect,
Not the plane nightmare frozen before impact,
Not the gout of fire,
Not the empty eye socket gash in the building,
Not any of those images but
Who really forgets?

Hmm? Oh, yes:
It's this image of two people
Standing on a ledge, probably
Between floors 80 to 90.
Very tiny in the picture, of course,
Dwarfed by immensities around them,
But if you look closely,
You can make out several things -
First, they are a man and a woman,
Second, they are holding hands,
Third, they are in the process
Of jumping -
They look for all the world
Like a couple jumping into
The shallow end of a pool
Or maybe over a rain puddle,
You know, with a dainty poise -

Now, here's what I have to consider:
We all know that animals, when
Confronted with fire, succumb to
Blind scrabbling panic -
Firemen tell of how when crawling
Down a smoke-drenched hallway
in a burning tenement building,
They have to be mindful of
Fleeing rats and cockroaches
That run right over them
In panicked hordes -
This couple on the ledge, however -
Well, did they even know each other?
Maybe not, and yet here they have
Agreed to a simple comforting of
One another by holding hands,
And clearly agreed to jump together,
a calm, agreed-upon decision -
God, would You explain this equation
To me?

I like to think that they were meeting
For the first time, having circled one
Another for their lifetimes, and then,
On that morning, recognized each other!
It's you! It's you!
Destined at last to hold hands!
Oh, but more, of course -

Long ago, at a Wisconsin resort,
I turned from the pier
And saw on the green slope
Behind me two girls, sisters, no doubt,
One perhaps five, the other eight,
Holding hands, and I had never seen
Anything so vulnerable as them,
Almost lost in the tangled thicket
As they stared at the lake,
Holding hands to comfort one another -
Which, I might add, is an image that
Has always come to me whenever
I feel hopeless about the world
And it saves me -
In the fullness of time
I will find you, girls,
and thank you -

And thank you, couple on the ledge -
What you did was not an act
Of defiance,
But it did defy the evil,
All of it, just that simple hand-holding,
The power of which
Held chaos in check,
Oh good for you,
Good for you,
Bravo! -

Yesterday, a mother showed me
Her infant baby girl in a crib,
And the baby stuck her arm up
And I held her tiny hand between my
Thumb and forefinger,
And a circle of Light encompassed us both
And we smiled at each other
On the ledge
Before we jumped -


Which reminded me of a few lines from Dylan's Chimes of Freedom:

In the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening

Even though a cloud's white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An' the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting

As we listened one last time and we watched with one last look
Spellbound and swallowed 'til the tolling ended