Obama and the Authoritarian Enlightenment
While these orders may have initially emerged spontaneously, they eventually become crystalized around things other than the engendering truth(s) they are supposed to reflect. Voegelin's entire corpus is the residue of his search for order -- as is the Knowa's Arkive and Seer's Catalogue of soiled bobservations.
At issue in the current presidential campaign is two fundamentally different orders, one that relies on liberty, individual initiative, self-mastery, and the spontaneous order of the free market; the other of which champions an order imposed upon us by the state, which consists of elites who have a special insight into the order of things, and who do not trust the individual to arrive at this order on his own.
This dialectic has been present throughout history, the reason being that it is present in each human subject. For just as society is man writ large, man is a micro-society. There are various ways to describe this tension in man, but it essentially comes down to individualism <---> socialism, which I would suggest is ultimately rooted in male <---> female (or, more abstractly, contained <---> container).
For example, when people speak of a "nanny state," they are intuiting and expressing a genuine truth about the deep order of things.
Due to a semantic confusion introduced over the past several decades, there has been a reversal of what the words "liberal" and "conservative" signify. As a result, it is conservatives who are champions of change and progress (especially via the free market), liberals who wish to resist change by imposing a static, top-down order on the rest of us.
Let me provide a historical example. As mentioned a couple of days ago, I'm reading this history of Prussia, and last night was learning about the revolutionary movements of the mid-19th century.
Among other things, what these liberals -- radicals -- were demanding was a fixed constitution, freedom of expression, and a political order rooted in common language and values, rather than one imposed by a distant state.
Furthermore, "liberals argued that industrialization and mechanization were the cure for, not the cause of, the social crisis, and called for the removal of government regulations that hindered investment and obstructed economic growth."
"Conservatives," on the other hand, were what we now call leftists: they -- ironically, along with the Marxists (or left Hegelians) -- argued "that the responsibility for arresting the polarization of society must lie with the state as the custodian of the general interest."
Some were proponents -- sound familiar? -- of authoritarian enlightenment, and "favoured the use of illiberal means to achieve progressive ends."
From the peculiar psyche of Hegel came the argument that the state "was an organism possessing will, rationality and purpose. Its destiny -- like that of any living thing -- was to change, grow and progressively develop. The state was 'the power of reason actualising itself as will'; it was a transcendent domain in which the alienated, competitive 'particular interests' of civil society merged into coherence and identity."
Most people don't know this, but when Hegel died of cholera in 1831, he was working on a book with broader appeal, called You Didn't Build That!
Hegel was the first assoul to suggest that "the state had a quasi-divine purpose; it was 'God's march through the world'... by which the multitude of subjects who constituted civil society was redeemed into universality." The state is "the highest expression of the ethical substance of a people, the unfolding of a transcendent and rational order..."
Now, just subtract "God," and you have the modern left. Or, more precisely, imbue the Dear Leader with divine-like properties.
What did Evan Thomas say? "I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world, he’s sort of God."
Newsweek was almost right: we're all Hegelians now.
For Obama is not some America-loving cretin, like Reagan: rather, he is all about "‘we're above that now.’ We're not just parochial, we're not just chauvinistic, we're not just provincial. We stand for something.... He's going to bring all different sides together.... He's the teacher. He is going to say, ‘now, children, stop fighting and quarreling with each other.’ And he has a kind of a moral authority that he -- he can -- he can do that."
And so he has.
I've suddenly been called away to work. The end