To put it another way, since we appreciate the accomplishment of self-mastery and self-control -- of transcendence, in a word -- we have no illusions that the state could do this for us, or for anyone else.
Of course, transcendence is difficult if you reject it up front. But simply ignoring transcendence doesn't eliminate it. Rather, such a person "transcends" others by way of domination. Dominance is transcendence by proxy, which is why it has been said that fascism involves quintessentially the violent rejection of transcendence.
Thus, "to transcend oneself," writes Schuon, "is the great imperative of the human condition; and there is another that anticipates it and at the same time prolongs it: to dominate oneself. The noble man is one who dominates himself; the holy man is one who transcends himself. Nobility and holiness are the imperatives of the human state."
And true charity begins at home, with ridding "the soul of illusions and passions" and therefore freeing the world "of a maleficent being" (ibid). The gift of your own self-transcendence is one that keeps giving, because it helps rid the world of pettiness, narrow-mindedness, and self-serving dishonesty.
Until the state mangages to get its own chaotic affairs in order, it has about as much credibility as -- speaking of passions, illusions, bigotry, and an intellectually slovenly absence of nobility, dignity, and self mastery -- the bellowing and spittle-flecked Chris Matthews, who thinks everyone else is a racist because when he hears the word "welfare" he thinks "lazy negro."
In fact, in granting the mere markers of self-mastery, the state robs the individual of the attributes required to master himself. We saw this in the economic meltdown of 2008, which was rooted in the idea that "home ownership is good." The state then went about creating this happy outcome while ignoring the personal attributes that make home-ownership possible -- little things like economic literacy, financial stability, responsibility, a job, etc.
The state does the same with education, hence the coming "higher education bubble." In short, you do not make an idiot any more intelligent by granting him a college diploma. And you certainly won't make people healthier by "giving" them free healthcare.
As we know, the state never gives anything without taking something away. Ultimately it must take away intelligence, which we define as disinterested openness to reality. Intelligence is the luminous space in the flux of presence known as history. It's all we have, at least from our end.
For starters, the state is deeply interested -- specifically, in perpetuating and expanding itself -- so it cannot be open to truth, or to a truth that contradicts this imperative. This explains why there is no place less intellectually free than a liberal university campus, since this is where one learns to be a statist and to love one's masters.
Speaking of toxic psychospiritual atmospheres, Purcell quotes the Hungarian writer Sandor Marai, who describes how things felt in his country circa 1948:
"I began to suspect that what surrounded me was something worse than the brute force present... not just organized terror but an enemy more dangerous than anything else, an enemy against which there is no defense: stupidity... I was living among individuals who learned by rote and parroted breathlessly that the One idea is eternal... But no one dared speak about this, [of] that raging and idiotic egoism which wanted to force a society, a people, to live in a way contrary to human nature..."
Again, think of the bellowing idiot, Chris Matthews. How is one supposed to respond to such stupidity without looking stupid in the process? To paraphrase Roger Kimball, you don't argue with sickness. You resist it.
This sickness -- or pneumapathology -- again involves the eclipse of reality, a scotoma, "a willed avoidance of self-awareness, a deliberate choice not to know" (ibid).
A few days ago a reader asked about the distinction between a scotoma and a mind-parasite. What is interesting is that both involve reactions to a truth that must be known on some level in order to be denied. The narcissist, for example, must unconsciously know that he feels small and inadequate in order to construct the outer facade of superiority and grandiosity. But enough about Obama.
One always sees this process in various totalitarianisms of the left. As someone once said, you can always tell when a country is a tyranny when it has "Democratic" or "People" in its name: the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea"; the "Islamic Republic of Iran"; the "Republic of Cuba"; the "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela"; the "Syrian Arab Republic."
The tyrants who rule these regimes know as well as anyone else that a republic is a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. The truth is in the lie, and vice versa.
Now to deny truth is to deny freedom, for truth can only be freely discovered, and freedom is truth lived. The Marxist dialectic -- in fact, any dialectic that denies transcendence -- also denies free will.
Think about the extent to which government is a system of incentives and punishments to coerce citizens to do this or that. The leftist mindset that regards government as the ultimate puppet master is rooted in this infrahuman psychology.
And yet, someone must be free -- not to mention, privy to Truth -- in order to pull the correct strings. As Purcell explains, "For my denial of freedom to be convincing, there must be at least one exception: I at least must be freely denying freedom, or why should anyone take me seriously?"
The bottom line of this post is provided by the Viennese satirist Karl Kraus, who was speaking of Nazi Germany, but who captured something universal:
Everywhere the one who administers the beating is precisely the one who deserves it.
So who will administer a thrashing to the richly deserving Chris Matthews? Metaphorically speaking, of course. And who shall be thrashed next?