Metastatic Liberalism in the Body Politic
Likewise, when you explain to liberals that Romney is doing the same thing Obama did in 2008 (albeit more honestly and with less hysteria), when the latter excoriated Bush's foreign policy, they respond, "that's different. That was Bush."
Paul Krugman has made a career out of praising or excusing Obama vis-a-vis the same things for which he condemned Bush -- e.g., the deficit, the national debt, the threat of inflation, the so-called "jobless recovery," the gap between rich and poor, etc. More generally, the left is silent about everything that had them so exorcised about Bush: renditions, drone attacks, Gitmo, military tribunals, alienation of our allies, hatred around the world, signing statements, executive overreach, etc.
Yes, you could mark it down to garden-variety hypocrisy or stupidity, but I think it's something worse. There are no doubt cynical elites who are consciously aware of the manipulation, but I think the majority of liberals who believe what they do are sincere in their beliefs.
Which makes them more, not less, frightening -- for the same reason the cynical manipulator Clinton is less frightening than the true-believing Obama. (That Clinton could support Obama, of all people, while having approvingly declared an end to the "era of big government" tells you all you need to know about him.)
This kind of thinking is the manifestation of a collective disorder. But a collective disorder is nevertheless rooted in something individual, some identifiable pathology. What is it? And why is it so hard to cure it?
Let's try to calmly and dispassionately figure this out together, shall we? I mean you, me, and Voegelin.
In the essay we've been discussing, Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme, he writes of "the relations between the truth of reality, the truth of language, and the truth of man's existence."
Right away we've opened a pandora's box of potential complications, especially for the person who believes reality is perception, truth is relative, and language is a closed system incapable of disclosing the truth of the world.
It is axiomatic -- for us, anyway -- that we may respond to truth or resist it. Freedom, baby. It is what it is, and there's not a thing we can do about it.
Knowledge is dependent "on reality becoming luminous" to itself via man, and on the deployment of "language symbols expressing its truth." Furthermore, we must first be receptive to reality, and allow language to "emerge from the loving quest of truth in response to the loving and illuminating drawing... from the divine Beyond." In traditional metaphysics the soul is always regarded as the feminine pole in this primordial relation (although there is no doubt that O, the Divine Attractor, has its "seductive" side as well).
In symbolic form we have O, which is reality and all it implies; and (¶), or the intellect, which is both "in" and "of" O, while not, of course, being identical to it. And in between the two we have the "loving truth" that results from genuine encounters with O. Yes, you could say Father/Principle/Source, Son/Logos/Manifestation, and Holy Spirit/Love/Truth.
Voegelin, following Plato, affirms that it is impossible to cure the symptoms of existential disorder -- to restore order -- via "any amount of special legislation."
Here I am reminded of an aphorism: "The democratic ruler cannot adopt a solution as long as he does not receive the enthusiastic support of people who will never understand the problem" (Don Colacho). In short, behind a "brilliant" Obama there must be millions of imbeciles to boost him aloft on wings of journalism.
The rank-and-foul leftist is like "a sick man who wants the physician to cure him by treating the effects of dissipation without giving up his way of life."
Think of the many ways Obama does this: forgiving foolish college loans, placating greedy public employee unions, mandating that "children" remain under their parents' health insurance to age 26, accumulating more debt than all previous presidents combined, etc. Most of his policies are predicated on a determined refusal to acknowledge reality. I'll give him that.
Unfortunately, the "sick character will hate most the man who tells him the truth" that can cure his disorder. Why?
Because this truth is a little like chemotherapy, in that it burns. It burns because the tissue of lies has, like metastatic cancer, woven its way into healthy tissue. A quintessential example of this would be Obama's perverse brand of "Christianity," into which Marxist spores have spread and grown. How to kill the Marxism without destroying the host?
Of course, it is possible to be a superficial leftist, in which case the transition to health isn't nearly as perilous -- analogous to a simple skin cancer. But in any event, truth cannot save unless the man accepts it: "The magic of the saving Word is as dependent on man's openness to the order of love as is the magic of the disordering word on his inclination to resist and hate truth."
Note that the two varieties of "magic" are quite different. The healthy kind recognizes, and is founded upon, "existence as neither transfigured nor untransfigured but as engaged in a transfiguring movement from imperfection to perfection" -- i.e, the immortalizing project that runs from ensoulment to death.
Conversely, the sick type of magic -- and it is the collective magic of pathological politics that concerns us here -- promises to "transfigure his worldly existence into a state of perfection." To paraphrase Voegelin, such men do not want to hear that they aren't proper men. Nor do they want to hear that they are mere men. So what are they, besides empty chairs?
The human station acquires its nobility and grandeur in the reflected light of our deiform nature. But at the same time, recognition of the deity that makes this possible renders us acutely aware of a compensatory humility.
Yes, man is without a doubt the most exalted thing in creation; which, if properly understood, should be an occasion for the deepest humility in the face of that reality in comparison to which we are nothing.
The leftist turns this fruitful dialectic between God and man into a vulgar dispute between men. The activist dreamers of the left cast their opponents as the "satanic force that causes the discord and must be exterminated, if the harmonious order projected by the activist is to prevail."
We see this process quite transparently in our Islamist enemies. But what to make of leftists and their eliminationist rhetoric about everything from Fox News, to the Koch brothers, to supporters of marriage, to the successful, to whoever or whatever impedes the glorious March toward Progress?
This long march, in order to reach its fanciful destination, requires the elimination of everything that is permanent in man -- not the least of which being man himself, or human nature. Oh well. Omelets and eggs.
But to paraphrase Orwell: what omelet? And do you really have to steal my great-great grandchildren's eggs to make it?