Playing Faust & Loose with the Facts of Existence
John Hinderaker asks this question over at PowerLine, and highlights the obvious fact that "so many Americans are now cashing federal checks that self-interest drives many millions to vote Democrat, regardless of the public interest." How many souls have we lost due to the intrinsic corruption of a government big enough to buy the votes it needs in order to maintain and expand its power?
There is also the fact that the electorate is "polarized" in an unprecedented way. I put the word in scare quotes because polarization doesn't mean what it used to. Democrats and Republicans have always been polarized, but prior to 1980 it was more over who gets what than who believes what.
Indeed, today we might even say that the polarization is about what's what, i.e., reality. Liberals and conservatives don't just have different theories of governance, economics, psychology, and constitutional law, but really, two irreconcilable metaphysics.
But there is another important factor at work, one which liberals are ill-disposed to understand because of an absurdly flattering self-characterization that blinds them to their irrationality: "more than ever, party affiliation reflects not so much empirical judgments about public policy issues, but deep-seated cultural affinity...."
Hinderaker writes -- and I'm sure he speaks for all of us -- that "it is difficult to imagine circumstances that would cause me to vote for a Democrat for any office. For better or worse, and for good reasons or bad, an enormous number of Americans feel that way."
As a result, "it seems that fewer and fewer votes are up for grabs," and "there are many millions who would rather vote for four more years of failure than vote for a Republican."
I have members of my extended family who would never vote for a conservative fascist (for them a pleonasm). Indeed, I used to be one of those members, so I well understand the sentiment.
Even leaving aside specific policy preferences, I couldn't support a liberal for the simple reason that I question the judgment and wisdom of any adult who could actually call himself liberal and know what the word means (importantly, there are many clueless "liberals" who just vote that way but don't share the left's values). I wouldn't vote for a liberal for the same reason I wouldn't vote for a child. The only difference is that a child eventually grows up.
Now, that last crack wasn't just insultainment, for there is something pathologically childish in the philosophy of liberalism. Importantly, any integral philosophy must account for man's perpetual neoteny, i.e., his permanent immaturity and capacity for growth. The healthy way involves tolerating the intrinsic complementarity of child <--> adult. The unhealthy way involves abolishing any objective notion of mature adulthood, which leaves a child with no developmental telos, no proper end.
To take one obvious example, how many adolescents are taught that the proper end of human sexuality is marriage? Liberals are free to deny this reality, at the cost of understanding why one of their core constituencies is single women. But in order for liberals to carry out their war on married women with plausible deniability, it probably helps that the left hand doesn't know what the far left hand is doing.
Voegelin writes of the "diseased mind engaged in the sorcery of self-divinization," and of how "the devil who takes possession of man is man himself when he indulges his imagination to the extreme of self-divinization." He references Baudelaire, who penned the bluism that "A man who does not accept the conditions of life, sells his soul."
Now, truth is one; it is whole, integral, universal. But what happens to the man who denies this? "If for one reason or another [this] understanding is disturbed," writes Voegelin, "the truth of reality will fall apart into a vast field of rival symbolisms, each [absurdly] claiming for itself 'absolute' truth..."
Thus, for any normal person, such deformities as multiculturalism, moral relativism, and deconstruction are recognized as dangerous pneumapathologies to be avoided at all costs, for they are the equivalent of a fatal cancer of the spirit.
In a certain sense, every moment of life is a "revelation." The other day I was reading a book by Ratzinger, in which he touches on this important idea. That is to say, even what we know of as traditional revelation requires the human medium for its transmission, comprehension, and memorialization:
"Scripture is the essential witness of revelation, but revelation is something alive, something greater and more: proper to it is the fact that it arrives and is perceived -- otherwise it could not have become revelation." It "has instruments," but "is not separable from the living God, and it always requires a living person to whom it is communicated." Thus, like God, it is simultaneously beyond and within man.
Voegelin generalizes this approach, writing of "the historical process as a flux of divine presence" in which "every phase of the flux has the structure of a divine-human encounter." Being that we are free, each phase -- let's just say the present -- is also "an event of man's responding, or refusing to respond, to the presence of the divine ordering appeal."
Therefore, what we call the "present" is always in relation to the eternal, without which it could not be. To say "man-God" is a way of talking about this relation, but it is so saturated with meaning that it doesn't necessarily do the job anymore -- certainly not for the unbeliever.
But because of the time <--> eternity, or body <--> spirit complementarity, man is uniquely aware of being the "mortal-immortal," the being who knows of eternity and yet dies. The word "tension" hardly does justice to our perilous situation.
Which is why it is somewhat understandable that many people just want to make the tension go away. But there it is, simply transposed to another plane and thereby becoming the irresolvable tension of class warfare, or gender politics, or "social justice," or any other morbid hobbyhearse of the left.
In fact, the deformation of truth results in "various combat zones" and multiple battlefields which can distract us from the central struggle -- similar to how the multiple fronts against "terror" blind the politically correct to what unites the terrorists.
What is especially striking about this is that the Islamists commit the exact opposite fallacy of the left, in that they "deform reality by contracting it into the divine One and reduce all other reality to the status of nonbeing," i.e., dar al-Islam and dar al-Harb.
There are different terms one could use, but the most usefully loaded ones to encapsulate our political polarization might be the dar al-Marx and the dar al-freedom. Or just say Obama and Romney.