Ideological Intolerance of Reality and Metastatic Hope
Hope itself isn't the problem, properly understood. After all, it is a theological virtue. I have here a handy little book called The One-Minute Philosopher, which distinguishes between Hope and Wish.
The former "involves the conviction that, despite appearances to the contrary, truth and goodness will prevail." Thus, it is not at all easy to maintain hope in the teeth of this decayed world, which is precisely why it is a virtue.
Please note that the hope is for this world, not for a magical one dreamt up by ideologues. Any tenured yahoo can imagine something better, but that isn't what we're talking about.
Rather, we're talking about accepting the world for what it is, and committing ourselves to its betterment. If we do not accept the world for what it is -- and human beings for what they are -- then our hopes will be completely misplaced. They will be reduced to wishes, and wishes to ashes.
And what is a wish? It "involves the fancy that, despite appearances to the contrary, our desire will be satisfied. To wish is to invoke fortune to bring us what we want, even when what we want is not good" (Brown).
Consider some of the implications drawn out by Brown: "hope is creative," but "wish is imaginative." While "I can wish for anything, I hope only for what is possible. My hope looks to the future, but is rooted in reality as it is."
And importantly, "what we hope for, we are also willing to work for." Thus, working for Obama's re-election so that the state will provide me more of what I desire, is not hope. I wish I could play tenor sax, but I realize Obama can't help me there.
That's a wish. A wish "has no particular bond with reality as it is, but feeds on fantasy.... Wishing is like dreaming: it is not confined to reality as it is, nor is there any good reason to believe that my wish will come true.... [U]nlike when we hope for something, we are not necessarily willing to work for it. We wish for all sorts of unattainable and frivolous things" (ibid.).
The left wishes socialized medicine would work, that the welfare state wouldn't bankrupt the nation, that we could borrow our way to prosperity, that members of the same sex could marry each other, that racial discrimination could end racial discrimination, that human fetuses aren't human, that women aren't women, that men aren't men, that palefarces were Indians, ad gnoseam.
But none of these things can be. We can try to force them to be, but the system will crack under the pressure of the denied reality. And it must remain cracked in order to continue "functioning."
I heard someone make a good point about this on the radio. Why have our Supreme Court hearings become so contentious? One reason, really. It is because of the twisted pettifoggery of Roe v. Wade.
Today, we are all supposed to bow before this grotesque example of judicial wishery, so that only those who reject reality are acceptable to liberals. This is bound to create tension, to put it mildly. The same will happen with regard to the redefinition of marriage if it is forced upon us by the court.
The marketplace of ideas is supposed to be a struggle of truth against truth, or, more accurately, a struggle for or toward truth. But what if it becomes a struggle for and against truth? For Voegelin, that is precisely what the political struggle involves, because it is the same struggle that is "waged on every level of human existence."
For example, it is axiomatic in psychology that pathology results from one part of the mind being at war with another. An unwanted truth is denied, repressed, or projected, and the lacunae is unconsciously filled with the wish, the desire, the preferred state of reality.
Likewise, we enter dangerous pneumapolitcal terrortory when confronted "with persons who know that, and why, their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis and who therefore make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma. This position of a conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborated obstruction of ratio constitutes the new phenomenon" (Voegelin).
I wish it weren't so, but it is what it is. Or isn't, to be exact.
To be continued....