This is a continuation of Friday's post. But it's Veteran's Day, isn't it? So let's consider what follows in light of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the sacred principles espoused therein, because I seriously doubt that many of them did so for food stamps, high taxes, low standards, illegal immigration, corrupt and greedy public employee unions, free birth control, homosexual "marriage," and millions of pathetic women betrothed to the state.
Or, if they did make such a sacrifice, it wasn't a necessary one, because it's much easier to achieve the goals of the left by simply hijacking the educational system, the media, and the Supreme Court. Then, after having produced a couple generations of educated idiots and tenured apes, you will have won the culture war -- the war on culture -- without firing a single shot. No body is killed by a hostile enemy, and only the soul dies by its own hand.
In an election, we are not just choosing a candidate, but affirming what we believe to be The Case -- not just the facts, but the metaphysical paradigm for interpreting them. When truth and intent coincide, then progress can occur. But if there is a rupture between them, then democracy easily becomes the method of its own demise, as in my state, which just voted to raise taxes again in order to funnel more of our hard-won public treasure to our millions of fat and lazy parasites.
Almost all liberals presumably have good intentions. The question is whether their intentions are in accord with reality. For if we could only discern what is true, then voting would be seen not so much as a choice but a ratification of the obvious. In the end, you cannot really vote to reject reality. Or you can, but you’ll lose every time. As I said, let us just hope that the catastrophe comes sooner than later, and that it is swift and sudden rather and long and drawn out, and thus "deniable."
Although we are individuals, we are immersed in a collective mentality out of which our individuality must be won. As along as we live, the group is always trying to pull us back down and out of ourselves -- which makes sense, because excessive individualism would be a problem for human beings, who simply cannot exist as isolated monads (except in fantasy).
On the horizontal level, our “groupishness” is anterior to our individual self, while the reverse is true vertically.
In other words, while the group is existentially prior, the self is ontologically prior. Thus, it shouldn't be surprising that we have a political system that reflects the primordial complementarity between social-ism and individual-ism. This in itself is inevitable and not necessarily a reflection of spiritual illness, any more than sexual polarity is a problem just because hateful feminists turn it into one.
For there is, so to speak, a “left hand” faction of horizontality, groupishness, and rebellious pseudo-indvidualism; and a “right hand” faction of verticality, inwardness, and individual development.
Many consequences flow from this initial bifurcation of mankind. Right hand man, because he sees his earthly vocation in the journey toward vertical transcendence, masters himself and loves doing so. Because of this (super)natural vector, he doesn't require a heavy-handed government to compel him to do the right thing.
In such an individual, the conquest of even a trivial impulse is a victory for God if it brings him closer to his true Self, a Self that can only be discovered and developed in an environment of liberty. For vertical man, society is useful to the extent that it helps the person realize his reason for being. A society is more or less sick to the extent that it doesn't embody, preserve, and foster verticality.
Vertical Man believes that our primary obligation is to defend man from himself -- that our greatest enemies and obstacles are from within -- whereas Horizontal Man believes that his primary obligation is to generate social conditions that allow a man to indulge his desires while remaining beneath himself.
As such, Horizontal Man has no interest in mastering himself, for doing so is identified with judgmentalism, repression, and delayed gratification. He naturally celebrates what is most common and coarse, for there is nothing higher to aim at. Rather, the only “higher” is more freedom, which is a debased liberty understood only in its horizontal aspect.
In other words, while liberty is freedom oriented toward a spiritual telos, horizontal freedom is mere license to express one’s whims and impulses without spiritual consequences. The former is objective and radiates; the latter is subjective and encloses. Vertical liberty leads to Truth, Beauty and Goodness; horizontal freedom leads to “my truth,” to moral relativism, and to ugliness and barbarism masquerading as art. Or in short, nowhere and nothing.
If truth is relative and perception is reality, then no one’s ideas about the world are any better than anyone else’s. Fact is reduced to opinion and conformity to opinion is ultimately maintained by the group or institution that has the power to enforce its version of reality.
But this quickly redounds to the opposite effect intended by its liberal proponents. That is, if we cannot judge the merit of competing ideas by assessing their value in light of an absolute standard, then either everyone will have their own private truth, or truth will be enforced by the state or some other powerful collectivity.
On college campuses, for example, no one is unsophisticated enough to believe that absolute truth exists; however, you'd better not utter the wrong truth, or you will come face to fist with the raw power that enforces absolute horizontal relativism.
Horizontal man is condemned to live beneath himself because that is all he can do. This pretty much tells you everything you need to know about "popular culture."
In this desiccated environment, quantity must somehow make up for qualities that can only be found in the vertical, which is why horizontal man can never get enough of what he doesn't really need, and why no economy could ever be “good enough” for him. Reality simply cannot compete with horizontal man's undisciplined imagination.
By definition, horizontal man can only measure progress empirically, but even then, empiricism must ultimately be ignored because it doesn't speak to the unrecognized non-empirical needs of the soul. Thus, the impoverished soul, with no other outlet to express itself, will do so in the language of quantities -- the many variations of the infant’s “More! More! More! Again!”
The horizontal/vertical divide can also be seen as a reflection of the division between id and superego, or impulses and standards. Based upon a profound misunderstanding of Freud (if a misunderstanding can be called profound), a horizontal psychology emerged in the 1960s to go along with the horizontal ideology of the left, in order to legitimize what in any traditional context would be regarded as the essence of soul pathology.
Major leftist intellectuals like Herbert Marcuse and N.O. Brown developed a beastardized version of Freudianism to argue that people only imagined they were happy, but that they were actually living "inauthentic," repressed lives. In order to be "real," they had to express themselves in an uninhibited and unrepressed manner.
Thus followed the idealization of the primitive in all its ghastly forms. For horizontal man doesn't actually remain horizontal. Rather, he simply removes the impediments to his own fall -- which can admittedly feel exhilarating until one eventually reaches a realm that is without light, warmth, and cash. And when that happens, you just blame angry white men or something.
Regarding our horizontal groupishness, multiculturalism devalues the concept of the individual in favor of the ethnic group, while socialism in all its voracities favors the large and powerful state that "unites" us all. But no such bullying can actually unite us. Rather, it can only push us together like so many anonymous bags of wet cement -- which should describe that uncomfortable feeling you've been having since last Tuesday. No normal person wants to be treated like that.
Deconstruction throws all objective meaning into question, so no one has to have the disappointing experience of being wrong or denied tenure, no matter how sick or stupid one's ideas. The burden of personal responsibility is mitigated, because one's being is determined by accidental factors such as race, class and gender, rather than one's owns values, decisions, and actions.
Skillful knowledge acquired by intense effort is replaced by an obnoxious, hypertrophied, and omniscient adolescent skepticism that knows only how to question but not to learn. It is grounded in a sort of bovine materialism that is not the realm of answers, but the graveyard of meaningful questions. The primitive is idealized, because it is within everyone's reach; it is painful to have standards, because not everyone can attain them. Horizontal man just lowers the target, which amounts to punishing those who aim higher -- for example, via racial quotas and campus "diversity."
The purpose of religion is to become human. Biology will only take us so far, which isn't very far at all. A merely biological human being would also be a monster, a misfit, something grotesque.
In our bOnes we know this. In Genesis, the first thing Adam and Eve realize upon attaining self-consciousness is their nakedness, of which they are ashamed. They know instantaneously -- another one of those things we cannot not know unless we are highly educated -- that they are not like the other animals and that there is something shameful in behaving like one.
In so many ways the contemporary left presents a teaching that is completely at odds with our divine clueprint. How does this happen?
Leftism, in all its forms, is a revolt. Specifically, it is a revolt against our divine-human nature. With the 1960’s came the pervasive message that one could be an authentic human only by being subhuman, by rejecting all of society’s hypocritical mores and values. Therefore -- in a complete inversion of the cosmic order -- the purpose of life was to become “unrepressed” and to overturn tradition, which was simply an illegitimate means of control and domination.
This is why the left cannot help aligning itself with movements -- no matter how vile or evil -- that further this goal of overturning Western Values, which is to say universal virtues.
The establishment doesn't require the rebel but the rebel requires the establishment, in the same way that the adolescent requires his parents to act out his rebellion. Therefore, leftism isn't just reactionary, but it is a dance of projective identification in which the leftist projects the most human parts of himself outside and then rebels against them. This is what allows him to live without guilt, for the guilt is converted into the imaginary “right wing fascism” (or whatever) that persecutes him.
Ultimately, radical secularism fails as a religion because it has no God, only demons: George Bush, Christian fundamentalists, Israel, tax cuts for the rich, waterboarding, Halliburton, Fox News, Abu Ghraib, corporate profits, disparities in wealth, strict constructionists, parental notification, talk radio, and so many more.
On the other hand, the sort of classical liberalism to which we ascribe -- now embodied in the modern American conservative movement -- recognizes that politics must aim at something that is not politics -- something higher, not lower. The alienation of the world can be healed -- or at least treated -- but not in the flat and horizontal line of secular history, nor in the endlessly recurring cycle of primitive fusion with nature. Rather, it can only occur in the ascending, evolutionary spiral.
The secular world is a value-free flatland of nihilism and urgent nonsense, whereas the vertical world accessed by authentic spirituality is a world of hierarchical values to which we are perpetually drawn.
It is here that the luminous horizon of salvolution lies, for so long as there are free individuals endowed by their Creator with an orientation toward the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, there will always be upward frontiers, not just horizontal edges. And there will always be something worth dying for. But only if we live up to the ideals worthy of such sacrifice.