Leftism: An Autoimmune Disorder of Language
In his Autobiographical Reflections, Voegelin remembers his first teaching jobs in America, which were at some elite eastern universities such as Harvard. He found the job impossible, because "the ideological corruption of the East Coast" had already "affected the student mind profoundly."
And this was only in the 1940s! Nevertheless, he was prescient enough to recognize that these students -- proto-Obamas -- were already manifesting "the behavioral characteristics of totalitarian aggressiveness" that has become so commonplace today.
Voegelin goes on to describe how these celebrators of tolerance "simply will not tolerate information that is not in agreement with their ideological prejudices." He adds, however, that even they were not as bad as their European counterparts, whose "picture of reality" was "so badly distorted" that they "simply start shouting and rioting if any serious attempt is made to bring into discussion facts that are incompatible with their preconceptions." So I guess community organizing started in Germany.
Seventy five years ago it was still possible to reach at least some of the leftist students by "swamping them with mountains of information." They apparently retained a kernel of common sense, allowing them to recognize "that their picture of reality is badly distorted." It's never easy to turn one of them around and get them to take a look at the wide world outside Plato's Cave, but "at least they begin to have second thoughts."
The key, of course is to retain an open mind -- not just to information, but to transcendence. No amount of information can compensate for loss of the latter, for the same reason that all the quantity in the world doesn't add up to a single quality (just as an infinite number of genetic copying errors doesn't arrive at a single truth, including the self-refuting "truth" of Darwinian fundamentalism).
Meanwhile, the rejection of reality in favor of ideological "second realities" has hardened into institutional form. Thus, the primary job of the academic-media complex is to assure compliance with the needs of political power. As such, to assimilate the ideology is the exact opposite of a liberal education. To make matters worse, since the 1960s, academia has "become dominated by mediocre people who cannot properly resist radical students in debate."
Nevertheless, pneumopathology is easily confused with freedom, for the simple reason that the contemporary truth-seeker must swim against the tide of our debased culture, so freedom appears as labor. Which it is. No one said liberty is easy! If it were, it wouldn't be so historically rare and recent. In any event, "Recapturing reality in opposition to contemporary deformation requires a considerable amount of work."
Another important consideration in the conflation of freedom and bondage is that the ideologue is freed from the persecution of not knowing. But not knowing is the human condition -- and the prerequisite of any form of knowledge -- so to forget our ignorance is to jettison reality.
All nontroll readers of this blog will understand the fundamental lie of the left that freedom is slavery and slavery is freedom: "Anybody with an informed and reflective mind" will find "himself hemmed in, if not oppressed, from all sides by a flood of ideological language -- meaning thereby language symbols that pretend to be concepts..." They pretend to be concepts, but if one attempts to define them, one quickly discovers that they have no fixed content at all, e.g., "social justice," "peace," "tolerance," "diversity," "income disparity," etc."
Or, the content is the opposite of what the term implies, for what could be less diverse and more drearily monochromatic than leftist diversity? What could be more provocative to our enemies and more conducive to global disorder than military weakness?
To paraphrase Don Colacho, the left in whatever form is first and foremost a lexical strategy. They begin by attacking language, so it is no longer possible to even talk about reality. This makes it exceedingly difficult for the conservative, because when he critiques the left, it will appear to the leftist that he is coming from a place of "unreality."
Perhaps we may take solace in the fact that this is not the first time this has occurred, and that it is a constant struggle to find the words and concepts adequate to illuminate reality: "More than once in history, language has been degraded and corrupted to such a degree that it no longer can be used for expressing the truth of existence."
This occurs when language becomes an idol, a tendency which seems to be a permanent temptation to humans -- far more dangerous and subtle than the old tendency to elevate objects to idols.
This has frankly been going on ever since man learned how to speak and write. For example, Socratic philosophy specifically emerged in a climate of sophistry, whereby the clever and cynical Sophist engaged "in misconstructions of reality for the purpose of gaining social ascendence and material profits" (not to mention young boys).
Yesterday we spoke of one of the main tactics of the left, which is to close off certain avenues of thought, i.e., the tyranny of political correctness. This is how the ideologue makes "his state of alienation compulsory for everyone." You know -- everybody's a racist, or we are persecuted by "the rich," or there is a war on women. People have to believe these fantasies in order for the ideologue to wield political power.
As Voegelin has said, ideology is always rooted in a rejection of the first and tenth commandments, or in the promotion of idolatry and envy. The left would be out of business if it couldn't transform words to idols and promote envy as a virtue instead of a sin and a punishment (since, unlike most sins, envy gives the envier no real pleasure).
Out of time. The remodelers are messing with my office again.