Express Your Uniqueness. Everybody's Doing It!
No matter who you are and how much you know, your world would be an impoverished and piss-poor substitute for this one. A man without an inherited culture is not even an animal. Which is why we cringe when we see a human being behaving like one.
This is one of those foundational truths inverted by the left, beginning with Rousseau, who thought that man needs civilization like a Raccoon needs a tuxedo. In other words, he thought that man minus civilization was the real deal, or that man plus civilization is something false and meretricious.
You can follow this theme right on up through, I don't know, Nancy Pelosi's loony belief that Obamacare will free millions of Americans to be painters and poets. For the left, it's just a matter of unleashing man's inner goodness, either by removing societal impediments or handing out cash and other valuable prizes. Never mind that we already have way too many books, poems, and paintings.
This is a really dangerous and delusional idea, but that doesn't prevent one from earning a Ph.D. in Dangerous Delusions. I nearly did so myself, when I was studying psychology. I began doing so on my own, in my usual multi-undisciplinary way, starting with Freud. Freud was a "scientist" -- a trained neurologist -- and yet, was as insanely romantic as Rousseau in his belief that the secret of life was to liberate the pre-civilized man from the constraints of civilization.
"The primary friction" of life, Freud thought, stems "from the individual's quest for instinctual freedom and civilization's contrary demand for conformity and instinctual repression." As a result, "our possibilities of happiness are restricted by the law."
"Happiness?" What's that? Mostly an illusion, but I suppose we get a glimpse of it when discharging an instinct -- for example, raping, or killing, or gorging: "Many of humankind's primitive instincts (for example, the desire to kill and the insatiable craving for sexual gratification) are clearly harmful to the well-being of a human community. As a result, civilization creates laws that prohibit killing, rape, and adultery, and it implements severe punishments if such rules are broken. This process, argues Freud, is an inherent quality of civilization that instills perpetual feelings of discontent in its citizens."
There are many errors in Freud's analysis, beginning with the artificial dualisms between man and culture, man and man, and man and himself. Other than that, he's spot on.
Even so, I well remember thinking this made sense. After all, there is desire -- what we want -- and various societal impediments -- oh no you don't! -- which results in frustration. That's life.
If we could summarize Freud's -- and the left's -- error, it might fall under the heading of "dis-integration." In this view, there is no hope of integrating instinct and civilization into a higher vertical unity. Indeed, that's just an illusion. After all, there can be no middle ground here: either religion is real or it is a delusion, a fantasy, a drug.
Having said that, there is something trivially commonsensical about Freud's analysis, in a folk psychology sort of way. We all have the occasional urge to do something we shouldn't. It doesn't ruin life. Rather, it is somewhat like the impersonal fuel (the "id") that drives life. But the mind has an engine and a steering wheel, and as with a car, it's pointless to have one without the other. That is to say, they are integrated by or in the person
In beginning with the idea of person, Christian humanism avoids -- or should avoid -- the dis-integrating tendencies alluded to above. This is a theme of the excellent-so-far The Common Mind: Politics, Society and Christian Humanism from Thomas More to Russell Kirk.
I suppose we could say that "innocence" is a primary state of integration, or at least pre-disintegration. We all undergo a fall from this state, hopefully not prematurely, such that it leaves no traces of vertical recollection of unity. I can already sense in some of my son's skeevier friends that the dis-integration has begun. You can see and feel the darkness. Children are supposed to be protected from this, but our culture shamelessly exposes them to it. Who wants to explain to their child what an erection lasting longer than four hours is, and why one needs to seek immediate medical attention should one arise?
Talk about a world one didn't make.
Now, another fallacy of the Freudian-Rousseuian perspective is that freeing people of "repression" will unleash the individual. Rather, the opposite occurs, in that the so-called id is the most anonymous and impersonal feature of our standard equipment.
Thus, as Moore writes, "in the twentieth century, and into the twenty-first, [people] feel an increasing sense of disintegration and separation -- from the past, within individuals and within communities which increasingly seem to hold little in common except the will to be as as different as they please from any sense of the normal."
"Paradoxically" -- I would of course say orthoparadoxically -- this "leads to a dull uniformity of the lowest common denominator."
Yet, it seems this "collective disintegration" is "celebrated by many for its freedom, vitality and novelty, such that we become convinced... of a collective insanity in which we do not share."
In short, I prefer the vertical world not made by man to the horizontal one the left has created so as to feel at home in their spiritually naked barbarity.