Cosmic Leveling and the Animalization of Man
As mentioned a few posts back, one of the general tenets or principles of conservative thought is the recognition and preservation of vertical hierarchy. When "natural distinctions are effaced among men," writes Kirk, "oligarchs fill the vacuum." (Like nature, trans-nature abhors those vacuous nothings.)
Thus, the story of leftism does not have a happy ending, i.e., a carefree proletariat living on Sugar Candy Mountain. It doesn't end in a classless society but a two-tiered one, e.g., wards of the state and administrators of the state, bureaucrats and cronies, power and its clients.
It is why the "income inequality" liberals pretend to care about has become so much more pronounced under Obama, why labor participation is at a historic low, and why blacks are falling further behind (one reason, anyway). The cure? More of the same!
Here's how it works: "Each day we demand more from society so that we can demand less from ourselves" (Don Colacho). Or in other words, little by little we transfer our power to the state, until the state does all the demanding and we do all the obeying.
"Hierarchies are heavenly. In hell all are equal" (ibid.). Indeed, "if men were born equal, they would invent inequality to kill the boredom." But since they are born unequal (or better, un-equivalent) -- in talents, in intelligence, in interests -- the left has invented a soul-sapping, boredom-inducing culture to stifle the recognition. Mind-numbing bread and mediated circuses to keep the LoFos either amused or riled up.
Another aphorism: "In society just as in the soul, when hierarchies abdicate, the appetites rule." Why? Because in a two-tiered system there can be nothing higher than carnal appetite and endless desire. The state has the overwhelming advantage here, since conservatives must rely on arguments, whereas the left has only to bribe with other people's property. Thus, "elections decide who may be oppressed legally." And "social justice"? That's the term they invented "to claim anything to which we do not have a right" (ibid.).
Ah, Obama's epitaph: "Revolutions have as their function the destruction of the illusions that cause them." True enough, but he's also causing an awful lot of collateral damage to reality while he's at it.
I could playgiarize with Don Colacho all day. Let's move on to the nature of this vertical hierarchy.
I suppose the first thing a spiritually bereft leftist will say is, "what about 'all men are created equal?'" Do we really have to remind him that this refers to equality before God and therefore before the law? This mediocre book on Original Sin makes the point that the doctrine of our primeval calamity assures that all men are equal in another sense, of ineradicable guilt for unavoidable sin. Thus, the doctrine can be "curiously liberating," in that it implies that we are "all in the same boat" and in need of a vertical intervention, the prince no less than the pauper.
For Schuon there are no fewer than five vertical degrees which we could boil down to corporeal/material, soul/psychic, spirit/intellect, formal (cataphatic) God, and formless (apophatic) God. Being that this is a hierarchy, it can only be understood from the top down. Thus, each level is a kind of downward projection of the one immediately above.
As we have discussed and even belabored, the essential error of modernity was to invert this hierarchy, such that the bottom -- matter -- became the top. But this led to insoluble absurdities such as how life can emerge from dead matter, or how the soul can emerge from biology. As a patient of mine once put it, "you can only get so much blood from a turnip." Likewise, you can only get so much wisdom from a rock.
In a properly oriented cosmos, we see the hierarchy of Beyond Being → Being → Spirit → Soul → Body; or Godhead → Personal God → Celestial/Logospheric Realm (which is mirrored in the Intellect) → Psychic → Corporeal (encompassing space, time, matter-energy, etc.)
Now, what would happen if we were to collapse this hierarchy? Or rather, what has happened? Let's start at the top: what happens when level 1 is merged into 2? A fascistic theocracy such as Islamism, which merges God and religion and denies the divine freedom of the Godhead.
How about when 2 blends into 3? I would say an impotent and disembodied idealism. 3 into 4? The desiccated, wisdom-free mind of the tenured. 4 into 5? The successful animalization of man, i.e., nihilism and barbarism.
For example, Schuon draws a distinction between "intellective intuition" (level 3) and "a merely cerebral 'intelligence'" (level 4). "The cult of intelligence... distances man from truth: intelligence narrows as soon as man puts his trust in it alone," for the level 3 intellect is precisely that faculty "which perceives the transcendent," or level 2.
And importantly, this intellect is "a receptive faculty and not a power which produces: it does not 'create': it receives and transmits; it is a mirror" of what transcends it, just as the level 3 psyche, when properly functioning, should be a mirror of "the world."
Another valid point, although one that will be easier for eastern Christians to appreciate: that the intellect is not fallen per se; or rather, one might think of it as the divine spark which survives the fall, even if it is only an ember. But the real fall is from level to level, especially from intellect to ego and then on down to the infrahuman (which is technically lower than the innocent animal, which only does what comes naturally; but when man becomes an animal, he sinks beneath himself and exists in a kind of unreal, non-space).
But if we understand the hierarchy rightly, there is nothing whatsoever "wrong" with any of the levels, so long as the hierarchy is maintained. I am thinking, for example, of Pope JP2's "theology of the body," whereby the body (and sexuality) is divinized by energies and graces emanating from above. (Indeed, the whole doctrine of Incarnation could hardly be more clear about this.)
Likewise, there is nothing wrong with the tenure-mind, so long as it is informed by the spirit, and doesn't become detached from vertical reality; or negate what surpasses it, up to and including its very source and ground.