Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On the Function of the Negro in the White Liberal Imagination

It's always good to start the day with a breakfast aphorism or two: "Superficiality consists in hatred for the contradictions of life" (Dávila). And "Hierarchy is the principle that saves the contradictions" (ibid.).

Being that leftists pretend to despise hierarchy and inequality, this alone is sufficient to account for their intellectual superficiality. But they just replace a complex hierarchy with a simple duo- or bi-archy, i.e., state (including its clients and cronies) and subjects.

As we've been saying, an orthoparadox is a fruitful and salutary cosmic complementarity. To slightly modify what Dávila says above, the first misstep is in seeing it as a contradiction, the second in trying to make the contradiction go away by either ignoring one side or reducing one to the other. This is done by religious people no less than the scientistic mob. And it is done most flagrantly and explicitly by leftists and Islamists, neither of whom are good at tolerating ambiguity, complementarity, and hierarchy.

About that term, hierarchy: it is not to be confused with tyranny, since tyranny is not only entirely compatible with the elimination of hierarchy, but usually necessitates its attenuation in order to consolidate power. A hierarchy is an articulated, organismic, multi-leveled whole, whereas -- well, Dávila expresses it perfectly: "Leveling is the barbarian's substitute for order." You can try to rid the world of "exploiters," but you will just elevate the self-styled exploited -- or victim -- to the new exploiter. See Ferguson for details: when the left confers victimhood, it christens a bully.

Which reminds me of something I've been meaning to write about: the function of the Negro in the white liberal imagination. Now, the term "Negro" is meant to be offensive: not to blacks, but to the white liberals who reduce the humanity of blacks to their skin color, so as to -- in their imagination -- cleanse or purify themselves of sin, and to render themselves superior. Like, say, Chris Matthews, they turn a man into a Negro in order to feel superior to another white man. The black person is just an anonymous placeholder for a psychic process in the white liberal imagination.

The idea actually occurred to me before the Missouri madness, when reading this biography of Samuel Johnson. What insight Johnson had into the devious ways of the self-justifying conscience!

First, he writes of how man doesn't live in "the world," but "in idea." For example, what is a longing for celebrity but an unacknowledged wish to take up space in the minds of a bunch of anonymous nobodies, the more the better? It's the idea of being an idea in the minds of other idiots who live in ideas: a fantasy at both ends, which results in "a conspiracy for the destruction of paper" -- or film, or bandwidth, or airtime.

Johnson observes that censure is "willingly indulged because it always implies some superiority." This is so much a part of daily life as to be a banality, but one must never forget that there are two ways to censure and condemn, only one of which is healthy.

One must of course recognize, condemn, and fight what is evil, but only if and because it is evil. It is obviously evil to call a good evil, but on a more subtle level it is a kind of moral evil to get a secret thrill from the condemnation, because, as Johnson suggests, it covertly implies a moral or intellectual superiority in the one who indulges it.

So we really shouldn't take pleasure in the condemnation. We can have fun with it, as we do here at One Cosmos, but the moment you begin using it as a tool of superiority, you are rendered inferior. You know, humility: if you don't have an abundance of it, you're just wrong. For "an individual can ease his guilt by magnifying or dwelling on faults that seem different from his own." It's like going to confession, only you're confessing someone else's sin.

Bate writes that "In all this a fundamental motive is the desire to relieve our sense of unfavorable disparity between ourselves and others." We are always jockeying for position in an imaginary hierarchy, at least if we are not careful.

Of course, it is not intrinsically wrong to regard oneself as "higher" than another, so long as the judgment is both objective and disinterested. I am in some senses "higher" than my son, but it is just a banal matter of fact, and does nothing to boost my self-esteem, covert or otherwise. Furthermore, if I am lucky, he will someday surpass me, so there is no personal interest in somehow freezing the superiority in place.

Instead of lowering others in our imagination, we should of course "try to raise ourselves." But "to lessen others" is just far too easy, plus it becomes addictive after awhile. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but I think this goes to the literal compulsiveness with which white liberals deal with race: they simply cannot get past it, because it feels too good to obsess over it.

Truly, you can't get away from it. For example, this weekend I was trying to enjoy the Little League World Series, but the announcers simply wouldn't let you forget that the Chicago team was made up of ALL NEGROES! And they were from the JACKIE ROBINSON Little League. And once upon a time Jackie Robinson couldn't play major league baseball because he was a NEGRO! But look at us! We're white liberals and we LOVE NEGROES! We're not like those old WHITE CONSERVATIVES who hated Negroes, even though they were DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVES! Truth and history don't matter, because it's all about using Negroes to feel MORALLY SUPERIOR!

It's all so inappropriate -- as obnoxious as the constant boner pill ads -- but like I said, it's a compulsion.

I would advise you to read the article linked above, for Williamson demolishes the myth that southern Democrats were "conservative." Rather, they "were practically indistinguishable from their non-southern Democrats" on the vast majority of other important issues: "Contrary to the myth of the conservative southern Democrat, the sons of the Confederacy voted en bloc with the GOP on a vanishingly small number of issues." Rather, they supported the progressive agenda 87% of the time.

But that doesn't matter, because the myth feels too good, and the white liberal relies upon it to elevate himself over the rest of us. That his policies are destructive to blacks, both individually and collectively, is of no consequence whatsoever. Nor does he care if he elevates toxic sociopaths such as Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson to the status of "leaders," so long as doing so provokes that tingle of superiority. The latter is the very source of any power wielded by the race hustlers, from Eric Holder on up.

You could say that Chris Matthews' infamous tingle wasn't caused by Obama; rather, vice versa: Obama is the product of millions of such self-deceptive moral tingles.

30 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

So we really shouldn't take pleasure in the condemnation. We can have fun with it, as we do here at One Cosmos, but the moment you begin using it as a tool of superiority, you are rendered inferior. You know, humility: if you don't have an abundance of it, you're just wrong. For "an individual can ease his guilt by magnifying or dwelling on faults that seem different from his own." It's like going to confession, only you're confessing someone else's sin.

Yes, and I wish more people were aware of that. Perhaps especially conservatives; there are times, usually reading comments at various sites, when I'm embarrassed to find myself in agreement with people who take way too much pride in having the "correct" opinion. It is possible to be right and be awful at the same time.

8/26/2014 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's like you have to say, "forgive me Father, for I have trashed another liberal."

8/26/2014 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

Mea culpa, mea culpa...

8/26/2014 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It gives me no pleasure. Dupree, on the other hand...

8/26/2014 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This is surely what Jesus has in mind with "do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others."

8/26/2014 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, I think so. Makes you wonder what they do when nobody can see.

Actually, scratch that - we already know: anonymous trolling.

8/26/2014 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I had meant to cite one of Johnson's essays, where he writes of how we assume a character and claim "upon false pretenses honours which must perish with the breath paid to them..." A man "deceives himself while he thinks he is deceiving others; and forgets that the time is at hand when every illusion shall cease; when fictitious excellence shall be torn away; and All must be shown to All in their real state."

8/26/2014 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Why am I suddenly reminded of the Nobel Peace Prize?

8/26/2014 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't know, because that dubious honor perishes even before any breath paid to it.

8/26/2014 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Good point - when was the last time it was bestowed in a way that wasn't sickeningly ironic?

8/26/2014 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, you can't say "Peace Prize" without air quotes!

8/26/2014 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Bill Clinton said...

Peace Prize? I thought it was the Piece Prize all these years.

8/26/2014 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

or piece price

8/26/2014 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of Clintons and smug superiority...

8/26/2014 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"For "an individual can ease his guilt by magnifying or dwelling on faults that seem different from his own." It's like going to confession, only you're confessing someone else's sin."

Confession that is deemed good for the assoul.

8/26/2014 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

"So we really shouldn't take pleasure in the condemnation"

Yes, humility is the key to correction or condemnation, else the addictive allure of feeling superior becomes the primary motivation.

Not surprising, Jesus is our example.

8/26/2014 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

You know, humility: if you don't have an abundance of it, you're just wrong.

Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.

Even humility has to have a context.

Obama is probably humbled by Michelle -- it's not every person who can butt-dial a pay phone.

8/26/2014 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Nailed it, Bob. Great post.

By the way, the word "obnoxious" seems to have fallen out of common usage in our lifetime. Maybe it was just my family and neighborhood, but calling something or someone "so obnoxious" was a serious put down. Now if you feel something is obnoxious, somehow you're to blame, for being too sensitive or something.

8/26/2014 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

they turn a man into a Negro in order to feel superior to another white man

So it's in the liberal man's psychological interest to keep the black man down just enough to make the liberal feel paternal, but not so down as to make him feel as oppressive as the other white man.

I have an idea, liberal dude. Why not set the black man free, and therefore free from your little psychodrama?

8/26/2014 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Liberty is like the Grand Canyon.

Some people get vertigo and have to stay back from the edge.

Other people are so frightened by the prospect that some might get vertigo they want walls to seal it off. They'll let you watch a documentary in one of park shelters a mile from the edge.

Some are so taken with the concept that they foolishly hurl themselves into the depths -- thereby reinforcing the beliefs of the wall-it-all-off-for-the-children crowd.

I kind of like having a good solid fence to lean over while I wait for the next mule ride to start.

8/26/2014 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That's a great way of putting it, Mushroom. One of the areas where I see people on all sides spouting off with smug superiority is in the area of parenting. Frequently, there are long tirades about the glories of an unbounded childhood, and how awesome it all was, and how limited it is today. And certainly, there is truth in that. What I rarely see, though, is a reasoned middle ground.

Sure, a lot of us grew up roaming the neighborhood in packs or alone, and most of those "grew up just fine."

But I wonder - how many of those parents who today argue against kids being unsupervised do so because they were latchkey kids? And how many didn't grow up just fine? The answer isn't zero.

Not saying that helicopter parenting is the answer; rather, your Canyon metaphor is apt. Kids can have too much freedom, and as a result will fall or even jump into the abyss. But being locked away, padded and coddled into adulthood isn't the answer, either.

A well-placed fence, though...

8/26/2014 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

The Grand Canyon is one of the few tourist attractions that met/surpassed my expectations. I'd like to see it from the Colorado River someday, which would eliminate any vertigo concerns one may have.

8/26/2014 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I was extremely lucky enough once to see part of it by helicopter. Amazing. The only way it would have been better is if it had been at sunrise or sunset, when the light brings out all the vivid color.

8/26/2014 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

The day my wife and I visited a few years back, it was socked in with fog. Couldn't see more than 30-40 feet in front of you, let alone the canyon. We took pictures of the fog by an observation deck as a "great picture of the Grand Canyon". Oddly enough, my wife got vertigo from the white out and couldn't walk down the steps to the observation deck. Happily the fog burned off after an hour or so and lo and behold - there was this great big canyon down there. We got some pictures of that too :)

8/26/2014 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That must have been a lovely sight, as the fog burned off. I can understand the vertigo, though - seeing nothing but white ahead, and knowing there's only empty space hidden within, it would be difficult to sense up from down.

8/26/2014 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"A hierarchy is an articulated, organismic, multi-leveled whole, whereas -- well, Dávila expresses it perfectly: "Leveling is the barbarian's substitute for order." You can try to rid the world of "exploiters," but you will just elevate the self-styled exploited -- or victim -- to the new exploiter. See Ferguson for details: when the left confers victimhood, it christens a bully."

Davila and you make an excellent team, Bob.
Democrats: the party of envy and the party of bullies masquerading as victims.
Explains why the democrat's historically discredited ideas always involve force.

8/26/2014 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

Do you know what Coronado said as he first rode up the Grand Canyon?

Whoa!!!!

8/26/2014 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Julie said "And how many didn't grow up just fine? The answer isn't zero."

Yep. The first time I saw one of those 'we grew up just fine' dealies, I chuckled along for a moment. Then kind of choked it back as it dawned on me that those kids who 'grew up just fine' were voting for Obama and cheering for HealthControl and all that goes along with that.

'grew up just fine'. Uh-huh. Someone's overlooking something somewhere....

8/26/2014 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Also, I can't help wondering if the overall drop in crime rates doesn't have something to do with the lack of large packs of unsupervised kids wandering around and doing whatever the heck they want all day and night.

My family didn't get past that stage unscathed. It's literally just pure luck I didn't stumble across one of Gary Ridgeway's body dumps while wandering the woods, or even just some of the older neighborhood kids who had a predilection for rape and assault. The one of my siblings who suffered the worst, well, she does vote Democrat.

I don't worry about my kids being abducted by strangers. And mostly, I don't worry about family friends - one does develop a sense for the creepy ones, with a little unfortunate experience - but generally speaking, in my experience the danger for kids lies precisely with the people in your neighborhood. The people that you meet each day. Especially when nobody knows what you're up to....

8/26/2014 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Actually, come to think of it, I wonder if the drop in crime rates doesn't have something to do with the drop in birth rates in general. Most criminals are young, if I'm not mistaken; if people aren't having kids, period, well, there goes your population of likely offenders.

8/26/2014 07:19:00 PM  

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