Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On the Centrality and Triviality of Politics

Sometimes even I can't help thinking I am degrading the higher things by associating them with the festering sump hole of politics.

However, politics is always a first order concern, on the same rank as family -- family being not only the real unit of politics, but the most important mediating structure between citizen and state. This is why the left is fundamentally at war with the traditional family, because it is in competition with the state for our allegiance (e.g. their archetypal parasite Julia). Eliminate the family and you can have a nice two-tier system of State and subject.

Thus, not only do women vote Democrat because they are single mothers, but they are single mothers because they are Democrat -- or at least because they have assimilated its dysfunctional ethos and "ordered" their disordered lives to it.

This is what Nancy Pelosi means when she says that the triumph of conservatism would spell the end of civilization. Yes, she is engaging in hyperbole by flattering leftist culture with the term "civilization," but she is correct that we pose a threat to their way of death.

In the order of Things That Matter, politics is -- unfortunately -- near the top. As Charles Krauthammer writes in the introduction to his book, politics "dominates everything because, in the end, everything -- high and low, and most especially, high -- lives or dies by politics" (emphasis mine).

Thus, we "can have the most advanced and efflorescent of cultures" -- hey, I'm old enough to remember! -- but "get your politics wrong... and everything stands to be swept away."

While the mind is more important than the body, if we ignore or mistreat the body, it will drag the mind down with it. It's the same with art, science, medicine: in one sense they are obviously higher than politics, but in another, "fundamentally subordinate. In the end, they must bow to the sovereignty of politics."

In short, when politics is rightly ordered it allows the higher things to flourish, but "when malign, to make all around it wither."

Or maybe you haven't noticed.

What is interesting -- or disturbing anyway -- is that conservatism IS the simultaneous recognition of the centrality and triviality of politics. Because our souls are ordered to vertical reality, we do not confuse politics with the Permanent Things which a proper political order permits to flourish.

Not so the liberal, and for several reasons. First, since he lives in the fantasy of a horizontalized world, he is by definition unable to rightly order his life to what is important.

"Importance" is a function of hierarchy and nothing else, so if we eliminate hierarchy, then either nothing matters (nihilism) or everything is of the same consequence (moral relativism, multiculturalism, "diversity," "tolerance," boredom, etc.). But in the end, these two reduce to one another: leftist politics is just slow-motion nihilism.

But man's ontological station, as it were, is at the crossroads between vertical and horizontal. As such, man is infinitely distant from the animals, because any degree of verticality is as one is to zero -- or the third dimension to the second. Animals don't have history for the same reason planes don't have spheres.

At the same time, this explains why history is not accidental to man, but essential. And only the Judeo-Christian stream of metaphysics recognizes this.

Even a benign religion such as Buddhism regards history as so much smoke in a windstorm, while a malign religion such as Islam regards it as nothing more or less than the direct will of Allah, with no human mediation. For them "history" is a chronicle of Allah's inscrutable whims, whereas for us it is the residue of a drama that unfolds between man and God.

History has meaning because it has an origin and a destination, a ground and a telos. And meaning is only possible if there is freedom, otherwise everything ultimately "means" either matter or the Absolute. God gave us freedom so we could discover meaning. There is no other way. Thus, to even discover intrinsic Meaning is to have discovered God, even if your metaphysic doesn't permit you to have this 20/∞ inSight.

"First and above all else," writes Krauthammer, "you must secure life, liberty, and the rights to pursue your own happiness. That's politics done right, hard-earned, often by war." Thus, being awarded a Peace Prize is a pretty clear message that you've gotten your politics dreadfully wrong.

The deeper purpose of politics "is to create the conditions for the cultivation of the finer things," e.g., truth (theology, philosophy, and science), beauty (art), and virtue (human development). But as alluded to above, the "goods" secured by politics are outside and beyond politics. If you secure politics for its own sake -- AKA power -- then you are a leftist.

Returning to the intrinsic pathologies of liberalism, another consequence of its confusion is the unwitting elevation of politics to religion. This liberals do because man cannot eliminate his own verticality, any more than fish can live in trees. Religion involves many imperatives and subcategories such as the sacred, the holy, the pure, salvation, damnation, etc., so these too end up conflated with politics.

Running short on time here, but this piece called The Varieties of Liberal Enthusiasm implicitly goes to many of the themes touched on above.

9 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

In short, when politics is rightly ordered it allows the higher things flourish, but "when malign, to make all around it wither."

Yes, exactly. As should be obvious, to anyone willing to examine the fruits of all the different political systems that have been tried within the past couple of centuries.

Amazing that so many are so determined to not see.

9/16/2014 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

History has meaning because it has an origin and a destination, a ground and a telos.

Quantum baseball, and God always bats in the bottom of the ninth.

9/16/2014 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

It's really almost frightening to read that City Journal piece. For the most part, we think now that America is "over" Obama. The truth is that the punk could run in 2016 and probably get elected again. Nobody cares what the Constitution says. We've become Chicago on a national scale as far as corruption. That's one thing. The main thing, though, is, as you say, the religion of the left. They will rally against the "infidels".

9/16/2014 10:13:00 AM  
OpenID nightflyblog said...

There is an extremely rare, particularly cruel malady called fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, in which the body rebuilds its soft tissues with bone, especially after injury. The result is a person gradually entombed in his own skeleton.

Political progressivism is rather like a social version of FOP, taking the natural and useful solid scaffold of law and governance and accelerating it beyond all reason, so that all the useful things it's designed to protect are destroyed. The resulting self-suffocation is deadly in either case.

9/16/2014 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, that's a great way to put it. Reminds me of UF's explanation of crystallization, where living (spiritual) growth becomes concretized. Or rather, fossilized, so that the structure of tradition remains, but all the life is choked out.

9/16/2014 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Great blog post as usual. I was getting pretty depressed with the general incompetence of our current government. It's hard to believe we once put a man on the moon. This post reminds me why the incompetence is there and why no matter how dark it all seems we have to keep fighting. This is the way of the world.

9/16/2014 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"This is what Nancy Pelosi means when she says that the triumph of conservatism would spell the end of civilization. Yes, she is engaging in hyperbole by flattering leftist culture with the term "civilization," but she is correct that we pose a threat to their way of death."

That's evokes a big Aye!
Lefty barbarians get very indignant when we stand in the way of their death cult.
Which is why they use their most vile insults on conservatives instead of Islamic terrorists.

9/16/2014 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"... leftist politics is just slow-motion nihilism."

Explains why lefties are so damn depressing to be around.

9/16/2014 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"God gave us freedom so we could discover meaning. There is no other way."

This is also why our rights must come from God.
Leftist politicians in particular wanna take God's place so that they can take our rights away because they think they know better, as everything they influence goes to hell.

9/16/2014 01:01:00 PM  

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