Conservative Progress and Progressive Decay
Remind us, Bob, how that works.
Well, the self-styled progressive left begins with materialist assumptions, which means that they rule out transcendence from the get go. As a result, they can have no intelligible definition of progress, which requires a transcendent standard. Therefore, progress is tautologically defined as "what progressives want," or even "whatever progressives do," regardless of how retrogressive (see Obama for details).
And since what progressives want is by definition "progressive," then any idea, person, or institution that stands in their way is an enemy of progress. This becomes their "moral" standard, since again, in the absence of transcendence there can be no real moral telos -- i.e., no contact with the world of virtue as such.
For the same reason, truth is off the menu, so rational persuasion is devalued in favor of force, i.e., raw power. When the leftist says that politics is "all about power," believe him.
For these reasons, secular thought, left to its own devices, eventually becomes self-beclowning. Yesterday we saw a beautifully schadenbonerian example of this, with the Harvard faculty learning that ObamaCare would actually apply to them and not just the peasantry.
This is not supposed to happen! Leftist ideas are metaphysical abstractions to be imposed on third parties: they are a result of A and B getting together to forcibly diminish liberty and extract cash from C. They are not supposed to do this to A and B. The outrage!
Or, look at Cuba. If we're nice to them, they'll be nice to us, right? Which is why the spokesditz at the state department can’t explain why Cuba isn’t fulfilling promises made in the Obama deal. It just makes no sense! Consider too the leftist theories of law enforcement playing out in New York. How's that working out?
Anyway, back to actual progress, which is a Judeo-Christian principle, not a pagan or secular neo-pagan one: as Siedentop suggests, we should not be surprised that "a religion which postulated the incarnation -- a God who is 'with us' -- would change the understanding of time itself, holding out a hope that undermined older beliefs in a relentless cycle of growth and decay."
For the ancient mind, there was either stasis or decay. The purpose of religious ritual, for example, was to pull the world back toward its divine archetype and thereby counteract entropy: time is entropic whereas religion is negentropic.
But with the widespread acceptance of Judeo-Christian metaphysics, time becomes negentropic; or, to be precise, time has elements within it of both entropy (decay) and growth. And the growth is again inconceivable in the absence of the divine attractor, proximity to which is the real measure of "progress," both individually and collectively.
In the absence of the divine attractor, time, whether we like it or not, reverts to entropy. This is why it is such a vivid example of the Butterfield Effect to wonder at the paradox of why culture is decaying despite the dominance of the left. Rather, it must decay under the influence of leftist assumptions.
Equally ironic, in light of yesterday's post, is that no force in history has been more liberating of women than Christianity. Here again, writes Siedentop, we should not be surprised to see new "declarations of independence by women" as a consequence of "Christian belief in the equality of souls." In particular, more affluent women began taking "on new roles. They became patronesses, disciples and travelers. They prized associations with leading Christian intellectuals. They used associations with such men to further their education."
Did this take time? Of course! Time is progressive, remember? In particular, it took centuries for the Christian message to undo the programming of culture. The world has always been multicultural, only worse. It is one of the main things from which the universal message of Christianity is supposed to save us. Thus, it would be another instance of the Butterfield Effect to wonder why there is so much more racial tension these days despite all this wonderful multiculturalism.
By way of contrast, even a genius such as Aristotle affirmed that "some are free men and others slaves by nature" (in Siedentop). This is no doubt true if you look at it from a certain angle, e.g., Harvard professors are better than the rest of us, while untenured white men bottom out the scale.
But this is not the angle through which Christianity looks. Rather, from the God's-eye perspective we are equally worthy, at least until we misuse our God-given free will. Then God sorts the wolves from the sheep, the flowers from the weeds, the wheat from the chaff.
Well, that's about it for today. Backed up with my work.