Friday, October 02, 2015

A Real God Can Handle the Truth, or There are No Speech Codes in Heaven

Liberals like to use the phrase "the wrong side of history." It makes no sense, not even in a Marxist context, because for a strict Marxist the dialectic of history is going to produce what it does, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

Since that theory is not even wrong, later Marxists came up with the idea of the vanguard of the proletariat to help nudge history -- okay, to violently force it -- over to the right side of itself.

Nor is that theory even wrong, because it really comes down to a rationalization of the same diabolical combination of desire + force that has always haunted history.

So when contemporary progressives make their crass appeals to the right side of history, we know they're making an even crasser appeal to the naked violence which will come your way if you are on the wrong side of the state -- the state embodying the mystical Will of the People.

To put it another way, the state always does what you would do if you were intelligent and virtuous enough to be on the right side of history.

Now obviously there can be no right or wrong side of history. Rather, right and wrong apply only to 1) truth, and 2) by extension, virtue.

In other words, truth is what we ought to think, while virtue is what we ought to do. Of the two, the first is primary, because we won't know what to do unless we know what to think: human action is a prolongation of thought (whereas animal action is simply a prolongation of instinct).

Note that this is always the case, even for, say, as thoughtless a person as Obama. His actions naturally follow his thoughts, except that his thoughts are alternatively vapid, naive, sinister, self-aggrandizing, or all of the above. They are childish in a bad way.

Obama's demand that we get on board the right side of history is a reflection of the primitive defense mechanism of infantile omnipotence, in which reality becomes an extension of the mind instead of vice versa:

"the child lives in a sort of megalomania for a long period... the 'fiction of omnipotence.' At birth 'the baby is everything as far as he knows -- all powerful'... every step he takes towards establishing his own limits and boundaries will be painful because he'll have to lose this original godlike feeling of omnipotence."

In a neurotic person, the defense mechanism of omnipotence is "a relic of the old megalomania of infancy." But in a narcissistic personality disorder -- which is more pathological than a mere neurosis -- the infantile omnipotence will become the go-to defense mechanism, i.e., pervasive instead of merely episodic.

That's not as clear as it could be. What it means is that we all have an unconscious reservoir of infantile omnipotence. However, importantly, this is not intrinsically pathological. Rather, it only becomes pathological to the extent that the person experiences a developmental fixation at, or regression to, that stage, such that it isn't harmoniously integrated with the rest of the personality.

For example, without that reservoir of omnipotence, it would be impossible to conceive of or intuit God. Think of it as a right-brain phenomenon in which we are in touch with the boundless God-beyond-God. Now, imagine suffering trauma, neglect, or abuse at that stage, such that the self becomes identified with this Boundless All.

Yes, imagine:

I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above -- above the world, he’s sort of God. --Evan Thomas.

Note that in Thomas' case, he -- like millions of other Americans -- projected his own infantile omnipotence into Obama. Thomas still unconsciously believes in omnipotence, but simply locates it in another. And he imagines the rest of us are as immature as he is:

"The question now is whether the President we elected and [who] spoke for us so grandly [read: omnipotently] yesterday can carry out the great vision he gave [to] us and to the world." Gave, literally like parent to child:

"He's all about 'let us reason together'... He's the teacher. He is going to say, ‘now, children, stop fighting and quarreling with each other.’ And he has a kind of a moral authority that he -- he can -- he can do that."

I know what you're thinking, because I'm thinking the same thing: I just threw up in my mouth a little.

To get a sense of the madness of this, imagine Putin, or the Mullahs, or ISIS, thinking to themselves: this man has such a grand vision, such godlike moral authority, such magnificent wisdom, that we must stop quarreling with the infidels -- who knows, perhaps even stop murdering them for the sake of our own omnipotent vision. Obama's omnipotence is better than ours!

The wiki article alludes to the healthy and normal aspect of omnipotence with that comment at the end about Winnicott. Now, there was a great man with a grand vision. He was perhaps the most playfully orthoparadoxical of developmental theorists, but that's the subject for a different post.

Let's just say that because the baby can't help thinking he's All That, you've got to let him down easy. Let him realize it in doses, rather than having the realization come crashing down on him all at once. This is what he means by "good enough mothering," which is contrasted not only with bad mothering, but (hypothetically) perfect mothering.

Put colloquially, the latter involves spoiling the child to such an extent that his omnipotence is retained. In short, there is insufficient reality testing to show the child that he isn't in fact Obama.

Note that the parenting style of the left promotes the retention of omnipotence in a thousand ways: the self-esteem movement, choosing one's own gender, everyone gets a trophy, all cultures are equally beautiful, speech codes, trigger warnings, etc. Each of these serves to keep the child a child.

Note that the child retains his omnipotence, but that it takes on a brittle quality. If you could consciously express what is going on in the mind of a typical liberal college student, it would be something like this: I know everything, and you'd better not tell me I don't, or I'll report you to the dean!

In other words, the liberal college student is on the right side of history, or else! But truth doesn't need to resort to brittle threats of violence.

The problem with omnipotence is that it is not subject to what is called reality testing; or in other words, it isn't falsifiable. Therefore it is a prescientific worldview, except it isn't a WORLDview but a worldVIEW -- the emphasis is on the viewing, not the world, the subject, not the object.

I recently read the new edition of Sowell's Intellectuals and Society, and although he uses different language, he describes the identical phenomenon (in his terms, infantile omnipotence = "the vision of the anointed").

Likewise, in Ever Wonder Why? he writes of how so many foolish policies are a result of "trying to make the real world match the picture inside someone's head." There is simply no way to accomplish this without cracking more than a few heads.

15 Comments:

Blogger Van Harvey said...

"So when contemporary progressives make their crass appeals to the right side of history, we know they're making an even crasser appeal to the naked violence which will come your way if you are on the wrong side of the state -- the state embodying the mystical Will of the People."

Nothing to add but emphasis.

10/02/2015 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"...For example, without that reservoir of omnipotence, it would be impossible to conceive of or intuit God..."

Hmmm... what does that remind me of... 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me. ..' or something.

10/02/2015 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, that commandment is almost a prophylactic against the temptation to turn the omnipotence toward oneself.

10/02/2015 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ben?

10/02/2015 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

But truth doesn't need to resort to brittle threats of violence.

I think we could safely turn that around and say that brittle threats of violence are generally indicative of the absence of truth.

Power and truth go together -- authority might be a better word than power. Authority flows from truth. Otherwise there is no difference between the mugger with a piece of pipe and the righteous king with his scepter.

10/02/2015 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ha ha! It wasn't me, I was no where near the vicinity (as far as I know). Besides, I would never do that to a fellow raccoon. Now cats OTOH....

10/02/2015 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Now obviously there can be no right or wrong side of history. Rather, right and wrong apply only to 1) truth, and 2) by extension, virtue.

In other words, truth is what we ought to think, while virtue is what we ought to do. Of the two, the first is primary, because we won't know what to do unless we know what to think: human action is a prolongation of thought (whereas animal action is simply a prolongation of instinct)."

That is a priceless truth,

10/02/2015 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

this man has such a grand vision, such godlike moral authority, such magnificent wisdom, that we must stop quarreling with the infidels -- who knows, perhaps even stop murdering them for the sake of our own omnipotent vision. Obama's omnipotence is better than ours!

I'll bet that's exactly what the Nobel committee was expecting to happen when they gave him that prize.

Oops.

10/02/2015 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

If you could consciously express what is going on in the mind of a typical liberal college student, it would be something like this: I know everything, and you'd better not tell me I don't, or I'll report you to the dean!

Inside their heads, they are all Anthony.

10/02/2015 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie, speaking of Anthony, I don't know if the director intended it, but it took someone who had conquered their fears and who had the necessary wisdom to actually get through to him. It would have been more fascinating if Anthony lost his "omnipotence" after that, I think.

10/02/2015 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Hate to be the party pooper Coonrades, but that raccoon story was on the wrong side of truth.

http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2015/09/30/Camp-Pendleton-raccoon-drunk-sailor-story-too-good-to-be-true/3791443644543/

Oh well, the world isn't quite as wonderful as I thought it to be there for a minute.

10/02/2015 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Okay, so Ben's story checks out.

10/03/2015 05:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raccoon sighting! One morning earlier this week I spotted in the pre-dawn twilight a mother raccoon and her two tiny coo lets ambling across the pool deck. What a delightful sight!

I'm fairly new to this blog, and I am curious why Bob appointed the raccoon, of all creatures, his rep.

10/03/2015 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You don't choose the Raccoons. The Raccoons choose you. If you meet the requirements.

10/03/2015 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

"Authority flows from truth. Otherwise there is no difference between the mugger with a piece of pipe and the righteous king with his scepter."

Good stuff, 'shroom.

Anony, if you're new to the blog you likely haven't met Petey or Dupree yet...

10/03/2015 06:25:00 PM  

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