Thursday, August 04, 2016

One Nation Divided by God

I have to say, I don't see any realistic possibility of overcoming our problems. True, we've been backed into a corner before, even from the very beginning, with Washington's eight year struggle to keep together a bedraggled and vastly overmatched army. Then there was the civil war, the Great Depression (another man-caused disaster of the left), World War II. But we've never seen anything like the present slow motion conflagration, in which the left serves as both arsonist and fire department.

And this is coming from a temperamental optimist. America is the world's "last best hope." Lose America, and there is no hope for the world. Simple as. If the left prevails, it is the end of America as we know it. The geographical space will still exist, but not the idea, the vision, the project.

Yes, there is always the possibility of a divine intervention, but the left has not only passively frittered away the moral inheritance that would render us worthy of divine providence, but actively poisoned it. At the present rate of decline, we will have to ask ourselves: does America even deserve to live?

The left is hardly reticent in announcing its goals. Clinton will have the opportunity to name two, three, or four justices to the Supreme Court. We can certainly say goodbye to the first and second amendments. Recall that the Citizens United case was about whether the state had the power to ban a film critical of Hillary Clinton.

Of course it doesn't. Congress is specifically forbidden to make any such law. So, naturally the left would love to overturn that inconvenient barrier to its total control of information. It won't apply to left wing megaphones such as the New York Times (and virtually all big city papers), CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, academia, the entertainment industry, public education. Remember what was said yesterday about the intellectual brittleness of the left, such that they cannot tolerate a single light shining on their darkness. It burns!

The liberal media really is a fourth branch of government, and probably even more powerful than the other three. I mean, if the media decides to go after a politician -- or anyone else -- it's very difficult to survive with one's reputation in tact. With so much to work with, they certainly could have destroyed Obama if they had wanted to.

Look at the Khan kerfuffle, in which the media has devoted something like 75 times the coverage it has to Clinton's sleazy lies to the "gold star parents" of Benghazi. The media is a force of nature -- or supernature, rather, in that it speaks for powers and principalities that are not of this world -- and unfortunately, Trump doesn't seem to understand this, so he plays into their hands.

More generally, you can divide conservatives into two camps. There are those of us who see the left as quite manifestly evil, and those who think they are just dealing with different ideas about which it is possible to negotiate. Note that, unlike the left, I do not say the people holding the views are necessarily evil. Rather, it is the ideology that is evil, and when the ideology hijacks the personality, the person helps bring about evil despite the "best of intentions."

Of course, many of them are plainly malevolent and actively work toward the weakening and ultimate destruction of America (again, America as we know it). But even then, they are always coming from a self-styled "moral" plane. The Black Lives Matter vermin who call for violence toward police hardly think they are less moral than the rest of us. Rather, they are animated by the same confident moral superiority radiated by Obama.

So yes, we are living in a deeply Fractured Republic. The fracture is between "left and right," but that obscures much deeper sources of division.

The division is ultimately rooted in absolutely polarized visions that can never, under any circumstances, be reconciled. Just as in Lincoln's time, when it was impossible to reconcile slavery with the universal principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence, it is strictly impossible to reconcile liberty and equality, or the natural law of marriage with the state's imposition of an arbitrary redefinition, or (true) individualism and collectivism.

These things -- and many more -- cannot coexist. There is no compromise between what the constitution says and what the left wishes it said. There is no middle ground between biological man and woman (with trivial and generally pitiable exceptions). But in New York you are compelled by the state to recognize 31 genders on pain of a $250,000 fine "if establishments refuse to address someone by their preferred pronoun." These Orwellians call it a friendly "guide" rather than a totalitarian threat.

One point Levin makes -- and I think he's correct here -- is that "collectivism and atomism are not opposite ends of the political spectrum, but rather two sides of the same coin." The two "often coexist and reinforce one another," in that there are no mediating institutions between the radical, isolated individual and the massive state. Recall the infamous Julia of the liberal imagination, who, at every vital stage of life, was married to the state. They don't consider that pathetic, but rather, the ideal.

But human beings are not isolated monads, so the left has their anthropology all wrong. Rather, we are intersubjective right down to the ground. This intimate intersubjectivity is discovered and nurtured in the context of the tripartite family, which nothing can replace -- at least nothing invented by the state, and not at a psychic cost to the child and to society. We wouldn't mind Clinton's claim that it takes a village to raise a child, so long as she didn't conflate the spontaneously self-organizing, bottom-up village with the coercive, top-down state. One of these is not like the other.

Nevertheless, we are living in this new and unprecedented world, in which the unmediated individual is supreme. Now, a nation is bound by an implicit and collectively held vision of the world. Prior to the 1960s, the majority of Americans held to this ideal, so we were generally familiar to one another. But a nation of so-called individuals naturally erodes trust. Although my next door neighbors are American, they aren't American, so we have little in common. There's nothing to discuss. We live in different worlds.

Certainly neither Trump nor Clinton will be able to do anything to "heal" this truly ontological divide. Rather, regardless of who prevails, it will be four years of total war. Neither side will accept the other as legitimate. And the truth of the matter is that one side is illegitimate. Or perhaps neither side will be legitimate, depending upon how forceful Trump is in naming Supreme Court justices who will defend and uphold the constitution. We already know that Hillary won't.

Usually we are faced with a choice between the evil party and the stupid party, but this time around it is the evil party vs. the impulsive, undisciplined, and occasionally incoherent one. Nevertheless, the choice is still easy, in that we must reject evil and hope for -- and work toward -- the best. Death can't be avoided, but perhaps we can slow the disease.

51 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A more genuinely reflective person might wonder at the state of affairs that leads them to support a sociopathic moral black hole like Donald Trump.

Seriously, you have children, right? Do you really think you would be doing what's best for them by giving Trump access to the nuclear codes and all the other powers of government? You really think Hillary Clinton would be worse than that? Honestly?

8/04/2016 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Absolutely. Look at what she brought about as Secretary of State, and magnify accordingly.

I am hardly doing "what's best" by supporting Trump, only avoiding what is manifestly worst.

8/04/2016 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And speaking sociopathic moral black holes. Does anyone project with less insight than a leftist?

8/04/2016 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Hey, there's even a "a non-trivial chance that either candidate will be successfully impeached -- Trump for something crazy in office, Hillary for new revelations about the ongoing criminal corruption of the Clinton family. This means the real race might be between Pence and Kaine. If you agree there is a non-trivial probability of either nominee not serving out a full term, then you can vote for Trump as a vote of confidence in Pence."

8/04/2016 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

You know, it might be refreshing to have someone with access to the nuclear codes who might actually be feared to use them. The left said the very same thing of Reagan, and our enemies believed it.

8/04/2016 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, there is always the possibility of a divine intervention, but the left has not only passively frittered away the moral inheritance that would render us worthy of divine providence, but actively poisoned it. At the present rate of decline, we will have to ask ourselves: does America even deserve to live?

My Bible study has moved on to Jeremiah. To say call it troubling reading would be like calling the Hindenburg fire a bit of a spark; everything he warns about is a characteristic of our times - the debauchery at all levels, the perfidy of the leadership, the "priests" who lie to the people claiming that there's nothing to fear, nothing needs to change, and everything you want to do is just fine. We are too big to fail...

8/04/2016 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Barack said...

Oops. Progressives are on the wrong side of history. My bad.

8/04/2016 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sarah Palin was a good enough reason for me to cast my vote for McCain in 2008"

OK, never mind, I see we are dealing with hopeless cases here.

8/04/2016 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes. You chose evil over stupid, with predictable consequences.

8/04/2016 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Although I have never considered Obama especially bright. I would venture to say that he knows less about the constitution than Palin, except for how to get around it.

8/04/2016 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And an intellectual clash between Slow Joe Biden and Simple Sarah Palin would be one for the ages...

8/04/2016 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

One more reason for the left to be soft on crime: How Lowering Crime Could Contribute to Global Warming.

The Party of Science!

8/04/2016 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

"I have to say, I don't see any realistic possibility of overcoming our problems."

Agreed. What can change the trajectory towards greater poverty and oppression in this country? That is why politics is simply a spectator sport for me now. Well, I'll vote, but that is the extent of my efforts.

I've entered the concrete operational stage now. Gonna start building a bunker.

8/04/2016 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm even thinking about the six month stash of emergency food. Like if the terrorists take out the power grid. Paranoia is new realism.

8/04/2016 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

I'm with you, John and Bob. It's not just the evil and criminality of the Left that makes me wary, but the way they combine it with smug incompetence. You're exactly right about there being unavoidable clashes. My wife always used to bang on about the necessity of compromise, but the issues were always about how to compromise on the practicalities of achieving some agreed-upon aim. But the problem now is that two contradictory aims are coming into conflict: the statist/globalist project, and the libertarian/national one. People on both sides do NOT want to compromise about their aims because the stakes are now so high. It's as if our country has been in a Cold Civil War with itself for decades, and it is now coming to a head. Things are going to get rougher from here on out. I wish it were otherwise.

8/04/2016 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I'm sorry. It was a great country for a while.

As worthless as McCain and Romney have shown themselves to be, as a poor an alternative as Bob Dole or either Bush was, it has become undeniable that a single entity called the USA no longer exists.

Nobody can fix this, and breaking up is hard to do. We are going to have to, as Steve Martin might say, get small.

8/04/2016 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the food stash, we did that after moving out here. partly in case of hurricanes, but also because there's no telling whether or when the s will hit the f.

It would be nice to think Trump could make good on even a couple of his promises, but I fear the toothpaste is out of the tube. I wonder if there will be a Texit in my lifetime?

8/04/2016 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

As Thomas Sowell famously said: “Life does not ask what we want. It presents us with options.”

More true this year than most!

8/04/2016 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Bob: My apartment is so small, my stash would get me through next Tuesday.

Basically if it all goes down, I'm kinda screwed.

8/04/2016 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Kurt said...

At times like these I remember the story of the prophet Elijah in I Kings 19. He was hiding in a cave from the evil Queen Jezebel. The Lord came and asked what he was doing there, and Elijah complained that they were all trying to kill him and that he was the only one who was faithful to the Lord, etc. And God said to him (paraphrasing) 'Go and do what I ask you to do, Elijah. And, oh by the way, there are still 7000 in Israel who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'

I couple this with a verse Revelations 21:8 that lists those who will receive the 'second death' in the lake of fire at the end of days. You know who is first on the list? The cowardly. I was not expecting that at all.

Taking both of those scriptures together I realized that God is still God, that I am not alone in seeking His way, and that I am called to be brave in walking before Him. He doesn't ask me to win, he asks me to fight. And so I do.

"...Fight the good fight, holding onto faith and a good conscience..." I Timothy 1:18-19 (partial)

And that brings to mind a line of Shuon's: “We have to beware of becoming hypnotized by the surrounding world, for this reinforces our feeling of being exposed to a thousand dangers. It is as if one were walking along a narrow path between two abysses: when looking to either side one risks losing one's balance; one must, on the contrary, look straight ahead and let the world be the world. The whole purpose of our life lies before us, and that is one of the meanings of the injunction not to look behind when one has put one's hand to the plow. It is necessary to look towards God, in relation to Whom all the chasms of the world are nothing.” (SOME,216-217)

We may well lose our country, but we will never lose our God.

8/04/2016 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Along those lines, I found this quote by William Irwin Thompson at zerogate:

"We are like flies crawling across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: We cannot see what angels and gods lie underneath the threshold of our perceptions. We do not live in reality; we live in our paradigms, our habituated perceptions, our illusions; the illusions we share through culture we call reality, but the true historical reality of our condition is invisible to us."

8/04/2016 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And this, also via zerogate, by Bruce Charlton:

Most people are inside the Mass Media, as a fish is inside the ocean — the typical citizen swims in the water of the Mass Media, drinks it and extracts oxygen from it, and cannot perceive it. The media has become his ‘reality’.

He prefers some parts of the water over others, of course, and therefore prefers to swim in some places and avoid others — but that is the sum of his choices. His preferences have all become within-media preferences.

But he is unaware-of, forgets-in-practice, that it is /all/ water he is now living-in; it is all the Mass Media; and that he has been spending to so much time in the water that he has ceased to recognize, or ever return to, the dry land of real reality; or even to remember that it exists distinct from Media representations which purport to be reality.

[…]

We need — we must — cut-down our participation in the Mass Media to at least that point where the dry land of real-not-media reality is again recognized as the /primary/ reality — when we again become aware that in entering the Mass Media we are leaving real reality behind and taking a swim.

8/04/2016 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I keep one of Don Colacho's aphorisms above my desk:

"To live with lucidity a simple, quite, discreet life, among intelligent books, loving a few beings."

Now if everyone else would just do that and mind their own damn business, this would be the next best thing to paradise.

8/04/2016 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I applaud the idea of you folks checking out of society and living in fallout shelters. Everybody wins.

8/04/2016 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not really. I still have to pay for your food stamps, health insurance, and leftist indoctrination.

8/04/2016 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger katzxy said...

Re Bob at 4:48, see Feynman on the need to agree with experiment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KmimDq4cSU

He, Feynman, has a lot of common sense to offer.

8/04/2016 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The question every leftist asks himself: sure, it works in reality, but does it work in theory?

8/04/2016 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Imagine if climate scientists obeyed Feynman's simple rule: if your model doesn't predict reality, then your model is wrong.

8/04/2016 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He sounds a lot like Ed Norton.

8/04/2016 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger Ephrem Antony Gray said...

Not voting isn't checking out of society - it's simply admitting the political property they keep subdividing and handing down to the kids is pretty worthless, and not just because it's such a tiny fraction, but because the thing it represents has become so debased.

The William Irwin quote is reminiscent of the order of symbols - that of 'simulation' (the final debased state) - nothing points to anything at all but itself, and is, although similar in some respects to the real, not directly connected with it at all. There's even a poem for it:

http://ionthesky.blogspot.com/2014/06/correspondence.html

The passage from each level of order is similar to Fr. Rose's Nihilism - the order of progression of cultural states.

8/04/2016 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's deconstruction -- words refer only to other words, in a closed circle of tenure.

8/04/2016 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger katzxy said...

Feynman certainly does sound like Norton. Both he and Art Carney were born in the NYC area and both in 1918.

8/04/2016 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And at least one of them was a Raccoon.

8/04/2016 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Here, attending to some important lodge business.

8/04/2016 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Ephrem Antony Gray said...

Ah, Carlyle in a prominent position in that picture. Crossed out, that's some serious counter-signaling.

8/04/2016 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Kurt said...

Of some comfort, I suppose, are James Madison's words in the Federalist Papers, 'A bad cause never fails to defeat itself.' As an ideology unhinged from reality moves ever further into insanity (it has nowhere else to move, after all...) the movement inevitably fractures and begins to devour itself. Stalin's purges killed mostly other communists, as did Mao's multiple cultural revolutions and internal back stabbings. The multiple victim groups that make up the Progressive left will eventually reach a point where they will turn upon each other as they grab for power and the diminishing spoils of a once great nation.

But how many innocents will be harmed in their defeat?

Some measures are clearly dictated by prudence at this point: some extra food and water, a temporary power source, and, of course, the means to defend one's family and property. Maybe we will never need these things, but the political, social and economic conditions only seem to be getting worse...four years of the Hillary in the Whitehouse? Yeah, that'll really help...

8/04/2016 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

As Eliot said, there is no such thing as a lost cause, because there is no such thing as a gained cause.

And this book I'm reading on Complexity is a helpful reminder that no plan ever survives contact with reality, and that the future cannot be extrapolated from current trends.

Who knows. It might be helpful for the left to be in charge when their whole shithouse goes up in flames. Let the catastrophe happen. Only then will people wake up.

8/04/2016 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"More generally, you can divide conservatives into two camps. There are those of us who see the left as quite manifestly evil, and those who think they are just dealing with different ideas about which it is possible to negotiate. Note that, unlike the left, I do not say the people holding the views are necessarily evil. Rather, it is the ideology that is evil, and when the ideology hijacks the personality, the person helps bring about evil despite the "best of intentions.""

Yep on both counts, well said.

8/05/2016 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Riffing on a couple tones here, I put up a too hurried anti-rant, rant post, after our state primary Tuesday, tired of the "I. Am. Done." crowd, and two points seem to relate,

"...If you are whining about America being lost, and tearfully asking
'How do we come back from this?!'
, the answer - if you are actually interested in it - is a simple one:
When we again become a people who strive to be a nation of moral, self governing individuals, capable of living lives worth living in society with others, under the Rule of Law - not to achieve order, but to seek Justice (and wise enough to know that order will follow from that, secondarily)
, then, and only then, will we be a nation of Americans again...."


, and,

"...I don't know if our, my, America will 'win' out again in the popular sense, but I do know this, if we do, eventually it will be lost again - that's the reality of human life and the nature of being human. But here's a more important reality: Success isn't the justification for attempting to succeed, and if you think it is, you are a fool. Failure, loss, eventually, is far more likely and assured, but again: guaranteed results are not the point... realizing and striving for the best, as best you are able, is.

As the line goes from George Washington's favorite play, Cato, goes:
"’Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we’ll do more, Sempronius; we’ll deserve it."

If you think that guarantees are possible or what you should be striving for... you've already failed...."

8/05/2016 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Ephrem Antony Gray said "Not voting isn't checking out of society - it's simply admitting the political property they keep subdividing and handing down to the kids is pretty worthless, and not just because it's such a tiny fraction, but because the thing it represents has become so debased."

Yehhh Riv... B.S., or at least that's B.S. in the general election. The Primaries are where you support and vote for the candidate you think best represents your ideals and would be best for the office. That's where your preferences and opinions matter.

In the General election though, it isn't about you, at all. It is about who will obtain political power over you and your locale, state, nation. That isn't a choice that your feelings matter a damn in, it's a choice that you have a moral duty to, if not help elect the candidate that would use that power best, then to oppose the one who would do the most harm with that power, via casting your vote in the column of the candidate most able to keep the greater threat from office.

There is vast difference between kings, tyrants, thugs who might seek power over what you do, and pro-regressive marxist fiends who want nothing more than to get their filthy fingers into your soul and cleanse you of the thoughts you think.

There's a choice to be made in this election, and anyone who doesn't make it should take special note of what Kurt pointed out above:

"...I couple this with a verse Revelations 21:8 that lists those who will receive the 'second death' in the lake of fire at the end of days. You know who is first on the list? The cowardly. I was not expecting that at all...."

8/05/2016 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger BZ said...

"Recall the infamous Julia of the liberal imagination, who, at every vital stage of life, was married to the state. They don't consider that pathetic, but rather, the ideal."
-Who is this Julia? Is this a "1984" reference?

8/05/2016 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

See here: http://thelifeofjulia.com/

This was Obama's fictional woman/ ward and wife of the state, trotted out during the last election.

8/05/2016 06:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/05/opinion/campaign-stops/i-ran-the-cia-now-im-endorsing-hillary-clinton.html?mwrsm=Facebook

8/05/2016 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A double appeal to authority -- the New York Times and a Hillary supporter who supports Hillary. The case is closed!

8/05/2016 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

"Seriously, you have children, right? Do you really think you would be doing what's best for them by giving Trump access to the nuclear codes and all the other powers of government? You really think Hillary Clinton would be worse than that? Honestly?"

Under Hillary, things are going to continue to get worse.

Under Trump, there is chance things will get better. However, there is a significant chance that things could get much worse more quickly than anything Hillary would do.

8/05/2016 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's why I take stupid over evil. Evil is predictable, but with stupid you never know.

8/05/2016 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is increasingly clear that the answer to "Who do you say that I Am?" is the crux of all. (Or, "What do you want?" We are about to get just that.)

8/05/2016 08:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Wright offers an outstanding summary of the phenomenon in his Restless Heart of Darkness posts:
http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/01/the-restless-heart-of-darkness-part-one/

Fr. Seraphim Roses's "Nihilism" is also excellent.

8/05/2016 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "That's why I take stupid over evil."

Stupid,greedy and/or brutal, over Evil. Every time. Borrowing from C.S. Lewis, the thugs lusts can be sated, Evil's never will; and evil is unlimited in the lengths of brutality and cruelty it will resort to. Evil will eventually pass that point where the brute would blush and cower.

8/05/2016 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Not for nothing did Dante reserve the lowest circles of Hell for fraud and treachery.

8/05/2016 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"Not for nothing did Dante reserve the lowest circles of Hell for fraud and treachery."

And homosexuality, if memory serves, because they violate their God-given nature.

8/05/2016 01:30:00 PM  

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