Thursday, August 09, 2007

How to Distinguish Your Friends From the Barbarians

I'm not sure if my intention was entirely clear, but in my book, I attempt to draw a distinction between "culture" and "civilization," the former being local and contingent, the latter nonlocal and universal. A culture can be good or evil, depending upon how civilized it is.

"Civilization" is an archetype that, by its very nature, can never be fully attained on earth. It is the perfection and the totality to which this or that culture -- to the extent that it is healthy -- orients itself. In a sense, you might say that it is analogous to Augustine's distinction between the "City of Man" and "City of God." Evolution and progress can only occur in light of the "movement" toward civilization, which is why "progressives" are so curiously named, since their earthbound ideology specifically eliminates the possibility of objective progress toward this nonlocal telos.

One of my many objections to leftism is that it eliminates the idea of civilization and replaces it with culture. Multiculturalism explicitly maintains that various cultures are uniquely beautiful and valuable, and that there are no objective standards -- i.e., civilization -- by which we may judge them. Thus, because of this metaphysical pathology at the heart of leftism, it is not possible for them to notice, for example, that Israel is civilized and that it is surrounded by savages. To any civilized person, this observation is a banality of the first rank, but one of the most pernicious effects of leftist political correctness is that it outlaws civilization, generally equating it with "racism" or some other form of oppression.

Obviously, the so-called "Palestinians" and other Islamic death cults are barbarians, but the fact that this is not openly recognized and discussed is a kind of collectively enforced insanity. The odd thing about it is that it is not enforced by the barbarians themselves, who have no power over our minds. Rather, it is enforced by leftist elites in the media and academia. As noted at Belmont Club the other day, the left is the most critical "force multiplier" for our uncivilized enemies to gain power over us. In a very real way, the left represent the only hope for these barbarians who wish to destroy civilization.

Schuon writes that "civilization only represents a value provided it is supra-human in origin and implies for the 'civilized' man a sense of the sacred: only peoples who really have this sense and draw their life from it are truly civilized. If it is objected that... it is possible to conceive of a world that is civilized though having no religion, the answer is that in this case the civilization is devoid of value, or rather -- since there is no legitimate choice between the sacred and other things -- that it is the most fallacious of aberrations." Again, this is because culture draws its objective value from the vertical realm which transcends local space and time. To recognize the sacred is to recognize this transcendent order and our obligation to it.

Our intuition of the sacred -- without which we cannot know of true civilization -- is also our innate consciousness of the Divine. It is, according to Schuon, "a kind of universal respect, a kind of circumspection before the mystery of animate and inanimate creatures; and this without any favourable prejudice or weakness towards phenomena which manifest errors or vices, and which for that reason no longer present any mystery unless it be that of the absurd."

As such, while culture is -- given the very structure and possibility of universal existence -- no doubt necessary and inevitable, we owe it no fundamental allegiance or intrinsic respect. It is only valuable to the extent that it reflects "the immutable in the moving," or "the uncreate in the created, of the eternal in time, of the infinite in space, of the supraformal in forms; it is the mysterious introduction into one realm of existence of a presence which in reality contains and transcends that realm and could cause it to burst asunder in a sort of divine explosion. The sacred is the incommensurable, the transcendent, hidden within a fragile form belonging to this world..." (Schuon).

What applies to culture equally applies to the individual. Yes, in one sense, people are of infinite value, but only to the extent that they embody the infinite. Which is why there are so many "worthless" people, so to speak. We can only recognize their worthlessness to the extent that we recognize their (potential) divinity. Otherwise, we are in the absurd situation of suggesting that everyone is unconditionally of infinite value, which is logically indistinct from saying they are of no value, since there are no objective values by which to measure them. Only in such a pathological frame of mind could one award a Nobel Prize to a Yasser Arafat or Jimmy Carter, one of whom embodied evil, the other error, weakness, vanity, and resentment of the good -- not divine values, to say the least.

Now, the left wishes to cure mankind in the absence of a proper diagnosis of the individuals who constitute it. In fact, due to the very nature of the left, they cannot diagnose the illness because they cannot recognize it. That is, they are "humanists," an intrinsically anti-human ideology, since it specifically forbids the human individual from transcending himself and becoming truly human (since transcendence is believed to be fanciful). For them, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the human being that a little coercive, top-down social engineering cannot cure -- not that there's anything to cure, since all cultures are beautiful, except maybe southern Christian culture, and all people are beautiful, except maybe wealthy white people... or conservative blacks... or people who listen to talk radio....

But as Schuon correctly states, the world is not a wreck because there is too much self-transcendence and not enough social engineering. Rather, "the world is miserable because men live beneath themselves." The fundamental error at the heart of the left is that it wishes "to reform the world without having either the will or the power to reform man, and this flagrant contradiction, this attempt to make a better world on the basis of a worsened humanity, can only end in the very abolition of what is human, and consequently in the abolition of happiness too." To truly reform man can only mean what it has always meant, which is to re-establish the broken link between the celestial and the mundane, the vertical and horizontal, cultures and the civilization they must embody.

It is a commonplace to point out that the left are hardly "liberal," meaning interested in liberty. Rather, as they have taken the wrecking ball to Spirit, they have simply replaced the internal law written in the heart of man with so many external laws written by the legislature. Thousands and thousands of laws to bind us to the leftist conception of the "good." But the good man -- the man who has transcended himself -- is not in need of this burdensome yoke.

There are Children of the Earth and Children of Light, and if your cOOnvision is awakened, you can distinguish one from the other in a nanosecond. The latter, "though he be a king, lives as if in the antechamber of Heaven; on this very earth and in his carnal body he has attached himself to Heaven and enclosed himself in a prolongation of those crystallisations of Light that are the celestial states" (Schuon). As implied in yesterday's post about the awakened sense of wonder, they live simply from day to day, but never in a repetitive way, for "the Lord makes all things new."

As above, so below; analogously, a culture is a sort of collective individual, while an individual is a private culture. True civilization is a sort of “mystical body" -- or, as Schuon describes it, "in so far as that is possible, a collective contemplative." And a Raccoon is none other than a private civilization.

One may define a person, if one allows oneself a somewhat permissible simplification, as a being that exists for the sake of its own perfection. --Josef Pieper


Anonymous said...

That does it. I don't care if i have to starve for a couple of weeks, I'm gonna buy that Book!

Anonymous said...

Tell us your secret -- how do you eat on $4.87 a week?

Gecko said...

" since all cultures are beautiful, except maybe southern Christian culture, and all people are beautiful, except maybe wealthy white people... or conservative blacks... or people who listen to talk radio..."
Tee hee!

julie said...

I can answer that, Cuz - it's all ramen, all the time.

Anonymous said...

I thought the same thing. It seems to me that the PRICE ought to be the least objectionable thing about Bob's book:).

Anonymous said...

"Tell us your secret -- how do you eat on $4.87 a week?"

Having done this for a time, I can give one answer to this puzzle:

Step 1. spend $4.87 on a bag of rice (off night food (makes way more than Ramen))
Step 2. Tell all neighbors they can attend band practice in livingroom, price 1 or more of the basic foodgroups(beer, hotdogs, popcorn)
Step 3. Let the girls know they can come in for free.
Step 4. Live like King.
Warning - Civilization can easily become foreign language.

Rick said...

“The fundamental error at the heart of the left is that it wishes "to reform the world without having either the will or the power to reform man…”

This is why, if there should be a concern for the environment, it should be with the one between man and God. This is the environment I’m most concerned about. You won’t have to worry about the outer one once the inner one is sufficiently tended to. Instead they attack it at every opportunity.

Anonymous said...

The Left are the most religious people on earth, very similar to the Pharisees of Jesus' day. The fundamental error of Religion is the inability to recognize the utter depths of sin and depravity that is at the core of each one of us. So they run around with their cultural and social band-aids trying to repair headless corpses. No wonder the greatest of the Apostles was taken from the depths of religious darkness, knocked off his Ass, and made to see God. Paul knew, he could no longer be self-deceived, it is what made him so great in revealed knowledge.

Few of us really experience the utter revelation of the horror of our natures, if we did there would be no religious play time, only a desperate seeking of God.

The Left seem like children...because they are children, sticking their fingers in their ears and humming, hoping the shadow of the monster will depart.

Susannah said...

Today I saw a bumper sticker on a car that spelled "Coexist" with various symbols.

"Every letter has a symbol that represents a system of thought: The crescent and star for Islam; the pentagram for Wicca; the relativity formula for science; the star of David for Judaism; the Karma Wheel dotting the i for Buddhism; the Tao symbol for Taoism; the cross for Chrisitianity."

See here

Your post explains with crystal clarity why barbarism cannot coexist with civilization.

walt said...

Jehu said:
"Few of us really experience the utter revelation of the horror of our natures, if we did there would be no religious play time, only a desperate seeking of God."

I agree with the statement, but wonder what you were referring to, specifically.

Care to elaborate?

Anonymous said...

The barbarians are everywhere, even in the highest seats of power, especially so in fact.

There is hardly any true civilization left in the world. Whatever civilizing functions that did exist were destroyed in the terrible course of the 20th century, beginning with World War I in particular.World War I and World War II were in essence the self destruction of global civilization. Now nothing but TV-"culture" remains, and the consequent devastation.

The present time human world is fragmented and stupefied, utterly misled by the grossest kind of thinking. The mass populations of the world are being seduced by the absurdities and utter emptiness of

The human world is now an a state of virtually infinite fragmentation, in which the individual feels powerless and is just thinking of himself or herself as a consumer to be titillated and satisfied, and perhaps given a voice, a soap box, here and there. The global state of humankind is absurd and dark. Everybody is asleep. People do not truly realize the scale of the disaster that is happening and that humankind is actively doing the disaster.

Anonymous said...

"One may define a person, if one allows oneself a somewhat permissible simplification, as a being that exists for the sake of its own perfection. --Josef Pieper"

Interesting how the deepest Truths, seem to have a polished, protective shell, impervious to those not ready for it, inviting to those who resonate to it.

You know coming at this from a shallow angle, it's surface like a mirror, the knee jerk response would be "Oh! How Selfish!", and they would skip off across the pond never tasting its cool waters.

Yet with just a bit more thought angled towards its depth, you can see beneath its waters, it draws you in, opens up layer upon layer of deeper Truth, leads directly towards a generous nature and the humbleness spoken of here the other day.


Anonymous said...

You know, I do understand the feeling, the sensations are all around, inescapable, and if you pay too close attention to them they will enthrall you. But, for those who find these thoughts tapping on their brain ("Nevermore..."), I wonder, have you considered what the masses of people had and thought say one, two, three hundred years ago?

"Now nothing but TV-"culture" remains, and the consequent devastation."

Prior to our horrid TV Culture, if you were lucky enough to live near enough to a town to visit now and again, you might have seen "Punch n Judy" puppet shows in the town square... do a little research, they often made "The Simpsons" seem like religous puritans.

"The barbarians are everywhere, even in the highest seats of power"
Again, a little history - pick ANY period prior to our Founders, and you will see true shallow, power lusting barbarians with the absolute power of life and death over entire populations of chattle 'citizens'.

"The mass populations of the world are being seduced by the absurdities and utter emptiness of

Investigate the boundless profundities and fullness of absolute poverty, when the focus of prayer was on '...this year Please God! don't let famine come again! And the packs of ravening outlaws and leige lords, Please move them to leave us enough for a couple meals a week! And please God, don't let this new child cost me the life of another wife...'

"The human world is now an a state of virtually infinite fragmentation"
Perhaps, but I wonder how whole and complete they felt when if the peasant was fortunate enough to hear stories from a travelling bard, or maybe even a tale from the bible you could understand - recall, unless you were a lettered person from a well off family, you heard, if you heard it at all, the bible spoken in latin. You most likely didn't understand Latin. You heard rumors of stories. Rumors of rumors of stories from the bible. Tales of Prestor John and such, probably being the bulk of them... I wonder how unfragmented that world felt, where one sect could make war on another for the day that the day of rest was fixed upon....

"The global state of humankind is absurd and dark. Everybody is asleep. People do not truly realize the scale of the disaster that is happening and that humankind is actively doing the disaster. "

I understand, but I heartily disagree. People are having a very difficult time remaining asleep, and it is annoying, but they hear things, and more importantly, they can now (thanks algore for the internet) follow and delve into and discover facts and ideas which in ages past wouldn't have even whispered past the ears of one in a hundred thousand.

Life is difficult. No doubt. But don't curse the darkness you are now able to see and recognize as blindness. The blind don't see the dark, and they don't turn from it, but walk unfazed deeper within its folds.

We see, we are able to understand, and the great bulk of humanity, even those who count culture as having seen American Pie AND Animal House... even these people see and hear and privately wonder and think. They may not like to let on that they do, but they do. Trust me, and you'd be astounded to hear what thoughts they fashion trying to grasp the world.

In all the history of Mankind, past and future, we are I think, far earlier along the path than we sometimes realize. The eyes flinch in pain coming out of the cave into the sunlight. It hurts. Doesn't mean you're going blind though, or that you're doomed.

Don't get charmed into the easy road to despair. Stand up, look around for the path and help others to catch their balance and find it too. That's the only way to get from here to there.

Anonymous said...

dear Daffy..
I sense utter despair in your post so I have a few words for you from John 16:33.
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in ME (JESUS) you might Love Peace. In the World you shall have Tribulation; but be of good cheer: I have OVERCOME the World"

Van has good advice for you.
Practical advice for living in the world. But you will have no peace of mind as long as you are looking for love in all the wrong places.

Susannah said...

"$4.87 a week?"

Three bags of dried pintos and a bag of rice. Presuming you have a water source. ;)

"I wonder, have you considered what the masses of people had and thought say one, two, three hundred years ago?"

Van, I consider this all the time. I am so grateful to be living in the times I do! My children are immunized against dread diseases, my fridge is full, and I can hop in my van and drive where I want to (as long as there's gas in the tank). I can worship with the folks of my choosing and anything I want to read or learn is readily available to me.

Anonymous said...

No doubt. You all know I see plenty of problems around us, plenty to complain and worry about, and not to minimize them, there are many major horizontal and vertical ones at that, but oddly enough, we are only aware of them, because of how Good we actually have it. It wasn't so long ago that these problems would never have come to light at all, overshadowed by the huge difficulties and round the clock effort needed to just keep in food, clothing, shelter and health.

It's a world where many of us have enough leisure to discover, as Biker Lady said, there's no peace of mind as long as you are looking for love in all the wrong places. A world where the deadeyed diversions can grow old in a hurry and be outgrown. Where people can earn a living and still have the leisure to look into what is of actual value to their lives, on their own time. Dive into the Depths or soak up the sonlight and get a soultan.

BTW... ahem... [warning - techno geek glitter in the eyes] the new Windows Mobile 6.0 PocketPC phones are starting to come out... make the iPhone look silly. With the new 4 gig memory microSD card, I've got... well now it's well over 600 ebooks (a classical liberal wonderland of a library, old version King James Bible, a Greek to English version, Torah & Talmud, Confucius... etc), numerous downloaded aritcles, several lecture series and books on tape, Internet web browsing anytime & anywhere I go, pocket versions of Word & Excel, pdf reader, can even watch movies on it (well... in my case documentaries & lectures... I like BIG for movies), not to mention One Cosmos... I picked up the new Sprint Mogul (made by HTC) for about $250 after the rebates, about the size of a deck of cards, and I'm enjoying it. Works smoothly, none of the clogging & need to reboot previous models had. If you've got more patience than I do, some snazier models are coming out in the fall, the current crop are just fine, just make sure it's one of the Windows Mobile 6.0 PocketPC phones. (I'll post something on them and the enhancers on my site soon).

Anonymous said...

I have an interesting story that relates to your topic.

A couple of weeks ago a couple from Seattle flew to our little Peruvian outpost to get in some one-on-one with the rain forest. The trouble is, this area is infested with Yochuira indigenos and these are nasty buggers indeed.

But could I convince them? Noooo. The Yochuira are chamans, they are spirit people, they are cloud people, so nice, so friendly.

I tried to tell them not to believe everything they hear but off they went and we haven't heard from them since. We are not about to go looking. I imagine some Jupas(and they all call themselves Jupa, its very confusing) are wearing new clothes.

Not all cultures are beautiful, I hear you say. That is a truth.

Anonymous said...

They are now ONE with the rainforest.
How romantic. ;^)

Magnus Itland said...

It is easy to be cynical when crazy people believe in the noble savage, but there is the risk that unless we repent we may all die the same way.

Barbarianism is not easily rooted out. It can survive under the surface of a civilization for a long time. Remember Nazi Germany? One of the greatest cultures of the 19th century had failed to dispense a source of profound spirituality. (I blame Luther's abrupt banishment of the monastic tradition, but this is speculation rather than revelation.) The old pagan gods crept out from under their rocks and by the early 20th century filled the people with dreams of blood and earth. It took unimaginable sacrifices to banish the life-eaters.

Today we see Palestinians and various other Muslim groups drunk on the barbarian spirits. And yet the Muslim civilization preserved the heritage of the Greek philosophers in the dark ages, and sheltered the Sufi tradition right up into our time. Civilization is not something you achieve and then you rest on your laurels. It is a process that can backslide, and quickly. Eternal vigilance, anyone?

phil g said...

Synchronisity...I was just reading something very similar to your recent posts from our Unkown Friend in Letter XIII Death...

" is that there is no freedom outside of the miraculous and that man is man only in so far as he lives from the miracle, through the miracle and for the miracle."

"Freedom is a miracle and man is only free in so far as he is not a manchine - physical, psychic and intellectual. We have no other choice than between the machine and slavery, on the one hand, and the miracle and freedom, on the other hand."

Anonymous said...

Magnus... hmm. Although the Barbarian certainly lurks in all of us, and the nazis used the pagan imagery to add some flair to their 'cause', I think you give too much credit to barbarism.

The Barbarian Brute is one without systematic thought, irrational people who live by basic urges, desires and fears. Left to their own devices they can certainly wreak destruction, but they are pikers when compared to what a philosophical civilization can loose upon the world.

The Western Terror Trio of Descartes(unwittingly), Rousseau (Very wittingly) and Kant (purposefully) brought about a civilizational purpose of Rationalized irrationality. There is no destructive force known to man than systematic thought in the service of irrationality.

Though it sprouted in France, it was the Germans who cultivated it (Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Wundter, Marx) to its ultimate flowering in the proregressives and leftist thought. It took the power of systematic thought - alien to the barbarian - and put it in service to those same primitive and irrational urges, placing them atop a pedestal of rationalized Purpose; and not surprisingly it was the Germans who harvested its first crop.

Between the irrationality of the Barbarian brute, and the Rationalized irrationality of the Philosophical brute, I'd much rather face head hunters who work with honest axes, than wackademic head hunters with axes to grind. The former we only need to identify, isolate and decimate - and then reform the survivors, the later... they are among us, even partially possessing many of us to are trying to fight them.

A Jacksonian said...

The roots of much of our current problems does stem from changes in our outlook, as a Nation, upon what democracy is, to us. That goes back before WWI, for its start, but includes it in a ten year span of change in America that would lead to concepts of Wilsonian transnationalism that would serve to undermine traditional concepts of liberal democracy. What these have brought is a degeneracy of US adherance to its internal understanding of what Nation means and what the accountability system based upon the individual is for. Without understanding that basic structure we are left without tools to address ourselves and the world. Today we continue on blithely expecting success to follow success as if there is some historical certitude to events. Unfortunately history is contingent not foreordained, and our actions decide our future for good and ill. And when we let go of the idea that Nations are formed among men, we forget that this is a coming together of those that hold common beliefs to defend them and create this thing called 'Nation'.

Doing that is highly biased and exclusionary and yet it must be a paramount right of mankind to do so for accountable government to be formed. Without that basic structure of coming together as a society to defend culture from different culture and espouse those differences as defining to a Nation, we then head into a miasma of Empire and factionalism as that is the degenerate state of affairs when the structure of Nation cannot be upheld. Or you get a 'Dark Age', when rule by the sword prevails and society dissolves and culture is pressed downwards and the death toll spirals upwards as governing functions cease to function. We have been warned of these problems and ignored those warnings, to change our course from those outlooks that sustained liberty and freedom via highly restricted and accountable government.

Time grows short when power is sequestered from the People, representatives grow distant from those they govern, and bureaucracy and the 'law of rules' replaces justice and the rule of law. Those warnings are clear, distinct, and descriptive of when Republics and democracies fail. And those descriptions fit better over time the results seen previously return to us, again.

"A Republic, madam, if you can keep it." - Benjamin Franklin replying to a woman wondering what form of government had come from the convention of 1787.

Magnus Itland said...

I acknowledge the difference in capability between natural barbarians and neo-barbarians. But they both have the same primevil religion, human sacrifice, which they embrace until it becomes the cornerstone of their culture. Germany under Hitler, USSR under Stalin & co, China under Mao, Palestine today... the need to shed blood is much like survivors from stone age tribes report. It is not so much a tool as a fundamental need, and obsession with death. Killing is needed to keep the fear at bay.

Anonymous said...


I could not agree more! It is always astonishing to read the founder's writings on what CAN happen, and how amazingly prescient they were. In today's managed debates of the so-called right and left (both of which have been entirely co-opted) the founders would be laughed to scorn, if not put behind bars for lunacy, or "conspiracy theories". I particularly enjoyed, in your blog, the quotes from Hamilton on the necessity to limit the military and the consequences for not doing so. What a NUT!

Anonymous said...

I left a comment yesterday just before i took off from work and i must have hit the preview button thinking i hit the post button.

Anyways, i have to get the ok from my "Better Half" for any spending or i risk bringing down the Wrath of Charity on my head.
And frankly, my head is in enough pain from past purchases that didn't measure up to her specs.

So i'll buy the book with my lunch money.

Anonymous said...

Jehu said:
"Few of us really experience the utter revelation of the horror of our natures, if we did there would be no religious play time, only a desperate seeking of God."

I agree with the statement, but wonder what you were referring to, specifically.

Care to elaborate?


I view the Apostle Paul as a type of Revelation reserved for the end of the Church age, even as he was an Apostle that Christ picked after the resurrection, pointing to an experience that MUST come to complete our spiritual growth.

The church has failed to usher humanity into full spiritual growth, specifically because it does not lend itself to the experience and revelation that Paul had of his own nature. That no matter how religiously you refine that nature, it is still corrupt.

That is the failure of all religion, from the Eastern, to our own watered-down Christianity. The message that God sent us in the torture-death of his own person in a human body (Christ), is simply that no small remedy will work, no band-aid, self-deception, religious works, idolatrous substitutions are enough.

In fact it is so bad, our condition is so fallen, that the only way a omnipotent God could find to save us and deliver us was to take our deserved hell upon himself. It is why any human effort for spiritual reform is a slap and insult to God Himself. It is like saying, "Heh, I'm not such a bad fellow, like that murderer over there, I can fix myself, maybe with just a little help from you. Telling God the crucifixion was just God humoring Himself?

This awareness must go beyond intellect (the level I perceive now) to a deep spiritual revelation that encompasses the true horror of our fallen nature, and the true revelation of what God did, will do, for us.

Gagdad Bob said...


I like your style. It is rather mind-blowing to try to wrap one's mind around it all.

Anonymous said...


Thanks, I have been enjoying your book and recommend it to everyone. It is such concentrated writing and thoughts that I will go over it again and probably again.

We need spiritual scientists, and I think you and others coming on the scene are to the spirit realm, what Copernicus, Newton etc were to modern science.

We need those that can explore and describe the spirit realm, not preachers that entertain with fanciful stories, or murky conveyance of mysterious principles. Remember before the children of Israel went into Canaan, they had to send in scouts to "describe," the land.

The realm of spirit is no more mysterious than a thunderstorm, once you know the science behind it. We are in the days when the religious and spiritual superstitions of man are coming to and end, as surely as the mystery of planetary orbits came to an end under Kepler, Copernicus and Newton.

Anonymous said...

A Jacksonian,
You are certainly right about that decade, the fruits plucked from the tree Teddy Roosevelt watered, but I think that
the seed was planted about 40 years earlier with the Morril act establishing federal control of land grant colleges.

Either way, time does grow shorter day by day, but also possible solutions become more and more likely as more and more of us learn of the problem, discuss it, and - the key - if we do something about it; even just turning around to the next blowhard leftie global warmer dropping the wisecrack at a gathering where he feels sure all will warm to, and say "Tell me, just how much thinking do you have to avoid doing to say something that stupid? I'll give you $10 right now if you can back it up with facts."

Anonymous said...

Dougman said "So i'll buy the book with my lunch money."

Truly Food for thought!

Susannah said...

Once I prayed
(I knew not what I said),
Show me myself O Lord.
Alas, I did not dread
That hideous sight,
Which now I shudder to behold,
Because I knew not self aright....