Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Three Stages of Left Wing Spiritual Devolution

This is a continuation of Thursday's inflammatory slander on the left. We'll get back to prudence on Monday.

Jonah Goldberg has an insightful article (National Review, 4.07.08) on the politics of left wing gnosticism as it pertains to the Obama campaign, a campaign that goes to the very core of the left's spiritual pathology. The phenomenon demonstrates what happens when one abandons revealed and divinely authorized channels of religiosity for manmade ones, in a process which necessarily elevates man to god and politics to his religion. In so doing, it collapses the critical distinctions between time and eternity, natural and transnatural, freedom and constraint, and all of the other essential complementarities within which man lives -- and without which he isn't a man at all (i.e., as he was intended to be, in conformity with his spiritual archetype).

People without spiritual gnosis -- e.g., atheists, Darwinians, materialists, et al -- are necessarily exterior to the domain it discloses (for gnosis reveals the cosmic interior, precisely), and yet, proclaim this infirmity to be a kind of superiority, or ultimate health (in other words, they pretend they are more in conformity with reality than you are, even though their metaphysic can never explain how a monkey could ever know "reality").

But clearly, a person who is not seduced by the group fantasies of left wing gnosticism is in a superior position to judge them, since he remains within the realm of objective spiritual reality, whereas the radical secularist is confined to the narrow subjective fantasy of materialism (but only consciously, as we shall see, for the unconscious is always "spiritual").

In this regard, it would be interesting to know how many of Obama's supporters, like Obama himself, belong to heretical gnostic Christian churches that preach a spiritually inverted "liberation theology," as this would reinforce my view that real religion is the best defense against false ones.

At any rate, we shouldn't be surprised that the spiritual path of the left mirrors the universal stages of purification, illumination and union, only in reverse. First comes union with the new messiah.

For example, Goldberg notes that "Obama recruiters are encouraged to proselytize not by talking about 'issues' but by testifying about how they 'came to' the candidate..." In short, there must be a conversion process, a "metanoia," in which the scales suddenly fall from the little bratechumenate's eyes, i.e., the thighs tingle, he "sees" the truth, and he submits to the charismatic cult leader. (As we speak, many of these young adolts are going through a crisis of faith. This is normal for any spiritual practice, i.e., the "dark night of the troll.")

Goldberg writes that "Obama’s apostles include his wife, Michelle, who insists she is 'married to the only person in this race who has a chance at healing this nation.'" In this regard, she has testified that “We need a leader who’s going to touch our souls because, you see, our souls are broken.... The change Barack is talking about is hard, so don’t get too excited, because Barack is going to demand that you, too, be different.”

Thus, after one merges with Obama and is illuminated by the murky Truth for which he stands, ones commences with the hard work of purification, as we struggle to make ourselves worthy of the grace we have received. In other words, ask not what Obama can do for you. Ask what you can do for Obama.

Goldberg cites numerous examples to show how much of the messianic language that swirls around Obama "is more New Age than New Testament." He quotes Gary Hart, for example, who says that the Anointed One "is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians,” but is an "agent of transformation in an age of revolution,” whatever that means.

Likewise, Deepak Chopra -- who gives snake oil salesmen a bad name -- claims that Obama represents “a quantum leap in American consciousness,” while another pneumapath and career guru, Eve Konstantine, says that he “is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings.... He’s our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence.” (Product of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence? Why all the pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo? Why not just say that he is the only-begotten Son of God?)

And Oprah Winfrey suggests that Obama doesn't only "speak" truth but is the Truth who will help us “evolve to a higher plane.” Here again, why not just say that the early Christians got it all wrong, and that the real Word is finally dwelling among us?

Of course, in collectivist left wing gnosticism, God does not and cannot work through the individual. Nor does he work through the interior collective, or any kind of "higher we." Rather, he works through the instrument of that glorified labor camp known as The State, which will take control over the spontaneous order of our nation and attenuate the true interior bonds -- the higher we -- of civil society. For progressives, liberty is not the solution, it's the problem, because it tends to lead to the exercise of free will, which in turn emphasizes the sanctity of the individual. The only cure for the interior I and We is the exterior Him and his all powerful Them, the state.

The heart of Goldberg's piece involves a discussion of Voegelin's point that progressivism is a heretical political religion and therefore a form of gnosticism. This religion has "two core assumptions. First, it condemns the existing world as broken and alienating, plagued by evil forces preventing a complete and happy restoration of man’s spiritual and material life." (Which is why they are so desperate to "keep Bush alive" as the manichean explanation for why sugar candy mountain hasn't yet arrived.)

So the progressive, in his own garbled way, indeed recognizes that man is "fallen." However, "the gnostic promise, to borrow a phrase from John Edwards, is that 'it doesn’t have to be this way.'" Thus, the second assumption: as Russell Kirk observed, these religions promise "a mode of deliverance or salvation from the prison of the world for man through a secret gnosis."

By manipulating people with the right policies, we can create a "'kingdom of heaven on earth' -- not coincidentally, a phrase invoked by Bolsheviks, progressives, fascists, and every other variety of utopian collectivist. This effort to lasso the hereafter and pull it down to the here-and-now was dubbed by Voegelin 'immanentizing the eschaton'" (Goldberg).

Different demoninotions of leftism will have different secret formulas and incantations to create their utopia. For Marxists, "the secret lay in the intricacies of scientific socialism.' With just the right manipulation of material or historical forces we could -- ta-da! -- create a land where each lives according to his need....

"For the progressives, the trick was giving ourselves over to the social planners and gnostic 'ideologists of Christ'.... today, the secret is Barack Obama." Goldberg cites a creepy video "in which children testify about the dire state of the world." It then "cuts to a baby opening a copy of The Audacity of Hope, complete with a whispery spirit voice promising a 'secret.' The video concludes with one child after another announcing that the secret is -- Barack Obama."

As I mentioned above, the wave of Obama support rides on a deep structure of religious energy that is unrecognized by those most susceptible to it. In fact, as Goldberg says -- and as I have noted in the past -- "the craving to create a heaven on earth is the inevitable consequence of a godless society." Or, to paraphrase Pope Benedict, "the loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia."

The very definition of "totalitarianism" is the "existential rule of Gnostic activists": "Indeed, the story of totalitarianism is the story of men trying to replace the allegedly discredited old God with one of their own creation." So de-divinization always preceeds the "redivinization" of explicit left wing soulwashing. This is certainly how it worked for me in college. First you discredit religion, and then replace it with with a pseudo-religion that occupies the vacant spiritual territory. It took me years to undo this ironically named "higher education," which specifically forecloses the higher.

From this follows the worship of man -- not even Man as Such, the image and likeness of the Creator -- but usually a man. "Or, in Voegelin’s words, they 'build the corpus mysticum of the collectivity and bind the members to form the oneness of the body.” The result is that the productive individuals are forced to wait upon the narcissism and self-victimization of the progressive mob.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Liberal Academia and False Memory Syndrome

Back to the virtue of prudence. Pieper notes that it has two distinct aspects which essentially have to do with cognition vs. action; the former involves deliberation and objective perception of reality, and may take some time. But once a decision is arrived at, prudence dictates that the wise man slices like a f*cking hammer, as Paul would say. Or, to paraphrase Thomas, "In deliberation we may hesitate; but a considered act must be performed swiftly." It will not do to deliberate for a few seconds and then dither away without acting. (Image of Integral Man via Ace.)

Likewise, to be decisive and resolute in the absence of proper deliberation is no longer virtuous -- say, the way Obama was resolute in ramming through his misguided healthcare and "stimulus" bills. (One could hardly imagine a better example of imprudence than "you have to pass it in order to find out what's in it.")

In the absence of the prior apprehension of objective reality, we see how resoluteness merely devolves to stubbornness. A mule possesses that, but we don't call it a virtue. In short, in order to radiate Paul Anka-like integrity, one must first appreciate The. F*ucking. Way. It. Is! before making one's move and slicing like the proverbial hammer.

But then, Peiper notes that the perception of reality breaks down into three prior modes, which we will call memory, openness, and objectivity, especially in unexpected situations.

First, memory. Clearly, Pieper means more than mere mechanical "recollection." Everyone "remembers," but Pieper is referring to "true-to-being" memory, which means that it must be cleansed of self-interest, wish-fulfillment, mind parasites, ideology, and all of the other things that distort recollection of the real.

To cite one obvious example, for the past 40 years or so, the left has developed an academic-industrial complex (which we call the mullah-terror & nasty old leftist complex) that involves a systematic distortion and re-writing of the past -- which is why our anonymous troll always has a worthless link at his grubby fingertips that can crockument how, say, the barbaric Palestinians are really the righteous victims of the Israelis, or how America was the aggressor in the Cold War, or how Democrats haven't always been the party of racism.

The list is endless. I know, because I briefly fell under the spinfluence of this festering sump hole of debased anti-scholarship back in my addled daze as a leftist. In my case, my motivations weren't the least bit cynical, because I innocently assumed that I was dealing with virtuous and prudent men. Only now do I realize the extent of their moral -- and intellectual -- depravity.

Memory can have nothing to do with prudence unless it is actually capable of retaining and understanding "the past." The doctrine of deconstruction and the cynical practice of historical revisionism are explicitly founded on the idea that this is impossible, and that what we naively call "history" is just a narrative invented by People of Pallor, rooted in power for the purposes of oppression and control. It couldn't be more simplistic, because it all reduces to raceclassgendersexualorientation. It's their answer for everything.

Thus, for example, the readily available historical facts that document the genocidal intentions of Israel's Arab neighbors are dismissed as racist "orientalism" or some other such wackademic nonsense. This is pure projection, because leftist "scholarship" begins and ends with the manipulation of reality for the purpose of accruing political power. "Truth" doesn't even enter into the equation. If it does, it is merely as an accidental means, not the essential end, that guides thought at every step of the way.

For example, I have a relative by marriage who is a highly respected leftist historian. He wrote a well-received book on how there is nothing special about the Holocaust, except in the calculated manner that Israel has cynically used it in order to consolidate political power.

But one cannot imagine a leftist writing a book on how, say, the "Palestinians" were invented by genocidal Muslims for the very purpose of being a permanent dagger aimed at the heart of Israeil; or how sociopathic shakedown artists such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson cynically manipulate guilt-ridden white liberals in order to accumulate wealth and political power; or how lying demagogues such as Al Gore have done the same thing with environmental hysteria; or how woman-hating feminists manipulate statistics to make it appear as if (biological) females are a repressed and persecuted group.

But "the virtue of prudence lies in this: that the objective cognition of reality shall determine action; that the truth of real things shall become determinative."

Again, the left is almost excluded from objective cognition due to the pervasiveness of political correctness, which makes certain perceptions impermissible and drains language of meaning as soon as a word accumulates unwanted content. For example, once "liberal" became too tainted with noxious associations, they changed it to "progressive"; once "global warming" no longer worked, it became "climate change"; once racism faded into the background, it became "code words" and "institutional racism"; once racial quotas were recognized for the evil they are, they invented "affirmative action" and now "diveristy."

The list goes on and on, but in each case there is a systematic attempt to place a barrier between language (and therefore thought) and reality. Thus, the falsification of recollection renders thought dysfunctional and action imprudent, for "memory is the spiritual proto-reality from which thought and volition take their origin.... There is no more insidious way for error to establish itself than by this falsification of the memory through silent retouches, displacements, discolorations, omissions, shifts of accent" (and bear in mind that Pieper wrote these words before the left had taken over academia and institutionalized their assault on the possibility of history as a real container of truth).

And Pieper mainly addresses the falsification of horizontal truth. He doesn't even get into the left's actual denial and obliteration of vertical recollection, which is even more catastrophic (both intellectually and spiritually).

To cite one particularly obvious example, the very book we are now discussing -- The Four Cardinal Virtues -- is nothing less than an exercise in vertical recollection (or verticalisthenics), whereby we are re-collecting the distillation of some 2500 years of accumulated collective wisdom embodied in western civilization. But if you attend an elite university, you are more likely to learn about Indian sweat lodges, aboriginal dream time, or transexual wiccans than you are about the cardinal virtues.

Please note that true recollection is irreducibly infused with virtue, for Truth is the virtue of Intellect (just as, morality is the virtue of action, or beauty the virtue of art). Thus, "the honesty of the memory can be ensured only by a rectitude of the whole human being which purifies the most hidden roots of volition." It is no coincidence that the great universities were founded by religious orders, and that even America's most debased elite universities were once associated with particular religious denominations, for it is strictly insane to try to sunder the vital relationship between God and Truth. Eliminate one and you destroy the other; first comes anti-scholarship, then Anti-Civilization.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

One Stalled Step for Man, One Giant Sleep for Moonkind

Well, I really don't have time for a new post, so I'm reposting this one, to which my site meter alerted me. I have a reader -- I have no idea who he is -- who seems to find occasion to link to one of my posts nearly every day in the comments at Free Republic. I get the sense that he actually has a better handle on what's in the arkive than I do, because he seems to have an appropriate post at his fingertips for every occasion. Whoever he is, he seems able to quote chapter and verse from the vast and unruly libertoreum.

Anyway, that's one of the ways I learn what's in the arkive, for example, this old post which I will proceed to edit and polish up.

There's a reason why hardcore leftists -- and as always, I mean, the True Believers, not just the typical confused, misinformed, or dim Democrat -- are such assouls, since political inclination has more to do with temperament than people might realize.

For example, being that the B'ob is temperamentally such a sanguine, lighthearted, gay sort of man, he could never find his soul's rest in leftism, which is predicated on so much anger, envy, bitterness, paranoia, leaden seriousness, deep unhappiness, and general "sourness." For the leftist, life sucks, and only a huge and intrusive state can turn things around and make it really blow.

That being the headcase, one wonders how Barry Obama, the young stoner with the seemingly laid back, live-and-let-live island temperament, could be a member of an angry and paranoid church that preaches racial supremacy, America hatred, anti-Semitism, and other vile doctrines that can only find fertile soil in a soul that is already enraged and looking for a place to organize, focus, and project the rage? In other words, this kind of church doesn't make you nuts. You have to be a nut in order for it to appeal to you in the first place. What normal person would even enter such a debased place, let alone stay there for two decades?

First of all, Obama has been candid in acknowledging his struggle with identity, at least according to his autobiographer, Bill Ayers. Now, most moonstream commentators -- since they are virtually all materialists -- have reduced this to a superficial materialistic analysis, i.e., that he is "bi-racial" (as if there can even be such a thing outside the race-obsessed leftist's mind), so that he was essentially left without a tribe. And in primitive tribal culture, a man without a tribe is an existentially dead man. A leftist without his tribe is like a bee without his hive, or an ant without his hill, or a rapper without his posse.

Again, this all follows from the leftist's cosmological inversion, in which existence precedes essence, rather than vice versa. In other words, on any properly spiritual view, one is born with a spiritual essence that is anterior to existence, as it is created by God, not a contingent result of accidental cultural and historical forces, such as raceclassgendersexualorientation.

Therefore, the idea that any leftist candidate could ever be "post-racial" is not even a lie, it's an absurdity. It would be like a sheep running for shepherd on the grounds that he will be a post-flock candidate. He can bleat about this all day long, but it is in the nature of sheep to identify and be merged with the flock.

Likewise, the Democrat party is a coalition of groups, not individuals, a Big Chief Crazy Quilt of flocking birdbrains, journalistic hack animals, buffaloed herds, moveable riots, giant snit-ins, snivel rights agitators, and demonstrations of affect, schools of economic fish stories, CAIRing allahgators, herds of poor listeners, ovary tower spinsters, whordes of sex-workers, feline prides of lyin' shemales, old kennels of K - 9 educators who can't learn new tricks, pods of peaheaded publications, plagues of lawyering locusts, boring nests of teeming tenuremites, lowly trolls with holes in their souls, knob-gobbling gaggles of gamboling NAMBLArs, and a boring Goredom spanning the gamut from lying weathermen to those who don't know whether they're men.

So Obama, in order to be a viable Democrat, had to tap into one of the prominent streams of anger, envy, bitterness, and divisiveness that define and animate the left. Oddly, his whole appeal was based on the misperception that he was beyond this sort of destructive divisiveness, but this is about as realistic as an Arab leader claiming to be "beyond the differences between Muslim and Jew," without which they could not be an Arab leader. For what does the Arab political world have to recommend itself except for an officially sanctioned target for their overflowing rage, envy, sexual insecurity, and low self-esteem? In other words, all the Arab leader has to offer his people is death to Israel.

Similarly, what does the Democrat leader have to offer his various tribes except for Bush, or Cheney, or Rove, or Halliburton, or the Wealthy, or scary Christians, or Creationists, or Racists Teabaggers, or misogynists, or "homophobes," or We're all gonna die from climate change? What's left of the Left if you remove these fantasied containers of projected rage and fear? Only the free-floating rage and fear.

Now, America was founded as a -- as the -- Culture of Liberty. But as it so happens, there is no liberty without individuals, and no individual without liberty. (By the way, this is one of the areas where I strongly disagree with the "integral movement," which talks about a "higher we," which is actually just Marxism in disguise, and why they are almost always on the left; there's already a "higher we," i.e., the Body of Christ, understood in its Cosmic dimension -- in other words, the cosmic Body of Christ is the proper "we" with which the individual "I" may be reconciled, bearing in mind that this Christ is merely focussed in the lens of Christianity, but permeates the spiritual dimension in a nonlocal manner, "blowing where it will," including in those "other sheep who are not of this fold.")

And this is indeed bears upon the broad purpose of the spiritual life -- or let us just say Life: to become what you already are. Life's purpose can never be to become what the group wishes for you to be, for this is slavery, not liberty. Classical liberalism enshrines a sort of liberty that implicitly promotes the use of it for higher ends, since it is a "gift" given for that very purpose. Its alternative -- leftism in all its guises -- enshrines the idea that your liberty is a privilege granted by the state, subject to revocation if you do not use it to promote slavery, whether intellectual, political, spiritual, sexual, or economic, for liberty is One.

As Michael Heller argues in Creative Tension, postmodernism has succeeded in displacing man from the "privileged margin" to an "average center" of the cosmos. In other words, flatland materialism actually effaces the spiritual individual and replaces him with the selfish atom, as it were, so that Man's true existential needs -- which are intrinsically spiritual -- can never be engaged in any meaningful way.

So the ascension of Obama was one stalled step for man, but one giant sleep for moonkind.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Carbon Based vs. the Reality Based Community

The following passage on prudence -- or wisdom -- really says it all: "The pre-eminence of prudence means that realization of the good presupposes knowledge of reality. He alone can do good who knows what things are like and what their situation is. The pre-eminence of prudence means that so-called 'good intention' and 'meaning well' by no means suffice" (emphasis mine).

Now, I would add that the most important reality one must know in order to accomplish the good is human reality, which automatically implies the divine reality with which we are always in a dialectical relationship.

To put it another way, if one does not know what a human being is -- which naturally includes what a human being is for -- then one's actions on behalf of human beings (either oneself or others, it doesn't matter) will be misguided, ill-considered, and generally grounded in wish or fantasy rather than objectivity, which is to say "the nature of things," or truth.

Think of it this way: in the absence of truth, there is no possibility of good. There are no doubt exceptions to this rule on the micro scale, but on the macro scale of politics, failure to be in conformity with human truth paves the way for the greatest of evils.

For example, every leftist scheme from socialism to fascism to communism begins with an erroneous conception of what a human being is, and then simply draws out the political implications.

Thus, if your anthropology is off, then your political philosophy will run aground -- unless you actually succeed in the monstrous project of making human beings other than what they are, say, a fundamentally material rather than intrinsically spiritual being. As is plain for all to see, this is something the left never stops trying to do. In order for them to succeed, they must literally obliterate Man as he is and was meant to be. Rather, Man must become what the leftist wishes him to be, which is to say, a cog in their statist/collectivist machine.

What is even more sinister is that the half-educated rank-and-foul leftist generally doesn't even know he is doing this, as one cannot know what one doesn't know: for the leftist, the great vertical realm of spirit is the dark void of the "unknown unknown," hence their arrogant confidence in dismissing it (no different from, say, 19th century doctors who dismissed the germ theory on the grounds that they themselves could not possibly be carriers of such "unclean" entities).

Secular humanists follow in the wake of the late medieval nominalists who convinced themselves that the principial realm of transcendental truth was words only, and that only concrete material things were ultimately real. This ousted them from the transcendent and created the split that continues to this day between realists and materialists. (See Richard Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences for the details.)

In turn, this split is very much at the basis of mundane politics, as conservatism may be defined as that philosophy which sees the world as the instantiation of "permanent things," or archetypal ideas that are not subject to change. We do not judge or measure them, because they judge and take the measure of us. We are either evolving toward, or away, from what we are in our deepest nature.

But because the left has exiled itself from human reality, it can never understand the simple truth that the world is disordered because souls are. And then in its ontic backasswardness, it tries to order souls by changing the world, and is always surprised when disordered souls re-exert themselves and spoil their beautiful plans. As someone -- I believe Eliot -- said, they are always dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good, which is to say, a rightly ordered soul (since souls don't exist for them anyway).

Another critical point: "the good must be loved and made reality" (emphasis mine). In a forthcoming series of posts, I will get into a list I have compiled of what I call the "Top Ten Intrinsic Intellectual Heresies," that is, forms of pseudo-thought that poison the mind at its very root. The doctrine of absolute relativism is perhaps the most obvious one, as it denies the sufficient reason for the existence of mind, which is to say, truth. And freedom is a consequence of truth, so that those who reject truth can never be "free" in any meaningful sense.

But it is not enough that one acknowledge the existence of truth. For in order for truth to be efficacious, it must be loved.

Now, for any human being who is not fundamentally disordered, this statement is self-evident and requires no explanation, for it is both obvious and an everyday phenomenon. Human beings are intrinsically epistemophilic, which means that we simply love to know for its own sake. Indeed, the higher the knowledge, the less pragmatic, until we attain the most useless -- and therefore precious -- knowledge of all.

This is why it is axiomatic that one may be superficially right while being deeply wrong anytime one obliterates the vertical hierarchy that places knowledge in its proper plane, and takes the lower plane for the whole of reality; or, in the words of James Schall, when reason "closes itself off from what is beyond reason." This is not a problem the religious person -- or at least the Christian -- should ever face, as we should love all truth, regardless of the plane. But (vertical) context is everything.

To put it another way, the knowledge of the secular humanist is always merely pragmatic, which means that the gift of the human intellect is bent toward some manmade material end. Naturally this has its place, but if the intellect gives itself over entirely to this lower mode, it literally enters a parallel looniverse split off from the primary one, in a kind of closed and endless loop. Such a person will search for the good where it can never be found, and will never have a sense of peace. This is the Existential Itch that can never be scratched, and which guarantees a lifetime of restless searching for I-know-not-what-because-I-killed-it.

When we harbor a "wrong end," then that end teleologically organizes everything below it. In so doing, we replace the divine attractor with a manmade fantasy, so that we are pulled deeper and deeper into the phase space of fantasy, until it eventually appears not only real but self-evident (cf. the militant atheists).

To paraphrase Aristotle, when we choose what is good, we are the best of animals, and when we choose unwisely, we are the worst. In the ultimate extreme, the human descends from being reality-based to merely carbon-based, i.e., just a statistically rare organization of molecules instead of a molecular instantiation of spirit, or weird made flesh.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Dear Prudence, Won't You Change Your Name?

Prudence is such a lousy name for the Virtue of virtues -- the one that makes all the others possible -- it's no wonder that no one talks about it anymore. For one thing, it's too close to "prudish." And if we can judge by social security statistics on the most popular baby names, Prudence doesn't even make the top 1,000.

In contrast, Sophia -- which amounts to the same thing as prudence -- comes in at #4. And since it split the vote with Sofia, who knows, it might actually be the Cardinal Name for girls.

Pieper deals with this linguistic obstacle at the outset, noting that the word has become too saturated and associated with such qualities as timorousness or small-mindedness.

To which I would add cautiousness, risk-averse, unadventurous, tentative, and possibly even "pragmatic" in that calculating and sociopathic Clintonian way. In other words, the connotations can range from vaguely neutral to pejorative. Not only that, but "imprudence" can be associated with, say, "courageous sacrifice," which further muddies the waters.

A much better word would be wisdom, in-sight, or better yet, sapientia, since the latter has a nice mystical ring to it. Furthermore, it resonates with what a human being fundamentally is, which is to say, Homo sapiens sapiens.

Nevertheless, for the purposes of this post, we'll stick with prudence, which Pieper calls "the mold and 'mother' of the other cardinal virtues, of justice, fortitude, and temperence. In other words, none but the prudent man can be just, brave, and temperate, and the good man is good insofar as he is prudent.... All virtue is necessarily prudent."

Again, as mentioned in a comment or three yesterday, we must imagine a vertical hierarchy, with prudence located at the top. This is one more reason why Darwinism or any other form of materialism is so incoherent, because one simply cannot get from matter to wisdom, and it's morbidly imprudent to think otherwise.

Rather, the world itself is an emanation -- or involution -- of the Principle, which is why reality is continuous from the top down, but discontinuous from the bottom up. Only by starting at the top does the cosmos make sense in its integral totality, which is to say, high and low, interior and exterior.

Therefore, Pieper is absolutely correct in saying that prudence "is the [vertical] cause of the other virtues' being virtues at all."

Here it might be useful to remember the wisdom books of the Bible -- which again, with a less skilled marketing department, might have been called the "prudence books" -- for example, in Proverbs, which repeatedly praises the centrality of wisdom, which is at the origin of all things.

Furthermore, there are obvious parallels between wisdom and the Word, which is both alpha and omega. To say that "no one comes to the Father but through me," is another way of saying that no one comes to the Principle save through the eternal wisdom that is its first fruit. Why, the two -- Reality and Wisdom -- are related as intimately as Father and Son.

Now prudence means on the one hand "the perfected ability to make right decisions" and choices. But what is this ability founded upon?

This, I think, is the key point: that we can only make right decisions if we are 1) open to reality, 2) in conformity to reality, and 3) act in a manner consistent with that conformity. Thus, for St. Thomas, truth is "nothing other than the unveiling and revelation of reality, of both of natural [i.e., horizontal] and supernatural [vertical] reality."

In short, "the pre-eminence of prudence means that realization of the good presupposes knowledge of reality" -- which explains why there is so little wisdom on the left, since they attack the very notion of objective truth, and substitute for it such retrograde idols as multiculturalism, "diversity," and moral relativism.

To employ the symbols used in the Coonifesto, we see that one of the prerequisites of prudence is (o), or "the receptiveness of the human spirit," the latter of which must be in-formed by the Real.

In other words, we must be humbly instructed by reality, or we will surely sooner or later be righteously bitch-slapped by her. As well we should. Mama don't play.

Furthermore, (---) comes into use as well, for as Pieper notes, prudent cognition "includes above all the ability to be still in order to attain objective perception of reality."

Elsewhere he writes of cultivating "the attitude of 'silent' contemplation of reality: this is the key prerequisite for the perfection of prudence as cognition," since it is what makes (↓) possible, the "ingression of grace," or vertical reality.

You know, Be still and know that I AM.

Well, that's all we have time for today. Much more to come.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Honoring Those Who Have Fallen in Defense of the Good

Memorial Day is an occasion... sacred to the memory of all those Americans who made the supreme sacrifice for the liberties we enjoy. We will never forget or fail to honor these heroes to whom we owe so much. We honor them best when we resolve to cherish and defend the liberties for which they gave their lives... --Ronald Reagan, May 1986

For obvious reasons, I think we'll jump ahead today and discuss the third of The Four Cardinal Virtues, fortitude. While on the one hand they form a vertical hierarchy (prudence --> justice --> fortitude --> temperance), they can also be seen as organically interlinked in a horizontal manner, so that, for example, prudence presupposes conformity to objective reality, justice its implementation, and fortitude its defense. Thus, for all practical purposes, the more transcendent virtue of prudence cannot survive in this fallen world without the real flesh-and-blood human beings who apprehend it and are willing to defend it.

The vertical hierarchy should make it perfectly clear that there is no fortitude in the absence of justice, and no justice in the absence of prudence. When the postliterate liberal barbarian Bill Maher talked about the "courage" of the 9-11 hijackers, he unwittingly revealed everything that is pathological in our relativistic secular educational establishment, for if courage can be deployed for ends that are intrinsically unjust and imprudent, then it can hardly be a virtue. One's only response to such "courage" could be "so what? Who needs it?"

Speaking of which, I recently saw an unbelievable (but typical) clip of a leftist student confronting David Horowitz at a university lecture, in which she compares Israel's enemies to America's founding fathers. (Here's another clip in which an Islamist student endorses extermination of the Jews; or how about here, in which the Times attacks Ayaan Hirsi Ali -- someone with real fortitude -- for antagonizing the evildoers who wish to murder her!)

But this is typical of the kind of sick brainwashing to which children are subjected in American universities. As Dennis Prager has said, they should not even be called "universities" but "leftist seminaries," where young adults go in order to learn to be leaders and defenders of that particular faith.

Consider the left's perennial confession of moral blindness, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" -- as if, for starters, the Islamists are fighting for truth and liberty instead of lies and tyranny! As St. Thomas made clear, The praise of fortitude is dependent upon justice. For how could it not be? You couldn't have a "Memorial Day" in the Soviet Union or theocratic Iran unless its purpose were to remember and pay homage to all of the evil and misery they have perpetrated around the world.

Islamists, North Koreans, Chinese, Gazans, Taliban -- they can be rash, or violent, or vainglorious, or thrill seeking, or swaggering, or power mad, or just plain deluded, but they cannot possess the virtue of fortitude (much less prudence) so long as they risk their lives for causes that are transparently unjust, again, unless we live in a flatland world in which transcendent values are reduced to mere behavior. Only in such an impoverished world can the "courage" of the Nazi or Islamist be equated with that of the American soldier.

But ideas have consequences, especially atheistic ideas that reduce conflicts to the mere enactment of violence, irrespective of what the violence is realizing or defending. Only in such a perverse world could a moral retard such as Obama see no distinction between nuclear missiles in the possession of Israel or Iran, and thus argue for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. Hey, why not a gun-free zone in South Central Los Angeles? There's so much violence there, why not just have the police and the gangs turn in their weapons?

Pieper begins his analysis of fortitude at the very beginning, with human vulnerability. Obviously, if we were invulnerable, with no possibility of injury, there would be no possibility of fortitude. To be brave means facing the possibility of injury, including the ultimate injury which is death. Thus, "all fortitude has reference to death. All fortitude stands in the presence of death. Fortitude is basically readiness to die or, more accurately, readiness to fall, to die, in battle" (Pieper).

But again, not for its own sake. Rather, "the brave man suffers injury... as a means to preserve or acquire a deeper, more essential" good. Thus, in order to achieve the virtue of fortitude, "the brave man must first know what the good is, and he must be brave for the sake of the good." Fortitude always "points to something prior," to such an extent that "fortitude must not trust itself," because "without prudence, without justice, there is no fortitude."

One might say that prudence is the "inner form" of fortitude, that which literally "in-forms" it. Fortitude itself cannot realize the good, but it "protects this realization [of the good] or clears the road for it."

Again, "without the just cause, there is no fortitude." Note how for the true leftist (by which I mean the true believer, not the typical confused or misinformed "liberal" Democrat who doesn't even realize that the values of the left are antithetical to his own), fortitude is nearly impossible, since the doctrine of multiculturalism means that no culture is better -- which is to say, more prudent and just -- than another, and they specifically reject the vertical reality that makes real fortitude possible. Therefore, there is no moral distinction between the American soldier and Michael Moore's Iraqi "freedom fighters." Indeed, for a John Kerry, or Noam Chomsky, or Howard Zinn, or Dick Durbin, we are the terrorists. Which we must be in a left wing world without the transcencent virtues of prudence or justice, more on which later in the week.

Our goal is peace in which the highest aspirations of our people, and people everywhere, are secure: peace with freedom, with justice, and with opportunity for human development.... The surest guarantor of both peace and liberty is our unflinching resolve to defend that which has been purchased for us by our fallen heroes. --Ronald Reagan

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