Friday, February 21, 2014

Liberalism is Downstream from a Toxic Spring

As usual, we want to be completely fair and balanced in our treatment of liberals. Ideally, we don't want to write anything we couldn't say in person.

One of the reasons why the internet tends to heighten polarization -- not that there's anything wrong with it -- is that it's much easier to say nasty things when the person isn't there before you. It works in reverse as well, since it is easy for people to read hostility into a dispassionate comment or analysis.

Such as this dispassionate analysis of the relationship between modern liberalism and the world-class asshole Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Liberalism isn't just bad economics, but bad philosophy, bad anthropology, bad ethics, and bad aesthetics. It's easy enough to trace the crazy economics back to Marx, but before Marx (1818-83) there was Rousseau (1712-78).

As Breitbart always said, politics is downstream from culture. Thus, since politics (whether we like it or not) subsumes economics, we can say that economics is also downstream from culture.

Which explains a lot, because if the psychic battlefield is first softened by aerial bombardment from the wider culture, you can get people to believe anything, e.g., socialized medicine works, government debt = prosperity, increasing the minimum wage won't increase unemployment, people become wealthy by stealing from the poor, etc.

Conversely, it is very difficult to get a fair hearing for classical liberal economic principles, since they don't appeal to the feelings and sensibilities of the herd.

So, Marx and Keynes and Krugman are all downstream from Rousseau. Now, no one who believes in Rousseauian principles will -- or should -- believe Rousseau was a flaming a-hole, just as no one who promulgates Marxian principles should be ashamed of their patrimony.

Rather, they should be proud to be associated with such an illustrious predecessor. I won't deny my link to Burke, or Adam Smith, or the founding fathers -- or to Moses or even the uber-father of us all, Adam. That is, I know where my errors come from: from being human.

Very much unlike liberals, who must first yield to the temptation of omniscience before presuming to lord it over the rest of us. Anyone with a little epistemological humility would be very hesitant to turn peoples lives upside down because he's just sure that this time a government takeover of the healthcare system will work just fine.

There is a chapter devoted to Rousseau and the French revolution in The Cave and the Light. Over and over in my margin notes I wrote n/c, which is my shorthand for NOTHING has CHANGED with these knuckleheads in almost three centuries. So, who's the "conservative?"

Virtually every one of Rousseau's central principles can be seen in the contemporary left. Let us count the ways.

First, he was very much anti-capitalism, as he thought it simply unleashed avarice and corrupted our innate goodness. Like Marx a century later, he "excoriates capitalism as the source of all man's corruption, greed, and mindless materialism and denounces private property as one of the great tragedies of history."

Just recently, Rolling Stone ran a piece on why Americans should fight for an end to private property. But the economic polices of the left are more generally founded on the principle that your property first belongs to the state, not you. This is why the state takes its cut from our paycheck before we ever see it. We get what is left over after the IRS wets its beak.

Rousseau actually believed that war could be avoided if it weren't for private property. In fact, it is the opposite: war starts wherever private property is insecure. But more subtly, envy is unleashed when private property isn't secure. It also works the other way around, which is why the left always fans the flames of envy in order to legitimize the threat to private property (e.g., "income inequality").

As alluded to above, Raccoons trace our dubious lineage all the way back to weak and corrupt old Adam. That being the case, we know full well that any system, no matter how perfect, will be corrupted by the presence of man.

But liberals don't believe this, because they are naive about what man is. This is why they can believe that a man in charge of a corporation is motivated by greed, whereas a man in charge of the state is motivated by only the highest ideals. But they are both just men, and men cannot be perfected.

For the culpably naive Rousseau, "nothing is more peaceable than man in his natural state." Note that this was based on no empirical evidence. Rather, it is an a priori platonic ideal. Thus, it is inherently true despite the evidence. This is certainly what I learned in college, i.e., all cultures are beautiful except ours.

Only after I left the university echo chamber did I discover that the truth is diametrically opposed to this -- that primitive cultures are generally characterized by savagery, violence, infanticide, oppression, and systematic stupidity, i.e., superstition.

Knowing what man is, we can better understand what to do about him. But if we begin with the wrong principle -- i.e., that man is basically good -- then our whole system will be founded upon a lie.

For Rousseau, the noble savage's "ignorance of vice prevents him from doing evil." Thus, he might have been the first moonbat to say that evil is a consequence of society, and that we are only depraved on accounta' being deprived.

Rousseau was also one of the first environmentalists -- not in the common sense conservative manner, but as in the Church of Global Warming type radicalism. And since it is rooted in primitive and unreflective religious impulses, heretics are not just wrong, but evil nazis.

This goes to the cliche that conservatives just think liberals are wrong (or misinformed or stupid), whereas liberals regard us as evil. Their intentions are always pure, whereas we actually intend our ideas and policies to do harm.

This in itself represents a naive psychology, because very few people consciously want to do evil. There is no liberal of my acquaintance whom I believe has malevolent intentions. Rather, it is the consequences of their policies that are bad, not the intentions.

Rousseau also spoke to the insularity of the left. Since he elevates the collective over the individual, truth revolves around what benefits the group. This is why he idealized Sparta over Athens, since the former ruthlessly eliminated self-love and individuality.

To this day the left insists upon a uniformity of thought, hence political correctness and other coercive mechanisms to keep people in line. Intolerance is fundamental to the left. For example, if you only tolerate deviancy instead of celebrating it, you are intolerant. Thus, tolerance is the new intolerance.

But the ultimate way to keep people in line is via compulsory public education (of which Rousseau was a huge advocate, in order to get to them early). Here again, this is why the left is fundamentally threatened by free (liberal!) education, e.g., homeschooling, vouchers, and school choice.

Yes, there is obviously the crude economic interest of the teachers unions, but upstream from that is the need to induct people into the General Will. Thus, children are taught to recycle (because man is poisoning the planet) or instructed in a human sexuality that aggressively excludes the human element. In other words, infrahuman sexuality, AKA barbarism.

The (classical) liberal view of history regards the emergence of human individualism as the great accomplishment. But the left has always found the individual to be problematic, because individuals don't become good collectivists.

Herman suggests that Rousseau's credo might well have been, I feel, therefore I am. Here again, we can see how this same principle animates the contemporary left, for whom ideas are felt and not thought out.

Interestingly, Herman points out that Rousseau had a huge following of females in particular and young adolts more generally. Thus, we can trace to him the notion of encouraging the least wise among us to become politically active, as well as the more recent idea of a "war on women" -- even though he abandoned his own children and was quite insulting toward females.

Like I said, n/c.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Divine Comedy?

Instead of posting, I slacked off and watched an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jay Leno. Then I watched the one with Howard Stern, and now it's pretty much time for work.

I don't believe we've ever explicitly discussed the relationship between comedy and cosmology, humor and metaphysics, despite the fact that nearly every post contains things intended to make you laugh. In fact, I can't imagine the blog without the humor, which makes it what kind of blog exactly?

Among other questions, such as, is it appropriate to the subject? Probably not, since I know of no other stand-up cosmedians. Am I trying to make God laugh, or what? Does God even have a sense of humor? He's got quite a mess on his hands. Am I trying to cheer him up? Am I searching for the ultimate guffah-HA experience?

They say Hebrew is very conducive to puns, and that there have always been funny rabbis. Given the preponderance of Jewish comedians, it makes you wonder if there is something transmitted through the religious DNA. There's also the old joke about how Catholicism is the only religion based on a pun, i.e., Peter/rock...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On Being MisCaste in the Role of a Lifetime

Expert? Know it all? I hardly think so. If I had to blog about what I already know, I'd be bored out of my skull. It would be like writing a hit song and then having to perform it the same way for the rest of your life. I can't imagine why any musician would want to do that. That's not making music. It's being prevented from doing so.

The occasional commenter has suggested that I only ridicule the tenured because I envy them. But it has never occurred to me that teaching some predigested course to a bunch of adolescent mediocrities would suit my temperament. I'm interested in the unknown, not the known.

Once something is known, it quickly becomes tacit knowledge for probing further into the unknown -- like the stick of the blind man we discussed a few posts back. To obsess over the stick is to miss the point of the stick. Rather, its purpose is to reach beyond itself into the unseen, the unknown, the unassimilated. I don't want to practice the servile art of stick making; rather, the quintessential liberal art of inward mobility. I want to be an explorer. A pneumanaut. A vertical adventurer. Doesn't everyone?

Well, no. Apparently it's a caste thingy. There are warriors, priests, merchants, laborers, et al, and it is very difficult if not impossible to oust a person from his caste (any more than a person can fundamentally change his innate temperament). In fact, now that I think about it, most of the problems in the world are due to miscaste people.

Think of all the intellectual lightweights in Washington who fancy themselves geniuses, beginning with the dimwit at the top. Obama should be a salesman. Indeed, he is a salesman, maybe even a brilliant one. Say what you want, but he has become a wealthy man from selling his crap, and it presumably requires more skill to peddle crap than Crayolas.

It also requires a degree of sociopathy, because one must make the sale without feeling guilty about it. For example, I see no evidence that Obama has any qualms about having sold Obamacare to a gullible nation. Perhaps he even believes his own bullshit, which is the pinnacle of salesmanship: autopullwoolery.

About being miscaste. Plato suggested a way around this: that we only cast philosophers as kings. I can't see how that could possibly work, because a lover of wisdom is indifferent to power, plus it just brings a plague of sham philosophers, similar to how widespread access to higher education has caused an epidemic of worthless Ph.D.s and idiot professors.

In his Language of the Self, Schuon has a chapter on The Meaning of Caste. It's a very unAmerican idea, but then again no, because our founders were quite aware of the natural -- not hereditary -- aristocracy, and intended to create a system which would redound to their leadership without having to impose it on anyone. If one must be ruled, who doesn't want to be ruled by the best people -- as opposed to being ruled by people who pretend to be better than us?

For example, George Washington is a better man than I. Barack Obama -- or Joe Biden, or John Kerry, or Harry Reid on down -- only pretends to be.

"In its spiritual sense," writes Schuon, "caste is the 'law' or dharma governing a particular category of men in accord with their qualifications. It is in this sense, and only in this sense, that the Bhagavad-Gita says: 'Better for each one is his own law of action, even if imperfect, than the law of another, even well applied. It is better to perish in one’s own law; it is perilous to follow the law of another.” For example, it is dangerous for Lileks to pretend at home repair. He may fool himself, but he doesn't fool the expert.

Again, think of all the societal problems caused by intellectuals who aren't wise, holy men who aren't holy, military people who aren't warriors, etc. Yes, in America you can be -- or at least pretend to be -- anything you want, but it doesn't mean you should be. Should women be warriors? Should homosexuals? Our society has become so deranged that it is no longer permissible to even ask such questions.

Of the castes, "There is first of all the intellective, speculative, contemplative, sacerdotal type, which tends towards wisdom or holiness; holiness referring more particularly to contemplation, and wisdom to discernment." (Bear in mind that in our upside-down world, an Al Sharpton or Fred Phelps or Jesse Jackson or Deepak Chopra or Jeremiah Wright are all certified holy men.)

"Next there is the warlike and royal type, which tends towards glory and heroism; even in spirituality -- since holiness is for everyone -- this type will readily be active, combative and heroic, hence the ideal of the 'heroicalness of virtue.'" (Typical miscaste knights would be Colin Powell, Wesley Clark, or John Kerry.)

The knightly type possesses "a keen intelligence, but it is an intelligence turned toward action" as opposed to contemplation and speculation. Here I am again reminded of a George Washington, for the strength of this type "lies especially in his character; he makes up for the aggressiveness of his energy by his generosity and for his passionate nature by his nobility, self-control, and greatness of soul." That's GW.

"The third type is the respectable 'average' man: he is essentially industrious, balanced, persevering; his center is love for work that is useful and well done, and carried out with God in mind; he aspires neither to transcendence nor to glory -- although he desires to be both pious and respectable -- but like the sacerdotal type, he loves peace and is not interested in adventures; a tendency which predisposes him to a contemplativeness conformable with his occupations."

The majority of men are of this nature -- happy so long as they are productively employed and able to support their families. My father was like this. There is certainly nothing wrong with it. To the contrary, the whole system would fall apart without such individuals, who are selfless in their own way. Which is another reason why Obama's devaluation of work is so sinister -- as if everyone should be writing poems and novels. This will only result in more bad poetry and literature than we already have.

"Lastly there is the type that has no ideal other than that of pleasure in the more or less coarse sense of the word; this is concupiscent man who, not knowing how to master himself, has to be mastered by others, so that his great virtue will be submission and fidelity."

I think you see the problem. Liberals pander to caste four, those with "no ideal other than that of pleasure," and who either do not or cannot master themselves. These masterless men now presume to be our masters, so the world order is truly inverted.

In fact, I'm afraid it's even worse than that, for the lowest caste -- or out-caste -- is composed of those who are completely outside the human system, so to speak. Perhaps you've never met one, in which case you are either sheltered or lucky. These are human beings who possess no "homogeneous nature," but rather, are chaotic and mercurial. They exhibit "a tendency to realize psychological possibilities that are excluded for others" -- in other words, they engage in things you or I wouldn't dream of. They are prone to "transgression" and find "satisfaction in what others reject."

Maybe I'm just sensitive, but I have always been aware of this type of person, and instinctively stayed away. However, they can be charismatic; think of a Charles Manson, or Adolf Hitler, or any number of celebrities and entertainers. Schuon writes that such individuals are capable "of anything and nothing," and are laws unto themselves. John Lennon was of this nature: if he hadn't been a musician he would have been a criminal or parasite.

God help us when the miscaste and uncaste organize into a voting bloc. Not for nothing does the Obama administration vehemently oppose any reasonable effort to reduce voter fraud, and now proposes to repeal laws that prohibit millions of felons from voting. Naturally they frame it in terms of racial demagoguery, but "Caste takes precedence over race because spirit has priority over form; race is a form while caste is a spirit" (Schuon).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Free at Last, Thank Matter Almighty I'm Free of Freedom!

Is there any escape from subjectivity? In a comment on yesterday's post, reader ge claims (in reference to a certain thinker) that "Once such influential immortality is reached, death is conquered."

I don't know if he meant that literally or ironically, but reader Julie responded that being "remembered by the world" is one thing, whereas "true immortality," i.e., being "remembered by God," is another thing entirely.

Or in other words, the first type of immortality is subjective, in that it resides in other subjects.

But no matter how many subjects there are or how long they remember, they are all mortal as well, so one is obviously just postponing the inevitable, which is total destruction and utter forgetfulness. Once the sun fades and the world freezes, it will be as if even the most famous person never existed. Therefore, subjective immortality is really just a brief stage on the way to objective mortality and total cosmic I-amnesia, so Michelangelo is as forgettable as Miley Cyrus. Or, each was an inexplicable miracle of equivalent incomprehensibility.

The second type of mortality is objective, in that it partakes of absoluteness. This relationship between objectivity and absoluteness may offer a clue as to the purpose of life, in that to participate in absoluteness on this side of death is to engage in a process of "immortalization." Conversely, to plunge into relativity and subjectivity is to fritter away one's life. We'll return to this idea later.

If the postmodern doctrine of relativism is true, then it is absolutely the case that there can be no escape from our subjectivity. Reality is perception and perception is an evanescent fog that burns off with the morning sun. Yes, that fog was your life.

We cannot see clearly through the fog, but not seeing clearly presupposes something there to see. If there were only fog, then no one could see it.

Speaking of fog, I can see that this cloudy metaphor is running out of steam, so let's just cut to Schuon, who forecasts that if there is indeed no escape from the fog of human subjectivity, then "the statement itself possesses no objective value, but falls under its own verdict."

The following sounds like a foggy tautology, but it is not: "It is abundantly evident that man can escape subjectivity, for otherwise he would not be man" (ibid.).

This is actually a sunlit axiom, or first principle: that man qua man is the subject who is capable of transcending his subjectivity. No other terrestrial subject can do this. We won't get into the question of whether God can also transcend himself, but we will someday return to that contentious subject, so near to our Hartshorne.

The question is not whether man is a subject, which he obviously is; rather, the question is whether he is only a subject, which strikes me as impossible.

For again, what defines man is the self-evident fact that he is "able to conceive of both the subjective and the surpassing of the subjective" (ibid.) Or in other words, as Schuon has expressed it elsewhere, it seems that man is "condemned to transcendence."

The phenomenon of man is not essentially a material proposition (or materiality is a necessary but not sufficient condition). Rather, everything that sets man apart first takes place in a higher, immaterial space. To quote Schuon again, our space of subjectivity "would not even be conceivable for a man who was totally enclosed in his subjectivity; an animal lives its subjectivity but does not conceive it, for unlike man it does not possess the gift of objectivity."

Thus, in one sense we have "more" subjectivity than other animals, in that we live in a much more vast interior space. But in another sense we must have less subjectivity, or in other words, the ability to "stand back" from our own subjectivity and view it from an objective standpoint. An animal can change its behavior but it cannot gain personal insight into it. A dog doesn't wonder to itself, "why am I always such an asshole to the mailman? It's like I can't help it or something."

So the question isn't whether we are subjects, but whether we are entirely enclosed in our subjectivity. There was a time, not too long ago, that psychology assumed a kind of closed mental system. I don't want to go into all the historical details, but this was essentially a result of psychologists trying to imitate the 19th century paradigm of classical (pre-relativistic) physics, in which everything in the universe is exterior to everything else, like a cosmic billiards table.

We now know that humans are intrinsically intersubjective. In fact, if we weren't intrinsically intersubjective -- i.e., members of one another -- there would be no way to become so after the fact. It is our own version of an instinct, only on a higher plane. For example, one can try to raise a grizzly bear as a child, but the bear has an unavoidable attraction to its own archetype and will eventually eat you.

There are, however "critical periods" of development, in which the organism must meet with an appropriate response from the environment in order to actualize the archetype (or clueprint). Thus, an infant deprived of maternal love, if he doesn't die outright, will grow up autistic, since his intersubjectivity wasn't engaged and drawn out during the critical period. Such a person will indeed be "enclosed in his subjectivity" (or "condemned to immanence," so to speak).

Since our horizontal openness is no longer up for serious debate, the more important question is whether man is also an open system vertically -- or in other words, whether there isn't just an intersubjective mygration from our own private Idaho, but whether there is also a vertical escape-hatching of the cosmic egg.

Here again, it would appear that this goes to the subject-object complementarity alluded to at the top of this post. For man's unique form of subjectivity includes "the gift of objectivity." Or at least we hope it does. If it doesn't, then there is nothing really to discuss, since we are just arguing over whose fog is better, with no reference to what is behind or above it.

Now, one of the mind parasites that corrupts leftism is the notion that truth is a function of class, or race, or economics, or some other subjective quality that is less than truth -- that "the background determines the thought and takes precedence over truth" (Schuon). If this is true, then it must always be true, so we are again hopelessly enclosed in subjectivity.

Thus, another kind of objectivity comes to the rescue, AKA power and violence. This becomes a literal object, e.g., a gun to the face, a boot on the neck, a tax on existing, etc. It is a truism that any philosophy that denies truth affirms violence. There is no question as to the "legitimacy" of the violence, because that goes to a truth that is humanly unknowable.

To put it another way, to deny objective truth is to give oneself permission to plunge into passion, which again defines leftist man. Machiavelli was apparently the first fellow with balls enough to come right out and say that politics involves only effective truth, which is to affirm the principle that might makes right.

Where would leftists be without this unprincipled principle? They would not only be freed from their own horizontal prison, but would no longer feel compelled to force the rest of us into it.

To be continued...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Atheism and Other Autoimmune Disorders of Language

We are on the topic of Cosmic Fundamentals, trying to dig down to the foundation of existence.

That we are attempting to do so with words must tell us something fundamental. For either language is fundamental or it is not; if it isn't, then we're kind of stuck, since it means that our primary tool of thought isn't up to the task -- like shaving with a hammer or trying to bite a wall.

But if language can get the job done, well then, that bloody well says something special about language, doesn't it? Which is one reason I'm always surprised that the intemperate tools among us can make such sweeping statements that nullify the significance of language.

To cite the most obvious example, to say definitively -- which is to say absolutely -- that there is no God is to implicitly affirm that human language is adequate to ultimate reality. Which is a roundabout way of saying that we in are the image of the Creator. Thus, intelligence makes itself into a god instead of pointing beyond itself to its own source and destiny.

We don't make anything like that grandiose a claim. Rather, for us language can only point toward ultimate truth, not be identical with it. For language comes from the Source, so it can never contain it (one cannot be contained by one's content; well, one can, but that is what we call psycho- or pneumapathology).

Alternatively, if language simply comes "from below," from earth-matter, how could it ever presume to reach beyond itself to the ultimate signified? Besides, how would it know when it had reached it? By what criteria?

Thus, we can all agree that "relativism reduces every element of absoluteness to relativity while making a completely illogical exception in favor of this reduction itself.... [I]ts initial absurdity lies in the implicit claim to be unique in escaping, as if by enchantment, from a relativity that is declared to be the only possibility" (Schuon).

There is always a level of faith and a degree of assent -- i.e., will -- involved in truth. We hear something and say to ourselves, "ah, that's good enough." Truth itself is not sufficient to convince -- or convict -- us. Rather, we must assent to it, and assent comes from the will, which is free. We are always free to reject truth, hence our dignity. Everyone in hell is quite dignified. Or proud, rather.

Schuon expresses it well in Logic and Transcendence, distinguishing between truth and its realization, which amounts to form and substance (or letter and spirit, doctrine and lower-case gnosis). Adequate proofs of God surely exist, but they nevertheless require our assent. If they didn't, then again, we wouldn't be free, so freedom is prior to truth. In the absence of freedom, the thing we call "truth" couldn't exist, since there could be no space between knower and known.

There is no way to prove anything to a person with "omnipotent doubt," so to speak. Since most science is inductive, the sophist can always conceive of exceptions. And where it is deductive, one can always claim that its first principles aren't justified.

For Schuon, a proof on the spiritual plane "is of assistance only to the man who wishes to understand and who, because of this wish, has in some measure understood already." Conversely, "it is of no practical use to one who, deep in his heart, does not want to change his position and whose philosophy merely expresses this desire."

There it is again: will. Instead of conforming the will to truth, such a person conforms it to his desire. Or in other words, reality is the precipitate of how one wishes things to be, not how they are.

As Robert Kennedy put it, "There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?" We will never know if he was conscious of plagiarizing the Serpent in G.B. Shaw's Back To Methuselah, but he was expressing the fundamental credo of the left.

Think of how language is corrupted in our postmodern world. Indeed, postmodernism itself is an attack on language by language, hence, a spiritual autoimmune disorder.

And when we say "corrupted," we mean something similar to what happens when when one's hard drive is corrupted. When this happens, it is as if the computer is behaving willfully and simply refuses to cooperate.

It is no different than when a person is corrupted by a mind parasite -- for example, the notion that constitutional conservatives are inherently racist. Once one has assented to such a lie, there is no escape back to reality.

A proof of God is not God, but rather, merely points to him. One still has to look, and not just sniff my finger. For Schuon, it is "a key or symbol, a means of drawing back a veil rather than of giving light. It is not by itself a leap out of ignorance and into knowledge."

Indeed, one might think of it as permission to take the leap. But nothing liberates us from the obligation to leave our bogus certainty below and to plunge into the great unKnown, "for it is impossible to to prove the Absolute outside itself" (ibid.).

The rationalism of a frog living at the bottom of a well is to deny the existence of mountains: perhaps this is 'logic,' but it has nothing to do with reality. --Schuon

Theme Song

Theme Song