Friday, July 17, 2015

God Save Us from the Lovers of Humanity

In order for good to flourish, freedom is required. Conversely, in order for evil to be really productive, it needs a state.

This occurred to me while rereading Williamson's PIG to Socialism. I don't recall ever hearing it put that way, but I doubt I'm the first to notice.

After all, more death and misery have been caused by the state than all other unnatural causes combined. On the other hand, goodness cannot be coerced in a top-down manner. Rather, it can only be permitted, encouraged, and modeled.

And even then, it is never really secure unless and until it is loved for its own sake, and the state certainly cannot compel love. It can punish failure to love -- as in the IRS harassment of conservatives -- but that's not quite the same.

A long time ago -- well, ten years ago, to be precise -- I decided to conduct an experiment in childrearing, whereby I would teach the boy to love the good rather than, say, just punish the bad and make him fear the punishment.

One can encourage a well-behaved child via the alternative modes of positive punishment, negative reinforcement, or negative punishment, but those won't necessarily send down deep roots. Plus, they're going to create resentments, temptations, compulsions, and sometimes even perversions -- as in those Christian ministers caught with the S & M hookers or gay escorts.

To the extent that these fellows were "good," it was rather brittle, to put it mildly. The bad was simply banished to the shadows, where it took on a secret life and was nourished by hidden springs, which can foster a kind of longing for the dark side.

How to bring about a robust goodness? That's the question.

But why is this the question this morning? I'm not even awake yet, and I didn't intend for the post to veer off in this direction. Rather, it started with an innocent comment about how socialism interferes with moral development, and now I am forced to think things through from the ground up. It's not fair!

Let's start with what is close at hand. I marvel at what a good person my son is. What I mean is, I see evidence of his spontaneous goodness all the time. He is a much better person than I was at 10. I was by no means a bad person, but if I'm really honest, part of this was because I was simply afraid to be bad. That's what I mean about temptation. I might have been worse if I weren't such a coward.

Part of me admired the naughty boys, but my son isn't like that at all. Rather, he strikes me as "courageously good." He would be willing to be mocked for his goodness, whereas I would have been much more likely to cave under peer pressure. In contrast, he is irked and repelled by jerks and pseudo-rebels. There's no attraction at all.

So far, anyway. For two years running he's won the "people of faith" award -- whatever that is -- in his school by simply doing what comes spontaneously. He is not remotely repressed. To the contrary, full of life.

It very much reminds me of something Harvey Mansfield said in his Manliness: that in order to be a gentleman, one must first be a man. Otherwise you're just a gentlewimp. And the gentlewimp is often just a mask of the barbarian, as in Obama and his ilk. Poke the wimp, and out comes the cloven hoof, as when that reporter spoiled the party by pointing out that Iran is still holding kidnapped Americans.

I can't say that I came up with the parenting strategy on my own. Rather, I first got the brainwave from Schuon, although I applied it to parenting. Let's see if I can dig out some examples. His pithiest book is Echoes of Perennial Wisdom, and there's a little bit of everything in there, from cosmology to ethics, in concentrated form.

"Love of God is firstly the attachment of the intelligence to the Truth, then attachment of the will to the Good, and finally the attachment of the soul to the Peace that is given by the Truth and the Good."

Here again, there is nothing negative, repressive, or punitive in this. Rather, it starts with loving truth, and who doesn't want to be in love? And when one is in love, certain behaviors follow spontaneously, such as not wanting to do things that damage the love relationship.

It reminds me of how private property spontaneously encourages responsible behavior, because -- as alluded to in yesterday's post -- one is going to be much more careful with one's own property and money than with Other People's Moolah. Thus, the state must always struggle against a built-in moral hazard. Except it doesn't put up much of a struggle.

Likewise, to realize one "belongs to God," and vice versa, in a love relationship, triggers all sorts of consequences. "Wisdom begins with fear of God."

Am I afraid of God? Yes, in the same way I'm afraid of my wife, in the sense that I wouldn't want to do anything to damage the relationship. It's a figure of speech, but then again, there is obvious truth to it. You could say that bodily wisdom begins with fear of gravity, or of fire. It doesn't mean it ends there. ("[T]he integral attitude of man before God" is "made of reverential Fear and confident Love.... for the absence of fear is a lack of self-knowledge.")

We're rambling again, aren't we? If so, it can't be helped. Rambling is how you get to a point you don't yet know. If you already knew it, you'd get straight to it, wouldn't you? See Oakley for details.

"Virtue consists in allowing free passage, in the soul, to the Beauty of God." Thus, "To give oneself to God is to give God to the world." So it's a win-Godwin.

Here is an example of a temptation or snare alluded to above, in that "Virtue cut off from God becomes pride, as beauty cut off from God becomes idol..."

This is why the Good and True must be loved for their own sake, not for any secondary gain. But in so doing, "the repercussions are incalculable." In fact, it works both ways: either love truth or deny truth, but there will be no end to the trouble.

Ah, here we go: "Do not believe that 'it is I who am the virtue'; do not personalize it. The humble man is attached to virtue as such, and consequently to the sentiment that all virtue comes from God and belongs to God."

Which is why "At the bottom of all the vices is found pride..." Therefore, at the bottom of the virtues must be humility. Pride cometh before afall, humility before arise.

Another good one: "Every man loves to live in light and in fresh air; no one loves to be enclosed in a gloomy, airless tower. It is thus that one ought to love the virtues; and it is thus that one ought to hate the vices."

And "If we want truth to live in us, we must live in it."

Nothing good in man is of any value if detached from God. Likewise, love of man is monstrous if not a prolongation and consequence of the love of God. God save us from the lovers of humanity!

[W]ithout a good character -- one that is normal and consequently noble -- intelligence, even if metaphysical, is largely ineffective.

So, Let the world be what it is and take refuge in Truth, Peace, and Beauty, wherein is neither doubt nor any blemish.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Risk-Aversion is a Wreckless Gamble

In Kevin Williamson's highly insultaining Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, he buries his axiom into the heart of the left with the following blow: "State control is more important to the socialist than egalitarianism."

As anyone above the political age of seven understands, egalitarian rhetoric is simply the means to an authoritarian end. Even if the compassionate socialist consciously wishes to avoid that end, it is nevertheless inevitable, because Man.

To be a socialist is to not know what Man is. For which reason it is vital to be ignorant of history, psychology, and anthropology (and the anticipatory wisdom of these embedded in religious mythology and metaphysics).

The free market is a means of transforming self-interest into collective benefits, while socialism is a means of transforming the public interest into private benefits. Or maybe you think Charlie Rangel, the Clintons, Harry Reid, Al Gore, et al, are just brilliant businessmen.

In the same book, Williamson says "the laws of economics can no more be set aside than the laws of physics and biology"; and this is precisely what we've been discussing these last several posts: that there exists economic truth, and that this truth must relate to other truths and ultimately to Truth as such. Which is why we need a word for this multi-undisciplinary approach. Perhaps economystics.

Which needs to be distinguished from the vulgar economystagoguery of the left. What the left doesn't understand is that the free market is already magic. You can't force it to be more magic without inevitably making it less so.

Greece, for example, has spent the last several decades trying to overcome the laws of economics, and to squeeze more magic out of the economy than there is in it. Why?

It must go back to what we were saying yesterday about envy and greed. No matter how much prosperity is generated by the free market, man can always imagine more. But as Socrates said, the unexamined loan is not worth leveraging.

If the free market is the goose that lays golden eggs, it is as if the leftist force-feeds it steroids and fertility drugs while dining out on all the future omelets. Meanwhile the goose just gets sicker and sicker. Obama should be arrested on charges of animal cruelty, for he is flipping a feeble bird to the next president.

Are we rambling again? Perhaps. The wife and child just left to visit relatives in New York, and I might be feeling a little giddy. It's not like I won't miss them, but I do have the house to myself for the next few days. What's that like? I forget. But it's starting to come back to me. It's like... the hills are alive. Only this time in a good way.

Here's an example of a corollary of Williamson's Law: "A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And [the Founders] knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose" (some guy named Reagan, in Williamson).

So, let me get this straight: some guy named Obama is holding a gun to my head and telling me to shut the fuck up if I know what's good for me. Isn't that something gangsters do? In the movies?

Here's a politically incorrect thought: the free market is all about risk. The successful entrepreneur turns risk into profits. As such, "Highly risk-averse people do not start businesses."

What do they do -- or not do and call it doing -- instead? Well, at the extreme end, they get government jobs. They get tenure. They join public employee unions. Those are as far from risk as it is possible to be, for these privileged parasites enjoy all the benefits with no exposure to risk (unless their greed ends up killing the host, as in Greece).

After all, they're living off Other People's Money, so there is no incentive to use it wisely. Under normal circumstances, money teaches us how to use it, but only if it is our money. One learns nothing by spending someone else's money.

In fact, Williamson tosses in a little economic homily by Milton Friedman, who says there are four ways to spend money, each with very different built-in incentives. To summarize, you can spend your own money on yourself; your own money one someone else; someone else's money on yourself; or someone else's money on somebody else.

This outlines four degrees of personal responsibility in descending order. In the first case you're going to be very responsible with your money (unless you're stupid or impulsive or insane), whereas in the last case you have zero incentive to be responsible. Indeed, you can even call yourself charitable and magnanimous at no personal cost. What a beautiful racket!

And guess what: "that's government. And that's close to 40 percent of our national income" (Friedman).

About that beautiful racket, I was reading an article this morning about Hillary's unpopularity, which includes this cranial-slapper: "Most troubling, perhaps, for her prospects are questions about her compassion for average Americans, a quality that fueled President Barack Obama's two White House victories."

Note how the writers -- "journalsts" -- refer to it as an objective quality in him instead of a perception in the eagerly 'bamaboozled mob. Obama's compassion fueled two White House victories? Is that what you call being profligate with other people's money?

Yes. For anyone left of normal.

Back to the idea of risk-aversion. What is the left but a massive institutionalized wish to avoid risk? Now, it is a biologically incorrect truism that girls are more risk-averse than boys.

Which is why, on balance, little girls grow up to be big Democrats, and why Hillary thinks she can be the first person to become president by waging a campaign targeted solely at the dickless of both sexes. It worked for Obama. He lost the white male vote by a glandslide, but it didn't matter.

So, what have we learned today? Not much. Probably just this:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

One Small Step for Progressives, One Giant Leap Backward for Mankind

I guess I don't have time for an all new post. However, I do have time to add new material to an old post that also happens to be related to what we've been discussing anyway. It came to my attention via a tweet from someone who claimed it changed his life or something. He didn't give any details, but it sounded like he meant it in a good way. I'm going to review it very carefully to see if I can detect any basis for his extravagant witness, or whether it's just the standard coonchow. New commentary is either within brackets or preceded by double dashes.

As anyone who has read the bʘʘk knows, there’s not much politics in it -- at least nothing explicit. Regarding economics, I can only think of a single paragraph. And yet, it’s probably all you need to know about economics. On page 149 it reads,

“For millennia -- until quite recently -- human beings struggled to rise above subsistence because of a stubborn inability to recognize how wealth is created. Certainly into the late 18th century, people mistakenly believed that there was simply a fixed amount of wealth in the world, and that it was left to individuals and governments to fight over their share. Not until Adam Smith was it recognized that wealth can grow without limits, but obviously even now people have a hard time wrapping their minds around this idea.”

--In fact, Sowell says this is one of the four fallacies that bedevil economic -- or better, uneconomic -- thinking, the zero-sum fallacy. Why is this fallacy so persistent? Why is it so impervious to logical and especially empirical evidence? The answer may surprise you!

In my view, one of the central mechanisms that kept mankind in its rut of subsistence was the expression of constitutional envy ["constitutional envy" is a psychoanalytic term of art, essentially meaning inborn]. In past posts I have theorized that envy was actually selected by evolution because humans evolved in small groups where it functioned to create harmony between members.

Humans were group animals long before they ever became individuals. Like an anthill or beehive the group was the unit of survival, not the individual. Individuation is a very recent historical phenomenon [c.f. Inventing the Individual], at least on any kind of widespread scale. It is accompanied by a new type of mental disturbance, the neurosis, which is a “private culture,” so to speak. Conversely, cultural envy is like a public neurosis.

--For Klein, envy is innate; it is an attack on the good object because of its goodness; it is triggered by an intolerable awareness of being separate from the good object. Therefore, if I can't have it, no one can -- that is, I will destroy the good so as to eliminate my painful envy (which all occurs in unconscious fantasy). Think of an extreme case, such as Hitler. When it became increasingly evident that Germany would lose the war, he expressed an explicit desire to see Germany destroyed, because it had proved itself unworthy of him.

The further back in history we travel, the less individual neurosis we see. Instead, the whole group is nuts. But from the standpoint of the group, the “nut” is the one who will not or cannot conform to the crazy group -- like that decent Muslim who was kicked out of his mosque in Omaha last week for writing an editorial that was critical of Islam. To us, he is “sane,” but to his primitive co-religionists he is a “crazy” or “evil” apostate.

You see similar phenomena in other primitive groups such as the progressive nutroots vis-à-vis their treatment of Joe Lieberman. Here is a fellow who had a near perfect liberal voting record, but he took one forward step outside the closed circle of the liberal hivemind, so he was banished. [And now all it takes is a single stray joke.]

To further quote myself -- I’m almost done -- “One of the things that makes the creation of wealth possible is the accumulation of surplus capital to invest, but here again, for most of human history this was quite difficult to accomplish because of envious mind parasites that could not tolerate the idea of one person possessing more than another.” Thus, envy is "one of the psychological barriers to material development that humans have struggled to overcome.”

The tenured persist in their delusion that primitive groups were egalitarian and that their members got along beautifully. Actually, the opposite is true. Because of completely unregulated envy, individuals would rather part with their possessions than to live with the anxiety of the envious “evil eye” being directed at them. Thus, primitive groups are not envious because they are primitive, but primitive because they are envious.

--Note also how the left transforms its own envy into projected greed. Just the other day a commenter claimed that the "dominant conservative wealthy capitalists... show an utter lack of civic interest, hostility to the very ideas of democracy and human rights, love of hierarchy, fear of technology and progress, reliance on military and force to maintain 'order,' and with no concern of inequality, as if it were an order divinely ordained by God. Elites who dare to argue for increased investment in the common good, infrastructure, and believe that we should lay the groundwork for a better future, are regarded as just silly and soft-headed."

--It is quite impossible -- or pointless, anyway-- to respond to a fantasy, or to argue with a hallucination. "Conservative capitalists talk about 'losing liberty,' the loss of the ability to dominate the people and property under their control -- and, worse, the loss of status and the resulting risk of being held accountable for laws and taxes that they were once exempt from -- is what they're really talking about. Anything that gives more freedom, benefits, and rights to lower-status people can't help but viewed as a loss of capital and limiting the freedom of the wealthy to use the working class as they please. These type of wealthy conservative capitalists have come to dominate present day America."

--What an eery way to live, imagining oneself to be controlled and dominated by one's own projections.

Which brings up a fascinating irony about so-called progressives. Now, it is a truism that progressives are not just ignorant of economics, but that they confidently embrace and promulgate what can only be called economic innumeracy. Why is this? How can people be so confidently and yet demonstrably wrong?

Comes now an article forwarded to me by reader Brian that breaks it all down for One Cosmonauts. Entitled The Economy Revealed: Why Understanding Economics is Hard [link no longer linking], the article reveals.... why understanding economics is hard: “It's not because of complexity. The rules of supply and demand aren't inherently more difficult to fathom than those that apply to, say, politics, or cooking, or sports. Yet while most people have no trouble wrapping their brains around these subjects... few have a similar appetite for economics.”

Cassell refers to a theory by anthropologist Alan Fiske, to the effect that the deep structure of human relations involves only four kinds of interactions which he calls 1) communal sharing, 2) equality matching, 3) authority ranking, and 4) market pricing:

“Communal sharing is how you treat your immediate family: All for one and one for all. Or as Marx put it: From each according to ability, to each according to need.

“Equality matching, by contrast, means we all take turns. From kindergarten to the town meeting, it's all about fair shares, reciprocity, doing your part.

“Authority ranking is how tribes function, not to mention armies, corporations and governments. Know your place, obey orders, and hail to the chief.

“Market pricing, of course, is the basis of economics. It's what we do whenever we weigh costs and benefits, trade up (or down), save or invest.”

Economic conflicts arise when one group or person is operating under a different type of interaction than another. For example, if you are a primitive progressive operating under the aegis of small group “communal sharing,” you may well believe that college, healthcare, housing, infertility treatment, counter-fertility treatment (abortion), tattoos, tattoo removal, and gender reassignment surgery should all be granted to you by the government free of charge.

The problem -- as I touched on in the book -- is that the primitive progressive is operating under an economic theory that is not so much cognitive as genetic. In a way, it’s deeper than thought, since it was programmed into us for survival in small groups (obviously, natural selection did not anticipate a high tech, competitive, free market global economy). Thus, Fiske confirms my speculation that the logic of market pricing was a very late development which is not at all “hard wired” -- and even goes against our genetic programming.

Cassell agrees that this “makes sense. For hunter-gatherers in small bands, sharing, matching and ranking were probably as fundamental to survival as eating and breeding. But market pricing involves complex choices based on mathematical ratios.... Commerce and global trade, of course, require a finely honed version of the market-pricing model. But if humans developed this model relatively late, it might well be less than universal, even today.”

The money money quote:

"In other words, to have an intuitive grasp of economics, you might just need to take a step or two up the evolutionary ladder."

Ho! Progressives need to stop living in the genetic past and evolve into the post-biological world of economic abundance.

In short, to cure oneself of progressivism, one must grow and evolve. This is exactly the problem we are facing in the Islamic world, for if we cannot even lift our own tragically backward progressives out of economic magic and superstition, imagine the difficulty of doing so with an explicitly tribal and authoritarian mindset. Imagine flying over dailykos headquarters and dropping thousands of copies of the works of Friedman or Hayek. Would it help? Probably not. Genes are powerful things.

Brian emailed me a related article, Progressives Come Out! Against Progress! It too reaffirms what I wrote in the book. Like me, the author once thought of freedom "as being something that people... naturally want, which accounts for my tendency to dismiss Marxism and socialism as abnormal systems which have to be imposed by external authorities (generally called 'the government') upon people who only desire to be Left Alone.” But there exist billions of people "who find the idea of being left alone to be culturally repugnant.”

“Even now, the word ‘progressive’ is often used in praise of backward economic systems.... If we use the evolutionary model, I wonder whether the emotional appeal of Communism might have represented an evolutionary step backwards, repackaged rhetorically so that its proponents could pat themselves on the back and maintain they were moving forward.”

Ya think?

The author brings up the recent example of a student who had applied to MIT with a perfect SAT score of 2400. Nevertheless, an admissions expert was quoted as saying that “I am not convinced she's a shoo-in -- I'd want to see more evidence that she's giving back to the community."

The author acknowledges that the communal sharing mindset naturally has its place. "But to inject the idea of ‘giving back’ in the case of a person whose obvious merit has been earned is another example of human progress being attacked by backward thinking primitivism -- smugly masquerading as modern sophistication. Progressives who place primitive principles first tend to be consumed by childish notions of what is ‘fair’ -- which they cannot keep to themselves, but which they must project onto other people. In their minds, success in anything (even at math) means ‘taking’ from someone else.”

From there, it is but “a small step from saying that a person should ‘give back’ to saying that ‘we’ should ‘take it back’ from him.”

Yup, if the most advanced people "are those with a concept of market economics, one of the great tragedies of the modern age has been their systematic destruction by less progressive people who call themselves the most progressive.... I'm wondering whether there might be a basic, persistent inability to distinguish forward from backward. I used to think that ‘progressives’ imagined themselves to be forward in their thinking, but I'm now thinking that ‘scientific Marxism' might have been grounded in an unacknowledged need for primitivism.”

Would this explain how leftist economic theory functions as a sort of seductive door through which all sorts of other barbarisms rush in? To put the answer in the form of a bumper snicker, “Come for equality, stay for the tyranny.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Science of the Anti-Scientific Left

Just once I'd like to see Obama treat our enemies -- the enemies of mankind -- the way he does Israel, Christians, traditional Americans, conservatives, etc. -- you know, the noble benefactors of mankind.

One can only assume -- I know, no shit, genius -- that he regards us as the real enemy. Since his world is inverted in every other way, it should come as no surprise that it is morally inverted as well.

(I'm not just thinking of the Iran deal, but the new federal assault on the suburbs, the totalitarian policy of forcing racial division into our neighborhoods. Now, only extremely wealthy people such as the Obamas will be able to afford living in a place free of diversity.)

People have called Obama a sociopath, but a sociopath -- a person with no morals -- would actually be preferable to one with an inverted morality, or with a hypertrophied sense of moral righteousness directed at the wrong objects, an attitude which combines the worst of both worlds. Give me an amoral Clinton any day.

We've discussed this in the past -- the distant past, in fact, as it is one of our cosmic touchstones. Others have analyzed the same phenomenon in different ways, but I first encountered it in Polanyi's The Logic of Liberty. Up to then, I didn't even know that Polanyi had delved into politics.

Rather, I knew him only as a philosopher of science. Interestingly, when I first began reading Polanyi -- must have been in the early '80s -- I was still a liberal. Had I known about his political ideas, it might well have turned me away from the rest. So God spared me the deeper truth until I was mature enough to handle it.

But as I believe we are about to see, his whole philosophy is of a piece, such that the science, economics, anthropology, epistemology, and politics cannot be separated. Furthermore, I have a feeling that this all relates to what we've been doing vis-a-vis Sowell, that is, relating economic truth to deeper metacosmic truths, or to Truth as such.

From the foreword of Logic and Liberty: "What Polanyi finds peculiar about totalitarianism is that despite its rejection of transcendent reality, it exhibits a high degree of moral passion. This passion, however, is not a mark of honor -- instead, it is a mark of dishonor." (Think, for example, of the moral passion of Reverend Wright, or Al Sharpton, or V.I. Lenin.)

"Polanyi argues that the moral passions that in fact can animate totalitarianism -- and also some of the less virulent strains of human folly -- have become unhinged from any reality that could constrain them. Here we have moral passion without moral judgment." Here we have Obama.

In this scenario, "a 'moral inversion' has occurred: moral passion now invokes any means, however grotesque and immoral, to satisfy its longings. Under this guise, moral passion serves rather than spurns" the immoral cause. Genocide to follow.

Fascism has been called the violent rejection of transcendence. Given the grossly asymmetrical power relation between the state and the individual, one would have to call Obama a fascist, whatever ideology he clothes it in.

When he cannot find a legal way to assert the state's dominance, as in the race-based assault on the suburbs, he finds an extra-legal way to do so, as in the IRS harassment of conservatives or in encouraging and condoning racial resentment and violence (not to mention hatred of legitimate law enforcement).

In the margin I have a note to myself: "Left: materialistic rejection of realities on which public liberty rests -- truth, justice, equality under law, etc."

That's another way of saying the same thing, i.e., that materialism isn't just a passive "acceptance" of matter but a violent rejection of spirit. It explains how they put the fist into pacifist, whether it involves Obamacare, Israel, the redefinition of marriage, the barbarian invasion of the suburbs, whatever. None of those have anything to do with liberty -- and therefore liberalism.

As mentioned above, I first encountered Polanyi as a philosopher of science. One might say he analyzed the Science of science, or the structure of meta-science. His philosophy answers the question of what we are actually doing when we are doing this thing called science. Note that the emphasis is on the doing, in that it is a free and spontaneous activity long before it is an ideology (i.e., scientism).

Here we see the obvious link to economics because, like economics, science is a spontaneous order resulting "from the interplay of individuals mutually adjusting their actions to the actions of others. Spontaneous orders are the result of human action but not of human design."

It is no coincidence that both science and free markets developed only in the west, because they are two sides of the same metaphysic. Science develops with no one in charge for the same reason there is enough bread for everyone with no bureaucrat telling bakers how much to produce.

In short, there is an invisible hand at work in both domains. And this is what distinguishes the liberal from the libertarian, in that the Scientific Hand only works because there is a nonlocal order for it to grasp:

"... [F]or there to be a scientific order something more is needed -- a channeling 'device' through which the diverse actions of scientists are coordinated. This 'device' is the goal, or end, of science, and Polanyi" -- naive man that he was -- "identifies this end as the pursuit of truth. For Polanyi, it is in the belief in the transcendent reality of truth that science has its extraordinary character as an intellectual system."

When science is corrupted there is top-down interference with the system, a violent forcing of order, as in how climate scientists manipulate data so as to save the theory, or how the state manipulates economic data to benefit itself.

What especially distinguishes classical liberalism from the left is the question of real freedom vs. mere horizontal openness. Yesterday we noted the truism that freedom, in the absence of a telos, reduces to nihilism. Polanyi "champions a free society and not an 'open' one," because the free society is 'dedicated to a distinctive set of beliefs,' namely, belief in the transcendent realities of truth, justice, charity, and toleration." The open society, in contrast, redounds to the tyranny of relativism.

Just as the left must undermine freedom, it must undermine science. For the left, certain beliefs must be true, which shows how a counterfeit transcendence actually reenters through the side door via political and academic correctness. Science is thoroughly corrupted, since certain scientific truths are simply impermissible. Even looking into them will get you into trouble and certainly prevent tenure.

But the central pattern of this corruption is the top-down imposition of order, which always destroys information. To take an obvious example, "rent control" destroys information regarding the supply and demand of rental property, just as Obamacare destroys vital information about the real cost of medical services. What does an apartment in San Francisco or New York "really" cost? No one knows, because the left outlaws the knowledge.

"All movements of thought and practice that attempt to render spontaneous orders nugatory -- that are captured by the idea that all social order either is or should be planned -- also threaten public liberty and, thus, threaten the fabric of a free society."

And a free society is only a good society because it is "animated by a belief in transcendent realities" and because its citizens are free to pursue them.

We'll leave off with some aphorisms, in a step-wise lowerarchy of leftwing horror:

None of the high points of history has been planned.

Elections decide who may be oppressed legally.

Leveling [equality] is the barbarian's substitute for [spontaneous] order.

The devil can achieve nothing great without the careless collaboration of the virtues.

And Hell is the place where man finds all his plans realized (Dávila).

Iran always says we're the Great Satan. Before Obama came along, I didn't really understand what they meant.

Monday, July 13, 2015

It's About Time

We've been discussing the economics of spirit, which revolves around two intertwined principles, 1) that our life is a scarce thing -- there's only one -- and 2) that our lives have alternative uses -- especially under conditions of freedom, in which we are confronted with an infinitude of alternatives as to how to spend -- or squander -- our lives.

Thus, in a free society there is a somewhat paradoxical combination of finitude -- our lifespan -- and infinitude -- or what we might call "lifebreadth," i.e., the overwhelming number of uses to which we may put our lives: so little time, so many choices.

Which goes to why freedom is not, and has never been, especially popular. That is, it exposes us to the infinitude referenced above, and in the absence of a telos, infinitude equates to nothing.

This is necessarily so: in a horizontal world, choice is either determined or arbitrary. To the extent that it is free, there is no intrinsic reason to choose this over that. Rather, there is will and there is power. Or just say leftism.

In this counter-cosmic view, the fact that we can choose most "anything" renders us nothing; unlike all other animals, we have no fixed nature or essence. Therefore, man is a freak of nature, in that he is the animal whose essence is no essence, AKA nothingness. (I've just spared you the burden of reading Sartre's Being and Nothingness. You're welcome.)

But in the real world, freedom is not arbitrary. It is not here "by accident." It is not a freakish mistake of nature, but rather, its freaking purpose.

If we go back to our civilizational uber (or better, unter) text, Genesis, we see that the Creator spends five days creating the world of necessity, while on the sixth day he creates the being of freedom, AKA man.

However, on the seventh day we dwell in the meaning of that freedom; on it you shall do no work, i.e., the necessary things, but rather, focus on the unnecessary, the non-utilitarian, the horizontally pointless: being as opposed to doing; receptivity over activity.

Con-templation relates to being in a space of observation, a temple; or, a temple is a vertical observatory in which the created good converges upon the uncreated good.

Allegorically speaking, of course. One can enter the temple at any time, not just Saturday or Sunday. We all have a key to the door that opens onto the luminous and noble peace of the desert (Dávila).

Along these lines, Pieper notes that animals are not capable of happiness -- contentment maybe, or satiety. Happiness is a -- the? -- human category, for which reason we need to mark it off from mere animal contentment.

I mean, there's nothing wrong with pleasing your monkey, but as Dávila reminds us, It is impossible to convince the fool that there are pleasures superior to those we share with the rest of the animals.

It seems we are granted the power to make ourselves unhappy, but not to make ourselves happy. In other words, although all men want happiness, it is not something we can simply will into existence. If we could, then everyone would be happy, and there would be no liberals. And happier still because there would be no liberals ruining everybody's lives and eating all our steak.

This alone should alert us to our irreducible dependence, since the one thing we are born wanting most of all is annoyingly outside our control. Or in other words, in the absence of God we can truly say that happiness exists, and you can't get there from here. For happiness is never just "satiation of the will," or Hillary Clinton's eyes wouldn't look so dead.

In a purely horizontal world, the desire for happiness would be like an ineradicable itch we are powerless to scratch. For the will strives for happiness "by necessity," and yet, cannot reach it -- like those Buddhist demons with enormous appetites and pinprick mouths.

It seems to me that this in-built desire for happiness speaks to our trinitarian nature, because it means we are born with this desire for a relationship to the transcendent other. If happiness were simply a given, then we would be self-sufficient, and not motivated to seek it beyond the horizon of the self.

Remember what we said about prices being messages about supply and demand, but how the left prefers to shoot the messenger? "Price" occurs at the confluence of scarcity and desire. But the desire for happiness is rooted in a desire for the boundless, so again, it cannot be satisfied if it isn't directed toward its proper end and object.

Really, it's no different than the intellect, which also cannot find its measure in the world, but rather, is conformed to the Absolute-Infinite beyond this world.

So, today's bottom lines:

Liberty is not an end, but a means. Whoever mistakes it for an end does not know what to do with it once he attains it (Dávila).


The brevity of life does not distress us when instead of fixing goals for ourselves we fix routes (ibid.).

In other words, don't waste your scarce time trying to draw your own map from scratch, but ask for directions to the nearest faraway place.