Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Generic Rant on What's Wrong with the World

The cause of the modern sickness is the conviction that man can cure himself.

The conservative is a simple pathologist. He defines sickness and health. But God is the only therapist. --Dávila

"At the beginning of this century," writes Schuon (referring to the 20th), "hardly anyone knew that the world is ill" (emphasis mine because it always is, more or less). Indeed, the half century or so prior to World War I was probably Peak Progress in terms of a quasi-religious outlook shared by most people in the developed world.

In the words of the Aphorist, Two hundred years ago it was permissible to trust in the future without being totally stupid. A big reason one has to be totally stupid to be a progressive today is that this -- the world we are living in -- is the splendid future brought to us courtesy of previous progressives -- the New Deal, the Great Society, the Obama Change, etc. The bill adds up.

Consider just someone unfortunate enough to be living in Chicago, whose last Republican mayor was elected in 1927. The forty or fifty or sixty people who are shot there every weekend can take solace in the fact that they are living the dream -- the progressive dream brought to fruition by 87 years of Democrat rule.

The left never expresses any appreciation for the world it has created (or unleashed upon us). Instead, we only hear more complaints. The complaints are valid, in the sense that there is indeed something wrong with the world. It's just that the left goes about it in a way that is backwards and upside down. In other words, they confuse symptoms with causes, and treatment with the disease.

By the way, how do we know there is something wrong with the world? Easy. All you need to do is know yourself to know the source of the trouble. D'oh! Which excludes the left, being that it is characterized by a lack of self-awareness, which in turn fuels what we in the psychology racket call "acting out" (and to which they apply the euphemism "activist"; most activists simply transform and externalize personal conflicts into political ones).

Everyone on the left knows the world is ill, except they have a secular explanation -- patriarchy, white privilege, homophobia, "structural racism," the greed of the "one percent," etc. It never occurs to them that our problems might be a consequence of human nature, and that to simply put left wing humans in positions of power solves nothing (see the Congressional Black Caucus for details).

The moral inversion of the left is interesting, in that it incoherently combines a passionate amorality with a punitive moralism. As Bork writes, "While defining deviancy down with respect to crime, illegitimacy, drug use, and the like, our cultural elites are growing intensely moralistic and disapproving about what had always been thought normal behavior..."

Thus, they combine an absence of judgment with unhinged judgmentalism -- or outward tolerance with an inward intolerance that we call totolerantarianism. Our universities are quintessentially totolerantarian, an absurd miasma of no standards and punitive ones.

The upshot is a paradoxical upward and downward redefinition of norms. Which is an inversion of the Christian tradition of tolerance, which is to condemn the sin and not the sinner. With this latter approach, we can preserve our norm while being merciful to the person who violates it. But for the left, it is as if there are no absolutes, and woe to the person who transgresses one!

"[B]ehavior until recently thought quite normal, unremarkable, or even benign, is now identified as blameworthy or even criminal." For example, here in California, if a minor comes to me distressed and conflicted by his homosexual impulses, I am forbidden by law to help him understand them (and if the law doesn't yet apply to adults, it soon will).

When I was in graduate school in the 1980s, it was simply taken for granted that homosexuality, like anything else, had unconscious causes, nor have I had any clinical experiences since then that would cause me to reject that premise. And yet, with no debate, common sense has been outlawed.

Here's an example from a heavyweight thinker we studied back in grad school, Otto Kernberg. Thirty years ago it was permissible -- or even blasé -- to write the following:

By far the large majority of patients encountered who present casual homosexual behavior or a bisexual orientation belong to the borderline spectrum of pathology.... Put simply, we just do not find, except very rarely, male homosexuality without significant character pathology.

Note that such ideas were never disproven, not even argued against. Rather, overnight, as it were, they were simply dismissed. Now I suppose it would be labeled hate, even though he's relying on clinical experience and observation -- not to mention trying to help the patient who is in pain and conflict.

The other day I read a piece on Karl Marx's 200th birthday. Consistent with what was said above about the combination of poor judgment and harsh judmentalism, the author describes how Marx threw together a little pseudo-science and a lot of moral indignation in order to forge a "vision of a post-historical and post-political order without contradictions or conflict, one that would achieve unprecedented prosperity and a new horizon marked by 'human emancipation.'”

Again, this is what progressives have been doing in America for over a hundred years, ever since Wilson in particular. It's just that the program was repeatedly disrupted by war and depression, such that it couldn't begin to proceed unimpeded on a mass scale until the 1960s. In fact, you can easily see the roots of this in the 1950s -- of the passionate mixture of moral indignation + human emancipation.

I know, because I used to love all that stuff, from Kerouac and Ginsberg and the Beats, to Timothy Leary and Ram Dass, and on to more popularized forms of liberation that trickled into mass culture by the latter half of the 1960s, i.e., the New Age. By the time I was in college in the 1970s, hardly a norm had been left standing.

But again, while the movement comes clothed in promises of liberation, it is really about hatred, contempt, and vilification: The revolutionary does not hate because he loves but loves because he hates (Dávila). Thus,

Marx hated the world as it was. His goal was "revolution" -- not merely political revolution or "political emancipation," but a wholesale change in the order of things: the aforementioned "human emancipation."

Which would amount to what? Well, for starters it would amount to liberation from humanness. Which, conveniently, is not a problem for Marxism, since it denies human nature up front. Therefore, there is "no human nature or 'natural order of things' that needed to be respected even as one worked to promote humane and salutary change." So, in eliminating human nature, nothing has been lost but a restrictive fantasy.

Of course, in order to eliminate human nature once and for all, you'll have to eliminate a lot of humans, but that's just a matter of persistence and logistics -- of sticking to your principles despite the body count. Look at Venezuela: they won't allow reality to impinge upon Liberation. Just like the master himself, who

was not an advocate of reform, however radical. He did not work for “social justice” like a good humanitarian. Instead, he advocated something like “metaphysical rebellion” against the human condition. His humanism -- and historicism -- were distinctively inhumane and entailed something like a “gnostic” revolt against reality.

Next time you hear the promises of a leftist politician, notice how Evil promises what it cannot deliver, whereas Good delivers what it does not know how to promise (Dávila).

And remember too that The sewers of history sometimes overflow, as in our time (ibid.).


julie said...

Good delivers what it does not know how to promise

Oh, that is a good one. Just think of the culture of trust we had; nobody forced it, and it was not mandated by law. It just was, and people in large parts of the country thought nothing of leaving their doors unlocked or letting the kids wander off for hours unsupervised. That wasn't always good or wise, but mostly it was perfectly fine, and not an unreasonable way to live.

These days if your kids are seen wandering the neighborhood, you run the risk of having your family traumatized by "social" services. In many neighborhoods, it would be foolish anyway. There are pockets here and there, but mostly the trust has gone, leaving instead anxious, angry, and increasingly neurotic people ready to be triggered at any moment.

Gagdad Bob said...

Just reading in Hayek how a societal rule or custom may embody centuries of implicit knowledge of the world that no one ever consciously formulated. Only when the rule has been eliminated do we understand why it was there. You can be liberated from the rule -- e.g., from religion -- but then oppressed or enslaved by what is unleashed by the absence of the rule.

csanad said...

This one gets shared.

Pat Santy said...

You know, I don't comment here (or anywhere) very much, but you are always a joy to read.

doug saxum said...

Well hello there Dr. Sanity!

Gagdad Bob said...

I agree with Doug: hello there Dr. Sanity!