Friday, November 16, 2018

Unjust Justice, Irrational Rationalism, and Backward Evolution

Before the fire chased us out of here, we were discussing Hayek and limits of reason. I want to finish that line of thought before moving on.

One key insight is that attitudes that are necessary for maintaining harmony in personal relationships become totally dysfunctional and counter-productive when applied to the vastly larger system of which we are all tiny parts. Different level, different rules. Neosporin might work fine for a cut on the skin, but you wouldn't swallow a tube for a systemic infection. Or something like that.

However, the left totally exploits our ignorance of this principle via ceaseless appeals to values that only apply to the micro but become destructive when applied to the macro -- e.g., "social justice," "equality," "fairness," etc. As we shall see, it is literally the case that social justice is unjust -- as fairness is unfair and equality is inegalitarian. None can be accomplished or even attempted without great immorality and violence at a level to which they do not apply.

You might say that morality itself becomes immoral if applied to the wrong level. And amazingly, many religious people fall into this trap -- for example, pacifists. But the entire "Christian left" interprets the macro in terms of the micro, misapplying values and virtues that are entirely irrelevant if not destructive to our collective well-being.


[W]ith an equal, or even with a "just," distribution of the [total] product, nearly all would have much less than they have now -- for the existing world population probably not even enough to maintain its numbers. The present magnitude of the total product is a result of the inequality of its distribution... (emphasis mine).

Therefore, you can impose "justice" and "equality," but this only undercuts the mechanism whereby we produce enough to sustain the existing numbers. You'll feel good about yourself, even while watching millions suffer and die.

But that is how human beings are built. Human traits were selected in the context of small bands numbering around 25. In this context, even 100 people would get confusing. Ordering 7.6 billion is beyond inconceivable.

So, childish leftists such as Alexandria Cortez "offer us as a superior moral[ity] what is, in fact, a very inferior morality, yet alluring because they promise greater pleasure or enjoyment to people they would be unable to feed." They exploit our inner caveman with an ideology that doesn't apply to a mode of living that transcends cave living. It's why for the next week we'll be hearing all about how Native American barbarians were so virtuous, while the Americans who displaced them were (and are) so evil.

For Hayek, "The silliest sentence ever penned by a famous economist" -- this book was published before Paul Krugman came on the scene -- was from John Stuart Mill, who claimed that "once the product is there, mankind, individually or collectively, can do with it whatever it pleases." In short, the pie has been baked. It's just a matter of dividing it in a fair manner.

Which means 1) this will be your last pie, and 2) you won't get much of it, if any.

In previous posts we pointed out that a rationalism unaware of its limits immediately renders itself irrational. Likewise, a personal morality unaware of its limits renders itself immoral. And you will have noticed how the left always combines these two, i.e., omniscient rationalism and unhinged moral passion. It's why they know they are smarter and better than you are.

Socialism is always brought to us by pseudo-intellectual boors and bullies (speaking of Krugman), never the laborers who will supposedly benefit from it. Ever wonder why so many Smart People fall for leftism? "Logically, a strict rationalist or positivist is indeed bound to believe in central planning and socialism, and it is indeed quite difficult to find a positivist who is not a socialist." But by definition, we can never deliberately produce something that can only occur spontaneously. "Compulsory spontaneity" is a contradiction in terms.

For which reason, economics -- or evolution more generally -- cannot be understood prospectively, only retrospectively. If it could, then we would all be wealthy. Not to mention Supermen.

Regarding the latter, it strikes me that the whole integral movement of "conscious evolution" is another attempt to take control of something that can only occur spontaneously and that no one could ever plan -- which is why New Age folk tend to be so conspicuously unevolved and even backward. Maybe there's a conservative one in there somewhere, but I've never heard of it.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Outer Fire and Inner Light

Well, I'm back in the saddle. Meaning the house. It's still here, although I'm not sure I am, at least not totally. Hard to believe it's been a full week since the drama began to unfold. I saw smoke on the horizon at about 3:00 PM last Thursday, and knew a brushfire was heading our way.

Which is no big deal. Indeed, it's rather exciting -- like a thunderstorm or <6.5 earthquake. It happens every few years, and in the past has always blown around and past us on its way to the coast. When I left the house for work Friday morning, it looked as if we were out of harm’s way, although I was a little worried about flaming embers coming from the north. But that’s what the fire department is for, right?

Picture a horseshoe with the round edge facing north. Our little neighborhood is inside the horseshoe, and is totally surrounded by open space. The Santa Ana winds blow in a northeast-to-southwest direction. So long as the firefighters make a stand to the north, then the fire comes down either side of the horseshoe, on its way to Malibu. No problem.

And again, rather exciting, especially at night. While they say it's dangerous, I've never felt unsafe in the past. Or maybe a little -- just enough to make it exhilarating. Makes you feel alive, is what it does.

But this time the fire decided to do something a little different. That is, when it was about halfway down the eastern flank of our horseshoe, the winds shifted and it suddenly blew in a westward direction -- or in other words, directly toward us. So the fire leveled seven houses that abut the open space. For reference, we're a few houses in from the open space; I'm not good at distances, but it's maybe the distance of a football field in a straight line.

I'm envious of my neighbors who stuck it out and didn't evacuate. Must have been an awesome spectacle. It reminds me of Churchill, who, when the bombs were falling during the Battle of Britain, would scramble onto the roof to watch the show. Again, it's simultaneously horrible and exciting, and you just have to accept the ambivalence. It doesn't mean you're a sadist, or that you enjoy the prospect of suffering.

Being an evacuee is pretty much a full-time job. Even if you're temporarily settled in someplace, you're worried about what's going to happen next. I didn't pack much, since I never imagined we'd be exiled for longer than a week, but I did toss a book into my briefcase on the way out: Schuon's Logic and Transcendence, which I've read many times, and is one of his best -- one of his few that is a unified work as opposed to a collection of disparate essays.

So I had time for a Very Close reading of this coonologically foundational text. I always get something new out of it. Either that or I'm getting old, so it seems new. Or maybe Principial Truth is by its nature "new." Yes, that's it. Compare it to, say, communion. I think to myself, "surely the priest must be bored after having done this thousands of times over the past 40 years." But he never looks like he's going through the motions.

Come to think of it, I do believe that "novelty" is a kind of essential reality; as is "renewal." How is it that I wake up in the morning and the world feels renewed and therefore novel? It's always the same-old same-old, and yet, new and different.

Part of it has to do with the nature of life, for what is Life itself but sameness-within-difference, or difference-within-sameness? I remember Rudolf Steiner writing about this. Let me see if I can dig it out.

Here it is: How to Know Higher Worlds (and who wouldn't want to know them?):

the moment will approach when we begin to realize that what is revealed to us in the silence of inner thinking activity is more real then the physical objects around us. We experience that life speaks in this world of thoughts....

Out of the silence something begins to speak to us. Previously we could hear speech only with our ears, but now words resound in our souls. An inner speech, an inner word, is disclosed to us.... Our outer world is suffused with an inner light. A second life begins for us. A divine, bliss-bestowing world streams through us.

Something like that. As the process continues,

We begin to form new ideas about reality. Things take on a different value for us. Yet such transformation does not make us unworldly. In no way does it estrange us from our daily responsibilities.

Speaking of which, I've got to get on with mine.

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