Friday, July 12, 2019

There is No Truth, and The Left Possesses It

A note to the reader: you will recall that I more or less ceased blogging last fall in order to take a peek at the 3,500 posts in the archive, with the idea of extracting the good bits and stringing them together into a book. I put the bits into files labeled by year, while awaiting the descent of the Organizing Principle that would pull them all together into a clear, concise, coherent, and pleasing narrative about Everything and How it Got that Way.

We're still waiting.

Meanwhile, 2012 proved to be a turning point, in the sense that that is when I begin to sound more like my current self. If the cosmos is, as I believe it to be, pneumatically teleological, then my 2012 self should be more evolved than my 2005 self, and that is indeed how it's looking. Whereas prior to 2012 the inspiration in the posts is discontinuous, I'm finding it to be more continuous thereafter.

But this introduces a new problem, because instead of just extracting the good bits from posts, I'm finding that the posts are compelling (at least to me) in their entirety. Which is why I've taken to reposting these old posts.

However, I'm not just reposting them verbatim, but interacting with them, so to speak. A good post should produce sparks in the head, and these sparks can set of conflagrations of their own. So be assured that these reposts aren't just a product of my exquisitely cultivated sense of laziness, but are revised, edited, and fortified with new material. I also make every effort to remove the gags that don't hold up, are unnecessarily obscure, or just plain irritating.


Sometimes I wonder how many of those who like to call themselves "progressive" are consciously aware of its mythico-scientistic roots. Then I remember that none of them do, or they wouldn't be progressives. That's certainly how it worked in my case: I discovered that I was in error, and made the appropriate adjustments to my worldview.

Why is this so difficult? Good question! Perhaps we'll return to it as we proceed.

Voegelin characterizes Marx as a "speculative gnostic" who grounded his politico-economic framework in an evolutionary vision of nature. In this scheme, all of nature is "in the state of becoming, and in the course of its development it has brought forth man: 'Man is directly a being of nature.'"

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea that nature is developing, except that this can have nothing to do with Darwinian evolution, which describes only change, not progress. More to the point, Marx re-buries man in nature, so that what is actually distinct in man, and belongs to his trans-nature, is annihilated. Man evolves out of mere nature only to devolve and plunge back into it. D'oh!

Here we see how the work of millennia can be undone in a single generation. Literally! Questions that had been entirely settled -- for example, the centrality of natural rights such as free speech, the constitutional irrelevance of race, the felicitous distinction between the sexes, etc. -- are once again up for debate. This isn't progress; rather, its precise opposite.

Thus, "When 'socialist man' speaks, man has to be silent," which is a rather polite way of putting it, being that it often equates to destroying the man who refuses to be silent. In any event, it is why the left would like for us to shut up, why they impose speech codes, why political correctness abounds, and why they hate God and religion. This is described in the last paragraph of the previous post, in reference to those special assouls who know exactly why

"their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis and who therefore make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma. This position of a conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborated obstruction of ratio constitutes the new phenomenon" (Voegelin).

So if you want to talk about progress, this systematic assault on truth is indeed something new under the sun. Yes, the impulse has always been present -- see Genesis 3 for details -- but the modern statist systematization of it is new. You might say that progressivism is nothing less than the institutionalization of original sin, whereby the fall is normalized instead of resisted and reversed via metanoia and grace.

But it's not just the children of Marx who have progressed in this deviant manner, for truth is also forbidden by the dictates of Positivist Man. This humanoid beastling can also be called Scientistic Man, Atheist Man, or Darwinist Man, for each of these, in his own way, pretends that materialism not only accounts for man but exhausts the meaning of the human phenomenon. Which is only the most phenomenal fact in all of existence.

Now, a minimal acquaintance with philosophy is sufficient to establish the plausibility of a Marx, a Darwin, a Dawkins. Thus, one needs a little more than the minimum to debunk them, which I suppose is why philosophy isn't taught in public schools, in favor of multicultural mush and relativistic rubbish. As they say, a little philosophy inclines one to atheism. More than a little, and you inevitably find yourself being pulled into the Divine Attractor.

To perfectly accurate, it's not that philosophy isn't taught, but that it is conveyed via implicit assumptions that are buried elsewhere and never spoken of explicitly. For example, in science it is considered plain rude to speak of teleology, even though science is incoherent without it.

This metaphysical incoherence has provoked a backlash of "creationists" in certain quarters, but the real problem is metaphysical, not scientific or theological. You don't need intelligent design to prove the existence of God, or vice versa.

Ultimately, the only proof of God is God. Clearly, God is necessary being. We, on the other hand, are optional. We are contingent. Now, the only way a contingent being can even know of necessity is if it shares a portion of that necessity. Which is what it means to be in the image of the Creator. This is why we may know truth, and why we have the freedom to discover it. Truth is necessary to free will (otherwise freedom is arbitrary), as freedom is necessary to the discovery of truth.

Wherever there is leftism, there is the suppression of certain questions and avenues of thought. As we have discussed in the past, just as a neurosis may be thought of as a "private culture," a culture may be thought of as a public neurosis. Now, a neurosis always involves the suppression of an unwanted truth.

Just so, the neurotic culture of the left has many defense mechanisms in place, so that alarms go off as soon as anyone approaches a dangerous truth. Examples are too numerous to chronicle, but just think of how promiscuous charges of RACISM! are deployed to bar the free exercise of thought. Which is why it is so delicious to see world class race-baiters such as Biden and Pelosi having this mechanism unleashed upon themselves.

Voegelin describes the deeper structure of this process. It begins with "a thinker who knows that his construct will collapse as soon as the basic philosophical question is asked." The intellectually and spiritually normal person recognizes this and abandons the construct. Not so the leftist, who merely prohibits the question.

But why? What has happened to the person who is no longer animated by the passionate desire for truth, and yet -- without irony -- imposes a single desiccated version of it: There is No Truth, and I Am Its Prophet.

Voegelin called it an "intellectual swindle," which is an excellent way of putting it. For to exchange truth for ideology isn't just a bad deal, it's suicidal. Which wouldn't necessarily be so bad if it weren't also homicidal.

But again, why? Man has an innate epistemophilia, so what has happened to this transnatural instinct in the ideologue?

As we have discussed before, man is composed of intellect, will, and sentiment, which are ordered to truth, goodness, and beauty, respectively. To deny truth is to maim the intellect at its root. But that doesn't kill the body. Rather, it seems that the will to power rushes in to fill the vacuum. This perverse will

"has a violence and cruelty that go beyond the delight in masquerade and in the deception of others." It also "turns on the thinker himself and unmasks his thought as a cunning will to power."

Let's take another example from just last week, when President Obama decided to stop pretending he doesn't support the redefinition of marriage. It is a matter of public record that certain wealthy donors were threatening to withhold funds if he didn't openly embrace their agenda of sexual nihilism.

For Newsweek to then proclaim Obama the "first gay president" is completely absurd, in light of the fact that he is just another statist with a transparently cunning will to power.

To believe otherwise one must want to believe otherwise, which is itself another instance of the will-to-power genre, except that it doesn't accrue to the power of the rank-and-foul self-deluder, only to the powerful. In reality it is but a "graceless disorder of the soul" rooted in a "demonic mendacity" (ibid).

Again, man is intellect-will-sentiment. But if truth is denied, then the truth of man is that he is reduced to will-sentiment, or desire and force. And that is the essence of the left: I want what I want, and you are obligated to provide it.

(All Voegelin quotes are from Science, Politics, & Gnosticism.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Secondary Realities and Metastatic Hope

A secondary reality, according to Voegelin, is a kind of microcosmos or dreamworld that reflects a universal possibility in man. Always and forever, man is faced with a choice: reality or fantasy, which is to say, truth or desire. (I trace this all the way down and back to Genesis 3, which is indeed its deeper lesson: that man prefers to create and inhabit his own world over the one created for him.)

Modern political gnosticism -- like its premodern religious variants -- is an expression of "the horror of existence and a desire to escape from it." You will have noticed that for leftists from Marx to AOC, the dream world blends into the real world, such that "the dreamers adopt the vocabularies of reality, while changing its meaning, as if the dream were reality" (Voegelin).

If you've been paying attention to the Democrat clown show, what you see is a magical effort to transform the dream into reality and reality into dream. These two processes necessarily co-arise once immanence and transcendence are conflated and confused. Realms that must be distinguished in order to properly think about existence are promiscuously blended. Thus, "in the Gnostic dream world,"

nonrecognition of reality is the first principle. As a consequence, types of action which in the real world would be considered morally insane because of the real effects which they will have will be considered moral in the dream world because they intended an entirely different effect.

Then -- just watch! -- the inevitable gap "between intended and real effect" is blamed not on the Gnostic's failure to appreciate reality (including the reality of human nature), but on "the immorality of some other person or society that does not behave as it should behave according to the dream conception of cause and effect. The interpretation of moral insanity as morality... is a confusion difficult to unravel."

To put it mildly. Consider poor Joe Biden, who has been doggedly asleep in the liberal dream for some fifty years. But the dream has moved on -- which is to say, metastasized -- so rapidly that he simply can't keep up: busing is good, borders are bad, gender is whatever we want it to be. Frankly, when the first principle is nonrecognition of reality, there's nothing to grasp onto, not even straws, because there is no solid ground to thought:

The identification of dream and reality as a matter of principle has practical results which appear strange but can hardly be considered surprising. The critical exploration of cause and effect in history is prohibited; and consequently the rational coordination of means and ends in politics is impossible.

"Dangers" are recognized -- they cannot not be recognized -- except "such dangers will not be met by appropriate actions in the world of reality. They will rather be met by magic operations in the dream world, such as moral condemnation, declarations of intention, resolutions, appeals to the opinion of mankind, branding of enemies as aggressors," etc.

In short, irrespective of what happens in the real world -- say, for example, a flourishing economy -- Orange Man Bad! And if you are delighted by the record low unemployment of People of Color? White supremacist!

A deeper point, I think, is the jettisoning of our western tradition, which can only result in the eradication of civilization. I mean this literally, for the first step of civilization must be the vertical distinction between transcendence and immanence, which must be maintained in order for order to persist. (The creation story of Genesis is all about ordering primordial chaos by drawing and maintaining vertical and horizontal distinctions between God and man, light and dark, good and evil, man and woman, adult and child, life and death, etc.)

But it doesn't end there. Rather, you might say that the whole arc of salvation -- which is nothing less than the story of the West -- is the elaboration of the transcendent, ending, for the Christian, in Christ and his Church.

However, that "end" is only another (and endless) beginning, as it fertilizes and transforms the immanent. But the Gnostic has no patience for the time this takes (or just say Time, which is qualitative and organic, not mere quantitative duration). Rather, he wants his heaven here and now. He is too sophisticated to believe in God, but not sophisticated enough to distinguish God from man, the celestial from the terrestrial. Terrible consequences follow, every time. In short, this is where the dream turns to nightmare

Hope itself isn't the problem, properly understood. After all, it is a theological virtue. I have here a handy little book called The One-Minute Philosopher, which distinguishes between Hope and Wish.

The former "involves the conviction that, despite appearances to the contrary, truth and goodness will prevail." Thus, it isn't at all easy to maintain hope in the teeth of this depraved world, which is precisely why it is a virtue.

Please note that this is not the magical hope of Gnostic dreamers and ideologues. Any tenured yahoo can imagine a better world, but that isn't what we're talking about.

Rather, we're talking about accepting (and even loving) the world for what it is, and committing ourselves to its betterment. If we do not accept the world for what it is -- and human beings for what they are -- then our hopes will be completely misplaced. They will be reduced to wishes, and wishes to ashes.

For what is a wish? It "involves the fancy that, despite appearances to the contrary, our desire will be satisfied. To wish is to invoke fortune to bring us what we want, even when what we want is not good" (Brown).

Consider some of the implications drawn out by Brown: "hope is creative," but "wish is imaginative." While "I can wish for anything, I hope only for what is possible. My hope looks to the future, but is rooted in reality as it is."

And importantly, "what we hope for, we are also willing to work for." Conversely, a wish "has no particular bond with reality as it is, but feeds on fantasy.... Wishing is like dreaming: it is not confined to reality as it is, nor is there any good reason to believe that my wish will come true.... [U]nlike when we hope for something, we are not necessarily willing to work for it. We wish for all sorts of unattainable and frivolous things" (ibid.).

The left wishes socialized medicine would work, that college were free, that borders didn't exist, that members of the same sex could exist in a state of matrimony, that racial discrimination could end racial discrimination, that human fetuses weren't human, that women weren't women, that men weren't men... the wishlist is endless because desire and imagination are infinite.

But none of these things can be. We can try to force them to be, but the system will crack under the pressure of the denied reality. You could even say that politics -- which deals with the finite -- becomes cancerous when forced to conform to infinitude.

Why, for example, have our Supreme Court hearings become so malignant? Largely due to the twisted pettifoggery of Roe v. Wade. The left wants us to bow before this grotesque example of judicial wishery, so that only those who reject reality -- the reality of the human person -- are acceptable to liberals. This is bound to create tension, a tension that forces infinitude (the human soul) to be finite and finitude (a "woman's right to choose") to be infinite.

The marketplace of ideas is supposed to be a struggle of truth against truth, or, more accurately, a struggle for or toward truth. But what if it becomes a struggle for and against truth? For Voegelin, that is precisely what the political struggle involves, because it is the same struggle that is "waged on every level of human existence."

For example, it is axiomatic in psychology that pathology results from one part of the mind being at war with another. An unwanted truth is denied, repressed, or projected, and the psychic lacunae -- AKA the hole in your soul -- is unconsciously filled with the wish, the desire, the preferred state of reality.

Likewise, we enter dangerous pneumapolitcal waters when confronted "with persons who know that, and why, their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis and who therefore make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma." The result is "a conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborated obstruction of ratio..." (Voegelin), or what we call logocide.

Yes, the cognitive tyranny of political correctness. I wish it weren't so, but for the left, it is what it isn't.

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