Vainglory & Hatred

Anyone who has for very long been a conservative – let alone a reactionary – will have found himself from time to time buffeted about by some acquaintance who is in the grip of a physiological syndrome endemic among liberals:

Rebellion → dysfunction → weakness → fear → anger → hate → dysfunction …

As it happens, my family and I have over the last few days been weathering a barrage of slings and arrows hurled by a few outraged liberals, on account of our extremely mild but public utterances of ritually impure ruminations on the latest waves of innovation in public policy. It’s painful, and above all tiresome. But one grows accustomed to it, over time. Until the Great Awakening, there will be no alternative.

Zippy Catholic succinctly and precisely explains the source and basis of liberal hate in three short posts, which should be read in the following order:

1. Definition of Liberalism.
2. Liberalism and the destruction of the good, the true, and the beautiful.
3. Why feminists think all men are rapists.

Sunshine Mary tries to answer the question: Why do feminists tend to be emotionally volatile, obsessive, violent, and hysterical? Her discussion applies equally to liberals of all sorts.

At root, I think it boils down to the fact that liberals are willful: they want what they want, goddammit. But reality is what it is, and it enforces its order upon us with overwhelming, relentless, inexhaustible, terrible power; so that unless we want and do what is proper for us under the order of being, we find ourselves at war with it – and, of course, losing. And this is the predicament in which liberals, or moderns, or inveterate sinners – any of these terms appose – find themselves: their wills are at war with reality, and they are losing.

Disputing the order of being – let’s just call it the Logos – does not *necessarily* result in poor fit of behavior to the world, but it does make such maladaptation virtually certain. Maladaptation is just another word for malady: disease, vitiation, weakness. To be at war with the order of being sooner or later involves war even with one’s own body. Liberals cannot but feel their philosophical and – to the extent their philosophy is carried into practice – physiological weakness. The emotional reaction to this apprehension of their weakness is anxiety. Anxiety is generalized fear, without a particular focus. In moments of particular stress caused by a perceived threat to them, or to their view of things, anxiety focuses and intensifies, and is felt as fear. When a particular threat is recalcitrant or acute, fear can blossom quickly into fight-or-flight: into panic, or rage.

We are all sinners, and so disagree more or less with our Lord, the Logos. So we are all somewhat subject to this dynamic. The difference between liberal or modern sinners on the one hand, and traditional or religious sinners on the other, is that the latter see and agree with the supremacy of the order of being (indeed, rejoice in it, as being both the source and basis of their very existence, and of all that is good), and think that they ought to order their lives in obedience thereto, whereas the former disagree with the order of being, even going so far as to insist that there is no such thing, outside themselves.

Those of us who are religious can understand ourselves as basically loyal to our Lord and Captain, and to his cosmos.[1] Lousy soldiers we may be, disobedient, lazy, even often AWOL. But we can be confident that so long as we renew our pledge of loyalty, and put in our time in the brig when we have offended against his ordinances, we are welcome back into his ranks, and are never therefore wholly alone: never comfortless, never hopelessly lost.

Liberals feel themselves hopelessly alone, lost, doomed; for they have rejected the Logos and his cosmos. They are, not lousy loyal soldiers, but enemy soldiers; indeed, traitors. And, because they are themselves instants of the Logos, that can exist and function only insofar as they are in harmony with him, they cannot but feel their enmity with him, deep down; and, so, cannot but feel the weakness at their root, their malady, their disease.

They willfully disorder themselves. This weakens them. They feel this weakness, and so they are afraid. This makes them prone to anger. The anger expresses itself as hate. And hatred cannot rest until it has destroyed its object. But because the cosmos of the Logos is unconquerable, hatred thereof cannot ever end; so it prevents learning. It locks incorrigible liberals into their antagonism with reality. So their dysfunction compounds. It’s a vicious cycle.

We argue whether the disorder began with the Enlightenment, or the Reformation, with Ockham, or with the Cathari, or the Gnostics, or the Sophists. But really it goes all the way back, through Babel, to Eden.


[1] From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

Greek kosmos “order, good order, orderly arrangement,” a word with several main senses rooted in those notions: The verb kosmein meant generally “to dispose, prepare,” but especially “to order and arrange (troops for battle), to set (an army) in array;” also “to establish (a government or regime);” “to deck, adorn, equip, dress” (especially of women). Thus kosmos had an important secondary sense of “ornaments of a woman’s dress, decoration” (cf. kosmokomes “dressing the hair”) as well as “the universe, the world.”

Pythagoras is said to have been the first to apply this word to “the universe,” perhaps originally meaning “the starry firmament,” but later it was extended to the whole physical world, including the earth. For specific reference to “the world of people,” the classical phrase was he oikoumene (ge) “the inhabited (earth).” Septuagint uses both kosmos and oikoumene. Kosmos also was used in Christian religious writing with a sense of “worldly life, this world (as opposed to the afterlife),” but the more frequent word for this was aion, literally “lifetime, age.”

11 thoughts on “Vainglory & Hatred

  1. They willfully disorder themselves. This weakens them. They feel this weakness, and so they are afraid. This makes them prone to anger. The anger expresses itself as hate. And hatred cannot rest until it has destroyed its object. But because the cosmos of the Logos is unconquerable, hatred thereof cannot ever end; so it prevents learning. It locks incorrigible liberals into their antagonism with reality. So their dysfunction compounds. It’s a vicious cycle.

    Pretty much.

    I do want to say this, though: one reason I’m still willing to engage with the type of crazed feminists who periodically descend upon my site is because I used to be a liberal feminist in my twenties, and I know how it was that I got out of the vicious cycle of compounding dysfunction. In addition to God’s grace, it was because there were a few people that I encountered who were willing to give me a dose of the truth even though I responded dismissively (though I certainly never displayed the level of hysteria that I see now – is it me or have everyone’s emotions become hair-trigger sensitive?). Even though I rejected them at the time, their words stayed with me until a time when I was finally ready to reconsider why so much of what I believed really didn’t square with reality.

    We really have no idea what a calmly-delivered correction to a hysterical liberal may eventually yield down the road.

    • Ockham is generally credited with nominalism, although his version of it was not quite as toxic as what was done with his ideas by the subsequent generations of thinkers.

  2. It’s very interesting how two entirely different explanations can both perfectly predict the same phenomenon.

    You as a Christian believe in a through and through logical, rational, orderly universe, a universe that makes sense, where logic is not a model, not in the map but in the terrain itself, and thus interpret liberalism as a rebellion against this order.

    The Buddhist can explain the same thing from an entirely different viewpoint. Basically that the modern liberal is driven by desire and vanity. Especially vanity. This makes the ego i.e. the feeling of “self-importance” very big and thus very vulnerable. The vain man or woman (vanity meant in the same sense as a narcissist, or solipsist, or certain kinds of pride) feels that he/she is so important that everything happens about him/her (similar to the paranoid who thinks everybody is out there to kill him/her, the same error of inflated self-importance), and this is the source of the malady. Because then every imperfection in the world is a personal attack. And every limit is tyranny. And very easy to get paranoid. From this viewpoint the main reason you folks here are mentally healthy is because you do not think you are very important, and that is the source mental health. But in B. this all comes from the idea that ultimately it is a mistake to put sensations into two categories of “self” and “world” or “other”. And this points at a non-rational world, a universe that is definitely not intrinsically logical.

    Interesting how you get the same or a similar thing from the viewpoint of rationalism or properly thorough skepticism.

    • I mean, what I am trying to say is that the source of mental health is taking your duties seriously but not taking yourself too seriously, not thinking you a very important. And it seems that there are two ways to get there: the Christian-Rationalist way of obeying objective reality, putting objective reality above desire and vanity, or the Buddhist-Skepticist way of realizing the distinction between self and other or self and world is at best shaky, and thus seeing desire and vanity as in themselves harmful, because they arise from this distinction.

    • If the terrain were not rationally ordered, there could be no such thing as a map.

      If there is a world with a map in it, and the map is ordered, then the world is ordered; for since the map is an aspect of that world, so is the order of the map.

      The fact that our sensations are the world’s sensations does not indicate that the world is non-rational, but that it is rational. Our experiences are the only evidence we have – the only evidence we can *possibly* have, under any state of affairs whatsoever – of what it is like to exist. The assertion that the world is completely unlike our experiences is therefore *completely without empirical foundation.* Indeed, that assertion can have no possible empirical foundation, in any world. So, then, if we find that our experiences are ordered, it is far safer to conclude that reality is ordered, than that it is not.

      It is a very good thing for us animals that reality is ordered. If it were not, then no rational model, no system of thought, and no formal language could have truth value; and that would wreck all planning, all behavior. If reality were not ordered, there could be no true statement – in which case, both Christianity and Buddhism (and their contradictions) would be just false.

      Buddhism, then, can be at all true only if reality is orderly.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying, and do not think, that Buddhism is simply false. So far as I can tell, the Buddhist analysis of reality does not at all depend on the premise that reality is disordered. Furthermore, your diagnosis of the liberal malady in terms of vanity strikes me as dead accurate. Indeed, it is a perfect restatement of the Judeo-Christian diagnosis.

      • The senses are OK, the problem is with the words. For example our words tend to describe the world as if it consisted of fixed essences or natures, like a tree having the nature of treehood, and not as a place where everything is in flux. Because we say “X is Y”.

        A few simple exercises:

        1) Imagine a drinking glass, and a glass plate for eating. Consider now another drinking glass but a little bit shorter but wider. Another one a little bit even shorter and wider etc. etc. At what point will the glass become a bowl and then a plate? There is no fixed barrier. Hence, glasses, bowls, plates have no fixed essence or nature, but we simply use these nouns to denote their human usage – anything used as a bowl is a bowl.

        2) Consider a tree and now imagine as if you would be a being of a very long life who experiences time much faster. Like a movie on fast forward. In one instant, there is a seed, in the next instant a sapling, then a tree constantly growing, then a bunch of board planks, then a cupboard made from them, and in the next instant an old cupboard cut up for firewood, then just smoke and ash, and see all this in like a few seconds. Where do you see a lasting essence or nature of treehood? There is none. There is just a process.

        3) Logic is a lovely toy, but logical formality like “If all swans are white no swans can be black” has the issue that we really have to check not all existing swans but even all future swans to see if they are all white before we say the if-condition is true. But if we check all of them, why do we even have to logic, to think – if we check all, we just know.

        A better approach is probability based thinking. I actually find it very good that it was invented by Catholics (Pascal, Bayes and I would guess it goes all the way back to Aquinas), as it is really a correct approach. But language is not really probablistic! Formal logic is not probabilistic. Statemens like “A is A”, “from A follows B, from B follows C hence from A follows C” are not probabilistic.

        4) What is a self? My hand is not me, people live on with a hand cut off and retain the same identity. The body is not a self. Emotions, thoughts all change, they are not a self. All that seems to connect this is memories. I.e. if I was given the offer to clone me with some improvements and destroy my current body I would only accept it if the memories are transfered so that “I” can wake up remembering who I was then it is OK. Otherwise it is a different man. But the old body would object to the killing nevertheless. And yet people are considered the same when they are amnesiac – and I have found that some of my childhood memories are false, simply the memory somehow got damaged and changed in the storage… I remember doing stuff I have merely read about. So anywhere I look, I cannot see a self. All I see is a “set” of ever changing elements.

      • But that a form is only partially or defectively or evanescently instantiated does not entail that it is not instantiated at all, or that it does not exist. There is no contradiction between the notion that reality consists of instantiations of eternal forms and the notion that reality is in constant flux. If there were no forms, we could notice no flux between their instantiations – if there were no forms, there could not be flux in the first place.

        That the self is a changing configuration of elements does not mean that there is no self. If you are not a self, then you did not write any of the comments you wrote at the Orthosphere; no one wrote them.

  3. I used to want to scream every time I wehatcd some Liberal wrap the flag around a government spending program and call its continued existence proof of the superiority of Canadian values over American ones.


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