It’s amazing how quickly liberals – and especially Social Justice Warriors – descend into rage, into foaming at the mouth, screaming, insults, violence – whenever they suffer the least jot of cognitive dissonance at the hands of a based Reactionary interlocutor. How come?
Chaos, as Hesiod puts it, “was the first thing that came to be.” In a three-generation struggle, Zeus at last succeeded in imposing civilized order on the chaotic substrate of the cosmos. Chaos, for Hesiod, might be first, but order is last; and order is infinitely preferable to Chaos. In Hesiod’s story, after Zeus settles matters with the violent Titans (the Jotuns of Scandinavian myth), he must face one more challenge in the arousal of Typhon or Python, the Chaos-Monster. In Hesiod’s vision of things, Chaos always lies in wait to erupt on order and subvert it. Order is a struggle. Chaos is the lapse back into what is easiest and most primitive. So too in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the Several States of America, order is a latter imposition on Chaos, but Chaos lurks in its lair, ready to squirm out again and mess up the just apportionment of the civilized dispensation. Thus, as the Drudge Report rehearses, “Agitators Plot Inauguration Chaos.” What else would they plot? After all, their motto is, “It is forbidden to forbid.” That is to say, order is forbidden; Chaos is mandated – and the Law is the enemy of the crowd. Drudge quotes a Daily Caller story as follows: “On the day of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration protesters are planning an anti-capitalist march, road blockades and disruptions to inauguration balls…
“Once religious imagination and yearning have departed from a culture, the lowest, grimmest, most tedious level of material existence becomes not just one of reality’s unpleasant aspects, but in some sense the limit that marks the ‘truth’ of things.” (David Bentley Hart, In the Aftermath (2009)
For years I have had a recurrent daydream. It may have originated as a sleeping dream, but it is now a staple of my waking imagination. This daydream steals over me whenever I feel myself slipping under the anesthetic of a committee meeting, or I am forced to wander through a wasteland of what Hart calls “epic drabness,” or I am closeted with a vampiric atheist who invites me to loosen my collar and close my eyes. With this daydream, my imagination proposes that all of these experiences are, at bottom, one and the same experience. I am of a romantic disposition, so I take the propositions of my imagination very seriously. Continue reading
In preparation for teaching a literature course in the 1950s, René Girard reread some of the classic novels. In the process he realized that the novelists had had profound insights into aspects of the human condition and that to a large degree, they were the same insights…
In Deceit, Desire and the Novel, possibly René Girard’s best book, he argues that denying the existence of God does not remove the desire for transcendent meaning. Thwarted from seeking spiritual satisfaction from above, the desire gets directed towards other people who it is imagined have god-like qualities of self-sufficiency and autonomy and that we alone have been excluded from this divine status – creating resentment and compounding human misery.
Likewise, various utopian ideas are an attempt to create heaven on earth, frequently creating hell on earth. Trying to satisfy transcendent desires in the realm of the immanent is a disaster, both in politics and in relationships between people.
In this essay published at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum, I also draw connections between Girard and St. Augustine’s notions of the role of God in human life.
Responding to my previous post A Basic Guide to Liberalism and Conservatism, Part I, many commenters said that I had either failed to define “liberalism” or had given a bad definition. And blogger Winston Scrooge offered more substantial criticisms, from a position less friendly to conservatism.
I‘m grateful to these commenters for, whereas I remain convinced that my basic position is correct, their criticisms helped me to realize certain ideas were not expressed well enough. I have accordingly made some additions to my post, which you can read here.
I have been preoccupied with soi-disant enemies of Hate, those men and women who are on fire to abolish what cooler heads must recognize as a highly ambiguous sentiment. Hate is an ambiguous sentiment because it is always joined to love, like follow and lead in a partner dance. Thus a world without hate would be a loveless world, an apotheosis of apathy, a United States of Whatever. Continue reading
The modern notion that monarchy is inherently tyrannical and exploitative is an artifact of a fundamentally deficient concept of human society. That concept – the modern concept – treats society as basically loveless, a collation of antagonists engaged in a zero sum game; so it eventually finds, as we have lately seen it do, that all human relations are more or less exploitative – the wife and husband of each other, the mother and father of the child, and so forth. Such is the conclusion of the latter day apotheosis of modernist dialectical materialism in postmodernism: all human relations are about power, and nothing else.
Notice that this doctrine is self-fulfilling. If on the basis of the conviction that human relations are all essentially exploitative you then proceed to exploit your fellows, you are likely sooner or later to discover that they have all reciprocated.
Postmodern social theory boils down then to an assertion that, as composed of mutually inimical agents bound only to exploit each other as much as possible, society is essentially sociopathic. And behaving as if this were so leads to actual sociopathy.
I lead a quiet life, and so seldom see so much as the disappearing backside of naked hate, but last night I saw hate full-frontal, and that hate was coming at me. I saw a great chanting mob that was howling hatred, and specifying the object of its malice with signs that called for “fascist” blood. I saw stone-eyed ranks of la Raza Cósmica punching out their fists in the Red Salute and shouting about who did and who did not belong on campus. I listened to the hateful curses of Black nationalists, and even saw hatred pantomimed by two women dressed as clowns. Hate was on the menu last night. It was fresh, it was hot, and the portions were not small. Continue reading
We could use a catechism of liberalism and conservatism (i.e., anti-liberalism.) Young people won’t know about reality unless someone teaches them. They may sense it, but they won’t know it unless someone teaches them.
Update 12/13/16: In response to useful criticism, I have added text to clarify my position. For the time being, additions are highlighted in bold.
Part I: Introduction
Liberalism begins with the deliberate violation of the laws of God, the laws of nature, and human tradition. If this blasphemy excites you, you’re prone to become a liberal. If you’re a normal person, it disgusts you, and you will not become a liberal unless it disguises itself as something good.
Everybody knows something’s wrong with the world. This series is written from the standpoint of traditional Christianity, and as Christians, we know that the ultimate malady is sin. But sin manifests itself in countless ways. We need a more tangible and organized explanation.
A big part of the current problem is liberalism. It’s everywhere, it’s dominant, and it’s perverted. So we all need to defend ourselves against it.
That word “liberalism” is the usual name for the way of thinking that now rules Western civilization, America included. It’s more than just fashionable opinion; liberalism is an organized system. Its ideas are mostly consistent with one another, so they work together like a well-trained sports team. And there are countless organizations which teach liberalism and enforce its morality. Liberalism rules the West, so the people mostly believe it. And even if they don’t believe it, they usually go along with it. Continue reading
Liberty is a subsidiary factor of social life; it is a derivative feature of social order, but not its source; for, social order by definition consists in constraints upon individual acts, whether through custom, or taboo, or scapegoating, or law. Social order then is the source and basis of such liberty as may be, and not vice versa.
Where there is no social order, there is no freedom to do anything but fight. This is that hypothetical State of Nature cherished analytically by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, either to disparage or valorize it. But notice that it never really happened, nor could it: man has always been a social animal, and cannot be otherwise. The most basic jot of society – i.e., sex – consists in constraints upon individual liberty; for, sex is either a mutual agreement to accept the constraints of duty to a lover, or else by rape an utter and complete constraint upon some other. Whether these constraints arise from within the social agent as the voice of his conscience, or from without as the voices of others urging him to this or that, is neither here nor there.
The zero of social order then is the zero of sex, ergo of man.
The true state of nature for man is a state of highly evolved and definite social order. His freedom of action, then, has always been constrained by social order; and that social order is in fact the basis of his freedom to opt for anything other than combat.