Thursday, November 20, 2014

Getting Your Heart & Mind in Order (In That Order)

Knowledge is dangerous; that is, it can always cut both ways, depending upon who has it and what they intend to do with it. For example, no morally sane person is troubled by Israel having nuclear weapons. Conversely, all morally sane people are troubled by the prospect of Muslim nations possessing those same weapons.

Therefore, knowledge must always be subordinated to something beyond knowledge, at risk of sinking beneath itself. As Green writes, knowledge may well fuel pride, as in the timeless stories of Adam, Prometheus, Icarus, Gruber, and countless others.

But this should not discourage one from seeking knowledge, any more than Charles Manson's impending nuptials should steer us away from sex. In short, misuse of an object or idea does not detract from its proper use.

"The fact that knowledge can puff up," observes Green, illustrates the point that "knowledge is inherently a moral reality," and "can be used for good or ill" (emphasis in original).

This is elementary, similar to the principle that rights not only come with responsibilities, but that the responsibilities must be prior to the rights. In other words, you cannot give rights to an irresponsible entity, or one without free will. You can't give a bear the right to roam free through a city. Why? Because the bear has no responsibility.

The left, of course, never stops talking about rights, but these rights are always in the abstract, disconnected from the responsibilities that legitimize them. The notion of rights without responsibilities is precisely analogous to the absurdity of knowledge without truth or art without beauty. Not only is the one severed from the other, but rights, knowledge, and art are deprived of their sufficient reason. They become meaningless if not pernicious.

Want to confuse a liberal? Try this: let's assume for the sake of argument that you have the constitutional right to abort your baby. What is the corresponding responsibility in which this right is grounded, and without which it makes no sense? Remember, it must be something even "higher" and more fundamental than a dead baby. What could it be?

Now, one of our cosmic principles is that any truth speaks of the One Truth. It is this latter to whom (or in whom) our knowledge is ultimately answerable. "[W]henever we come to know something, our very capacity to know is brought about and sustained -- in every instance -- by God." So long as we bear that in mind, we avoid pride on the one hand, and the temptation of a false absolute -- idolatry -- on the other.

Yesterday I had a conversation with the mother of one of my son's friends. He's extremely bright, full of philosophical and theological questions that don't occur to most adults. He's also very interested in science; at nine years old, Stephen Hawking is one of his heroes. Therefore, he was quite distressed to learn of Hawking's pronouncement that God doesn't exist.

This is a fine example of knowledge not only severed from truth, but even from the possibility of truth. It's an elementary metaphysical error, entirely self-refuting but self-aggrandizing at the same time. It equates to saying: "there is no God, and I am that one." For if God doesn't exist, obviously only He can know it.

I would add that Hawking's denial serves as a kind of implicit acknowledgement of God. As Green writes, "all persons, at some fundamental level, know God but suppress this knowledge."

As we have discussed in the past, since our human personhood exists in a vertical space, we are just as prone to repress the higher as we are the lower. Just as one can only pretend that the unconscious doesn't exist, one can only pretend that the supra-conscious doesn't exist. But once one stops pretending, one sees evidence of both everywhere.

Imagine the vertical as an AM radio band reaching from 540 to 1600 kHz. The average station is set somewhere in the middle, at 93, or 1070, or 1110. But the rest of the band is always there, waiting for someone to tune into the frequency. Much of what we call "higher knowledge," for example, is just regular knowledge tuned to a higher frequency.

Take the example of a church. On the one hand it's just a building, not fundamentally different from any other. But tune into the higher sacred frequencies, and it is transformed to "heaven on earth." For that matter, a sacrament is an occasion for the inflow of those higher frequencies.

This also goes to why we cannot comprehend certain evils and certain people. We just can't pick up the frequency they are hearing. This is because "The mind's pursuits are always, and without fail, related to one's 'loves,' or to the state of the heart.... we really cannot know what we do not love" (Green).

This would explain a great deal -- for example, why Obama doesn't understand the constitution, and why we do not understand his animosity toward it (or toward Israel, or the police, or our military, etc.).

Well, the contractors are back, so that's the end of this post.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Last Honest Liberal vs. The Spiritual Lepers

I'm starting to think Gruber is an angel sent by heaven on a divine mission:

(Here's another good summary of his angelic work.)

Everything I have ever written about the left is encrapsulated in this story, which reveals the corruption at the heart of the media-academic-government complex. Each is rotten to the core, but is kept from collapsing on itself by leaning on the other two for support. For example, a non-corrupt media would have exposed Obama's rot before he could even have become a viable candidate. Likewise, a non-corrupt academia would never have borne Obama upward on wings of affirmative action and neo-Marxian ideology.

Look at the end of the second video, in which the honest man, Bret Baier, is attempting to pry truth from the dishonest man, Obama. Not only can it not be done, but Obama becomes edgy and indignant, when by all rights it should be the other way around.

I have seen this behavior innumerable times in the context of evaluating people who are attempting to defraud the workers comp system. An honest person welcomes scrutiny, whereas the dishonest person attempts to push away compassion and curiosity by aggressively filling the space with his narrative. Attempt to probe the narrative, and the patient will indignantly react as if you don't believe him, or as if you are conducting an aggressive cross examination on the witness stand.

In other words, the transitional space -- AKA the intersubjective space between two human beings -- is flooded with what Bion called beta elements, or raw, unmetabolized emotion. The reason it is unmetabolized is that it necessarily exists outside the more "refined" narrative; or, there is the unreal narrative accompanied by the real emotion, and the two are at odds. You essentially say to yourself: "if he's saying x, why is he feeling y? And why is y being directed at me? I didn't do anything."

What is so refreshing about Gruber is that he is the Last Honest Liberal -- or at least the last honest one I've ever encountered.

To be perfectly accurate, there are actually many honest liberals. We call them conservatives. True, there are many conservatives who were once liberals mugged by reality. But countless others, like myself, are former liberals appalled by the deception, illogic, and agenda-driven approach to reality, whereby evidence that doesn't fit the narrative is either ignored, or, if it persists, aggressively attacked.

It is instructive to consider how prominent liberals are reacting to the "simple truth" -- the naked factuality -- of Gruber. It's like the five stages of death, although most of them can't get past denial and anger -- mostly at conservatives for bearing the message. The genius economist they once put on a pedestal is now being demeaned and devalued like a self-aggrandizing intern, except this intern has received millions of dollars of taxpayer funds for the hard work of lying to the people paying his fees.

It's quite perverse, because if he had ever told the truth to the people paying his fees, then the fees would immediately stop, as now they have. He will never earn another dime from the state, because he has committed the unforgivable the crime of TELLING THE TRUTH. I mean, it's fine to drop the mask in the presence of fellow leftists, but not with the microphone on or the camera running!

After denial and anger comes bargaining, and I have already seen some of this. For example, a host on MSNBC, in true Stalinist fashion, conceded that Gruber said what he said, but hey, isn't it ironic how great the bill has turned out?! So, what's a few broken eggs if we ended up with this fabulous omelet in the process! But really, that's just denial in disguise, a refusal to look at what the bill has done, is doing, and will do, especially when the deliberately backloaded deceptions kick in. (I see that the New Yorker takes the same lying approach to bargaining the lies away.)

The other day, Ace of Spades had a link to a short piece on how one can spot a Lie. One of the rules of thumb goes to what was said above about beta elements: liars supposedly "feel subconsciously guilty about their lie (or at least uncomfortable at being in the position of lying)," and consequently "add in unnecessary negative emotional language into their lie."

I suppose that is sometimes true, although I would frame it somewhat differently. I would say that the liar necessarily divides his soul. In order to utter the lie, he must deny the very purpose of the mind, which is to know truth. Now, one cannot deny the purpose of any organ without suffering adverse consequences. Just as the wrong type of diet may redound to, say, heart disease, the wrong type of discourse will result in soul pathology. In soul pathology there must be pain, but the really sick person forces others to feel the pain.

This pathology can become so advanced that the person is no longer capable of "feeling" the barbs that occur when he deviates from truth. Obama is at this stage: like a leper who can no longer feel his extremities, and ends up causing them so much damage that they must be amputated, Obama -- and Reid and Pelosi and all the rest -- have such advanced cases of spiritual leprosy that they no longer even know when they are lying. They have become insensate to the epistemophilic pangs of conscience. Consider how they deny even knowing who Gruber is, when there is such extensive evidence to the contrary.

Another important point about lying -- not just the occasional fib, but someone truly immersed in the Lie -- is that it always partakes of omnipotence. It is as if the real liar believes that his lies have the power to shape reality.

Which they do! Consider how the media-academic-state complex managed to impose this monumental lie-of-a-bill -- literally, the greatest consumer fraud in history -- on the citizenry! We are only having this discussion because someone couldn't help himself from telling the truth about it.

Oddly enough, this was the healthy part of Gruber -- the corner of his soul that is somehow still in tact. Yes, part of the motivation was no doubt self-aggrandization, but nevertheless, truth has hijacked stranger things in order to escape into the world.

Another telltale sign of lying: liars "are forced to make up stories, and when they do make them up, they tend to be very simple, straightforward tales. Their stories tend not to have complexity and implied background details of stories about real events."

Here again, I've seen this pattern many times in cases of workers comp fraud. As to Gruber, consider the rich detail in his accounts of visits with Obama (e.g., he paused for a cigaret), vs. Obama's simplistic denials, or his assurances that everything about the bill was "transparent." None of what he says has the ring of truth. It's too cleverly simple by half.

But at the same time, the simplistic story may be couched in overly convoluted language. This has been one of Obama's trademarks from the beginning. Supporters hailed it as "nuance," but this is more like the nuance of a corrupt defense attorney defending an obviously guilty client. It is the oily nuance of Johnnie Cohchran.

Liars seem to realize "that something is missing from their stories -- that their stories aren't life-like, in being so simple -- and attempt to pad them out by using convoluted language, and irrelevant parenthetical details, to make them appear more complex than they actually are."

Truth is simple. Defenses against it are not. Likewise, Gruber's confessions are as straightforward as one could possibly hope for. But dropping truth into the left is like stepping onto an anthill and watching the ants freak out in all directions before settling back into their orderly patterns. At the moment the left is struggling to keep its drones in line, but new shoes keep dropping on the hive every day. Give them a couple weeks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When Liberalism is in the Saddle, Lies are on the Move

It is interesting that lying has been so much in the news, but this is inevitable when liberalism is in the saddle. To cite a timely aphorism, "The lie is the muse of revolutions: it inspires their programs, their proclamations, their panegyrics. But it forgets to gag their witnesses" (Dávila).

But why should humanitarians like Jon Gruber shut up when they are doing God's work? Rather, it is in the nature of the Good that it wishes to radiate, to communicate, to share its goodness. This is why he is not only unashamed, but visibly giddy in the videos we have seen.

Now come to find out that his grubby co-conspirators not only want to gag him, but would be pleased to see him tossed into a shallow grave, maybe next to the guy who made the Mohammed video. What kind of strange goodness is this?

Above all else, human beings are wordlings. Language is what defines us, but what defines language? For the postmodernist, nothing defines language. Rather, each word refers to another, in an endless deferral of meaning. But they can't really say that meaning is deferred when they really mean it is strictly impossible.

Why then do we have the word? Apparently, if the postmodernists are correct, meaning is simply the word we use to refer to an arbitrary closure of its infinite deferral. It is precisely analogous to declaring an arbitrary end to pi, which otherwise goes on forever.

Let's try looking at this through the other end of the telos-scope: "It is not so much that the way language works helps us to understand the theology of the Incarnation, but rather that the theology of the Incarnation helps us profoundly to understand the way in which language works" (Jeffrey, in Green).

It seems that the way language works is that there is something about the world that enables it "to come to speech" (Gunton, ibid.). In other words, when we speak, it is as if speech is the "last word" of a spiroid process that must begin in God, or the Word. I would say that we can only pull words from reality because the Word is already there to be pulled.

In short, "To justify any sort of affirmation of the meaningfulness of language, we need to affirm that we really do live in God's created world" (Green): no creation, no meaning. And meaning deferred is meaning denied!

Think of how this works in practice, bearing in mind the principle that we are in the image of the creator. We begin with a silent thought, an invisible idea, which is then "uttered outwardly."

Isn't this a little like creation itself? Augustine observes that "our word becomes a bodily sound by assuming that in which it is manifested to the senses of men.... And just as our word becomes sound without being changed into sound, so the Word of God" becomes flesh without being reduced to flesh.

Even so, one never knows what will happen to an idea once it is let loose in the world (just ask God!). To speak the word is to incarnate the word, but it then must be re-incarnated in the listener, and, as in natural selection, there are mimetic errors along the way. This would imply that liberalism is analogous to an epistemological birth defect, a copying error -- assuming that somewhere in its genealogy there was an original truth, now turned monstrous.

But the issue is not just what *lies* behind speech, but what is up ahead. For example, "The notion of an ultimate telos to all language is what, of course, is missing in the deconstructionist universe..." This means that there are two ways for language that has gone off course to self-correct. The first way is to see to it that language refers to reality, i.e., to reaffirm the covenant between words and things.

But this is no assurance of ultimate truth, so we must also check our formulations against the telos of language, which can only be God: "God himself is the goal of all language," so to the extent that our ideas and theories don't point in his direction, you can be sure we have been derailed somewhere along the line.

Which is why language can be used to reach such a fallen person and lift him back up toward the Great Attractor. This itself implies that words must be accompanied by, or infused with, a kind of "generic" grace, which makes abundant sense if language indeed comes from (and returns to) God.

So, "words are instrumental in reaching out to the fallen man." They are "not an end in themselves," but "play a crucial role in leading people to" God, the "transcendental signified" (Green).

Which reminds me of something I heard yesterday on the radio. A caller mentioned how liberal elites regard voters as stupid, but the host cautioned him that conservatives do the same thing, what with our reference to "low information voters."

However, there is literally an infinite difference between the two attitudes. In the case of the left, they need to lie to us because we are stupid. Conversely, we believe that voters are only low on information, for which reason we desperately wish to communicate the truth and thereby remedy the deficit. Under no circumstances do we wish to deceive them, let alone coerce and control them. God forbid!

If words do not replace anything, only they complete everything. --Dávila

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Spiritual Unthropology of the Left

What kind of person concocts hysterical lies about President Bush lying about WMD, or about "torture," and now casually lies about Obama's actual lies?

No, that's not just a rhetorical question, because the answer denotes a very different anthropology -- even an unthropology, really, since it is so anti-human. In my the margin notes to The Gospel and the Mind, I posed the questions: "what kind of person does liberalism produce?" and "What is the anthropology?"

Those questions were provoked by a brief discussion of Alan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, where he writes that "the teacher, particularly the teacher dedicated to liberal education, must constantly try to look toward the goal of human completeness..." (in Green). (Bloom is obviously referring to liberal in the classical, not contemporary political sense; in order to avoid confusion I will use the word "leftist" for the latter connotation.)

Since contemporary leftism knows nothing of "human completeness" (which it would reject on a priori grounds, i.e., a fixed human nature), this implies that an education steeped in leftism will not only fail to complete us, but actually aggravate our incompleteness and nurture a deeper alienation. It will thereby defeat the very purpose of education, and become a symptom of the disease it is supposed to treat.

It can hardly be overemphasized that Obama is our first president who is totally a creature of this illiberal, infrahuman, postmodern academic environment. A plurality of voters might well regard him as diabolical, but on a college campus, nothing about his beliefs would stand out.

For example, in The New Class Conflict, Gilder notes that 96% of presidential donations from Ivy League schools went to Obama. That is a level of ideological conformity that surpasses totalitarian states, because in the latter, people know they are being lied to and are therefore more skeptical.

And this depressing level of conformity is obviously similar in the media, so there is truly a media-academic-political complex at the root of the new anthropology: in short, it involves a system of people similar to Obama, reproducing people similar to Obama (foreseen by Bram Stoker's Dracula, in that the spiritually undead survive by putting the bite on the fresh living).

What does stand out about Obama -- and accounts for his success -- is a superior ability to conceal what he is about. In other words, what stands out about him is an ability to not stand out (at least to the "stupid" voters identified by Jonathan Gruber). Most likeminded ideologues are not the least bit ashamed of letting the world know what they think (speaking of Gruber).

For example, Dinesh D'Souza's America is full of leftists who are eager to beclown themselves, even knowing what D'Souza's project is about! That is, they are so insulated, that they think they can say the same things to D'Souza that they tell their impressionable students. Thus, they are clueless precisely where Obama is clever.

For us, the mandate is to be as wise as serpents but innocent as doves; but for Obama it's the other way around: dumb as a pigeon, cunning as a snake.

Everyone is a liberal and everyone is a conservative, in that we all have things we would like to change and things we'd like to conserve. Above all, the left wants to conserve its new anthropology, since it is the key to everything else.

Just as we have "organized crime," the left may be thought of as organized vice. For most of the history of the west, vice was recognized by the majority, and certainly had no articulate collective to defend it. The notion of vice being "organized" would have been absurd, except in the sense that satan must have his own way of organizing things.

But you name the vice, and it's there in the DNC's platform: class envy, homosexual lust, racial pride, slothful welfare dependency, greedy public employee unions, feminist wrath, and a fantastically gluttonous state -- not to mention violations of virtually every commandment, e.g., idolatry, atheism, theft, dishonoring the centrality of mother and father, and the main subject of this post, lying.

"What each generation is," writes Alan Bloom, "can be best discovered in its relation to the permanent concerns of mankind." To which the leftist responds: permanent things? No way.

In the relativistic and historicist fantasy world of the left, there can be no permanent things, which goes a long way toward explaining the systematic spiritual incompleteness it engenders.

That is to say, in reality, we are only made "complete" with reference (and in living relation) to things that are not only permanent, but outside and beyond us. Exclude these things from an education, and it is like excluding the answer from the equation. Or insisting there is no right answer, just meaningless equations for which we may supply our own answers.

Therefore, ironically, there is a kind of faux completeness to the left, something that has been true since at least Karl Marx. That is, Marx had all the answers; Marxism is a complete system that unfolds with scientific inevitability (the source of the progressives delusion that the left side is the right side of history). As with Islam, if it's not in the book, then it's untrue. Likewise scientism, despite Godel's assurances that such (merely) logical completeness is strictly impossible.

And nothing could possibly be as joyously incomplete as a genuine religious education, since this education is precisely a lifelong process of completing oneself via a living relationship with permanence as such.

"No real teacher can doubt that his task is to assist his pupil to fulfill human nature against all the deforming forces of convention and prejudice" (Bloom).

Which means that academia is overflowing with unreal teachers who deny and stunt human nature with deforming forces of social convention and ideological prejudice.

Friday, November 14, 2014

You Can Learn A Lot From a Political Sociopath

About the authoritarian liberal bullshit machine (which is as close to perpetulant emotion as we'll ever get): Green writes that "when language becomes dislocated from truth, some power or set of powers other than truth is at work."

And among other things, it is always a narcissistic power -- or must partake of pathological narcissism -- since it sets the self over and above the truth it is designed to serve. It renders one superior to truth, something that is actually impossible in principle, since there can be nothing higher than truth. Therefore it is an absurdity.

It turns out that Milton was on the case four centuries ago, observing that when language "becomes irregular and depraved," it is followed by the "ruin and degradation" of the people, who become "listless, supine, and ripe for servitude." Low-information, servile, dependent -- when the left talks about its "ground game," these are the medullards it needs to rouse from the couch in order to support their masters on election day. Then they can go back go sleep.

But we can of course go back even further, since Christianity revolves around this question of Word and embodied truth. Words ultimately matter because the Word is en-mattered.

Two forms of corruption may enter language, one in the space between words and reality, another in the space between speaker and listener.

Note that modernism put the kibosh on the first, while postmodernism eradicates the second. In other words, Kant says we cannot know the world, only our own ideas about it, while Derrida and the rest of the postmodern rabble say we can't even do that -- rather, only issue words about words about words, in the absurcular conspiring fraud known as tenure.

Green references our good friend Josef Pieper, who says that "sophisticated language, disconnected from the roots of truth.... invariably turns into an instrument of power."

I've mentioned before that working with severely mentally ill patients can offer insight into the workings of the relatively sane, because they have the same mechanisms we do, only hypertrophied and distorted, e.g., splitting and projection. No doubt Pieper gained insight into the everyday pathologies of language by observing the Nazis up close.

If one is not guided by truth, then to what is one oriented? This question implies a telos to thought, but here again modernity has cut us off from this path. To insist that such a path exists is to exile oneself from the powerworld of the left.

Recall the two spaces, between person and world, and person and person. If there isn't truth between person and person, then what? Whoever "is guided by something other than the truth," writes Pieper, "no longer considers the other as partner, as equal. In fact, he no longer respects the other as a human person."

Which brings us right back to Jonathan Gruber and ObamaCare: he acknowledges that the Obama administration lies to us because we are stupid. But it's really the other way around: they first contemptuously deprive us of our personhood ("bitter clingers," and all the rest), then exert power over us, being that the lie is in the service of the greater end of power. "Such speech," adds Pieper, is "in contradiction to the nature of language," since it "intends not to communicate but to manipulate."

Remember, in our nation, ultimate power resides in the citizenry. Therefore, every time the state lies to us, it is for the purpose of transferring some of that power to itself.

Or in other words, the Obama administration cannot speak the truth, for it would empower the citizenry over and against the state. Gruber is absolutely correct that ObamaCare could never have passed under such circumstances of transparency and allegiance to truth (and reality).

And of course, the left destroys the human person at its very conception -- both literally and figuratively. The rest, you might say, is commentary. Which is to say, words about words, no longer grounded in the reality of the logos-infused person.

Politics also takes place in a space -- the space between citizens and state. Yes, there is power in this space, but the powers are enumerated, limited, and, most importantly, derived from the consent of the governed.

What if this space is filled with lies instead of truth? Then there is a total inversion, as the state then functions to exert its power to enforce a false and deviant version of reality. Instead of illumination and liberation, language is deployed for the purposes of "manipulation and domination."

The bottom line, since I'm short on time:

[T]he abuse of political power is fundamentally connected with the sophistic abuse of the word, indeed, finds in it the fertile soil in which to hide and grow... so that the latent potential of the totalitarian poison can be ascertained, as it were, by observing the symptom of the public abuse of language. --Josef Pieper

The credo of the left: come for the lies, stay for the power.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood, and I Chose Authoritarian Liberal Bullshit Forever

Liberal compassion lends itself to bullshit by subordinating the putative concern with efficacy to the dominant but unannounced imperative of moral validation and exhibitionism. --William Voegeli

Probably the most serious domestic problem we face is the existence of this pervasive liberal bullshit, which is really just Christian bullshit in disguise; or a hollowed out Christianity that leaves only empty gestures of "peace on earth and good will toward all mankind." If this had been a Buddhist, or Muslim, or pagan country, no doubt the bullshit would have a different flavor.

Liberals and conservatives generally have similar notions of what it means to "be a good person," and these notions are rooted in our Judeo-Christian heritage. There is no politician, for example, who advertises a disinterest in, or lack of compassion for, "the poor."

This may have nothing to do with the actual poor, but rather, with upholding the Christian image: liberal bullshitters "are more concerned with conveying their ideals, of which idealized understandings of their true selves are a central component, than with making statements that correspond scrupulously to empirical or causal reality."

Thus, the typical liberal program "might actually work to some degree, but any such efficacy is inadvertent and tangential to the central purpose: demonstrating the depths of the prescriber’s concern for the problem and those who suffer from it, concerns impelling the determination to 'do something' about it."

One of Obama's problems is that he confuses the politician's tactical but empty gestures of compassion with coercive prescriptions that are supposed to actually be effective in the real world. In other words, he seems to believe everything he learned in college, whether it is about central planning, or "white privilege," or America's destructive role in the world. He is cynical about everything but his own bullshit.

There are only three ways to gain real knowledge: authority, reason, and experience. Experience and reason -- or sad history and sober common sense -- prove the inefficacy of liberalism, so it must ultimately root its appeal in authority (which is enforced via shame-inducing social mechanisms such as political correctness).

Yesterday I watched a bit of Hardball while exercising, and there was an outlandishly arrogant roundtable segment devoted to ridiculing conservatives over global warming. All four individuals are utterly convinced that a thing called "science" is in unanimous agreement about the issue, when this is not only demonstrably false, but slowly moving in the other direction, as more and more informed people reject the theory.

The Christian too believes in authority, but not to the exclusion of reason and experience. Rather, the opposite: just as we do not believe in a God who created a deceptive world, we do not believe in authoritative climate models that have not only failed to predict the future, but can't even retrodict the past.

As mentioned yesterday, science cannot function outside a wider context; it cannot be its own context without generating intellectual absurdities and human cruelties. In other words, it cannot be only human without becoming subhuman.

No, we don't mean this in a polemical way. For example, a strict Darwinian by definition reduces the human to the animal, and the animal to something less. That is, his first principle is not "life," let alone "person," but rather, copying error + environmental selection.

Green agrees that "science can live and prosper and develop only when it is related to a larger understanding of reality -- that is, only within a certain vision of the nature of things." But modernity essentially is a science "severed from its origin" and divorced from its foundation in a more comprehensive and integrated worldview.

Or, one could say that the separation occurred with modernity, the divorce with postmodernity. This means that the accumulated wealth of community property had to be divided and assigned to each side. Science was granted custody of truth, while the humanities were given beauty, and compassion handed off to the "social sciences."

But unfortunately, the latter two cannot flourish in a single-parent household, for beauty without truth redounds to hedonism, deception, or banality, while benevolence without truth leads to the idiot compassion of liberal bullshit.

"When you remove beauty from the human equation, it is going to come back in some other form, even as anti-beauty. A good deal of modern art can be understood in this light. In modernity, beauty has been seen as an appearance -- ornamentation, sugar coating. Secularists and believers alike have either rejected beauty altogether or argued that beauty should make the pills of truth and goodness go down easier" (Wolfe).

And what is truth violently wrenched from its sister transcendentals? I don't know. Maybe like an endless Hardball roundtable, or authoritarian liberal bullshit forever.

A Christian understanding of the intellectual life must take into account -- contrary to the typical modern understanding -- the inherently moral nature of knowledge, the way knowledge is linked to the heart and will of the knower... --Bradley Green

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Principle Wonks and Policy Wankers

One irritating term that needs to be retired is "policy wonk." Have you noticed that everyone who is described as one just happens to be a liberal idiot?

I think this is because it is analogous to being a tree wonk and thereby systematically missing the forest. What we need is more righteous principle wonks. Ronald Reagan is an obvious example of a principle wonk: freedom, low taxes, strong defense, limited government, etc.

Obama is often described as a policy wonk, but, like Reagan, he is and always has been a principle wonk. It's just that his brand of ideological wonkery champions false and deviant principles: income redistribution, expansion of the state, weakness abroad, racial grievance, feminist penis envy, climate change, illegal immigration, etc.

I'm guessing that so-called wonks on both sides start with principles (either explicit or implicit) and then find the data they need to support them. Which is unnecessary if you simply begin with the correct principles, and let reality take care of the rest.

For example, we don't need a study to prove whether, say, equality before the law is a good idea. Even if someone were to come up with data showing it to be a harmful idea (for example, because it provokes envy of people who accomplish more with their freedom and equality), we still wouldn't reject it.

But for several decades now, the wonkers of the left have been busy eroding the very principles that uphold our civilization, under the guise of "policy." They then elevate policies to principles, which renders them incapable of thought (because they are excluded from the ground of reality).

To cite an obvious example, marriage is perhaps the most important pre-political principle of civilization. Until just a couple of decades ago, no one considered it to be in the realm of political policy. Even if someone showed us data suggesting that it isn't harmful to deprive a child of a mother and father, we would reject the whole idea on principle, because it is self-evidently loony (not to mention in defiance of biological reality).

The minimum wage is another example. If one understands the principle of supply and demand, then it is impossible to be fooled into believing that an increase in the cost of labor will have no effect on its demand.

Likewise socialized medicine: it does not work because it cannot work. Why? Among other reasons, because it destroys the information necessary to rationally calculate prices and thereby allocate scarce resources. No amount of government benevolence can replace the information it destroys through socialism, because, for all practical purposes, the amount is infinite (and certainly unknowable by any human being or group of human beings).

An economy is an infinitely complex, self-organizing, information processing organism. The ham-handed, truth-destroying, visibly grubby hand of the state sees to it that prices cannot reflect costs, which creates further distortions from which the state then proposes to rescue us. Same deal with the college bubble. Subsidization by the state increases demand, which increases cost, which calls for more subsidization.

In The Gospel and the Mind, the author demonstrates how the abandonment of Christian principles leads directly to intellectual insanity. This no doubt sounds polemical, but the insanity is here, and it has a rational explanation. It didn't "just happen." Rather, it happened because certain principles were abandoned and others adopted.

Beginning at the beginning, we must ask ourselves if the human mind is capable of knowing truth. If it isn't, then there can be no rational principles at all -- or no rational reason to put our faith in them.

To put it another way, we must inquire into whether it is possible for our minds to be "saved." As Green writes, if we are redeemed by Christ, then this must include the whole man, including the intellect. I would go further and say that, since the intellect is what truly defines man and sets him apart from the animals, then salvation bloody well better include it!

What is the alternative -- that Christ redeems our bodies but not our minds? No, that is the way of the left: the so-called "sexual revolution," for example, liberated the body (as if it can be isolated from the person). How did that work out? Any time a leftist uses the word "liberation," it's time to reach for your revolver, because your intellect is being liberated from your soul, in preparation for your power being liberated from your person and your money from your wallet.

The state not only has a vital interest in our being unable to think things through, but in denying access to the very principles that make this thinking-through possible. Or just say public education. If you don't believe me, then believe the refreshingly candid Jonathan Gruber. An honest liberal could never do all these wonderful things for to us.

A public, secularized education deprives us of the overall vision whereby knowledge finds its proper place. Absent this hierarchical vision, knowledge can just as easily become demonic, or even just sterile, and certainly dis-organizing.

As Green writes, the Christian vision of God, man, and cosmos "provides the necessary substructure, or precondition, for meaningful and enduring intellectus (understanding)." This doesn't necessarily mean our principles are correct, but it does mean that they are explicit and consistent.

These principles touch on ontology (the nature of being), on anthropology (the nature of man), and on epistemology (the nature of knowledge). Is a liberal politician ever explicit about his principles? If he is, then he cannot be consistent -- and certainly not electable -- which is why he doesn't go there.

"Without certain key theological realities and commitments," writes Green, "the cultivation of an enduring intellectual and cultural life becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible." Of note, this does not imply that the left is beholden to no "theological realities and commitments." Rather, we just have to find out what they are, because these strange gods will explain the falseness -- and resultant dysfunction -- of everything else about them.

To be continued...