Saturday, February 25, 2012

Meandering on the line

I remember being struck once by a thought, many years ago and in a quite different situation, that went like this: "In order to possess what you most value, you may often have to tolerate what you detest."

It should not be surprising if that thought were true, in a world well described by John Kekes as one of "scarcity, contingency and flaw."  Because there is never enough of anything for people to have what they desire, requiring competition and gain-and-loss, because the unexpected and unplanned-for is always happening, and because human beings are a complex mix of goodness and evil, with the evil part not negligible.


Following links, I wound up in the comments section of the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper with its feet planted firmly in 1968. An article about possible successors to the current pope included the usual concern about an American as being too tied to a "superpower". One indignant commentor, indicative of the temper and brains of most of them, opined, "Who said America is a 'superpower'? What about the Eurozone?"



Words have definitions --or at least they used to. Of late it seems that Humpty Dumpty is in charge of Webster's. "Marriage" suddenly has nothing to do with gender. And in England the Minister for Equalities points out that in order to achieve equality, some people will have to be treated better than others...But words also have connotations, which shift from context to context. Emanations and penumbras, for you Constitutional scholars. Consider the different hues in these uses:
The Libyan dictator took on the title of Commander of the Faithful.
The Holy Father asked all the faithful to pray for peace.
The first feels distinctly martial, a group to taken seriously, the second much more bovine...or whatever the latinate adjective is for herds of sheep...ovine?
On average, women live longer than men.
This administration supports the health rights and choices of women.
Sister Liberty Dancing on the Bodies of Dead Men

Number one seems just factual and descriptive. Number two uses the word as a flag, where "woman" is code for "wymyn, those very special creatures who have been so downtrodden and now deserve everything free, you putz". That's how it sounds whenever La Pelosi says it, anyway.

Definition is important. So is connotation.


Over at Blackfriars in Oxford, they have a lecture on about how their people are trying to redevelop economics as a moral science. When most Catholics, der Papst included, start talking about economics and politics, ---Justice and Peace---I can almost hear all their unhinged heads cramming themselves up their pious asses. They should be required to chant "scarcity, contingency and flaw" all during Lent. Yeah, economics and politics, two of the items Jesus spent most of his time lecturing on and which Christians are supremely talented at....not. OMG. Just what we have too much of and don't need any more of. How about economics as a realistic science? Which is what I used to think "science" meant.


Anonymous said...

Re: "In order to possess what you most value, you may often have to tolerate what you detest."

Didn't John Locke say this to the daimones of the English? They most valued religious freedom, and accordingly would have to forgo using even implicit "dominion founded in grace" to shut down irritating sects?

What's the evolutionary missing link between Lockean liberalism, which did not neglect all focus on the realities Hobbes and Machiavelli disclosed, and pseudo-Rousseauan liberalism, which sort-of believes that humans are spontaneously good (though not in Rousseau's way) and are corrupted by racism sexism and classism which somehow occur into man from outside man, very deeply yet also totally extraneously?

The prime difficulty is that the post-Lockean liberals don't exactly say that man qua man, or humanity qua humanity if I must be inclusive, is good. They don't exactly say that evil occurs in man from outside man. ... Darwinians can't help because 'good' and 'evil' are not moral but adaptive qualities. War or welfare may be deem'd maladaptive for particular ends asserted unteleologically, but neither 'good' nor 'evil' nor any other value judgment is metaphysical. (The human digestive tract is 'good' for E. coli.)

The goodness of the Rousseauan Self is solitariness, echo'd in Marx's anticipation of the Communist era in which every Self will be free from intereference as he does whatever he wishes 'exactly as I have a mind" (German Ideology).

"Community" is for Rousseau a denaturing of the solitary happy man, and he can point to history and cultural anthropology to establish that "groups" aren't the spontaneous soft cooperative mutual supportivenesses that are the implicit goal of every "social programme" or "para church ministry."

Won't these spontaneous soft cooperative mutual supportivenesses fall beneath Nietzschean contempt for the last man who puts no longing into self-overcoming? No, we will have 'dangerousness' in clothing, and in trash talk rudeness.

Plus, in the interminable transitional era, one can exert Resistance! against racism sexism classism which is heroic and spirited etc, which surely establishes that one isn't a 'last man' (one may do "Resistance!" even when one puts no longing into self-overcoming. On the other hand, Nietzsche wouldn't have us suppose that "social programmes" obstruct longing for releasing the bent bow at the most distant goals, even if he would also point out that releasing the bent bow in a longing for desublimational self-overcoming doesn't evade the eventual dilemma of either self-disgust or the Superman who doesn't contain the wastelands that occur when Selfs refuse to revere themselves in the least.

Okay, maybe Islamic lackey caliphs would try to contain such wastelands, but Islam didn't fare well against Christendom's politics, nor yet the aftermath of the French Revolution's abolition of Christendom. Muslims went all-out for Western secularisms. They didn't fancy that Islam was the ready straight path to shut down Nietzsche. They supposed that the Leadership principle, as first exemplify'd by Il Duce but quickly appropriated by the "Left" (those that need not defend their foundations because they are — leftwing!).

Anonymous said...

Sayyed Qutb in the intro to his Milestones (Wegmerken fürs Volk?) is clear that Islam can enter and dominate the West only because the West has somehow been "deprived" of value (sc has given up revaluation, and gone all out for desublimation in hopes that an Islamic Lord will take pity on her):

»The leadership of mankind by Western man is now on the decline, not because Western culture has become poor materially or because its economic and military power has become weak. The period of the Western system has come to an end primarily because it is deprived of those life-giving values which enabled it to be the leader of mankind.«

But in this case -- if the West has simply abandon'd Plato, Homer, the Old Testament, Jesus and Paul and Augustine and Machiavelli and Luther and Hobbes and Spinoza et al on up to Nietzsche and Heidegger -- she has no need of a masterful external Ruler. She has unbent her bow successfully via desublimation, and can now do an ordinary semi-fascistic clampdown against too much licentiousness so that the basic necessities of family and law and order can go on. What difference is there in complaining against intra-West betrayer foursquare rulers and intruding foursquare rulers?

On the other hand, if a Caliphate encounters ongoing Plato-Nietzsche problematics in the West, Islam will be no more successful than it was against the Christian kings or the British imperialists.

If "we" can all covenant to not consider the OT, Plato, Machiavelli, Hegel et al, then we don't need Islam to put our house - now disarray'd by desublimation -- in order. But if islamic rulers are needed because Islamic rulers understand how to talk to and thus dominate social stuff imbued with Christian and other biblical elements, these elements can back talk in terms of the OT and the problems of Christianity return.

Western Selfs could have let matters stand with Leibniz' dispensation for Christian kings. Perhaps They now regret the French Revolution. ... But perhaps again, as with the French Revolution and marxist communism, They over-reach with their fond plans for an obedient Islamic overlordship: all the benefits of the Bible, and none of the irksomenesses! A return to Leibniz' dispensation would seem more practicable. ... Are the Islamists to be crypto-Leibnizian Christian kings? But the whole point and necessity of anointed Christian kings is legitimacy -- worldly dominion founded in grace. Sure there's ongoing crypto-ness in Leibniz's dispensation, but not only crypto-ness.

Here's 'smore from Qutb's wishful-thinking department:
»To attain the leadership of mankind, we must have something to offer besides material progress, and this other quality can only be a faith and a way of life which on the one hand conserves the benefits of modern science and technology, and on the other fulfills the basic human needs on the same level of excellence as technology has fulfilled them in the sphere of material comfort.«

Yeah, Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon but simply in burkhas. Voilà! Historia solved. "Yes we have no genealogy."

Anonymous said...

The paradigm over-reaching should be from Rousseau. He set forth the reasons why "desublimation" is appealing: all the hassles and repressions of civilization -- one would very much like to be free from law, authority, etc.

But JJR is clear that the as if memory of an imply'd freedom-from condition does not prove that such freedom-from-ness can be restored via revolutionary religio-politics (eventually including not only the Terror and a universal dictatorship of the Party claiming to be the vanguard of the universal class, but also liquidations, death camps, killing fields, etc; not to mention infinite spy networks). All intended to provide all the comforts of technological affluence yet with the freedom from hassles enjoy'd by hypothetically solitary natural Selfs.

But the shallow and the ambitious could not leave Rousseau's dream journalling to their moments of leisure. They could not even leave it as a theme for escapist fancies of culture makers (novelists, painters et al). They could not allow that only bohemians could make some real effort to escape the bogusness and strictures of civilization (cp Christian hermits reasonably escaping the bogusness and strictures of Christianity)>

Accordingly, the Leviathan, whose purpose is to intimidate the proud, was press'd into service to enable every Self to live like the Marquis de Sade, but in freedom and with the contratulations of the new priesthood (commissars at first but then post-WW2 shrinks and eastern mystics).

Freud, who consider'd these matters very deeply, declared that repression of instincts and civilizational sublimation for will-to-power was simply necessary. Rousseau's natural man never happen'd (and can't be return'd to anyway) polymorphously perverse, which is all very well underground but impossible because the truth of nature annihilates man. (Until Nietzsche only death has been biophilic! And hitherto accordingly Life has been necrophilic.)

Marcuse de Sade noted that Freud remain'd unhappy with his adjustment of instinct and thanatos via psychoanalysis. But Freud didn't say that this unhappiness was a "problem." Marcuse did fancy this, and proposed a repressive desublimation sublimation for will-to-power -- a moral debunking of all notions of natural fulfilment in terms of civilization of thanatos.

Obviously, this programme of rigorously desublimational enculturation is unsustainable. Nature recurs in terms of general familio-social breakdown which the weak politics of Montesquieu cannot rule. Nature recurs without the least concern whether the institutions of family and society are destroy'd or not. Woodstock does not solve anything.

Along this unstraight path, neo-Islam seems to look like a solution: stuff all the polymorphous perversity back down underground, where it was before Marcuse et al recommended the repressive abolition of sublimation.

But why not a return to Christian kingship? This has been done before. Islam has never dominated the West. At most apparently some Christians have given up in the East and agreed to "live" as dhimmis.

When we consider "Eros and Civilization" esp chapter x do we get the sense that changing the labels on Western social structures from modern and residual Christian labels to Islamic labels would change the "problematics"?

Sure, the abolition of democracy in favour of a neo-Caliphate would exempt the Western demos from blame for karmic stuff, but hardly in a way less or more plausible than the long-standing right- and leftwing method of blaming interfering "elites." ("Elites" are charged by the Demos with the business of the suppress'd half of man's nature. Desublimators too make this arrangement with elites. Neo-Islamists are simply the "power elite" in beards and caftans.)

Anonymous said...

Once again, They over-reach. They could have left Nietzschean genealogical matters as resolved by Freud. So They're half-unhappy when in civilizational contexts! Tough! JJR said 250 years ago why you can't be happy. Hegel said it again. Then Freud. You can't do Woodstock 24/7. Jeesh!

But you thought doing first desublimation and then neo-Islam you can fine-tune your situation in order to make 100% certain that the Nietzschean door will never be open'd in the olam? Obviously ain't no one wish'd to open that door. You could have left the situation as is indefinitely, and put up with a little sublimation and repression in your lifestyle.

An example of how a scary problem can nevertheless go on indefinitely without inducing the event that scares: the trickery of Satan into crucifying Jesus (the classic, Pauline and Lutheran etc doctrine of the Atonement). Satan was willing to be trick'd this way because, I guess, he saw that no Self was going to take up the offer of 'eternal life.'

So the Christian Melchizedek 'capitalistically' takes the best self units for personnel and they learn to scoff secretly at the unreally present Selfs. Selfs who won't say the truth to their selfs don't somehow intrinsically _deserve_ 'automatic' Melchizedekian personnel in a non-Ego sum to serve them. Probably unreally present Selfs _should_ revere the Grand Inquisitor's personnel for their strength. They risk death, and the unreally present Selfs don't risk death -- as Hegel suggests, I guess.

Looks to me that that arrangement, which I guess Leibniz last formulated, could have endured indefinitely. Maybe it could be return'd to -- but not in a crypto-way, only in a legitimate anointed way, by Christian kings, not a neo-Islamic power elite.

That's my guess, anyway.

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