Sunday, March 04, 2012

If imams wrote like this

I'd be less Islamophobic.

A very orthodox Catholic priest chimes in on Church and State, something all those "social justice" nuns and Catholic Democrats might remind themselves about:

Ask everybody and they’ll all agree it’s a good thing priests don’t run the world.
I agree with this view.
I also believe it’s even better that members of religious orders don’t run the world, whether they are Sisters of Mercy or, lemme think, Jesuits … or some other kind of religious.
Religious don’t live in the real world.
Don’t get me wrong; I believe firmly that many religious do alot of good for the world, but they don’t live in it.
Sure there are exceptions of savvy religious who know the score, especially those who may have had a career before entering religious life.  But in general, religious formed in community don’t live in the real world.
For example, unlike diocesan priests, individual religious don’t pay income taxes. Religious don’t worry about unemployment, health care, food, housing and nursing care when they are aged, or the cost of their funerals. Their religious communities take care of all that. Religious contribute all of what little (or in some cases much) money they earn from their apostolates into a common fund that is administered by their superiors. That common fund takes care of the needs of all community members.
That’s why I get a little edgy hearing religious talking about social justice, universal health care and other federal mandates and entitlements.
The idea that religious have of the state is far too analogous to that of a religious community.
Time and time again religious who pronounce themselves on social issues demonstrate that they think of nation-states, such as the USA, in religious terms.  Nation-states are their communities writ large, in which everybody helps everybody else, and in which goods are distributed not on the basis of property rights, but instead, as in the Acts of the Apostles, “distribution is made to each according to his need” (Acts 4:35).
According to this model, wealthy Americans should “pay their fair share” in federal and state income taxes in order to help those who are poor.
I happen to agree with that sentiment.
The wealthy should help the poor. Jesus taught that. The Church Fathers taught that long before modern popes wrote encyclicals (just read St. John Chrysostom or St. Augustine of Hippo).
But what Jesus, the Acts of the Apostles and the Church Fathers all had in common in this regard is that they were talking about voluntary charity. They were not talking about the state.
The state is a modern institution and it is based upon coercion.
If you don’t believe that, go and break a law and see what happens to you.
The power of the state may in some places derive from the consent of the governed, but in no place do individual members or even the majority, consent to each and every act of the state.
If you don’t believe that, try stopping an abortion and see what happens to you.
When the government collects income taxes, it is not passing the basket at church, asking you to perform a voluntary act of charity (pace William Buffett): it is seizing your property. If you don’t hand over your property, the state will garnish your wages and/or confiscate and sell your house and goods. It may also put you in prison.
Where’s the voluntary in that?
In the national conversation Americans are currently having over the federal government takeover of health care, what gets obscured is the distinction between the public sector and the voluntary sector, that is, between the state and the Church.
It’s the role of members of any church to practice charity.  The state’s role in our lives is, with our consent, coercive.  But its coercive power should be limited.
If you allow the distinction between the political and religious spheres to be blurred, and if you begin romantically to think of the state as a kind of big religious community, you will end up thinking just like Mussolini: the state should own everything and provide you with all your needs.
When religious behave like this we call them a community.
When states behave like this we call them fascist.
What he says of nuns and such is also true of academics in the university system. They have to function in the real world, but their workplace is a kind of unreal womb...except if you are a member of the exploited class of the non-tenured, for whom "social justice" is a laugh.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll bite: why does he end with warning Catholics of "fascism" rather than "socialism"? Because "socialism" isn't a scare word (OWS protesters carry'd 'Jesus was a socialist' placards)?

or because in fact corporatist theories such as perhaps Mussolini's declare the state properly not a religious community but the instrument of the religious community? and thus the corporatist concept of the state is really the more applicable to communitarian principles than is the socialist principle of ownership by the state, which is to be own'd by the vanguard of the nearly universal proletarian class?

But what really does his objection to corporatism amount to? Maybe that a member can opt out of a religious community or an ecclesial denomination -- as indeed religious communities and ecclesial denominations can expel members. Because religious communities and ecclesial denominations have alienated the monopoly on legitimate coercion to "the state" as such.

Anonymous said...

The argument, then, depends upon residual individuality in men. For example, Hobbesian men retain the natural right to life absolutely even when they have alienated their original natural right to everything to the sovereign; so much so that Hobbes admits that a murderer has the right to flee from the state in order to preserve his life. All other freedoms including to interpret Holy Writ belong to the sovereign -- although the sovereign perhaps won't think to assert this right, just as he will perhaps be pleased to not take on the burden of providing for the 'economic' needs of any and all citizens as dependents. (An enlighten'd despot looks to take the easiest path! ... we could look to the lifestyle of the Sultans if that weren't an orientalist violation the dignity of Islamic culture/s and spiritualities.)

But as to imposing a burden on the rich to care for the poor (I remember the parody rallying slogan at the University of Toronto "Make the Rich Pay For the Struggles of the Poor!"), the very orthodox Catholic priest gives no reason why the sovereign over the state shouldn't so coerce the rich -- unless perhaps that would require too much effort of supervision by the Sovereign.

He agrees that his "sentiment" congrues with "distribution to each according to his need" (Acts 4:35).

The old neo-conservatives such as George Gilder (who accepted no property rights except as provisionally beneficial to the most unfortunate: the preferential option for the poor, John Rawls etc, for reality) realistically point out that the first half of this economic foundation "from each according to his ability" is probably to be undone by such redistribution (even supposing that the redistribution is done by competent experts, the philosopher-kings of Plato's republic, who re-arrange ownership according to suitability in naturing by the noble [gennaios, vornehm] lie).

Anonymous said...

If 'sentiment' admittedly does not yield much in terms of "distribution according to needs," then we may suppose that "from each according to his ability" won't be forth coming from 'sentiment' alone. Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau all agree that natural man has no sympathy or whatnot for other Selfs that bears comparison with his self-love.

Marx too: somehow from the dire needs of political struggle against the bourgeoisie a communitarian political class will develop, but this is for the sake of the emphatically solitary lifestyle activities anticipated in the era of communism. We do not hear that the communist Self welcomes his neighbours arriving with demands for some of his morning hunting, afternoon fishing, evening cattle-rearing, and after-dinner critical critiqueing so that they can have their own personal "free development" off on his dime!

And indeed historically Marxist-Leninist cultures have been so hostile to 'parasites' that we may take them as the finest examplars of group social Darwinism. "If a man is not a Stakhanovite, neither shall he eat!" (2Thess 3:10 MSV).

Nevertheless Marx simultaneously insists right in the same text (German Ideologyt, p. 160 Tucker ed) that the "mutual interdependence" of all "individuals" is the foundation of "the community." As if no "individual" could venture to exploit "the community" for his own vanity.

Anonymous said...

But if a very active Sovereign, say Hiero, ask'd this priest how he can object to coercion when the coercion would only force him to do what he thinks is right ("forced to be free" was Rousseau's phrase), what would the priest reply?

I don’t say no reply is possible, but the reply must be a serious ‘anthropology’ e.g. that of Thomas Aquinas, with a subsidiary place for the state and its proper ‘temporal’ concerns, below the Church and her eternal or spiritual concerns, etc.

A "desublimation" anthropology is not sufficient to limit the state, since the Sovereign will enquire into the 'missing link.' How is it that man became deluded to fancy he has sublime purposes in his nature? For 'desublimation' obviously must be only a corrective measure, the way Nietzsche intended his "immoralism" for correcting the bad unnaturalness of Christianization of man. But immoralism was not the purpose, only part of the preparation for the superman who declares 'thus ego will'd' the eternal return of the self, namely the ego sum who takes conscious responsibility and glory for the "cycle" that historians variously vaguely refer to.

If desublimation debunks Christian and even Freudian and American moral idealism, then presumably it also debunks communitarian idealism.

Admittedly, even nothingess doesn't matter if desublimation is the ultimate purpose. Accordingly, one may agree that desublimation has no objection to "social programmes" and "health care reform" -- but only as formats for desublimation of family and community and tradition etc. Definitely desublimation must insist that there is no important purpose in social programmes since for desublimation there must be no important purpose in anything. Freud desublimated many cultural items -- e.g. the sentiment that children are born in Rousseauan innocency -- but he maintain'd a programme for repression and sublimation, as did Augustine who also deny'd the innocency of infants.

In contrast to desulbimation, Nietzsche's immoralism, had the important purpose of defeating Christian moral idealism instincts, and preparing for the superman of "thus ego will'd the eternal return."

But it should be easy for a very orthodox Catholic priest to bring in Thomas Aquinas to dispel not only Western Christians' lazy wish to have 'social programmes' fulfil their obligations to one's neighbours, and to the destitute and to civilization generally, and without ending in a doctrine or reality of totalitarian statism.

Anonymous said...

Aquinas might reason us into accepting that noble is better than base and so on, but who really wishes for 'egalitarianism'? Destitute blacks in America enthuse for Barack and Michelle Obama. ... None of us wishes to see an NHL game or a symphony where everyone performs regardless of talent. We sort-of want to be able to declare an equality of all identity population groups in IQ and LSAT etc (gentile whites and Jewish whites).

Against Kantians if not Kant, we fancy that there is enough "moral" equality to validate one-man-one-vote democracy. But to the extent that we are able to take morality, spirituality, devotion etc at all seriously, we don't wish for equality in them, and indeed we don't find equality in them.

We do wish to find that worldly prestige and affluence don't correlate with spiritual and moral worth: we like to be able to suppose that real love or real devotionalness to dharma or nirvana is not likely to be found among CEOs (although low-class whites should be both economically challenged and spirituo-morally odious, especially if Christian. Also, the popes and the conservative converts form Protestantism who ruin'd Catholicism's last best hope in the spirit of V2).

World mysticisms exalt various saints and adepts and lamas higher than ordinary purchasers of books on spirituality. "Equality" is simply a word asserted in activist journalism and OWS marches to slap around the 1%, demand more social spending etc from governments.

We want liberté from lifestyle hassles by authorities, including government. We like fraternité with people who are likeable. But a culture of egalité would be unendurably boring!

Anonymous said...

»Who still wants to be an individual? Who still wants to be incorporated in corporatism? Both require too much exertion! .. Going to the madhouse of desublimation is preferable.«

Anonymous said...

Actually, if Islamic clergy did write that sort of thing, Wow! the islamaphobia that would spout from the MSM and the NCC and the NCCB. Feminist theologians at EDS would start burning a Quran a day in the quad and vow not to stop until Muslims started declaring Ismaili Islam the only Islam with any right to a future. etc. ...

And, as I have always personally recommended, the western media would start pervading that westerners assume -- no big deal and as a matter of course, yet still mildly amused at the blunt lack of self-knowledge -- that because of orientational confusion, Muslim clerics are pushing chadors to remove from view the gender that ought to be inducing sexual arousal in them yet somehow strangely aren't. Because obviously real hetero guys would reject any religion that removes their objects of desire from view -- except for female relatives, whom one obviously ought not desire.

In the transitional era, when Islamist Sharia hasn't been imposed, hetero Muslim guys can see beautiful kuffar coeds (jahilbait?)all over the place. But when Islamist Sharia is imposed on all public spaces, and even kuffar Christian girls and Jewesses must don chadors, they will be in as much libidinous shock as hetero kuffar guys.

I'll be a nervous wreck in ongoing erotic cold turkey, bereft of visual bliss, and women and girls will have to do without the delight in being seen -- simply the desublimation crowd, whose leading lights have all unpickwickianly died, wouldn't make do with the restrictures of Freudian disclosures, and insisted on replacing all genealogical psychology with bodhi snatching "traditionalism."

We get the outline of Simone de Beauvoir's new woman when in "The Second Sex" she sets forth in chapter 24 the Christian mystic nun et al as the forerunner of or lead-in to the new (traditionalist) »Independent Woman« -- sc apparently independent of man within the tents weaved by Shem.

The female saints were indeed all cover'd up in habits and wimples. Fine, but such clothing wasn't imposed on all women and girls in Christendom, only on the nuns. Pius 12 didn't expect or even ask Catholic coeds to dress like nuns!

... I'd write more, but I've gotta get ready for participating in an Occupy Potemkim Street rally tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I maybe should add that the America Qutb inveighs against in "The America I Have Seen" was publisht in 1951, based on a trip through America in 1948-50. He dreads that this America should lead the world.

That is to say, the nightmare of shame-based repression and sublimation that the apostles of desublimation perceived in America is for Qutb shameless sexualness. America in 1948 was still nearly 20 years form the summer of love, and about 25 years from Gay Liberation.

We may feel that Qutb's point is valid against the wall-to-wall porno and "slutwalk" culture -- when Congressional committees investigate whether America is losing out on the need for more and more lawyers because ambitious talented coeds are disinclined to attend elite Catholic law schools because of the added costs of contraception -- and when "conservative" cultural commentators readily use the term "slut" and demand sex video tapes to masturbate to from any woman whose contraceptive medicines are pay'd for by medical insurance.

(It must feel very difficult to will these things. I guess that's why Marcuse call'd them "repressive" desublimation.)

But Qutb objects to jazz music, for instance: »The [sc white, standard-issue] American is primitive in his artistic taste, both in what he enjoys as art and in his own artistic works. “Jazz” music is his music of choice. This is that music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite bestial tendencies on the other.

»The American’s intoxication in “jazz” music does not reach its full completion until the music is accompanied by singing [re Louis Armstrong?] that is just as coarse and obnoxious as the music itself.«

Qutb seems to object most of all to the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside (sc thanks to Nietzsche)."

He decrees that American women (presumably also Parisian women, Italian women, et al) should feel totally ashamed of and not enjoy awareness of any desireableness. ... On the one hand, it's sad that Qutb never got the chance to read "Love, Covenant and Meaning." Secondly, obviously he must wish to suppress Song of Songs and 1Corinthians 7:32-4.

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