It's Christmas--so I'm taking a break. However, I came across a couple of provocative articles that I wanted to at least link to.
First up, because there's been so much commentary about secession v. revolt, is Tom Luongo's Luongo: End The Great American Myth - Secession, Not Revolution. Luongo seems to be a bit of a thinking man's Libertarian, in that he appears to sense--if not fully grasp--the shallowness of Classical Liberalism. He understands that the Classical Liberal vision of Man is patently failing, but doesn't realize that Classical Liberalism's own theoretic weaknesses--its flawed understanding of human nature and ignorance of history-- foredoomed it to failure. Nevertheless, it makes for an interesting read even if, like me, you can't totally buy into his version of American history:
... as a libertarian, I always think in terms of secession first, rather than revolution. It sits on my shoulder whispering in my ear the truth of what’s in front of us.
We’ve reached a very important moment in world history. It is that moment where the promises of classical liberalism are failing in the face of a creeping totalitarian nightmare.
America as mythology has always stood as the ‘shining house on the hill’ for this enlightened idea that the wishes of the individual pursuing his bliss creates the community and culture which lifts the world out of a Hobbesian State of Nature.
The war of all against all, (bellum omnium contra omnes).
But America as Mythology and America as Reality are two vastly different rough beasts. And it is that difference between them that is being exploited today by The Davos Crowd to set the process in motion for their next victory.
This final paragraph that I'll quote is important. We'll return to it a bit further down:
But, leftism as practiced today, is aggressive. It is rapacious and rests on the idea that no one can exist outside their preferred outcome lest anyone see their world for the nightmare it truly is.
I would contend that this aggressiveness is of the very nature of Leftism. It is, in its essence, a deluded attempt to create an alternative reality--to include the deluded attempt to change human nature from what it is to what they want it to be. It's the attempted triumph of the Will over Reality.
Next up: How Islam deified tribalism by Raymond Ibrahim. Ibrahim's thesis is basically sound:
Aside from its religious veneer, Islam can easily be defined and understood by one wholly areligious word: tribalism — the bane of any democratic or pluralistic society.
The fact is, the entire appeal of Muhammad's call to the Arabs of his time lay in its compatibility with their tribal mores, three in particular: loyalty to one's tribe, enmity for other tribes, and raids on the latter to enrich and empower the former.
Muhammad upheld the dichotomy of tribalism, but by prioritizing fellow Muslims over blood relatives. ...
Hence, the umma — an Arabic word etymologically connected to the word "mother" and which signifies the Islamic "Super-Tribe" that transcends racial, national, and linguistic barriers — was born, and its natural enemy remained everyone outside it.
Hence, the jihad was born. As only two tribes existed — the Islamic umma in one tent and the dehumanized tribes of the world in another — Muslims were exhorted to attack and subjugate all these "infidels" in order to make their Super-Tribe supreme.
In short, tribalistic blood ties were exchanged for religious — that is, Islamic — ties.
In a blog I wrote back in 2009 I touched on these same issues. However, I drew a distinction between ideology and religion. I argued that to properly understand Islam is to realize that it isn't actually a religion--it is, instead, and ideology. Or, more properly, one could describe Islam as an ideologization of a way of life--the parasitic Bedouin raiding style of life. What I mean by ideologization is that a reality--the Bedouin way of life--is reduced to an ideology that is imposed as an all embracing explanation of reality. Or, again, more properly, as an all embracing rationalization for one's preferred way of life. In this we see the essential similarity of all ideologies (as opposed to philosophy): ideology is the Will-driven attempt to impose a preferred outcome on reality. As such, ideology--despite its often technical conceptual apparatus--is essentially oriented toward action: the effort to change reality, whether my magical incantations (changing the language) or by street theater, or by serious revolutionary violence. Thus the instinctive kinship that Leftists feel toward Islam--despite Islam's distinctly illiberal practices--as well as the Left's equally instinctive hatred for Christianity, which is becoming ever more open.
Here is the second half or so of a much longer blog: Islam and Christianity--Modernity v. Tradition. Please note the parallels to the attitudes of the Left:
There are a number of points that we can draw from this. First, the similarity of Adonis' thought to that of V. S. Naipaul is immediately apparent. Naipaul, in Among the Believers, describes the way in which Islam destroys traditional cultures (more of that later) with the telling metaphor of “the desert.” Islam, says Naipaul, brings the desert of its origins wherever it spreads: a desertification of the human spirit.
How is this so? Adonis locates the problem in the concept of the “oneness” of God. For Islam, the concept of God is essentially empty: God is no more than a marker, a referent to guarantee the authority of Muhammad. But this empty One God is alone real, much as the Platonic Idea of Being. Any being other than God is created and constantly recreated from moment to moment by God, leaving no room for human freedom. This is Islamic orthodoxy, and Islam itself means precisely “submission” to this schema; the Muslim is God's “slave”--as he must be if his very existence is a series of essentially discontinuous recreations. If the life of the individual, theoretically, possesses no coherent identity or continuity, no more can the corporate life of man, as expressed in culture. “Culture” itself is a vanity, from this viewpoint. Art, music, literature--all is vanity, because it attempts to ape the One God's sole creative power. And importantly, for Islamic orthodoxy, power is the central attribute of this empty One God: since nothing can be known of God from his creation, all that is known is God's brute power, and man's one suitable response to such power is submission. Period. With the exception that Muhammad has given as God's command the injunction to force the submission of all men to that power--to that power as expressed by Muhammad. To spread this spiritual desert. All human creative impulses must, therefore, be submitted to the desert according to Orthodox Islam, and so all revivals of Islam throughout history have returned to this extreme “puritanism,” inspired by the essentially unknowable emptiness of the One God.
In these next two paragraphs, try to relate Islam to Leftist ideologies:
The appeal of Islam is clear, from this standpoint. If all are slaves, then all are essentially equal. But beyond that, Muhammad offered something more. As enunciated in the Quran, Islam is basically an ideologization of the Bedouin raiding way of life, a parasitic way of life that feeds off the more advanced cultures. But, whereas the Bedouin of the marginal lands raid and harass the settled peoples, robbing them of their women and belongings, Islam does two things: 1) it extends the scope of raiding to the entire world, and 2) it makes this raiding of the world and enforcement of submission into a command from God--theoretically, the be all and end all of the Muslim (the slave of the One God). This rationalization of what was previously mere opportunistic raiding and plundering, as part of the Bedouin way of life, and its elevation to fulfillment of the One God's will constitutes what I call “ideologization.” Its appeal is to perhaps the lowest instinct in man, the desire to dominate.
In no way can this way of life be termed a “faith.” Faith, in the Christian view, is reasoned belief or trust, and submission of the mind to reason involves dialog with reality--which is ruled out by Islam. Note that, for the Christian, faith--reasoned belief--is a function of the analogy of being. Because being is analogical rather than univocal, the concept of God is not empty but rather overwhelmingly full--full beyond human comprehension, but not beyond human capacity to at least express the truth of this proposition. And because being is analogical a reasoning creature such as man is able to approach God through reason. For Islam, on the other hand, there can be no role for reason in the submission, enslavement, of the individual to the emptiness of the One God who cannot be known by reason--whose sole claim on man is through power. Islam offers the security of societally enforced conviction--apostasy is punished by death, as is free thought. For the Christian, doubt is a concomitant to the use of reason, just as the centrality of and commitment to reason militates against enforced submission. Spengler is, in this sense, correct to say that Christianity can live with doubt--must, in fact, live with doubt--whereas Islam cannot permit of doubt without self destructing.
The role of Scripture for Christians is also different. Christianity is a response to a person, not to a book. The book, for Christianity, must always be subordinate to the faith from which the book arose--and that faith is embodied in the Church. Important as the early Christian writings of the New Testament are, they are not themselves the faith of the Church--that faith preceded the writings.
In this next paragraph, note the relationship of the modern Left to the rest of society. Everywhere a Left ideology has been imposed on an entire society the results have been catastrophically anti-human. We see this readily in the suppression of speech and thought, the emptiness and brutally anti-human nature of Leftist inspired "art" and "literature" and "music."
Now, Spengler's cryptic comment--”Islam is inseparable from the traditional life of subject peoples; it cannot find roots in the thin soil of modernity”--deserves some comment. This appears to be shorthand for a common theme in Spengler's articles, namely, that Islam is essentially identical with “traditional” cultures of third world nations (i.e., “subject peoples”)--what Mircea Eliade calls the culture of “archaic man.” This is not the case. It is true that Islam relates to “traditional life” in a parasitic manner--a life of constant raiding cannot support life. But Islam is also in constant tension with the traditional life that it dominates--for this reason. As both Chesterton and Eliade recognized, “traditional” man has an implicitly realist view of reality, implicitly accepting an analogical view of being. Contrary to the orthodox Islamic view, in which the empty One God is utterly unknowable through creation but only through Muhammad (who commands permanent jihad), archaic man sees reality as participating in divine or heavenly archetypes. This traditional view constantly seeks to reassert itself, and orthodoxy must constantly war against it--this explains the cycle of toleration and suppression of the arts in Islamic countries. As Chesterton understood, Christianity seeks to inspire traditional culture with the substance of faith. Islamic "faith" is no faith at all--it is mere submission to a spiritual desert and a will to dominate. There is no content or substance to inspire art. Christian faith has both content as well as a theoretical basis for that content. Christian faith embraces realist philosophy, the ability of reason to know not only the reality of this world but to relate that reality to the divine wisdom that is its source. Above all, as Chesterton expressed it, Christianity is a “true myth,” a truly lived life (and every life is a story) of a true man, that fulfills the deepest longings of archaic, “traditional,” man. Islam must seek to dominate and suppress “traditional” culture, but Christianity fulfills and inspires “traditional” culture.
And this is the similarity between modernist politics and Islam--as well as why modernist politics must war against Christianity. Like Islam, modernist politics must seek to suppress any appeal to transcendent truth and the cultural expressions of a worldview based on an analogical vision of being.
Finally, a link without comment:
When I was growing up I lived in a house that was full of books, and of great importance for me was my father's collection of books by Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), the great English historian. He's little known now, and sometimes sneeringly referred to as an "autodidact" and enthusiast of the Catholic nostalgia for the Middle Ages. But he was much more than that. Dawson was a philosopher of history--as you can learn from these Dawson references on this blog. In his day he was ranked with such as Toynbee and in the 60s was sought after for lectures at Harvard.
So I was delighted to discover a Twitter feed that preserves the memory of Dawson's profound understanding of the nature of Modernity. Dawson died in 1970, but already in the 1930's he had a clearly developed understanding of the coming tyranny of Modernity that we see emerging in fully developed form around us--Post Modernist, Gramscian Marxism. And the "Church of Vatican II" is among the most ardent converts to the message of the Neo-Gnostic prophet of modernity, Hegel. (See, for example, by the Italian historian Roberto de Mattei: The Roots and Historical Consequences of Modernism)
Of course, such movements of thought or of the human spirit of rebellion, have deep roots. Dawson traced those roots to the Reformation but, as I've tried to show on this blog, the roots go much deeper into the Platonic and Augustinian traditions that are the true Western tradition. Here is the tweet that first caught my attention yesterday, in which Dawson captures in his typically condensed and trenchant form (almost a paradoxical style for a shy, retiring man) the roots of Modernity in the "Reformation":
@cdawsonquotesWhat Hegel valued in the Reformation was in fact that it had destroyed the Church as a substantial unity and had restored the unity of human consciousness in one universal objective moral organism — the State.12:33 PM - 1 Mar 2019
This explains, if explanation is needed, the nature of Bergoglio's "ecumenism", which is intended to include all men in a universal earthly State without borders--one State to rule them all and in the darkness bind them. It also explains why the V2Church has no sympathy for persecuted Christians, e.g., in China or in Islamic realms.
Eric Voegelin certainly understood the kinship of these ideas to the self understanding of the world conquering Mongols, and also of Islam: for true believers of this sort, dissent is rebellion against divine law and order, not merely against a human institution.