A Correspondence with an Acquaintance.
Alex Towery 06-28-2020
I think that the whole idea of God isn’t even coming into objection. The qualities of divinity are not high on the mind of the polity.
The best political idea that I've come across is that the ‘left’ takes the high and the right owns the low. … The vision is the divisor.
The left is aiming high, looking at goodness in the mirror, seeing thy reflection as righteous and, indeed, holy in the sense of divination, but that explicit self-reflection is not self-actualized because 1: they are not gods. 2: religion, the idea of God, perhaps, is complex, full of parables and buzzing lights that distract but, necessarily, orient in the abstract, the uncritical masses.3. People are identifying as groups – easily defined (i.e. POC, BLM, LatinX, etc. ) who are easily divided, and their culture is more easily constructed by politicians taking the low and writing the high. Identifying with the group, the taxonomer, the classificatory structure, not themselves, the individual, the self-conceptual. (Don’t be cynical. individuals can just as much influence their communities and culture, more powerfully, toward higher precepts or very low and brute tactics if they just say something, normalize a practice, and in-form on the discourse. )
That’s what’s so disturbing about the American right. (the right defines) The American right has taken upon itself the Church, having lackey theologians concern the faith with the political machination. We have pastors and high priests, but today the Word is obstructed, in bad faith, taught to the parish in the dialectic of the unholy, lowly, and evil and pronounced as good, beneficent, right and distinctive. Politics and religion are always intertwined… But the state, for the sake of Republic, has declinated the court’s distinction and necessary separation from the guiding light: replaced it with a false idol, good and evil, known as the codified law.
I notice that the new left speaks with a self-regard that leaves no real room for discourse. Discourse is not even wanted, so that room is discounted before the fact. What people, namely young, ‘believe,’ if it’s anything distinct, is in thyself. They believe in their own self-righteous virtue, ‘facts’, memeolgy, university accreditation. That’s because that is what they’ve been told, by their school teachers, pastors, and college professor. Expertise in this society doesn’t have a nerve anymore. You don’t hear level, empathetic, and loving people call out and bite the wrongheadness of the bark. I fear that its not because of indifference or that they fear the lickspittle, but abandonment from the academy or the ‘group’.
They think they know the Delphic maxim: to know thyself. No one knows, including myself. We don’t know because we are not the last man. History is not dead. They are caught up, like myself, in a groupish distinction. The identity of a people, a group, the ‘blob’, the ‘civil service,’ not universally, like that of ‘we the people,’ is not of the people, the whole social construction. The people, to both the left and right – if I am to use their own scripted terminology – is just their twitterverse, or the sights on TV, their family, their digital and environmental understanding of social reality, which is unreality, par excellence – perhaps.
And I am not slighting the technology companies in the slightest bit. They understand the beast they’ve created. If they don’t, we all die. As someone who studies existential risk and global catastrophic events, their values and actions, most importantly, are well understood by me. ( @ Twitter, Google, Microsoft, IBM, the IC, New York Times, BBC, etc.). The beast is dangerous.
In that reality, from the informational diet that's more digitally augmented than organic, in the case of the petty radical, is very simple. The informational complexity is rote and ritual. The words that enter the semantic sensorium, which is the interface – the brain and the UI – isn’t complex. It’s a recursive feedback loop into a niche universe of social understanding and non-experience experience.
In that universe, the code of language, the identity they develop, the groups they define, codify, put into distinction and in-form to the ‘other’, in the American mind, considers that which is not a ‘member,’ an ‘initiate,’ a self-proclaimed zealot and adherent in the public domain that is no longer neutral, but derisively political, is an interloper: a person who is sometimes or often regarded as evil, or, quite importantly, ‘disgusting’. No one listens. It’s all noise.
Jonathan Haidt is a force of mind. He talks about disgust and morality in politics and society. He speaks on the degradation of intellectuality on campus, rife among undergraduates, sometimes among professors, in the political discussions they have and engage publicly in practice. If I synthesize his work, I will get it wrong. He is superbly internally complex, an academic that I recommend you all read and share – right and ([but] especially) the left. Be critical, as always, of Haidt, but he is worth reading and understanding.