[This is a draft which I’ll put up, subject to later revision and correction. Wanted to get something down before I forgot the point that struck me earlier today]
Contrary to what a great many lefties seem to find comfort in believing, most of us who have developed a strong intellectual contempt for leftism and its modern fascistic manifestation, did not develop this attitude from listening to Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh merely gives voice – on occasion quite effectively – to some important principles and perspectives regarding the traditional American regime of individual liberty currently under sustained assault by the morally self-deconstructed organisms of the fascist left.
While I seldom have the time or the inclination to listen to his riffs on politics, occasionally I will catch a fragment of one of his programs. Today was such an occasion. I caught about five minutes or so of what he was saying.
And what he was saying today seemed to be to the effect that the left in this country was trying to divide rather than unite, and attempting to do so through the politics of victimization rather than the politics of inspiration.
That, if I have Limbaugh pegged correctly, is a relatively common theme with him.
The standard Limbaugh “argument” on this point seems to go something like this:
Why do the Democrats and modern liberals seek to divide us through the politics of victim-hood and class conflict, rather than unite behind American ideals and inspiration?
Because, (he seems to answer,) both the Democrat Party’s raison d’etre, and the liberal grievance mill’s funding, are based on the existence of a client class which must remain a dependent and aggrieved client class in order for the Democrat Party bureaucrats and managers to justify their own parasitic existences.
Today for example, I heard him say some part of the following, (which I later looked up on his web site in order to confirm that I had gotten right what he was trying to say).
Practically every virtue and every tradition that went into building this country is under assault right now. And that’s what we find ourselves in the middle of. You can say it’s always been there, and it’s been effervescing and bubbling up and finally now it’s boiled over. But why has it boiled over it if it’s always been there? Why did nobody tamp it down? In order to keep the peace, why have efforts been made to victimize people and punish — well, no. Why has the Democrat Party willfully, eagerly, happily put people in groups, made them victims, put them on the welfare rolls, made their existence barely a subsistence? Why has there not been any effort to tamp down some of this animosity in the country and try to turn it into love?
Why has there not been an overall effort to inspire people to exercise the opportunity this country provides everybody today to be the best they can be? Where has that gone? Why is that missing? Why is now everybody a victim? Why is everybody owed something? Why is everybody a victim of the immoral, unjust founding of this country? It’s been a movement that’s been around since the beginning of the country. And rather than tamp it down, the Democrat Party has inspired it; the Democrat Party has promoted it.
It is the single source of their power: aggrieved, miserable, angry, unhappy people looking for the people they’re mad at to be gotten even with. Looking for the people they are mad at to be dealt with. Looking for the people that they’re mad at to be punished. And when it happens, they’re all happy, whether it improves their lives or not. And in most cases it doesn’t. But they don’t care because they’ve been conditioned to believe that somebody being punished, either taxes being raised or any other form of punishment, that’s justice. And the Democrat Party is the agent of that justice. The Democrat Party’s facilitating all this. That’s where its home is. None of this would be working if there were not a significant political power base propping it up as a foundation.
Now, there is probably a good deal of truth in that take.
But, in my estimation, there is an explanation for the modern liberal grievance attitude and behavior that goes somewhat deeper than the cynically and destructively manipulative calculus of professional left-wing collectivists seeking to ensure their bureaucratic hold on the future and present political control.
And it stems from the radically different worldviews, and the radically different metaphysics, which condition the conceptions of justice and victim-hood held by the two opposing sides.
“Why has the Democrat Party willfully, eagerly, happily put people in groups, made them victims … Why is everybody a victim of the immoral, unjust founding …”
And his answer was that “It is the single source of their [Democrat] power: aggrieved, miserable, angry, unhappy people looking for the people they’re mad at to be gotten even with.”
Like I said, so far as it goes, so good.
But what Limbaugh is overlooking in this particular instance, is the utter sincerity of some major part of the intellectual left concerning their views on the nature and origin of victim-hood.
And here we are obviously not just referring to victims of social bigotry or political fraud; but to something much deeper. What I believe Limbaugh is overlooking here is the core idea held by the progressive left which implies, or sometimes states outright, that people are in essence victims of life, or in fact of being, itself.
We’ve encountered the concept in various manifestations and formulations before. The so called “tyranny of biology”, denounced by radical feminists is for instance, an example, if a somewhat frivolous one, of that mindset. The psychological horror of “exclusion” felt by so many leftists is a symptom of the same phenomenon. The supposed “unfairness” of natural inequality, is another. Natural inequality is made all the worse in liberal opinion, because it cannot in principle be made better by bringing people up to standard through education or physical therapy; since, according to the liberal the presumed standard is itself intrinsically unjustifiable.
The world then, the leftist acknowledges, is not just. But he will make it “just”, he insists. And how will he do so? By bringing all persons up to par insofar as possible, and allowing all to then seek their own level and fulfillment under an impartial rule of law? No. He will make mankind’s world just, by remaking the universe of man, and “man” himself.
And how will he accomplish this trick? How will he affirm the unaffirmable, and hold together the incoherent? He will do it he assumes, through the magical social formula of embracing entropy politically while paying off the damages through fascistically enforced social solidarity and cost shifting. Which, considered in one way is something quite close to what Limbaugh is saying, given the proviso that the leftist actually believes he can in fact remake reality in this way through the verbal magic of declaring contradictions to be non-contradictory.
This absurd program of re-conceptualizing reality in the face of all evidence, must take place, because, again, in the liberal view, there is no “natural good” to advert to, and there are no natural kinds which in their healthy state objectively tend toward a naturally good end. An end of which it can objectively be said, should [value statement alert] be pursued by the individual; and regarding which, it is merely the duty of others in society to respect and to not unnecessarily impede.
In the liberal reality however, it makes no sense to talk of natural rights or their fulfillment. In the liberal reality there are only loci of pain and pleasure existing in a field of ultimate chaos; and within this context, the power relations between them.
For while the liberal, to paraphrase Nietzsche, may seem to normal people to be a kind of organism with its gain turned up way too high; there is according to liberal doctrine no such setting as “too high”. On the modern liberal understanding there simply exist no natural and objective standards by which one may assess where the normal pain threshold ends, and where liberal neurosis and neurasthenia begin.
As there are, as a matter of liberal dogma and doctrine, no natural kinds with natural ends, there are therefore no natural goods which can be said to follow from these natural kinds and their ends. For a modern liberal, all being, to restate, is merely the subjective experience of a locus of appetite, of power and satisfaction, or of their lack.
In traditional Scholastic metaphysics the analysis of human existence and of the good reaches a point where it is concluded that the terms “being” and “good” are to be taken and understood as “convertible” on some conceptual level
But no modern or postmodern philosopher or ardent liberal would assert that being alive is somehow a good in itself. The postmodern man, posits himself as the inevitable victim of being, and concomitantly, of life. He is a victim of life by virtue of simply being alive. Those sometimes seen more life-competent or stronger appearing persons, are simply the beneficiaries of a natural injustice which must be socially rectified by the liberal in the name of distributed suffering; i.e. liberal justice.
And of this “rectification” process there can be no end, since:
1. There exist as we noted, no natural standards which would result from the existence of natural kinds.
2. Therefore there cannot be any objective method of evaluating the satisfaction of standards.
3. There is therefore no objective way of evaluating a susceptibility to pain and resentment which could indicate a pathological condition. Since, the very term pathology assumes a teleology of health based on a presumed natural kind with a natural end. Liberal neurosis flows from a well, the bottom of which can in principle never be reached.
The strange result of this categorical anarchy then, is that the modern liberal is in essence always at war with existence itself: his only certain mode of being, being the experience of the pain and the frustration of urges which themselves cannot on, nor by virtue of, the liberal’s own terms and definitions, be presumed to be directed toward any objective good in their realization.
As an effect, the modern liberal loses any coherence as a being in-himself. All that remains ontologically (loosely speaking) of the liberal being, is a collection of urges connected to a will to power. This constitutes, according to the modern liberal’s own schema, a will to power by a thing or a phenomenon which has, amazingly, no center, no nature, and no objectively definable good.
This lack of real being, is at the root, I would argue, of the modern-liberal victim sensibility. They are victims of their own existences by definition; and cannot be anything else in their flight from an oppressive natural existence, ultimately, than totalitarians dedicated to reshaping all of reality. In fact we see this explicitly stated by the so-called transhumanist utilitarians, who will ultimately they admit, be driven by their philosophy to dominate and control and reorder all of nature, in order to ensure justice and bliss even among the fishes.
Are they, these postmodern leftists then, as Limbaugh suggests, rank cynics: nihilistically seeking satisfactions for welling urges which on their (assuming we can say that they have a “they”) own account cannot be seriously called objectively good?
Yes. But that is I think, a symptom of a more fundamental emptiness, and the result of the original and very deliberate descent of the modern-liberal man from the realm of man, into the realm of the submoral.