Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Why is Leftist metaphysics always self-destroying?

This is an interesting question - and the supposed answers I have encountered are unsatisfactory.

The fact that needs to be explained is that the metaphysics, that is the fundamental foundational beliefs of 'Leftism' are not only incoherent (which they are) but incoherent in a way that leads the system to consume-itself.

This self-destroying quality of Leftist metaphysics is apparent in the history of the political Left, and it is also apparent in the personal history of many Left-adherents.

*
(Note: Leftism here includes not just communism, socialism, nationalism, national socialism, liberalism etc - but also all mainstream forms of conservatism, republicanism, libertarianism etc. The true polarity is between Leftism and Religion; and the commonly-asserted Left-Right polarity is interpreted here as merely different varieties of secularism, therefore different varieties of Leftism. In other words, the only way of being non-Left is to be religious. Various religions are possible. To be non-Left is necessarily to advocate that the state be primarily religious with all other activities and functions subordinated to religion.)

*
The temptation, which leads nowhere, is to try and construct a Leftist metaphysical system from some specific attributes - and in contrast with the pre-ceding and rival metaphysical systems of religion (different systems for various religions and denominations).

But this doesn't work, because the Left keeps changing. At one time it was plausible to assert that the Left was about equality, but that clearly is not the situation now. At another time - say 30-40 years ago - it was suggested that the Left was focused on reducing suffering and humiliation -  but again that can now be seen to be merely a temporary phase.

And an historical consideration shows that the root of Leftism is not some positive doctrine, but a negative subtraction.

*
If we suppose that natural, spontaneous human metaphysics is religious and (sufficiently for life) coherent and systematic - then Leftism comes into the life of a person or a culture by subtracting something from this religious metaphysics. What might that be?

The first suggestion might be God or the gods - but I don't think that is necessarily correct: God/s may be allowed to retain their place (for a while) but certainly the definition and scope of God/s is the thing that is change.

I think the specific change is related to the subtraction of purpose - or to 'teleology'. Leftism removes ultimate, objective purpose from the metaphysical system.

In consequence, because we cannot live without purpose, instead of a unity and reality of purpose we get several or many purposes, that are not unified, and are not objectively real or relevant and compelling.

*
The earliest defined form of Leftism, setting itself up as rival to religion, was Marxism - and in that early Leftism there was a kind-of residual purpose that was was taken from the idealistic philosophy of Hegel in the form of an abstraction related to the direction of history. History had an inevitability of progression - and if someone wanted to be on the same side as history - that is, the 'winning side' - then he should be a communist. However, there was a major hole in the system in that there was no ultimate reason why it was good or necessary to be on the winning side - especially in the short term it may well be 'better' (yielding more pleasure and/or less suffering) for someone personally to oppose history.

So, even in its earliest and most 'religious' phase, Leftism did not provide an individual purpose - although it did provide a goal and direction.

*
It seems to be that it is this subtraction of purpose from our underlying metaphysical system characterizes Leftism - but the question arises of why anybody, or any culture or civilization, would want to subtract purpose from their foundational beliefs?

Since we have, most of us, experienced this for ourselves at some point in our lives, I think the answer is available to introspection (after which is can be checked against experience and evidence) - and that answer is liberation, freedom, escape from aspects of purpose that we find thwarting, oppressive, or in some way aversive.

This is the reason why sexual revolution is so often integral to Leftism - a fact difficult to explain otherwise. Because there are few people who do not feel, in some way and to some significant extent, constrained by the sexual rules and exclusions of religion. Likewise, people feel constrained by their social position, class or status; by actual or relative material insufficiency; by their nation of origin or residence; by their appearance or by some deficit... there are many possible reasons.

Leftism offers a liberation from the necessity of such constraints and others by its removal of purpose from ultimate understanding - there can be no ultimate reason for constraint if there is no ultimate and unifying purpose: so that particular problem is solved, whatever the problem may be. Constraint is removed, or else there is hope for this - and there is liberation.

*
Thus Leftism has a universal message and a universal appeal.

Whatever your personal grievance against Life, Leftism offers actual or potential liberation from it by means of the removal of ultimate purpose and removal of our ultimate obligations to that purpose. 

And this seems to explain why Leftism is always unstable, always moves from one liberation/ destruction to another, is always - sooner or later - hostile to any religion; and always ends-up in approaching nihilism.

Because nihilism (which is the conviction that nothing is really-real) is necessarily the end-point of any world view that lacks 1. ultimate purpose and 2. an ultimate rationale for each person to subscribe to that purpose.

20 comments:

  1. Leftists use the promise of freedom, in particular things like sexual freedom, as a means of undermining the existing order. Yet once it has served its purpose in undermining the previous order, it is quickly replaced by other forms of repression and control. I believe this happened in many countries during the period of communist revolution, where sexual promiscuity was encouraged during the revolutionary phase only to be stamped out once the revolution was complete.

    The left also promoted the sexual revolution in the west, only for it to be rapidly superseded by feminism that sought to pathologise heterosexuality and bring in draconian policies in areas like sexual harassment, vastly expanding the definition of rape etc. It is ironic that in today's supposedly post-sexual revolution world the majority of heterosexual men in particular are probably more sexually repressed than they ever were prior to the sexual revolution.

    The left have always pretended to be about greater freedom and human expression, when in reality they are about more repression and social control. These days the idea that the left are really about greater freedom is generally no longer taken seriously by the majority of the population. It is largely accepted that the left are about more stuffy conformism, PC and social control. And people usually support the left on various issues because they are comfortable with that conformism and control or wish to control others.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The whole left/right divide is largely a false dichotomy designed to divide and rule the population and create the illusion that there is real choice and competition in the political power structure, when in reality there is none.

    For the most part in most mature democracies, the mainstream right function as a kind of controlled opposition to the left. The left usually set the agenda and capture control of most of the institutions (the public service, academia, NGOs, the judiciary, most of the media). The right broadly accept the left's agenda, but simply promise to take a few rough edges off here and there. And the right act as a kind of temporary safety valve when the destructiveness of the left reaches a tipping point. When the economy tanks or social problems reach a critical level, the left generally lose power briefly to the right. However, the left usually win back office in the not too distant future as voters forget about their previous failings. And the caretaker "right" governments do little to challenge the left's control of the institutions and cultural narrative, and their hard decisions are usually limited to making the agenda of the left slightly more sustainable in the medium term.

    So in a sense, it is nearly all effectively leftist. Whenever you hear an individual labelled as part of the 'far right', it really means they are not part of the kept opposition that is the notional centre-right.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @M - wrt Freedom. In practice, effectively, nobody is in favour of individual freedom as a principle - because lots of individuals who want their own individual freedom effectively cancel each other out - so libertarian parties have never done well for long.

    But the religious do not want freedom either - so those who want freedom are usually more strongly against religion than they are against Leftism - Leftism, if it does not produce freedom, often produces chaos, which people think they may thrive under.

    "So in a sense, it is nearly all effectively leftist. Whenever you hear an individual labelled as part of the 'far right', it really means they are not part of the kept opposition that is the notional centre-right. "

    Yes, that is what I was trying to say - *all* mainstream politics is leftist. What the mass media currently term 'far right' is also leftist - with the single exception that they are against open-ended uncontrolled mass immigration.

    ReplyDelete
  4. So to summarise:

    Option one: leftism: pursuit of perceived freedoms e.g. sexual or other 'lifestyle' freedoms ---- Result: Self-damnation - Meaninglessness and no purpose beyond transient hedonic calculus in this life to soften the blow. Beyond that what was hyped as freedom turns out to be narrow - sighted, a cunning trap/snare, a hollow emptiness once the supposed joys of 'rebellion' turn out to be empty and once the party ends...The horror of despair.

    Option 2) Religion - constraints to freedom accepted as necessary in order to secure meaning/purpose and negotiate a long-term synthesis (added bonus can lead to individual joy and satisfaction in medium to long term/eternity). Result: Salvation and a fulfilment of the fullest potential of human spiritual growth and attainment.

    Option 3: Trying to cherry pick the best of both worlds. Result: Self - deceptions and a slippery slope back to living option One as the underlying narrative. Temptation draws one back here but it is an illusion and just buys the devil some time to massage you back to a leftist who is arrogant enough to think he can make a set of rules for living better than God himself. Pah.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great comment, as always. Thank you for sharing your insights.

    @Misanthropist

    Leftists use the promise of freedom, in particular things like sexual freedom, as a means of undermining the existing order. Yet once it has served its purpose in undermining the previous order, it is quickly replaced by other forms of repression and control.

    This is easy to explain. I agree with Dr. Charlton when he says that the underlying motivation for every leftist is freedom. But, as he says, "lots of individuals who want their own individual freedom effectively cancel each other out".

    As a result, while Leftism does not have power, it is able to harness the support of the masses for the revolution. Everybody dreams of their favorite freedom being fulfilled, even if some freedoms are contradictory with other freedoms. But nothing unites more than having a common enemy.

    Things change when Leftism takes over. Then, it must rule society and discriminate some freedoms with respect to other freedoms. So, of course, the powerful, the elite end up imposing their freedom. This means repressing the freedom of everybody else.

    I believe this happened in many countries during the period of communist revolution, where sexual promiscuity was encouraged during the revolutionary phase only to be stamped out once the revolution was complete.

    The freedom of the bosses of the Party was very high. The freedom of the masses very low.

    The left also promoted the sexual revolution in the west, only for it to be rapidly superseded by feminism [...] It is ironic that in today's supposedly post-sexual revolution world the majority of heterosexual men in particular are probably more sexually repressed than they ever were prior to the sexual revolution.

    Elite men are not repressed. On the contrary, they enjoy a sexual abundance that even Casanova would have considered as too extreme.

    Feminism frees women from the strictures of monogamy so they are able to "follow their heart", that is, to have sex with attractive (read "elite") men.

    Only average Joe is repressed. Average Jane is having sex with men who are much more attractive than average Joe.

    Look at a former president of the United States. He has been able to have sex with hundreds of women while furthering feminism through their laws.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I only want to drop two quotes about the argument of Dr. Charlton.

    First, from Nicolas Gómez Dávila, "there are only two religions, that of God and that of man, and an infinity of theologies"

    Then, from Aldous Huxley. A long but insightful quote:

    “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning - the Christian meaning, they insisted - of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.”

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very good comments - thanks!

    But just to remind us all (including myself) that pleasure and happiness in this world must be set in the context of eternal life beyond death.

    We don't want to put Christianity across as the best route to a pleasurable, comfortable and safe life for everyone during our mortal span: that is the utilitarian (and Leftist) goal.

    We are pointing out that Leftism is self-defeating and self-destroying in pursuit of this worldly utilitarian goal - and leads to a purposeless, meaningless, nihilistic, self-hating and suicidal mind-set -- not that we have a better way of reaching the worldly utilitarian goal.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @ Imnobody - Thanks for the Huxley quote, it is truely spot on! It pinpoints exactly why people prefer nihilism - it is a blank cheque for debauchery and/or any bad behaviour under the Sun. Why feel guilty if it doesn't matter anyway? So to hell with moral scruples...which is exactly where a lifetime of that kind of thinking will get you...but then one can repent!

    I can see we have 'Screwtape' truely esposed to the light on this one...

    I will keep that Huxley quote and read it next time I find myself excusing my transgressions as minor, and therefore not worthy of redress...The question aught to be "Am I trying to wriggle out of responsibility to allow myself free reign to do what I wish? And in the course of such folly, abandoning sound principles and what is the eternal good? What a loving father would want for us!"

    Bravo.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @Bruce - I think that is a good explanation of "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."

    It seems to, at times, be a contradiction, but those who put God first appear to indeed have life most abundantly (but not always) here - but that isn't the primary goal and can't be! While those who put life minus God, or pleasure, here first as the main goal lose it completely in meaningless.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Nat - It's a profound truth - CS Lewis wrote about it in an excellent essay called First and Second Things.

    ReplyDelete
  11. When there is no God, there is no self-restraint, compassion, or sense of anything but a gross materialist desire for consumption. Rules of behaviour and decency don't exist. Lack of belief in God leads to mass sociopathy.

    Seeker

    ReplyDelete
  12. @Nathaniel,

    Joseph Campbell's quote "You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you." sounds almost as a paraphrase.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The problem with the left is that it wants to supply purpose and meaning to its revolutionary followers and impose that on everyone else, and those purposes are often very bad. Same with the right. I would be happy with a government that allowed its citizens the ability to find their own purpose and meaning in a civil and orderly way. I want the government to protect me from tyranny while not becoming a tyrant itself. Tough order, I know.

    ReplyDelete
  14. @Anonymous - That is just what can never be had - i.e. a neutral, leave alone government...

    Either we have purpose or we have nihilism - then nihilism leads to demitivation and somebody else's purpose is imposed.

    In the end it is a choice of purposes.

    ReplyDelete
  15. @Imnobody,

    There are a few reasons why freedoms tend to decline when the left take power:
    - a significant degree of individual freedom is only sustainable if individuals are held responsible for their own choices and the outcomes, good or bad. As the left usually want to socialise more economic activity and the cost of risk, this inevitably creates moral hazard. Individuals can make poor choices and force others to foot the costs. This inevitably leads to more rules and regulations that are justified on the grounds that they are necessary to control behaviour and mitigate moral hazard
    - many constituents of the left rely heavily on state redistribution of resources, thus requiring a strong state to maintain this
    - most of the left's arguments do not fare well in a genuine free market of ideas. Therefore they must inevitably suppress and criminalize alternative views.

    These factors make it inevitable that freedom and civil liberties decline once societies become more leftist. Leftists may seek power by offering a childish vision of unsustainable freedoms, yet that rapidly vanishes once the left are entrenched in power.

    ReplyDelete
  16. @M - Some good points, to which I would add wrt moral hazard that *in practice* the favoured groups (in the early days 'workers', nowadays the non-employed, women and selected ethnics, are regarded as incapable of agency - so that the proliferations of rules and regulations are only enforced on a few people: in practice, a group representing the economically productive element of the population. Thus the usual, most politically-successful conformation of the ruling Left parties is for the rulers to expropriate the productive minority (who deserve it because they are evil and to blame for everything) to buy support from the innocent-victim unproductive majority. However, in our advanced stage of unreligiousness, with its endemic nihilism, self-hatred and implicit suicidality - the productive minority believe (by their revealed preferences) that they really deserve to be hated and exploited - so the process is essentially unopposed.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Bruce, indeed it is an additional perversion that the groups most favoured by government intervention (and thereby more at risk of moral hazard) are less impacted by the rules and regulations as they are seen as having less agency or being helpless victims of implacable structural factors arrayed against them.

    It is no doubt also true that many groups seen as advantaged (such as whites or men) have largely internalised the self hatred and believe they deserve to be exploited and discriminated against. Of course, there has been a barrage of psychological warfare directed through the mass media, education, academia, the helping professions et al for decades designed to achieve that very end. It is difficult for individuals to withstand this, especially when combined with the deliberate destruction of alternative belief systems and sources of support etc.

    It is also ironic that the old left regarded the workers as the most exploited and oppressed class, and yet the new left tend to regard labour market participation and success as being reliable metrics of societal advantage.

    ReplyDelete
  18. @M - You are right! - that it yet another layer of irony I had not considered.

    My belief is that the susceptibility of (for e.g) white native men to propaganda against themselves is itself a product of the mass apostasy of The West.

    More exactly, under the mainstream regime of secularism, it is only selfishness that energizes resistance to expropriation (portrayed as being in 'a good cause', and accepted as such by the powerful majority) - and many or most people do not see their selfishness as a sufficient reason to go against the prevalent ideology.

    Plus, of course, a positive and constructive social movement cannot be built on aggregated individual selfishness's - because these 'cancel-out'.

    If, on the other hand, (for example) the expropriated were a coherent group of minority religious people, then expropriation would NOT be internalized and accepted.

    For example, both Christian and Jewish minorities have been forced into the situation of economically-expropriated minorities for considerable periods in history - but so long as they were religious, they never accepted this as being a deserved state, a 'good' state.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "My belief is that the susceptibility of (for e.g) white native men to propaganda against themselves is itself a product of the mass apostasy of The West."

    That is likely a factor. Yet there are many other factors including more extensive outbreeding and consequent pathological altruism among northern European populations, and similar biases in favour of females as the more biologically valuable sex, that mean native white men in the west are probably the easiest group to target in terms of propaganda and self-sabotage of their own interests.

    It is difficult to see how others can replicate the example of the Jews though. Judaism has long been a small, tightly knit, ethnoreligious group. Whereas Christianity is a creed of universal redemption, that has also been thoroughly co-opted by various blue pill doctrines. So the options to create a similar level of identity and cohesion that would act as a bulwark against the current situation seem limited.

    ReplyDelete
  20. @m - I don't personally believe that outbreeding and pathological altruism are significant factors - since they made no significant difference until around the time of the industrial revolution.

    The main underlying factor of this kind can probably be captured by the pro-social extreme of the General Factor of Personality as elucidated by Phil Rushton.

    In addition we have now had something like 8 generations of maladaptive and fitness-reducing deleterious mutation accumulation among our ruling classes due to the near elimination of intrauterine and child mortality - a little fewer for the lower classes, but then they already suffered from a higher mutation load.

    This accounts for a general loss of adaptiveness especially in sexual and social functionality - which are the most vulnerable to mutations (I think).

    However, the example of the remaining devout traditional religious groups (their above replacement fertility, the motivation and self-confidence of the cultures - suggests that this can be overcome by the proper type of religious environment; and that such groups can still be made highly resistant to the negative propaganda of the mass media/ bureaucracy.

    ReplyDelete