Friday 2 August 2019

Catch-22: In a world of dying institutions; institutions are destroyed both by progressives and conservatives

For most of recorded history institutions came first, and the individual had to fit-into, or fit-around institutions, as best he could. Not so here and now: all institutions are dying.

Nowadays, anything done to save institutions will contribute to killing them.

We can debate why all institutions are dying; but my inference is that it must be due to deep and purposive reasons. I am becoming ever more convinced that this is ultimately part of the development of human consciousness and therefore an aspect of divine destiny.

However, the powers are evil are, of course, using the situation to their net-advantage; so in context of materialist modernity the decline of institutions confronts us as overall A Bad Thing.

Things would have been very different had The West not taken the path of secular, hedonic materialism, had the West chosen Romantic Christianity...

But we did what we did: and here we are.

The principles by which conservatives assert the primacy of institutions are Not Really True; and ultimately they know it. It becomes harder every year to assert the primacy of institutions, no matter what grounds of authority are asserted for this; those authorities crumble.

The attempted fusion of transcendental good with bureaucracy - which underpinned the agrarian-era state, guilds, professions and the like; does not work anymore - because it is not (and never was) really true.

Likewise the absolute necessity of specific rituals, specific lineages; the unique and vital power of symbols... all these are chronically dying under the sustained critical eye of increased consciousness. 

More exactly, as Pascal remarked 400 years ago in his Pensees; the truth and primacy of institutional truth was a contingent product of lack of thought, lack of consciousness; it was a product of unexamined good habits - now gone, as soon as examined, as soon as questioned.

And good (virtuous, beautiful, true) new or restored habits cannot 'consciously become unconscious'; cannot become, again, unexamined-hence-solid.

So we have flawed institutions, institutions that lack objective authority; we know all-too-well that they rest upon contingent factors, open to interpretation, dependent upon human consciousness - that is not stable nor functionally agreed; not dependable.

But neither are institutions reformable. To try and reform existing institutions in an age of dying authority and objectivity, is like trying to rebuild a leaky ship with rotten boards...

We knock-out the bad old planks, and hammer-in newer ones; but the replacement planks are already defective; and will rapidly burst free of their nails, or bodily splinter from their intrinsic weakness.

Thus although progressives claim to reform institutions for the modern era; their changes are invariably destructive. Because when the whole public world is going rotten, there is nothing good to repair-with.

This is our Catch-22: In this post-institutional age; conservatives are wrong because institutions cannot be conserved - and therefore never are actually conserved; while progressives are wrong because institutions cannot be reformed - and all attempts at reform are always destructive.

We are damned if we do, and damned if we don't.

When institutions have 'had their time' - when they are no longer sustained by the quality of Men's minds - they Will Not survive.

The question then becomes: If not - Then what? If not institutions, then what will be the principle of organisation?

I have elsewhere stated that this must be 'family', but not biological families held-together by links of genetic descent - these (like institutions) depend upon the spontaneous, unexamined, habitual behaviours that are now impossible. It would need to be 'transcendental' families - families in a religious sense; that religious sense being known as real, objective, and permanent.

And we are so very far from such a situation; that it seems likely our dying and destruction has still a long way to go...


Anonymous said...

I see the problem in your unspoken assertion - in reality, progressivistic and leftist one - that the world must somehow 'evolve from better to worse'.
You move it from material reality to the (seemingly, but that is a topic for another commenty) spiritual 'consciousness'; but the principle is still the same.

However, as a Christian you should be able to see that it is enterily possible that the world just goes from better to worse; without any 'progress' behind it to 'redeem' it.

(Of course, God is going to make good from this evil; as is his unique style; but that does not make it any less evil).


Bruce Charlton said...

@LC "However, as a Christian you should be able to see that it is enterily possible that the world just goes from better to worse; without any 'progress' behind it to 'redeem' it."

- Yes indeed, I said that.

dearieme said...

"my inference is that it must be due to deep and purposive reasons": I think Hayek was wise when he observed that much is a result of human actions rather than human design. You could even argue that that's consistent with "forgive them, for they know not what they do".

Bruce Charlton said...

@d. Hayek was not wise! In this, merely superficially and misleadingly clever.