Tuesday, 8 March 2011

How can individuals make a difference?

*

The fact that all large modern institutions are thoroughly corrupted by political correctness and secularism (including all major churches) implies that pursuit of The Good is now restricted only to individuals (or small - probably informal - groups) - which in turn leads to a consideration of how individuals can - potentially - 'make a difference'.

*

1. There is a 'fake' way in which individuals can be argued to make a difference, and that when an individual is arbitrarily taken-up by a large and powerful interest group and used as a propaganda weapon.

This applies especially to designated victims (real, or contrived - it does not matter much) - of whom Rosa Parks is perhaps the best known example in the USA; although there have been many others throughout the West.

Clearly an individual becoming a tool of establishment power is not really what is meant by an individual 'making a difference'.

*

2. Individuals who truly make a difference do so by their example, which changes the lives of many other individuals.

Examples might include the Holy hermits of 'the desert' such as St Anthony of Egypt, St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne or St Seraphim of Sarov - people who sought and attained ascetic isolation for many years during which they developed their spirituality to an extremely high level, before returning to the world to teach and inspire.

While of course these figures can be (and are) later used for propaganda purposes (with all the selection and distortion this entails) - they are primarily examples, and individuals who were originally sought-out (rather than promoted) by people recognizing their special intrinsic qualities and responding to word-of-mouth outside of 'official channels'.

Other examples can be found in less perfectly-achieved  forms, and also among types of non-religious 'creative genius' - albeit many/ most creative geniuses in the arts and sciences were bad examples in many/ most ways other-than their specific creative gifts.

*

So, yes indeed, individuals can 'make a difference' - and the real examples of individuals making a difference are usually quite easy to distinguish from the fake - at least in the early stages of their making a difference.

*

Of course, there are also individuals who make a difference-for-the-worse - and there are plenty of these, and some have made a truly enormous difference for the worse: quantitatively far-outstripping and of the measurable effects of Saints, and operating with extraordinary rapidity.

But while building is slow and incremental, destruction is swift and facile - evil geniuses are pushing at an open door.

One sure way to discern the difference between real/ good and fake/ evil individuals-of-influence, is that the real and good individuals who make a difference only do so after many years of disciplined struggle. This is necessary - albeit not sufficient.

*

As a rule; any individual who makes a large and rapid difference without prior years of struggle is either a fake tool-of-propaganda or else 'demonically-inspired'.


*

22 comments:

Alex said...

The claim that all modern institutions are corrupted by political correctness and secularism can be condensed into saying these institutions are permeated by liberal thought.

To paraphrase Kenneth Minogue: We are living in the Epoch of Liberalism. Whatever aspect of modern society you choose to examine - education, the law, politics, religion, the media, etc. - it is dominated by liberal opinion. Liberal rhetoric is at once the highest common factor and lowest common multiple of public discourse. Without liberal currency it's almost impossible to buy into the circulation of ideas at the present time.

Individuals who are opposed to this state of affairs are obliged to fight a rearguard action. They seem bound to lose because (as Orwell noted) at any given moment there is a dominant orthodoxy of opinion which it is assumed all right thinking people will accept without question. Dissenters from the liberal consensus risk ostracism as social pariahs.

In this situation, the possibility that individuals can 'make a difference' seems very remote. In order to make any headway against the prevailing norms, an entire intellectual elite has to be evicted (from modern institutions) and be replaced with a different establishment. This 'new establishment' will be an educated elite that disseminates, one may hope, values and attitudes which are consistent with a pursuit of The Good. But it might not.

I have no clear idea how this transformation will be effected - or even if it can be effected in an age of mass communications.

The ubiquitous liberal incumbents hold all the trump cards. There is no quick fix for this problem.

Bruce Charlton said...

Alex - elsewhere on this blog I have often argued that Liberalism is self-destroying - it does not defend itself against major threats, nor does it guard its key institutions, it is self-hating and does not accept its own legitimacy - so it is only a question of time before Liberalism collapses - and the biggest question is what replaces it.

In particular, Liberalism does not (apparently cannot) defend itself against Islam, and indeed actively promotes Islam - which is in almost every respect the inverse of Liberalism.

So naturally, if present trends continue, and unless some other factor intervenes, Islam is what will replace Liberalism. The only question is how quickly.

But of course other factors may intervene - it is just rather difficult to see any at present.

Alex said...

Liberalism may contain the seeds of its own destruction, but how long will that take? Nobody can say.

I'm a bit surprised that you publish all of my comments because I've several times repeated my conjecture that the prescription of liberal panaceas will remain unquestioned indefinitely. (I don't mean unquestioned by critics such as yourself: I mean by the ruling elites in general).

The present generation of undergraduates is being taught, as a rule, by professors who are biased by liberalism in thought, word, and deed. This includes students in disciplines that are supposed to be impervious to mere sentiment. Young men and women who will constitute the next intellectual elite are being brainwashed at this very minute.

Have you any proposal for breaking this vicious circle?

The Crow said...

Individuals can make a difference.
But usually those who are moved to do so, fall into a trap.
They are the "activists".
They suffer from the delusion that to change something, it is necessary to "activate" others to make that change occur. They can not help but make matters worse, according to their prescription of how things should be.
Then there are those who see that to change a thing, they must change themselves. They are the ones who can see that they, themselves, are a part of the thing that needs to change. Thus by changing themselves, the thing is changed.
Ego dictates that such a change is not a big enough change. Whereas reality dictates that changing oneself is all that anyone can do, anyway.
Change the world. By changing yourself. Live your vision, and by so doing, allow others to see it.

Unknown said...

Liberalism hates itself. How then can it survive?

Liberals are on board, because they are paid to be on board. The cost, however, has become more than society can bear, so some liberals will have to be tossed overboard by other liberals. Once financial collapse hits, liberal cohesion will break down.

Everyone is a liberal, because there are limits on discourse in all economic activities that require a government blessing. Similarly, everyone in the Soviet Union was a communist. Until they were not.

The Crow said...

Hehe :) that's it...
Everybody is what they are, until they are not. So what will cause a change in orientation?
Presenting something necessary as something honorable, right and worthy is a good place to start.
Seeing conservation as part of conservatism serves well.
Conserving what remains, that is seen to be good, by one and all.
Discarding what all see as not-good.
A clear picture is required, and one that says it like it is. What is the goal of Conservatism? To pull the wool over the eyes of the people? I hope not!
No deception is required. No cajoling or persuasion. If it is obviously right, and people can see it is worthwhile, support will inevitably follow.
Conservation means that we can not keep consuming more and more. We must choose to live differently by choice. We only choose anything, because the choice appeals to us. Survival is a good reason to make difficult choices.

I choose to do as little harm - in passing - as possible, while continuing to survive as long as I choose to.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Alex - Have you any proposal for breaking this vicious circle?

No. But PC is pushing against human nature and must continue the vicuous circle or else people will spontaneously revert en masse. That is why Liberalism so deeply fears common sense.

@ The Crow - I think so too. But this probably only makes sense if you are religious - because otherwise there is no plausible mechanism by which an individual's mind can affect things in general.

@JAD - yes indeed. Everyone is a liberal - and also nobody is a liberal (or rather there are only a tiny minority of genuine liberals) - but absent transcendental religion, liberalism is the 'logical' system for atheists who want to be moral, want to be unselfish, want to shackle the spontaneous human tendency to sinfulness (especially the tendency to cruelty).

So I feel that humans can only *escape* the dichotomy of moral-but-suicidal PC versus (what is perceived as) tough-but-selfish (and probably cruel) common sense politics (i.e. fascism - more or less) - when they are religious with a transcendental belief system.

I mean that only religious humans can *both* feel themselves to be moral and also to be effective in defending themselves and promoting their interests.

@ The Crow comment two - I suspect that negative goals, such as doing minimal harm, are a kind of decadence: at least, they seem to have near-zero traction among most people.

Humans need positive goals - what to *do*, not just what not-to-do.

Alex said...

Bruce: Here's an addendum to my previous rants.

The liberal trinity of anti-discrimination, egalitarianism, and tolerance appears to be an ideological loophole through which ruthless Islam might creep and do what Christianity at present is unable to do - namely dismantle the apparatus of modernism and liberalism from the inside.

Well, this is possible but improbable. It presupposes that liberals have no sense of self-preservation that would compel them to trim under pressure. It's just as likely, in the long term, that infection by the liberal virus could weaken Islam itself to the extent where it becomes, as it used to be, marginal to the interests of Western civilization.

Curbing the influence of liberal ideas is a theoretical task which has to start and develop in the institutions of learning. The turn of the tide will come, if it ever does, through the efforts of educated men and women in the humanities, in the schools of law and medicine, and in the seminaries.

Somehow, cohorts of incipient intellectuals must learn to resist the liberal message which is transmitted to them while they're still in the clutches of educators. This might take a generation or two, and the resistors will have to be motivated by an alternative philosophy that takes account of the numinous in human life.

Education is a key factor in breaking the perpetuation of politically correct ways of thinking, I think.

Bruce Charlton said...

Ah - futurology!

Well, for what it's worth, I disagree.

1. Islam will *not* be weakened by liberalism - nothing in 1400 years has weakened Islamic devoutness - although, for a relatively brief period of a couple of centuries from 1700-1900 its power was rolled-back.

http://www.ewtn.com/library/
HOMELIBR/HERESY4.TXT

However, following this brief dip; for the past century there has been sustained and exponential growth in numbers and power from c. 4% of world population to c. 20% - from ruling two countries to ruling about 20-40 countries (depending on definitions).

And I don't think there is anywhere in the world where Islam is not currently growing in strength.

Intellectuals must - like Belloc - take Islam *seriously*, and not be condescending about it.

Liebrals do not have any sense of self-preservation - at least not at the level of commonsense cause-and-effect. What they are brilliant at doing is explaining their own decline asif it was a triumph - they will and embrace their own destruction.

The triumph of Liberalism is the destruction (or possibly the enslavement) of all Liberals.

The last Liberal will die in a state of ecstatsy at having finally achieved the annihiliation which Liberals have craved, and had worked for, for so many decades.

2. IMHO the PC intellectual elite (upon which PC wholly depends for its dominance) will not be converted, but will instead be replaced: either by non-PC non-intellectuals and/ or by orthodoxly (patriarchal) religious intellectuals.

Alex said...

The last Liberal will die in a state of ecstatsy at having finally achieved the annihiliation which Liberals have craved, and had worked for, for so many decades.

Bruce, you're in a prophetic mood with anathemas and conjectures and that are impossible to refute.

I agree that monolithic Islam appears right now to be invincible, implacable, and utterly impervious to liberal subversion. However, a few Muslim immigrants do adopt Western ways. Maybe the trickle will one day become a flood..........

On the other hand, perhaps the liberal cult of tolerance will encourage Islam to give it the coup de grĂ¢ce.

Anonymous said...

"The present generation of undergraduates is being taught, as a rule, by professors who are biased by liberalism in thought, word, and deed. This includes students in disciplines that are supposed to be impervious to mere sentiment. Young men and women who will constitute the next intellectual elite are being brainwashed at this very minute.

Have you any proposal for breaking this vicious circle?"

I'm a closeted Christian conservative student studying at the IBO and he's quite right I'm brainwashed into liberalism everyday.

Here's a summary of the curriculum --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Baccalaureate

Just today my English teacher taught me about the goodness of freedom, individuality, democracy and rights against authoritarianism and totalitarianism and this is while reading just one book.

My solution to all of this? Once I'm a mother I will homeschool my children.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Anonymous 9 March 2011 17:33 - thanks for your comment. But for future reference I seldom publish Anonymous comments unless they also have a pseudonym at the bottom.

Brandon said...

They "make a difference" individually by withdrawing themselves from the system and it's influence in their lives. Eventually they will even tell the tax man to take a long walk off a short pier...

Brett Stevens said...

A friend of mine who was a radical Christian was fond of saying that sin was error.

I would agree in that a choice to evil is error, and anyone who does evil for whom it is not a choice is either erroneously trying to do good, or a genetic error. Increasingly, I see liberalism as the fundamental error of narcissism or other reality-denial, resulting in the kind of projection that Plato discussed in his metaphor of the cave.

As BGC says, it is self-reducing, but only in the sense that like omnivorous insects it is all-consumptive. It destroys everything by deconstructing cause from effect, and eventually, that includes itself.

It leaves behind the kind of fatalism that makes people pursue desperate pleasures like addicts: always wanting, never getting, yet still believing.

Bruce Charlton said...

Edited from a comment by James A Donald

Alex said..."I agree that monolithic Islam appears right now to be invincible, implacable, and utterly impervious to liberal subversion. However, a few Muslim immigrants do adopt Western ways. Maybe the trickle will one day become a flood."

Not happening, nor is it likely to happen.

Liberalism wins against Christianity because liberalism is a theocratic religion, and uses the power of the state to inculcate Christian children in liberalism, and to pressure churches to preach liberalism instead of Christianity - but Islam is also a theocratic religion, and forcibly resists this. ... So Christians kids are forbidden to participate in collective prayer in school while Muslim kids are compelled to participate in collective prayer in school.

As a result of this and many similar measures, Muslim mosque attendance is high and rising, Christian Church attendance is low and falling.

In the West we see many converts to Islam, few converts to Christianity. We particularly see unmarried women in their most fertile years converting to Islam, perhaps because the patriarchal Islamic position on sex and the family accords with human nature a lot better than the post patriarchal position of today's Christian churches.

One article claimed total Christian converts to Islam in Britain 100,000, (mostly women), with 5,200 converted in the most recent year

Another article claimed total Muslim converts to Christianity in Britain was 3000 - a ratio of thirty to one total converts in favor of Islam. It did not give converts for the most recent year.

...Since the converts in one direction are mainly men, and converts in the other direction mainly women, this indicates the ratio in Britain is approximately two hundred female converts to Islam, for every female convert from Islam to Christianity.

HenryOrientJnr said...

@bgc: Your statistics about conversion rates between Islam and Christianity are interesting and rather counter-intuitive. It would be reasonable for men to convert to Islam for the base reason of getting all the benefits of a patriarchal society and for women to escape from Islam to Christianity for the same reason. Yet the reverse is apparently true. Odd.

Bruce Charlton said...

@HOJ - The statistics were in an edited comment by James A Donald.

Anonymous said...

"1. There is a 'fake' way in which individuals can be argued to make a difference, and that when an individual is arbitrarily taken-up by a large and powerful interest group and used as a propaganda weapon."

Or a legal weapon. Example: Jane Roe (of Roe v. Wade ), right name Norma Leah McCorvey.

- Daybreaker

Anonymous said...

"As a rule; any individual who makes a large and rapid difference without prior years of struggle is either a fake tool-of-propaganda or else 'demonically-inspired'."

What is your opinion of Joan of Arc?

- Daybreaker

Bruce Charlton said...

Joan of Arc? I've no idea really. It might depend upon what she did spiritually before the age of 12 when she had a vision, and then until 19 when she was killed. I don't know the real biography.

I presume she is regarded as a martyr saint, who died for her faith, specifically would not recant her belief in her own divine inspiration - the military exploits seem irrelevant. But I'm not sure whether this is true martyrdom - it could be pride...

On the other hand, her real-world effectiveness might be evidence of the reality of her supernatural visions (but not of their divine origin, since there can also be 'real' demonic visions, prophecies and powers - according to the Holy Fathers, as I understand).

I suspect that discerning Orthodox Christians might be suspicious about the source of her visions, unless she has undergone prior disciplined ascetic purification - maybe she had, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

The requirement of "many years of disciplined struggle" excludes youth. They have to be uninfluential or be branded demonic, and in situations where that leads to burning they have to burn, like Joan.

That's why I raised Saint Joan. If I proclaimed a rule that implied Saint Joan ought to have been burned after all, and that implication was called to my attention, it would give me pause.

But she's an unfair test case. She's someone that has not attracted your interest.

For the record, she's a virgin of the Church (white) not a martyr (red), she did recant (but then relapsed), she had no period of ascetic purification, she's not a saint to the Orthodox, and her miracles are non-military.

- Daybreaker

Bruce Charlton said...

It is a worthwhile point you are making.

Of course, even if Joan really was 'demonically inspired' there is always the possibility of mercy - especially (I would think) for children who are more likely than adults to be sincere but deceived.

Of course, in medieval times, children grew-up much faster than they do nowadays (or were then regarded as doing so).

Also, I should add that these important discernments 1. cannot (and certainly should not) be done by check-list, and 2. cannot anyway be done by people such as myself who have not undergone any purification nor training and are indeed grossly spiritually-undeveloped.