Friday, September 11, 2009

Sept. 11

This would be a good day to take an hour and listen to Gil Bailie's July talk to the Colloquium on Violence and Religion. It is exemplary of the kind of moral striving and frank, courageous, informed and irenic talk we all need to pursue if the West is to save itself from its own decadence and from its religious-political rivals who take from what remains of the legacy of Western freedom, science, and free economies, but have, to be blunt, as yet little to offer the cause of this freedom's renewal and survival.

The talk is found in three audio files currently at the top of this page.


Dag said...

Would this be the day a thousand Muslims rampaged against a handful of anti-jihad English demonstrators in London, forcing the local police to arrest a demo. organiser to "keep the peace" and to run away from the Muslims, crying about fearing for their lives had they stayed?

Welcome to the real world where the biggest monkey rules and the rest quake.

truepeers said...

If that's your idea of reality you can only explain how things are controlled, consumed, eventually torn down; you can have no conception of how things are built or how a modern trust-based society works (when it does, which is increasingly less often today). To put it in terms I hope you will contest: yours is the consuming morality of the parasite. It's real, sure, but only to an extent. It's hardly the full reality.

Human reality is something that makes a postive disruption in animal time. It is an event, memorable: no shared sign, no exchange; no exchange, no measurable reality, just animals who have no way to conceive of "reality".

But men can overcome their fears (and they fear, unlike the monkey, precisely because they are aware of the threat their own species pose to them), though this is hardly much done by worshiping the monkey. Men in control of their fears are what the others should fear.

It might help to realize that we only have fear because we once had something productive. In other words, because we do have something to lose. And there is no real courage without the sense that one is building up that productive capacity again.

You look at a world falling apart and what do you have to offer it? A monkey king? THe West will not be saved by ideas that have already failed. Why is Europe falling apart if not for holding precisely the kind of idea you seemingly advocate. They have been "holding" but not really believing even this idea through an increasingly disillusioned, childless, 20th C. They can't really have faith even in that social "Darwinian" or Nietzschean idea because there is nothing real there in which to have human faith.

HOw will one ever find a reason to fight if nothing is sacred but some primitive monkey god? THink how much society must fall apart before that monkey god actually inspires "Western" men.

In the real world, the "biggest monkey" is the community with the most empowering organization or religion, for which people will sacrifice and build faith and trust. It just happens that I am presently having a re-read of an old interest, Georg Simmel. It might interest you. Here's a snippet, from 1906, when Westerners still had faith: (continued...)

truepeers said...

Sociological structures are most characteristically differentiated by the measure of mendacity that is operative in them. To begin with, in very simple relationships a lie is much more harmless for the persistence of the group than in complex associations. Primitive man, living in communities of restricted extent, providing for his needs by his own production or by direct co-operation, limiting his spiritual interests to personal experience or to simple tradition, surveys and controls the material of his existence more easily and completely than the man of higher culture. In the latter case life rests upon a thousand presuppositions which the individual can never trace back to their origins, and verify; but which he must accept upon faith and belief. In a much wider degree than people are accustomed to realize, modern civilized life—from the economic system which is constantly becoming more and more a credit-economy, to the pursuit of science, in which the majority of investigators must use countless results obtained by others, and not directly subject to verification—depends upon faith in the honor of others. We rest our most serious decisions upon a complicated system of conceptions, the majority of which presuppose confidence that we have not been deceived. Hence prevarication in modern circumstances becomes something much more devastating, something placing the foundations of life much more in jeopardy, than was earlier the case. If lying appeared today among us as a sin as permissible as among the Greek divinities, the Hebrew patriarchs, or the South Sea Islanders; if the extreme severity of the moral law did not veto it, the progressive upbuilding of modern life would be simply impossible, since modern life is, in a much wider than the economic sense, a "credit-economy."

But we have lost trust in ourselves.

So what comes next? Those in awe of sacrificial violence return to the age of myths and perhaps to monkey gods. Real human understanding however lies in seeking to know the real preconditions for the sacrifice. There can be no sacrifice, no organized violence, until you already have something to sacrifice to. And how does that come into the world? Even Baal has to be created. And the genius who thinks he can play Baal is not the genius by which he was first conceived ("First" here being a tricky concept because no one can be "first" in anything human, i.e. shared, until others sign off on his "first" sign and change it in the process.)

A monkey worshiper could learn a few things from Gil Bailie but the Christian accent on personal guilt, while open to some degree of self-delusion given the nature of guilt, is nonetheless in its truth antagonistic to those who wish for more straightforward self-justifications for their involvement in the theatre of sacrifice. Guilt and the historically more powerful forms of society go together. It is naive to worship the monkey. If the English Defense League sets up a clash of Druids vs. Muslims, I wouldn't hold out much hope for them. A renewed Christian chivalry on the other hand would be a rather more powerful thing. Yet more powerful would be somewhat novel forms of exchange that transcend the clash of civilizations by getting some people on both sides to move beyond the lies of multiculturalism and to realize they have no acceptable future but in a more confident membership in the single global civilization that is presently in formation thanks to the legacy of historical Christianity.