It's times like this when the desperate papering over of reality, like the last days of a Ponzi scheme, becomes obvious to even many diehard believers. The reality of human mimetic desire and conflict reasserts itself in brutal ways and it soon enough becomes clear that men who think one builds peace by destroying alliances and national cultures, abandoning the people to imperial pretensions, blaming everything on a scapegoat (the Burning Bush!), and standing down militarily in the face of some very real rivals - one a rather complete Other with a project to destroy the modern global economy - will have to face the new dawn. History waits for no one, however much we attempt to sacralize a dieing vision, and i think today we are seeing the last gasps of a certain phase in the ongoing Gnostic delusion about the nature of humanity. However, in crisis, opportunity exists for those who must rebuild themselves.
Great comments on how the Norwegians have really put Obama in the bind, at Belmont Club.
I am a little amused that yesterday I somehow "thought" to blog on Churchill's speech responding to the Munich agreement and Chamberlain's "peace in our times". How a propos. Everyone should read that speech from top to bottom for a refresher in the human capacity to believe in a fantasy, or just to give up in the face of hard human realities that entail inescapable conflict and the need to stand up - with others, bonded not just by will but by a shared, loved, reality - or give in. A few weeks ago, I half wrote another post anticipating this day. I didn't finish it so I may as well start cannibalizing it. It ended with a quote from Eric Voegelin that seems appropriate again. Voegelin illuminates the failure of the lonely, elitist, would-be-world-controller with a "Gnostic" will to seriously transform reality through force of personality and asking others just to sign on to "the dream". Writing during the Korean War, in The New Science of Politics (1952), criticizing the various "Gnostic" political religions that think they have achieved some rarefied insight, some systematic and controlling knowledge, some expertise, some insight into reality that mere wingnuts will never know, and that will allow an elect to imagine and shape the future, Voegelin already saw what we all should now know the "internationalist" dream of peace in a UN- and expert-mediated world has become:
The prehistory of the second World War raises the serious question whether the Gnostic dream has not corroded Western society so deeply that rational politics has become impossible, and war is the only instrument left for adjusting disturbances in the balance of existential forces.I see this is a warning not just to the left-liberals Voegelin was directly criticizing, but also to a kind of "right-wing" reaction to them, one that has itself grown up in the Gnostic culture and is variously indebted to it, and that attends the rise of Obama with a mix of conspiracy paranoia, fear, over-done loathing, and a desire for a conflict that will reveal to those with eyes to see the truth of this reality that at present only a few keen seers can divine. But, as Voeglin argued, turning to conflict, without first attending to the totality of human and historical reality, turning to a desire for battle without seriously pursuing questions of how various kinds of "armies" are created, motivated, and supplied, is a sure-fire recipe not for the victory of an orderly reason, but for more destabilizing conflict.
The conduct of the war and its aftermath unfortunately are apt to confirm this fear rather than to assuage it. If a war has a purpose at all, it is the restoration of a balance of forces and not the aggravation of the disturbance; it is the reduction of the unbalancing excess of force, not the destruction of force to the point of creating a new unbalancing power vacuum. Instead the [American] Gnostic politicians have put the Soviet army on the Elbe, surrendered China to the Communists, at the same time demilitarized Germany and Japan, and in addition demobilized our own army. The facts are trite, and yet it is perhaps not sufficiently realized that never before in the history of mankind has a world power used a victory deliberately for the purpose of creating a power vacuum to its own disadvantage. And again, as in previous contexts, it is necessary to warn that phenomena of this magnitude cannot be explained by ignorance and stupidity. These policies were pursued as a matter of principle, on the basis of Gnostic dream assumptions about the nature of man, about a mysterious evolution of mankind toward peace and world order, about the possibility of establishing an international order in the abstract without relation to the structure of the field of existential forces, about armies being the cause of war and not the forces and constellations which build them. and set them in motion, etc. The enumerated series of actions, as well as the dream assumptions on which they are based, seem to show that the contact with reality is at least badly damaged and that the pathological substitution of the dream world is fairly effective.
Moreover, it should be noted that the unique phenomenon of a great power creating a power vacuum to its own disadvantage was accompanied by the equally unique phenomenon of military conclusion of a war without conclusion of peace treaties. This rather disturbing further phenomenon again cannot be explained by the baffling complexity of the problems that require settlement. It is again the dream obsession that makes it impossible for the representative of Gnostic societies to formulate policies which take into account the structure of reality. There can be no peace, because the dream cannot be translated into reality and reality has not yet broken the dream. No one, of course, can predict what nightmare of violence it will take to break the dream, and still less so what Western society will look like au bout de la nuit
Gnostic politics, thus, is self-defeating in so far as its disregard for the structure of reality leads to continuous warfare. This system of chain wars can end only in one of two ways. Either it will result in horrible physical destructions and concomitant revolutionary changes of social order beyond reasonable guesses; or, with the natural change of generations, it will lead to the abandoning of Gnostic dreaming before the worst has happened.