Friday, December 21, 2012

Postscript on a Madhouse

I had a private exchange with a friend who remarked,
I had a thought about the Left’s abhorrence of guns. I wonder if part of it stems from a rationalist “principle” of “all killing is bad.” So, it’s not just the murder of innocents that’s evil, but killing in self-defense is really just as bad--and from that contradiction flows all manner of additional craziness.
The subject was the madness within our modern society. He quoted Galt in Atlas Shrugged, who said,
"I have said that faith and force are corollaries, and that mysticism will always lead to the rule of brutality. The cause of it is contained in the very nature of mysticism. Reason is the only objective means of communication and of understanding among men; when men deal with one another by means of reason, reality is their objective standard and frame of reference. But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge, no persuasion, communication or understanding are possible. Why do we kill wild animals in the jungle? Because no other way of dealing with them is open to us. And that is the state to which mysticism reduces mankind—a state where, in case of disagreement, men have no recourse except to physical violence."
I replied (dovetailing my last post the other day, It's a Madhouse):
It's true that mysticism reduces mankind to the state where disagreements can only (ultimately) be resolved with force and / or violence, but in our society the practical expression of mysticism is self-sacrifice, and I think this is the best starting point to understand the spread of psychosis in our world.

For many on the Religious Right, sacrifice takes a relatively simple form -- God, Country, Charity, etc. But generally, they kind of let you keep half your soul and half your happiness. That's enough to keep most (religious) people grounded enough in reality to survive.

The Left takes self-sacrifice more seriously, though. The root of this, I think, is that they are neurotically driven to seek any gospel that gains them moral superiority over others. Why they are so neurotically insecure about themselves is a different topic (it's much like a rat eating its own tail because it's both taught and reinforced in school and society), but I think the leitmotif of the Left culminates in a neurotic insecurity that becomes driven by the Creed of Self-sacrifice.

The pain of this neurotic self-doubt is compensated by only one thing: power lust. Their desire to control others is rationalized by projecting it through the demands of society, and the really scary part is their unadmitted desire for a dictator to rule them.

Morality, via self-sacrifice, is their kool-aid. The means to control people while inflating their own pseudo-self-esteem... moral superiority = higher perceived self-value. An illusion of self-worth created by the drug of self-sacrifice, because *anyone* can easily find ways to ask *others* to sacrifice. The method comes courtesy of Karl Marx, Immanuel Kant, and every religious huckster for the last 30,000 years of human existence.

The more they call for methods of self-sacrifice, the more superior they are, and the addication grows with the number of laws and lobbyists in Washington.

Psychologically, their neurosis leads them to seek out every form of self-sacrifice. Gun control, saving the whales, the planet, the furbish lousewort, sacrificing for racial equality via racism, sacrificing Western Civilization to every barbaric civilization (Islam or any random tribe of indians), even giving up any kind of food that is tasty in the name of any kind of diet that isn't (eg, vegetarianism), prohibiting any modern convenience in the name of technological abstinence -- or the technology that makes conveniences possible, like coal, oil, nuclear, in favor of any quackery that is more costly (wind, solar, etc). And the self-sacrifice is all couched as unchosen duties to thy neighbor, village, city, state, nation, planet, even your own body (don't eat salt!), which is treated as somehow not your own. Ad infinitum.

At the deepest level, they sacrifice reason and reality to any irrational notion they care to concoct out of thin air and turn into a cult or a fiscal policy or foreign policy or a university curriculum. But again, it's all unchosen duties and unchosen "responsibilities" (a word they prefer because it requires less self-examination and allows more equivocation between the chosen and the unchosen) because they want to sacrifice individual judgment, individual values, individual choices to the herd or to the worship of unhuman or inanimate objects.

In an important sense, the Left is that part of human civilization that never stopped worshipping bulls and figurines and sun-gods and other icons; they just reified them in the form of abstractions -- "society", "the planet", and most abstract of all, any floating, disconnected nothingness conceived by an ivory tower academic living off government subsistence, especially those ideas pertaining to human behavior, human psychology, human interactions. Though of course, today it goes far beyond that, right into the "hard" sciences. Any abstract nothingness is in the pantheon of their gods.

As Galt said, they worship the Zero, because that's the ultimate form of self-sacrifice. Zeroes worshipping every Zero, trying to claim a Zero is something because they worship it. Exhibit A: Barack Obama.

Gun control plays into all this, cause it's the sacrifice of innocent victims to armed killers, and the sacrifice of innocent citizens to the government. It nicely plays into their need to control people with a straitjacket of regulations and permissions. You didn't build that, but if you did, we'll tax you out of existence and take credit for it.

Sacrifice of the individual to society embraces most things the Left advocates, though the aberration of environmentalism took that concept a step further to advocate the sacrifice of the individual to even things outside society -- by anthropomorphizing the planet or nothingness (there have been calls to end the littering of space with our "junk").

There's nothing connected to reality in any major agenda of the Left. The only common theme is the unquestioned irrational pursuit of self-sacrifice. It's all insane, and it has to breed insanity. As Galt also said,
"Death is the standard of your values, death is your chosen goal, and you have to keep running, since there is no escape from the pursuer who is out to destroy you or from the knowledge that that pursuer is yourself. Stop running, for once—there is no place to run—stand naked, as you dread to stand, but as I see you, and take a look at what you dared to call a moral code."
To paraphrase, psychosis is the standard of their values, psychosis is their chosen goal... take a look at what they dare to call a moral ideal -- the creed of self-sacrifice.

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's a Madhouse

Headline: 20 Children Among 28 Dead In Newtown Elementary School Massacre.

It's too terrible to dwell on the concrete details, which have become far too commonplace.   I only note that it was inevitable, and more is on the way.

It's a terrible fact that when the philosophy of a culture becomes utterly irrational, it infects everything.  People become utterly irrational when they come to embrace utterly irrational ideas.  I've remarked multiple times that the Left has become borderline psychotic, and I mean it.  Leonard Peikoff suggested something similar many years ago in his speech, "Modernism and Madness," (1994) which was the source of my own observation, and I've thought about it ever since.

The effect of irrational ideas infects everyone who subscribes to them.  What makes the Left's ideas so pernicious, especially those of the so-called "post-modern" Left, who are something of the apotheosis of worship in the Cult of  Unreason, is the insidious nature of the un-integrated, unreal ideas they advocate -- ideas developed ultimately with no regard for reality, but not merely no regard -- open, defiant contempt for reality.  The ideas they uphold are utterly unintegrated from any rational context by intention, with a brooding leitmotif of loathing for any kind of order to existence, and for any kind of human existence.  This expresses itself in the phenomenon Ayn Rand identified as hatred of the good for being the good:
This hatred is not resentment against some prescribed view of the good with which one does not agree. . . . Hatred of the good for being the good means hatred of that which one regards as good by one’s own (conscious or subconscious) judgment. It means hatred of a person for possessing a value or virtue one regards as desirable.
As she noted,
What is the nature of a creature in which the sight of a value arouses hatred and the desire to destroy? In the most profound sense of the term, such a creature is a killer, not a physical, but a metaphysical one—it is not an enemy of your values, but of all values, it is an enemy of anything that enables men to survive, it is an enemy of life as such and of everything living.
The effect of irrational ideas has to ripple down through a culture.  Putting aside the vocational aspects, our schools today are dedicated to one proposition: destroying the minds of children. The most successful products of our schools now grow up warped and disfigured mentally, in possession of some knowledge here and there -- table scraps for emaciated minds -- but largely shriveled mentally, their cortical folds flattened and disfigured by rabid committments to random eclectic notions bearing no connection at all to reality. 

At some level they know they are freaks. The anger wells up.  From the start of their grade-school they had stewed for years in a pot of  irrationality that washed their brains of any critical faculty and left them inept to live and filled with rationalizations for their metaphysical incompetence -- it's somebody else's fault for their lack of self-esteem or ambition or whatever. The brainwashing was perfect, because they came out of the process not merely unable to recognize their own killers, but admiring them.

With the sanction of a post-modern philosophy that glorifies hatred of anything human, they went home -- to watch post-modern movies or television shows denigrate anything heroic while teaching a mindless amoral violence as the solution to all problems.  And then, when bored with that (for the existentialism of boredom surely permeates the post-modern culture) they settled deeper into their couches to play post-modern video games that glorify mindless violence. 

Then you add the confines of the straitjacket of statism.  All that incompetence and feelings of worthlessness become a suffocating claustrophobic pressure seeking release. With no freedom, no ability to exercise individual judgment and only unchosen duties -- of course something has to give. 

This is the pattern of any extreme authoritarianism driven by an insane philosophy.  Psychological pressure builds till people start exploding.  They go crazy. 

It's happened throughout history, though you don't read much about it unless you look for it. Look up the history of any rigidly authoritarian country like the Soviet Union, or Cambodia -- sometimes the people doing the exploding are the ones in control. (Or -- who was the "Pied Piper" of Hamelin?  A serial killer of children. Put this one in the context of the stultifying religious authoritarianism of the Dark Ages.)

Freedom is the pressure relief valve of psychosis, in a sense, but more fundamentally, reason is what prevents psychosis and the pressure build-up in the first place -- by developing confident human beings who feel fit to live, who are qualified to live freely and independently, and who cultivate a society that allows people to live freely.

Free, rational societies don't breed mass killers.  Authoritarian, irrational societies do breed mass killers.  That's why I said:  more is coming.

Our society has scorned reason. Under government run, left-wing schools of pure, unadulterated brainwashing, too many children are taught nothing but irrational social and psychological doctrines that disfigure them mentally -- by design.

Ayn Rand explained it in one of her most brilliant essays, The Comprachicos. Quoting Victor Hugo in his novel The Man Who Laughs, she made a comparison:
' …The comprachicos, or comprapequeños, were a strange and hideous nomadic association, famous in the seventeenth century, forgotten in the eighteenth, unknown today.

'…Comprachicos, as well as comprapequeños, is a compound Spanish word that means “child-buyers.” The comprachicos traded in children. They bought them and sold them.

' They did not steal them. The kidnapping of children is a different industry.

' And what did they make of these children?

' Monsters.

' Why monsters?

' To laugh.

' The people need laughter; so do the kings. Cities require side-show freaks or clowns; palaces require jesters …

' To succeed in producing a freak, one must get hold of him early. A dwarf must be started when he is small …'

' Hence, an art. There were educators. They took a man and turned him into a miscarriage; they took a face and made a muzzle. They stunted growth; they mangled features. This artificial production of teratological cases had its own rules. It was a whole science. Imagine an inverted orthopedics. Where God had put a straight glance, this art put a squint. Where God had put harmony, they put deformity. Where God had put perfection, they brought back a botched attempt. And, in the eyes of connoisseurs, it is the botched that was perfect …

' The practice of degrading man leads one to the practice of deforming him. Deformity completes the task of political suppression…

' The comprachicos had a talent, to disfigure, that made them valuable in politics. To disfigure is better than to kill. There was the iron mask, but that is an awkward means. One cannot populate Europe with iron masks; deformed mountebanks, however, run through the streets without appearing implausible; besides, an iron mask can be torn off, a mask of flesh cannot. To mask you forever by means of your own face, nothing can be more ingenious…'
She continued in her own voice:
The production of monsters — helpless,twisted monsters whose normal development has been stunted — goes on all around us. But the modern heirs of the comprachicos are smarter and subtler than their predecessors: they do not hide, they practice their trade in the open; they do not buy children, the children are delivered to them; they do not use sulphur or iron, they achieve their goal without ever laying a finger on their little victims. 
This is the ingenuity practiced by most of today’s educators. They are the comprachicos of the mind. They do not place a child into a vase to adjust his body to its contours. They place him into a “Progressive” nursery school to adjust him to society...
She quotes herself in Atlas Shrugged:
He thought of all the living species that train their young in the art of survival, the cats who teach their kittens to hunt, the birds who spend such strident effort on teaching their fledglings to fly — yet man, whose tool of survival is the mind, does not merely fail to teach a child to think, but devotes the child’s education to the purpose of destroying his brain, of convincing him that thought is futile and evil, before he has started to think… “Men would shudder, he thought, if they saw a mother bird plucking the feathers from the wings of her young, then pushing him out of the nest to struggle for survival—yet that was what they did to their children...
I strongly recommend her entire essay to expand on what I'm saying here.

So the mental cripples emerging from our schools, realizing they are metaphysically worthless social pawns, become a kind of suicide bomber. They understand only one thing -- that they possess no reading ability, no writing ability, no mathematics ability, no knowledge of history or science or literature, no morals, no principles to guide them, no introspective ability (because that requires all the rest), no capacity to think whatsoever, and no self-respect, because that requires the capacity to think.  What can they do?

Explode.  They have to explode. It's the only thing they feel capable of doing, and for many the only thing they are practiced in doing, based on long hours ruminating in front of the screen of an imploding culture. 

They can't see inwardly, so all they can do is look outward.  They see some people who are happy, or who might be happy, and they feel a bubbling resentment.  They hear the steady pounding of left-wing culture rap that resonates with the never-ending migraine in their own skulls.  Momentarily, they get a brief cathartic release watching other people "solve" their problems on TV or in movies by shooting, stabbing, strangling or blowing someone up. The "anti-heroes" in those shows project no moral purpose to the carnage -- so the message is simply that even if love is the professed theoretical solution, killing is the only practical one.

This is reinforced when the nightly news flashes on-screen to trumpet the celebration of the doctrine at a wholesale level, with new legislation or Presidential edicts that destroy industries or murder Americans in altruistic wars. 

Seeing all this indiscriminate killing, disfigured human misfits might flee to the narcotic of a video game to get them through another night of escape with a barrage of simulated killing -- but that drug wears off quickly, leaving them only halucinogenic nightmares of unrelenting terror. Repeated day in and day out, the psychological battering eventually drives some to seek out a stronger drug, the only thing they feel competent to do to  redeem the void of their lives-- kill.

And so it goes.  Disfigured as they are, they can't even grasp what's been done to them, nor what might save them--reason.  Where would they go to find out?  A school?  Welcome to the monkey house.  Disfigured mental dwarves have taken over all the places of higher and lower learning and turned them into mad-houses.  Most of the teachers and administrators don't even know they are disfigured, or that they are disfiguring the next generation.   

The current generation, meanwhile, being fully mentally and permanently disfigured by the Comprachicos of the educational establishment and our culture writ large, have been let loose to stumble around for their survival within the cage of our authoritarian society -- which regulates their every movement and whips them at every turn for any expression of individual judgment or pursuit of any personal happiness.  They've no future at all, nothing but random hope for some loose change of an existence.

They see only one way out of the pain of such an existence: death.  This becomes a brooding, festering fascination with it, born of resentment and hatred and loathing and envy for every single creature that is worthy of its own existence. This resentment comes to consume the pathetic shreds of their lives, and some of them determine, when the pressure becomes too great, that one last suicidal gasp is all that's left to prove that they are better, as long as no one else is better off.  Anyone of any happiness, or any potential for happiness, like a child.  Anyone of any ability, any integrity, any achievement, any good in them is a glaring affront to the existence of these metaphysical monstrosities, and must be eliminated, in their psychotic world-view.  Destroyed, obliterated from existence.

Such is the development of a mass killer -- anyone who's main goal is to snuff out the lives of  everyone who might be happy, solely because they might be happy.

Random shootings are modern philosophy played out in action on a small scale. But modern philosophy is also starting to play out on a much bigger scale -- the recent election was our next "Batman shooter" preparing to enter the theater of the nation by engraved invitation -- and it will soon lead to global destruction unless the government-run schools of indoctrinated madness are shut down, but more fundamentally, only if the philosophies of madness that guide those schools are replaced with a philosophy of reason.

(I don't wish to raise the spectre of politics in this essay given the somber nature of the subject, but some time ago I did a commentary on how this kind of analysis applies to the disfigured creature in the White House.  It is a fact that he is closely related in spirit and intention to those who would randomly attack schools or theaters, and this should be borne in mind for the wary.)