Education, Politics, Reality
trying to figure out what it's all about
Joey Stalin was all in favor of education, writes Christopher C. Rufo, telling a meeting of writers:
“The ‘production’ of souls is more important than the production of tanks,” he said, explaining that the communists desired not only to remake the world of politics and economics, but to reshape human nature according to the dictates of left-wing ideology. “And so,” he continued, “I raise my glass to you, writers, the engineers of the human soul.”
Thus, in our day, lefty teachers are into fundamental transformation:
As the diversity czar and activist teachers at Buffalo Public Schools recently explained, school districts that follow the “pedagogy of liberation” begin “preparing [students] at four years old,” train them to achieve “critical consciousness,” and transform them into “activists for antiracism.”
Don’t know about engineers; reads more to me like religion.
But Walter Russell Mead, in “The A(braham) Bomb” notes that political battles seem more like religious fights, and that’s because we all — Jews, Christians, Islam, liberals, Marxists — get our beliefs from the religion of Abraham, starting in Original Sin and ending in Salvation.
Karl Marx, who saw his life’s work as integrating the German philosophical tradition with the British political economy, was if anything more explicit than Hegel in recapitulating the Abrahamic outline of history. Marx and his colleague Friedrich Engels pictured humanity as moving from stage to stage toward the final classless utopia of universal peace and abundance.
But it all started when
The Neolithic Revolution and the rise of the ancient empires forced humanity out of the Garden of Eden and into the misery of class oppression and war.
Now, with the Woke era we have a new notion of Original Sin, in “A sudden awakening to the racial and economic inequalities embedded in American culture” that require redemption in the fight against climate change and systemic racism.
In other words, nothing has changed; we still live in the culture of the Abrahamic religions and their narrative of the Fall, and the hope of eventual Redemption. Used to be in the next world, but the modern versions — liberal, Marxist, woke — have Redemption in this world.
I’m reading Mircea Eliade’s book The Sacred and the Profane and he writes a lot about the sacred as a place, the center of the world, where a believer had an experience of the divine. You think that’s old stuff? Yet we continue the tradition. What do you think Lenin’s Tomb is all about? Or the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama? And what about the three sacred victim museums along the Mall in Washington DC: black, Jewish, and Indian.
And now I read about Alexander Dugin’s The Fourth Political Theory where he proposes to get past liberalism, communism, and fascism and their failures to a new theory that Christopher Willard writes, is a “proposal at a macro level [that] seems to run a line from Plato through Heidegger” and wanders “from Heidegger to Husserl from Feyerabend to Derrida from Fukuyama to Schmitt.” Which means what, you may ask.
Or, let’s take a look at Alain de Benoist and his On Being a Pagan. He’s into Heidegger too, and Nietzsche, of course. He proposes to elevate mythos, tale or story, above logos, word, reason or plan. One of his points is that paganism is not so black and white as the Abrahamic religions, and thus more tolerant. The question is whether the human self-consciousness is a fall, as in the garden of Eden, or a rise, as in Nietzsche’s self-overcoming and Saying Yes!
There is an important point for us to consider about the next understanding of the world. If the political is the distinction between friend and enemy, per Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, and the religious is the distinction between good and evil, then any society is going to have a real problem resisting the Totalitarian Temptation of combining the two. As we have seen, and continue to see, dear wokey friends.
I guess my point is: does religion have to be about the distinction between good and evil, or can it shift to e.g., the distinction between the sacred and the profane? And does that make a difference?
For instance, I would say that Eliade’s understanding of the sacred space as being at the center of the world, and the experience of the sacred as being an experience of reality at the center of everything is close to Kant. Kant says that we cannot know things-in-themselves, or the ultimate reality, but only appearances, or the day-to-day experience of the profane that is without meaning. Except that maybe, from time to time, a special person, a prophet, gets a glimpse of the thing-in-itself, face to face — but only for a moment.
My take is that the point of German philosophy, starting with Kant, is precisely to get beyond the good vs. evil binary and find something better. Is it Nietzsche’s self-overcoming, or Heidegger’s Dasein, being-in-the-world, or Habermas’s notion that we do not live in a mechanical world but a “lifeworld” of shared community in the world with other humans with whom we communicate and develop moral agreement?
To be continued, as always.