Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ben Sasse Hunting Unicorns

Republican Ben Sasse, US Senator from Nebraska, has written a book, and The Atlantic has reviewed it. The moderate Republican wants to rehabilitate "a shared moral language" for America.

Frankly, it's a little surprising that an elected official could be so obtuse about the political and cultural situation, and start talking about virtue and a shared moral language, in 2017 in the middle of the elite's war against President Trump.

I say that because it ought to be pretty obvious to anyone in the public square that the whole point of the leftist project, from 1848 to today's "woke" progressives, is to slaughter the west's common moral language and its notion of virtue, particularly the seven virtues celebrated by Deirdre McCloskey in her Bourgeois Virtues. After the massacre of the western canon the progressives will examine each and every one of us for our faithfulness to the left's vision of "justice" and administer the intersectionality loyalty oath to those that pass the test.

Sorry, Ben. We are way past the possibility of a shared moral vision, at least for now. That is why Dennis Prager today writes regretfully today about the Never Trumpers. Don't these guys understand that we are in a cultural civil war?

Put it this way. I wrote in my American Thinker piece this week that
In my view, the measure of a man is not what he believes at the end of the rainbow of justice, but what he is willing to concede to the other side in the spirit of good will, right now.
Good for Ben Sasse. If he wants to find a common moral ground then he is a good guy that is willing to concede something.

I tell you what I am willing to concede. I am willing to concede that a lot of people want nice safe government-guaranteed entitlements, even though they cost a bloody fortune in payroll and hidden taxes. If I had my druthers I would like to pay my share to look after people who are unable to look after themselves. But I would really like to take care of my own education, my own pension, and my own end-of-life healthcare.

So tell me, what are liberals prepared to concede to conservatives, right now? Would I be that far wrong if I said: Nothing?

The fact is that in war it is the losing side that makes concessions, and only when defeat is staring it in the face. The fact is that we are in a cultural civil war, which has spilled over into a political civil war, and is like to end up in a real shooting civil war.

The reason for this civil war is that the left believes, in the words of Barack Obama, in "fundamental transformation." You will notice that there is nothing in fundamental transformation that admits of a shared moral language. Indeed the whole point is to change the world, not to understand it.

So that means we have to fight.

But fight for what? That is what I am working on, because I start from the idea that we need something beyond the four virtues of the ancients, and the three additional virtues of the Christians. Let us put it in the language of a book I am reading that is trying to mix up Hegel and Heidegger. In this book, The Critique of Pure Modernity, David Kolb is investigating, shall we say, the use of negation in Hegel, that we proceed dialectically through negation and reflection, while acknowledging that the negative is very often almost the same as the original, and the notion of "unconcealing" in Heidegger.

Let us say that the meaning of all this is that the world is always already right in front of us and around us and within us, but yet it is concealed from us. The way to unconcealing is not just from a mechanical investigation,  the method of science, but more tricky and twisty. It involves appreciating that the world is not just mechanical and action and reaction, but that the whole is not just as the sum of its parts and has a uniqueness in which the parts are fully involved in the whole.

Another way to look at it is in the left-brain/right-brain analysis of Iain MacGilchrist in The Master and His Emissary. In his narrative myth (in its best sense) the left brain is always trying to reduce the world to a model and a plan of domination. The right brain just takes in the world as it is, without prejudgment.

Now the critique of MacGilchrist is that in the Enlightenment, in Modernity, in Newtonian mechanics, in technology, we have overbalanced in the direction of left-brain reductionism, what Kolb calls, from Heidegger, "universal imposition."

I would say that the whole lefty project is one long universal imposition of the left's model of the world, and you better submit.

On the argument of Kolb and MacGilchrist that lefty vision is only half of the truth, and it will lead to disaster at worst, and a very diminished human experience at best.

That is why I say that there is no such thing as justice, only injustice, the universal imposition of ruling class power upon a subordinate population.

The road to wholeness starts with my notion up above. The measure of a human is what he is willing to concede to his opponent, right now.

Or, to soften this up a bit, what is a man willing to concede, down the road at the end of the civil war, in the peace treaty between the good guys and the bad guys?

Ben Sasse is willing to make concessions right now, but I fear that the time for concession is way off in the future. The last time that the left was willing to make concessions was in 1992 after three straight Republican administrations. I dare say that the same sort of persuasion would be needed this time.

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