What We've Lost
Their goal is the eradication of our Constitutional Republic, to be replaced by their personal social utopia.
Wretchard illustrates the depths of mental illness to which some segments of our population has descended in this video clip of Earth First!ers wailing and whining the loss of trees in a drum circle of absurdity.
This essay by J. R. Nyquist sums up the background of the problem:
At least two writers in the 19th century foresaw the advent of totalitarianism. The first was Dostoevsky and the second was Nietzsche. Both writers grasped the intellectual trend of their day. As education advanced, as the human spirit was given new opportunities for understanding, the result was intellectual radicalism.Be sure to read the rest.
In the 18th century Edmund Burke warned his contemporaries that education without religion or aristocratic principles would turn against mankind. Burke wrote: “Learning will be cast into the mire, and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude.” Burke added, “In the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but gallows.” Overwhelmed with a similar insight, Dostoevsky and Nietzsche updated Burke’s lament. In Dostoevsky’s novel, The Possessed, a radical young intellectual advocated a world in which Cicero would have his tongue cut out, Copernicus would have his eyes put out, and Shakespeare would be stoned to death – in the name of universal equality.
[As discussed here, today's modern "liberal" prizes "equality" in this sense over individual liberty, unlike the conservative. --RDS]
Dostoevsky predicted that the radical mentality – emerging in the 19th century – would kill 100 million people in the 20th century. [And he was right! --RDS] Those without vision, without a sense of where the world was headed, disbelieved Dostoevsky’s prophecy. Such a calamity could never happen, because the world is not a madhouse.
Enter Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. Enter, as well, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and today’s politically correct mob. What characterizes them, besides their egotism and narcissism, is their false idealism and moral posturing. According to Edmund Burke: “Nothing is more certain, than that our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are connected with manners and with civilization, have, in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles; and were indeed the result of both combined; I mean the spirit of a gentleman, and the spirit of religion.”
Since Burke’s time, modern intellectuals have overthrown the spirit of a gentleman and the spirit of religion. Every structure, every religious precept, every honored tradition, came under intellectual attack. God and country were targeted. Religion and patriotism were targeted. The main surviving ideals of our day are those of leveling, equalizing and taxing into penury. Envy is the Holy Grail of our intelligentsia, and the annihilation of all values is their ultimate end.
The commenter Mongoose at Belmont Club elaborates with an eloquent tour de force:
Really, there is not much difference between man’s relationship to “nature” in the past as opposed to today; certainly little has changed since Shakespeare’s day. Excluding better science, knowledge and capability, these psychotic ninnies and the vile propagandists of the Left that manipulates them are the chief differences.Indeed.
OK, here is the chief difference: Today we actually take these lunatics seriously and, unbelievably, give them power over the rest of us. This is because we have become a tribe of fearful, sentimental, dimwitted and spoiled children who are afraid of their heritage, particularly their religious and material ones. This is sentimental hogwash that only a society with piles of spare wealth can tolerate. No society can survive this silliness for long should it allow itself to hold these notions as core beliefs. In Shakespeare’s day these nincompoops would have been laughed of the stage. Literally.
Political environmentalism at this level is just a modern expression of the crudest form of paganism or animism; to more refined “acolytes” it is a sort of parody of Christianity, complete with its own Genesis myth, Original Sin and even Indulgences. Hitler was surrounded by the same sort of tree hugging idiots, and should our collectivists’ propagandists achieve his sort of power for their masters then these loon’s fates will be the much same as that of their coreligionist way back then.
Moreover, if the voters cannot see through this nonsense, then they deserve what they get. Environmentalists and their Marxist puppetmasters have to be constantly exposed for the fools and knaves they are, and at every level they are encountered.
Mankind apart from nature? How can we be anything else but apart? This is what it means to be human. This is one of the signal points of the human experience: Man is perforce apart from yet amidst “nature”. It is the core mystery of our experience.
This is an age old question with many facets: The faces of which are alternately sentemental and emotional, physical and practical, intellectual and philosophical, and, most importantly, religious. Man is unique among all creatures in his ability to pose this question or seek its answer, and that metaphysical fact precludes man ever being “at one” with nature or “at peace with nature” in the senses that these sentimentalists maintain in all their dreary treacle. The West came up with unique and powerful answers to this problem and we would be wise to stick with them.
Most certainly at one level, the sentimental level, “nature” is mostly a point of view. It rests as much on imagination and inclination as it does on experience or reality, though it is colored by one’s experience and circumstances. However, no matter what poets say to their patrons, for most of history man viewed “nature” as a dark force to protect against or a powerful mystery to placate. The whole business was hardly seen as a walk in the park, so to speak. The sentimental regard of “nature” as a paradise would seem to require considerable distance from nature itself.
Here these yahoos expose themselves for the fools they are for they would not survive 2 month in the woods. “Nature” is a reverie they have while they are showering in their air conditioned room at the local Holiday Inn after one of their “outing”.
Whatever the case, one is free to feel as “close to nature” as one wishes; our times hardly require a particular view on “nature”, particularly when on can purchase all that nifty outdoor gear and all that dehydrated camp food to boil and eat.
In a physical sense it is, of course, an impossibility for man to be truly “apart form nature” altogether, though thankfully modern science can limit the damage which being “part of nature” generally incurs. Thank the heavens for pharmaceuticals.
One does imagine that at times people in the past would rather be all too glad to be “apart from nature” for a day or two, say like during a plague year.
On the positive side more people have more access to “nature” — and more leisure time to enjoy it — than ever before in history. What do you imagine that the poor folks of London did for “nature” 500 years ago when their extremely short and brutal lives where one of grueling day to day struggle to survive. On top of that, we have far greater understanding of “nature” and more control over it. This is a very good thing.
But does knowledge subdue awe? Only in savages. Does our great store of scientific and practical knowledge really diminish nature before us? It only increases our amazement.
Again, our command of nature, to the extent that we have it, is an altogether good thing.
But “nature” or the worship of it will not answer the fundamental problems of being human.
Chesterson once said:
The essence of all pantheism, evolutionism and modern cosmic religion is really in this proposition: that Nature is our mother. Unfortunately, if you regard Nature as a mother, you discover that she is a stepmother. The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister.
We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.
(please, let us avoid any discussion of evolution — it is a completely absurd and irrelevant issue to me. I am making a point about the human spirit in the world.)
There have been nature cults throughout history and they have all lead to barbarism. Modern Scientism can be view in a way as a nature cult. They all miss the point for there is no useful morality to the natural world in and of itself and all attempts at find it through animism, shamanism, spiritualism and all other forms of paganism leads to darkness. Judaism threw back this darkness; Christianity added to the light. From the Christian POV, God removed himself from the world after he created it and only through the mediation of mankind in the world can sanctity reenter it and god be immanent in it again. Man can only do this through redemption.
(OK, there are lots of variations on this, but you get the point I am sure.)
This is a main lesson of the West, and no matter what one’s beliefs, the working out of the Christian faith has created our humanworld, and that world includes our sciences for science would have been impossible without Christianity fecund base.
So the response of the Christian West to “nature” is a singularly profound and rich heritage — it is exquisitely more powerful in real terms than that of any other civilization, religion or culture past or present.
We forget this at our peril.
Another commenter, Programmer, adds:
What I am pondering is that the human brain, is to a great extent, a computer, or more to my point, the computer models a human brain,… as well as it can be made to do so. Computers resemble human brains more and more because humans think, design, and build computers to extend the reach of the human mind and extend the range of human senses, to magnify the ability to store and retrieve information. However, in my opinion, for this very reason computers are not to be feared, as some sci-fi writers would have. Humans teach and condition the computer to do as they wish. (I choose to avoid discussing Windows Vista at this time).The answer is to learn something, and one can start by reading these great books by Dead White Males.
So now, it seems, we have large numbers of people who are subjected to constant bombardment of false and foolish information. In a video game, kids learn that if they need to win, they just die over and over again until they get it right and go to the next level. Games, television shows, and movies beat the constant drum for solutions to problems that just don’t work in the real world.
So my question resolves to simply: What effect is the cognitive dissonance between observed reality and politically correct falsehoods having on the programming of young brains? There is an old saying in the programming trade, “Garbage in, garbage out”. The human brain is a marvelous thing. But it must be programmed well. Truth, or the very best information we possess is required. And those truths need to be tested rigorously and constantly. Good critical thinking skill must be taught and absorbed. Anything else leads, in my opinion, to a form of mental illness.
Those poor lost souls, sitting in the drum circle, mourning and keening for loss of they know not what may be just the end result of faulty programming. Their brains have been damaged by constant bombardement with bad data and untested algorithms. So instead of being able to do something useful with their lives, they use up resources and clutter up the air with noise. Instead of becoming one with the forest and learning how to husband and harvest the valuable resources therein, benefitting others with their skills and in nonce, learning applied physics, applied chemistry, applied botany, and a whole other host of really neat stuff, they sit and whine.
Something is dying in America. I fear it is the ability of a lot of Americans to engage in critical thinking. They cannot discern what is real, truthful, and what isn’t and they have no idea how to do so if they even wanted to try. No wonder we have economic issues. These hippies and others are merely consumers and produce nothing.