Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I can't remember how the story of Aristotle and Phyllis worked. Suffice that she rode him like a pony. This seems like one of those ancient warnings against the passions: they make us do inordinate things. That's the Stoics for you. Many of  the rules in the Haustafeln in the later epistles are pretty boiler plate for the ancient world. Judaism and Christianity didn't show up as voices of moral suasion in a decadent and frenzied world. Though, to read the contemporary documents, you might get that impression. Much like today, when some group talks about what bad Americans their opposite group is. Usually though, the group is not strictly "opposite" - more like slightly different. Democrats and Republicans, for most of the 20th century, have not been in opposition. Lately some far right people have tried to create an opposition - but they've created not so much an opposite of social democracy as an antithesis to a leftist straw man - a straw man that doesn't exist in our country. We have the bizarre situation where any hint of sharing, or cooperation for another, is declaimed as socialism. We may be at a point where things will break down. If we reach it, it will be the doing of people whose raison d'etre has been the preserving of what amounts to "our precious bodily fluids." Change happens and forces that resist change are inevitably defeated. These forces are worn out; their resources are spent in resisting what's coming and what will inevitably come.  Their energy is spent because what fuels them is fear and anger. Love provides energy - the forces of love will triumph. 

Not only scripture says this, but Lacan and Freud and Jung and Deleuze - a diverse array of thinkers who are secular in their outlook. Just as today, I am a minister in a church; I drink, I dance, I paint "scandalous paintings" and nothing is going to happen to me. No session is going to deny me communion; no Pope is going to excommunicate me. In the 19th Century this would all have been pro forma - now, nada. Not just for me, but for a great number of people. Even when I was a faithful NR reading, Reagan voting conservative, it was apparent that the moral rigorous section of the right was losing. People who freak out about dancing die out. The people on the right panting over this or that "outrage!" that's sure to end Western Civilization are dead already. We're going to be fine. No one's going to Hell. Hell doesn't even exist. Anyone who thinks they know who's going to Hell, they've already stepped out of the orthodox position. Who's exactly in Hell? Only God can say - and who has he specifically indicated? No one. Origen was brought to the point of saying that even the devil isn't in Hell. He upset some people and they lashed out at him - in the manner of people with authority but without the more compelling argument. It may take some time, but in 20 years people will pay their taxes; healthcare will be universal; the safety net will be intact; and capitalism will be functioning as a system aiding the flow of value (rather than a signifier under which value is hoarded and denied). Things that seem fought over with difficulty now, will seem like the very conservative backbone of society. Gay people will marry and the Church will be fine, society will be fine. 

A new breed of nitwit will rise and they'll seek out a new scapegoat. Who knows who. The history of the US consists of some triumphs as well as embarrassments. Know Nothings going crazy over Irish immigrants and free masonary occur over and over - different labels but the same content. Fortunately we also breed visionaries and advocates - people who recognize change as an opportunity rather than a mantra of fear. These people free slaves, secure rights for women, and see to the prosperity of the whole rather than a clever few. I believe in these people. They always herald a change that at first seems unnecessary, even perverse (as the early fear mongers aver), but in the end is victorious. This change is victorious and good, as it is recognized in an increase of liberty, an increase of rights, an increase of people who share in the common good. 

No comments:

Post a Comment