Why are things so bad? And why will they continue to grow worse? The Enlightenment. Also known—or, rather, as it should be known—as The Great Corruption. Things are bad because we all believe the Enlightenment’s foundational axioms, all of which are false. But all of which drive much of our behavior and our thoughts.
The late-great David Stove rightly said, “It was always obvious enough what the main axioms of the Enlightenment were. They were secularism, egalitarianism, and the utilitarian axiom, that the test of morality is the greatest happiness of the greatest number.” From his book On Enlightenment.
Incidentally, the Enlightenment was when things began being named for their opposites. Example numero first: the Enlightenment, which was the extinguishing of Light. But let this pass. For now.
Let’s take the three axioms in turn.
The belief that man is the measure of, and ultimate end of, all things. From secularism, nihilism necessarily follows, and from nihilism comes anarchy, and from anarchy arises tyranny, both large and small, and who today would not say we suffer from multiple tyrannies, and that worse are to come?
Transcendence has been drained from us. We are all materialists now, of one kind or another. Even believers today are largely non-believers.
Peter Kreeft tells the story of inviting a young Muslim man to mass. After mass, the man asked Kreeft if Catholics really believed the bread was turned into the body of Christ. God himself, right there, in the flesh. Kreeft said yes, we do believe that. The man was amazed.
Not amazed because of the belief, but because of the unbelief.
The young man said that if he really believed the bread was the body of Christ—God in our presence!—, like we profess to, he would never be able to get off his knees.
We claim to believe, but can’t muster sufficient belief.
Yet no one can be a complete materialist, either. Nihilism, though it logically follows, lays as a theory. It has no life to it. It never grips any mind for long.
The belief that all are equal, at base, and that the only differences that arise are because of circumstance. We are not equal. But from this flows the idea that if circumstances were properly manipulated and controlled, the Utopia of Equity would be reached.
Equality is the most insidious belief, because though faith lags it is never absent. Equality can drive you mad and lead you to reject all Reality. “It can’t be I’m ugly. Beauty is a construct.” Equality is the great leveler. No peak can remain standing.
What follows logically from egalitarianism is community of property. Which is to say, communism. The idea that all must have equal resources. Which is, of course, impossible. But the idea is intriguing enough that we move inexorably toward the goal, in small ways and constantly. It follows that because Equity is impossible, it must be coerced.
Not just monetarily, but everywhere. Equality is responsible for all forms of “affirmative action”, the inviting in of hordes of foreign armies (which they call “migrants”), all of which were implemented by those in the majority, because the majority suffered from fairness, the disease caused by egalitarianism.
It isn’t fair that life is unequal. We all feel this. So we try to make it fair. We demand the state be benevolent.
And we fail. Because it can’t be done.
The belief that circumstances can be controlled to produce happiness (or fairness), but where happiness is defined in the minds of the controllers, is largely comprised of the joy of control in the minds of the controllers. If they are happy, they reason, you should be, too.
The man said it true: The age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists; and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.
From utilitarianism comes nudging and, worst of all, Experts. From Experts comes the Expertocracy. The Expertocracy was solidified first in the French Revolution. Its over-arching goal, which it hasn’t reached yet, but which it strives for, is the old saying: that which is not forbidden is mandatory. Because they will have decided that this set of behaviors has been calculated to be the best set of behaviors.
We agree with Experts. We trust most of them and can’t imagine getting on without them. We push aside all questions of what is best in life, what is the good, and we let scientism replace them. There are technical definitions, but the best workable meaning is easy to see. Scientism: what Experts think is good and right and moral and proper, is.
To escape our predicament we need to purge all three axioms, in their totality. We need to develop in ourselves a totally alien way of thinking. That will require much more than vote.
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