Your government, yesterday. You are pictured
held in the gentleman's right hand.
This time is out of joint.
Welcome to the machine.
There is a definite scent of decadence in the air, don’t you feel? A sense of end times, a whiff of Weimar, a rotting Roman ambience, but of Rome at the end, over-extended and tired, sleazy and rotten with a type of imperial syphilis. What route led the West to its current moral malaise, its vulgarity and sleaze, and the celebration of those ‘qualities’?
Decadence is nowadays defined as decay and cultural erosion, a falling away of standards or norms, and for the worse. But it is also the privative of ‘cadence’, a musical term. A closing series of notes, or an inflection of the voice, ‘cadence’ denotes something definite; harmony.
Without waxing rhapsodical, harmony does not simply apply to music. Look at its mathematical expression in Pythagoras, via Plato. There is a sense of rightness, ratio, proportion and a mutual reliance between component elements that expresses, or partly expresses, the idea of harmony. Rightness, proportion, mutual reliance. Not, any of them, words which might be appropriately used concerning the state of the planet as it rolls around its orbit today.
Harmony, as expressed in the ancient world, is also mathematics, and this is where the problems begin. I have long said that the hubristic fault line running through Socialism is not, or not only, naivety, emotiveness or rootless anger and class war. Rather, it is the belief that life as lived by the mass of people is an equation, or a power drill, or a piece of solid state electronics, or a robot, or – and this is the most recent ruling metaphor – a computer. That is, the problems of society – any society – can be remedied by a species of engineering. Tinker with human beings as they exist en masse, and all things shall be well.
The phrase ‘social engineering’ is, of course, familiar to all. But it does not spring from nowhere. One of the key insights observed by the much-maligned, late French philosopher Jacques Derrida is that ruling metaphors, metaphors which come to dictate structures and systems and even history, bring their own structure and system of operation along with them. The guiding metaphor is, if you like, bound by the limits of its conceptual operation, and thus bound to affect that which it itself affects in a certain and structurally pre-determined way.
The guiding metaphor of the Left has long been the machine. The Left is historically obsessed with the notion that man can be perfected, can be made or re-made, created and maintainable as an engine. Look at the Soviet program to build the perfect citizen, look at Stalin – whose name, a nickname, means ‘man of steel’ – and even at Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Shelley’s maiden name was Godwin, and she was the daughter of William Godwin, one of the earliest and most fervent Socialists and obsessed with the perfectibility of man. In her daughter’s novel, a scientist actually creates a man from scratch.
And it is this slavish adherence to a perfectible model of man, guided and directed by the machine metaphor, which explains the Left’s rooted antipathy to the notion that it is genetic make-up that largely schools personality and action rather than environment. Environment can be engineered. It requires vast sums of money to do so – which keeps the necessity for high taxation a Socialist shibboleth – and it can be utilised to show the beneficence, or apparent beneficence, of the Left.
Genetics cannot – yet – be engineered in a mass social context. The denial of genetic facticity is the prime mover of the Socialist belief in egalitarianism. DNA is an apparatus closed to the tinkerers of the Left. Only society is an accessible machine.
How does this come to explain the vulgarity, the sheer sleazy decadence of the modern West? I suspect it is because genetic differences are censored and muted, disallowed as irrelevant when placed against the myth of egalitarianism. If a genetic meritocracy is banned, and people are allowed by direct governmental and ideological tampering to act as they wish, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will not be able to put society together again. Go against nature, and she will come looking for you.
Ancient Greek society flourished because of an innate sense of place. The Greeks, of course, knew nothing of DNA – although Parmenides was prescient about genetics – but they knew that nature had provided not only the raw material of reality, but also a natural order to be followed.
The modern West, run as it is by the Left, has completed its great march against this natural order, and deviation is all that can follow. This is why civilization – such as it is – is hyper-sexualised, why vulgarity is worshipped as art, why inferior cultures have been allowed to impose their values – such as they are – on superior cultures. The alternative to the machine metaphor is the organic, and organic societies, those which follow nature’s innate order, are preferable to the machinistic engineering the Left demands.
The West will never again be civilized in my lifetime. We are in a period of reverse social evolution. Enlightenment reason, faulty as it may be (see John Ralston Saul’s Voltaire’s Bastards on this) has been dethroned by emotivism and a sense of radical subjective entitlement. This replacement, coupled with the deliberate dismantling of worthwhile educational curricula and method, leads to a generation of children in adult bodies, children who know nothing of cultural value, dignity, humility, pride and shame, and comportment.
Don’t trust the tinkerers, the engineers, the bricoleurs, the regulators and calibrators and technocrats. Trust to organic structures, and strive to live your life away from the machine metaphor. You will be surprised how much Keatsian beauty and truth lie behind and beneath the gleaming chrome of the Socialist lie.