THE AMERICAN YEARNING FOR A ‘UTOPIA’

“The pragmatist’s conception of freedom ultimately fails because it does not understand the relation between freedom and thought, that is, between freedom and spiritual law.”
- - George Grant in "Philosophy in the Mass Age"
 

In “Utopia, Nostalgia and the Jew,” 28 August, 2016, Gilad Atzmon sees ‘the Left and progressive thought’ yearns for a Utopia, an imaginary ideal society as their political and social goal.   He comes to the conclusion “No left or progressive intellectual narrative is impervious to some sort of utopian ideal.”
 
But, “… for about half of the American people, utopia is nostalgic. The return of the ‘American Dream,’ of being great once again – this is the idyllic dream shared by supporters of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.”
 


He likens the 2016 American yearning to that of the German people in the 1930s; a nostalgia and romanticism that gives utopia meaning - a yearning for a national rootedness over a ‘progressive’ Shangri La. 
 
Mr. Atzmon, getting closer to the heart of the matter, writes:
“It is noticeable that Jewish progressive institutions and left icons are horrified by “White people” being ‘nostalgic’ - but why? Why are the Jews, a people who are obsessed with their own past, so afraid of other people, say ‘White’ people, being nostalgic for their own past? 
 
Ready?”  

He alerts his readers:  “Beware; I am about to drop a bomb.” 

“The progressive Jew grasps that the working class are nostalgic for a pre-Jerusalem Dominated society; a time when American politics weren’t controlled by the likes of Saban, Soros, Goldman, Sachs and other global capitalists who are isolated from production, manufacturing and farming.  The so-called ‘progressives’ in Democracy Now, Real News, The Jewish Daily, Forward and the other Soros funded outlets can interpret the primaries. They are fearful of being relegated to the ghetto. 
 


“But do they have reason? Has anyone mentioned expelling the Jews? Or curtailing Jewish power? Not at all. The progressive fear of the so-called ‘reactionary’ is fuelled by a deep understanding that the American past was indeed greater than the progressive present - the tyranny of correctness, the identitarian dictatorship and, more than anything else, the lack of a future that is attached to Mammonism - the relentless sick of Mammon for the sake of Mammon…”
 


Just to be sure we understand what Americans mean by the terms ‘Jerusalem and Athens’ Eugene Schulman in Counterpunch April 2, 2014 summed them up thus:
 

“Jerusalem and Athens are the two roots of Western civilization, with Jerusalem representing biblical revelation and Athens representing philosophical rationality. Their relationship is one of “fundamental opposition,” an opposition that constitutes the vitality of western civilization.
According to Leo Strauss, to choose between Jerusalem and Athens is to choose between “life in obedience to divine law or life in freedom.”  

Martin Heiddeger seemed to express the same philosophy….”
 

But I would like to dig a little deeper than Eugene Schulman, and for this I turn to Dorothy L. Sayers in “Begin Here; A Statement of Faith” (1941):
 

After the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire – what she refers to as ‘the Theological State’ - Sayers noted:  

“… men's minds were greatly dominated by the scientific outlook, and by the alternations of hope and failure in their quest of purpose along scientific lines… Indeed, as the years go on, the effort of society is seen to be directed more and more, to retaining the great Christian principles without the support of the Christian dogma on which they were founded. 
 

“It is not easy to give an orderly account of the last three hundred years in terms of the relations between the individual and the community… liberal thought in the 19th century, while openly proclaiming a doctrine of individual liberty, was unwittingly influenced by a biological theory of human development which seemed to show that the 
individual could not be a free agent at all.
 

“This is perhaps a good place in which to deal generally with the influence of the scientific method of thought—that one outstanding and unquestioned achievement of Western civilization from the 17th to the 19th century. Once that method was discovered—observation of fact, formulation of theory, testing of theory by experiments providing fresh observations of fact—the laying bare of all the hidden workings of the universe was only a matter of time and patience…
 

“The silence of science about purpose is certainly not a coincidence, but neither
is it a proof that purpose does not exist. It proves nothing either way. Purpose is simply not within the terms of scientific reference, and can no more be investigated by science than colour by a microphone.
Science is, in fact, a method for discovering why things happen as they do; it is not concerned or equipped to discover why things should happen at all: that inquiry calls for philosophic method, which is especially directed to the discovery of purpose, including the purpose of science. 
 


“The Reformation and the Renaissance were the forms taken by the revolt of the individual against ecclesiastical authority in Church and State; but it was perfectly clear to all concerned that one could not do without authority of some kind.
A glance at the “natural world" presented no support for any authority save that of brute force, and the
 hold of Christianity was too strong to make that acceptable. Nor was it the intention of the Reformers to reduce religion to complete chaos. 
 


“God was still recognized as the supreme Authority; what was claimed was the right of the individual man and the individual state to derive their authority direct from God and not through the mediation of the professional Church.
 

“For practical purposes in the religious sphere, direct access to God was held to be direct access to the Bible, which was supposed to contain everything necessary to be known about God. Thus, for the infallible Church was substituted the infallible Book. 

True, it was the Church that had made the Book; but this difficulty was surmounted by the theory of direct inspiration: God had spoken directly to the individual writers, and the Book spoke directly to the individual reader…
 


‘Direct inspiration’
“… flourished, especially among the Anglo-Saxon population, in astonishing numbers and in every conceivable kind—including some kinds that one might suppose to be quite inconceivable. But in most parts of Europe, common sense and the instinct for order grouped those who shared certain leading interpretations into organized churches and bodies possessing a communal life, such as the great Lutheran and Calvinistic bodies, that held opinions in common on the important questions of grace and free will, and the Church of England that clung to the Apostolic Succession and Catholic sacraments, while admitting a wide freedom of interpretation on other points of doctrine…  The Protestant countries, having reduced the Church to the position of a state within the State, had now to find some authority for the State itself….”
 


And now to the “Red Tory” - the Canadian philosopher Dr. George Grant; that term contains some important facts that need to be brought to the light of this 21st century day.
 


AMERICAN MORALITY
 
“What must be recognised is that the democratic and secular education system we have today in our schools and universities, far from being something to which Protestants have objected, is something they have largely built themselves.”  
 - - George P. Grant, “Philosophy in the Mass Age”


In Chapter 7 of his book Dr. Grant discusses American Morality and its roots. The dominant influence, he shows, has been Puritanism or Calvinist Protestantism.

Calvinism was an intensely practical doctrine. It led naturally to a breed of men who in 1851 had little time or use for the contemplative attitude and worked feverishly for material success.
- “Paradoxically, the rage to be confident of their election (Calvinistic pre-destinarianism) was what gave the Puritans such a sense of their own authentic freedom.” - Calvinism led to a sense of egalitarianism 
 


“When each individual is capable of going out and grasping spiritual truth and partaking in revelation, with the assumption that that can be sufficient for him, the implication is that all are equal.  This has been reflected in our educational field. 
Educational experts have been trained or conditioned away from considering whether education must be basically related to a sound ‘ philosophic concept dealing with ultimates (it is doubted that there can be one).”  
(In place of that, what C.H. Douglas called the machine-tool concept of society is subserved.)  
 


“What must be recognised is that the democratic and secular education system we have today in our schools and universities, far from being something to which Protestants have objected, is something they have largely built themselves.”  
 


The belief in “….. the principle that ultimate truth had almost nothing to do with the educational process.  The philosophy which has guided this educational viewpoint is pragmatism, the outstanding educational proponent of which has been John Dewey.  Dewey’s belief that the intellect is an instrument for living has directly led to a lowering of intellectual rigour in our own education. . .  Indeed, there is a new type of student who is a product of the Deweyite influence in our schools.  Such students have been taught by the modern world to have an unlimited sense of their own freedom but have learned in their education no intellectual interest or discipline to give content to that freedom. . . .To sum up, the pragmatist’s conception of freedom ultimately fails because it does not understand the relation between freedom and thought, that is, between freedom and spiritual law.”
 


Which brings me back once again to Dorothy L. Sayers’ “The Mind of the Maker” and what she had to say about the Moral Code and the Moral Law.  
In the chapter “The Laws of Nature and Opinion” she distinguished between two distinct meanings attached to the word “law” and from which I ‘cherry picked’ the following:
 


1.  Arbitrary Law:   An arbitrary regulation made by human consent in particular circumstances and capable of being promulgated, enforced, suspended, etc., without interference with the general scheme of the universe.    Such laws can prescribe that certain events shall follow upon certain others; but the second event is not a necessary consequence of the first.
As an example, if an Australian was to marry two wives at once, there would be a legal sanction – but only if he is found out; there is no necessary causal connection between over-indulgence of matrimony and the legal sanction.                   

Arbitrary law is possessed of valid authority provided it observes two conditions:-

1. Public opinion shall strongly endorse the law.
2
.  Arbitrary law shall not run counter to the law of nature.
That is, when the laws regulating human society come into collision with the nature of things, and in particular with the fundamental realities of human nature. 
 


2.  Natural Law: 
In its other use, the word “law” is used to designate a generalised statement of observed fact of one sort or another.  Most of the so-called “laws of nature” are of this kind: If you hold your finger in the fire it will be burnt”.
 Such “laws” as these cannot be promulgated, altered, suspended or broken at will; they are not “laws” at all, in the sense that the laws of the nation are “laws”; they are statements of observed facts inherent in the nature of the universe.
 


In Whose Service is Perfect Freedom

But the word “law” is also applied to statements of observed fact of a rather different kind.  There is a universal moral law, as distinct from a moral code, which consists of certain statements of fact about the nature of man; and by behaving in conformity with which, man enjoys his true freedom.  This is what the Christian Church calls “the natural law”.

Much confusion is caused in human affairs by the use of the same word “law” to describe these two things: 
 

·      an arbitrary code of behaviour based on a consensus of human opinion 

·      and a statement of unalterable fact about the nature of the universe.
 


At the back of the Christian moral code we find a number of pronouncements about the moral law, which are not regulations at all, but which purport to be statements of fact about man and the universe, and upon which the whole moral code depends for its authority and its validity in practice. These statements do not rest on human consent; they are either true or false. If they are true, man runs counter to them at his own peril.  He may, of course, defy them, as he may defy the law of gravity by jumping off the Eiffel Tower, but he cannot abolish them by edict. 
 


Regulations about doing no murder and refraining from theft and adultery belong to the moral code and are based on certain opinions held by Christians in common about the value of human personality. Such “laws” as these are not statements of fact, but rules of behaviour.
 
Societies which do not share Christian opinion about human values are logically quite justified in repudiating the code based upon that opinion.  If, however, Christian opinion turns out to be right about the facts of human nature, then the dissenting societies are exposing themselves to that judgment of catastrophe which awaits those who defy the natural law. 
 


The God of the Christians is too often looked upon as an old gentleman of irritable nerves who beats people for whistling. This is the result of a confusion between arbitrary “law” and the “laws” which are statements of fact. Breach of the first is “punished” by edict; but breach of the second, by judgement.  

Scattered about the New Testament are other statements concerning the moral law, many of which bear a similar air of being arbitrary, harsh or paradoxical:
 


“Whosoever will save his life shall lose it”;
“to him that hath shall be given, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath”;
“it must needs be that offences come, but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh;  
“it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God”;
“it is better for thee to enter halt into life than having two feet to be cast into hell”, etc. 
 


We may hear a saying such as these a thousand times, and find in it nothing but mystification and unreason; the thousand and first time, it falls into our recollection upon some vital experience, and we suddenly know it to be a statement of inexorable fact.  

The cursing of the barren fig-tree looks like an outburst of irrational bad temper, “for it was not yet the time of figs”; till some desperate crisis confronts us with the challenge of that acted parable and we know that we must perform impossibilities or perish.
 


As Gilad Atzmon observed: “The progressive fear of the so-called ‘reactionary’ is fuelled by a deep understanding that the American past was indeed greater than the progressive present - the tyranny of correctness, the identitarian dictatorship and, more than anything else, the lack of a future that is attached to Mammonism - the relentless sick of Mammon for the sake of Mammon…”
 


Yes!  Of course there is a ‘lack of a future that is attached to Mammon’.  History is replete with examples of nations and peoples struggling under the burden of Mammon’s debt-ridden rule.  It is not for nothing that the warning was recorded in the New Testament – “The love of Money (Mammon) is the root of all kinds of evil” – and the American people are experiencing ‘all kinds of evil’ because they ignored that warning.
 


I prefer to paraphrase that proverbial warning so as to make the meaning clearer:

“The love of money, that is, the preference for money in terms of personal advancement, above all other considerations, is the root of all kinds of evil.”  

It is “above all other considerations” which has been ignored – or forgotten.
 
So now gentle reader, what about listing just some of the ‘kinds of evil’ that you can trace back to the rule of mammon?


Global central bankers, stuck at zero, unite in pl...
The Long Decline of Canadian Conservatism: Fifty ...