A good way to measure the value for the spirit of an ideology is look at the emotions to which appeals.
For an ideology falls on deaf ears, it is a car without wheels, if fails to appeal to something we feel or want to feel.
Fear, pride, anger, hatred, schadenfreude, envy, love, wonder, reverence — have they not been baked into doctrines before or at least attempted to be so baked? And is not the success of a doctrine its ability to take a emotion and structure it into a way of life — namely to take emotions to their logical and practical extremes?
Two common vantage points of politicians on the populace is of the gardener or the herder. One vantage point treats the populace as plants and their jurisdiction as a garden or plantation. The other treats them as a pack of barely rational animals.
How a politician perceives the populace, what assumptions they make and nurture about human beings en masse and as a mass, makes a difference to how they interpret events and to what decisions they make.
One who would value uplifting falsehoods over petty facts must be in a poorly state.
Would we not be more charitable to them if we attended to their poorly state as opposed to their falsehoods?
Why waste their time by indulging their intellectual sleights of hand?
There are people with a purpose and they have their reasons, and then there are those without any cause, who are looking for an excuse.
For the last century, political philosophy has tried to find the moral core of political opinion — and it has been incredibly inventive in doing so. To the point of conflating ethics with politics as if there is a direct causal link between what we deem to be right and wrong and what political decisions we make, which policies we ascribe to.
In the first instance, it is important to pay homage to the incentive behind this approach to political philosophy: they have sought to bring humanity, compassion and morality to matters of ownership, control, survival, interest, self-interest, resource allocation and management, war and peace. This ought to be commended as a worthy motive.
But, despite its noble intentions, the moralisation of politics has led to the creation of extreme political viewpoints and actions, emboldened by the sense that one has a moral right to their policies. It has eroded at the practical reason — the trade-offs and the instinct for equilibrium in power — which used to serve as a powerful bulwark to the chaos and misery which follows the decline of political order and which is preceded as a symptom by the proliferation of decadence.
Who would have thought that eroding at practical reason in pursuit of a higher form of reason — a moral reason seduced by the promise of a moral utopia — would lead to political disorder, misery and chaos?
What you really feel about a circumstance is the most primitive assessment of that situation you possess and therefore the one closest to who you are. Let’s call these “root feelings”.
Ideally, your root feelings are where you begin (not end) your journey from understanding to deciding and finally acting upon a circumstance such that your actions are the richest and most complete expressions of your personal and moral identity.
However, any interpretation of the circumstance also conjures up other feelings. These feelings, in turn, obfuscate your root feeling. These interpretations, especially when they become habits of mind for one reason or another (partly nature, partly nurture)can happen really fast and can be difficult to interject, suspend or even prevent. Let’s call these “stem feelings”.
The more habits of mind we create, the faster we become at interpreting and, in turn, the more distant the connection to the root feeling from the stem feelings.
After a while, it becomes increasingly difficult to get to the root feeling and so you lose yourself, which affects your actions and eventually makes your happiness and fulfillment that much harder.
Eventually, the connection is lost by layers upon layers of stem feelings — this event is typically understood as the development of a complex.
Complexes are habitual interpretations of circumstances that engender such feelings that detach you from your root feeling about the circumstance.
What is the root feeling and how do you know you arrived at it?
A story for another day, but as a preface: it expresses what you want, not what you think you want, or what you should or what you can want.
There are some groups or organisations of people that huddle together under a common banner: to promote love or to fight against hatred in the service of love.
These groups tend to attract those who seek to justify their hatred — those who seek a legitimate outlet for their hate, namely, on those who do not join them in promoting love or fighting against hatred. And in their binary world optics they see no nuance and do not engage their reason — how could a person brimming with an emotion give adequate vent to reason?
Hating the hateful, hating those who do not promote love — what better, more justified expressions for hatred are there?
Some groups invite hatred and cultivate it, adorn it with a clear soul — some of them are factories for hatred with a good conscience.
Fully enjoy the fleeting while boundlessly loving the eternal.
The need for empowering the state as opposed to the individual grows with one’s declining trust in one’s neighbour and fellow individuals.
The power of the state seems to be inversely proportional to the trust we have in our fellow citizens and perhaps even in human beings themselves.
What does this say about the moral premises and moral history of the power of the state?
If only we could quantify such things…
There is a visceral satisfaction in going to war with and exposing a false prophet. The sensation associated with that satisfaction is equal to that enjoyed by the false prophet herself — perhaps identical, but what do we know of such things?
Which pleasure I hear you ask? Ah, but that very same pleasure of conscience arising from the secret labyrinth of her soul where she admits to herself that indeed she is leading people astray, but where she justifies her actions on grounds that the people are happy despite themselves by the order she grants them or restores to them, an order which they long and pray for — the truth notwithstanding, of course.
But, I hear you philosophers ask: how can pleasure in a course of action serve as proof that the action itself, its reasons or its outcome are good?
Philosophers — I count on you to miss the wood for the trees for the pure, innocent, clear eyed pleasure in a good argument.
What you miss here is that prolonged disorder followed by a period of order is pleasurable and whether order in itself is good or bad is a question from a conceptual framework which is alien to life — and pleasure is sign-post of life, not of morals. And life is fundamentally amoral.