One of the darlings of NYT, PBS and NPR wrote recently: “The whole depressing spectacle of this moment — the Trump presidency and beyond — is caused by a breakdown of intellectual virtue.” A breakdown of intellectual virtue?! Only an effete elite could be so obtuse.
That’s absurd of course. The intellectual virtues, if they exist, are secondary to spiritual/emotional virtues. They are born of character; character is not born of intellectual virtues. You would think an intellectual who wrote a book entitled, “The Road to Character” would understand that.
Besides, given the intensifying human crisis, thinking and writing about America, without placing one’s insights and ideas in the context of humanity as a whole, reinforces nationalism and is destructive to the human prospect.
We need to explore first principles, and keep questioning them until insight and understanding are awakened and abide within us, allowing the birth of a new culture amidst the ashes of this dead one.
As far as I can see, only darkness is operating effectively at present in this culture and in humaconsciousness generally. That isn’t to say there is only darkness in human consciousness, only that the man-made traits of power, domination, greed and self-centeredness overwhelmingly rule.
After thousands of years of civilization, why is this so? One reason is that inherently mediocre voiceboxes of power continue to preach pernicious nonsense such as: “There is just endless searching and adjustment,” and all we can do as human beings is “find balance between competing truths.”
False modesty is but a sophisticated form of arrogance. Out of your own jadedness, posing as clarity, you set the bar very low for people. Feigning modesty is a form of corruption, which you project onto others as an absence of “intellectual virtues.”
The human being has immeasurably more capacity than your traditionalist worldview posing as wisdom. To put the bar on the ground, and praise yourself and others for stepping over it, is like slapping God in the face.
I’m speaking metaphorically of course, since when one is actually touching even the hem of the numinous, there are no words, only genuine humility and honesty.
People of clarity and conscience have to call out the white nationalist neo-Nazis in America. But we also have to call out all nationalists, whether simplistic or sophisticated, since the media is still pushing the lie that one can be patriotic without being nationalistic.
America stands on brink of fascism, and that has tremendous implications for all of humanity in the global society.
Sentimental and superficial attempts to “understand Trump’s supporters” are futile, but we have to keep questioning and gaining insight into why people continue to support this ugly, chauvinistic man.
Clearly a fathomless fear, emptiness and weakness propels young men to carry Tiki torches and chant vile anti-Semitic and racist slurs as they did in Charlottesville. Many of Trump’s supporters would never do such a thing however.
What falsely unites them is their loss of identity as Americans. But this is a country that had become unmoored long before Trump. Trump supporters wrongly blame liberals and “identity politics” for destroying their image of America, but rightly react bitterly against condescension and self-righteousness from the left.
“They” however, whether in one’s country or beyond, are essentially no different than “us.” The division between “us” and “them” lies at the root of tribalism/nationalism.
I hope the American people, the Resistance, Republicans of conscience, even generals of “the finest military the world has ever seen” are able to contain the evil that President Trump is channeling.
But having seen this coming for a long time, I fear the American people are too moribund; “the Resistance” is too much a fad; “Republicans of conscience” is an oxymoron; and the military will follow the orders of the Commander-in-Chief when he’s cornered, and lashes out in one last desperate attempt to “make America great again” by starting a real war.
Trump has his finger not only on the nuclear button, but also on the weak and febrile pulse of the American people as a whole. This is a main reason why we’re anxious. To make a virtue of that anxiety is moronic.
When a leading mouthpiece of the status quo speaks of “the spiraling purity movements,” he sets up a classic straw man. A straw man is something that doesn’t exist except as a convenient explanation in the thinker’s own mind, which then can be easily torn down.
Where is the “intellectual virtue” in drawing a devious equivalence between the urge for clarity and purity in the human being, and the neo-Nazi/white nationalist ideology of “blood and soil?”