Losing Control, Gaining Control

The most dehumanizing aspect of enslavement is the sense of completely losing control of one’s essential actions, i.e., of having one’s realm of practical choice, such as it is, reduced to the inessential and transitory. The most desperate aspect of incremental enslavement is the awareness that one is in the process of losing control of one’s essential actions. The most infuriating aspect of universal incremental enslavement is the knowledge that this violation of your humanity is only possible because the majority of your fellows are either willing agents or passive accomplices in the process — the barely digestible understanding that the web of tyranny slowly being spun around you is utterly preventable, but will not be prevented.

A most difficult but necessary achievement of the soul during such relentless and inexorable degradations as we are experiencing today lies precisely here: Refusing to sacrifice our reason to anger and outrage, or to what Nietzsche, resorting to French for lack of a suitable German word, termed ressentiment. To succumb to such psychological states is a sign of spiritual weakness, which is entirely distinct from the externally imposed practical weakness endemic to the condition of enslavement itself. In fact, while an occasional outburst of anger at mankind, or an urge to blame “Them” for one’s fate, is quite understandable and even inevitable under such existential duress — God knows I have experienced both frequently over the past few years — such passions, far from providing “release,” only serve to trap us more firmly in feelings of powerlessness. In this regard, they have a psychological effect similar to the “victim mentality” that we are quick to criticize the progressives for engendering among the various interest groups they seek to hitch permanently to their paternalistic wagon; namely, these passions seem to justify abject surrender to purposelessness, as we implicitly cede our fate to irrational and “systemic” human forces beyond our control. 

To surrender in this way is to reduce ourselves to mere matter at the mercy of external causation, which is in effect to declare ourselves powerless in the fundamental sense of being literally dispirited, which is to say “without self-animating force.” This self-reduction is more insidious than that imposed by our political masters and their enforcing mob because, although we impose it upon ourselves, we do so specifically by rationalizing it as a necessary result of the tyrannical belittlement to which we are subject from without. In truth, it is no such necessity, but only an expression of our feeling of impotence in the face of practical oppression. The first step to reclaiming your essential power, the power no mob or tyrant can take from you, is to deny “Them” your soul by refusing to relinquish your essence to their delusions of complete control. The fact is that even in practical terms, the powers that be have a very limited range of real control, barely more than that of the most menial slave in cosmic terms. The sun rises and falls for the tyrant, vision is permanently blurred for him, death comes when it wishes for him, and there is nothing he can do to change or escape any of that, anymore than there is for the slave. The great emperor’s range of temporal and material power is an invisible point on the horizon of being, almost nothing at all; the slave’s power, though also infinitesimal, cannot be more invisible than that.

And herein lies the means to subduing the internal siege of anger, outrage, and ressentiment that constantly threatens us in this time: Keep your sights on that widest horizon and on the truths it reveals about final things. Humans are capable of no power greater than this, and it is a power utterly beyond the control of both the most outrageous delusions of political schemers and the outrageously destructive stupidity of crowds. What is recommended here, to be clear, is not passive submission, but a refusal to regard any practical outcome, including the failure of resistance, as ultimate. 

There is the control of the moment, and there is the control of the eternal. The former is minimal in all times and for all men, a truth which, if fully accepted, opens the soul’s vision to the latter, which means to a form of control inconceivable to all inherently earthbound tyrants and crowds. This is the control we achieve, to the extent we are capable, by examining the world from the point of view of our glimmer of divinity, our rational essence if you will. “Refusing to sacrifice our reason to anger, outrage, or ressentiment” means nothing less than this. It is not simply a matter of “keeping one’s head,” but rather of clinging greedily to the highest element of one’s soul, from which the view is always widest and clearest, and from which one realizes the essential powerlessness of the tyrants and crowds, which in turn both signifies and enlivens the essential power of the individual who retains his ability to think above the mire — who refuses, that is, to cede this power to mere men by masking his weakness through surrender to the impotent and irrational passions of the infuriated slave.

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