Random Reflections On the Current Scene

On being aloft.— I know that if I had never heard the works of Mozart and Beethoven, my understanding of the art of music, the soul of modernity, and the heights of human aspiration would be far dimmer, and my own thoughts and tastes far coarser. I fear, by contrast, that if I ever willingly heard a song by Taylor Swift or Billie Eilish (or any of their two hundred interchangeable “peers” of the moment), the same result would follow.

Good citizenship.— When brazen cravenness and craven brazenness are the rivals aggressively canvassing your support, it is not merely allowable, but advisable, to lock the doors and turn out the lights, lest you find yourself caught in the rationalizing web of either party, which rationalization invariably consists of variations on the competing slogans, “How could you possibly support such cravenness?” and “How could you possibly support such brazenness?” Stay in the dark until they both move on, and hope they have at least left you something to rebuild in their wake. That is all one can do in a world of majority rule, once the majority has shown itself to be thoroughly in thrall to two such “options.”

Beyond equality.— Some things are better than others. Better is a judgment of relative quality. The radical rejection of such simple and essential human judgments, in the names of universal acceptance and “not giving offense,” subverts the healthy development of the human psyche, which has as its natural end the rational establishment of ends, which entails sifting the million alternatives of life down to those precious few which will best satisfy the psyche’s natural needs. You will notice that the keyword in the above description of the psyche’s processes is “natural.” The judgment of better and worse is, at its base, an acknowledgment that there is a nature — not “my nature” vs. “your nature,” which opposition is a euphemism for no nature, but nature simpliciter. A universal truth — always elusive, never fully accessible, and so easy to misidentify or invert through the distorting effects of our socio-temporal lenses, but universal and true nonetheless, and therefore the only thing that truly matters, inasmuch as it is, ultimately, the only thing. To deny this in the name of politics, as is done in myriad ways today, is to make politics itself the enemy of human nature, which is the final inversion of the meaning at the heart of Aristotle’s description of man as “a political animal,” or of Socrates’ consolation that while all practical endeavors must remain frustratingly incomplete and impossible, we as individuals may yet establish the just regime within our own souls, and thus live our own spiritual lives as though in the best city, distant as our real cities will always be from that guiding standard established in speech. In other words, our progressive egalitarian radicalism represents the absolute reversal and degradation of the project of political philosophy as defined at the outset by the endeavor’s great founders. To dispense with any whiff of historicism by explaining the above in human, i.e., individual terms, we may say that political philosophy has devolved from the noble intentions of its best men to the corrupt manipulations of its worst. Evidence in itself that some things are better than others.

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