Politics and The Center for Literate Values
Reason Submissive to Natural Limit, Not Political Trend ~ Study Serving the Human Spirit, Not Inhuman System ~ Art Attuned to Moral Calling, Not Social Posturing ~ Technology Favoring Mature Freedom, Not Mesmerized Servility
At its inception, The Center was publicized by its creators through the Internet with various keyword phrases wherein the word “conservative” figured prominently. The idea, after all, was and is to preserve or conserve the painfully, lengthily elaborated moral values, religious insights, beautiful creations, and humane political institutions of Western culture. A meaningful bond with the contemporary North American Right was never formed, however. Too many sad practical facts stood in the way: e.g., that those who style themselves conservative seldom read literary classics or revere classical music and painting, that the fusion of self-sacrificial Christianity with appetite-serving global capitalism is a ruinous mess of contradiction, and that the economic success glorified by talk-radio cheerleaders results far less often from striking out on one’s own than from prostituting oneself to mass taste. There is an irrepressible shallowness to the soi-disant Right’s brand of independence. The favored formulations appeal more to adolescent boys who have vowed never to read a novel than to guardians of the tradition of Dante and Dostoevsky.
On the other hand, our board collectively feels a similar dismay with such sickly spawn of the New Left as speech codes, hate crimes, and other flights of Procrustean behaviorism reducing the human being virtually to a robot, his motives certifiable as “good” or “bad” through the same kind of triage as scans a computer’s files for viruses. We at The Center believe in the life of the soul; and while such belief starts in the eternal duration of goodness and the ultimate puniness of material trappings, it also predicts—with regrettable but admirable precision—the perverse longings that readily translate here on earth into a “bad attitude”. A troubled spirit is (to paraphrase Heraclitus) an abyss… or is so to some of us, anyway. The Left appears to have simplified The Good Person to the sterilized product of a Clockwork Orange kind of brainwash. This is an excessively effeminate picture of how the soul develops: a morbidly wistful pipedream of a being incapable of aggression to oppose diametrically the Right’s rude punk. One does not groom “feelings” into sentiments by sending malefactors to time-out. In the soul’s rich, dark soil hide the seeds of every sin, from jealousy to utter despair, and smothering each undesirable shoot under stones will only produce a more twisted, more hearty plant later.
Jacques Louis David, The Battle of the Romans and the Sabines. The charge is often made that our own political parties are too adversarial–but principled resistance should never be impugned just because an unprincipled opponent is willing to cut a deal.
The Left, in short, fails to recognize that terrestrial utopia cannot be a terminal objective for a human being. To be happy, one must be at peace, no doubt—but to be at peace, one must listen to one’s inner voice, not simply cower before thought-police. The inner voice insists that something must live forever, and the “something” is not the body but the noble, compassionate deeds and creations for which people occasionally give their lives.
The truth, then, is that The Center has never been formally allied with either Left or Right at any point in its history. We do not cultivate this position so that we may style ourselves “centrists” with the smug sanctimony of wishy-washy intellectuals. On the contrary, we find that both political polarities actually close a tight circle on too many critical issues. Our culture is dying. Cell phones and superhighways are killing it from one end as “progressive” relativism kills it from the other. What virtue is there in staking out the midpoint of a collapsing bridge?
This is not to imply that a massive shift from the technological to the pastoral appeals to us as an agenda. Now that the nuclear genie is out of the bottle and biochemical terrorism looms on the near horizon, further research and development cannot be surrendered to the trembling hands of megalomaniac despots. Directing the world’s future responsibly, however, requires the ministrations of a sober, mature people with an active conscience, a belief in universal human rights, an awareness of history, and a capacity for self-discipline–the very opposite of the frivolous whimsy we must expect of citizen-masses locked in adolescent narcissism by the indefinitely renewable fantasies of high-tech amusement. Western civilization must recover its dignity to survive.
Reading and writing awaken people to their inner resources–are indeed the efficient cause of modern science, which has given us technology. Yet we must never allow our resourcefulness to “liberate” us from the “labor” of thought itself, just as no democratic republic may legally abrogate its freedoms by electing a tyrant. Instead, we must reject the “interdependency” so popular among deceptively styled “globalists” of both parties, just as we would refuse to let our sons and daughters be fused with robots for the “universal good” of a “smoothly running society”. A well-run hive is not a human ideal. The shackling of individual creativity does not produce a human security. The soul’s murder does not leave behind a human peace. Our era’s abhorrence of war, of servitude, of squalor, and of wanton abuse of the planet is a measure of our ascent as soulful beings: how would we eradicate these perennial plagues of our existence by stifling individualism except in the way that an addict would solve his problem by suicide?
We may need literally to grow more of our own food with our own hands, to walk more of our own errands on our own two feet… but such “primitivism” is far less an agenda than a metaphor. What we need is to become independent at a more mature level, not interdependent for easier packing into cattle cars. Our hope is the historic literate one of becoming more responsible through a more developed individuality–not more readily programmed and (as the “need” arises) exterminated through a more robotic subservience to the cues of hidden masters.