Friday, July 16, 2010

The Ruthless Few

The grinding machinery of the state requires philosophical lubrication in order for it to effectively crush autonomous human existence and smash it together in the new totalitarian society.

For the ruthless few who orchestrate the transformation from ordered liberty to centralized authoritarianism, the ideological justification for such a structural shift is not utopian but pragmatic.

States that are in the midst of transformation from democratic government and civil society to fascistic forms are never self-consciously evil; their most remarkable quality is an absence of the notion of evil.

The self-appointed philosopher-kings who reside behind the veneer of the demagogic politicians, who specialize in sophistic rhetoric, are devoid of the intuition or value-judgment that individual human beings have intrinsic worth.

"Liberty" for these technocrats is a hopelessly romantic and misguided ideal that is merely a barrier to their construction of the perfectly efficient integrated political, social, and economic system. The ideas that animate men are of little consequence to these social scientists who prostitute principles on behalf of the would-be rulers; what matters is the reality of power over the mindless mob. As such, if the blank slates of humanity call tyranny "freedom," and oppression "liberty," so much the better.

The sense of intellectual superiority among the ruthless few is driven by a few basic assumptions.

First, that human beings are tabula rasa that can be conditioned to believe, through empirical manipulation of the sense-data in their environments, whatever the propaganda class tells them to believe.

Second, individual human beings have no intrinsic value, spiritual or otherwise, that warrants special consideration in their design of their totalitarian system. They are merely numbers or objects to be manipulated (this, after all, is the "scientific" and "pragmatic" way to look at things).

Third, the value systems to be inculcated in the masses are selected on the basis of their utility for power accumulation. For all intents and purposes, these values are the sinews of collectivism that the technocrats use to orchestrate their structural transformation.

Yet the ruthless few are intellectually blind in that they do not recognize the philosophical shallowness of their designs. Designing a system for the sake of the system overlooks that human life is driven by men's search for meaning. Individuals are not animated by their desire to be part of a "system." Alienation and anomie erode such totalitarian designs at their foundational level.

The instrumentalist system the technocrats contrive causes human misery and suffering, true; but how does one objectively measure such suffering? And after all, aren't social experiments designed to be run again until the system is perfected?

The cold comfort for the victims of totalitarianism is that the ruthless few's disconnect from humanity, beyond its superficial abstraction, is the fatal flaw that prevent their machinations from becoming a lasting reality.

1 comment:

Reasonsjester said...

A passage in a Commentary article greatly informs the previous post The Ruthless Few:

The point is this: though not one in a thousand of today's bipartisan ruling class ever heard of Adorno or McCloskey, much less can explain the Feuerbachian-Marxist notion that human judgments are "epiphenomenal" products of spiritual or material alienation, the notion that the common people's words are, like grunts, mere signs of pain, pleasure, and frustration, is now axiomatic among our ruling class. They absorbed it osmotically, second -- or thirdhand, from their education and from companions. Truly, after Barack Obama described his opponents' clinging to "God and guns" as a characteristic of inferior Americans, he justified himself by pointing out he had said "what everybody knows is true." Confident "knowledge" that "some of us, the ones who matter," have grasped truths that the common herd cannot, truths that direct us, truths the grasping of which entitles us to discount what the ruled say and to presume what they mean, made our Progressives into a class long before they took power.