Amerika

One Big Idea

If the disease of our time possesses a root, it can be found in the notion of One Big Idea. This meta-idea seduced us because egalitarianism offered us a combination of Utopia and scapegoat:

  1. Once upon a time we lived in a paradise where humans were equal
  2. Then equality was taken away by some evil meanies who wanted to be rich, powerful, and important
  3. We can have the Garden of Eden back only by making people equal.

Naturally, the subtext of this is “life sucks and it is not my fault that I am failing.” We cannot read it any other way; the A student in class, top athlete, or genius inventor would never adopt this philosophy.

In fact, not even the B students would. A B student might laugh and say, “Yep, I’m slacking.” Many of the C students would not. Any student however who felt that whatever their grade, they should have more, would join in on the “life is terrible” bandwagon.

People love the idea of equality because it conveys power. Tell it to a room full of people, especially intelligent ones, and they all turn off their brains and start swaying with the motion of the herd. It turns them into your tool and you become powerful.

These big ideas operate by reducing the world to symbols. For example, racism says that once society was good, the Jews or the blacks have ruined society, and we can have its golden days back by removing the Jews or the blacks (or both).

Anti-racism, constructed in mirror image, says that society was bad, inviting in other groups made it good, and we can have future golden days by removing the racists. These are the same idea expressed in different forms.

If sanity comes to humanity, it will do so by our rejection of the One Big Idea in favor of opening our eyes to the dual need to pay attention to reality and to choose excellence in all that we do.

This presents a complex dual-pronged attack which will naturally be less comprehensible than egalitarianism. The Leftist idea of equality succeeds because it is simple, explains everything, and gives people a primitive us-versus-them narrative that makes them feel as if they are in control.

The two parts of sanity are more complex:

  • The first prong, realism, requires us to reject our habit of measuring things by their popularity among other humans. Instead, we look at human actions and how they turned out in reality, meaning not how humans think of them, but what actually transpired.
  • The second prong, excellence, requires rejecting what is socially popular among humans so that we can look to a higher qualitative standard. This is measured through transcendental aesthetics as much as anything else, seeking what is within the patterns of nature and also makes life more beautiful, interesting, pleasurable, and good.

You cannot make this into One Big Idea. Unfortunately for us, our brains are now programmed to try to find singular big ideas, even when we are replacing the One Big Idea (or “Big Lie”). We end up with a new illusion based on the form of the old, even if radically different in intent.

In this way, people ideologize natural parts of their world, and try to make those parts into a theory of the whole. We can list some here:

  1. Freedom. The cult of freedom is strong, since it enables us to declare anarchy and separate ourselves from an obligation to protect, nurture, and develop civilization, but you cannot make civilization out of bourgeois self-interest.
  2. Religion. Every society needs its own religion, but religion cannot substitute for the design of a civilization.
  3. Tribe. Preserving your race and ethnic group by excluding every other race and ethnic group is essential, but it is not a civilization, only a method.
  4. Capitalism. Conservatives like capitalism because every alternative fails and creates a huge bureaucracy, but capitalism alone does not make a civilization.
  5. Tolerance. We all desire to be accepting of others and their differences and eccentricities, but this is a personal behavior, not the basis for a society.
  6. Labor. Conservatives want people to “work hard” and the Left wants a society of workers, but neither of these ideas can create a civilization.
  7. Patriotism. It is nice, and pleasant, too, to like your government and its flag, but that is the guardian of civilization (in theory) not the civilization itself.

In ancient writings, we often find the idea that “love” is the root of the antithesis to the One Big Idea. This would be tempting, except that we know people will turn “love” into permissiveness or libertinism.

However, the idea of love remains appealing. We know that you cannot have a civilization in the mixture of apathy and narcissism that some Rightists call “nihilism,” and that you need to have a fundamental reason to care about the future beyond your own convenience.

After all, in just about any era of history, you could settle down with a source of income and dedicate the rest of your time to pleasures of flesh, personal comfort, an ethic of convenience, and the pursuit of prestige, wealth, and power.

We tend to call the mild form of that bourgeois to refer to the attitude of the typical city dweller. He does not care where his food comes from, only that he has money to buy it, and beyond that, he pays taxes, you see, for society to take care of itself.

In other words, he views society as being like another product for which the transactional relationship suffices. Nothing like love; something more like cash in hand, a physical need addressed, and the bigger questions of life pushed aside, perhaps forever.

Most humans live in this mental bubble. They care about how their power in the system — social status, position, wealth, perception by others — only, and have relegated pesky meaning-of-life issues to the mental dumpster where we put things we fear.

In some senses, they are doing well because they have avoided what they fear, but to eschew what you fear is also to be driven away from what you love, because you have given your focus to what you fear.

Modern society, with its many rules and complex systems of safety and equality, seemed to be under the thumb of fear. This excludes love because you cannot love a world that you fear like an abusive lover or controlling parent; you can only manage it, working around its tendencies that you fear in order to force it to do what you want, which requires you to reduce your wants to the tangible, immediate, and personal.

The sovereignty of the One Big Idea has reduced our society from a place where people dreamed big and turned it into a mouse-warren for the fearful. We no longer even have language for great castles, life-changing quests, or transcendental relationships with nature.

To love this world forces change upon the individual. You can no longer think in the narrow terms of self and want, but in terms of majesty and excellence, eternity and supremacy, and measures of intangibles like duration, depth, intensity, and resiliency.

Love binds us to the whole world. That induces us to pursue a transcendent vision, or something that reveals how the good of the whole comes from the mixed good and evil of its parts. That causes us to view life as a process more than a tangible thing.

Plato said that all wisdom is connected, meaning that if you find a truth in one area, you will see that pattern appear again and again. When we take that meta-pattern as reality, we see that this means that life is consistent, orderly, and produces good results on the whole.

Some want us to pick other methods simply to distract from the meta-pattern; in fact, the notion of One Big Idea is to create a substitute for “adapt to reality” in the form of a morality of a method taken as a goal.

Actual morality involves the two prongs we mentioned above, realism for adaptation and excellence for prescriptive acts or those affirmative steps we take to improve our lot in life, and avoids the One Big Idea because such a notion limits the application of the two prongs.

As we come out of this modern time, a disease which has been coming on for the past thousand years or so, we are going to be stronger, wiser, and more geared toward what is both morally and biologically right in tandem.

A first step involves ceasing our search for a new One Big Idea to replace the old one, equality, and instead to focus on adaptation that also not just plays fair in a moral sense, but develops us in quality, which is the ultimate morality.

Only then can we show this existence the love that it deserves.

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