Human minds understand things through categories of objects, but reality works through cause-effect reasoning, which often runs contrary to category.
We assume that each object inherits the properties of the category that we assign to it, when really it has been placed in that category because it shares enough characteristics with our mental image of the other objects in that group. However, some possibly-distant cause created that object, and so our category links together effects with different causes.
This can be seen most frequently in diagnostics. For example, the PayPal website likes to give a mysterious error: “We are not able to process your request. Please try again later.” This could mean the website is glitching, a security rules has been breached, that some functions are not available after hours, the FBI has seized your account, or that your bank is not responding. You will never know.
In the same way, many diseases cause similar symptoms like nausea, disorientation, memory loss and fragile balance. Diagnosticians group together symptoms and look for that pattern, like the cut of a key to the pins of a lock, but even among these, there is overlap. Until the cause is found, any diagnosis is at best an educated guess.
This leads us to an understanding that categories appear to us to be complete, universal, and absolute in their logic, but in reality they are at best quite fragile unless the actual diagnosis is known. We see them as having a singular category, when because of that cause-effect relationship, they have two attributes: what the cause was, and why it was not anything else.
For example, on the PayPal website, any number of triggers can contribute to the error message appearing, but those indicate either an action by the website to limit fraud, a problem with the service, or an error in the configuration of accounts and credit cards and all of the other complexity that this service attempts to tie together.
When we find the actual cause or causes, this explains the underlying pattern that causes dysfunction, and by that nature reveals the direction toward error. Whatever is amiss has excluded other causes, and also excluded other causes for a non-error condition. The same can be said of human motivations.
As the old saying goes, the flip side of love is hatred. You cannot care about something, and fail to hate what threatens it. This leads us to the difficult question of what to love, and the Left posits universal love, which for them means pretending to be a god and loving everything, without understanding that the love of a god is love for creation itself, not a desire to preserve each part.
We might ask ourselves, in the modern West, what do we actually love? And once we ascertain what to love, have we correctly identified the threats against it? Again, categories can fool us here, as they have done to others in the past, causing us to miss what we actually love through target fixation on what we presume we should hate:
Schiff says he would find it difficult to play in Hungary. Art and politics cannot be disentangled. The audience matters to performers. “We are not naive,” he says.
He cannot understand how senior Nazis could commit terrible crimes, and in the next moment, “listen to Beethoven string quartets and weep like children.”
It takes great passion to love something large than oneself, such as a nation, an idea or even the string quartets of Beethoven. But when we go looking for that which threatens what we love, we can be fooled by thinking that its opposites are what we should hate, when in reality we need to look at the conditions that allow it to thrive, and then see what excludes those by pushing instead in a different direction.
You cannot love Beethoven simply by burning Justin Bieber albums. You cannot love the West simply by eradicating those who are not Western. To love the West, you must nurture the West, and war on what threatens it, which is weakness within the West.
Passion goes hand-in-hand with ire. And yet ire, like any other motivation, can become a cause in itself. At that point, the reason for the ire is forgotten. This amounts to attacking the effect, and ignoring the cause. We see this pattern play out over the centuries in every failed human endeavor.
Our hatred would be better directed toward whatever makes the West weak, instead of toward what we perceive are symptoms of the decay. T.S. Eliot alludes toward that in his poem “Gerontion,” where the symptoms of decay mask the cause for that decay:
Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
I was neither at the hot gates
Nor fought in the warm rain
Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,
Bitten by flies, fought.
My house is a decayed house,
And the Jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.
The passion of Beethoven does not burn in our veins enough. We are tired and old, swatting at flies instead of closing the window. The window has many dimensions, with democracy its outer one, individualism within, and beneath that, a lack of belief in the goodness of the world, and thus a loss of our inner virtue.
It is fine and good to say that we should isolate ourselves, or that no others should dwell within us, but this must be a blanket statement so it is clear that our focus is on ourselves, not false targets of our ire. As always, the real frustration is with ourselves, and as time goes on, we become so enraged that we collapse in futile exhaustion.
We have fought two world wars, many civil wars and several revolutions for the sake of making individualism work, and each time it has simply killed off many of our best and left the rest devastated. They pass the failed ruin down to their children, and their children then grow up without hope. There is no love in that.
While we proclaim our love for the West, we may have forgotten — latch-key children of broken homes in hopeless ages — what it is to love. We need the duality of love, with both love and hatred combined, not either love or hatred. Like so many things in our modern era, they are substitutes for what is needed, and they exhaust us, making us weaker as the years drain away.