Monday, November 22, 2004

Uselessness and Politics

Yesterday's post was not just an exercise in the esoteric -- the idea of the value of uselessness has direct implications for the conservative frame of mind. Liberal secularism disavows the role of the transcendent in political life instead positing that humanity is sufficient in and of itself for the task of ordering society on earth. Without the overarching, architectonic concept of a creative and organizing force, their philosophy 'frees' humans to assume that role themselves, to become the architects of society. This is the highest folly and the worst conceit of mankind -- that we might divorce this world from the next, and assume the role of God here on earth. Thus, according to liberals, humans are not meant to praise or glorify something higher, but to praise and glorify themselves through their 'useful' works. The extreme of this is the godlessness of communism -- atheistic hubris that, even as it exalts the power of man to build design and build utopia on earth, debases the dignity of man by unanchoring humanity from creation metaphysics. The path is thereby opened for the powerful to blame the failures of their grand designs on those charged to implement them, and what results is the 'purging of the saboteurs' -- the deaths of millions of innocents. On a lesser scale, liberalism has the same vain defect here in America -- that that man can utilize power without fearing its corrupting effect as long as the intention is good. It too readily casts away the collective wisdom manifested in our traditions for its mechanistic fixes for acute societal problems. But the cure is often more deadly than the disease.

Conservatism, as opposed to holding the mechanical-utopian view of modern American liberalism, is organic. Life is like a garden, traditions grow and evolve over time. There is an absolute good, the growth and flourishing of the garden, and there is an absolute evil, the weeds that spring up and attempt to choke the light away from the things that grow. Things move slowly and change takes time, but the change that occurs is good and lasting. Incentives, like fertilizer, are chosen over more rash options, and the natural laws governing the life of each plant, written in genetic material, are recognized and allowed to operate, not stymied and blocked. The garden may not be very useful, it may not have a purpose like that of a machine, but it is beautiful. And that's why its valuable.

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