Thursday 12 December 2019

Right and Left

Sometimes I amuse myself by trying to reduce the difference between right and left to just one basic thing. That's because I believe that what ultimately lies behind these two attitudes reflects a duality in reality that goes beyond mere politics. Manifested reality is built on complementary opposites and the interaction between them. Otherwise it could not be. If everything was one then nothing, no thing, could ever arise. There needs to be this duality in reality in order for creation to take place. This is why we speak of spirit and matter and why there is subject and object.

What is this fundamental difference? It can be equated to that between justice and mercy or hierarchy and oneness or quality and quantity or liberty and constraint or the individual and the group etc, etc. All these things reflect something of the essential divide between right and left, and you can see that when we put the question in these terms they both have something real as a foundation. I am not saying they are equally valid in this world but they are both built on something real even if they are at several removes from the thing itself.  They can be said to have a metaphysical foundation of sorts, however crooked the building on top of that might be.

There is another difference, though, which in modern times has come to the fore and this division is not a product of any existent thing in reality. This division is between truth and a lie. 

The difference between right and left now (with the proviso that much called right today is just a milder form of left) is between belief in objective truth and belief in truth that can be made into what you want it to be.

If you have one person who thinks that things have their own reality independent of anything we might believe or want, and another who thinks that we can make things into what we want them to be (which means they have no independent reality), there can be no meeting between the two. As each side takes its beliefs to their logical conclusions they will get further and further apart, and glib appeals to sit down and talk and find some kind of unity become meaningless. This is the situation we are in today and the matter is serious because if it continues it could lead to war. 

Is there any means of providing some kind of rapprochement between these two sides? In a world based on materialism, the answer must be no. They can never meet because they position themselves in exact opposition to each other. The only possible way to transcend their differences is to move to a spiritual level where all things can be reconciled but this would not affect each side equally. The spiritual position asserts that there is an objective reality so the right is correct and the left is wrong. However, the leftist desire to remake reality according to its own desires can be satisfied to an extent by recognising that in God all questions are answered and all suffering is removed. Problems associated with unfairness and inequality are resolved as each soul who turns to God is rewarded according to its measure and none is short-changed because of an excess to another. The promised land of milk and honey where everything is as it should ideally be does exist but it only exists on a spiritual level and in spiritual terms. It can never be brought about in the material world except as a consequence of spiritual seeing.

If right and left are ever to find common ground, something that looks increasingly unlikely, they must raise their eyes from earth to heaven. The nature of this world is such that there can be no answer to the problems of life in terms of this world being its own cause or reward or truth. The two facets of created reality can only be united and reconciled on the spiritual level. 

Today is a General Election in the UK. I don't vote. Firstly because all parties are actively anti-spiritual and, though I don't say they're all as bad as each other (socialism, for instance, denies the individual and human freedom which is the whole point of creation), they're all bad now. But, secondly, I don't vote because I think universal franchise is insane. How can you decide how a country should be governed by a majority vote? You may as well just toss a coin. Voting is simply a way to make people think they have some influence in a system which is largely rigged anyway but even if it were all above board it would still be an absurd way to go about things. Universal suffrage is based on the idea of equality with everyone equally entitled to have an opinion on any particular issue but human beings are not equal. They never have been and never will be. They have equal potential as souls but how that potential is developed or manifested varies enormously. I would go so far as to say that equality is anti-religious in that it denies the order God has created. Naturally, this does not mean that all people should not be treated with justice.

The outcome of the election will make little real difference to the country. I don't say all outcomes are identical in impact because that is not the case but the solution to our current problems is not political. Continuing with the farce of modern democracy just puts off the day of reckoning. Truth is not determined by a majority opinion. That is why I will not be voting. 


Chris said...

To my lights, the Left and Right were born when the Old Order came to an end and Liberalism (capital L) arose. The big question for me is whether the earlier form of Liberalism ("classical liberalism")naturally and irresistbly morphs (or "progresses") into progressive liberalsm/ socialism etc?

That is - are the Left and Right organically related (locked in a never ending dance leftward) OR is the Left a departure and betrayal of classical liberalism?

William Wildblood said...

Your guess is as good as mine on that, Chris. What has happened is what has happened, that's all we can say. It's true that the left has been corrupted but the seeds were always there once God was not seen as central. That is the crucial point. If God is not central all politics is corruption.

Chris said...

Ok. That's fair.

But, the "right", just as much as the left, would say that the rejection of throne and altar and the rise of democracy was an enormous quantum leap forward. Separation of church and state is touted as one of the cornerstones of freedom and liberty in contrast to theocratic totalitarianism . So, is democracy and the formal omission of religion two things that must go together?

Now, many self-styled "conservatives" would say that Liberalism does not entail the prohibition of religion. And that's true of course. But, I suppose the founders of Liberalism, for example, John Locke, just couldn't even imagine that their society/culture would willfully turn away from religion.

I wonder, had they known , would they still have stood by their ideas?

Morgan said...

I think Steiner's idea of 'social threefolding' is interesting:

William Wildblood said...

I just don't think in those terms, Chris, so I can't really answer your question. I think we have to move into a different kind of mindset in which spiritual understanding is primary. Liberalism, conservatism and all the rest of it only arose when religion lost its power. I'm not saying we should go back to that but we have to go forward and adopt a spiritual worldview that sees everything in this world as a means and not an end.

I've heard of that, Morgan, and I think Steiner has many interesting insights but he always over-eggs the pudding by which I mean he complicates and systemises to an excessive degree. I believe we need to simplify our life in this world.

Chris said...


I hope you don't object to my pressing this discussion a little further...
I agree that spiritual understanding is primary. But, the spiritual and the political are organically connected. To my lights, the status of the spiritual and the political cannot be envisaged one without the other. The political order is a basically a deployment of society's core metaphysical commitments. That's why the pre-modern dispensation was hierarchical, reflecting what some have called the "great chain of being".

That being said, as you pointed out, it doesn't seem reasonable or desirable to go back to that. So, if a "spiritual restoration" were possible even in principle, what could that possibly look like? I have no idea.

William Wildblood said...

I have no idea what a spiritual restoration could look like either. I think we have probably exhausted the spiritual impetus from previous dispensations and need a new injection from above, a new revelation in other words. Anything else would be a going back to the past which clearly wouldn't work. Human beings are incapable of creating a new spiritual awareness themselves even though they can intuit something of it as many people are doing now I would say. But the real revelation must come from above.

What we can do now is prepare the way by constantly asserting the need to see life in spiritual terms. We can all be like mini John the Baptists shouting repent and give up your worldly ways. Then if enough people heed the call what you are describing as a restoration might be possible.

Bruce Charlton said...

wrt Chris's point that " the spiritual and the political cannot be envisaged one without the other". This isn't true, in the sense that there were hunter gatherer societies without politics; and even now the family is not a political unit (despite the attempts of politics/ economics/ etc to penetrate and destroy the family). So that the spiritual can indeed exist without politics.

In recent months I have - indeed - become gradually more convinced that this is where we are headed (like it or not). To a 'counter-cultural' secret, underground reversion to non-politics and family/ family-like groupings - perhaps much like the earliest Christians, before there was a church. It will either be that, or nothing - if all the rest is taken over by the totalitarian system.

William Wildblood said...

I've always hated the point of view which says that everything is political. To me in a sane world nothing is political. There must be some sort of communal organisation but this should arise naturally from spiritual understanding as in a monastery though I am not saying ordinary life for ordinary people should be run on monastic lines. Just the basic idea behind it which is probably very similar to what Bruce is saying.

Francis Berger said...

I don't think the recent UK election will accomplish much politically, but on the bright side, at least we will be seeing a lot less of Jeremy Corbyn, which is no minor consolation.

William Wildblood said...

Very true Frank, in both points. But since the modern Conservative party is really conservative in name only, i.e. fully on board with the culturally leftist agenda, I don't see the prospect for any real change for the better. Perhaps things won't get even worse for a while. That's the most one can hope for.