Stormy Thoughts on a Stormy Morning
My thoughts this stormy, blustery morning come like the wind, in gusts and like the devil winds — in no particular order and perhaps with no common theme. They take me by surprise, push me around or swirl me about, and then drop me like a dry leaf. Uncanny (but beguiling) how my mental mood this morning resembles the weather “out there”.
So, here they are, also coming in gusts and bursts… random early morning thoughts and impressions in a storm.
The Meaning of “the West”, II
In the last post, I attempted to show that “the West” as used by politicians and punditry (including and especially, perhaps, neo-conservatives like Niall Ferguson or Samuel Huntington) is really a fatal confusion — one that tends towards an absolutist, totalitarian politics in its very conception. This is, in essence, the “dictatorship of reason in the West” that is the thesis of John Ralston Saul’s book Voltaire’s Bastards and The Unconscious Civilization.
I attempted to show, following Rosenstock-Huessy’s approach, that what is called “the West” isn’t a unitary entity or civilization at all, but a more or less stable equilibrium of four, more often than not, contradictory streams of influence — the Tribal, the Greek, the Roman, and the Judeo-Christian (Abrahamic), and that these influences persist in the form of social archetypes — the Poet, the Philosopher, the Politician, and the Priest, or in the institutions associated with these types.
The Meaning of “the West”
Many people use the term “the West” or “Western civilisation” as if they actually knew what it meant. Politicians especially love to speak of “the West,” not just as a political entity but even as a quasi-mystical or mythical being. The Buddhist has the sangha, the muslim has the ummah, the Christian has the oikoumenē. The politician, however, has “the West” and speaks of it in much the same way.
Not only does the politician not have a sniff of a clue what he’s talking about, he actually imposes upon us a falsehood. The politician does so for one reason — to make us governable. His especial interest is in winning power and authority and in the exercise of that power and authority. If a lie will accomplish that better than a truth, then the lie will always be preferred to the truth. The lie is simply called “political truth”. What is “political truth”? It is a lie designed to make us governable. But a lie which, in the end, corrupts us all.