Liberal, Conservative, and Mental Confusion
Liberal and conservative are not identities. They are functions, moods, or states of the psyche akin to the yin and yang forces and serve the same purpose — to maintain a certain equilibrium or balance in psyche and society. When they become confused with the identity, this is narcissistic mind. Times of extreme political polarisation are then often an indication that the psyche and the society have become divided against themselves and are now in a state we would call “schizoid”, and decaying into a war of all against all — a state of maximum disintegration.
We are in the habit of identifying conservative and liberal orientations by purely spatialised coordinates of “right” and “left” respectively. This is an error because they are temporally and not spatially accentuated functions. Rosenstock-Huessy’s “time-thinking” philosophy and method corrected for this when he introduced two new temporal terms to complement the space-biased subjective and objective poles and functions of consciousness. The new terms were “trajective” for the conservative or past-oriented pole and function and “prejective” for the liberal for the future-oriented or progressive pole and function of consciousness. Thus his new quadrilateral or fourfold model and method forms a mandala called “the cross of reality”.
Subjective and Objective are the poles or functions of the space axis as inner and outer, while prejective and trajective are poles or functions of the time axis as past and future. It is appropriate to call these functions or states or moods, and, as you can see, it is very similar to Jung’s own mandala depiction of the psychological functions to which is bears comparison. These are representations of integral self or integral consciousness.
The mandala is a universal teaching symbol for this very reason, that it represents the soul as much as the cosmos in harmonious balance we call “equanimity”, “composed” or “equipoise”. The become identified with only one dimension of the cross of reality, or only one function of the total Self is to become, in some sense, deformed being. This is what Gebser then calls the “deficient mode of functioning” of a consciousness structure, ie, the “one-sided” mode or what Blake also called “Single Vision”.
Polarisation in psyche and society, then, indicates that the cross of reality has become unstable and threatens to splinter and disintegrate. “Things fly apart, the centre cannot hold” as Yeats put it in his famous poem “The Second Coming”.
Our task is to learn to balance this mandala or cross of reality that we are implicitly in Self and Society. Rosenstock-Huessy understood, though, that sometimes a revolution is necessary to overcome the impasse and restore society’s cross of reality when it has broken down, befiting, it seems, Rumi’s own remark that “the cure for the disease is in the disease” and to identify with only one function or one aspect of our total reality is disease.
We are composite beings, then, as the mandala and cross of reality testify, and it is error to become identified with only one arm of the cross of reality or one cardinal point of the mandala from some misguided sense of “purity”, which is to succumb to Blake’s “Single Vision”. Put another way, it is the Tao that reveals itself through us in these pairings which we need to respect in our selves. None of us is totally conservative or totally progressive or liberal. We are a mixture, who are free to call upon these functions whenever we sense the need to rebalance the spaces and times of our lives.
Which today you may note, are totally of whack, indicating that the cross of reality and the mandala of being is splintering, fracturing, and disintegrating, inducing a “maelstrom of blind anxiety” and potentially leading to “global catastrophe” as Gebser warned as well.
I hope this might help you achieve some clarity about the current situation. It is best to think of the conservative and progressive stances as functions of the psyche for maintaining equilibrium of the cross of reality or as responses to its fragmentation, which may be appropriate or inappropriate to effect the desired outcome which is reharmonisation of the cross of reality/mandala.
But never treated as identities, which only results in mental confusion and even madness. We are multiform beings, and our awareness must remain fluid and flexible to manifest that.