Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Hierarchy of Nihilism

It is a grievous error to believe that Satan is the greatest enemy of mankind. Satan, while truly a formidable opponent and mankind's tempter, nevertheless pales in comparison with man's true enemy: nihilism. Satan's goal is to rule in Heaven. Nihilism's goal is the total destruction of the universe.

By nihilism I mean, of course, an acceptance of the destructive impulses in humanity. Three things compose nihilism: a rejection of all standards, objective or otherwise; a dull hatred for reality, due to reality's continued evidence of objective standards; and finally, a violence against those standards, reality, and God Himself.

There are very few who espouse pure nihilism, but many more who express some small part of the nihilistic agenda. In America, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, we can find nihilists across the entire political spectrum, but the party of nihilism today is primarily the Left. We can see this in the hierarchy of nihilism, which is the method by which nihilists advance their agenda.

The first stage of the hierarchy can be called "anti-transcendentalism", but is more generally known by the name utilitarianism. All concepts, from the most sacred to the most mundane, include a transcendental element. For example, a chair is both the substance that composes it and also the idea of a chair. This idea of a chair is the concept, and it contains a transcendental element--the idea that chairs should be comfortable, the vast history of chairs, famous chairs both real and fictional, God's Throne, etc. The non-transcendental element is the function of the chair, that is to say, the idea that a chair is something one sits upon. The goal of utilitarianism is to strip out the transcendental and leave only the functional. For example, the military has a long and glorious tradition, a warrior ethic, and a certain concept of itself as being a pale shadow of some true Military. Under utilitarianism, the military is merely an organized force of men for killing other men. The appeal of utilitarianist thought is that in the short-term, it can be used to increase efficiency and make a structure more productive or useful. Unfortunately, in the long-term, utilitarianism strips out the transcendental, which is that which appeals to men. To continue using the example of the military, certain changes made during the late twentieth century may have in the short-term increased the effectiveness of the military by, say, increasing the number of available recruits, but at the cost of destroying the transcendental element and cutting off the modern military from its glorious heritage and its link to the pure Military. Joining the military is no longer special. It contains no honor. There is no particular reason to join, because it is just a job like any other, with the exception that one can die doing it. Is it any wonder that enlistment levels fall off, year after year?

After utilitarianism comes cynicism. By redefining concepts to exclude the transcendental, the utilitarian wing has opened the door for the cynical wing to enter. Old institutions lose their effectiveness, because they have lost the transcendental. New institutions cannot arise, because the very notion of an institution is under siege. All concepts are rated by their utility. God is no longer the holy source of the Divine, but instead something dragged out to demonstrate one's "trustworthiness" or "virtue" (Trust and Virtue are, of course, also under attack, particularly by those who lack either). Courts ask witnesses to swear to tell the truth, "so help you God", when no one in the court believes in the Deity in question. Right and wrong become simply words, useful in describing actions that may hinder or help one's agenda, but containing no special meaning. Marriage is just a contract to receive benefits from the state. Parenthood is merely the guardianship of a child until adulthood. The press is simply a vehicle for dispensing information, true or not, so long as it boosts the ratings. "Is" does not mean "is."

The people become cynical. Old words and concepts are attached to things which no lonmger function the way they are supposed to. And functionality is the central organizing principle of the New World Order. God alone can help you if you are not "functional." The people become disillusioned with the old concepts, and react against them. God is no longer simply a useful concept, but becomes an object of active ridicule. Those who believe in virtue are mocked for being "prudes", "goody-two-shoes," and worst of all, "hypocrites." The elite sniff, "So-and-so has issues," or "hang-ups" or whatever the word du jour is. Witness William Bennett.

The final stage of the hierarchy is nihilism itself. The old concepts are jettisoned. No new ones emerge. All is "free," free of the stultifying oppression of standards. All is "equal," equally squalid and meaningless. All is chaos. Marriage is gone, washed away in a orgiastic flood of perpetually shifting domestic arrangements. The priesthood is gone, for God is dead, don'tchaknow, and well, when God is dead, all is permitted. Political parties are gone--that quaint old notion of showing loyalty to those who share your principles and opinions? That'll never get you elected. Heck, principles will never get you elected; they stand in the way of old Number One. The military is gone, because the nation is gone, and everything it stood for, its hopes and its dreams, principles and policies, glories and failures, history and traditions, those are gone too, and no longer need defending. Truth is gone, because what matters is Spin. Beauty is gone, because it is so unfair that some are born beautiful, or with artistic talent, and who are you anyway to say that my feces-stained Madonna isn't beautiful? Liberty is gone, because your Liberty gets in the way of my Libertinism, especially your judgment of me, and your democratic processes that block me from doing what I want to do, so I'll just get some "judges" to declare your laws unconstitutional, and then I'll do what I want anyway.

Thus we see the world end, in a hell of nothingness.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

--William Butler Yeats, from "The Second Coming"

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