Roots of this intellectual polarity reach back into Medieval scholasticism amid heated, often deadly, conflict when involving papal positions. In different forms and varied contexts, versions of this argument extended farther back into disputes between the Greek philosophers and sophis or rhetors (as Romans called them.)
Addressing the history, condition and prospects of the Republican Party, John Gavin, one of Benicia Herald’s local, contributing writers described them succinctly, correctly and comprehensively. That party is shattered and drawn as under magnetic force by a fraction of loudly wrong-headed people who have confirmed each other in delusions that they are conservative and not radical rebels against national “reality.” For them, that means too much national debt and federal spending, cured by harsh, immediate cuts to all they hate including many things vital to others. They detest gradualism.
It seems a shame that our laws define no crime of treason against the nation by groups of congress members. Were it codified, administrative authority could arrest the lot of them for trial and punishment. We have laws covering almost any infraction or tort in quintuplicate, yet we are defenseless against insane notions and their formal acts in Congress. Insanity is alluded carefully, here, as better described by Alfred Korzybski’s famous neologism, “unsanity.” These House members and their sympathetic senators are not “clinically” insane but certifiably out of touch with valid comprehension of this world, lost, through tilted notions, in a long-evolved Cloud Cuckoo Land, an unreal realm in which they are national saviors battling the forces, as they view them, of deep, social and economic evil. Evil indicates the religiosity by which they are manipulated.
What underlies the seemingly magnetic force that deforms the orientation of their “iron” particularities? Much has been written from the psychiatric standpoint. Some analysts suggest that the paranoia of inflated egotism and a generation of bad rearing both at home and in networks of obfuscated communication has so altered perception that they no longer dwell in our general culture but are “in fugue” from it, separated off into a destructive subculture. The madness has a still deeper source in our cultural past. For Medieval scholastics, it was called “Voluntarism” which viewed will-power as the godlike creator of factual truth, rather than truth being obtained inductively from observed facts of nature.
For circumspect treatment of this past and its issues, see Chapter Five, “The Double Truth,” in Jeremy Campbell’s stellar work on dishonesty, The Liar’s Tale, 2001. There was an old conundrum, of whether God’s omniscient all-goodness precluded an equal all-badness. If God’s power exceeded truthfulness, He was free to deceive our senses and unfound objective science, casting man upon revealed truth (or representations) by default. Faith wins, Science loses. Yet, God and religion lose also in human perspective, opening the door to loss of faith or divergence from doctrines into schism and conflict.
If under “double truth” assumptions, a thing can be religiously true while scientifically false, the faithful are set at odds with objective fact and verifiable observation. Here we find the plight of all Fundamentalism, Christian or whatever. People who, by whatever experience or train of persuasive thought they come to it, both entertain and are trapped in a double truth. Religion demands they surrender reason and science to all sorts of nonsense like climate-denial, subjugation of women and minorities, conflict with unbelievers and other religions, and a need to close ranks defensively against the outer world toward which the Fundamentalists now take the posture of victims and feel threat from many directions against all they mistakenly value. This attitude of religious fundamentalism invades political life and galvanizes their zealousness to heights of raw fanaticism not seen since the days of Girolamo Savaronola who was finally executed in Florence, Italy, after many outrages against the populace due to his extreme intolerance.
It is terribly sad that the Tea Party people have been aided in going crazy by deliberate instigation and agitation by members of the ultra-rich set who hired TV mouthpieces and operatives to mislead little folks by means of their biases and unconsciously-held ideas. Unscrupulously manipulated, they rage against taxation and governance as if they belong to some other country or never took a class in Civics or American Government, and had no inkling of the destructive effects of social injustice in Greek, Roman, or European, history.
It would seem that the South, long after losing our Civil War, carried damaged self-love added to imagined victimization and, migrating out to all parts of the nation, spread the ghost of Confederate disaffection everywhere, to fester and rise again like dormant cells of alien terrorists. Alas, Tea Partiers are not real Christians but Paulists, followers of the chiliastic, other-worldly religion he invented in contrast to the Jesuarian mind-set of those Jews who had actually known and followed The Teacher himself. These dupes are nothing like the Essenes of the Qumran community from whose outlook Jesus’ views developed and prospered until overtaken by Paul’s psychologically-grounded, blind version of vision that largely incorporated and mimicked older gentile traditions. [More insight can be drawn from Karen Armstrong’s deeply informed A History of God, 1993.]
In the matter of Free Will, once split away from moral reasoning, and with “double-truth doubt” of unitary reality and mental integrity, many fundamentalists seem to have begun supposing their wishes ruled the facts. This was displayed in the Bush regime’s notion that the governing intent could make all the facts it needed, and questions of objective truth were disloyal carping from Democrats seeking to weaken the Will toward GOP Freedom and world dominance, history and nature be damned. Our nation will be at risk until these wild-eyed radicals are brought back to sensibility.
In special point here are figures like Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and more than a hundred others in Congress, finance and media. These are people of fragmented character and superficial personality who accept as genuine whatever they can make their public imagine and feed back to them. They interact with the world pathologically in “devilish” ways. “Devils” seem like ordinary citizens, but need to invite attention to themselves by spectacular talk and deeds well designed to start things troublesome to society but ill-designed for solving society’s troubles or actually finishing their projects. In short, devils know how to start stuff but not how to finish their work and go home to Hell! Like our recent Bush/Cheney administration, they can make a costly mess that has to be left for generations, world-wide, to straighten out and hopefully heal.
[Rev’d, 10-18-13 & 10-21-13, rms]