Dear Condoleezza Rice: The Roots and Crown of Selfishness-and-VindictivenessPosted: September 16, 2012
A year ago, I wrote a personal email to Condoleezza Rice. It is the first-and-only time I’ve contacted her. I was inspired to write her because I had become informed that she is politically moderate. You see, I, too, am politically moderate, but I feared not in quite all the same ways in which she is. I wanted to inform her of some of those possible differences―differences which I think are of paramount importance. Below is that email I sent her, here edited-and-amended for clarity:
Dear Condoleezza Rice,
Some of the founders of the US Constitution stated that any government of humans by humans in this fallen life must either be directly righteous, or be a formal and legal separation of the three powers of a whole person. So long as humans tended to be too proud for their own good, these Founders knew that the latter was needed to retard the growth of wrong actions, and to preserve society. They even said that the US Constitutional government was not made for an unrighteous people, but for a righteous people, so that once the great People of the Unites States stopped being good, they would end up losing their greatness as well. And, finally, while the process of that loss need not be sudden, it certainly would be chaotic.
Now, the three powers of a whole person are knowledge, action, and judgment; these correspond to the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of all governments. But, what is a person in society? Is a person in society simply an individual? Or, instead, is a person in society a basic and integral part of that society? Consider the natural family: a man and a woman. The man-woman unit is that to which all reproductive societies are logically reduced, and from which, even for non-reproductive groups, all other social relations come. The natural, compatible man-woman unit is the root substance of society.
Adam, as the first human individual, recognized that he was not complete without the other. So, while the human individual is necessary to himself and, thus, to society, the human individual needs other human individuals. The female human, being ‘created after Adam’, was made so as to better appreciate this need, emotionally, than does the male human.
But, this greater appreciation, which the woman has, for the need of individuals for each other, makes the woman the more readily afflicted, and conflicted, than the man, in regard to this need. So, centuries after human history became a history of direct and, thus, relational disharmonies, it was not a man, but a woman, who formulated a worldview of stridently individualistic political economics: Ayn Rand. Even more ironically poetic than the fact that a woman formulated such a worldview is the fact that this woman grew up under an oppressively anti-individualistic government, and that this government was formulated by a man: Karl Marx.
Marx was driven by the hope of creating a society in which individuals lived righteously without bureaucratic oversight. But, his means to that end were by treating individuals as mere cogs in a bureaucratic machine. Marx knew that a righteous society is irreducibly complex; but, in denying that humanity began in a single man, and then in a lone man-woman unit, Marx was left either with admitting his own impotence to cure society, or with becoming convinced that society could be ‘cured’ of its great ills by temporarily suspending some of the basic parts of a good and righteous society.
Rand, in contrast to Marx, sought, in effect, to free the individual even from the freedom to recognize when collective action is the right thing to do: she asserted that civil society could be righteous only to the extent to which the individual’s secular liberty, including his functional material capital, was in adversely-and-superior relationship to the extension of the dynamics of the natural family into the wider society.
So, persons like Marx and Rand, more than any other foolishly dichotomous adversaries, want to throw each other out of society like so many rotten vegetables. They each recognize that society is broken; but, since neither will admit that humanity has a human-transcending Creator, the only way they each see to fix society is by the application of a ‘rational’ regime in opposition to what each respectively feels is ‘irrational’. So, the actual Marx and Rand were the most ironic epitome of the classic ‘odd couple’: the man and woman recognizing that the only thing keeping them together as a couple is their agreement that their relationship is broken, while each of them continues to defensively-and-vindictively reason strictly in terms of their respective gender preferences.
But, for Marx and Rand, their gender preferences were reversed. This is because they each had become ‘traumatized’, in this fallen and very malfunctioning world, in terms of their own gender’s constructive sensitivities. In other words, in that a man and woman, as such, have differing natural occupations, Marx and Rand each suffered the ultimate form of occupational stress disorder.
The mutually exclusive ways in which Marx and Rand wished to effect the attainment of a righteous society can be compared to defining human life as ‘either water or salt, but not both’. But, it ought to be clear that any paradigm which is in opposition either to the primacy of the individual as inherently free, or to the realities of the family as the core of a civil people, is destructive to the well-being both of individuals and of society. This is why God commanded His own nation to give a tenth of their increase for support of the overseers of the sacred truth of righteousness, and for the care of the poor who are made that way by a people’s common failure to be as righteous as they ought.
The individual, and the family, is the rightful End User of economic and cultural capital. This even is why, in the ancient pagan-secular world, their leaders were made from amongst them. But, representative government is righteous only to the extent that it is righteous in terms of God’s Laws, Who alone, as Creator, is always perfectly aware of all the basics of society, and of the complexities of an equitably efficient society. It was no accident that God never instituted correction-by-ward: God knows that such an institution is unnatural-and-ineffective as a means of correction. But, it also is never an accident that pagan-secular economies institute correction-by-ward as a basic means of correction: they find such an institution to be an immediately convenient means of separating their ‘bad’ members from themselves, and keeping them so separated until or unless those ‘bad’ members are deemed sufficiently punished-and-reformed-by-the-separation.
The fact that, for the sake of an economy-of-scale, all the ‘bad’ members are held together in one place, compounds the problem, allowing the badness to breed and strengthen rather than to be washing away in the ‘good’ social and economic context by the ‘good’ members. To live for days and years in isolation from one’s proper context, by the will of that context, is to live for days and years with a huge accusatory finger pointing straight into one’s face. This is a far more dichotomous means of ‘correction’ than a system of lashing, because, even in the event that a lashing leaves permanent scars in the body, those scars are reminders of what one did, not what one is. Living so long with that huge accusatory finger, or the realization of facing such a future upon being caught in an offense, is nothing more, on the one hand, than the force of making the offender re-identify himself as ‘offender’ instead of as ‘fellow-fallen-human’, and, on the other hand, of allowing and encouraging the ‘good’ people to maintain and intensify their own vindictive dichotomy between themselves and the ‘offenders’. Moreover, while that vindictive dichotomy is alternately expressed by strictly vindictive means, such as cutting off the hand of those found to have committed material theft, a system of ‘correction’-by-ward allows the ‘good’ people to couch their own selfish vindictiveness in terms of an enlightened anti-vindictiveness: the offender’s most basic physical needs of survival and comfort are provided for within the isolated context.
Had my father allowed himself to be taken into that isolated, ‘correctional’ context, you would not have this email before you, because the family into which I was born would have been broken from the outside far-and-way more than it had been broken from the inside. But, because my father was determinedly paternal, I grew up well by way of both parents, and in a very stable and contented way. You see, had my father given himself up to the institution of correction-by-ward, my naive mother would have remained angry at him as a husband-who-was-absent-from-her-on-account-of-his-being-bad—far worse than if he had chosen to more-or-less abandon her and her children out of vice or paternal indifference.
But, since my father refused to submit to being taken captive by a system of ‘correction’-by-ward, I knew my father as a ‘bad man’ only once, for about five minutes, by my mother’s so reference to him when I once asked her where he was. So, I never saw him in jail; never saw him cowed like something that society wishes to throw-away-and-forget; never saw my mother see him there, never saw her look at him in anger as the ‘disappointing trash’ that was being ‘justly’ held from her despite her need for him as her husband and as the father of her children. So, I never developed a vindictive dichotomy between myself and my father, because I didn’t grow up under such an unnatural, society-enforced relationship to him. I’m grateful every day to him for having refused to give himself up to that deeply dichotomous, secular ‘correctional’ system.
I’m so opposed to the institution of correction-by-ward that I would rather have lived in communist USSR under Stalin than to have had a father who was a ‘bad guy’ in the Trash Can of the ‘penitentiary’ system of a too-secular ‘God-fearing’ society. That society worships both Ayn Rand and Karl Marx far more than it realizes.
My father, who had a quick temper, was a one-time thief. But, for that theft, it was a ‘God fearing’ society that would take him away and render my mother an angry nag, and me an angry son of my mother’s ‘bad’ husband. But, as it was, she was no nag, rarely angry even at him, and the most kind and mild-mannered person I have ever known. All because she respected him as a man, what a man ought to be: determined to care for his family and be present with them―even if, in a moment of particular desperation, he had once done so by theft. You see, he had grown up as a secular boy in a family of secular care: a family that may as well have been dropped out of the sky for all the wisdom it had to live in this fallen world. He grew up in a culture, in other words, that was living on borrowed cultural capital.
All sin is theft: the selfish creation of imbalance in a complex system of which the sinner is a part. My father was determined to be the least of all thieves, by refusing to assent to the implicit claim, on the part of too many, that the ‘penitentiary’ system is righteous in the eyes of God. It is not. It merely has that intention, like every good-intentioned injustice. It undermines families, and frustrates and destroys those it vainly hopes to correct. The fact that a small percentage of inmates do end up corrected is only because no system of injustice is ‘air-tight’ against the spirit of God. God gave laws to His own nation not simply out of good intentions, but out of good knowledge. And, God’s own nation failed essentially no sooner than would have America under the same laws and by the same lights: without the artifact of a Separation-of-Powers, and without the teachings and inheritances and Jesus Christ, America would have become just as evil as had ancient Israel, and just as soon.
The worldview like Ayn Rand’s is what produced the caste system of India: an initial state of common liberty of equally selfish-and-ignorant persons. This is what secularism is: ignorance of something basic, of something which it is necessary for a society to know to live long and prosper. So, in ancient India, one of the prerequisites of a righteous society, namely a common liberty, was turned against society, resulting in the social and economic imbalance of powers of society.
A caste system is nothing more than an imbalance between basics; an unnecessary injury of some for the convenience, happiness, and aggrandizement of others. Unjust men commit injustice before the victims can find to effectively defend themselves, so injustice has the advantage of being the gun fighter who draws first. This is the ‘penitentiary’ system of correction-by-ward, but with society as the victim of its own selfish wish to rid itself of those who do wrong. In essence, a system of correction-by-ward is nothing more than a portent of the Indian caste system, but without the truly life-long and in-born condemnations allowed by belief in reincarnation. All the roots and the crown of a bad tree. So, this is a society made up one or both Karl Marx’s and Ayn Rand’s: something which is basic to a good society is rejected, thrown away, ignored, condemned, because it sometimes fails to be in tolerable harmony with the rest. Adam and his progeny are far too proud, are we not?