Essay: Critique of Ante Nunc Philosophy and Politics: Why modern Conservatives are the root problem

Given the general hostility of the current political environment with its tribalism-type warfare, it is natural for the average person to take one of three positions: 1) the more “liberal” side, 2) the more “conservative” side or 3) the apathetic side. Although positions 1 and 2 can be blended with position 3, and they are usually blended to some degree, those inside each position hold to it unrelentingly. We have caused one another to believe that the “other side” is out to wreck all of the fundamental values which we ourselves hold, substituting them for extraneous and sometimes even antithetical alternatives to the common good. The flawed nature of such an issue is inordinately large and can generally be laid at the feet of the educators of the population’s children; it is they and their system which has caused this catastrophe--and one such that no recognizable solution is in sight. I might note, though, that it is not only the educators who are primarily at fault so much as it is the true philosophers. Moreover, I do not intend here for it to be supposed that I am aiming at the hyperbolic, something which I am, in fact, decidedly attempting to dodge.

The issues men and women face in the political scene are comically and shamefully represented as much smaller than they actually are, and the political “sides” are much more similar than either group would allow conscious admittance for. I would like to here explore, with some reasonable depth, one of the driving philosophies of group 2 (the “conservatives”) especially as it concerns their educators and philosophers. I have determined that pillorying the institutions of education conveying these philosophies is not necessary and I will thus avoid it.

The driving force, in the broad majority view, for most of such “conservatives” is not especially easy to lay out since it combines many other competing philosophies. The central system with which this subject is concern could be identified as “enlightenment philosophy;” although that leaves much room for vagueness and irregularity. Thus, I have chosen to name such a belief and philosophy Sospeyism. The Sospey position is the regular position “conservatives” hold and are going to increasingly hold until an authoritarian state arises on either the right or left side of the political spectrum. (Some may wish to equate Sospeyianism with “modernity” or “modern philosophy;” this is not wholly unwarranted, but the Sospeyian philosophy is much more complex and has existed far before and will exist far longer than pure “modernity.”) The discussion here is centrally concentrated on the United States for various reasons but could be applied to other nations as well. Sospeyism has become increasingly popular as a result of authoritarian rises by those on the right end of the political spectrum and will continue to rise so long as the members of the left grow ever more extreme; this philosophy and its adherents, along with those committed to apathy, elected Donald Trump to the presidency. Further, it was President Trump’s irritating personality (along with several other things) that kept him from winning the presidency again. This is not to make a value judgment as of yet, but just to point out an observable fact.

In order to move further in on this discussion, it is necessary to understand the basic tenets of Sospeyism; to wit, those things which create the general Sospeyist with all his idiosyncratic traits. In brief, then, Sospeyism starts out with a general belief in the truthfulness of reality and that such a reality is observable empirically; it also assumes, and some Sospeyians have tried to prove, the existence of reason and rationality. Next, Sospeyism asserts under this a basic ethical code by which all should live: its existentialism is made up of a notion of inherent dignity in each individual and inherent obligations of each individual. The general Sospeyist does not concern himself with metaphysics as a science but rather assumes things are as they are for utilitarian and pragmatic usum et utilitatem. What we are chiefly concerned with in this essay, however, is the existential, but not necessarily ethical, position of this philosophy. As aforementioned, the Sospeyist believes in something akin to rights and duties; such duties manifest themselves in, foremostly, the respect for another’s rights. Additionally, they believe in the fundamental value of wealth, peace, and order.

The Sospeyian philosophy does not have, or, instead, does not see in itself the need for a divine being. Sospeyisnism as such is thus widely popular: both the atheist, the theist, and everyone in between can commit to its tenants. The true Sospeyist does not recognize in himself the absolute proof or need for a God or gods, but rather merely recognizes the convenience of such a being. One of the major enlightenment influences on Sospeyist thinking is Immanuel Kant. Although it would be difficult to say that Kant caused Sospeyianism, partly because many before him were distinct Sospeyians, his popularization of, and ingenious method for, relocating God to the area of non-reason or beyond reason is one which the Sospeyians most happily put into practice. To the Sospeyian, it is extraneous whether or not one believes in any deity at all; all such beliefs are subjective and of no concrete concern. What is of import concerning the issue is whether one acts in accordance with the duties and rights set out before them. The Sospeyian will refer to “the laws of God, or Nature’s God” as identical things in nature, because, to them, they are the same things in practice: it makes no difference.

A framework of this kind is, as was mentioned before, becoming increasingly popular in response to authoritarianism. And yet, what the Sospeyist blindly--and we should hope not blatant blindness it is--fails to realize is that it is his philosophy that creates the authoritarian ideologies. One of the major problems with the Sospeyian understanding is that it hangs rights and duties, things which are not inherently wrong, in the air and says: “We must act in accordance with these rights and duties to have a good society.” The delusion this philosophy puts itself into is frightening. It pretends that one can possess an ethical code with no grounding to anything else: that one can be both an atheist and theist and agree on how society shall operate;--such a reality is the reason that it is becoming more and more accepted since it can appeal to a large group of people.

The tribalism of politics produces one side versus another side mindset; many are beginning to realize the dangers of authoritarianism (which happens to be coming from the left at this particular moment in American history) and move aggressively against it. However, the move many are making is not itself a solution, but instead a return to the root problem which created the authoritarians. To posit a system of existential belief without an absolute is as positing that trees grow without roots. It sounds nice when you first hear it, after all, roots take a while to grow, but it does not stand when being put into practice. Modernity is no different than postmodernity except that the postmodernists are honest and the modernists are liars; the ladder puts on a mask and runs around the garden screaming about how they know how all things are, all the while they took away the Being behind it all; the postmodernists know that if there is no Being nothing matters and nothing is. The battle, then, betwixt the Sospeyists and the authoritarians is no battle at all: one merely holds onto floating reality while the other knows it is floating.

Although this difference is more well known in the area of “philosophy,” many have not recognized it in the area of “politics.” More and more theistic Christians have decided to join the Sospeyians in order to preserve a worthwhile object, that of the general Western Political system. The unnoticed reality among these individuals is that they are playing the Sospeyian game. If we cut down the weed and leave the roots, the weed will grow again. We must remove the roots.

The issue, however, is worse than it seems since its infiltration into all areas of life is incredibly deep. I will now choose to relate a personal example of mine, but, as I said earlier, I choose not to reveal exact identities for the sake of saving those parts which are good for this institution in question. Recently I visited a particular college based on Sospeyianism. The values of the college were to claim to be politically conservative in nature and possess the rights and duties reality: viz. an honor code which all students were to follow is present at the college. The college will not affiliate itself with any particular Christian philosophy in order to “recognize that many students have different beliefs concerning God and that that is up for them to decide.” The college is popular among any of those in the Sospeyianism category, and, even more, it is becoming an increasing part of the Sospeyist political way by accepting and encouraging and promoting all those opposed to authoritarianism. At the college, the founders and leaders of the United States are given statues, not the Saints or any other representation concerning God or Christianity. One is told that “the truth is outside you and you cannot choose it for yourself” all the while this seems to only be a political or existential truth. The students themselves only have a halfway decent restraining order on passions and desires; for why should they have anything complete restrain?

In short, the college pays lip service to God and allows all kinds of “faiths” because they see such things as secondary; they have believed Kant’s reasoning. This particular college hangs in mid-air not knowing where truth is or whence it comes. They are true philosophers, true Sospeyians. Of course, such an institution presents a nice idea: “we can free ourselves of religion since it is not necessary for knowledge and if you want religion you can find what suits you;” but this is only a nice-sounding idea, it falls apart in practice.--It then takes someone as genius and disagreeable as Nietzsche to break the terrible news to everyone: you have killed God and now you have nothing left. I am not intending to indict vast swaths of individuals using my one anecdotal example, rather, I am hoping to point out some serious problems I have observed first hand and my suspicion is that such things are widespread. And, looking at modern America, I am not sure how one could see otherwise.

In the ancient world, the great culture of Greece once existed. We often are accustomed to familiarity with the popular philosophies emerging from there and their ideas of government; and yet, we all too often forget the significance concerning Greece being taken over by Rome. The Romans were powerful, practical people. They did not have enough time to discover philosophy and religion as the Greeks did, they, therefore, stole the Hellens’. A problem started to occur, however: it was increasingly becoming the case that the Romans did not believe in the gods as much as the gods would demand. A fundamental disconnect began to occur between a structured belief and the ways of men. The Romans eventually fell, but this was only after long bouts with sexual immorality, high taxes, internal repression, and attempts to gain morality through law. Rome, it is said, fell not from an external force, but from an internal one. It is obvious to us today that both the Greeks and Romans believed in false gods. However, we often ignore the fact that, although false, the Greeks truly believed in the gods, and the Romans began to believe in them less and less: they made Caesar their god, for example. Rome could not stand the pressure that was put on their gods, and, even more, it would not have mattered if their gods were real because they did not think of them as gods.

This college of which I speak (and I suppose other conservative colleges as well) are like the Romans, not the Greeks. They think God is a cute idea, not a real, true, and necessary idea. To these, He has not revealed Himself in Jesus Christ--He has not done anything. And so it goes on: we are becoming Sospeyians with ever more rapidity and less and less shame; we do not look to the long-term consequences, let alone what is becoming of each of us in the current time personally. We deify the political rulers (those ones which we deem “good”) and would care less about the Christian belief. We are about the “real” world and things that are happening now. The Sospeyians say that they are open to all religions, but they themselves have their own religion. They can not help but have a fundamental and structural belief. So what is the difference between the modern mainstream political right and the modern mainstream political left? Not much, really: the left is merely honest while the right can not own up to their position. Neither has any grounding for a set of morals; thus, the left creates their own and the right painstakingly holds on to those that they can not prove.

This does not mean, and I am not trying to indicate, that one should therefore remove themselves from politics: far be it from that indeed. The problem of removal is that the weed will continue to grow and more and more authoritarians will be produced. So, instead of lackadaisically going through modern times with a bent toward apathy, the Christian should instead be the most concerned with what happens. However, this concern is not best manifested with broad-scale political action and shouting; some things are at times needed, but most individuals should do otherwise. As an example: you could, first, know what you believe and why you believe it; if you try to do anything without a forthright idea and purpose to your actions, then another idea and purpose will necessarily take over and you will be left with acting and speaking something with which you do not structurally agree. Secondly, do not think that the best way to act is in broad sweeping motions: it is not. The best way to act is to be a light, and a true light, to those around; may I dare say an active light.

With this in mind, the Christian must realize that it is not necessarily the case that Christian change will or will not be affected on a broad scale. Proper eschatology is of no distinct import or difference here. The seeming fact of the coming reality is thus: 1) nothing slows the growing authoritarians on the left until they crash the structures of society and civilization into the ground or 2) many of those opposed to the notion of absolute collapse and immediate authoritarianism, (and many if not all of these will be Sospeyians), will rise up for a time before the authoritarians take over again; this could happen cyclically for a short time; however, the authoritarians will eventually take over. So these are the two options offered by the modern political spectrum: the left is wanting option one and the right is wanting option two. The Christian should not join either right or left (at a philosophical level), but instead, seek to effect change with a decidedly Christian viewpoint.

A Christian philosophy must again be developed, and it is warranted that a counter is made against both the authoritarians and the Sospeyians. This will begin at the level of the individual and could potentially move outward. Above all, what must be remembered is that the Christian can join neither the mainstream right nor left: both are doomed to fail for the left is merely the logical conclusion of the right. Christians must be active and be bold; moreover, bold for the right things in the right way. We cannot be as the aforementioned university, because our beliefs must be grounded in something real, objective, and actual: a God who is there and has made Himself known and continues to do so. Many will attribute the modern problems to occurrences in the last one hundred years or so. If this were the case, the problems would be tiny and unworthy of attention. The problems facing us today are old, deep, and powerful problems; they are not easily removed or solved. They are not solved by us. The solution comes from outside of us, and He was one of us. Everyone has a savior. One of these is the Dying God who actually saves.

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