The Tragic Worldview Versus the Therapeutic

Olivia's picture
Submitted by Olivia on Fri, 2020-06-12 05:38

By Olivia Pierson

When it comes to democracy, both ancient and modern, there are forces which compete at its heart serving as a moral tension which give the whole system a certain vigour, until it unravels either through mob-tyranny or outright dictatorship.

In ancient Athens, arguments were had over equality versus freedom, an old left/right divide between those who believed that people were not equal and then those who believed that they could be made equal if human nature could just be overridden a little – or a lot.

The progressive view still insists today that equality is more important than freedom, therefore welcomes, or at least tolerates, state intrusion into the lives and livelihoods of citizens to see wealth redistributed “more equally.”

The conservative view resents this meddling and places a premium on individual freedom, recognising (occasionally) that if individual rights can be overridden for the sake of the wellbeing of others, where does the sacrifice end?

Progressives on both the Left and Right are addicted to societal meddling – and there really is no end to it. All things can be fixed, remedied or improved in their view. Utopia is always just one more government programme away (or execution away in the case of communist countries) from being ushered in, if only those other bastards would stop being so myopically selfish and go along with it all unquestioningly.

Conservatives tend to see human nature as more immutable across time. There are limits which are informed by reality as to what humans can achieve, or not, and above all, humans are fallible creatures whose mistakes can often define them well beyond a single lifespan. Conservatives want to be pretty much left alone to do their best for themselves and their families and afford other people the same courtesy to do likewise. Folks must stand or fall, succeed or fail, live or die, on their own merits, talents, achievements and plans. There it is.

Early Western thought fully absorbed both these world views – the Greek tragic outlook and the Judaeo-Christian therapeutic view. This was the marriage of the ideas of Athens and Jerusalem, officiated in the bosom of the Roman Empire where they eventually bonded in jurisprudence.

By the time that the Renaissance bloomed in Europe circa 1500, reviving an interest in Greco-Roman literature and art, morality and metaphysical thought expressed human nature at its most heroic, fateful, grotesque, tragic and redemptive through the insightful pen of William Shakespeare – Henry V, Romeo and Juliette, The Tempest, MacBeth, King Lear, Richard III and Antony and Cleopatra.

Politically, Elizabeth I transformed her insignificant island nation into something of a European super-power during her long 44-year reign, which was her sealed fate to inherit by virtue of nothing other than her bloodline as King Henry VIII's daughter. Yet her reign saw little peace as the Reformation raged on, a return to the “one true church of Rome” never about to happen on her faithful Protestant watch. After her death, many of her subjects fled England forever to escape sectarian violence, landing on Virginia’s shores in the New World – redemptive namesakes if ever there were.

The Constitution of the Founding Fathers of America some 150 years later was the handiwork of Puritan culture being tempered and prescribed by the intellectual currents of the European Enlightenment, at the same time as being brought down to its base level of Original Sin by locking the institution of black slavery well within the parchment and ink of the document itself.

I was interested this afternoon to listen to an excellent interview with George Friedman on the Leighton Smith Podcast which touched on these very topics I’d been engaged with for the last few days.

There is no sweeping remedy for the black vs white dilemma which America regularly falls prey to, according to Friedman, since it’s in the nation’s DNA from its inception and often over-boils.

Rather than be remedied across the board in some therapeutic manner, the way ahead after these recent tumultuous riots (orchestrated by ANTIFA thugs), is doing what America has always had to do – seek justice through the rule of law and live with the results. Not every problem has a solution but in this case, George Floyd’s killer will go to trial and face justice.

We live within the confines of human nature and reality, not Utopia. An idea, let alone a massive nation, does not have to be perfect to be considered good.

In his interview with Smith, Friedman underscored an important point: the whole of Europe, Africa and Arabia practised slavery, in fact America had acquired the practice from the Dutch, yet all the European nations rid themselves of it without the need for a massive civil war. The potent flashpoint of the “sin” being “unforgivable” in America exists in the Framers of the Constitution knowing slavery was evil, yet writing it into the laws of the Republic despite claiming to believe that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

The fact that the Framers’ descendants are still being held responsible for the consequences of that sin, despite heroes like Lincoln seeking countermeasures through virtue, through war and the resulting Thirteenth Amendment, even losing his own life for his efforts, to say nothing of the many Northern Americans who fought on the side of the Union – and everything that has transpired since to give the descendants of slaves equality and freedom – smacks of a Greek tragedy of epic proportion.

The age old tension between equality and freedom still dogs us 2300 years after the ancient Greek versions of democracy, but it has to be said that it dogs us now mostly because it’s a topic which gets exacerbated by the aggressive pedlars of victimology who push for more and more state controls, including financial dependencies and monetary reparations, which are ongoing forms of permanent looting.

It is not anyone’s place to feel guilty for what their distant ancestors did or didn’t do. Do Europeans, some of whose descendants like myself now live in NZ, demand reparations with a straight face from the Vatican over the massacres of the French Huguenots in the 16th Century?

The predominant recurring

Graham Hill's picture

The predominant recurring dispute in classical Athen's democracy was between the many and the few. I do not think that this can be seen purely as social class divide (left, right divide ) which might be a somewhat anachronistic comparator,. Aristotle's Athenian Politeia captures the many and the few divide as a theme in his history of the Athenian polity. It resonates today in Brexit and Mrs Clinton,s deplorables. For instance, Spiked On Line's editor, Brendan O'Neill certainly hammers the elite minority as against the rest. Chantal Delsol in France has alos picked up it as well in the msm ridiculing adn vilifiation of the many.

Your article is on the money. The therapeutic is highly invasive (e.g. law). One sees it in the knee jerk references to counselling for the slightest stressors in life. In terms of the theme of Camile Paglia's great book, The Sexual Personae, the therapeutic may also be read and gathered up under the heading, of the Dionysian. The feminisation of culture. Jordan Peterson has picked up a similar theme in the personality and gender preference to socialism:

We are also in a moment of historiographical idiocy and ignorance (the past as the present/the present as the past). Bernard Bailyn in his wonderful 1975 book, written not long after the first Berkley Riots in the 1960s, "The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson", which is about the last governor of Massachusetts makes the point that, in ultimo, all history is tragic. One chapter heading captures the moment leading up to 1776 and is titled the 'Furies'.


Mr_Lineberry's picture

Of the biggest wankers in America today haha!


Olivia's picture

and how delicious is it when the Ben Afflecks and Anderson Coopers of this world need the vapours after hearing about their slave owner ancestors. Smiling


Mr_Lineberry's picture

This has to be your best blog post ever! Brilliant!

In recent times, since becoming a parent, I've done a bit of research on family history in preparation for being asked about it.

One 'line' of my family has been in the us since 1739, they settled in the Carolinas, and rather helpfully a couple of distant ancestors have written books on family history. One about a century ago, one in 2000 as a "millennium project".

Anyway my point is this, for a century and a quarter they lived in a place where slavery was common and acceptable. They fought for the Confederacy during the war.

.....and so what??

This sickening virtue signaling professional hysteria by those trying to outdo each other in being the most appalled by slavery is as childish as it is insincere.

I'll wager very few black people care, and in fact consider the notion of reparations or guilt or holding things against current generations preposterous.

Any childish *shock* *horror* conniptions about one or two bad things contained within the pages of books on my family history, is akin to the bizarre hysteria which broke out in 1987 when a book was published saying ...*shock*horror* - Frank Sinatra's mother had been an abortionist!

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