Politics and Catholicism – 10

Bring yourself back to the early days of humanity.

For all of us, even the experts, this is going to be a guess.  There is a saying that the least educated person in a historical period is more an expert of his time than the best scholar today.  This seems obviously true, and more true the more one thinks about it.

As little as we know about a culture within history, so much less do we know about a culture prior to history.  The densest and most surely communicated channel just doesn’t exist – that of language.

The first human population had to be focused on survival (what else was there?) and build from there.  Build what?

It appears that they built a system of the division of labor – hunters and gatherers – as well as migratory patterns in response to environmental stressors (eg. availability of food and weather patterns).  All of these practices are very much aligned with the natural order – as far to the right as humans get, if you will.  In fact, taken as pure concepts – which they surely weren’t in practice – you have virtually no subjugation of nature happening here.  Rather, you have nature leading the dance, and human beings following her lead.

I say they surely weren’t pure concepts, because toolmaking in human predecessors dates back a couple million years.  This would certainly be an imposition of human design on nature, the first small step in subduing the earth.  Such artifacts are the earliest signs of leftism (if you will).

One might persist that innovations like knifes and spears simply brought humans onto a level playing field with their would-be predators.  Indeed, other animals also demonstrate rudimentary toolmaking.  Moreover, a spear is surely not a gun, which seems to give greater advantages to the human over the animal.

All such debate ends, then, with the dawn of agriculture.  Somewhere between 13,000-11,000 BC, we find evidence of cultivation, even seedless figs!  Farm animal domestication occurred around the same time, all of which enabled the development of permanent settlements.

This imposition of human design upon plants and animals, I maintain, is a leftist impulse.  I am just a guy thinking, of course, you may call it whatever you wish.  But I think you will begin to see some phenomena explained the longer you entertain this idea.

Now these are the first great leaps of humanity.  Writing developed +/- 10,000 years later, and this enabled the communication across space and the transmission across time of incredible amounts of information.  This accelerated learning and innovation, as there was a steady and growing foundation of information to build from.

Skip ahead +/- 3,600 years, and you have the printing press (notice the diminishing time between major advancements).  Gutenberg’s invention is credited with all manner of advances, including a higher literacy rate, the faster spread of more information, and the wider spread of that information.

The more disparate innovations are shared, the more they accelerate innovation.  One mind makes a leap forward; another observes it and has some mental door unlocked for him.  He enters the next room and makes another leap forward.

Along the way, and directly related to these innovations, are advancements in science and technology.  And these too, according to our earlier big idea, are leftist moves in human activity.  Simple knowing – as in science – is arguably neutral, but you see how easily “and technology” follows.

And technology is certainly an imposition of human will on nature.  Look around you!  Subdue the earth, indeed.

These innovations occur in other areas of human endeavor, as well.  We have not plumbed deeply at all, and I will scarcely mention such others – law, politics, economics, culture.  They read like the headings of an old newspaper, things which might change over time, which people like to know about.

The sum total of these is what we call civilization.  The impulse to impose our will on the existing order is a leftist impulse, while the impulse to accept and preserve the existing order is a rightist impulse.  The leftist impulse drives toward utopia, which is always receding in the distance; the rightist impulse drives toward the natural order, which took us tens or hundreds of thousands of years to escape from.

We all know, in our basic instincts, that we prefer civilization, the imposition of human order, upon the natural order.  But the natural order just is the ruling order – if you do not resist it, or build against it, you are pulled back into it.

Does any bridge or dam last forever, unattended?  Have you ever seen a building which was abandoned 100 – even 20 – years ago?  The natural order is always pressing on us, always driving on.

So, Cthulhu is ever watchful of that looming eventuality, and ever swimming left against the current to escape it.  That just is what civilization is.  As long as Cthulhu – the collective human population – desires this protection from the pure natural order, it must swim left.

But Cthulhu is not intelligent enough, being a great beast acting on drives and impulses, to know when it has swum too far to the left.  Without some respect for the natural order – which is all we have, there is no other natural order – without some understanding of it, we do not understand how to order our civilization at all.

Remember, a constant and pure drive in only one direction is the road to destruction.  You only have to choose your destroyer – nature to the right, humans to the left.

To avoid this, we need some corresponding power which holds civilization in tension, which honors the rightist impulse and respects the leftist impulse, and appropriately restrains them both.  This we call religion.