Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Lusts and Labels

Political Dualism - Mere Christendom
Written by Douglas Wilson
Saturday, October 30, 2010

One of the characteristics of lust is that it hates to be constrained. This applies as much to political lusts as to sexual desire, and it explains a great deal about the dishonesty of the progressive mentality. How many times, when you have asked someone a specific question about some important issue, have you been told by that person that he "hates labels." I dare say. Labels interfere with getting what you want. People remind you tomorrow of what you said yesterday, and this restricts your freedom of movement.

Augustine wrote wisely of the libido dominandi, the lust for power, characteristic of so many progs on the campaign trail, and even more characteristic of them when they get hold of the levers of power.

Those who are in favor of smaller government are, when this is translated, in favor of a smaller capacity for coercion. Those who are in favor of bigger government are in favor of increased opportunities for coercion. The libido dominandi is therefore characteristic of those who want more access to coercive policies, and it is not characteristic of those who don't want that. So if someone says, using labels, that he is pro-life, pro-free-market, anti-big-government, he is saying that he believes we must reject the temptations of libido dominandi, just as someone who says he is quitting smoking is saying, as a natural consequence, that he wants to stop buying cigarettes. But someone who has cartons of cigarettes stacked up in his basement has no intention of quitting. So suppose we saw those stacks of cartons and commented, "So you're a smoker, then?", and then we were told that he "really hates labels." What he really hates is being caught. He hates being called on what he is doing.

Now in passing, I should acknowledge that there are conservative types who don't hate labels, but who use them in the most clunkity fashion imaginable. I have personal experience with this; I speak as a close observer of some conservatives whose worldview is made out of cinder blocks and cheap cement. Okay, that happens. In the theological sphere, with confessions and creeds, and in the political sphere with platforms and campaign slogans, and so on, there are those who cannot handle some of the subtleties of the world God made. That is a problem, sure enough, but in our age, it is not a huge one. The intellectual life of our age is characterized by a squishy goulash of subtleties all the way to the bottom of the pot, a farrago of pomothot, and the purveyors of this pomothot are often quite clever -- they don't hate labels because they can't follow arguments. They hate labels because they can follow them, and those arguments get in the way of their lusts. Remember that the devil is a dialectician.

This means that in today's political climate, any credible opposition to the all-pervasive libido dominandi will result that loyal opposer being accused of selling out to the Tea Party, the libertarians, the conservatives, the racists, not to mention those who hate children and the poor. Among Christians, there will even be those who make this kind of accusation in the name of Trinitarian compassion. But, if you can take my analogy three steps at a time, they are doing so with a basement full of Camels.

1 comment:

webulite.com said...

Augustine talks some about the origins of Christian traditions. The historian Richard Carrier has an excellent series on how that tradition got started on webulite.com