Monday, 10 January 2011

A David against the Goliath of PC? Or spiritual warfare?

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How to oppose PC, assuming that you want to?

One thing not to do, one pitfall is to see yourself as a David pitted against the Goliath of political correctness - and to nurture the hope of slaying PC with a single, perfectly-directed swirl of your slingshot.

That is a self-gratifying fantasy based on pride.

But, on the other hand, a single person's principled efforts over a period of time can make an extraordinary effect.

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(Naturally it never is a single person who produces the effect, many others are involved, nonetheless the effect may depend on a single person. Leaving aside, here, the operations of Grace.)

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As an example consider Eugene Rose (1934-1982) - a young Californian academic who eventually became Hieromonk Seraphim Rose.

Read if possible, Father Seraphim Rose, his Life and Works - a thousand page biography and summary by Hieromonk Damascene. Look around the internet to estimate his current influence.

Look at those dates: Fr Seraphim died aged 48.

Consider that he did not become an Orthodox Christian until his mid twenties, and did not publish a book until the mid-1970s.

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Consider also that he lived a deliberately obscure monastic life (not even living in a normal-sized and established monastery but in a tiny rural 'skete' inhabited by just two monks, for much of the time), mostly isolated, and engaging for much of his adult life in a great deal of 'manual labor' - such as tending a shop, printing and building.

And of course in religious practices such as participating in long services, fasting and praying.

Does this look like a strategy for changing the world?

Is hermetic isolation a subtle tactic for socio-political transformation?

Or is it a mere unrepeatable random fluke?

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Seraphim Rose was not a David confronting the Goliath of the modern world in direct battle.

Nor did Seraphim Rose go in for shrewd tactics and compromises, or for 'playing the system'?

Nor did he get boosted by a powerful institution (at the time the worldly centres of Orthodoxy were mostly crushed or under Communist control - especially the Russian church).

Then reflect on his actual impact on 'the world' - even thinking merely of the English language world and ignoring the effects on Greek, Russian and other Orthodox cultures.

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My point is that the example of Seraphim Rose proves that an individual can make a positive difference, even nowadays, even when measured in a worldly scale.

And this was achieved by doing almost the opposite of trying to make a difference to the world: by a near complete focus on things of the spirit, and on the next world.

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Yet Seraphim Rose was trying to change the world, explicitly so; and his first written book 'Nihilism' (written before he became a monk) makes this crystal clear.

It is perhaps the best analysis of nihilism, and a premonition of post-Communist political correctness - written at a socio-political level of analysis - but published only after his death -

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/nihilism.html.

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Of course, this is not intended as an alternative strategy for a political movement!

It is the opposite; that it is time to stop thinking in terms of political movements and instead to model ourselves on devout and other-worldly saints rather than devious and Machiavellian dictators.

And in doing so, not to seek situations that (we hope) will display our heroism (the David and Goliath scenario - although naturally these should not be shirked if they arise).

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In a nutshell, political correctness is not something we ought to seek to slay (how could something so formless and dispersed be slain, except by general catastrophe?).

Seraphim Rose did not work in that way - yet nobody has a deeper understanding of the psychology of PC, and the absolute necessity that PC be replaced.

The necessity, I mean, for our souls - each one of them; never-mind the necessity for PC to be replaced to sustain social order.

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The problem of PC is that it would destroy our souls, would render us incapable of attaining salvation - would indeed destroy our humanity.

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The David and Goliath scenario is deceptive because in the profoundest sense, this-worldly, nihilistic political correctness cannot be fought: it should be - it must be - displaced.

And displaced in our hearts - by the other-worldly, the transcendental.

The battle against political correctness (against nihilism) is, indeed, essentially an example of spiritual warfare.

Seraphim Rose is a spiritual inspiration - and his effect on the world is 'merely' a by-product.

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Considered as such; the example of Seraphim Rose shows that the war could be won, even yet.

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