Politics, consciousness, and renaissance
Updated: Oct 13, 2021
When it comes to consciousness the left “raises consciousness”, and the right “expands consciousness”. The two terms intrigue because the usage seems at variance with the positions most commonly associated with the two outlooks; the left’s desire to raise consciousness suggests a vertical increase or a channel upwards—it suggests a hierarchy, whereas the left is generally seen to favour equality. To expand consciousness, conversely, appeals to a horizontal expansion—as with lava from a Hawaiian volcano—or an expansion in all dimensions, as with an inflated balloon; neither position is hierarchical, a position more commonly associated with the right than the left.
Indeed, we rarely see the formal right speak about consciousness at all. It is the left that spoke about working-class consciousness—today it speaks about women’s consciousness, and, particularly, Black consciousness (to capitalise “Black” is to raise consciousness in a particular way, the complementary position being to put “white” in lowercase). Yet it is hard to imagine that anyone from the Conservative Party would discuss consciousness; the formal conservative position is self-conceptualised as being about efficiency and realistic financial advancement; and I think anybody caught at a Conservative conference with an interest in consciousness would be dismissed as “wacky”—possibly a hippy, “Why is he here, anyway?”
This is because consciousness is a religious question, and organisations like the Conservative Party or the Republican Party are only implicitly religious. Really, the left itself grew from religion; its hotbeds are, as conservatives endlessly note, the universities, the media, schools, and the arts. The common theme is that all these areas are concerned, in one form or another, with religious expression in the general sense—with consciousness management. As the neoreactionaries noted, universities were literally founded as theological schools and this has never changed—although the theology they preach has changed altogether.
The orthodox conservative is left in a difficult position whereby their diligent and efficient work is steered by the left, since it is the left that has “raised consciousness”—or canalised it in a particular direction. What the efficient and responsible conservative permits himself to be responsible and efficient about it is determined by what he allows himself to be aware of. As it turns out, what the conservative admits to consciousness was probably decided by an earlier leftist iteration; and as a conservative person, in the psychological sense, they diligently police what is admissible to consciousness—it is in their nature.
It is only on the rightist fringes that consciousness begins to impinge again; and this is why people on the radical right have often experimented with LSD or magic mushrooms. The right-wing hippy is real, often a former stereotypical hippy who was not “mugged by reality”—as happened with liberals-turned-neoconservatives—but rather drowned in reality, thanks to substantial psychedelic intake, and was so reborn in a world filled with genuine magic, gods, and goblins.
This is also why significant figures from the radical right are often drawn from the arts, though not the universities; the former train mystics, the latter train priests. The mystic explores consciousness, whereas the priest polices consciousness—both work the same territory, albeit in different ways. The artist sees, whereas the priest thinks; traditionally, to see was higher than to think; hence in Hindooism we have “the Rishi” (seer)—indeed, a current senior member of the Conservative Party is called Rishi Sunak.
The arts permit—expect—radical departures from all norms in order to find new ways of seeing; hence nothing is off the table. While bohemia is now a general condition, art schools remain more bohemian than mainstream society—or rather transgression is expected there; and one option is transgressive normality, to be abnormally normal, and this is a radical right position.
While conservatives want to maintain and repair societies, the radical—the mystic—wants rebirth; or, to put it another way, renaissance. The conservative in Western societies is still somewhat priestly—he is a realistic priest—and his thought remains mechanical, not organic: our job is to maintain the machine as well as possible, to keep it within reality.
It is imaginable, for example, for Boris Johnson to say, “I will unleash Britain’s energy,” since this straddles the material and the spiritual; it could be taken purely mechanically by most, as a metaphor that includes an allusion to oil or nuclear energy—arguably it could be seen as spiritual or psychological. It is unlikely, though possible, that Johnson would say, “This is our moment, a national rebirth.” Certainly, he would not keep on that theme for long; Conservatives would regard this as too “wacky”, even for Johnson; and the difference is that it strays into an area where conservatives are not comfortable, consciousness. For the conservative, the machine must be repaired and kept ticking over; it is wishy-washy lefties who talk about “feels”, about communion with the plants and flowers.
The formal left has more ambitious plans as to how consciousness will be directed, as if from a firehose, at particular targets; often these ideas amount to delusion. The conservative, so far as his commitment to individual liberty goes, would allow a little more variation in what consciousness people are allowed; he is not as priestly as the left—people can have their odd little views, so long as they abide by the laws; his priority is to be left alone. Yet, as mentioned above, he is not constitutionally adapted for consciousness; he may tolerate other forms, but he is not at home with consciousness itself: as a practical man he may go church; but he does so on pragmatic grounds and to maintain tradition—and it is more likely than not that the vicar is essentially red, anyway.
It is the left, always keen to chastise conservatives for thought control, who, of course, per psychological projection, want the strictest control on consciousness; although the left, the progressive liberal left, kicks at conservative strictures on school uniforms and similar issues around conscientiousness they are much, much stricter when it comes to consciousness—as you can see if you tell a leftist that racism does not exist or say that you have been born again. This is because all left-wing movements rely on constrained consciousness—ideology or abstract beliefs—to coordinate their actions; rightists can lean on family, friendship, and mutual associations mediated through voluntary cooperation. For the left, everything depends on your beliefs; and this amounts to how far you have constrained your consciousness in a leftist direction; such a condition is brittle, if anyone starts to make observations outside the orthodoxy there is a risk that the entire coordination could collapse. In consequence, the borders of consciousness must be strictly policed.
This is why many people end up on the right not so much through certain beliefs or thoughts but rather because they make observations that contradict the way in which the left currently constrains consciousness. It is typical for people to say that they became leftist after they read Marx; it is less common for people to say that they read Hayek and became rightist (apart from certain Libertarians who actually are very close to the contemporary left, anyway). What is more typical is for a person to have certain experiences or make certain observations, whereupon this person is turfed out or branded as covertly “racist” or “sexist”. Although this is often called “thought crime” it is not the thought itself that is the problem. The “problem” occurs when a person allows themselves to be conscious about their thoughts—and in some cases no articulated thought or view is required, it could be that the person just makes an observation that contradicts the current way the left constrains consciousness.
Conservatives, as the name suggests, conserve; but they do not rebirth—or birth, actually; perhaps this is because the left monopolises the functions that used to be controlled by traditional religions. So far as I am aware, all the traditional religions state that rebirth is possible; and to join these religions involves ceremonies that symbolically cause a person to die and be reborn. What is true for individuals can also be true for societies. The conservative says, “No. There is no going back; we just have to hold on to what we have.” The traditional religious outlook says, “We can be born again.”
Hence Trump’s move to “Make America Great Again” was widely reviled by conservatives, a group that tends to be pessimistic—the conservative has written all that off long ago. A group that speaks for old religion but does not really have faith, the conservatives defend faith schools because, pragmatically, the ethos is better than a secular state school and because choice is good. The left is often correct to say such people are hypocrites, since they defend religions without any faith in religion—so they resort to a defence that is aesthetic or pragmatic. The conservative: “Well, better they learn a load of nice rubbish about Jesus than about anal sex and dildos at a state school.”
Yet the genuine religious conviction—the esoteric core to all religions—holds that rebirth is possible; all material can be reclaimed, all humans can be reclaimed; not that this makes them equal, rather everything is salvageable to a degree. What we mean by this rebirth—palingenesis—is to expand consciousness, rather as a balloon expands; an appropriate metaphor because the soul is traditionally held to be a sphere. This is why Trump was seen as more religious than he is exoterically; he is not a man who speaks too much about faith, yet because he held out for rebirth he was an intrinsically religious figure.
The left claimed a close kinship between Trump and the Evangelicals—perhaps they recalled Robertson’s Christian Coalition—and yet this link seems to have been fairly weak. The impression that Trump was a rabid theocrat came more from his statement that America could be “born again” than from any observable preferences or links to Christianity per se. In short, it is faith in rebirth that upsets progressives and conservatives alike, since both are ambivalent about consciousness in various ways.
Rebirth is a return; as I have observed before, it is a return to a child-like state where a person makes observations in a guileless way. Now it must be granted that children can be extremely cruel and nasty, and perhaps finally emerge at peak cruelty between 12 and 14—true Lord of the Flies territory—after which the cruelty levels off, mostly, as young adults begin to appreciate why it serves their self-interest to take the edge off. However, it is still true that there are times when children make observations and speak truths in a guileless way; and this is what we mean by “the wisdom of children” and why Jesus speaks fondly about children.
“A truth that’s told with bad intent is worth all that lies you can invent,” someone observed; but there is a guileless way to tell truths so that there is no bad (or good) intent behind them. It is this guileless observational consciousness—awareness—that most religions attempt to rebirth people into. Trump is rather able at this approach—hence the rather Zen-like quality to his speeches—and so was the late Prince Philip.
As with all techniques or practices people are more or less successful in this activity; people who succeed entirely are called saints by the Christians, or “enlightened”by the Buddhists. A national rebirth would mean to have citizens who go about their lives in a generally guileless way; not, as currently stands, for a substantial number to look to catch people out with moralised claims about sexism or racism. So rebirth constitutes an increase in generalised awareness; it is not, as activists say “raising awareness about cow blight in the Sudan”—or whatever issue you wish to insert—nor is it “consciousness raising”. The rebirth re-centres a person: the aim is for them to recover crisp observational abilities—to be the dot in the circle’s middle, to be conscious that they are in the field’s centre.
This condition is not about morality, nor is it about thought. The conservatives are overly concerned with good/bad—moralism—which constitutes the exoteric religious content, mainly aimed at women and feminised men who need to be corralled through social approval. Conrad’s observation: “Religion for women, God for men.” God is awareness, which “is”; it is not good or bad, though it encompasses both—and it is not a thought, although it watches thought.
If handled correctly, the conformist elements in exoteric religion are the means to return people to God; in the West, so far as I can tell, most people regard these activities as being concerned with moralism, “a nice tradition”, or they are tied to exhausted rationalistic debates about God as an entity—and whether such an entity exists or not. For its part, the left has taken religion’s moralised husk and turned it into an intellectual project to bring about Heaven on earth, although Heaven is within not without.
So if we are going to be reborn—as individuals, families, businesses, or nations—then we must be prepared for an experience that disturbs; not every person or entity manages the transition—many refuse the call to awaken and die. For those who heed the call, the transformation disturbs and invigorates, not least because it requires death. The left thinks about revolutions, not rebirth—as they have reinterpreted revolution it is a compete break and demolition, the earth will be salted and a new society based on constrained consciousness and rationalism will arise. The genuine rebirth is a real revolution: the wheel revolves on the axis of consciousness—the destruction is not an end, rather it is a return; it is a return to innocence.