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A Bit of Reading

A bit of reasoning for those, both left and right, Trump supporters and defenders, partcularly the final excerpt...
The white man, says Lauren Van Der Post, came into Africa (and Asia and America for that matter) like a one-eyed giant, bringing with him the characteristic split and blindness which were at once his strength, his torment, and his ruin. With his self-isolated and self-scrutinizing individal mind, western man was master of concepts and abstractions. He was the king of quantity and the driver of those forces over which quantitative knowledge gave him supremicy without understanding. Because he ruled matter without understanding it, he faced his bodily self as an object which he could not comprehend though he could analyze and tamper with every part. He submitted to passions which, though he no longer regarded them as devils, were nevertheless inscutable and objective forces flying at him from the dark outside the little circle illumed by pragmatic and self-complacent moral reason. The one-eyed giant had science without wisdom, and he broke in ancient civilizations which (like the medieval West) had wisdom without science: wisdom that transcends and unites, wisdom that dwells in body and soul together and which, more by means of myth and rite, of contemplation, than by scientific experiment, opens the door to a life in which the individual is not lost in the cosmos and in society but found in them. Wisdom which made all life sacred and meaningful--even that which later ages came to call secular and profane. It is true that neither the ancient wisdoms nor the modern sciences are complete in themselves. They do not stand alone. They call for one another. Wisdom without science is unable to penetrate the full sapiential meaning created and material cosmos. Science without wisdom leaves man enslaved in a world of unrelated objects in which there is no way of discovering (or creating) order and deep significance in man's own pointless existence. The vocation of modern man was to bring about their union in preparation of a new age. The marriage was wrecked on the rocks of the white man's dualism and of the inertia, the incomprehension, of ancient and primitive societies. We enter the post-modern (perhaps post-historic!) era in total disunity and confusion. But while the white man has always, naturally, blamed the traditional ancient cultures and the primitive "savage" when he never understood, it is certainly clear that if the union of science and wisdom has for so many not been successful it is not because in the East would not listen to the West: the East has been all too willing to listen. The West has not been able to listen to the East, to Africa, and to the now practically extinct primitive America. As a result of this the ancient widoms have themselves fallen into disrepute and Asia no longer dares listen to herself! The split of the European mind has become universal. All men (says L.L.Whyte) are caught in the "fundamental division between deliberate activity organized by static concepts, and the instinctive and spontaneous life." This disassociation, which was fruitful in the Renaissance, has now reached a point of mad development, of "behavior patterns unrelated to organic needs" and a "relentless passion for quantity"..."without the catharsis of rhythmic relaxation of satisfying achievement" This (Whyte continues) is the moment of uninhibited perversions which can now ally themselves with technical power...in a brief period of dominance. This short reign of Antichrist depends on the fusion of two principles which are both viscious because they both represent only a part of European or Western human nature: instinctive vitality distorted into sadism, and differentiating human vitality distorted into quantitive expansion. Whyte was writing in the days of Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, at the beginning of the Second World War. The "short" reign of the Antichrist would soon, he believed, give way to a reign of light, peace, harmony, and reconstruction. The end of the war would begin a better era. Or at least he so hoped, though not without reservations, for he added: "one dark decade would disprove my judgement, revealing a rot deeper than I have seen. We are now in the third dark decade since his words were written. Ananda Coomaraswamy, writng about the same time as L.L. Whyte, viewed the sickness of civilization in more religious terms, and with much the same seriousness. The problem of the whole world was the problem of Western man: for everywhere the one spiritual illness as now rampant, and malignancies, which in the West were perhaps endemic, were proliferating in the most alarming fashion in the East and Africa. "East and West," Coomaraswamy wrote, "are at cross purposes only because the West is determined, i.e., at once resolved and economically 'determined,' to keep on going it knows not where, and it calls the rudderless voyage 'Progress.' " He wrote before the days of Red China and postwar Japan, both of which now lead scores of other nations in carrying the logic of the Western split to its most extreme disassociation. Today it is not only the West that is "determined" on its rudderless voyage; all, down to the newest African nation, are in the same centrifugal flight, and the itinerary points to outer space. The question remains the same. It is a crisis of sanity first of all. The problems of the nations are the problems of mentally deranged people, but magnified a thousand times because they have the full, straight-faced approbation of a schizoid society, schizoid national structures, schizoid military and business complexes, and, need one add, schizoid religious sects. "We are at war with ourselves," adds Coomaraswary, "and therefore at war with one another. Western man is unbalanced, and the question, Can he recover himself? is a very real one. The question is all the more urgent now that it concerns not only Western man but everybody. There have of course been spurious attempts to bring East and West together. One need not review all the infatuated theosophies of the nineteenth century. No need to bother to criticize the laughable syncertisms which have occupied the talents (more often Eastern than Western) in which Jesus, Buddha, Confusius, Tolstoy, Mars, Nietzsche, and anyone else you like join in the cosmic dance which turns out to be not Shiva's but just anybody's. However, the comparison of Eastern and Western religious philosophy is, in our time, reaching a certain level of seriousness and this one, small and hopeful sign. The materials for a synthesis of science and wisdom are not lacking. And, a quote from the same essay... It is not possible for a modern state based upon non-violence to resist forces of disorder, whether external or internal. A man cannot serve both God and Mammon, nor be temperate and furious at the same time. (One) cannot accept claims advanced by a basically violent society that hopes to preserve order and peace by the threat of maximum destruction and total hate.* *excerpts from 'Gandhi and the One-eyed Giant', an essay by Thomas Merton and introduction to his book 'Ghandhi on Non-Violence, A Selection from the Witings of Mahatma Ghandhi', Copyright 1964, 1965 New Directions Publishing Corporation. Also pubished in a 1960s Catholic journal, which I can't directly cite and is out of print. Merton was a Trappist monk.