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THE STORY OF THE LOST AND FOUND GOD: A Theoretical Play of Political Redemption and Release, in Three Acts with an Important Postscript
September 12, 2008 15:36

THE STORY OF THE LOST AND FOUND GOD: A Theoretical Play of Political Redemption and Release, in Three Acts with an Important Postscript

(from One Taste)

ACT 1

Scene 1


In 1712, in Geneva, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's mother died giving him birth. He was abused and beaten by his father, then abandoned at age ten. By age sixteen he had made it to Savoy, where he was tutored in the ways of the mind, and the body, by Madame de Warens; by age thirty, Rousseau was in Paris, a minor figure in the philosophical circle of Diderot and d'Alembert, editors of the Encyclopedie, bastion of Enlightenment thought. Within a decade he had so alienated his former friends—including David Hume and Voltaire—that he fled city life for the countryside, where, for much of the next twenty years, until his death, he lived with Therese Levasseur, an unschooled laundry maid. They had five children, each of whom they abandoned to orphanages. Isaac Kramnick tells us that Rousseau "wore shabby, thread-bare and often bizarre clothing; he was tactless and direct, oafish and vulgar." Hume called him "absolutely lunatic." Diderot said, "That man is insane." Sir Isaiah Berlin labeled him "the most sinister and most formidable enemy of liberty in the whole history of modern thought."

Scene 2

Rousseau's legacy is profound, paradoxical, and often contradictory. In modern times, he was the first great retro-Romantic; the first influential deep ecologist; the first major totalitarian; and the first great glorifier of narcissistic self-absorption. He was also the first great advocate of a more democratic society, geared to the many rather than the few; a compelling arguer for justice, but also for greatness; he condemned the inequalities of culture, even though he championed those of nature.

Perhaps the most commonly remembered—and influential—proclamation of Rousseau is the opening line of chapter 1 of The Social Contract: "Man is born free, and is everywhere in chains." Rousseau's thought on this matter was actually quite complex, but the general idea—at least as it entered popular imagination—is simply this: people are born good, but that natural goodness is slowly suffocated and buried by the forces of society. Nature is good, culture is suffocating; nature is authentic, society is artificial. The notion—which is the central tenet of Romanticism—is that we start out in a type of natural unity and wholeness, but that wholeness is fractured, broken, and repressed by the world of culture, speech, and reason. Thus our task is to recapture the prior wholeness and goodness, perhaps in a "more mature" form, or "on a higher level," but recaptured nonetheless.

Scene 3

"They're going to hunt you tomorrow," said the twins. So begins the last chilling incident in William Golding's classic novel, Lord of the Flies. A group of young boys, aged six to twelve, have been stranded on an uninhabited island. Left to their own devices, their true natures begin to emerge, and it is a progressive descent into savagery. By the end of the novel, the boys are naked, filthy, painted with crude designs . . . and hunting, in order to kill and roast, the only two remaining boys who will not join their "natural" displays.

Scene 4

The life of men and women in the state of nature is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." With those five famous words, three of which most people remember, Thomas Hobbes staked out, more or less exactly, the opposite of the Romantic view. Hobbes believed that children are born concerned only with themselves. It is the job of education and training to widen their interests to include a concern for others, and perhaps, eventually, for all of humankind. But most people, he believed, only manage to extend the circle of care from themselves to their families.

Such is exactly the importance of civil society, according to Hobbes. It is only by subsuming the state of nature—where self-survival rules— that men and women can join together, beyond mere self-survival, and create a greater good, marked by moral virtues that lead to a peaceful and stable coexistence. We start out wretched, but we can join together and grow into goodness. Otherwise, "They're going to hunt you tomorrow," said the twins.

ACT 2

Scene 1

These two points of view—let us call them "recaptured goodness" and "growth to goodness"—have proven to be two of the most durable, and apparently incompatible, notions of the direction of human growth: devolution, or a downhill slide from a paradisiacal state, a slide that must be reversed in some sense; and evolution, or growth and unfolding from a lesser to a greater good.

The first view almost always uses the metaphor of healing; the second, that of growth. Healing, because the recaptured-goodness school believes that we were once whole—in childhood, in the noble savage, in Eden—but this wholeness was fractured, broken, buried, or torn, and thus we are in need of healing. Healing implies that health was once present, but then was lost, and it needs to be recaptured or restored. The metaphor of healing almost always signals a hidden, or not so hidden, retro-Romantic viewpoint.

Growth, on the other hand, implies not that we are attempting to recapture anything we had yesterday, but that we are evolving to our own higher possibilities. The acorn becomes an oak, not by recapturing something it had yesterday, but by growing. The metaphor of growth almost always signals a developmental or evolutionary view.

The first school often uses the metaphor of uncovering; the second, that of emergence. Uncovering, because the goodness that we need was once present but was buried, and thus all that is required is to scrape off the layers of civilization to retrieve it. Emergence, because the goodness that we need was never present, but will emerge only if higher growth and development occurs.

In short, for the first school, we start out good, become bad, and must recapture that goodness in order to heal ourselves and heal the world.

For the second, we start out, if not bad, then lacking good, a goodness that can only emerge if we grow and develop our fullest potential.

Scene 2

The first school, or natural goodness, is one of the prime ingredients in political liberalism; the second, or natural nastiness, of political conservatism. The liberal notion is that children start out good, and the job of social institutions is to not disturb that natural goodness. Institutions are usually repressive, oppressive, or stifling of the natural goodness present in children, and these artificial conventions should not be allowed to get in the way of innate goodness. If they do—if social institutions interfere with the natural goodness of people—then a revolutionary liberation is required—a subverting, a transgression, a freeing from the stifling limitations that society has placed on nature and natural goodness.

The conservative notion is that children start out selfcentric, and the job of institutions is to curb their primitive ways, or, we might say, expand their narrow views. When institutions break down, the savage breaks out. "Conservative" usually means the opposite of "progressive"; but in this case, the conservative view is progressive from childhood to adulthood (i.e., children must develop into moral goodness, because it is not given by nature or at birth), whereupon the conservative view indeed becomes very conservative: once this fragile growth to adult moral goodness has occurred, don't meddle with the social institutions that precariously hold it in place.

For the first school, social institutions often repress or oppress natural goodness, and they should be quickly abandoned if they become burdensome. Abandoning social institutions is not inherently problematic, according to this view, because under these artificial institutions there is only natural goodness awaiting us. For the second school, social institutions are not "artificial"; they are the means whereby we rise above the nasty, brutish, and short state of nature, and tampering lightly with these institutions is more likely to unleash the beast than the best.

Scene 3

Each school has its representative extremes. Rousseau, at least to many, has stood as the figure sanctioning reckless subversion and rebellion, always in the name of a natural goodness and recaptured innocence. The classic example, of course, is the French Revolution itself, where, as Simon Schama reports, "Their faith was the possibility of a collective moral and political revolution in which the innocence of childhood might be preserved into adulthood." Not figuratively, literally. The result, equally as certain, was the Reign of Terror, where those not innocent enough were simply beheaded by the newly invented guillotine, and the world watched in horror as natural goodness and noble savages ran riot through the streets of Paris. "They're going to hunt you tomorrow," said the twins.

And today as well. Most Marxists—radical liberals—believe in a primitive communism that would be recaptured in the post-proletariat world. More than one scholar (e.g., Cranston) has seen Rousseau as the father of the student rebellions of the sixties, indiscriminately tearing down institutions because institutions per se "restricted" their "natural freedom"—failing, as Romantics often do, to see that there is a massive difference between preconventional license (where you are a slave to your impulses) and postconventional freedom (where you are liberated into moral depth); the former belongs to nature, the latter, to culture.

Most recently, Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, lived the life of Rousseau—in a shack, alone, communing with nature, fighting "restrictive" institutions, and—as his manifesto made clear—"The positive ideal we propose is Nature." Kirkpatrick Sale, the little Robespierre to the Una-bomber's Rousseau, wrote that "Unless [the Unabomber's] message is somehow heeded . . . we are truly a doomed society hurtling toward a catastrophic breakdown." Joe Klein, in an essay called "The Una-bomber and the Left," correctly points out how much this message is essentially that of liberalism—namely, culture represses our natural goodness, so we must throw culture overboard and embrace nature, or else. . . . Eco-terrorism is just one of a dozen variations on the Reign of Terror that is inherently let loose when humans head in the preconventional direction in search of their "natural goodness."

If Rousseau is the extreme figure of natural goodness, back to nature, the noble savage, and the overthrow of restrictive culture, so Nietzsche is the extreme figure of growth and evolution, leading to the superman. Nietzsche railed against the notion that if you scrape off a social institution, all you will find is natural goodness underneath; he tore into those "political and social visionaries who with fiery eloquence demand a revolutionary overthrow of all social orders in the belief that the proudest temple of fair humanity will then at once rise up as though of its own accord. In these perilous dreams there is still an echo of Rousseau's superstition, which believes in a miraculous primeval but as it were buried goodness of human nature and ascribes all the blame for this burying to the institutions of culture in the form of society, state and education. The experiences of history have taught us, unfortunately, that every such revolution brings about with it the resurrection of the most savage energies in the shape of a long-buried dreadfulness." Rather, Nietzsche believed, we have to grow, evolve, into our own highest estate, not go treasure hunting in the regressive past.

Just as Rousseau, rightly or wrongly, was causally implicated in the Reign of Terror, so Nietzsche, rightly or wrongly, was appropriated by the Nazis. It turns out, historians agree, quite wrongly, but you can see how inviting it was for National Socialism to embrace evolution to the superman as one of their reigning ideals. Wherever there is a growth model, as opposed to a recapture or regressive model, then you must work hard for a future that is not yet, and not simply slide back into (or regain) a past that once was. Work, not permissiveness, pervades the growth agenda. The fascists, everybody agreed, got the trains to run on time.

Extreme liberalism, ending in communism enforced with terror, on the one hand; and extreme conservatism, ending in fascism, also enforced with terror, on the other. These two extremes exist precisely because both of these views—recaptured goodness, growth to goodness—are half right, half wrong, and if the half wrong aspect of either view is pressed into widespread action, hellish nightmares await. Communism, or extreme liberalism, sacrifices excellence for the lowest common denominator; it scrapes off the top of the pyramid of growth in order to feed the bottom, with the ultimate permissive society demanding no individual growth whatsoever, for all are to be equally and fully cherished, which in effect lets all equally rot. Fascism does precisely the reverse—it kills the bottom to feed the top—and as it works hard for a growth toward the superman, the gas chambers await those who are, rightly or wrongly (always wrongly), perceived to be subhuman.

ACT 3

Scene 1

Aside from the extremes, there clearly are merits to both schools—the extremes showing starkly what happens if the two approaches are not integrated and balanced. There is much truth to the growth-to-goodness notion, for not all goods are given at birth. And there is much truth to the idea of a recaptured goodness, because during growth itself, many potentials are lost that need to be regained. This translates as well quite directly to liberalism and conservatism, both of which have strengths to embrace, weaknesses to reject.

If we are only dealing with the arc of human evolution—both phylogenetically and ontogenetically—then the issues, if not the solutions, are fairly clear. But in the area of spiritual studies, we are also dealing, in some sense, with the arc of involution, whereupon things become much more complicated.

To start with evolution (and let us focus on ontogeny, or the growth of the individual). As it turns out, this issue has already been generally decided. As leading researcher Larry Nucci puts it, "Developmental psychologists have, since the 1960s, reached a measure of agreement on the process by which children acquire moral and social values." And that agreement is: growth to goodness.

On the one hand, it is true that children come biologically prepared to make moral distinctions as they socially interact. Children as young as age two have a conception of right and wrong, based largely on emotional responses, and even young children show a capacity for a certain type of emotional empathy and remorse. Nonetheless, all of those will be enriched and expanded dramatically as cognitive, social, and moral growth proceed through their various stages. The child's major capacities, barring pathology, become more and more encompassing, not less and less. Summary: children are what Nucci calls emerging moral agents, and the growth-to-goodness, not recaptured-goodness, rather decisively takes the debate.

The sequence egocentric to sociocentric to worldcentric is still a good, simple summary of this growth to goodness, not as rigid stages, but as unfolding waves and capacities. Research has continued to confirm that boys and girls both develop through that same general hierarchy, but boys do so with an emphasis on justice, girls on care. Reasons for this, however, are hotly debated, some feeling it is due to biological factors, others cultural conditioning. (My sense is that it has a strong biological grounding, molded by culture.)

Just as pioneers Piaget and Kohlberg thought that the deep features of moral growth-to-goodness are universal, not relative, so leading contemporary researchers, such as Nucci and Turiel, agree. "Turiel has found that, unlike standards regarding dress, etiquette, and the like, standards regarding harm and justice are shared by children from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, suggesting that the development of these moral principles, including their differentiation from social conventions, is universal." There are, of course, enormous local variations in content, so that, once again, "unitas multiplex" is still the best motto: universal deep features, but culturally relative surface features, are what we find in the growth to goodness.

It's the narrowness of the child's cognitive and interpersonal world that makes the child, if not quite the savage some imagine, nonetheless lacking a depth of goodness. As only one example, research has demonstrated that, as David Berreby summarizes it, "Direct learning has less to do with the way racial thinking develops than is often imagined. Substantial aspects of children's racial cognitions do not appear to be derived from adult culture." Put bluntly, it appears children are born racists.

And born narcissists. And born lacking a capacity to take global concerns into account: born lacking a love of Gaia, lacking a global depth, lacking a capacity to take the role of other, lacking a true compassion and love—and locked instead into the narrow, tight, suffocating world of their own sensations. Dear Rousseau, in this regard, got it exactly backwards: You are not born free and everywhere end up in chains; you are born in chains and everywhere can evolve into freedom.

Scene 2

Nonetheless, the Romantic view is very true in this regard: at each stage of growth and development to goodness, something can go wrong. Whatever goodness emerges at any stage, just that can indeed be repressed, and that repressed good needs to be uncovered and reintegrated. (This, incidentally, is why Freud has been classified as both a Rationalist and a Romantic, which has confused many people because it seems so contradictory, but really isn't: he was a Rationalist in that he believed fundamentally in a growth to goodness out of the primitive, natural id; but if, in this growth, we too harshly deny the id, repress it and distort it—if we become our own little fascists—then we must relax the repression barrier, undergo Romantic regression in service of the ego, recapture these lost or repressed aspects of ourselves, and reintegrate them with the ego, thus facilitating our continued growth to goodness).

So, even in the evolutionary arc itself, we want to balance the growth-to-goodness model and the recaptured-goodness model, both of which have much to offer. In practical terms, with the child's development, we do not want to be excessively permissive (liberal), because little Johnny isn't the saint, full of natural goodness, that many parents (and Rousseau) like to imagine. Mere permissiveness—no demands, no constraints, so Johnny can stay close to his natural goodness—actually lets little Johnny rot, and he will eventually unleash an interior Reign of Terror as he wallows in his natural self. He will fail altogether to engage the demanding growth toward goodness; he will behead his own greater future; he will unleash the Unabomber on his own being.

At the same time, we do not want to be excessively authoritarian (conservative), and try to pipe in "family values" and "build character" for little Johnny, because character building is largely a developmental process that occurs as much on the inside as the outside, of its own unfolding accord, and trying to force this is like trying to make a plant grow by yelling at it. The result of excessive authoritarianism is that Johnny will become his own little interior fascist, repressing those aspects of himself that don't live up to the excessively high ideals and standards of the little Hitlers called his parents. And with this internal repression, little Johnny will send to the gas chambers aspects of his own self, lost and repressed potentials that will actually cripple his own growth to goodness.

Scene 3

But what of involution? And the Romantic intuition, not that we have lost some lower potential, but that we have lost, quite literally, our awareness of union with Spirit?

Well, indeed we have incurred such loss, according to the perennial philosophy. But this loss occurred, not at the beginning of evolution—or during the early years of life—but at the beginning of involution—or what happens to us prior to our birth in time. Those Romantic souls who intuit this horrible loss of Spirit are quite right; they have simply confused the date of its occurrence. And if we must think of this loss in historical or temporal terms, then the perennial philosophy gives three related definitions of when it occurred, which are simultaneously three related definitions of involution: the loss occurred prior to the Big Bang; prior to your individual conception; prior to your next breath.

Involution means, roughly, the movement from a higher to a lower—in this case, the movement from spirit to soul to mind to body to matter. Each step down renders the senior level "unconscious" (or involved and absorbed in the lower), so that the final result is a Big Bang that blows the material world into existence, a material world out of which evolution will then proceed in the reverse or recapitulating order, matter to body to mind to soul to spirit, with each step unfolding (evolving) that which was previously enfolded (involved), not in any rigidly set pattern or clunk-clunking of stages, but as unfolding atmospheres of subtler possibilities, unfolding waves of being in the Kosmos.

The perennial philosophy, particularly its Eastern and early Western form, maintains that this basic cycle of involution/evolution also occurs with individual souls as they transmigrate. Upon death, one evolves, if one has not already, into the higher levels of soul and spirit; if these are consciously recognized, then the forced cycle of rebirth is ended. If not, then involution occurs, from spirit to soul to mind to body, whereupon one is conceived, as a material body, in a womb, from there to commence one's own personal evolution and development, body to mind to soul to spirit.

Finally, this general involution/evolution sequence is also said to be the very structure of this moment's experience (this is the most important meaning of all, and the only one that is required to penetrate the sequence). In each moment, we start out nakedly exposed to One Taste in all its purity, but in each moment most of us fail to recognize it. We contract in the face of infinity and embrace our separate selves, whereupon we become involved with the stream of time, destiny, suffering, and death. But in each moment, we can recognize One Taste and bring the entire cycle to rest. We then cease the torment of life and death, being and nonbeing, existing and perishing, simply because we rest in the timeless, birthless, deathless moment, prior to time and cycles altogether.

In each of those three definitions of the "loss" of the awareness of Spirit, the loss occurs in early involution—it occurs as soon as Spirit "steps down" into souls and minds and bodies. It does not occur in early evolution, where bodies are starting to climb back or evolve to Spirit. By the time bodies show up on the scene, the entire loss has already occurred. In fact, according to the perennial philosophy, the early stages of evolution are the most alienated, because they are farthest from a conscious recognition of Spirit.

Yet the Romantics imagine that the early stages of evolution (both phylogenetic and ontogenetic) are a great paradisiacal state, the state of "natural goodness" that will be subsequently, horribly lost, and thus must be recaptured. But all that is actually lost is an unconscious wholeness (or fusion) with the material world and bodily domains, the lowest dimensions in the Great Nest of Being. Those lowest stages of evolution are a type of "unity" or "fusion," but a fusion with the basement— precisely the shallowest identity that must be differentiated and transcended if growth to goodness is to occur.

But once again, let us appreciate the importance of both the Romantic (recaptured goodness) and the evolutionary (growth to goodness) models. The Romantics are absolutely right: we did once walk with God and the Goddess, and bathe in the garden of eternal delights. But that garden didn't actually or historically exist yesterday. We did not lose Spirit when we went from foraging to horticulture, or from horticulture to agrarian—we did not lose Spirit at any point in evolution, time, or history. We "lost" Spirit in involution, which is what happens when Spirit steps down into time in the first place. And when did that occur? Prior to the Big Bang; prior to your own birth; but most important, prior to the point right now where you recoil from infinity. Growth to goodness is indeed a recaptured goodness, but a goodness lost in involution, not evolution. With that simple understanding, both views can be honored.

AN IMPORTANT POSTSCRIPT

Here follows a set of ironies.

I described today's typical conservative as subscribing to a growth-to-goodness view, and that is generally true; but equally typically, that growth only extends from preconventional nature to conventional society, and does not easily continue into postconventional, worldcentric domains. Much of typical conservatism has its roots in the mythic-agrarian age, whose values were civic, aristocratic, hierarchical, militaristic, ethnocentric, patriarchal, and usually sunk in a context of a mythic-concrete God(s). As dismal as we moderns might find that type of society, nonetheless it arose around the globe, ubiquitously, for a five-thousand-year period, where it served its purposes, and served them quite well.

When the Rational-Industrial Age dawned, with its postconventional, worldcentric moral atmosphere, a new political vision became available to men and women: that of the liberal Enlightenment. In many ways this was a decisive break with the mythic and monarchical past: rationality would fight mythology, democracy would fight aristocracy, equality would fight hierarchy, and freedom would fight slavery. That, at its best, was the vision of modernity, and liberalism was the political agenda that captured those lofty ideals.

But modernity, critics have noted, was not always, and certainly not only, lofty. There was a downside to modernity—many downsides, perhaps, but all summarized in the notion of "flatland." Due largely to a rampant scientific materialism, coupled with material industrialism, all forms of holarchy—even the good, beneficial, and spiritual forms, such as the Great Nest of Being—were collapsed into a flat and faded view of the world, composed of nothing but systems of interwoven objects, interwoven its, with no I's and no We's to speak of. Gone was soul and gone was mind and gone was spirit, and in their place an unending flatland of material bodies, which alone were thought to be real (body-ism). The disenchantment of the world, one-dimensional man, the disqualified universe, the desacrilization of the world . . . were a few of the famous phrases critics used to summarize this dreary state of affairs.

Liberalism, too, as a child of modernity, was thoroughly caught in this collapse, and therefore instead of coming to an accurate self-understanding of its own interior foundations (namely, in the growth from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric, liberalism represents world-centric awareness), liberalism instead became the political champion of flatland. Instead of interior growth and development (Left Hand), liberalism came to advocate almost solely exterior, Right Hand, economic development as a means of freedom. Since, according to flatland, there are no interiors—and since morals are interior realities—then in succumbing to the modern flatland, liberalism abdicated its basic moral intuition (that of worldcentric freedom, a stance from which all are treated fairly, but a stance to which all should be encouraged to grow).

Sadly, inevitably perhaps, liberalism abdicated its moral voice and settled for demanding exterior, material, economic freedom alone, failing to realize that without interior freedom (found, as Kant knew, only in postconventional awareness), exterior freedom is largely meaningless. Left-Hand development was abandoned, Right-Hand development alone remained. And as for the interiors: since there are none, none can be better than others, and so permissiveness is fine, extreme diversity is fine, extreme multiculturalism is fine—all bask in the same natural goodness that a demand for growth only corrupts.

And so it came about that liberalism, representing a higher level of collective growth, was caught in the first great modern pathology: flatland. Flatland liberalism was thus a sick version of a higher level of collective evolution.

This left the conservatives—whose values, embracing the mythic-agrarian age, did not easily submit to the modern collapse—holding the interior domains: of religion, of values, of meaning, of a demand for interior growth-to-goodness. The only problem was, these were, for the most part, mythic-agrarian values: the religion was (and is) mythological, the growth-to-goodness reaches only to the conventional/sociocentric stages (and actively fights worldcentric, postconventional modes), the values are agrarian through and through (aristocratic, patriarchal, militaristic, often ethnocentric, often biblical-fundamentalist). These values were quite healthy, for the most part, during the mythic-agrarian era: they were the best to which one could aspire under the conditions of those times.

So there are our political choices in today's world: a healthy lower level (conservative) versus a sick higher level (liberal).

A refurbished, postliberal awareness is therefore, I believe, the only sane course to pursue. This would combine the very best of the conservative vision—including the need for growth to goodness, the importance of holarchical relationships and therefore meaning (self, family, community, nation, world, Spirit), the stress on equal opportunity instead of mindless equality. But all of those conservative values need to be raised up into a modern, postconventional, worldcentric awareness.

This means, likewise, that liberalism itself must abandon any remnant of a return to "natural goodness," and again become progressive, evolutionary. The irony here is that permissive liberalism (and extreme postmodernism) is actually and deeply reactionary, because it fails to engage the difficult demand for growth to postconventional goodness. The only place we can protect true diversity and multiculturalism is from the postconventional, worldcentric stance, and unless liberalism can encourage growth to that stance, it sabotages its own agenda. Idiot compassion, advocated by liberalism, is killing liberalism.

In short, liberalism must become truly progressive, not just in exterior, flatland, economic terms, but in the interior growth of consciousness, from egocentric to sociocentric to worldcentric, preconventional to conventional to postconventional (there to stand open to post-post-conventional). Not as a state-sponsored agenda (the state shall neither favor nor sponsor a particular version of the good life), but as an atmosphere of encouragement—in its theoretical writings, in the example of its leaders, in the vision to which it calls us all, in its heart and mind and soul.

As it is now, liberalism, with its background belief in natural goodness and its foreground belief in extreme diversity, is simply fostering an atmosphere of regression—in everything from identity politics to ethnocentric revivals to egocentric license. I am not suggesting that liberals legislate against that (people are free to do whatever they want, bar harming others); I am simply suggesting that they stop encouraging it under the demonstrably false notion of natural goodness and the utterly self-contradictory theory of egalitarianism (which maintains that egalitarianism itself is better than the alternatives, when all are supposed to be equal). Those two pillars of liberalism are unquestionably false, and certainly indefensible, and at the very least, ought to be quietly dropped, while liberalism goes on about the postliberal task of finding ways to foster an atmosphere of growth to goodness.

And, of course, it is my own belief that this postconservative, postliberal vision would open us to post-postconventional awareness, by any other name, Spirit. The debate, truly, has been decided: You are born in chains, and can everywhere grow into freedom, finding, finally, your own Original Face.

-Ken Wilber, One Taste.

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