I Lied, I Captured, I'm Right
by Dr. John C. Rao
A Brief Introduction to The Novum, Novum Organum
"Have it Your Way" (Burger King)
Western logic, as a discipline, was shaped by Socrates, developed by Plato, and codified by Aristotle in a manner that could be taught with relative ease. It provided what the medievals called the organum, or tool. A natural vision of life that tried to tie together what eyes saw, ears heard, and cohesive thoughts explained was well served by it. So was Catholic Christianity, whose Founder taught a supernatural love for what eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the thought of man ever imagined, but who nevertheless simultaneously built upon and soundly reinforced respect for nature and for nature's laws.
Modern visions of life have not been constructed upon this same natural and supernatural outlook. They started to change with the Nominalists of the 1300's, who insisted that everything that seemed solid on the earth and in the heavens could be altered along with the arbitrary will of the omnipotent God. They ended with the various wings of the Enlightenment, which argued that all that seemed permanent could change with the arbitrary will of omnipotent men, who were empowered to "have it their way;" to manipulate the entire universe according to their desires.
Changed visions of life require an altered logic to guide and explain them. Francis Bacon, in the early sixteenth century, published a book called the Novum Organum, or new logic, based on his adulation of a life shaped by the promises of the scientific method. Here, one learns that "knowledge is power," a kind of natural resource waiting to be exploited to build that world of every more impressive material Progress that Bacon called the New Atlantis. American Pluralism, which seeks to create a "New Order of the Ages," as the dollar bill, one of its sacramentals, clearly indicates, has a novum Novum Organum to pursue and defend its goals. This is not as easy to follow as that of either Aristotle or Bacon, given that both of their systems of logic were actually rooted in something concrete in nature, however much that nature might then be misunderstood or misused. The novum Novum Organum has more in common with the logic of Hegel, who founded his world view upon an idea of constant historical struggle, change, and ultimately mysterious development, all infallibly interpreted by himself, as prophetic Grand High Muckamuck.
Spirituality is also modified under changed modern conditions, and most especially under those shaped by Americanist Pluralism. For, unlike the Mystical Body of Christ, which seeks to form a harmonious society and a multiplicity of sanctified individuals from obedience to the one perfect figure of Jesus Christ, the American pluralist novus ordo saeclorum lives with reference to a decidedly contrary starting point. It claims to build a fraternal, spiritually superior unity and individual perfection from multiplicity, e pluribus unum, out of what one favorable commentator has referred to as "that zany diversity which made this country great." With a primum mobile so different from that of Catholic Christianity, it inevitably creates an altered type of man and woman to inhabit its territory. In fact, it desperately requires this transfigured population in order to make its non-Christian regimen function properly. Molding the new American pluralist Adam out of the old fallen man demands a two-fold set of exercises. On the one hand, it calls for hard labor in the imitation of this Mystery Religion's new Christ: not the God-Man, but that disembodied principle of "zany freedom" whose vitality supposedly produces fraternal love and spiritual perfection. On the other, it necessitates a basic training in thinking in line with the novum Novum Organum. The two exercises must go together. Why? Because the proper imitation of the "free" life requires, in practice, obedience to iron-clad materialist, might-makes-right guidelines which are established by whoever is strong enough to bend the interpretation of what freedom actually means to serve their own self-interests. And the blatant contradiction that is thus produced would be much too easily uncovered in a world where people still relied on the thought of that bad, old, unproductive, undemocratic, anti-pluralist Aristotle of a=b, b=c, a=c.
Due to its divergence from all historical norms of civilized discourse and behavior, it is almost impossible to describe, with any kind of philosophical rigor, exactly what this two-pronged set of Spiritual and Intellectual Exercises entails. I have tried to begin to do so in a pamphlet on Americanism and in my recent article, Why Catholics Cannot Defend Themselves. These efforts having inevitably fallen short of their intended goal, it seemed to me that literature might be a more suitable instrument for presenting an essentially irrational message. Hence, I decided to complete a novel begun some years ago, entitled Periphery, which probes the psychological factors entering into the creation of the Americanist Mystery Religion and the new Pluralist Adam, and catalogues the schizophrenia and flight from the central realities of life which they manifest. Hopefully, this work will help those of us overwhelmed by the progress of "freedom" to undertake a journey to the center of the mind and soul of the transfigured man, and more clearly grasp what lies in store for an entire world forced to live according to the plan of the New American Century and its zealous neo-conservative missionaries.
Thankfully, while I hunt for a publisher foolish enough to promote Periphery, an ongoing introduction to the theme is being provided by President Bush and all those who have taken up permanent abode along with him in tents on the Mount Tabor of the Americanist-Pluralist Empire. Their words and actions regularly indicate that the principle of non-contradiction has no hold in this psychedelic realm. Here, what is false is true, what happens today has no connection with the events preceding it, and the blizzard that hits tomorrow emerges much more from Merlin's wand than from out of the skies. At the imperial piano bars, all thoughts black and white, up and down, in and out, circular and square, are forced into an unnatural harmony. They are united only through unceasing repetition of the refrain America = Democracy = Liberty, sung by seductresses belting out a Sinatra-like "What is this thing called freedom?" to an ever more plastered audience utterly incapable of answering that question for themselves. Whence, the unflinching adoption of propaganda arguments of mind boggling inconsistency regarding the Iraq War, swallowed, credulously, eagerly, slavishly, by much of the American population.
I must admit that the latest display of this phenomenon, centered round the hullabaloo over the capture of Sadaam Hussein, has left me with my jaw dropping in admiration for the unadulterated, but apparently justified cran of the powers that be. It was bad enough that fraudulent arguments of imminent danger coming from non-existent weapons of mass destruction, never never land connections of secularist Iraq with militantly religious Al Quaeda, and hypocritical concern over the plight of a population under the heel of a brutal dictator who was no longer one of our acceptable batch of vicious tyrants were successfully repeated long after they had been stripped of the slightest plausibility. But, after all, it was to be taken for granted, by this point in time, that the multitude, indoctrinated in the novum Novum Organum, would logically accept anything that the American system proposed as good and just. Nevertheless, the idea that one can present as proof positive for the nobility of the war the fact that an international game of hide and seek, whose targets were outlined on tasteless playing cards for the entertainment of overgrown fraternity boys, had been successfully concluded, is too depressing for even my jaded spirit. And yet this claim, too, has been accepted as de fide through the mediation of the new logic, with retreats offered by neo-conservative spiritual directors for those who cannot shake the doubts suggested to them by the ancient wisdom of Church and Aristotle. I fear that there is much worse to come when the wheels of justice, operating from isolated camps and cells, and crippled by mystical considerations of national security demanding a selective secrecy of proceedings, begin their fearful turn.
If George Bush were Julius Caesar, he would hoist no banners celebrating the final accomplishment of his imperial mission. Rather, he, like the Roman conqueror, would send a short dispatch to that Senate which once, in the ancient régime, for better or for worse, actually played a serious role in the conduct of foreign affairs. In this message, he would write the simple phrase "I lied, I captured, I was right," knowing full well that what ultimately counts, logically, for the novum Novum Organum is not tight argumentation and consistency but being King of the Hill and Top of the Heap.
Unfortunately, neither George Bush, nor his advisors, nor the people that believe them can really say anything so totally straightforward yet, because, they, too, are still at least partially befuddled ideologically by the system that they represent and inhabit. They themselves have been trained in a manner that deprives them of all means of critically reexamining whatever the American Regime perpetrates. Even when they are speaking and acting cynically for the clear benefit of Halliburton or the state of Israel or any other force eager for the destabilization of the Middle East, they are likely to retain a conviction that somehow, obviously, they are also doing what is good and just.
At best, we might expect them to admit the real basis of their position by having recourse to a line that the entire population of the United States has digested since early youth: that they simply wanted to "have things their way." Isn't that enough of a guideline for a state and an entire civilization? Perhaps for the new Adam. Not for grownups who worry about their future reputation when the excesses of the frat party are finally accurately assessed.
Dr. John C. Rao is an Associate Professor of History at St. John's University.