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(320) Pato havelda

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Consciousness denied: Bertrand Russell tidied away consciousness and claimed that it only existed as a linguistic artefact—it was an illusion, nothing verifiable in empirical terms and so in essence null. This position is characteristic—characteristic for the left; it’s not the left is stupid, it’s not that they’re low IQ—Russell was among the most brilliant minds of the 20th century, and he was also devoted to liberal causes (so that Wittgenstein said that there were two sets of his books—the ones on logic and mathematics, which everyone should read; and the ones on politics and social matters, which should be burned).

The left-right divide is not so much about intelligence as it is about awareness—hence consciousness is at stake in it. The left uses intelligence to constrain awareness—and if you look at the casual language found on the radical right you easily see this is so, because it’s about “noticing” (what are you allowed “to notice”?, “can you say that?”, “when will the nation wake up?”). The language of nationalism parallels religious language—the “national awakening”, the “religious awakening”, the “national renaissance” (which is like a national spring, when the buds awake from their sleep and blossom).

So it’s no surprise that an enthusiastic liberal like Russell would tidy away consciousness early in his career, so he could dedicate himself not to awareness but to rationalisation and rationalism—which can amount to the use of intelligence to conceal reality. It’s the conflict between the seer and the scribe—which probably goes back many centuries. Scribes today can be journalists and professors and experts—seers can, historically, be drawn from humble backgrounds (perhaps even be illiterate—the only qualification is to see). Hence people like Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, LSD clowns, are not on the left like Russell—they didn’t dare say, but the “trip” they were on was religious; fulfilled the criteria for a nascent religion, said Tom Wolfe. Anarchic awareness, but not Russell’s sensible sleep.


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