All, And Nothing

With a hat tip to Nick B. Steves, we have for you a meditation from the Dissenting Sociologist on an ideological neoplasm: the Universal Person.

The Universal Person is a being almost celestial. He is best understood in contrast to the corrupt and sublunary identitarian, who remains trapped in his gross particularity:

Since the particular, by definition, is that which is embodied, and the Universal pure form emptied of any particular substantive embodiment, Universal Person’s contempt for the particular, for identity, is strictly analogous to the contempt for the body characteristic of traditional religious asceticism. Suggestively, religious asceticism, with its severe austerities, mortification, and discipline, sought to liberate the spirit from the fetters of mundane bodily existence, and to annihilate and dissolve the particular self into the infinite, the Divine, the Universal. Universal Person seems to strive towards much the same transcendent state, albeit by means much less rigorous and more congenial to the late-modern ethos of comfort, ease, and convenience. You don’t have to renounce all your worldly possessions, sleep on a bed of nails, live on top of a pillar for forty years, or for that matter do much of anything to attain to Universal Personhood; all that’s needed in order to lose one’s identity in the mystical unity of the secular Godhead is ostentatious public disavowal of that identity, which instantly and painlessly accomplishes what the mystical ascetics of old spent suffered their entire lives trying to achieve.

We’ve linked to this writer before; you may remember his excellent essay Weaving the Basket of Deplorables. This piece does a good and insightful job of limning a modern type with which we are all drearily familiar. Read it here. (See also our own Culture and Metaculture.)

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  1. JamesG says

    California may secede (with my blessing!)

    Suicide has been called “A permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

    So would any “secession” which really should be called the dismemberment of the USA.

    Think decades ahead, with a separate nation on our coast signing a defense agreement with China. Or North Korea. Or some other hostile nation.

    Encouraging California to leave the Union is like advocating leg amputation to cure toe nail fungus.

    Posted February 4, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    A fair point, but the problem is not toenail fungus. It’s gangrene.

    Posted February 4, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
  3. Yes, but the amputation of a gangrenous limb is not analogous to the mere secession of a gangrenous state. It would be analogous to the secession and subsequent disposal of the gangrenous state (as in Rome’s complete destruction of the city of Carthage).

    Posted February 4, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    I’ll add this: if California has such antipathy to the American nation that it would not only secede, but would also partner in arms with Communist China rather than the U.S., then I’d certainly rather not have them destroying us from within.

    Posted February 4, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Permalink
  5. There is no provision in the Constitution for any state’s secession from the Union. The very concept has already been refuted at the cost of more than 600,000 American lives.

    The chances of California or any other state successfully seceding from the union are as likely as a made man leaving his affiliation with the mob that “made” him — except to sleep with the fishes.

    I will also add, “How many divisions does California have?”

    Posted February 4, 2017 at 11:26 pm | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says


    There is no provision in the Constitution for any state’s secession from the Union.

    There’s “no provision in the Constitution” for a lot of things! You’d be on firmer ground if you cited Texas v. White.

    But why would California care about that? Why, having seceded, would a state feel itself bound by the Constitution of a nation it is no longer a part of?

    If the question is only settled, as you suggest, by military power, then it comes down to whether the United States would go to war with California to compel it, by force of armed conquest, to remain in the Union.

    Do you think it would? Should it?

    Posted February 4, 2017 at 11:56 pm | Permalink
  7. Look, the issue of whether or not a state may secede from the Union had been settled for all time by the Civil War. It. May. Not.

    Whether or not it should be allowed to do so is not a legitimate consideration. It simply is not allowed.

    If California decides to attempt a secession anyway, the Federal government is obliged, by virtue of the precedent of 1861-1865, to crush the attempt.

    I am certainly not a legal scholar. But I do not believe there is the remotest chance of a secession succeeding in the United States. At the very least, it would require a Constitutional Amendment to make it allowable under specified conditions. Yeah, that could happen.

    Posted February 5, 2017 at 1:32 am | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    It. May. Not.

    Gallant words, Henry, but words are wind. In the end it all comes down to power, and will.

    If California announces secession, do you think the rest of the United States will find the will to go to war?

    (I’ll admit it would be amusing to watch California’s secessionists trying to figure out which end of a gun you’re supposed to point at the bad guys.)

    Posted February 5, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  9. “…, but words are wind.”

    Words are cheap, too. But for most of us in online discussion, that is our principal stock in trade.

    Nevertheless, there is a gradation in the value of words used in discussions. There are those who use words that merely serve as an outlet for expression of the speaker’s feelings. Others use words to express their ideas or beliefs. And, of course, there are those who use words to simply annoy their interlocutors.

    My own preference is, generally, to express my ideas and beliefs, which usually are based on personal opinions informed by seven decades of reading, thinking, and discussion with other people who are similarly inclined.

    In answer to your question, “…, do you think the rest of the United States will find the will to go to war?” I think it is not something to be determined by any sort of national conversation. I think that the President will take action along the lines of action initiated by Abraham Lincoln.

    Moreover, I can not imagine California, or any other state, initiating such action. What would they propose to do about money? Are they going to print their own dollars? What about the land that belongs to the Federal government? Who is going to announce the intention to secede — Batshit Crazy Pelosi?

    Posted February 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    OK, time for a new post.

    Posted February 5, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink