On the other side of the second mountain I stand on an uncertain plateau. On of the most striking lines in Hitchens memoir is his mention that his father was a Tory with very little to be Tory about. At the endo of a career of service to the British Empire, Commander Hitchens was left with a pension inferior to those who never even served in battle. At the same time Hitchens profers an attitude that I've heard echoed in the modus of Warburg during and after the Nazi era, which is to operate in life on an 'As If' basis.
I'm hesitant to hang a great deal of weight on the As If hook. It works too conveniently in the face of evidence contrary to hope. And what is the point of engaging in politics if not to execute something that must be realized in one's own time? There needs to be a time limit on the 'As If'.
The longer I live, the more comfortable I become with something that unnerved me as a younger man, which is the contingent nature of transcendant values. Perhaps a better way to think about it is the inefficiency of practical living. You engage your mind in the business of the world but you can only get so much work out of your mind. And then you work but you can only get so many results out of that work. By the time things become tangible, you will have exercised quite a bit of thinking - to what avail. That depends upon how much you manage to convert at every level, thought to work, work to profit. Then after all that you don't always manage to keep the profits you earn. So what is the point of disciplining ones mind if you don't get to keep much after all is said and done? You have to apply the As If. Hope. Faith. It's all about what you want to be and how much you believe. Of course there is no guarantee against disappointment.
I think it is a very key thing to keep in mind that in choosing to think and discipline one's thinking about moral, economic and political subjects (or PPE - philosophy, politics & economics - as the Baloil crowd called it) one must consider the efficiency of one's society vis a vis the leverage one can expect from conforming to some pre-thunk thoughts, some work that's always available and some currency with lasting value. This is how one situates oneself into history. Outside of the context of history and society, one man can think his way to heaven - but then it's only his own heaven. That's the other side of 'As If'. It must be a shared, practical kind of hope, vision and faith. How long can one live estranged with a society of hope? Long but not well.
So perhaps it's not so horrid that one uses faith if one is in good company. But there still needs to be a time limit. What are we to do with the cynical, who dismiss those disciplines that don't work in one lifetime? Well haven't I nailed all the atheists in that? I'm not one of those, by the way, who expects all his profits in the next life and disciplines his mind towards worship to do that sort of worshipful work. My As If window is not infinite, nor is it life long. It runs about 4 years long as best I can tell, and I've gone through about 12 of them. That's actually rather impatient. But not so much that I would disregard so much as discount the discipline, work and profit of what I consider inefficient regimes of hope. This is my balancing act.
I've gone through a bit of drama over the past week or so about the existentials of black American conservatism, to the extent that I represent that. So the phrase 'little to be tory about' has been in the back of my mind. The inefficiency of our faiths is a sort of contingency we all live with. And there now is a bit more clarity about all that.