THE OTHER SIDE OF EDEN
A Review of Evan Sayet’s
KinderGarden Of Eden: How The Modern Liberal Thinks
By Dr. David A. Yeagley
Eden is “in.” As a modern construct wherewith to identify human behavior, the ancient Hebrew story of Eden is trending. The eminent Rabbi Ari Kahn has recently published two volumes under the title, Echoes of Eden. I myself created nearly 100 shiurim on Bereshith (Genesis) and the story before the Fall. And now we have Evan Sayet’s philosophical tale of willful naiveté, Kindergarden of Eden (2012). But Sayet really isn’t talking about children, or Eden, but how “Modern Liberals” think, and why they think that way.
Evan Sayet, comedian,
conservative and author.
Yet, we can’t really call it thinking. What Modern Liberals do is parasitical, reactionary, and wholly dependent upon the host, that is, the establishment, or what we call “conservatism.” Liberal “thought” is seemingly utterly mechanical, almost animalistic. In so many words, Sayet declares the Modern Liberal an organic antithesis of creativity. Whereas conservatives build, liberals consume—or tear down.
What’s uniquely captivating about Sayet’s description of modernity is his use of the Edenic metaphor. Eden is employed as a Freudian sort of prenatal paradise, and the irrationality of Modern Liberals is due to a kind of peremptory re-entry—into what they semi-consciously believe is the state of innocence and perfection. Of course, to the Modern Liberal, such a state is infantile. It is the paradise of the womb—total dependency, unconsciousness, and utter irresponsibility.
However, as one who is familiar with the classic aberrancies of modern theology (as I learned at Yale Divinity in the ‘70’s), I notice something very peculiar about Sayet’s approach. He takes the standard, established position that innocence is associated with absence of responsibility, choice, even work, and that such an artificial construct represents the condition of man in Eden, before the knowledge of good and evil. But then Sayet explicates how this same aberration functions in the process of the entire liberal mind conditioning—without once addressing the theological aberration. This is remarkable, really.
For example, in Chapter 1, p.3, Sayet writes that the Modern Liberal’s utopian vision
is predicated on the notion that if mankind lost paradise when Adam and Eve ate the apple and gained the knowledge of good and evil (and its little sisters – right and wrong, better and worse, and so on) then mankind can return to paradise if only everyone would just “regurgitate the apple” and give up all recognition of the existence of the better.
Sayet follows this thought by saying, “To the True Believer [the Modern Liberal], then, indiscriminateness –the total rejection of the intellectual process – is a moral imperative because it holds the key to returning to paradise.”
Again, in Chapter 2, p.29, Sayet writes
Like Adam and Eve just prior to eating from the apple, the Modern Liberal has never had a mature thought in his life. That is, he has never once attempted to gather the facts, study the evidence and weigh these things in a rational formulation in order to seek out the rightful answers. This is because, like Adam and Eve in Eden, he’s never once had to.
The analogy works perfectly, despite the universal misunderstanding of Eden, I should say, the established distortion thereof. Sayet uses the aberration of liberal theology and turns it on itself. Indeed, Sayet has actually beaten the liberal at his own game, theologically. This is what is critically unique in Sayet’s Edenic allegory of the Modern Liberal. The liberal ideology simply cannot sustain itself logically.
Let’s take a careful look at this. In Genesis 1 and 2, there is abundant evidence of “good” (טיב towb) before there was ever the introduction of “evil” (רץ rah). And the “good” that is juxtaposed with “good and evil” is not a different kind of good. The Hebrew word is the same.
The liberal pretends that in present life, after the Fall, on this side of Eden, evil can be separated out of the equation altogether. The implied belief is that the “good” in “good and evil” is a different kind of “good” from Genesis 1 and 2, before the Fall, before man’s expulsion from Eden. The aberrant liberal notion is that paradise must therefore be a place really without good or evil. That is innocence for the liberal. Again, this is predicated on the idea that there are two kinds of good, and that the one before the Fall, in Eden, was inappreciable. Thus, what God pronounced “good” is, to the liberal, actually unaccountable and useless as a concept.
I remember Professor William Muehl at Yale, who once said that those who try to transcend (or eliminate) evil end up falling far beneath it. Muehl had referenced Adolf Hitler in fact. To coerce a theory of utopia on others, this side of Eden, is to engender tyranny, of the most intense order. Who would choose that, knowingly? Probably no one.
But leaders easily deceive the public with the promise of security and betterment.
Rabbi Ari Kahn, in a casual moment.
Sayet pictures the Modern Liberal leader as one betting everything on some Jungian Collective Unconscious. And, the way the ‘low information’ voter responds to liberalism, the odds look good that a liberal paradise is the winning steed. A life of ease and security is the desire of the heart, and its deepest motivator. Freedom is too heavy a concept, carrying too much responsibility with it. Dependency is much easier, and happier. Freedom is rather brooding. Dependency, or inertia, smiles like a nirvanic pinyin, a happy Buddha.
Irresponsibility, however, inevitably crashes on the cold concrete. If and when society does ‘awake’ it will be one raging giant. The rotundity of the floating fetus will become the gaunt agony of a desperate but noble patriot.
Maitreya Buddha in Budai form.
Would that Sayet’s book had been published before the 2012 presidential campaign (–for that matter, the 2008 campaign). Mitt Romney was not able to persuade enough Americans of the meaning and worthiness of freedom. He did not articulate it clearly enough. It came down to freedom, or free stuff. Obama promised free stuff. Obama won.
A testimony like Sayet’s, so simple, clear, and compelling, might have turned the tide. Let’s hope that Kindergarden of Eden makes a difference in the 2016 election. If enough people read the brief and clarion text, it surely will.