Onward, Christian Bloggers

Bruce Charlton worried a few days ago whether the languishing readership of the orthosphere, or Neoreaction generally, means that these schools of thought might be over and done with. Bonald has expressed similar concerns.

I think not. The tinder has not yet caught our spark. That does not mean it never will. Either we are all simply wrong about the way the world is, or else, sooner or later, one way or another, the fire will come. Why not keep striking the flint, in patient expectation?

The smartest, most competent and most aggressive men are always the ones who are running things. The only question is whether or not they are as well good, righteous, wise. Fools and villains can ruin anything they influence, no matter how smart or competent they may be. So any society is vulnerable to the misprisions that inform their thinking. Thus the social function of education, and indeed of all discourse, should be to inculcate wisdom in intelligent young men, and in their parents, teachers and pastors.

That is the true purpose of such blogs as the Orthosphere. It is inapt to measure our success by whether we have yet fostered a nascent popular school or movement that will somehow rescue the West, much as we might hope for such a thing. Wicked fools are in charge of it, so the West is falling. It is bound to keep falling so long as they remain in charge. Until it has definitively fallen, and the error of their vicious ways is everywhere brutally, inarguably manifest, they will remain in charge; for until that moment, their notions will still seem to most people to be working OK.

We don’t need to defeat them, because their policies are lethal to their policies. They will defeat themselves. All we really have to do is wait, and remain faithful to the Truth, preaching it to those who have ears to hear.

So, we need not feel discouraged that the orthosphere, or Neoreaction more generally, have not yet exploded in popularity. People are naturally and rightly so conservative that such a titanic shift in paradigms is almost impossible until the currently prevalent weltanschauung is seen by almost everyone to have failed – failed radically, failed decisively, failed catastrophically. Catastrophe has not yet quite arrived, apparently. So, engendering a cultural sea change is not our present hope, or ought not be. We must rather look ahead to the next iteration of the High Middle Ages. Our proper purpose is like that of Lindisfarne, and Alcuin: to shine in the gathering gloom a glimmer of the eternal light of Truth, so that in the wreckage of the collapse that seems daily more inevitable, we and the readers who discover us in the next few years will be philosophically, morally and spiritually prepared to propose by our acts a social order founded on reality – which, in a collapse, is anyway already asserting itself with a vengeance.

At such times, the factors that promote the rise of competent, intelligent, aggressive men are more efficient than at others; and in the crucible of that fiercer competition for power, the wise have the advantage over the foolish, the righteous over the wicked, and the good over the evil. When selection pressure soars, error and weakness – i.e., viciousness – are quickly, relentlessly, ruthlessly deleted.

When the time comes, all we will need is a few solid, reliable men here and there, who can catalyze the formation of a hale new social order. To get them, to increase the chances that there will then be such men somewhere to be found, all we need to do right now is conform our ideas to the Truth, and speak it clearly and without fear, so that it is heard, and understood. Is there ever, at any time, an alternative?

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98 thoughts on “Onward, Christian Bloggers

  1. Don’t underrate what you do here gentlemen. If not for your efforts I wouldn’t have a contemporary source for discussion of the orthodox and the traditional. I wouldn’t have even been aware of much of our tradition beyond Burke or Chesterton; certainly not De Maistre or Bonald! So for the good of my soul and my head I owe you all thanks. It’s not a movement but there is some worth in that.

  2. At the risk of showing my own ignorance– have intellectual reactionary Christians actually made much of an effort to get potential recruits to even be aware of their existence? I know my own introduction to reactionary Christianity came from curiosity about offhand references to Throne and Altar in Edward Feser’s blog comments. I would have become a reactionary far sooner if I had ever encountered reactionary thought on the Catholic Answers forums or other more mainstream Catholic websites. I spent far too long wading through a swamp of shallow neo-Catholic apologetics and internet discussions in which the most intellectual and well-read participants were usually dissident liberal theologians of one stripe or other (if not outright atheists). I am sure there are other people out there who are in the situation I once was– moved by the glimmers of profound truth I saw in the Church and in (my own amateurish readings of) the works of its greatest philosophers and theologians, but disappointed in the poor quality of Catholic discourse I found in real-life discussions and online on mainstream Catholic websites (the sort of ones you get if you just Google “Catholicism”). Such people might be enthusiastic converts to our cause if they only knew about us.

    As it stands now, I expect that (aside from people who already agree with us) the people most likely to wind up viewing the Orthosphere are secular reactionaries who find us through discussions on other reactionary blogs. Such people are not likely to become reactionary Christians after a casual viewing of the Orthosphere, if only because the majority of the posts here seem to be focused more on pointing out the grave errors of popular liberal and atheist thought as opposed to addressing the issues which prevent more sophisticated and traditionalist-sympathizing atheists from becoming religious. If we wanted to convert such people, I think we may need more of an explicit outreach to them.

    • I think what infowarrior1 says below is worth thinking about. For example, years ago, I read fisheaters all the time. Now, only rarely. The place was entered very heavily by CAF types who degraded the level of discussion. Evidently, it is now a bannable offense there to refer to their local transvestite as “he.”

      On a larger scale, there was the long twilight struggle between neocons and actual rightists inside the GOP, leading to the eventual purge of anything resembling rightism from that party. I’m not sure how to deal with the problem of entryism, though.

      • Catholic Answers Forum. Andrew mentions it above. Catholic Answers is, basically, the lay outpost of neocondom in the American Catholic Church. They are the largest Catholic apologetics organization in the US. They have radio programs, apologetic tracts, speakers for hire, and a large internet presence—notice they have the domain catholic.com. The bad feelings between CAF and Catholic Traditionalists are pretty strong: much like the bad feelings between neocons and paleocons in politics.

      • Thank you. I had read Andrew’s comment yesterday, and yours today, so didn’t see the continuity (which I probably would have missed anyway, as Andrew didn’t use the acronym, nor did he capitalized the F—this is not meant as a criticism of anyone other than perhaps me).

    • I think Andrew points to what should be the goals of a blog like The Orthosphere. It should not expect to make a great many converts, but it can hope to encourage and succor isolated souls who are vaguely dissatisfied with their cultural milieu and vaguely worried that they, themselves, may be slightly insane. We have all read the stories of a young skeptic who was trapped in an evangelical milieu, and of the great relief when he made contact with other disbelievers. This experience goes both ways, as many of the regulars on this site know from personal experience. The old mass media of newspapers and television were centripetal forces that created mass culture. The internet is a centrifugal force that is causing a great sorting out of humanity. This is why all of the lines grow clearer, all of the convictions more resolute.

    • By the way, I’m pleased to hear that there have been offhand references to Throne and Altar in the comments at Professor Feser’s blog. (I’m not going to ask how friendly the references were. Don’t want to kill the buzz.)

  3. I can’t remember if it was one of you Orthosphere bloggers who said it or maybe it was Laura Wood, but what you guys do is also important for posterity. That is, if and when our present liberal order collapses, those who want to re-establish a traditional order will need wisdom from the past. Reading you guys will give them guidance and hope, and will help them avoid some of the errors of modernity.

    Regarding the present situation, part of the problem is that it seems that mainstream ‘conservative’ outlets refuse to address traditionalist arguments or even really acknowledge their existence. Lawrence Auster was a big name and well-known, yet back in my classical liberal days when I read National Review I never recall those writers ever engaging with what he had to say (even though he had written some articles for them back in the 90’s).

    And this maybe dovetails with what Andrew wrote above: I was simply unaware of any sort of traditionalist thought until a few years ago, despite the fact that guys like Lawrence Auster and James Kalb had been writing for decades.

    • That was one of Lawrence Auster’s themes: that although we see no way out from where we are now, someday, the leftist/liberal leviathan will collapse, and we will need a replacement ideology when it does. He would bring this up when someone would either despair, or when someone said that what we did at View From the Right was futile.

  4. Pertinacity is inherent to orthodoxy, since orthodoxy is essentially a rejection of sophism, pragmatism, and other philosophies that confuse utility and truth. We are orthodox because we do not believe that truth is relative, or that it properly adapts itself to present needs, or that it evolves. We do not deny that the scope of knowledge can be enlarged, that the quality of knowledge can be refined, or that there is change in the domain of contingent truths. But we affirm that there are truths outside the domain of contingent truths, and it is our adherence to these absolute truths that makes us orthodox.

    What I have just described is formal orthodoxy, and the Orthosphere fills this form with the particular (and yet, in our view, absolute) content of the Christian revelation. None of us are, I trust, pertinacious in all things, obstinate in all beliefs. It is, of course, quite possible that my talk of pertinacity and obstinacy is just bluster, and that I would prove a craven Peter if the portcullis went up and the lions strolled into the Colosseum, but if it is not bluster it means that I intend to adhere to these truths to the very brink of despair.

    We have, of course, assurance that the truths of our orthodoxy will ultimately triumph, but this hope is not perfect compensation for the more immediate prospect of defeat. A man benighted and lost in a dangerous forest may well hope that day will ultimately dawn, but he still hears the sounds of the circling beasts. Ultimate victory is perhaps least consoling for parents, as Bonald has recently observed, since parents fear that which is about to happen.

  5. It’s true that Bruce and I have been thinking about the stagnation of the Christian blogosphere. I would describe things somewhat differently than Kristor does.

    1) For these purposes, neoreactionaries (plus the related manosphere and HBD-sphere with whom they converse) and Christian reactionaries should not be conflated. The former are not stagnating. They seem to have achieved a visibility and readership an order of magnitude higher than what the latter have achieved. This is an important point. Christian reaction has less of an audience than secular reaction, assuming there is not also an order of magnitude discrepancy in talent between the two sides. I find this both peculiar and ominous.

    2) I do not subscribe to the belief that the liberal order will eventually fall. It is more stable and powerful than anything previous in human history. This is not to say that bad things even from a liberal perspective won’t happen in the future (e.g. environmental disaster, rapid population change, widespread crime and corruption, wars, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, an asteroid smashing into the Earth), just that none of them would delegitimize the liberal order.

    • Bonald,

      With all respect I do not see how you can believe that “the liberal order … is more stable and powerful than anything previous in human history.”

      This to me is just blatantly and obviously untrue. Look at the history of France. Since the first French Revolution France has been anything but stable. Less than 100 years after the establishment of the American Republic we had a civil war than was more deadly than anything previous in the Western world. The 300 or so years of liberal order has been the least stable era of any that I am aware of.

      • Propaganda concerning the liberal order is akin to something out of Orwell’s 1984. The Big Brother party in that fictional utopia was constantly talking about its accomplishments, and for the few in the inner party, it was a feast. But the outer party was brainwashed, and most of the populace wasn’t living well. Here’s a quote:

        On the outside wall are the three slogans of the Party: “WAR IS PEACE,” “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,” “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

        In a way, liberalism is simultaneously strong and weak. A form of cognitive dissonance.

        Doublethink is the ability to hold two contradictory opinions at the same time about the same question, remaining untroubled by the contradiction and expressing one opinion or the other as the convenience of the Party requires it. It is defined in Part II, Chapter IX of 1984, in the extract from “the Book” written supposedly by the Party heretic Goldstein. It enables Party members to constantly deceive themselves and others while at the same time remaining convinced that everything they say — even when it is contradictory — is the exact truth. For instance, the Party defies every principle that originally defined socialism, but still maintains that it upholds the only true socialism. Doublethink allows Party members to be fighting one enemy on Monday and another on Tuesday, but to believe and proclaim that their enemy of Tuesday has been their enemy not only on Monday but for all time — and to switch back again on Wednesday without any qualms. It is an enormously flexible system of rearranging reality to avoid contradictions, whose main weakness is the tendency it has to detach its practitioners from concrete reality, “the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion.”

      • And did any of this cause people to lose faith in the liberal order? Note that when I say “stable” I just mean stable in that sense: ideologically stable. Disasters natural and man-made may come, but nothing can shake the people’s or (especially) the elite’s faith in liberalism.

    • Christian reaction has less of an audience than secular reaction, assuming there is not also an order of magnitude discrepancy in talent between the two sides. I find this both peculiar and ominous.

      I don’t find it particularly peculiar. Reaction is less “thick” than Christian reaction, insofar as it seems – at least at first – to involve far fewer philosophical commitments. So it is less difficult to entertain. One can be a reactionary atheist – again, at least at first, and seemingly. There are at any rate many thoughtful reactionaries who are not (yet) Christians. But to be both a Christian and a reactionary, one must accept the difficult and, for moderns, counterintuitive claims of both reaction and Christianity. So, there’s just a lot more intellectual and spiritual work that must be done in order to become a Christian reactionary than to become a reactionary.

      Thus the fact that secular neoreaction is a more active corner of the net than the orthosphere does not at all surprise me. Nor, likewise, am I surprised by the fact that neo-conservative Christianity is more active than our Christian reaction.

      Yet nevertheless I would argue that, just as orthodoxy is implicit in sexual realism, so is it implicit in reaction. If you are a thoughtful and inquisitive reactionary, you are sooner or later, or even continuously, going to have to deal with the question of Christian truth, and eventually reach an affirmative decision about it. Conservative Christians are likewise sooner or later going to have to decide about reaction, and the more curious and careful among them will want to learn about it before doing so.

      I do not subscribe to the belief that the liberal order will eventually fall. It is more stable and powerful than anything previous in human history.

      It is indeed stable and powerful, but rather in the way that entropy is stable and powerful. At heat death, there will be nothing for entropy to do. Likewise, at the fulfilment of the liberal project, there will be nothing illiberal left – i.e., nothing cultural, nothing social, nothing for liberalism to work or live on. Thus it may be that the best hope for a renascence of traditional social order is for its exponents in the orthosphere, the secular right, the androsphere, etc., to lie low and let our liberal adversaries continue to chop off their own organs of reproduction and otherwise destroy the infrastructure that sustains their parasitical existence.

      • Hi Kristor,

        You’re leaving out the fact that a majority in the West are nominally Christians. (It’s still a majority, isn’t it?) And your analysis that ignores this fact seems to explain the data without problem. That’s what I find disturbing. It’s not just that most of these nominal Christians don’t take their faith seriously, in the sense of not caring about it much one way or another. It’s that they are far enough in the atheist camp that a position being explicitly Christian is for them a mark against it, a mark that it’s probably crazy. I didn’t think that nominal Christianity amounted to a whole lot, but I had hoped it would give us an opening with lots of people (along the lines of “What I’m saying is part of the religion you say you believe, so I may be wrong but you can’t say I’m crazy.”).

        Now, one might argue that we’re pitching ourselves to an audience that is unrepresentative of the majority, but how is that true? One doesn’t need any specialized knowledge from an atheism-dominated field to read our writings. (Bruce does still write on psychology and intelligence issues from time to time, but I think he wrote somewhere that that’s actually his more popular stuff.)

        The most optimistic explanation is that there is a larger pool of proto-reactionaries, but that mainstream conservatism is conspiring to make sure they never find us and their natural home. Again, that’s the optimistic possibility. The one you gave–that the Gospel itself is a mark against us with nearly everybody–seems more likely.

      • I feel quite certain that the Gospel itself is indeed a mark against us. God told us it would be! Insofar as we have oriented ourselves properly in respect to this world – i.e., orthogonally thereto – this is rather wonderful news *for us.* It is ominous only for our adversaries.

        And among our adversaries are the nominal Christians. A Christian in name only is after all nothing but an atheist in bad faith with himself, or else at best a nincompoop.

        None of this excuses us from preaching the Gospel to what is indeed a very large pool of proto-reactionaries and incipient orthodox Christians. Our mission field is coterminous with humanity, all of it more or less fallen away from the truth (mea culpa).

        Are there lots and lots of atheists, liberals, or merely nominal Christians out there? Bonus! That means there are lots of people out there like Auster used to be, and me, and almost all of us who partake of the orthosphere. Why, it’s a turkey shoot!

    • If despite disasters, modern liberalism is a stable ideology, then it is showing signs of being a “secularized religion”. It’s a religious faith, albeit a different type to the usual. They may present themselves as “neutral” (on neither side), or as secular, but that’s far from the truth.

  6. Andrew and Ian make an important point. Our greatest failure is not failing to get regular readers, but failing to be noticed by mainstream conservative Christians and secular reactionaries. We are failing to project ideas and influence others’ conversations. They don’t even feel the need to argue against us.

  7. A big part of the problem [of societal disinterest in “traditionalism”] is that most of you “traditionalists” are just pushing another variant of socialism.

      • Haven’t you been paying *attention* to the things said in the very threads in which you participate (including several of the OPs)?

        Haven’t you seen the constant conflating of the correct meaning of ‘liberal’ (which is what we in America these days call “conservative”) with the form of leftism that in American was called ‘Progressivism’ (before it hijacked the term ‘liberalism’ to apply to itself) … as witness Zippy’s post, immediately following.

        There is a *reason* that the Soviets (and the fascists) were always banging on about those perfidious liberals – and they weren’t talking about the likes of that Catholic-in-good-standing, Teddy Kennedy – because liberalism (when the word is used correctly) and socialism are polar opposites.

        Have you not *thought* about what “distributionism” logically must mean in practice? Have you not *realized* that to have any chance of “working”, it must be imposed and maintained by deadly force? It doesn’t matter whether the fellow deciding that “you have enough, you must ‘give’ your ‘excess’ wealth to me to give to someone else” calls himself a commissar or a bishop, it’s still socialism, and it’s still inherently murderous.

      • Thank you for the response.

        I suppose when I think traditionalist or traditionalism, first and foremost I think of Lawrence Auster and what he promoted. I don’t think of Roman Catholics or their “third way” distributism. Mark Richardson saw that the modern “conservatives” were actually liberals; hence his coinage of right-liberal to describe them, which contrasts with the term left-liberal, used for the leftists commonly called “liberals.”

        Part of the problem, of course, is inconsistent terminology. If someone is going to use a term in other than its commonly accepted meaning, he must make his definition explicit. Since you did not do that, I was not certain what you meant.

      • Part of the problem, of course, is inconsistent terminology. If someone is going to use a term in other than its commonly accepted meaning, he must make his definition explicit. Since you did not do that, …

        I used the concept ‘socialism’ … in the context of the un-workable, and anti-human expressed desiderata of (so many of) the self-proclaimed “traditionalists” of The Orthosphere. It seems to me that if you did not understand what I said, it is because you’d prefer to not understand.

        I suppose when I think traditionalist or traditionalism, first and foremost I think of Lawrence Auster and what he promoted. I don’t think of Roman Catholics or their “third way” distributism. …

        This isn’t VfR (and Auster wasn’t free of “issues”), and the “traditionalism” on offer here is inescapably socialistic: the historically instantiated variety of socialism most similar to that of (many or most) Orthosphereans is called ‘fascism’.

        I don’t think of Roman Catholics or their “third way” distributism. …

        Aside from the theological problems with Catholicism (*), it also has a hugh socio-political problem: it is the source and grounding of leftism. Leftism, in all its variants, is just Catholicism without all that bothersome God-talk. That the Nazis ans Soviets loved to murder one another doesn’t change the fact that both ideologies were leftists. That the hard-leftists love to murder Catholic persons doesn’t change the fact that Catholicism pushes a leftist socio-political platform that *must* result in mass murder, doesn’t change the fact that Catholicism explicitly and intentionally provides the socio-religious cover and rationale for all leftism.

        Mark Richardson saw that the modern “conservatives” were actually liberals; hence his coinage of right-liberal to describe them, which contrasts with the term left-liberal, used for the leftists commonly called “liberals.”

        Mark Richardson’s “conservatism” is indistinguishable from fascism, so I suppose that he ought to have some idea of what he’s talking about.

        But, in truth, just as “liberals” are really just “unprincipled leftists” — they accept the false premises of leftism, but they just aren’t (yet) ready to go to all the places dictated by the logic of those premises, and so they make an “unprincipled exception” in a vain attempt to avoid this or that conclusion — so too, most people who think themselves conservative are really just “unprincipled ‘liberals'”: they (unthinkingly) accept the false premises, they merely balk at an earlier point that the “liberals” do. The differences between most people who think themselves conservative, and the soft-leftists we in America call “liberals” are two:
        1) a difference in degree, rather than kind, in how much of the end-logic of leftism they are (currently) willing to commit;
        2) the “conservatives” don’t want to be leftists, they just don’t realize that they’ve already surrendered to the premises.

        The solution to this problem that most “conservatives” are leftists without even realizing it is not to promote even more leftism, as so many here (and Richardson) are doing. The solution is to help them see — and escape — the leftism in which they have been marinated almost from birth.

      • oops … I failed to copy the ending of my propr post —

        (*) This is the que for the hypocritical sissies to start whinging.

      • Ilion:

        Haven’t you seen the constant conflating of the correct meaning of ‘liberal’ (which is what we in America these days call “conservative”) with the form of leftism that in American was called ‘Progressivism’ (before it hijacked the term ‘liberalism’ to apply to itself) … as witness Zippy’s post, immediately following.

        It isn’t a conflation. Right and left liberalism have far more in common with each other than they do with moral sanity; specifically their commitment to a politics rooted in freedom and equal rights (seeing that as a good thing, obviously).

        But it is certainly true that traditionalist intransigence on the point — our unwillingness to accept that if only we could hit the reset button and rig a do-over, next time classical liberalism wouldn’t lead to unprecedented levels of violence and moral atrocity as it did the first time – is what makes us unacceptable to classical/right liberals a.k.a. “mainstream conservatives”.

        Blaming the atrocities of modernity on anything-but-liberalism has always been rather precious.

      • “Catholicism pushes a leftist socio-political platform that *must* result in mass murder, doesn’t change the fact that Catholicism explicitly and intentionally provides the socio-religious cover and rationale for all leftism. ”

        What a fine traditionalist site this is, that the leftist slanders on the Catholic Church go entirely unopposed!

      • What’s more, the thing that he’s criticizing Catholicism for, dissenting from capitalist right-liberalism, is something every religion and every mature political philosophy does. By this standard, every civilization at every time except for nineteenth century England and America “*must* result in mass murder”. Such is the belligerent closed-mindedness of freedom-lovers.

        Ilion seems to have his own idiosyncratic vocabulary where any deviation from anti-social individualism is “Leftist” or “fascist”. Conversations with such people are seldom fruitful.

    • “Mark Richardson’s “conservatism” is indistinguishable from fascism”

      A typical leftist maneuver is to accuse the Right of being fascist. This accusation is the surest sign of the accuser being a leftist.

    • “A big part of the problem [of societal disinterest in “traditionalism”] is that most of you “traditionalists” are just pushing another variant of socialism.”

      First of all, you are missing the point: the most important aspect of traditionalism is morals and values, not the economy.

      Second, I disagree with applying the term “socialism” to the centristic approach to economy and taxes. A centristic approach, such as the one defended by the Catholic Church, combines free market and property with some redistributionism and taxes to promote common goods. It is neither radically anti-government like libertarianism and neither radically pro-government like marxism.

      And about claiming that being a variant of socialism is what makes us unpopular, that’s silly, since socialism is much more popular than libertarianism, if that was true it should bring us a popularity bonus, not a penalty.

      In general it seams that you are trying to push libertarianism, is that right? From your arguments I don’t see where you are believing in traditionalism at all. So I’d like to change the table here and ask you some questions:

      1> What do you think about how sex/race/gender issues are treated in the west and how do you propose they should be treated?

      2> You think that economic issues are what matters the most (as opposed to social/moral issues)?

  8. I think the best thing is to create something underground, like an alternate universe. Or something akin to a large Island (think the country of Australia, it’s like a large nation in the middle of the ocean), or smaller medium-sized Island (think New Zealand). Some of them can be sent to the “mainstream world” (modern liberal quasi-religious secularists) to convert, kind of like agents.

  9. Lots of local, regional smaller New Zealand type Islands scattered throughout the planet is how I would I imagine it. There, one can implant the ideals of the Orthosphere, and the Dark Enlightenment.

  10. Contra Bruce Charlton, I think a smaller readership is a plus (both for the Orthosphere and for Neoreaction). It’s easier to establish stuff with a small group.

  11. As a guest, permit me to make the following suggestion. Perhaps the Orthosphere is too preoccupied with doctrine as opposed to action. As a friend of mine likes to say, Our Lord didn’t spend his time on earth constructing a theology. The calling of Western Christendom is to build a new Christian civilization on the ruins of paganism. Paganism is falling to ruins around us, again. Take a look at Mindweapons, for example, a secular neoreaction site, for suggestions related to building a new world: learning useful skills, detaching one’s family from the poisoned government-industrial food supply, developing alternative food supply chains, detaching one’s mind from government-industrial propaganda, forming like-minded communities, corresponding with populist rebels worldwide against criminal banks and governments. Identifying friends and enemies and determining how to respond to them. There’s plenty to object to on the Mindweapons site, but the author has an optimistic can-do spirit that gloomy paleos and traditionalists need to emulate. Orthosphere certainly shies away from racial themes, but they are part of any meaningful discussion of the present (how we miss you, Lawrence Auster) and the future. Are Catholics perhaps too conditioned by the Roman universalist myth to address race as an aspect of community? Or is it just the attachment to respectability, to not ruining one’s career by stepping outside the narrow lines of liberal orthodoxy? Auster had a learned and Christian perspective on race and nationality that does not seem to have survived him.

    Ann Barnhardt combines prayer and church tradition with action in the world, so she also points a way towards a wider appeal.

    Orthosphere gathers much learning and expertise in its community. Such learning and expertise could doubtless be directed to practical political, economic, and cultural problems in addition to theological ones. That would enhance the community’s ability to influence people’s actions.

    • The times I’ve read Barnhardt, I stepped slowly, slowly, away…everything’s going to be alright now…OK.

    • Although I share many of the concerns traditionalists have about Pope Francis, it seems to me that he has a point when it comes to the importance of evangelization and the unfortunate reluctance of some traditionalists to engage in it. His exhortations to “make yourselves heard” and “make a mess” need not necessarily be read as encouragement to liberal agitators in the Church, but instead can inspire lay traditionalists to be more visible in their articulation of the faith. Similarly, his criticism of clericalism can be appreciated by traditionalists who are disappointed by the willingness of neo-Catholic priests and bishops (and perhaps, somewhat ironically, popes) to downplay those aspects of the faith which attract liberal criticism.

      Christians have a duty to proclaim the Truth, both out of obedience to Jesus’ command to do so and out of charity for the souls of those who face the prospect of hedonistic and spiritually dead lives followed by eternal damnation. It is understandable that one would be afraid to proclaim the parts of Christian teaching which liberals hate most– it is quite easy to imagine, say, an untenured academic career being ended by one’s opinion on gay rights or feminist ideology. At the same time, the internet provides opportunities to evangelize without revealing one’s identity– this is an advantage which reactionaries currently have (although perhaps only for a limited time) and should be willing to exploit. (It should go without saying for those who pay attention to the news that those who fear outright persecution by the government for their views should take precautions far beyond merely the use of pseudonyms).

      Providing an environment for the spiritual sustenance of already convinced reactionary Christians is a valuable and noble goal, but it seems to me that there is more that the online community of reactionary Christians can do. Perhaps the Orthosphere itself is not the place for it, especially if the goal is to engage those who are not yet familiar with reactionary Christianity.

  12. I read the Orthosphere regularly, but rarely interact because I am happy to let greater minds than my own expound so knowledgeably on these so essential themes. I have learned much. I would expect I am far from alone and that there are more readers than you realise. Thanks to all for their contributions and keep up the good work.

  13. @Kristor – “Bruce Charlton worried a few days ago whether the languishing readership of the orthosphere, or Neoreaction generally, means that these schools of thought might be over and done with.”

    No – I didn’t ‘worry’, I am not worried! I am in fact joyously optimistic!

    But I did make that observation and prediction.

    @Bonald – http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/could-anything-happen-to-cause-west-to.html

    DO you disagree with the key role of the Mass Media?

  14. To doubt the truth of Catholic Church is to impugn the Western tradition in toto.The major beneficiary of this doubt would not be Mormons and nondenominational sects, but Mohammedans and other Orientals.

    Thus, it is simply self-contradictory for a Western traditionalist to doubt the Catholic Church. It is permissible to have slight theological differences with Her, as do Anglicans and Lutherans but to maintain as Ilion does that “Catholicism pushes a leftist socio-political platform that *must* result in mass murder” is incoherent within the traditionalist framework.

    • Ilion is not a traditionalist. To the extent he calls himself a traditionalist, he is a Trotskyite entryist, whether he knows it or not. He is a manifestation of a larger problem the right has in the US (and more broadly for all I know).

      Sane people are capable of seeing that there is something seriously awry with liberalism. Liberalism’s durability comes, in part, from its ability to distract sane people from criticizing liberalism. It distracts them by claiming that the only real problem with liberalism is that it has not been tried hard enough. The two side in political debates in the US are “the economic part of liberalism has not been tried hard enough” vs “the social part of liberalism has not been tried hard enough.”

      It’s important to liberalism to prevent a non-liberal critique from emerging. At first, they deal with dissidents by ignoring them, then by belittling them, then by joining them and trying to change them from within. The entryists don’t even really know what they are doing. They know that what has been tried is messed up, and, so, they go looking for other things. They find the other things, join, and say “Hey, this movement would be great except for (insert whatever it is that makes the movement different from liberalism)” They do this because their mind is trapped in some crazy Manichean fantasy—for libertarians it is socialism vs capitalism. They can’t see. They don’t know what they are doing.

      You are right that the point Ilion is making about the Church is crazy. At the level of theory, it makes no sense. There is no class struggle or demand that the means of production be owned by the state in Catholic theology. At the level of historical practice it makes no sense. The Church is a foe of both fascism and communism. But, if everything is a battle between socialism and capitalism and if the Church is unenthusiastic about capitalism, then it must be for socialism. The fact that this inference runs head first into the buzz-saw of ludicrous falsity is less important than that the fantasy is preserved.

      An important question is, how do you keep the Ilions of the world out of your movement long enough for it to become a visible alternative to liberalism? For him, in particular, you just have to call it Catholic. But there are plenty of “Catholic” Ilions, so that is not a general solution.

    • I beg to differ with Mr. Iliaci; it is entirely possible to be a Protestant traditionalist who does not impugn the entirety of the Western tradition. I think it is fair to say that for Protestants, those Roman Catholic teachings that align with the Bible are truthful; many Protestants study and respect figures such as Augustine and Aquinas. However, part of the reason we are Protestants is that we agree with the Reformers: the Roman church is in error and therefore needs Reformation. In error does not mean “utterly false” or “without value” or any such thing; it means some doctrines and practices are correct and are therefore to be kept, while others are not and are therefore to be modified or discarded, as appropriate. I think I speak for all Protestant traditionalists when I ask that you not excommunicate us from traditionalism simply because we “doubt” the Roman Catholic Church.

      Having said that, you are correct in your assessment of our friend Ilion, who is, if I am not mistaken, Ilion Troas, a former commenter at View From the Right whom Lawrence Auster described thus: “a person who became so crazed and hostile in e-mails to me some time back that I had to cut him off, a fact he naturally characterizes as my refusing to respond to any criticism of myself.”

      • Having said that, you are correct in your assessment of our friend Ilion, who is, if I am not mistaken, Ilion Troas, a former commenter at View From the Right whom Lawrence Auster described thus : “a person who became so crazed and hostile in e-mails to me some time back that I had to cut him off, a fact he naturally characterizes as my refusing to respond to any criticism of myself.”

        Of course, on top of misrepresenting my criticism of him (*) for his unfair-because-false condemnation of Mark Steyn, Auster didn’t tell the whole story, did he? He didn’t tell you that he was condemning Steyn for the very opposite of someting Steyn had said, did he? He didn’t tell you that not only had told him that, but that I supplied him quotes and links showning that Steyn didn’t say what he was condemning him for, did he?

        (*) Which ultimately included my determination, based on his own behavior, that he was intellectually dishonest.

      • Mr. Lewis,

        To have any real meaning a term like “traditionalist” must be relative to a very specific conception of tradition and ultimately truth, thus in the end there really cannot be a traditionalist movement comprising of both Catholics and Protestants. Most attempted alliances in the past and present usually necessitate one side watering its own teachings down to make it palpable to the other-usually Catholicism has taken the initiative to “make nice” in this regard. I find this to be a very unfortunate development.

        Now of course I think contrary to Ilion’s clownish rant, that we can and should be civil here. I enjoy and agree with many Protestant (and others) views on certain subjects both here and elsewhere. I also concur with Dr. Bill above that the main problem, a problem that has historically plagued anti-liberals, particularly in the US is that they are co-opted by some faction of liberalism – usually right-liberalism as exemplified by people like Ilion and Lydia McGrew.

      • Ilion, I have no wish to rehash your disagreement with Mr. Auster; suffice it to say that he presented his side of the case at the link I gave above.

        ISE, I believe you are correct. Given our current situation, I think we will be best served by an alliance, even if it is temporary and, at times, uneasy. “We must, indeed, all hang together or, assuredly, we shall all hang separately” seems to apply here.

      • Wm.Lewis:Ilion, I have no wish to rehash your disagreement with Mr. Auster; suffice it to say that he presented his side of the case at the link I gave above.

        In other words, you are as intellectually dishonest as these other fools, for you no more care about truth than they do. You bring up Auster’s slander of me — you endorse his slander of me — and when I point out that there is a whole lot more to it that he purposely kept hidden, and indeed lied about, then suddently you don’t want to rehash it … except to reaffirm that “he presented his side” in the very place where his voice was the only voice ever allowed to speak.

      • Wm Lewis,

        We do not differ. I did write that, “It is permissible to have slight theological differences with Her, as do Anglicans and Lutherans.”

        What is not permissible is to hold with Ilion that the Catholic Church is the mainspring behind leftism and mass murders.
        Such views can not be granted within traditionalism and can not be even debated.

      • Ilion, you have been identified as someone who is not really on our side. Although you occasionally have something interesting to say, too much of it is venomous. Lawrence Auster had his faults—we all do—but intellectual dishonesty was not one of them. Here is what he had to say about the accusation that his was the only voice at VFR: “Among the reality-turned-on-its head lies that have been repeatedly told about me are the charges that I only allow people who agree with me to post comments at VFR; that I am unable to reply to criticisms and refuse to do so; and that I exclude commenters who question me and my ideas.”

        Most of the rest of that post is a list of links to entries at VFR where he posted, and responded, to disagreements and criticism. He found you caustic and stopped dealing with you for that reason, not because you and he did not see eye-to-eye.

      • Mr. Iliaci, thank you for the clarification. I misread you. I agree that any placing of the blame for liberalism—the work of the devil—on any branch of Christianity is unacceptable, not least because it is false, and that such claims warrant no discussion or consideration.

        ISE, perhaps together, despite our differences, we can prepare for the collapse, and eventual rebirth, of our civilization. I have far more in common with you than I do with those who are bringing us down.

      • If you want to talk about CS Lewis and fantasy stories than there’s always Charlton’s blog. Because you know, that is what traditionalism really needs another commentator on the Inklings.

        Egads! I find Charlton’s commentary on Tolkien et alia very interesting. Do we really need to reduce ourselves to one thing needful? The inhuman Left is full of tedious bores who fanatically confuse the personal and the political, who won’t ever bury their bone du jour, and who bother everyone around them with their passing obsessions. For the love of the world, we need more folks to comment on the Inklings . . . as well as on patterns of seasonal duck migration, the spiritual benefits of tinkering on old machines, the best ways to incorporate spinach in baked goods, how to entertain jack russells, and so on. This is what we traditionalists claim as our “seamless garment.” Life and the world are unified — the cosmos and our participation in it are divine gifts, and we should comport ourselves appropriately and with gratitude.

        I agree that our society is going to hell in a shoddy handbasket, but we cannot reduce our lives to that decay — or to the response to it. If we were really on a sinking ship (not metaphorical), then, of course, it would not be the time to talk of Dickinson or blueberries, but that is due to the allotted time and urgency. Our civilization is breaking beneath the waves, but man cannot live so single-mindedly for long without becoming monstrously imbalanced. Plan, strengthen yourself, manipulate the enemy, but do so as a man rather than an ideologue. And men eat, laugh, play, sing, read, and ponder. Act this and act that . . . this cult of doing is largely how we ended up in this mess. To quote Eliot’s Harcourt-Reilly: “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” Quite true — it is as if post-Christian society has perverted Paul’s redeeming the time with anxious busy-ness for some cause or other. Maybe, if we crossed a Yankee Presbyterian with a Zen Buddhist, we might get a balanced human being — geographically and temperamentally, we’d come up with a good Bavarian Catholic who works hard, loves his family, minds his manners, and enjoys beer and dancing on Saturdays.

    • “…it is simply self-contradictory for a Western traditionalist to doubt the Catholic Church.”

      As if Judaism is not part of the Western Tradition. As if the Reformation is not part of the Western Tradition. As if the Enlightenment is not part of the Western Tradition. As if the Great Books of the Western World could have conveniently ended with volume 20 (Aquinas).

      I am not sure if Bedarz Iliaci classifies Eastern Orthodoxy as Occidental or Oriental or if he even considers the events of 1054 to be important to the West.

      “It is permissible [!] to have slight theological differences with Her [the Catholic Church], as do Anglicans and Lutherans…”

      Luther declared the Pope to be Antichrist. (See Smalcald Articles, II, IV, 10-12).

      Pope Leo XIII declared all Anglican ordinations to be “absolutely null and utterly void” in Apostolicae Curae, to which the Anglicans replied in Saepius Officio.

      One cannot honestly call these “slight theological differences.”

      The Thirty Years War is, thankfully, long in the past, but its settlement, the Peace of Westphalia, is part of Western Tradition and the basis of much international law, Pope Innocent X’s criticism of it notwithstanding. (See Zelo Domus Dei).

      One trouble with narrowing the focus of the Orthosphere to Catholics and would-be Catholics only, and very conservative ones at that, is that it is thus all but impossible to build coalitions that might be politically viable in America and most of the world. In the U.S. it is the more Catholic states that are reliably blue and liberal. Write off the conservative red states of the South (Baptists), the Great Plains (Lutherans and Methodists) and West (Latter-day Saints), and what political voice do you then have left in the larger society? Political failure and a failure in the culture wars would not just be an option, it would be guaranteed.

      What chance in America does a political party dedicated to monarchy have? It is a position suitable for dorm room debates, but not for serious public policy.

      The Orthosphere is appealing to a few philosophical adepts, but “eschew epistemological skepticism” doesn’t stand much of a chance as a rallying cry for reforming or even appealing to the wider society.

      Why not just call this the sphere of very conservative Catholics and be done with it?

      • You misunderstand me. Compared to Mormonism and nondenominational American Christianity, the theological differences between Catholic Church and Anglicans and Lutherans are indeed minor.

        But the point here is that Anglicans and Lutherans have not called the Catholic Church the mainspring of mass murder for a long time, if ever they did. Thus, there is a common cause to be made with Anglicans, Lutherans and the like.

        But there could not be a common cause with people who accuse one of murder.

        Monarchy in America is a silly thing and I have never argued for it. Republicanism is perfectly consistent with Catholic Church teachings.

      • Mr. Iliaci could have been more precise, indeed I certainly don’t stand for the “West” if it means standing for Protestantism and the Enlightenment. That increasingly seems to be all the West stands for anyway. To hell with that.

        I do not understand this mentality coming from certain quarters regarding Traditional Catholicism and the Orthosphere. The entire mainstream right is completely enthralled with an ideology consisting of a combination of liberalism and low-church Protestantism. Given the popularity of Glenn Beck’s own Mormon infused ideology among mainstream conservatives one can say that Mormonism and its own brand of hyper-pro-Americanism is in vogue. So what is the problem? You guys aren’t being “forced out” of anything- you own conservatism. The Orthosphere is a not a “movement” either. Yeah, most of the commentators here are Catholic, and they write from that perspective usually the are also pointing out the numerous problems that plague the modern Church. Have any of them written anything as venomous (or stupid) as Ilion’s comment above on any other sect? Most of their harshest criticisms come down on their own.

        People like Bruce Charlton, Lydia McGrew, Ilion and Leo give further credence to Dr. Bill’s assertion above, right-liberal Protestants following in the grand tradition of Locke simply will not tolerate Catholicism. It also bolsters the claim that liberalism and Protestantism are essentially blood-brother relatives. Now I have on occasion argued against the narrative peddled by libertarians and neo-reactionaries that progressivism is somehow solely the fault of New England Calvinists. But now given the constant protestations otherwise I guess I now more or less must agree with them.

        The fact that you still think the Thirty Years War was solely or even primarily caused by religion shows just how much you labor under the liberal narrative. But then that is to be expected from someone who thinks American ideology divinely ordained by God. I think the Catholic Church has done enough penance for its sins (both real and the one’s it has been falsely accused of) but have “good Americans” done the same for America’s own atrocious crimes? Like slavery, genocide, the constant and consistent use of weapons of mass destruction on civilians for polluting the world with banal consumerism ect?

        I also find it particularly rich for someone who’s own fantasy cult’s leader’s death was the direct result of him trying to suppress the writings of those he deemed “heretics.” Who’s to say those heretics didn’t possess the actual truth? Shall we also mention the role your religion has played in America’s genocidal Manifest Destiny? Lets be honest and admit that “conservative” Utah was founded and based primarily on invasion followed by massacres and genocide. I guess such historical facts ought to be glossed over, after all the 19th century was the age of progress and America the empire of liberty so certain excesses must be tolerated in the name of expanding freedom. Somehow this never gets mentioned in your or Ilion’s denunciations of Catholicism.

        Leo, you throw around big terms like “culture wars” but then I pose the same question to you that I posed above- to what end? If I am not mistaken, Mormonism allows for abortion in certain circumstances? In the Catholic view that makes you pro-abortion. How can there be any kind of “alliance” then? Most Protestants are not in agreement with the Catholic Church on contraception. Even on these relatively basic “family values” questions we are not in agreement. So you see I can’t even consider you a conservative and I surely can’t consider you a Christian if I am to say faithful to my own Church. So what sense does it make to contort ourselves into some meaningless coalition? And haven’t we already done that? Wasn’t that the point of the Manhattan Declaration? What are the fruits of this grand coalition? Speaking of blue states let’s not forget who was at the helm when Massachusetts provided the beachhead for SSM, the apparently devout Mormon Mitt Romney.

        Leo will your sect change its teaching on marriage when the political winds of change blow strong- like it did once before?

        Speaking of Romney I can imagine the citizens of Russia and Syria breathing a collective sigh of relief that Mittens wasn’t elected. Had he succeeded, Romney would have likely intervened in Syria sparking the total genocide of what is left of Syrian Christianity. Leo, you have claimed concern for the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians and yet you make little mentioned of the modern West’s actions that more often than not facilitate such persecutions. I tell you I am much more concerned with people like Glenn Beck preaching some kind of Gnostic holy war than I am of illberals traditional Catholic or otherwise. Do you think his ranting or the ranting of evangelical “pastors” like John Hagee help the position of Christians in the Mid-East? If you are worried about Holy wars being waged you need not look into the distant past but rather the present and best look to some in your own sect.

        I really have to regard your call to viable coalition building with complete in-credulousness. Reports from the recent CPAC 2014 conference indicate that Christians were more or less completely locked out by libertarians (right-liberals). The only outrage at this fact that I have really seen has come from Catholics. We were constantly told that fusionism was the way. Well where has that gotten us now? The culture war is over as evidenced by the triumph of SSM. You speak of these conservative holdouts like Utah, well if Utah’s conduct is any sign of the future resistance we can expect from the LDS then my point above stands- an alliance makes absolutely no sense with people who change their doctrines should political expediency so require. Are we to regard Mike Lee’s “conscience protection provisions” as somehow an example of what you consider “conservatism.” How well did those types of provisions fair in Arizona a few weeks ago? Another typically stupid America idea that we can forestall the result of a debate on a substantive moral questions with a procedural/legal gimmick.

        You can sneer at monarchy all you want, but the chances of a monarch ruling America are probably greater than the idiotic belief that you and coreligionists apparently hold that the US Constitution will somehow be reestablished. The America Right can’t even get it straight what the Constitution meant to the framers let alone what it means to them. If the Orthosphere wants to be serious about tackling the problems of modernity than by all means let Traditional Catholicism rise here. I have no problem in engaging in polite discussion with others of good will but I can’t be the only Catholic sick and tired of constantly bending over backwards for right-liberals or Protestants. If you want to talk about CS Lewis and fantasy stories than there’s always Charlton’s blog. Because you know, that is what traditionalism really needs another commentator on the Inklings.

      • 99% of the “flock” have very little theological understanding/disputes. If the likes of Falwell, Hagee and co. suddenly turned up tomorrow and said they were now in communion with the Bishop of Rome, that the Catholic faith had been restored etc There would be minimal descent. So maybe if the Catholic world wants to build coalitions with certain groups, the best way would be to pack some suitcases full of gold bars.

        Lord knows that virtually all Christian division is driven by a resentment for hierarchy, primacy concerns, political power and property disputes rather than transubstantiation or sola scriptura.

      • > Shall we also mention the role your religion has played in America’s
        > genocidal Manifest Destiny? Lets be honest and admit that “conservative”
        > Utah was founded and based primarily on invasion followed by massacres and genocide.

        lol! So you now espouse leftist historic revisionism that says that whites are evil for going to America???

        If the mormons are genocidal, then I wonder what you think about the portuguese brazilians, or the spanish conquest of America, which was one of the greatest successes of Christianity, comparable only to converting the Roman Empire.

        And who do you defend then? Please come and tell me your sacred people who never invaded anyone??? Actually there are a few examples, but the vast majority of humanity lives in conquered territory.

        Half of sub-saharan countries are the product of bantu invasion and genocide over the native Khoasan inhabitants. The entire central asia was inhabited by iranians before the turkish invasion. Many amerindian tribes were genociding other tribes when Columbus came to America. The Caraib tribe killed, cooked and ate the man of other tribes and took the woman as sex slaves. Aztecs were genociding neighbouring tribes. Anatolia was inhabited by greeks before the turks. Northern India was invaded by indo-europeans. Western europe was inhabited by some kind of proto-basques before the invasion of caucasian farmers in the neolitic, the invasion of celts, the invasion of romans and finally the invasion of germans. The berbers invaded spain. China invaded everyone around it. Japan invaded China and Korea. etc, etc, etc, etc.

        So you are saying that you also think that bantus (inhabitants of Kongo, Angola, Zimbabwe, SA, Mozambique, Uganda, Kenia, etc, etc), the karaibs, the turks, arabs, the aztecs, the mongols, the celts, the romans, the germans, the scandinavians, the indians, the chinese, the japanese, the south/central/north americans, the australians, the hungarians, the bulgars, the south slavs, etc, etc, etc, are evil?

        Looks like you hate 90%+ of the world population =D

      • lol! So you now espouse leftist historic revisionism that says that whites are evil for going to America???

        How is it revisionism to point out historical facts? Did you even read the rest of my comment or the other comments here?

      • What is the west? What is the West? What is tradition?

        Girard made the point a long time ago that there is no such thing as a Lockean or Liberal “tradition”.

      • > How is it revisionism to point out historical facts?

        Please be more clear which historical fact you are talking about, and narrate how it constitutes “genocide”. I suppose you ment genociding amerindians, right?

        And if it is really what I suspected, the issue of the amerindians, then I reinstate all my other questions. For example, are the kazakhs evil too for living in conquered territory from iranian tribes?

        > Did you even read the rest of my comment or the other comments here?

        I think that this particular point is important enough to warrant interrupting it, and not leaving it uncontested. I don’t care so much about the rest, so I decided to not comment to not take out focus from the most important issue. I note that often when I write about multiple topics in 1 post people will ignore part of the reading.

  15. These spheres do not have the reach you seem to think they do. Because of the extensive overlapping of spheres, you have a comparatively small number of unique people circulating through. The entire dissident right is perhaps a few thousand, across all its spheres. Maybe 10-15k at most. For perspective, this is equivalent to the relatively minor “stay-at-home-daughter” movement (which also has a bit of overlap with some of the dissident right, further illustrating my point about how small the group is).

    Having said that, however, micro-minorities demonstrably have the capacity to be very influential. A great deal of influence across the spectrum from conservative to progressive lies in the hands of a few very tiny subcultures. For that to be the case, though, organization is key. In any case, time will tell what becomes of all this blogging to a few hundred people and whether any of it turns into fruit.

  16. Paul Gottfried sends me a bite of information that is relevant, perhaps, to this thread. He mentions a fact previously unknown to me but known perhaps to others, that the Orthosphere registers at Google Alert; Paul also points out that many websites, some similar to The Orthosphere, do not register there.

  17. The traditionalist return to power will most likely not come from politically focused blogs like this. Where it will likely come from is within the churches themselves. An example of someone who is a traditionalist, but not in any way a person primarily concerned with politics as such, is the Reformed theologian Peter Leithart. All of you should read his book Against Christianity. However, his main focus is on Jesus and the Bible, as it should be.

    • What you propose has a near complete lack of historical precedents. Look at the groups take took power in the last 300 years. They were all highly political: liberals, marxists, fascists, post-modern liberal-leftism, taliban. It’s not like the Amish are going to be in power … ever.

      • The Man Who Was is proposing not that some church or other might itself take political power, but rather that a political movement *informed* by traditional values and principles renascent in conservative orthodox churches might be able to step into the breaches and take over from a collapsing liberal order. Or so I read him, anyway. I’d rather inform a political movement than lead it – lots more leverage that way: shape the zeitgeist, ideas have consequences, and all that.

      • The political techniques that work for liberals don’t necessarily work for traditionalists.

      • > Kristor | March 26, 2014 at 11:15 pm
        > … churches might be able to step into the breaches and take over from a collapsing liberal order. Or so I read him, anyway.

        One problem with the logic of waiting for the liberal order to collapse is that there are more people waiting for the liberal order to collapse and take over too. Hardcore Marxists, for example, are not happy with the current order, in the economic area mostly. So it won’t necessarily be a good change.

        The second problem is that when something falls, it’s always those that were fighting actively against it that take power, even if they were not the cause of the fall, and those actively fighting it take power, not those that passively waited for it to fall.

        > The Man Who Was . . . | March 27, 2014 at 3:13 am
        > The political techniques that work for liberals don’t necessarily work for traditionalists.

        I’d say they do. Media control seams to be working for Putin, and it’s the same strategy that liberals use.

        I think that it’s pretty well established that what works to get power is:
        a> Media control
        b> Indoctrination of youth
        c> Mass protests mobilization (like Ukraine, arab spring, etc)
        d> Violence

        Ridicule is the only liberal weapon which I don’t see working for traditionalists, and ridicule cannot work without media control, but media control can work without it.

      • The second problem is that when something falls, it’s always those that were fighting actively against it that take power …

        In the West, this has already happened. Those who are actively fighting against the West are already in power. The liberals who seek to destroy the liberal order are in charge of it. Even when the liberals who would preserve the liberal order – namely, the Republicans, the Conservatives, the Tories – happen to be in ostensible control of the legislature and the executive, the liberals who want to destroy the liberal order continue in complete control of the regulatory bureaucracy, the media, the arts, and the educational establishment.

        I don’t mean to suggest that anything in the future will be tidy, or comfortable. No; it will be a mess, of greater or lesser proportions. But when the collapse comes, it will be a collapse of the liberal order, because that’s all there is out there to collapse right now. As you say, there can be no guarantee that what comes after it will be any better. That’s life, right? But it is likely to be *different,* at least. It is likely to be somehow illiberal.

        There are evil, lethal forms of illiberalism, to be sure, of the sort that Ilion – and the rest of us, too, I feel sure – rightly abhor. But then also there are hale and just forms of illiberalism, wherein the yearning of all men – libertarians, distributists, Marxists, and we hierarchical traditionalists of the orthosphere – for justice, prosperity and peace would find satisfaction. We may hope that some green shoots of the latter sort will take root in the fertile soil of the rotting corpse of the West, and so thrive as to prevail for a time against the weeds that always, everywhere sprout. Till then, our purpose should be to plant acorns, as many as we can, and no matter how barren the soil may now seem.

      • Kristor,
        “There are evil, lethal forms of illiberalism, to be sure, of the sort that Ilion – and the rest of us, too, I feel sure – rightly abhor”
        Ilion is a leftist and thus he calls us fascists and the Catholicism itself to be intentionally acting for and intentionally inspiring Nazism and Communism.
        You may agree with him but do no include us.

      • Ilion is a leftist and thus he calls us fascists …

        Ilíon is an individual-liberty loving conservative, and if he calls you individual-liberty hating collectivist leftists ‘fascists’, is it because fascism is the nearest historical instantiation to the particular brand of individual-liberty hating leftist collectivism that you “traditionalists” are slavering to impose upon others, falsely calling this perverted desire to enslave flesh-and-blood human beings, in the name of some reified collective, “Christian”.

        Would it be better if I call you (plural) anti-Christs and hypocrites(*)? Which is *also* the truth.

        (*) You whine that I call you leftists (which is truth), when you first called me a leftist (which is false). You whine that I call you leftists (which is truth), *right after* some of you explicitly voice your hatred of individual liberty … and use my championing of individual liberty as the (incoherent) excuse to call me leftist.

        … and the Catholicism itself to be intentionally acting for and intentionally inspiring [leftism] …

        Simple truth. Here is just one example of Catholicism pushing leftism (**) … and rather ironic, given the constantly expressed fetish of present company.

        (**) That abortion known as ‘Obamacare’ was also shilled for by Catholicism Inc, before it opposed being *itself* subject to it. But then, it does seems to be a habit of leftists in America to be for some policy before being against it.

      • > Ilion is a leftist

        No, he is a libertarian. It’s very typical of libertarians to call everyone who doesn’t agree with them leftists.

        > Ilíon is an individual-liberty loving conservative,

        You mean a libertarian, which has nothing to do with conservatism. An obsession for many, and a hopeless quixotesque cause. If true conservatism is hard to see on the modern west, libertarianism is so useless and hopeless that there are exactly zero (!) governments which apply this theory in the world. Because there are no implementations of liberatarianism, it’s proponents can point out problems with other theories, but theirs, being a completely imaginary one, without connection to the real-world, remains a hard target. This is very similar to the marxist strategy of claiming that the soviet union was not “real marxism”, because real marxism is perfect and error-free.

        Please show me how libertarianism is successful in the real world. Give me at least 1 implementation if what I said is not true.

        > falsely calling this perverted desire to enslave flesh-and-blood
        > human beings, in the name of some reified collective, “Christian”.
        >
        > Would it be better if I call you (plural) anti-Christs and hypocrites(*)?
        > Which is *also* the truth.

        Then what would you call all those Christians living under absolute monarchies between 0 AD and 1800 AD? Were they all fascist anti-christs too?

        Anyway, I also asked you several questions previous in this thread, why didn’t you answer them?

      • Felipe,

        I regard libertarians as a part of Left. They deny the political nature of man whereby mankind is organized into particular, self-ruling morally authoritative communities that we call nations.

        The libertarians deny the moral authority, the progressives deny particularity (they want a world state).

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  20. Many issues are raised in Ita Scripta Est’s comment.

    Let me first address the barbs directed towards Mitt Romney. He was, unfortunately, not in charge of the Supreme Court in Massachusetts, statistically the most Catholic U.S. state. As governor, his constitutional options were limited. Perhaps this is the problem in Massachusetts and marriage: http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=19267

    It is not clear how Governor Romney’s foreign policy might have worked out. I had some very serious reservations about his foreign policy, but he is looking more prescient lately. In any event, he is not a Church spokesman or a Church authority. He is, however, a member of the Church in good standing and a distant cousin.

    No one who has studied the Latter-day Saints can honestly say that we put our stamp of approval on everything that has been done by America. Indeed, the U.S. government once, nay more than once, made war the on the Latter-day Saints. The majority of Latter-day Saints live outside of the U.S. Of course, it is your right to criticize America. It is a notable American right.

    Glenn Beck is not a Church spokesman. His views are not necessarily my own. We may agree on some things and disagree on others.

    I am very concerned about religious persecution in the Middle East, including persecution of all faiths, and the devastating situation in Syria. Shouldn’t we all be? The best way to address the problem, however, is not so obvious.

    Let me mention two culture war issues, abortion and marriage.

    Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. Church members who encourage an abortion in any way may be subject to Church discipline.

    Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.
    As a doctrinal principle, based on the scriptures, the Church affirms that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
    Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, are sinful and undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly affirms defining marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman.

    How is this working out? Ross Douthat has written:

    “Overall, the post-sexual revolution landscape is divided between a “blue” culture that depends on high abortion rates to maintain its social equilibrium, and a “red” culture where abortion rates are lower but out-of-wedlock birth rates are correspondingly higher, and divorce rates are higher as well.

    There is, however, a notable exception to these patterns. The state of Utah has one of the lowest abortion rates in the country and one of the lowest rates of out-of-wedlock births. It has a high marriage rate, a relatively low divorce rate, and the highest birth rate (despite a low teen pregnancy rate) of any state. An America that looked more like Utah would have more intact families, less child poverty, fewer abortions — and, for that matter, a better fiscal outlook as the Baby Boomers retire.”

    When Catholics, Mormons, and Evangelicals worked together in California, without compromising theological differences, it tipped the electoral scales in favor of Prop 8. I have happily worked with Catholics on marriage issues post Prop 8. I have defended and honored Archbishop Cordileone, as have many members of my faith. When Archbishop Cordileone was appointed Archbishop of San Francisco, the Bay Area congregations of the Latter-day Saints warmly welcomed him. http://www.catholic-sf.org/files/digital_paper_201209263822.pdf This in contrast to the frosty welcome from the Episcopal Bishop. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/episcopal-bishop-gives-cordileone-frosty-welcome/

    Who, then, is more welcoming, positive, and well disposed to Catholics, California Mormons or California Episcopalians?

    You might be surprised at how supportive and uncritical of the Catholic Church I have been on other websites and in individual interactions. The modern Catholic Church has reformed itself since the historical abuses of the past, and I do not hold the modern Church responsible for those unfortunate events. It is when some Catholics look too longingly at the bad old days that I become concerned. I think I may be more supportive of Vatican II and the current U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops than many of the Catholic commenters on this site.

    • I think we first have to be on the same page regarding terminology. What you and I consider liberalism to be is quite different. What I define as “liberalism” is much broader than yours. You can call me radical or ungrateful or whatever but I try to position myself against liberalism in its totality i.e. in both its classical and modern form. I think it fair to say that most people attracted to places like the Orthosphere or to Larry Auster’s website, share a similarly expansive view of liberalism. It follows from this that what you and I greatly differ on what it means to be a conservative. I also think it is fair to say that the conservative movement in this country in the main approximates your views much more so than mine, and that is not going to change any time soon. So I do not quite understand what you are worried about.

      Regarding Romeny and “conservative” social morals while governing it is well known that Romeny asked Mormon leadership for permission to run a pro-choice campaign to run for governor. Romeny mounted a confused half and half stand on SSM, he supported civil unions but not full marriage. His various maneuvers and legal challenges all failed. Yet we were supposed to believe he is some kind of stalwart “family values” candidate ? All of this betrays a very cynical pragmatic view. Fine, I guess that’s your cultural DNA but don’t expect me to admire it or want to form some kind alliance. Why would anyone want to form an alliance with a group whose own teachings are so fluid? It also seriously calls into question people like Charlton who see the LDS as some kind of great opponents of modernism let alone the sexual revolution.

      Regarding Romeny’s foreign policy, I think it is a bit disingenuous to say that we can’t know what Romeny would have done and what that would have resulted in. Romeny was one of the first to call for arming the rebels. He mentioned wanting to put American troops on the ground in Syria. If history is any guide, every single American war that has followed this template has results in the disaster for local Christians. And Romeny’s policy has not been vindicated by the Crimean crisis. Russia is not and need not even be our “number one” threat.

      I also find it a bit rich for American conservative Protestants and Mormons who condemn the “bad old days” of Catholicism when Crusades were launched while simultaneously supporting Zionism. Again Glenn Beck and John Hagee come to mind here.

      Now of course you point out the abysmal state of Catholicism in America, contrary to the complaints Protestants and right-liberals here, the Catholic commentators at the Orthosphere are more or less constantly writing on this fact. The fact that you a non-Catholic praise Vatican II really affirms why the Council and its implementation are problematic in my view. Our own Pope seems to like the company of heretics and non-Christians more than his own flock. I tend to see the problems you cited in the poll and Vatican II as very much connected.

      Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. Church members who encourage an abortion in any way may be subject to Church discipline.

      My statement on this is in reference to this quote:

      Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.

      https://www.lds.org/topics/abortion?lang=eng

      So which is it? By Catholic standards (and most non-Catholic pro-lifer standards) that is not “pro-life.” I also point out that Catholics by procuring or supporting abortion are being bad Catholics. But it seems the LDS so long as they follow prescriptions above are not LDS in bad standing. I say that is a pretty big gulf.

      Even the Manhattan Declaration which I did not really agree with did not invite (or they at least they didn’t come) LDS because even they recognized the lack of common ground on the fundamentals. Now I am certainly glad that abortion rates in Utah are lower than most other states, but I find that all to be a pretty low standard for “conservative success” and I even find merely being pro-life a low bar for conservatism.

      Now I recognize that the LDS leadership has been on the record stating that people like Beck and Skousen do not officially speak for the organization, but I do think my characterization is more or less correct, LDS see America in a spiritual view that other traditions do not. I do not think I am wrong in saying Beck’s version of history is very popular among not just most LDS but a great many conservative Christians. I find this trend troubling on many levels. A figure you cite above, Ross Douthat wrote a book about the problems with the proliferation of this type of theology.

      • > Regarding Romeny’s foreign policy, I think it is a bit disingenuous to say that
        > we can’t know what Romeny would have done and what that would have
        > resulted in. Romeny was one of the first to call for arming the rebels. He
        > mentioned wanting to put American troops on the ground in Syria. If history
        > is any guide, every single American war that has followed this template
        > has results in the disaster for local Christians. And Romeny’s policy
        > has not been vindicated by the Crimean crisis. Russia is not and
        > need not even be our “number one” threat.

        Surely not good that he said american troops should be on the ground, but, it is well known that politicians in opposition will say populist remarks which are not necessarely what they would do if in power (depends on how clever they are).

        Here in Brazil a famous case was the left-wing Workers Party which hotly criticized privatizations and even organized protests against them. Once in power they reverted them like Evo Morales? No! They made even more privatizations. Currently they are privitizing the roads.

        > Why would anyone want to form an alliance with a group whose own
        > teachings are so fluid? It also seriously calls into question people like
        > Charlton who see the LDS as some kind of great opponents of modernism
        > let alone the sexual revolution.

        While Romney is a notorious flip-flopper I fail to see how his positions should be utilized to decide if an alliance of conservative mormons and conservative catholics & protestants should occur. Pick a few catholic or protestant politicians in the USA at random. Chances are they are worse than Romney.

        But I have to agree that mormonism is not a match for liberalism, but then we have to agree too that neither is contemporary catholicism and neither is contemporary protestantism.

        Pre-modern catholicism was a match against liberalism, but it was defeated in various wars, starting with the french revolution and gradually gave up afterwards. Protestantism only answer was to attempt to debate with liberals, which resulted in the well known process of progressively losing every fight.

        And besides that, for me Catholicism also has 1 position which is much more unacceptable than anything the mormons could come up with: The pope (even the conservative german pope!) defending that african illegal immigrants in Europe should be embraced. This is a genocidal position.

      • Surely not good that he said american troops should be on the ground, but, it is well known that politicians in opposition will say populist remarks which are not necessarely what they would do if in power (depends on how clever they are).

        OK, but how do you explain that he said there should be troops on the ground? You aren’t saying that “troops on the ground in Syria” is the populist position are you? It is not. Insane neocon warmongering is not particularly popular. Afghanistan was popular because Americans believed that we were fighting back against the perpetrators of 9/11. Iraq started out popular for similar reasons.

        What Romney was doing was confirming that Sheldon Adelson was going to get what he paid for. Maybe some combination of popular outrage and facts on the ground would have stayed Romney’s hand, but there is no reason to doubt that he intended to invade Syria.

      • > OK, but how do you explain that he said there should be troops on the
        > ground? You aren’t saying that “troops on the ground in Syria” is the
        > populist position are you? It is not. Insane neocon warmongering
        > is not particularly popular….What Romney was doing was confirming
        > that Sheldon Adelson was going to get what he paid for.

        Ok, indeed I was wrong here =D But Romney is not a fanatic neocon like McCain … but maybe indeed maybe Sheldon big wallet could have convinced him to anything, and assured a very similar outcome as to McCain elected.

      • I should also point out in fairness that virtually all “conservative Catholic” politicians’ (Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Paul Ryan to name a few) platforms were so far from basic Catholic Social Doctrine that they might as well have all been non-Catholic. The only thing these “conservative Catholic” politicians had that was right was supposedly being against abortion (and in Paul Ryan’s case we can’t even say that). Notice I did not call them pro-life, as all of these candidates were for aggressive unnecessary wars and targeted assassinations.

        I do not wish to come off as “excommunicating everyone” I personally disagree with. I cannot reproduce Catholic Social Teaching in this comment thread, but I encourage everyone here to read the Papal Social Encyclicals and the Catechism to see just how much of a gulf there is between the “conservative Catholic neo-Torquemada” Rick Santorum and the mind of the Church. In other words Rick Santorum is radical modernist-heretic.

      • > I should also point out in fairness that virtually all “conservative Catholic”
        > politicians’ (Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Paul Ryan to name a few)
        > platforms were so far from basic Catholic Social Doctrine that they might
        > as well have all been non-Catholic.

        hahaha, your selection criterea is amazingly restrictive, I think it beats all records. If I was american I would have voted for Rick Santorum in the first round, Romney in the second, and would consider it pretty good votes and good candidates. Yes there is the issue of wars to push liberalism, but the nature of representative democracy is that you never can get 100% what you want, 90% is already an excellent match, which is what I would expect I would have with Santorum (I am reformed and married with a catholic). Although in your case I suppose the match might be around 10% from what you say =D

        > Notice I did not call them pro-life, as all of these candidates were
        > for aggressive unnecessary wars and targeted assassinations.
        >…
        > In other words Rick Santorum is radical modernist-heretic.

        But your arguments that he is so are pretty weak. If being pro-war is such a thing, then I’m pretty sure that all kings in history of Europe would also fall your criterea. They nearly all engaged in agressive wars, and the real kind, where you really invade and subjulgate the locals. Not the USA kind, where they invade, install a liberal government, and go away. The kings nearly all used targeted assassinations.

        This brings 3 questions to my mind:
        1> Your position is that most Christian kings in all history were heretics?
        2> Also, are you also against the death penalty?
        3> Could you point any war in history which was justified?

    • Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

      That position is in several respects more pro-choice than the Supreme Court was in Roe vs Wade. A person holding that position could not possibly qualify as pro-life.

      • Agreed, DrBill. There are so many exceptions that it’s practically meaningless. All we need to do is look at what happened in California, when Reagan naively believed what he was told about the abortion bill put before him. At least he regretted that decision, and learned from it.

      • Except that Roe v. Wade has been interpreted in practice as a free-for-all abortion license, and the LDS version hasn’t.

        I personally believe that the LDS position is subject to theoretical criticism, but there is a reason that the Mormons favor more abortion restrictions in law by larger percentages than any other faith group, most certainly including Catholics.

        The beam in your eye, you ought to do something about it.

      • > Like what? *I* don’t favor murdering children because
        > one of their parents did a bad thing.

        I understand that this is the contemporary position in some right-wing religious circles, but I wonder if this was really the historical position in all of Christianity history that abortion is a no-no even in extreme cases like rape. I seriously suspect it was not the historical position. Just wonder if someone has information on this?

      • The general principle always seems to have been that it is wrong to take the life of an innocent, but there was always some degree of uncertainty about the point at which “life” could be said to exist since of course they did not have advanced medical technology. The general consensus was that abortions were bad, but abortions later in the pregnancy were treated as even more offensive than those early in the pregnancy because the humanity of the unborn was more manifest.

        I’m curious, are you of the opinion that rape is an extreme enough case to justify abortion? If so, why?

      • > I’m curious, are you of the opinion that rape is an extreme
        > enough case to justify abortion? If so, why?

        I consider it a form of death penalty which I am in favor of. In this case the victim would be allowed to decide if it should be issued. Of course that for the raper itself the same would also be a possible sentence.

        I think that there for me it just strikes as “naturally right”. I mean, imagine if you were the woman? Well, that’s nearly impossible for a man, so forget that. Imagine you were the husband of a woman which is raped? Would you take care of the rapers child? Have your wife give birth to him? If you answer yes, then I am impressed, but still I will consider that it is essentially inhumane to issue legislation that will be taken by most victims as additional punishment.

        The legislation in Brazil is that in the case of rape it is still not legal (constitutes a crime), but has no punishment, a kind of tricky compromise I guess.

      • Which of course doesn’t mean I am in favor of an open license for infanticide … I just think that instead of further restriction abortion in places where it is already illegal except for a small set of exceptions, it would be better to work against things like the abortion ship (don’t know if you heard of this monstruosity). I think it should be torpedoed =D

  21. The beam in your eye, you ought to do something about it.

    The whole reason I pointed that out was to show how on a very basic level we don’t agree on what it means to be “conservative” and that by even very impoverished American standards Mormons by their own stated teachings. would likely not be considered “pro-life.”

  22. I agree, but the reason I stopped reading Orthosphere (except, obviously, once in a rare moon) was that as I became more Christian, I found the general level of mean-spirited uncharitability off-putting and uncomfortable. Previously I derived great enjoyment from reading essays about the general malaise of the Left and analyses of how to win back the culture, but now that I lead a more active prayer life I find that the usual diatribe against horrible leftist monsters and the resulting “I’m more Christian than you because…” discussion just makes me feel sad. And bored. I don’t need any help criticizing leftists or thinking badly of poorly-catechized nominal Christians. I do need help charitably loving, despite our ideological differences, my fellow brothers and sisters in our great big human family. I found this blog and others like it long on criticism and dry of charity. Don’t get me wrong, they were greatly influential in helping to lead me to follow Christ, and I think they have great merit. It’s just that once I began to follow Him I didn’t particularly feel the need to backtrack along the road already traveled.

    I’m a big supporter of the idea of a remnant, but contra Nock, the meaning of the remnant in Isaiah is not that they remain when everyone else is destroyed and thus inherit the New Jerusalem; the meaning of the remnant is that they remain devoted to God when everyone else is turning away. It is not what you are left with when everything else is over that matters, but what you do while everything around you is falling apart. What we need is a few solid, reliable men here and there, not to catalyze some millenialist post-diluvian repopulation of the social order, but because being solid, reliable men is what we are called to do by Christ.

    • This comment is interesting, and I think it points to an inherent problem with Christianity and blogging. Blogging is an intensely worldly form of writing, not to mention distinctly unloving. There is nothing to prevent one from posting a meditation on eternity on the internet, but I, for one, do not log on to read such a thing. I log on to “catch up with the world,” which I fear has outpaced me while I slept, not to turn my eyes away from the world. And there can be no doubt that the internet is, above all else, a great smorgasbord of delicious anger, indignation, and resentment. As Chevalier de Johnstone writes, none of this is spiritually wholesome or conducive to charity.

      I think we should individually restrict our intake of internet discourse, and periodically fast entirely. In an anti-Christian culture, Christians are necessarily culture warriors; but being culture warriors is not sufficient to make them Christians. And it is possible to indulge in a great deal of wrath and pride if one believes that one is fighting on the side of the angels.

      With that said, I think Christian apologists are at their best when their writing proceeds from the wire brush principle. There is a great deal of filth in this world and it’s not going to yield to a polishing cloth. This is, in fact, our tradition, as anyone flipping through the New Testament will discover. There one finds plenty of “hard sayings” delivered in unequivocal, one might even say brusk, language. Sinners are forgiven, but they are not excused. Charity is enjoined, but it is not sentimentalized. Peace is given, but not for free.

      The walls of Christendom must be manned, and the men who man them must be armed, but no man should spend all of his time on the walls. As Chevalier de Johnstone suggests, each of us should regularly retire to the chapel.

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