Good Laws are Few

Laura Wood writes:

… it is precisely because this revolution [of homosexual “marriage”] is not the success it appears to be that it must be accompanied by tyrannical measures. That’s the way it must be. The more society diverges from the Natural Law, the more oppressive it must become.

Or – to turn raw naïve libertarianism on its head, and so distinguish it from tradition in such a way as to show whence it comes, and where it ought properly to tend – that government is least which governs best.

A sovereign cannot attain the sum of good government by recusing himself from all rule, for man is wayward and short-sighted, and so needs law to guide him more quickly and easily toward the destination that nature and her God tend anyway to push him. But if his laws accord with Nature and her Laws, the sovereign won’t need very many of them to get the job done (or therefore many police, judges, or prisons), and nor will anyone feel particularly oppressed or troubled by them, because they will after all only help men discover that comfort of moral and practical agreement with reality which they naturally seek. A good law, that agrees with human nature, is no more troublesome to men, and no harder to enforce, than the convention that everyone should drive on the right side of the road. It is only bad law – law that tries to push men to act in ways that under Heaven they ought not to act, and which their natures therefore resist – that fails to govern them the way that it would, and so needs ever more laws, ever more police, and ever stiffer punishments. In the limit, you get persecution over microaggressions: utter totalitarian tyranny.

Sacrifice Manufactures Society

The hunter has paid for his kill, by his excellence, his effort, his diligence in training and attention, his dedication and focus. Nevertheless it is the god who has given the kill to the hunter, by putting the prey in his way. In the excellence of the hunter and of his works is the way; the prey he finds in that way is from the god, and gratuitous, nowise earned. The hunter does not make the prey, after all, and cannot. All he can do is fit himself to the gift of it. He therefore stands in ontological debt to his divine benefactor (sometimes personified in and as the prey itself, often understood as an avatar or totem of the god). So the duteous, righteous hunter, who would that his own ways continued prosperous, is not proud, but rather gives back his kill to the god who sent it his way in the first place. Along with the effort he has expended in the hunt, and the excellence of his hunting (learned – earned – by arduous training to the mastery of his art), the sacrifice is partial payment for the hunter’s ontological debt.

It goes deeper. Like all his fellows, the hunter knows well and in his bones that he stands in irreparable debt to the god not just for the kill but for his own very being – and with it his capacity to pursue his way – which he cannot himself procure. As the hunter cannot create his prey, nor can he create himself. Everything, then, is owed to the god. So at the root and uttermost limit of sacrifice, the righteous man dedicates the whole of his own life and work to the god, and stands ready to make of himself the sacrifice, to the god and for his people, his flock.

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The Stupefying Boredom of Latter Day Public Life in the West

So it’s election season again in the US, and the press is all abuzz over the recent declarations of candidacy. Last time around, I still cared a bit, mostly out of habit I suppose. I liked Romney, who I think is a fundamentally decent man, and I was disappointed to see such a talented, intelligent and enterprising fellow rejected in favor of an inept fool like Obama. So I was interested to that extent. 

But Christian reaction had by then so permeated my being that I knew the only difference the election might possibly make is that of a few percentage points in my federal tax rate. Not that those percentages are unimportant, for they are, and the welfare of millions hangs upon them; but thanks to the mind-boggling deficits of the first four Obama years, they are upward bound, for the foreseeable future, almost no matter what. Obama spent so much money that no future administration is going to be able to cut taxes. Obama has eliminated all room for such maneuvers. It’s a genius move, albeit not the move of a genius. 

Evil is fundamentally stupid. You can be ingeniously evil, but to be evil in the first place is stupid. E.g., you can devise a brilliant plan to rob a bank, but robbing a bank is an essentially stupid thing to do. 

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Nominalism on Steroids

If as the libertines insist sex has no inherent meaning of its own regardless of what we might think, then it can mean “only” whatever we happen to think. Say with modernity that it were so. In the first place, then, a sexual act that had been at first understood by the participants as agreeable, and indeed urgently desired by all of them, might later be understood retrospectively by one or another as rape (or vice versa, for that matter); and no assessment of its sexual meaning at any time, by any one, could be rightly construed as in any sense true. But in the second, the inherent meaninglessness of the sexual act would entail the utter vacuity of the term “rape,” as denoting a peculiarly sexual crime. Rape would then be an empty category, and reduce to the more basic, asexual category  of assault.

But assault is likewise vulnerable to a similar nominalist reduction to morally meaningless contact: not inherently problematic, but only subjectively so. I.e., not really problematic at all. It’s just atoms meaninglessly hurrying about, nothing more.

Under a nominalist epistemology, no juridical procedure then can ever arrive at a verdict that can be properly characterized as such – as, literally, a true speech (vere dictum). If there’s no truth about acts in the first place, such truths cannot be apprehended or spoken of, nor therefore may there be any justice done about them. But if justice be impossible, so is society. All that is then available to us from each other is war.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Living Beyond the Pale

Back when the West was sane, egregious transgressors of the traditional customs of the city were exiled to the wilderness beyond the pale – i.e., beyond the palisade (of poles, or pales, or piles) that walled the settlement, and constituted it a polis. The worst of them were also bewildered – led deep into the forest blindfolded and lightly bound, so that when they finally struggled free they would be hopelessly lost (criminals were of course just killed).

Nowadays we all live among a people who have as one body ventured forth without the pale, bound and bewildered themselves.

Our problem, then, at least severally, is to loosen our bonds, tear off our blindfolds, and find our way back to the city. But as we do so, we must be careful not to arouse too much notice from the tyrants who have emptied the town and loudly howled to attract the wolves, or they shall kill us as dangerous traitors. We must just disappear from amongst them, as if we had been eaten.

Joseph Shaw on the Eich affair

If you hadn’t heard, Brendan Eich, CEO of Mozilla, resigned after an uproar about a modest donation he made in support of an anti-gay marriage referendum (which passed!) six years ago in California. The ostensibly-right-wing response to this was as anemic and ineffective as it is to everything else; they objected that liberals were behaving illiberally, exhibiting intolerance, silencing free speech, etc. Libertarian useful idiot Nick Gillespie went so far as to generously qualify his “ambivalent” feelings about Eich’s resignation by adding that it was a clear case of the market responding to consumer signals (presumably he is either ignorant or lying about the fact that these “signals” are deliberately coordinated by the government).

Now, non-liberals accusing liberals of illiberalism for demanding the resignation of a “homophobe” strikes me as being rather like atheists berating Christians for being “un-Christian” on account of their not hugging half-naked gay men in public with sufficient enthusiasm. It’s worse than incorrect, it’s hubristic for the average non-liberal (which, yes, excludes present company) to imagine that he somehow intuits the demands of liberalism better than those who are psychologically and socially conformed to it. Most of them aren’t exactly free thinkers: if liberalism demanded differently of them, they’d do differently. But it doesn’t, so they don’t.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen, instead, to Joseph Shaw, who chimes in with an excellent four-part series (one, two, three, and four) on the futility of non-liberals trying to restrain leftist excesses while operating within the leftist consensus — a futility which arises from the non-liberals’ own failure to fully comprehend the monster they’re dealing with. He also has some useful conclusions: namely, quit acting as if liberalism is the only intellectual game in town.

Go check it out.

Hammer-and-nails Christians

Be ye followers of me, brethren, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ; Whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things.

— Philippians 3:17-19

Surely you’ve heard the news of a few legislative attempts to prevent entrepreneurs from being legally harrased into material complicity with evil by servicing gay “weddings” — gay “weddings” which, mind you, are not even legally recognized in many of those states (yet).

That’s not especially alarming, or new, anyway; the free and equal new man cannot tolerate any restrictions on his liberty, even those imposed by the mere existence of the reactionary untermenschen who periodically crawl out of the sewer to contradict him. What alarms me is the extent to which Christians have thrown in with this particular anti-Crusade. In the last three days I have personally dealt with the libels of no less than three Christians, at least one of them an ostensibly “good” Catholic, daring to claim that a Christian baker refusing on principle to bake a cake for a gay “wedding” is morally deficient and contrary to Christian love; and my girlfriend (at least as fierce as me, but nowhere near as accustomed to leftist vitriol) has had to deal with several more, to her great distress. (Get it? You can’t “judge” — i.e., not be 100% on board with — sodomites for what they publicly and repeatedly say and do, but you can surely read and know the hearts of far-away small-business bakery owners on the basis of third-hand reports of their conversations.)

Let us be clear; if your position is that the “love” which we mean when we say “God is love” or “God so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son” obliges you to sell needles to heroin addicts or to let children eat sugary cereal for every meal, then you are setting yourself against the plain letter of Scripture, the unanimous witness of Christian history, and the dictates of basic human reason. If your position requires you to view faithful Christians as crucifying Pharisees and aggressive, unrepentant sodomites as the hapless sinners who dined with Christ, then you have got absolutely everything backwards. If your position is that the Constitutional-rendering-of-the-moment has higher Magisterial status than the unbroken opinion of all saintly Christians for all of time everywhere, then maybe you should replace that little metal cross hanging around your neck with a stylized hammer and nails.

“Th’expense of Spirit… is Lust in Action”

The following is part of an essay on Eric Voegelin that I published about a decade ago at another website.  The topic in the section that I repost here is Gnostic extremism.  In light of the DOMA decision and other items recently in the news, the discussion seems relevant. –

When the differentiated, fully transcendent God—either Plato’s God beyond the gods in Phaedrus or “The Father” to whom Jesus refers in the evangelists—breaks into reality the articulation of the breakthrough inclines no less than any other idea to false objectification, to a discourse of propositions to be endorsed or refuted and of things in the social fabric that one might alter, rearrange, or eliminate. As Voegelin carefully notes, however, not only is “existence… not a fact,” but “if anything, existence is the nonfact of a disturbing movement in the In-Between of ignorance and knowledge, of time and timelessness… and ultimately of life and death.”

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Freedom, value, and the modern left

Over at What’s Wrong with the World, Tony M. reports that a former APA head claims to have cured hundreds of homosexuals of their disordered desires. The Southern Poverty Law Center is up in arms, of course, which prompted this remark from commenter “Thomas Aquinas”:

Odd though that if a man goes to a plastic surgeon and permits the physician to carve him up and inject him with hormones so that he may look like a girl, even though he is in fact not a girl, we have to all pretend that he is a girl, or face severe punishment. On the other hand, if that same man were a homosexual, sought treatment to change his condition, and then claims to have succeeded after many years of arduous discipline, this is supposed to be an assault upon reason itself. In fact, we have to publicly deny what he and he alone can know, that he has in fact changed. In the case of the transgender, we have to all affirm what all of us can plainly know is false: you can no more make a girl out of boy than you can make a dolphin out a thalidomide baby.

So what’s the deal? Why do leftists celebrate the free choice of certain classes of people to sodomize one another or mutilate their own genitals, but not the free choice of those same people to remain celibate or seek treatment?

All of us reactionaries know that freedom and value are in some tension, in the sense that our values tend to restrict our freedom of action. For instance, a man who values marriage will find that this valuation restricts his freedom of sexual action by obliging him to remain faithful and chaste. In a properly-ordered society, freedom would, in fact, not be terribly important, concerning mainly prudential judgments (“Should I become a husband and father or a celibate priest?”) and arbitrary preferences (“Should I stop for lunch at McDonald’s or Burger King?”).

The leftist inverts this (and most other things) by subordinating values to freedom. To the extent that values restrict freedom, then, they must be deformed or destroyed, the better to liberate us from their shackles. Hence no-fault divorce laws, readily available and publicly financed abortions and contraception, gay “marriage,” open marriages, and every other innovation which destroys the value of marriage. They probably won’t abolish marriage outright, of course, and people can stay “married” if they like. But that’s the only reason they’re allowed to marry and to stay married: because they like it, not because they value it, and certainly not because it is objectively valuable.

Because value and freedom are in conflict, to the leftist mind, it is not enough to freely choose to do a thing. The choice to do a thing cannot be value-motivated, cannot be anything more than an arbitrary exercise of the utterly sovereign will, or else it is not truly free. The distressed homosexual who seeks treatment or opts for lifelong celibacy may be making a choice, but his choice (to the leftist’s horror) involves the endorsement of a value system and thus the denial of freedom-as-the-highest-good. They are freely choosing not-freedom — and this choice, in the leftist worldview, is one they are not free to make.