No Flood Needed This Time Around

Birth rates are plummeting globally, so that even in countries where fertility is above replacement, it soon won’t be. In 150 years or so, the only people around will be religious conservatives, because other sorts of people with looser morals aren’t reproducing (thanks to the Pill, and all its knock-on social and economic effects, noticed in this video).

We have to step back and realize that what is happening to man right now is a pervasive and radical winnowing, comparable almost to the Flood. It’s natural selection at work, weeding out liberalism from the gene pool, and via co-evolution from the meme pool.  Put another way, liberalism is a lethal intellectual mutation. Whether it takes 50 years, or 1,000, liberalism is doomed, because it is at war with reality. Not only is it not nice to fool Mother Nature, it can never, ever be done in the first place. The Logos of the world is not mocked, no matter how amusing our petty pranks at his expense seem to us.

Fortunately for those who are deleting their own ilk from the world’s future, this winnowing may not involve catastrophic war, plague, or economic collapse. The autophagy of liberalism need not destroy civilization in the process. Civilization, even the West, might just squeak through and prevail in the end, preserving some of the best bits of what it has so far achieved. We might get through this winnowing with very little pain and suffering: no mass death, just a series of successively smaller, successively more traditional generations, as liberals die off after long, entertaining, meaningless lives.

The nature of solidarity: Donoso Cortes vs. the socialists

The nineteenth-century Spanish reactionary Juan Donoso Cortes occupies an intriguing place
in the history of Reaction. His critique of liberalism is distinctly theological; he grounds all his social principles in Christian doctrine: the nature of the Trinity, its manifestations in creation, mankind’s collective Fall, and its collective redemption. In some ways, he anticipates the Christian communitarians and Radical Orthodoxy schools of our own time. Unlike them, he was tied to an actual, living traditional society, and he defends kings, hereditary aristocracies, Catholic establishment, and many other things that would cause today’s communitarians to faint from fear.

Throne & Altar reader William McEnaney has kindly sent me a copy of Dononso’s main work, his Essay on Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism. Bill works with Preserving Christian Publications, a small business that sells out-of-print pre-conciliar Catholic books. I would be pleased for such ventures to flourish and so am happy to offer this bit of free advertising.  What follows will be an exploration of one key theme in Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism.

Writing in 1851, Donoso saw the great issue of his age as an ultimately theological battle between Catholicism and socialism. Catholicism had dignified both authority and obedience by locating the former’s source in God. Even the legitimate authority of fathers (as opposed to their mere primacy of age and power) is explicable primarily through the Trinitarian relation it reflects. Alongside the family and state, Catholicism fosters a vast network of associations, each embodying it its own way the fundamental law of unity-in-diversity rooted in the Trinitarian heart of Being. Socialism would destroy all of this, reducing the order of mankind to a vast and unitary yet illegitimate statist tyranny.

In the twentieth century, all of this would be explained in terms of the supposed Catholic principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. As you’ve often heard the story, the Left basically owns solidarity, and Catholics criticize Leftists only for neglecting the second principle of subsidiarity, a vague council to–all other things being equal–favor small and local agency. This is inadequate for a number of reasons.  Donoso gets to the real heart of the matter. What’s wrong with socialism is not that it is solidarity unchecked; socialism is solidarity denied, misunderstood, reduced to a shadow of its true self. The socialist believes in solidarity too little, rather than too much.

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Socrates, Techno-Speak, and Similar Issues

I have some new or newish pieces up on the current regime and how to fight it. There’s one just out at Crisis Magazine about how bad ideological pluralism is (for starters, it’s a particular system of social control that obviously can’t be pluralistic). There are also a couple at Catholic World Report about why the Church can’t use modern public language to speak to modern man (it’s a sort of technological Newspeak), and about Socratic questioning as a way to disrupt the flow of sophistical patter. And then there’s a piece published at Crisis Magazine during Lent about how to how to be a bit more Lenten if you happen to be a political ranter.

Monarchy and the common good

Father Edmund Waldstein has posted some excellent writings explaining the pre-modern (classical and Christian) view of politcs and defending it from its ill-informed liberal detractors.  I particularly recommend them to Orthosphere readers, even though I know by now you’ve all heard plenty of arguments against modern autonomy-worship, because Waldstein bases himself on an understanding of the common good that, although a part of our philosophical patrimony, has been all but forgotten.  To sum it up

the human good is a participation in a higher, divine good. Thus our good exists not principally in our selves, but principally in the divine realm, and secondarily in ourselves. The divine good is more our own good than the good which exists in our own souls.

the community of men reflects God more than an individual man just as the universe reflects Him more perfectly than any one creature. Recall what I said about participation a moment ago: my own good exists more in the divine than in my individual existence; a corollary can now be seen: the common good, the order of the community, is more my good than any private good of mine. The common good of order or peace is common in fullest sense of the word: all the members of the community share it without it being divided or lessened by this sharing. Thus the common good is not merely a useful good; it is not merely the conditions that enable individuals to get what they want, it is the best good that individuals can have, it is that in which they find their happiness.

By the way, Waldstein is guided on this subject by the work of early twentieth-century Thomist philosopher Charles De Koninck, whose writings are one of those many Catholic intellectual resources that seem to have been thrown out and forgotten during the post-Vatican II deluge.

Freedom and Tolerance

Zipppy and Franklin have been having it out in the discussion thread here.

Representative quote from Franklin:

 Zippy, I support your right to live without freedom if that is what you prefer. I support the right of people to live under whatever kind of culture they want. If you want a king, fine. If you want communism, fine. Just don’t impose your culture on me. The real difference between traditionalism and liberalism is that there are many different traditions and real traditionalism recognizes this and respects the rights of people to organize themselves around their own traditions.

 

Representative quote from Zippy:

It isn’t just my theoretical understanding of liberalism that makes “live and let live” classical liberalism (which you oddly label “traditionalism”) seem utopian and counterfactual. The actual track record of liberalism in the real world suggests otherwise too.

My response:

The modern condition is uncanny, and therefore accurate comparisons with the past can be difficult to make. In the past, man was less free in many ways, and more free in many ways. The modern man is—with certain glaring exceptions noted—more free in the non-physical realm, where he can generally choose his own epistemology, his own ethics and even his own metaphysics without lifting any eyebrows, but he cannot choose to install incandescent lightbulbs, to develop his land, or to hire whomever he wants. And, most importantly, he is not free to live well on account of living in a properly-ordered society.

Liberalism offers freedom, and it delivers a lot of it, but it fails to deliver what man needs most: order.

I side more with Zippy than with Franklin. A great nation needs a great purpose, not just a “live and let live” spirit. Moreover, tradition is to be valued because it connects us with truth, not just because it is our way.

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You need to be a Traditionalist Conservative

Introduction for the Orthosphere

I’ve been trying to perfect our basic recruitment poster. On the one hand, it’s hopelessly gauche to tell people that they ought to believe water is wet and pain hurts. On the other hand, the Rulers of the Modern World tell everybody that water is dry and that pain feels good, so somebody has to make a sales pitch for truth.

The other basic problem is that the Rulers lie about almost everything important, so it is tedious actually to correct all their lies. To keep the appeal brief enough to be appealing, I must speak in generalities.

Regular readers know that I tend to be verbose, especially on this subject. This post contains fewer than two thousand words, including these.

You need to be a Traditionalist Conservative

The modern world, the world in which you and I live, doesn’t work. It’s fundamentally broken.

To be sure, there is also much good in the world. Enough good that the world’s brokenness is often masked. But we cannot just ignore the bad. Indeed, the good serves to highlight the bad, and to serve as a hint of how we can oppose the bad.

You can sense the fundamental disorder of the world even if you cannot say in words just what is wrong. This is especially true if, like me, you are old enough to know how the world used to be ordered. Our ancestors lived under much better social orders, even though there has always been much wrong with mankind. In recent decades, though, Western Civilization has begun to unravel in a fundamental way not seen at least since the fall of the Roman Empire, and in many ways the unravelling is unprecedented. This unravelling is largely self-caused, as modern man has deliberately chosen to reject truth, goodness and beauty. Continue reading

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.

Important Essay by Eric L. Gans

In the latest of his ongoing Chronicles of Love and Resentment at the Anthropoetics website, Eric L. Gans discusses the evolution of resentment since the Middle Ages and shows the relation of a debased type of resentment to the reigning victimocracy. Gans argues that only a revival of the concept of sin can deliver us from the galloping totalitarianism of the victim-mentality. I strongly recommend the essay to Orthosphereans.  The link is here: http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/views/vw457.htm

Gulenism, Opus Dei, and the Mormons

Suppose you were a wise, religious man living a century or two ago.  You see that modernity is here and that it will not be stopped.   You see the walls of civilization bowing, cracking, groaning before it.  You see pitiless, red eyes searching out enemies.  You see its thirst for fire and steel.  You see purity surrendering to its overripe sensuality.  What do you do?

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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?

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