The Verdict of Paris

I’d been thinking I ought to post something about the massacre in Paris last weekend but without knowing quite what. Then today I realized that I had already posted on the subject, *before it even happened.* In On the Delicacy of Civilization, I distinguished in passing between crimes *within* a civilization and attacks upon it from without. Like market failure, crime is a vice and weakness of civilization. It may redound to civil death, but such deaths are endogenous, analogous therefore to kidney failure, cancer, or heart disease. In a sense, such deaths are processes of civilization.

An attack from without is more like … well, like an attack on a person, than it is like a disease. Diseases make attacks more likely, insofar as they are evident in outward weakness, as is usually the case with disease. But they don’t cause the attack; they rather only reduce its apparent cost to the attacker, thus inclining him more to attack.

As I pointed out in that post, any high civilization organized on the basis of a supposition that its denizens will not try to destroy it is quite vulnerable to sabotage at the hands of a fifth column of alien aggressors from another, antithetical civilization.

Among the galaxy of confusions evident in our leaders, the confusion between crime and attack is among the most important and often manifest. We hear always about “bringing terrorists to justice,” when justice ain’t in it. Such talk is confused, and confusing. One cannot but think that, the confusion being so very obtuse, it must be intentional, and tendentious.

Among all the things I might say about Paris, this only has not (so far as I know) been said already a thousand times: the attack in Paris. as being directed against the Power of the West, was directed *against the liberal order.* It is the liberal order that suffers from the attack. To the extent that it succeeded in jarring the liberal elite away from liberalism and toward a police state (Francois Hollande has already proposed some changes to the French Constitution), *it undermined liberalism.*

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On the Delicacy of Civilization

Civilization is amazingly robust so long as everyone in its ambit agrees in a commitment to its fundamental proposals. When everyone in Rome does as the Romans do, Rome is (within her own precincts at least) invincible. But when the phalanx breaks even a little, it tends to fall apart altogether.

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Christian, is the Unbeliever Your Enemy?

Short answer:  In one sense, no. In another sense, maybe. In yet another sense, definitely yes.


Mark Citadel, at his blog, posts an excellent essay Parallel Blueprint to Victory. In it he points to the successful colonization of parts of Western Europe by Muslims who reject their host societies, and he urges Christians to learn from their success.  This post is not an evaluation of Mr. Citadel’s entire essay, but a meditation on part of it: Are unbelievers our enemies?

Some quotes from Mr. Citadel:

The solution for us [traditionalists] is not much different from the solution that Muslim immigrants to Europe have exemplified.

We call this the ‘parallel society’. This is not the creation of a hermit kingdom, it is the creation of [an] entirely separate and hostile social system that runs alongside the main culture.

…this approach is much more openly hostile than the one which [Rod] Dreher espoused, and I would argue it is this aggressive nature that determines long-term stagnation or long-term victory.


Christians primarily need to start raising their children on two essential doctrines of this struggle.

1) You are Christian, you were born Christian, you will die Christian.

2) The world is not Christian. The world is your enemy.

[Emphasis in original.]

The key word for the present discussion is hostile. Since we are Christians, says Mr. Citadel, we should be hostile to those who are hostile to us. But to what extent are unbelievers our enemies? Continue reading

We Need an Ecumenical Council to Oppose Contemporary Heresies

The liberal revolution has smashed tradition and authority.  Throughout our nation the children are running amok. We need the fathers to step in and reestablish order.

The church is polluted by heresy like never before. Never before have heresies been so varied, so popular, and so powerful. These are not the “classical” heresies such as Arianism or Pelagianism, although these beliefs still have influence. Today’s popular heresies were created no more than a hundred years ago and they have no official heretical status. It’s time officially to stigmatize them as the dangerous heresies that they are.

We’ll define some of these heresies later but observe first that heretics such as Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland and Rob Bell are—from a worldly viewpoint—highly successful and influential. The smog they generate is polluting not only the church, but the cultures of entire nations. Although these heresies all originated in the United States, and within Protestantism, America’s powerful worldwide influence has spread them to all corners of the globe.

Therefore Catholics and the Orthodox should take note: the cultural smog emitted by the contemporary heretics affects you too. Heresy is an ecumenical menace.

And non-Christians should also take note. The contemporary heresies promise this-worldly peace and prosperity and Christians under their influence will not oppose the liberal jihad ravaging Western Civilization. They may even join it, seeking peace with the world so they can enjoy their lives. Heretical pseudo-Christianity is part of the problem, not the solution. By opposing these heresies we don’t just build up Christendom. We also oppose liberalism and help work toward a sane, traditionalist society.

These heresies originated within Protestantism and although it currently has no authorities that seem capable of enforcing a proper order (and this is apparently also true of Catholicism), Protestantism generally recognizes the authority of the Bible. There are pastors and teachers who would command widespread respect were they to issue an unambiguous statement, based on the authority of the Bible, opposing contemporary heresies.

We therefore put forward the idea of an ecumenical council of leaders of biblically-faithful Protestant congregations, denominations, and seminaries which would craft an official response to contemporary heresy. Such a council would have no power actually to defrock heretical pastors, but its unofficial influence could potentially be great. Heretics would be taken aback, and Bible-believing Christians would have an official response from the fathers of Protestantism giving them comfort and support in their battles with heresy. Continue reading

The Disastrous Recusal of the Western Patriarchate

When white males do wrong these days, everyone takes them to be responsible, and so culpable. Other sorts of perpetrators are almost always treated as themselves somehow victims, devoid of effective moral agency or ratiocination, unable to act rationally in service of the good, and thus essentially insane, chaotic, like a storm or a flood. Their crimes are wholly adventitious, “random attacks” that hurt someone “in the wrong place at the wrong time” because of essentially harmless youthful hijinks or a “botched crime” that would otherwise have been carried forward to a successful and unobjectionable conclusion. The crime then does not generate any moral guilt, but only the legal sort. Thus the sense among liberals of the injustice involved in incarcerating felons: they didn’t really do it, their environments did.

This is our clue to the fact that, despite the ruin of the ancient patriarchal system in the modern West, everyone still subconsciously thinks that only white males possess full moral agency. They feel that their own moral agency is derivative of the agency of white males, and as derivate is therefore but partial. Whatever their failures, then, or the defects in their lives, they blame on white males, whom they still apprehend as fundamentally in charge of the way things work. You can blame him only who has himself done wrong; and in the modern West only white males are understood as thus quite fully competent, and therefore culpable. The less that white males actually do, the more are they blamed for what happens. And lots of white males agree with this analysis; they hate and blame their own ilk just as much as everyone else does.

Almost everyone feels, in other words, that patriarchy is still in full effect. And they are hot with resentment at the patriarchs. They insist that the patriarchy must be overthrown, when they themselves have been in charge of things for fifty years or so, and the patriarchs have (almost) all recused the office of patriarch. Why?

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What is to be Done? Samizdat Classical Education

The most effective thing that we can still do to conserve our civilization is raise and educate our own children in the way that they should go. Shortly after the Orthosphere began operating in early 2012, I posted an item about the superiority of homeschooling. But what about middle and secondary school? What about college?

Two of our most luminous and percipient writers, both themselves professors – Anthony Esolen and Roger Scruton – have recently posted on these questions.

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Mere Reaction

Secular reaction can’t work. As Bruce Charlton pointed out yesterday, secular cultures must tend always leftward – i.e., toward chaos and death – because at bottom they are guided and governed by disordered passions and desires, and so furthermore are careless of their danger. This will be as true of their noblest exponents and leaders as of their common folk. And we won’t be able to persuade a whole people that the first principles of their secular society are insane using only secular arguments. To sway them, we’ll have to put the fear of God into them. And we can’t give them what we don’t ourselves possess.  Continue reading

The Great Metaphysical Heresies

The Great Christian Heresies crop up again and again, and the Church will probably have to deal with them all the way out to the eschaton. They tempt the mind because they are simply easier to take on board than many of the most difficult and mysterious Christian doctrines, such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atonement. Being easier to make sense of, they seem to make more sense. And they all start from, and partake of, some kernel of theological truth. This too increases their credibility. But they are all errors.

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Why Modern Authorities are (Generally) Dishonest Manipulators

[This will not be news to most Orthosphere readers, but we need clear statements of basic principles to educate the young.]

Not all authorities are dishonest manipulators, of course, but the higher their rank, the more dishonest and manipulative they tend to be. And this is not just an unfortunate fluke. In the modern world authorities have to be manipulators. They have no real authority but they must somehow establish and maintain order, so manipulation is usually their only recourse.


A bit of history: Until modern times (roughly, before the end of World War I), most people made most of their important decisions based largely on tradition and authority. “Tradition” means the ways of thinking and living they inherited from their ancestors, and “authority” means the teachings and the commands of people such as lords, kings, pastors and teachers. Tradition and the authorities were recognized as having the right to answer the important questions of life and to tell us, in broad terms, how we ought to live.

But now, thanks to the successful liberal takeover of the West, tradition and authority are greatly diminished.  The liberal jihad fights, in large part, under the banner of personal freedom, and in the modern world we are all supposed to be autonomous, self-actualizing freedmen who accept no authority not freely chosen and who are liberated from the tyranny of tradition. Continue reading