The Restless Heart of Darkness – Part One

I had an insight recently, one of those Archimedes-sloshes-the-bath moments where a great mass of otherwise disorganized observations and rules-of-thumb suddenly fell into a pattern as neat as a periodic table. It is no doubt something many thinkers have seen and discussed erenow, but this was the first time I saw it, and to me it was a new as a young man’s first infatuation, as new as spring.

The insight occurred during a three discussions with fellow writers for whom I have enormous respect, but whose ideas I condemn as misleading, deceptive, even poisonous. (If you wonder one can respect a man whose ideas you loathe, imagine being a mother whose child grows up to be a drug addict, or a sexual pervert, or demon-possessed. The greater her love for the child, the deeper her hatred of the addiction, perversion, or possession enslaving him.)

At the risk of giving away the surprise ending (which, honestly, I suppose is not a surprise to anyone but me) I realized why it is that the current mainstream modern thought, despite its illogical and pointless nature, is so persistent, nay, so desperate.

I realized why they never admit they are wrong no matter how obvious the error, nor can they compromise, nor hold a rational discussion, nor a polite one, nor can they restrain themselves. They can neither win nor surrender.

I realized why their hearts were so restless.  It is obvious once one sees it.

No doubt I should explain first why this was such a puzzle to me.

THE NAMELESS DARKNESS

There is a certain darkness slowly absorbing ever more of the intellectual life in the West which seeks, for various reasons, to remove the common morality of mankind from our souls, to deaden normal and natural emotions and passions, to break up the family, to abolish honest and human sentiments, patriotism and gratitude among them, to abolish a belief in objective truth, to abolish love of beauty, to abolish all passion for virtue, to kill God, and, in sum, to abolish everything that makes us truly human.

By mainstream modern thought, I that unnamed general tendency which, in politics, is totalitarian; in economics, socialist; in morals, libertine, decadent and perverted. In art, this nameless drift of modern thought adores ugliness and distortion; and favors aborticide and euthanasia and holds human choice to be absolutely sacrosanct, but not human life; in epistemology, the drift of modern thought is mystical.

Modern thought oddly claims to be scientific and to rely on the certainty of empiricism, but in fact takes everything on authority, and on anonymous authority at that.

Anonymous means no modern man would dream of discovering the qualifications of the members of the UN panel on climate change, nor has modern man any impulse to question the findings of bribed bureaucrats or political appointees drawing conclusions about the relative dangers of DDT. The modern man is ironically proud of skepticism, but has no ability to question the authority of experts utterly nameless, utterly faceless, utterly immune from question or contradiction. The Middle Ages, taking on faith some dogma decided at the Council of Ephesus, would know the name of the defenders of the faith, and the heretic had their names affixed to their beliefs; and the dogma were all carefully written down, not merely a drift of opinion.

In ontology, the modern drift is subjectivist; in language, moderns are nominalists and magicians, believing words have the power to mold thought and perhaps change reality; in metaphysics, moderns are materialists.

Obviously these various principles contradict each other (one cannot be a materialist and a nominalist, for example) but modern thought takes no account one way or the other about logic.

Obviously again, no one person could consistently believe these various principles, or live up to (or down to) the vices these principles demand. Ergo the partisans of this nameless modern drift are hypocrites because their worldview makes hypocrisy inevitable; they accuse others of being hypocrites, because accusation is their sole weapon and sole defense.

Being without a sense of the objective nature of reality, they are without a belief in objective morals. Being without a belief in objective morals, they lack honor, and, lacking honor, they lack courage, lack decency, lack courtesy.

Hence, their one, sole and only means of discussing their principles in debate is to accuse whomever dares question them of any and every thing they think evil: they call normal people stupid and evil and heartless, bigoted and racist and fascist and thisist and thatist.

The content of the accusation does not matter, only the relief of being able to accuse, and accuse, and accuse.

Their only consistent principle — a principle never admitted, of course, but obvious in their every manifesto — is the Unreality Principle, which holds that it is better and braver to believe in make-believe than in real reality. The more unreal the belief, the less based on fact, the more open the self contradiction, the greater the power of will and nobility of spirit needed to believe it, and hence the greatest applause from the modern mind is reserved to those of their number that believe the most unreal and unrealistic things. And yet, with typical unselfaware modern irony, they call themselves the reality-based community.

In sum, their philosophy consists of the single principle that no philosophy is valid. Their ethics consist of a single precept that making ethical judgments is ‘judgmental’ that is, ethically wrong. Their economic theory, socialism, consists of an arrogant denial that the laws of economics apply to economic phenomena. Their theory of psychology says that men do not have free will, because cause and effect is absolute; their theory of metaphysics is that subatomic particles do have free will, because cause and effect is statistical, approximate, uncertain, incomplete, and illusory. And on and on. All their thought is one self-refuting statement after another.

Philosophically, theologically and morally, the modern mindset is an end-state. Once a man has utterly rejected reason, he cannot reason himself to another conclusion. Once he has rejected morality, he has no sense of honor to compel him to live up to a philosophy more demanding than narrow selfishness.

Again, once he has rejected the authority of tradition, so that his one precept is to ignore all precepts of his teachers, he has no motive and no way to pass along to the next generation this selfsame precept, for he then is himself a teacher teaching them to ignore all teachers. And so on.

It must eventually destroy itself. It will contracept and abort its children out of existence, if nothing else.

NAMING THE NAMELESS

This movement goes by many names, all of them misleading. Any name that ceases to mislead is dropped, and another misleading name adopted, so no name is permanent. Liberal they call themselves, albeit they diminish liberty, and Progressive they call themselves, but they retard or reverse progress. Political Correctness is the least misleading of the names, and hence the one least likely to be used or admitted. They call themselves Freethinkers, but they think like slaves.

Technically, they are a variant of a heresy called Gnosticism, that is, a deviation or corruption of Christian thought which holds that superior secret knowledge, not faith, is sufficient for salvation. They retain enough of Christian thought, such as compassion for the poor, or a belief in equality in the eyes of God, to appeal to the hearts of the gullible (for even the most gullible is not moved by merely an appeal to self-centeredness) but they reject the sovereignty of God, or even the existence of God, and most reject the significance of any spiritual dimension to reality, or reject the existence of the spirit. The parallels to Gnosticism are many, but the most obvious is the principle of rebellion against every aspect of the world-system. In the ancient Gnostic, this meant rebellion against the Demiurge or world-creator; in the modern Gnostic it means rebellion against the establishment, the social order, the civilization, all rules and all customs. There is some promise of a Pleorma in ancient Gnosticism to justify the destruction of the current world; likewise, there is some vague hint of a promise of a utopia, or at least an improvement, to justify the destruction brought by protests, riots, convulsions and radical transformations of all long standing law and custom.

What they actually are is blind souls lost in a fog of hazy ideas and soggy sentimentality and howlingly angry self-righteousness with no logic and no fixed purpose, but one fixed enemy that they likewise never name. His name is Christ.

For the purpose of this essay, I will interchangeably call them ‘Progressives’ or ‘Abolishers of Man’.

THE FOUR WORLDS

The so-called progress of the Progressives at first seems in the direction of greater liberty. In truth, it is the progress of corruption, and does not follow any particular order or pattern.

There are four stages of corruption, each one an over-reaction to the stage before. But no one man passes from one to the next to the next in a simple or predictable order. The ship of each man’s soul sails whereso his restless thought blows; but we can define the ports where restless thoughts find harbor.

These are not even schools of thought, but families of schools of thought, each with countless variations. Each should be thought of as a world, a complete explanation of every basic question of life, a world-view to which a man can devote himself for a lifetime. But none are entirely satisfying, for reasons that will become clear. I describe them below in roughly the order they appeared in history.

The first stage is Worldliness. This is the legacy of the Enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau and Voltaire and Thomas Paine. The Worldly Man diminishes the importance of the Church, seeks disestablishment, and promises that all men of any denomination will be able to live together in peace provided all religious activity is a matter of private conscience rather than public organization. Why this promise was kept in the United States after their revolution but broke in France after hers is a discussion too deep to breach here. Without the guidance of the Church, the denominations fragment into ever smaller groups, and eventually lose the ability to guide public policy. Again, this did not happen until my generation in America, but it happened a generation earlier in Europe.

Capitalism and political liberty become the agreed-upon highest principles of the social order: each man is secure in his rights, especially property rights, if he respects the rights of others: thrift, industry, honesty in dealings, reliability, productivity, and so on replace the ancient virtues of faith, hope and charity in the limelight of public imagination. Most Worldly Men are deeply religious in private life; indeed, worldliness cannot long endure without a solid foundation of Christian tradition to feed and sustain it. In the last few years in America, the foundation is exhausted, and the public routinely condemns Christianity as vile, and denounces all faithful Christians as bigots. See the recent debacles concerning Chik-Fil-A, Duck Dynasty, Orson Scott Card, and Mel Gibson’s THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.

The second stage is Ideology. Man’s soul cannot long endure without a superhuman purpose to which to devote himself. If Christ and His kingdom is no longer available, man invents various chimerical utopias or causes or callings to take the place of the New Jerusalem. The most famous and most successful, while at the same time the most illogical and bloodthirsty, is, of course, Marxism. However, the basic assumptions of Marxism underpin all Progressive thinking. Marx divided the world into the Elect and the Reprobate. The Reprobate are the sadistic oppressors. The Elect are the helpless victims. The Reprobate have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The Elect have no flaws whatsoever. The two are locked in a remorseless Darwinian struggle for survival at any cost, and the battle is one in which no quarter and no mercy is possible, and no negotiation has any purpose, save to win concessions from those gullible Reprobates who do not realize the deadly and implacable nature of the struggle.

This simple, nay, this idiotic black-and-white analysis can be fitted to any cause. Feminists see Males as the oppressors and women as victims. Greens see mankind as oppressors and nature as the victim. Race-baiters see Whites as oppressors and Blacks as victims.

Loyalty to the cause becomes the agreed-upon highest principle of the Ideologue. Truth and honor and honesty are jettisoned with unseemly haste and enthusiasm. Ideologues like telling lies. They love lying, and will lie even when it is counterproductive (see the Obamacare debacle for an example). The other virtues are offspring of this one virtue: the willingness to lie for the cause, to betray one’s family for the cause, to accuse the innocent for the cause, to riot for the cause, to shout down any opposition to the cause, replace the values of honesty, productivity and efficiency.

However, unlike the Worldly Man, the Ideologue is willing to sacrifice for a cause greater than himself. He can correctly despise the Worldly Man as worldly, even selfish. Despite that he is in reality less honest and less noble than the Worldly Man, the Ideologue feels more honest and more noble, because he has the zeal and fervor of a religion in his soul, despite that it is an atheist religion or antireligion. In some ways, this stage of corruption is healthier than the previous, for the criminal idiocy of the Ideologue is powered with the confidence of a true believer, whereas the common decency and common sense of the worldly man is powered only by the weak and self-condemning moral vacuum of selfishness.

The next corruption is Spiritualism, which throws off the materialistic worldliness of the Ideologue, and the weak and wavering ideals of the Worldly Men, and retreats into full-blown mysticism. The most popular forms of Spiritualism in the modern world was the blood-and-iron mysticism of the National Socialist Worker’s Party of Germany, known as the Nazis; but there were other variations, such as theosophy of Madame Blavatsky, the occultism of Crowley, the ideas of Blake or Shaw, and any number of modern New Age claptrap.

This is the point at which the corruption reaches incoherence because by the ineffable nature of mysticism, no definition of Spiritualism can be drawn. At most, one can notice some familiarities between some of the properties, such as a fascination with vegetarianism or reincarnation or homosexuality or pacifism, or an insistence on the universal nature of all religions. Spiritualism is syncretism, and seeks a synthesis of all world religions, provided only that Christianity is demeaned from its world-historical significance. For better or worse, the principle of individual and secret enlightenment which runs through spiritualism prevents them from forming a unified organization, except in the single case of the Nazis, where the political program, which was Socialism, trumped other considerations. The Nazis attempted to syncretize Christianity into their rather confused program not because (as has often been falsely said) they were friends of the Christians where Communists were not; it was because they were Spiritualists, whereas Communists were Ideologues. Spiritualists do not seek an intellectually coherent or satisfying picture of the universe.

Do not be deceived. Worldly Men seek not to destroy, but merely to privatize and de-emphasize the Church, as a danger to public peace and good order, or as an oppressor of private conscience. Far different is the Ideologue. Ideologues seek to destroy the Church by replacing it with an atheist socialist utopia, or perhaps with the goddess Reason as briefly appeared in the French Revolution.

On the other hand, like the Gnostics of old, the modern Spiritualist seeks to destroy the Church by incorporating parts of Christian teaching into an alien and antithetical philosophy. But those who worship Tashlan are no friend of Aslan, if you take my reference. Once Christ is merely one lightworker among many, along with Socrates and Buddha and Lao Tzu, Vespasian and Swedenborg and Edgar Cayce and Obama, then, by definition, he is not Christ at all.

The final corruption is Nihilism, which dismisses the delirious daydreams of the spiritualists with the same intense skepticism with which it rejects the hypocritical ideals of the Ideologues and the uninspiring pragmatism of the Worldlies. The best exemplars of nihilism are Nietzsche and Sartre.

Nihilism is the default metaphysical assumption of our current time. It says that there is no one truth applicable to all circumstances. Truth is relativistic, plastic, variable, inconstant.

Nihilism preaches that all philosophies are worthless, since they are ‘narratives’ that is, social myths or lies, instigated for the unseemly purpose of self-flattery, or for controlling the lower orders, or for some other hypocritical, false and unadmitted purpose: Never for the love of truth. The one thing the Nihilist believes to be absolutely true, that no one seeks truth for its own sake, or for any honest reason. He is the Cretan who says all Cretans are liars.

Unlike the ideologue, the Nihilist does not believe that tearing down one myth will reveal a truth beneath. It will reveal a void. Into this void any man can, by his willpower, establish the laws of reality as he sees fit. The motto of nihilism is ‘Believe in Yourself’ or ‘Embrace Your Own Truth.’ The only sin in the nihilist system is the attempt, even if peaceful, to persuade others that an objective standard of right and wrong exist.

Because of this, nihilism has only one enemy in the modern age. Ideology is not an enemy, because the Ideologue is true to his own truth. The Spiritualist is not an enemy, because he invents his own truth which happens to be ineffable. Nor is the Buddhist nor the Jew an enemy, because the Nihilism is compatible with Buddhism at least insofar as Buddhist rejection of life as an illusion is concerned, and the Jew seeks only to live according to laws and diet particular to his own people. Only Christianity is the foe. (Logically, Islam, which is a heresy of Christianity, should also be a foe, but the Islamic glorification of self destruction and their fanatical hatred of the West and all things Western endears them to the Nihilist.)

Nihilism has not won a complete victory yet, but its basic principles are assumed as the default in polite society.

THE PROMISE OF NOTHINGNESS

Once Nihilism wins, the only emotion left as socially acceptable in the heart of man is an insincere tolerance for the sins of others, and a vehement demand that other not merely tolerate, but actively approve, of his sins.

Once Nihilism wins, unfortunately, all if over. All informal social organizations require some level of unselfishness, civility, mutual trust, or civilized sentiment to operate. Once these are dismissed as illusions, or destroyed as enemies of whatever cause it is fashionable to support this season, then the only social organization left is the state, whose role it is to assign to single mothers the paternity payments from whatever victim can be found to pony up the cost of childrearing.

Now, obviously again, few or none of the moderns caught in the grip of this mindset have reached the logical end-point at which reversal or repentance is impossible. This is an end state that is the result of the philosophy carried to its logical extreme; but it is a philosophy that also rejects logic. Other nations are deeper in the grip of this neobarbarism than the United States, which is the last, best hope for mankind: but in recent years the culture seems to have redoubled its efforts to remain loyal to the nihilism of modern thought, despite that its failure rate and self-destructive nature is obvious even to the most casual observer.

What is their motive? Their motive is that they think that human nature stands between them and some higher good which they hope to get in return. They think human nature blocks the path to utopia. The utopia will open to the posthumans, once human sentiment and thought are abolished, and once men are not men.

The thing we are alleged to get in return for abolishing human nature changes it name. Some say it is equality, some call it social justice, some say it is peace, some say Utopia, some say an endless orgy, some say it is life without guilt but with immense self esteem, some say some other falsehood.

Since the price is our soul, hence our ability to crave or use the alleged good, whatever it is, offered in return, it does not matter what the offered reward might be. It is nothing. We are being asked to give up everything and get nothing in return.

What we are being asked to give up is only three things: first is faith in God, second is love for anything outside our precious rights which allow us to make demands on our neighbors, and third is our conscience, that sense of natural right and wrong which exists in potential in all men, and is awake in all decent men of all religions and all honest philosophies.

It cannot be made more obvious by an argument than by a simple statement that the surrender of the conscience, the sense of right and wrong, makes us no longer human in any real sense of the word.

We would become exactly what the Nihilists already think we are: animals of no more dignity than an ape, meat machines programmed by blind and pointless natural processes, computers suffering from the delusion that our selfhood is real.

With the final triumph of the philosophy of nihilistic hedonism, we would become demons of pride living only on pride, sucking on the worthless and dry husk of life, taking pleasure in nothing, hating ourselves, and hating all other life whatsoever, but hating the lives of children most of all. The current fanaticism pressuring women to kill their own precious and helpless babies  — their own, not even the babies belonging to a stranger! – is a precursor, a slight taste, of what nihilism promises.

But the seductive lure of nihilism is not merely the freedom from humanity and freedom from the chains of prudence and honor and self-respect, it also promises freedom from want (once Caesar is all powerful and you are his dependent for him to feed) and freedom from all war and all crime (one no one loves or wants anything, or has any human desires, or any point of view, or any religion, or any patriotism, or any family to protect, then there is no obvious source for any conflict, neither violent conflict nor differences of opinion.)

In a sense, the bargain Nihilism offers is merely a logical extension of the Worldly Man’s bargain by which the sectarian conflicts between Protestant and Catholic were extinguished in the common peace of the First Amendment in the United States. Namely, the violence between religions was quenched when no denomination was allowed to touch the levers of secular power. All parties agreed not to use the power of the law against each other, but to compete for the souls of men with the truth of their words and deeds alone. Then history erupted into two World Wars, followed by a deadly Cold War, and the world shivered in the shadow of promised global thermonuclear destruction. These wars were fought over political and economic theory, the placement of boundaries of nations or spheres of influence. The nihilist promises that once we realize that no political system, no economic theory, no nation and no influence is worth fighting over, all fighting will cease. It is the same logic again. If men no longer believe in God, they will never fight wars over religious issues. Likewise, if men no longer believe in ANYTHING, they will never fight wars over any issue whatever, and universal peace for all time will reign.

The only thing that is forbidden is expressing disapproval about any other man or his way of life. Since man is fallen, the only thing forbidden is to recognize that man is fallen, or to seek some mystic water to wash away the stain of sin. The only thing forbidden is to seek salvation.

THE ALLIANCE

Now the great question is, if the Ideologues hate the worldliness of the Worldly Man, and if the Spiritualists hate the atheism of the Ideologues, and likewise the Worldly Man hates the injustice and greed of the Ideologue and the fuzzy-headed nonsense of the Spiritualist, why do they all agree with the default assumption of the Nihilist that truth is private and faith in vain?

That is not what puzzled me. That is as obvious as the Sahara sun at noon at Summer solstice. Christ is critical of the Worldly Man, with his preoccupation with wealth and efficiency and his coldness to the poor.  Christ condemns the Ideologue for his pride and greed and general bloodthirstiness. Christ has no dealings with the various witches and wizards which comprise the Spiritualists, who cannot accept the shocking statement that He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. The witches insist that all the roads eventually lead to heaven, including the road paved with good intentions.

All parties in corruption agree that the Church is the enemy. Those who are not in open rebellion against Christ are at least in a position of discomfort, for they think that to speak or act in defense of Christ, or to rebuke slanders against Him, is in bad taste, is inappropriate, cannot be taught in public schools, cannot be said on public airwaves, and merely causes discontent and commotion in the public square. Those who are Christian in name only think Christ is a private matter, not to be discussed nor defended in public. The atheists among the Ideologues and the Witches among the Spiritualists have a guilt complex about rejecting and reviling the faith of their fathers, and are sickened when they look in the mirror and see themselves destroying Western Civilization, so they revile Christ either with the bellowing anger of a mad thing, or with the smirking, sneering, anonymous cowardice like that of a graffiti artist painting swastikas on Jewish headstones, but who runs away, giggling, at the sound of a footstep.

All parties differ only in degree and approach. They all like one part of the Christian teaching, but differ on which part. The worldly man says Christ established not one church, but many, and He meant religion to be a matter of private conscience only. He likes and will keep the teaching of Imago Dei, that all men are created equal. He will not keep the teaching that life on Earth is vanity, merely preparation for life in heaven, and that wealth is vain. The Ideologue like the teaching of common property as seen among the Apostles, and like compassion for the poor, will not keep the teaching that Christ is divine; the Spiritualist will not keep the teaching that there is but one Christ.

All parties are agreed on the one point. They are for the spirit of Antichrist.

THE PUZZLE

As I said, it was a great puzzle to me as to why anyone should so vehemently continue with this process of corruption. Logically the only thing for a nihilist to do, once he is convinced that nothing is real and nothing is worth enduring life to achieve, is find some pleasing method of suicide, perhaps an overdose of morphine during an orgy, and slay himself at once. If he is too uncourageous for the manly suicide of paganism, at least he can shut the hell up and leave the rest of us, the decent and sane people not obsessed with the terror of the void, to live our lives in decency and sanity. But no. The accusations never cease. The servants of the nothingness never tire. And they never shut up, and never stop shouting at us to shut up. What gives?

Our is not the first age to adore and support totalitarianism, but ours is the first to support totalitarianism in the name of liberty. Ours is not the first Dark Age, where ancient learning was lost; but ours is the first where ancient learning was lost not due to the collapse of civilization, but deliberately, willingly, purposefully, as if to bring about collapse.

Those who oppose this darkness and seek to preserve the sinking wreck of civilization, or even, by heaven’s aid, to float it again, the men of logic and reason, we are their enemies, and they hate us with an extravagant, absurd hatred and contempt. Meanwhile they are busily drilling holes in the deck in hopes of letting the water drain out.

And I suddenly realized why the soulless ones never stop drilling holes in the Titanic, no matter clear it is that the ice-choked water means death for us all. They have nothing else.

I will not impose upon the patience of the reader by listing everything that fell into place once this key thought unlocked the pattern to me. I will mention but the three discussions that provoked the thought in me.

FIRST DISCUSSION: Why are we still discussing this?

The first conversation concerned that neverending favorite topic among modern writers, how to write strong female characters.

Anyone unwise enough to be reading my journal for the past month is weary and overweary of my opinions on this boring topic, which I have flogged to death.

I will repeat them one more time here, just out of a sheer sense of impish perversity: I think female characters should be realistic and interesting if you are writing a realistic story, should be unrealistic and interesting if you are writing an unrealistic story, but in both cases should be interesting, because no one wants an uninteresting story.

By ‘realistic’ I mean feminine women characters; by ‘unrealistic’ I mean superheroine characters.

The conversation in this case was even more boring, because, as it turns out, the solution of making women characters willing and able to drink beer, kick ass, and blow up the Death Star as gallantly as a male character has fallen into disfavor as a type of tokenism.

The Progressives have been given strong female characters in every genre from detective novels to horror movies to space opera, but, to no one’s surprise but their own, this is not satisfactory. Now they want realistic superheroines, who are feminine but not feminine; the superheroines must be equal to men but not different from men and at the same time different from men, ever keeping in mind that all differences are signs of inequality.

So the female characters, to satisfy the demands of modern politics, cannot be a realistic heroine as Antigone, Penelope, Deborah, Vasilissa the Wise, Juliet Capulet or Natasha Rostova nor be an unrealistic superheroine as Buffy or Ripley or Supergirl.

The conversation then suggested that real feminist icons should be characters like Oracle, aka Batgirl, after she is paralyzed and consigned to a wheelchair. Or Buffy’s Mom who dies of a heart attack.

So a cripple and a dead single mom are the new icons of true womanhood. This, from persons who alleged themselves to be supporters of womankind.

The conversation about how to put strong female characters in stories is boring because it is a conversation, beneath its mask, about how to use stories not to serve virtue, truth and beauty, or even how to serve a well-crafted entertainment to a paying customer, but how to disguise propaganda to advance Progressive causes, that is, to advance the abolition of man.

The complaint was that making heroines too masculine suppressed the femininity of the heroines, and that THIS was now, suddenly, a sign of patriarchal oppression; whereas last season, making the heroines feminine was a sign of patriarchal oppression.

But the conversation turned an interesting corner, and asked why it was that the conversation on this topic is neverending. I mentioned only that the conversation was neverending because what was being asked of writers was logically absurd, due to the natural tendency of women toward femininity and the natural tendency of men toward masculinity, not to mention the natural tendency of the readers to admire and love manly men and womanly women as characters.

At this point, I was corrected, not as if I had offered an alternate opinion, but as if I had uttered a inexplicable and inexcusable mistake of certain and uncontested scientific fact, as socially awkward as believing the earth was flat: With a note of honest surprise, I was informed in a peremptory fashion that masculinity is cultural.

I do not think I laughed aloud, but I did call it nonsense.

Also, as if a flashbulb had ignited in my brain, I suddenly saw the source of the bitterness and discontent of the modern world.

The conversation on how to portray women can never come to an end as long as the modern idea of womanhood is unnatural. The feminists can never get what they want, because what they want is as impossible as a circular triangle.

By ‘feminine’ I mean all the characteristics of female genius feminists hate, namely, temperance, justice, prudence, fortitude, but also compassion, insight, loyalty, maidenly modesty and matronly dignity. Femininity means taking an indirect rather than a direct approach, being neither a braggart nor a whiner, being a support and sustenance, a healing and an inspiration. The female approach is to get you not only to do your chores but to WANT to do your chores; it is more concerned with motives than results. Femininity is a genius that turns children in adults and savage and shaggy bachelors into civilized and domesticated men. Femininity is delicate and fine. It means being damned sexy, which means being nubile, fertile, and fecund; and it means being romantic.

Feminists, at least as represented by their spokesmonsters, prefer women be aggressive, manly, boastful, foul-mouthed, ruthless, crude, cruel, whorish, shameless, sterile, selfish, and alone.

Feminists want women not only to be childless, but to kill their own helpless children in the womb with a bloodthirsty infanticial mania difficult to understand and impossible to overestimate. Feminists feel about the unborn the way Nazis felt about Jews. They blame the unborn for everything and promise that the Final Solution of Planned Non-Parenthood will solve everything. It seems more like a brain disease than a sober philosophical or political posture.

To those who object that feminism is nothing more than the proposal that women should be equal to men, I reply that since Married Women’s Property Act of 1882 and the Nineteenth Amendment of 1915, women have been equal in the eyes of the law to men. Few or none number the feminists who speak against the misogynistic inequality of Islam, or speak against the adultery of Bill Clinton, because so-called feminists these days are merely apparatchiks of the Democrat Party. When women’s rights clash with Progressive strategic or tactical goals, the modern feminist lifts no hand in defense of women’s rights, utters no word.

Whatever it may have been at one time, feminism is no longer the proposal that women should be equal to men. It is now the proposal that men are evil and women are helpless victims locked in a remorseless death-struggle for supremacy, and the only hope for women to prevail is totalitarianism in government, socialism in economics, political correctness in speech and thought, and the abolition of man.

But, of course, the abolition of man means the abolition of woman as well.

There is the same four steps involved.  First is the worldly philosophy, where the attempt of the suffragette begins as the perfectly reasonable and perfectly just demand that they be granted the vote.

Second, the worldly feminist becomes an ideologue. Feminism becomes a paranoid neurosis once the idea takes root that any source of difference between men and women is a lurking threat to equality, or a potential excuse to rob women of their rights. All differences are abolished and unisex is the order of the day.

Third, a retreat into mystical feminism, from paranoia to extreme gullibility, where women are told that full expressions of their womanhood include sexual liberation, including sex with strangers; and at the same time, all gallantry is sexual harassment, all men are rapists.

Finally, the paranoid neurosis and gullible neurosis falls into full blown screaming psychosis once the self-contradiction involved becomes clear (namely, the self contradiction of making women homogenous with men while preserving their unique feminine differences which make them women).

The only thing left to do, once women are told BOTH to act like women and never to act like women, is to revise the view of women into pure victims: hence the turn of the conversation toward cripples and victims and dead mothers. And this final stage is nihilism, where the only thing to admire about women is nothing.

When I was told by someone who, again, I admire and to whom I mean no disrespect, that masculinity and femininity OF COURSE! were nothing but cultural artifacts, not based in nature, the first of three tumblers clicked into place in my mind.

Of course they do not believe in nature. Of course they think man is infinitely malleable, can be turned from anything into anything else. If man cannot be trained to be unisex, and if women cannot be trained to be happy, then man by his own efforts cannot break the curse of human nature, nor can women be free of their unfortunate (unfortunate from the point of view of the nihilist) desire to serve and suffer for the men in their lives, to be loving and giving, to submit to the leadership of their bridegroom.

Once one accepts the premise that all differences are inequalities, there is no such thing as two complimentary sexes. If either differs from the other, then one is superior (ergo a sadistic oppressor bent on exploitation and destruction on the second) and one is inferior (ergo a victim whose only hope of freedom is the destruction of the first). Therefore if all differences cannot be removed by social engineering, by changing laws and customs, by peaceful education or forced injections of hormones, why, then, no peace between the sexes is possible, and all dreams of women’s freedom from the horrific bondage of being a woman are dashed, and the ecstatic vision of unisex utopia fades like a mirage. Horrors!

If they did not think mankind endlessly open to endless improvements, then the endless improvements needed to cure all the ills and sorrows of the human condition are out of reach forever.

Of course they think human nature is a cultural artifact, which we can change at will. To believe anything else, if you live in an empty and godless world, is flat despair.

You have to believe that. You have nothing else.

Click. So much for the first tumbler. Time has mugged me, dear reader, and I cannot continue yet. The other two turns of the ward until the other two tumblers fall into place, and unlock my insight into the obvious will have to wait.

About John C Wright

John C. Wright is a practicing philosopher, a retired attorney, newspaperman, and newspaper editor, and a published author of science fiction. Once a Houyhnhnm, he was expelled from the august ranks of purely rational beings when he fell in love; but retains an honorary title.
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73 Responses to The Restless Heart of Darkness – Part One

  1. David_Marcoe says:

    The first stage is Worldliness. This is the legacy of the Enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau and Voltaire. The Worldly Man diminishes the importance of the Church, seeks disestablishment, and promises that all men of any denomination will be able to live together in peace provided all religious activity is a matter of private conscience rather than public organization. Why this promise was kept in the United States after their revolution but broke in France after hers is a discussion too deep to breach here.

    Just a question: Are you equating the American Revolution and early Republic with the “worldliness” stage? I would have actually pegged the real onset of that stage to the second half of the 19th century.

    • The Enlightenment is the Worldliness stage, and the disestablishment of the Church. I am a great fan of the American Revolution, and I deem the exceptional American character kept some of the drawbacks of this-world-mindedness at bay for a century or more.

      • David_Marcoe says:

        Of the American Revolution, I’m not so sure the sentiments of the Founders, on the whole, can be simply described as “disestablishment.” Without going into my own circumspect chain of reasoning, from my readings of what the Founders wrote, and correspondence in my opinions with scholars who have studied this issue far more than I have, I think on the whole, the Founders were were as Classical and (unknowingly) Medieval in their outlook, as they were influenced by Enlightenment. I think they saw the state’s interference with religion as a toxic threat, rather than any need for religion to be contained. Frankly, I see the American Founding as something of a “perfection” of the Medieval model, though it itself is not perfect in any heavenly sense.

        Edit: Reading the rest of your comments below, I see that we have fair amount of agreement, but I would also note that the Founders had historical examples from before or in the early stages of the Reformation. Certainly Henry the Eighth’s seizure of the Church of England, the Spanish Inquisition, and even Constantine’s original establishment of the Church (which not all the bishops were happy about at the time).

        As Protestant going to a conservative Catholic college, I guess I’ve just developed a little leeriness on this issue. I’ve dealt with some of the views of “thrown and altar” (and distributist) Catholics, who like to tilt their lance at the American Founding as a down-the-line consequence of the Enlightenment. Though in their defense, they are not simple romanticists of the Middle Ages. And I even agree with much of their critique of Enlightenment philosophy.

        So, I’ve been searching around for Catholic and/or Aristotelian/Thomistic defenses of the American Founding. That isn’t to say there aren’t grounds for critique of certain aspects, but I believe one can mount a general defense of the American project that is in harmony with Catholic doctrine.

        • I am not sure I can be of service to you, but I do note that the spiritual and temporal authority was separate in the Middle Ages, and the role of the king was seen, according to medieval legal theory, to protect the ancient rights of commons and nobles and townships (burghers, bourgeoisie) and their charters. In other words, the ideal of restricting the role of the central government was achieved as if by default, since the ‘Rex’ of the early Middle Ages was little more than the most powerful baron in the area.

          The genius of the American Constitution was that it formalized a way to restrict the central government and to protect the ancient rights of the citizens. Christianity was still utterly central to the American genius culturally, but no denomination was supposed to have any special legal standing over any other.

          • Christopher says:

            ‘but I do note that the spiritual and temporal authority was separate in the Middle Ages’

            The Gregorian Reform is rather antithetical to this notion you propose, and the constant struggle between Kingdoms and the Church to assert her rights are well noted. The Church herself claims herself supreme above all forms of Secular Power (Gregorian Reform, and still exists to this day), and ideally Secular Power to be in accord and subject to the Church.

            The American Constitution in certain areas would be incompatible with the Catholic Church given that certain notions such as Religious Liberty is found condemned.

            • I am sorry, you are going a little fast for me. What notion, exactly, did I propose? I did not say that the Catholic Church preaches separation of Church and state. I said that the spiritual and temporal authority were separate: the Church controlled marriages and wills, for example, and her officers were tried in canon courts, not in secular (that was the source of the dispute leading to the murder of Thomas a Becket, for example). Nor did I say there was not a struggle about where the boundary between the two reposed — but I draw your attention to the fact that no such struggle between spiritual and secular existed at any point in the world of Islam, nor among the Indian nor Chinese empires and their priesthoods, and so on. The struggle of which you speak is an uniquely Western cultural artifact, and it continues to this day.

              What did I say about the Gregorian Reforms?

              Your conclusion about the incompatibility of the Catholic Church and the American Constitution is a novel argument, and requires firm support. Can you quote for me some official statement of the Church which confirms the Church claims supreme secular authority? I ask because the exact wording of the claim of supreme authority may offer a different interpretation than your own.

              Likewise, can you quote for me a jurist, a controlling law case, or a phrase in the Constitution that directly contradicts a teaching of the Catholic Church as put forth by her authoritative documents, such as the Catechism? Is there a Supreme Court case that holds that the teachings of the Catholic Church to be unconstitutional?

              Please make a clear argument, because you are on difficult ground. I would remind you that the Catholic Church existed under Diocletian and Vespasian, and at that time taught her sons and daughters to submit meekly to the powers in authority. So if the Catholic Church can exist in the Second Century, under the Imperial system of government, it is a difficult and surprising argument to make that the Catholic Church is incompatible with life in America in the Twentieth, under a federalist republic.

              • Christopher says:

                The notion that was proposed was that ‘the Spiritual and Temporal authority were separate’. However I am rather confused when you cite the example that the Church’s officers were to be tried in canon courts, do you emphasise that as a Spiritual Authority? Ecclesiastical Courts in their nature emphasise a temporal nature. After all it is the Church’s authority within Temporal affairs to judge her own members. This nature is emphasised in the writings of Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 6). Throughout the course of history, after the Fall of the Roman Empire (during the Roman Empire yes the Church did submit to Diocletian and Vespasian) the Church managed to obtain land, whether they be monastic or if it were the very Papal States themselves and over time also obtained an armed force to defend its territories (Hildebrand, later Pope Gregory VII, led for example, a papal army to victory on Corsica). Thus the temporal authority expanded beyond the Ecclesiastical Courts. Now while the Church was able to survive under the Imperial System of Rome, after Rome’s decline, the Church could exert temporal affairs say in England to which you mention St. Thomas Becket. Do not forget that the King, even up to Henry VIII would have to petition the support of the temporal authority of the Church to say, contribute towards war funds. Thus in the Medieval era, there was a definite demonstrate of Temporal authority.

                The Papal States itself existed beyond the Medieval Era until the formation of Italy in 1870. Before the formation of Italy in 1870, Pius IX in 1849 published an encyclical entitled Nostis Et Nobsicum emphasising in paragraph 32 to defend the Spiritual and Temporal rights of the Church. Of course in 1870, Italy is formed. But the notion of temporal authority is reaffirmed in Quanta Cura by Pius IX, and more famously through The Syllabus of Errors. The Church retains the right over the temporal affairs:

                ’27. The sacred ministers of the Church and the Roman pontiff are to be absolutely excluded from every charge and dominion over temporal affairs. — Allocution “Maxima quidem,” June 9, 1862.’

                Which is retained to this very day, through force or through land it owns. Beyond the Ecclesiastical courts. But primarly the argument was to demonstrate that The Church had both Temporal and Spiritual authority beyond what was proposed in your examples during the Medieval Era.

                In the comparison to Islamic nations, the Mohammedan followers merge the Temporal and Spiritual authority into one secular power that is in its nature Theocratic. Whereas in Catholicism, it recognises the right of Secular Power while acknowledging its own right to Temporal Power. And it is in the Gregorian reforms that acknowledging the temporal power of the secular authorities, acknowledges the Church to be above them on the terms of spiritual authority. Thus we can then look at Pre-revolutionary France, which the Church retaining private property (temporal) was also the unity of Church and State, which then is where there is a difference between the Church and State in the United States.

                When you ask for where the Church claims supreme secular authority, that is in its teachings, and in those teachings do they have right over secular authority. When Caesar comes into conflict with God, it’s God who is obeyed. The expression does not mean that the Church has temporal claims over say the United States territory. When you ask is there a Supreme Court case that holds the teachings of the Catholic Church to be unconstitutional, no they cannot on the basis that the United States Government cannot make that authority since the Church is an independent power beyond the State (which comes back to the issue of temporal and spiritual authority). Such an attempt at usurping the Church’s temporal authority occurred in Connecticut. The Church can however, declare that the United States constitution is at odds with Catholic teaching since it advocates religious liberty. Especially for Catholics working in the government. The argument that the Catholic Church is incompatible with the American Constitution mainly rests upon the opposition to the harmonisation of the Church and State. A Catholic can thrive and live under the American Federal Republic, but to then assert Religious Liberty which has been condemned if in Office?

                • So, on what grounds do you doubt that secular and temporal authority where separate in the Middle Ages? Caesar and Pope are separate offices, and when the power of the Caesars devolved onto western emperors or kings, the separation was maintained.

                  As I mentioned, they even had (at one time) separate courts of law for trying spiritual as opposed to secular officers. You seem to think this indicates that there was no separation of the institutions.

                  I simply don’t understand your point.

                  Are you claiming that if there is any overlap or ambiguity between Church Authority and Royal or Imperial Authority, ergo the separation into secular and spiritual does not exist at all? If so, our difference is a matter of semantics only. I am not saying the separation is perfect nor perfectly clear. I am not saying the separation involved freedom of religion: the Church always expels heretics, even when she has no political power to punish the heretic in this world.

                  Are you making the claim that if the Pope ever was secular sovereign over the Papal states, this means the separation of secular and spiritual powers did not exist?

                  Or are you making the claim that the Church claims universal imperial sovereignty over all mankind?

                  Or are you claiming that Church ownership of land indicates a lack of separation of secular from spiritual? Are you claiming that the existence of armed forces under direct control of Church officers indicates a lack of separation of secular from spiritual?

                  Or are you claiming that all Christians of all denominations posit a limit to human law beyond which it is illegitimate, namely, when it contradicts God’s law? (If you are claiming the latter, we have no disagreement, but neither does not mean there is no separation of secular and spiritual power.)

                  Several of your sentences seem to be missing words, and so I cannot decipher them. What does “When you ask for where the Church claims supreme secular authority, that is in its teachings, and in those teachings do they have right over secular authority.” mean?

                  What is your reference to Connecticut mean?

                  This sentence seems to be missing a verb or a phrase: “A Catholic can thrive and live under the American Federal Republic, but to then assert Religious Liberty which has been condemned if in Office?” I am not sure why it ends in a question mark. I do not understand what in this sentence is being asserted, or who is asserting it.

                  If these are merely typographical errors, please correct them so I can give you a more satisfying response. As things stand, I am utterly baffled. You seem not to have understood what I meant. I do not know what you mean.

                  In case I am unclear, let me repeat myself and expand on the point.

                  I was saying that, as a matter of historical fact, secular and spiritual powers in the West were separate. As the kings grew into absolute monarchs after the Renaissance and Reformation, certain princes established national churches, as the Anglican Church in England, which abolished the separation in Protestant states. The factions among the Protestants fought to seize or retain control of these national Churches, and Catholic kings sought to reimpose the Catholic Church by peaceful and by warlike means. The peace treaty between the denominations was the First Amendment in America. In Revolutionary France, there was no peace, but a new and materialistic, humanist, secular and worldly heresy arose, which attacked the Church and sought to destroy it. This heresy metamorphosized and changed it names several times in history, calling itself now Enlightenment, now Socialism, now Science, now Communism, now Nazism, now Secularism, now Humanism, now Pragmatism, and on and on, tirelessly. So, in Europe, the peace treaty of separation of Church and State did not hold, but the widespread apostasy of all European governments in the postwar years also renders the point moot. The only parties in Europe willing to fight and kill for explicitly religious reasons now are the Muslims, who have never had any concept of separation of spiritual and secular authority.

                  The contrast between Europe and the Near East, or indeed the Far East with its Brahmin caste or Emperor-worship, should make my point clear. Among pagans granting kings divine honors was commonplace, and the priesthood was an instrument of the government. In the West, that was not so. The fact that Church and State fought indicates that there was a boundary between them, and, if a boundary, therefore a separation.

                  • Christopher says:

                    Caesar and the Pope yes are separate Offices, but that does not rule out the right of the Church to hold temporal power in the case of the Papal States. I do not deny that Secular and Church power were separate, for it is rather evident in History, but I do deny that Spiritual and Temporal authority were separate in the terms of the Church herself. The Church has both Spiritual and Temporal authority, and has exerted this continuously even as recent as the late 19th Century. On the issue of Ecclesiastical Courts, Ecclesiastical Courts in themselves yes hold Spiritual authority, but it is also holds Temporal authority, they are in effect unified.
                    As to a clear distinction between Royal and Imperial Authority and Church Authority. Yes there is a distinction and this is demonstrated for example in recognising the rights of Secular Kings and Princes over their lands. It is also demonstrated in Pre-Revolutionary France in the harmonisation of Church and State. But there are occurrences where Secular and Spiritual authority are unified into one, and that is demonstrated in the Papal States themselves. As you will know, His Holiness the Pope is also a Monarch, and the Cardinals are often referred to as the ‘Princes of the Church’, thus there is a binding of Spiritual and Temporal authority.

                    An answer to a few questions:

                    1) ‘ Are you making the claim that if the Pope ever was secular sovereign over the Papal states, this means the separation of secular and spiritual powers did not exist? ‘

                    Yes, insofar as of the Papal States themselves were unified Spiritually and Temporally, of which the Spiritual authority is dominant over the Temporal authority.

                    2) ‘ Or are you making the claim that the Church claims universal imperial sovereignty over all mankind?’

                    When you see imperial sovereignty, do you mean professes that Christ is King over the entire world and that all governments must acknowledge Christ as King? And by that Sovereignty is of the highest authority on Earth? Yes. Or when you say Imperial Sovereignty, do you mean the Papal States having right to conquer all territory? Then no.

                    3) ‘ Or are you claiming that Church ownership of land indicates a lack of separation of secular from spiritual? Are you claiming that the existence of armed forces under direct control of Church officers indicates a lack of separation of secular from spiritual? ‘

                    Not a lack of distinction just to clarify, but it represents a union in which the Spiritual is dominant.

                    4) ‘Or are you claiming that all Christians of all denominations posit a limit to human law beyond which it is illegitimate, namely, when it contradicts God’s law? (If you are claiming the latter, we have no disagreement, but neither does not mean there is no separation of secular and spiritual power.) ‘

                    I don’t think there is a disagreement.

                    ‘ Several of your sentences seem to be missing words, and so I cannot decipher them. What does “When you ask for where the Church claims supreme secular authority, that is in its teachings, and in those teachings do they have right over secular authority.” mean? ‘

                    Sorry for the lack of clarity I was up until 2am or so. It means that the Church has supreme authority in professing it’s teachings, and by natural right Secular Authority has duty to acknowledge those teachings. It does not however mean the Church has ownership over that land.

                    ‘ What is your reference to Connecticut mean? ‘

                    In Connecticut, there was an attempt to reorganise the Church, an imposition of Secular authority upon the temporal authority of the Church (the temporal being the Church’s right to run her own congregations.)

                    ‘ This sentence seems to be missing a verb or a phrase: “A Catholic can thrive and live under the American Federal Republic, but to then assert Religious Liberty which has been condemned if in Office?” I am not sure why it ends in a question mark. I do not understand what in this sentence is being asserted, or who is asserting it. ‘

                    I should not write at 2 in the morning. What I mean is that a Catholic can thrive and live under the American Federal Republic since it is rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and God unto God’s, but if that Catholic were to be in public office and uphold the notion of Religious liberty, how can he assert it rightfully when the Church herself has condemned Religious liberty?

                    ‘I was saying that, as a matter of historical fact, secular and spiritual powers in the West were separate.’

                    Yes, this is not being denied, but it’s also not absolutely true either in the case of the Papal States herself or Bishops being able to hold armed forces. And off course, there is a clear contrast, the Japanese regarded the Emperor as a god, even in Ancient Rome was Emperor-Worship an occurrence. Mohammedan unification of Political-Religious dimensions comes from conquest, after all those barbarians spread by the sword. The Church does not do such a thing, but it cannot be denied that there was a full separation, after all the Papal States is the demonstration of the Spiritual and Temporal unity in which the Spiritual is dominant. And even the fact that it was the Pope who could only crown the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and could denounce his claim, spoke volumes of that Temporal authority.

                    • I am afraid that you are arguing to a point not in dispute. All I said was that the temporal and spiritual authority in the Middle Ages was separate. I mean it is separate in Western legal theory since before the Fall of the Roman Empire. You are arguing as if that means I were saying the Church is not allowed to own land or raise an army or exercise temporal power, which is not what I said, and, even if it were, would be irrelevant to the point.

                      Now you say Catholic teaching requires Catholics, once in public office, to abolish the First Amendment. That is lunacy.

                      In any case, your point is too trivial for notice. The Papal States, at the moment, is 44 hectares, less than one square mile.

  2. distractedbrony says:

    Thank you for writing this post, and (more generally) for keeping this blog going for so long and posting so much quality stuff. I wish I could think, or write, as well as you do.

    I have sometimes said to myself that God’s merely existing is his greatest gift to me, because otherwise, if he did not exist, nihilism would be ‘true’ and my life would thus be a sort of living death… by merely existing and being what he is, God changes that picture and opens the possibility of living differently, of life having a real meaning and purpose.

    But I am babbling now.

  3. Gigalith says:

    In the description of the unrealistic woman, that should be “drinking beer” not “drinking bear”, unless there is some form of manly yet ursine beverage of which I am unaware.

    In what stage, in your opinion, can anarchocapitalists be found? I would have initially considered them to be Stage 2 (Idealogues), except for two factors.

    The first is the words of Father Seraphim of Sarov. When he (I hope you are not offended by my bringing this up) initially formulated the theory of stages in his book, he listed communism explicitly as the second stage. Anarchocapitalism is many things, but communist is not one of them.

    The second is my exposure to anarchocapitalist thought on the internet, particularly in relation to bitcoin. I have seen self-declared AnCaps defend Dread Pirate Roberts, the bitcoin drug marketeer*, from his alleged double murders**. For that matter, read the writings of Jim Bell until you wish to vomit. Their level of idolatry of the free market (as if an AnCap world would have one) is not what I would place as “reason”.

    * He ran Silk Road, the online drug marketplace, and so technically did not sell drugs himself. Nevertheless, he facilitated several million dollars worth of the drug trade, so he is hardly excused.

    ** According to the affidavit, he arranged not one but two hit men killings to protect Silk Road. One was faked by federal agents, the other might have been a scam, yet again, that hardly excuses him.

    • I took this idea of four stages unchanged by Archmonk Serafin Rose. Since I have written previously on this idea, and given him credit there, I did think it necessary to give him credit again. My regular readers know whereof I speak.

      Libertarians and Anarchocapitalists are ideologues of the Worldly, and so they fit halfway between the two positions. Objectivists are openly antichristian, libertarians are antichristian by implication, since they hold man to be the designer of his own good, not subject to his creator in any real sense. The difference is between the true and the false idea of liberty. True liberty is growing into your own nature, becoming fully human, becoming a saint, becoming (in your case) the most “Gigalith” you can become. Vices, particularly addictive vices, chain you into bondage and prevent the flowering of humanity and sainthood. The false idea of liberty is lack of external impediment to any action of the will. This means that I can drink and drive and abort and commit suicide in perfect ‘liberty’ even if I enslaved body and soul to my drug pusher thereafter.

      • Montecristo says:

        “…libertarians are antichristian by implication, since they hold man to be the designer of his own good, not subject to his creator in any real sense”

        You are still an interesting arguer, John. You have your stellar arguments but then you lapse into straw-men like the quote above. Tsk, tsk. I daresay I could name quite a few Christian, and Catholic, libertarians who would be eager to shred that ridiculous mischaracterization for you. It is wholly unworthy of you. Have you never heard of Tom Woods, for example? Let’s be honest here: Catholic Libertarians root their support for libertarianism in the freedom of conscience and the Golden Rule, not in the self-perfectibility of Man.

        • Stuff and nonsense, sir. I was a libertarian in good standing for longer than most my readers have been alive. I read every book by a libertarian author I could get from the Laissez Faire book club.

          Are you asking me to quote authorities for the concept of self-ownership, which (along with the nonaggression principle) is one of the two unquestioned bedrock principles of Libertarianism?

          I quote Murry Rothbard from FOR A NEW LIBERTY “The right to self-ownership asserts the absolute right of each man, by virtue of his (or her) being a human being, to “own” his or her own body; that is, to control that body free of coercive interference.”

          I call to the witness stand, Robert Nozick (http://www.iep.utm.edu/noz-poli/#SH3c) and Alfred Jay Nock and Ayn Rand and …. and … Argh! Time is limited.

          Here. Start with the Stanford Encyclopedia entry on Libertarianism: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/libertarianism/#1 “Libertarianism holds that agents are, at least initially, full self-owners. Agents are (moral) full self-owners just in case they morally own themselves in just the same way that they can morally fully own inanimate objects.”

          Seriously, need I go on? You DARE accuse me of making a straw man argument out of MY OWN philosophy that I held, analyzed, debated, and promoted for decade upon decade? Are you joking, sir?

          Sorry, I have never heard of Tom Woods. The Libertarian world is no so very big. Either he entered it after I left, or he is peripheral.

          • Montecristo says:

            There are, then, for you, no Catholic libertarians, only heretical ones or apostate ones? Is this what you are implying?

            I am not so much questioning whether the concept of self-ownership is one that libertarians embrace; I am asking whether you think that embracing self-ownership is contrary to Catholic teaching or with belief in the Judeo-Christian god in general. Your statement: “libertarians are antichristian by implication” does not logically follow from the undisputed fact that libertarians adhere to the principle of self-ownership.

            I suspect that you might be implying that self-ownership inherently contradicts the belief that God is the ultimate owner of all humans, being their creator. I am loathe to presume that this is what you mean, since I regard that as nonsensical as the idea that libertarians are not adherents of the principle of self-ownership. One may as well claim in that case that the socialism of non-property ownership is the only economic principle that comports with Judeo-Christian teaching, because any human property ownership contradicts the principle that God is the ultimate owner of the entire universe.

            I think you might find Tom Woods to be an entertaining and possibly even enlightening writer on libertarian, Catholic, and Austrian Economic thought. You can find him at Tomwoods.com.

            • As an attorney, simply take my word for it that a man can own property upon condition, or hold a land in trust for another as a steward or a remainderman, or a tenant in a life estate. Do you need me to list examples?

              • Carbonel says:

                I would have thought that only Christians can safely be Libertarians, as they alone place libertarian philosophy squarely in the political, and only the political realm. Understanding original sin, they don’t actually expect any merely human philosophy to Explain Everything Perfectly., and can happily subordinate its claims to those of God.

                To paraphrase C.S. Lewis (who was doing the same to someone else in (The Four Loves) whenever any idea in any field tries to be Christianity, it becomes a dangerous mess. But subordinate to the Church, it can rule quite happily in its own field; being both useful and good.

              • Montecristo says:

                Your respondent here, Carbonel has the gist of what it is at which I am driving. Even if, for the sake of argument, we conceded the point that the entirety of existence is ultimately owned by God it does not follow that any particular humans have the authority to appoint themselves God’s own agents and property managers and unilaterally politically impose what they perceive as being “God’s interests” upon their fellow man. In fact, I would claim that Christ’s own words in the Gospels proscribe such presumptions among his supposed followers.

                In the context of human-human interaction we humans do enjoy self-ownership, at the very least, with respect to all other humans, even if we do not enjoy such a status with respect to some divinity. The idea to the contrary, has been, in my experience, mostly endorsed by people embracing what may be termed a roughly “Neo-conservative” political philosophy, more than it has been endorsed by leaders of the Church.

                • You have changed the grounds of your argument, and are now discussing something unrelated.
                  1. My comment was that libertarians, as a matter of principle, hold themselves to be the owners of themselves, not subject to any restriction or regulation, especially not for their own good. This is contrary to the concept of God as sovereign, and to the concept of natural law.
                  2. You called this a strawman argument, saying that Catholic Libertarians could root their arguments on the grounds of the Golden Rule, but not the self-ownership principle.
                  3. I quoted authorities (including my own) to show that the self-ownership principle is central to libertarian thinking.
                  4. You attempted a rather weak argument which combined the straw man argument with an argument by analogy, saying that on cannot call the self-ownership principle unchristian unless because one cannot call a hypothetical principle of nonselfownership Christian. The argument and the straw man argument depends on a faulty notion of self-ownership as absolute rather than conditional. So I said nothing more on this — it seemed a dead end.

                  Carbonel then says something which is true, albeit unrelated to the conversation, which is that classical democrats and liberals wish the government to be restricted to certain small and enumerated powers because fallen man cannot be trusted with authority over other fallen men. Her idea is that only Christians could be trusted to live in a society without vice laws. That would be a separate argument.

                  You then chime in with the argument that the claim that God owns everything does not necessarily mean any particular men can claim to be acting in God’s name and establish rule arbitrarily.

                  No one here was arguing for or against that idea. It is not even a strawman argument, it is simply irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the unchristian nature of the self-ownership principle, which, together with the nonaggression principle, forms the core of Libertarian thinking.

                  A libertarian might indeed believe in God, but he must be agnostic on the question of whether laws should be enforced to promote obedience to moral norms. Catholic social teaching does not permit that degree of agnosticism or indifference to the wellbeing of the souls of men. I cannot speak for other denominations.

                  I suspect our conflict would evaporate if we defined self ownership. I have always heard it used by libertarians to refer to an absolute mandate to do whatever one wishes with oneself and one’s own property, provided only no harm to another, force or fraud, is done.

                  Suicide and addiction to various substances and pornography and polygamy and sodomy and onanism and public displays thereof, and idolatry and sabbath-breaking and using the Name of the Lord in vain are all lawful (whether immoral or not) under this conception of self-ownership. Coercive or involuntary payment of taxes is not lawful.

                  If you are using the term “self-ownership” in some other way, then we are discussing two different ideas using the same word for both.

                  • Montecristo says:

                    1. Your statement, “This is contrary to the concept of God as sovereign, and to the concept of natural law,” is a non-sequitur because it does not follow that someone who holds God as the ultimate owner of all existence must necessarily also hold that this entitles some self-anointed descendants of Cain to be their brothers’ keepers and God’s stewards of a Terrestrial Kingdom of God. When I went to Catholic school I was taught that the Church teachings are strictly Amillennialist. Peter was granted spiritual authority for those who accept the teachings of their free will; he was not authorized to wage jihad on Christ’s behalf and convert them at swordpoint. Peter was appointed Pope, not Caliph; there is a crucial distinction. In fact, Christ instructed Peter to put away his sword. Consider your quote again: “…libertarians are antichristian by implication, since they hold man to be the designer of his own good, not subject to his creator in any real sense.” The straw-man nature of your assertion is in the assertion that self-ownership is precisely equal to the conviction that man is the designer of his own good and that he is not subject to his creator in any real sense.” That is simply not true. It is entirely possible for a Catholic libertarian to hold that in the context of human-human interaction, man must be considered as self-owner with respect to other humans, otherwise free-will does not exist and some humans are somehow entitled to impose their personal interpretation of God’s will on other humans. The argument reduces to the idea that might trumps conscience. No such grant of temporal authority was given. Millenial Pietists Protestants invented this idea which the Church itself rejects. The Catholic can, without contradiction, assert thst the pope has the spiritual authority to teach what is morally wrong and right without having the temporal authority to order the police to ensure that everyone observes the tennets of these teachings. He may hold himself accountable only to God for his ultimate behavior while also holding that, provided he not violate the rights of others, he is accountable to his fellow man only to the extent that he gives his voluntary assent. Your observation that: “a man can own property upon condition, or hold a land in trust for another as a steward or a remainderman, or a tenant in a life estate…” is irrelevant because you are discussing Man’s Laws, not God’s. God nowhere grants any human the authority to seize the property or person of another in his name. The Catholic can, without logical contradiction, assert that while God is the ultimate owner of everything, and the designer of all good, nobody but the individual is accountable to God for his own soul and his own actions in the material world. In other words, by this reasoning, we are each stewards, effectively acting owners, of our own bodies and justly produced or acquired goods and services, and no one else is inherently entitled to that stewardship office.

                    2. I was about to argue that in item 2 that it is perfectly moral for a Catholic to hold that he is nowhere authorized to police his neighbors’ eyes for motes and therefore he cannot in any way delegate such an authority to someone else, according to Natual Law, without even resorting to self-ownership to ground that assertion. The Golden Rule is sufficient, in that case. Upon further thought, I concede this particular line of argument to you, because such a contention logically implies self-stewardship. I believe it a sound redoubt to which to retreat that self-stewardship amounts to self-ownership in the temporal realm. That argument made, a Catholic could still be a libertarian. The Catholic libertarian can recognize that God charges the individual with stewardship for the disposition of his own person, and produced or acquired goods and services. The atheist libertarian may hold that by the logic of human nature, regardless of the source of that nature, the individual is inalienable owner of himself. Read Lysander Spooner on the Constitutionality of Slavery (even pre-thirteenth amendment!). In the spiritual realm, this can produce significant consequences, if the Catholic is correct and the atheist wrong, but it need not produce any distinction whatsoever in the temporal, political realm.

                    3. “I quoted authorities (including my own) to show that the self-ownership principle is central to libertarian thinking.” Stipulated. What’s your point? I have not denied that libertarianism claims self-ownership. What I do claim to be the case is that self-stewardship and self-ownership can be equivalent and indistinguishable in the temporal realm.

                    4. “The argument and the straw man argument depend on a faulty notion of self-ownership as absolute rather than conditional.” The “ownership” is only conditional with respect to God. It is effectively unconditional with respect to other men. As the Declaration of Independence claims, the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable. Man was redeemed for the disobedience of eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. He was reprieved of ONE consequence of that act, being disbarred from Heaven. He was not relieved of any other of the consequences of having eaten the Apple, nor can he (theoretically) relieve himself of those consequences through exercise of his own power.

                    You then chime in with the argument that the claim that God owns everything does not necessarily mean any particular men can claim to be acting in God’s name and establish rule arbitrarily.

                    No one here was arguing for or against that idea. It is not even a straw-man argument, it is simply irrelevant.

                    Ah, but it is not irrelevant; it is essential, because it implies that if nobody else is authorized to make such a claim then the individual is self-steward. Effectively, self-stewardship amounts to effective self-ownership, self-sovereignty, in the political temporal, realm. It is not that, “fallen man cannot be trusted with authority over other fallen men,” but that fallen man was nowhere divinely granted that authority and has no legitimate grounds for arrogating that authority to himself. If a man attempts to stop another from injecting himself with heroin, and he shoots that other man dead in the attempt to stop such self-abuse, he has committed murder. The drug abuser was violating no other man’s earthly rights or justifiable authorities. There is no right or authority to commit murder, therefore there is no way to delegate such a non-authority to another.

                    • Your statement, “This is contrary to the concept of God as sovereign, and to the concept of natural law,” is a non-sequitur because it does not follow that someone who holds God as the ultimate owner of all existence must necessarily also hold that this entitles some self-anointed descendants of Cain to be their brothers’ keepers and God’s stewards of a Terrestrial Kingdom of God.

                      Non-sequitur means that the comment does not follow from what is before it nor support what is after it. In this case, the comment was not a non-sequitur because it is topic sentence. It is what, or so I thought, we were discussing.

                      The rest of your sentence I incomprehensible to me. To whom is it addressed? Who here was arguing that Natural Law gives some men the right to be tyrants or false prophets? I am assuming you are using some sort of metaphor or exaggeration, but no one was talking about founding the Kingdom of God on Earth.

                      You have lost the entire thread of the argument. Let us go back to the beginning. I say that no Libertarian can be a faithful Catholic on the grounds that, in order to be a Libertarian as opposed to merely a pro-disestablishment classical liberal, one must favor one or both of two axiomatic principles: first, the principle of self-ownership, which says that no one, but most especially the state, has the right to use force or the force of law to prevent immoral, ungodly, and self-destructive behaviors, or to take property, or to restrict any activity or action except in the specific case that it imposes on another man’s self-ownership. Second, the principle of non-aggression, which says that no one, but most especially the state, has the right to use force, including the force of law even if passed by democratic vote, to prevent immoral, ungodly, and self-destructive behaviors, or to take property, or to restrict any activity or action except in the specific case that the violence is being used in retaliation against an unlawful and unjustified use of force or to retaliated against a fraud.

                      You say there is someone who found another axiom on which to base a libertarian philosophy. Based on my extremely if not absurdly thorough reading of every libertarian author who existed before 2001, I dismiss the claim as false. That man’s philosophy, whatever it is, cannot be called ‘libertarian’ in an honest use of the word. If I have not heard of the guy, he is not a libertarian, at least not as of 2001.

                      You then also made some odd statements about the idea of self-ownership, which, at the time, I thought were meant to show that self-ownership was compatible with Catholic social teaching. I argued against that position. But I am now not sure what you mean.

                      I submit that a Libertarian claims an absolute right of self ownership, with no let asked of anyone, god or man. The idea that a human father or a divine father has the right to punish you for your vices, even when those vices harm no other person, is directly antithetical to Libertarian thought.

  4. Scott W. says:

    ZippyCatholic has been wrestling with many of your points here: http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/liberalism-and-the-destruction-of-the-good-the-true-and-the-beautiful/

    His point is that it is mistake when conservatives say that Progressives hate liberty, Truth, Beauty, Goodness, etc. Rather, those are the material effects born out of idolatrous commitment to two falsehoods: a). all authority (even legitimate ones) are abuse and b). all inequalities (even natural and reasonable ones) are oppression. Progressivism wouldn’t have near the appeal or destructive power if it wasn’t a lie and it’s adherents didn’t sincerely believe these lies to the exclusion of all else. So they are not being hypocritical–rather it is a case of disordered priorities destroying true priorities.

    This is why it is no good to plead with dissident Catholics that if they don’t like the doctrines, to go to the Episcopalians across the street. When freedom (from all authority) and equal rights are your god, then you have a moral duty to remain in the few holdouts left on earth and get them to repent of their hierarchical/authoritative ways and reform.

    • I am describing a process of degradation. In an earlier stage, I agree that Progressives did not hate liberty, truth, beauty and goodness. They did define all authority as abusive and all inequalities as oppression. But that is not what the later stage of corruption holds. There is a second step, once all authority is defined as abusive, to define the authority of truth as abusive, so that speaking the truth to someone becomes an act of imposition, and this leads to hatred of truth. Likewise, judging one thing to be more virtuous than another is an inequity, and hence an oppression, so the act of being virtuous or praising virtue becomes a vice.

      Granted, few Progressives, save among the professional intelligentsia, the crockpots, have made this second step of corruption. Right now most are still Ideologues, or, if you like, Idolators; but this next step into full blown hatred of truth and virtue and beauty is evident in the art community, and in the writings of some intellectuals.

      • Montecristo says:

        Mr. Wright, you are much too generous. Have you not observed the vehemence with which the collectivists react when confronted with the logic of their conclusions or the nature of their premises? The “layman leftie” may not consciously understand his emotional and stubborn disdain for logical argument, unlike the professional intelligentsia, who perversely do, but he does instinctively recoil from reason. I think the contagion, the degradation, has progressed quite a bit further than you are comfortably willing to credit.

    • I think he’s correctly identified those two errors. I’m not so sure about absolving Liberalism of hating beauty and truth. I agree with Mr. Wright that the ever-changing names adopted by the enemies of civilization admit of degrees of deceit, and therefore accuracy. Political Correctness is the least deceptive, but Progressivism isn’t far behind. As James Kalb has argued, Liberalism is progressive in that it seeks to do away with ever more traditional authority and restrictions on hedonism.

      One cause of Liberalism’s success is its willingness to suffer more moderate social structures–always on a temporary basis, and only as long as necessary. The founders of the Liberal movement knew they couldn’t sweep away all authority and morality from the beginning. Thus they cooperated with monarchies to erode the power of the Church. Then they sided with worldly men to bring down the monarchies. Nazism, the only Spiritualist movement to amass significant political power, proved too immediately irrational and destructive for them to co-opt. Now they ally with socialists to destroy democracy.

      Eventually the useful idiots among the ideologues will cease being useful, and Liberals’ nihilist endgame–the end of history–will be brazenly and unabashedly championed.

  5. The Worldly Man diminishes the importance of the Church, seeks disestablishment, and promises that all men of any denomination will be able to live together in peace provided all religious activity is a matter of private conscience rather than public organization. Why this promise was kept in the United States after their revolution but broke in France after hers is a discussion too deep to breach here.

    First is the worldly philosophy, where the attempt of the suffragette begins as the perfectly reasonable and perfectly just demand that they be granted the vote.

    Perhaps I anticipate future installments…

    I read your article as a drawing of parallels, I assume that is what it is. Would you say there was a mistake in Worldly Man diminishing the role of religious life in its aspect of involvement with the state? It seemed to have worked in the United States for quite some time. Meaning there was a time of peace by means of private conscience over public organization.

    I also think it is in the process (well into the process) of unraveling as evidenced by the outrage against such innocuous acts erecting the ten commandments by a courthouse, or protests against nativity scenes, HHS mandate, passivity to Islamofacsism, the following link to a story so ridiculous you couldn’t have made it up and got it published

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/01/14/satan-statue-oklahoma-ten-commandments-column/4481905/

    etc, etc.

    I guess I am asking if you think the Worldly Man’s privatization (to borrow a term from economics) of religion necessarily leads to failure eventually.

    The denominations were already fragmenting and fragmented when this country was formed (six come to mind off hand) and the American response was largely in response to the upheaval caused by the Reformation. At least that has been my understanding. I have always understood the American solution to be a pragmatic solution than an ideological one.

    If these questions seem to come from ignorance, that is because they do. Not my strongest subject.

    • I guess I am asking if you think the Worldly Man’s privatization (to borrow a term from economics) of religion necessarily leads to failure eventually.

      Necessarily? No. I believe the American constitution calling for the disestablishment of the Church was exactly what the men who wrote the Constitution said it s was — the Constitutional system can work for a nation of men trained in Christian morals and religion, but not suited for any other. Written Constitutions world wide have done no good whatever for nations that are not Christian.

      Once America abandoned Christianity as the default, the Constitution overnight became the enemy of Christanity, and the First Amendment, designed to protect the Church from the State became an undead mockery of a constitution, and now protects the State from any mention of the Church.

      I am not sure if the compromise was pragmatic or idealistic or both. What it was, was a peace treaty between the warring Christian denominations, particularly between the Anglicans (High Church) and the Dissenters (Low Church, Puritans) of England who back in the home countries used the force of law to terrorized each other. The peace treaty worked and the peace held for so long as the majority of men involved were men of honor.

      • Montecristo says:

        “Once America abandoned Christianity as the default, the Constitution overnight became the enemy of Christanity…”

        If you read some of the revisionist historians you find that most often it is the zeal of self-proclaimed Christians that have often left those selfsame people hoist on their own petards. It was, after all, partly an attempt by Post-Millenialist Pietists to de-Catholicize the children of Eastern European immigrants that fueled the drive to entwine the central state in “free and compulsory public education.” The secular-humanist ideologues merely managed to wrest their weapon out of the Pietists’ hands and turn it on them in turn. The ironist in me appreciates the poetic justice of what happened while I lament the unfortunate consequences of the same. After all, the Ten Commandments certainly admonishes the children of the Judeo-Christian faith tradition not to worship “other gods,” and the State certainly counts as a recipient for such idolatrous behavior on the part of many Christians, and also, Christ admonished his followers that “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”

  6. lance.wink says:

    The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
    Your “puzzle” is the same one God had, “Why are you angry?”. Your question goes back to the beginning, Cain will always seek to kill Abel, for “The only thing forbidden is to seek salvation.”

  7. The Deuce says:

    Hi, John, excellent post.

    As I see it, the Nihilist is not actually a separate category of the Ideologue, but is just an Ideologue in the metastatic stage, having applied the simplistic illogic of Marxism to everything. As you put it:

    This simple, nay, this idiotic black-and-white analysis can be fitted to any cause. Feminists see Males as the oppressors and women as victims. Greens see mankind as oppressors and nature as the victim. Race baiters see Whites as oppressors and Blacks as victims.

    The ideologue notices that some groups of people have more of some things (money, status, social approval, etc) than other people do, and he automatically puts this down to intolerable unfairness. This “reasoning” can be applied to any two groups of people. Of course, you can arbitrarily group people based on any trait under the sun, and no two groupings will ever come out exactly the same on anything, so this stupid Marxist-logic can be applied to literally anything.

    A Nihilist is created when an Ideologue applies his Marxist logic to morality and truth. He notes that morally upright, responsible people who save and sacrifice tend to come out ahead of self-indulgent amoral hedonists. It’s not FAIR in his mind that those who sacrifice for others are looked up to in society, while the hedonist suffers social disapproval. It’s not FAIR that the responsible person who saves for later is able to look back and be satisfied at the end of his life, and to provide for his progeny, while the self-indulgent hedonist has nothing left, and nothing to leave the children (if he even has any) who’s lives he has wrecked. It’s not FAIR the the upright man with standards is able to have a peaceful, nurturing family, and children who love him because he cared for them and taught them what is good, while the self-indulgent man finds himself atomized and unloved, with no one to rely on or be relied upon by.

    These differences in outcome prove that the morally upright are Evil Oppressors, and that the wicked are Faultless Victims! And how is it that the oppressors are oppressing their victims, exactly? Why, with their judgmentalism of course! The evil righteous people, with their evil self-sacrifice and their evil high moral standards, are *looking down* on the selfish hedonist’s bad behavior and lack of standards, and this is unfairly causing the hedonists to have less social status and approval than the morally upright! The oppressors need to STOP JUDGING the hedonist and stop promoting good standards of their own, so everyone can have equal outcomes, and we can have fairness and utopia!

    Of course, the same logic can be applied to those who seek truth vs those who hide from it. The truth-seekers can be portrayed as evil oppressors, who are better off than the delusional because they oppressed them somehow, and the only way to achieve equality is to get rid of the promoting and seeking of truth.

    Thus, by following his logic to its most extreme and incoherent implications, the Ideologue reaches a place where, as you put it, “The only thing that is forbidden is expressing disapproval about any other man or his way of life. Since man is fallen, the only thing forbidden is to recognize that man is fallen, or to seek some mystic water to wash away the stain of sin. The only thing forbidden is to seek salvation.”

    • I categorize them as a different stage because the Ideologue believes in truth, that is, believes it actually, truly is the case that the ruthless oppressors are victimizing the helpless victims, and believes in justice, or, at least, in social justices which is antijustice. The Ideologue has a metaphysical belief, usually materialism.

      The Nihilist dismisses the story about oppressors and victims as a ‘narrative’ that is, a psychological rationalization accepted for some illegitimate purpose, as a comforting falsehood, not accepted as a truth because it is true. The Nihilist has no metaphysical beliefs at all: they do not speculate about First Things because the Nihilist belief, or, rather anti-belief, dismisses all First Things.

      But, be that as it may, each stage is a development from the prior, taking the logic to an next extreme.

    • distractedbrony says:

      I have been a nihilist. I do not think it is as you describe. To a nihilist, all people are hypocrites and liars, believing whatever suits them on insufficient evidence because they are too cowardly to face the fact that life really has no meaning.

      Sartre wants me to look this non-meaning square in the eye, thumb my nose at it, and create my own meaning, because there’s no other standard of meaning besides the human mind, what with God not being around to provide one. I still think his conclusion is probably valid, given his premises.

      But I do not recall ever buying into Marxist material dialectics.

  8. ChevalierdeJohnstone says:

    Dear Sir,

    An aspect of what you are observing, contemplating, and explaining is the teleology of liberalism. By this I mean not just the big-L liberalism of the 20th century, but all liberalism, whose mission is and has always been to throw off the chains of traditional authority. This does indeed include the American revolution, as well as freedom of speech, free markets, and freedom of conscience.

    When traditional authority is contrary to communion with our Creator, and the stated goal is to replace it with true Christian society, this essentially revolutionary liberal teleology can be a great blessing. However liberalism does not in and of itself lead to anything but destruction of the existing hierarchy. Small-l liberalism has no goal but to tear down; it is not only incapable of building up but to to build up is impossible to contemplate within the liberal context. Its only virtue is the complete destruction of the un-virtuous.

    Where bigotry, nationalism (as opposed to patriotism, per Chesterton’s definition), greed, and perversion are examplary of the hiearchical order of the day, liberal destructivism is a God-given blessing to the virtuous. But when the people fall away from the recognition of and path to virtue, as exemplified in Jesus Christ, then the liberal agenda becomes empty of all but destruction. The end result of liberalism, as you have been exploring in your essays, is to tear down even itself and to lead ultimately to barbarism and then – nothing. Not the nothing upon nothing except God as mentioned by St. John of the Cross, but the nihilistic nothing so aptly described by Michael Ende.

    Without a communitive relationship with the God who created us to be virtuous, which means simply to perfect the goodness of our human nature, liberalism becomes set on destruction simply for the sake of destruction in a never-ending cycle of war: that which was once considered liberal, for example the equality of dignity regardless of race or gender, becomes illiberal and those former liberals who do not toe the Gramscian line become enemies of liberalism. Liberalism combined with piety leads to ever-greater virtue; liberalism alone has no end other than to tear down all social structures, creeds, and thoughts in fractal perpetuity, hammering the pieces of its enemies (which are everyone and everything) into ever-smaller motes.

    In our present time we are seeing an intellectual rebirth of anti-liberalism, among both American constitutionalist libertarians (whatever their actual nationality) as well as among those of the far right and the far left (e.g., in the writings of Alain de Benoist) who are disillusioned with the amoral crony capitalism so epidemic in the modern West (in which opposition they join our nominal enemies in Dar al-Islam). Sadly, these sometimes self-named “reactionaries” are themselves steeped in the destructive nature of liberalism, and so lacking a concrete concept of virtue as provided by faith in and love of God, they seek ultimately to out-liberal liberalism in destroying and tearing down the present hierarchical order, which is liberalism.

    As the Marxist-cum-Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre illustrates, teleology is at the core of human purpose. We have a purpose, and that purpose is to virtuous, and we are truly and essentially human only if we strive to cultivate virtue within ourselves. Only by recognizing and defining our purpose being – our telos – can we become fully human in the manner our Creator means us to be. A moral philosophy such as liberalism, which recognizes only that some teleological ends are evil, can never provide us the means of exceeding and perfecting our present circumstances as can a moral philosophy such as following Christ, in which we affirm not only what we abjure but what we adore and long to be part of.

  9. Stephen J. says:

    “Their only consistent principle — a principle never admitted, of course, but obvious in their every manifesto — is the Unreality Principle, which holds that it is better and braver to believe in make-believe than in real reality.”

    I think this is an apt enough description of the effective modus operandi of that principle, but I’m not sure that in itself is quite fair, or even necessarily to be taken as wholly wrong-headed. Sometimes it is the greatest challenge and triumph of faith to hold true even in the face of all apparent “evidence” — I’m thinking here of my favourite moment in Lewis’s The Silver Chair, when Puddleglum the Marshwiggle, unable to summon a single convincing fact or logically probative argument for Narnia’s existence to counter the Witch of the Green Kirtle’s Enchantment of Atheistic Plausibility, nonetheless breaks the spell by deliberately burning his feet and telling her (paraphrasing): “It seems to me the made-up things are a good deal more important and beautiful than the real ones, and four babies playing a game can create a made-up world that licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to live like as much like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

    (The irony of this counterexample, of course, is that it’s just one more example of the inconsistency you point out: the archetypal neo-Gnostic here described would never applaud a Christian’s faith, even if he acknowledged it made that Christian a happier and more socially beneficial person, on the grounds it was better and braver to believe in a yet unrealized or unconfirmed vision than to accept cold reality.)

    I would characterize the single driving principle of the mindset being here described in a somewhat more charitable way: the belief is, simply, All Suffering is Evil and Unnecessary; and anyone who disagrees with either assertion, either in general or for any given instance of suffering, is immediately to be suspected of brainwashing at best and malicious self-interest at worst. The defiance comes in the refusal to accept any testimony or evidence, even the most incontrovertible brute fact of the physical world, that any suffering might be “inevitable”. It is not so much an Unreality Principle as a Selective Unreality Principle; i.e., “I accept what is pleasurable as good and real and necessary; I reject what is painful as evil and false and unnecessary, as I so reject any right of any other person to tell me otherwise for his or her own benefit.”

    Every single totalitarian impulse, every single socialist scheme, and every single effort to force ugliness into aesthetics, takes its passion from this same (initial) driving motivation: the ending of suffering by the erasure of the one thing that is sincerely believed to cause it — exclusion; segregation; discrimination; preference; rejection; distinction. The line between those whose desires lend themselves to physically creating families, and those whose desires cannot be so lent, must be erased by erasing all differences of consequence, so nobody on the “wrong” side of that line will suffer for being outcast. The line between those who love ugliness, offensiveness and rawness and those who love beauty, insight and craft must be erased by rejecting all criteria by which one might prefer either, so nobody on the “wrong” side of that line will be mocked and rejected. The lines between those who will freely work, those who cannot work, and those who will not work must be erased by equally distributing the benefits of all work, by force if necessary (which it always is), so that those on the “wrong” sides of those lines will not go hungry either for their bad luck or their bad choices. In the end, of course, the ultimate segregation and rejection they wish to defy is the winnowing of the wheat from the chaff in the Judgement — and in itself that is not even so disrespectable a motivation; there have always been Universalists in Christianity, and I myself have always found it hard to see how it could be wrong to pray that all might be saved in the end.

    This is, I think, one of the reasons this neo-Gnosticism is so plausible and appealing to modern post-Christians: it offers all Christianity’s promise of a possible Heaven without insisting that a price of suffering must always be paid, and offers a way past the Christian dilemma that alleviating another’s suffering often requires taking up some more of it ourselves. That such an apparently selfless motive can in practice give rise to such vicious and hateful behavior is the same ideological flaw that any value scheme which does not include forgiveness in its definition can fall to: it is always fatally easy to believe that it is no evil to do evil to the evil.

    • Not only do I agree, but you have put the matter with admirable clarity and considerably less hotheadeness than myself. I wish I could incorporate your wording and way of expressing it. Perhaps you would do a guest essay on the topic?

      • Stephen J. says:

        I would be happy to — though perhaps I should wait until this current series is concluded, so as not to duplicate your effort.

        And much obliged for the kind words, though you and the co-commenters here must also take some credit for them by serving as constant example and inspiration. (It’s so nice to find a place on the Internet where people put this level of effort into the craft of composition.)

    • Gian says:

      All Suffering is Evil–does not that describe the Buddhist dogma?
      I think it is one of the Four Noble Truths as declared by the Buddha.

      • Stephen J. says:

        If I am accurately summarizing the Wikipedia entry, the first of the Four Noble Truths is more like, “All existence entails suffering.” It is not so much that suffering is evil in the sense a Christian would use that word, as that it is simply inherent and inevitable; its basic undesireability or unpleasantness is simply assumed as self-evident, rather than stated.

        This is one of the big differences between Buddhism and Christianity: Buddhism is an essentially practical philosophy that simply takes suffering as a fact and preaches a way to transcend it; Christianity is a metaphysical theory (in a very loose sense) in that it hypothesizes why suffering exists and builds its approach to dealing with that suffering on that hypothesis.

    • ChevalierdeJohnstone says:

      Despite our Dear Author’s recommendation, I have to say that elements of what you have introduced here are simply absurd.

      You have de-humanised those who hold these “neo-Gnostic” (a good term) beliefs. “Without insisting that a price of suffering must always be paid” – preposterous! Make the rounds at the social sciences or faculty department at any public university and you will find a nigh-unanimous clamour proclaiming the process of suffering “in a good cause”.

      No, you have both missed a key point. True, the driving motivation is the ending of suffering by that which is purported to cause it. Therein lies the tragedy, for this is a small-minded and tragic goal.

      Let us consider a new mother whose infant child is crying. She goes to comfort the child. Is her goal to stop the child from crying – to remove the source, or at least the outward sign, of its suffering? (I deliberately chose a new mother, not someone after a month of sleep deprivation, for this metaphor.) No – her goal is to make her child _happy_. Does he want milk? Does he want to be held? Does he need to be changed? Does he like to be sung to? She does not want simply to remove the source of her child’s unhappiness; she wants him to be _happy_.

      When the driving motivation of a person’s or a group’s or a culture’s actions is simply the End of Suffering – this can be accomplished by the simple cessation of existence. This is a far cry from a promise of eternal and perfect bliss. It is not the ending of suffering that is the issue, it is the utter lack of any higher purpose.

      • Stephen J. says:

        You are correct that my description is somewhat “dehumanizing” — I was attempting to outline my understanding of the belief in its most archetypal form, rather than trying at this stage to go into all the various ways real people who subscribe to such tenets contradict themselves, or include exceptions or loopholes, or set only semi-conscious thus-far-no-farther limits for themselves, or even simply fail to meet their own standards. A description of a hypothetical “Perfect Christian,” as an explication of the definition of Christianity, might be called equally “dehumanized” when one considers no real living person actually is a perfect Christian.

        And the appearance of preposterousness may be my own failure to fully explain what I meant. The key word in my original phrase is “always”. Many progressivist ideologues do, as you say, quite openly admit that accomplishing their goals may require prices of suffering, and that it is a virtue to suffer in a good cause. But the underlying conviction, albeit one that is seldom explicitly admitted itself (perhaps because any sane adult has to recognize how naïve, at best, it sounds when said aloud) is that it is possible to reach, and sustain indefinitely, a secular temporal state where nobody must any longer pay this price; some may have to suffer for us to get there but once we do get there the suffering will stop. Christians, of course, believe something similar, but of Heaven, not the fallen world; this, I think, is one of the things Jesus meant when He said, “The poor you have with you always.”

        (It is also worth noting another key difference between Christian and progressivist perspectives, which is that the latter usually feels perfectly entitled to decide how to allocate whatever suffering is deemed necessary, and to decide who is more “deserving” of it.)

        “When the driving motivation of a person’s or a group’s or a culture’s actions is simply the End of Suffering – this can be accomplished by the simple cessation of existence.”

        And isn’t that exactly why abortion, contraception, euthanasia, eugenics, and population control/reduction are such critical planks in the neo-Gnostic platform to begin with? You are correct to note that the elimination of suffering is not necessarily the production of happiness, and there may well be some in the neo-Gnostic ranks who grant the point — but almost every progressivist I have known insists that it is a necessary (if not sufficient) precondition to that happiness, and I cannot think of a single progressivist who would not be deeply, hostilely skeptical of any suggestion that one can be content or fulfilled despite still suffering (or worse, even because of that suffering). This is what the Marxist terms “opiate of the masses” and “false consciousness” were invented to explain, after all: the stubborn refusal of many people to see what should so obviously have been in their own best interests.

      • Mary says:

        the irony of life is that I have read, with my own eyes, a modernist arguing that it is a duty to euthanize a newborn with disabilities and have another child because the new baby would have greater potential for happiness.

        Note that under this axiom, happiness is not good because it is good for humans to be happy. It’s our duty to be happy as a sacrifice to the Great God Happiness, to whom we must offer human sacrifice.

  10. Nostreculsus says:

    I Drink

    I drink to drive away all the years I have hated,
    The ambitions frustrated that no longer survive.
    I drink day after day to the chaos behind me,
    Yes, I drink to remind me that still I’m alive…

    I drink to catch a gleam of the love we degraded,
    Of a life that has faded like the vanishing moon.
    I drink, as in a dream, to my waning desire,
    To the passionate fire that has burned out so soon…

    For the children unborn, for their dead, phantom faces,
    For our sterile embraces in the tomb of your bed.
    I drink, and I mourn for the harvest that failed,
    For the ship that has sailed, for the hope that is dead.

    I drink to find a place where the darkness can hide me
    Till the terror inside me can at last disappear.
    I drink to my disgrace, till oblivion claims me
    Till there’s nothing that shames me, till I’m blind to my fear.

    Yes, I drink till I burst in my own degradation,
    To the edge of damnation that is waiting below.
    Yes, I drink with a thirst that destroys and depraves me
    And cuffs and enslaves me, and will never let go…

    So I spit out my bile at the gods who demean us,
    At the silence between us, at the love none can save.
    For a life that is vile, for a soul that is ailing
    For a body that’s failing as it heads for the grave.

    Charles Aznavour

  11. John Hutchins says:

    Modern thought oddly claims to be scientific and to rely on the certainty of empiricism, but in fact takes everything on authority, and on anonymous authority at that.

    This is probably the thing that annoys me the absolute most. Somehow we are not able to trust our own senses, our feelings, our own judgements, not just in the sense of being aware that others may experience or interpret things differently but to the point of denying the existence and reality of what one experiences and feels, but at the same time we are to take as unquestionably valid everything that is deemed by them ‘Science’, as it is empirically proven (even when the point in question may not be at all). This makes presenting empirical evidence to them of a point in question to be meaningless, as they don’t trust themselves and ones evidence isn’t in accordance to the dogmas of ‘Science’. Yet the cry is always ‘that isn’t where the evidence leads’, even in cases where they have to deny reality and contradict their own position to attempt to say that.

  12. nati says:

    But sir, even without Christianity a society can exist, as it happen before Christ, and even a bad society, one that you wouldn’t approve it’s values, at list can exist.
    But what this people are saying can not exist!
    What i mean to say is that the anti cultural, anti socialism and anti human issue is more dominant and more strange than the anti Christian

    • A pagan is a pre-Christian, therefore something like a virgin before her marriage; a post-Christian is like a divorcee or a widow, after marriage. The modern postchristians have little or nothing in common with the classical pagans, who still retained some of the primitive spiritual health and sincerity of men who loved and respected nature, and knew that virtue was beautiful, even if life was short and full of pain. The postchristian thinks life is long and full of pleasure, and he respects nothing, and regards nothing as beautiful.

    • Mary says:

      1

      You said ‘The world is going back to Paganism’.
      Oh bright Vision! I saw our dynasty in the bar of the House
      Spill from their tumblers a libation to the Erinyes,
      And Leavis with Lord Russell wreathed in flowers, heralded with flutes,
      Leading white bulls to the cathedral of the solemn Muses
      To pay where due the glory of their latest theorem.
      Hestia’s fire in every flat, rekindled, burned before
      The Lardergods. Unmarried daughters with obedient hands
      Tended it. By the hearth the white-armd venerable mother
      Domum servabat, lanam faciebat. At the hour
      Of sacrifice their brothers came, silent, corrected, grave
      Before their elders; on their downy cheeks easily the blush
      Arose (it is the mark of freemen’s children) as they trooped,
      Gleaming with oil, demurely home from the palaestra or the dance.
      Walk carefully, do not wake the envy of the happy gods,
      Shun Hubris. The middle of the road, the middle sort of men,
      Are best. Aidos surpasses gold. Reverence for the aged
      Is wholesome as seasonable rain, and for a man to die
      Defending the city in battle is a harmonious thing.
      Thus with magistral hand the Puritan Sophrosune
      Cooled and schooled and tempered our uneasy motions;
      Heathendom came again, the circumspection and the holy fears …
      You said it. Did you mean it? Oh inordinate liar, stop.

      2

      Or did you mean another kind of heathenry?
      Think, then, that under heaven-roof the little disc of the earth,
      Fortified Midgard, lies encircled by the ravening Worm.
      Over its icy bastions faces of giant and troll
      Look in, ready to invade it. The Wolf, admittedly, is bound;
      But the bond will break, the Beast run free. The weary gods,
      Scarred with old wounds the one-eyed Odin, Tyr who has lost a hand,
      Will limp to their stations for the last defence. Make it your hope
      To be counted worthy on that day to stand beside them;
      For the end of man is to partake of their defeat and die
      His second, final death in good company. The stupid, strong
      Unteachable monsters are certain to be victorious at last,
      And every man of decent blood is on the losing side.
      Take as your model the tall women with yellow hair in plaits
      Who walked back into burning houses to die with men,
      Or him who as the death spear entered into his vitals
      Made critical comments on its workmanship and aim.
      Are these the Pagans you spoke of? Know your betters and crouch, dogs;
      You that have Vichy water in your veins and worship the event
      Your goddess History (whom your fathers called the strumpet Fortune).

      ― C.S. Lewis

  13. Rex May says:

    Good stuff. Really good. I found out about this site from Vox Day, and reblogged his post about you here:
    Nothing If Not Nihilism

  14. Christopher says:

    ‘Now you say Catholic teaching requires Catholics, once in public office, to abolish the First Amendment. That is lunacy. ‘

    I say the Catholic Church condemns religious liberty and stresses that the Catholic faith should be the faith of the state, as it is emphasised in The Syllabus of Errors. If religious liberty is condemned, how can a Catholic uphold religious liberty without opposing The Syllabus of Errors?

    ‘In any case, your point is too trivial for notice. The Papal States, at the moment, is 44 hectares, less than one square mile. ‘

    Of which does not negate the fact that His Holiness is still a Monarch, even if it is a city state.

    • John Hutchins says:

      The Fourth Lateran Council (Canon 3) says that public officers need to expel heretics and cleanse their territory of heretic filth, and that if they don’t after a year than Catholics are supposed to overthrow the ruler and cleanse the land themselves with the promise of indulgence for their sins and all the property that the heretics posses. That judges that are not Catholic or that are excommunicated are not to be listened to, contracts are void with non-Catholics, and that anyone attempting to defend or even tolerate heretics face excommunication and the same penalties.

      Are you suggesting that Catholics need to follow that canon from an ecumenical council as well?

      • Christopher says:

        I’m arguing from the recent Pontificates of Leo XIII, Pius IX and even Pope Gregory XVI.

        • John Hutchins says:

          A large number of Mr. Wright’s blog readers could attest to my being aware of the more recent encyclicals on the subject. You are coming at it from the other direction than me; which is a little bit disturbing from my point of view but also very interesting to see your questions and how others answer.

    • Sir, with all due respect, there is no disagreement here: you are merely making comments irrelevant to what I said. That the Pope exercises temporal authority over his palace and grounds does not obviate the fact that temporal and secular authority is, according to Catholic teaching and practice, separate.

      Indeed, this teaching originated in the Catholic Church and nowhere else. Protestants made their secular rulers (King Henry VIII et seq) supreme Pontiff of their national churches. The Brahmins of India did not teach that spiritual leadership was separate from secular, nor did the Mandarins of China, who worshiped the Emperor as a divine being, as did the Egyptians their Pharaoh, as did the Japanese their Tennyo, as did the pagan Romans their Imperator — and, indeed, in a certain way, the Protestants revered their absolute monarchs as sacred, and the idolators of the modern socialist heresies revere their Glorious Leaders.

      So, if you wanted to argue that Catholics are the only historical institution before the American federalist system that maintained a separation of Church and State, you would have an easier time of it.

      So far, you have quoted no one and nothing in support of your claim. You are claiming you know Catholic teaching better than I do. What is your credential for making that claim? Have you been through RCIA? Do you know any Catholics? Have you read the catechism, which is a adroit summation of all the Church teaches? Have your read the early Church fathers, the Papal bulls, the writings of Vatican II?

      The reason why I became Catholic is that whenever non-Catholics told me what Catholics believed or taught, their statements were misleading, mistaken, lies or lunacy.

      But this is a case where, I think, an argument can be made. Quote back to me the authoritative writing of the Catholic Church stating that we cannot live in a federal republican form of government. Or please admit that you cannot do so, and that you are mistaken.

      • Christopher says:

        ‘ You are claiming you know Catholic teaching better than I do.’

        Sir, I do not. I have not made such a claim whatsoever. I ask merely, and humbly what is a Catholic to do when the Syllabus of Errors, an encyclical of magisterial authority, outright condemns Religious Liberty? How is that reconciled with Vatican II.

        You state that I have not made claims, yet I have cited the Syllabus of Errors on the condemnation of Religious Liberty what, twice now? Is an Encyclical by the Holy Father Himself insufficient?

        ‘Quote back to me the authoritative writing of the Catholic Church stating that we cannot live in a federal republican form of government.’

        I implore you sir to re-read my words again. I did not nor never claim that you cannot live in a federal republican government. I claimed that if you were to hold office, would you then be at odds with the condemnations of Pius IX.

        If not, why not? Does a Papal Condemnation then hold suddenly to be invalid and that Religious Liberty ought to be promoted?

        Was Saint Augustine wrong to call on authority to crush heresy?

        Sir, I am a deeply faithful Catholic.

        • Please forgive me, I have reread your comments, and I can see no quote from the Syllabus of Errors that you said you quoted to the point you say you are making. The only quote I find is this: 27. The sacred ministers of the Church and the Roman pontiff are to be absolutely excluded from every charge and dominion over temporal affairs. — Allocution “Maxima quidem,” June 9, 1862.’ — which is not relevant to the discussion in any way, unless you claim that any exercise of secular power whatsoever by the Catholic Church is an infringement or even an abolition of religious liberty.

          So, again, I cannot answer your question until you provide me the quote. Because you have rather imaginatively interpreted my wording, I would like to be assured you have not imaginatively interpreted the wording of the Holy Father.

          Are you actually, really, honestly worried that because the Pope has a Swiss Guard and temporal control over less than a square mile of ground somewhere on the planet Earth, that no faithful Catholic can serve in public office in a federal republic that practices diseastablishment, and has no national church? I do not mean to seem dismissive, but this does not seem to me to be a realistic worry.

          • Christopher says:

            It’s no problem Mr. Wright.

            When I said re-read the argument I meant on the participation of Catholics in the republic. I argued that you can live and thrive under the republic, but would you not be at odds with the Church if you then advocated Religious Liberty in Office.

            As to Syllabus of Errors, that was on the issues of Temporal and Spiritual authority, I would argue paragraphs 77, 78 as I cited down below but gladly re-post:

            X. ERRORS HAVING REFERENCE TO MODERN LIBERALISM

            77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship. — Allocution “Nemo vestrum,” July 26, 1855.

            78. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship. — Allocution “Acerbissimum,” Sept. 27, 1852.

            ‘Because you have rather imaginatively interpreted my wording’ I hope I have not, the quote previously was on the basis of Temporal and Spiritual power, different from Church and State, so I apologise for the lack of clarity.

            ‘Are you actually, really, honestly worried that because the Pope has a Swiss Guard and temporal control over less than a square mile of ground somewhere on the planet Earth, that no faithful Catholic can serve in public office in a federal republic that practices diseastablishment, and has no national church? ‘

            I worry that there are pronouncements that claim that the Church can nor have any form of temporal power, to which all should be resolved in Civil Courts. I also worry that in serving a republic by Office, it is a toleration of religious liberty that the Church herself has condemned numerous times. The Church herself may have little temporal power in her current state, but when the State itself, such as Connecticut, seeks to intervene on the temporal power of the Church, it’s an issue of the world trying to impose itself upon the Church.

    • distractedbrony says:

      Could you please define what you mean by “religious liberty” more clearly? It seems to me that this is an issue which may turn upon the exact wording of a definition.

      Pius IX’s syllabus of errors seems to me, in #15, to speak of moral rather than civil freedom, as if in speaking of contraception it had condemned the proposition that “Every man is free to make use of artificial contraceptives in order to regulate childbirth”. As for propositions #77-79, these concern the _public_ exercise of false religions, which is held to be intolerable because of the scandal involved.

      I do not see as how either of these pronouncements, strictly speaking, require a Catholic in public office in America to fight against the religious liberty actually guaranteed by the Constitution. (Perhaps some later interpretations of the Constitution are incompatible with Catholic teaching, though.)

      • Christopher says:

        Religious Liberty as the State allowing Freedom of Religion openly, not as an act of Tolerance privately.

        Your argument in regards to #15 seems to regard to the notion of Liberty of Conscience of which if Pius IX’s Syllabus is assessed in continuity with his Predecessor Pope Gregory XVI (in Mirari Vos) condemning Indifferentism and the result being the Liberty of Conscience. Pius IX’s successor Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical Libertas in paragraph 18 claims that separation of Church and State is absurd since God is the source of all Goodness. Pius IX’s own Qunta Cura (Paragraph 3) reaffairms the position on Syllabus.

        Further in the Syllabus you must deal with:

        X. ERRORS HAVING REFERENCE TO MODERN LIBERALISM

        77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship. — Allocution “Nemo vestrum,” July 26, 1855.

        78. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship. — Allocution “Acerbissimum,” Sept. 27, 1852.

        79. Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indifferentism. — Allocution “Nunquam fore,” Dec. 15, 1856.

        God Bless.

        • Mr. Wright: Google found me a lengthy post on the matter. I hope this is helpful.

          Generally, if someone cites and cites only the Syllabus of Errors, the first thought should be concern. Intent and original context of these phrases still matters. Why? Putting aside the general principles for a moment, the Syllabus in particular is and always has been a secondary source for these ideas, albeit one which directly cites the direct source. Question: If the direct source is immediately cited, why isn’t that quoted?

          Usually, this line of argument is used by dissatisfied “Fish Eaters” types, who may or may not be sedevacantist and who may or may not be schismatic. They often believe themselves faithful Catholics. Unfortunately, because they began with an ideological axe to grind, and because like the Bible the Syllabus is weaponless against selective appropriation, they only convince themselves in their error. The Syllabus is like a cheatsheet, an easy reference for those who are already familiar with the material. As such, the Syllabus of Errors should not be cited by anyone who is not already familiar with the material.

          Because of the unreinforced nature of these simple Syllabus arguments, and because of the malleable nature of individual citations, arguments which use the Syllabus without also using the corresponding text immediately cited can be safely, and immediately, disregarded.

          (Catholic Answers goes into a great deal of history on the Syllabus.)

          • It was for reasons similar to what you named that I wanted to see the original quote, or hear the argument, and read whatever qualifications or clarifications surround the statement.

            Even so, I do not see why a Catholic who refuses to believe that heresy is good for people cannot support a federalism-style republic where heresy is legal, on the rounds that any established Church in an English speaking nation would most likely be Protestant, and in any Postmodern nation, Socialist, and in either case a grave danger to the Church.

            To be blunt, I don’t see the logical chain leading from the sentence quoted to the idea that Catholics cannot or ought not serve in public office in America. I’d like the argument stated rather than implied, because I cannot fill in the missing step from guesswork.

  15. Nostreculsus says:

    You want to build strong female characters? Netflix to the rescue!

    The Netflix algorithms recently decided I should consider movies “with a strong female lead”. So just figure out the common features of the female leads in the following: The Twilight Saga, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Dancing at Lughnasa, Brighton Rock, Monster, Through a Glass Darkly, Sylvia, The Iron Lady, Pretty in Pink, Julie & Julia.

    Build a character that is an amalgam of Margaret Thatcher, Julia Child, serial killer Aileen Wuornos, Saint Joan of Arc, Sylvia Plath and Bella Swan.

    Or recognise that the category “strong female character” is incoherent.

    in language, moderns are nominalists and magicians, believing words have the power to mold thought and perhaps change reality.

    But this is quite true. Orwell was quite clear on how the corruption of words corrupt thought. Why do the Politically Correct mages erase certain words, alter the meaning of others and create new words if not to force unformed reality into coordinates of their choosing?

    The function of the magickal incantation “strong female characters” is to divide the vast inchoate list of all the characters in the films listed above and pigeonhole them. This process can only deface the great mystery that is das Ewig-Weibliche.

    • “Orwell was quite clear on how the corruption of words corrupt thought.”

      This is why I recommend the Story of Loyal to the Gang of Seventeen from CITADEL OF THE AUTARCH by Gene Wolfe. It is one of the most cunning and heartfelt refutations of Orwell, and indeed of Jack Vance’s LANGUAGES OF PAO which I have ever come across.

      • Nostreculsus says:

        Certain mystes aver that the real world has been constructed by the human mind, since our ways are governed by the artificial categories into which we place essentially undifferentiated things, things weaker than our words for them.

        – Severian

    • To be fair, the Netflix algorithm may or may not be the definition sought by the partisans of feminism in this case. It may be nothing but the random concoction of the words ‘strong’ and ‘female’ appearing in descriptions of the movie entered by many anonymous hands.

      I am not saying the feminist demand for strong female characters is not incoherent; I am merely saying this is not probative of that.

  16. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2014/01/29 | Free Northerner

  17. Montecristo says:

    Actually, John, I am glad that you beat this dead horse again, as I missed the original discussions (I’ll probably go back and catch them up) but an interesting thing, in my opinion, has been beaten out of the corpse’s hide when you took the flail to it:

    “I think female characters should be realistic and interesting if you are writing a realistic story, should be unrealistic and interesting if you are writing an unrealistic story, but in both cases should be interesting, because no one wants an uninteresting story.”

    “By ‘realistic’ I mean feminine women characters; by ‘unrealistic’ I mean superheroine characters.”

    Am I to take it that you are claiming, in effect, that there is no such thing as an “unfeminine woman?” Or are you claiming that all “real” women are feminine and that all unfeminine ones are as unreal as Mighty Mouse, or The Human Torch?

    I see that you have categorized “Ripley” (the protagonist from “Alien” I presume) as is “unrealistic.” I would ask in what way is Ripley “superhuman”? I would agree that her role in the movie is heroic, but not that it is “super-heroic.” How would you classify Dr. Ryan Stone, the heroine of “Gravity”? Is she too, unrealistic? If so, in what way? What about “Lyndie England?” I would say that she is a very real woman, albeit not very feminine at all, as well as being villainous and base. Nevertheless, she is certainly real.

    I suggest that the error here is in conflating “not-ideal” with “unrealistic.” It’s a categorization error on your part. One can uphold feminism as an ideal quality to exhibit but one must concede that there are varying levels and qualities of femininity and masculinity in both men and women. “Not-ideal” is not synonymous with “unrealistic.”

    • Am I to take it that you are claiming, in effect, that there is no such thing as an “unfeminine woman?” Or are you claiming that all “real” women are feminine and that all unfeminine ones are as unreal as Mighty Mouse, or The Human Torch?

      I am puzzled by the question. I don’t think I said anything even close to that. You will have to explain to me what I said which tempted you to leap to the conclusion that I mean no unfeminine women exist.

      Superheroines are classed as ‘unrealistic’ because they have superpowers. Ripley is unrealistic not because she has superpowers, but because she fights monster aliens better than a trained marine squad.

      I suggest that the error here is in conflating “not-ideal” with “unrealistic.” It’s a categorization error on your part.

      I suggest you are arguing against a position I do not hold, and inventing imaginary error in equally imaginary arguments. Or, at least, I do not see what I said can justify the conclusion regarding whatever it is you mean by “non-ideal” — a term which you have yet to define. Perhaps my argument logically implies something I have not yet seen, but if so, you will do me the courtesy of pointing it out to me.

      One can uphold feminism as an ideal quality to exhibit but one must concede that there are varying levels and qualities of femininity and masculinity in both men and women.

      What? Who is arguing against this point? What did I say which led you to believe anyone says that there are not varying levels and qualities of femininity in women?

      Please reread what I wrote and respond, if at all, to the text as it stands. If I am unclear, ask a question, and I will answer it patiently. Do not put words into my mouth or attribute to me attitudes, conclusion, or whatnot other than the whatnot I myself say. Stick to the topic, if you would.

      • Montecristo says:

        I see your point about Ripley and it is well made. I hadn’t considered that perspective but now that you have clarified what you meant, I concur, but only to a certain extent. My question regarding how you would characterize the protagonist from the movie “Gravity” remains open, if you can or would like to entertain it. I found Sandra Bullock’s character in that film to be reasonably realistic, and heroic, but not notably unfeminine.

        With regard to the more general question though, “Are there no realistic yet unfeminine women?” it is entirely possible that I am misinterpreting what you mean. If you want me to show you the source of my curiosity about your position, I will restate the line I quoted from you in my previous comment:

        “By ‘realistic’ I mean feminine women characters; by ‘unrealistic’ I mean super-heroine characters.”

        I am not exactly concluding that you believe that “no unfeminine women exist,” rather I am asking if you believe that such women are necessarily “unrealistic”? If unfeminine women exist, and are in fact reasonably commonplace, how can they be “unrealistic” when portrayed in fiction?

        • My question regarding how you would characterize the protagonist from the movie “Gravity” remains open, if you can or would like to entertain it.

          I haven’t seen the film. I have four kids and two jobs, so I don’t get out much.

          I am not exactly concluding that you believe that “no unfeminine women exist,” rather I am asking if you believe that such women are necessarily “unrealistic”?

          Ah, I think I see the source of the problem. This happens to me a lot. Let me clarify. I made two statements (1) By ‘realistic’ I mean feminine women characters and (2) by ‘unrealistic’ I mean super-heroine characters. The first statement is that making females feminine is realistic because it follows reality, a point that the PC take pains to deny. The second statement is that characters with unrealistic backgrounds, such as superpowers, are unrealistic anyway, and so it does not really matter whether supergirl can punch a moon-robot through a brick wall. That does not make her unfeminine, as long as she does her robot moon punching in a sweet and girlish way.

          What I did not say was that unfeminine women do not exist. Obviously they do. Feminist often take great care to be as unfeminine as possible. So, no, I am not concluding that such women are unrealistic. I am not saying they make bad characters: think of Mrs Hardcastle in THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH, surely one of the least feminine female characters I can bring to mind.

          I am saying I have a double standard. In an unrealistic story, such as a superhero adventure, it does not break my suspension of disbelief, it does not even register, if buxom eyecandy babes are portrayed as able to deck a line of linebackers, provided we are given some explanation or excuse to explain why she has such greater physical strength. In a realistic story, having a female character of the human race exhibit traits, such as masculine aggressiveness, strength, physical prowess, maschismo, which are either unusual in females and entirely unknown in buxon eyecandy babes however, does shatter suspension of disbelief. As a reader, I myself don’t care which kind of story (realistic or unrealistic) you pick, just as long as you pick one and stick with it.

          So, in that limited sense, if you mean portraying women characters as being equally athletic as athletes, equally vicious as trained soldiers, equally able to perform as firemen as firemen, and so on, those women are ‘unfeminine’ only because few if any real human beings fit this definition. Martial arts training can make up for a great deal of difference in size and strength and aggression, but only under limited circumstances.

          Now, if you want to write a scene about a female midshipman, or a woman in the Israeli armed forces, or a lady cop, make them act and talk like their examples in the real world, with the limitations women in combat actually suffer. No female fireman on the face of the planet could pick up my unconscious body and sling me lightly over her shoulder.

          If you mean to write scenes where all physical and psychological differences between women and men are simply ignored or simply abolished, not only are you straining suspension of disbelief, you are trying to put across a false-to-fact dogmatic belief of the political correctness dogma.

          So, again, if by ‘unfeminine’ we mean ‘women being portrayed in a tin eared and hamfisted way as exactly the same as men physically and mentally, under the same set of rewards and costs for the same behaviors, and attempted to form the same sort of emotional relationships’ then, yes, I say that unfeminine portrayals of women in men’s role is unrealistic. If, on the other hand, by ‘unfeminine’ we mean only ‘not displaying the stereotyped or ritualized outward symbols or signs or sacraments of feminine nature’ then, no, unfeminine women are not unrealistic. There are many of them. They are unfortunately growing in number these days, depriving themselves and their dear ones of much joy in life.

          A realistic portrayal would show them as sad creatures, filled with false hopes or disappointments, jealous of the joys normal people have, people who do not fight the highest parts of human nature.

          If unfeminine women exist, and are in fact reasonably commonplace, how can they be “unrealistic” when portrayed in fiction?

          I am not sure I understand the question. Roman Catholic Priests are commonplace in life, but the last realistic portrayal of one I ever saw was in a Shakespeare play. Nearly all the other ones I’ve had the misfortune of reading were as flat and unrealistic as cardboard.

          It is pretty clear we are talking at cross purposes, and the misunderstanding is at a basic level. Do you understand I am a writer, talking about art? I am not a politician talking about legal policy. I am talking about what makes a good story. Propaganda never is good drama. Writers serve and obey the truth. Propaganda serve up lies. The two are opposite.

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