Chesterton on Honor

The American Civil War was a real war between two civilizations.

It will affect the whole history of the world. There were great and good men, on both sides, who knew it would affect the whole history of the world. Yet the great majority of Englishmen know nothing about it, or only know the things that are not true. They have a general idea that it was `all about niggers’; and they are taught by their newspapers to admire Abraham Lincoln as ignorantly and idiotically as they once used to abuse him. All this seems to me very strange; not only considering the importance of America, but considering how everybody is now making America so very important. America is allowed to have, if anything, far too much influence on the affairs of the rest of the world…

We know, in our own case, that it is sometimes possible to lose a war after we have won it. The American politicians lost something more valuable than a war; they lost a peace. They lost a possibility of reconciliation that would not only have doubled their strength, but would have given them a far better balance of ideas which would have vastly increased their ultimate influence on the world. Lincoln may have been right in thinking that he was bound to preserve the Union. But it was not the Union that was preserved. A union implies that two different things are united; and it should have been the Northern and Southern cultures that were united. As a fact, it was the Southern culture that was destroyed. And it was the Northern that ultimately imposed not a unity but merely a uniformity. But that was not Lincoln’s fault. He died before it happened; and it happened because he died.

Everybody knows, I imagine, that the first of the men who really destroyed the South was the Southern fanatic, John Wilkes Booth. He murdered the one man in the North who was capable= of comprehending that there was a case for the South. But Northern fanatics finished the work of the Southern fanatic; many of them as mad as he and more wicked than he. Mr. Bowers gives a vivid account of the reign of terror that Stevens and Sumner and the rest let loose on the defeated rebels a pestilence of oppression from which the full promise of America has never recovered. But I have a particular reason at the moment for recommending to my countrymen some study of the book and the topic.

Every age has its special strength, and generally one in which some particular nation is specially strong. Every age has also its special weakness and deficiency, and a need which only another type could supply. This is rather specially the Age of America; but inevitably, and unfortunately, rather the America of the Northern merchants and industrialists. It is also the age of many genuine forms of philanthropy and humanitarian effort, such as modern America has very generously supported. But there is a virtue lacking in the age, for want of which it will certainly suffer and possibly fail. It might be expressed in many ways; but as short a way of stating it as any I know is to say that, at this moment, America and the whole world is crying out for the spirit of the Old South.

In other words, what is most lacking in modern psychology is the sentiment of Honour; the sentiment to which personal independence is vital and to which wealth is entirely incommensurate. I know very well that Honour had all sorts of fantasies and follies in the days of its excess. But that does not affect the danger of its deficiency, or rather its disappearance. The world will need, and need desperately, the particular spirit of the landowner who will not sell his land, of the shopkeeper who will not sell his shop, of the private man who will not be bullied or bribed into being part of a public combination; of what our fathers meant by the free man. And we need the Southern gentleman more than the English or French or Spanish gentleman. For the aristocrat of Old Dixie, with all his faults and inconsistencies, did understand what the gentle man of Old Europe generally did not. He did understand the Republican ideal, the notion of the Citizen as it was understood among the noblest of the pagans. That combination of ideal democracy with real chivalry was a particular blend for which the world was immeasurably the better; and for the loss of which it is immeasurably the worse. It may never be recovered; but it will certainly be missed.

G.K. Chesterton On America, from COME TO THINK OF IT.

My comment: For those very few of you lamenting the lack of honor in politics, consider that politics is downstream of culture.

For those of you lamenting the lack of honor in culture, consider that culture is wisdom organically grown over generations, and must be nurtured and tended. Alien branches might indeed by grafted on to the main trunk, but the matter is slow and delicate, and the work is not to be finished in a generation, if ever.

The reason, dear reader, why you have never read an honest debate online, is that with the anonymity of the Internet, all men wear the Ring of Gyges, the ring that turns a man invisible and places him beyond any retaliation no matter his words.

The reason why the modern generation craves the Ring of Gyges, is that public schooling has done its work, and driven the last remnant of honor, or any sense of honor, or any sense of independence, gumption, grit, resolve, and manhood from our youth. We, as a nation, turned the education of our children over to Caesar, and Caesar has made them, as he always will, into eunuchs.

A eunuch has no fine Old South sense of honor.

He goes crying like a girl to the nearest friendly authority when he is offended, and, being a eunuch, he enjoys being offended. He sandpapers his nerves to ultra-fine sensitivity, so that the slightest slight to him is intolerable. No callous mars his milky-white and sensitive skin. At the same time, lacking all manhood, he has no practice with the control of strength, and no courage to allow him to fight with chivalry.

He uses snark and cattishness and sarcasm and secret whispers for the same reason a woman prefers to use poison rather than a strangling wire to do murder: her soft hands are unused to the task. So he will fight like a hellcat, all claws and teeth, with no quarter asked or given, and, because he would never keep a truce (that requires honor which requires courage) he trusts no truce offered.

Even that longstanding truce known as Rule of Law is alien to him. When the law is to his advantage, he wraps himself in the flag, and calls all men to obey the letter, punishing any deviation with Draconian ferocity.

See, for example, the clerk in Tennessee, who wished to obey the vote of her fellow citizens rather than the vote of her unelected judicial master, and excuse herself politely from issuing a sodomy marriage certificate.

Ah, but when the law runs against him, he tramples the flag, and patriotism becomes a dirty word. Disobedience both civil and uncivil become the order of the day, up to and including riot, vandalism, occupying wall street, and shooting cops in the name of Black Hates Matter.

See, for example, sanctuary cities, where the officers of the law conspire to subvert the votes of their fellow citizens. See also the remarkably lackluster prosecution of wars against third world goatherds funded by oil-rich Sultans: in a proper republic, the leadership would fight when and as the people demanded, not playing bombing games which risk no lives but win no battles either.

Because the game of obeying the law only when it suits is difficult to maintain if the laws are simple, clear, and in command by the people, it behooves the eunuch to favor bureaucracies, judge-made law, and legal systems that do not punish important people from important families caught doing the same things that send common folk to jail. Democracy is the foe of the eunuch; bureaucracy, particularly where the regulations are beyond even legal experts to understand (see Obamacare) is the rat’s nest and home ground familiar and useful to the eunuch. He hates nothing more than objective law.

Being a eunuch, he has no self esteem, and no self command. He indulges his every whim to the greatest degree practical, or beyond, and dreads any slightest frown at any who might mock his slavery to base appetites.

To avoid these scowls, the eunuch requires that all talk of virtue and vice be abolished as hate speech, and to enforce this abolition, the eunuch requires a Nanny armed with the powers of Caesar, or, better yet, a Caesar who makes the false promises that he will kiss all boo boos like a Nanny, feed, house, nurture, and wrap the subject in swaddling clothing.

If the education process has been a success, the breed of man who would rather starve than take a penny of charity from the government has been bred out of existence. The Churches who deal real charity work, finding homes for orphans and feeding the starving, will have been forbidden by Caesar from this work, on the grounds that it is bigotry not to put children into the homes of sexual perverts, and unhealthy to feed food to the poor. I make no exaggeration in these last two cases: such is the real state of our real laws in America at the moment.

The eunuch is a foe of democracy but loves hierarchy. He is a foe of honest and chivalrous combat, so terrorism, striking at the weak and helpless via ambuscade, gives him a sexual thrill of sadism to contemplate. He delights in seeing towers fall, and innocent people on fire flinging themselves to their deaths. Barbarians preoccupy his imagination: he regards them as authentic, raw, rugged, brutally direct, and therefore everything he is not. Of course he welcomes them into the nation in droves, without vetting, and admires their ability to destroy the civilization that swaddles him.

What love has a eunuch for civilization? He lives in a constant state of shrieking misery, sarcasm, bitterness, complaint, and hypocritical self righteousness. Countless micro-aggression sting him, and he slinks like a slug back to his safe spaces which Caesar provides.

Without honor, without faith, without courage, without virtue, the pleasure seeking wretch soon seeks pleasure no longer, but finds a strange, unaccountable allure in all things ugly, distorted, wretched, meaningless, insane. See any modern art museum for examples, particularly the ones where cans of shit, or a toilet, or an empty room, or a severed corpse, are presented as equal to a Pre Raphaelite painting, or a sculpture by Michelangelo.

He yearns for chains. He does not want to live. He wants you to die, preferably after humiliation and mockery. Civilized executions where prisoners die with dignity are not what he wants. He wants to see the whole men, the productive men, the rational men, the grown men, reduced to the wretchedness equal to his own.

How can any sense of honor, once uprooted, be restored?

Alas, I fear the soil has been salted to six feet of depth in America. That bloom will never bloom again.

Not without a miracle from Christ, I should add. How did we let these eunuchs take control of all our culture now? We can pray, and they cannot.

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