What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

All Hail the Irish!

In times such as these, I am honoured to trace my ancestry to two European signs of contradiction, Poland and Ireland; though my pride is these heritages cannot be delimited by purely political considerations, in an age dominated by malign political ideologies and their votaries, political considerations are bound to factor more highly than they would in healthier times. Poland catalyzed the resistance to Communist domination in Eastern Europe, and Ireland, in rejecting the Treaty of Lisbon, itself merely a treaty intended to bypass the popular opposition that felled the Euro-Constitution, have shown themselves unwilling to go into that long night without resistance. While I harbour a suspicion that Lawrence Auster is correct in predicting that the Eurocrats will decree that EU treaties cannot be subjected to referenda, this defiance must not go unrecognized. If those of us who purpose to defend the heritage of the West, and the separate heritages of her constituent nations, must walk toward defeat, let us at least do so with eyes open, commemorating each victory wrenched from between the teeth of defeat as a noble triumph. There is nobility in such defiance; there is but shame in submission.

Nonetheless, in an intemperate outburst worthy of a commissar whose prerogatives have been denied, Morning's Minion denounces the opposition to the European Union, insinuating in the process that such opposition is contrary to the Christian religion:

So what went wrong in Ireland? As I said , people didn’t understand it. As they have in the past, people used it to protest against the government in an environment of increasing economic uncertainty. And the “no” campaign was particularly effective with its scaremongering tactics. The Irish were told that the treaty would force them to raise their tax rates. They were told military neutrality would be jeopardized. They were told abortion would be introduced in Ireland. All lies. In the end, every single mainstream political party and social partner supported the treaty. Its opponents were a rag-tag group of Marxists, ex-terrorists, hard-care nationalists, the extreme Catholic right, and a shady unknown businessman with ties to the US defense industry. (Snip)

Ah, but they have already spoken. Completely oblivious to the voice of the Irish church, some US Catholics (the usual suspects) laud the no vote, the the grounds that Ireland has given the finger to “Brussels elitists”. As always, they are reflecting their own political and ideological biases onto Europe. They see the debate through the eyes of the kind of Enlightenment-era liberalism that prizes the liberty of the individual over the common good and solidarity (notice the whole comment is about economics- when the Irish bishops say that is exactly the wrong way to look at it). They are also wedded to a form of nationalism that elevates the role of the nation state above any supranational cooperation. Clearly, the dream of Erasmus and Thomas More for a united, peaceful, Europe was misplaced then…

Well, yes. Erasmus was a self-promoting crank, and Thomas More's Utopia is just that: a work of utopian fiction. Besides, sainthood does not entail the infallibility of each of the saint's utterances. We are not bound to truck with universalist redemptive schemes on the grounds that St. Gregory of Nyssa's theological thought inclines in that direction.

In point of fact, that last, denunciatory paragraph exemplifies much that is wrong with controversies over the nature and desirability of the European Union. Perhaps it is true that many Americans, Catholic and otherwise, who oppose European unification do so out of fealty to Enlightenment liberal political and economic ideals whose consonance with Christian doctrine is dubious; there are, however, other grounds for such opposition which are not at all dubious, as they are not mere veils drawn over a conflation of Christianity and neoliberalism. Perhaps it is the case that Christianity, valuing as it must the natural order and natural kinds, is obligated to honour the cultural, ethnic, and political diversity of mankind, and therewith the goods that can only be realized in relatively more integral communities delimited culturally, ethnically, and politically; perhaps therefore, recognizing these goods, and recognizing, further, that an integration the rationales for which have always been economic and geopolitical will reduce such goods to the status of cultural theme-parks, Christianity is obligated to resist crude economism and realpolitik. Stated differently, there are no social solidarities which necessitate, if they are to be realized, European integration.

Moreover, the notion that the European Union instantiates a Christian conception of solidarity ought to be risible on its face. The EU commissars pointedly refused to acknowledge the Christian heritage of Europe in drafting their Constitution, and true to form, conceived of their union as a custodian of universal human rights doctrines owing much, much more to Enlightenment fabulisms than to anything that Christian natural law philosophers would recognize. Such protocols, as enshrined in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms", are expressions of the managerial, technocratic, secularist ethos of contemporary Western elites, which strives to normalize every moral deviation proscribed by Christianity, to the ends of making straight the paths of administrative and economic efficiency, and creating fields and pretexts for the exercise of power. We should be forthright, undissembling, undeceived, and absolutely settled in mind as regards what these technocratic powers are, what they entail, and the manner in which they will be exercised: they are employed, and will continue to be employed, to batter and buffet the tattered remnants of Christian civilization in Europe, and to facilitate the mass immigration of culturally alien, unassimilable, hostile Others into the European heartland, all the better to bury, and secure against the remotest possibility of resurrection, a possible alternative popular and elite formation predicated upon the Christian traditions of the West. When the indigenous traditions and cultures of the European peoples have been simultaneously subverted by the post-Marxist cultural enthusiasms of the partisans of universal human rights, and displaced by alien cultures, their historic bearers thus disinherited and dispossessed, what possibility of resistance will remain? Ah, yes, we've already been warned: any resistance will be stigmatized as fascist, Marxist, extreme, terrorist, and corrupt. One is sent into reminiscences of Auguste Comte, who inveighed against the opponents of his Religion of Humanity as "retrogrades and perturbators" who would be proscribed under the administrative reign of the positivist vanguard of humanity.

If Christianity either is, or countenances, the reign of a technocratic elite engaged in the extirpation of Christianity and the displacement of the historical peoples of Europe, all in the name of geopolitical ambition and utilitarian economic calculation; and if Christianity proposes to baptize such a politics with the names of "subsidiarity" and "solidarity", then the salt has lost its savour, and is fit only to be cast into the streets to be trampled by men and beasts. More than this, it has become a howling infamy begging to be silenced, and Nietzsche and the usually risible neo-pagans have been vindicated; for if Christianity sets itself in defiant opposition to those natural kinds and communities in which men have always, from time immemorial organized themselves and found meaning, meaning transcending the meanness of individual interests, proposing to pursue the chimera of a universal humanity, then it is not so much Christianity as gnosticism - and profoundly anti-human in its disregard for the structures of existence, of the in-betweenness of the human condition. If this is, I say, Christianity, then give us paganism.

Comments (13)

It should come as no surprise that the Irish, after freeing themselves from the yoke of colonialism fairly recently, would resist any attempt to refashion a loss of sovereignty. As for Vox Nova, an impossible accommodation with late Liberalism seems to be the primary goal of some who write for that site. One should turn to Eugene McCarraher, or William Cavanaugh, when looking for an intelligent critigue of modernity, from what is arguably termed the Catholic Left.

Happy Father's Day. And, while on the Irish theme; go Celtics. Beat LA!

Cavanaugh is excellent; I hope to find the time to write a bit about his little volume, Being Consumed at some point in time.

I generally enjoy the commentary over at Vox Nova, finding much of it to be incisive in its critique of conservative conflations of Christian doctrine and (movement conservative, which is to say, right-liberal) conservative dogmas. There is, unfortunately, a tendency among some to assume that because the conservatives are obviously wrong in identifying neoliberalism with Christian doctrine that the political left must exhibit greater fidelity to Christian doctrine.

As for the Celtics, yes: Beat LA! I was not a basketball fan in 1983, at the age of 9, but the story itself is arresting: the Celtics fans in Boston, after witnessing the defeat of their team at the hands of the Sixers, took up the refrain: Beat LA! And so the Sixers did, gloriously. It was our last major-sport championship, alas.

Oh, yes: Happy Father's Day. And knock back a pint of Guinness to honour the Irish

I remember the '83 series well. The Celtics rallied from being down 3-1, yet again to force a Game 7 in Boston. The Garden was decked in DEJA VU signs and Daryll Dawkins asked after the 76ers won, if Deja Vu was a Parisian power forward the Celtics had recently signed. Ouch! A great moment in an awesome rivalry.

Guinness in cans works. We call this technological break-through, the Irish Space Program. I think it better than NASA, myself.

I look forward to your review of Being Consumed.

Over at Ex Laodicea ( http://exlaodicea.wordpress.com/2008/06/14/ireland-i-love-you/ ) is a transcript of an eerie interview between a Eurocrat and a journalist who wonders what Euroskeptics have to do to stop these votes from repeating until the desired, permanent pro-EU result is reached:

- Can you explain to voters what they would have to do, to kill it?

- [3 sec] I think first of all if we are serious about democracy I think we have to understand why the irish people voted no. That must be sort of the first stage, and this is what the irish and what we will contribute to do until the heads of state and governments meet.

- Presumably they voted no because they don’t like the treaty, but your boss is saying it will go on.

- Well you don’t know that

- I’m just I’m just asking you what would they have to do, not to have it?

- I think you just have to find out, and i think the Irish government will make the analysis and we will through the europe parliament try to find out more

- But is there anything

- after the french and the dutch votes as well and the answers were very different actually if you compare what the voters in france and in the netherlands said

- Well they said no. [Talking across each other a lot]

- But is there *anything* voters can do? In a democracy.

- In a democracy then you listen to the concerns and you see is there anything we can do do meet these concerns …

"We know what you really want, and we're going to give it to you. You just have to be taught to consent to it, that's all."


I left a very detailed response over at Christopher Blosser's place (http://www.ratzingerfanclub.com/blog/2008/06/treaty-of-lisbon-irish-save.html) where I dealt largely with how his and your analysis is out of tone with the Irish bishops, and how this Treaty is largely procedural, not opening up any new policy areas.

But let me raise a rather basic issue here: what attracts me most about the European project is what many Christian Democrats (such as the Bavarian CSU's Edmund Stoiber) dub the "Europe of the regions" -- a loose supranational federation with much power devolved to the regions. What gets taken out is the nation state, which I consider an ugly step-child of the Enlightenment. For the modern nation state usurps powers that rightly belong to subsidiary mediating institutions and wipes out a traditional network of overlapping loyalties in favor of a direct relationship between the individual and the state (how delightfully Protestant!). Now, there are tendencies in Europe that go against this conception of Europe, but these tendencies are highly influenced by nationalism. And here is the rub: so many American critics of the EU are themselves deeply wedded to a nationalist conception of the USA. After all, the idea of a pan-European army would repulse me, and yet we think of the existence of a US army as beyond question (even glorifying it)-- why?

I think the answer is clear: many American critics are influenced by American ideologies, not only nationalism but an Enlightenment-era view of individual liberty. I would contend that the Catholic founders of modern Europe (Adenauer, Schuman, De Gespari) made sure that the birth of the European project owed much to Catholic social teaching, especially solidarity and subsidiarity. On the other hand, the US was clearly born from the womb of the Enlightenment.

I would contend that the Catholic founders of modern Europe (Adenauer, Schuman, De Gespari) made sure that the birth of the European project owed much to Catholic social teaching, especially solidarity and subsidiarity.

Supporting evidence? If there is a reaction towards localism, why can one not say that this is in reaction to both to failed nation-states and the EU? What evidence does one have to say that the EU supports localism? Its Constitution? I think not.

On the other hand, the US was clearly born from the womb of the Enlightenment.

One assertion deserves another--no, it wasn't.

his and your analysis is out of tone with the Irish bishops

I was unaware that being ordained a bishop gave one the charism of infallible political analysis. I am beginning to wonder why the bishops don't simply give the members of their local Church a short document on how to vote on each ballot and have done with it. It would certainly make election cycles easier for the faithful.

Unless, of course, it is the duty of the lay faithful to seek to implement the Gospel and the natural law in the social order. In which case, there is nothing untoward about the lay faithful disagreeing the the bishops' analysis and voting as such.

...Thomas More's Utopia is just that: a work of utopian fiction...

Actually, many take it as a satire of precisely the sort of Utopian planning that it contains.

Correction. The Irish Bishops did NOT endorse the Lisbon Treaty. They did issue an ambiguous, vapid exhortation to simply vote. Not the stuff of St Thomas More, for sure, but a far cry from Vichy-like collaboration with a godless enterprise. Abortion was a major reason why the Treaty went down in flames. The pro-lifers in the pews rallied and temporarily laid low an anti-Christian project. May the Shepherds catch-up to their flocks.

And of course abortion policy stands to be implicated in the expansion of EU authority, insofar as the "rights of women" will be interpreted by Brussels so as to mandate access to abortion.

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