Friday, August 31, 2012

Christus Imperat or the Progressive Rule


To anticipate the future, you must first understand the present. To understand the present, you must learn about the past. And the best way to learn about the past is through the lens of a Catholic historian well-grounded in the Faith. Hilaire Belloc is one such historian. In the 1930's he wrote a piece entitled, "The Modern Phase." In it, he traces out the epic ideas and the historic forces that would be at play in 2012.

Although most concerned Americans are placing a great deal of attention on the presidential campaigns and the election in November (as they should), it is good to keep in mind that politics is but the consequence of factors closer to home. To be sure, religion and the family determines the social forces that invariably pave the way for political developments. Until Americans come to grips with this historical truth, the threat of an all-powerful State will continue to loom as a menace with every election.

By cutting and pasting excerpts from Belloc's "Modern Phase", I spared the reader of having to read sections that are long and complicated. I believe the selected passages below will give the reader sufficient appreciation of his insights. It also happens to read smoothly.

After having read this, I am confident that America's crossroads will be better understood.

Excerpts from the Modern Phase:

Let us examine the Modern Attack (the anti-Christian advance) and distinguish its special nature. We find, to begin with, that it is at once materialist and superstitious.

There is here a contradiction in reason, but the modern phase, the anti-Christian advance, has abandoned reason. It is concerned with the destruction of the Catholic Church and the civilization preceding therefrom. It is not troubled by apparent contradictions within its own body so long as the general alliance is one for the ending of all that by which we have lived until now.

The modern attack is materialistic because in its philosophy it considers only material causes...Being atheistic, it is characteristic of the advancing wave that it repudiates the human reason. Such an attitude would seem again to be a contradiction in terms; for if you deny the value of human reason, if you say that we cannot- through our reason -arrive at any truth, then not even the affirmation so made can be true. Nothing can be true, and nothing is worth saying.

But that great Modern Attack (which is more than a heresy) is indifferent to self-contradiction. It merely affirms. It advances like an animal, counting on strength alone. Indeed, it may be remarked in passing that this may well be the cause of its final defeat; for reason has always overcome its opponents; and man is the master of the beast through reason.

Anyhow, there you have the Modern Attack in its main character, materialist, and atheist; and, being atheist, it is necessarily indifferent to truth. For God is Truth.

But there is (as the greatest of the ancient Greeks discovered) a certain indissoluble Trinity of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. You cannot deny or attack one of these three without at the same time denying or attacking both the others. Therefore with the advance of this new and terrible enemy against the Faith and all that civilization which the Faith produces, there is coming not only a contempt for beauty but a hatred of it; and immediately upon the heels of this there appears a contempt and hatred for virtue.

The better dupes, the less vicious converts to the enemy, talk vaguely of a "readjustment, a new world, a new order"; but they do not begin by telling us, as in common reason they should, upon what principles this new order is to be raised. They do not define the end they have in view.

Communism...professes to be directed towards a certain good, to wit, the abolition of poverty. But it does not tell you why this should be a good; it does not admit that its scheme is also to destroy other things which are also by the common consent of mankind good; the family, property (which is the guarantee of individual freedom and individual dignity), humor, mercy, and every form of what we consider right living.

Well, give it what name you like, call it as I do here "The Modern Attack," or as I think men will soon have to call it, "Anti-Christ," or call it by the temporary borrowed term of [progressivism] but it is not the revolt of the oppressed; it is not the rising of the proletariat against capitalist injustice and cruelty; it is something from without, some evil spirit taking advantage of men's distress and of their anger against unjust conditions.

Now that thing is at our gates. Ultimately, of course, it is the fruit of the original break-up of Christendom at the Reformation. It began in the denial of a central authority [i.e. the papacy], it has ended by telling man that he is sufficient to himself, and it has set up everywhere great idols to be worshipped as gods.

The Catholic observer would deny the possibility of the Church's complete extinction. But he must also follow historical parallels; he also must accept the general laws governing the growth and decay of organisms, and he must tend, in view of all the change that has passed in the mind of man, to draw the tragic conclusion that our civilization, which has already largely ceased to be Christian, will lose its general Christian tone altogether.

[With that said], the Church will not disappear, for the Church is not of mortal stuff; it is the only institution among men not subject to the universal law of mortality. Therefore we say, not that the Church may be wiped out, but that it may be reduced to a small band almost forgotten amid the vast numbers of its opponents and their contempt of the defeated thing.

Thus are we now in the presence of the most momentous question that has yet been presented to the mind of man. Thus are we placed at a dividing of the ways, upon which the whole future of our race will turn... The modern attack on the Faith (the latest and most formidable of all) has advanced so far that we can already affirm one all-important point quite clearly:

Of two things one must happen, one of two results must become definite throughout the modern world. Either the Catholic Church (now rapidly becoming the only place wherein the traditions of civilization are understood and defended) will be reduced by her modern enemies to political impotence, to numerical insignificance, and, so far as public appreciation goes, to silence; or the Catholic Church will, in this case as throughout the past, react more strongly against her enemies than her enemies have been able to react against her; she will recover and extend her authority, and will rise once more to the leadership of civilization which she made, and thus recover and restore the world.

In a word, either we of the Faith shall become a small persecuted neglected island amid mankind, or we shall be able to lift at the end of the struggle the old battle-cry, "Christus Imperat!" [translated: Christ rules!]