Wednesday, January 31, 2024

When Lying is a Virtue*

*Virtue as those in the cocktail circuit see it

Proverbs 17: 7 Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

We are told by our “princes” to believe all of the following if we are to be considered virtuous:

·         We are not committing genocide.

·         This is the most moral army in the world.

·         Palestinians are animals.

·         We care about free speech.

·         The laptop is a hoax.

·         The election was the fairest in history.

·         They tried to overthrow the government.

·         The election was stolen by the Russians.

·         Two weeks to flatten the curve.

·         Masks.

·         Six feet.

·         Safe and effective.

·         Take the shot and stop the spread.

·         You’re killing grandma.

·         A rules-based order.

·         Ukraine is fighting for democracy.

·         Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet Union.

·         Climate change will end the world in [insert new timeframe here].

·         Electric vehicles reduce carbon emissions.

·         A boy can be a girl.

·         A girl can be a boy.

And this is just a sampling from the last 5 years or so.


John 8: 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

To avoid confusion, that was Jesus talking.  You will never see that verse in one of those “He Gets Us” commercials.


Revelation 12: 7-9 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Judgement…and Suicide


The Christmas Truce of 1914 was a judgement upon a civilization with a supporting culture that no longer directed its members toward the heavenly transformation of the world.  But as soon as it was delivered, post-Christian Christendom’s utopian project revived.  On the day following, the thundering of cannon and crackling of machine guns quickly drowned out the memory of paradise.

The Age of Utopia: Christendom from the Renaissance to the Russian Revolution, by John Strickland

Before getting to this part of Stickland’s work, a couple of thoughts come to mind regarding this truce and Strickland’s observation: first, that the men fighting the war on opposite sides had much more in common with each other than they did with those who were ordering them to fight.  Perhaps there was still something of Christendom within them.

Second, Stickland paints a picture of the common man grasping for a piece of paradise, of heavenly transformation.  The men may not have thought about it that way, but for a short time they had community – they played football against each other, they commemorated mass with each other. 

Today, once again we see it is the common man searching for transcendent meaning in an otherwise meaningless West, while his “betters” are doing their best, just as they did in the Great War, to strip the common man of all meaning.

Stickland opens this chapter with an examination of the move toward nationalism following the revolutionary period of 1848.  It wasn’t like Christendom was not divided previously into tribes – Europe for countless centuries was divided into almost countless tribal groups.  However, the uniting force of Europe was Christendom, overriding or sitting above the tribal divisions.

This uniting force is visible in every “old town” in western Europe.  For centuries, it was the church or cathedral building that marked the center of the village or town, holding the premier spot in the town square, where people would gather for the market or for community.

No longer.  The uniting force went from Christendom to nationalism.  France had its Arc de Triomphe, commemorating the fallen soldiers of the Napoleonic wars, and the Eiffel Tower which marked the centennial of the Storming of the Bastille.  England had Admiral Nelson’s Trafalgar Square, Crystal Palace, and, of course, its Parliament Building.

The United States was a key player here as well, with monuments to national pride, with The Apotheosis of Washington painted into the interior of the Capitol dome – a long way from the Hagia Sophia, with Christ Pantocrator.

Out of the revolutions of 1848, a new Germany would arise, the time marked by Otto von Bismark.  He would become chancellor of Prussia under King Wilhelm I in the later part of the nineteenth century, and would advocate for “blood and iron” – a combination of nationalism and militarism.  By 1871 and victory over France, a new, united Germany would be formed, held under Prussian monarchy. 

Another aside: in this victory over France, France was forced to cede the territory of Alsace-Lorraine.  This territory had a history of dispute stretching back over one thousand years.  Charlemagne’s empire did not last united for long.  By the time of his grandsons, it was divided into three parts – one for each grandson; basically, what is now France to the west, what is now Germany to the east, and right in the middle – Alsace-Lorraine…Middle Francia.  The two brothers, east and west, would fight to defeat Lothar, the third brother who was king over this middle territory.  How many times has this land changed hands since….

Friday, January 19, 2024

The Seeds of Revolutionary Destruction


But it was in Russia, the bastion of the old Christendom, where socialists would find conditions most favorable for resuming the liberating and violent march of progress.

The Age of Utopia: Christendom from the Renaissance to the Russian Revolution, by John Strickland

I have recently purchased part four of Stickland’s four-part examination of the rise and fall of Western Christendom, and when preparing to begin writing on this book I discovered I did not complete my work on volume three.  So, contrary to my uninformed plans, I am going back to this prior volume.

The time is the mid-nineteenth century; the place, as you see, is Russia.  The Russian Empire was the first to defeat Napoleon; further, it did not succumb to the various revolutionary subversions of 1848.  Grounded, as it remained, in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, it had a stability and unity that began coming apart in the West since at least the Enlightenment, if not the Renaissance.

This united culture would begin to be penetrated by the secular humanism of the West.  Strickland introduces two figures, each representing a different side in the developing cultural divide, each living and dying in the first half of the nineteenth century. 

First is Alexander Pushkin.  As a child, he learned French before he learned Russian; he would write plays in the style of Voltaire; he would advocate for a westernized reform of the Russian language, as against those who held ties to the old Church Slavonic.

Exiled to the Caucasus for praising liberalism, he would conduct affairs with married women, declare himself an avowed atheist, and hold a complete disdain for the Christianity that surrounded him.  He would write blasphemies against the Eucharist, the Resurrection, and the Virgin Mary.  He would somewhat modify his views once he was allowed a return to Petersburg.

Pushkin would die as a result of a duel.  This time, instead of Pushkin dueling the husband of a woman with which Pushkin was conducting an affair, it was the other way around.  While both men were wounded, Pushkin’s wound at the hands of his lover’s husband proved fatal.  He was thirty-seven years old.

The second figure was a monk, St. Seraphim of Sarov.  As should be obvious, he was basically the opposite of Pushkin.  He was a man whose life was centered on traditional Christianity.  He spent his time in the Scriptures, supplemented by reading early Church Fathers.  Progress for him meant a spiritual transformation – call it sanctification.

Noting the benighted rather than truly enlightened character of secular humanism, Seraphim insists that humanity can find its proper fulfilment only through “the acquisition of the Holy Spirit.”

Where Pushkin’s life ended via an act of violence provoked by adultery, Seraphim’s life would end kneeling before an icon of the Mother of God.

Likely neither man knew of the other’s existence, but these two men marked the roots of the two trees that would come to tear Russian society apart.

There were others, the “intelligentsia.”  Educated regarding their civilization, and critical of the forces that brought it about.  Their solutions were maximalist; universal if you will.  Russia was decried as an ecclesiastically isolated and a cultural onlooker to the events unfolding elsewhere in the world. 

Out of this would come two groups – the Westernizers and the Slavophiles.  Both were radically critical of the status quo.  Tsar Nicholas I would react with what he called official nationality, made up of Orthodoxy, autocracy, and Russian nationality.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Avoiding the Obvious

Many people are seeing and recognizing that society is falling apart.  Many who once would have proudly claimed to be classical liberals are recognizing that something went amiss with their project, and a few, very few, of these are admitting that the derailment was built in to the system.

Jordan Peterson is one of these, sort of (well, unless you are Palestinian).  He recently held his first ARC conference.  Despite the fact that he recognizes the current system is falling apart, and despite the fact that he has done more exploring of Biblical and Christian thoughts and writings than most who came out of his classical liberal pond, the main points in the conference were: free markets, individualism, Lockean property rights, etc. 

In other words, classical liberalism.  You know, the thing that failed – in fact, the thing that opened the door to where we sit today.

Christopher Rufo has written a piece: The New Right Activism.  In it, he rightly focusses on both language and institutions.  Yet he also embraces some form of classical liberalism:

We don’t need to abandon the principles of natural right, limited government, and individual liberty, but we need to make those principles meaningful in the world of today.

Fair enough.  But there are important questions to be answered.  On what basis?  What will provide the foundation?  Why will it be different this time?  What went wrong last time these were tried?  In other words, how will we make these both meaningful and sustainable?

Before coming to this…He makes important points: get this idea of neutrality out of your head.  There is no such thing as “neutral.”

Following a libertarian line, the conservative establishment has argued that government, state universities, and public schools should be “neutral” in their approach to political ideals.

The libertarian approach is neutral.  The property owner is free to decide the rules for his property, the behavior, values, etc.  Hans Hoppe cites Murray Rothbard, writing:

…logically one can be—and indeed most libertarians in fact are: hedonists, libertines, immoralists, militant enemies of religion in general and Christianity in particular—and still be consistent adherents of libertarian politics.

Every property owner will be something; what he will not be is neutral. 

Returning to Rufo, a second important point:

The popular slogan that “facts don’t care about your feelings” betrays similar problems.

Just the “facts” of the last few years demonstrates that feelings win out over facts.  Covid, George Floyd, mostly peaceful riots, 2020 election, January 6, Ukraine, Israel.  The list is endless, and in each case, the facts lost.  (And if the last four years – to say nothing of the last 125 years – doesn’t bury the Enlightenment idea of placing reason as the god in control, nothing will.)

Finally, the conservative establishment has appealed to the “free marketplace of ideas,” and the belief that the “invisible hand” will rectify cultural and political problems organically.

Ideas have to be defended, even more than property or person – it is because we value more foundational ideas that we came to embrace the idea that property and person must be defended.  In other words, there is a foundation on which rights in person and property are valid rights.

I agree with all of these observations – these shortcomings in thin-libertarian thought and non-libertarian conservative thought that have left the door open to the disaster in which we are living and the greater one that we are headed toward that will make today look like a day in paradise.

Rufo’s answer?