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Thursday, June 09, 2005


the institutional value of the catholic church

pope benedict's words on western social trends as "expressions of anarchic freedom" have the adherents of total personal emancipation in a lather.

"The greatest expression of freedom is not the search for pleasure," he said, adding that society seemed to want to tear down the moral goal posts he said were needed for its future.
this isn't, of course, him speaking off the cuff. his statements on these points are the church's defense, as an institutional guardian of western civilization, of a way of life that the western proletariat -- who for hundreds of years saw the wisdom of social coercion and cooperation -- is entirely rejecting for nietzschean idealist freiheit. it is facing -- we all are facing -- the collapse of western civilization; this drive to break all social obligations in an orgy of the personal is a symptom and cause of it.

he realizes it, as do many secular historians. and he's doing what he must do to preserve the west, even if he and the roman church are not ultimately successful.

this is the entire point of having an institution. of what use would the church be if it blew around with the whim of the proletariat? it would have vanished long ago -- indeed, that is the definition of institutional death (and the people in charge of democratizing the world should be made to understand that).

the church is a repository and protector of western man's accumulated wisdom in the form of biblical exegesis. we can all see that the homeric or teutonic epics are mythological repositories of great value to the societies that produced and maintained them -- and that those societies which abandoned them as elevated teaching did so only shortly before their perversion, decline and destruction. why is it hard to imagine that we are doing the same with the catholic church?

this emancipation from history and tradition is precisely the decline of civilization. we may find that the oppression of this-or-that group vis-a-vis another or society at large, or the abuses of power visited upon societies from time to time by even healthy aristocratic systems -- both of which have been part of the story of civilizational ordering -- to be evil in our personal moral judgement. but the fact that aristocracies could wield such influence without maintaining massive armies against their peoples, and that groups representing dissent from tradition could be oppressed often without overt action on the part of institutions -- for what was perceived as the broader good -- was evidence of the strength of civility and the value that was seen in it by the vast majority of western peoples.

instead, in the postmodern period, we find our own individual, changable and frequently unconsidered ideas about what should or should not be oppressed or promoted to be far more valid than the sum of experience. social history and tradition are specifically rejected.

that prior age of social power has passed, i think we can say definitively, as the pragmatic liberty that was ensured by the power of society has been largely overturned for the idealistic rights of man. burke's famous and awesome attack on the french revolution and the rights of man has become the attack validly made upon us. it is not less valid simply because irresponsible emancipation has become more popular as we have become more decadent and self-indulgent -- to the point where we can't even keep families together for fear and anger of trodding on individual prerogatives.

next stop: gradual total disintegration, as people -- increasingly aware of their freedom to be totally irresponsible without obvious consequence -- choose to opt out of everything, especially law.

the advocates of total personal emancipation you should perhaps prepare themselves for a lot more chaos and fear and destruction than they would wish to see our friends and loved ones suffer through, if history is any guide -- all so that we can feel responsible to nothing.

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