Friday, February 01, 2019

The Preferential Option for the Criminal

As mentioned previously on this blog, there is going to be no restoration of the West until a re-evangelisation of the people occurs.  For a variety of reasons, I don't feel that the Protestant churches have the ability to execute this function, which leaves the Catholic Church as the only institution capable of doing so. If the Catholic Church fails, it's all over. Fortunately we have the word of Christ, so we're going to win.

However, as things stand, the Catholic Church is in a lot of trouble and is fighting for its survival. Therefore before any re-evangelisation can occur it needs to get its own house in order and therefore its problems, and the battles to fix them, are of vital concern to anyone with an interest in a Western restoration.

From my perspective the Church has several deep theological and structural faults which have seriously hampered its ability to tackle Modernism. The sexual abuse saga in many ways illustrates some of the problems affecting the Church and I think it's worthwhile looking into them in order to diagnose, and then work out correctives to these institutional pathologies. And as an aside, I think that Francis is correct in that a simple "judicial" approach to this affair is wrong, and that a deeper analysis of the problem is required.

As I see it, the institutional failure in response to this crisis has several dimension which include.
1) Clericalism, which in this instance is the presumption of priestly impeccability by virtue of holding the office.
2) The avoidance of scandal. Which in this instance meaning the preservation of reputation at the expense of truth.

3)The influence of materialistic psychology which viewed moral fault as an "organic disease" which absolved the the guilt of perpetrator by removing responsibility because "he was sick".

4) Theological developments in the 20th Century which elevated the role of Mercy at the expense of Justice. i.e. the victim doesn't matter.
I actually think that this last one (4) is probably the biggest issue. Issues like homosexuality and greed are actually peripheral, as they they determine the types of crimes committed not the institutional response to them. What reports into the corruption of the Church have shown is that it was equally inept at punishing or reporting crimes no matter what their nature. Hetero's, homo's and thieves were all given free passes.

I suppose a good illustration of what I'm getting at is by looking at latest amendment to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the subject of the Death Penalty.
The death penalty

2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.

Astute readers will notice that the whole focus on the entry is primarily on the criminal and their redemption, secondarily on the protection of society, with there being no mention at all of the justice owed to the victim: The victim doesn't matter.

The recurring theme in the sexual abuse saga, across all continents, is the fact that the complaints of the victims were dismissed, suppressed or not openly acknowledged, and that priests were given multiple opportunities for redemption at the expense of their victims. Given the consistency of this response across various times and cultures it points towards an institutional feature and not a local anomaly.  It was standard operating procedure to have a presumption in favour of the priest at the expense of the victim.

I don't think that it was explicit malice that drove this presumption, rather theological developments in the 20th Century have led the Church to develop an implicit doctrine which results in a real world "preferential option for the criminal"..... at the expense of the victim. It may not be formally stated as such but it's what happens in reality. Being merciful to the wicked means being unjust to their victims. It's this institutional and cultural imperative--despite the well meaning natures of many who had to investigate sexual crimes within the Church--that led to the total organisational failure with regard to the protection of minors. It's a systemic problem with its roots in modern theology with its strong emphasis on the personal aspect of the faith at the expense of its communitarian " Church" dimension.

What the old guys understood and what the new guys have forgotten is that the thing about Mercy and Justice is that they are in opposition, and a theology which focuses exclusively on Mercy is one that is going to downplay Justice. They knew that the good ordering of society was just as necessary as the redemption of the criminal  and that's why they came down hard on the criminals in the past, sometimes too hard. They knew, as magistrates and judges, that they had a duty primarily to the victim and to the criminal to see that justice was done, otherwise they would be answerable to God. Letting the criminal off the hook was just not going to cut it.

Paradoxically, this new theology of mercy is just as likely to result in injustice to the criminal as well. If the primary metrics have now become redemption of the criminal and protection of society who determines when this has been achieved, how do long to prison sentences last? You don't have to be that bright to see the horrific potential for abuse in real world settings.

My own understanding of Christianity leads me to the conclusion that God is merciful, in fact He wants to be merciful: He's not a hanging judge. But the existence of Hell leads to the implicit conclusion that this faculty of mercy is at His discretion and is not always exercised. There are also good reasons to believe that his mercy may at times be conditional and that he is primarily just. This new theology seems hard to square up with scripture and tradition and goes a long way to explaining the mess in the Church and the reforms needed. This isn't just about homo's and sexuality as the Trads would like you to think, the problem is far deeper.

BTW, this isn't a swipe at Francis. From my perspective he's a mixed bag as a pope but he does seem to have grasped, in a way that his predecessor's haven't, that this is a far deeper problem than first appears.  He seems to have a good grasp of the structural reforms needed while being blind to the theological ones.  Fortunately, he seems to have the capacity to change his mind, whether he does so is a different matter altogether.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Two Quotes

Justice without mercy is cruelty, but mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution.

St. Thomas Aquinas
The clerical sex abuse scandal was made possible because of a prevailing mentality, especially in the 1970s and 80s, that notions of crime and justice had no place in the post-Vatican II Church.* The crimes of clerical abuse were labelled as “struggles with chastity” and “mental issues” and there was an entire cottage industry of therapy centres and clinics which would helpfully label the abusers as victims of their own traumas, often blaming it on the wicked institution of clerical celibacy, and then “rehabilitate” abusive priests and send them back, certified as ready for ministry. This approach, which was consciously identified as a “merciful” way of handling matters, caused a chilling illustration of what a mockery of itself mercy can become when it is uncoupled from justice.

ED: The author deludes himself in thinking that this wasn't a problem prior to Vatican Two. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

It can't happen here.....It already has

“He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself—anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face.....was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.”

George Orwell, 1984

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Victorian State Election

Apropos my last post, recent events in my home state, Victoria, Australia, illustrate just how important principles are when it comes to determining what constitutes the "Right".

Australian politics, much like U.S. politics is divided into two main camps. The Australian Labor party, on one side, represents the Left in Australian politics which has become progressively more radicalized. The Right, confusingly, for U.S. readers is represented by the Liberal Party of Australia.
The Liberal party of Australia was formed by Robert Menzies from a coalition of various different "right" parties in the 1940's,  but the values it represented were those of a conservative Christian Protestant Australia.  It wasn't an expressively religious party but it's values were derived from the "habits" of traditional Protestant Christianity even when the faith wasn't there.

Australia's glorious age, from 1950-1973 were in large part due to the near continual governance of the party.  A large part of the party's success could be attributed to the fact that the Australian Labor Party was effectively neutralised by an ideological split bought about by the Cold War in the 1950's  being effectively divided between the socialists and the the DLP, which was  and explicitly Christian Catholic interpretation of the labour movement. It's formation is one of few instances where communists have been beaten at their own game, and it was engineered by Bob Santamaria, one of the unsung heroes of the cold war.  The DLP did a lot to moderate some of the harder economic rationalist ideas of the Liberal party thus ensuring its electoral success.

The rapid secularisation that occurred during the 1960's result in the modernisation of the liberal party and the loss of voter base for the DLP.  So that by the early 1970's the Liberals had secularised and become progressive and the DLP died as a political force.

Robert Menzies, disgusted at what his party had become voted against it for the DLP on two occasions, bemoaning to Bob Santamaria that the DLP was the party he wished the Liberals to have become.

From my perspective, the Liberal party transformed itself into the worst of all things. Strictly economically rational while socially progressive, the party of Ayn Rand in many ways,  and for many years drifted in the wilderness, only really gaining a foothold with the pseudo-traditionalism of the Howard years. Since his election loss the party has been drifting left.

State elections were held over the previous weekend and the Liberal party was routed, despite running against a candidate who appears to corrupt and who is spending away all the seed corn.  The magnitude of the setback shocked the local Liberals and seems to have frightened the federal Liberals as well. It also seems to have started off a vicious civil war within the Liberal Party of what the party actually stands for.  On one hand, there are the small-l-Liberals, who much like the Rockefeller Republicans are progressive in everything but economic policy. Then there are the large-l-Liberals, who increasingly rejecting the globohomo agenda and are increasingly asserting their Christian underpinnings.

In the post election analysis, many of the lefty media and the small-l-Liberals blamed the election loss on the fact that the party had not moved sufficiently to the Left. Despite the party really being indistinguishable on many issues from the Labor party. This of course has raised the question of what does it mean to be an Australian Liberal. No one really has the answer.

This is why principles matter.

I don't like purity tests as much as the other guy but you've got to think of them as akin to a mooring posts or as cardinal points on a compass, something that stops you slowly sliding away from your original ideals. It also stops infiltrators from from undermining your ranks from within as has so devastatingly been demonstrated in Victoria.

I welcome this fight, it has to happen. Nothing can be fixed till it happens. Whatever else may be I think its fair to say the right side of Australian politics as it currently stands is dead.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Whittaker Chambers: The Enemy Within

August 5, 1954

Dear Bill:

 I no longer believe that political solutions are possible for us. I am baffled by the way people still speak of the West as if it were at least a cultural unity against Communism though it is divided not only by a political, but by an invisible cleavage. On one side are the voiceless masses with their own subdivisions and fractures. On the other side is the enlightened, articulate elite which, to one degree or other, has rejected the religious roots of the civilization—the roots with-out which it is no longer Western civilization, but a new order of beliefs, attitudes and mandates. [ED]

In short, this is the order of which Communism is one logical expression, originating not in Russia, but in the culture capitals of the West, reaching Russia by clandestine delivery via the old underground centers in Cracow, Vienna, Berne, Zurich, and Geneva. It is a Western body of belief that now threatens the West from Russia. As a body of Western beliefs, secular and rationalistic, the intelligentsia of the West share it, and are therefore always committed to a secret emotional complicity with Communism of which they dislike, not the Communism, but only what, by the chances of history, Russia has specifically added to it—slave-labor camps, purges, MVD et al. And that, not because the Western intellectuals find them unjustifiable, but because they are afraid of being caught in them. If they could have Communism without the brutalities of ruling that the Russian experience bred, they have only marginal objections. Why should they object? What else is socialism but Communism with the claws retracted? And there is positivism. 'What is more, every garage mechanic in the West, insofar as he believes in nuts and bolts, but asks: "The Holy Ghost, what's that?" shares the substance of those same beliefs. Of course, the mechanic does not know, when he asks: "The Holy Ghost, what's that?" that he is simply echoing Stalin at Teheran: "The Pope—how many divisions has the Pope?" [ED]
That is the real confrontation of forces. The enemy—he is ourselves. That is why it is idle to talk about preventing the wreck of Western civilization. It is already a wreck from within. That is why we can hope to do little more now than snatch a fingernail of a saint from the rack or a handful of ashes from the faggots, and bury them secretly in a flowerpot against the day, ages hence, when a few men begin again to dare to believe that there was once something else, that some-thing else is thinkable, and need some evidence of what it was, and the fortifying knowledge that there were those who, at the great nightfall, took loving thought to preserve the tokens of hope and truth.

Sincerely, Whittaker

Look at the date. People tend to think of the 1950's as the Halcyon years of the West yet Whittaker Chambers saw that West was on its death spiral even then. The suddenness of the cultural revolution of the Sixties was due to the fact that the Western cultural institutions were by that stage hollow shells and one only had to push on them a bit for them to fall over.

Also note the fact that Chambers equates the West with a belief in God. Anyone selling you a "West" without God is selling you a false bill of goods.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Stink of the Common

Every now and then you read something on the internet that is so good that you want to share it with others. This is from a book review of Whittaker Chambers, Witness by the Brothers Judd.  The book was written in the 1950's but the insights are pertinent today:
What was truly unfortunate about McCarthyism was not the fact of the Red Hunt itself, but that it was left to such an incompetent as Joe McCarthy.  If, instead of circling the wagons to protect their own, responsible members of the Left had joined with the Right to root out men and women in government, academia, and the media who were actively trying to subvert democracy, the entire process might have been salutary, rather than turning into one of the more divisive episodes in our domestic political history.  But the Left, as a general rule, which had been untroubled by FDR's decision to imprison every American of Japanese descent on the West Coast during WWII, reacted viscerally to the idea of exposing and removing genuine agents of an enemy government from positions of power.

To a great, and unacknowledged, degree, this reaction was dictated by class animosity.  For the bitter truth is that Communism, particularly in America, was an ethos of the upper classes and the intelligentsia.  The middle classes, for obvious reasons, and the lower classes, for more complex reasons, never subscribed to the ideals of Communism.  And so, when the time came to destroy the Fifth Column, the destruction was led by men like McCarthy and Nixon, men with the stink of the common on them, and opposed by those who, like Hiss, had gone to the best Eastern schools and moved in the best social circles :
No feature of the Hiss Case is more obvious, or more troubling as history, than the jagged fissure, which it did not so much open as reveal, between plain men and women of the nation, and those who affected to act, think and speak for them.  It was, not invariably, but in general, the "best people" who were for Alger Hiss and who were  prepared to go to almost any length to protect and defend him. It was the enlightened and the powerful, the clamorous proponents of the open mind and the common man, who snapped their minds shut in a pro-Hiss psychosis, of a kind which, in an individual patient, means the simple failure of the ability to distinguish between reality and    unreality, and, in a nation, is a warning of the end. 
Those seeking to understand the passions stirred up by the Hiss Case need look no farther than the condescending aside of Hiss to Nixon : "My college was Harvard, I understand yours was Whittier."  There, in a sentence, is expressed the contempt and animosity between classes which would soon turn a simple espionage case into the cause which separated a generation of Americans.  So while it was common to blame Chambers and his supporters for McCarthyism, most of the blame should really fall upon the Anti-Anti-Communists, those who, though they did oppose communism, could not bear to see their peers brought down by commoners, no matter what crimes those peers may have committed in the putative name of those very commoners.

The further time removes us from the events of the Hiss case and the more information is revealed from the secret archives of both the U. S. government and the old Soviet Union, the less ambiguous the legacy of Whittaker Chambers becomes.  No one outside of the most irrational Left wing circles will any longer argue that Hiss was innocent; at most they try to impugn the character of Chambers, hinting darkly at elements of psychosexual drama in the case.  And the files further reveal that throughout the Cold War, many of the groups on the Left (like those disarmament groups that Clinton and Blair supported) were, either wittingly or unwittingly, funded and controlled by the Soviet Union.  The scope and effectiveness of Soviet subversion in the West is continually being revised upwards and those who warned about it and opposed it look better and better in retrospect.  No one looks better than Whittaker Chambers, whose life's journey from darkness into light so closely parallels that of the West as to serve as an allegory for the age.  Witness, his testimony to that journey and his statement of faith, stands as one of the great books of any age and perhaps the best book of the 20th century.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Z-Man, Whittaker Chambers, Principles

Recently,  Z-man put up a post, Learning from the Past, which I felt deserved some comment. I like Z-man, he's one of the sharpest tools in the shed but the post itself was intellectually incoherent and illustrates just how conceptually confused the Right is when it comes to an understanding of itself.
Similarly, paleos were prone to negotiating with themselves. The endless debating over principles is really just an excuse for not moving forward. It may not be intentional, but that is the result. When the conqueror sets out to sack a city, the one thing he never does is wait until he has a detailed administrative plan for managing the city after the siege. The winners of life never lose sight of this truth. Principles are the things you create after the victory to lock in your gains and give the people a reason to celebrate your dominance.

Another thing that all forms of conservatism in the democratic era have struggled to understand is the role of the pseudo-intellectual trimmer. These are the sorts of people who attach themselves to right-wing movements, and immediately begin working to turn them into useful losers. A good recent example of this is Ross Douthat, who thinks the goal of his tribe is to infiltrate populist movements and then purge them of anything useful, turning them into a uniform that poseurs like himself can wear in the morality play.

This is exactly what happened with the Tea Party. What started out as an authentic white middle-class revolt was quickly hijacked by charlatans. In fact, the grifters arrived so quickly it looked like the Normandy invasion. These types of people operate in the same way English pirates operated in the age of sail. That is, the people in charge give them a free pass, as long as they meddle in the affairs of dissidents. The Right has never figured out how to defend itself from this attack or even tried to understand it.
Now here's the problem; how do you pick who is the pseudo-intellectual trimmer, what's your metric?  What exactly makes Douthat so toxic? Z-man bemoans the influx of underminers but undercuts any corrective principles to identify them.

One of the big reasons why the Right has never been able to defend itself from undermining attacks is because the current definition of the Right seems to be simply "not Left", and that is a stupid definition. Defining yourself by the negation of your enemies principles doesn't exactly reality calibrate you. Being against stupid doesn't automatically mean smarts, because there is always the possibility of being stupid in another way.  And most for most of the 20th Century that exactly what the Right was doing, it was being stupid in its own way. Understand this and you'll understand why the Right has been on a century losing streak.

Because what exactly is "the Left". How does it differ from the Right? Once you start drilling down a bit deeper into the distinctions things aren't as they seem.

It's a shame that Whittaker Chambers doesn't get much love these days because he is deep, really deep. In fact I'd go as far to say that he really needs to be understood as the American Right's only ever political mystic.  Emerging from the cultural and spiritual abyss of the early part of the last century he saw what the shit-fight of the 20th Century was really all about:

What I had been fell from me like dirty rags. The rags that fell from me were not only Communism. What fell was the whole web of the materialist modern mind—the luminous shroud which it has spun about the spirit of man, paralyzing in the name of rationalism the instinct of his soul for God, denying in the name of knowledge the reality of the soul and its birthright in that mystery on which mere knowledge falters and shatters at every step. If I had rejected only Communism, I would have rejected only one political expression of the modern mind[Ed], the most logical because the most brutal in enforcing the myth of man's material perfectibility.
The important line here is "only one political expression" implying that there were other forms of materialist political expression.  This is the key insight.  Chambers recognised that modern materialism could morph into different political forms, different forms which would superficially appear to be mutually incompatible and yet on foundational principles ultimately the same.  Chambers understood that when a Communist fights a Fascist the outcome doesn't matter because materialism wins in the end.  This is why the Left never loses even when the "Right " wins, because the modern Right is merely a differently dressed version of the Left.

The average person doesn't see this is because he is a cognitive miser and judges political ideologies on superficialities instead of foundational principles. They judge on gut instinct instead of reasoned principle.  The sad fact of life is that most conservatives are cognitive misers of a conservative temperament. As long as someone waves the flag, kicks out the wogs and keeps taxes low he becomes part of their club, never mind the fact that the managerial state continues to expand and his freedom becomes slowly diminished. Better managerialism does not get you out of this trap.

Chambers understood perfectly well how to defend the Right from being undermined because chambers understood what this battle was all about. He could not, for instance, ever ally with the Libertarians because he knew that they were selling the same progressivist rubbish, albeit in a different packaging.  His evisceration of Ayn Rand comes from a deep understanding of the philosophical principles from which her ideology arouse. They were the same principles which underpinned Communism, Fascism and  Radical Liberalism. He would have loathed the Neocons.

Unfortunately for Chambers, he was one of the very few people who saw this and that's why he was so despondent, famously stating that he was joining the "losing side" after defecting from Communism. He was literally a lone voice in the Right intellectual wilderness of the mid 20th C.  The key principle that Chambers, Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky  had discerned was the 20th Century was going to be a fight between those who saw man as a child of God and those who had cast God out.

The other guy who has a lot to teach us is George Orwell. My impression of Orwell is that while he was not the smartest of men he had that great, but rare, virtue of being intellectually honest and would modify his beliefs in light of the facts. While he, temperamentally, always remained a socialist his intellectual honesty led him to repudiate the contemporary expressions of political Socialism/Communism.  He recognised the other great principle that separates the Left from the Right was Truth.

When Chambers left the National Review he famously told Buckley that he "was not a conservative but a man of the Right."  Chambers understood that the conservative movement had it own pretty lies and he wanted no part of it. From Z-Man again:
They spend a lot of time rehashing old fights and discussing the things they fought, like the Civil Rights Act or the Reagan amnesty, but they always seem to stop at the water’s edge when analyzing these things. It’s almost as if they agree with the Left that these policies were inevitable, due to the tides of history. Part of it, of course, is the losing side never wants to spend a lot of time dwelling on their own failures. Even the humbling experience of being hurled into the void is not enough to overcome ego. We see that on our side of the great divide, where some alt-right figures simply cannot come to terms with the fact that they screw up a lot.
I think there are many people on the Conservative/Dissident/Alt-Right who prefer their pretty lies to the Truth. Belief in "Race Realism" requires one ignore a fair chunk of reality.  IQ fetishists have to explain away why Hi IQ people do dumb things.  Push some of the stupid ideas out there to the limit and they become self-repudiating and start resembling those of the Left.  Hence the stepping back from the brink and the gradual acquiescence. Many of the Right are really crypto Leftists.

Still, I'd give the Paleo's some respect. They were given a bum deal.  The American Constitution, as a stand alone document, was a product of radical Enlightenment thinking with all the errors that entailed, and the only reason why it "worked" was because of the legislative "correctives" that were enacted soon after, and the relatively homogeneous cultural outlook that the U.S. had until the 1960's.  The Paleos who in the whole were reality-calibrated were tasked with defending the indefensible. No wonder that they couldn't real-think to the limit while defending American founding principles.

The "principles" are incompatible.