Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Age of the Empozzment

One of the reasons why I tend to focus on the religious aspect of the Dissident Right is because I believe that the collapse of religion in the West is THE primary cause of the Western decline.  The transformation in values that came about with the ditching of Christianity lead to the Age of the Empozzment with its current societal consequences.

For better or worse, until about the First World War Christianity was the underlying cultural foundation of the West. Since then its secular replacements have attempted to build a new and better world--with the body count as predicted by Neitzsche-- and while we are, admittedly, materially and technologically richer, it's pretty clear to any objective observer that Western civilisation is on a downhill spiral. It's the last round of drinks before the party ends.

I think that there are many even in Neoreactionary circles who would deny this view of Christianity and feel that a Western restoration can come about through some kind of secular program.  I wish that this was so since the task would be easier but I think it is impossible.  Even the best versions of secularism still run on the "fumes" of Christianity.  Equality, one of the foundation beliefs of the modern secular state is a credal belief  and not one that is supported by a rational appraisal of the evidence. Rationality in the absence of a creed will therefore, in the long run, push against the notion and once the Christian memory of the West is extinguished so will the notion that all men are equal. I know that there are those who will argue that humanistic notions can be derived from rational deliberations but they're on a fools errand. The Neocons, have a similar view, and quite openly advocate the notion that the modern world is purely a secular product. However, as Havers and Gottfried have shown there was nothing in the rationality of "Athens" which supports our current liberal beliefs.  As any good lawyer knows, with enough skill you can make a good argument for anything.

Nietzsche wasn't so stupid and he realised that a post Christian world was going to be was going to be different and not necessarily a world of hugs and kisses. If you want to know why your art is shit, the streets unsafe and degeneracy is advancing in society it has come about from the ditching of Christianity and the embrace of secular values. The "transvaluation of values" comes with consequences.

Recent events in Ireland demonstrate just how profoundly a change in religious attitude affects political outcomes. In what really is a tragedy of European civilisation, what was once a deeply Catholic country has now transformed itself into another secular state.  The legalisation of gay marriage for instance, would have been impossible in a country that believed in the Catholic faith. It's another example of politics being downstream from culture.

The process of secularisation does not necessarily have to lead to a kumbayah pozzed state, it could just as easily of lead to a Japanisation of society, where a culturally homogeneous and peaceful society gives rise to affluent herbivores jerking off to paedophillic anime at below replacement rate. Or it could have gone Natsoc and gotten nuked. Yeah, I know, just like all true believers assert, the next time it will be different, but the money is on it not being so: the road to perdition is wide.

Therefore any attempt to restore the world to one which had some semblance of continuity with world prior to the First World War is going to have to involve the rechristianisation of the West. The problem is that, except for the most deludedly optimistic, Christianity has not been able to mount an effective pushback against the pozz.

One of the aims of this blog is to understand why Christianity failed. Like many Trads, I too believed that "relaxation of discipline" which came about in the 1960's, especially with regard to Catholicism was responsible for the decline, but the more I look into this matter the less satisfied I am with this explanation. Robust systems can take a lot of punishment, it's the weak systems which collapse suddenly. The sudden collapse in the 60's can only lead to the conclusion that despite appearances to the contrary religion in the West was in a very parlous state. The smart guys like Blondel and Troelstch saw years ahead what was happening but no one listened.

And I want to make a distinction between Protestantism and Catholicism. As my thinking stands at the moment, I feel that that each was attacked by a different method.  Protestantism was effectively destroyed by Modernism directly whereas Catholicism was destroyed a "spiritual failure" largely mediated by clericalism which arose in response to the battle against Modernism. Features which both respective religions regard as their strengths have also been responsible for their inability to  mount an effective response to the secular world.

It is my belief that Protestantism, taken as a whole, is beyond reform. I don't say this triumphantly it's just that institutional Protestantism is so thoroughly pozzed that it is unable to recover the critical mass of adherents necessary for societal change.  Small elements of Protestantism are probably quite doctrinally sound it's just that they're going to remain on the margins, Christian witnesses unable to do much.  On the other hand Catholicism still has enough "mass" to effect social change but unless it reforms, essentially by incorporating some of the 'best bits of Protestantism" it's going to ossify into irrelevancy, with tragic consequences for the West.

10 comments:

Michael Dyer said...

Personal theory?

In the Old Testament the people of Israel were always oscillating between faith and destruction.

The cure for lack of faith is faith and it has to happen on a real personal level. You can have everything set up to make faith easier to get and maintain, and you should, but until the engine turns over in the mind of an individual man it's all for naught.

There is a breed of man for whom the system is the chief thing. Some of the rebellion against systems was justified, not per se justified but understandable, because of this deadening attitude. The system is necessary but it is not The Thing. It is there to help The Thing. The Thing is only possible when the individual man repents and turns his face towards Christ.

There is no technique for this outside the Gospel, and men hearing it.

MK said...

Like many Trads, I too believed that "relaxation of discipline" which came about in the 1960's, especially with regard to Catholicism was responsible for the decline

Yikes. As a Trad, I never thought this at all. To me the decline came from the collapse of community; we needed more deacons, more lay involvement, while at the same time let people go who can't hack it. A smaller, more dedicated church for a secular age, prob 1/2 size. Cultural RC don't cut it anymore (look at Ireland). VII was pure genius if we took it seriously. OK, kept the discipline in this regard. Were we to do this, the church could again start to grow.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Michael Dyer
The cure for lack of faith is faith and it has to happen on a real personal level.

I pretty much agree with all of your comment.

I agree. But if faith is the product of Grace a troubling question is raised: Has there been a lessening of Grace which has been the fuel of this great apostasy? It's not a thesis I want to defend but it does pop up into my mind occasionally.

I think faith is a "weak sense" and therefore, as you say, the System is important insofar as it maintains it and helps it operate better.

@MK

I don't think discipline is as much of the issue as much as the relationship of teaching to the truth. I have this ecclesiological approach to our current situation regarding the apostasy of the faithfull as being an indication that there maybe something wrong with the clergy. As I see it, despite what the clergy says, the Church views itself like a military structure, with the clergy playing the roles of officers and the faithful the foot soldiers. The generals are interpreting events as insubordination whereas the troops think that the generals are out of touch and incompetent.

One of the most depressing things about the whole sexual abuse saga has been the institutional response of the Church to events. The foot soldiers, in this instance, seem to have a far clearer appreciation of the depravity of the situation than the generalship.

Jamesy said...

I must disagree with you SP that Catholicism has the potential to reconvert the West.

Now, I can't stand anti-Catholicism, and I recognise that the church was the foundation of western civilisation. Etc. I like Catholicism and don't want to come off as a hater. But, there are two reasons why I don't think that the Catholic church can reconvert the West.

Firstly, I don't think the sex abuse scandals can be lived down. Whether fair or not, the Catholic priest and the pedophile are now immediately associated in the mind of the westerner. Priests will never be trusted again.

Secondly, and more importantly, many of the dogmas are unbelievable. To take but one example, westerners will never believe that Adam and Eve were physically immortal beings and that we'd be immortal too if only they hadn't sinned. That dogma has immense symbolic utility, but westerners will never take it literally again, in the way the Catholic church demands.

Again, I'm not trying to denigrate the church, as I have great respect for the church; I just don't see it making a comeback. A Jungian, Petersonian style of neoChristianity may stand a chance of catching on, but the believable must be separated from the unbelievable, and I'm not the man for the job.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Jamesy

Firstly, I don't think the sex abuse scandals can be lived down. Whether fair or not, the Catholic priest and the pedophile are now immediately associated in the mind of the westerner. Priests will never be trusted again.

I think that's a fair call though I think most people can distinguish between the good and bad clergy. The people who've taken a real hit with this who affair are the "institutional clergy". It something I'm going to write about in the next post.

Secondly, and more importantly, many of the dogmas are unbelievable. To take but one example, westerners will never believe that Adam and Eve were physically immortal beings and that we'd be immortal too if only they hadn't sinned.

I see no reason as to why immortality is an intrinsically unbelievable concept. You might want to read up about the HeLa cell line.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeLa

People really get hung up on miracles and stuff like the virgin birth but it's never been a problem for me. As I see it, the architect and law maker of the universe can suspend its normal operation when he feels like it. No big deal. The virgin birth is taken by Catholics as an exception of the normal reproductive processes and is seen as miraculous, i.e. not the normal thing.

The things that people find hard to believe in are absolute moral norms and the sacramental nature of life but they're things which come with faith. No amount of rational argument is going to convince you of these things.

With regards to Peterson, he frequently shows that the faith has significant rational support thought he comes at it from a non traditional direction.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP - I agree with your thesis wrt apostasy, but I have come to regard the change in modern metaphysical assumptions as having a much larger role than is usually acknowledged. I think it is 'mainstream modern materialism' (aka positivism, scientism and various other names) that has eroded all Christian denominations in the West.

This is why all public discourse tends to be either mainstream materialist and utilitarian leftist; or else a bald assertion of subjective opinion: our metaphysical assumpitions restrict us to these alternatives - and these assumptions include a denial of the reality of metaphysical assumptions (asserting that all valid knowledge is 'evidence'), thus self-concealing.

And then the mass (more recently social) mass media prevents any reflective thinking, brooding about, or attention to, anything at all.

I think this is why even the large and powerful Christian Revival of the 1939-45 war was so brittle and shallow - because people were by then thinking as modernists, even when sincerely professing Christianity.

Thus we moderns can be *saved* (can accept and follow Jesus; as various evangelical revivals have shown), but find it hard to progress in theosis/ sanctification, and very easy to lapse.

This is why a revival is so difficult; because two almost-simultaneous things are required - Christianity, and a new way of thinking (based on new metaphysical assumptions about reality).

And beyond all this! I suspect that this whole way of talking about 'things' that you and I are indulging in *here*, is itself within the modernist metaphsyical frame and anti-Christian! - implicitly based-on sociology, politics, planning and organization, statistics and systems etc.

Past societies didn't conceptualise the world in this way; yet we find it all but impossible Not to - because of our most fundamental, habitual, yet mostly unaware and unexamined assumptions.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Bruce

This is why a revival is so difficult; because two almost-simultaneous things are required - Christianity, and a new way of thinking (based on new metaphysical assumptions about reality).

I do agree that a new way of thinking is required but I'm increasingly of the opinion that it can't be "engineered" in any sort of way. The issue at the core of all this is faith, and as the theologians tell us it is a supernatural virtue. i.e. something given by God.

We can certainly engineer a society where faith is encouraged and supported but we really can't engineer belief, that's something left to God alone. Which really leads to the question of where has God been for this last century? This is not some kind of cry of despair or accusation, rather, I'm trying to figure out why faith, which is a supernatural gift has been in such short supply.

With regard to my own particular case, I'm always conscious that my belief in God is something that was given to me rather than something I "worked out" from rational principles. (Not that the faith is opposed to rationality.) Why me, and not the other guy down the street, is something that continually piques my curiosity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP - My metaphysical background is to assume that (like Jesus - and we are told that we both are or can be Sons of God) we had a pre-mortal, spirit existence; and when we were incarnated to mortal life, we were 'placed' in such a time and place (and situation) so that we would be most likely to experience and learn in the way that we most need.

If each human life is seen as an unique experience and possibility for learning, then it suggests that there are particular things that modern people generally need to learn, and our kind of society provides these opportunities for many people.

This means that we (in general) cannot know what is going on for other people, since each personal situation is unique. (Perhaps we can know for certain specific people, if we love them, or perhaps if it is necessary for them).

What about evil? Well, I often say that these times, in the West, are the most evil in human history of which I am aware; because of the way that moral inversion (and indeed aesthetic and truth inversion) have become sustained, active national policy.

What advantage does *this* have? I suppose, clarity and extremity.

Perhaps some people (myself included, since I only became a Christian a decade ago) need to experience starkly the actuality and consequences of moral inversion. They need a harsh lesson - as I think I did. Many aspects fed into my conversion, but one was that in May 2008 - for a couple of weeks - there was an international media firestorm, a political correctness witch-hunt, against me - related to some (scientifically uncontroversial) discussion of the effect of social class differences in intelligence for university admissions, in relation to the selectivity of universities.

This was a valuable experience in many ways - but one way was to discover how my own (secular materialist) views, even when correct, lacked any solid foundation. My 'bottom line' was merely utilitarian; and utilitarianism always devolves to *interminable* wrangling about what choice produces the most happiness for various people at various points down the line, with varying levels of certainty...

In sum, utilitarianism boils down to power and propaganda - to totalitarianism.

I realised this, and that my own ultimate assumptions *were* assumptions; and that the did not work and needed to be understood and revised.

(Leading up to this was the shocked realisation that among unprecedented peace, prosperity, comfort, convenience - secular modern Man had universally chosen sub-fertility and extinction; much like an animal kept under intolerable stress in captive conditions. Something was clearly terribly wrong. And the only exceptions to chosen subfertility were among the most religious groups...)

Bruce Charlton said...

Continued... Any-way... One thing that our time seems designed to teach us is to stop trying to understand people with 'sociological theology' - in the mass and on average.

I think quite a high proportion of people alive now have been evil (essentially pride-full, resentful) since they 'became' - that is the way they were. In a heavenly environment, such evil souls *behaved* well - but not by choice, nor from themselves. But in mortality they have come to a crunch point.

Our times are a kind of last-ditch attempt to enable some of them (among whom I count myself) to recognise for themselves that they were wrong - or rather, that something infinitely better is possible for them, if only they will accept and choose it.

Jesus originally brought this polarisation - this sorting. Jesus brought Hell as well as Heaven - because Hell entails the deliberate rejection of Heaven, and until Jesus Man did not know Heaven.

The consequences of this division are becoming ever more obvious, as the Hell-choosers (especially among the angels - ie demons, and their servants) have gained the upper hand in global affairs, and all major Western institutions, including most mainstream churches.

But this 'coming to a point' (as CS Lewis calls it in That Hideous Strength) is perhaps something that God (sorrowfully) allows - because the clarity is valuable. Any loving Father would prefer that his children make the right choices without suffering harsh lessons, but knows that sometimes harsh lessons are necessary. Sometimes, despite everything, the child will not learn - will actively refuse to learn. And - if so - that must be accepted, sorrowfully.

But before giving up on a child, harsh lessons will be tried thoroughly, when/if they offer a reasonable chance of success.

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