Regnum Britanniarum


Labour will continue to ensure a woman’s right to choose a safe, legal abortion – and we will work with the Assembly to extend that right to women in Northern Ireland.

– Labour Manifesto 2017

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Burke?

The most revealing things in this election are what Theresa May says when she doesn’t have to and what Jeremy Corbyn refuses to say. There was no need for Theresa May to make the declaration she made in the Tory Manifesto. She clearly feels an ideological imperative to shift the Conservative Party away from Thatcherite Whiggery and back towards Anglican Toryism. This is not pleasing to a great many in her party and while she might have felt the need to change the mood music somewhat in order to appropriate Brexit, the theoretical declarations carry no obvious political advantage and plenty of risk. So perhaps she believes them to be true.

The problem is of course that Anglican Toryism is incoherent. Pragmatic paternalistic traditionalism backing Francophile would-be absolutism to avoid non-conformist anarchy. The traditionalism is more edifying in many ways than the Francophile would-be absolutism but the problem is that many of the goods the Whigs purport to defend are key to the tradition the Tories seek to preserve. The one thing James II was right about is the Creed (and its rights) which is the only principle truly capable of the integral reconciliation of authority and liberty. Acton’s claim that St Thomas was the ‘first Whig’ is offensive nonsense. Samuel Jonson was much closer to the mark (cf. Libertas §14). Nevertheless, if the Steward were to read his Summa (and De Regno) with more attention then what is true in Whiggery might be extracted and what is false in Toryism eliminated and the King could come back over the water. In spirit anyway (but who knows…).

Which is an obscure way of saying that the the state is not a necessary evil but a system of order willed by God and inherent to human nature with a vital role, indeed the vital role, in achieving man’s natural good. However, the natural good for man cannot be attained in this order of providence without man’s supernatural good. Consequently, there being no habitual grace outside the Catholic Church, a state with takes a proactive role in solving society’s ills outside the Church will simply become the first and most terrible of those ills.

The spontaneous organic structures of human society can only develop (and so indicate by their natural limitations the areas of the state’s proper activity) when the law of man’s nature is generally observed and this is impossible without habitual grace. This, incidentally, is why some conservative Catholics irritated at the (in the absence of heroic sanctity) multigenerational project of converting an entire society and looking to some dynasty or strong-man to do the job for them, are drawn to implicitism. They would do better to pursue heroic sanctity. The bloated state that seeks to remedy society’s ills without grace triggers a withering away of those organic structures that have been able to take root in the poor soil of fallen nature and so it, and its task, grows until nothing else remains.

Which brings us neatly to Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn rightly perceives that the state as it is concretely organised everywhere in the world is a system of oppression and exploitation. (Indeed, even a truly Catholic state would remain a system of oppression and exploitation insofar as its subjects allowed themselves to fall into mortal sin). He perceives that every expansion of the state in order to remedy the ills of man (which he wrongly supposes arise from this oppression and exploitation) creates inequities and further disorders. He thus desires the seizure of the state by the oppressed and exploited, or rather by their enlightened representatives, and its expansion until the distinction between society and the state is abolished. The Irish Nationalist and Islamismist are, for Corbyn, just the incoherent mouthpieces of the oppressed and exploited, the unenlightened foot soldiers whose true interests can only be understood and articulated by Jeremy, John and Diane (who are none-the-less grateful for the pawns’ sacrifice).

They correctly recognise that those who now hold onto the organs of power would never relinquish them without violent resistance and (falsely imagining that this civil brigandage is the essential curse of humanity) they suppose their violent acquisition of them will inaugurate utopia. They seek the overthrow of the United Kingdom and its replacement by a peoples’ republic and are willing to ally themselves with each and anyone who shares the first of those goals.

Their cynicism about the state is entirely accurate their error lies in their atheism and their situating of the ultimate malady in the macrocosm instead of the microcosm. The essential curse of humanity is laid upon the heart of each individual and the latrocinium is merely its inevitable consequence and expression. It must be lifted one soul at a time. The use of any and all means to obtain the levers of power by the vanguard of the oppressed will only redouble the curse and create an even more terrible leviathan, as history has shown.

One of the great paradoxical advantages of the Whig settlement is that it establishes the principle that theological truth determines legitimate rule. The creed in question is false but the principle has guarded the United Kingdom against the scourge of laicism. Ultimately it is a principle that makes sense only in the light of the Catholic Faith as Burke himself, perhaps, came to realise before his death. So, in the end, better Burke Bungled than a Marxism which however insightful is never lite.

“If I was a young, devout Muslim man in some of our northern cities and I looked at what has become culture on a Friday and Saturday night, I would not want to integrate with it.” – Lord Tebbit

“The terrorists will never win — and our values, our country and our way of life will always prevail.” – Theresa May

“In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered; national traditions, differences in nation and culture are being erased.” – Vladimir Putin

 

 

 

 

You might, if you pleased, have profited of our example, and have given to your recovered freedom a correspondent dignity. Your privileges, though discontinued, were not lost to memory. Your constitution, it is true, whilst you were out of possession, suffered waste and dilapidation; but you possessed in some parts the walls, and, in all, the foundations, of a noble and venerable castle. You might have repaired those walls; you might have built on those old foundations. Your constitution was suspended before it was perfected; but you had the elements of a constitution very nearly as good as could be wished. In your old states you possessed that variety of parts corresponding with the various descriptions of which your community was happily composed; you had all that combination, and all that opposition of interests, you had that action and counteraction, which, in the natural and in the political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers, draws out the harmony of the universe. These opposed and conflicting interests, which you considered as so great a blemish in your old and in our present constitution, interpose a salutary check to all precipitate resolutions. They render deliberation a matter not of choice, but of necessity; they make all change a subject of compromise, which naturally begets moderation; they produce temperaments preventing the sore evil of harsh, crude, unqualified reformations; and rendering all the headlong exertions of arbitrary power, in the few or in the many for ever impracticable. Through that diversity of members and interests, general liberty had as many securities as there were separate views in the several orders; whilst by pressing down the whole by the weight of a real monarchy, the separate parts would have been prevented from warping, and starting from their allotted places.

You had all these advantages in your ancient states; but you chose to act as if you had never been moulded into civil society, and had everything to begin anew. You began ill, because you began by despising everything that belonged to you. You set up your trade without a capital. If the last generations of your country appeared without much lustre in your eyes, you might have passed them by, and derived your claims from a more early race of ancestors. Under a pious predilection for those ancestors, your imaginations would have realized in them a standard of virtue and wisdom, beyond the vulgar practice of the hour; and you would have risen with the example to whose imitation you aspired. Respecting your forefathers, you would have been taught to respect yourselves. You would not have chosen to consider the French as a people of yesterday, as a nation of low-born servile wretches until the emancipating year of 1789. In order to furnish, at the expense of your honour, an excuse to your apologists here for several enormities of yours, you would not have been content to be represented as a gang of Maroon slaves, suddenly broke loose from the house of bondage, and therefore to be pardoned for your abuse of the liberty to which you were not accustomed, and ill fitted. Would it not, my worthy friend, have been wiser to have you thought, what I, for one, always thought you, a generous and gallant nation, long misled to your disadvantage by your high and romantic sentiments of fidelity, honour, and loyalty; that events had been unfavourable to you, but that you were not enslaved through any illiberal or servile disposition; that in your most devoted submission, you were actuated by a principle of public spirit, and that it was your country you worshipped, in the person of your king? Had you made it to be understood, that in the delusion of this amiable error you had gone further than your wise ancestors; that you were resolved to resume your ancient privileges, whilst you preserved the spirit of your ancient and your recent loyalty and honour; or if, diffident of yourselves, and not clearly discerning the almost obliterated constitution of your ancestors, you had looked to your neighbours in this land, who had kept alive the ancient principles and models of the old common law of Europe meliorated and adapted to its present state-by following wise examples you would have given new examples of wisdom to the world. You would have rendered the cause of liberty venerable in the eyes of every worthy mind in every nation. You would have shamed despotism from the earth, by showing that freedom was not only reconcilable, but, as when well disciplined it is, auxiliary to law. You would have had an unoppressive but a productive revenue. You would have had a flourishing commerce to feed it. You would have had a free constitution; a potent monarchy; a disciplined army; a reformed and venerated clergy; a mitigated but spirited nobility, to lead your virtue, not to overlay it; you would have had a liberal order of commons, to emulate and to recruit that nobility; you would have had a protected, satisfied, laborious, and obedient people, taught to seek and to recognise the happiness that is to be found by virtue in all conditions; in which consists the true moral equality of mankind, and not in that monstrous fiction, which, by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life, serves only to aggravate and embitter that real inequality, which it never can remove; and which the order of civil life establishes as much for the benefit of those whom it must leave in an humble state, as those whom it is able to exalt to a condition more splendid, but not more happy. You had a smooth and easy career of felicity and glory laid open to you, beyond anything recorded in the history of the world; but you have shown that difficulty is good for man

Compute your gains: see what is got by those extravagant and presumptuous speculations which have taught your leaders to despise all their predecessors, and all their contemporaries, and even to despise themselves, until the moment in which they became truly despicable. By following those false lights, France has bought undisguised calamities at a higher price than any nation has purchased the most unequivocal blessings! France has bought poverty by crime! France has not sacrificed her virtue to her interest, but she has abandoned her interest, that she might prostitute her virtue. All other nations have begun the fabric of a new government, or the reformation of an old, by establishing originally, or by enforcing with greater exactness, some rites or other of religion. All other people have laid the foundations of civil freedom in severer manners, and a system of a more austere and masculine morality. France, when she let loose the reins of regal authority, doubled the license of a ferocious dissoluteness in manners, and of an insolent irreligion in opinions and practices; and has extended through all ranks of life, as if she were communicating some privilege, or laying open some secluded benefit, all the unhappy corruptions that usually were the disease of wealth and power. This is one of the new principles of equality in France.

And the nations, despite a difference of development due to diverse conditions of life and of culture, are not destined to break the unity of the human race, but rather to enrich and embellish it by the sharing of their own peculiar gifts and by that reciprocal interchange of goods which can be possible and efficacious only when a mutual love and a lively sense of charity unite all the sons of the same Father and all those redeemed by the same Divine Blood. The Church of Christ, the faithful depository of the teaching of Divine Wisdom, cannot and does not think of deprecating or disdaining the particular characteristics which each people, with jealous and intelligible pride, cherishes and retains as a precious heritage. Her aim is a supernatural union in all-embracing love, deeply felt and practiced, and not the unity which is exclusively external and superficial and by that very fact weak.

 

TheOctaveofStBenedict

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